Order In Chaos

by Raghavan Iyer @ Theosophy Trust


ORDER IN CHAOS


The harmony of nature consists in symphonious discord.

– D. K. MAVALANKAR

 All human beings can transcend qualities and qualifications relative to the standpoints of myriad observers. Each could move closer to an illimitable reality which is without attributes, without lights and without shadows. The truly reflective individual reaches beyond every self-limitation to a compelling vision of the noumenal source of reality which is inexhaustible in its energic potentiality and its immense possibilities. He daily completes his duties in a manner that reflects, though intermittently and incompletely, a richer conception of the Self and of its manifestation in the world. He is serious about situating himself in relation to the vast world of temporality from the vantage point of that which is beyond time and space. He is willing to live as if there were something more important than could ever be communicated, more profound than could ever be seen, more permanent than could ever be felt. He participates in the ineffable depths of feeling; he touches the realm of the unconditioned in thought, sensing an apprehension of reality and existence beyond all possible expression. Its sole testimony is his own rapt silence in tune with the music of the spheres, the Verbum into which all sounds are ceaselessly resolved. Such a man begins to become attuned to the Great Breath of Nature. He sees the rise and fall of the ocean and hears the whistling of the wind, the torrential sweep of a cyclonic force, the rustling of leaves and the murmuring of forests. The ever-changing expressions in nature are rhythmic though episodic alternations of a single process, from which he feels detached, but in which he is intimately involved without being wholly enclosed.

 The exemplifications of the sacred teaching TAT TVAM ASI are as varied as the modes in which diverse monads can make it come alive. A person may hear all his life about this teaching, and even repeat every day, "THAT Thou Art", "I am that universal SELF", "I am the Self of all creatures." Nonetheless, the teaching avails him naught. The old texts are blunt and terse: the teachings affect him no more, it is said, than soup ever changes the nature of the spoon. He cannot make that teaching come alive if he cannot think and act in terms of that affirmation, if he cannot correct and control his trains of associative thought. He cannot order his feelings or discriminate and discipline them out of the welter of reactive reflex emotions that well up within him unless he asserts his own sovereignty as a thinker in the kingdom of his own sensations. He must retain that teaching precisely when it is most difficult to hold – when there are lesser vibrations, discordant notes, the cacophony of so-called conversation, the chaos and discontinuities of fragmentary consciousness that we call civilization and all meaningless social interaction. Unless, in the midst of this, he retains, preserves and reaffirms the great teaching, it avails him naught. Every person needs more than an initial reflection upon the meaning of his affirmation. He must understand the shifting polarities of existence, must see a connection between these and the shimmering polarities of his own feeling-nature, mental states, moods and responses to the world. He must see why he is buffeted like a storm-driven boat, why he is tossed in a state of flux, why his motion is so disordered and disharmonious. He must ask why his mind never seems to discover a resting place, why his own lunar nature finds no sea of tranquillity. He needs to know why he cannot find within his personal consciousness anything that can clearly mirror his partial awareness of the reality of the injunction: THAT Thou Art. This requires svasamvedana, the self-analyzing reflection that involves a calm separation of competing elements in his own nature.

 The seeker must be willing to order all his tendencies – and he must be aware of them – into sets to investigate their connections, and the ways in which they intensify, cancel and nullify each other. If he genuinely strives to gain control over his own shadow – the name and form in which he masquerades and through which he plays out a variety of roles – he must ask in what meaningful sense he can translate his dim awareness that he is more than the sum-total of his changing appearances and clumsy manifestations, such that he could make it credible. He could affect the environment around him, not to convince other shadows or to seek reinforcement from other weak human beings, but rather to look at the sky without fear, and to move under the sun without guilt, to walk amidst trees with dignity and climb without confusion. He can move within the world of tumultuous alarms and jungle noises with a confident conviction that there is the possibility within himself and all others of rediscovering, however painfully, the dignity and divinity in man. He must become a man rooted in meditation. To the extent to which he is honest about the confusion in his own nature and in the world as it is reflected in him, he must also be rooted in faith, willing to believe in himself against the empirical evidence. Since other people will not believe in him against the evidence, if he cannot, he is lost. Then increasingly his loneliness will not be sharable; his awkward, pitiable pleas for help will go in vain. He will have to live with the torturing awareness that his personal chaos is of little interest to anyone else. Some may intervene in his life purportedly to help him, though more often, perhaps, to seek such help as they can; others, merely out of habit through compulsive speech, gesturing and posturing in the name of friendship. This phantasmagoria will make no difference to the burgeoning discontent within him in relation to his own disorder, disintegration and disequilibrium. How can a person be a part of the contemporary social scene and not share in the contemporary chaos of surrounding disintegration?

 The individual must begin where he is amidst the disorder around him and, recognizing an isomorphic disorder within himself, must courageously ask himself whether this universe has meaning. Is it merely a random, discordant motion of atoms, molecules, cells, planets, galaxies and galactic clusters – an interrupted chaos? To ask the question sincerely is to realize that his knowledge is insufficient to make any such assertion about the universe. Even in times of imminent social disintegration there are voices and visions, prophetic intimations of forgotten truths. These truths (once not only felt but known) were formerly a living part of the American pulse. These forgotten truths need no mere verbal affirmation nor resuscitation under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs – they need to be used as the basis of a new conception of life and of man as part of nature. They must be made the basis of an ordering principle which an individual can consciously introduce into his own life. Not to know this is to be insensitive to the present historical moment. In the contemporary world there has been an enormous mixing of karmas. The over-arching karma is concealed under the mingling of lesser karmas. A thoughtful person might look back at his ancestry and be willing to acknowledge diverse antecedents. He might see it beyond praise and blame, as important independent of judgements. He may even take a certain pride in self-consciously recovering something of its story. Another man might not want to regress in history, but be willing to look forward and discern that in relation to the year 2000 all societies and individuals are equal in that they all must be agnostic. Adepts and Bodhisattvas, on the other hand, know what the cyclic law will allow, not merely in the year 2000, but in millennia from now. The gap is very great between Initiates who can make exact calculations and the greatest men of our age, who are no different from the most ignorant man in their inability to know indubitably anything about the year 2000.

 Any person can self-consciously recover his membership in the commonwealth of mankind by taking to himself the best that he can extract and utilize from the great religions, cultures, races, literatures, languages, schools of thought, learning, art and excellence. He may not become another Leonardo da Vinci. Nevertheless, the range of choice is vast. The eclectic nature of the possible combinations for a man is very real. He has a freedom that did not belong to persons in the last century. He can make his own combination of influences from the past, and they can become his own by use. He can become a self-conscious keeper of the archives of mankind in his life. He can become a custodian of the precious jewels of the great religions, a preserver of the meanings of myths and monuments, an enjoyer of the grand banquet of human excellence, and a worthy recipient of the gifts of past and present. The Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas does this constantly. They are the guardians of records of all that is quintessential to the human family over millions of years. They are the preservers of primordial truths. They still reenact the sublime utterances that we call the Rig Veda, that are known in the chants of the great scriptures. And because of their persistent preservation, the orphan humanity is not abandoned. They enable those in the forefront of the human race in their capacity for universalization, individuation, sacrifice and heroic commitment to emerge from the multitudes and to become servants in the vast Army of the Voice.

 It is possible for any man or woman to enter into that ancient fellowship of those who seek to become the servants of the great preservers of the secret records of antiquity. Krishna taught Arjuna in the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita that after the greatest – now forgotten – civilizations of long ago came and went, "the mighty spiritual art" was lost. Though it was lost, collectively speaking, it was never lost to all because these hierophants assiduously preserved it. It has been called the Wisdom-Religion. It is the divine wisdom maintained by those few who embody it, who are its self-conscious custodians, tribeless and raceless, genuinely free men proud to belong to the family of man. They differ from the exhaustless potentiality of the Divine Mind only as divine thought differs from divine ideation. It is the difference between a library and men who in using the library and in reflecting and ideating upon its books, magically bring them to life. Are there any clues in the Wisdom-Religion of humanity that a person might use as an ordering principle, while remaining aware of the chaos in his own psychic nature? There are, if he follows The Voice of the Silence: "Now bend thy head and listen well, O Bodhisattva – Compassion speaks and saith: "Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?" " If one ardently wishes to understand the heart of the universe, one must initially be willing to put oneself in the position of other people. This is a precondition for all spiritual teaching. It is only to the learner that Theosophy can speak, only to the man willing to make the initial act of minimal compassion, to see the world as a whole and to feel what all humanity might be feeling. He cannot tell whether his perceptions are wholly accurate. But if he observes, learns and reflects, he will begin to see that there is a connection between the invisible worlds in which innumerable beings live as centres of consciousness, and what he can see in the sweeping screen of nature itself. Human consciousness – the power of thought, the power of visualization, the power of imagination – though it be repeatedly defeated, repeatedly degraded, is nonetheless indestructible. The faculty of self-conscious awareness in the human being never seems to be exhausted, even by the whole catalogue of abuse of that power.

 Although we may see only the frothy misuse of consciousness, the energy that keeps men alive is a mighty power, what Krishna called the magic of prakriti. Behind every expression of life-energy by every human being is a vast ocean of consciousness in motion, affecting and agitating everything that moves, while itself remaining unmoved. Vishnu seated upon a coiled serpent in a boundless ocean resembles the man for whom the universe is simply a minute portion of himself, a lotus emanating from his navel. The one absolute existence and the universal ground of being, consciousness and motion, so far from being exhausted in systems of manifested life and intelligence, is unaffected by them. Yet somewhere, somehow, it is involved in maintaining the order and sustaining the law that governs existence. All universes and all systems are but subsystems of one inconceivably vast cosmos. All of them are an expression of one law, and there is something archetypally true and primordially present in that law which, inherent in the very nature of the one reality, only partially participates in the manifested world. This has been deftly conveyed by poets and philosophers in graphic descriptions of the heavenly orbs, of the awe that they feel in relation to ontological plenitude. They had a certain proper reverence for the process of life itself, beyond the capacity for formulating categories, for crucifying the ineluctable wonder of manifested existence. How, then, can a person in his or her own daily life employ a conception of infinitely diverse beings – going through seemingly endless development, with most stages unknown and invisible, and passing through all of these as part of one single process? How can one conceive of life-energies streaming forth from a single, indivisible source of ever-active consciousness, itself inexhaustible? Not with the finite mind, nor with the help of ordinary language, nor by analogies with our false feelings of separateness, nor with labels attached to names and forms. Yet, there have been those who have made this conception the basis for their own deliberate attempt to erect order out of chaos by reflecting upon something fundamental to it.

 That fundamental principle is an x factor in every equation. "Vishnu" is derived from a Sanskrit root meaning "to pervade". If there is a universe, there is an all-pervading presence sustaining it. If there is a power that is both all-pervading and self-sustaining, that gives unity to diversity and continuity to change, it is integrally present in everything and at the same time is involved in a ceaseless reordering in a dynamic universe of ceaseless change. This archetypal principle moves towards dynamic equilibrium and purposive homeostasis. The Voice of the Silence teaches: "The wheel of the Good Law moves swiftly on. It grinds by night and day." "Its wheel revolves for all, the humble and the proud." It makes no distinctions between men. Manmade distinctions are irrelevant to the great chain of being, this constantly revolving wheel of life. Archetypally, it involves beginnings and origins. It involves growth, decay, sickness and error, and is also a principle of health. It is not, however, a principle of immortality. There are life-giving forces that are as strong as the death-dealing forces of entropy and decay. So one might describe it as an anti-entropic principle without which beings could not exist. And if all beings share one thing in common – that they exist – and if they themselves do not exhaust the potential power of the consciousness which they reflect and modify, then the existence which is shared by all beings is one. Existence, when pondered by the mind, is an illuminative field for consciousness.

 A person could reflect consciously upon the lives of other people, upon the lives of animals and of stars. What is that power of self-maintenance that belongs to none exclusively yet is shared by all? It may seem to have a beginning and an end in time and space because every event must have a terminus. And yet the process itself continues, and ceaselessly continues. It defies description, baffles analysis, participates in the wonder and enigma of life. The central informing intelligence continually restores equilibrium whenever it is disturbed. It continually consolidates wherever there are forces of disintegration, thus enabling continuity to take place within all the fragmentary interruptions upon the scene of things. Vishnu is the one great shoreless conscious existence. It is beyond forms, and yet manifests in the entire kaleidoscope of images. And it is, when made the object of meditation, the one great field of consciousness, with the rays, sets, ranks and beings of different grades and different powers manifested in relation to their latent potential power of perception. It is a vast world with a central source of luminous intelligence. In relation to that which is in all beings, one can light up the universe and see its fullness. But one cannot see the fullness of the universe unless one is willing to withdraw excessive valuation from particular things. Unless a person is willing to negate that to which he has attached too much reality, he will never be able to apprehend the whole field of existence. The enemy of the inexhaustible preserving power of consciousness is disproportion and excess in our horizon of perception – the tyranny of objects in the false sense of selfhood that we create out of our exaggerations of every kind.

 Can human beings, while involved in matters that are overvalued and therefore false, still participate in the masquerade for reasons they cannot formulate, through feelings they cannot express? When a person begins not merely to live but to respond to life, seeing what life means for so many others, despite the illusory nature of all life's formulations, he then begins to see the underlying rhythm amidst all chaotic and disordered expressions. Beyond the categories that men impose upon manifested life, it keeps the great wheel revolving and the world in motion. When a person wants to understand this in his own life, he has to ask, what, out of his illusions and exaggerations, are the causes sown each hour on the plane of thought and feeling and of word and deed which will necessarily involve him in the balancing process of nature. In the end, a person has only one choice in terms of the pervasive Vishnu principle in nature: either he becomes an ally of Vishnu, anticipates the balancing that life is going to do, or he is the involuntary victim of the balancing process. What is true for a man is true for a family, a race, a nation or a world. Otherwise, the inexhaustibility of the potential of deity would have no meaning. Men on one particular planet could be justified in holding permanently to an ethnocentric view of the universe as revolving around their own nation and race, and a view of social life as entirely explicable in terms of an epiphenomenal externalization existing solely for self. The psychology of this perspective ultimately collapses, for it involves an agonizing and self-destructive logic, and yet it is the logic by which many persons live, thereby limiting themselves, if not consciousness. An individual may think that he is favouring the universe by existing; he has no conception of the self with which to handle his legitimate dislike of himself. But worse, he thinks that the self he dislikes is the only self. If he could see that there are significant omissions in his viewpoint of what is too vast to be held in consciousness, but also of what is too minute to have been noticed by him, then he would know that unless he gives himself time to reflect and space to feel what Nature is telling him, he will never be able to hear the Voice of the Silence. The Voice of the Silence would ask him, "Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?"

 The masquerade of maya maintains itself because compassion is at its core. It is a great school of life and there is a strange kind of learning in which consciousness is involved and every individual is a learner. All sense-organs are gateways of learning and observation. Generally, one is smoked out, one's capacity to absorb is inadequate in relation to the stimuli. One is in a state of spiritual and intellectual hypoglycemia. One cannot handle the information that the universe, the world and life daily present to one s consciousness. One must consciously sift so as to introduce order into the chaos of one's self-awareness. One needs a fresh standpoint. One might consider last week's events from the viewpoint of a future historian. One might ask, as Maslow did before his death, how one will appear to one's grandson. One might gauge oneself from the standpoint of an acquaintance of twenty years ago. In the end one will have to assume the firmer standpoint of the unconditioned, uninvolved Self, in relation to which the sense of personal self is an absurd lie. In terms of that, one can then discover life's priorities. And then one can persist in asking the question in relation to different aspects of oneself, bringing them into chidakasam, the field of cosmic consciousness. What was previously fascinating becomes irrelevant. What was previously significant becomes monotonous. There is something else which is real, if incommunicable. And, by reflecting again and again upon the essential amidst a mass of inessentials, one begins to rehearse within the universe of one's own being the movement of the great revolving wheel of the Law. In the words of The Voice of the Silence, "The worthless husks it drives from out the golden grain, the refuse from the flour."

 A man can self-consciously do with his own life what the wheel does with the universe. When the Buddha attained enlightenment, truly he was in a position to give a deliberate turn to the great wheel. A man can initiate a forward impulse in history and do it deliberately, because he knows enough about the little wheel of his own personal consciousness, and about the many wheels of the many selves that mesh together in the great wheel of existence. As a man sifts from inessentials an essential core by which he consciously intends to live, he recovers the seed of Buddhahood, an acute sense of kinship with everything that lives and breathes. A person does so when he meditates on existence as a whole and merges his own selfhood into that vaster being. " "Great Sifter" is the name of the "Heart Doctrine"." It is a teaching which helps one consciously to sift, just as Nature ceaselessly sifts. "The hand of Karma guides the wheel; the revolutions mark the beatings of the karmic heart." When a person consciously discriminates, he works with Nature without awaiting Karma's disciplinary measures. He anticipates the Law and is unafraid. A man can do this in relation to a whole collectivity that we call a nation or a historical period (though those who do so are so rare that Hegel called them world-historical individuals). When a person sifts for himself and for the sake of others, while also observing and learning from the process as a whole, he discovers that the ordering principle of Vishnu is ceaselessly balancing out in nature. Life will be balanced out. Compassion, the Law of Laws, requires justice in nature and in time. If a person knows this, he can proportion his perception of life, events and himself in a perspective that can safeguard against discontinuity and dissolution. Even if it protects an illusion, it is an illusion that he sees through – he is neither involved in nor trapped by it.

 The more something is illusory, the more it needs to be reinforced from outside and the more that reinforcing will fail in the end. But the more something is real, the more it is self-validating, the more it reinforces itself, the more it revolves like a wheel that once put in motion will keep revolving, though not forever. But when a man, remembering the original affirmation – THAT Thou Art – places his consciousness beyond the whole process of manifestation, then, like a Buddha he places himself beyond the great revolutions of the cosmic wheel. He remains awake during the period of non-manifestation. He has little need to pay tribute to the world of manifested existence. Indifferent to perfection in time, such a man enjoys that kind of consciousness which is neither bliss nor pain, but rather pure awareness, for which we have no adequate concepts or analogies. Such a person, like Vishnu, floats upon the ocean of life. He sees all conditioned existence simply as one small lotus spilling out of one portion of himself while he himself is not caught in the motion of prakriti. This, of course, is a very high ideal. In the wisdom of the ancients we encounter the highest ideas of human self-government, difficult to embody, and even more difficult because many today are afraid of the very words "self-control" and "discipline". How could such persons be ready for discipleship?

 If there is a discipline that is intrinsic to nature itself, then a person who reflects that discipline must be natural and disciplined as well. What is unnatural or undisciplined simply represents deviations from the processes of nature. At the root of nature is a continuing reordering in diversity of unity, a reordering in a hierarchical form. That hierarchical governance in nature can accommodate unity, equality and fraternity. It is very difficult to understand in ordinary human terms the symmetry and organization, the interdependence and the harmony of, for example, a forest of redwood trees. In the past these redwood forests were preserved in the great economy of nature by forest fires. After man stepped in, wanton denuding of the landscape was followed by a desire to preserve the big redwood trees. The wish to preserve disallowed forest fires, and as a consequence, the young trees cannot grow. Something in the economy of the redwood forest has been lost in man's very attempt to preserve it. There is something natural about the emergence of a young tree; if it needs space to express itself, some other vegetation must go. A forest fire is a kind of sacrifice. Therefore, we need a third term to mediate between the words "natural" and "discipline" – the word "sacrifice". All life is a disciplined form of sacrifice in its purest economy. Human wills imposing upon each other create an inequitable distribution of sacrifices, with the result that a human being must maintain himself precariously between the two horns of a dilemma. Either somebody will discipline him, and so antagonize him. Or he will be very natural and antagonize others. Once a person chooses a discipline, it becomes natural for him to live it out. And only those who really know a discipline can fully appreciate its improvisations and innovations, sustained by a tremendous accumulation of sacrificial devotion to the discipline, so that all effort becomes as natural as breathing. A disciple is a person who says, "I am willing to train myself in a discipline that has an immemorial lineage, in which there are many participants, and in which I am ultimately answerable only to myself. But in relation to that discipline I am willing to take a vow, to make a pledge and to bind myself to a commitment that is irrevocable." Only through an irrevocable commitment can a man begin to walk the Path that leads through a series of painful struggles, deaths and rebirths towards the exalted position of the truly free man, the man who is fully awake.

 Cosmic order may be a threatening subject for the cowardly, but for the Buddhas collectively it is the basis upon which they maintain a principle of concord and unanimity to guide and to guard existence. This idea has been lost to many because of the deified – and eventually mummified – notion of Buddhahood. Yet there are men so perfect in relation to humanity that they collectively constitute a guardian wall, a kind of academy that through ceaseless contemplation maintains the moral government of the universe. Theirs is an extremely exalted position which a person can only understand after much preparation. When a person deeply meditates upon it, he comes to see that there is within the universe an archetypal conception of an ideal society, a utopian kingdom, the kingdom of God on earth, heaven in time. In every person some soul-awareness survives of the grandeur of the golden conception of King-Initiates, themselves the most disciplined beings imaginable, who are so far from being threatened by differences of rank, grade and degree that they observe them constantly with a delicate deference and a magnificent enjoyment. Sometimes they are known as the fathers of the human race; at other times as its elder brothers. Sometimes they are called the Sons of Wisdom because of their own relationship to Mahat, the manifested Logos. That conception is so far removed from our own age that it cannot be readily accommodated in our lives. Yet it may serve as a model upon which individuals can base an architectonic vision of a new social order.

 The Marquis de Condorcet in the eighteenth century predicted a time when the sun would shine only for those human beings free from dependence upon everything external to them, those who have wholly acknowledged the sovereignty of divine reason within them. That time will not blossom for all mankind for hundreds of millennia. But that time has surely come for a sufficient number of men and women to enact an Akashic model of what the future holds for all. A man becomes a man of ideation when he uses the ideas represented by the Wisdom-Religion, even though he cannot preserve them and use them with the spiritual potency that once innately belonged to him. Every time he uses them, he becomes more alive, more capable of withstanding the buffetings of change. He gains more continuity of consciousness. He moves from the realm of the unreal to the Real, from darkness to Light, from death to Immortality. His is the great compassion shown in sharing some wisdom with those who truly wish to make serious effort toward self-renovation in their lives on the basis of the eternal verities of Brahma Vach.

 In the ABSOLUTE or Divine Thought everything exists and there has been no time when it did not so exist; but Divine Ideation is limited by the Universal Manvantaras. The realm of Akasa is the undifferentiated noumenal and abstract Space which will be occupied by Chidakasam, the field of primordial consciousness. It has several degrees, however, in Occult philosophy; in fact, "seven fields." The first is the field of latent consciousness which is coeval with the duration of the first and second unmanifested Logoi. It is the "Light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not" of St. John's Gospel. When the hour strikes for the Third Logos to appear, then from the latent potentiality there radiates a lower field of differentiated consciousness, which is Mahat, or the entire collectivity of those Dhyan Chohans of sentient life of which Fohat is the representative on the objective plane and the Manasaputras on the subjective.

H. P. BLAVATSKY


Hermes, September 1978
by Raghavan Iyer