Karma and Transmutation

by Raghavan Iyer @ Theosophy Trust


KARMA AND TRANSMUTATION


According to esoteric teaching there are seven primary, and seven secondary "creations"; the former being the Forces self-evolving from the one causeless FORCE; the latter, showing the manifested Universe emanating from the already differentiated divine elements.
 Esoterically, as well as exoterically, all the...enumerated Creations stand for the (7) periods of Evolution, whether after an "Age" or a "Day" of Brahmâ. This is the teaching
par excellence of Occult Philosophy, which, however, never uses the term "creation nor even that of evolution, "with regard to primary "Creation":" but calls all such forces "the aspects of the Causeless Force".

The Secret Doctrine, i 446    

 Each individual is an essential if unequal participant in the fourteen phases of evolution indicated in the Puranic Teachings concerning the seven creations. All human beings share in the most subtle and sublime spiritual resources of the universe as well as in its more manifest and mundane features. From the standpoint of mental growth and moral learning, the foremost element of human self-existence is its partial participation in the Mahatic self-transcendence of the Kumaras. Through the fiery spark of universal self-consciousness, every human being is sacrificially endowed with the priceless gift of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, and the capacity for Bodhisattvic action. Existing as the latent seed of divine self-consciousness, it is an inseparable portion of the impartite field of primordial Wisdom – Dzyan – which supports and pervades the differentiated universe.

 Divine Wisdom is at once the luminous awareness of its origins lost in the ineffable Darkness and Silence as well as the directing intelligence of the noumenal cosmos. As Brahmâ-Mahat it is the architectonic wisdom of Karma mirrored in the Buddhic faculty in man. As Brahmâ-Rudra it is one with the hosts of Manasa-Dhyanis, endowing human beings with the immense potential of its transcendental wisdom. In the devotional heart of every human being it is Ishwara, the Ishtaguru, the prototype and preceptor, the living light of the lost Word guiding the pilgrim-soul along the Path.

 The awakening of wisdom is not the exclusive concern of human beings as distinguished from the other kingdoms of nature. Rather, it is the common current carrying every centre of life forward through evolutionary cycles of transformation. Governed from within by the universal law of harmony and compassion, each phase of evolution and each kingdom of nature elaborates and defines one of a series of indispensable stages of growth. Each affords its own array of opportunities and each is circumscribed by its own limiting laws. Poised between transcendental unity and mayavic differentiation, consciousness experiences a series of states distinguished by permutations of space, motion and duration. Through birth and death, through involvement and withdrawal, through affirmation and negation, the appropriate soil is prepared and the seeds of self-consciousness quickened so that they might germinate and flower into the fullness of svasamvedana.

 Viewed in this light, the present phase of human evolution may be seen as a period of mature awakening to universal responsibility. To the extent that human beings realize their inmost identity with the Kumaras and Bodhisattvas, they may perceive the solidarity of their being with all other souls and hence the universality of their obligation of compassion. To the extent that they are illuminated and energized by the transcendental wisdom of the Kumaras, they will find within themselves the skill and strength needed to meet the just demands of a life of joyous service to other beings. As the active awareness of the bond of Being hidden in Non-Being, Karma is the basis of a philosophic fusion of the concepts of human nature, obligation, potentiality and destiny. Encompassing all from Brahmâ-Mahat to the tiniest atom, Karma is inseparable from the world-wielding spirit of Wisdom which creates, sustains and regenerates manifestation out of non-manifestation.

 Karma is thus one of the most mysterious and at the same time one of the most practical themes. In the present cycle it is the sacred responsibility of those who have been fortunate to receive the teaching of karma to use the doctrine intelligently and patiently, so as to be able to communicate by example – which is the school of mankind – as well as by precept – which is the mode of service to one's fellow beings – those insights into karma which they have been privileged to garner. Buddhic intuition with regard to the operation of karma is indispensable to human beings who wish to gain noetic control over their lives and instruments so that they may remain attuned to the potent vibration of the New Cycle. As the karmic station of humanity demands the integration of Buddhic awareness and Manasic deliberation, the cultivation of mindfulness through daily exercises in meditation is an essential starting-point in gaining insight into karma. The practical art of mindfulness can begin with attentiveness to extremely simple and elementary points of existence. For example, in a variety of Buddhist schools aspirants are encouraged to observe their mode of breathing. By counting breaths over a period of time and by observing the rhythms of outbreathing and inbreathing, one can become aware of the pauses involved in breathing – before an outbreath, after an outbreath, before an inbreath, and after an inbreath. Such attention to breathing is not, however, equivalent to mindfulness, but must be linked through contemplation to an understanding of inward processes in consciousness. Inbreathing is important in relation to the powers of assimilation, preservation and absorption. Outbreathing is important in discharging one's debts to the seven kingdoms of nature and to all human beings, seen and unseen, with whom one interacts. Each opportunity to breathe outwards is an opportunity to either bless or curse life-atoms.

 Every human being is a receptacle of life-atoms from billions of other beings, immersed in a constant circulation that passes in and out of every astral form. In and through these shariras or vestures there is a ceaseless movement in the ocean of life of classes of life-atoms, which themselves belong to the hebdomadic kingdoms and sub-kingdoms of nature. Each entering and exiting life-atom experiences and retains the impress of the thought and feeling of the human being presiding over the ephemeral vesture. All of these kingdoms and classes of elementals have had an archetypal function in the history of cosmic and human evolution. By combining a firm if rudimentary grasp of the metaphysics of the Gupta Vidya concerning the seven creations with a persistent attention to the elementary processes of life, one can acquire through mindfulness a minimal insight into the magical process of breathing, thinking, feeling and willing. Minimally, one can begin to see that crude empirical notions like good luck and bad luck, being accident-prone or fortunate, are inadequate to an understanding of the exactitude and precision of karma. Similarly, one may come to see that neither wishful or dreamy thinking nor mechanistic or reductionist assumptions can be adequate to comprehend or cope with the challenges of life.

 The awakening of the divine creative potential within human nature through an apprehension of karma requires a blending of a macro-perspective with a micro-application. Human beings in the Aquarian Age are the cultural inheritors of a vast vision of the physical universe constituted out of billions upon billions of galaxies. Whilst they may have few opportunities to observe the galaxies, they have many opportunities to hear and read about them. The reality of galactic space is much more alive for modern man than it was for the masses of people living before the present century. Through planetariums, through books and through the mass media, millions of people have been able to gain a glimpse of the awesome reality of myriad stars. Through the excitement of mental and physical voyages of discovery, many children of the present century have gained some inkling of the place of the earth amidst the starry heavens. Through this macro-perspective which is the heritage of contemporary humanity, individuals everywhere have gained access to the vast purifying powers of space. At the same time, the capacity to make use of such knowledge in daily life requires a micro-approach, something of that sort of attention stressed with great integrity in the Buddhist tradition. Beginning with Gautama's enigmatic Flower Sermon, there is a subtle emphasis placed upon the mystery of the individual flower, the beauty of the particular petal, the intimations of the individual moment.

 Something of the same spirit was exemplified in the long life of Albert Schweitzer, who, out of his enormous compassion and sacrifice, laboured from small beginnings until his dying day, serving the needs of the ailing and the distressed. Schweitzer thought that the central problem of modern civilization came down to its lack of a sense of the sacred, its lack of "reverence for life". Through this great mantram, his therapeutic legacy to humanity, Schweitzer drew attention to the need for compassion, intelligence and humility in very interaction with nature or other human beings. Through reverence for the smallest things and empty spaces in life, reverence in human relationships and for the potentials in all human beings, the sense of the sacred can be restored. As Schweitzer said, "Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now – always." This is the micro-approach, through which in every single hour one can make a significant difference. If only one would see clearly, every moment can make a decisive contribution to the current of ideation that is the surest sovereign protection of each and every human soul.

 There is an essential relationship between the degree of one's reverence for life and the degree of one's apprehension of the mystery of life itself. Understood causally, it is the rate of vibration of one's ideational current which determines the degree of integration between one's macro-perspective and micro-approach to life. Some understanding of this principle may be seen in contemporary science, which seeks to connect the laws governing the life and death of galaxies and stars with the laws of micro-physics governing the vibratory properties of particles and energy. The same tendency in modern thought is seen in attempts to connect even the somewhat mechanistic theories regarding brainwaves and neurological phenomena with the still rather crude notion of mental vibrations affecting feelings and behaviour. The awakening of Divine Wisdom and the establishment of true continuity of consciousness depend upon a clear insight into the relationship between ideation and the involvement of life in form. The Gupta Vidya teaches that life precedes the first atom of form, and that its manifestation on the seven planes must be traced to the active Dhyani-energies on the plane of Mahat.

 Beginning with the primordial self-evolution of Mahat, Divine Mind or the Spirit of the Universal Soul, from the One Causeless Force, the series of seven primary "creations" traces out the differentiation of the divine elements of invisible Nature. From the aggregate of spiritual intelligences, the Dhyanis and Manus constituting the primordial Logos, the first manifested and creative power, issue the influences stirring the first breath of differentiation of the pre-cosmic elements in primordial Akasha. This is the passage from the chaotic pre-nebular period of cosmogony to the first stages of cosmic life, the fire-mist period, wherein atoms emerge from laya. Here the second hierarchy of Manus and Dhyanis arises, those who in turn will originate the realm of form or rupa. Thus, in the sevenfold primary creation, as well as in the sevenfold secondary or material and terrestrial creation, the differentiation of the primordial germ of life precedes the evolution of life and form. The laws governing the manifestation of life on the terrestrial globe mirror the laws governing the agitation of undifferentiated cosmic matter by Mahat or Divine Intelligence. Through a purely transcendental process, witnessed solely by the supra-divine intelligence of the Rudra-Kumaras,

 The Supreme Soul, the all permeant (Sarvaga) Substance of the World, having entered (been drawn) into matter (prakriti) and Spirit (purusha), agitated the mutable and the immutable principles, the season of Creation (manvantara) having arrived.

The Secret Doctrine, i 451    

 Pointing to the pervasive and profound mystery of the relationship between ideation, life and form, H.P. Blavatsky intimates something of the connection between breath and vibration, and speaks hopefully of the approach of modern thought to the ancient mystery.

...the absolutely eternal universal motion, or vibration, that which is called in Esoteric language "the GREAT BREATH," differentiates in the primordial, first manifested ATOM. More and more, as chemical and physical sciences progress, does this occult axiom find its corroboration in the world of knowledge: the scientific hypothesis, that even the simplest elements of matter are identical in nature and differ from each other only owing to the variety of the distributions of atoms in the molecule or speck of substance, or by the modes of its atomic vibration, gains every day more ground.

The Secret Doctrine, i 455    

 The ability to sustain a current of ideation, or vibration, through mindfulness in the blending of a macro-perspective and micro-application is the mature fruit of meditation and self-correction nurtured over lifetimes. Continuity of consciousness is the result of continuity of striving rooted in knowledge of the laws of Karma. For the ordinary human being who does not remember much of the past ten years of the present life, speculative pseudo-knowledge and supposed information regarding past lives is neither reliable nor helpful. All genuine knowledge is self-knowledge and derives from the soul-powers of deliberation, discrimination and detachment. It requires the ability to look at the world of objects in relation to the subjectivity of the ray of light that comes from a single universal and transcendent source. Gradually, through self-devised efforts checked by Karma, one must deepen devotional reverence for life, progressively purifying the inner vestures and the mind through the negation of all identification with form. Entering the void, one must seek the archetypal perspective of the Rishis who witness the eternal dawn of manifestation with the words,

 "There was neither day nor night, nor sky nor earth, nor darkness nor light, nor any other thing save only ONE, unapprehensible by intellect, or THAT which is Brahma and Pumis (Spirit) and Pradhana (crude matter)" (Veda: "Vishnu Purana Commentary"); or literally: "One Pradhanika Brahma Spirit: THAT was." The "Pradhanika Brahma Spirit" is Mulaprakriti and Parabrahmam.

The Secret Doctrine, i 445    

Mulaprakriti is the veil of primordial matter, or pre-cosmic chaos upon TAT, the unthinkable and the unspeakable. This ever exists, whether there are manifestations of myriads upon myriads of galaxies and stars, or whether there is nothing in the Divine Darkness in boundless space and eternal duration in which the ceaseless motion of the potential breathing of the One breathes breathless. When the mind is raised to the apex of contemplation of non-manifestation, one voids the entire cosmos. When this is done again and again, then, like those who get used to the rarefied air of higher altitudes by climbing mountains, one's mental breathing changes. It becomes possible to return to the daily sphere of obligations with a freshness, sweetness and an afflatus of supernal light. The more one experiences this, the more the mystery deepens and the more one is grateful for breathing, and grateful for learning and living. To learn truth and to see life rightly are the prerogatives earned by those who under karma become srotapattis, entering the stream of search for Divine Wisdom.

 Every aspirant at the portal of the Path should know that it is possible by meditation to go beyond the galaxies, to reawaken the lost Eye and to restore the lost Word. No human being should ever hesitate to dare – spiritual life demands daring and courage, the virya of authentic striving. In that sense, every human being should reach for the sky, and indeed go beyond the sky, and having done so should come down to the tip of the nose. Of the five ordinary senses, the sense of sight is the most extraordinary in that the horizon of vision is much greater than the parameters of the other four senses. For example, it is possible for any person of average eyesight to see the tip of the nose, but at the same time to see the sun ninety-three million miles away. Even the most rudimentary reflection upon the power of vision reveals the immense privilege that human beings enjoy in their power of sight. In many meditative exercises it is useful to start by bringing together both eyes in a focus at the tip of the nose. There will be some initial eye strain for those unaccustomed to the practice, and it should not be forced. Nor should one engage in this practice of focussing the organs of vision upon the organ of breath merely upon the physical plane without thinking of that which is beyond oneself and also within the heart.

 Ultimately, the quest for the awakening of wisdom through meditation is the quest for the realization of TAT – That which is the boundless space beyond the cosmos and also present in every atom. It is in the eyes and at the ends of one's fingers, and also at the tip of the nose. It is everywhere and nowhere, transcending mind and the categories of thought. It is the ONE that is neither first nor last, but ALL. As H.P. Blavatsky suggested,

 It is on the right comprehension of this tenet in the Brahmanas and Puranas that hangs, we believe, the apple of discord between the three Vedantin Sects: the Advaita, Dwaita, and the Visishtadvaitas. The first arguing rightly that Parabrahmam, having no relation, as the absolute all, to the manifested world – the Infinite having no connection with the finite – can neither will nor create; that, therefore, Brahmâ, Mahat, Iswara, or whatever name the creative power may be known by, creative gods and all, are simply an illusive aspect of Parabrahmam in the conception of the conceivers; while the other sects identify the impersonal Cause with the Creator, or Iswara.
Mahat (or Maha-Buddhi) is, with the Vaishnavas, however, divine mind in active operation, or, as Anaxagoras has it, "an ordering and disposing mind, which was the cause of all things".

The Secret Doctrine, i 451    

 Sometimes the Absolute has been characterized as the supremely passive unconscious, but this is merely an expression because, strictly speaking, it is neither conscious nor unconscious. It ever is. Brahmâ, Mahat and Ishwara are all references to the creative principle in the cosmos. They afford different ways in which to understand the non-relationality of the absolute abstract Parabrahm. At the same time, however, if they are not anthropomorphized or concretized, they can provide a ladder of ideas for use in meditation for those who wish to bridge the gap between the knower and the known, and between the unknown and the Unknowable.

 For the human being who adopts the spiritual discipline of meditation in earnest, it becomes enjoyable to undertake repeated exercises in spiritual training, in mind-control and in mindfulness. Through unwavering resolve and unremitting attention to details, the srotapatti enters upon the arduous path of self-evolution which leads ultimately to the unfoldment of the Third Eye. Under the ever-watchful eye of Karma, which must be mirrored in the disciple's own vigilance, the mysteries of the seven primary and seven secondary creations must be unlocked from within. These "creations" correspond with periods of cosmic and human evolution, as well as with various modes of differentiation in the rupa and arupa worlds, and the respective hierarchies of solar and lunar Dhyanis which constitute the inner nature of man. This process of awakening to the fourteen colours of the rainbow is referred to in the Puranas as the Eighth Creation, concerning which H.P. Blavatsky stated:

 The "eighth creation" mentioned is no Creation at all; it is a blind again, for it refers to a purely mental process: the cognition of the "ninth" creation, which, in its turn, is an effect, manifesting in the secondary of that which was a "Creation" in the Primary (Prakrita) Creation. The Eighth, then, called Anugraha (the Pratyayasarga or the intellectual creation of the Sankhyas, explained in Karika, v. 46, p. 146), is "that creation of which we have a perception" – in its esoteric aspect – and "to which we give intellectual assent (Anugraha) in contradistinction to organic creation".

The Secret Doctrine, i 456    

 A relevant and accessible example of this process of voluntary Manasic self-evolution can be found in the practice of taking daily mantrams or seed-thoughts for meditation and application. In this practice depth will follow upon continuity and continuity will follow upon resolve. The aim is to employ potent ideas in order to blow away mental misconceptions which are bound up with the limitations of the lunar astral form. Human beings are liable to limit themselves through sense-perception, acquiring a foreshortened and angular view of who they are. Through the progressive negation of false limitations, it is possible to regenerate awareness of the sphere of light that surrounds every human being, and to sense the intimate and close connection between that sphere and the sphere of light that surrounds every animal, every object, even every globe and planet, ultimately even the sun and the entire starry universe.

 To remove the scales from one's eyes, to dissolve the encrustations and petrification that block the inner currents of vision, is a matter of careful concentration, wherein one focusses upon the core, the mathematical central point, in metaphysical space. Metaphysical space is a homogeneous medium in which there are none of the relations between parts that are found in the differentiated world of ordinary sense-perception. There are regions wherein the familiar divisions of time have no meaning, and light-energy flows instantaneously. To learn to inhabit these regions self-consciously, one must develop conceptions of energy-fields very different from those encountered when, for example, one pushes a cart through the aisles of a supermarket. But if one cannot do the latter calmly and patiently, one cannot learn to do the former.

 One must learn to go at a speed which is governed by the needs of many other beings, but also amidst the clutter of objects and the narrow corridors through which one must move with patience and humility, stopping at each counter until one finds what it is that can be used to feed one's child and family. Again, it is the micro-approach to daily obligations which is the basis for deepening the powers of concentration and meditation. Owing to the enormous elasticity of the mind, it is capable of tremendous expansion as well as intense focus, but its wings will be clipped if it is weak in the embodiment of dharma. To understand in any degree the ubiquity of TAT is simultaneously to realize one's obligation to every point of life and to find within oneself the resources required to fulfil one's dharma. Broadly considered, the Eighth Creation spoken of in the Puranas is the transmutation through meditation, devotion and action of the responsibilities of human existence.

 It is the correct perception of our relations to the whole range of "gods" and especially of those we bear to the Kumaras – the so-called "Ninth Creation" – which is in reality an aspect of or reflection of the sixth in our manvantara (the Vaivasvata). "There is a ninth, the Kumara Creation, which is both primary and secondary", says Vishnu Purana, the oldest of such texts. "The Kumaras", explains an esoteric text, "are the Dhyanis, derived immediately from the supreme Principle, who reappear in the Vaivasvata Manu periods for the progress of mankind."

The Secret Doctrine, i 456    

 Behind the screen of what seems to be material objects there are myriads of devas and elementals, gods and demi-gods, but to see them requires the eye of Buddhic intuition. One has to break down the false screen which is imposed upon objects and creates the illusion of the furniture of the world, with all its tables and chairs, cabbages and kings. Behind all of these are whirling centres of energy revolving in ceaseless motion at tremendous and different rates, and some of them are fundamental particles connected with what is called anti-matter. They are capable of instantaneously affecting fields extending over millions of miles. To penetrate the false screen of the visual world of objects, which is false because entirely relative to sense-perception, it is necessary to seal up the eyes and the mouth, as was the tradition in the Mysteries. By closing the mouth, one shuts out the desire to manifest, and with that the perceptual screen. One is liable initially to experience a dizzy buzzing in the brain, the bees of scattered thoughts, but they can be wiped off as one would wipe a slate clean with an eraser. The mental screen can be cleaned by thinking of the Divine Dark. One must banish all thoughts, voiding the sense of self, voiding the illusion of objects, voiding the sense of time, of yesterday, today and tomorrow. One must void all the six points of perception – north, south, east, west, above and below – but this is difficult because one has to start from below and to reach above, and it then takes time to destroy the distinction between the above and the below. To do this one must travel so far within that what is within is without, and what is without is within.

 As the discipline of mental renunciation matures, a vast range of possibilities will unfold before the eye of the soul. One will become extremely aware of "gods", which are millions upon millions of devas and devatas called elementals and belonging to the different kingdoms of nature – sylphs and salamanders, gnomes and undines – all of which are invisible to the physical eye but cluster and move together in extremely disciplined arrays. Many people have some vague sense of this, through their relationship to machines and to animals, but when one becomes directly aware of this invisible world, then it becomes possible to raise one's sights cosmically to the magnificent perspective wherefrom one can broadly view human karma over eighteen million years. This is a vast period of time, far beyond the conception of many of the greatest minds of the age, but it is the privileged perspective of the human being who sees himself or herself as an immortal soul and wants to enact this truth in daily life. It is a perspective based upon meditation and the conviction that every being is an immortal soul. It is tested through one's ability to perceive others as rays of one source of light, enacting the reality of the immortal soul in all the vicissitudes of life.

 As this conviction deepens and ripens, one will begin to sense the privilege of breathing on earth and will recognize the gift of the Kumaras, the Dhyanis who lit up the spark of self-consciousness in every human being. In Puranic tradition the Kumaras are Sages who live as long as Brahmâ, being created by him in the first kalpa. Esoterically, they are the progenitors of the true spiritual SELF, the hierarchy of the higher Prajapati under the guardianship of and headed by Rudra-Nilalohita, and derived immediately from the supreme Principle. Meditation upon the Kumaras is both potent and benedictory, and once truly touched, it will leave one silently absorbed in deep rapture for a significant period of time. But then one will recall the teaching about mindfulness, and go forth into the world combining refined karmic precision with authentic creativity in the performance of duty out of love and compassion. Practising balance, one will both reach with extreme humility to the highest conceivable meditation, and at the same time act in the world with the inner confidence that one can genuinely help other human beings. Maintaining mindfulness, one can transmute work and home into sacred arenas for the elevation of life-atoms, and can discover in every circumstance of life the golden opportunity to render true service.

 Long before one can honour the true presence of the Kumaras within, and regain the lost Word and the lost Light, one must come to see that there is no karmic meaning in meditation apart from the desire to render service to all that lives. Long before one can gain any direct sense of the ways in which nature is the ally, pupil and servant of the perfected human will, one must quicken through meditation gratitude and deep inner humility for the privilege of being able, as a human being, to do something constructive each and every day. However intermittent the effort, one can create a noetic current which extends through the seasons until the point is reached where one wins true self-respect for the first time by staying with something that one starts. Authentic self-respect comes from binding oneself to do something noble and worthwhile for the sake of the human race. It is the karmic consequence of mindfulness. Once established, it will gradually bring about a change in the tropism of the life-atoms of the vestures. Meanwhile, under karma, one will encounter the hosts of angry elementals impressed by one's own past errors, delusions and incompletions, which are now neglected and want to be indulged but should be ignored. If one holds fast to the heart-vibration and the central current of ideation, then these will go away, and one will become like a child living in a magical world.

 Whispering to the Ishtaguru within, who is felt but not yet seen, and listening to the whispers of Buddhi to Manas, but without speaking about these matters to anyone else, one may begin to recover the child-state. There is a holy simplicity in being like a little child, and a tremendous protection from interference with one's inner life by ignoramuses in the world. In time, under karma, as one becomes wedded to a life of meditation, service and consecration, one will become prepared for the linking of the Eighth to the Ninth Creation, the union of Manas and Buddhi in the presence of the Paramatman.

 Learn now that there is no cure for desire, no cure for the love of reward, no cure for the misery of longing, save in the fixing of the sight and hearing upon that which is invisible and soundless. Begin even now to practise it, and so a thousand serpents will be kept from your path.
 Live in the eternal.
 The operations of the actual laws of Karma are not to be studied until the disciple has reached the point at which they no longer affect himself. The initiate has a right to demand the secrets of nature and to know the rules which govern human life. He obtains this right by having escaped from the limits of nature and by having freed himself from the rules which govern human life. He has become a recognized portion of the divine element, and is no longer affected by that which is temporary. He then obtains a knowledge of the laws which govern temporary conditions. Therefore you who desire to understand the laws of Karma, attempt first to free yourself from these laws; and this can only be done by fixing your attention on that which is unaffected by those laws.

Light on the Path    

Hermes, August 1982
by Raghavan Iyer