Theurgy and Transmutation

by Raghavan Iyer @ Theosophy Trust


THEURGY AND TRANSMUTATION


To those who knew that there was more than one key to theogonic symbolism, it was a mistake to have expressed it in a language so crude and misleading. For if the educated and learned philosopher could discern the kernel of wisdom under the coarse rind of the fruit, and knew that the latter concealed the greatest laws and truths of psychic and physical nature, as well as the origin of all things – not so with the uninitiated profane. For him the dead letter was religion; the interpretation – sacrilege. And this dead letter could neither edify nor make him more perfect. seeing that such an example was given him by his gods.... Now all the gods of Olympus, as well as those of the Hindu Pantheon and the Rishis, were the septiform personations (1) of the noumena of the intelligent Powers of nature; (2) of Cosmic Forces; (3) of celestial bodies; (4) of gods or Dhyan Chohans; (5) of psychic and spiritual powers; (6) of divine kings on earth (or the incarnations of the gods); and (7) of terrestrial heroes or men. The knowledge how to discern among these seven forms the one that is meant, belonged at all times to the Initiates, whose earliest predecessors had created this symbolical and allegorical system.

The Secret Doctrine, ii 764-765

 It is, according to Gautama Buddha, a greater feat to govern oneself than to command all the elements in Nature. All Nature and its powers bend heavenwards before the gentle, irresistible theurgy of the perfected Bodhisattva, the pilgrim-soul who has reached the summit of the Path and become the son of the Dhyanis, compassionator of the triple worlds, greater than all gods. The potential of pure swaraj, latent in every Monad, is quickened by the fiery ray of the Manasa Dhyanis. When first the dark fire of their formless intelligence ignited self-consciousness in the evolved forms of terrestrial humanity over eighteen million years ago, man became a living link between heaven and earth. Conscious of the divine presence within his preceptors, his companions and himself, he was governed by a natural impulse towards gratitude, devotion and benevolence. He lived in effortless sympathy with the hosts of bright devas and devatas that he found in and around himself and throughout the entire realm of Nature. Reflecting the Akashic ideation infused into him by the Manasa, his actions radiated a benign and spontaneous magic.

 Although the impress of that primordial time is ineradicable, human beings have descended so low in consciousness that they can scarcely believe, much less recall, their original estate. Emerson's charitable characterization of man as God playing the fool cannot account for the awful process by which man has become spiritually self-orphaned and blinded, becoming a burden to himself and a parasite on Nature. What, one might ask, are the strange gods and alien altars towards which human beings have directed their pristine powers in degrading themselves? Since there is no power greater than that which made Monads self-conscious, one need not look beyond oneself to find the cause of one's own impoverishment. Nor need one look anywhere but within to find the means whereby one may embody the divine impulsion towards its transcendent end. The regeneration and restoration of humanity requires individuals to heed the wisdom of Krishna's teaching that all beings go to the gods they worship, and thereby awaken to self-conscious immortality in unison with the unmanifest godhead.

 Such an awakening can be neither metaphysically cheap nor psychologically simple; one must skilfully navigate between the Scylla of desperate salvationism and the Charybdis of cynical materialism. If man is potentially a self-conscious link between heaven and earth, one might ask how man is specifically connected with the earth and with heaven. The elements constituting the human vestures are indeed consubstantial with the fabric of Nature outside the human form. Thus, man is linked to the earth through the five sense-organs, each of which has its astral analogue, and also through a variety of classes of elementals. Through each of the astro-physical senses, and especially the sense of inner touch, man is continuously involved in complex processes of interaction with the elemental kingdoms. On the other side, he is connected with the Dhyanis and the devas through daimons, which are the invisible essences of the elements, elastic, ethereal and semi-corporeal, in Nature. These daimons are made up of a much more subtle matter than that which composes the astral form of the average human being. By consciously drawing upon them, one can bring about the progressive etherealization of one's vestures. Just as the crucifixion of Jesus symbolizes the bondage of spirit on the cross of matter, so too the Eucharist signifies the spiritualization of material vestures and the liberation of the spirit. This process must be initiated through meditation, intensified through refinement in consciousness, through reverence, renunciation and compassion. If one can suffuse one's whole being with benevolent and elevated thoughts and feelings, it is possible, over a period of seven years, to reform the life-atoms that constitute the astro-physical form. Such a radical renewal will be apparent in one's hands, face, toes and tongue – indeed at every point in the body.

 This in itself is only one small application of the vast body of arcane and exact knowledge regarding the hosts and hierarchies of beings involved in human evolution. In neo-Platonic thought these beings were divided into three broad classes:

 According to the doctrine of Proclus, the uppermost regions from the Zenith of the Universe to the Moon belonged to the Gods or Planetary Spirits, according to their hierarchies and classes. The highest among them were the twelve Huperouranioi, or Supercelestial Gods, with whole legions of subordinate Daimons at their command. They are followed next in rank and power by the Egkosmioi, the Inter-cosmic Gods, each of these presiding over a great number of Daimons, to whom they impart their power and change it from one to another at will. These are evidently the personified forces of nature in their mutual correlation, the latter being represented by the third class, or the Elementals.

H. P. BLAVATSKY

In every aspect of life, human beings are intimately and immediately engaged with these ordered ranks and legions of daimons or elementals. The elementals are neither immortal spirits nor tangible bodies; they are merely astral forms of the celestial and supercelestial ideas that move them. They are a combination of sublimated matter and rudimentary mind, centres of force with instinctive desires but no consciousness in the human sense. Acting collectively, they are the nature-spirits – the gnomes and sylphs, salamanders and undines of alchemical tradition.

 All these daimons, together with the higher gods, are connected with the seven sacred elements. At the highest metaphysical level, these elements have nothing to do with what we call fire, air earth and water. For, in essence, these elements are not material, nor may they be understood in terms of visible functions on the physical plane. Just as the hosts of celestial and supercelestial gods are guided from within by the power of formless spiritual essences, and act outwardly in their dominion over the daimons of the elements, so these daimons themselves preside directly over the elements of the four kingdoms of organic life, ensouling them and giving them their outward capacities of action. Thus, when human beings arouse Buddhi in kama, the reflection of the sixth principle in the fourth, Buddhi will transmute the lower manas. In the antaskarana, in the channel of aspiration, the force of Buddhi in Manas will actually become manifest in the fingers, nostrils and lungs. Buddhi will be aroused in all the centres of the brain and the heart. It will then be possible to invite or invoke the chief controllers of the many classes of daimons. When this takes place, the teaching that man is a living link between heaven and earth takes on a concrete meaning in benevolent magic based upon arcane science.

 Unless, however, one draws a basic distinction between the spirit and the soul of man, any effort to practise theurgy will be inverted and turn into psychism or even sorcery. Despite the Pauline classification of spirit, soul and body, Christian theology obscured the distinction between spirit and soul. Even the philosophic doctrines of the medieval Kabbalists, though they paralleled the teachings of the neo-Platonists, were not fully in accord with ancient wisdom. The neo-Platonists were, however, well aware of the dangers and seductions of all theurgy; they knew that would-be neophytes could be caught in the clutches of treacherous daimons. Those who cannot clearly distinguish between spirit and soul, cannot firmly distinguish between higher and lower daimons and theurgy will drift into thaumaturgy. As a result, they are likely to form alliances with lower hosts, worship secondary or even tertiary emanations.

 The most substantial difference consisted in the location of the immortal or divine spirit of man. While the ancient Neoplatonists held that the Augoeides never descends hypostatically into the living man, but only more or less sheds its radiance on the inner man – the astral soul – the Kabalists of the middle ages maintained that the spirit, detaching itself from the ocean of light and spirit, entered into man's soul, where it remained through life imprisoned in the astral capsule. This difference was the result of the belief of Christian Kabalists, more or less, in the dead letter of the allegory of the fall of man.

H. P. BLAVATSKY

 The sad consequence of this concretized view of the Fall of man was twofold. First, by ontologically drawing spirit down to the level of soul, it made possible a dependence of spirit upon a third-degree anthropomorphic deity, Jehovah. Secondly, by repudiating the body as representing the Fall through intrinsic sinfulness, one was left with a passive conception of the soul, concerned only with salvation and damnation. The neo-Platonists, however, who viewed the soul as quite distinct from the transcendental spirit, saw no grounds for such an ontological or devotional subordination to lower daimons. They took an active view of the process whereby the soul seeks to link itself to the transcendent spirit. With regard to the spirit,

they allowed its presence in the astral capsule only so far as the spiritual emanations or rays of the "shining one" were concerned. Man and his spiritual soul or the monad – i.e., spirit and its vehicle had to conquer their immortality by ascending toward the unity with which, if successful, they were finally linked, and into which they were absorbed, so to say. The individualization of man after death depended on the spirit, not on his astral or human soul – Manas and its vehicle Kama Rupa – and body.

H. P. BLAVATSKY

 From this one may see the central importance of the connection between Atma-Buddhi and Manas. One may also grasp the fundamental importance of devotion to the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas, for without devotion it is impossible to tap the energies of Atma-Buddhi. Manas is only as luminous as its capacity to focus consciously and radiate the Atma-Buddhic light. If it can do that, then Manas can displace and control kama manas, disengaging the lower manas from kama, which means freeing the mind from excesses, excuses and evasions. All such errors arise out of the lower manas through its fearful attachment to the body and identification with class, status and property. All of these taints erode the confidence of the soul through the inherent capriciousness of the daimons and elementals within the lower vestures. They are based upon a misguided belief in some entity which holds together all these elementals; in truth, there is only a derived or borrowed sense of entitativeness which is appropriated by the quaternary. This temporary coherence is due to its link with Manas. The lower quaternary is like an image or reflection of the light occurring through an appropriate medium. If the reflective principle of the mind confuses its own image with the authentic source of its illumination, then the polarity of self- consciousness is inverted and the powers of the soul subverted. Fragmentation precludes integration.

 All efforts towards spiritual self-regeneration depend upon strengthening awareness of the shining thread which connects Atma Buddhi to Manas, and by reflection, Atma-Buddhi-Manas to the quaternary. If this thread is not nurtured in meditation, one will not be able to alter the quality of sleep and so gain continuity of consciousness between day and night and through different states of consciousness. If one cannot do that, one will not be able to generate a strong sense of individuality and "I-am-I" consciousness. One will not realize one's Self-Being as a reflected ray of the overbrooding Dhyani, linked to the Spiritual Sun. If one cannot do this, one will always identify with one's name and form, and spiralling downwards, fall into the midst of hosts of secondary and tertiary daimons. When the vision of the soul is deflected downward, it will look only upon that which is dark relative to the invisible radiance of spirit. Fixed by the immortal soul's energy, this false identification with namarupa will be accompanied by a continuous exaggeration and intensification. As this misuse of divine energy is indefinitely prolonged, the immortal soul will, in time, be estranged from its ray. By assigning an exaggerated sense of reality to that which belongs to physical life, to eating, drinking, working at a job – one is generating a false sense of life, limiting both time and consciousness. This remains essentially true even if one generates a strong attachment to the concept of moral probity in connection with this incarnation. Owing to the diversion of divine energies, all identification with name and form ultimately produces dark emanations which accumulate in kamaloka, where they must be confronted soon after death.

 It is possible, however, to cooperate with the processes of individualization after death. It is possible to live in a manner that dispenses altogether with kamaloka and dispels the karmic accumulations of past attachments. But such a life requires a recognition of total responsibility. It means learning to live with no attachment to name or form. One must ask oneself who is responsible for one's personality and body, who is responsible for one's every thought and feeling? Who is responsible for the condition of every life-atom that enters into and emanates from one's visible and invisible vestures? In asking these questions, one begins to withdraw identification from the instruments, to see oneself as a Monad, and to approach the state of total responsibility from above below. This responsibility extends to the entire field of one's manifest and unmanifest interactions with all life-atoms. It extends far >beyond face and form, to one's ultimate status as a true Pythagorean spectator. Only by generating a profound sense of critical distance from all names and forms may one learn to exemplify the entirety of one's dharma in this world.

 Forswearing all anxiety and attachment, all immodesty and false pride, one must learn to put to work in the best possible manner all the instruments and all the energies affecting all the hosts of daimons and devas involved in the human sphere. This can only be done if one develops, retains and strengthens a sense of being changeless and immortal, as Krishna taught Arjuna in the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. One must withdraw from all false ideas of vicarious atonement and salvation which are, as Plato taught in Laws, extremely harmful to the vigilant life of the spirit. Every temptation to cut corners through selfish propitiations and degrading rituals is indeed expensive karmically. The very attempt blinds the eye of wisdom, cuts the soul off from its source of light and leaves the wandering pilgrim a wretched and ridiculed victim of its false gods.

 This, in epitome, is the odyssey of the fall of the human soul since its pristine golden age in the Third Root Race. Just as the divine spiritual instruction of that period retains its impress upon the imperishable centres of the soul to this day, so too does this long karmic history lie like a series of encrustations around humanity and the earth. Because man is linked with hosts of elementals within his vestures and with hosts of daimons without, this karmic inheritance is inscribed in the spatial arena of collective human evolution. It may be discerned in the mystical and sacred geography of the globe itself. Gupta Vidya suggests that when the sevenfold host of divine preceptors descended upon earth to initiate and instruct infant humanity, they descended from Sveta Dwipa, a division of Mount Meru. They established seven divine dynasties reigning over seven divisions of the earth or globe. During the Lemurian and Atlantean ages, some of these divisions changed; others have not.

 The eternal and transcendental geography of Mount Meru is partially mirrored in divisions of the earth connected with the polar regions. Hence, northern Asia is termed the eternal or perpetual land and the Antarctic is called the ever-living and the concealed. The freedom of the polar regions from the vicissitudes of racial evolution and geological change is a reflection of the permanence of the axis mundi of Mount Meru. The association of the North Pole with Sveta Dwipa, however, should not be thought of merely in terms of a terrestrial region. It would be more helpful to think of a Fohatic magnetic field associated with ice and snow. It is to be found both in snow-capped mountains and in desert oases, such as the Gobi Desert of Central Asia. The poles of the earth are likened in Gupta Vidya to valves regulating the ingress and egress of the solar-selenic radiance affecting the earth. They are intimately connected, through Fohatic arteries girdling the globe, with the circulations of daimons in the atmosphere. By correspondence, within the human form they are analogous to the circulation of the blood and other fluids with their invisible elemental constituents.

 To connect this meta-geography with the inward life of the soul, one must connect the idea of pilgrimage to the idea of the restoration of the obscured flows of spiritual energies within the human temple. As Shankara and others taught, the sacred places of pilgrimage in the world mirror centres within the human body. Thus, there is a deep meaning behind the saying of the Puranas that even the incarnated gods themselves rejoiced to be born in the condition of men in Bharata Varsha in the Third Root Race. In one sense, Bharata Varsha is India, the original chosen land and the best division of Jambhu Dwipa. More essentially, Bharata Varsha is the land of active spiritual works par excellence, the land of initiation and divine knowledge. Hence H.P. Blavatsky's remark that one who visits India in a proper state of mind can find more blessings and more lessons than anywhere else on this earth.

 Evidently, this must not be understood in an external mechanistic or physical sense, since there are millions upon millions of souls on the Indian subcontinent who have nothing to do with this eternal current. Just as thousands of people might never show Buddhic perception, even though they saw Sir Richard Attenborough's magnificent film on Gandhi, so too, numerous individuals could either visit or be born in India without developing Buddhic insight. Rather, H.P. Blavatsky's comment must be understood in the light of Christ's statement that whenever two or three are gathered in his name, he was present amongst them. Again, one could think of the meaning of Dharmakshetra in Kurukshetra, the invisible and omnipresent field of Dharma wherein all human beings ceaselessly live and move. Hence the teaching of the eighteenth chapter of the Gita: "Wherever Krishna, the supreme Master of devotion, and wherever the son of Pritha, the mighty archer, may be, there with certainty are fortune, victory, wealth, and wise action."

 The awakening of Buddhi depends upon soul refinement and soul sensitivity, which can only emerge from a noetic understanding of the noumenal language of the soul. That language is experienced by every human being during deep sleep, but it can only be developed when significant connections are made between what transpires in deep sleep and in waking life. One must learn to understand arcane symbols at many levels. One must, for example, become receptive to the idea that the Sveta Dwipa of the Puranas is one with the Shamballa of Buddhist tradition, and that both are identical with the abode of the Builders, the luminous Sons of Manvantaric Dawn. All such mystical names pertain to a plane of consciousness accessible to human beings within. Mount Meru and the mystical descent of the Ganges can be correlated with critical points within the spiritual spinal cord and the invisible brain. Yogic meditation transports one to inner centres, wherein dwell the gods of light. In this Sveta Dwipa, the luminous Sons of Manvantaric Dawn are eternally present during the Maha-Manvantara. Though they came out of the unknown darkness, according to mythic chronology, they are still ever present on that plane as the root of the world, as timeless spectators in the bliss of non-being. Man links heaven and earth so fully that no mode of incarnation can entirely erase the alchemical signature of one's origin.

 The lessons of mythic chronology and mystical geography must be applied by each individual to his or her own incarnation. All human beings are always involved with the cycles of the gods and daimons, the devas, devatas and elementals. Every child is basically an Atma-Buddhic ray with a ray of lower manas which becomes active in the seventh month in the mother's womb. Typically, the ray of Manas does not become active until the age of seven, around which time it brings with it the power to choose and to take responsibility. In some it may be retarded, in others it may come too soon, before there is adequate moral preparation. But the parent who would follow the wise practices of the oldest cultures will only do the minimum that is needed for the baby. That parent will leave the baby alone to bathe in its own state of consciousness. At the same time, adults should listen to a baby's sounds and address it as an immortal soul, as a human being capable of controlling and commanding the elementals. In so doing, an adult can arouse in the elementals that gather round a child those which are benevolent as well as those which are strong but not possessive. That everything essential to human life is capable of universalization and capable of becoming an object of responsibility may be imparted to a child before it learns to walk, or certainly when it learns to talk. Then it is crucial to draw out a baby's innate intuition in Atma-Buddhi by explaining and guiding it through the incarnation of Manas.

 By the age of seven, the child should have learnt to sit still and to receive wisdom, and be prepared to inhabit Bharata Varsha. This is nothing but a recapitulation of human evolution up until the mid-point of the Third Root Race, when the Manasa Dhyanis descended into the waiting human forms. Between the ages of seven and fourteen, a child must be very still, calm and deliberate. It can be taught deliberation by deliberate parents; anxious parents find, to their shock, their own neuroses reflected in their children. A child who is given enough basis for self-respect and self-consciousness without verbalization, before the age of seven, can, after Manas awakens it, engage in proper dialogue with a respect for alternatives and a freedom of thought. This combination of discernment and discipline is crucial if the child is to resist the chaos of companions in junior high and high school. Here both parents and children alike should closely observe and follow the best examples they can find. They should withdraw attention from negative examples, abstaining from needless analysis. In this way, the parent may help a child overcome the tendency, prevalent since Atlantis, of fascination with evil.

 All this preparation encourages a balance between the centrifugal and centripetal forces which engage the incarnated ray more fully by the age of fourteen. The centrifugal power of spirit or Buddhi is capable of diffusing from a single point in every direction within a sphere. This omnidirectional diffusion mirrors the ceaseless motion of the Atman. In Manas, the capacity to hold, to focus and to concentrate these energies is associated with the centripetal energies. A helpful example in the balancing of these energies may be gleaned from those older cultures which never allowed people to speak when they were confused or excited until they had sat down. Adolescents must learn to collect themselves, to draw their energies together in calmness, if they are to avoid the rush, the tension and the anxiety endemic to the cycle between fourteen and twenty-one. Once they have developed some mature calmness, depth and strength, they can release the potential of the higher energies of Atma-Buddhi-Manas. In a sense, all humanity is presently engaged in this adolescent phase.

 In the Aquarian Age a dynamic principle of balance is needed. Whilst this has its analogues on the physical plane, and even in the astral vesture, it must not be approached on this level, lest there be a degradation of the idea into Hatha Yoga. Instead, one must begin with the Buddhi-Manasic, with the emotional and mental nature, and find on the physical plane appropriate means of expressing that creative balance. Thus one can produce a rhythmic flow and a light ease in one's sphere of influence which reflects a life of deep meditation. The ultimate aim is a fusion of love and wisdom, which then becomes Wisdom-Compassion, the fusion of Buddhi and Manas. The fusion of Buddhi and Manas at the highest level is inseparable from the path of adeptship.

 Because of the inherent pacing and cycle of soul-evolution, and because of the karmic encrustations human beings have produced in themselves through associations with secondary and tertiary hosts of daimons, no one can be expected to accomplish all of this in a single lifetime, or indeed in any immediate future series of lives. But each being can make a beginning, and, at some level, fuse Buddhi and Manas. Although overactive in kama manas, most human beings are mediumistic, yet in the antaskarana there are authentic longings for the higher. Such longings must first be purified and made Manasic through universalization. This requires sifting finer thoughts and higher impulses from the dross of kama manas, then releasing them for the welfare of humanity as a whole. This means ignoring statistical portraits of humanity given by mass media and developing an inward sense of one's intimate relationship on the plane of ideation and aspiration with millions upon millions of immortal souls.

 The more one can change the ratios of one's thought about oneself, one's thought about Bodhisattvas, and one's thought about humanity, the better. As these ratios change, the patterns of one's associations of daimons and elementals will shift, progressively transmuting one's vestures and refining one's capacity for benevolence. Gradually, as one thinks more and more in the direction of Bodhisattvas and of humanity, one will come to see oneself as someone who has the confidence and capacity to control elementals at home, at work and in the world. Thus, one can help oneself and so help others to recover the lost link with the Manasa Dhyanis. One may learn to become a being of true meditation and compassion, capable of serving as a self-conscious living link between heaven and earth.

Hermes, January 1984
by Raghavan Iyer