Deity, Nature and Man

by Raghavan Iyer @ Theosophy Trust


DEITY, NATURE AND MAN


Worlds and men were in turn formed and destroyed, under the law of evolution and from pre-existing material, until both the planets and their men, in our case our Earth and its animal and human races, became what they are now in the present cycle: opposite polar forces, an equilibrized compound of Spirit and Matter, of the positive and the negative, of the male and the female.... There was a spiritual, a psychic, an intellectual, and an animal evolution, from the highest to the lowest, as well as a physical development – from the simple and homogeneous, up to the more complex and heterogeneous; though not quite on the lines traced for us by the modern evolutionists. This double evolution in two contrary directions, required various ages, of divers natures and degrees of spirituality and intellectuality, to fabricate the being now known as man.

The Secret Doctrine, ii 84, 87

 Ancient wisdom, unlike modern thought, successfully bridges the recondite concepts of evolution, history and individual growth. It sees all three as continuous, contiguous components of a single metaphysical process whereby spirit and matter are interwoven in a cyclic movement that transcends time, while providing the basis of all self-conscious human growth. The metaphysics of Gupta Vidya points to the interrelationship of Purusha and Prakriti in the proemial and pregenetic dawn of manifestation as the foundation for all the subsequent and more complex dualities of life. Prior to all worlds and all beings, the one universal Substance-Principle –the Eternal Father-Mother, spread like a veil upon the Absolute –is the radiant ground upon which all processes of composition and balance, polarity and development, must occur.

 The pregenetic logic of manifestation, evolution and development is equivalent to the mystical presence of the Logos at every point of the cosmos, producing, preserving and transforming its distributive and collective life. This is equally true of abstraction and concretion, generality and particularity, whether one thinks in terms of the cycles of evolutionary history or the lives of individual beings. This logic cannot be understood, however, through any idea of creatic ex nihilo or through linear progression upward from some sort of primeval slime. To accommodate the idea of pure consciousness and pure substance prior to all possible manifestations in the realm of form and transformation, it is necessary to meditate upon that which was in the beginning, that which is, and that which will be forevermore. In the language of the first fundamental principle of Gupta Vidya, it is characterized as Absolute Space, Absolute Duration and Absolute Motion, from which arise Precosmic Ideation and Precosmic Substance. The starting-point of thought must be removed to a point which is prior to all worlds, all beings and all existence as we know it, a realm of primordial Being.

 From this starting-point, one may realize that there is an ontology prior to the logic of all development. To understand that prior ontology is essential if one is even to begin to conceptualize the logic of growth, development and evolution, and also to apprehend that all subsequent processes in manifested space and time must perpetually reiterate that ontology. There is a constant balance between consciousness and form, spirit and matter, on diverse levels of manifestation, leading up to the present human kingdom and onward towards human perfection. Before this balance can culminate in the present human kingdom on the physical plane, it must be struck on the astral plane. This concerns the arrangement of atoms and organic forces on a causal level which eventuates in the positive polarity associated with the male form and the negative polarity associated with the female. The astral process is itself a reflection of more abstract processes, reflected in turn in the completed and concrete forms of the physical plane.

 The primary principle of dynamic balance, which precedes both beings and worlds, is central to the doctrine of double evolution. The direction in which unfoldment takes place in the realm of consciousness is different from the direction in which development takes place in the realm of substance. Thus, when duality supervenes in the realm of manifestation, there is a tension between pairs of opposites and between contrary polarities. There is, therefore, a profound need for balance in consciousness, balance in astral substance and the astral correlations of atoms, and also balance on the physical plane.

 One line of evolution, which is connected with the unfoldment of consciousness, may be seen in terms of a line extended from above below. Everything that is in existence is a reflection of that which exists in a state of pure being on a more primary plane of prototypical substance and primeval ideation. This is the ancient Hermetic teaching. To understand the descent in consciousness from prototypical germs to ramifying forms, it is essential to recognize that this descent involves the spiritual, the psychic, the intellectual and also that which is called physical evolution. In this sequence the psychic mediates between the spiritual and the intellectual. When the light-essence of spiritual energy comes down to a certain level of differentiation, it casts a glow or aura with a capacity for diffusion. This is the psychic extension of what is spiritually present in seed form in the realm of noumena. It is the psychic emanation of the spiritual, and it is prior to all phenomena. It is also prior to the intellectual, because once intelligence has become differentiated, it must become associated with structures and pathways of development at all levels and in all kingdoms.

 The specialization of intelligence must come after the more nebulous condition of the psychic, which itself is an outgrowth of the general spiritual condition. This intellectual specialization makes possible evolution up to the animal kingdom, from the elemental kingdoms through the mineral and the vegetable to all the complex forms that have emerged over an immense period of time in the animal world. The animal kingdom itself includes a vast range of mammals, fishes, insects, birds and other phyla that make up the whole spectrum of animate existence. All of these are the result of the progressive condensation and specialization of consciousness.

 On the other side of double evolution, viewed not from the standpoint of consciousness but from that of substance, is a movement from the simple and homogeneous to the elaborate and complex. This progress towards heterogeneity is what is sensed and studied by modern evolutionary science. Its great pioneers in the nineteenth century speculated about protoplasm or monera and other primal essences in an effort to find out how the logic of development could be understood. How, they asked, can one trace the protean diversity of form to something which is extremely primary and comparatively simple? It is not possible, however, to understand the development of complexity out of simplicity without understanding the progressive specialization of consciousness. Hence the doctrine of double evolution in contrary directions, with its various stages and ages of development bringing about the multi-layered and multi-faceted being now known as Man. Having once grasped the interrelationship between the immense development from the simple to the complex in the realm of substance and the descent of consciousness through specialization from above below, one must attempt to understand human development and growth in the same terms.

 Philosophically, there is no sharp separation between Deity, Nature and Man; the problem is to understand human development without anthropomorphizing Deity and Nature, yet also without imposing upon Man any mechanistic model or rigid teleology. Instead, appropriate meaning must be given to human existence in the dual terms of the descent of spirit into matter and the ascent of form towards the unmanifest.

 Furthermore, the one absolute, ever acting and never erring law, which proceeds on the same lines from one eternity (or Manvantara) to the other –ever furnishing an ascending scale for the manifested, or that which we call the great Illusion (Maha-Maya), but plunging Spirit deeper and deeper into materiality on the one hand, and then redeeming it through flesh and liberating it –this law, we say, uses for these purposes the Beings from other and higher planes, men, or Minds (Manus), in accordance with their Karmic exigencies.

Ibid., 87-88

 This dual process of unfoldment and evolution, from the standpoint of consciousness and substance, does not occur either mechanically or automatically. It is characteristic of modern so-called scientific theories that they establish lawlike regularities at the expense of creating automatism. This tendency arises because contemporary science is, in part, trapped by the explanatory force of the concept of causality. Whilst this was especially true of nineteenth century science, it is a predicament which is, fortunately, being eased somewhat by the development of quantum mechanics and particle physics, wherein it is impossible to cling to seventeenth century conceptions of cause. Nonetheless, once emphasis is placed upon explanation in terms of causal antecedents, one creates a constricted alternative to earlier religious explanations of Man which were largely teleological. There are ghostly echoes in modern evolutionary theory and in post-Aristotelian biology of earlier teleological systems. They often arbitrarily assume that in every organism there is not only intelligence, but also some predetermined tendency towards some pre-established goal. To view life in this manner is, of course, to look at phenomena from a different point of view than that which is suggested by the concepts of lawlike recurrence and antecedent causes.

Gupta Vidya avoids the false dichotomy between mechanistic causal processes of becoming and an imposed teleology seeking to define all things in terms of purposes and outcomes. Instead, it assigns a primary and active role to creative imagination. This implies that the evolutionary process cannot be explained or characterized, whether in terms of the descent of spirit into matter or in terms of the increasing complexities of matter, without the direct involvement of great minds. Beings, once human and perfected in former periods of evolution, become crucial in furthering this evolutionary process and in giving it a redemptive force. This essential point in ancient philosophy is directly at odds with all modern scientific explanations. Furthermore, it confronts modern thought with the complex conception of the pre- Christian world regarding the nature of Deity and pantheons of gods. Central to that world view is the role of myriads of minds, beings which are superhuman and are fully perfected from earlier periods of evolution. Viewed in this context, human beings now evolving on earth are potentially gods, and were, during the Third Root Race, conscious of their divine ancestry. All of this is a tremendous challenge to received religion and recent dogmas of science. In diverse ways, it is necessary to accommodate the intervention of mind-beings in evolution, who, out of their capacity for creative imagination, play a crucial part in giving direction and focus to ideation and making it act upon the realm of form.

 In the light of this fundamental Teaching, it is essential to see every single human being as a fallen god. If human beings in the Third Root Race were like gods, then in the process of evolution human beings have become so much caught, through concretizing intelligence, in matter that their spiritual senses have significantly receded. They have become alienated from their true natures. Complex and difficult enough to understand in their metaphysical and meta-psychological origins, men have become compounded riddles to themselves through their own self-obscuration. Nonetheless, those very perfected beings who were present at the dawn of humanity on this globe still preside over seemingly orphaned humanity. Hence, throughout ancient thought the keys to the mystery of Man have always been present and within the reach of anyone who is sincere and in earnest in the arduous search for self-knowledge.

 How precise and true is Plato's expression, how profound and philosophical his remark on the (human) soul or EGO, when he defined it as "a compound of the same and the other".... It is the "same and the other", as the great Initiate-Philosopher said; for the EGO (the "Higher Self when merged with and in the Divine Monad) is Man, and yet the same as the "OTHER", the Angel in him incarnated, as the same with the universal MAHAT.

Ibid., 88

 Their consciousness confined through identification with grosser forms, human beings have become alienated from their highest possibilities. They may have achieved a sense of continuity and identity on a lower plane, but at the expense of a close connection with their deeper and larger selfhood. This risk is inherent in the very process of developing and specializing a concentrated egoity or sense of "I" in relation to a name and a body, particular conditions and memories, desires and expectations. All of this involves exercising the principle of "I-ness", ahankara, in ways that generate a sense of reality, but also bind down egoity in the realm of differentiated manifestation.

 As a result, there is an acute frustration for that pure essence which is the angel in man. This is the Atma-Buddhi overbrooding Manas. Through identification with kama, the sensorium and the linga sharira or astral form, Manas has become beclouded. Therefore, Atma-Buddhi, though it is inseparable from pure thought and ideation, pure Manas and egoity, overbroods incarnated manas but only at a distance. There is a persistent alienation from active Manasic self-consciousness owing to its involvement through matter and desire with the world of differentiation. There is an agonizing separation of manas from its true estate where it is one with Atma-Buddhi. To be one with Atma-Buddhi also means to be one with Mahat, the cosmic mind and universal consciousness. Put in another way, the alienation of the individual from the universal is repeated within the individual in a body. This becomes a protracted alienation between the Atma-Buddhic Monad in its pure state and the embodied consciousness, whereby manas has been deflected and captured by kama. The meta-psychological process is reflected in the embodied consciousness as the illusion of separate objects and subjects.

 All of this makes poignant the idea of spirit plunging deeper and deeper into material existence and then redeeming it. This does not happen automatically. Once human beings are plunged, through their claustrophobic egoity, into the world of sensation and matter, they are painfully alienated from their true selves. Unless they recognize that fact and do something to mitigate and counter their overactive tendency towards kamamanasic thought, they cannot free themselves. Unless they deliberately take steps to withdraw from identification with name and form (namarupa) through meditation, through abstraction and silence, through calmness and negating the illusions of the world and the false self, they will be unable to cooperate with the redemptive function of spirit. What is true of cosmic evolution on universal terms is also true of humanity at the individual and collective level. Mankind is involved in a metaphysical Fall and a potential redemption at the individual level.

 Every human being must discover his true identity by asking, "Who am I?" He must initially recognize the falsity and absurdity of identifying with any mask or persona. Yet this is precisely the tendency of exteriorized language and lower manasic cerebration. All of this must be thought through and negated. He must seek to realize in daily experience the meditative state which Patanjali calls the condition of the Spectator without a spectacle. To realize this state is to experience pure "I-am-I" consciousness without any reference to being a subject separate from other subjects or any identification with an object in a field of differentiated objects.

 Owing to the long history of each human being in incarnation, the attainment of this high degree of abstraction requires a great deal of systematic work upon the vestures. To develop the capacity to give a sense of reality to pure being, apart from all desire and memory, without expectation or attachment to the temporal processes of past, present and future, requires a purification and transmutation of the life-atoms constituting the astral and physical vestures. This alchemical process of self-purification and transmutation must itself be a deliberate and self-conscious embodiment of the principles of double evolution. It is, therefore, essential to understand that

every atom and molecule in the Universe is both life-giving and death-giving to that form, inasmuch as it builds by aggregation universes and the ephemeral vehicles ready to receive the transmigrating soul, and as eternally destroys and changes the forms and expels those souls from their temporary abodes. It creates and kills; it is self-generating and self-destroying; it brings into being, and annihilates, that mystery of mysteries –the living body of man, animal, or plant, every second in time and space; and it generates equally life and death, beauty and ugliness, good and bad, and even the agreeable and disagreeable, the beneficent and maleficent sensations.

Ibid., i 261

Rather than being rigidly Manichaean, one must recognize that at the core of the life-process there is that which is both life-giving and death-dealing. There is that which has both the Vishnu function (of providing continuity) and the Shiva function (of destroying and regenerating). Which of these functions is relevant at any precise moment in relation to any particular circumstance depends upon the meaning of events to the immortal Manasic Ego in its relation to Atma-Buddhi. The meaning of outward events in life is determined by their mental correlations, and these meanings may be seized only through a heightened state of mental ripeness. The Occult Catechism expresses this in terms of the relationship between the Atma-Buddhic Monad –the "Double Dragon" –and the world of manifested form through the mediation of Manas.

For the "Double Dragon" has no hold upon the mere form. It is like the breeze where there is no tree or branch to receive and harbour it. It cannot affect the form where there is no agent of transmission (Manas, "Mind") and the form knows it not.

Ibid., ii 57

 The agent of mental and moral transmission which is crucial to all human life might be called the selector. Every human soul as a self-conscious being has the capacity to perfect the power of choice and so become morally fully conscious. Those beings which presided self-consciously over the dawn of humanity on the earth are just such perfected human beings. Morally, they are so sensitive that they do not even like to breathe if there is the remotest possibility that by doing so they may hurt another being. Towards this ideal, all moral consciousness must aspire. Ultimately, no one has any right to breathe unless by doing so he positively blesses all beings. This morality is very distant from the amorality of the Kali Age, the age of annihilation and kama-rupic shells, souls thronging the exits of the great theatre of human existence. Nevertheless, this highest conception of choice and of the capacity to energize the breath with the spiritual will and the beneficent impulse of universal compassion is central to the humanity of the future. It is the inherent mode of perfected beings, who cooperate with Nature in the processes of evolution, history and the growth of individual human beings. The challenge before men and women who would aid the unfoldment of the civilization of the future is to realize within themselves the presence of these creative powers of imagination and the redemptive capacity of the spiritual will when employed in the service of others.

 Every human being involved in a physical form is aided by the logic of the life cycle of that form in perceiving opportunities for inward growth. The physical form observes certain laws of growth and disintegration. Every human being until the age of thirty-five experiences a period wherein the fiery lives constituting that form sacrifice themselves to produce and sustain the complex life of the body. Thus, they act as builders impeding the activity of potential destroyers, a process that mirrors the evolutionary development of complex forms out of simple homogeneous substances. At the same time, there is in individual human life a descent of spirit into matter, first as the overbrooding of the Atma-Buddhic Monad and then as the incarnation of the Manasic principle. As the self-conscious intelligence of the human being matures, the complex differentiation and perfection of the human form proceeds to its culmination.

 As in the series of globes and races in the earth chain there is a theatre for the universal descent and ascent of spirit in relation to material form, so too the individual is involved in a dual ascent and descent, moving in opposite directions from the physical and spiritual standpoints. Up to the age of thirty-five the specialization and descent of spirit into matter is accomplished by the differentiation and ascent of matter into complex form. Thereafter the opposite processes begin to take hold. From age thirty-five to age seventy, broadly speaking, there is a physical disintegration of form accompanied by a progressive possibility of spirit freeing itself from the prison-house of matter. The descent or decline of material form on the side of substance is accompanied by the potential ascent of spirit which is capable of self-consciously elevating matter.

 The opportunity afforded by the physical life cycle to every human being is truly to experience deliberately the process of spiritual ascent. From this it is possible to understand why human beings should learn early how to cooperate with the productive, conservative and regenerating impulses inherent in physical form. When one is young, one should not behave as an old person who has already learnt what there is to learn from life. Instead, one should attempt to master the discipline of conservation of energy so that he may, after the age of thirty-five, make a disciplined use of energies and seize the opportunities that accompany the loosening of the grip of form over consciousness. Owing to the complex karmic legacy that each human being brings into incarnation, one must learn, as soon as one realizes the magnitude of the problem, to relax and renounce the tenacious hold of the body and physical sensory life upon oneself. One must free the mind from attention-getting and from the demands of the physical senses. The aim of Manasic living is to become more capable, through meditation, of spiritual creation and generation, of Kriyashakti. This is the power of spontaneous generation and spiritual action which is inherent in the cosmos and exemplified by the highest perfected human beings. Just as it has been an essential component in the evolution of humanity up to the present period, it is the sine qua non of future human development, both individual and collective.

 It is the prerogative of Man to aid the spiritual evolution of ideas. This means learning to release the benevolent potency of spiritual ideation and the spiritual will. Thus, individuals can help to light up the latent divine intelligence in life-atoms, in forms and stones, in vegetables, plants and animals. Human beings are continually involved with all of these, especially through the three elemental kingdoms, which are rapid transmitters across the entire globe of all the impressions that human beings give out. Naturally, human beings are also able to draw out the latent divine intelligence in the minds and hearts of other human beings. To work with this process means to perceive, by analogy and correspondence, that what in the physical plane can be sacrificial and compassionate action under the laws of cycles and the tutelage of the lower Pitris is, in reference to the higher planes, that which involves the free choice, the conscious attention and the deliberate selection of human beings. The human capacity to aid in the lower evolution of Nature is a direct reflection of the human capacity to participate in the higher evolution of Manasic self-consciousness. Naturally, those beings who are perfected in Manas enjoy an effortless command over the lower elements of Nature. This moral solidarity of Nature and Man draws attention to the central importance of ethical consciousness.

 Ethics sharpens one's conception of how to select what is really necessary to do. This is the central Manasic function of the selector, the refined sense of svadharma, the sense of one's true sphere of spiritual obligation. Manasic maturity can be realized only through a renunciation of the false doctrine of vicarious atonement and the vampirical elements in consciousness which arise out of envy. There is that in lower manas affected by the unbalanced operation of kama which would seek to deny light to others, to steal light from them or to steal its way into the true light without merit or service. Unless one tries to expunge these tendencies from one's nature, one will pay heavily at the moment of death. The innate possession by human beings of the Manasic capacity should inherently lead them to pass on anything they know. Without regard to the possibility of misuse, one must take the risk, like the Manasaputras, and seek to pass on to others what one has received as a free gift oneself. This will be the natural tendency of mature individuals who have deeply thought about the enormous debt of gratitude they owe towards higher beings who have given and continue to give so much to present humanity.

 Through the continuous activity of the Logos in manifestation, every human being has received a priceless inheritance of specialized intellectual function and highly differentiated complex vehicles and instruments. To understand this immense privilege and potential of human incarnation is to rethink one's entire concept of what is vampirical and what is constructive in the use of the energies of man. As a ray of the Logos, every human being resides in divine space as a point in Akasha, capable of focussing the highest energies. As a ray of the Logos, every human monad is capable of releasing, through sound, vibrations with mental and physical correlations that can aid in the forward movement of evolution. The indissoluble unity of the Logos in the cosmos and the God in man is magically enshrined in the mantram AUM MANI PADME HUM. The archetypal music of the spheres resonates in human consciousness, however limited the instruments of human music. All human thought, speech and action involves the gods, and all are capable of aiding or hindering the onward evolution of Nature and Man. Hence, in viewing the complex compound being of Man, the Anugita declares:

 "The indestructible and the destructible, such is the double manifestation of the Self. Of these the indestructible is the existent (the true essence or nature of Self, the underlying principles). The manifestation as an individual (or entity) is called the destructible." Thus speaks the ASCETIC in Anugita; and also: "Every one who is twice-born (initiated) knows such is the teaching of the ancients.... Space is the first entity.... Now Space (Akasa, or the noumenon of Ether) has one quality...and that is sound only...and the qualities of sound are Shadga, Rishabha, Gandhara, Madhyama, Panchama, and beyond these five Nishada and Dhaivata" (the Hindu gamut). These seven notes of the scale are the principles of sound.

Ibid., i 534

 These principles of sound are the elements and factors of the activity of the Logos in manifestation. They correlate with colours and planets, with principles in Man and Nature, with degrees of differentiation of light and substance. Therefore, they correlate with states of consciousness and degrees of specialization in intelligence. Through an appreciation of the music of the Logos there can be an apprehension of noetic magic in its highest sense. The Logoic differentiations of Akashic ideation on the plane of Mahat are the basis of the specialization of intelligence and its mastery over the development of complex forms in substance. Whether through mathematics or music, through metaphysics or movement, human beings can learn something about the intonations and reflections of the divine process. Ultimately, the great prerogative of Man is to rise higher than all the evolved hierarchies in Nature. There is a deep sense in which man is no less than TAT.

 Man is capable, therefore, of a degree of individuation of the universal divine principle both in consciousness and in substance that is equivalent to becoming a Dhyani, a son of the gods. Through perfection in Karuna, universal compassion, man is capable of Prajna, Divine Wisdom. Through mastery of all the combinations of sound in light flowing forth from the Divine Darkness and the Soundless Sound, man is capable of drawing into the neutral layer –the attributeless substratum of all differentiations of sound corresponding to Mulaprakriti, the Eternal Father-Mother –root matter and root ideation. Having become achyuta and established in consciousness of Absolute Space, Duration and Motion, the perfected Bodhisattva becomes the unswerving servant of Amitabha, the Boundless Age, in the endless cycles of evolution.

Hermes, July 1984
by Raghavan Iyer