The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
January 2002 Vol. 4 Issue 11
A symbol is something which stands for an idea or ideas – often the information locked up in one small sign or drawing would require a volume to explain its meaning. Ancient Egypt had a drawing of two birds sitting in a tree, one eating the fruit of the tree while the other looked on. This is a graphic illustration of the duality of the manifested cosmos, and of man because he is one small atom of nature, a microcosm, and shares in its characteristics and potential. One end of a magnetized bar is positive and the other is negative. Cut it in two and each half will have a positive and a negative end. Divide these as many times as we wish, and each resulting piece will be positive at one end and negative at the other. Every segment exhibits this particular characteristic of magnetism that the whole has. We see duality all about us; pairs of opposites, light and darkness, high and low, youth and age, wisdom and ignorance, happiness and sadness, kindness and cruelty, warmth and coldness, manifest and unmanifest.
As the two birds sit in the one tree, so two centers of consciousness abide and function in man, one busily engaged in eating the fruits of activities and experiences in this world of matter, the other looking on, guiding and guarding and, hopefully, "saving" by transforming and raising to its own estate its child, man, the actor on the stage of life. We are this actor and, in our innermost essence, we are also this guardian angel, for "I and my Father are one." When a prodigal son tires of "feeding on the husks that the swine do eat," he can arise and go unto his Father and become as that Father.
The understanding that all men are dual in nature, part matter and part spirit, enables us to understand our inner conflicts and those of our fellow men. We then face failings and errors in ourselves and others for what they basically are, an area of ignorance, and we hold fast to the real person, the spiritual end of the human magnet. – Nellie M. Davis
The body, as a mass of flesh, bones, muscles, nerves, brain matter, bile, mucous, blood, and skin is an object of exclusive care for too many people, who make it their god because they have come to identify themselves with it, meaning it only when they say "I." Left to itself it is devoid of sense, and acts in such a case solely by reflex and automatic action. It is like mother earth in that it is made up of an infinitesimal number of "lives." Each of these lives is a sensitive point. Not only are there microbes, bacilli, and bacteria, but these are composed of others, and those others of still more minute lives. These lives are not the cells of the body, but make up the cells, keeping ever within the limits assigned by evolution to the cell. They are forever whirling and moving together throughout the whole body, being in certain apparently void spaces as well as where flesh, membrane, bones, and blood are seen. They extend, too, beyond the actual outer limits of the body to a measurable distance.
The body is considered by the Masters of Wisdom to be the most transitory, impermanent, and illusionary of the whole series of constituents in man. Not for a moment is it the same. Ever changing, in motion in every part, it is in fact never complete or finished though tangible. This is known now to science in the doctrine that the body undergoes a complete alteration and renovation every seven years. At the end of the first seven years it is not the same body it was in the beginning. At the end of our days it has changed seven times, perhaps more. And yet it presents the same general appearance from maturity until death; and it is a human form from birth to maturity. This is a mystery science explains not; it is a question pertaining to the cell and to the means whereby the general human shape is preserved.
The "cell" is an illusion. As it is admitted that the physical molecules are forever rushing away from the body, they must be leaving the cells each moment. Hence there is no physical cell, but the privative limits of one, the ideal walls and general shape. It helps to show us what a deluding and unsatisfactory thing our body is. – William Q. Judge
This month "Who Am I, What Am I?" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: What is a human being? How are we related to the cosmos, the earth and its inhabitants, and our fellow humans? What is our essential nature, the totality of our being? How can we cultivate awareness of the reality of ourselves and the world around us? What is our purpose as human beings? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
The topics for the monthly discussion group for the next few months are:
Every mathematical point of space is a consciousness center, a monad – an "individual," the final point which cannot be divided any more, the vanishing point. Consider what this thought means. In everything around us – all the materials in a building, the substance of all our bodies, the atoms, molecules, electrons, all so-called mathematical points, whether of the air, the world, the surrounding space of inner planes, upper and lower – the same rule applies, for space is a vast congeries of points of consciousness.
We are surrounded by very material things, by every kind of entity; for instance, in our own world by chemical composites: stone and wood, water and plants and flesh, and what not. All these are formed of monads, ultimately. If we press the search ever farther and deeper inwards, as far as we can go, we realize we shall never reach an end; yet the mind at last obtains a point of support which it calls a mathematical center, the core of the core of an entity – and that is the monad, a spiritual individual with divinity at its heart.
However deeply the mind plunges into the abysses of thought, it will never reach anything more than an ever-expanding consciousness of itself: the ultimate Self, the god within, the atman. This is the monad. This is the perpetual individual, the spiritual individuality, the indivisible part of us. The heart of the monad, its superior fountain of life and intelligence, is a divine monad, the inner god. But the word monad is used in a general way for a variety of consciousness centers in man. There is the spiritual monad, offspring of the divine monad; there is the human monad, offspring of the spiritual monad; there is the vital-astral monad, offspring of the human monad. All these together form the human constitution. Each such monad, no matter what its grade, is an evolving entity. All that we are as human beings we derive ultimately from the monadic essence which is surrounding the inmost. Our spiritual intelligence, our instincts for noble thinking, for kindly and brotherly action, the impulses to compassion which fill our hearts, the love which so dignifies us, the loftiest intuitions which our nature is capable of – all these are derivative from and rooted in the monad. The spiritual monad, which is the "heart" of the reincarnating ego, is itself rooted in the divine monad or inner god, the deathless part of us. Without the influence or rays from the monad streaming into our human consciousness, we should be merely human beasts. The monad would be there, though inactive, and we should indeed be humans, but spiritually darkened and unawakened.
Now the soul, which is an aggregate entity just as a monad itself really is, is simply the clothing or the psychomental veil of a monad which is passing through that particular phase of its everlasting peregrinations through periodic time and hierarchical space. This monad's expression on any plane is a soul. The soul, in turn, works through its own vehicle, whether an ethereal or a physical one. Mystically, the physical body itself may be called an aggregated monad of the physical plane, because it is formed of mathematical points, little lives or monads of which the soul is the Monad of monads of this particular bodily hierarchy; while the monad above the soul is again its supermonad or Monas monadum.
This is a wonderful mystery: the universal nature of consciousness. It shows the fallacy of having our ideas crystalized, of keeping them pigeonholed. In matters of consciousness one cannot do this. We must keep our ideas fluid like ether – indeed, like consciousness itself! The consciousness of a man, for instance, is all over his body, yet has its different foci or points of special activity in the bodily organs. By analogy, we see how the consciousness of the cosmic monad is universal, and how we are all in it throughout eternity, constantly increasing and expanding our consciousness in it, which really means evolving our conscious selves.
To understand the esoteric philosophy it is best to forget bodies and to grip the essential consciousness of ourselves. The fatal error of Western thought in all its departments of religion, philosophy, and science is that it concentrates on the body-aspects, therefore on the transitory, the ever-changing. We have forgotten that the way by which to understand ultimates is by facing and studying them; and the ultimate of ultimates is the divine Selfhood, essential consciousness.