The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
August 2005 -- Vol. 8 Issue 6
Let me try now to give in simple outline the three fundamental postulates as presented by H. P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine, and upon which this ancient theosophia or wisdom-religion rests. The first is:
That behind everything in the universe there is the Unknowable, the vast abyss of space, reality. Impossible to describe, we call it simply Infinity, without beginning, without end, because it is without attributes or finite qualities. Many names have been given in an attempt to describe the Boundless, but man cannot define the Indefinable. The Old Testament writers spoke of it as "without form and void," and as the "Darkness upon the face of the deep." The Buddhists also called it the Void or Emptiness, because nothing as yet had taken form. In the Icelandic Eddas, the old Norse bards named it the "Yawning Gap"; while in the Zohar the Kabbalists used the term Ein Soph, meaning "without limits" or the "boundless."
From this seeming No-thing-ness -- which was not nothingness at all, but a condition of latency vibrant with expectant life, the seed-essences of divinity -- the second basic concept follows:
That motion, rhythm, or the periodic appearance of a universe from the Darkness of the Boundless into the Light, is the action of Deity as it bursts through into manifestation -- a word which implies a period of activity as contrasted with the condition of quiescence in which it had been during its period of rest. As an ancient stanza has it: like the ebb and flux of the tides, numberless universes called "sparks of Eternity" come and go, appear and disappear, with all that is contained therein.
Following upon the first and second principles -- that of Darkness upon the face of the deep, and the bursting forth into Light of universes-to-be -- the third asserts: "the fundamental identity of all souls with the Universal Over-soul," to use Emerson's term. This simply means that every aspect of a universe, from galaxies to man and on down through the lower kingdoms, is identic in essence with God or the universal Divine Intelligence. We are identic in essence, but not in expression, because we are all individual god-sparks of the One Intelligence. But there is more to this third principle:
When the universe is breathed forth out of its latent condition, out of Darkness, it and all the potential seeds of life within it feel the impelling force to start another cycle of active growth. Therefore each entity, by the very force of the
evolutionary urge, has to pass through every phase of experience, including mineral, plant and animal forms, until the human kingdom is reached. From then on, these god-sparks must by their own efforts unfold their essential divinity, so that in time they will have earned the right to become truly self-conscious gods. -- James A. Long
Ay, note that Potter's wheel,
That metaphor! and feel
Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay, --
Thou, to whom fools propound,
When the wine makes its round,
Fool! All that is, at all,
Lasts ever, past recall;
Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure;
What entered into thee,
Time's wheel runs back or stops:
Potter and clay endure. -- Robert Browning, Rabbi Ben Ezra
Our discussion of the Tao Teh Ching by Lao-tzu will pick up at verse 70. Feel free to drop in at any meeting!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
Following meetings (at Newport Way Library):
Thursdays, September 1 and October 6, 2005
"The Mysteries of Time" is our topic this month. We will be discussing such questions as: Does time exist? Is it a function of change? Is time the same for all beings, and in all places and states? How does it relate to consciousness? Are the past and future real? What about living in the Now? What meaning does time have? How can we best use the time we have? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
September 15: Overcoming Fear
October: Mind --Trickster, Transformer
November: The Seven Jewels of Wisdom
December: The Inner Nativity
The topics for the monthly discussions are chosen by members of the Northwest Branch. If there is a subject that particularly interests you, or if you have ideas or suggestions about the meetings, please do not hesitate to email or mail them to the Branch or to mention them after the meetings.
It requires but a little reflection to realize that it is an utter impossibility to think of space apart from time, or of time or rather duration as existent apart from space, because if there were no time connected with space, space could not exist for two consecutive instants. Similarly time exists only because of the continuing space which brings time into birth; and, similarly again, kosmic mind not only infills space but is space and time; and because kosmic mind is, and is continuously throughout endless duration, therefore it exists in endless duration, which duration is itself.
We see, then, that mind or consciousness, duration or abstract time, and space, are fundamentally one; but due to the limitations brought about by the evolving forth of beings and entities which are all limited during manifestation, we have the appearances or maya of duration broken up into time periods; abstract space divided into spacial units; and similarly kosmic mind or consciousness expressing itself in rivers of minor minds or conscious beings, ranging from the divinest of the divine to the most material of entities in the matter-worlds. It is these illusory divisions or manifesting rivers of lives which bring about the differences and wonderful variety that surround us, and which consequently produce in us the maya or the illusion that flowing time is one thing, space is something quite different and consciousness is again essentially different.
Thus it is that duration is identical with both space and kosmic mind. Yet even this mystery of mysteries, Space-Mind-Duration, is the production or appearance to our highest intellect of that ineffable Mystery which is called the Nameless or That. We see likewise that past and future, when properly understood, melt together into "the eternal Now."
H. P. Blavatsky in her Secret Doctrine (1:37) has the following remarkable statement about time:
Time is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through eternal duration, and it does not exist where no consciousness exists in which the illusion can be produced; but "lies asleep." The present is only a mathematical line which divides that part of eternal duration which we call the future, from that part which we call the past. Nothing on earth has real duration, for nothing remains without change -- or the same -- for the billionth part of a second; and the sensation we have of the actuality of the division of "time" known as the present, comes from the blurring of that momentary glimpse, or succession of glimpses, of things that our senses give us, as those things pass from the region of ideals which we call the future, to the region of memories that we name the past. In the same way we experience a sensation of duration in the case of the instantaneous electric spark, by reason of the blurred and continuing impression on the retina. The real person or thing does not consist solely of what is seen at any particular moment, but is composed of the sum of all its various and changing conditions from its appearance in the material form to its disappearance from the earth. It is these "sum-totals" that exist from eternity in the "future," and pass by degrees through matter, to exist for eternity in the "past."
Space-time continuum is a phrase originally due to the mathematical and philosophical genius of Einstein. The general idea is that space and time are not two separate and distinct absolutes, but are two aspects of one and the same fundamental entity. The space-time continuum is but a first hesitant step towards truth, an intuition as it were of the archaic teaching that, when all the manifested universes are resolved back into their primordial superspiritual condition, the many re-enter the One.
In the words of the Chhandogya-Upanishad (I. 9. 1):
"To what does this world go back?"
"To space (akasa)," said he. "Verily, all things here arise out of space. They disappear back into space, for space alone is greater than these; space is the final goal."