Law of Cycles

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The Law of Cycles postulates a model of the universe where processes, events, or phenomena repeat themselves in a recurring way at fixed periods of time. Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

The ancients divided time into endless cycles, wheels within wheels, all such periods being of various durations, and each marking the beginning or the end of some event either cosmic, mundane, physical or metaphysical. There were cycles of only a few years, and cycles of immense duration.[1]

General description

In her Secret Doctrine, Mme. Blavatsky establishes Three Fundamental Propositions, of which the second one makes reference to the law of cycles. She wrote:

The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane; periodically “the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing,” called “the manifesting stars,” and the “sparks of Eternity.” “The Eternity of the Pilgrim”† is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence (Book of Dzyan.) “The appearance and disappearance of Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb of flux and reflux.” (See Part II., “Days and Nights of Brahma.”) This second assertion of the Secret Doctrine is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe.[2]

Cycles take place at all levels--cosmic, planetary, racial, national, etc.:

Even exoteric philosophy explains that these perpetual circles of time are ever returning on themselves, periodically, and intelligently in Space and Eternity. There are “Cycles of matter” and there are “Cycles of Spiritual evolution.” Racial, national, and individual cycles.[3]

There are cycles of 7, 11, 21, 77, 107, 700, 11,000, 21,000 [years] etc.; so many cycles will make a major and so on.[4]

The [terrestrial] periods which bring around ever-recurring events, begin from the infinitesimally small—say of ten years—rotation and reach to cycles which require 250, 500 700, and 1000 years, to effect their revolution around themselves, and within one another. All are contained within the Mahâ-Yuga, the “Great Age”, which itself revolves between two eternities—the “Pralayas” or Nights of Brahmâ.[5]

The larger cycles affect the whole universe, which undergoes a recurring process of creation and dissolution that in Hindu thought are called manvantara and pralaya:

As the sun arises every morning on our objective horizon out of its (to us) subjective and antipodal space, so does the Universe emerge periodically on the plane of objectivity, issuing from that of subjectivity—the antipodes of the former. This is the "Cycle of Life." And as the sun disappears from our horizon, so does the Universe disappear at regular periods, when the "Universal night" sets in. The Hindoos call such alternations the "Days and Nights of Brahma," or the time of Manvantara and that of Pralaya (dissolution). The Westerns may call them Universal Days and Nights if they prefer.[6]

However, there are bigger and smaller manvantaras and pralayas, the former affecting the whole universe and the latter the Planetary Chain.

Planetary cycles

The planet Earth is part of a chain of seven globes (known as "Planetary Chain") along which an evolutionary cycle takes place. This general cycle is composed of seven sub-cycles known as Rounds. In its turn, each Round is composed of seven different cycles known as "Globes"

Between each "Round" or even "Globe" the life impulse goes into a pralaya that lasts as long as that particular period of activity did. At the end of this, the life impulse re-awakens and a new cycle begins.

In short, the evolutionary cycle of a Planetary Chain involves seven Rounds, each Round involving a cycle of evolution on seven Globes.

Racial and national cycles

As every sub-race and nation have their cycles and stages of developmental evolution repeated on a smaller scale, it must be the more so in the case of a Root-Race. Our race then has, as a Root-race, crossed the equatorial line and is cycling onward on the Spiritual side; but some of our sub-races still find themselves on the shadowy descending arc of their respective national cycles; while others again—the oldest—having crossed their crucial point, which alone decides whether a race, a nation, or a tribe will live or perish, are at the apex of spiritual development as sub-races.[7]

Thus we see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress. The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended. They are called in the Eastern esotericism the Karmic cycles.[8]

This law of cycles affords the Adept the opportunity to predict events such as the shift of continents when a new Root-Race makes its appearance on Earth. As Master K.H. wrote:

Everything comes in its appointed time and place in the evolution of Rounds, otherwise it would be impossible for the best seer to calculate the exact hour and year when such cataclysms great and small have to occur. All an adept could do would be to predict an approximate time; whereas now events that result in great geological changes may be predicted with as mathematical a certainty as eclipses and other revolutions in space.[9]


Hindu philosophy mentions four ages or "yugas" of varying duration repeating themselves in a cyclic way. They are called Satya or Krita Yuga (1,728,000 years), Treta Yuga (1,296,000 years), Dvapara Yuga (864,000 years), and Kali Yuga (432,000 years).

See also: Yuga.

Centennial cycle

Yearly cycle

Let no one imagine that it is a mere fancy, the attaching of importance to the birth of the year. The earth passes through its definite phases and man with it; and as a day can be coloured so can a year. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter. Those who form their wishes now will have added strength to fulfil them consistently.[10]

Current cycle

According to the Theosophical teachings our Planetary Chain is in the middle of its fourth Round, on Globe D. Humanity is currently in its fifth Root-Race, which has developed five subraces so far. This means have just passed the middle of the seven-fold evolutionary journey. Besides, we are right now in what is known as the Kali Yuga or dark age.

In one of his letters to A. P. Sinnett, Master K.H. talks about "the selfish baseness of human nature", which, he adds, is "the concomitant, always, of the passage of humanity through our stage of the evolutionary circuit".[11]

See also

Additional resources



  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 91.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1978), 16-17.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 637-638.
  4. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 48 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 164.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. II (Wheaton, Ill: Theosophical Publishing House, 1954), 420.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Key to Theosophy, (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 84.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 301.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 641-642.
  9. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 312.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IX (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 5.
  11. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 112 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 382.