The Secret Doctrine vol. 1, Stanza III.1
(a) The seemingly paradoxical use of the sentence “Seventh Eternity,” thus dividing the indivisible, is sanctified in esoteric philosophy. The latter divides boundless duration into unconditionally eternal and universal Time and a conditioned one (Khandakala). One is the abstraction or noumenon of infinite time (Kala); the other its phenomenon appearing periodically, as the effect of Mahat (the Universal Intelligence limited by Manvantaric duration). With some schools, Mahat is “the first-born” of Pradhana (undifferentiated substance, or the periodical aspect of Mulaprakriti, the root of Nature), which (Pradhana) is called Maya, the Illusion. In this respect, I believe, esoteric teaching differs from the Vedantin doctrines of both the Adwaita and the Visishtadwaita schools. For it says that, while Mulaprakriti, the noumenon, is self-existing and without any origin — is, in short, parentless, Anupadaka (as one with Brahmam) — Prakriti, its phenomenon, is periodical and no better than a phantasm of the former, so Mahat, with the Occultists, the first-born of Gnana (or gnosis) knowledge, wisdom or the Logos — is a phantasm reflected from the Absolute nirguna (Parabrahm, the one reality, “devoid of attributes and qualities”; see Upanishads); while with some Vedantins Mahat is a manifestation of Prakriti, or Matter.
(b) Therefore, the “last vibration of the Seventh Eternity” was “fore-ordained” — by no God in particular, but occurred in virtue of the eternal and changeless Law which causes the great periods of Activity and Rest, called so graphically, and at the same time so poetically, the “Days and Nights of Brahma.” The expansion “from within without” of the Mother, called elsewhere the “Waters of Space,” “Universal Matrix,” etc., does not allude to an expansion from a small centre or focus, but, without reference to size or limitation or area, means the development of limitless subjectivity into as limitless objectivity. “The ever (to us) invisible and immaterial Substance present in eternity, threw its periodical shadow from its own plane into the lap
of Maya.” It implies that this expansion, not being an increase in size — for infinite extension admits of no enlargement — was a change of condition. It “expanded like the bud of the Lotus”; for the Lotus plant exists not only as a miniature embryo in its seed (a physical characteristic), but its prototype is present in an ideal form in the Astral Light from “Dawn” to “Night” during the Manvantaric period, like everything else, as a matter of fact, in this objective Universe; from man down to mite, from giant trees down to the tiniest blades of grass.
All this, teaches the hidden Science, is but the temporary reflection, the shadow of the eternal ideal prototype in Divine Thought; the word “Eternal,” note well again, standing here only in the sense of “AEon,” as lasting throughout the seemingly interminable, but still limited cycle of activity, called by us Manvantara. For what is the real esoteric meaning of Manvantara, or rather a Manu-Antara? It means, esoterically, “between two Manus,” of whom there are fourteen in every “Day of Brahma,” such a “Day” consisting of 1,000 aggregates of four ages, or 1,000 “Great Ages,” Mahayugas. Let us now analyse the word or name Manu. Orientalists and their Dictionaries tell us that the term “Manu” is from the root Man, “to think”; hence “the thinking man.” But, esoterically, every Manu, as an anthropomorphized patron of his special cycle (or Round), is but the personified idea of the “Thought Divine” (as the Hermetic “Pymander”); each of the Manus, therefore, being the special god, the creator and fashioner of all that appears during his own respective cycle of being or Manvantara. Fohat runs the Manus’ (or Dhyan-Chohans’) errands, and causes the ideal prototypes to expand from within without — viz., to cross gradually, on a descending scale, all the planes from the noumenon to the lowest phenomenon, to bloom finally on the last into full objectivity — the acme of illusion, or the grossest matter.