Substance

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Substance, in philosophy, refers to the ultimate constituent or constituents of reality on which everything else depends. Substance is the "thing-in-itself," as distinct from the properties it bears. A philosophy may be said to be monist, dualist, or pluralist according to how many ultimate substances they consider to exist in the cosmos. In the writings of Mme. Blavatsky a "substance" is seen as the cause of matter on any given plane, although this substance in turn may appear as matter when seen from a higher plane.

General definition

Mme. Blavatsky explained that "substance is not matter in metaphysics."[1] Rather, it is "the Noumenon [or cause] of matter."[2] However, the concept of substance in the Esoteric Philosophy is relative. Again, in Blavatsky's words:

But the Occult sciences, while calling Substance the noumenon of every material form, explain that noumenon as being still matter—only on another plane. That which is noumenon to our human perceptions is matter to those of a Dhyan Chohan.[3]

Pre-cosmic substance

Mme. Blavatsky identifies the pre-cosmic substance with Mūlaprakṛti:

Precosmic root-substance (Mulaprakriti) is that aspect of the Absolute which underlies all the objective planes of Nature. . . . Pre-Cosmic Substance is the substratum of matter in the various grades of its differentiation.[4]

This pre-cosmic state is frequently referred to as "darkness," "chaos," and "water," when the latter is not used to denote one of the four elements:

Water is the first cosmic element and the terms “darkness” and “chaos” are used to denote the same “element.” . . . Thus water is used here to denote matter in its precosmic state.[5]

Cosmic substance

Mme. Blavatsky identifies the Cosmic or Primordial Substance with Ākāśa.[6] At the beginning of the manvantara, the originally inert Cosmic Substance becomes differentiated:

Thrilling through the bosom of inert Substance, Fohat impels it to activity, and guides its primary differentiations on all the Seven planes of Cosmic Consciousness. There are thus Seven Protyles (as they are now called), while Aryan antiquity called them the Seven Prakriti, or Natures, serving, severally, as the relatively homogeneous basis, which in the course of the increasing heterogeneity (in the evolution of the Universe) differentiate into the marvellous complexity presented by phenomena on the planes of perception. The term “relatively” is used designedly, because the very existence of such a process, resulting in the primary segregations of undifferentiated Cosmic Substance into its septenary bases of evolution, compels us to regard the protyle of each plane as only a mediate phase assumed by Substance in its passage from abstract, into full objectivity.[7]

At the end of the cycle of activity, cosmic substance returns to its undifferentiated source:

During the period of Universal Pralaya . . . the variously differentiated states of Cosmic Substance are resolved back again into the primary state of abstract potential objectivity.[8]

See also

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 508.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1990), 317.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1990), 317.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 15.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 336.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 326.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 328.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 328.