The Secret Doctrine vol. 1, Stanza I.1

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COMMENTARIES
ON THE SEVEN STANZAS AND THEIR TERMS, ACCORDING TO THEIR NUMERATION, IN STANZAS AND SLOKAS.


STANZA I.
THE NIGHT OF THE UNIVERSE


1. The Eternal Parent (Space), wrapped in her ever invisible robes, had slumbered once again for seven eternities (a).


The “Parent Space” is the eternal, ever present cause of all — the incomprehensible deity, whose “invisible robes” are the mystic root of all matter, and of the Universe. Space is the one eternal thing that we can most easily imagine, immovable in its abstraction and uninfluenced by either the presence or absence in it of an objective Universe. It is without dimension, in every sense, and self-existent. Spirit is the first differentiation from That, the causeless cause of both Spirit and Matter. It is, as taught in the esoteric catechism, neither limitless void, nor conditioned fulness, but both. It was and ever will be. (See Proem pp. 2 et seq.)

Thus, the “Robes” stand for the noumenon of undifferentiated Cosmic Matter. It is not matter as we know it, but the spiritual essence of matter, and is co-eternal and even one with Space in its abstract sense. Root-nature is also the source of the subtile invisible properties in visible matter. It is the Soul, so to say, of the one infinite Spirit. The Hindus call it Mulaprakriti, and say that it is the primordial substance, which is the basis of the Upadhi or vehicle of every phenomenon, whether physical, mental or psychic. It is the source from which Akasa radiates.

(a) By the Seven “Eternities,” aeons or periods are meant. The word “Eternity,” as understood in Christian theology, has no meaning to the Asiatic ear, except in its application to the one existence; nor is

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the term sempiternity, the eternal only in futurity, anything better than a misnomer.* Such words do not and cannot exist in philosophical metaphysics, and were unknown till the advent of ecclesiastical Christianity. The Seven Eternities meant are the seven periods, or a period answering in its duration to the seven periods, of a Manvantara, and extending throughout a Maha-Kalpa or the “Great Age” — 100 years of Brahma — making a total of 311,040,000,000,000 of years; each year of Brahma being composed of 360 “days,” and of the same number of “nights” of Brahma (reckoning by the Chandrayana or lunar year); and a “Day of Brahma” consisting of 4,320,000,000 of mortal years. These “Eternities” belong to the most secret calculations, in which, in order to arrive at the true total, every figure must be 7x (7 to the power of x); x varying according to the nature of the cycle in the subjective or real world; and every figure or number relating to, or representing all the different cycles from the greatest to the smallest — in the objective or unreal world — must necessarily be multiples of seven. The key to this cannot be given, for herein lies the mystery of esoteric calculations, and for the purposes of ordinary calculation it has no sense. “The number seven,” says the Kabala, “is the great number of the Divine Mysteries;” number ten is that of all human knowledge (Pythagorean decade); 1,000 is the number ten to the third power, and therefore the number 7,000 is also symbolical. In the Secret Doctrine the figure and number 4 are the male symbol only on the highest plane of abstraction; on the plane of matter the 3 is the masculine and the 4 the female: the upright and the horizontal in the fourth stage of symbolism, when the symbols became the glyphs of the generative powers on the physical plane.


Footnote

* It is stated in Book II., ch. viii., of Vishnu Purana: “By immortality is meant existence to the end of the Kalpa;” and Wilson, the translator, remarks in a footnote: “This, according to the Vedas, is all that is to be understood of the immortality (or eternity) of the gods; they perish at the end of universal dissolution (or Pralaya).” And Esoteric philosophy says: They “perish” not, but are re-absorbed.

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