The Secret Doctrine vol. 1, Stanza I.9

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STANZA I. — Continued.


9. But where was the Dangma when the Alaya of the Universe (Soul as the basis of all, Anima Mundi) was in Paramartha (a) (Absolute Being and Consciousness which are Absolute Non-Being and Unconsciousness) and the great wheel was Anupadaka (b)?

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(a) Here we have before us the subject of centuries of scholastic disputations. The two terms “Alaya” and “Paramartha” have been the causes of dividing schools and splitting the truth into more different aspects than any other mystic terms. Alaya is literally the “Soul of the World” or Anima Mundi, the “Over-Soul” of Emerson, and according to esoteric teaching it changes periodically its nature. Alaya, though eternal and changeless in its inner essence on the planes which are unreachable by either men or Cosmic Gods (Dhyani Buddhas), alters during the active life-period with respect to the lower planes, ours included. During that time not only the Dhyani-Buddhas are one with Alaya in Soul and Essence, but even the man strong in the Yoga (mystic meditation) “is able to merge his soul with it” (Aryasanga, the Bumapa school). This is not Nirvana, but a condition next to it. Hence the disagreement. Thus, while the Yogacharyas (of the Mahayana school) say that Alaya is the personification of the Voidness, and yet Alaya (Nyingpo and Tsang in Tibetan) is the basis of every visible and invisible thing, and that, though it is eternal and immutable in its essence, it reflects itself in every object of the Universe “like the moon in clear tranquil water”; other schools dispute the statement. The same for Paramartha: the Yogacharyas interpret the term as that which is also dependent upon other things (paratantral); and the Madhyamikas say that Paramartha is limited to Paranishpanna or absolute perfection; i.e., in the exposition of these “two truths” (out of four), the former believe and maintain that (on this plane, at any rate) there exists only Samvritisatya or relative truth; and the latter teach the existence of Paramarthasatya, the “absolute truth.”* “No Arhat, oh mendicants, can reach absolute knowledge before he becomes one with Paranirvana. Parikalpita and Paratantra are his two great enemies” (Aphorisms of the Bodhisattvas). Parikalpita (in Tibetan Kun-ttag) is error, made by those unable to realize the emptiness and illusionary nature of all; who believe something to exist which does not — e.g., the Non-Ego. And


Footnote

* “Paramartha” is self-consciousness in Sanskrit, Svasamvedana, or the “self-analysing reflection” — from two words, parama (above everything) and artha (comprehension), Satya meaning absolute true being, or Esse. In Tibetan Paramarthasatya is Dondampaidenpa. The opposite of this absolute reality, or actuality, is Samvritisatya — the relative truth only — “Samvriti” meaning “false conception” and being the origin of illusion, Maya; in Tibetan Kundzabchi-denpa, “illusion-creating appearance.”

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Paratantra is that, whatever it is, which exists only through a dependent or causal connexion, and which has to disappear as soon as the cause from which it proceeds is removed—e.g., the light of a wick. Destroy or extinguish it, and light disappears.

Esoteric philosophy teaches that everything lives and is conscious, but not that all life and consciousness are similar to those of human or even animal beings. Life we look upon as “the one form of existence,” manifesting in what is called matter; or, as in man, what, incorrectly separating them, we name Spirit, Soul and Matter. Matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of soul on this plane of existence, and soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of spirit, and these three are a trinity synthesized by Life, which pervades them all. The idea of universal life is one of those ancient conceptions which are returning to the human mind in this century, as a consequence of its liberation from anthropomorphic theology. Science, it is true, contents itself with tracing or postulating the signs of universal life, and has not yet been bold enough even to whisper “Anima Mundi!” The idea of “crystalline life,” now familiar to science, would have been scouted half a century ago. Botanists are now searching for the nerves of plants; not that they suppose that plants can feel or think as animals do, but because they believe that some structure, bearing the same relation functionally to plant life that nerves bear to animal life, is necessary to explain vegetable growth and nutrition. It hardly seems possible that science can disguise from itself much longer, by the mere use of terms such as “force” and “energy,” the fact that things that have life are living things, whether they be atoms or planets.

But what is the belief of the inner esoteric Schools? the reader may ask. What are the doctrines taught on this subject by the Esoteric “Buddhists”? With them “Alaya” has a double and even a triple meaning. In the Yogacharya system of the contemplative Mahayana school, Alaya is both the Universal Soul (Anima Mundi) and the Self of a progressed adept. “He who is strong in the Yoga can introduce at will his Alaya by means of meditation into the true Nature of Existence.” The “Alaya has an absolute eternal existence,” says Aryasanga—the rival of Nagarjuna.* In one sense it is Pradhana; which


Footnote

* Aryasanga was a pre-Christian Adept and founder of a Buddhist esoteric school, though Csoma di Koros places him, for some reasons of his own, in the seventh century [Footnote continued on next page]

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is explained in Vishnu Purana as: “that which is the unevolved cause, is emphatically called by the most eminent sages Pradhana, original base, which is subtile Prakriti, viz., that which is eternal, and which at once is (or comprehends) what is and what is not, or is mere process.” “Prakriti,” however, is an incorrect word, and Alaya would explain it better; for Prakriti is not the “uncognizable Brahma.”* It is a mistake of those who know nothing of the Universality of the Occult doctrines from the very cradle of the human races, and especially so of those scholars who reject the very idea of a “primordial revelation,” to teach that the Anima Mundi, the One Life or “Universal Soul,” was made known only by Anaxagoras, or during his age. This philosopher brought the teaching forward simply to oppose the too materialistic conceptions on Cosmogony of Democritus, based on his exoteric theory of blindly driven atoms. Anaxagoras of Clazomene was not its inventor but only its propagator, as also was Plato. That which he called Mundane Intelligence, the nous, the principle that according to his views is absolutely separated and free from matter and acts on design,† was called Motion, the one life, or Jivatma, ages before the year 500 b.c. in India. Only the Aryan philosophers never endowed the principle, which with them is infinite, with the finite “attribute” of “thinking.”

This leads the reader naturally to the “Supreme Spirit” of Hegel and the German Transcendentalists as a contrast that it may be useful to point out. The schools of Schelling and Fichte have diverged widely from the primitive archaic conception of an absolute principle, and have mirrored only an aspect of the basic idea of the Vedanta. Even the “Absoluter Geist” shadowed forth by von Hartman in his pessimistic philosophy of the Unconscious, while it is, perhaps, the closest approximation made by European speculation to the Hindu Adwaitee Doctrines, similarly falls far short of the reality.


Footnotes

[Footnote continued from previous page] A.D. There was another Aryasanga, who lived during the first centuries of our era and the Hungarian scholar most probably confuses the two.

* “The indiscreet cause which is uniform, and both cause and effect, and which those who are acquainted with first principles call Pradhana and Prakriti, is the incognizable Brahma who was before all” (Vayu Purana); i.e., Brahma does not put forth evolution itself or create, but only exhibits various aspects of itself, one of which is Prakriti, an aspect of Pradhana.

† Finite Self-consciousness, I mean. For how can the absolute attain it otherwise than as simply an aspect, the highest of which known to us is human consciousness?

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According to Hegel, the “Unconscious” would never have undertaken the vast and laborious task of evolving the Universe, except in the hope of attaining clear Self-consciousness. In this connection it is to be borne in mind that in designating Spirit, which the European Pantheists use as equivalent to Parabrahm, as unconscious, they do not attach to that expression of “Spirit”—one employed in the absence of a better to symbolise a profound mystery—the connotation it usually bears.

The “Absolute Consciousness,” they tell us, “behind” phenomena, which is only termed unconsciousness in the absence of any element of personality, transcends human conception. Man, unable to form one concept except in terms of empirical phenomena, is powerless from the very constitution of his being to raise the veil that shrouds the majesty of the Absolute. Only the liberated Spirit is able to faintly realise the nature of the source whence it sprung and whither it must eventually return. . . . As the highest Dhyan Chohan, however, can but bow in ignorance before the awful mystery of Absolute Being; and since, even in that culmination of conscious existence—“the merging of the individual in the universal consciousness”—to use a phrase of Fichte’s — the Finite cannot conceive the Infinite, nor can it apply to it its own standard of mental experiences, how can it be said that the “Unconscious” and the Absolute can have even an instinctive impulse or hope of attaining clear self-consciousness?* A Vedantin would never admit this Hegelian idea; and the Occultist would say that it applies perfectly to the awakened mahat, the Universal Mind already projected into the phenomenal world as the first aspect of the changeless absolute, but never to the latter. “Spirit and Matter, or Purusha and Prakriti are but the two primeval aspects of the One and Secondless,” we are taught.

The matter-moving Nous, the animating Soul, immanent in every atom, manifested in man, latent in the stone, has different degrees of power; and this pantheistic idea of a general Spirit-Soul pervading all Nature is the oldest of all the philosophical notions. Nor was the Archaeus a discovery of Paracelsus nor of his pupil Van Helmont; for it is again the same Archaeus or “Father-Ether,” — the manifested basis


Footnote

* See Schwegler’s “Handbook of the History of Philosophy” in Sterling’s translation, p. 28.

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and source of the innumerable phenomena of life—localised. The whole series of the numberless speculations of this kind are but variations on this theme, the key-note of which was struck in this primeval Revelation. (See Part II., “Primordial Substance.”)

(b) The term Anupadaka, “parentless,” or without progenitors, is a mystical designation having several meanings in the philosophy. By this name celestial beings, the Dhyan-Chohans or Dhyani-Buddhas, are generally meant. But as these correspond mystically to the human Buddhas and Bodhisattwas, known as the “Manushi (or human) Buddhas,” the latter are also designated “Anupadaka,” once that their whole personality is merged in their compound sixth and seventh principles — or Atma-Buddhi, and that they have become the “diamond-souled” (Vajra-sattvas),* the full Mahatmas. The “Concealed Lord” (Sangbai Dag-po), “the one merged with the absolute,” can have no parents since he is Self-existent, and one with the Universal Spirit (Svayambhu),† the Svabhavat in the highest aspect. The mystery in the hierarchy of the Anupadaka is great, its apex being the universal Spirit-Soul, and the lower rung the Manushi-Buddha; and even every Soul-endowed man is an Anupadaka in a latent state. Hence, when speaking of the Universe in its formless, eternal, or absolute condition, before it was fashioned by the “Builders” — the expression, “the Universe was Anupadaka.” (See Part II., “Primordial Substance.”)


Footnotes

* Vajra — diamond-holder. In Tibetan Dorjesempa; sempa meaning the soul, its adamantine quality referring to its indestructibility in the hereafter. The explanation with regard to the “Anupadaka” given in the Kala Chakra, the first in the Gyu(t) division of the Kanjur, is half esoteric. It has misled the Orientalists into erroneous speculations with respect to the Dhyani-Buddhas and their earthly correspondencies, the Manushi-Buddhas. The real tenet is hinted at in a subsequent Volume, (see “The Mystery about Buddha”), and will be more fully explained in its proper place.

† To quote Hegel again, who with Schelling practically accepted the Pantheistic conception of periodical Avatars (special incarnations of the World-Spirit in Man, as seen in the case of all the great religious reformers) . . . . “the essence of man is spirit . . . . only by stripping himself of his finiteness and surrendering himself to pure self-consciousness does he attain the truth. Christ-man, as man in whom the Unity of God-man (identity of the individual with the Universal consciousness as taught by the Vedantins and some Adwaitees) appeared, has, in his death and history generally, himself presented the eternal history of Spirit — a history which every man has to accomplish in himself, in order to exist as Spirit.” — Philosophy of History. Sibree’s English translation, p. 340.

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