THEOSOPHY, Vol. 50, No. 8, June, 1962
(Pages 358-363; Size: 17K)
(Number 5 of a 14-part series)

PROEM

V

MYSTERY -- that which is secret and excites wonder -- is never absent from the Universe. "The voidness of the seeming full, the fullness of the seeming void." In the midst of it Man IS -- this, only, he truly knows. What he is, how his consciousness persists, and why he has come into Being -- he has yet to learn.

There is a chapter in The Bhagavad-Gita titled "The Kingly Knowledge and the Kingly Mystery." Had the title been written in our day, Robert Crosbie suggests in his Notes, it would have read, "The Highest Knowledge and the Deepest Mystery." Ultimate questions on the nature of Man are high and holy, and evoke a feeling of reverence; and the Ancient Mystery is always contemporary.

Mystery focuses the attention, stimulates the imagination, and provokes profound thought, or it tends to stultify, to suspend the thinking faculty and leave the mind in a benumbed state. The powers of mind, having been directed or suffered to flow in conflicting channels, subject our lives to unnatural movements, broken rhythms, unpredictable or inharmonious experiences. Clear-seeing becomes impossible. Inevitable miscellaneous mysteries pervade the network of human existence. Human nature, compounded of the demoniac and the divine, is truly a mystery and within it, "the inner light which guides men to greatness, and makes them noble," is an incommunicable mystery, for it sets a seal upon the lips. But, categorically speaking, there is the One ever-present MYSTERY -- THAT in which we "live and move and have our being."

"What is that which was, is, and will be, whether there is a Universe or not; whether there be gods or none?" asks the esoteric Senzar Catechism. And the answer made is -- SPACE. (S.D. I, 9.)

The One Eternal Element, or element-containing Vehicle, is Space, dimensionless in every sense; co-existent with which are -- endless duration, primordial (hence indestructible) matter, and motion -- absolute "perpetual motion" which is the "breath" of the "One" Element. This breath, as seen, can never cease, not even during the Pralayic eternities. (S.D. I, 55.)

SPACE ... is the container and the body of the Universe with its seven principles. It is a body of limitless extent,... (Ibid., 342.)

The Proem -- by way of introducing the unfolding symbolism of Archaic times -- presents the simplest yet profoundest Mystery-symbol: "An immaculate white disk within a dull black ground." The dull black ground -- abstract Darkness -- is the ever UNKNOWABLE. The white disk -- without point or perimeter, center or circumference -- is the KNOWABLE aspect, presented periodically as Universal manifestation. "These two, light and darkness, are the world's eternal ways."

KNOWLEDGE is represented later in the symbolism as the plane of the Circle -- "the only knowledge, dim and hazy though it still is, that is attainable by man."

True knowledge is of THAT -- in Nature and in Man -- which, though ever-present and everywhere present, never fully reveals Itself. This primal Mystery constitutes the world of Reality and the world of Maya (illusion), and from this paradox stem the two kinds of truth: Samvritisatya and Paramarthasatya. According to the Theosophical Glossary:

Satya (Sk.) Supreme Truth.

Samvriti (Sk.) False conception -- the origin of illusion.

Paramartha (Sk.) Absolute existence.

Samvritisatya --Truth mixed with false conceptions; the reverse of absolute truth -- or Paramarthasatya, self-consciousness in absolute truth or reality.

The two kinds of truth must be known: the Real and the relatively real. To distinguish between them is the problem. "Maya or illusion is an element which enters into all finite things. Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities." As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and "the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings," each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached "reality"; but only when we have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be freed from the delusions produced by Maya.

Knowledge of the mayavic, the constantly changing world, blinds us to our struggling fellow-men through participation in dreams and fantasies of like nature, the same hopes and fears and misuse of energies. Knowledge of the Real isolates -- in a certain sense. In presenting the doctrine of Karma in The Ocean of Theosophy, William Q. Judge says:

The individual in race or nation is warned by this great doctrine that if he falls into indifference of thought and act, thus moulding himself into the general average karma of his race and nation, that national and race karma will at last carry him off in the general destiny. This is why teachers of old cried, "Come ye out and be ye separate."
Paradoxically, knowledge of the Real isolates and at the same time binds back to the Source -- the Real within all, known or unknown. The horizon widens, and the perspective grows clear and true.

Preceding the statement of the Three Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine (I, 14-17), H. P. Blavatsky says: "Before the reader proceeds to the consideration of the Stanzas from the Book of Dzyan which form the basis of the present work, it is absolutely necessary that he should be made acquainted with the few fundamental conceptions which underlie and pervade the entire system of thought to which his attention is invited." What are the predominant phrases in the three respective concepts? "The absolute Reality. One Unity." "Eternity of the Universe. Absolute universality of law." "Universal Over-Soul. Individuality." Each concept presents a way of considering "One-ness."

Reality, in the most abstract sense, is the Unknown. It is the Self-existent PRINCIPLE. And in the manifested world (S.D. I, 629), reality is composed of "a unity of units."

Unity implies oneness, especially of varied or diverse elements -- oneness due to the interdependence of the parts or individuals, and to the cooperation of all so that each within its proper limits helps in effecting the end of the whole. Unity is maintained by a subtle balance of relationships.

Universe from unus, one, and vertere, versum, to turn -- that is, turned into one, combined into one whole. Immediately following the statement of the Fundamental Propositions, the idea of "universe" is amplified:

This is why the Hindus say that the Universe is Brahma and Brahmâ for Brahma is in every atom of the universe, the six principles in Nature being all the outcome -- the variously differentiated aspects -- of the SEVENTH and ONE, the only reality in the Universe whether Cosmical or micro-cosmical; and also why the permutations (psychic, spiritual and physical), on the plane of manifestation and form, of the sixth (Brahmâ the vehicle of Brahma) are viewed by metaphysical antiphrasis as illusive and Mayavic. For although the root of every atom individually and of every form collectively, is that seventh principle or the one Reality, still, in its manifested phenomenal and temporary appearance, it is no better than an evanescent illusion of our senses.
Universal refers to the "whole" as distinct from the parts that constitute it.

Individual, Latin individuus, signifies that which cannot be divided. It refers unequivocally to "one" as distinguished from all the others. It is a term used in regard to collectives and this makes the term "individuality" a paradox. How can it be "one" and be also inseparably one of a "totality"? Collectivity, from the Latin collectus, participle of colligo, compound of col or con and lego to bind, signifies to bring together, or into one point. "Collectivity" implies brought together by design -- as to collect implies "an end in view," the idea of directed energies.

Individuality is "acquired" by design -- by "self-induced and self-devised efforts" throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations (checked by karma).

Initiation into Knowledge is closely linked with the mystery of Individuality. Wm. Q. Judge, in his Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita, speaks of the secret system of initiation:

It is secret, because, founded in nature and having real Hierophants at the head, its privacy cannot be invaded without the real key. And that key, in each degree, is the aspirant himself.
One might, perhaps, divide humanity into three great classes: those who do not see beyond their immediate wants or needs, the true mystics, and the many "mystified" who seek for a solution to the mystery of life through outward search alone. In a sense, learning is a limitation as definition is restriction of the mental processes, and each category adopted marks a barrier. And of all that is learned, what is truly worthy of preservation? Rituals are born, conventions bred, misconceptions strengthened and perpetuated. Error holds its head high and walks with haughty step down the Ages -- it is no respecter of Time or Truth.

The Chhandogya Upanishad tells of Shvetaketu, Arjuna's grandson, whose father says to him:

Shvetaketu, go, learn the service of the Eternal; for no one, dear, of our family is an unlearned nominal worshipper.

So going when he was twelve years old, he returned when he was twenty-four; he had learned all the teachings, but was conceited, vain of his learning, and proud.

His father addressed him:

Shvetaketu, you are conceited, vain of your learning, and proud, dear; but have you asked for that teaching through which the unheard is heard, the unthought is thought, the unknown is known?

What sort of teaching is that, Master? said he.

His father instructs him in the meaning of "That Thou Art."
Shvetaketu says: But I am sure that those teachers did not know this themselves; for if they had known it, how would they not have taught it to me?
The true mystic is genuinely curious -- with "open mind, eager intellect, and an unveiled spiritual perception." He learns from life without, and consciousness within. He senses the Mystery within and without. He "looks for the Enduring among unenduring things" -- to use an Upanishadic phrase. What are the illusions that bind him to the "here" and "now" -- the relatively real? "Time is only an illusion produced by the succession of our states of consciousness as we travel through eternal duration,..." (S.D. I, 37). But there are moments when Time has no "hold" upon him, even in ordinary life: great trouble, great joy, serious illness, spontaneous sacrifice -- these moments come. Perhaps through a concatenation of circumstances, or the inner impulsion of a "divine discontent," or because he dared to face the Mystery which is himself, he becomes aware of the distinction between self-consciousness and consciousness of the Self. Then questions arise that only The Voice of the Silence has answer to. It instructs; it gives spiritual strength; it warns of the pitfalls along the Path toward INDIVIDUALITY.
Ere thou canst settle in Dhyana-Marga, "path of pure knowledge" named, and call it thine, thy Soul has to become as the ripe mango fruit: as soft and sweet as its bright golden pulp for others' woes, as hard as that fruit's stone for thine own throes and sorrows, O Conqueror of Weal and Woe.
What the motive? And what the need?
Shall he not use the gifts which it offers for his own rest and bliss, his well-earn'd weal and glory -- he, the subduer of the Great Delusion?

Nay, O thou candidate for Nature's hidden lore! If one would follow in the steps of holy Tathagata, those gifts and powers are not for Self.

Know that the stream of superhuman knowledge and the Deva-Wisdom thou hast won, must from thyself, the channel of Alaya, be poured forth into another bed.

Know, O Narjol, thou of the Secret Path, its pure fresh waters must be used to sweeter make the Ocean's bitter waves -- that mighty sea of sorrow formed of the tears of men.

Point out the "Way" -- however dimly, and lost among the host -- as does the evening star to those who tread their path in darkness.

It is a natural step in the Soul's Pilgrimage to mistake illusion for Reality. It is the Mayavic element within that separates him from the Real. Light on this critical mystery is found in "The Synthesis of Occult Science," by Wm. Q. Judge:
Self-consciousness, which from the animal plane looking upward is the beginning of perfection, from the divine plane looking downward is the perfection of selfishness and the curse of separateness. It is the "world of illusion" that man has created for himself. "Maya is the perceptive faculty of every Ego which considers itself a Unit, separate from and independent of the One Infinite Eternal Sat or 'be-ness'." The "eternal pilgrim" must therefore mount higher, and flee from the plane of self-consciousness it has struggled so hard to reach.
The first step, or self-conscious approach, towards the Great Mystery is in the natural, intuitive perception that the mystery of the "Universe" is the mystery of "Man." Comprehension of the "mystery" constitutes the whole dignity and duty of man along the Soul's ascent "through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel (Dhyani-Buddha)."

Here, at last, is "no separateness." The Wisdom of the Dhyani-Buddhas is a collective Wisdom. "Occult Wisdom, the one real (magical) knowledge dealing with eternal truths and primal causes, becomes almost omnipotence when applied in the right direction. Its antithesis is that which deals with illusions and false appearances only, as in our exoteric modern sciences." H.P.B. suggests the means of attaining this wisdom (S.D. I, 199): "It remains with him [man] to attune the three higher states [of consciousness] in himself to the three higher planes in Kosmos."

. . . . . . .

"Thou shalt not separate thy being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean." (Voice of the Silence.)


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