THEOSOPHY, Vol. 50, No. 9, July, 1962
(Pages 419-423; Size: 15K)
(Number 6 of a 14-part series)



BEGINNING is both simple and exceedingly complex. "Beginning" is a peculiarly unrestricted term, with a qualifying implication: every beginning must necessarily have an ending. It is one of the "pairs of opposites" -- the language of duality -- requisite to treat of the Universe in its myriad manifestations, visible and unseen.

According to dictionary definition, "beginning" means the "starting point in space, time or action." In the context of the Proem to The Secret Doctrine, "beginning" is a universal beginning, an involvement of Space and Time and Action. In reality, these three are inseparably present in every phase of manifestation. Space is that mysterious PRINCIPLE which cannot be left out of any conception, nor conceived of by itself. Time marks the duration in space of any phenomenon -- its beginning and end, its recurrence. Action occupies time in space. Action is by nature serial, or sequential. Each "action" begins a series of actions; each "reaction," itself a beginning of endless ramification, links past with future -- binding and bound, through interdependent connectedness: the whole an endless chain of Life, an all-embracing wheel of Life, a boundless ocean of Life; universal, undivided, ceaseless ONE LIFE.

"Beginning" or "ending" or any intermediate phase must be contemplated within the concept of Unity:

The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature -- from Star to mineral Atom, from the highest Dhyan Chohan to the smallest infusoria, in the fullest acceptation of the term, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual, or physical worlds -- this is the one fundamental law in Occult Science. (S.D. I, 120.)
What questions do we ask of the Universe about us? What came first?, we ask -- and reveal innate recognition of an order in Time. Where did it come from?, we ask -- and the deep mystery of origin in Space confronts us, for the least of things excites wonder -- the cause unknown. What makes it as it is?, we ask. What makes it different from every other thing? Looking inward for analogy -- whether of order, or origin, or distinguishing characteristics -- we know there is no action without force of some kind, and that force within. "Every external motion, act, gesture, whether voluntary or mechanical, organic or mental, is produced and preceded by internal feeling or emotion, will or volition, and thought or mind." Beginning is always imperceptible.

In the Archaic system the symbol of "beginning" is the Point. It is unique -- a vitally meaningful abstraction, a fundamental focus for contemplation. In the context of the Proem, the Point has evocative power. The Soul's reminiscence is aroused, the divining power of the mind quickened.

The Point-symbol is utterly simple; its representations are manifold; its implications universal.

The first facet of this symbol's meaning (Proem, page 1) is in the "re-awakening of still slumbering Energy." What is the nature of that Energy? Who comprehends the silent might -- the latent power -- of the force that rives the rock? that upthrusts a mountain range? The binding power that holds the heavenly bodies in their course, the seas in measured rhythm? The magic working that shapes in secret the lotus leaf within the seed, and unfolds the petals of the perennial primrose?

This Energic beginning has its root literally in the Night of Time -- the Pralaya of the Universe. "Before beginning" is the "indescribable" stage of the First Stanza from the Book of Dzyan -- there is no action, no actor, nothing to be acted upon.

Notably, the ancients spoke to the heart of man -- the intuition. The analogy of "dreamless sleep" brings the indescribable abstraction within the experience of all men, for dreamless sleep is inescapable. It is the closest we may come to understanding the essential identity of the Upanishadic verse: "Here the father is father no more; nor the mother a mother; nor the worlds, worlds; here the scriptures are no longer scriptures; the thief is a thief no more; nor the murderer a murderer; nor the outcast an outcast; nor the baseborn, baseborn; the pilgrim is a pilgrim no longer, nor the saint a saint. For the Spirit of man is not followed by good, he is not followed by evil. For he has crossed all the sorrows of the heart."

H. P. Blavatsky, in a direct use of the simile of "dreamless sleep," bridges the gap philosophically:

Dreamless sleep is one of the seven states of consciousness known in Oriental esotericism. In each of these states a different portion of the mind comes into action; or as a Vedantin would express it, the individual is conscious in a different plane of his being. The term "dreamless sleep," in this case is applied allegorically to the Universe to express a condition somewhat analogous to that state of consciousness in man, which, not being remembered in a waking state, seems a blank, just as the sleep of the mesmerised subject seems to him an unconscious blank when he returns to his normal condition, although he has been talking and acting as a conscious individual would. (S.D. I, 47.)
The importance of a true idea about intuition is relevant here, as H.P.B. points out in a footnote (I, 46):
Dangma means a purified soul, one who has become a Jivanmukta, the highest adept, or rather a Mahatma so-called. His "opened eye" is the inner spiritual eye of the seer, and the faculty which manifests through it is not clairvoyance as ordinarily understood, i.e., the power of seeing at a distance, but rather the faculty of spiritual intuition, through which direct and certain knowledge is obtainable. This faculty is intimately connected with the "third eye," which mythological tradition ascribes to certain races of men.
In the words of William Q. Judge:
Whatever intuition is, it can only be cultivated by having the right mental poise, the right philosophy and the right ethics; and by giving the intuition scope, or chance, so that by many mistakes we at last arrive at a knowledge of how to use it.
The word Mahatma, W. Q. Judge explains in the Ocean of Theosophy, is composed of Maha, great, and Atma, soul, and means great soul. As all men are souls the distinction of the Mahatma lies in greatness. A similar distinction with regard to intuition is made by Robert Crosbie:
Intuition means "Direct cognition and comprehension," without reasoning from premises to conclusions; it is a power that every human being has, either latent, or operative in some degree.... The perfection of this divine faculty can only be attained when the aspirant is neither attached to, nor disturbed by, any externalities whatever; and when he has that additional knowledge that living the higher life implants. A Master once wrote, "The more unselfishly one works for his fellow men and divests himself of the illusionary sense of personal isolation, the more he is free from Maya and the nearer he approaches Divinity."
It is left entirely to the "intuition and the higher faculties of the reader" to grasp the meaning, as far as he can, of the allegorical phrases used in the Second Stanza. Indeed, says H.P.B., it must be remembered that "all these Stanzas appeal to the inner faculties rather than to the ordinary comprehension of the physical brain." But the stage described in Stanza II is, to a Western mind, so nearly identical with that mentioned in the First Stanza, that to "express the idea of a difference would require a treatise in itself." For instance:
This is Unconditioned Consciousness -- without limitations or qualifications: nothing to be conscious of, nor anyone to be conscious of it. "Absolute Consciousness contains the cognizer, the thing cognized and the cognition, all three in itself and all three one."

One of the indistinguishable distinctions, perhaps, is that the "Breath" of the One Existence is "used in its application only to the spiritual aspect of Cosmogony by Archaic esotericism; otherwise, it is replaced by its equivalent in the material plane -- Motion." Another subtle distinction in the Commentary is: "The Primordial Substance had not yet passed out of its precosmic latency into differentiated objectivity ... But, as the hour strikes, it becomes receptive of the Fohatic impress of the Divine Thought."

These statements involve the language of duality -- the vocabulary of the manifested Universe. The key to it is in the First Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine.

"The 'Manifested Universe,' therefore, is pervaded by duality, which is, as it were, the very essence of its EX-istence as 'manifestation.' But just as the opposite poles of subject and object, spirit and matter, are but aspects of the One Unity in which they are synthesized, so, in the manifested Universe, there is 'that' which links spirit to matter, subject to object.

"This something, at present unknown to Western speculation, is called by the occultists Fohat. It is the 'bridge' by which the 'Ideas' existing in the 'Divine Thought' are impressed on Cosmic substance as the 'laws of Nature.' Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation,... Thus from Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our consciousness; from Cosmic Substance the several vehicles in which that consciousness is individualised and attains to self -- or reflective -- consciousness; while Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life."

This is the stage of the Third Stanza. The time has come for "beginnings" -- the "Re-awakening of the Universe to life after Pralaya":

The mystic division is accomplished: under the "eternal and changeless LAW which causes the great periods of Activity and Rest" there is the beginning of time within endless duration. There is the beginning of activity --the development of "limitless subjectivity into as limitless objectivity." The beginning of awareness for, "during the long night of rest called Pralaya, when all the existences are dissolved, the 'UNIVERSAL MIND' remains as a permanent possibility of mental action, or as that abstract absolute thought, of which mind is the concrete relative manifestation." (S.D. I, 38.)

This general idea is expressed by Wm. Q. Judge, in the Ocean of Theosophy, succinctly and in easily-remembered phrases: "Our knowledge begins with differentiation. The first differentiation -- speaking metaphysically as to time -- is Spirit, with which appears Matter and Mind."

. . . . . . .

"The Deity is one, because It is infinite. It is triple, because it is ever manifesting." -- say the Kabalists.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
            A POWER DIVINE

    Behold, I show you Truth! Lower than hell,
Higher than heaven, outside the utmost stars,
    Farther than Brahm doth dwell,

Before beginning, and without an end,
    As space eternal and as surety sure,
Is fixed a Power divine which moves to good,
    Only its laws endure.

                    --The Light of Asia

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