THEOSOPHY, Vol. 50, No. 10, August, 1962
(Pages 454-458; Size: 15K)
(Number 7 of a 14-part series)



DIFFERENTIATION is an initiating act, a process of action, and the characteristic difference developed as result of the action. The idea of "differentiation" is universal in application and in implication. "All manifested objects, beings, or powers are only differentiations of the Great Unknown," said Wm. Q. Judge in The Ocean of Theosophy.

We are mainly -- for various reasons -- engrossed in the result of action, often oblivious of, or unconcerned with, the process leading to its culmination, and we are seldom if ever aware of the moment or point of initiation of an act. We move with a false sense of security in the "changing" world. We observe mutely, with senses half-awake, the compelling movements of the Universe within and about us. And we are totally unaware of the Reality which lies at the Root of all movement, except as the inner eye -- the intuition -- awakes, and who can say by what means? An attitude of detachment? An impersonal desire to know -- result, perhaps, of selfless efforts in prior lives of the reincarnating Ego.

Differentiation begins with MOTION. In the abstract sense, MOTION represents Unconditioned Consciousness. The ceaselessness of Motion -- identified with the boundlessness of Space -- is symbolized by the GREAT BREATH. Nearing the level of philosophical comprehension -- in the stage depicted in the Third Stanza from the Book of Dzyan -- Motion is presented as the "Root of Life":

The Root of Life was in every drop of the Ocean of Immortality (Amrita) and the Ocean was Radiant Light, which was Fire and Heat and Motion.
The fire, heat, and motion here spoken of are not the "fire, heat, and motion of physical science, but the underlying abstractions, the noumena, or the soul, of the essence of these material manifestations."

Differentiation is introduced in the Proem to The Secret Doctrine linked with a word that suggests beginning, expansion, and promise of fulfilment -- "the dawn of differentiation." This facet of meaning of the deeply-occult Point-symbol has dual significance: the beginning in Time of a period of Activity following a period of Rest (Pralaya), and the unfolding in Space of latent potentialities -- "the periodical manifestations of the ever-eternal nature." How this symbol bridges the pre-Dawn and the manifesting Universe is indicated by H.P.B. (S.D. I, 327-8): (the Unknown...) is represented by a boundless darkness, on the ground of which appears the first central point in white -- thus symbolising coeval and co-eternal SPIRIT-MATTER making its appearance in the phenomenal world, before its first differentiation. When "the one becomes two," it may then be referred to as Spirit and Matter.
Spirit and Matter are not "independent realities" -- are never separable. H.P.B. quotes from a Commentary (S.D. I, 258):
Whatsoever quits the Laya State, becomes active life; it is drawn into the vortex of MOTION (the alchemical solvent of Life); Spirit and Matter are the two States of the ONE, which is neither Spirit nor Matter, both being the absolute life, latent.... Spirit is the first differentiation of (and in) SPACE; and Matter the first differentiation of Spirit. That, which is neither Spirit nor Matter -- that is IT -- the Causeless CAUSE of Spirit and Matter, which are the Cause of Kosmos. And THAT we call the ONE LIFE or the Intra-Cosmic Breath.
And in The Tao Te King, Lao Tze says: "There is something, chaotic yet complete, which existed before Heaven and Earth." He calls it TAO, and speaks of its transcendental aspect and its physical manifestation: "The Tao which can be expressed in words is not the eternal Tao; the name which can be uttered is not its eternal name. Without a name, it is the beginning of Heaven and Earth; with a name it is the Mother of all things. Only one who is eternally free from earthly passions can apprehend its spiritual essence; he who is ever clogged by passions can see no more than its outer form. These two things, the spiritual and the material, though we call them by different names, in their origin are one and the same. This sameness is a mystery -- the mystery of mysteries. It is the gate of all spirituality."

Subtly underlying the idea of differentiation is the concept of equilibrium. The word "equilibrium" (Lat. æquus, equal, and libra, a balance) means a condition of equal balance between opposite or counteracting forces. Equilibrium has a range of application, and means in particular a tendency to return to the original position after a disturbance. This "tendency to return" suggests the basic cyclic pattern everywhere observable. The disturbance of equilibrium is familiarly illustrated by dropping a pebble into a pool of water: the water set into cyclic movement returns after a time to a state of quiet, or rest -- the "inactive" state. Another type of "tendency to return" finds illustration in the unfolded potentialities of the seed: the acorn's potentialities produce the oak tree which returns fruitage of acorns with latent potentialities. Again, the tendency of the mind to "return to that which is pleasant, or to that which is unpleasant." And in the Upanishadic tale, the sage Yajnavalkya says of the Spirit of man: "With the Soul as his light he rests, goes forth, does his work, and returns."

Activity and Rest alternate ceaselessly. "Even cosmic matter, indestructible though it be in its essence, must have a time of rest, and return to its Layam state." Layam or Laya (Sans. root Li "to dissolve, to disintegrate") is a point of equilibrium in physics and chemistry. In occultism, it is that point where substance becomes homogeneous. It is a condition. The laya state is "the eternal and normal condition of substance, which differentiates only periodically, and is during that differentiation in an abnormal state -- in other words, a transitory illusion of the senses": from homogeneity, differentiation, heterogeneity, dissolution, to re-absorption or rest in the state of laya or absolute equilibrium.

The "imperishable Laya centers" have a great importance and their meaning must be fully understood if we would have a clear conception of the Archaic Cosmogony, whose theories have passed into Occultism, says H.P.B. By the law of analogy, the laya state must have "importance and meaning" in the life of man, and the elucidation of a "neutral centre" (S.D. I, 148) is suggestive and significant:

A "neutral centre" is, in one aspect, the limiting point of any given set of senses. Thus, imagine two consecutive planes of matter as already formed; each of these corresponding to an appropriate set of perceptive organs. We are forced to admit that between these two planes of matter an incessant circulation takes place; and if we follow the atoms and molecules of (say) the lower in their transformation upwards, these will come to a point where they pass altogether beyond the range of the faculties we are using on the lower plane. In fact, to us the matter of the lower plane there vanishes from our perception into nothing -- or rather it passes on to the higher plane, and the state of matter corresponding to such a point of transition must certainly possess special and not readily discoverable properties.
Matter in its homogeneous state is never wholly absent, for Spirit and Matter are never separate. "Primeval matter -- i.e. as it appeared even in its first differentiation from its laya condition -- is yet to this day homogeneous, at immense distances, in the depths of infinitude, and likewise at points not far removed from the outskirts of our solar system." The seemingly remote Cosmic processes are intimate and inevitable. The laya-equilibrium disturbed, matter is in the state of Alaya -- a name for the Universal Soul. The Voice of the Silence says:
Alas, alas, that all men should possess Alaya, be one with the Great Soul, and that possessing it, Alaya should so little avail them!

Behold how like the moon, reflected in the tranquil waves, Alaya is reflected by the small and by the great, is mirrored in the tiniest atoms, yet fails to reach the heart of all. Alas, that so few men should profit by the gift, the priceless boon of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, the knowledge of the non-existent!

This fundamental identity of all souls with the Universal Soul has its relevant and practical application in Wm. Q. Judge's counsel that, "in the spreading of the doctrines of Universal Brotherhood, the truth in all things may be discovered." And again: "In the Spirit or Atma all experiences of all forms of life and death are found at once, and he who is one with the Atma knows the whole manifested Universe at once." The Secret Doctrine explains that Alaya is "both the Universal Soul and the Self of a progressed adept."

Matter is the "self-existing basis whose septenary manvantaric differentiations constitute the objective reality underlying the phenomena of each phase of conscious existence." Differentiation of matter is the "conditioning" of Consciousness, or Spirit. Every thought, every feeling, every choice modifies, qualifies, transforms the material environment: bodily, intellectual, psychic and spiritual. Ideals or hopes are cause of conditioning as well as distrust or despair. The Consciousness moves through the states of waking, dreaming and sleep, and experiences in the "ethereal vesture" of the Devachanic state. The Bhagavad-Gita says of Purusha, the spirit, and Prakriti, matter or nature: "Spirit when invested with matter or prakriti experienceth the qualities which proceed from prakriti...."

Manifestation is rooted in mystery, and the word "manifest" appears contradictory in its ascribed meaning. Manifest has various derivations which mean, generally, "clear, open to view," "evident to the senses, esp. to the sight; hence obvious to the understanding; not obscure." The field and function of mind is understanding, but what do the senses convey -- dealing, as they do, with illusive or Mayavic appearances? The very profusion and diversity of Nature's phenomena may "obscure" -- may dull the senses and overawe the mind, may tend to unquestioning acceptance of the "wonders of God's creation," and pious acquiescence to "God's will."

What assurance then of understanding? The unfailing recurrence of Nature's phenomena must at last awaken the mind to recognition of a Law at work -- the One LAW of the Universe which "acts on every planet through minor and varying laws." Perception of Law throughout Nature's manifestations is the first step to awareness of continuity -- the Ariadne's thread that leads to knowledge of Law, and its conscious embodiment.

The Voice of the Silence counsels:

Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance.

And she will open wide before thee the portals of her secret chambers, lay bare before thy gaze the treasures hidden in the very depths of her pure virgin bosom. Unsullied by the hand of Matter, she shows her treasures only to the eye of Spirit -- the eye which never closes, the eye for which there is no veil in all her kingdoms.

How can one "help" without knowing the nature of Nature? Of the ONE LIFE -- not as an aggregation, but as an indivisible Unity? Aggregation and dispersion or dissolution are modes of process and do not alter the underlying continuity of Life. Every atom is instinct with life. "Atoms are called 'vibrations' in Occultism; also Sound -- collectively. Atoms fill the immensity of Space, and by their continuous vibration are that MOTION which keeps the wheels of Life perpetually going."

We, literally, "live and move and have our being" in a sea of change: the incessant change of forms -- instability, and the as-constant change of growth and development -- mutability. There is danger of being "engulfed" through identification with or attachment for the environing conditions. The Voice says: "Both action and inaction may find room in thee; thy body agitated, thy mind tranquil, thy Soul as limpid as a mountain lake."

. . . . . . .

Of teachers there are many; the MASTER-SOUL is one, Alaya, the Universal Soul. Live in that MASTER as ITS ray in thee. Live in thy fellows as they live in IT. (The Voice of the Silence)

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