GODS, MONADS AND ATOMS
In the realm of the Esoteric sciences the unit divided ad infinitum, instead of losing its unity, approaches with every division the planes of the only eternal REALITY. The eye of the SEER can follow and behold it in all its pregenetic glory.
H. P. Blavatsky
Every student of The Secret Doctrine has sensed the vast depths of meaning and possibility intimated in the sacred teaching concerning gods, monads and atoms. Very few have even begun to connect, however tentatively, the apprehension they may have of themselves, as finite human beings, with the divine dimensions of the immortal monad. What is needed, if one is to discover the immense storehouse of wisdom and beneficent compassion that is the substratum of nature and the inheritance of every human being, is a comprehensible point of convergence between our mortal lives and our divine natures. Here we may be helped by The Voice of the Silence, which refers to three halls in which every human being lives and through which he moves and passes, in the passage of day into night and back into day. Through this regular recapitulation in miniature of the greater revolutions of the soul, we may begin to discern the deeper mystery of the monad that extends far beyond the limits of the temporal world.
Let us start with the waking world. According to The Voice of the Silence, it is the hall of avidya, ignorance in a pristine, philosophical sense. It is the hall in which shadows flit through existence, living in a state of psychic tension. Reacting to external stimuli, they interact not in a creative, self-conscious and cooperative manner but rather as bundles of emotion interacting with other bundles of emotion. The vast, terrible vortex swells until any person caught up in it is held captive to a very limited sense of reality. He either tries to impose his illusions upon someone else (which is impossible to the extent to which the other person has a modicum of self-respect) or dramatizes and exaggerates to the utmost limit the minimum core of truth hidden within the ever growing balloon of his own fantasy existence. Hardly any authentic communication takes place, let alone any true communion between human beings in the so-called waking world.
In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna declared that what men call day is seen by the sage as the night of ignorance. As the Buddha taught, human beings are asleep, daydreaming or half-awake. They are not alive in the sense in which only those who have a continuous and conscious existence in spirit are alive. They are not alive as light-beings, who in the silent sanctuary of their own inmost consciousness are aware of their own living link with the invisible Spiritual Sun, the source of all light and life. They populate a world in which men are caught up in the realities of other men, but which are no more than shared illusions.
If one looked at the waking world only in this way, there would be something wrong. The waking world is not merely a collective projection from the subjective imaginations of human beings. We know that the waking world is also the arena in which we find seeds becoming plants and trees bearing flowers. It is the realm of rhythmic manifestation in visible nature, in which the falling leaves of autumn have a fragrance, flavour and beauty of their own. Even in the depths of the winter snow there is some affirmation of the unity that is reflected from above below. Every seed, every tree, every plant, indeed every living thing and being bears some sort of witness to a noumenal reality. Clearly, we cannot view this world solely from the standpoint of the mental illusions of half-awake men.
It is also a world of whirling atoms, atoms which swirl in and around men, with a complexity of seemingly conflicting and chaotic movement. To the mind of the discerning seer, to the awakened senses of the man who is at peace within himself and open to the great mind and heart of nature, this dance of atoms is a song, a majestic and magnificent symphony. There is an ordered relationship between the past, the present and the future through a process of movement that parallels an archetypal logic hidden behind the sensory screen. The waking world – the hall of ignorance, a tower of Babel for limited human minds – when seen in terms of the great mind of nature is a world of manifested wisdom. It is a world of objective reality which is beautiful because it intimates a deeper reality that is hidden. Nature in this sense, to the eye of the silent seer, is like the goddess Isis, unveiling partly the mystery of creation. The sacrificial compassion that is in the very depths of her bosom will ever remain hidden and cannot be understood except by becoming one with it, like the child that is a foetus within the womb of the mother. Atoms interact in a colligious way when human minds, like automata, become the purveyors and the conveyors of colliding atoms. But in nature as a whole, atoms move in a very different way. In this we may find a pointer to the fact that humanity is growing up, even in the most adolescent parts of the world (those enamoured of the gadgetry and glitter of material goals and technological splendour). Humanity is growing up because men and women are coming to see that there is a poignant contrast between what nature, though misused, still teaches in terms of symmetry, opulence and generosity, and the stingy littleness and limitations of the structures created by ignorant human beings.
The second hall is the hall of learning, in which there are beautiful flowers, although under every flower a serpent is coiled. It is the psychical realm. People enter it when they take drugs. Some enter it without any adventitious aids just because they are psychically sensitive, mentally passive, or given to protracted day-dreaming. It is also a state of consciousness into which all men enter during sleep, when the brain of the physical body is less active and more rested. It is possible, at that time, for the astral realm to become more real to embodied consciousness as it withdraws from the sensorium and the cerebrum. This is a state in which one sees sights and sounds or titillating visions. It is a realm of colours.
All these colours vary according to the subjective feeling-state of the perceiver. What is terrifying to one could be beautiful to another. It is comparable to the domain of aesthetics, where there is something incommunicable and irreducibly unique about each person"s appreciation of particular music or particular colours. To some, the jazz of Jimi Hendrix in the film Rainbow Bridge may be incredible. They may think it is full of life. To others it may be the raucous noise of the dead. No two human beings can honestly have the same authentic responses in reference to sounds or colours. This realm is treacherous because unless there are criteria, unless as an individuating, thinking being one is able to sift and select, weigh, accept and give meaning to images and events, one is lost. One is liable to be misled. At its highest level great mystics enter into trance states that are extremely beautiful, and yet, when they come out of those states they can mistranslate. They have been through something real, but when they make claims or when they attempt descriptions, they are liable to an understandable falsification, a natural exaggeration, or at best an inability to convey deeper truths that are impersonal and universifiable, usable by varieties of men in varieties of conditions.
To understand this in terms of monads, one might say that all monads are reflecting mirrors. It is possible for every monad to reflect only partially because every monad is involved in a modification of cognition, like a lens that is linked up with an aperture which is a limitation upon it. This could be misleading, because in metaphysical space in every atom and within the mind of every man there is the capacity to release the true monadic reflection which is a diamond light, many-faceted and symmetrical. But that is only possible in the context of a larger vision, a wider perspective in which one is aware of that which does not enter into any perspective or into any conditioned awareness in the mind. This is very difficult to comprehend in ordinary terms. It is as though there is a constant, if muffled, awareness of that which is behind and beyond manifestation. Because of that awareness there is a capacity to control perception in relation to limited perspectives, cognition in relation to limited conditions. One can handle secondary causes, truncated periods of time, spatially limited planes of differentiated matter or phenomenal causation.
To put this in another way, a person could look back to ten years ago and find out what are the connections he could make between his achievements and faults as a thinking human being, between his insights and his hangups of ten years ago, and then connect them with effects apparent today. Another man may not be able to do this over ten years but only over the last year. A truly wise man will be able to connect not only in relation to that which was incipient at the beginning but also, paradoxically, in relation to what came before it. That implies he will also be able to read so much meaning in one day, in one hour, and make so many connections, that for him each moment could become a mirror of eternity. In one hour he could read the vaster life-stories of men. This is possible because all atoms have an indwelling essence which is unmodified and unconditioned, which partakes of the limitless light of the one source of the whole of manifestation.
The second hall, the psychic realm, is a burden and a drag upon human beings, and especially for those who attempt to force or steal their way into it by drugs – a terrible tragedy. On the other hand, a wise being could go through those states at will, see under every flower a serpent coiled, and not be captive to anything in it. This is because monads vary in their capacity to reflect, in what Leibniz called their aperceptive function.
The third hall is the hall of wisdom, for human monads the most important. If a person is earnestly concerned to do something about his whole life, to become self-consciously engaged in self-transformation, to seek and to use divine wisdom, he is requesting during waking life whatever will help him to bring back from deep sleep that which is buried somewhere within him and which he truly knows. There is a realm of unfading light where there are no shadows. It is like standing directly under the sun and casting no shadow. To stand directly under the noonday sun in all its blazing glory is difficult. Standing directly under it, looking straight ahead, one cannot see it. One has to sense it with the mind"s eye.
This is a supernal realm where one is no longer captive to those externalities of the waking world which involve interactions of atoms and all those relationships which arise when monads are brought together. It is the kingdom of the gods. It is the sphere of pure, divine, direct perception where there is no separation between the knower, the known and the process of knowing. This might be put in terms of a luminous pyramid. A human being can acquire a balance between what he knows, the process of knowing and, above all, his own sense of awareness of himself as a knower. Yet he is growing and always reaching in each of these three areas towards that which is beyond – beyond the known, beyond himself as a knower, and beyond all conceivable processes of knowing. Long before he can enter into and become one with that mathematical point at the radiant apex of the pyramid, he can learn to look towards it and stand within the triad. When he can do this self-consciously, then for him that blissful state of deep sleep is also an illusion. He has to go beyond it. To enjoy the riches of that state is a response that is very soothing for the limited human being. Immortal individuals, however, who transcend all states of consciousness conditioned by polarities, can at will live always in turiya, the state of total wakefulness of the gods.
In one sense the theosophical view of "gods" refers to those myriads of fine points of radiant matter which represent the ethereal side of nature that has not yet become human. They are often personified in the old myths as sylphs, salamanders and undines, fairies, gods and goddesses. But the principal theosophical use of the term "god" is that a god is a fully self-conscious being, one who has effortlessly intelligent control over all the centres of his being. He is completely awake, secure in self-enlightenment. This implies that he can apprehend the relativities of all reality. He can freely enter into the world of a child. He can understand the illusion of an unhappy man obsessed with wealth or fame or power. He is capable of sharing the illusion of someone who confounds hectic physical activity with love. He is able to empathize with the victims of all kinds of illusions whilst none of these has any hold over him. He sees to the core of that causal point around which false forms and intricate illusions gather. He has mastered the art of living among, and entering into relations with many monads with limited perspectives and feeling utterly one with those engrossed in their own limited realities. He can assist them through his awareness of that which is beyond, serving as a spiritual parent-teacher who can arouse in them the longings of the heart, the aspirations of the soul, the hopes of the mind for a fuller sense of reality, a larger life.
Such a god-man inhabits the hall of wisdom, the universal field of ideation underlying the great storehouse which could be seen either collectively or distributively. Collectively, it is like a luminous and boundless ether or pure akasa. On the one hand, we have the whole of the astral light, sometimes called "Nature"s infinite negative," on which everything is recorded and reflected but in reverse. Corresponding to this there is at the upper pole of manifestation a cosmic, fiery, single substance or primal principle, which underlies all states and substances. There is a pure imprinting upon a cosmic cerebellum or upon the memory bank of a cosmic computer, to use an initial but misleading analogy. One could see this storehouse as everywhere and nowhere. For example, we might say of a great musician that when he composes there is no place in particular from which he is drawing inspiration. Or it is everywhere. Or it could be anywhere. It is anywhere for each great musician in each particular mood. In some way, any point is part of that boundless plane. Every human being has potential access to the universal plane of cosmic ideation upon which are recorded all archetypal realities, and hence the statement of Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun." There is nothing new for a man who truly stands under the sun.
Distributively, we know that all men are not equally able to retain continually in consciousness an awareness of what is important. They forget, they falter, and they sink. After a point they are like wounded soldiers with battered minds, bruised hearts, and actual abscesses, so that even their capacity to receive is distorted. They are like broken-down wireless sets – not clean, but rusted – in which the battery is almost dead. This is a pitiful state. There could only be hope for every human being if there is somewhere within his own nature, in the very depths of his consciousness, that which corresponds to the cosmic storehouse. This can be discovered by each one only through making divine wisdom a living power in his life, because it concerns that which is unspeakable – unspeakably sacred. There is in every man that sovereign touchstone by which he can read the eternal tablets. But before he is ready to do this he must be willing to go through a process of preliminary separation, a purgation of matter, a purification of mind.
We are told in the Chaldean Book of Numbers that the Blessed Ones have naught to do with the purgations of gross matter. In their terrestrial forms they may participate in all the cycles of growth that have to do with the body. They know when the centres of light in the body need help from the hierarchies of nature. They are quite willing to take from nature and give it as food to the body. They know how to take care of the instrument though they have no sense of identity in that instrument. They do not self-consciously participate in the purgations of matter. When individuals reach that point in consciousness, they become beings who are living continually in a state of self-conscious ideation on universal and transcending themes, any one of which can be crystallized around one seed idea on which each day could be made to revolve. Such a person can contact the crystalline purity of akasa through any one of the many crystals that are available and knows that there are abundant, plentiful seed ideas in great books or even in the stutterings of a child. He can see the germ in the embryo of a hidden crystal. He is able, out of his own self-conscious development of his god-like plastic potency (that of creative imagination), to enter consciously into that pristine relation with points of contact everywhere in matter and in other minds, which enables him to tap at will any atom.
The great seer constantly discerns scintillating atoms and cascading sparks. For him the universe is gloriously alive and ineffably beautiful. He can also see with compassion the lengthening shadows that arise out of the whiners, the moaners, the complainers and the self-hating murderers of the sacred gift of human speech. He can see it all in perspective because he has become a self-conscious embodiment of that which is beyond colour, beyond form, beyond limitations. He has come to bestride the bird of life. He has become the soundless sound, and hence can make himself responsive, amidst the cacophony of the earth, to the music of the spheres. This is the very grand prospect that the universe holds for us. Any and every man, as a fallen god, could recover his divine estate. But he could not do it by phoniness or by limiting through his own constricted awareness those at whose feet he must silently sit and learn – the Great Masters of Wisdom and Compassion. Ever present on earth, they constitute a sacred current which cyclically under law at certain moments, when the need and the pain of mankind is acute, descends from their own midst and lights up minds that are ready to be lit up.
To engage in the preliminary purification necessary for entering into the universal storehouse requires immense discrimination, for what is true of human consciousness is true of the whole library of nature. Both the exalted and corrupt are impressed there as living atomic and elemental vibrations. Hence, in the old days, cultures like the Brahminical or the Jewish, out of their own vestiges of forgotten wisdom, set up rules concerning how to bathe, how to eat, what to touch, rules in relation to minimizing contamination and minimizing pollution in human contact. Anyone who reveres his physical body as a temple of which he is the trustee, and which is the temple of a living god, is going to regard his body as deeply sacred and precious. Every contact, every emanation outgoing and ingoing that he is involved with will be examined in every context, in every kind of situation. Real men who have attained this stage of total responsibility are so compassionate, so free from any form of selfishness, subtle pride or snobbery, that they can use the science of sacred knowledge as a healing art, consciously receiving negative vibrations and sending them back purified with a powerfully beneficent impulse. This is why they cannot be imitated. Initiators provide deep wisdom and lesser men make rules, trying through imitation of the initiators to cut losses. It works up to a point, but a time comes when it works no longer.
Self-conscious human beings have deliberately to provide for themselves their own means, not merely of protection, but even more of beneficent reaching out to others and warding off, without any ill will towards the source of pollution, all those influences that are unwholesome. This requires a high degree of self-knowledge. Maybe the simplest way in which any person could begin is to start with the idea of self-magnetization. He should do this not merely out of the limited sense of privacy that he attaches to his own house or his own bedroom, because that simply reinforces the illusion that somehow he is cut off. He may be in his bedroom and be much closer to kama loka and the astral light than if he were sitting in Place Pigalle in Paris. It depends on the quality and the stance of one"s accumulated past thoughts. This is why the merely physical could be misleading. But if we sincerely reflected upon and sedulously practised self-magnetization, we would find that there is not a human being – and here we can learn from children – who could not truly regard his vestures as precious.
Children manage to make the most of those things which they invest with love and affection. A teddy bear could become a protecting Buddha for a loving child who knows how to treat that teddy bear. Grownups lose their knowledge which is a kind of magical knowledge from the past. A very interesting couple, Peter Opie and his wife, wrote a fascinating book on the games that school children play. They found that all over the world little children play certain games that they do not learn from the dominant thought-forms of their particular culture, but which games are archetypal, like throwbacks to earlier times – reminders and re-enactments of forgotten rituals from the past. The universe of fairy tales, folklore and myth is a universe of recapitulation, especially at that level of innocence which we associate with children.
All over nature there are many iridescent points of contact with the all-potent compassion of the Dhyanis – cosmic forces, light-beings, energy-giving arupa radiations directed by spiritual will. We have, for example, the suggestive story of that great Initiate, Rama, who, when he passed through a forest, happened to see a squirrel. He merely placed three fingers upon the squirrel and the squirrels in that part of the world forever after had three markings. The whole of nature represents the immense magnificence of the ideation and compassion of beings who are so much more powerful than all those sad and drunken souls that may have impressed matter with negative thought. There is deep meaning to the teaching that a little bit of theurgy is a dangerous thing because it makes you afraid, but that more of it makes you fearless. When you have enough of it, you come to see that the universe is good; that in this universe the energies of life are stronger than the engines of death, that the potencies of light are greater than the terrors of the shade. You come to see, above all, that truth prevails ever and always and that at every point in each atom there is an imprint of truth. Therefore every person can recapitulate in his inmost being, through his contact with any point of matter, that truth which is a pure mirror of the universal truth in the universal mind, and which is in the universal substance from which all the many differentiations of thought, substance and form are emanated.
This union of the human monad with divine ideation in the womb of universal substance is ultimately connected with the mystery of the tetraktis, which no man could ever solve until he becomes one with the object of his search, until he rebecomes a god. The highest spiritual knowledge is always the most elusive. At the same time a person must begin at some point, as does every triangle. There is a deep sense in which every point in space-time has some affinity with one central point and must emanate from that laya point in any one mahamanvantara or great period of manifestation. Therefore, the Pythagorean Monas signified the One – the One that went into the darkness after inaugurating a world. It retreated and withdrew in silence and secrecy, disappearing into the darkness. The Leibnizian monads, by contrast, are those minute indivisible, mathematical points in metaphysical space which are in abundance and which could be compared, by philosophical intuition, to mirrors. But what is philosophical intuition to a noble mind is realized self-knowledge to a sage. He actually knows that these are living mirrors. The issue then is one of the living and the dead. Leibniz spoke of the entelechy, the indwelling light principle within every one of these monads, a core point that is hidden and invisible, which could release tremendous energy. Since The Secret Doctrine was written, we have learned more of this, at great cost to humanity, in the splitting of the atom. Since then, fortunately, while men have been enormously curious to know more and go beyond the hydrogen atom, they find that the door is shut. So it will be, and just as well, because men may dangerously misuse this sacred knowledge.
There is a profound sense in which we have to assert at each point, "Let me start with the simplest use that I can make of this teaching for the sake of becoming a better human being. This means being a better son or daughter, a better father or mother, a better husband or wife, a better householder, a better neighbour, a better servant of my fellow men." This sounds difficult – it is perhaps asking too much of this materialistic culture at this point of time, but it is only asking for the ABC"s. If a man does not begin right where he is and in his primary arenas of obligation and relationship, he will never really be able to embody the starting point of the triangle that he must form. Every time he makes a beginning, every time he establishes a point, very soon two other points arise. In human consciousness they are like a pair of opposites: the manic and the depressive, pleasure and pain, fame and ignominy, loss and gain. The mind oscillates towards polarities in every kind of context, condition and situation. What is misleading about this divisive polarity of the duad, seen from the standpoint of separation and integration, is that when one is caught in it one thinks that there is no way out. In fact, there always is. There is always one because there is a tomorrow. There is always one because even the greatest gloom cannot last forever. Men discover, like Ivan Denisovich in prison, that out of extreme pain they can release insights simply through noticing that there are other human beings in prison, that one can treat a prison like a university, that one can learn from all the potential teachers who are lying in chains around the prison.
Initially one learns for the sake of establishing one"s own sense of dignity against other men, but that kind of learning stops very soon. Otherwise, we fall into the state of many men whose learning is short-circuited and confines them forever in those kinds of judgments which in the end say more about them than the world. They fear the infallible judgment of the law which at the moment of death they will recognize. But when men continue to learn, they come to enjoy learning. They learn what is good. They are on the side of every other man, and when they are, they reap an incredible harvest. They find that all limiting systems of learning are nothing in relation to the much greater storehouse of nature, the endless labyrinth of instruction wherein each instruction radiates with crystalline clarity in an unending series that is part of the School of Life. To be able to do this we have to get out of the confinement of the duad, which has to do with the line and its movement. But in fact, unless there is only going to be one triangle, the line, though finite, is not final. It is not merely the base of a specific triangle. That line, while it is superior to drawing two parallel lines at the two points, must itself in turn be the beginning of further growth and new movement.
Brahmavidya or Theosophia, as the source and synthesis of science, religion and philosophy, is able to bring together the gods of religion, the monads of philosophy and the atoms of science. It connects them through that archetypal philosophical logic and geometrical theogony which contains the clue to growth throughout the whole of life and which a person could use for growth within himself, using his own growing intuition and insight into the Sutratman – the golden thread – of the Wisdom-Religion that we call Theosophia – to find out the golden thread in himself. The most important teaching in relation to all of this is continuity. Leibniz knew this at one philosophical level. He wanted to stretch the continuity of nature. In religion, a discontinuity emerged between gods and men, and therefore religions became the opposite of what they were originally intended to be. They were meant to affirm the unity and continuity of all life, and the continuity of sages, seers, prophets and divine teachers with every single living human being, not at one point of time in a particularized revelation but in an endless revelation, a ceaseless contact, a continual fellowship with all that lives and breathes. Continuity in the realm of atoms would be more enigmatic to discover because a person, by maintaining continuity of consciousness, has to become a self-conscious transmuter of atoms who regroups and rearranges them in superior patterns. When he does, then he can truly renovate his own vestures. He can at will enter into relationship with anything and everything in nature. He can do that because he stands outside, detached from and uninvolved in the great stream of ever becoming. He has become a man of meditation. He has become one who is untouched by troubles, one who is free from lesser allegiances and detached in the very depths of his being and consciousness. He has become the One – the One that is not merely behind but beyond the Many, and is forever hidden.
Hermes, October 1976