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Mahat, Manu and the Avatar

MAHAT, MANU AND THE AVATAR


Manu is the synthesis perhaps of the Manasa, and he is a single consciousness in the same sense that while all the different cells of which the human body is composed are different and varying consciousnesses there is still a unit of consciousness which is the man. But this unit, so to say, is not a single consciousness: it is a reflection of thousands and millions of consciousnesses which a man has absorbed.
 But Manu is not really an individuality, it is the whole of mankind. You may say that Manu is a generic name for the Pitris, the progenitors of mankind. They come, as I have shown, from the Lunar Chain.... But, as the moon receives its light from the Sun, so the descendants of the Lunar Pitris receive their higher mental light from the Sun or the "Son of the Sun". For all you know Vaivasvata Manu may be an
Avatar or a personification of MAHAT, commissioned by the Universal Mind to lead and guide thinking Humanity onwards.

Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge
H. P. BLAVATSKY

 To understand the relationship between Universal Mind and Mahat, and between Mahat and Manu, one must first distinguish between Unconditioned Consciousness and Ideation, Eternal Duration and Time, Boundless Space and the subtlest fields of differentiated existence. Though these three hypostases of the Absolute are inconceivable to the finite mind, one may rise, through intuitive intimations, towards that ultimate ground of manifestation which is beyond all boundaries, prior to all beginnings and endings. To do so is to penetrate towards the fathomless Night of non-manifestation, the virtually immeasurable Maha Pralaya after the dissolution of the entire solar universe. This is the Divine Darkness wherein Universal Mind "was not", because there were no Ah-Hi to contain and reflect the infinite Divine Thought. Within the fundamental substratum of Universal Mind there is neither differentiated consciousness nor the activity of ideation, there are no universes nor any terms of reference, but only the abstract permanent possibility of mental action uncircumscribed by any plane of existence. From this pure potentiality one must pass through Logoic radiation and reflection from the proemally unmanifest ideation of the Universal Mind to its invisible, though manifest, embodied potency – Mahat, the cosmic mind. Behind every manifested system of worlds, at the basis of every solar universe, is the manvantaric activity of the cosmic mind directing the Fohatic process whereby akashic ideation is translated into the concrete antitypes of the astral and physical cosmos. It is through Mahat that the highest independent intelligences, one with the Unmanifest Logos, become the Manus, the guiding spirits of thinking humanity.

 In the primordial process of unfoldment that precedes the emergence of the cosmos, Mahat is the Third Logos. In the arcane teachings of Gupta Vidya and in the derivative philosophical systems of antiquity, the First and the Second Logoi are characterized in a variety of ways to prevent any hard and fast or concretized conceptions of them. This alchemical variation of language is needed because the cosmic process intimated to the intuitive is rather like the passage from midnight through dawn to the day. The dawn of manifestation cannot be thought of in terms of any fixed schema, any multi-dimensional map in space or any series of points of temporal succession; it is something that can only be sensed in deep meditation. The awakening of the three Logoi is coeval with the analogical seventh eternity of Maha Pralaya, and it is only with the completion of this process that manvantaric time and space, under the aegis of Mahat, may be said to exist. Rather than submit these mysteries to ratiocination, one should contemplate the emergence from midnight darkness of a supple, virginal light. Varying metaphors are given in The Secret Doctrine to convey something of the nature of the Unmanifest Logos, the Unmanifest-manifest Logos and the Manifested Logos.

 In the Esoteric Philosophy the First is the unmanifested, and the Second the manifested Logos. Iswara stands for that Second, and Narayana for the unmanifested Logos.... In the Secret Doctrine, that from which the manifested Logos is born is translated by the "Eternal Mother-Father"; while in the Vishnu Purana it is described as the Egg of the World, surrounded by seven skins, layers or zones. It is in this Golden Egg that Brahmâ , the male, is born and that Brahmâ is in reality the Second Logos or even the Third, according to the enumeration adopted; for a certainty he is not the First or highest, the point which is everywhere and nowhere. Mahat, in the Esoteric interpretations, is in reality the Third Logos or the Synthesis of the Seven creative rays, the Seven Logoi.

Ibid., 15

 Narayana is the Unmanifest Logos, which, like the Pythagorean cosmic MONAD, radiates only to retire into the Divine Darkness. It is the Three-in-One which gives rise to the primordial seven Logoi, the highest Ah-Hi. It is self-existent and parentless – Svayambhuva Anupadaka; it partakes of no differentiation in space or time, but belongs entirely to the undifferentiated noumenal abstract plane of cause. It is synonymous with the last vibration of the seventh eternity. Ishwara, considered as the Second or Unmanifest-manifest Logos, arises as pure potentiality on the plane of the eternal Mother-Father. It represents the potentiality of the differentiation of latent Divine Thought. Still prior to the differentiation of time and space, it is inwardly the reflection of the radiation of Narayana and the latent matrix from which the manifested Ishwara-Brahmâ may emerge. It is immaculate space not yet become the immaculate Mother. The emergence of Brahmâ at the culmination of the seventh eternity marks the emergence of the Word made flesh on plane of the immaculate Mother, the commencement of differentiated manvantaric space and time. This is the point of differentiation of the cosmic atoms that become the seeds of solar worlds pervaded by the Vaishvanara solar-magnetic fire, the domain Svayambhuva Manu.

 This Logoic process may be better understood if simultaneously seen in terms of the reflection of Divine Thought in the Universal Mind and the ideational activity underlying and sustaining the cosmos.

 In the ABSOLUTE or Divine Thought everything exists and there has been no time when it did not so exist; but Divine Ideation is limited by the Universal Manvantaras. The realm of Akasa is the undifferentiated noumenal and abstract Space which will be occupied by Chidakasam, the field of primordial consciousness. It has several degrees, however, in Occult philosophy; in fact, "seven fields". The first is the field of latent consciousness which is coeval with the duration of the first and second unmanifested Logoi. It is the "Light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not" of St. John's Gospel. When the hour strikes for the Third Logos to appear, then from the latent potentiality there radiates a lower field of differentiated consciousness, which is Mahat, or the entire collectivity of those Dhyan Chohans of sentient life of which Fohat is the representative on the objective plane and the Manasaputras on the subjective.

Ibid., 95-96

Chidakasam is the primary field of ideation of the Absolute Universal Mind. In Maha Pralaya there is nothing to contain or perceive Chidakasam; hence Universal Mind "is not" as a manifestation. In the immutable Be-ness of SAT, Chidakasam is eternally present as the abstract and absolute potential of innumerable manifestations and universes. At the dawn of manifestation Divine Thought begins to be reflected and manifested as a primordial light synonymous with the ideation of the highest Ah-Hi. Thus Chidakasam becomes the substratum of Chit. Absolute consciousness becomes relative consciousness periodically at the dawn of manifestation via the emergence of a vehicle of Universal Mind. Regardless of the existence or non-existence of manifest worlds, Absolute Mind is. It is the immutable, ever-latent and never differentiated ground of that Logoic radiation which eventually gives way to the manifested cosmic mind or Mahat. As that Divine Ideation in activity, Mahat is neither evolved nor created, but is an aspect of Universal Mind, the periodic potency of the one universal all-potential Law. Put another way, SAT becomes the Three-in-One – SAT-CHIT-ANANDA. Meta-mathematically, SAT over spirit equals SAT; SAT over force equals CHIT; and SAT over matter equals ANANDA. Ordinarily, human beings do not think of matter in terms of ananda or force in terms of ideation. Instead, thought, will and act – ideation, volition and joy – are conceived within the prison-house of personal identity. Through the distorting prism of a hyper-fragmented consciousness – mostly refracted through the sensorium and foolishly identified with the corpse or body – it is inherently impossible to conceive of the archetypal relationship between man and Mahat.

 Clearly, in such a condition one cannot begin to imagine what the states of consciousness associated with the Logoi could be like, let alone the nature of the Universal Mind, which spans manvantaras and pralayas, witnessing the unfoldment of the cosmos from within without. Yet it is impossible to plumb the depths of human nature without coming to terms with the relationship between Mahat and the Manasaputra.

 Out of the seven so-called Creations, Mahat is the third, for it is the Universal and Intelligent Soul, Divine Ideation, combining the ideal plans and prototypes of all things in the manifested objective as well as subjective world. In the Sankhya and Puranic doctrines Mahat is the first product of Pradhana, informed by Kshetrajna, "Spirit-Substance". In Esoteric philosophy Kshetrajna is the name given to our informing EGOS.

Ibid., 15

 Viewed from the standpoint of Narayana-Ishwara, Mahat is an illusion. Viewed from the standpoint of a participant in a world of manifestation, Mahat is the seed of all things, the root reality from which all archetypal ideas arise. Symbolically, it resembles a universal golden egg, the Hiranyagarbha of the cosmos, brooded over by Narayana and containing the potentiality of manifestation. This potentiality of Mother-Father within the Brahmanda is the gestating Brahmâ , who is always potentially present in the egg. With the fulfilment of this gestation comes the emergence of the manifested Ishwara, the God of all cultures and religions depicted in so many different ways. But when these primordial realities are experienced through meditation in consciousness, and not rendered into form, image or object, they may be considered as a great galaxy of minds meditating upon a single avyakta-centre. One may think in terms of Buddhas within Buddhas, and ultimately of the potential of an entire field of Universal Ideation reflected in cosmic mind.

 When thinking of Mahat in terms of the seven Logoi, the highest Ah-Hi or Dhyanis, one must try to understand the use of generic terms – like Ah-Hi, Dhyani, Manu and others – which characterize the entire teaching of the Wisdom-Religion. These terms are like the x's and y's of a complex abstract formula. Whether one puts a capital X or a small x depends upon the level and context being described. Whilst this may seem confusing to the neophyte, the inherent complexity and unity in diversity of manifestation require it. All occult teaching depends upon analogy and correspondence, the serene conviction that what applies in the small also applies in the large, that what is concretely true in the small circle has its archetypal origins in the boundless circle of eternity. Thus, by analogy, Universal Mind may be said to radiate the Ah-Hi – its pristine faculty of conscious ideation – through Mahat, the cosmic mind which acts as the brain of Universal Mind. Yet the Ah-Hi on the highest plane, the primordial containers of Universal Ideation, are arupa (formless) breaths. On the second plane they approach to arupa nature, and on the third they become the Manasaputra, the subjective aspect of the manifestation of Mahat. Essentially, they are cosmic forces, not human beings, and in their later differentiations they become the planetary, solar, lunar and finally incarnating Egos. As to their own transformation on the third plane, they become thinkers, able to act with regard to things within and without. Thus, in conceiving of Mahat in relation to the architectonic plan of the cosmos, it may be thought of both as pure subjectivity, and also in terms of the seven Logoi, seven colours and seven sounds. In Buddhist iconography this is portrayed in tankas which show seven Buddhas, each of whom is in turn at the head of a tree having myriad branches representing manifold Buddhas.

 For the embodied human consciousness, captivated by form and largely incapable of abstraction, these unfolding hierarchies with their subjective and objective components may best be intimated through analogy. Imagine a small lantern, containing a candle and a series of mirrors. In the right perspective, the lantern reveals a set of ten candles burning brightly. Surrounding these and seeming to fade into an infinite recurrence are more and more flames extending to the limit of vision. Which of these are real, and which are unreal? If some of them are unreal, then is the glass unreal? One would ordinarily say that the original candle is real in relation to the mirror images, and yet that candle's reality exists only in the flame, the source of light and vision. If this is applied to human life over many incarnations, it is apparent that individuals are generally acted upon from the outside from the manifested objective level of gross matter. Psychical fancies and representations in the imagination result from being acted upon by the subjective side of matter.

 When one draws upon abstract ideas, when one experiences fine impulses and noble thoughts, one is in reality experiencing thoughts derived from a higher plane. One is coming closer to a vast collection of invisible beings, who have their ultimate origins in Mahat and Universal Mind. Analogy and correspondence require the renunciation of linear ratiocination in favour of alchemical transformation. Abstract ideas can impel the concentrated mind to alter radically its magnetic affinities. There is no way to approach Divine Wisdom except through a Guru, a living embodiment of realized divine ideation. As there can be no birth without parents, no growth without elders, there can be no spiritual enlightenment without Gurus. For, at the heart of the entire process of manifestation, it is impossible to have a cosmos without Dhyani Buddhas. The failure to recognize this has been the terrible conceit of the West in the modern age.

 To some it may seem more scientific to refer to these Dhyanis as rays, and more religious to speak of them as Buddhas. Yet all of this merely arises out of confusion. When, through the experience of meditation, one goes beyond form into a deeper sense of being, one enters a realm of space and time where these polarities and contrasts do not apply. Through meditation one may touch the pure ground of true bliss, the experience of which is the basis of all devotion. Ordinarily, human beings enjoy sleep because, perhaps a for a few moments in deep sleep, they experience this state of ananda. To experience it self-consciously through meditation requires a breaking away from the false ideation and false sense of subjectivity intrinsic to the persona. The true element of subjectivity in a human being is bound up with the Manasaputra. The life of the incarnated Ego is itself bound up with more differentiated fields of objectivity and subjectivity connected with differentiated astral and physical matter. From the standpoint of the Manasa, the astral and physical fields of force governing the aggregates of matter are themselves the objective manifestations of Mahatic ideation. On the plane of Higher Manas, correlative with Mahat, though not identical with it, subjectivity and objectivity have to with fields and entities which precede the gross differentiation of the terrestrial plane. It is only by understanding this through a maturity in consciousness gained through meditation that one is prepared to consider that Vaivasvata Manu may be an Avatar of Mahat commissioned by the Universal Mind to guide all humanity.

 To discount the conception of Manu as a being, preferring the metaphor of a focussing of rays, suggests that one is threatened by the facts of evolution, foolishly determined to run away from one's spiritual progenitors, preceptors and teachers. And to run away is to cheapen the concept of such beings through the popular notion of an arbitrary personal god. This only arose, and held a hypnotic sway over many people, because it crudely concretized that which is essentially true. But repeating "Brahman, Brahman" or "impersonal god, impersonal god" will not get one any closer to Brahman or to impersonal deity. Only through the awakened devotional heart may one begin to grasp the indescribable majesty of such beings. Only through a sense of their reality may one begin to apprehend the archetypal meaning of the long pilgrimage of mankind, within which every unit bears fundamental responsibility, but receives divine guidance.

 The root principle for comprehending the conception of Manu as the embodiment of a Mahatic plan is that in Eternal Duration everything is ever present. In time the vaster the period considered, the closer one comes to ideational prototypes that mirror that which is ever present. Such ideation is philosophically referred to as the plane of akasha, which is like an invisible fire. The highest undifferentiated plane of akasha is correlative to Buddhi, which stands in relation to Manas as the Ah-Hi stand in relation to the Manasaputra. The Ah-Hi are like a flame proceeding from unity, primary rays streaming forth from a primordial source. The one Atman is itself fire, and is the flame of the Flame of Paramatman. Speaking of these differentiations of fire, flame and light, as symbolized in Hindu thought by the hosts of Manus and Rishis, H.P. Blavatsky indicated their cosmic origin and cosmic continuity as an expression of the principle of Unity in diversity.

 If all those Manus and Rishis are called by one generic name, this is due to the fact that they are one and all the manifested Energies of one and the same LOGOS, the celestial, as well as the terrestrial messengers and permutations of that Principle which is ever in a state of activity; conscious during the period of Cosmic evolution, unconscious (from our point of view) during Cosmic rest, as the Logos sleepeth in the bosom of THAT which "sleepeth not", nor is it ever awake – for it is SAT or Be-ness, not a Being. It is from IT that issues the great unseen Logos, who evolves all the other Iogoi, the primeval MANU who gives being to the other Manus, who emanate the universe and all in it collectively, and who represent in their aggregate the manifested Logos.

The Secret Doctrine, ii 310

It is in relation to the unmanifest Logos, symbolized here as the primeval Manu, that the particular Manus within manvantaric time may be considered as Avatars of the manifested Logos or Mahat. The notion of Vaivasvata Manu commissioned by the Universal Mind with an aspect of the manvantaric plan can only be understood in relation to states of consciousness and matter so universal and homogeneous that there is instantaneous communication amidst a vast field of pre-cosmic and cosmic ideation.

 Within this inconceivably large framework, every human being can self-consciously invoke the power of protection, guidance and instruction of the highest Dhyanis, Manus and Rishis. In his essay on "The Allegorical Umbrella", W.Q. Judge conveyed this idea through an apt analogy. The ineffable source of all manifestation may be thought of as a central sun, scattering its rays in every direction. The spokes of an umbrella are the Dhyanis, the Rishis and the Manus: they simultaneously guide the supernal light and protect the holder from intense radiation. The handle of the umbrella represents the channel of communication in consciousness from above below, the awakened power of Buddhi-Manas. In reality, the holder of the umbrella, its handle, canopy and ribs are all derived from the seven Dhyanis.

 Nothing exists which does not come from the seven Logoi. As they descend, level by level, they emanate the hebdomadic proliferation of hosts of beings on seven planes. This differentiation is like a fireworks display; an incredible riot and profusion of sparks and flames, emanations and manifestations enter into every atom of every being. Because they were lit up as self-conscious minds by the Manasaputra over eighteen million years ago, human beings have the sutratman, the thread-soul, the sense of consciousness independent of form and personality, prior to birth and beyond death. There is, in every one, the seed of immortality, the conscious power to invoke the Dhyanis, the capacity to cut through states of consciousness and the alternations of day and night, life and death, manvantara and pralaya. This ultimate potential of self-conscious immortality is rooted in the Logoic ancestry of the human race, as intimated in the Teachings regarding the Manus and Manasaputra.

 Hence we learn in the "Commentaries" that while no Dhyan Chohan, not even the highest, can realise completely "the condition of the preceding Cosmic evolution", "the Manus retain a knowledge of their experiences of all the Cosmic evolutions throughout Eternity". This is very plain: the first Manu is called Swayambhuva, "the Self-manifested", the Son of the unmanifested FATHER.

Ibid., 310-311

 To begin to draw apart from the world of confused personal identity, and to come into contact with truly divine instruction, one must direct one's consciousness upwards and inwards, reverse the polarity of one's perception and action. The supernal states of consciousness, which Gupta Vidya affirms are the birthright of every human being, may be entered only through withdrawal and meditation. At first, it will merely be possible to see a little bit around one's nose, but as one's meditation extends and deepens, the range and depth of vision will increase. Everything depends upon one's courage of selflessness and freedom in generosity towards all other beings. The fundamental measure of one's security as a human being is one's willingness to surrender all, to take a stand in the Divine Darkness. According to one's level of courage and freedom will be one's capacity to draw closer to the primeval vibrations of Logoic consciousness. All of these highest energies are focussed within the resplendent instrument of Vaivasvata Manu as the Avatar. All derive from Maha Vishnu, the seed of all Avatars. Such is the economy of nature that there is only one Avatar at all times, and only one Avatar at any time. This is the inscrutable mystery intimated by every divine incarnation, but it may be initially approached by understanding clearly that all human beings are begotten sons of God.

 This mystery can never be fully formulated but it may be felt. Indeed, once its vibration is touched, one will become less concerned about formulating, proving and arguing, but more concerned with withdrawing and becoming receptive. The deeper one's realization, the more painful the experience, as those elements in the lower nature that are incompatible with the highest vibration are purged.

  Through atavistic affinities to those elements which must be let go, one will attract dark forces – the legions of Satan – but through unremitting persistence one may assuredly prevail. The stronger one becomes, the greater one's serenity and the less one "s anxiety. Through humility, receptivity grows, and with it the willingness to learn and to love. One may gain the heroic capacity to correct one's errors, the courage painstakingly to retrace one's steps when has gone wrong, to withdraw harsh words, to forsake regret and, instead, look to the human race and human suffering and for a deepening of pure receptivity to the mirroring of the Universal Mind in Manu. As one awakens the three higher seats of consciousness on the arupa planes, connected with Atma-Buddhi-Manas and correlative with the three Logoi, one will gain a vivid sense of participation in humanity as a Manasaputra, a ray inseparable from the Spirit of Humanity, the Manu whose

Monad emanates from the never resting Principle in the beginning of every new Cosmic activity: that Logos or UNIVERSAL MONAD (collective Elohim) that radiates from within himself all those Cosmic Monads that become the centres of activity – progenitors of the numberless Solar systems as well as of the yet undifferentiated human monads of planetary chains as well as of every being thereon. Each Cosmic Monad is "Swayambhuva", the SELF-BORN, which becomes the Centre of Force, from within which emerges a planetary chain (of which chains there are seven in our system), and whose radiations become again so many Manus Swayambhuva (a generic name, mysterious and meaning far more than appears), each of these becoming, as a Host, the creator of his own Humanity.

Ibid., 311

 Even to begin to contemplate these ideas is to transform one's view of reality, displacing much that one had thought important, whilst discovering the relevance of much that one had previously neglected. A greater attentiveness and skilfulness is brought to the performance of dharma, because there is a desire to discharge all obligations to life-atoms, to the elementals of fire, air, water and earth. This may be done through what is called cooking, what is called doing accounts, or what is called earning a living, but these are only words borrowed from a materialistic tongue. All human action involves ideation and has implicit reference to the abiding possibility of lighting up minds and hearts. The inherent function of ideation is to awaken and deepen insight. Once one begins to discover the nature of the ideational potential within the higher principles, one will be filled with an overwhelming love for all beings. One will seek an absolute fidelity and purity of heart towards one's spiritual Guru and express this true bhakti through the joyous service of all beings. Thus what one essentially is, what one essentially knows, and what one essentially wants are fused. Thus one may progressively constitute oneself a self-conscious servant of the Manus, Dhyanis and Rishis, who are all born from the mind of Krishna. Themselves the highest intellectual arupa Dhyanis, divine souls that have acquired independent conscious existence through traversing the obligatory pilgrimage of manifestation, they are arrayed like a great galaxy around the Unmanifest Logos, ceaselessly serving the Universal Mind through their Mahatmic ideation.

 The opportunity to serve, however humbly, the Avatar and the Mahatmas in the dawn of the Aquarian Age is an awesome privilege and a true test of the mettle of the soul. In a time which ends and cancels recorded history, there is no need to prove anything, only to participate in the changing of the vibration of the globe itself. To be a part of this is to be on the side of all that is true and good and beautiful. Therefore, one should have the courage to eliminate with ease whatever is inconsistent with the golden light of the future. Each aspirant should become an apprentice in the continual process of spiritual ingestion, assimilation and absorption, gaining strength and nourishment whilst exemplifying the patience portrayed in the verse:

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
 Lead thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
 Lead thou me on.
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

Thus, one may loosen the sense of time, discarding anxiety about the future, fear of the past and shame for the present. Experiencing a sense of higher self-forgetfulness, one may change one's dreaming and yet be wide awake, especially at a time when all possible vigilance and compassion are required because of the corpses and shells disintegrating in the field of Kurukshetra.

Hermes, June 1983
by Raghavan Iyer

Normal View