The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky — Vol. 1
Vol. 1, Page 634 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
[[This page continued from previous section]]
CYCLIC EVOLUTION AND KARMA.
It is the Spiritual evolution of the inner, immortal man that forms the fundamental tenet in the Occult Sciences. To realize even distantly such a process, the student has to believe (a) in the one Universal Life, independent of matter (or what Science regards as matter); and (b) in the individual intelligences that animate the various manifestations of this Principle. Mr. Huxley does not believe in “Vital Force,” others do. Dr. J. H. Hutchinson Sterling’s work “Concerning Protoplasm” has made no small havoc of this dogmatic negation. Professor Beale’s decision is also in favour of a Vital Principle; and Dr. B. W. Richardson’s lectures on the “Nervous Ether,” have been sufficiently quoted from. Thus, opinions are divided.
The one life is closely related to the one law which governs the World of Being — Karma. Exoterically, this is simply and literally “action,” or rather an “effect-producing cause.” Esoterically it is quite a different thing in its far-fetching moral effects. It is the unerring Law of Retribution. To say to those ignorant of the real significance, characteristics and awful importance of this eternal immutable law, that no theological definition of a personal deity can give an idea of this impersonal, yet ever present and active Principle, is to speak in vain. Nor can it be called Providence. For Providence, with the Theists (the Christian Protestants, at any rate), rejoices in a personal male gender, while with the Roman Catholics it is a female potency, “Divine Providence tempers His blessings to secure their better effects,” Wogan tells us. Indeed “He” tempers them, which Karma — a sexless principle — does not.
Throughout the first two Parts, it was shown that, at the first flutter
Vol. 1, Page 635 THE ROOTS AND CAUSES.
of renascent life, Svabhavat, “the mutable radiance of the Immutable Darkness unconscious in Eternity,” passes, at every new rebirth of Kosmos, from an inactive state into one of intense activity; that it differentiates, and then begins its work through that differentiation. This work is Karma.
The Cycles are also subservient to the effects produced by this activity. “The one Cosmic atom becomes seven atoms on the plane of matter, and each is transformed into a centre of energy; that same atom becomes seven rays on the plane of spirit, and the seven creative forces of nature, radiating from the root-essence . . . . follow, one the right, the other the left path, separate till the end of the Kalpa, and yet are in close embrace. What unites them? Karma.” The atoms emanated from the Central Point emanate in their turn new centres of energy, which, under the potential breath of Fohat, begin their work from within without, and multiply other minor centres. These, in the course of evolution and involution, form in their turn the roots or developing causes of new effects, from worlds and “man-bearing” globes, down to the genera, species, and classes of all the seven kingdoms* (of which we know only four). For “the blessed workers have received the Thyan-kam, in the eternity” (Book of “The Aphorisms of Tson-ka-pa”).
“Thyan-kam” is the power or knowledge of guiding the impulses of cosmic energy in the right direction.
The true Buddhist, recognising no “personal god,” nor any “Father” and “Creator of Heaven and Earth,” still believes in an absolute consciousness, “Adi-Buddhi”; and the Buddhist philosopher knows that there are Planetary Spirits, the “Dhyan Chohans.” But though he admits of “spiritual lives,” yet, as they are temporary in eternity, even they, according to his philosophy, are “the maya of the day,” the illusion of a “day of Brahma,” a short manvantara of 4,320,000,000 years. The “Yin-Sin” is not for the speculations of men, for the Lord Buddha has strongly prohibited all such inquiry. If the Dhyan Chohans and all the invisible Beings — the Seven Centres and their direct Emanations, the minor centres of Energy — are the direct reflex of the One Light, yet men are far removed from these, since the whole of the visible Kosmos consists of “self-produced beings, the creatures of Karma.” Thus regarding a personal God “as only a gigantic shadow thrown upon the void of space by the imagination of ignorant men,”† they teach that only “two things are (objectively) eternal, namely Akasa and Nirvana”; and that these are one in reality, and but a maya when divided. “Buddhists deny creation and cannot conceive of a Creator.” “Everything has come out of Akasa (or Svabhavat
* Vide Stanza VI. (Book I.) and Commentary.
† Buddhist Catechism, by H. S. Olcott, President of the Theosophical Society.
Vol. 1, Page 636 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
on our earth) in obedience to a law of motion inherent in it, and after a certain existence passes away. Nothing ever came out of nothing.” (Buddhist Catechism.)
If a Vedantic Brahmin of the Adwaita Sect, when asked whether he believes in the existence of God, is always likely to answer, as Jacolliot was answered — “I am myself ‘God’;” a Buddhist (a Sinhalese especially) would simply laugh, and say in reply, “There is no God; no Creation.” Yet the root philosophy of both Adwaita and Buddhist scholars is identical, and both have the same respect for animal life, for both believe that every creature on earth, however small and humble, “is an immortal portion of the immortal matter” — for matter with them has quite another significance than it has with either Christian or materialist — and that every creature is subject to Karma.
The answer of the Brahmin is one which would suggest itself to every ancient philosopher, Kabalist, and Gnostic of the early days. It contains the very spirit of the Delphic and Kabalistic commandments, for esoteric philosophy solved, ages ago, the problem of what man was, is, and will be; of man’s origin, life-cycle — interminable in its duration of successive incarnations or rebirths — and finally of his absorption into the source from which he started.
But it is not physical Science that we can ever ask to read man for us, as the riddle of the Past, or that of the Future; since no philosopher is able to tell us even what man is, as he is known both to physiology and psychology. In doubt whether man was “a god or beast,” he is now connected with the latter and derived from an animal. No doubt that the care of analyzing and classifying the human being as a terrestrial animal may be left to Science, which occultists — of all men — regard with veneration and respect. They recognize its ground and the wonderful work done by it, the progress achieved in physiology, and even — to a degree — in biology. But man’s inner, spiritual, psychic, or even moral, nature cannot be left to the tender mercies of an ingrained materialism; for not even the higher psychological philosophy of the West is able, in its present incompleteness and tendency towards a decided agnosticism, to do justice to the inner; especially to his higher capacities and perceptions, and those states of consciousness, across the road to which such authorities as Mill draw a strong line, saying “So far, and no farther shalt thou go.”
No Occultist would deny that man — no less than the elephant and the microbe, the crocodile and the lizard, the blade of grass or the crystal — is, in his physical formation, the simple product of the evolutionary forces of nature through a numberless series of transformations; but he puts the case differently.
It is not against zoological and anthropological discoveries, based on
Vol. 1, Page 637 THE SWING OF KARMA.
the fossils of man and animal, that every mystic and believer in a divine soul inwardly revolts, but only against the uncalled-for conclusions built on preconceived theories and made to fit in with certain prejudices. Their premises may or may not be always true; and as some of these theories live but a short life, the deductions therefrom must ever be one-sided with materialistic evolutionists. Yet it is on the strength of such very ephemeral authority, that most of the men of science frequently receive undue honours where they deserve them the least.*
To make the working of Karma, in the periodical renovations of the Universe, more evident and intelligible to the student when he arrives at the origin and evolution of man, he has now to examine with us the esoteric bearing of the Karmic Cycles upon Universal Ethics. The question is, do those mysterious divisions of time, called Yugas and Kalpas by the Hindus, and so very graphically — [[Kuklos]] — “cycle,” ring or circle, by the Greeks, have any bearing upon, or any direct connection with, human life? Even exoteric philosophy explains that these perpetual circles of time are ever returning on themselves, periodically, and
* We refer those who would regard the statement as an impertinence or irreverence against accepted Science, to Mr. James Hutchinson Stirling’s work concerning “Protoplasm,” which is a defence of a vital Principle versus the Molecularists — Huxley, Tyndall, Vogt, and Co. — and request them to examine whether it is true or not to say that the scientific premises may not be always correct, but that they are accepted, nevertheless, to fill up a gap or a hole in some beloved materialistic hobby. Speaking of protoplasm and the organs of man, as “viewed by Mr. Huxley,” the author says: “Probably then, in regard to any continuity in protoplasm of power, of form, or of substance, we have seen lacunae enow. Nay, Mr. Huxley himself can be adduced in evidence on the same side. Not rarely do we find in his essay admissions of probability, where it is certainty that is alone in place. He says, for example: ‘It is more than probable that when the vegetable world is thoroughly explored we shall find all plants in possession of the same powers.’ When a conclusion is decidedly announced, it is rather disappointing to be told, as here, that the premisses are still to collect’ (!!) . . . . . Again, here is a passage in which he is seen to cut his own ‘basis’ from beneath his own feet. After telling us that all forms of protoplasm consist of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen ‘in very complex union,’ he continues: ‘To this complex combination, the nature of which has never been determined with exactness (!!), the name of protein has been applied.’ This, plainly, is an identification, on Mr. Huxley’s own part, of protoplasm and protein; and what is said of one, being necessarily true of the other, it follows that he admits the nature of protoplasm never to have been determined with exactness, and that even in his eyes the lis is still sub judice. This admission is strengthened by the words, too, ‘If we use this term — protein — with such caution as may properly arise out of our comparative ignorance of the things for which it stands’ ” . . . etc., etc. (p. 33 and 34, in reply to Mr. Huxley in “Yeast”).
This is the eminent Huxley, the king of physiology and biology, who is proven playing at blind man’s buff with premisses and facts. What may not the “smaller fry” of science do after this!
Vol. 1, Page 638 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
intelligently in Space and Eternity. There are “Cycles of matter”* and there are “Cycles of Spiritual evolution.” Racial, national, and individual cycles. May not esoteric speculation allow us a still deeper insight into the workings of these?
This idea is beautifully expressed in a very clever scientific work: —
“The possibility of rising to a comprehension of a system of co-ordination so far outreaching in time and space all reach of human observations, is a circumstance which signalizes the power of man to transcend the limitations of changing and inconsistent matter, and assert his superiority over all unstable and perishable forms of being. There is a method in the succession of events, and in the relation of co-existent things, which the mind of man seizes hold of; and by means of this as a clue, he runs back or forward over aeons of material history of which human experience can never testify. Events germinate and unfold. They have a past which is connected with their present, and we feel a well-justified confidence that a future is appointed which will be similarly connected with the present and the past. This continuity and unity of history repeat themselves before our eyes in all conceivable stages of progress. The phenomena furnish us the grounds for the generalization of two laws which are truly principles of scientific divination, by which alone the human mind penetrates the sealed records of the past and the unopened pages of the future. The first of these is the law of evolution, or, to phrase it for our purpose, the law of correlated successiveness or organized history in the individual, illustrated in the changing phases of every single maturing system of results. . . . These thoughts summon into our immediate presence the measureless past and the measureless future of material history. They seem almost to open vistas through infinity, and to endow the human intellect with an existence and a vision exempt from the limitations of time and space and finite causation, and lift it up toward a sublime apprehension of the Supreme Intelligence whose dwelling place is Eternity.” (“World-Life,” p. 535 and 548.)
According to the teachings, Maya, or the illusive appearance of the marshalling of events and actions on this earth, changes, varying with nations and places. But the chief features of one’s life are always in accordance with the “Constellation” one is born under, or, we should say, with the characteristics of its animating principle or the deity that presides over it, whether we call it a Dhyan Chohan, as in Asia, or an Archangel, as with the Greek and Latin churches. In ancient Symbolism it was always the Sun (though the Spiritual, not the visible, Sun was meant), that was supposed to send forth the chief Saviours and Avatars. Hence the connecting link between the Buddhas, the Avatars, and so many other incarnations of the highest Seven. The closer the approach to one’s Prototype, “in Heaven,” the better for the mortal whose personality was chosen, by his own personal deity (the seventh principle), as its terrestrial abode. For, with every effort of will toward purification and unity
* “The Cycles of Matter,” a name given by Professor Winchell to an Essay of his written in 1860.
Vol. 1, Page 639 THE NETWORK OF DESTINY.
with that “Self-god,” one of the lower rays breaks and the spiritual entity of man is drawn higher and ever higher to the ray that supersedes the first, until, from ray to ray, the inner man is drawn into the one and highest beam of the Parent-Sun. Thus, “the events of humanity do run coordinately with the number forms,” since the single units of that humanity proceed one and all from the same source — the central and its shadow, the visible Sun. For the equinoxes and solstices, the periods and various phases of the Solar course, astronomically and numerically expressed, are only the concrete symbols of the eternally living verity, though they do seem abstract ideas to uninitiated mortals. And this explains the extraordinary numerical coincidences with geometrical relations, as shown by several authors.
Yes; “our destiny is written in the stars!” Only, the closer the union between the mortal reflection man and his celestial prototype, the less dangerous the external conditions and subsequent reincarnations — which neither Buddhas nor Christs can escape. This is not superstition, least of all is it Fatalism. The latter implies a blind course of some still blinder power, and man is a free agent during his stay on earth. He cannot escape his ruling Destiny, but he has the choice of two paths that lead him in that direction, and he can reach the goal of misery — if such is decreed to him, either in the snowy white robes of the Martyr, or in the soiled garments of a volunteer in the iniquitous course; for, there are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions, and it is in our power to follow either of the two. Those who believe in Karma have to believe in destiny, which, from birth to death, every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible prototype outside of us, or by our more intimate astral, or inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man. Both these lead on the outward man, but one of them must prevail; and from the very beginning of the invisible affray the stern and implacable law of compensation steps in and takes its course, faithfully following the fluctuations. When the last strand is woven, and man is seemingly enwrapped in the net-work of his own doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this self-made destiny. It then either fixes him like the inert shell against the immovable rock, or carries him away like a feather in a whirlwind raised by his own actions, and this is — Karma.
A materialist, treating upon the periodical creations of our globe, has expressed it in one sentence. “The whole past of the Earth is nothing but an unfolded present.” This was Buchner, who little suspected that he was repeating an axiom of the Occultists. It is quite true also, as Burmeister (quoted in “Force and matter”) remarks, that
Vol. 1, Page 640 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
“the historical investigation of the development of the Earth has proved that now and then rest upon the same base; that the past has been developed in the same manner as the present rolls on; and that the Forces which were in action ever remained the same.”
The “Forces” — their noumena rather — are the same, of course; therefore, the phenomenal Forces must be the same also. But how can any one feel so sure that the attributes of matter have not altered under the hand of Protean Evolution? How can any materialist assert with such confidence, as is done by Rossmassler, that “this eternal conformity in the essence of phenomena renders it certain that fire and water possessed at all times the same powers and ever will possess them?” Who are they “that darken counsel with words without knowledge,” and where were the Huxleys and Buchners when the foundations of the earth were laid by the great Law? It is a fundamental principle of the Occult philosophy, this same homogeneity of matter and immutability of natural laws, which are so much insisted upon by materialism; but that unity rests upon the inseparability of Spirit from matter, and, if the two are once divorced, the whole Kosmos would fall back into chaos and non-being. Therefore, it is absolutely false, and but an additional demonstration of the great conceit of our age, to assert (as men of science do) that all the great geological changes and terrible convulsions have been produced by ordinary and known physical forces. For these forces were but the tools and final means for the accomplishment of certain purposes, acting periodically, and apparently mechanically, through an inward impulse mixed up with, but beyond their material nature. There is a purpose in every important act of Nature, whose acts are all cyclic and periodical. But spiritual Forces having been usually confused with the purely physical, the former are denied by, and therefore, have to remain unknown to Science, because left unexamined.*
“The history of the World begins with its general aim,” says Hegel; “the realization of the Idea of Spirit — only in an implicit form (an sich), that is, as Nature; a hidden, most profoundly hidden unconscious instinct, and the whole process of History . . . is directed to rendering this unconscious impulse a conscious one. Thus appearing in the form of merely natural existence, natural will — that which has been called the subjective side — physical craving, instinct, passion, private interest, as also opinion and subjective conception — spontaneously present themselves at the very commencement. This vast congeries of volitions, interests and activities constitute the instruments and means of the world
* Men of science will say: We deny, because nothing of the kind has ever come within the scope of our experience. But, as argued by Charles Richet, the physiologist: “So be it, but have you at least demonstrated the contrary? . . . Do not, at any rate, deny a priori. Actual Science is not sufficiently advanced to give you such right.” (“La suggestion mentale et le calcul des probabilites.”)
Vol. 1, Page 641 CYCLIC WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS.
spirit for attaining its object; bringing it to consciousness and realising it. And this aim is none other than finding itself — coming to itself — and contemplating itself in concrete actuality. But that those manifestations of vitality on the part of individuals and peoples, in which they seek and satisfy their own purposes, are at the same time the means and instruments of a higher power, of a higher and broader purpose of which they know nothing — which they realise unconsciously — might be made a matter of question; rather has been questioned . . . on this point I announced my view at the very outset, and asserted our hypothesis . . . and our belief that Reason governs the World and has consequently governed its history. In relation to this independently universal and substantial existence — all else is subordinate, subservient to it, and the means for its development.”*
No metaphysician or theosophist could demur to these truths, which are all embodied in esoteric teachings. There is a predestination in the geological life of our globe, as in the history, past and future, of races and nations. This is closely connected with what we call Karma and Western Pantheists, “Nemesis” and “Cycles.” The law of evolution is now carrying us along the ascending arc of our cycle, when the effects will be once more re-merged into, and re-become the (now neutralized) causes, and all things affected by the former will have regained their original harmony. This will be the cycle of our special “Round,” a moment in the duration of the great cycle, or the Mahayuga.
The fine philosophical remarks of Hegel are found to have their application in the teachings of Occult Science, which shows nature ever acting with a given purpose, whose results are always dual. This was stated in our first Occult volumes, in Isis Unveiled, p. 268, Vol. II., in the following words: —
As our planet revolves once every year around the sun, and at the same time turns once in every twenty-four hours upon its own axis, thus traversing minor circles within a larger one, so is the work of the smaller cyclic periods accomplished and recommenced, within the Great Saros.
The revolution of the physical world, according to the ancient doctrine, is attended by a like revolution in the world of intellect — the spiritual evolution of the world proceeding in cycles, like the physical one.
Thus we see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress. The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended.
But these cycles — wheels within wheels, so comprehensively and ingeniously symbolized by the various Manus and Rishis in India, and by the Kabiri in the West† — do not affect all mankind at one and the same
* “On World History” in “Philosophy of History,” p. 26. (Sibree’s Eng. Transl.).
† This symbolism does not prevent these now seemingly mythic personages from [[Footnote continued on next page]]
Vol. 1, Page 642 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
time — as explained in the Racial division of Cycles (See sub-section 6.) Hence, as we see, the difficulty of comprehending, and discriminating between them, with regard to their physical and spiritual effects, without having thoroughly mastered their relations with, and action upon the respective positions of nations and races, in their destiny and evolution. This system cannot be comprehended if the spiritual action of these periods — pre-ordained, so to say, by Karmic law —is separated from their physical course. The calculations of the best astrologers would fail, or at any rate remain imperfect, unless this dual action is thoroughly taken into consideration and dealt with upon these lines. And this mastery can be achieved only through initiation.
The Grand Cycle includes the progress of mankind from the appearance of primordial man of ethereal form. It runs through the inner cycles of his (man’s) progressive evolution from the ethereal down to the semi-ethereal and purely physical: down to the redemption of man from his coat of skin and matter, after which it continues running its course downward and then upward again, to meet at the culmination of a Round, when the manvantaric “Serpent swallows its tail” and seven minor cycles are passed. These are the great Racial Cycles which affect equally all the nations and tribes included in that special Race; but there are minor and national as well as tribal cycles within those, which run independently of each other. They are called in the Eastern esotericism the Karmic cycles. In the West, since Pagan Wisdom has been repudiated as having grown from and been developed by the dark powers supposed to be at constant war and in opposition to the little tribal Jehovah — the full and awful significance of the Greek Nemesis (or Karma) has been entirely forgotten. Otherwise Christians would have better realized the profound truth that Nemesis is without attributes; that while the dreaded goddess is absolute and immutable as a Principle, it is we ourselves — nations and individuals — who propel her to action and give the impulse to its direction. Karma-Nemesis is the creator of nations and mortals, but once created, it is they who make of her either a fury or a rewarding Angel. Yea —
“Wise are they who worship Nemesis”*
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] having ruled the earth once upon a time under the human form of actual living, though truly divine and god-like man. The opinion of Colonel Vallancey (and also of Count de Gobelin) that the names of the Kabiri appear to be all allegorical, and to have signified no more (?) than an almanac of the vicissitudes of the seasons — calculated for the operations of agriculture” (Collect. de Reb. Hibern., No. 13, Praef. Sect. 5) is as absurd as his assertion that OEon, Kronos, Saturn and Dagon are all one, namely, the “patriarch Adam.” The Kabiri were the instructors of mankind in agriculture, because they were the regents over the seasons and Cosmic cycles. Hence it was they who regulated, as planetary Spirits or “Angels” (messengers), the mysteries of the art of agriculture.
* Who dread Karma-Nemesis would be better.
Vol. 1, Page 643 KARMA-NEMESIS.
— as the chorus tells Prometheus. And as unwise they, who believe that the goddess may be propitiated by whatever sacrifices and prayers, or have her wheel diverted from the path it has once taken. “The triform Fates and ever mindful Furies” are her attributes only on earth, and begotten by ourselves. There is no return from the paths she cycles over; yet those paths are of our own making, for it is we, collectively or individually, who prepare them. Karma-Nemesis is the synonym of Providence, minus design, goodness, and every other finite attribute and qualification, so unphilosophically attributed to the latter. An Occultist or a philosopher will not speak of the goodness or cruelty of Providence; but, identifying it with Karma-Nemesis, he will teach that nevertheless it guards the good and watches over them in this, as in future lives; and that it punishes the evil-doer — aye, even to his seventh rebirth. So long, in short, as the effect of his having thrown into perturbation even the smallest atom in the Infinite World of harmony, has not been finally readjusted. For the only decree of Karma — an eternal and immutable decree — is absolute Harmony in the world of matter as it is in the world of Spirit. It is not, therefore, Karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we, who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with, through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that Harmony depends, or — break them.
Nor would the ways of Karma be inscrutable were men to work in union and harmony, instead of disunion and strife. For our ignorance of those ways — which one portion of mankind calls the ways of Providence, dark and intricate; while another sees in them the action of blind Fatalism; and a third, simple chance, with neither gods nor devils to guide them — would surely disappear, if we would but attribute all these to their correct cause. With right knowledge, or at any rate with a confident conviction that our neighbours will no more work to hurt us than we would think of harming them, the two-thirds of the World’s evil would vanish into thin air. Were no man to hurt his brother, Karma-Nemesis would have neither cause to work for, nor weapons to act through. It is the constant presence in our midst of every element of strife and opposition, and the division of races, nations, tribes, societies and individuals into Cains and Abels, wolves and lambs, that is the chief cause of the “ways of Providence.” We cut these numerous windings in our destinies daily with our own hands, while we imagine that we are pursuing a track on the royal high road of respectability and duty, and then complain of those ways being so intricate and so dark. We stand bewildered before the mystery of our own making, and the riddles of life that we will not solve, and then accuse the great Sphinx of devouring us. But verily there is not an accident in our lives,
Vol. 1, Page 644 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
not a misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life. If one breaks the laws of Harmony, or, as a theosophical writer expresses it, “the laws of life,” one must be prepared to fall into the chaos one has oneself produced. For, according to the same writer, “the only conclusion one can come to is that these laws of life are their own avengers; and consequently that every avenging Angel is only a typified representation of their re-action.”
Therefore, if any one is helpless before these immutable laws, it is not ourselves, the artificers of our destinies, but rather those angels, the guardians of harmony. Karma-Nemesis is no more than the (spiritual) dynamical effect of causes produced and forces awakened into activity by our own actions. It is a law of occult dynamics that “a given amount of energy expended on the spiritual or astral plane is productive of far greater results than the same amount expended on the physical objective plane of existence.”
This state will last till man’s spiritual intuitions are fully opened, which will not happen before we fairly cast off our thick coats of matter; until we begin acting from within, instead of ever following impulses from without; namely, those produced by our physical senses and gross selfish body. Until then the only palliative to the evils of life is union and harmony — a Brotherhood in actu, and altruism not simply in name. The suppression of one single bad cause will suppress not one, but a variety of bad effects. And if a Brotherhood or even a number of Brotherhoods may not be able to prevent nations from occasionally cutting each other’s throats — still unity in thought and action, and philosophical research into the mysteries of being, will always prevent some, while trying to comprehend that which has hitherto remained to them a riddle, from creating additional causes in a world already so full of woe and evil. Knowledge of Karma gives the conviction that if —
“. . . . virtue in distress, and vice in triumph
Make atheists of mankind,”*
it is only because that mankind has ever shut its eyes to the great truth that man is himself his own saviour as his own destroyer. That he need not accuse Heaven and the gods, Fates and Providence, of the apparent injustice that reigns in the midst of humanity. But let him rather remember and repeat this bit of Grecian wisdom, which warns man to forbear accusing That which —
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Just, though mysterious, leads us on unerring
Through ways unmark’d from guilt to punishment . . .”
— which are now the ways and the high road on which move onward the great European nations. The Western Aryans had, every nation
Vol. 1, Page 645 ANCIENT AND MODERN PROPHECIES.
and tribe, like their Eastern brethren of the Fifth Race, their Golden and their Iron ages, their period of comparative irresponsibility, or the Satya age of purity, while now, several of them have reached their Iron Age, the Kali-Yuga, an age Black with Horrors. . . . .
It is true, on the other hand, that the exoteric cycles of every nation have been correctly made to be derived from, and depend on, sidereal motions. The latter are inseparably blended with the destinies of nations and men. But in their purely physical sense, Europe knows of no other cycles than the astronomical, and makes its computations accordingly. Nor will it hear of any other than imaginary circles or circuits in the starry heavens that gird them —
“With centric and eccentric scribbled o’er
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb . . .”
But with the pagans, with whom, as Coleridge has it — “. . . . . Time, cyclical time, was their abstraction of the Deity . .” that “Deity” manifesting co-ordinately with, and only through Karma, and being that karma-nemesis itself, the cycles meant something more than a mere succession of events, or a periodical space of time of more or less prolonged duration. For they were generally marked with recurrences of a more varied and intellectual character than are exhibited in the periodical return of seasons or of certain constellations. Modern wisdom is satisfied with astronomical computations and prophecies based on unerring mathematical laws. Ancient Wisdom added to the cold shell of astronomy the vivifying elements of its soul and spirit — astrology. And, as the sidereal motions do regulate and determine other events on Earth — besides potatoes and the periodical disease of that useful vegetable — (a statement which, not being amenable to scientific explanation, is merely derided, while accepted) — those events have to be allowed to find themselves predetermined by even simple astronomical computations. Believers in astrology will understand our meaning, sceptics will laugh at the belief and mock the idea. Thus they shut their eyes, ostrich-like, to their own fate. . . . . . .*
* Not all, however, for there are men of Science awakening to truth. This is what we read: “Whatever way we turn our eyes we encounter a mystery . . . . all in Nature for us is the unknown. . . Yet they are numerous, those superficial minds for whom nothing can be produced by natural forces outside of facts observed long ago, consecrated in books and grouped more or less skilfully with the help of theories whose ephemeral duration ought, by this time, to have demonstrated their insufficiency, . . . . I do not pretend to contest the possibility of invisible Beings, of a nature different from ours and susceptible of moving matter to action. Profound philosophers have admitted it in all epochs as a consequence of the great law of continuity which rules the Universe. That intellectual life, which we see starting in some way from non-being (neant) and gradually reaching man, can it stop abruptly at man to reappear only in the infinite, in the sovereign regulator of the world? This is little probable.” Therefore . . “I [[Footnote continued on next page]]
Vol. 1, Page 646 THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
This because their little historical period, so called, allows them no margin for comparison. Sidereal heaven is before them; and though their spiritual vision is still unopened and the atmospheric dust of terrestrial origin seals their sight and chains it to the limits of physical systems, still they do not fail to perceive the movements and note the behaviour of meteors and comets. They record the periodical advents of those wanderers and “flaming messengers,” and prophesy, in consequence, earthquakes, meteoric showers, the apparition of certain stars, comets, etc., etc. Are they soothsayers for all that? No, they are learned astronomers.
Why, then, should occultists and astrologers, as learned, be disbelieved, when they prophesy the return of some cyclic event on the same mathematical principle? Why should the claim that they know it be ridiculed? Their forefathers and predecessors, having recorded the recurrence of such events in their time and day, throughout a period embracing hundreds of thousands of years, the conjunction of the same constellations must necessarily produce, if not quite the same, at any rate, similar effects. Are the prophecies derided, because of the claim of the hundreds of thousands of years of observation, and the millions of years of the human races? In its turn modern Science is laughed at for its far more modest geological and anthropological figures, by those who hold to Biblical chronology. Thus Karma adjusts even human laughter at the mutual expense of sects, learned societies, and individuals. Yet in the prognostication of such future events, at any rate, all foretold on the authority of cyclic recurrences, there is no psychic phenomenon involved. It is neither prevision, nor prophecy; no more than is the signalling of a comet or star, several years before its appearance. It is simply knowledge and mathematically correct computations which enable the Wise Men of the East to foretell, for instance, that England is on the eve of such or another catastrophe; France, nearing such a point of her cycle, and Europe in general threatened with, or rather, on the eve of, a cataclysm, which her own cycle of racial Karma has led her to. The reliability of the information depends, of course, on the acceptation or rejection of the claim for a tremendous period of historical observation. Eastern Initiates maintain that they have preserved records of the racial development and of events of universal import ever since the beginning of the Fourth Race — that which preceded being traditional. Moreover, those who believe in Seership and Occult
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] no more deny the existence of Spirits than I deny soul while trying to explain certain facts without their hypothesis . . .” “The Non-Defined Forces,” Historical and Experimental Researches, p. 3. The above is written by A. de Rochas, a well-known man of science in France, his work being one of the signs of the time. (Paris: Masson, Boulevard St. Germain, 1887.)
Vol. 1, Page 647 ASTROLOGY A SCIENCE.
powers will have no difficulty in crediting the general character, at least, of the information given, even if traditional, once the latter is checked and corrected by the corroboration of clairvoyance and esoteric knowledge. But in the present case no such metaphysical belief is claimed as our chief dependence, but a proof is given on what, to every Occultist, is quite scientific evidence — the records preserved through the Zodiac for incalculable ages.
It is now amply proved that even horoscopes and judiciary astrology are not quite based on a fiction, and that stars and constellations, consequently, have an occult and mysterious influence on, and connection with, individuals. And if with the latter, why not with nations, races, and mankind in bulk? This, again, is a claim made on the authority of the Zodiacal records. We shall examine then, if you please, how far the Zodiac was known to the ancients, and how far it is forgotten by the moderns.