Thus proceed the cycles of the septenary evolution, in Septennial nature; the Spiritual or divine; the psychic or semi-divine; the intellectual, the passional, the instinctual, or cognitional; the semi-corporeal and the purely material or physical natures. All these evolve and progress cyclically, passing from one into another, in a double, centrifugal and centripetal way, one in their ultimate essence, seven in their aspects.... Thus far, for individual, human, sentient, animal and vegetable life, each the microcosm of its higher macrocosm. The same for the Universe, which manifests periodically, for purposes of the collective progress of the countless lives, the outbreathings of the One Life; in order that through the Ever-Becoming, every cosmic atom in this infinite Universe, passing from the formless and the intangible, through the mixed natures of the semi-terrestrial, down to matter in full generation, and then back again, reascending at each new period higher and nearer the final goal; that each atom, we say, may reach through individual merits and efforts that plane where it re-becomes the one unconditioned ALL.

The Secret Doctrine, i 267-268    

 Throughout manifested nature and in all beings – human, animal, vegetable, mineral and elemental – there is a universally diffused magnetic field in which one common vital principle circulates that may be controlled by the perfected human will. Beyond the illusion of time produced by the succession of finite states of consciousness, every present moment of manifest life is both a summation of a series of moments that goes back into the night of time and the dawn of cosmic manifestation, and also an emanation from a single stream of consciousness, an immortal ray of Light that travels through a long journey over eighteen million years and stretches into future time. The emergence from past time and the entry into the future are illusory in so far as these alterations in awareness or modifications of mind only affect the elemental vestures. Made up of changing combinations of sentient lives, these enveloping vestures are involved in an ever-revolving motion under a universal law, which balances every outgoing and ingoing – the Great Breath. In every human soul there is an innate tropism, a natural propensity towards the Good at some level of self-persistence. Not a living being on earth lacks a germ of good, a spark of truth and a ray of supernal light. Nothing could survive in the realm of form apart from this essential element of universal light-energy which makes cohesion possible. But this same law of balance also decrees the dispersion of life-atoms, providing for decay and death as well as for birth and growth, and hence permits not only rebirth but also regeneration or retrogression.

 The path leading to conscious immortality, to freedom from the grip of all-devouring Time, must necessarily involve a spiritual process of progressive self-regeneration; it is founded upon detachment from form, veneration of the universal sacrifice of life, and serene meditation upon the One Light beyond all manifestation. The Buddhas of Contemplation are constantly established in the pristine unmodified state of cosmic meditation. Krishna, the Logos incarnate, instructs Arjuna: "Out of a single portion of myself I create this entire universe and remain apart." This is the highest standpoint conceivable in cosmic evolution. It is a supreme state of freedom which is accessible only at the summit of enlightenment, attained by those Bodhisattvas who have become illumined beings in the fullest sense, capable of mastering all the vestures of incarnation and remaining in effortless attunement to the Great Breath, the Soundless Sound. Acting in time but abiding outside time, moving in space yet resting beyond all visible space, they remain in an Atmic state of eternal motion which is motionless in comparison with all modes of motion recognizable on the external planes of matter. This is the ultimate object of mystic meditation and continuous contemplation by the developing disciple who sits ready for Dubjed (Initiation). After a long period of preparatory discipline, the neophyte reaches repose wherein it is meaningful to ask whether, and in what sense, there is any essential difference between such fundamental conceptions as space, causality, time and motion. Are they merely conceptually interdependent facets of a single reality, or are they ontologically separate? To the ordinary mind they would seem to be separate because the familiar framework of cognition identifies a spatio-temporal context or sphere in which one is firmly focussed upon a single point of concentration. The mind would persistently seek to focus upon a seed-idea as the germ or cause of a new train of self-reproductive thought which might take root in the Tree of Life, and in successive lives of spiritual discipline the seed may sprout into the Tree of Immortality.

 The disciplined mind could also become intensely aware of the rates and phases of breathing and soon discover that it is impossible to go from the in-breath to the out-breath, or from the out-breath to the in-breath, without a minimal pause or interval, some sort of laya point. Many a monk seeks to prolong the interval of stillness between inbreathing and outbreathing, or between outbreathing and inbreathing. At this stage the discursive mind notices that there are distinct differences of time intervals in varying contexts. With steadfast persistence in such a simple exercise, these differences become less important, especially when there is a decisive shift of attention from physical to mental breathing. A heightened concentration of awareness is possible when one can smoothly dissolve the seemingly discrete intervals between breathing in and breathing out. This can arouse the power of noetic discernment, giving a finer sense of the particularity of each moment, and sharpening the intensity of awareness. This will help in time to attain an assured sense of what is essential in every momentary experience, of the hidden core meaning in a humdrum day of familiar events and responses. There is that which is truly valuable in every context of human interaction, but the discerning soul can only learn from each day by rendering gentle service to all that lives. Within a limited sphere of duty – on a single day for a particular period of time while meeting other beings – one must pierce the veil of unconscious collective processes, which otherwise leave one a victim, more acted upon than acting, mentally passive rather than spiritually awake.

 Buddhic insights are best understood in terms of the attempt to transcend all divisions, to go beyond every sense of separateness. It may be initially difficult to avoid the feeling that one is oneself, that one has a neighbour, that one is passing other human beings, that one meets A and B and C while at work. This is an illusion which is needed at a certain stage of differentiation but which must be transcended on the Path. The goal is first to see only rays of light in those who masquerade under different names and diverse forms, and then to go further: not only to see no differences but also to see oneself in each and every other person one encounters. This means projecting not one's lower self, (that merely inverts the process), but one's truest Self. The aim is to see the best one knows in each and every human being, and also to recognize the best in each and every human being as present in oneself. This psychological process takes years of sustained self-training and self-correction, with concrete tests applied to the reflected ray which is involved in the many pairs of opposites – heat and cold, loss and gain, growth and decay, fame and ignominy, creation and destruction, and so on. These are all part of the ethical burden of incarnation, while one is alive and awake, and while one is moving in and through a world of many minds and hearts, lives and souls, each of whom is on a solitary pilgrimage. It is the longest journey for each and every human being, dateless and deathless: no landmarks are on the visible plane, but all are eternally enshrined within the tablets of the astral light and upon the records of Akasha, the fiery mist out of which the Golden Egg encircling the universe is constituted. Consubstantial with the universal Hiranyagarbha, there is that which is like a minute portion of it, and provides protection for each and every human being. It is largely potential, but may be activated during deep meditation, when one has abstracted from the physical body with its senses and organs, and from the reflected ray of the lower mind with its likes and dislikes, fears and hopes, hates and suspicions, its pride, conceit, delusion and illusion. All of these, endemic to the assemblage of lower lives, can be let go and the mind may be withdrawn to that still, motionless centre unmodified by colour, by limitation, by form, by change, by seeming movements of succession in time or coadunition in space. All of these could be transcended because one could bring consciousness to a still centre in the place between the eyes where the eternal motion of Alaya-Akasha becomes the alchemical elixir of life.

Whatsoever quits the Laya State, becomes active life; it is drawn into the vortex of MOTION (the alchemical solvent of Life); Spirit and Matter are the two States of the ONE, which is neither Spirit nor Matter, both being the absolute life, latent.... Spirit is the first differentiation of (and in) SPACE; and Matter the first differentiation of Spirit. That, which is neither Spirit nor matter – that is IT – the Causeless CAUSE of Spirit and Matter, which are the Cause of Kosmos. And THAT we call the ONE LIFE or the Intra-Cosmic Breath.

The Secret Doctrine, i 258    

 What is true of the phases and pauses of breathing is also true of the cycles and seasons of Nature, as well as the divisions of lifetimes. At every level of organization of the countless lives mirroring the One Life, unseen creators and destroyers are constantly engaged in a sort of combat. At the molecular level this may be seen in reference to the microbes and life-atoms which make up the vestures, and in their aggregate action give rise to the four phases of human life, comparable, according to Pythagoras, with the four seasons. Attentive observation of Nature reveals a function in her economy for each and every thing. There is a function for the sere and yellow leaf of autumn which must die when the chlorophyll has so saturated the leaf that the green has become a yellow-brown. It is a breaking-up – a function of Shiva – which allows its restoration to the mud of the earth so that all of those lives are released. They go into the non-manifest only to re-enter in new arrangements the realm of the manifest. The ceaseless activity in Nature is at all times constructive, requiring the disintegration and rebuilding of structures, expressing a distinct beauty in every one of the seasons. If one can experience through meditation the continuous process of construction, destruction and regeneration that persists throughout human life, one becomes much more willing to accept these different phases and their distinct characteristics in terms of the total economy of human life. Through the incarnation of the projected ray there is an impingement of the subtler vestures upon the astral and the physical. By the power of thought one can enable what is in the higher vestures to act magnetically upon the lower vestures. By mere reaction and emotion, one may intensify the obscuring reaction of the lower vestures upon the higher vestures.

 This is the choice life continually affords to a human being. Either one chooses to become more deliberate and ideative by the magnetizing power of thought, functioning in terms of manifold cycles rather than the overall cycle of the gross astral, and so, by the power of higher thought, discovering and giving significance, beauty and meaning to life-atoms at each stage. Or one can merely be emotional, using language and thought to rationalize emotion, building up an ego and defending it, corroding the channels of connection between the higher and the lesser vestures till there is an atrophy of creative centres. After a point, the more one does this, the harder it is to gain the power of attention, to hold an idea, to become completely absorbed in a therapeutic teaching. Instead, through self-examination and meditation, one ought to learn to take advantage of the properties and powers of the higher which do not belong to the same cycles that work upon the lower vestures. So, to achieve a total renovation of the lower vestures from the standpoint of the immortal individuality will take many years. One must be willing to look back at seven, fourteen, twenty-one years of life and courageously acknowledge the chaotic patterns of so-called thinking and feeling which mauled, weakened and atrophied the constructive, creative and consecrating powers of the correlative faculty of Manas reflected in all these vestures. Without either being irresponsibly fatalistic, or delusively emotional, one must acknowledge that a thorough renewal requires many years of courageous effort. Damage done over a long time can have no instant solution. To succumb to the flattery that suggests otherwise is to deny oneself the opportunity to learn properly the alchemical art of self-regeneration.

 Rather, one must resolve to spend a number of years establishing and strengthening countervailing tendencies, recognizing old tendencies when they come, and counteracting them with deft precision. Robert Crosbie suggested that as soon as one discerns a mood or tendency which is deleterious, one should immediately think of the opposite. Ineffectually thinking of the opposite, and being unable to do anything when the challenge has already come to full flower, is like refusing to treat a disease when its initial symptoms appear. It is precisely when a tendency from the past first registers in awareness that one must act calmly. Like wise soldiers in times of great crisis, one must become especially cool and exceptionally slow. One must find the correct countervailing mood; and until one ties the ailment and remedy together, it is hard to break up a mood. But if one makes the effort with total trust in the law of cycles, and does this sufficiently often, it will begin to happen naturally. Then it will wear away the old tendencies until they fall away, and a refreshed class of life-atoms will become a permanent component of one's vestures.

 The metaphysical basis of this theurgic work of self-regeneration lies in the ultimate identity of all life, both in the physical realms studied by chemistry and physiology, and in the invisible realm of life-atoms:

 The Occult doctrine is far more explicit. It says: – Not only the chemical compounds are the same, but the same infinitesimal invisible lives compose the atoms of the bodies of the mountain and the daisy, of man and the ant, of the elephant, and of the tree which shelters him from the sun. Each particle – whether you call it organic or inorganic – is a life. Every atom and molecule in the Universe is both life-giving and death-giving to that form, inasmuch as it builds by aggregation universes and the ephemeral vehicles ready to receive the transmigrating soul, and as eternally destroys and changes the forms and expels those souls from their temporary abodes. It creates and kills; it is self-generating and self-destroying; it brings into being, and annihilates, that mystery of mysteries – the living body of man, animal, or plant, every second in time and space; and it generates equally life and death, beauty and ugliness, good and bad, and even the agreeable and disagreeable, the beneficent and maleficent sensations. It is that mysterious LIFE, represented collectively by countless myriads of lives, that follows in its own sporadic way, the hitherto incomprehensible law of Atavism.

The Secret Doctrine, i 261    

There is an atavistic return to psychic tendencies of the past, as well as elements of physical heredity, and they go back over many lives, connecting with patterns over many generations. All of these are in the astral light, permeating the lower vestures so that any attempt to assign a single extraneous cause, or to blame them on other individuals in this life, would be unphilosophical. There are so many life-atoms involved in the vestures that every day through thought, breath and speech, one charges enough life-atoms to affect many lives. It is absurd to try, on the basis of some narrow span of illusory time, to blame all one's ills upon a single lifetime. One must, at some point, penetrate to the causal level, and mentally cleanse one's sense-perceptions. To understand how Manasic concentration of Buddhi-Akasha can purge and purify the lower vestures, one must grasp the correlative action of thought upon the fiery lives of the lower vestures as they alternate in their function of building and destroying:

 The "fiery lives" are the seventh and highest sub-division of the plane of matter, and correspond in the individual with the One Life of the Universe, though only on that plane. The microbes of science are the first and lowest sub-division on the second plane – that of material prana (or life). The physical body of man undergoes a complete change of structure every seven years, and its destruction and preservation are due to the alternate function of the fiery lives as "destroyers" and "builders" They are "builders" by sacrificing themselves in the form of vitality to restrain the destructive influence of the microbes, and, by supplying the microbes with what is necessary, they compel them under that restraint to build up the material body and its cells. They are "destroyers" also when that restraint is removed and the microbes, unsupplied with vital constructive energy, are left to run riot as destructive agents. Thus, during the first half of a man's life (the first jive periods of seven years each) the "fiery lives" are indirectly engaged in the process of building up man's material body; life is on the ascending scale, and the force is used in construction and increase.

The Secret Doctrine, i 262-263    

 Any individual who is magnetized through great ideas and benevolent currents of thought and feeling during that period should be so grateful that he cannot awaken on any single day without feeling this gratitude intensely. The ideal chela who is going to gain the elixir of life, wakes up daily with a virtually inexpressible awareness of the privilege to be able to breathe, when he has already contacted the Teachers of Brahma Vach. A person who experienced this gratitude in any significant degree in those early years is extremely fortunate; through constant gratitude one gives enormous strength to the subtler vesture of ideation. One is therefore ready in the subsequent period to put to proper use all that has been evolved. "After this period is passed the age of retrogression commences, and, the work of the "fiery lives" exhausting their strength, the work of destruction and decrease also commences." On the physical plane, this is a reflection of what occurs on all planes and involves the subtlest energies. The subtler the energies, the more they are affected by whether the will, motive and impulse of thought and feeling are benevolent or malevolent, selfless or selfish. That is ultimately the only issue. Because people in general cannot handle this, metaphysically and mathematically, through meditation and ideation, they require a system of external ethics that puts a brake upon their selfish misuse of life-atoms. Because the body was given a certain name, because others acknowledged that there was a separate being, they were misled into thinking that one owns everything. In truth, one owns nothing.

 It is an abnormal notion in human evolution that one owns anything at all. Not only is everything held in trust, but one is a Manasically individuated being chiefly for the sake of expressing gratitude. There is no higher reason. The sole purpose of human sound and speech is to be able to resonate with gratitude to the cosmic sound, Nada Brahman. By using the measure of gratitude, which is appropriate to the symmetrical ways of life of the civilization of the future, one can see the abnormality of a great deal of contemporary existence. One can also see how difficult it is to reverse these tendencies because people constantly contaminate the few grains of rice they receive from the Wisdom Religion with the muck and the mire of the shallow culture that surrounds them and suffocates their innate intuitions. Nonetheless, if they develop a genuine capacity to use the Teaching on a day-to-day basis, and if they are also willing to be patient and to work in terms of seven-year cycles, they can decisively amend their own patterns, structures and cycles, replacing former tendencies by new powers and new levels of creativity, continuity and choice. They can begin to benefit from painful construction (which takes place through lower destruction), endured with a selfless attitude of sacrifice, renunciation and detachment.

 When the "Devourers" (in whom the men of science are invited to see, with some show of reason, atoms of the Fire-Mist, if they will, as the Occultist will offer no objection to this); when the "Devourers," we say, have differentiated "the fire-atoms" by a peculiar process of segmentation, the latter become life-germs, which aggregate according to the laws of cohesion and affinity. Then the life-germs produce lives of another kind, which work on the structure of our globes.

The Secret Doctrine, i 259    

 At the foundation of all the seven subdivisions, and corresponding to Manas, is Akasha, the fifth cosmic principle which is fiery, but not like fire on the physical plane. It is also watery, airy, but it is none of these as they are known in terms of ordinary conceptions of fire, water and air. Akasha is the very essence of higher Manas, hence of ideation and thought. Ideation is a sacred word, not to be confused with what people call thinking, which is really the mind chattering away. To ideate is to blend the energy of ideation and a universal truth. It is to moisten, to vivify, a universal truth by calmly and repeatedly dwelling upon that idea so that it becomes an abstract image or a matrix that can act upon the will through Akasha. Through abstract meditation the perfected will can guide the material correlates of Akasha, following a series which corresponds to the successive differentiations of the proto-elements underlying the various globes of the earth chain. Beginning with Fire and the fire-atoms in the First Round, these proceed through Air, Water and Earth in the succeeding Rounds. Since each of these elements is the source of the diverse properties of the subtler vestures behind the physical, all the globes and all the Rounds have their connections with different aspects of the human being. According to the ancient Commentaries on the Stanzas of Dzyan: "It is through and from the radiations of the seven bodies of the seven orders of Dhyanis, that the seven discrete quantities (Elements), whose motion and harmonious Union produce the manifested Universe of Matter, are born." H.P. Blavatsky points to the necessary nexus between these substantial elements and spiritual consciousness:

Our physical light is the manifestation on our plane and the reflected radiance of the Divine Light emanating from the collective body of those who are called the "LIGHTS" and the "FLAMES."

The Secret Doctrine, i 259    

 A person who truly begins to understand the possibility of the process of alchemical transmutation inherent in incarnated life will set apart both time and space every day, as well as appropriate symbols and magnetic centres of association, with a continuous stream of creative ideation. This is difficult in the course of a crowded day in the presence of others; but one can sit alone at night and propel these divine ideas to act as living forces. If one adopts the proper mental posture – one of great reverence, gratitude and obeisance to all Divine Hierarchies – these forces will act infallibly. But the process is hard, unless one is genuinely grown up. Unless one has been taught gratitude as a child, seeing it practised by others, one will not understand the sacred idea of intelligent obedience. Knowing nothing about truly free will, and therefore living compulsively in terms of wants, a shadowy life becomes established which makes it difficult to summon pure mental images. One must assail the root of false identity, expose it as a lie, and let it all go. One must break it apart. It is especially important not to cooperate with those types of language that contaminate, corrupt and misuse spiritual truths, including mindless appeals to experience "for its own sake" and vain assertions of illusory free will that are merely popular forms of lunar game-playing. At some point, these will take their inevitable toll, and will weaken the capacity of the mind to focus Buddhic Light, blocking opportunities for self-regeneration.

 Instead of consigning oneself to the captivity of psychological delusions and temporal illusions through moribund attachment to fleeting forms, one must renounce separative and self-limiting life. Then one can enjoy the pulse of universal life. When each day becomes a constant "thank you" to the entire human race, one takes one's true place in the human family. One recognizes that the human family, in some mysterious, unthanked, but also unobtrusive manner, has made it possible to breathe and to eat, to live and to sleep, to walk on this good earth. Meditation is a kind of thankfulness; and when it is thankful it is cool, like the "cold brightness" of the fire-atoms of the First Round, for it is freed altogether from the lie and lust of self. It is freed from any care for the shadow, and from any attachment to the mask. By voiding altogether the personal self, by making it a zero, one enjoys living in and through all beings. Meditation becomes a "thank you", which lightens one's load, increases the light in the eyes, deepens the power of silence and changes the tone of one's voice. One acquires a cool appreciation of the human condition, of its poignancy and its pain, but also of its silent grandeur, its inward dignity, and its unscrutinized meaning.

 Then one begins to recognize that manifested life is merely a participation in formation, preservation and destruction, the three aspects of the OM, the three hypostases of the manifesting spirit of the Supreme Spirit by which title Prithivi, the earth, greets Vishnu, the Logos. The earth as a whole engages in a daily greeting of Narayana, and this celebration of life is expressed in the endless re-enactment of the triune activity: firstly of formation, germination, creation, the giving of birth; secondly of preservation, support, stability and survival; and thirdly of destruction, dissolution, rearrangement, regeneration. Thus, at the hidden core of life is that which does not perish with manifested forms, Achyuta, the abstract Triad. When meditation has reached a certain point within the ever-expanding sphere of higher awareness, there is a recognition and reverence of the cosmic Triad which is incarnated in those who are enlightened. Then, there is an irreversible increase in the light of awareness of the invisible guardians of the human race. Humanity is an orphan; but there are those who guide and guard its destiny. As one becomes profoundly moved by the Great Sacrifice, one is able to make each day count more as a contribution in a life-count well lived. At the moment of death one will recognize that one has brought a golden thread of gratitude from the first moment of birth to a state that resembles death, but merely is a prelude to rebirth, a preface to the reassumption of one's true vesture wherein, self-consciously, one can return to the world to serve on behalf of all that breathes.

Hermes, March 1981
by Raghavan Iyer