If, on the one hand, a great portion of the educated public is running into atheism and scepticism, on the other hand, we find an evident current of mysticism forcing its way into science. It is the sign of an irrepressible need in humanity to assure itself that there is a Power Paramount over matter; an occult and mysterious law which governs the world, and which we should rather study and closely watch, trying to adapt ourselves to it, than blindly deny, and break our heads against the rock of destiny. More than one thoughtful mind, while studying the fortunes and reverses of nations and great empires, has been deeply struck by one identical feature in their history, namely, the inevitable recurrence of similar historical events reaching in turn every one of them, and after the same lapse of time. This analogy is found between the events to be substantially the same on the whole, though there may be more or less difference as to the outward form of details.

The Theosophist, July 1880

 Cyclic causation or the eternal law of periodicity stands midway between the affirmation of the Absolute and the postulate of progressive enlightenment in the set of fundamental axioms of Gupta Vidya. Pointing to the inexorable alternation of day and night, of birth and death, of manvantara and pralaya, cyclic law ensures that all events along with their participants, great or small, are comprehended within the archetypal logic of the Logos in the cosmos. Gupta Vidya indicates the mayavic nature of all manifestation in relation to the Absolute, whilst at the same time stressing that karmic responsibility is the pivot of all spiritual growth. The essential significance of the complex doctrine of cycles sometimes seems difficult to grasp in theory or to apply in practice. If the mind misconceives the metaphysical distinction between TAT and maya, then the dignity of spiritual striving through cycles under karma will be minimized. Self-examination and self-correction may be neglected owing to a false and merely intellectualist theory of transcendence. Conversely, the mind which embraces a too literalized conception of the immanence of the Absolute will find itself mired in experience with no accessible power of transcendence. It will tend to acquiesce in a sanguine or despairing doctrine of mechanical destiny which is psychological fatalism resulting from a mistaken conflation of causality with the ephemeral forms of outward events.

 The true teaching of cyclic causation implies neither a trivialization nor a mechanization of life in a vesture in terrestrial time. Instead, it intimates the mysterious power of harmony, the irresistible force of necessity, which resides in the eternal balance of the manifest and the unmanifest in every living form and phase of the One Life. The ceaseless vibratory motion of the unmanifest Logos is the stimulus of the complex sets and subsets of hierarchies of beings constituting the universe; and of the intricate and interlocking cycles and subcycles of events that measure out its existence. The intimate relationship between temporal identity and cyclic existence is symbolized in the identification of the lifetime of Brahmâ with the existence of the universe, a teaching which also conveys the true meaning of immortality in Hiranyagarbha.

 From the standpoint of universal unity and causation, the universe is a virtual image of the eternal motion or vibration of the unmanifest Word, scintillating around a set of points of nodal resonance within that Word itself. From the standpoint of individual beings involved in action, the universe is an aggregation of interlocking periodic processes susceptible to reasoned explanation in terms of laws. Understanding the nature of cycles and what initiates them, together with apprehending the mystery of cyclic causation itself, requires a progressive fusion of these two standpoints. The exalted paradigm of the union of Eternity and Time is Adhiyajna, seated near the circle of infinite eternal light and radiating compassionate guidance to all beings who toil in the coils of Time. Established in Boundless Duration, all times past, present and future lie before his eye like an open book. He is Shiva, the Mahayogin, the leader of the hosts of Kumaras, and also Kronos-Saturn, the lord of sidereal time and the ruler of Aquarius. If humanity is the child of cyclic destiny, Shiva is the spur to the spiritual regeneration of humanity. And, if the Mahatmas and Bodhisattvas, the supreme devotees of Shiva, live to regenerate the world, then it is the sacred privilege and responsibility of those who receive their Teachings to learn to live and breathe for the sake of service to all beings.

 It is in this spirit that H.P. Blavatsky, in her essay entitled "The Theory of Cycles", suggested several keys to the interpretation of cyclical phenomena. We can readily discern the vast variety of periodic phenomena which has already been noticed in history, in geology, in meteorology and in virtually every other arena of human experience. We can also recognize the statistical recurrence of certain elements in reference to economics, to wars and peace, to the rise and fall of empires, to epidemics and revolutions, and also to natural cataclysms, periods of extraordinary cold and heat. H.P. Blavatsky"s intent was not merely to persuade the reader of the pervasiveness of periodic phenomena through the multiplication of examples, but rather to convey the immanent influence of the power of number and of mathematics within all cyclic phenomena. She reviewed the original analysis of certain historical cycles made by Dr. F. Zasse and published in the Prussian Journal of Statistics. Dr. Zasse presented an account of a series of historical waves, each consisting of five segments of two hundred and fifty years, which have swept over the Eurasian land mass from east to west.

 According to Dr. Zasse"s chronology, which began at approximately 2000 B.C., the year 2000 of the present era should mark the conclusion of the fourth such wave, and the inception of yet another wave from the east. Commenting briefly upon the importance of one-hundred-year cycles within the longer cycles indicated by Dr. Zasse, H.P. Blavatsky cited his analysis of ten-year and fifty-year cycles of war and revolution affecting European nations. In order to draw attention away from external events and to direct it towards deeper psychological causes, she pointed out:

 The periods of the strengthening and weakening of the warlike excitement of the European nations represent a wave strikingly regular in its periodicity, flowing incessantly, as if propelled onward by some invisible fixed law. This same mysterious law seems at the same time to make these events coincide with astronomical wave or cycle, which, at every new revolution, is accompanied by the very marked appearance of spots in the sun.

Elsewhere, both in Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, she made reference to the eleven-year sunspot cycle, suggesting something of its occult significance in the respiration and heartbeat of the solar system.

 During the nineteenth century a number of scientists speculated about the relationship of sidereal and terrestrial events. Dr. Stanley Jevons, one of the founders of econometrics, saw a correlation between sunspot cycles and the rises and falls of economic output and productivity. Jevons went so far as to speculate that "the commercial world might be a body so mentally constituted . . . as to be capable of vibrating in a period of ten years". In The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky observed:

 Drs. Jevons and Babbage believe that every thought, displacing the particles of the brain and setting them in motion, scatters them throughout the Universe, and they think that "each particle of the existing matter must be a register of all that has happened".

The Secret Doctrine, i 104

 Correlating this idea to the occult conception of the enduring impress of thought upon the subtle matter of the invisible human vestures, H.P. Blavatsky intimated the vital relationship between the impress of sidereal influences upon the psyche and the cyclic destiny of human souls.

 The Hindu Chitra-Gupta who reads out the account of every Soul"s life from his register, called Agra-Sandhani; the "Assessors" who read theirs from the heart of the defunct, which becomes an open book before (whether) Yama, Minos, Osiris, or Karma – are all so many copies of, and variants from the Lipika, and their Astral Records. Nevertheless, the Lipi-ka are not deities connected with Death, but with Life Eternal.
 Connected as the Lipika are with the destiny of every man and the birth of every child, whose life is already traced in the Astral Light – not fatalistically, but only because the future, like the PAST, is ever alive in the PRESENT – they may also be said to exercise an influence on the Science of Horoscopy.

The Secret Doctrine, i 105

 From such considerations a complex picture emerges of a myriad overlapping cycles and subcycles on several planes of existence. Whilst the enormous breadth and depth of cyclic phenomena would render elusive any exacting analysis of cycles for the neophyte in Gupta Vidya, one should attempt to nurture a cool apprehension of the regular periodicity in the excitement of mental and physical forces affecting both collective and distributive karma. It may help to begin with a relatively simple example. Consider the case of a single family living within a larger household and a local community. Each member of the family is born at a different moment. Each, therefore, has a different constellation in the ascendant at the moment of birth, and each has different cycles determined by the positions of the moon, the planets and the stars in the heavens at the moment of birth. For each, the angular relationships between these sidereal bodies – and their placement relative to the zenith and horizon in the place of the individual"s birth – will vary. Already, even at the simplest level, one can see an inherent complexity to the cyclic destiny of every individual.

 Within the lifetime of the individual a variety of cycles and subcycles will operate, some marked off by septenates of years and having to do with the incarnation of the higher principles, and others governed by a cycle slightly more than eighteen years having to do with the revolution of the nodes of the moon. Each of these cycles will have its own subcycles, and these in turn will be comprised of still smaller cycles, down to those which may last only a few weeks, a few days, even a few hours. Although this kind of mathematics can be most readily handled with the help of a minicomputer, it is not beyond the capacity of the human brain. Nor should it be forgotten that several people live together in families, and that there is a close interaction between what is happening in the orbit of the father, the mother, the children and all the ancestors of each. Owing to the complex overlapping and intersecting of the mathematics applying to each individual and to a specific group of individuals, one might think of constellations of energy-fields wherein many people produce an immense clustering of elements, all of which obey the laws of cycles. If one passes from the limits of a single family to the scope of a mini-commune or even a small community, it is evident that the degree of complexity involved in comprehending the cycles at work will become very great.

 In order to understand the activity and overlapping of cycles on any broad scale, one must adopt a set of categories that has nothing to do with the perceptions and propensities of the personal nature. To the integrative and synthetic vision of the Adept, the interplay and interaction of human beings on the terrestrial plane are resolved into the occult correspondences of sounds, colours and numbers. Individual human beings are seen as having manvantaric stars, or rays of individuality, which pertain to them throughout the vast cycle of their incarnations. Within each incarnation that individuality takes up a personal existence connected with a personal star or ray. Whilst the tone, coloration and number associated even with the latter is generally unknown to most human beings in incarnation, and only crudely guessed at by contemporary theories of personality, the still more fundamental elements of individual identity as a Monad are scarcely even conceived. Yet, for the Adept the world of human interaction consists of a series of mathematically governed octaves of colour and sound beyond the comprehension of even the most speculative forms of modern painting and music. Nonetheless, if an individual is privileged to have received spiritual instruction regarding the nature of colour, sound and number, then he may begin to make experiments. By taking one of the simple colour charts available, he could discover how, out of the primary colours, complex shades and hues may be derived. Also he could gain some insight into what the developed artist means by a pure colour – an extremely pure blue or a luminous gold.

 All such experiments are clearly relative to perception and to circumstance, because the pigments used will inevitably introduce a tincture which is part of the physical chemistry of what is called colour. And, whilst discrimination of colours on the physical plane can be heightened to an extraordinary degree – as exemplified by silk dyers, for instance – this skill represents only the most mundane aspect of the conscious refinement of colour vision. There is a tremendous difference between what is ordinarily perceived as colour and what is potentially perceptible on the subtler planes. Many are aware of the possibilities of subtle hearing or melodious colouring in music, whether it be through Indian music, with its refined system of quarter tones and complex rhythms, or through classical European music, with its intricate system of voices and use of silences. By playing a raga or a symphony, one can transform the entire elemental field of one"s room. When one listens to such music, cycles overlap and the psyche fluctuates, in ways intensified by the collective nature of these forces. By noetically imposing upon the field some elevating spiritual note, one can gain the benefit of the fluidic nature of the field without being drawn into or absorbed by the psychical atmosphere.

 If colour, sound and number can work such soothing charms, they can also work destructively. Great deliberation and intelligent sifting are, therefore, paramount in the use of alchemical knowledge. There are secrets locked within the spectrum, within the octave and within the series of numbers from 1 through 7, which can kill as well as heal. Without discrimination based upon purity of motive, any attempt to manipulate these Fohatic factors of cyclic destiny is likely to result in either unconscious grey or even black magic. In the realm of unconscious motivation, this will emerge through impulsiveness, particularly in speech, and a tragically misplaced sense of timing. Despite these dangers, inherent to a universe in which Manasic beings have free choice, persistently shines the ever-present possibility open to each human being to help Nature and harmonize with her through cycles, striving for the elevation of the human condition. Neither the ideas of Pythagoras on the mysterious influence of colours, numbers and sound, nor the theories of the ancient world-religions and philosophies, are so bizarre or so irrelevant as sectarian dogmatists and secular empiricists would pretend.

 H.P. Blavatsky"s aim in hinting at the occult foundations of the law of cycles was to restore the rights of ancient wisdom, and she recognized that nine out of ten human beings are somewhat open to the Teachings of Gupta Vidya. There is, alas, always the tenth person who has a problem – whether it be materialism, soul-blindness or suggestibility – and therefore goes around proclaiming some sort of superstitious humbug or general nihilism out of nervousness and a lack of courage, traceable to previous lives. And as long as some people talk shallow nonsense about sacred matters without real knowledge, this will tend to reinforce the sceptic. Hence, there exists a kind of see-saw action between people who talk about the sacred but do not really know it, and those who hear about it but refuse to consider it because their survival depends upon their illusions. All this waste provides a negative example of the cyclic reinforcement of social attitudes. As the Upanishadic and Socratic traditions demonstrate, the dialectics of speech and silence can convey as well as obscure the highest knowledge.

 H.P. Blavatsky knew that the time was fast approaching when more and more people would emerge who have the courage both to examine ancient wisdom and to correlate it with the discoveries of science. It was for those who would ask questions, and make their own investigations by looking at the heavens and looking within themselves through meditation, that she partially unveiled the Teachings of Gupta Vidya. Those who use these Teachings – and daily consult The Voice of the Silence – in order to understand the profounder visions and longings of their hearts will progressively gain confidence in charting the seas of the psychic unconscious. With steadiness and persistence, they will become more skilled in handling the take-off and landing, the vertical ascent and descent in consciousness, so critical to the Aquarian Age. The ability to sustain oneself in any state of consciousness or meditation and the related ability to move deliberately from one plane or state of consciousness to another with relaxed control depend upon one"s access to a fixed point of reference or vibration within consciousness. If the sevenfold human constitution were likened to a miniature solar system, the centre of consciousness would reside on one of the planets of that system.

 Despite all the variations and fluctuations of cyclic existence affecting states of consciousness, all points of view within the system revolve in complex orbits around the central sun of the Atman. The motions of attention from one point to another are regulated by that central sun in accordance with its breath and heartbeat. As in the macrocosm of the universe, so too in the microcosm of human nature – all the oscillating motions and emanations of the MONAD and the Monad are comprised in an original fundamental vibration.

 All are contained within the Maha-Yug, the "Great Age" or Cycle of the Manu calculation, which itself revolves between two eternities – the "Pralayas" or Nights of Brahma. As, in the objective world of matter, or the system of effects, the minor constellations and planets gravitate each and all around the sun, so in the world of the subjective, or the system of causes, these innumerable cycles all gravitate between that which the finite intellect of the ordinary mortal regards as eternity, and the still finite, but more profound, intuition of the sage and philosopher views as but an eternity within THE ETERNITY. "As above, so it is below", runs the old Hermetic maxim.

 Insofar as individuals can assimilate this radical perspective within themselves, they will not be so dependent upon transient fashion and fickle opinion, nor will they be so susceptible to volatile psychic influences. In a society where many have scarcely any conception of self-magnetization and magnetic purity, they perpetually throw off negative emanations through speech and the eyes – and thought. Through the natural rhythms of daily life – the cycle of waking and sleeping, of going to work and returning home, of interacting with family and friends – strong focal points are established for the aggregation of psychic impressions. If one has not prepared oneself through proper meditation to use these focal points for the strengthening of positive vibrations, then they will by default turn into rats" nests of negativity. Through identification with the personal nature, one may tend to take every one of these disturbances literally and personally, and thereby make it the hooking-point for further infestation of the psyche. If, instead, one strengthens a meditative awareness of the manvantaric vibration of the Avatar, then these inevitable collecting-points in terrestrial consciousness can become powerful regenerative agents enabling one to meet one"s own karmic responsibility and to lighten the burden of others.

 Meditation upon the cosmos as a complex hierarchy of interacting cycles radiating from a common source may be aided by simple, yet suggestive, diagrams like the following:

This yantra represents a spiral seashell with a lotus at the centre, the outside of which is like the head of a coiling serpent. The diagram is in ceaseless motion. At the same time, because of the harmonizing of different strata – which resemble the skins of the earth, the layers of language and concept, and even the different hierarchies of reality – the yin-yang alternation within the different strata harmonizes with the lotus-like sun in the centre. Thus, lines of emanation radiate out from the centre and return to it. Through meditation upon such a yantra one can break the fixity of the static geometry and the limited algebra governing one"s responses to the world, and move on to a more dynamic and topological post-Newtonian conception of space, a more fluidic and flexible post-Euclidian geometry, and a more interactive conception of a post-Cartesian algebra founded upon matrices and groups. As one gains a sense of Aquarian meta-mathematics and meta-geometry, founded upon the triadic meta-logic of Gupta Vidya, one will prepare oneself to participate self-consciously in the dialectical calculus of the cosmos. Daily meditation can provide the basis for dynamic integration of distilled perceptions.

 Cycles are not mechanical recurrences of events, but living curves of dynamic causation. Every individual has a karmic curve, and at each point has potential access to the sum total of karmic energies generating that curve. Through noetic conceptions of maxima and minima, of curvature and inflexion, one can self-consciously generate a line of life"s meditation. Through the Buddhic powers of correlation and discrimination, of integration and differentiation, one can penetrate the deceptive surface of events and reach towards the underlying planes of causation. Most individuals, alas, fail to maximize their opportunities because their notions of cause and effect are mistaken. This may be discerned by comparing the concepts of explanation and definition. If told that the term "lion" is defined as "a large carnivorous feline mammal found most often in Africa and Asia, with a tawny body, a tufted tail and a shaggy mane", one will not think that the phrase defining "lion" is actually a lion in any way. One will understand that the term being defined and the phrase doing the defining both have the same meaning. Similarly, if one is told that a certain event is to be explained by the occurrence of certain other events, one should not think that the events constituting the explanation are the cause of the given event, but rather that both the explained event and the explaining events are manifestations of the same cause.

 To the eye of Shiva the entire universe and all its cyclic phenomena comprise a single harmonious consequence of one Causeless Cause, the Karmic Sum Total symbolized by the lifetime of Brahmâ. Most human beings are unable to maximize their opportunities even under the lesser, though still vast, sum totals and karmic curves of individual Monadic existence, prefigured by the manvantaric star. They die hardly having used one percent of their potential brain-power, and hardly having tapped one-tenth of one percent of their far more powerful heart-energy. If the spiritual and mystical heart is not exercised, it begins to atrophy. If, however, it is strengthened through the exercise of dispassion and devotion, it gains strength, firing the synapses of the nervous system and stimulating the cells in the centres of the brain. Through heart-energy, through an abundant love of one"s fellow men, of their children and their families, one begins to break down the false boundary of the persona and its limited view of family and friendship. As this barrier is dissolved, other human beings, and the world at large, seem less alien and less hostile. Life becomes more meaningful and challenging through the perception that all other human beings are immortal souls, like oneself, capable of reciprocity in spiritual aspiration. One can tap more and more of one"s heart-energy, and thus quicken the Buddhic mind and even release the spiritual will.

 Then, passing beyond the narrow horizon of personal existence, one may naturally insert oneself into the broader evolutionary development of humanity. One will learn to discard that which is perverse, whilst turning that in oneself which is unique and individual to the good of others, all the while strengthening an inward sense of that which is common to all and confined by none. As Mahatma K.H. taught in the last century:

 Whenever any question of evolution or development in any Kingdom presents itself to you bear constantly in mind that everything comes under the Septenary rule of series in their correspondences and mutual relation through nature.
 In the evolution of man there is a topmost point, a bottom point, a descending arc, and an ascending arc. As it is "Spirit" which transforms itself into "matter" and (not "matter" which ascends – but) matter which resolves once more into spirit, of course the first race evolution and the last on a planet (as in each round) must be more etherial, more spiritual, the fourth or lowermost one most physical (progressively of course in each round) and at the same time – as physical intelligence is the masked manifestation of spiritual intelligence – each evoluted race in the downward arc must be more physically intelligent than its predecessor, and each in the upward arc have a more refined form of mentality commingled with spiritual intuitiveness.

 One must not forget for even a moment that there are seven colours, seven sounds, seven days of the week, seven principles in the cosmos and in man, that the physical body has seven layers of skin and that every seven years one experiences important and irreversible changes in the mortal vestures. It will thus become possible to draw those kinds of Buddhic analogies and correspondences which are essential to the comprehension of cycles and the alchemical task of noetic integration. Disabused of any false dichotomy between spirit and matter, one will come to understand that if spirit transforms itself into matter and matter resolves itself once more into spirit, then matter is nothing but a passive lower expression of spirit, whilst spirit is, through ideation, an intensification of the energy-field in matter with a transforming power. How much one can bring this power to bear will depend upon one"s degree of constancy in remembering the septenary rule. Without comprehending the entire series, it is not possible to enjoy the entire spectrum or to employ the seven notes with accuracy and timing.

 To do the right thing at the right time depends upon a lively awareness of the subtle phases and stable conditions of prevailing cycles. In the Aquarian Age it is helpful to acknowledge that human beings, having begun in the First Root Race as extremely ethereal and spiritual beings, have now completed their arc of descent into matter and are engaged in a progressive process of etherealization and spiritualization. In the Fifth Root Race, going from the Fifth Sub-Race to the Sixth Sub-Race, this process is giving birth to a profound spiritual sensitization of intelligence through the elevation of life-atoms. This is connected with the cosmic electricity of Daiviprakriti, the Light of the Logos. All the modes of physical and astral intelligence throughout the various kingdoms of nature are nothing but masked manifestations of the synthesizing spiritual intelligence of Mahat. Along the upward involutionary arc of growth and spirituality, each human being, each individuated ray of Mahat in Manas, must self-consciously cultivate what Mahatma K.H. calls a "refined form of mentality commingled with spiritual intuitiveness". Refined mentality is Manas-Taijasi, and spiritual intuitiveness Buddhi. Thus, Buddhi-Manas-Taijasi is the colouring, the tonality and the number of the Avataric impulse in the present cycle. It is the spiritual essence of secular monasticism which, from its present bija or seed state, will flourish as a new mode of self-regenerating civilization in the maturing phases of the Aquarian Age. Like seeds that lie beneath the protection of mountain snows, every element of spiritual intuition, of mental refinement, and of the heart radiance that comes through compassion out of the mystic marriage – hieros gamos – of truth and love is being helped and nourished by Shiva-Shakti (Ardhanari) at this sacred moment and hour in the evolutionary history of mankind. Such seeds, sown in trust by courageous pioneers in the chill midnight of outward darkness, will bring forth a rich harvest for mankind in the warmer dawns of the foreseeable future.

Hermes, November 1982
by Raghavan Iyer