The terms used for the concealed and the unrevealed Principle are many. In the earliest MSS. of Indian literature this Unrevealed, Abstract Deity has no name. It is called generally "That" (Tad in Sanskrit), and means all that is, was, and will be, or that can be so received by the human mind.
 Among such appellations. given, of course, only in esoteric philosophy, as the "Unfathomable Darkness", the "Whirlwind", – etc. it is also called the "It of the Kalahansa, the Kala-ham-sa", and even the "Kali Hamsa", (Black swan).... Many a mysterious sacred name in Sanscrit conveys to the profane ear no more than some ordinary, and often vulgar word, because it is concealed anagrammatically or otherwise. This word of Hansa or esoterically "hamsa" is just such a case. Hamsa is equal to a-ham-sa, three words meaning "I am he"(in English), while divided in still another way it will read "So-ham" he (is) I" – Soham being equal to Sah, "he", and aham, "I", or "I am he". In this alone is contained the universal mystery, the doctrine of the identity of man's essence with god-essence, for him who understands the language of wisdom.

The Secret Doctrine, i 77-78

 The fundamental presupposition of Gupta Vidya is that every human being has an innate capacity for selfless action and sacrifice – anasakti and yajna. Ordinarily, this capacity lies dormant, obscured and unfocussed due to lives of habitual attachment to name and form. Yet, it is the continuous exercise of this capacity that holds together the fabric of human society. Throughout history heroic men and women committed to the service of the spiritually, morally and materially impoverished learnt how to release the Akashic energies implicit in human solidarity. By becoming fearless and selfless, they called forth the strength of the ideal from all those around them. This fearlessness is the prerogative of the immortal soul. It is the identifying mark of those who have merged their being with an ideal, thus gaining the strength that belongs to the ideal and blessing all their actions with its elevating influence. Such ideals are not just vague apprehensions of remote, rarefied possibilities, but living forces rooted on a plane consubstantial with the immortal soul. As soon as a human being is surcharged with an ideal, its living force invokes and involves spiritual will. In essence, it is the energy of the Atman that enables one to conquer all fears bound up with name and form, all concern with results or anxiety about events.

 During incarnation the powers of human understanding and action necessarily inhere in complex situations. Through an internal slavery to anticipation, even evolved human beings who have given years to meditation and self-discipline may yet be trapped in their own self-image. They may at critical points become fearful, paralysed by a fear of what others are thinking and saying about them on the level of personality. The difficulty of overcoming attachment to the personality lies not in events, but rather in the mind alone. Authentic fearlessness is therefore the deliberate object of mystical and moral striving. To the external observer it sometimes seems that certain souls suddenly discover a new fearlessness, or attain a new level of self-transcendence without effort or warning. In a universe of law, however, this only demonstrates one's ignorance of other beings and the mysteries of the soul. Invariably, such transformations arise not by chance, but out of some profound act of compassion, some pristine response to the world of pain or some fundamental decision about a moral direction. Such acts of the spiritual will cannot be induced or predicted through any mechanical techniques. Yet they can, and will, accelerate an individual's service to his ideals until he becomes more and more fearless, even personally invulnerable.

 As self-governed individuals incarnate their ideals, they become inseparable from what they represent and from what they cherish. Thus they become able to tap the spiritual will-energy of other human beings, to touch their deepest hearts, awaken their minds and arouse their latent courage. An extraordinary dialectic takes place in human encounter as soon as it is seen from the standpoint of the forward looking and all-embracing, that which is transcendental and rooted in the plane of Akasha. Uncircumscribed by the logic of linearity and limitation, this dialectic is marked by a cool detachment and an unswerving toughness. This all-inclusive resourcefulness in the service of ideals is a characteristic of the Atman focussed through Buddhic intuition, sympathy and compassion in the concentrating lens of Manas. Once this true basis of ideals is touched, it becomes a potent force in the realm of action, lending immense meaning and richness, dignity and significance, to each and every day and to each responsibility, however modest.

 The master key to the release of the spiritual will is the recognition that one's immediate duty is supremely important. To it must be brought all one's energies. Because so many human beings have never really learnt to be whole-hearted or single-minded, they find that they have to act through vestures which are fragmented. This may be experienced as a lack of moral continuity, an inability to concentrate, a liability to forgetfulness, or an appearance of luck or any one of a number of ups and downs. All these, however, reflect only a fundamental misunderstanding of the external and internal state of the soul. Wherever ideals are seen as distant abstractions outside oneself, the energy and motion that belong to a great spiritual conception will be absent. Yet every human soul carries a vast capital acquired in other lives and a tremendous capacity to transcend all fear. Were this not true, there would be no reasonable prospect for the human condition.

 What is redemptive about the human scene is that again and again, even amidst cowardice, passivity and inertia, there appear unexpected flashes of fearlessness that cleanse everything around them. Like rainfall – the grace of Nature – the self-sacrificing actions of heroic individuals refresh and regenerate society, quickening the seeds of human growth. Individuals whose entire lives revolve around potent ideas and high ideals can bring total commitment, boundless zeal, complete fearlessness into their every action. Through the performance of their immediate duties, they act upon and touch the spiritual will in others. This fusion of sacrifice (yajna) on behalf of ideals with the performance of dharma is the hallmark of the highest spiritual confidence.

 The basis of the sustained release of the spiritual will is the recognition that human ideals and human nature, Manasadharma, as both act and essence, are one. This proposition is the fundamental axiom of all initiations in the Mystery Schools of Gupta Vidya – the Secret Science which is only secret to minds captivated by the projections of the personality. The Stanzas of Dzyan teach that the germinal light of the manvantaric dawn of the cosmos is fully present in the lamp of every human soul, and that the spirit of that flame is the highest cosmic foundation of self-existence. This vibrant identity of essence is intimated in the mysterious term Hamsa, translated for symbolic purposes as "the swan", but anagrammatically transformed into A-ham-sa and So-ham, meaning "I am he" and "He is I". This is the universal enigma of the identity of man's essence with God-essence. It is revealed to those who have deeply contemplated upon the deific principle in the cosmos, and seen it working within themselves and within all beings.

 The human being can self-consciously curb identification with all the vestures that keep souls apart. This is the result of deep meditation, and of the action that becomes sacrificial and magical through meditation. The wisdom unfolded by this sacrificial science far transcends the unselfconscious release of heroism by ordinary men and women that leavens the flow of daily human life. Yet, given the confusion and passivity that humanity is now encountering, the Bodhisattvas are truly grateful for every instance of quiet heroism and fearlessness. Certainly, no individual dare neglect the development of authentic moral courage if he wishes to realize that arcane wisdom which is based upon a pervasive and unbroken awareness of the unity of God and man.

 It is useless to attempt to explain the mystery in full. Materialists and the men of modern Science will never understand it, since, in order to obtain clear perception of it, one has first of all to admit the postulate of a universally diffused, omnipresent, eternal Deity in Nature; secondly, to have fathomed the mystery of electricity in its true essence; and thirdly, to credit man with being the septenary symbol, on the terrestrial plane, of the One Great UNIT (the Logos), which is Itself the Seven-vowelled sign, the Breath crystallized into the WORD.

Ibid., 78-79

 Among those who call themselves mystics or Theosophists, in the ordinary lay sense, there is a surfeit of unconscious materialism. Few can claim to have fully overcome identification with sense-perceptions and the body, or to have become self-consciously immortal. But this "spiritual materialism" is ubiquitous because so few spiritually-minded souls have really thought through the fundamental propositions of Gupta Vidya. They have not fully explored the Buddhist axiom regarding the emptiness of substantial forms and the apparent empirical self. So, in appropriating spiritual language, they have merely couched mundane concerns in a metaphysical vocabulary. In truth, they are thereby consolidating a self-image at a more recalcitrant and subtle level. This endemic tendency, which is caused by individual and collective Karma, is rather difficult to overcome. In order to obtain a clear perception of the divine in man, one must first comprehend "the postulate of a universally diffused, omnipresent, eternal Deity in Nature". It is impossible to affirm such a postulate without having grasped its meaning at least at some preliminary level. This in itself requires dianoia, the deliberate application of the reasoning power through reflection.

 Those who do not question, who will not adopt the humble mental posture of a learner, cannot do any service to ideals and ideas. They are left with little more than verbal repetitions and personal pretensions, the seeds of delusion and dogmatism. Instead, one should begin by asking oneself what it would mean to believe truly that there is divinity in everything. Those allergic to dust may yet conceive that there is divinity in allergy-producing substances in the air. Those afflicted by influenza may still recognize that there is divinity in germs. If one is prepared to contemplate the presence of Deity in the dustbin, then one can understand W.Q. Judge's affirmation that the essence of a Rishi such as H.P. Blavatsky is present in cigar ash. The universality of Deity in Nature entails that the Mahatmic light of universal ideation is accessible at every single point of space, time and matter. As contemporary scientists have begun to realize, old notions of matter and energy, of space and time, have collapsed; the blinding dualism of subject and object is false. So far from Nature avoiding the vacuum, that vacuum is the All.

 If one truly begins to reflect upon "the voidness of the seeming full" and "the fullness of the seeming void", one can think in terms of the universal diffusion of what is called Akasha. This represents omnipresent, universally diffused and eternal radiant substance capable of limitless plastic transformation. It is everywhere in Nature, both unmanifest and invisible, as well as manifest and visible. As soon as one has grasped this extraordinary concept, one realizes that there is no particle in one's body which is not divine. The organs of digestion and excretion, one's fingertips and toes, every part of the body is suffused and bathed in the divine essence. This should not be thought of merely in relation to the surface of the body or even in relation to the structures revealed by empirical anatomy. The presence of Akasha is an underlying current which cannot be contacted through the senses, but can be felt only through inward ideation. Without deep meditation it is indeed impossible to blast the surface conception of the body and to see it as it really is – as a cosmos, a living temple of a living god.

 Once one has touched through meditation the depth of divinity that pervades all Nature, one can begin to fathom "the mystery of electricity in its true essence". This will require a transcendence of all finite fields and fixed polarities. The fiery idea of electricity as Fohat must be separated in the mind from its inherence in any particles or units that localize its being and restrict its reality. Seen from the standpoint of the unmanifest, and in relation to the most homogeneous field of primordial substance, essential electricity is an all-powerful vibration. It is the incredible electric potency that is involved in the dawn of manifestation, the emergence of an entire universe out of the Divine Darkness. It is that which may be tapped in the sandhyas of dawn and of twilight, glimpsed in the noontide glory of the day as in the fathomless darkness of the night. It is a mystery beyond all conceptions and imaginings, and yet it is the formative agent of the universe and man.

 Finally, one must galvanize one's sense of the ubiquity and potency of the divine essence through crediting man "with being the septenary symbol, on the terrestrial plane, of the One Great UNIT". Individuals who give so little credit to themselves or others are asked to credit man with being God. The Logos in the cosmos is the God in man, the Adam Kadmon, the Purusha within each and every human being. The Renaissance depiction of this as the man within man, the universal man, pertains to seven different planes and vestures. Even on the terrestrial plane man is the living symbol of the Logos. The Logos is that which can say "I am myself" independent of the existence of the entire universe. If the Logoic intelligence is in every single human being, then every human being can affirm through pure "I-am-I" consciousness the most transcendental, most active and most living conception of Deity. Yet this "I" is completely unconnected with all forms and results, with everything that belongs to the world of differentiated perceptions and objects.

 The Logos is itself the seven-vowelled sign, the Great Breath crystallized into the WORD. It is OEAOHOO, the Father-Mother of the gods, the single, triple and septenary root from which all proceeds. To credit man as the living septenary symbol of the Logos is to become ready to use the reverberation of OEAOHOO, meditating upon it, becoming one with it and understanding its threefold pronunciations. Those who use so powerful an energy, force, sound and idea in their daily lives can translate metaphysics into magic. By divinizing their breath, they can surrender all compulsive expressions of separateness and selfishness and retreat into the inmost sanctuary where they become the AUM – the WORD. They become inseparable in consciousness from the universal Logos.

 It might seem that an individual who met these requirements would become perfect and so could quit the earthly scene of involuntary incarnation. This is not so. Great and difficult as this transformation in consciousness is, it constitutes only the preliminary discipline of Gupta Vidya. Those whose ideals stop short at this point allow no room for the Bodhisattva, the man of renunciation. To function without bondage to the planes of illusion requires a further practical training. To serve the myriad monads and minds ensnared in the realm of effects, the aspirant who has touched the bed of the Nirvanic stream must re-examine the universe from the standpoint of practical yajna. He must consider

the multiple combination of the seven planets of Occultism and of the Kabala, with the twelve zodiacal signs; to attribute, as we do, to each planet and to each constellation an influence which. . . "is proper to it, beneficent or maleficent, and this, after the planetary Spirit which rules it, who, in his turn, is capable of influencing men and things which are found in harmony with him and with which he has any affinity".

Ibid., 79

 Human beings ordinarily go about their mundane affairs with a mixture of inattention, superstition and self-interest. Though generally aware of the cyclical character of life, they are so subordinated in consciousness to sequential time that they cannot grasp the eternally active potential of its minutest divisions. Thus, for example, through a kind of habitual deference to the wisdom of the ancients, they participate in the seemingly courteous custom of experiencing the days of the week. But one has not fully experienced Wednesday, for example, if one does not think of Wednesday in relation to Woden, Hermes and Budha-Mercury. Yet one must do more than that. While intoning The Jewel in the Lotus one should salute, revere and invoke the spiritual Dhyanis that overbrood the planets. The Mercury that one sees in the sky is not itself the planet Mercury, but merely one of its seven globes. Whether one speaks of the solar system or man, one is concerned not only with the physical body, but rather with the whole stream of existence and a set of forces which may ultimately be assigned to presiding spirits. This is true not only of Wednesday, but of every day; each one represents a phase of a spectrum differentiated in what is ordinarily called time.

 Adepts live by exquisitely blending a sense of time and a sense of timeliness. They always use the great almanac of Nature, acting with an awareness of all the hierarchies and giving due obeisance to each and every Dhyani and planetary spirit. Through such action one can attract the harmonious influences that are associated with a particular line or stream, and which are connected with centres in oneself. Mercury, for example, is related to the principle of Buddhi, spiritual intuition. An inauspicious relationship between Mercury and another planet means that there is a creative tension. In every force in Nature there are possibilities which may correlate in different ways at the micro-level with the entire spectrum of possibilities. These may work themselves out adversely, inhibiting certain kinds of activity and thought. But with a knowledge of these changing correlations, one may transmute each influence, seeing it from a deeper standpoint in relation to its inmost significance and its origins in the one Logos. Those who have already attained a fusion in their hearts between the Logos and the Logoic spark must still acquire the kind of wisdom that belongs within the vast web of complex differentiation. It is a wisdom concerning the archetypal divisions between the seven planets, the twelve signs of the zodiac, the seasons of the year and the days of the week. Adepts are able to use these moments of time because they act with wisdom within the limits of Karma.

 Rooted in anasakti and yajna, ever doing the utmost and the best that one can do, one can use every situation with benevolence and integrity in the service of universal good. Out of one's accumulated experience one may acquire what Gautama Buddha called "skilful means". Mistakes are an essential ingredient in gaining the kind of practical wisdom that applies to all the planetary forces. Long before an ordinary human being is ready to engage in this practical training, he must acquire through self-effort the requisite moral qualifications. This does not at all mean, however, that one should be indifferent to times and timing. On the contrary, it is only common sense to make full use of almanacs and calendars, intimations and aids, made available to humanity to help ordinary men and women harmonize with the invisible forces acting upon them.

 The foremost of these aids in the constant struggle against materialism and superstition are the living, enigmatic symbols of God and man. Kalahansa, the divine swan, is such a symbol, expressing the presence of divine spirit within and beyond the cosmos and man. Drawing attention to the distinction between the abstract numinous essence and the manifested creative God of the cosmos, H.P. Blavatsky declared:

 The "Swan or goose" (Hansa) is the symbol of that male or temporary deity, as he, the emanation of the primordial Ray, is made to serve as a Vahan or vehicle for that divine Ray, which otherwise could not manifest itself in the Universe, being, antiphrastically, itself an emanation of "Darkness" – for our human intellect, at any rate. It is Brahma, then, who is Kala-Hansa, and the Ray, the Hansa-Vahana.
 As to the strange symbol chosen, it is equally suggestive; the true mystic significance being the idea of a universal matrix, figured by the primordial waters of the "deep", or the opening for the reception, and subsequently for the issue, of that one ray (the Logos), which contains in itself the other seven procreative rays or powers (the logoi or builders).

Ibid., 80

Kalahansa is the highest conception of self-existence involving both ideation and substance. It is, therefore, a concept of Deity that applies both to Brahma and Brahmâ, to Parabrahm seen in manifestation as well as to the creative Logos. It is the first principle of spirit-matter, mysteriously comprehending both. In consciousness the swan symbolizes an omnidirectional vision free from all aberration, a metaphysical potential curiously mirrored in the physical vision of the swan. This state of faultless vision rooted in the androgynous Ray, prior to the differentiations of spirit-matter, is likened, in The Voice of the Silence, to "repose between the wings of the GREAT BIRD". This is the Kalahansa, "which is not born, nor dies, but is the AUM throughout eternal ages". Its two wings are the A and the U, and the M is its tail, while the Ardha-matra – which is like the crescent above the AUM sign – is the head of the swan and represents that element of sound in the pronunciation of the AUM which is its indissoluble unity with the SILENCE.

 As a symbol of the hidden Deity in man and Nature, Kalahansa is inseparable from Narayana.

 Appearing with every Manvantara as Narayan, or Swayambhuva (the Self-Existent), and penetrating into the mundane Egg, it emerges from it at the end of the divine incubation as Brahmâ or Prajapati, a progenitor of the future Universe into which he expands. He is Purusha (spirit), but he is also Prakriti (matter). Therefore it is only after separating himself into two halves – Brahmâ-Vach (the female) and Brahmâ-Viraj (the male), that the Prajapati becomes the male Brahmâ.

Ibid., 80-81

 Narayana, the One who breathes breathless, is the one who uses nara, all of humanity, as a vehicle. This metaphysical idea was later trivialized and anthropomorphized in the notion of man as God's footstool. However awe-inspiring to the Victorian preacher, this image is of little help to twentieth century humanity, let alone twentieth century womankind. No amount of tinkering with the language of the Bible will be able to restore the original meaning of the symbol. Instead, one must start to think metaphysically of the entire human race, of all human souls as constituting the limbs of one great universal man-woman, one single being such as the Kabbalistic Adam Kadmon. Then one must see that whole as a vesture of the spirit that breathes breathless, Narayana. To reach the central living core of the identity of God-essence and man-essence, one must grasp the concept of pure self-existence, prior to all manifestation and independent of minds and monads, separate rays and the pregenetic dispersion of the one Ray into the seven rays. At the same time, one must learn to experience in every differentiated atom, in every single point in space, in every vesture of every being, the same ineffable Presence.

 If one can begin to realize the identity of essence between God and man through Narayana, one can in meditation enter into a state like that of the swan or the egg. One can brood and incubate ideas and ideals in a condition of extreme abstraction whereby one totally transcends the boundaries of the limit of selfhood. One can experience the activity of Narayana. As above, so below. What applies to the great brooding of Narayana in relation to a whole system of worlds or period of manifestation applies analogously to that same Narayana within each and every nara. Each human being who becomes Narayana through mystic meditation re-enacts the process of the formation of a world, provided that the individual has become so secure and invulnerable in reliance upon spirit that he has renounced all the fruits of action.

 By renouncing all, one may enjoy all, engaging in the ceaseless sacrificial action of Narayana. It is precisely as difficult to do this as it is difficult to become humble. Before one can become truly humble, one must have something to be humble about. In order to know, one must bestride the Bird of Life, but in order to live, one must give up one's life. So, too, before one can enjoy the universe, one must make a fundamental act of renunciation. This is a continual process, coextensive with the cosmos, and essential to the potentiality of perfectibility inherent in man. True aspirants to the service of ideals, true compassionators of their impoverished brothers and sisters, will begin by renouncing melodrama in the spiritual life. If they wish to contribute to peace on earth, they know that they must steadily strengthen, day by day, the release of spiritual will within themselves out of a benevolence directed towards all men and women. Cherishing authentic beginnings beyond all fanciful dreams of fuifilment, they will treasure Manasadharma as the talisman of a life of ideals rooted in selfless service.

Hermes, April 1984
by Raghavan Iyer