Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

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Polyhymnia
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Polyhymnia » Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:36 pm

Cerastes wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 7:11 pm
Last night I thought about time as an abstract concept of time, which is really fascinating. You can build so many bridges and make so many associations and yet it is not possible to write something tangible for me. Actually, I wanted to read on in the book, but since it was a hard day, I fell asleep and had a very wired dream of a spiral-shaped tree trunk whose roots hang in the air. It had no leaves, it was just the trunk with roots, surrounded with different colored spots.
This is probably not helpful at all, but I wanted to leave it here anyway because it inspired me somehow. I will probably draw it down.
Wow! I think that dream is definitely fitting. Roots hanging in the air seems like a pretty good metaphor for our time conundrum. They still exist, but are not rooted into Earth the way our logical brains would like them to be.
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Smaragd » Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:23 am

Nefastos wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 2:53 pm
Cerastes wrote:
Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:19 am
The problem is, that the said illusion did not exist yet since it is produced by our consciousness and the perception of past, present and future. So as I understand the secret doctrine, time is bound to matter or the change in matter that is perceived by consciousness.
No matter = no time
No time = no aeons


If we want to understand the concepts of "para-" universe of secret doctrine (and The Secret Doctrine), we must shake our ontological conceptual thinking not just once, but in several ways.

Whichever our world view or idea of cosmogenesis is (theistic, deistic, atheistic, or purely scientific), this question at hand rises at the point where manual-like thinking can no longer be applied. "What was before time" is a koan in itself, and the metaphysical answers – when they are given, like here – are necessarily partly poetic in their language.
I tend to think this para-universe mathematically logical with its hierarchies, but when inspecting closer the divinities themselves the poetic language smooths the rigid logic.
Nefastos wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 2:53 pm
Considering Aeons is a good starting point of contemplation, though, for these Aeons are no only time pieces or cycles in time, but paratemporal ideas of sequences, i.e. divinities in ontological sequence. I just came up in the following in reading Dzielska's Hypatia:
Dzielska wrote:The powers of Destiny, the planetary spheres [which correspond to manvantaric cycles], are sustained by the lord of the immutable laws of the universe, the god of eternal time – Aion.


So, before "time" as we see it, in Platonic as well as Eastern hermeticism there is the idea of time, which is the asbtract concept of defined sequences: the unwinded clock machinery of cosmos and anti-cosmos (mahamanvantaric and manapralaya), which is like a deep meditation of Ein Sof the absolute God of creation and uncreation both.

If this sounds impossible to realize wholly, it is because it is impossible to realize wholly, like all concepts of ideas behind and beyond cosmogenetic action are. But the poetic "finger pointing to the moon" is there.
This idea of "paratemporal ideas of sequences, i.e. divinities in ontological sequence" as rulers of certain time periods draws clarity in to the subject, thank you. The Hypatia quote seems to suggest the seven races and seven periods of manvantara are ruled by a sequence of the seven planetary spirits. Maybe they have some lower aspect of them ruling over the race and another one ruling the time periods, or would you say it's plausible to see the planetary spirits themselves ruling these different layers? The line between micro- and macrocosm seems to blur when it comes to time, for time is subjective and atleast seemingly objective.
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Silvaeon » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:20 am

1. The Eternal Parent, wrapped in her ever invisible robes, had slumbered once again for seven eternities.

Interpreting symbolism has always been one of my weaker points, so I get great enjoyment while Blavatsky explains what is meant here. The Eternal Parent was obvious enough, but the "ever invisible robes" had me stumped. When she revealed them as the "mystic root of all matter, and of the universe" I started thinking about Mulaprakriti again, and was happy to see she mentions this word again shortly after. The rest of her commentary here dealing with numbers isn't very interesting to me. I actually prefer the abstract concepts to numbers.

2. Time was not, for it lay asleep in the infinite bosom of duration.

I'm actually finding this "time is bound to matter and consciousness, and is thus illusory" discussion interesting because I didn't find the concept in relation to time "sleeping" to cause me any problems. I think that over the last couple years of reading various books and discussions here in the brotherhood, I've become so used to alien concepts that don't necessarily feel "logical" right away. My approach when confronted with these sorts of things is to file them away in the back of my mind somewhere, and give them thought over the following days, weeks, months, (years?). Then the concept will either continue to elude me, or at some point I start to feel the idea intuitively or at least as possibility and start to grasp that "finger pointing at the moon" that Nefastos mentioned. It may not be possible for me to explain afterwards, as it's more of a feeling. So I'm not sure if this is the best approach or not, but it seems to work for me. Long thought patterns in the back of the mind eventually break down the rational parts demanding logic at the front, at least for me. I've greatly enjoyed all the comments on this thus far, so thanks everyone for keeping the brain going and especially Nefastos for shedding more light on this.
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Polyhymnia » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:50 pm

Silvaeon wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:20 am
My approach when confronted with these sorts of things is to file them away in the back of my mind somewhere, and give them thought over the following days, weeks, months, (years?). Then the concept will either continue to elude me, or at some point I start to feel the idea intuitively or at least as possibility and start to grasp that "finger pointing at the moon" that Nefastos mentioned. It may not be possible for me to explain afterwards, as it's more of a feeling.
I remember reading somewhere this exact thing and it being called "innerstanding". I'm slowly breaking free of the chains that bind and coming to understand that it's not just the brain that comes into play when absorbing knowledge.
"Limited love asks for possession of the beloved, but the unlimited asks only for itself." -Kahlil Gibran
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Silvaeon » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:11 am

Polyhymnia wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:50 pm
Silvaeon wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:20 am
My approach when confronted with these sorts of things is to file them away in the back of my mind somewhere, and give them thought over the following days, weeks, months, (years?). Then the concept will either continue to elude me, or at some point I start to feel the idea intuitively or at least as possibility and start to grasp that "finger pointing at the moon" that Nefastos mentioned. It may not be possible for me to explain afterwards, as it's more of a feeling.
I remember reading somewhere this exact thing and it being called "innerstanding". I'm slowly breaking free of the chains that bind and coming to understand that it's not just the brain that comes into play when absorbing knowledge.
Innerstanding, I like it! Or maybe abovestanding as opposed to understanding :lol:


3. Universal mind was not, for there were no Ah-hi to contain it.

I liked how Blavatsky begins by describing sleep for humans, where thought ceases on the physical plane during deep sleep, and then applies this to the larger concept of Pralaya. Continuing the trend of this first stanza of things that are "not" during Pralaya, the Ah-hi (Dyan-Chohans, celestial beings) are not yet present and it is through them that the divine thought manifests. So without the vehicle for manifestation, universal mind remains only as abstract possibility.

4. The seven ways to bliss were not. The great causes of misery were not, for there was no one to produce and get ensnared by them.

I think one of the things that is going to drive me nuts about this book is that a prior knowledge of eastern thought seems to be assumed, so concepts like "the seven ways to bliss", the "12 nidanas" and "4 truths" are mentioned here without her going into much detail about what they actually are. These are obviously deep concepts which merit in-depth analysis and contemplation which could lead one down a whole other rabbit hole, but I'm just going to assume they get brought up again later with more detail and explanation, and follow Blavatsky's main point for now. Those will be a project for another day. So, similar to the time discussion, as there is not yet any material consciousness, it cannot be ensared by the illusion of maya, nor be able to follow the seven ways to bliss, whatever they may be.
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Aquila » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:47 pm

Stanza 1

I will mostly try to follow the order of the paragraphs of the Stanza. The commentary on the first Stanza mostly lists things that don't exist at this point as the eternal Parent space can’t be described in any way. I have not much time to edit my text so forgive me for all the possible unclear parts or errors in interpretation :)

1. Blavatsky begins from the state where everything has returned to the unity behind all existence and it already gets clear at this point that there has been life and universes before and new ones will be born but at this point there is only that which can’t be described. It is interesting to note that spirit is the first differentiation from this eternal ”Parent space”. I would make a guess that this spirit is in someway the consciousness that starts to observe for there would be no differentiation if there was nothing that would begin this process. Of course it’s a bit problematic to say it this way because it is very far from our experience (though still very near) and we can think and express ourselves only within the context of linear time. If we could get behind our senses of time maybe we would notice that the ”alaya” or ”akasha” in meaning of eternal Parent space, the cause of all existence is everywhere and that the past, present and the future would all fall into one creation, the robes of oneness where we are like little spots in the weaves of the whole.

2. The illusion of time only begins with the differention when there is someone who begins to observe the otherness. Yet I am personally quite hesitant to even speak of illusion in any other sense but that which we ourselves unconsiously project to the world seemingly outside of us. The only illusion is the illusion of separation but the world, the universe is not illusion but holy as it is the robes of the eternal oneness of all. The idea of illusion is probably the one that most easily causes the error in thinking that there is something meaningless from which we can draw all the possible justifications to wrongful deeds.

3. Blavatsky is quite clear in describing the Ah-hi, the hierarchy of celestial and spiritual beings which contain the universal mind. I assume the universal mind is the sum of all these minds.

4. The development of the Ego is a series of awakenings which all bring larger understanding and sense of unity. These awakenings are reached by following the seven ways to bliss which in this primal state of Stanza 1 don’t exist. I guess then that these seven paths are something that manifest in all possible universes and that they are always the path back to unity and non-existence of the universe. Returning back to the second phrase above the future was merged with ideology. I think we could say that in the manifested universe of linear time, heading toward the future that is always the coming non-existence, it is these seven paths that are the root of all ideology, the way toward unity that in our linear time, before some final enlightenment and Nirvana, appears as our ideal goals. Of course these ideals get unclear and corrupted when we are under the illusion of separation.

5. Mother and Father, the male and female polarities of the root-nature are still one. Maybe this is the ”Parent space”, the non-existence, darkness from our point of view. If Son is the spirit and spirit the first differentiation from the eternal Parent, all existence is the pilgrimage of the Son, spirit, through the linear way of experiencing everything. I think of the gnostic idea that Christ is not born of the creator god but straight from the unity of Parent space, Father and Mother separated into to polarities to create the world that seems like a duality of matter and spirit but which after all is far from the actual truth of oneness.

6. I think these Seven Sublime Lords are the seven archetypes in their various manifestations. Of these Seven we are able to reach the first four at the moment as they only have given their manifestations on Earth and they are the first four states of adepthood. Blavatsky writes that these Seven Lords (or the first four of them?) will get more ample treatment later on in the book.

7. We return to ideas more closely related to original cause of existence which is the desire to exist. Blavatsky writes that this desire is caused by Nidana and Maya – Karma in a broad sense of the word and the cosmic illusion, the ability to observe the other. Blavatsky writes that the esoteric reason of existence forever lays hidden and I think it is something that could not be expressed in any words but only experienced by those who happen to get to that point in their path and of course everyone will get there sooner or later without a doubt.

8. - 9. Blavatsky repeats the content of earlier paragraphs in various ways here and compares the ideas of German transcendentalists and eastern philosophy. Some of this is very complicated but the main point seems to be the consciousness in everything, pan(en)theism.

Once again I feel that so many ideas could be found here that trying to write down some of them doesn’t do enough justice to the whole. I read through this part various times and during everyone of them I read something that I hadn’t notice the last time.
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Silvaeon » Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:31 am

5. Darkness alone filled the boundless all, for father, mother and son were once more one, and the son had not yet awakened for the new wheel and his pilgrimage thereon.

Trying to paraphrase here - As our senses cannot perceive primordial light, it appears to us as darkness. Darkness (really just another mode of light, hence one with it) is the background that we can perceive light against. Since during pralaya there is nothing separate from the Absolute either to give light or to perceive it, it appears as darkness (absolute light to those able to see). This interconnection of dark and light is important to me in my Satanism and something I ponder often.


Aquila wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:47 pm
Mother and Father, the male and female polarities of the root-nature are still one. Maybe this is the ”Parent space”, the non-existence, darkness from our point of view. If Son is the spirit and spirit the first differentiation from the eternal Parent, all existence is the pilgrimage of the Son, spirit, through the linear way of experiencing everything. I think of the gnostic idea that Christ is not born of the creator god but straight from the unity of Parent space, Father and Mother separated into to polarities to create the world that seems like a duality of matter and spirit but which after all is far from the actual truth of oneness.
This is how I started thinking of the sequence as well. I found Blavatsky's explanation here a bit confusing, because she starts by saying that the result of the union of the male and female root-nature principals is the universe, or Brahma. And then shortly after says that Brahma is father-mother-son, universe-planetary chain-earth and finally unknown deity-planetary spirit-man (man in this last one seeming to be a christ figure or logos like you mentioned) all at once. But actually just writing this out clarified it for me a bit, as we are currently dealing with pralaya and they are all in a state of oneness anyways and the semantics don't seem too necessary to worry about. "The son has not yet awakened" sort of reads to me now as both logos and brahma - both being absorbed in that state of oneness with the absolute. Hopefully I'm not too off-base here.

6. The seven sublime Lords and the seven Truths had ceased to be, and the Universe, the son of necessity, was immersed in Paranishpanna to be out-breathed by that which is and yet is not. Naught was.

Like Aquila also mentioned, I think the seven sublime lords could be interpreted as our seven celestial archetypes. "the seven creative spirits". As for currently only having four of the seven truths, this rings a bell from Fosforos I think. I'm looking forward to the deeper treatment this will get later in the book.

Paranishpanna seems to be a synonym of paranirvana, when ". . . everything becomes one, all individualities are merged into one, yet each knowing itself, a mysterious teaching indeed. But then, that which to us now is non-consciousness or the unconscious, will then be absolute consciousness" (theosophy wiki). This only occurs "at the end of the maha-manvantara, when the universal pralaya sets in". So, this is the state the universe finds itself in during the pralaya we're currently talking about. The universe is the "son of necessity" because it is an effect of the previous universe, a cause of the forthcoming, and so on. Blavatsky stresses the continuous chain and progress/development of each universe. And stresses once again the inhalation/exhalation of the great breath being the destruction/creation of universes. This breathing (motion) is one aspect of the Absolute, the others being abstract space and duration. Man there is a lot to take in in these little sections.
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Silvaeon » Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:15 am

7. The causes of existence had been done away with; the visible that was, and the invisible that is, rested in eternal non-being, the one being.

The desire for life is described as the result of the Divine Thought being propelled outwards into the universe - which has not yet occurred - so the "causes of existence had been done away with". The desire to exist also being described as an outcome of Maya awakens some questions in me, and I wish Blavatsky would have spent more time on this point since I'm not sure I grasp her meaning here. Is it that existence is more of a karmic necessity occurring with or without the "desire" to, making that desire illusion? The rest of her writing in this section makes sense to me though. I'm trying not to let myself get too hung up on the little things that lose me a bit, and keep my eyes on the bigger picture.


8. Alone, the one form of existence stretched boundless, infinite, causeless, in dreamless sleep; and life pulsated unconscious in universal space, throughout that All-Presence which is sensed by the Opened Eye of the Dangma.

Not too much to comment on here - Blavatsky continues driving home the points she's been making throughout this first Stanza. "The Opened Eye of the Dangma" is more or less described as the "third eye", "the faculty of spiritual intuition." It is only through cultivating this within ourselves that we're able to begin to sense the "all-presence".
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Aquila » Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:11 pm

Silvaeon wrote:
Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:31 am
Paranishpanna seems to be a synonym of paranirvana...
Yes, according to Theosophical Glossary this is correct. The use of different terms in different contexts is one of the causes that makes reading Secret Doctrine difficult sometimes. I think I tend to ignore some of the terms to make sure I get better understanding of what seems to be more important to grasp. I guess with more studying, more levels of the book can be uncovered.

So I guess Parabrahma is quite close to the non.manifested Parent space and Brahma is born when the first differentiation, the birth of spirit happens and creation begins. Paranirvana is the end of the day of Brahma as all beings have reached the state of Non-Being, Nirvana, until the desire of life caused by karma of the previous universe gets to the boiling point again and the creation begins once again. Might be clear to everyone else already but I try to get into the words by using them in some way :) If the Glossary's references are correct, there should be more information on these issues later in the book but we'll see.
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Re: Reading Circle (Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine)

Postby Polyhymnia » Sat Jun 22, 2019 9:35 am

Reading through everyone's interpretations has been wonderful. You all possess beautiful, thoughtful, and brilliant minds. There's alot of overlap with the discussion at hand and the notes in my version by Michael Gomes. Here are the book notes for 3 and 4.

3. ...Universal mind was not, for there were no ah-hi (celestial beings) to contain (hence to manifest) it.

"Mind is a name given to the sum of the states of Consciousness grouped under Thought, Will, and Feeling. During deep sleep, ideation ceases on the physical plane, and memory is in abeyance; thus for the time being 'Mind is not,' because the organ, through which the Ego manifests ideation and memory on the material plane, has temporarily ceased to function. The AH-HI (Dhyani-Chohans) are the collective hosts of spiritual beings- The Angelic Hosts of Christianity, the Elohim and 'Messengers' of the Jews- who are the vehicle for the manifestation of the divine or universal thought and will. They are the Intelligent Force that give to and enact in Nature her 'laws', while themselves acting according to laws imposed upon them in a similar manner by still higher powers; they are not 'the personifications' of the powers of Nature, as erroneously thought."

4. The Seven ways to bliss (Moksha or Nirvana) were not. The great causes of misery (Nidana and Maya) were not, for there was no one to produce and get ensnared by them.

"The twelve nidanas or causes of being. Each is the effect of its antecedent cause and a cause, in its turn, to its successor. Maya or illusion is an element which enters into all finite things, for everything that exists has only a relative, not an absolute, reality, since the appearance which the hidden noumenon assumes for any observer depends upon his power of cognition. As we rise on the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached 'reality'; but only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya."

I grabbed a book on understanding Eastern Philosophy and it describes the Nidanas as the process by which sensory experience leads to craving, karma and rebecoming, expressed as a series of 12 links in a chain, found on the Buddhist Wheel of Life image, running around the circumference of the wheel.

I found this diagram helpful.
Image
"Limited love asks for possession of the beloved, but the unlimited asks only for itself." -Kahlil Gibran

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