Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Nature of the Absolute


The Nature of the AbsoluteBy Manly P. Hall THE HOMERIC CHAIN The order of the gods of the three worlds, grouped in Chaldean triads, is here set forth according to the doctrines of Orpheus. This mystery was concealed by the first symbolists under the figures of the dot, the line, and the circle. To the mystic, the fables of the ancients are indeed resplendent with unsuspected truths. To define adequately the nature of the Absolute is impossible, for it is everything in its eternal, undivided, and unconditioned state. In ancient writings it is referred to as the NOTHING and the ALL. No mind is capable of visualizing an appropriate symbolic figure of the Absolute. Of all the symbols devised to represent its eternal and unknowable state a clean, blank sheet of paper is the least erroneous. The paper, being blank, represents all that cannot be thought of, all that cannot be seen, all that cannot be felt, and all that cannot be limited by any tangible function of consciousness. The blank paper represents measureless, eternal, unlimited SPACE. No created intelligence has ever plumbed its depths; no God has ever scaled its heights, nor shall mortal or immortal being ever discover the true nature of its substance. From it all things come, to it all things return, but it neither comes nor goes.Figures and symbols are pollutions drawn upon the unblemished surface of the paper. The symbols, therefore, signify the conditions that exist upon the face of SPACE or, more correctly, which are produced out of the substance of SPACE. The blank sheet, being emblematic of the ALL, each of the diagrams drawn upon it signifies some fractional phase of the ALL. The moment the symbol is drawn upon the paper, the paper loses its perfect and unlimited blankness. As the symbols represent the creative agencies and substances, the philosophers have declared that when the parts of existence come into manifestation the perfect wholeness of Absolute Being is destroyed. In other words, the forms destroy the perfection of the formlessness that preceded them. Symbolism deals with universal forces and agencies. Each of these forces and agencies is an expression of SPACE, because SPACE is the ultimate of substance,the ultimate of force, and the sum of them both. Nothing exists except it exists in SPACE; nothing is made except it is made of SPACE. In Egypt SPACE is called T A T.SPACE is the perfect origin of everything. It is not God; it is not Nature; it is not man; it is not the universe. All these exist in SPACE and are fashioned out of it, but SPACE is supreme. SPACE and Absolute Spirit are one; SPACE and Absolute Matter are one. Therefore SPACE, Spirit, and Matter are one. Spirit is the positive manifestation of SPACE; Matter is the negative manifestation of SPACE. Spirit and Matter exist together in SPACE. SPACE, Spirit, and Matter are the first Trinity, with SPACE the Father, Spirit the Son, and Matter the Holy Ghost. SPACE though actually undivided, becomes through hypothetical division Absolute (or Ultimate) Spirit, Absolute (or Ultimate) Intelligence, and Absolute (or Ultimate) Matter.The most primitive and fundamental of all symbols is the dot. Place a dot in the center of the sheet and what does it signify? Simply the ALL considered as the ONE, or first point. Unable to understand the Absolute, man gathers its incomprehensibility mentally to a focal point--the dot. The dot is the first illusion because it is the first departure from things as they eternally are--the blank sheet of paper. There is nothing immortal but SPACE, nothing eternal but SPACE, nothing without beginning or end but SPACE, nothing unchangeable but SPACE. Everything but SPACE either grows or decays, because everything that grows grows out of SPACE and everything that decays decays into SPACE. SPACE alone remains. Philosophically, SPACE is synonymous with Self (spelled with a capital S), because it is not the inferior, or more familiar, self. It is the Self which man struggles through all eternity to attain. Therefore the true Self is as abstract as the blank sheet of paper and only he who can fathom the nature of the blank paper can discover Self.The dot may be likened to Spirit. The Spirit is Self with the loss of limitlessness, because the dot is bound by certain limitations. The dot is the first illusion of the Self, the first limitation of SPACE even as Spirit is the first limitation of Self. The dot is life localized as a center of power; the blank paper is life unlimited. According to philosophy, the dot must sometime be erased, because nothing but the blank paper is eternal. The dot represents a limitation, for the life that is everywhere becomes the life that is somewhere; universal life becomes individualized life and ceases to recognize its kinship with all Being.After the dot is placed on the paper, it can be rubbed out and the white paper restored to its virgin state. Thus the white paper represents eternity and the dot, time; and when the dot is erased, time is dissolved back into eternity, for time is dependent upon eternity. Therefore in ancient philosophy there are two symbols: the NOTHING and the ONE--the white paper and the dot. Creation traces its origin from the dot--the Primitive Sea, the Egg laid by the White Swan in the fields of SPACE.If existence be viewed from the Self downward into the illusion of creation, the dot is the first or least degree of illusion. On the other hand, if existence be viewed from the lower, or illusionary, universe upward towards Reality, the dot is the greatest conceivable Reality. The least degree of physical impermanence is the greatest degree of spiritual permanence. That which is most divine is least mortal. Thus, in the moral sense, the greatest degree of good is the least degree of evil. The dot, being most proximate to perfection, is the simplest and, therefore, the least imperfect of all symbols.From the dot issues forth a multitude of other illusions ever less permanent. The dot, or Sacred Island, is the beginning of existence, whether that of a universe or a man. The dot is the germ raised upon the surface of infinite duration. The potentialities signified by the blank paper are manifested as active potencies through the dot. Thus the limitless Absolute is manifested in a limited way.When considering his own divine nature, man always thinks of his spirit as the first and greatest part of himself. He feels that his spirit is his real and permanent part. To the ancients, however, the individualized spirit (to which is applied the term I) was itself a little germ floating upon the surface of Absolute Life. This idea is beautifully brought out in the teachings of the Brahmins, Buddhists, and Vedantists. The Nirvana of atheistic Buddhism is achieved through the reabsorption of the individualized self into the Universal Self. In Sir Edwin Arnold’s Light of Asia, the thought is summed up thus: “Om, mani padme, hum! The daybreak comes and the dewdrop slips back into the shining sea.” The “dewdrop” is the dot; the “sea” the blank paper. The “dewdrop” is the individualized spirit, or I; the blank paper that Self which is ALL, and at the achievement of Nirvana the lesser mingles with the greater. Immortality is achieved, for that which is impermanent returns to the condition of absolute permanence.The dot, the line, and the circle are the supreme and primary symbols. The dot is Spirit and its symbol in the Chaldaic Hebrew--the Yod--is actually a seed or spermatozoon, a little comma with a twisting tail, representing the germ of the not-self. In its first manifestation the dot elongates to form the line. The line is a string of dots made up of germ lives--the monadic lives of Leibnitz. From the seed growing in the earth comes the sprig--the line. The line, therefore, is the symbol of the dot in growth or motion. The sun is a great dot, a monad of life, and each of its rays a line--its own active principle in manifestation. The key thought is: The line is the motion of the dot.In the process of creation all motion is away from self. Therefore there is only one direction in which the dot can move. In the process of return to the perfect state all motion is toward self, and through self to the Universal Self. Involution is activity outward from self; evolution is activity inward toward self. Motion away from self brings a decrease in consciousness and power. The farther the light ray travels from its source the weaker the ray. The line is the outpouring or natural impulse of life to expand. It may seem difficult at first to imagine the line as a symbol of general expansion, but it is simply emblematic of motion away from self--the dot. The dot, moving away from self, projects the line; the line becomes the radius of an imaginary circle, and this circle is the circumference of the powers of the central dot. Hypothetically, every sun has a periphery where its rays end, every human life a periphery where its influence ceases, every human mind a periphery beyond which it cannot function, every human heart a periphery beyond which it cannot feel. Somewhere there is a limit to the scope of awareness. The circle is the symbol of this limit. It is the symbol of the vanishing point of central energy. The dot symbolizes the cause; the line, the means; and the circle, the end.The AIN SOPH of the Hebrew Qabbalists is equivalent to the Absolute. The Jewish mystics employed the closed eye to suggest the same symbolism as that of the blank sheet of paper. The inscrutable NOTHING conveyed to the mind by the closing of the eyes suggests the eternal, unknowable, and indefinable nature of Perfect Being. These same Qabbalists called spirit the dot, the opened eye, because looking away from itself, the Ego (or I AM) beholds the vast panorama of things which together compose the illusionary sphere. However, when this same objective eye is turned inward to the contemplation of its own cause, it is confronted by a blankness which defies penetration.Only that thing which is permanent is absolutely real; hence, that unmoved, eternal condition so inadequately symbolized by the blank sheet of paper is the only absolute Reality. In comparison to this eternal state, forms are an ever-changing phantasmagoria, not in the sense that forms do not exist but rather they are of minor significance when compared to their ever-enduring source.While through lack of adequate terminology it is necessary to approach a definition of the Absolute from a negative point of view, the blank sheet of paper signifies not emptiness but an utter and incomprehensible fullness when an attempt is made to define the indefinable. Therefore the blank paper represents that SPACE which contains all existence in a potential state. When the material universe--whether the zodiac, the stars, or the multitude of suns dotting the firmament--comes into manifestation, all of its parts are subject to the law of change. Sometime every sun will grow cold, sometime every grain of cosmic dust will blossom forth as a universe and sometime vanish again. With the phenomenal creation comes birth, growth, and decay and the multifarious laws which have dominion over and measure the span of ephemerality. Omar Khayyam, with characteristic Oriental fatalism, writes:“One thing is certain and the rest is Lies;The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.”The illusions of diversity--form, place, and time--are classed by the Orientals under the general term Maya. The word Maya signifies the great sea of shadows--the sphere of things as they seem to be as distinguished from the blank piece of paper which represents the one and only THING as it eternally is. The mothers of the various World Saviors generally bear names derived from the word Maya, as for example, Mary; for the reason that the various redeeming deities signify realization born out of illusion, or wisdom rising triumphant from the tomb of ignorance. Philosophical realization must be born out of the realization of illusion. Consequently the Savior-Gods are born out of Maya and rise through many tribulations into the light of eternity.The keys to all knowledge are contained in the dot, the line, and the circle. The dot is universal consciousness, the line is universal intelligence, and the circle is universal force--the threefold, unknowable Cause of all knowable existence (the three hypostases of Atma). In man the spirit is represented by the dot and conscious activity or intelligence by the line. Conscious activity is the key to intelligence, because consciousness belongs to the sphere of the dot and activity to the sphere of the circle. The center and the circumference are thus blended in the connecting line--conscious activity or intelligence. The circle is the symbol of body and body is the limit of the radius of the activity of mind power pouring out of the substance of consciousness.In ancient philosophy the dot signifies Truth--Reality in whatever form it may take. The line is the motion of the fact and the circle is the symbol of the form or figure established in the inferior or material sphere by these superphysical activities. Take, for example, a blade of grass. Its form is simply the effect of certain active agents upon certain passive substances. The physical blade of grass is really a symbol of a degree of consciousness or a combination of cosmic activities. All forms are but geometric patterns, being the reactions set up in matter by mysterious forces working in the causal spheres. Conscious activity, working upon or brooding over matter, creates form. Matter is not form, because matter (like SPACE, of which it is the negative expression) is universally disseminated but, as is said in the ancient doctrine, the activity of life upon and through its substances curdles (organizes) matter so that it assumes certain definite forms or bodies. These organisms thus caused by bringing the elements of matter into intelligent and definite relationships are held together by the conscious agent manipulating them. The moment this agent is withdrawn the process of disintegration sets in. Disintegration is the inevitable process of returning artificial compounds to their first simple state. Disintegration may be further defined as the urge of heterogeneous parts to return to their primitive homogeneity; in other words, the desire of creation to return to SPACE. When the forms have been reabsorbed into the vast sea of matter, they are then ready to be picked up by some other phase of the Creative Agencies and molded afresh into vehicles for the material expression of divine potentialities.In its application to the divisions of human learning, the dot is the proper symbol of philosophy in that philosophy is the least degree of intellectual illusion. It is not to be inferred that philosophy is absolute truth but rather that it is the least degree of mental error, since all other forms of learning contain a greater percentage of fallacy. Nothing that is sufficiently tangible to be susceptible of accurate definition is true in the absolute sense; but philosophy, transcending the limitations of the form world, achieves more in its investigation of the nature of Being than does any other man-conceived discipline. A slight digression. The more complex the form, the farther removed it is from its source. As more marks are placed upon the white sheet of paper a picture is gradually created which may become so complicated that the white paper itself is entirely obscured. Thus the more diversified the creations, the less the Creator is discernible. Taking up the least possible space upon the paper, the dot detracts the least from the perfect expanse of the white sheet.Philosophy per se is the least confusing method of approaching Reality. When less accurate systems are employed a cobweb of contending and confusing complexities is spread over the entire surface of the blank paper, hopelessly entangling the thinker in the maze of illusion. As the dot cannot retire behind itself to explore the nature of the paper upon which it is placed, so no philosophy can entirely free itself from the involvements of mind. As man, however, must have some code by which to live, some system of thought which will give him at least an intellectual concept of ultimates, the wisest of all ages have contributed the fruitage of their transcendent genius to this great human need. Thus philosophy came into being.Like the dot, philosophy is an immovable body. Its essential nature never changes. When the element of change is introduced into philosophy, it descends to the level of theology or rather it is involved and distorted by the disciplines of theology. Theology is a motion, a mystical gesture as it were--it is the dot moving away from itself to form the line. Theology is not a fixed element like philosophy; it is an emotional element subject to numberless vicissitudes. Theology is emotional, changeable, violent, and at periodic intervals bursts forth in many forms of irrational excess. Theology occupies a middle ground between materiality and true illumined spirituality which, transcending religion, becomes a comprehension in part at least of divine concerns.As has already been suggested, the line is the radius of an imaginary circle, and when this circle is traced upon the paper we have the proper symbol of science. Science occupies the circumference of the sphere of self. The savant gropes in that twilight where life is lost in form. He is therefore unfitted to cope with any phase of life or knowledge which transcends the plane of material things. The scientist has no comprehension of an activity independent of and dissociated from matter, hence his sphere of usefulness is limited to the lower world and its phenomena. The physical body of what men call knowledge is science; the emotional body, theology; and the mental and supermental bodies, natural and mystical philosophy respectively. The human mind ascends sequentially from science through theology to philosophy, as in ancient days it descended from divine philosophy through spiritual theology to the condition of material science it now occupies.Consider the great number of people who are now leaving the church at the behest of science. Most of these individuals declare their reason for dissenting to the dictates of theology is that the dogma of the church has proved to be philosophically and scientifically unsound. The belief is quite prevalent that nearly all scientists are agnostics, if not atheists, because they refuse to subscribe to the findings of early theologians. Thus the mind must descend from credulity to absolute incredulity before it is prepared to assume the onus of individual thinking. On the other hand, the scientist who has really entered into the spirit of his labors has found God. Science has revealed to him a super theology. It has discovered the God of the swirling atoms; not a personal Deity but an all-permeating, all-powerful, impersonal Creative Agent akin to the Absolute Being of occult philosophy. Thus the little tin god on his golden throne falls to make way for an infinite Creative Principle which science vaguely senses and which philosophy can reveal in fuller splendor.The primitive symbols now under discussion bring to mind the subject of alphabets. The ancient Alphabet of Wisdom is symbolism and all the figures used in this supreme alphabet are taken out of the dot, the line, and the circle; in other words, are made up of various combinations of these elementary forms. Even the Arabic numerical system and the letters of the English alphabet are compounded from these first three figures. In Oriental mysticism there are certain objects considered particularly appropriate for subjects of meditation. One of the most important of the native drawings is that of a lotus bud carrying in its heart the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, the letter usually made resplendent by gold leaf. This letter as the first of the alphabet is employed to direct the mind of the devotee towards all things which are first, especially Universal Self which is the first of all Being and from which all Nature emerged as the letters are presumed to have come forth from the first of themselves. Thus from one letter issue all letters and from a comparatively small number of letters an infinite diversity of words, these words being the sound symbols which man has employed to designate the diversified genera of the mundane creation. The words were originally designed as sound-names and were so closely related to the objects upon which they were conferred that by an analysis of the word the mythical nature of the object could be determined.St. Irenæus describes the Greek cosmological man bearing upon his body the letters of the Greek alphabet. The sacredness of the letters is also emphasized in the New Testament where Christ is referred to as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. The letters of the alphabet are those sacred symbols through the combinations of which is created an emblem for every thought, every form, every element, every condition of material existence. Like the very illusional world whose phenomena they catalog, words, however, are slayers of the Real and the more words the less of the nature of Reality remains. In the introduction to The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky gives several examples of the ancient symbolic alphabets in which the Mystery teachings are preserved. Writing was originally reserved for the perpetuation of the Ancient Wisdom. Today the Mysteries still have their own language undefiled by involvement in the commercial and prosaic life of the unillumined. The language of the initiates is called the Senzar and consists of certain magical hieroglyphical figures by which the knowing of all lands communicated with each other.In the primordial symbols of the dot, the line, and the circle are also set forth the mysteries of the three worlds. The dot is symbolic of heaven, the line of earth, and the circle of hell--the three spheres of Christian theology. Heaven is represented by the dot because it is the first world or foundation of the universe. In its mystical interpretation, the word heaven signifies a “heaved up” or convoluted area and may be interpreted to mean that which is raised above or elevated to a state of first dignity. In a similar manner, the origin of the word salvation may be traced to saliva, though the kinship of the two words has long been ignored. Thus salvation signifies the process of mixing gross substance with a spiritual fluidic essence which renders it cosmically digestible and assimilable. Heaven is a figure of the superior state or condition of power and consequently is the proper symbol of the supreme part of the Deity out of whose substances (or, more correctly, essences) the lesser universe is composed. Heaven is the plane of the spiritual nature of God, earth the plane of the material nature of God, and hell that part of existence in which the nature of God (or good) is least powerful; it is the outer circumference of Deity. The Scandinavian hel-heim--the land of the dead--is a dark and cold sphere where the fires of life burned so low that it seemed as though they might at any moment flicker out. Thus hell may be defined as the place where the light fails or in which divine intelligence is so diluted by matter as to be incapable of controlling the manifestations of force. In the ancient Greek system of thought Hades, or the underworld, simply signifies the physical worlds. The Greeks conceived the physical universe to be that part of creation in which the light of God is most obscured and darkness not as primordial Reality but rather the absence of divine light. Darkness in this sense represents the privated darkness as distinguished from the darkness of the Absolute which includes the nature of light within its own being.So-called physical life begins at the point where matter dominates and inhibits the manifestations of energy and intelligence. Spirit, so-called, is only one-fifth as active in the physical world as it is in its own plane of unobstructed expression. Therefore the physical plane is simply a sphere in Nature wherein are blended four-fifths of inertia and one-fifth of activity. This does not mean that the inhabitants of this sphere are composed of four-fifths of material substances but rather that the greater part of their spiritual natures can find no medium of expression and, consequently, are latent. Thus the spiritual nature signified by the dot is inclosed or imprisoned within matter signified by the circle, the result being the various ensouled forms evolving through the material sphere.It may be well to summarize in the simple terminology of the Alexandrian Neo-Platonists, to whom the modern world is indebted for nearly all the great fundamentals of philosophy. If you were to turn to the diagram at the beginning of this chapter, you will note three circles in a vertical column and each horizontally trisected and overlapped. The upper circle signifies the power of the dot, the central circle the power of the line, and the lower circle the power of the circumference. Each of these circles contains its own trinity of potencies, which were called by the Chaldeans the Father, the Power, and the Mind. The three circles trisected give nine hypothetical panels or levels which signify the months of the prenatal epoch and also the philosophical epoch as given in the nine degrees of the Eleusinian Mysteries. By this symbolism is revealed much of the sacredness attached to the number 9. By the method of overlapping, however, the 9 is reduced to 7, the latter number constituting the rungs of the Mithraic or philosophic ladder of the gods--the links of the golden chain connecting Absolute Unity above (or within) with Absolute Diversity below (or without).The first trinity (the upper circle) consists of God the Father and the nature of His triple profundity; the second trinity (the middle circle), God the Son in His triple sphere of intellection; the third trinity (the lower circle), God the Holy Spirit, the Formator with His triple formative triad which is the foundation of the world. God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Christian triad, is synonymous with Jehovah, the racial God of the Jews; Shiva, the Destroyer-Creator of the Hindus; and Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld. A study of the form and symbols of Osiris reveals that the lower portion of his body is swathed in mummy wrappings, leaving only his head and shoulders free. In his helmet Osiris wears the plumes of the law and in one hand clasps the three scepters of the underworld--the Anubis-headed staff, the shepherd’s crook, and the flail. As the god of the underworld, Osiris has a body composed of death (the material sphere) and a living head rising out of it into a more permanent sphere. This is Jehovah, the Lord of Form, whose body is a material sphere ruled over by death but who Himself as a living being rises out of the dead not-self which surrounds Him. In India Shiva is often shown with his body a peculiar bluish white color. This is the result of smearing his person with ashes and soot, ashes being the symbol of death. Shiva is not only a destroyer in that he breaks up old forms and orders, but he is a creator in that, having dissolved an organism, he rearranges its parts and thus forms a new creature. As the bull was sacred to Osiris, was offered in sacrifice to Jehovah, and was also a favorite form assumed by the god Jupiter (considered the legend of Europa), so Nandi is the chosen vahan of Shiva. Shiva riding the bull signifies death enthroned upon, supported by, and moving in harmony with law; for the bull is the proper symbol of the immutability of divine procedure.It is now in order to consider the subject of recapitulation. The vision of Ezekiel intimates that creation consists of wheels within wheels, the lesser recapitulating in miniature the activities of the greater. In the diagram under consideration it is evident that by trisecting each of the smaller worlds or circles they are capable of division according to the same principle that holds good in connection with the three major circles. Thus as the first large circle itself is synonymous with the dot, so the upper panel of each of the trisected circles is also symbolic of the dot. Hence the upper panel of each circle is its spiritual part, the center panel its intellective or mediatory part, and the lower panel its material or inferior part. The entire lower circle ruled over by Zeus was designated by the Greeks the world, because it was wholly concerned with the establishment and generations of substances. The upper panel of the inferior world, partaking of the same analogy as the first world or upper circle (which it recapitulates in part) is termed the spirit of the world. The central panel, likewise recapitulating the central circle, becomes the mind or soul of the world, and the lower panel, recapitulating the lower circle, the body or form of the world. Thus spirit consists of a trinity of spirit, mind, and body in a spiritual state; mind of a spirit, mind, and body in a mental state; and form or body of a spirit, mind, and body in a material state. While Zeus is the God of Form he manifests as a trinity, his spiritual nature bearing the name Zeus. The intellective nature, soul or mediatory nature of Zeus is termed Poseidon and his lowest or objective material manifestation, Hades. As each of the Hindu gods possessed a Sakti (or a feminine counterpart signifying their energies), so Zeus manifests his potentialities through certain attributes. To these attributes were assigned personalities and they became companion gods with him over his world.The Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades triad of the Greeks is the Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto triad of the Romans. Jupiter may be considered synonymous with the spiritual nature of the sun which, according to the ancients, had a threefold nature symbolic of the threefold Creator of the world. The vital energy pouring from the hypothetical sea of subsolar space. In Neptune we have a parallel with the hypothetical ether of science, the super atmospheric air which is the vehicle of solar energy. Pluto becomes the actual gross chemical earth and his abode is presumed to be in dark, subterranean caverns where he sits upon his ancient throne in impenetrable and interminable gloom. The analogy of the dot, the line, and the circle again appears. Jupiter is the dot, Neptune the line, and Pluto the circle. Thus the life body of the sun is Jupiter; the light body of the sun, Neptune; and the fire body of the sun, Pluto ruling his inferno. It should be borne in mind continually that we are not referring to great universal realities but simply to those phases of cosmogony directly concerned with matter, which is the lowest and most impermanent part of creation. Over this inferior world with its form and its formative agents sits Jupiter, lord of death, generator of evil, the Demiurgus and world Formator, who with his twelve Titanic Monads (the Olympic pantheon) builds, preserves, and ultimately annihilates those things which he fashions in the outer sea of divine privation.It is noteworthy that the astronomical symbol of the sun should be the dot in a circle; for as can be deduced from the subject matter of this lecture, the dot, the circle and the hypothetical connecting line give a complete key to the actual nature of the solar orb. When Jupiter or Jehovah is called the lord of the sun, it does not necessarily mean the sun which is the ruler of this solar system; it means any one of the millions of universal suns which are functioning upon the plane or level of a solar orb. Jupiter manifests himself as a mystical energy which gives crops, perpetuates life, and bestows all the blessings of physical existence only to ultimately deprive mankind and his world of all these bounties. Jupiter is the sun of illusion, the light which lights the inferior creation but has nothing in common with that great spiritual light which is the life of man and the light of the world.According to the Gnostics, the Demiurgus and his angels represented the false light which lured souls to their destruction by causing them to believe in the permanence of matter and that life within the veil of tears was the true existence. According to philosophy, only those who rise above the light of the inferior universe to that great and glorious spiritual luminance belonging to the superphysical spheres can hope to discover everlasting life. The physical universe is therefore the body of Jupiter, Jehovah, Osiris, or Shiva. The sun is the pulsating heart of each of these deities and sun spots are caused (as H. P. Blavatsky notes) by the expansion and contraction of the solar heart at intervals of eleven years. In the Greek and Roman mythologies, Zeus or Jupiter is the chief of the twelve gods of Olympus. Olympus was a mythical mountain rising in the midst of the world. It is the dot or sun itself, for it is written that the tabernacle of the gods is in the skies. From the face of this sun shines a golden corona whose numberless fiery points are the countless gods who transmit the life of their sovereign lord and who are his ministers to the farthest corners of his empire. In the Hebrew philosophy, the rays of the sun are the hairs of the head and beard of the Great Face. Each hair is the radius of a mystical circle with the sun as the center and outer darkness as the circumference. It is curious that in Egypt the name of the second person of the triad--the manifester--should be Ray or Ra and his title, “the lord of light.” Ra bears witness, however, to his invisible and eternal Father, for the light of the sun is not the true sun but bears witness to the invisible source of the effulgency. Thus as the beams of the physical sun become the light of the physical body of existence, so the rays of the intellectual sun are the light of the mind; and all power, all vitality, and all increase come as the result of attunement to the fiery streamers of those divine beings to whom has been given the appellation of “the gods.”A few words at this time concerning the symbolism of Neptune. While Neptune is popularly associated with the sea, he occultly signifies the albuminous part of the great egg of Jupiter. In certain schools of Orphic mysticism, the inferior universe (like the supreme, all-inclosing sphere) is symbolized by an egg. This lesser egg has Jupiter for a yolk, Neptune for the albumen, and Pluto for the shell. It is therefore evident that Neptune is not associated with the physical element of water but rather with the electrical fluids permeating the entire solar system. He is also associated with the astral world, a sphere of fluidic essences and part of the mirror of Maya, the illusion. As the connective between Jupiter and Pluto, Neptune represents a certain phase of material intellect which, like the element of water, is very changeable and inconstant. Like water, Neptune is recognized as a vitalizer and life-giver and in the ancient Mysteries was associated with the germinal agents. The fish, or spermatozoon, previous to its period of germination, was under his dominion.Descending from the sphere of cosmology to the life of the individual, it is important that certain analogies be made between Jupiter as the lord of the world and the microcosmic Jupiter who is the lord of each individual life. That which in our own nature we call I is, according to mysticism, not the real I or Self but the Jupiterian or inferior I--the demiurgic self; it may even be said to be the false self which, by accepting as real, we elevate to a position greater than it is capable of occupying. A very good name for Jupiter is the human spirit as differentiated from the divine spirit which belongs to the supermaterial spheres. In man Jupiter has his abiding place in the human heart, while Neptune dwells in the brain, and Pluto in the generative system. Thus is established the formative triad in the physical nature of man. As the physical universe is the lowest and least permanent part of existence, so the physical body is the lowest and least permanent part of man. Above the lord of the body with his Æons or angels is the divine mind and all-pervading consciousness. The body of man is mortal, though his divine parts partake to a certain degree of immortality. Over the mortal nature of man rules an incarnating ego which organizes matter into bodies and by this organization foredooms them to be redistributed to the primordial elements. As Jupiter had his palace on the summit of Mount Olympus, so from his glorious cardiac throne on the top of the diaphragm muscle he rules the body as lord of the human world. Jupiter in us is the thing we have accepted as our true Self, but meditation upon the subject matter of this lecture will disclose the true relationship between the human self and the Universal ALL of which it is a fragmentary yet all-potential part.Recognizing Jupiter to be the lord of the world, or the incarnating ego which invests itself in universal matter, it then becomes evident that the two higher spheres of trinities of divine powers constitute the Hermetic anthropos, or non-incarnating overman. This majestic and superior part, consisting of the threefold darkness of Absolute Cause and the threefold light or celestial splendor, hovers over the third triad consisting of the threefold world form, or triune cosmic activity. The highest expression of matter is mind, which occupies the middle distance between activity on the one hand and inertia on the other. The mind of man is hypothetically considered to consist of two parts: the lower mind, which is linked to the demiurgic sphere of Jupiter, and the higher mind, which ascends towards and is akin to the substance of the divine power of Kronos. These two phases of mind are the mortal and immortal minds of Eastern philosophy. Mortal mind is hopelessly involved in the illusions of sense and substance but immortal, or divine, mind, transcending these unrealities, is one with truth and light. Here we have a definite key to several misunderstood concepts as now promulgated through the doctrines of Christian Science.Since intelligence is the highest manifestation of matter, it is logically the lowest manifestation of consciousness, or spirit, and Jupiter (or the personal I) is enshrined in the substances of mortal mind where he controls his world through what man is pleased to term intellect. The Jupiterian intellect, however, is that which sees outward or towards the illusions of manifested existence, whereas the higher, or spiritual, mind (which is latent in most individuals) is that superior faculty which is capable of thinking inward or towards profundities of Self; in other words, is capable of facing towards and gazing upon the substance of Reality. Thus the mind may be likened to the two-faced Roman god Janus. With one face this god gazes outward upon the world and with the other inward towards the sanctuary in which it is enshrined. The two-faced mind is an excellent subject for meditation. The objective, or mortal, mind continually emphasizes to the individual the paramount importance of physical phenomena; the subjective, or immortal, mind if given opportunity for expression combats this material instinct by intensifying the regard for that which transcends the limitations of the physical perceptions.Subservient to Jupiter who, bearing his thunderbolt and accompanied by his royal eagle, is indeed the king of this world, are Neptune and Pluto. The god Neptune, of course, is not to be regarded either as the planet or as an influence derived from the planet, but as the lord of the middle sphere of the inferior world. In man the middle sphere between mind and matter is occupied by emotion or feeling. The instability of human emotion is well symbolized by the element of water which is continually in motion and whose peaceful surface can be transformed into a destroying fury by forces moving above its broad expanse. This emotional nature of man is closely associated with the astral light or magical sphere of the ancient and mediæval magicians. In this plane illusion is particularly powerful. As one writer has wisely observed, “It is a land of beauty, a garden of flowers but a serpent is entwined about the stem of each.” Among the Oriental mystics this sphere of the astral light is considered particularly dangerous, for those who are aspiring to an understanding of spiritual mysteries are often enmeshed in this garden of Kundry and, believing that they have found the truth, are carried to their destruction by the flow of this astral fluid.Riding in his chariot drawn by sea-horses and surrounded by nereids riding upon sporting dolphins, Neptune carries in his hand the trident, a symbol common to both the lord of illusion and the red-robed tempter. Neptune is the lord of dreams and all mortal creatures are dreamers; all that mankind has accomplished in the countless ages of its struggle upward towards the light is the result of dreaming. Yet if dreams are not backed up by action and controlled by reason they become a snare and a delusion, and the dreamer drifts onward into oblivion in a mystic ecstasy. You will remember that according to Greek mythology there was a river called the Styx which divided the sphere of the living from that of the dead. This river is the mysterious sea of Neptune which all men must cross if they would rise from material ignorance into philosophic illumination. This Neptunian sea may be likened to the ethers which permeate and bind together the material elements of Nature. The sphere of Neptune is a world of ever-moving fantasy without beginning and without end, a mystical maze through which souls wander for uncounted ages if once caught in the substances of this shadowy dreamland.The lowest division of the Jupiterian sphere is under the dominion of Pluto, the regent of death. Pluto is the personification of the mass physical attitude of all things towards objective life. Pluto may be termed the principle of the mortal code, in accordance with which Nature lives and moves and has her being. Pluto may also be likened to an intangible atmosphere, permeated with definite terrestrial instincts. Unconsciously inhaling this atmosphere, men are enthused by it and accept it as the basis of living. Those creatures who are controlled by the Plutonic miasma contract a peculiar mental and spiritual malaria which destroys all transcendental instinct and spiritual initiative, leaving the individual a psychical invalid already two-thirds a victim of the Plutonic plague. As Plato so admirably says, “The body is the sepulcher of the soul,” and whereas Neptune is symbolic of the astral or elemental soul (which is a mysterious emanation from elementary Nature) Pluto is the god of the underworld, the deity ruling the spheres of the mysterious circle of being and therefore represents the lowest degree of Jupiterian light which is physical matter. Hades, or the land of the dead, is simply an environment resulting from crystallization. Everything that exists in a crystallized state furnishes the environment of Hades for whatever life is evolving through it. Thus the lower universe is ruled over by three apparently heartless gods--birth, growth, and decay. From their palaces in space these deities hurl the instruments of their wrath upon hapless humanity and elementary Nature. But he who is fortunate enough to escape the thunderbolts of Jove will yet fall beneath the trident of Neptune or be torn to pieces by the dogs of Father Dis (Pluto). The ancient Greeks occasionally employed a centaur to represent man, thus indicating that out of the body of the beast which feels upon its back the lash of outrageous destiny rises a nobler creature possessed of God-given reason, who through sheer force of innate Divinity shall become master of those who seek to bind him to a mediocre end.While on the subject of the dot, the line, and the circle, there is one very simple application of the principle which we insert in order to emphasize the analogies existing through the entire structure of human thought. Take a simple problem in grammar. The noun, which is the subject of the sentence, is analogous to the dot; the verb, which is the action of the subject, is analogous to the line; and the object, which is the thing acted upon, is analogous to the circle. These analogies may also be traced through music and color and through the progression of chemical elements. Always the trinity of the dot, the line, and the circle has some correspondent, for it is the basis upon which the entire structure of existence and function--both universal and individual--has been raised. Consider this fundamental symbolism, philosophize upon it, dream about it, for an understanding of these symbols is the beginning of wisdom. There is no problem whether involved with the simple mechanism of an earthworm or the inconceivably complex mechanism of a universe that has not been constructed upon the triangular foundation of the dot, the line, and the circle. These are the proper symbols of the creative, preservative, and disintegrative agencies which manifest the incomprehensible Absolute before temporary creation.The three worlds we have outlined are the supreme, the superior, and the inferior worlds of the Orphic theology as revealed by Pythagoras and Plato. The supreme world is the sphere of the one indivisible and ever-enduring Father; the superior world is the sphere of the gods, the progeny of the Father; and the inferior world is the sphere of mortal creatures who are the progeny of the gods. “Therefore,” says Pythagoras, “men live in the inferior world, God in the supreme world, and the men who are gods and the gods who are men, in the intermediate plane.” You will recall that it was said of Pythagoras by his disciples that there were of two-footed creatures three kinds: gods, men, and Pythagoras. It should be inferred that the dot represents the gods, the circle men, and the line connecting them Pythagoras, or the personification of that superhuman wisdom which binds Cause and Effect inextricably together and which is the hope of salvation for the lesser. The Deity dwelling in the supreme world and which the Platonists termed the One, was, according to the Scandinavians, All-Father, the sure foundation of being. In India it was Brahma and in Egypt, Ammon. The line always represented the Savior-Gods, they being the eldest sons or firstborn of intangible Deity. The line bears witness of the dot as the light bears witness of the life. All this gives a clue to the statement in the New Testament, “Whoso hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father; for the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son.” In other words, whoso hath seen the line, hath seen the dot; for the dot is in the line and the line is in the dot. In the ancient Jewish rites the line was Michael, the archangel of the sun; in Scandinavia, Balder the Beautiful.It is to the lower world of men that the light (the dot pouring into the line), personified as the Universal Savior, descends to redeem consciousness from the darkness of a living grave (the circumference of the circle). The Mystery God who lifted souls to salvation through his own nature thus represents the line, the divine symbol of the way of achievement; for it is written that none shall come unto the Father save by the Son and none of those creatures dwelling in the circumference can reach the center or dot save by ascending the hypothetical line of the radius. The line is the bridge connecting Cause with Effect. In Immanuel Kant’s philosophy we find the dot designated the noumenon and the circumference the phenomenon; the former the Reality, the latter the unreality. The line (the human mind) must ever be the agency that bridges the void between them.In the Platonic philosophy there are three manners of being: (1) gods, or those most proximate to the Absolute, who dwell within the nature of the dot; (2) men, or those who are most distant from the Absolute, who dwell in the circumference of the circle; (3) the heroes and the demigods, who are suspended between Divinity and humanity and who dwell in the sphere of the line. So, according to philosophy, the line is a ladder up which man ascends to light from his infernal state and down which he descends in his involution. The fall of man is the descent of the ladder from the dot to the circumference; the resurrection or redemption of man is his return from the circumference to the dot. Of such importance are these primary symbols that we have felt it absolutely necessary to devote the introductory lectures of this series to the subject of the dot, the line, and the circle. It should ever be borne in mind that the veneration for symbols is not idolatry, for symbols are formulated to clarify truths which in their abstract form are incomprehensible. Idolatry consists in the inability of the mind to differentiate between the symbol and the abstract principle for which it stands. If this definition be accepted, it can be proved that there are very few truly idolatrous peoples. Philosophically, the literalist is always an idolater. He who worships the letter of the law bows down to wood and stone, but he who comprehends the spirit of the law is a true worshipper before the measureless altar of eternal Nature upon which continually burns the spirit fire of the world.Excerpt from:LECTURES ON ANCIENT PHILOSOPHYAN INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDYAND APPLICATION OF RATIONAL PROCEDUREBy MANLY P. HALL1929

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