The Notion of God in the Theosophical Doctrine

/The Notion of God in the Theosophical Doctrine
The Notion of God in the Theosophical Doctrine2018-12-08T13:28:14+00:00

The Notion of God in the Theosophical Doctrine

Sunday, 07 October 2007

Esotericism, pure and simple, speaks of no personal God; therefore are we considered as Atheists. But, in reality, Occult Philosophy, as a whole, is based absolutely on the ubiquitous presence of God, the Absolute Deity; and if It itself is not speculated upon, as being too sacred and yet incomprehensible as a Unit to the finite intellect, yet the entire philosophy is based upon Its divine Powers as being the source of all that breathes and lives and has its existence. In every ancient religion the One was demonstrated by the many. In Egypt and India, in Chaldea and Phoenicia, and finally in Greece, the ideas about Deity were expressed by multiples of three, five and seven; and also of eight, nine and twelve great Gods which symbolized the powers and properties of the One and Only Deity. This was related to that infinite subdivision by ireegular and odd numbers to which the metaphysics of these nations subjected their ONE DIVINITY. Thus constituded, the cycle of the Gods had all the qualities and attributes of the ONE SUPREME AND UNKOWABLE; for in this collection of divine personalities, or rather of symbols personified, dwells the One God, the God One, that God which, in India, is said to have no Second: “Oh God Ani (the Spiritual Sun), thou residest in the agglomeration of thy divine personages.”[1]

These words show the belief of the ancients that all manifestation proceeds from one and the same source, all emanating from the one identical principle which can never be completely developed except in and through the collective and entire aggregate of its emanations.“[2]

The notion of God and its definition undoubtedly constitutes a major problem, which is mainly due to man’s inability to grasp the meaning and hence to express it in words. The existence of Divinity represents, for the majority of mankind, an abstract state impossible to be grasped by reason, so abstact and undefined that it finally loses any relation with man. What is left from Divinity is fear and awe towards It, many times indiference to It and a series of moral teachings and religious rituals, which remind us of Its existence on earth.

Even scholars, who are more or less familiar with religious and philosophical matters, find themselves in the awkward position to answer to the relative issue, if challenged by questions. The notion of God is not clear and it is not only about the existence or non-existence of God, but also about His Hypostasis, about what it is and how it functions. Certainly, monotheistic religions have played a negative part as to that matter, because they present Divinity by means of a personalized divine shape, excluding any interpretation or analysis of Its existence. Polytheistic religions are closer to the nature of Divinity, since through a series of gods and goddesses, they symbolize the Divine Forces which derive from Divinity.

In the texts of the Theosophical Doctrine, there is continuous mention of the nature of Divinity, because it constitutes the Receptacle from which derive all manifested things, and this fact is the foundation of knowledge about the unity of life. Let us not forget that the Theosophical doctrine is the path of Knowledge and Action, and whatever is given through it, aims at the enlargement of consciousness, based on the ability of human soul to perceive and comprehend ideas and symbols. Thus, the definition of Divinity, of God, of Gods and Powers and the differences that exist among them, are mentioned in detail, so that the researcher learns about the attributes of each Divine rank and discover their corresponding dominations.

For Ancient Wisdom, the term Divinity means the unlimited and abstract Space, which exists without borders and temporal limits, without beginning and end, has been in existence from eternity to eternity and contains the ether or the Essence of Space, from which derive all the beings and things of the Cosmos. By the term ether is meant the essence-matter called Moula-prakriti, where moula is the root and prakriti is the matter. According to Theosophical Doctrine, the content of the Space, is “Chaos – Theos – Kosmos“[3]

Chaos, Theos and Cosmos, is the triple Divinity and represent the whole universe. From this trinity spring a whole series of opposites during the period of Cosmic Awakening and this emanation is symbolized by the line of gods and goddesses. In the mean time, the same trinity, during the period of withdrawal and sleep, represents the inconceivable and unknown Divinity. Man can acquire knowledge of It, only through correlations and the outcome of the ultimate and ever Unknown Monad into the visible plane.

The Aryan, Hermetic, Orphic, and Pythagorean cosmogonical doctrines, as well as those of Sanchoniathon and Berosus, are all based upon one irrefutable formula, viz., that the aether and chaos, or, in the Platonic language, mind and matter, were the two primeval and eternal principles of the universe, utterly independent of anything else. The former was the all-vivifying intellectual principle; the chaos, a shapeless liquid principle, without “form or sense” from the union of which two sprung into existence the matter becoming its body, and ether its soul.“[4]

Democritus and Leucipes taught that the first principles of the things contained by the Universe, were atoms and void. But void – in occult philosophy – is inactive substance set into motion by the Divine Will, that is the hidden Divinity, Nil or Chaos. For the Pythagoreans and Plato, Chaos was “the Soul of the Cosmos“. And out of It became the Universe by taking the Dodecahedral shape, while its “first born” was born out of Chaos and the Primordial Light.

The “First Born” is the “Supreme God” also called “Unmanifested Logos” and is the Son of Divinity. Because “Deity is not God. It is NOTHING and DARKNESS. It is nameless, and therefore called Ain-Soph – the word Ayin meaning nothing.“[5]

Brahma is God, who appears out of Chaos or the great “Abyss” or the Waters over which the Spirit moves and hovers silently into the first stage of Awakening. “And the spirit of God moved over the waters…” is mentioned in the Book of Genesis.

This Firstborn Spirit, the Unrevealed Logos is a ray from the Abyss, called Parabrahman by the Indians. Out of the Unrevealed Logos and Its triune Existence, appears the Manifested Logos, the Architect of the Universe or God the Creator.

In ethnic cosmogonies, those who configurate Cosmos from Chaos, are the “Architects“, who constitute collectively the Creator. These are the Gods, that is the Divine Powers into which the Creator splits in order to form the Universe.

In Esoteric philosophy the Demiurge or Logos, regarded as a Creator, is simply an abstract term, an idea like ‘army’. As the latter is the all-embracing term for a body of active forces or working units – soldiers – so is the Demiurge the qualitative compound of a multitude of creators or builders.“[6] And goes on: “…As soon as DARKNESS – or rather that which is “darkness” for ignorance – has disappeared in its own realm of eternal Light, leaving behind itself only its divine manifested Ideation, the creative Logoi have their understanding opened, and they see in the ideal world (hitherto concealed in the divine thought), the archetypal forms of all, and proceed to copy and build or fashion upon these models forms evanescent and transcendent…At this stage of action, the Demiurge is not yet the Architect…he has yet to first perceive the plan, to realize the ideal forms which lie buried in the bosom of Eternal Ideation…“[7]

These Divine Powers who, as Architects, carry out the Divine Ideal with the help of an infinitude of smaller forces that emanate from them, are called by the people in Asia and the Mediterranean basin “gods and goddesses“, while by the Indian Mythology – “Deva“. However, these terms do not cover Beings of the same consciousness. Especially the term “Deva” refers to different hierarchies of Beings, including divine, spiritual, mental, astral and elemental existences. As for the term “god“, it refers to the monad, or the individuality or the Being who is born and has its roots in the spiritual area of Cosmos and is self-conscious as to all those powers – from spiritual to physical ones – that are projected by this Being.

These Beings are divided into two classes out of which appear the seven ranks of Gods, that are considered divine for two reasons : a) because of their origin, i.e. they are offsprings of the spiritual plane and b) because they are fully aware Beings, active in the Luminous Arch and belong to the divine and higher spiritual planes. The latter are Monads that came through all the differentiated stages of manifested life and – through individual effort and free will choices – succeeded in ascending the Ladder of Evolution. By conquering all the stages of consciousness and self-consciousness, they were transformed into full-blown gods.

When a Universe or One Cosmic Monad comes into manifestation, at the beginning of the Cosmic Awakening, it appears to emanate from its Non-manifested Source and initiates its manvataric activity within the highest divine planes of Creation. “When the moment of an active period comes, then occurs a physical expansion of the divine essence, from within out, which obeys to the eternal and immutable law; and it is from this eternal and infinite light (which is darkness to us) that a spiritual essence emanated.“[8]

This Cosmic Monad – the Manifested Logos or the Creator and Architect – is a sum of Monads that constitute Its veils or planes, through which It will appear as Universe. “The esoteric meaning of the word Logos … is the rendering in objective expression, as in a photograph, of the concealed thought. The Logos is the mirror reflecting DIVINE MIND, and the Universe is the mirror of the Logos, though the latter is the esse of that Universe.“[9]

Each veil-plane is a world made up of monads, of which some first appear within the plane and are then called Elemental[10] and other are Monads that have developed the principle of the plane and are found within its space.

The Elemental is the monad made up from the substance of the plane in which it was born, but it has not developed the principle of the plane yet. The Elemental Monads of the Divine plane only possess the essence, not the divine self-consciousness as well. They are Cosmic Divine Elementals. They are made up from the Unique Essence, which is the essence of the Divine plane.

Meanwhile, the God-Monads are those which developed the divine principle and consciousness during the previous manvantara; during a next or the present manvantara, they may surpass this divine plane as well, and penetrate a superior world. During this manvantara, the God-Monads become Centres of Power and Life from which other Monads emanate, thus configurating megacosmi and microcosmi on a seven-step ladder of differentiation from the divine, the spiritual, the buddhic, the manasic, the astral up to the physical plane. Under their guidance moves the world of the Divine Elementals, which are the workers that build the new Universe.

On the ladder of differentiation, Gods hold the first place, while at each next plane the Monad – taking a veil from its matter – acquires yet another kind of consciousness, rendering each time one different principle out of the seven. Thus, on the descending arch of life, the following ladder is configurated:

1. Gods, whose nature is pure Monadic Essence and have acquired full self-consciousness, after having developed the seven principles through all the planes of objectivity. In the triple shape/scheme of Evolution, they belong to the plane of Monadic Essence. 2. Monads. They are the wrappings of the Monadic Essence. 3. Ego, which is the wrapping of the Monads. 4. Souls, which are Monads of the Mental plane. 5. Life-Atoms, which are the monads of the Astral plane. 6. Atoms, which are the monads of the Physical plane.

In order to become aware of the place of Gods on the ladder of manifestation, we quote the descending differentiation of the Principles of Consciousness, according to which the Hierarchies of Spiritual and Intelligent Beings are configurated:

1. Adi-Buddhi, the plane of Absolute Wisdom. 2. Maha-Buddhi, or Great Universal Nous. “It is Mahat or Mahabuddhi, the Great Soul, the vehicle of Spirit, the first primeval reflection of the formless Cause, and that which is even beyond SPIRIT.”[11] 3. DaiviPrakriti-Universal Light, the bright matter, the Light of the Non-manifested Logos “…which formed the nuclei of all the ‘self-moving’ orbs in Kosmos….it is the original, primordial prima materia, divine and intelligent, the direct emanation of the Universal Mind.”[12] 4. Seven Sons of the Seven Logoi-Light of Life, they are “The primordial seven, the first seven breaths…produce in their turn from their holy circumgyrating breaths the fiery Whirlwind”.[13] 5. Dyani-Buddhas, the Celestial Buddhas, each of them in charge of a Round. “They are…the eternal prototypes of the Buddhas who appear on this earth, each of whom has its particular prototype.”[14] 6. Dyani-Bodisattvas, are the shadows-offprints of Dyani-Buddha, each of them in charge of a sphere of life of the planetary chain. 7. Super-terrestrial Bodisattvas, projections of the previous and in charge of the seven Root-Races. 8. Terrestrial Buddhas (Manushya-Buddhas), the representatives of Hierarchy on earth. 9. Men, they are the first group of the Hierarchy on the ascending ladder, because a) there is a direct connection between the First Seven and man, and b) in order to reach the highest stages of the Hierarchy, one has to previously go successfully through the stage of humankind.

The last paragraph refers to the the connection between man and the Seven First Logoi, which are his Gods. Each God – the core of the Monadic Essence – is a Centre of Consciousness, which is continuously and ceaselessly active. This activity is expressed by rays which emanate from the core of the Divine Monad. It continuously radiates a flow of divine, spiritual, mental and other energies. These rays penetrate the substance-matter surround it and thus form beings of different ranks of consciousness. If the Beings thus formed are able to express the Monadic Essence, then they are perfect and divine. If not, they are found in a lower kind of consciousness, which means that they do not express fully the Monadic Essence that they potentially carry.

Each man is a divine monad, surrounded by the ray-monads of which the human one is the latest and the most external. Each monad is the centre of a body, which shapes it by attracting atoms and life-atoms from the Elemental reign. Each man is a ray from the paternal Monad of the human being and represents a part of the whole which is continuously developing its awareness, while the same atom, itself a monad, will project its rays in the future in order to form its own cosmos, organ, micro-universe. Each man is essentially a sparkle of divine, spiritual, mental, astral and physical consciousness. They all exist surrounded by one another, and what we call ‘an evolutive aim’, is the progressive release of the superior from the inferior.

From the Divine Monad a macrocosmos unfolds, as from its core emanates the ray which forms around itself a veil through which it can manifest a part of its actions at a lower level. This body, vehicle or veil, is clad in another veil, and this goes on until the physical body is created. Thus, while our  God is the Paternal Monad, for the body and the consciousness we belong to, we are the gods of the atom-monads that constitute our bodies.

The triad Chaos-Theos-Cosmos and its corresponding God-Monads-Atoms, renders the formation of Cosmos with Gods as ringleaders, who appear out of Chaos, that is out of the root of matter, where during cosmic obscurity and constraint, nestles the germ of Consciousness. Out of Greek Chaos or Indian Parabrahman or Divinity, appears a ray, a Light, which is the First Born from whom emanate in turn, as already mentioned, the Architects of Cosmic Life. Gods are the Divinities who exist within the Plane of Monadic Essence.

Each one is a Centre of Power, Wisdom and Active Emanation, and configurates a Universe according to the aspect of the Divine Thought, which takes it upon itself to see to its execution. God and Gods are found beneath the Universal Nous and above all subdimensions up to the physical. There are different kinds and sizes of Gods, because the least evolved monad considers its god the more evolved one. However, for Theosophical doctrine, god is the entity which has gone through the whole ascending ladder of the seven planes of subjectivity, and hovers between objectivity and subjectivity. For that reason it represents the beginning of the sevenfold differentiation. Its future is the development of its Monadic Essence, which enables it to penetrate higher cosmic planes, which represent the veils of Unmanifested Logos.

The gods, i.e., spiritual entities, are the higher inhabitants of Nature. They are an intrinsic part of Nature itself, for they are its informing Principles; they are as much subject to the wills of still higher Beings – call these wills the “laws” of higher beings, if you will – as we are, and as are the animals below us. We are gods to the beings composing our bodies. The atoms in our body are, in their way, conscious, and we are like gods to them. And what they might call the “laws of nature” are what we think and what we will. Nature is conscious from beginning to end, in varying degrees’ although in reality there is no “beginning” and no “end”, which are vain dreams.“[15]

In the Key to Theosophy, the following are mentioned by H.P.Blavatsky: “We believe in a Universal Divine Principle, the root of All, from which all proceeds, and within which all shall be absorbed at the end of the great cycle of Being… When we speak of the Deity … the eternal and uncreate Nature is meant… In short, our Deity is the eternal, incessantly evolving, not creating, builder of the universe; that universe itself unfolding out of its own essence, not being made… It is the one Law, giving the impulse to manifested, eternal, and immutable laws, within that never-manifesting, because absolute, Law, which in its manifesting periods is The Ever-Becoming.“[16]

As for the notion of God, it is mentioned by H.P.B: “God is a universally diffused, infinite principle,… We call our “Father in heaven” that deific essence of which we are cognizant within us, in our heart and spiritual consciousness…“[17]

[1] Apud Grebaut Papyrus Orbiney, p. 101
[2] Instruction/guidance/advice no. II, towards the Esoteric School, by E.P.B., p. 57-8, in “Collected Writings“, p. 569-70.
[3] S.D. I, 342
[4] Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 341
[5] S.D. I, 350
[6] S.D. I, 380, footnote
[7] S.D. I, 380
[8] Idra Zutah, ii (Zohar), excerpt from “Isis Unveiled“, II, p. 213
[9] S.D. II, 25
[10] elemental: a life cente or a primordial atom which begins its life-cycle within the matter
[11] S.D. I, 421
[12] S.D. I, 602
[13] S.D. Stanza V
[14] S.D. I, 108
[15] “Principles of Esoteric Philosophy“, by G. de Purucker, p. 171, Main Document Only
[16] Key to Theosophy, p. 77-9
[17] Key to Theosophy, p. 81-2