Monday, 23 December 2019

Introduction to the Metaphysics of the Secret Doctrine 3/3

3-Divine Thought
Another term for Cosmic Ideation is Divine Thought, which becomes the third major principle. Divine Thought is far higher than human thinking and is considered in terms of a transcendent, absolute wisdom, more akin to the human faculty of intuition:
Cosmic Ideation, MAHAT or Intelligence, the Universal World-Soul; the Cosmic Noumenon of Matter, the basis of the intelligent operations in and of Nature, also called MAHA-BUDDHI. (SD I, 16). (SD I, 1-2 Fn).
Mahat (Sk.). Lit., “The great one”. The first principle of Universal Intelligence and Consciousness. In the Purânic philosophy the first product of root-nature or Pradhâna (the same as Mulaprakriti); the producer of Manas the thinking principle, and of Ahankâra, egotism or the feeling of “I am I” (in the lower Manas) (Theosophical Glossary).
Cosmic Ideation, Universal Mind and the Indian term Mahat are prevalent equivalent terms, although not given elaborate explanations. Three general definitions are given:
A-The Unknown Deity (akin to the Hidden Deity or Unrevealed Deity)
a-Divine Thought in an abstract sense is difficult to define. It can be spiritually sensed in the manifested world, and described as the source and determining factor over substance, hence considered as a Deity at the most abstract and transcendent, the Unknown Deity (SD I, 327).
b-Therefore when all forms of substance have been dissolved, mind is said to no longer have any existence. Not that it is completely annihilated, but rather in the sense that it would be difficult to predicate anything of it (SDI, 329).
B- Unconscious Purposiveness
a- It can be called the unconsciousness source of all consciousness, hence the term unconsciousness purposiveness can be used to describe it’s role as an active guiding force in nature.  (SDI, 327-28).
b-  Individual human consciousness as sentient cognitive rationality is a good example of Cosmic Ideation at a microcosmic level. (SDI, 329).
C- Source of the Kosmos
a-We can say positively that the whole cosmos has effectively sprung from the Divine Thought, which is co-eternal with the One Reality:
“The one prevailing, most distinct idea — found in all ancient teaching, with reference to Cosmic Evolution and the first “creation” of our Globe with all its products, organic and inorganic (strange word for an Occultist to use) — is that the whole Kosmos has sprung from the divine thought. This thought impregnates matter, which is co-eternal with the one reality; and all that lives and breathes evolves from the emanations of the one Immutable — Parabrahm = Mulaprakriti, the eternal one-root. The former of these is, so to say, the aspect of the central point turned inward into regions quite inaccessible to human intellect, and is absolute abstraction; whereas, in its aspect as Mulaprakriti — the eternal root of all, — it gives one some hazy comprehension at least of the Mystery of Being” (SDI, 340).
b-From the ideal  perspective, it is timeless and immutable. In terms of its body, all of cosmic manifestation, it is ever-evolving (SDI, 2-3).
4- Cosmic Energy, Fohat
A-The notion of Akasa incubated by the Divine Spirit which gives rise to Matter & Life, Force & Action through the agency of Fohat indicates how Primordial Substance can be understood in terms of electricity, magnetism, heat, light,  and chemical action (SDI, 333).
B-From a more energetic aspect, Primordial Substance can be equated with the Soul of the World and its lower aspect of Ether is now considered, equated with the idea of the living Fire, a kind of cosmic principle of Fire as source of electro-magnetic energy (SDI, 338) (SDI, 338).
C- The Ideas of Divine Thought get impressed on Cosmic Substance as laws of nature with the agency of Fohat. Fohat, the dynamic energy of cosmic ideation,  is an animating principle, a link between Spirit and Matter. The Secret Doctrine gives various elaborations on the nature of Fohat:
“This something, at present unknown to Western speculation, is called by the occultists Fohat. It is the “bridge” by which the “Ideas” existing in the “Divine Thought” are impressed on Cosmic substance as the “laws of Nature.” Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation, the “Thought Divine” transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyan Chohans, the Architects of the visible World. Thus from Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our consciousness; from Cosmic Substance the several vehicles in which that consciousness is individualised and attains to self — or reflective — consciousness; while Fohat, in its various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life” (SDI, 16).
5-Creative Brahma
A-Having presented the first four basic principles, the process of the creation of the universe can be dealt with. The interaction of the two principles of cosmic substance and cosmic ideation impels the dynamic activity of  the creation of the universe in a sevenfold structure. A light, a primordial  energy is reflected into the substance of Chaos and the potentialities of the universe, the latent forces re-awaken to begin a new process of creation.  (SDI, 337)
B-The formation of the elements then begin. These elements are the Builders that fashion the cosmic systems following the plan traced out for them in Divine Thought (SDI, 339).
C-Through the Creative Brahma, via the Mundane Egg spring the Seven Prakritis (Natures), forming the seven levels of reality (SDI, 335).
D-The passage below gives a succinct and eloquent summary of what has been discussed, the first, second, third, and fourth principles coalesce into a sevenfold evolutionary process:
“Manvantaric impulse commences with the re-awakening of Cosmic Ideation (the “Universal Mind”) concurrently with, and parallel to the primary emergence of Cosmic Substance — the latter being the manvantaric vehicle of the former — from its undifferentiated pralayic state. Then, absolute wisdom mirrors itself in its Ideation; which, by a transcendental process, superior to and incomprehensible by human Consciousness, results in Cosmic Energy (Fohat). Thrilling through the bosom of inert Substance, Fohat impels it to activity, and guides its primary differentiations on all the Seven planes of Cosmic Consciousness.
There are thus Seven Protyles (as they are now called), while Aryan antiquity called them the Seven Prakriti, or Natures, serving, severally, as the relatively homogeneous basis, which in the course of the increasing heterogeneity (in the evolution of the Universe) differentiate into the marvellous complexity presented by phenomena on the planes of perception. The term “relatively” is used designedly, because the very existence of such a process, resulting in the primary segregations of undifferentiated Cosmic Substance into its septenary bases of evolution, compels us to regard the protyle of each plane as only a mediate phase assumed by Substance in its passage from abstract, into full objectivity” (SDI, 328).
6- Atoms, Centers of Force, Monads
A- Atoms
a-Theosophical cosmology embraces atomic theory, accepting an esoteric interpretation of the theories of Leucippus, Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius positing a principle of affinity to the lateral motion of atoms and adds a notion of latent force giving impulse to the atoms (SDI, 2) (SDI,  343).
B-Centers of Force
b-The creation of the universe is holistic; the microcosmic process of atoms is similar to the macrocosmic creation of planets, produced by a centre of cosmic energy (SDI, 11fn).
C- Monads
c-The term Monad is used to designate the sixth and seventh human principles. There is a microcosmic correlation of the Monad with the Universal Spirit, which entails an evolutionary process of emanation and ultimate absorption integrated in the process of cosmic evolution (SDI, 18fn).
 Part 1

Monday, 16 December 2019

Astrology: Winter Solstice, December 21, 2019

Winding Down
The previous quarter saw some pretty intense periods, notably with difficult Mars aspects with Saturn, Pluto and Uranus, which saw for example, intense political protests in countries like Chile, Bolivia, Irak, Lebanon, Iran, Spain, and Hong Kong. Prior to the Winter Solstice of December 21, we will have seen Jupiter move from Sagittarius to Capricorn on December 2. Jupiter is in its fall in Capricorn, therefore the Jupiter optimism and enthusiasm is dampened or it may amplify conservative Capricorn tendencies of respect, status and achievement. December 15 saw an exact Jupiter-Neptune trine, which brings good luck, open-mindedness, group awareness and new ideas. On December 26, there is a Solar Eclipse, conjunct Jupiter, which brings pleasant surprises and stimulating encounters. On January 12 2020, the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn (beginning a new 35-year cycle) goes exact and a lunar eclipse occurs close to that on January 10, 2020, which is more difficult, with a stellium of the Sun, Mercury, Saturn and Pluto opposite to the Moon.
Freaky Deaky - Moon-Uranus-Venus T-Square
This high energy configuration is marked by unstable, capricious emotions, excentric fixations, with a general independent, distant, insecure feeling. There could also be a tendency for unusual and inappropriate passionate relationships.
Triangle of Potential - Jupiter/Sun, Uranus, Moon
However, this configuration also has a triangle of potential, which counteracts the difficult aspects in an ideal fashion, bringing confidence, stability, diplomacy, generosity, sociability, creativity, tenacity and spirituality. According to Valkyrie Astrology a ‘’Triangle of Potential is another fairly common pattern that comprises a trine, sextile and opposition, in other words two soft aspects and one hard aspect.  In this case, the planet at the apex of the trine and sextile is the key to solving the opposition.  The person will experience struggles, but by utilizing the energy of the trine and sextile will be able to make them work, so to speak.  In many respects the hard aspects are what motivate us''. 
Dreams come True - Mars-Pluto/Saturn-Neptune, minor Grand Trine
This configuration has a good balance of practicality and idealism. On the one hand there is a favorable propensity for efficient, dynamic action with a good business sense and strong planning. There is also a strong intuitive sensitivity and a compassionate, altruist sense of idealism and deep investigation.  A minor Grand Trine requires work and effort to see the best results.
Neptune in/out of tune
Finally we have two aspects with Neptune that tend to balance each other out. Moon trine Neptune brings intuitive, spiritual, creative vibrations, that favor psychic experience, whereas a Mercury square Neptune brings wild imagination, absent-mindedness, escapism and lack of responsibility.
There are a lot interesting positive aspects in this chart, with the Jupiter entry into Capricorn, its exact trine with Neptune and the eclipse on December 26 all making for a positive outlook. On the solstice, even the difficult aspects are so geared with the positive ones as to provide the perfect counter-balance making for an interesting, dynamic chart where excentric, anti-social tendencies are confronted with a wave of warm altruistic idealism.
We are approaching 2020, which the final year of the decade, the 2nd of the new millenium, and the end of the first 20-year Jupiter-Saturn cycle which reboots at the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in December 2020.One could say that the waxing phase of this cycle (the first ten years) is largely Jupiterian, marked by optimism, exuberance and enthusiasm. The waning phase is largely Saturnian, marked by realism, pessimism, and criticism, serving as an adjustment to the previous decade's excesses, overindulgences, and blind optimism. This cycle's 2010-2019 Saturnian phase has been marked by the Uranus-Pluto square in the signs of Aries and Capricorn (2010-2017) bringing radical rebellion against the modern westernized technocratic capitalist system rooted in the technological utopism of the 1950 and 60s.This deconstructive phase can do much to reform outdated modes of living that are no longer healthy. 

This is the final year of this phase before a new 20-year Jupiter-Saturn cycle begins in a remarkably dramatic style with several interesting conjunctions and eclipses that mark the year in a timely fashion, centered around Saturn, Pluto, and Jupiter, all in Capricorn. After the Jupiter-Pluto conjuction on April 4 (, the 1st of 3, beginning a new 13-year cycle), we have a powerful Summer Solstice marked by an eclipse (1st of 3) and a loose Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto conjunction. The year ends with another eclipse close to the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction on December 21, after an intense series of squares with Mars and Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto. As these three new long-term cycles begin and a fresh Jupiterian phase of optimism begins, the year 2020 can be considered a phase where the old cycle winds down, hence a time of stark Saturnian realism and implacable justice, marked by three outer planets in stoic, strict, sober Capricorn. 

In a way the previous phase of Jupiter in Sagittarius, its ruling sign, balanced well with Saturn in Capricorn, its ruling sign. There may have been a good dynamic play of complementary opposites. On the other hand, perhaps the extra-strong Jupiter-Saturn tandem created too much unproductive volatile opposition, so in this new phase, it will perhaps be easier to get things done as we enter a phase where conformity, discipline, and regulation of bureaucratic system becomes more imposing. According to Gray Crawford: ‘’The influence of Pluto upon Jupiter and Saturn will dredge up issues with societal structures in need of innovative reform, particularly involving global economics and systematic oppression.’’ 2019 is still very much concerned with a certain rebellious deconstructive phase, but the gains of this period need to be re-focused in a rebuilding phase with the optimism, enthusiasm, characteristic of a new era. However, the strong Capricornian influence could entail a rigid sense of conformity, discipline and strictness, which will cause tension with the close interaction with the Jupiterian idealism and the Plutonina power drive.

In the following years, the outer planets will be changing signs in a close four-year period, 2023-2026, and so by 2026, there will be very different outlook, bringing the waxing phase of the Jupiter-Sagittarius cycle into full swing. Moreover, the next Jupiter-Saturn cycle marks a definitive shift from earth sings to air signs, which will last until 2159. The previous cycles were in earth signs since 1802. Once can interpret this as the age of oil and carbon fuels, whereas the next cycle in air signs can mark a new era of alternate energies, along with satellite and computer technologies that have developed over the last 40 years.
Gray Crawford. 2020 Astrology Predictions: The Beginning of a New Astrological Era

Monday, 9 December 2019

Introduction to the Metaphysics of the Secret Doctrine 2/3

The second major principle to consider, as the first differentiation of Parabrahm, is Mulaprakriti, a Sanskrit terms which means Root-Nature, defined as Unmanifested Primordial Matter, corresponding to the notion of primal matter in ancient philosophy.
Mûlaprakriti (Sk.). The Parabrahmic root, the abstract deific feminine principle—undifferentiated substance. Akâsa. Literally, “the root of Nature” (Prakriti) or Matter (Theosophical Glossary).
“In contradistinction to the manifested universe of matter, the term Mulaprakriti (from Mula, “the root,” and prakriti, “nature”), or the unmanifested primordial matter — called by Western alchemists Adam’s Earth — is applied by the Vedantins to Parabrahmam. Matter is dual in religious metaphysics, and septenary in esoteric teachings, like everything else in the universe. As Mulaprakriti, it is undifferentiated and eternal; as Vyakta, it becomes differentiated and conditioned, according to Svetasvatara Upanishad, I. 8, and Devi Bhagavata Purana” (SDI, 10)
A-Primordial Substance
a- A traditional query into the nature of matter, that can be considered a substantialist or hylozoic view of matter, is posited:
In short, it is the “upadhi,” or vehicle, of every possible phenomenon, whether physical, mental, or psychic (SD I, 330).
b-As such, matter can be viewed as pure objectivity, underlying all phenomena, the basis a dynamic septenary process with a  cyclical view of evolution, using the Indian notions of Manvantara and Pralaya, making it is possible to conceive of matter in a primary state of dissolution (SD I, 327-28).
c-The distinction between substance and matter is made. Substance being an essence of matter as manifested phenomena with primordial substance and divine thought as a highly spiritual nature, not separate to substance. To our perceptions, matter is purely subjective (SD I, 329).
This highly abstract spiritual aspect of matter has many terms according to its diverse states of differentiation on the septenary planes. The basic explanations gives at least six terms, with many nuances and subtleties hinted at:
a-The term Chaos, derived from various creation myths, especially the biblical concept of the spirit of God that hovers over the faces of the waters, is seen as Primordial Substance when it is in an early manifestation phase (SD I, 330).
b-The compound term ‘’Primordial Chaos’’ is also used, being a somewhat more active potential than Chaos simple (SD I, 332).
c-In Ancient Cosmogonies, Chaos is akin to a deep ocean, primordial waters and becomes the Soul of the World (SD I, 343-44)
2- Space (was used to define Spirit-Matter and can be applied Primordial Substance as well).
a-Space is defined as Primordial Substance or Chaos in its pre-cosmic state, and is considered as the ever unseen and unknowable deity (SD I, 336).
b- It can be considered the container and body of the Universe, with its seven levels of being (the Seven-Skinned Eternal Father-Mother) (SD I, 342).
3- Aditi
The Sanskrit term Aditi, especially when referring to cosmic substance in terms of a goddess, the celestial virgin and mother, can also be used (SD I, 333).
Âditi (Sk.). The Vedic name for the Mûlaprakriti of the Vedantists; the abstract aspect of Parabrahman, though both unmanifested and unknowable. In the Vedas Âditi is the “Mother-Goddess”, her terrestrial symbol being infinite and shoreless space (Theosophical Glossary).
4- Akasa
a-A prominent term for primordial substance is Akasha, the vehicle of divine thought with Ether or Astral Light being an expression of Akasha on lower planes of manifestation (SD I, 326).
Akâsa (Sk.). The subtle, supersensuous spiritual essence which pervades all space; the primordial substance erroneously identified with Ether. But it is to Ether what Spirit is to Matter, or Âtmâ to Kâma-rûpa.  It is, in fact, the Universal Space in which lies inherent the eternal Ideation of the Universe in its ever-changing aspects on the planes of matter and objectivity, and from which radiates the First Logos, or expressed thought (Theosophical Glossary).[1]
b-Adi-Sakti in her Akashic form of Universal Soul is considered a radiation of Mulaprakriti. Hence Akasha is considered as the first differenciation of Primordial Substance (SD I, 9-10).
c- In various traditions, the Universal Soul is symbolized by a feminine deity, a Mother-Godess or Heavenly Virgin figure, Sophia, Sephira, Saraswati/Vach, the Holy Ghost, etc. (SD I, 353)
5- Ether
a-Ether is the grossest form of Akasha, Akasha being considered the fifth cosmic principle.
Whatever the views of physical Science upon the subject, Occult Science has been teaching for ages that A’kasa — of which Ether is the grossest form — the fifth universal Cosmic Principle (to which corresponds and from which proceeds human Manas) is, cosmically, a radiant, cool, diathermanous plastic matter, creative in its physical nature, correlative in its grossest aspects and portions, immutable in its higher principles. In the former condition it is called the Sub-Root; and in conjunction with radiant heat, it recalls “dead worlds to life.” In its higher aspect it is the Soul of the World; in its lower — the destroyer (SD I, 13)
b-Furthermore, Ether is defined as one of seven states of Akasha, and can itself be divided into seven states (SDI, 331).
c- Ether is the fifth element of ancient Greek philosophy, the synthesis of the first four, to be distinguished from Aether and modern Ether (SD I, 342-43)
6- Aether
Another important term, Aether, also derived from ancient Graeco-Roman tradition, not to be confused with modern designations, is also synomous with Primordial Substance
Æther (Gr.). With the ancients the divine luminiferous substance which pervades the whole universe, the “garment” of the Supreme Deity, Zeus, or Jupiter. With the moderns, Ether, for the meaning of which in physics and chemistry see Webster’s Dictionary or any other. In esotericism  Æther is the third principle of the Kosmic Septenary; the Earth being the lowest, then the Astral light, Ether and Âkâsa (phonetically Âkâsha) the highest (Theosophical Glossary).
a-Aether is a substance that as mysterious properties related to the primordial state of creation (SD I, 333).
b-Ancient Aether was regarded as the medium plane between this life and the next (SD I, 343).
c-Aether and Chaos, in ancient philosophy, can be considered as Mind and Matter (SD I, 343).
There are roughly a dozen terms used in the Secret Doctrine to denote Primordial Substance, and it is important to understand that these are all essentially designating the same idea. However, the diversity of terms to serve to designate different aspects of Primordial Substance in the complex unfolding of cosmic evolution, which can be gleaned from the context of a given passage. Based on various passages, the following rough outline of the seven levels of primordial substance is proposed:
1-Earth; 2-Astral Light; 3-4-Aether; 5-Akasha/Ether; 6- Mulaprakriti 7-Parabrahm
D-Three, four and seven principles
Certain notions regarding the sevenfold principles at the cosmic level are explained in relation to primordial substance.
a- Chaos, Theos, Kosmos
1-Three of the terms presented can form a trinity of Chaos, Theos, and Kosmos . Theos (the Architects who pertain to both spirit and matter) fashion the primordial Chaos into the Kosmos.
In the cosmogonies of all the nations it is the "Architects" synthesized by Demiurgos (in the Bible the "Elohim"), who fashion Kosmos out of Chaos, and who are the collective Theos, "male-female," Spirit and matter" (SD I, 346).
2-- When in a pralaya state, this trinity becomes the unknowable Deity (i.e. unrevealed or hidden Deity. (SD I, 347).
3- This trinity can be synthesized as Space (SD I, 344).
b-There are seven  major elements in nature, related to the seven levels of Primordial Substance. These seven elements are manifested according to the evolution of the seven planetary rounds (SD I, 12-13).
c- All souls, Buddhis, the sixth, principle, are fundamentally identical with the Universal Over-Soul, an aspect of the Unknow Root. The soul must go through a pilgrimage through all planes to fully realize this (SD I, 18).
d- The oriental concept of Maya is adopted. All manifested life is considered illusory because finite and a differentiated aspects of the one reality, the seventh principle. (SD I, 11 fn) (SD I, 18)
E-Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti
These two principles form the basis of a duality that is present throughout all aspects of manifestation and are generally termed Pre-cosmic ideation, pre-cosmic root substance in its pre-manifestation phase and cosmic ideation and cosmic substance at the level of manifestation.
a-From the highest perspective, Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti are the aspects of the unconditioned, eternal One Principle.
“In its absoluteness, the One Principle under its two aspects (of Parabrahmam and Mulaprakriti) is sexless, unconditioned and eternal. Its periodical (manvantaric) emanation — or primal radiation — is also One, androgynous and phenomenally finite. When the radiation radiates in its turn, all its radiations are also androgynous, to become male and female principles in their lower aspects. After Pralaya, whether the great or the minor Pralaya (the latter leaving the worlds in statu quo*), the first that re-awakes to active life is the plastic A’kasa, Father-Mother, the Spirit and Soul of Ether, or the plane on the surface of the Circle. Space is called the “Mother” before its Cosmic activity, and Father-Mother at the first stage of re-awakening” (SD I, 18).
b- Just as pre-Cosmic Ideation is the root of all individual consciousness, so pre-Cosmic Substance is the substratum of matter in the various grades of its differentiation (SD I, 15).
“But just as the opposite poles of subject and object, spirit and matter, are but aspects of the One Unity in which they are synthesized, so, in the manifested Universe, there is “that” which links spirit to matter, subject to object” (SD I, 16).
c-On a more basic level the duality of spirit-matter and subject-object can be used. Note that Consciousness is a term often used to describe Spirit. Strictly speaking these terms are considered two aspects of Parabrahm only.
“Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded, not as independent realities, but as the two facets or aspects of the Absolute (Parabrahm), which constitute the basis of conditioned Being whether subjective or objective” (SD I, 16).
d-With the trinity of Space, Motion and the Great Breath, the Great Breath introduces us to the notion of Cosmic Ideation or Divine Thought (SD I, 15).
See Part 1

[1] The doctrine of the Logos is an important aspect of Theosophical metaphysics and will be reserved for a separate presentation. A brief outline can be glimpsed in the following outline: “ (1.) The ABSOLUTE; the Parabrahm of the Vedantins or the one Reality, SAT, which is, as Hegel says, both Absolute Being and Non-Being.
(2.) The first manifestation, the impersonal, and, in philosophy, unmanifested Logos, the precursor of the "manifested." This is the "First Cause," the "Unconscious" of European Pantheists.
(3.) Spirit-matter, LIFE; the "Spirit of the Universe," the Purusha and Prakriti, or the second Logos” (SD I, 16).

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Cicero on Friendship

On Friendship  is presented as a personal reminiscence of a conversation that Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 bc) had witnessed between Laelius and his two son-in-laws, Fannius and Scaevola, concerning the latter’s friendship with the recently deceased Scipio. Cicero’s account begins on the occasion of Scipio’s death and the question of how to deal with the loss of a friend.
At one level, the text can simply be construed as an eloquent exposition of the value of friendship. Yet on a closer reading, one can also sense a series of underlying principles that are inherent to Cicero’s notions of a humanistic philosophy. According to Hunt, one can discern in all of Cicero’s philosophical works:
a coherent system and it deserves the name of humanism because it was concerned with man first and foremost and with other things only in so far as they were relevant to man’s position in the world. First it inquired into man’s nature, the validity of his perception, the nature of his highest virtue, the condition of his happiness, the degree of his freedom and his relation to the forces which control the world; it ended by asserting a theory of freedom and a rule of conduct enjoining the highest respect for man and systematically based on the theory of human nature. [Hunt, H.A.K., [1954],  The Humanism of Cicero, Victoria, Melbourne University Press]

Cicero begins by presenting friendship as a rare, exceptional moral achievement:
Well, in the first place I feel that friendship can exist only among the good; but I do not press this statement too far, as those do who go with more subtlety into these matters, perhaps correctly, but with little result for the general good; for they say that no one is good, except the wise man. (5, 18)
He also specifies that friendship exists according to a concept of natural law:
as those who were whom I have just mentioned--let us hold that these, even as they have been thought good, also ought to be called good, on the ground that, so far as men can, they follow Nature, the best guide to living well.(5, 19)
Fundamentally, he defines friendship as the sharing of a common value system and considers it to be the greatest of human achievements:
Now friendship is nothing else than perfect agreement on all divine and human things, joined to kindliness and affection; and than this, wisdom alone being excepted, I am inclined to think that no better gift has been given to man by the immortal gods. (5, 20)
According to Cicero, friendship is founded on a moral and ethical base, and there is a complementary interdependent relationship between virtue and friendship. Virtue is essential for friendship and friendship helps in maintaining virtue:
Those however who place the greatest good in virtue make an admirable decision; but this very virtue both creates and maintains friendship, nor can friendship by any means exist without virtue. (5, 20)
Friendship has been given by Nature as a handmaid of the virtues, not as a companion of the vices, in order that, since virtue could not unaided arrive at the highest perfection, it might arrive thither when united and associated with another. (22, 83)
Moreover, friendship becomes a fundamental source of happiness and comfort:
Nor am I now speaking of common or ordinary friendship, which nevertheless is both delightful and beneficial, but of true and flawless friendship, such as was that of those few men whose names are proverbial. For friendship makes prosperity more bright, and adversity, by dividing and sharing it, more supportable. (6,22)
Now while friendship comprises very many and very great advantages, in one point she certainly surpasses everything else, inasmuch as she sends forth the light of a good hope for the future, and does not suffer the spirits to be weakened or to sink. (7, 23)
Friendship is seen as being essentially inspired by love: 
For love, from which friendship received its name, is the chief means to the formation of the bond of kindly feeling. For advantages indeed are often received from those who under the pretence of friendship are courted and have attention paid them as occasion demands; but in friendship there is neither feigning nor pretence, and whatever feeling exists is real and sincere. (8, 26)
Since however a man contracts a friendship, as I have said above, if any sign of virtue shines forth in another to which a like disposition may incline and attach itself; when this happens, love must needs arise. (13, 48)
Although Cicero shows a certain aristocratic attitude towards friendship, he nonetheless acknowledges its compatibility with democratic values:
I think, there is between good men and good men a necessary feeling of kindliness, and this has been appointed by Nature as the fountain-head of friendship. But the kindliness also extends to the multitude. For virtue is not unfeeling or unserviceable or haughty, since she is wont to protect even whole nations, and consult their interests in the best manner, which she assuredly would not do if she shrank from kindness towards the common people. (14, 50)
Finally, he considers a strong sense of empathy towards one’s friends to be an essential characteristic of friendship:
Thus they are destitute of that very lovely and exquisitely natural friendship, which is an object of desire in itself and for itself, nor can they learn from themselves how valuable and powerful such a friendship is. For each man loves himself, not that he may get from himself some reward for his own affection, but because each one is of himself dear to himself. And unless this same feeling be transferred to friendship, a true friend will never be found; for a true friend is one who is, as it were, a second self. (21, 80)
After proposing  a general definition of friendship, Cicero elaborates several practical principles. Briefly stated, he maintains that one should choose one’s friends carefully, choosing men of good character. One should moreover freely share all of one’s concerns, plans, and aims with one’s friends. Friendship should be based on steadfastness, loyalty and trust, with no deception or hypocrisy.  Absolute honesty is thus essential for friendship, and one should be congenial and show pleasant manners to friends, treating them as equals, and being generous and helpful to them. One should also encourage one’s friends in developing virtue, reprimanding them in a tactful, gentle manner if necessary, and accepting reprimand with forbearance.
He gives further practical advice such as one should always behave respectfully to one’s friends, maintaining particular respect for friends of long standing. He stresses that the excessive pursuit of wealth and power is detrimental to friendship. One can make concessions to friends by agreeing to do improper things if these do not damage our reputation; however, one should not do fundamentally wrong acts on account of friendship. He points out that one should not have unrealistic expectations or be too demanding towards one’s friends nor should one engage in behaviour of a flattering or sycophantic nature. One need not give more help to a friend than one is able nor is one obliged to place pleasing a friend above matters of duty. He allows that friendships can be ended if the friend behaves badly or if common interests change. In that case, one should strive to end the friendship gradually and quietly.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Introduction to the Metaphysics of the Secret Doctrine 1/3

Parabrahm, Kosmos, Be-Ness, Space, Motion, The Great Breath
The Secret Doctrine presents an extensive scheme of spiritual evolution, from the universe to the planet earth, including humanity and all life on it. The metaphysical aspect, Cosmogenesis, is particularly intricate. The following posts aim to give a basic presentation of the basic concepts derived from the introductory chapters.

One could begin by positing a cosmological presentation in terms of a basic duality of Spirit and Matter, Heaven and Earth in mythology, Purusha and Prakriti in Indian terms.
For instance, this duality is elaborated in at least five basic ways:

Absolute Divine Spirit
Absolute Divine Substance
Divine Thought
Primordial Substance
Cosmic Ideation
Cosmic Substance

Moreover, certain complexities emerge rather quickly, this spirit-matter duality takes on subtle distinctions as all forms of primordial substance are of a quite spiritual, abstract nature in themselves and are never conceived as separate from divine thought. And as we shall see, the form of primal matter has at least five different aspects. Moreover, the presentation aims at being dynamic and holistic and so we are given some basic sketches of the interaction of spirit and matter in the transformation and creation process of the universe.
Therefore, pains are taken to avoid a hard dualism, therefore the paradoxical unity of the two principles are stressed regularly. The unity of Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti and the corresponding unity of Cosmic Ideation and Cosmic Substance are fundamental paradoxical notions: ‘’The manifested Spirit; Absolute, Divine Spirit is one with absolute Divine Substance: Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti are one in essence. Therefore, Cosmic Ideation and Cosmic Substance in their primal character are one also’’ (Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine I, 337).
Hence, we get a glimpse of matter and spirit dynamically interacting in a sevenfold process where matter is perceived as various forms of energy. A fundamental point that we need to keep in mind, and which is often pointed out, is that Cosmic Substance and Cosmic Ideation are two facets of the one Absolute Existence: ‘’In modern language, the latter would be better named cosmic ideation — Spirit; the former, cosmic substance, the latter. These, the Alpha and the Omega of Being, are but the two facets of the one Absolute Existence’’ (SD I, 326).
Since the SD aims to explain the creation and evolution of the universe and solar system, various terms are presented to explain Parabrahm from the perspective of a manifesting universe; and so despite being an ineffable, abstract principle, paradoxical, beyond comprehension  and yet encompasses everything, much effort is spent on attempting to explain the concept and so various terms are proposed to explain different aspects. In dealing in metaphysics, the terms are very fluid and intuitive. We’ll try to present the essential terms and explanations in order of ontological priority.
A short definition is given as follows :
Parabrahm (Sk.). “Beyond Brahmâ”, literally. The Supreme Infinite Brahma, “Absolute”—the attributeless, the secondless reality. The impersonal and nameless universal Principle (Theosophical Glossary).
The Hidden Deity or Unrevealed Deity:
In various traditions, there is a notion of a Hidden Deity; Tsi-Tai (China), Great Extreme (Confucious), Anu (Near East), En-Soph (Kabbalah) are some examples (SD I, 356-57).
A- Kosmos
a- The collective, infinite, eternal Kosmos in its totality
Parabrahm is, in short, the collective aggregate of Kosmos in its infinity and eternity, the “that” and “this” to which distributive aggregates can not be applied.* (SD I, 6)
Kosmos (Gr.). The Universe, as distinguished from the world, which may mean our globe or earth (Theosophical Glossary).
b- All-inclusive Kosmos, infinite cosmic space in its highest spiritual sense (SD I, 6).
Be-ness. as the term Sat is applied solely to the absolute Principle, the universal, unknown, and ever unknowable Presence, which philosophical Pantheism postulates in Kosmos, calling it the basic root of Kosmos. It is, as said, absolute Be-ness, not Being, the one secondless, undivided, and indivisible All—the root of all Nature visible and invisible, objective and subjective, to be sensed by the highest spiritual intuition, but’ never to be fully comprehended (Theosophical Glossary).
a- The term Be-Ness is coined to denote the nature of pure abstraction, a rootless root, with no relation to finite being.  (SD I, 14).
b- From Be-Ness, the metaphysical concepts of Space, Motion and the Great breath follow from this (SD I, 14).
a-As the Absolute All, the description for this term is similar to that of Kosmos.
Space is neither a “limitless void,” nor a “conditioned fulness,” but both: being, on the plane of absolute abstraction, the ever-incognisable Deity, which is void only to finite minds,* and on that of mayavic perception, the Plenum, the absolute Container of all that is, whether manifested or unmanifested: it is, therefore, that absolute all (SDI, 8)
b- Space is called the Seven-Skinned Eternal Mother-Father: To denote the holistic, multi-modal nature of Parabrahm as Space as the One Reality present in seven levels of being (SD I, 9).
c-Space can be included in a trinity of terms (similar to the trinity of  Space, Motion, Great Breath) along with the Germ in the Root and the Great Breath, what ever was, ever is, and ever will be (SD I, 9).
a-In terms of positing an abstract absolute principle from manifestation, motion is considered to be the next highest principle. It is important to note that these explanations deal with an Abstract concept as well as a corresponding manifested concept, Noumenal and Phenomenal.
Intra-Cosmic motion is eternal and ceaseless; cosmic motion (the visible, or that which is subject to perception) is finite and periodical. As an eternal abstraction it is the EVER-PRESENT; (SD I, 3).
b-The principle of universal motion as an expression of the Unrevealed Deity is considered  as a living Fire with Light, Heat, Moisture as the cause of all natural phenomena (SD I, 3).
E-Great Breath
From this principle of simple motion, the binary notion of the Great breath, as found, for example, in the simple aspect of breathing, becomes the third aspect of Parabrahm.
a-The second principle of the Secret Doctrine describes it as the universal law of periodicity as found in the alternation of day and night, life and death, sleeping and waking (SD I, 17).
b-It is described as one absolute attribute of Kosmos, Space and Motion (SD I, 2).
c-The idea of a cosmic out-breathing and inhalation correspond to the Indian concepts of Manvatara and Pralaya, considered as a macrocosmic in-breathing and out-breathing process (SD I, 4).
d- The Second Principle of the Secret Doctrine describes this notion in the context of the eternity of the Universe, with recurrent periods of creation and destruction (SD I, 4).
“With regard to its body or Cosmic organization, though it cannot be said that it had a first, or will ever have a last construction, yet at each new Manvantara, its organization may be regarded as the first and the last of its kind, as it evolutes every time on a higher plane . . . . “ (SD I, 3).
F-Various Other Terms
Various other terms are used to describe it, such as the One-unknown ever present God in Nature to try and explain its abstract nature.
a- Some terminology from western philosophy are evoked: The Unknowable, the Causeles Cause, the Eternal, the Unknowable (SD I, 4).
b- Other terms are given to distinguish it from a concept of First Cause: Abstract All, the “Causeless One Cause,” the “Rootless Root, the One Reality, the one life (2) (SD I, 15).