By Raghavan Iyer
From Hermes Magazine, December 1982
The Vedic Aryans were quite familiar with mysteries of sound and colour. Mental correlations of the two senses of ‘sight’ and ‘hearing’ were as common a fact in their days, as that of a man in our own seeing objective things before him with eyes wide open at noon. Any student of Occultism, the youngest of chelas who has just begun reading esoterically his Vedas, can suspect what the real phenomenon means; simply – a cyclic return of human organisms to their primitive form during the 3rd and even the 4th Root Races of what is known as the Antediluvian periods.
The Theosophist, April 1886 H. P. BLAVATSKY
THE CONTEMPORARY RENAISSANCE of primordial spirituality is a necessary function of collective cyclic law and concerted individual resolve. Within the triadic framework of human evolution, the relative balance of the monadic, mental and physical components varies with the cycles and sub-cycles of Race evolution through the Rounds. At the same time, the rich fabric of Nature itself and the cumulative rapidity of karmic precipitation of events initiate significant changes according to the parameters of the yugas. The inherent complexity of the Manvantaric scheme cannot be reduced to a simplistic model. Yet there do exist fundamental axioms of cyclic evolution which may be applied with Buddhic discrimination to the shifting circumstances and opportunities presented by the moving locus of human growth.
Witnessed from the standpoint of Eternal Duration, the entire changing universe is but a kaleidoscopic reflection of divine thought in the Divine Mind. Witnessed from the standpoint of the compassionate hosts of Bodhisattvas freely incarnated in evolving manifestation, the transformations of time, of pravritti and nivritti, are a perpetual yet progressive re-enactment of a single cosmic archetype. Each and every cycle of existence may be grasped in relation to that which Ever Is, that which was in the beginning and which will be at the end, for it is ever becoming. To the apprehension of the Rishi mystically attuned to Brahma Vach, cyclic events are, one and all, circumscribed within the principle that the first shall be the last, and last shall be the greatest. For the individual seeker this principle helps to unravel not only the cycles and sub-cycles of birth and death, but also the mysteries of self-conscious self-insertion into the broader cycles of Race evolution.
Since the inception of Manasic humanity upon this globe over eighteen million years ago, and through every successive transformation of the myriad faculties of man, the Mahatmas have maintained intact the integrity of the Mysteries for the sake of the spiritual enlightenment of humanity. Gupta Vidya is a comprehensive framework of initiations into the spiritual and psychological mysteries that underlie human evolution. In every civilization throughout the past eighteen million years, the sacred fires of the Mysteries have been preserved in sanctuaries for groups of enlightened seekers who fulfil the preparatory conditions for spiritual wisdom, having taken vows and undergone a period of probationary self-training resulting in the incomparable strength of moral purity and mental reliability. Through deep meditation each aspirant must acquire a capacity for effortless resonance with the minds and hearts of all other aspirants, and thereby learn to come closer to Mahat, the cosmic Mind behind manifested nature and the great hebdomadal heart of all humanity. Without such systematic self-training, in personal invulnerability, impermeability to lower titanic forces and a quickened sense of the immortality of the soul, it is not possible for the lanoo-shravaka to become fully attuned to the collective mind and heart of the human race.
In order to become a candidate for initiation into the Mysteries, it is necessary to draw closer to the living centre of universal humanity, and therefore to draw apart from mundane concerns. In practice, this means developing the capacity to withdraw from the sensorium and to enter transcendental states of consciousness through meditation based upon intensified powers of concentration, calm contemplation and a greater continuity of consciousness in Spirit. Mystically, this means attuning oneself to the music of the spheres and becoming able to listen, amidst diverse temporal circumstances, to the Soundless Sound, the Voice of the Silence. Such an awakening to the reality and presence of Spirit implies a retraining and refining of the senses, bringing about a fundamental alteration in their polarity. Each of the sensory faculties has its ultimate origin in one of the seven Dhyani-energies that constitute in their aggregate the Logos. On the universal plane these seven centres have virtually unlimited creative potential, but in their restricted reflections on the astral and physical planes the range and reach of each are severely restricted. They are limited not only by the intrinsic properties of matter and the radius of perception appropriate to the sense-organs on the physical plane, but also by the insufficient use of the sensory powers by individuals under karma. There is, therefore, an enormous variation amongst human beings in the perception of colour and sound, a variation based on their relative capacities to use sight and hearing. There is a further variation in the capacity of individuals to correlate the entire set of sense-organs and sensory faculties in daily life.
The mystical seeker, concerned to awaken the compassionate creative capacity of the higher faculties, must turn from a half-life of outwardness to a full life of inwardness. By progressively withdrawing attention from the phenomenal plane, and intensifying the power of concentration combined with vairagya, he must detach his mind from the world and the concerns of the separative self. As he does this, the polarity of the linga sharira, the astral form, which is the seat of the subtle sensory powers, will change. There follows a gradual unfoldment from within without, bringing an attunement to supersensuous spheres of consciousness and a correlative extension and integration of the range and scope of perception.
This inward mystical development, the process of withdrawal (nivritti), must be understood in relation to the overall collective development of humanity throughout the Rounds and Races. Otherwise the aspirant may fall prey to the fatal delusion called individual progress. Because everyday consciousness has fragmented so violently in the present period of evolution, most human beings are highly susceptible to psychic intoxication when confronted with the enormous potential of the inner senses. Without a firm grasp of the cyclic laws pertaining to the evolution and involution of the sensory faculties, they can scarcely hope to avoid a disastrous moral inversion of their aspirations when met with the first stirrings of their dormant power. Specifically, the future awakening of the sixth and seventh senses represents a cyclic return of the wave of human evolution to a degree of spirituality shared by all of humanity in prior Rounds and Races. A future era in which sight and hearing are experienced as mental correlates is prefigured in that distant age pointed to by the Vedas wherein radiancy and colour, light and sound, sight and hearing, were synonymous terms. Assembling both philological evidence that all representations and conceptions of light and sound are found to have their derivation from the same roots, and mythological evidence of the correlation between the deities of light and the divine singers of the Vedic hymns, H.P. Blavatsky spoke of that time when all the senses were united.
Beginning with the First Root Race of the present Fourth Round on this globe, the evolution of primitive humanity on the physical plane proceeded through the development of one of the seven senses in each of the successive Sub-Races. The separation of the senses characteristic of humanity in the Fifth Root Race represents a later and transitory stage of development which will eventually be resolved through a return to an earlier integrity of the faculties.
Human speech, as known to us, came into being in the Root-race that preceded ours – the Fourth or the ‘Atlantean’ – at the very beginning of it, in sub-race No. 1; and simultaneously with it were developed sight – as a physical sense – while the four other senses (with the two additional – the 6th and 7th – of which science knows nothing as yet) – remained in their latent, undeveloped state as physical senses, although fully developed as spiritual faculties. Our sense of hearing developed only in the 3rd sub-races…. ‘Sound is seen before it is heard’, – says the book of Kiu-ti. The flash of lightning precedes the clap of thunder. As ages went by mankind fell with every new generation lower and lower into matter, the physical smothering the spiritual, until the whole set of senses – that had formed during the first three Root-races but one SENSE, namely, spiritual perception – finally fell asunder to form henceforth five distinct senses. –The Theosophist, April 1886, H. P. Blavatsky
This paradigmatic and dominant mode of cognition characterized the entire Third Root Race and extended into the early periods of the Fourth Root Race. The gradual differentiation and subsequent fragmentation of spiritual perception into the present set of five senses all occurred during the present Fourth Round. This is of critical importance in comprehending the relationship between mental or self-conscious Manasic evolution and the development of the physical vestures. The full implications of these past periods in the present Round cannot be understood, however, until they are placed in the yet larger perspective of the overall balance between spirituality and mentality as affected by the cycling of the Rounds. Before the unfoldment of self-consciousness in the Fourth Round, the incipient humanity of the Third Round was characterized by a supernal and ethereal quality of vesture and form which pervaded the use of all the inner sense-organs in the Third Round.
In the words of one in whom live Truth and Wisdom…’in the 1st half of the 3rd Round the primordial spirituality of man was eclipsed, because over-shadowed by nascent mentality’; Humanity was on its descending arc in the first half of that round and in the last half on its ascending arc: i.e., ‘his (man’s) gigantic stature had decreased and his body improved in texture; and he had become a more rational being though still more an ape than a Deva-man.’ –The Theosophist, April 1886, H. P. Blavatsky
Thus, in the Third Root Race of the present Round, as self-consciousness dawned, humanity was in a state of blissful primordial spirituality. Human beings felt effortlessly at one with one another on the plane of divine ideation, universal compassion and spiritual will owing to the extraordinary intensity of spiritual perception. This authentic aboriginal condition of humanity is associated with the Eye of Dangma, the Third Eye of spiritual insight and vision.
Just as the nascent mentality of mankind eclipsed primordial spirituality in the Third Round, so too in the present Round, during the Fourth Root Race, there was a tremendous heightening of mental development focussed upon increasingly differentiated planes of existence. This allowed for a quickening of kama manas in relation to the world of objects and subjects, of comparison and contrast. As a result, there was also a corresponding decline in the intuitive faculties of self-conscious human beings, and a corresponding weakening of the centres of spiritual perception. Whilst this process represents the natural descent of spirituality into materiality, the identification with form over essence poses the central challenge to the dawning powers of noetic Manasic intelligence. Yet during the Fourth Root Race, and accompanying the natural development of mental and spiritual powers, many classes of souls misused these powers chiefly in the service of the egotistical self. Consequently, disappearance and atrophy befell the eye of spiritual wisdom. In the chilling statement of the Stanzas of Dzyan, “The Third Eye closed.”
Since this spiritual and mental self-degradation over five million years ago, the physical organ of spiritual perception has receded deep within the brain and there has been an extraordinary difficulty in the human organism to restore its spiritual vision. Since the beginning of the Fifth Root Race over a million years ago, the powers of mental awareness and self-consciousness – particularly the power of mental apprehension through meditation – have quickened. When human beings through meditation become capable of gaining control over the power of thought and of directing thought-forms, Manas is heightened. Owing to the karma of the Fourth Root Race, the humanity of the present Fifth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root Race has experienced considerable difficulty maintaining itself in pace with the forefront of human evolution. Contrary to the natural degree of progress at this point in the Manvantaric scheme, many are unable to control their emotional nature and continue falling back into a relative state of mental obscuration through assigning an excessive sense of reality to the separative self and the world of sensory objects. Through the overdeveloped principle of kamic desire, and an undernourished resistance of those conflicts that erode the power of mental concentration, humanity has sunk to the nadir of its spiritual development. Through fragmentation of consciousness, through inability to stay still, through inability to concentrate, to engage in self-transcendence and to learn, vast numbers of human beings have become needlessly handicapped both morally and spiritually.
Yet, an honest and humble individual can still take advantage of the inherent possibilities of the scheme of cyclic human evolution. A vanguard of heroic forerunners will always extend the horizon of human potential. Through effortless empathy they will spontaneously show a concern for the weak and act on a sympathy for the sick and retarded. And through their compassion they will constantly reawaken the latent Buddhi, a spiritual love in human beings for fellow men and women. It has always been, and it always will be, possible to arouse the latent sense of empathy for other human beings; thus it will always be possible to arouse reflected Buddhi. And thus spiritual perception can be heightened and the lost eye awakened. The present karmic condition of humanity is serious, but it is by no means desperate. Even extremely materialistic people, upon encountering the evidence of other and ancient civilizations, immediately or through friends who can tell them of undreamt possibilities, can continually extend their sense of the horizon of human potential.
This capacity for buoyancy and ascent, inherent in human nature, reflects the primordial spirituality of the human race. This works continuously but can become intensified and deliberate only through conscious resolve. Few people today are in a position to become monks, capable of a spiritual discipline more demanding and more complete than anything within the secular realms of music or mathematics. Yet, just as in these arenas one can increase an appreciation of mathematics without becoming a genius or a love of music without becoming a performer, so too one can develop a sense of spiritual excitement without being an adept. Whatever his or her limitations, everyone can reach out through admiration to those who extend the horizon of human potential, and everyone can shatter walls of separateness and loneliness which otherwise loom like a gloomy curse. So long as the forces of unity are greater than the forces of disunity, so long as the forces of light are potentially greater than those of darkness, so long as the forces of love are more potent than those of hate, there is hope for humanity. Even the most apathetic classes of souls can unwittingly benefit from the more advanced souls of humanity. Through this continuous process of reciprocal interdependent quickening of potentials, there is a collective preparation for the future. And even if the full flowering of that future and the restoration in its fullness of the primordial spirituality of man may be a hundred thousand – or a million – years away, it is already evident in some extraordinary individuals. Many children can see sounds and hear sights, drawing the two senses together, with responses to vibrations that their parents cannot apprehend. Such individuals are seminal forerunners for the future, souls naturally attuned to that spiritual perception which is the germ of the sixth sense.
All the senses must be controlled and directed by self-conscious Manas. It is only through concentrated thought enriched by deep meditation, in silence and secrecy in the quiet hours of the day, that one may gather into oneself the spiritual forces of the cycle, and form a coherent inner body of meditation. By preparing for sleep and by coming out of it with a strong current of ideation, one can quicken the spiritual will and release the faculties, skills and knowledge of the soul which would otherwise be locked up. Not every age, and hence not every incarnation, is equally filled with opportunities for inward development; thus, access to spiritual teachings at those moments when the opportunities are great is a privilege indeed. The present decade is such a time because it is a period when those who will link themselves up to the humanity of the future can, and must, intensify their spiritual current of ideation. Those who cannot keep pace with the forward march of human evolution will accordingly be much more deranged and disordered than they otherwise might be. Nonetheless, all this occurs under karma; all the teaching of cosmic and cyclic evolution is designed to help the individual to insert himself or herself into the larger perspective. When more and more individuals come to see that they cannot separate their own individual growth from universal enlightenment, they will become more and more selfless and relaxed, cheerfully shedding the unnecessary weight of excessive concern for the personality. In the archetypal instruction of The Voice of the Silence:
Thou shalt not separate thy being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean. So shalt thou be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother. Of teachers there are many; the MASTER-SOUL is one, Alaya, the Universal Soul. Live in that MASTER as ITS ray in thee. Live in thy fellows as they live in IT.
In the vast pilgrimage of each individual ray there are certain moments when it is necessary to go up or down, to go forward and selflessly merge with all humanity, or to slip backwards towards the imprisoning vortices of self-destruction in negative meditation. In such moments of choice, it is impossible to avoid the pain and suffering naturally attendant upon every true birth. One cannot be reborn into the new type of humanity unless one is willing to die as the old Adam, the old creature of habits given to spiritual paranoia, mental drowsiness and psychic daydreaming. This tattered shell must be replaced from within the voidness of one’s own meditation by the embryo of the person of tomorrow.
We are in the 5th race, and we have already passed the turning or axial point of our ‘sub-race cycle’. Eventually as the current phenomena and the increase of sensitive organisms in our age go to prove, this Humanity will be moving swiftly on the path of pure spirituality, and will reach the apex (of our Race) at the end of the 7th sub-race. In plainer and fuller language…we shall be, at that period, on the same degree of spirituality that belonged to, and was natural in, the 1st sub-race of the 3rd Root-race of the FOURTH Round; and the second half of it (or that half in which we now are) will be, owing to the law of correspondence, on parallel lines with the first half of the THIRD Round. –The Theosophist, April 1886, H. P. Blavatsky
The quickening of spiritual perception and the restoration of the primordial spirituality of the First Sub-Race of the Third Root Race by the end of the present Fifth Root Race are not nearly so distant as they may seem to human beings as yet unprepared in consciousness to slough old skins. Indeed, they are the vital components of the Logoic impulse of the Aquarian Age. The incapacity of human beings in general to recognize the immanence of the restoration of archetypal spiritual humanity is bound up with their ostrich-like obsession with life in a physical form. The difficulty of extricating oneself from this mental obscuration is aggravated for many by the accelerated pace of karmic precipitation during the present Kali Yuga. This yuga, which has already passed away some five thousand of its four hundred and thirty-two thousand years, is a relatively short time when seen from the perspective of the Root Races and Sub-Races. It will indeed end before the completion of the present Fifth Root Race, and be followed by an ascent through the yugas towards the Satya Yuga, the whole process proceeding pari passu with the development of the final Sub-Races of the present Root Race.
The four yugas may be understood in terms of a descent from the most golden age to the most decadent, followed by a reascent to a golden age that represents a spiralling spiritual advance over the starting-point of the cycle. But these yugas do not mechanically and automatically apply to all human beings in the same way. Babies, for example, are not in Kali Yuga, but rather experience something like a Satya Yuga, albeit briefly. The yugas are relative to states of consciousness, and since all people even in a single city are on different planes of consciousness, their states of mind vary dramatically according to the dominant concerns of what may be called their lines of life’s meditation. So too they vary in their capacity to control the twenty-eight-day cycle of the moon and to master the cycles of the seasons of nature. Whether it be for a day, a week or an entire year, individuals must therefore train themselves to adapt their plastic mental potency to the prevailing conditions of periodic phenomena. Through the noumenal power of resolve they can always establish counterbalancing measures capable of producing successively higher levels of equilibrium.
For those capable of taking and adhering to vows, Kali Yuga affords a great opportunity. In other times one may postpone the results of one’s actions; in Kali Yuga the results return very rapidly. Many people, experiencing this intensification of karma, have developed elaborate theories regarding the pace of change in the modern era, culture shock, future shock and the like; in truth, it is simply the result of an acceleration in the vortex of precipitation in Kali Yuga. When this factor is compounded by the embryonic forces of the Aquarian Age, everything happens much faster within a month, within a week, or even within a day, than was considered possible a century ago. Souls either lose their spiritual vibration more quickly, or hold a vibration and move much faster with it. They can more rapidly descend into a lower state of consciousness or more speedily ascend to a higher state of consciousness. As in mountain climbing, the higher one goes, the greater the danger of giddiness and falling, and the more precipitous the potential fall the higher and more rarefied the atmosphere in which it takes place. But if one maintains steadiness in the thin air of higher altitudes, one’s perspective may suddenly expand. This is true both on the mental and physical planes; in Kali Yuga karmic causes may be rapidly exhausted, and illusions rapidly destroyed. Opportunities are thus unusually abundant. As more and more individuals experience this rapid destruction of illusions, they can experience many more lifetimes within a single incarnation than ever before. As the consequences of a fall are much more serious and severe in Kali Yuga, so too the possibilities of spiritual self-regeneration are much more golden.
Because humanity will soon find itself at a level corresponding to the First Sub-Race of the Third Root Race, the ability to participate self-consciously in the self-regeneration of humanity will require the awakening of trans-rational powers of apprehension. Since the latter half of the present Round corresponds to the first half of the Third Round, renascent primordial spirituality has already begun to overshadow and eclipse the actual mentality, the cold human reason, characteristic of the earlier eras of the Fourth Round. Anticipations of this tendency have grown increasingly strong, so that in many individuals spiritual intuition outruns mental capacity or analytic facility. Many either do not take the lower mind seriously, or will not subject what is valuable in their lives to the narrow tests of analysis. Psychoanalysts or other types of analysts seem increasingly unnecessary, as people work out their problems on their own, often by simply preserving their intuitions in the face of adversity. There is also a growing awareness of the reality of spiritual vibrations. Insofar as people think of themselves as starved for affection, they put an enormous and double-edged emphasis upon the feeling nature. As this makes them more passive, it makes them more vulnerable, more removed from their spiritual toughness and mental strength. But it also kindles a sense of empathy and sensitivity, and allows them to unfold more intuitive insight.
As the work of the present cycle proceeds, and the ratios affecting the quality of souls taking incarnation are shifted upwards, towards the mystically inclined, even the outward character of humanity will witness a gradual shift of tonality and colour. Already, the contemporary emphasis upon tenderness and sensitivity has begun to shift attention away from the equations of aggressiveness and success, of success and happiness. Like a Neanderthal monster, the loud-mouthed, over-assertive personality is being replaced by a new kind of soul whose ideal is a delicacy of perception. The bullies of old have lost their fascination for the great mass of human beings, and are able to reinforce themselves in their desperation only by ganging together in cowardly cliques. Like museum pieces or relics, they conceal their weakness only by frightening those who are so foolish as to be predisposed to be frightened by them. It would be wiser for individuals to concentrate their attention upon that which is truly significant for the forward march of human evolution. Here as elsewhere everything is a function of spiritual attention; one can either set one’s vision upon the stars or else bury it in the sand. One can either raise one’s senses to the potential richness of human evolution, or lower them to the enslaving excrescences of the past. Now more than ever before vast numbers of human beings are choosing the former and setting their sights upon a higher consciousness more and more.
Spiritual endurance can only be acquired by rethinking one’s whole life and by reshaping one’s psyche. This requires enormous courage and deep resolve. One can either remain captive to the endless recurrence of old mistakes, or guide oneself firmly in the opposite direction. At seasonal times of renewal, it is possible to reaffirm and renew one’s spiritual resolutions. It is always possible to tap the infinite resources of the primordial spirituality of the human race, and thereby draw into the current of the Mahatmas and Bodhisattvas who live eternally, regenerating the world and its humanity. Yet every resolve is tested during karmically necessary subsequent descents into materiality and form. Those strong in the power of meditation can, at the end of a month, look back at their New Year’s resolutions and assess their progress. With each succeeding week, month and season they can reaffirm their resolutions, progressively strengthening within themselves the ladder of ascent in consciousness. Others may momentarily or entirely forget their resolves, and find themselves waiting for the next new year. There will always be some who are carried away by a momentary enthusiasm, and others who choose to stay with their decisions and cooperate with the forward march of human evolution into the indefinite and infinite future. So long as human beings are self-conscious and have the power of choice, nothing is automatic. Because spirituality progressively dominates over materiality, it is becoming increasingly more difficult and disastrous to stand still or regress. If individuals do not self-consciously insert themselves into the archetype of the humanity of the future, they are confronted after death by the increasingly precarious technical problem of finding vestures for their further human incarnations.
Those who awaken and use compassionately the higher powers of creative reason and imagination will be blessed to find themselves able to incarnate in future civilizations where collective enlightenment and spiritual advance proceed swiftly. Others, less able or willing to take advantage of sacred privileges and opportunities, will find themselves wrapt in the protective folds of spiritually and mentally sluggish cycles. Throughout human evolution, the mathematical law of karma works ceaselessly, setting limits and affording opportunities. The twin threads of justice and mercy are the warp and woof of karma, weaving the dominant patterns which determine the overall changes, mutations and transformations in human consciousness. Each human being has the opportunity to awaken and restore an awareness of the primordial mystery of Spirit, and joyfully enter the reascending stream of human consciousness as it spirals back to its eternal source.
AFTER FIFTY-FIVE YEARS of service to the Theosophical Movement and to the emerging City of Man, Sri Raghavan Iyer passed away on June 20, 1995 in Santa Barbara, California. His profound insights into the spiritual promise and therapeutic trials of contemporary man, his radical proposals for creative modes of individual and collective growth, and his deep devotion to a new and more vibrant world culture will continue to resonate to myriad, receptive souls for generations and centuries to come.
Sri Raghavan Iyer’s publications include Parapolitics – Toward the City of Man, The Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi, The Society of the Future, The Glass Curtain, Novus Ordo Seclorum, The Jewel in the Lotus, The Bhagavad Gita, The Dhammapada, The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi (3 Volumes), The Descent of the Gods and The Essential Gandhi.