In 1888, H. P. Blavatsky wrote of the Sun’s upcoming position in the Zodiacal cycle: “When it enters, in a few years, the sign of Aquarius, psychologists will have some extra work to do, and the psychic idiosyncrasies of humanity will enter on a great change.” (“Esoteric Character of the Gospels,” Lucifer) H.P.B.’s prescient remarks were written fourteen years before 1902, the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. She not only anticipated the heavy task of future psychologists, but she also gave students of Theosophy a clue as to their charge in the new cycle: spiritual self-regeneration in the service of humanity. She further wrote, “This Zodiacal cycle shifts psychological emphasis from a Piscean to an uplifting Aquarian tonality of consciousness based on an ideal of a perfected human being with higher Manas (Atma–Buddhi–Manas).” (Ibid)
In 1890, H.P.B. compiled several hundred ancient axioms for the benefit of students in a now little known but nevertheless treasured volume she entitled, Gems from the East: a Birthday Book of Precepts and Axioms. Ten of these pivotal axioms were culled and included in Theosophical Tenets: The Path of Self-Regeneration (Concord Grove Press). Referred to in Theosophical Tenets as the “Aquarian Axioms,” these ancient principles serve as beneficial aids to noetically navigating the personal and social transformations of the Age of Aquarius.
The following are some thoughts and reflections gleaned from a study of these ten Aquarian Axioms:
Life is built up by the sacrifice of the individual to the whole. Each cell in the living body must sacrifice itself to the perfection of the whole; when it is otherwise, disease and death enforce the lesson.
All parts are parts by virtue of their relation and contribution to the whole. Each part is not the whole per se. A living being must adapt to the dynamic needs of the whole as a drop in the ocean. A wave, while an important contributor, cannot be understood without considering its relationship and contribution to the whole. Each part must adapt, sacrifice, and purify itself in order to fit itself intelligently to the dynamic conditions of the whole.
What must we sacrifice for the benefit of the whole? We must let go of our limited attitudes and loosen the consolidating tendencies of the lower ego, which focuses on the pursuit of pleasures and the avoidance of pain. This ego must be put in its proper place obeying one’s self-appointed duty, one’s svadharma. As the Bhagavad Gita tells us, we must renounce “the fruits of action”. Desire can be uplifted and refined to allow us to perceive and act from our higher triad—Atma, Buddhi, Manas. Otherwise the dis-ease of separateness sets in. Personal beliefs and illusions coalesce. We are alienated and ultimately disconnected from the life giving higher energies, which emanate from the transcendent Atman.
Harmony is the law of life, discord its shadow; whence springs suffering, the teacher, the awakener of consciousness.
When our thoughts and actions are separative we act against the fundamental law of Harmony. This brings about discord, harmony’s shadow, giving rise to suffering. Karma, the law of ethical causation and the restorer of equilibrium, may serve as our teacher to awaken consciousness.
But what is the consciousness that learns from suffering? Human beings have degrees of choice. If our consciousness is trapped in the lower principles, especially kama manas, error can be accompanied with blame and discord, an “us vs them” mentality ensues allowing us to avoid and externalize responsibility. By recognizing our basic human solidarity and by meditating on our higher triad—Atman, Buddhi, Manas, we may calmly take responsibility for error (to err is human). We can focus on possible Karmic causes for our motives, actions and identifications. We can initiate new causes in the form of new streams of thought and more harmonious thoughts and actions without reifying the past. With humility, we can embrace the pain evoked by loss or discord to earnestly rethink presuppositions, governing values, and means of action for the purpose of self-reform. This enhances mutual culture.
In practical application, we can “draw the larger circle.” We can widen our circle of consideration by reasoning from abstract principles, from above below, to gain a greater perspective and a sense of proportion. With this mental posture, we can do “reconnaissance” by a survey of alternative perspectives and thus understand and appreciate many different points of view, all the while standing our own moral ground. Even with a “team of rivals” as exemplified by Abraham Lincoln, we can evoke and evolve a more harmonious and holistic understanding, stimulating a creative approach to a situation—assuming we patiently work with Karma and have a bit of wit (signifying detachment from the tyranny of the immediate). Fusing the metaphysics of universal unity and causation with the ethics of harmony and non-violence, we can cultivate more rounded rather than angular approaches.
The next three axioms discuss the nature of Self-knowledge.
To obtain knowledge of Self is a greater achievement than to command the elements or to know the future.
What is meant by the knowledge of the Self? Knowledge of Self involves an exalted understanding of the SELF of all. Yet the rocky and winding inner path to developing the power of moral and mental discrimination is vitally important for discerning the Real from the unreal. Perception of the true and the false in limited situations can be drawn out, uplifting the tone of speech through recognizing multiple contributions in a field of interdependence and universal unity. The uplifting and drawing out of potential in oneself for the good of all exemplifies the possibility for others to do the same.
” ‘Great Sifter’ is the name of the ‘Heart Doctrine’, O Disciple.”
The Voice of the Silence
Self-knowledge is unattainable by what men usually call ‘self-analysis’. It is not reached by reasoning or any brain powers.
Using only cognition derived from brainpower, drastically limits reasoning. One becomes confined and cribbed by the personality, which is but a bundle of habits and sensations. Discontinuity in one’s consciousness thus results because the exclusive use of brainpower cuts off the light of the formless—the Higher Triad. Self-correction, while being the basis of contemporary science and philosophy, is held hostage to reasoning by the personality and existing images. It is usually confined to the level of perception of awareness at which the error is identified and subsequently applied. Thus, much contemporary science and philosophy do not involve higher Self-knowledge.
Real Self-Knowledge is the awakening to consciousness of the divine nature of man.
What is real Self-Knowledge? Discerning the Real from the unreal. We are potentially Divine Beings because we have a spark of the Divine in us. However, our connection to the Divine realm of consciousness, the always-present light of the Atman which shines on all, is obscured. We have all had many lives on Earth in the world of matter and retain particular impurities in our natures obscuring the waters of soul-wisdom. We can augment our inductive and analytical reasoning skills with practice in meditation on universal and abstract principles.
Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, points to the ideal of the Self-governed Sage and guides us in our practice of awakening to the “divine nature of man.” Moral fitness begins by looking into our motives in our daily rounds and facing ourselves. We must renounce the shadow and the weak within ourselves, in favor of cleansing and cultivating a true heart and altruism for others. This allows the release of our Spiritual Will on behalf of the whole.
Axioms six to ten focus on how we can realize and use our Spiritual Will, intelligently and benevolently as we travel on the spiritual path.
Will creates intelligently; Desire blindly and unconsciously.
What is the will? According to the Rig Veda, behind will, stands desire. “Desire first arose in It.” Through aeons of evolution, the desire principle is reflected in the living intelligence in all of life. In more rarefied levels of the spiritual realm, desire and will are more homogeneous and intertwined. In the realm of earthly material form and differentiation, consciousness is more diffused. In the lower quaternary, or lower manas, the mind responds to a diversity of desires and energies with a struggle to integrate them with ordinary reason. We call this maturity. However, without the umbrella of spiritual knowledge, desire creates blindly since it is obscured from any moral direction. Desire then simply responds to the heterogeneous, external allurements on the earthly plane to fulfill itself, thus occluding the light and limiting the mind to one’s narrow, egotistical personality. We need to recover the inspiration of soul-wisdom in order to gain illumination and discernment while regulating and focusing the desires towards worthy ends.
“For mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek, O Beginner, to blend thy Mind and Soul.”
The Voice of the Silence
When desire is for the purely abstract—when it has lost all trace or tinge of ‘self’—then it has become pure.
It is only through mindful cleansing of a variety of afflictive emotions and negative tendencies that we can begin to lose the tinge of ‘self’. Aspiration can be purified into a more one-pointed desire to abide in a more homogenous plane of consciousness: living in the Eternal light without name or form. This progression to abstract principles can put us in alignment and attunement with unseen but greater evolutionary intelligences in the cosmos. It is only through the attainment of this Self-knowledge, earned through disciplined meditation and self-study over many lives, that we can kindle a more universal motive, thus releasing the Spiritual Will to expand and uplift the moral and mental atmosphere for others in our daily rounds.
It is possible to experience a mini Golden Age in consciousness even in the midst of Kali Yuga. The concluding three axioms provide an intimation of patterns of thought and understanding, consciousness and form, involved in Aquarian Spirituality.
Spirituality is not what we understand by the words “virtue and goodness.” It is the power of perceiving formless, spiritual essences.
This axiom implies that in the Aquarian Age, seekers can, through right effort, apprehend the greater intelligent forces of the Age and quicken their spiritual intuition, their Atma-Buddhic function. Unconditional love, for example, becomes a universal identification based on compassion for all of life while witnessing it in the particulars; thus consciousness can be uplifted without getting trapped in spiritual materialism or over-identifying and attaching our minds to lower psychic powers.
“Compassion is no attribute. It is the Law of Laws—eternal Harmony, Alaya’s SELF; a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting Right, and fitness of all things, the law of Love eternal.”
The Voice of the Silence
The discovery and right use of the true essence of Being—this is the whole secret of life.
There is the One Life, the one Universal Unity and Causation pervading the Universe. By raising our consciousness, purifying our minds–with constancy in meditation and self-study over many lives– the light of the Atman with the whisperings of Buddhi wedded to a receptive Manas, can go beyond the realm of appearances and forms. This discovery must be cultivated in secret and allowed to gestate in silence. The ethical power of perceiving Spiritual Truth with the laser light of intuition can instantly get to the heart of the matter.
You cannot build a Temple of Truth by hammering dead stones. Its foundations must precipitate themselves like crystals from the solution of Life.
What is a Temple of Truth? A Temple is consecrated to knowledge, both manifest and hidden. Devotion to such knowledge voluntarily gives oblation to those Knowers of that Knowledge who have gone before. The devotee accepts the disciplines with the exacting requirements of entry. On the inner plane, those that enter through spiritual identification need to purify their inner nature and let the radiance of Truth shine in, giving room for the motion of Spirit to regenerate and move the soul, the inner man, into the stream of the One Life. Rather than follow the letter of the law or reinforce past rituals by “hammering dead stones,” we can become attuned to our inner, divine, noetic nature. Thus, more rounded solutions coming from above and below can emerge, just as naturally precipitated crystals of strength and beauty do.
In the current transitional period, there is a destructuring of ideas, institutions and thought forms, within the alembic of human suffering. If we are fortunate, the self-questioning and soul searching that goes with such suffering will move us from our sectarian and ideological shells into a wider awareness of the needs of the Family of Man. The “extra work” of this new psychology involves, as H.P.B. says, assuming “an uplifting Aquarian tonality of consciousness based on an ideal of a perfected human being with higher Manas (Atma-Buddhi-Manas).” This transformation in self-reliant consciousness includes a shift in emphasis from charity to the active search for understanding; from earnest faith to gaining Spiritual knowledge; and from relying on societal definitions of “being good” to cultivating authentic, transcendental Virtues. The question “Who am I?” is intimately connected to how we relate to our fellow human beings and to our mother Earth. It involves manifesting more mobile, flexible modes of harmony, trust and cooperation as well as an ever expanding appreciation of diversity in this, our Aquarian Age.
A Theosophical student
Printed by permission of the author.