What is an "eternity"
Nov 13, 2001 01:18 PM
by Peter Merriott
> JERRY TO PETER: Yes, and I have no problem with immortal, as I have said.
Atman is immortal but not eternal except as Blavatsky defines eternal -
lasting for one manvantara.
> JERRY TO DANIEL: I don't recall where, and don't have the time to find
them, but somewhere Blavatsky says that she uses "eternity" as the length of
a manvantara, and "infinity" as being the boundaries of our solar system. So
she somewhat limits both terms, and in fact it was reading these limitations
many years ago that persuaded me to join the TS.
As to the definition you give to "infinity", I am not aware of anywhere HPB
says it stands for the boundaries of our Solar System. I'd been interested
to know where you think she says that.
As to the term "Eternity" - you are partly right, partly wrong in the above.
Like the word "spirit" and many other terms, HPB uses the word "eternity"
to mean different things depending on the context. On page 5 of the PROEM,
for example, she (or rather the Mahatma she quotes from) uses it to mean
that Infinite duration in which the unknown Essence always exists,
alternating between Manvantara and Pralaya. She quite often uses the term
to refer to the state of the Universe in Pralaya, eg 'Kosmos' is in Eternity
as distinct from being in manifestation. There are endless references to
this use of the term throughout all her writings.
She also uses the word "eternity" in a more technical and specific sense to
refer to a *part* of a Manvantara. But even what she means by "a part" can
vary depending on whether the manvantara in question refers to 'a globe',
'the chain of planets', 'the Solar System' & so on. Thus each time the
meaning or length of time associated with the term "eternity" is also
different - *depending on the context*. For example:
- SD I 36: where she states a Manvantara is made up of seven periods called
"seven eternities". - - SD I 192: where she says the word "eternity" could
also be used to mean "a Round", eg the 4th Round of our planetary chain.
- SD I 206: where she writes the term "Eternity" is being used to signify
"..the seventh part of 311,040,000,000,000 years, or an age of Brahma
[Maha-Manvantara] is meant."
There are also the seven eternities in which Space rests "wrapped in her
ever invisible robes" (Stanza I, sloka 1). Here she is using the term to
refer to the duration of a pralaya. On a larger scale we find in the SD
that Paranirvana (the Maha Pralaya) is referred to as "311,040,000,000,000
years of absorption in Brahm" (SD I 134) This is important, because it
is through this period of PARA NIRVANA (the Maha Pralaya) that HPB states
the Monads, the Parabrahmic spirits, retain their sense of Individuality
and emerge once more at the next Maha-Manvantara to carry on their journey.
You, or others, may not want to agree with her and that's fine. But it is
what she states.
Here is a fuller version of the quote which I and others have pointed out to
you a number of times (from the SD) but for some reason you manage not to
refer to its substance.
"I maintain as an Occultist, on the authority of the Secret Doctrine, that
though merged entirely into Parabrahm, man’s spirit while not individual per
se, yet preserves its distinct individuality in Paranirvana owing to the
accumulation in it of the aggregates, or skandhas that have survived after
each death, from the highest faculties of the Manas. The most spiritual –
i.e., the highest and divinest aspirations of every personality follow
Buddhi and the Seventh Principle into Devachan (Swarga) after the death of
each personality along the line of rebirths, and become part and parcel of
the MONAD. The personality fades out... but the individuality of the
spirit-soul is preserved to the end of the great cycle (Maha-manvantara)
when each Ego enters Paranirvana, or it is merged in Parabrahm. To our
talpatic, or mole-like, comprehension the human spirit is then lost in the
One Spirit, as the drop of water thrown into the sea can no longer be traced
or recovered. But de facto it is not so in the world of immaterial
thought... That such Parabrahmic and Paranirvanic “spirits”, or units, have
and must preserve their divine (not human) individualities, is shown in the
fact that, however long the “night of Brahma” or even the Universal Pralaya
(not the local Pralaya affecting some one group of worlds) yet, when it
ends, the same individual Divine Monad, resumes its majestic path of
evolution, though on higher, hundred-fold perfected and more pure chain of
earths than before and bring with it all the essence of compound
spiritualities from its previous countless rebirths."
(CW VII 52)
HPB is not simply referring to what you call 'the MONAD proper as distinct
from its ray, Atma-Buddhi'. She is referring to Atma-Buddhi, the
individuality of the spirit-soul, which lasts to the end of the
Maha-Manvantara and preserves its divine individuality throughout the
Maha-Pralaya & so on. Nor is the above a one-off quote. For we find this
same doctrine repeated in many places throughout her works. Here is a
another similar passage.
"Nor is the individuality -- nor even the essence of the personality, if any
be left behind -- lost, because re-absorbed [in paranirvana]. For, however
limitless -- from a human standpoint -- the paranirvanic state, it has yet a
limit in Eternity. Once reached, the same monad will re-emerge therefrom, as
a still higher being, on a far higher plane, to recommence its cycle of
perfected activity. The human mind cannot in its present stage of
development transcend, scarcely reach this plane of thought. It totters
here, on the brink of incomprehensible Absoluteness and Eternity."
(SD I 266)
I feel there is a great deal to discover about what this kind of
"individuality" really means. It obviously means something beyond what we
normally associate with the dictionay definition of that term, linking it as
we do with personality. In the same passage that HPB asserts the
'parabrahmic spirits retain their divine individuality in paranirvana', she
"I make no difference between my Seventh Principle and the Universal Spirit
or Parabrahm; nor do I believe in an individual, segregated spirit in me, AS
SOMETHING APART FROM THE WHOLE."
(CW V 52, caps added)
Which shows that she did not believe INDIVIDUALITY and separateness were
equivalent at the level of the Monad.
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application