LANGUAGE and MEANING
Nov 17, 2005 05:34 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
November 17, 2005
Re: LANGUAGE and MEANING
We often seem to get embroiled in using words that mean different things to
several of us. Under those circumstances we usually end up in long
exchanges trying to make ourselves better understood.
I came across this article and thought it might help.
As I see it, it offers the concept that behind and within the words used we
probably agree more often than not on ideas and mental processes.
When we do have trouble, is sometimes our sources of reference are unknown
to some of our correspondents. If those can be quoted, then much of this
One of these instances is the beginning, present age and probable future --
or the termination of our Earth and Universe (not to mention ourselves as
"Mind-beings." ) Traditions are referred to -- but, does logic agree ?
Did our present Universe actually have its roots in an earlier one?
Will our present Universe (and our work in it) survive, and give hope that
it is not wasted effort ?
As an example, in The VOICE OF THE SILENCE, the LIGHT ON THE PATH, the
BHAGAVAD GITA and PATANJALI'S YOGA SUTRAS we find that the words like "mind"
and "soul" are used, sometimes for BUDDHI-MANAS, or KAMA-MANAS, or just
plain MANAS (using the Theosophical definitions we can find in The KEY TO
THEOSOPHY, The SECRET DOCTRINE, or The OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY .
Some object to a "moral" shading of some concepts -- what is meant is merely
the observance of the universal laws of complete openness, fair-play and
In other expressions we find a continued underlying emphasis on pleasure,
bliss, amusement, and other forms of emotion. Is that the real end of all
The Universe has been here a long time, and (if it should be true that we,
as immortal MONADS, we are as long-lived as it is) then may we, indeed, in
time, train ourselves to become Masters of WISDOM ? That is a "goal" held
out to us to consider, is it not?
Some state that the UNIVERSE begins and ends -- but we have no way of
proving this in the "here and now." It is an assumption based on ancient
teachings and traditions.
How is it that beings limited by time (birth and death) dream of
immortality? It is true that this as a concept can be agreeably accepted as
logical -- to some, but not to others -- in which case we would ask:
What use is life if nothing can be "carried forward" that results from
How can we continue to live in a chaotic, chancy world?
Are there no reasonable solutions?
LANGUAGE and MEANING
Language is, after all, only an aid and not a substitute for the exchange of
Minds who are in harmony with each other will have no great difficulty in
understanding each others thoughts, even without the use of a great many
words, while those who are in disharmony with each other will only increase
their misunderstanding by using a great many words.
External language like any other external thing, can only be relatively
true; absolute truth is self-evident to those who can see it, and requires
no human testimony or certificates.
Every assertion requiring logical proof is therefore true or false according
to the aspect under which the object is seen; a circle seen from the plane
in which it exists, is only a straight line with two ends and a middle part;
seen from above or below it is a circle without any end; looked at sideways,
it is an ellipsoid and if one half of it is invisible it may appear to be a
All external science, however true it may be in one way, is false in
another, and all dogmatic assertions prove nothing but the vanity of him
from whom they originate; for there is no one who knows absolute Truth
except He who is Himself the Life, the Way and the Truth, the self-conscious
divine Spirit in Man.
Under such circumstances it would perhaps be wisest to be silent and to
say nothing at all, and if we nevertheless attempt to speak about things
belonging to the interior realm of Nature, it is not for the purpose that
our views should be regarded as being intended to give any new revelations;
but merely as furnishing food for thought and as an aid by which the Truth
which exists within the inner consciousness of the reader may come nearer to
his intellectual understanding. To those who have already found the truth,
we have nothing to say.
THE UNITY OF "MATTER."
A great deal has been written about the question: "What is Matter and
what is Mind ?"
Scientific and philosophical dissertations have been written without very
much elucidating the subject, the usual answer having resulted in: "Mind is
no matter, and matter never mind."
Nevertheless, the answer seems plain; for "Matter" and "Mind" are
undoubtedly two terms signifying two different aspects of modes of motion of
the eternal One. This truth is clear to the spiritual perception of those
who can see with the eye of Reason, and they require no further proof; but
even to those who are accustomed to reason only from the plane of external
observation, the Unity of the All and the consequent identity of Matter and
Mind is a fact which gradually forces itself upon their scientific
The scientific and religious world seems to be gradually rising out of
the profundity of its ignorance. Some 288 years ago Giordano Bruno was
burned alive as a heretic for having proclaimed the fact that there is only
one God and consequently only one Substance in the universe, and now the
same truth is believed in by some of the greatest luminaries of science.
Professor Suess, in his inaugural address as rector magnificus of the
university of Vienna in 1888, publicly expressed his belief in the Unity of
the All, even in the stronghold of Roman Catholicism, without being burned
or even challenged by the followers of orthodoxy. Having called the
attention of his hearers to the newest discoveries of science made by means
of the spectroscope, by which the identity of material substances existing
upon the various planets and stars is proved, and having mentioned the
important discoveries of Mendelejeff, which go to show that there is a scale
of harmony of chemical substances resembling that of colour and sound, he
spoke the following memorable words: "As the dawn precedes the sunrise,
likewise all great discoveries are preceded by a foreboding of their coming.
To-day the Unity of all Substance is instinctively felt to be a truth, but
the united labour of all nations will soon discover the way to prove it
intellectually to be so."
This old and nevertheless ever new truth that the All is only One, and
that the great variety of forms in Nature is merely a variety of forms and
not of essential being, is the fundamental basis in the pursuit of occult
study. It begins to be universally recognised, and yet its full importance
is seen only by few. It is the most sublime idea which can be grasped by the
human mind, and the consequences of its recognition reach far beyond the
limits of time into Infinity. Cornelius Agrippa says: "The One completely
penetrates every other number; it is the common measure, the foundation and
origin of all numbers. It is unchangeable and excludes multiplicity.
Multiplied with itself it is its own product; it cannot be divided into
parts but every division produces a multiplication, i. e., it produces
units, of which none is larger or smaller than the original unit and of
which every part is the whole. It is the beginning and end of all things,
but it has itself neither a beginning nor an end. All things originate from
the One, and all tends towards unity in the end; all that exists finds its
true being in the One, and those who seek for salvation in the One must get
rid of their multiplicity and return to the One."
There can only be one Love, one Life, one Power, one Wisdom, one Truth,
one Substance, one God, although each of them may become manifest in an
endless number of forms, and all these terms merely represent various
aspects of the One, whose name consists of one letter.
The One is self existent and self sufficient, and therefore eternal and
not subject to change. It will forever be intellectually incomprehensible,
because the intellect is only one of the many forms of its manifestations
and a part cannot comprehend the whole. A scientific examination can
therefore have nothing to do with qualities of the absolute One, it can only
deal with its manifestations. As soon as the One begins to manifest itself,
it steps out of the sphere of pure being and a duality comes into existence.
Formerly it was only Cause; now it is Cause and Effect and as every Action
produces a Reaction, it becomes at once a Trinity of Cause, Action and
Reaction the incomprehensible mathematical point; extending in three
dimensions, assumes the aspect of a triangle constituted of Matter and
Motion and Space.
Space represents Causality, it is unchangeable: Matter and Motion
manifest themselves in a great many ways. There are forms of matter or
Substance in the mineral, vegetable and animal Kingdoms there are
substantial forms in the realm of the Elementals and in the Kingdom of gods.
There are forms of Motion, from unconscious motion up to conscious thought,
and still higher up to the action of the self-conscious Spirit but Space
remains always the same, and there can be no other but a three-dimensional
Space; for "Space" represents Form, and Three is the number of Form. A form
with more or less than three dimensions is unthinkable, and can have no
existence for us.
To recapitulate, we have therefore the Unit'' of the Cause; the
Duality of the form of its manifestation, and the Trinity of the Effect.
Within the eternal absolute One, Matter and Motion, Will and Ideation are
one; but as soon as they manifest themselves they appear as a duality,
producing a trinity, the child, in which the qualities of the Father and
Mother find their united representation.
[This PART of an article was first printed by H. P. Blavatsky in
Lucifer for November, 1888.
Reprinted in THEOSOPHY, APRIL 1915, VOL. 3, pgs.
see also PATANJALI'S YOGA SUTRAS ( pp. 1 - 11 )
"2. Concentration, or Yoga, is the hindering of the modifications of
the thinking principle.
In other words, the want of concentration of thought is due to the fact that
here called "the thinking principle"-is subject to constant modifications by
reason of its being diffused over a multiplicity of subjects. So
"concentration" is equivalent to the correction of a tendency to,
diffuseness, and to the obtaining of what the Hindus call "one-pointedness,"
or the power to apply the mind, at any moment, to the consideration of a
single point of thought, to the exclusion of all else.
Upon this Aphorism the method of the system hinges. The reason for the
absence of concentration at any time is, that the mind is modified by every
subject and object that comes before it; it is, as it were, transformed into
that subject or object. The mind, therefore, is not the supreme or highest
power; it is only a function, an instrument with which the soul works, feels
sublunary things, and experiences. The brain, however, must not be
confounded with the mind, for the brain is in its turn but an instrument for
the mind. It therefore follows that the mind has a plane of its own,
distinct from the soul and the brain, and what is to be learned is, to use
the will, which is also a distinct power from the mind and brain, in such a
way that instead of permitting the mind to turn from one subject or object
to another just as they may move it, we shall apply it as
a servant at any time and for as long a period as we wish, to the
consideration of whatever we have decided upon.
3. At the time of concentration the soul abides in the state of a spectator
without a spectacle.
This has reference to the perfection of concentration, and is that condition
in which, by the hindering of the modifications referred to in Aphorism 2,
the soul is brought to a state of being wholly devoid of taint of, or
impression by, any subject. The "soul" here referred to is not Atma, which
4. At other times than that of concentration, the soul is in the same form
as the modification of the mind.
This has reference to the condition of the soul in ordinary life, when
concentration is not practised, and means that, when the internal organ, the
mind, is through the senses affected or modified by the form of some object,
the soul also-viewing the object through its organ, the mind- is, as it
were, altered into that form; as
a marble statue of snowy whiteness, if seen under a crimson light will seem
to the beholder crimson and so is, to the visual organs, so long as that
colored light shines upon it.
5. The modifications of the mind are of five kinds, and they are either
painful or not painful;
6. They are, Correct Cognition, Misconception, Fancy, Sleep, and Memory.
7. Correct Cognition results from Perception, Inference, and Testimony.
8. Misconception is Erroneous Notion arising from lack of Correct Cognition.
9. Fancy is a notion devoid of any real basis and following upon knowledge
conveyed by words.
For instance, the terms "a hare's horns" and "the head of Rahu," neither of
which has anything in nature corresponding to the notion.
A person hearing the expression "the head of Rahu" naturally fancies that
there is a Rahu who owns the head, whereas Rahu-a mythical monster who is
said to cause eclipses by swallowing the sun-is all head and has no body;
and, although the expression "a hare's horns" is frequently used, it is well
known that there is no such thing in nature. Much in the same way people
continue to speak of the sun's "rising" and "setting," although they hold to
the opposite theory.
10. Sleep is that modification of the mind which ensues upon the quitting of
all objects by the mind, by reason of all the waking senses and faculties
sinking into abeyance.
11. Memory is the not letting go of an object that one has been aware of.
12. The hindering of the modifications of the mind already referred to, is
to be effected by means of Exercise and Dispassion.
13. Exercise is the uninterrupted, or
repeated, effort that the mind shall remain in its unmoved state.
This is to say that in order to acquire concentration we must, again and
again, make efforts to obtain such control over the mind that we can, at any
time when it seems necessary, so reduce it to an unmoved condition or apply
it to any one point to the exclusion of all others.
14. This exercise is a firm position observed out of regard for the end in
view, and perseveringly adhered to for a long time without intermission.
The student must not conclude from this that he can never acquire
concentration unless he devotes every moment of his life to it, for the
words "without intermission" apply but to the length of time that has been
set apart for the practice.
15. Dispassion is the having overcome one's desires.
That is- the attainment of a state of being in which the consciousness is
passions, desires, and ambitions, which aid in causing modifications of the
16. Dispassion, carried to the utmost, is indifference regarding all else
than soul, and this indifference arises from a knowledge of soul as
distinguished from all else.
17. There is a meditation of the kind called "that in which there is
distinct cognition," and which is of a four-fold character because of
Argumentation, Deliberation, Beatitude, Egoism.
The sort of meditation referred to is a pondering wherein the nature of that
which is to be pondered upon is well known, without doubt or error, and it
is a distinct cognition which excludes every other modification of the mind
than that which is to be pondered upon.
1. The Argumentative division of this meditation is a pondering upon a
subject with argument as to its nature in comparison with something else;
as, for instance, the question whether
mind is the product of matter or precedes matter.
2. The Deliberative division is a pondering in regard to whence have come,
and where is the field of action, of the subtler senses and the mind.
3. The Beatific condition is that in which the higher powers of the mind,
together with truth in the abstract, are pondered upon.
4. The Egoistic division is one in which the meditation has proceeded to
such a height that all lower subjects and objects are lost sight of, and
nothing remains but the cognition of the self, which then becomes a
stepping-stone to higher degrees of meditation.
The result of reaching the fourth degree, called Egoism, is that a distinct
recognition of the object or subject with which the meditation began is
lost, and self-consciousness alone results; but this self-consciousness does
not include the consciousness of the Absolute or Supreme Soul.
18. The meditation just described is preceded by the exercise of thought
without argumentation. Another sort of meditation is in the shape
of the self-reproduction of thought after the departure of all objects from
the field of the mind.
19. The meditative state attained by those whose discrimination does not
extend to pure spirit, depends upon the phenomenal world.
20. In the practice of those who are, or may be, able to discriminate as to
pure spirit, their meditation is preceded by Faith, Energy, Intentness (upon
a single point), and Discernment, or thorough discrimination of that which
is to be known.
It is remarked here by the commentator, that "in him who has Faith there
arises Energy, or perseverance in meditation, and, thus persevering, the
memory of past subjects springs up, and his mind becomes absorbed in
Intentness, in consequence of the recollection of the subject, and he whose
mind is absorbed in meditation
arrives at a thorough discernment of the matter pondered upon."
21. The attainment of the state of abstract meditation is speedy, in the
case of the hotly impetuous.
22. Because of the mild, the medium, and the transcendent nature of the
methods adopted, there is a distinction to be made among those who practise
23. The state of abstract meditation may be attained by profound devotedness
toward the Supreme Spirit considered in its comprehensible manifestation as
It is said that this profound devotedness is a preeminent means of attaining
abstract meditation and its fruits. "Ishwara" is the Spirit in the body.
24. Ishwara is a spirit, untouched by troubles, works, fruits of works, or
25. In Ishwara becomes infinite that
omniscience which in man exists but as a germ.
26. Ishwara is the preceptor of all, even of the earliest of created beings,
for He is not limited by time.
27. His name is OM. " ..
40. The student whose mind is thus steadied obtains a mastery which extends
from the Atomic to the Infinite.
41. The mind that has been so trained that the ordinary modifications of its
action are not present, but only those which occur upon the conscious taking
up of an object for contemplation, is changed into the likeness of that
which is pondered upon, and enters into full comprehension of the being
42. This change of the mind into the likeness of what is pondered upon, is
technically called the Argumentative condition, when there is any
mixing-up of the title of the thing, the significance and application of
that title, and the abstract knowledge of the qualities and elements of the
thing per se.
43. On the disappearance, from the plane of contemplation, of the title and
significance of the object selected for meditation; when the abstract thing
itself, free from distinction by designation, is presented to the mind only
as an entity, that is what is called the Non-Argumentative condition of
These two aphorisms (42-43) describe the first and second stages of
meditation, in the mind properly intent upon objects of a gross or material
nature. The next aphorism has reference to the state when subtile, or
higher, objects are selected for contemplative meditation.
44. The Argumentative and Non-Argumentative conditions of the mind,
described in the preceding two aphorisms, also obtain when the object
selected for meditation is subtile, or of a higher nature than sensuous
45. That meditation which has a subtile object in view ends with the
indissoluble element called primordial matter.
46. The mental changes described in the foregoing, constitute "meditation
with its seed."
"Meditation with its seed" is that kind of meditation in which there is
still present before the mind a distinct object to be meditated upon.
18. The Universe, including the visible and the invisible, the essential
nature of which is compounded of purity, action, and rest, and which
consists of the elements and the organs of action, exists for the sake of
the soul's experience and emancipation.
19. The divisions of the qualities are the diverse, the non-diverse, those
which may be resolved once but no farther, and the irresolvable.
The "diverse " are such as the gross elements and the organs of sense; the
"non-diverse," the subtile elements and the mind; the "once resolvable," the
intellect, which can be resolved into undifferentiated matter but no
farther; and the "irresolvable," indiscrete matter.
20. The soul is the Perceiver; is assuredly vision itself pure and simple;
unmodified; and looks directly upon ideas.
21. For the sake of the soul alone, the Universe exists.
The commentator adds: "Nature in energizing does not do so with a view to
any purpose of her own, but with the design, as it were, expressed in the
words 'let me bring about the soul's experience.'"
22. Although the Universe in its objective state has ceased to be, in
respect to that man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual
cultivation, it has not ceased in respect to all others, because it is
common to others besides him.
23. The conjuncture of the soul with the organ of thought, and thus with
nature, is the cause of its apprehension of the actual condition of
the nature of the Universe and of the soul itself.
24. The cause of this conjuncture is what is to be quitted, and that cause
25. The quitting consists in the ceasing of the conjuncture, upon which
ignorance disappears, and this is the Isolation of the soul.
That which is meant in this and in the preceding two aphorisms is that the
conjuncture of soul and body, through repeated reincarnations, is due to its
absence of discriminative knowledge of the nature of the soul and its
environment, and when this discriminative knowledge has been attained, the
conjuncture, which was due to the absence of discrimination, ceases of its
26. The means of quitting the state of bondage to matter is perfect
discriminative knowledge, continuously maintained.
The import of this-among other things-is
that the man who has attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation
maintains his consciousness, alike while in the body, at the moment of
quitting it, and when he has passed into higher spheres; and likewise when
returning continues it unbroken while quitting higher spheres, when
re-entering his body, and in resuming action on the material plane.
27. This perfect discriminative knowledge possessed by the man who has
attained to the perfection of spiritual cultivation, is of seven kinds, up
to the limit of meditation.
28. Until this perfect discriminative knowledge is attained, there results
from those practices which are conducive to concentration, an illumination
more or less brilliant which is effective for the removal of impurity.
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