In turning to the second and third fundamental propositions in H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, the “Being” of the unborn cosmic atom frolics on the “Be-ness” of the “boundless plane” of the “Eternity of the Universe.”1 The boundless plane is the immaculate white disk or the “Eye of Self-Existence.”2 It is the Eye of Self-Existence for two reasons. First, the vision of the “Be-ness” of unconditioned consciousness operates as a seeing without objects. No otherness exists for this type of seeing; therefore, the seeing is self-existent. Second, the vision of the “Be-ness” never becomes distracted by exteriorizing the process of its seeing to take into account its own luminescence. There is no process of exteriorizing vision in ultimate reality. But since the flip side of ultimate reality is a conventional reality of constructed appearances, the self-existent must reflect a self-appearance. The theoretical fall from the unconditioned consciousness of “Be-ness” to the consciousness of “Being” occurs when that self-appearance is taken to be real. There is a type of consciousness in the luminescence of the immaculate white disk that takes the self-apparent reflection of the self-existent to be real. This consciousness becomes distracted by the luminescence of the immaculate white disk and exteriorizes the vision of the luminescence as something other than itself. But unable to comprehend the luminescence in its wholeness, it views that luminescence as an underbelly of darkness. This underbelly of Space is the Universal Oversoul; the viewing consciousness is the Soul. Captivated by the contrast between itself as a luminescent spark and the darkness of its mother, this consciousness grasps at the otherness in which it resides. Due to its grasping, consciousness explodes into a self-conscious spark that shoots across the vast expanse of the latent Universal Oversoul. The playground of this active Soul is the blackened underbelly of its mother Space and the luminescent boundless plane of its father, the Eternity of the Universe.

With the exteriorizing of the vision of the Universal Oversoul through its spark, the luminescence of unconditioned consciousness has to be shadowed by the darkness of bare subjectivity; bare subjectivity, though a highly spiritual parent-source, is the beginning of ignorance. The Soul, having gestated in the moistness of its parent Universal Oversoul, becomes, when the proper hour strikes, one of the “manifesting stars” and “sparks” in eternity against the backdrop of the Eternity of the Universe “in toto”—meaning both the Parabrahmanic luminescence and the Mulaprakritic darkness.3 The Mulaprakritic darkness, as the “Universal Mind or Space,” has “its ideation which is projected into objectivity at the appointed time,” but it itself is “not affected thereby.”4 This ideation of divine thought pours into the Soul from the Universal Oversoul. The Soul then manifests this divine thought as the great cosmic intelligence of Mahat to the numberless universes “incessantly manifesting” from and “disappearing” into it as the pilgrim monad.5 The numberless universes have to manifest and disappear because all the member monads of an infinite series cannot exist at the same time in the same way. The light of these universes illuminates the darkened underbelly of its mother and reunites with the luminescence of its father. Mulaprakriti, as the root of matter, provides the magnitude for the potentially infinite Parabrahman to always have a part beyond itself. As such, Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti serve as the “playground” of the Soul.6 Observing the distinction between unconditioned consciousness and bare subjectivity, the Soul replicates that dualism into the processes of “Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking” that preside at the heart of the smaller universes that it itself emanates, oversees, and lives within.7

The combination of Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti is the playground for the Soul, but it develops a new playground with the emanation of its own universe. The Soul, as Kalahansa or the Swan of Time, glides through the womb of its mother Mulaprakriti to drop the Mundane Egg as the origin of a seven-fold universe. When the Soul incarnates into its own universe, a seven-fold system is used to explain its subdivisions. In the seven-fold system that H.P. Blavatsky used in the third fundamental proposition in The Secret Doctrine, Atman as Parabrahman is the Universal Seventh principle, Buddhi as Mulaprakriti is the Universal Sixth principle, and the Soul is the “spark” that “issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle” to become the Universal Fifth principle of Manas.8 But in its figurative transformation from pure Essence into awakened intellect the spark must also break into the four lower planes of conventional reality. In those lower planes corresponding to Kama, Prana, Linga, and Sthula, this spark must acquire “individuality” first by “natural impulse” and later by “self-induced and self-devised efforts” in order to fully develop its own mental capabilities and ultimately return to its source, the Universal Oversoul.9

But in her deeper writings H.P. Blavatsky actually held to a ten-fold system for the Cosmos in its universal, super-spiritual and physical “completeness.”10 In this ten-fold system, the Soul, as the exteriorizing consciousness of Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti, is the culmination of the first in potentia three-fold monadic combination on the first, second, and third cosmic planes. Viewed from below, it is the “One” in the “Universe of Illusion” (conventional reality) above “the seventh principle” of Atman.11 This “One” is Mahat, the receptacle of cosmic intelligence from the bare subjectivity of Mulaprakriti. What happens is that the Soul touches Atman as the Universal Seventh principle on the fourth cosmic plane and then it retreats back into the “Silence and Darkness” around the immaculate white disk.12 But the thrill of that touch flutters through the fifth cosmic plane of spiritual Buddhi that acts as the reservoir for the beings in “Being” to emerge as unique manasic individualities on the sixth cosmic plane. As a result of impacting these lower objective planes, the Soul, as the tip of consciousness downwards in the three uppermost subjective planes and linked with Atman as the tip of consciousness focused upwards on the highest of the seven objective planes, transforms into the “Heavenly Man”—the first four-fold Tetragrammaton.13** Atman becomes the receptacle of the powers of the Soul. While the initial playground of the Soul is Parabrahman and Mulaprakriti, it gains a new playground by tincturing the Atman, becoming enmeshed in the spiritual Buddhi, and enflaming the intellect of Manas.  This combination of “Atma-Buddhi-Manas” is the second three-fold monadic combination but in the manifestly objective worlds on the fourth, fifth, and sixth cosmic planes.14 Because the second monadic combination of Atman, Buddhi, and Manas is a reflection of the first monadic combination of Parabrahman, Mulaprakriti, and Mahat, the terms become interchangeable when switching between explanations for a seven or a ten-fold system. Having reached the stage of Manas in its descent, the Soul, as the Swan of Time, journeys along the coils of Ananta-Sesha, or the cosmic Serpent who carries the suns and the planets along his back, through the four lower planes (or seven, eight, nine, and ten) of the objective world.***

To make this clearer, the unconditioned consciousness of the immaculate white disk of ultimate reality is the “Hansa-vahana” that uses Kalahansa, or the Swan of Time, as “its vehicle” to awaken consciousness in conventional reality.15 The Swan of Time, as the Hindu Brahma or the male-female “Archetypal man” who of androgynous necessity must drop his own eggs, creates its universe as the auric egg of Atman.16 The potent subjective force of the Swan of Time reverberates through the egg’s seven cosmic planes stirring the consciousness centers of suns and planets into “limitless objectivity” as “secondary” aspects of its cosmic power.17 Within a solar system, the Swan of Time follows the planets along Ananta-Sesha’s back as they reach the lowest plane and then coil upwards to return to their source in a dance between bird and snake along the sacred caduceus or spinal cord of the Cosmos. H.P. Blavatsky diagrammed this descent of the ray of the Swan of Time as the solid rod of the caduceus; she diagrammed the pathway of the planets from and to their source of origin as the two-headed serpent.18 The two-headed serpent is coiled in a four-fold chain link, representing the four lower objective planes that must be awakened. The Swan of Time descends on the left-hand side through those four lower objective planes stimulating the principle of each planet into activity. The Swan of Time re-ascends on the right-hand side arousing the respective principles of those planets with their corresponding lives. Reaching the summit, Kalahansa reassumes his proper place in all his winged glory. His mission is complete. As the carrier of Hansa-vahana, Kalahansa imprints the subjective three-fold nature of Parabrahman-Mulaprakriti-Mahat onto the Atman-Buddhi-Manas of the three highest objective planes, which then carries his potent force to the four lowest realms of Nature.

This entire evolutionary journey undertaken by the Soul once it emerges from the Universal Oversoul is the “Sutratma” or “Thread-Soul” of the individual cosmic experience.19 The journey begins with the Universal Oversoul and its root “point” of light in the center of the “perfect Circle.”20 This root point of light is the “re-awakening” of the universe in its seven lower objective planes.21 The journey culminates in the perfect Circle bisected with the sign of the cross. The sign of the cross symbolizes the journey of each Soul spark from the Universal Oversoul through the elemental, mineral, plant, and animal stages to acquire human individuality in conventional reality. In the Rosicrucian doctrines, the Pelican tears “open its own breast to feed its seven little ones”—this is merely symbolism for the Swan of Time splintering itself through the seven cosmic planes to supply the need of all souls with the nourishment of its self-same fundamental identity.22 As it has been shown, after all, there are “Seven Paths or Ways to the bliss of our existence, which is absolute Being, Existence, and Consciousness.”23 Alternately, they are the same Seven Paths that take us to the bliss of “Non-Existence.”24 Existence and non-existence, life and death, objective and subjective, light and dark, conventional reality and ultimate reality, Being and Be-ness—these are merely the terms for the two aspects of that great unborn cosmic atom which, considered as a whole, transcends the duality of them all and whose truly unknown nature gets lost in a unified meta-spirit somewhere beyond the Cosmos. 

Notes and Sources:

**The first four-fold Tetragrammaton is the “Heavenly Man” or the Kabbalistic  “Adam Kadmon.”25 Even this first four-fold Tetragrammaton is only a “secondary perfection” related to the “manifest planes” because the Soul as the 3rd Logos touches Atman and departs.26 Atman is the head of the manifest planes and only secondarily perfect. Adam Kadmon brings unity to the Universe since the touch of the Soul thrills through all his “limbs”, meaning he connects the seven objective planes with the three subjective ones—the complete Sephirothal Tree.27 As H.P. Blavatsky pointed out, the immaculate white disk, as the 1st Logos or the “Circle,” becomes Adam Kadmon on the “fourth” cosmic plane.28 This fourth cosmic plane, as a “ray” from the “Unit” of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Logos, corresponds to Atman.29

The first four-fold Tetragrammaton is also the Jewish Jehovah, as Yod-He-Vav-He (or YHWH) in one of his three aspects. The first sephirah Kether, as the Ayin of no-thingness, emanates Hokmah as the primordial point and Binah as the womb of the primordial point. For H.P. Blavatsky, Hokmah and Binah were a “synonym of Mahat” and corresponded to Jehovah.30 These three constitute the Kabbalistic immaculate white disk, the darkness of Space, and the central point of light. This triad breathes the Great Breath of life into the seven sephirot to establish the descent from Atman through the sephirah Gevurah into the objective realms below.

There is also a second and a third four-fold Tetragrammaton; these stretch across the seven objective planes and are truly only secondary perfections. In her Collected Writings, H.P. Blavatsky wrote, “The Duad doubled makes a Tetrad and the Tetrad doubled forms a Hebdomad.”31 The compiler of her writings is uncertain as to her meaning and reflects on her statement with his own, “A Tetrad doubled would be eight or an Ogdoad, while a Hebdomad would imply seven. This may be a typographical error, unless some other meaning is implied.”32 Exactly. Some other meaning was indeed implied. The first, second, and third Tetragrammaton overlap, thereby accounting for a Hebdomad as opposed to an Ogdoad. The Tegrammaton is the Jewish example of the Greek Tectraktys system, so the four-fold combinations have to fit within ten planes, not twelve; therefore, there is an overlap. Atman is the lowest of the first Tetragrammaton but the highest of the second. Kama is the lowest of the second but the highest of the third. It is to this third Tetragrammaton that H.P. Blavatsky referred when writing, “Taken from the plane of matter, it is among other things, the lower Quaternary, the man of flesh and matter.”33 In Kabbalism, this lower Quaternary was often meant when the Tetragrammaton was explained in terms of Malkuth, the lowest of the ten sephirot.

***Thus, a simplified outline of a ten-fold system can be given: Parabrahman, Mulaprakriti, Mahat, Atman, Buddhi, Manas, Kama, Prana, Linga, Sthula. But in a seven-fold system, the arrangement is slightly different. Parabrahman equals Atman, Mulaprakriti equals spiritual Buddhi, and Mahat equals Manas. In her Collected Writings, H.P. Blavatsky established this system where Atman corresponds to Parabrahman, Buddhi to Mulaprakriti, and Manas to Mahat.34 But since Manas is dual, so is Mahat. H.P. Blavatsky alluded to this duality in her reference to Mahat as the “Higher Mind-Entity” of “Alaya-Akasa.”35 As Alaya, Mahat is spiritual Buddhi. As Akasa, Mahat is the crown of Manas. Thus, Mahat is “Buddhi-Manas.”36 In The Secret Doctrine, Mahat is often equated with its Alaya aspect of spiritual Buddhi or Mahabuddhi. For example, “UNIVERSAL SOUL is not the inert Cause of Creation or (Para) Brahma, but simply that which we call the sixth principle of intellectual Kosmos, on the manifested plane of being. It is Mahat, or Mahabuddhi, the great Soul, the vehicle of Spirit, the first primeval reflection of the formless CAUSE.”37 Please remember that Mahabuddhi is simply the shortened term for Mahat-Buddhi.38 In a seven-fold system, Mahat is interchangeably the 5th or the 6th cosmic principle.

1(SD1-16) 2(SD1-17) 3(SD1-16) 4(ML404) 5(SD1-16) 6(SD1-16) 7(SD1-17) 8(SD1-17) 9(SD1-17) 10(CW12-525) 11(SD1-130,573) 12(CW12-525) 13(CW12-525) 14(SD1-18) 15(SD1-20,80) 16(SD1-356) 17(SD1-62,356) 18(SD1-550) 19(SD1-17) 20(SD1-19) 21(SD1-19) 22(SD1-17) 23(SD1-38) 24(SD1-38) 25(SD1-99,2-25) 26(SD2-582) 27(SD2-625) 28(SD10-398) 29(CW12-520) 30(CW10-355) 31(CW10-356) 32(CW10-356) 33(CW10-357) 34(CW10-304,12-630) 35(CW12-371) 36(CW10-314) 37(SD1-420) 38(CW10-324) 

CW = Blavatsky, H.P. Collected Writings: Volume 10,12

Vol. 10. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1974.     

Vol. 12. Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1980. 

ML = Barker, A.T., comp. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett. Pasadena:

      Theosophical University Press, 1975.

SD = Blavatsky, H.P. The Secret Doctrine. Pasadena: Theosophical University

                 Press, 1998.