Annie Wood Besant.

The building of the kosmos and other lectures. Delivered at the eighteenth annual convention of the Theosophical society at Adyar, Madras, December 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 1893 online

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Online LibraryAnnie Wood BesantThe building of the kosmos and other lectures. Delivered at the eighteenth annual convention of the Theosophical society at Adyar, Madras, December 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 1893 → online text (page 3 of 9)
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spiral arrangement, and there is this geometrical
rule which governs the apparently irregular send-
ing forth of leaves and flowers. There is no irre-
gularity; the most apparently irregular arrangement
is only a complicated series of interlacing spirals;
for sometimes instead of one spiral you have two ;
in a few cases you have three spirals, and these
three by going round the stem, interlacing, make
extremely complicated arrangements which look
like confusion; but ''that which is Chaos to the
senses is Kosmos to the reason." You will always
find this geometrical arrangement underneath the
apparently chaotic heaps which you may observe
by the eye or the senses. Is it not true as Plato
said, that "God geometrizes"? Is not this the
fundamental conception of the Scriptures, that
Sound-vibration is the builder of form? Is that
not justified by these discoveries of Modern Sci-

Not only can Sound build ; Sound can also de-
stroy. Strange that the same force should produce
opposite results. People have laughed at it, when
it is said in Religion. They are obliged to admit
it, when Science repeats what Religion so long has


said. That which in Religion is incredible con-
tradiction, in Science has to be reconciled by the
discovery of the unifying truth. Why cannot we
apply the same theory in Religion when we find
what seems to be contradiction? Why cannot we
study and seek for that underlying truth, which
will make the apparent contradictions but aspects,
as the two sides of one shield? Thus the builder
of form destroys it; and whereas gentle vibrations
build, vehement vibrations tear apart that which
the gentle ones have brought together. Inasmuch
as no form is solid, but every form consists of
molecules with spaces between them, the vibration
of the Sound going between the molecules makes
them vibrate more and more strongly, throws them
further and further apart, until the time comes
when the attracting force which keeps them to-
gether being overcome, they shoot out and the form
becomes disintegrated.

If you take a glass, and you discover its funda-
mental note — as you may very easily do by half
filling it up with water, and drawing a bow across
it, and seeing how the water is divided — when you
discover the fundamental note, produce that note on
some instrument from which you are able to obtain
great intensity and loudness of sound ; then your
glass first will give out the note and you can hear
it coming from the glass; you will see the water in
the glass thrown into vibration though no one has
touched it. The sound grows louder, and the wave-


lets of the water that show you how it is acting
get bigger and bigger, become more and more tur-
bulent, until dashing against each other they make
wave tumults instead of harmony, and then the
vibrations of the molecules of the glass which
cause all these movements in the water become
too great for the glass to stand them ; it shivers in
every direction. So again Tyndall has taken a
glass rod, and rubbing it gently has produced a
sound; but making that sound intense, the rod has
shivered and disappeared : there were only circular
fragments of the glass rod, showing the power of
the note which the glass itself had generated. So
that everywhere we have the proof that Sound can
disintegrate form and can create form; as you see,
Sound may act either as builder or preserver or
destro3^er; for preserver I say it is, since without
Sound nothing exists. Everything is in constant
motion; one sort of motion builds the form, another
preserves the form, a third destroys the form ; and
the destruction of one form is only the building of
another. That which is destroyer in one shape is
creator in another. There is no annihilation; for
every death in one sphere is a birth into another.
So let us finish this rough sketch of this part of
the building of the Kosmos and of the power of
Sound, by showing how it justifies what has been
called superstition and folly, and the mere bab-
blings of an ignorant people with regard to the uses
of Sound ! As long as there has been a Hindu faith.


the power of Sound has been recognized in the
sacred Word ; in that Word lie all potencies; for the
sacred Word expresses the One and only Being,
every power of generation, of preservation and of
destruction. Therefore has been forbidden the
careless use of that Word; therefore forbidden its
use amongst mixed audiences; therefore should it
never be sounded where many people are gathered
together, and where mingling and hostile magnet-
isms are making a confused atmosphere, so that
any great sound thrown into it must cause tumult
and not harmony; therefore was it never to be
sounded save when the mind was pure; never to
be sounded save when the mind was tranquil; never
to be used save where the life was noble; because
the sound that working in the harmonious builds,
working in the inharmonious destroys; and every-
thing that is evil is tumultuous, while everything
which is pure is harmonious. For the great Breath,
which is purity, goes forth in rhythmical vibration,
and all that is one with that rhythm is essentially
pure and therefore harmonious. But when the
great Breath, working on Matter, finds friction,
then it is that impurity is set up, and if man in his
own atmosphere — using that breath which comes
out from him, which is the reflection of the Supreme
Breath — is impure, that is, inharmonious, then to
sound the name of the Supreme under these cir-
cumstances is to invite his own destruction, his
own disintegration, for he throws the very force of


the Divine into divSliarmony. What then can he do
but destroy that which has nothing in common
with the divine harmony? And this is true not
only of the sacred Word, but of the mantra that is
used to build. Why is it — have you ever thought
of it — that when a new life is to be builded within
the womb of the mother, mantras are repeated?
Why? In order that their building forces may
work on the growing life and that it may be thrown
into harmonious vibrations, so that that which
shall be born may be worthy to be the habitation
of a noble Soul. Why is it that from the moment
of conception, religion begins for the Hindu? It
is because the Spirit must never be without Reli-
gion, because, when the Spirit is coming towards
its human birth, it is necessary that these forces
of Religion should surround it, and help in the
building of its earthly home. And so also with
sacred Sound the new-born life is welcomed in its
very incoming into this world of manifestation;
that the sacred harmony may surround it, and
give it the impulse in the birth hour, which shall
send it on towards harmonious development. Step
by step this harmony is to mould the growing life,
and when the time comes that the Spirit can work
more directly on the physical body, you mark it
by the ceremony of initiation which gives to the
child the mantra which is to be the key-note of the
future life. Therefore the mantra should come
from one who knows the key-note of that life, and


is able to give it the sounds which are wanted
to keep it harmonious right through life. Here
comes in this great preserving power of Sound;
so that whenever that life is in danger this Sound
may protect; whenever that life is threatened by
visible or invisible menace, that murmur of the
muttered mantra may come between it and the dan-
ger, making around it waves of harmony, from which
every evil thing shall be thrown back by the force
of the vibrations. Let any foe come against it,
that foe is flung backwards when it touches these
vibrations. And so onwards again right through
life to the death hour. Every morning through
life that chanted mantram shall give the key-note
to the day, and the whole day shall be made har-
monious and be brought into rhythm with the
sound with which the day has begun; and when
the day closes and the sun is sinking once more,
the chant should be resounded, so that the dishar-
mon}^ of the day may be rendered harmonious, and
the Spirit may be made fit to go onwards in the
night time towards its Lord. And when the death
hour has come and the Spirit must pass onwards
into other regions of the universe, the chanted
mantram accompanies it. In the ceremonies of
Shraddha there are used special sounds which shall
break the bondage-house of the Soul, and which
shall destroy the body generated on the other side
of death which keeps the Soul in prison. So to
the very threshold of Devaloka, Sound accom-

SOUND. ^ 47

panics it, until it passes into that I,oka where the
chants of the Devas shall ever surround it in its
sojourning with an ocean of harmony, which is
not mingled with the discord of the earth; shall
there keep it in perfect rest and perfect bliss till
the word comes to go backward to the earth, in
order that it may serve as harmonizer of Nature
once again.

The Building of the Kosmos.
II.— Fire.

The Building of the Kosmos.

II.— Fire.

My Brothers, — We saw yesterday, in dealing
with the building of the Kosmos, that the great
Breath was the moving agent, and that that Breath
gave to the Akasha its property of Sound, its pri-
mary characteristic. Now looking at things either
from the standpoint of Eastern knowledge or from
that of modern Western investigation, we find that
the differences between what are called the reports
of the senses are differences in the translation by
the consciousness of outside impulses, those im-
pulses being fundamentally the same. The result
of the great Breath, throwing the Akasha into
action, may be translated in different ways, when
it reaches our consciousness, according to the
fashion in which we sensate it. So that it is true
to say either from the Eastern or from the Western
standpoint that sensations differ according to the
organ that receives them, the differences being
caused by the body through which the sensations


are received, the consciousness translating into dif-
ferent tones that which fundamentally is the same.
So, in studying Western Science you will learn
that all senses belonging to the body are developed
from a primary sense, and that the primary sense
is that which is called the sense of touch.

There has lately been much investigation into
the nature and action of ether, which is the lowest
form of what we know as Akasha. For Akasha is
the primary substance of which ether is one of the
lower manifestations in connection with our own
solar system. That substance has Motion, as we
saw yesterday ; but the Air is the great Breath in
the Akasha, and it is that which gives rise to this
feeling of touch. We saw Sound was evolved, with
which hearing is correlated, and then we have
touch, correlated with Vayu, as the great Breath.
All these vibrations in the ether, from the stand-
point of Modern Science, are but modes, as they
are called, of motion; and the reception of the
mode of motion b}^ the individual decides the name
which shall be given to it. Thus Modern Science
teaches that Sound is one mode of motion in which
air takes part. lyight is another mode of motion,
purely ethereal, it is said. Lately electricity has
been recognized as another mode of motion. Heat
is another mode of motion, and so on. Thus there
has gradually appeared in Western Science that
sense of unit}^ which has always characterized
knowledge in the East; so that everything which

FIRE. 53

in the phenomenal has a different appearance
assumes to the consciousness this fundamental
unity. Therefore in dealing with Light we are
only dealing with another aspect in consciousness
of primary motion, and that which from one aspect
to us is Sound, in another aspect to us is lyight.
Therefore it will be reasonable to expect, as we
shall indeed find, that the same fundamental con-
ceptions are expressed at one time as Sound and at
another time as lyight, and that everywhere in the
Kosmos, sound and colour are interchangeable, as
I shall show you that they have been proved to
be phenomenally interchangeable by some of the
latest experiments which have been carried on in
the West. Taking then the vibration known as
Light as that which is to occupy our thought this
morning, that Light would be the synonym in all
the ancient books for that which is beyond con-
ception. That which we spoke of yesterday as only
to be expressed — if I may use again an inaccurate
phrase — by the descriptive phrase Para Brahman,
or beyond Brahman. ** Darkness" is the word I
which in the Scriptures is always used to convey \
to us this primary thought — Darkness infinite and
complete; which expresses nothing, for it is beyond
the possibility of expression ; which conve3^s no
idea, because idea is limitation and implies separa-
tion of that which is thought from that which is
not thought, and in this there can be no separa-
tion ; there is no thought, because thought means


that difference has appeared; and therefore Dark-
ness, in which there is neither the visible nor the
, invisible, is the best symbol — Darkness, absolute,
eternal, incomprehensible; it is that which is be-
hind every manifestation of Light, as of everything
else which we can put into human language. And
from the Darkness first is lyight — but Light form-
less; visible indeed, as coming into manifestation,
but without form, for form would imply still .some-
thing beyond it; space which has no form. So
that Brahman is described as ''luminous without
form," the pure idea of Light, an idea which needs,
of course, that use of the imagination which we
spoke of, because to us it is always the light-giving
body of which we conceive; whereas here you
must not conceive of a bod}^ you must not con-
ceive of a form, you must think of Light divorced
from everything which would limit it, and there-
fore "luminous without form" — as you will find
Brahman spoken of in the Mundakopanishad}
That, then, will be the first idea: Darkness, and
from that, Light.

And, strangely enough, in this conception of
things Modern Science has also a word to say; for
taking the conception of Motion with which we
have connected the great Breath, darkness is con-
sistent with motion from the standpoint of human
consciousness. Light is indeed a form of motion,
but vibration, which is too rapid or too slow to give

1 Mundaka, ii. I. 2.

FIRK. 55

light, gives its darkness — a most significant fact, if
for a moment you let it rest in the mind that where
you think of vibrations so rapid that they cannot
be sensed by the eye, there darkness is the answer
of consciousness to this exceedingly rapid vibra-
tion. In truth, beyond human consciousness as
now existing, there is possibility — and we cannot
say that there may not be endless possibilities — of
existence beyond that which our senses can sen-
sate. Thus Science tells us that vibrations so in-
tensely rapid that the eye cannot answer to them
will be translated to the consciousness as darkness,
and only with the slackening of the vibration will
there be light. Now translate that scientific thought
into metaphysical language, and you have the very
coming into manifestation of the universe; for as
that which is be3^ond thought slackens itself for
manifestation, then it becomes manifested as lyight.
And so even in the visible universe you will find
that we have that which is truly in its essence
light, but which shows no light — because the waves
are too rapid ; and we have to slacken those rapid
vibrations by throwing them through a particular
preparation, if we desire that luminosity should
appear. So that when the universe is to become
manifested and substance is to evolve, as it were,
there is slackening of the Motion in the Infinite
Darkness, and with the slackening of its vibrations
lyight without form appears. It seems as though
we have had from the West a suggestion of th^


depth of this ancient Eastern thought, and as
though Western thought in its experimental fashion
were groping towards the very idea which we find
at the beginning of things in the Eastern books.

From this radiance, which is without form, from
this luminosity, which is lyight in its essence mani-
festing itself — it is sometimes called ''cold Flame"
so as to exclude even the notion of heat from this
pure Light — we have that second manifestation,
the Second Logos which we spoke of yesterday,
and then the Light becomes Fire. No longer abso-
lutely formless, no longer without heat; but with
the further slackening of the Light, as manifesta-
tion proceeds, there will be generated heat, and you
will then have Fire, of which the essence is heat,
and the cold, formless Flame will become the Fire
which is the active agent in the building of the
Kosmos. But Fire cannot appear alone, its very
nature implying as it does something more than
the Light whence it springs, implying that by fric-
tion heat must come into existence; also it involves
the further conception of that duality which we
spoke of 3^esterday when we were dealing with the
dual manifestation under Sound; and so when we
have Fire, we cannot think of it without its action,
\ and always the first action of Fire is the develop-
ment of moisture. So that in this Second Logos
or manifestation in the dual form, Fire and Water
are the two things that come to us in thought;
Fire which is Spirit in its essence, Water which is

FIRK. 57

always the symbol for the essence of Matter; and
just as we found Spirit-Matter the Second lyOgos,
and found there the very origin of the possibility
of Sound, so looking at it from the standpoint of
lyight, we have this conception of Fire and Water,
of the lyight of the Logos and that in which it
works. Of this the lyOtus has ever been the sym- ,
bol, growing out of the navel of Vishnu, hidden
beneath the waters from which life is to spring;
for that Vishnu, who is not floating on the waters
but is concealed beneath them, is in this aspect the
First lyOgos, and the I^otus that grows upward from
his navel is the Second Logos, and is the symbol
of Fire and Water; for in the Lotus leaves, rising
to a point, you have the upward-springing flames,
and they float on the water. And the Lotus has
been ever held as the symbol of Creative Fire, in
the womb of which is to be generated heat, the
active creative force. Therefore within the Lotus
blossom, or the Lotus bud as it is at first, there is
the Third Logos, Brahma, or the active creative
agency, which is synonymous with Mahat, or the
creative intelligence in the womb of the Fire; and
as the Fire opens out then there comes the second
form of Flame which is creative, not the cold
Flame of the First Logos, but the burning Flame
of the Third, which from the Sea of Fire is to
build up the Kosmos, and make the universe

And when we turn to the light that has been


thrown on this ancient and not difficult conception
for those who have carefully studied — when w^e turn
to the writings of Madame Blavatsky, we shall find
that this is very clearly put; so that taking these
as a clue, we are able to unravel the symbolism to
which we have just now^ referred. For Fire she
uses ether in its purest form, the substance of ether,
before we can speak of it as Akasha. And there
are tw^o Fires, and a distinction is made between
them in the Occult teaching; the first, purely form-
less and invisible, is concealed in the Central Spiri-
tual Sun, and is spoken of as triple, metaphysically.
There again we have the triple nature of the Logos
in which these Fires body themselves forth, and
then the Fire manifesting as Kosmos which is to
be septenary, both throughout the universe and
our solar system; exactly the same as we found
yesterday, where we had the triple unfolding itself
into seven. And here we have the formless Flame
— the cold Flame or Light — the Fire, and then the
Heat or the creative Flame, the same symbolism
under another aspect, the same essential idea given
in another form. Therefore always have w^e learnt
that the Light of the Logos, Daiviprakriti, or the
brilliant side of Substance, has been the generative
and creative agent ; and you must remember that
dealing with the symbolic Lotus that I alluded to,
you have heard of it as hermaphrodite, bringing
back the same idea of duality into our thought,
that yesterday we found as the characteristic of the

FIRE. 59

Second lyOgos or the second manifested energy
which is to build the universe. From this you get
that force which in its lower forms is electricity,
magnetism, and heat; but another kind of motion
still, but another action of the great Breath, and it
is that which in Theosophical literature is so often
spoken of as Fohat — rightly translated by Subba
Rao as the Light of the Logos; for it is the ener-
gizing agent, it is that which, springing forth, has
to build the Kosmos, that Fiery Serpent which is
the creative agency. You must remember how I
yesterda}^ spoke of this, and how I alluded to it in
the latest discoveries of Mr. Crookes as symbolizing
electricit}^ and the way in which the spiral form
was produced owing to the fall in temperature;
here we see it as the Fiery Serpent, and as the
Fiery Dragon in the milky ocean breathing forth
P'ire, and so building all forms of manifestation.
Wherever you see the Serpent of Fire, wherever
you see it becoming a circle with the tail in its
mouth, then it is that you have passed from the
spiral which generates to the globe which is the
result of the generation; and the Serpent turning
on itself, taking the tail into the mouth, that sym-
bol is the Kosmos evolved. It has formed into the
globe which everywhere is the Kosmos in its mani-
fested shape. So the Serpent becomes the Egg;
then from that emerge the later forms in the
Kosmos; and within that Egg sometimes instead
of within the Lotus you will have Brahma, the

6o the: building of thk kosmos.

creative agency. He is in the Golden Egg, which
is but another symbol for the Lotus: he lives in
that Egg for a while; then, coming forth from it, he
creates the worlds. Hence again the symbolism of
the Serpent twining round the mountain, in that
churning of the ocean of substance from which,
as you read in the PurdnaSy life and immortality
and other things were generated ; so that, as I have
sometimes said, if the learned amongst you would
take the Purmias and, studying them, would com-
pare with them some of the statements of our
Modern Science, you would be able to predict the
line of scientific discovery, and in this fashion you
would justify to the West, as nothing else could
do, the deeper nature of the Oriental thought,
showing the West the lines along which it should
study and the way in which further investigations
most wisely might be made.

Let me turn from that to the next point of deep
interest that comes to us with regard to the Fire —
an aspect of the Fire towards man — and the con-
nection of the generating Fire in the Kosmos with
that which is the root of life in the heart of the
individual. Turn to the Mimdakopanishad — I think
it is the beginning of the second division — you
will find the statement that ''as from a blazing fire
in a thousand ways similar sparks proceed, so, O
beloved, are produced living souls of various kinds
from the Indestructible One."^ What is the real

1 Mundaka, ii. I. 2.

FiRK. 6i

meaning of that shloka? It is from Fire, which we
have already seen as the central force in Kosmos,
that are thrown out sparks in every direction, when
the blazing Fire has reached the stage of Flame.
The word ''blazing'* implies the stage of Flame,
for it is only where the fire has begun to blaze that
3^ou have flame, and that is the note of the third of
the Logoi. But the third of the lyOgoi is Mahat : that
is, It is Intelligence in its very essence; and so we
may learn that it is from Brahman asintellige7ice\h.2X
these sparks are thrown out which are found within
every atom of the Kosmos, so that there might be
nothing in the Kosmos which is to be builded
which would not have in it the essence of the
Divine Life. The spark which is thrown out is


the Atma of the atom — which you must remember
is not confined to man — the Self not of men alone,
but of all beings, the innermost essence of the atom
as much as the innermost essence of the highest

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Online LibraryAnnie Wood BesantThe building of the kosmos and other lectures. Delivered at the eighteenth annual convention of the Theosophical society at Adyar, Madras, December 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 1893 → online text (page 3 of 9)