In Buddhist symbolism the lotus is symbolic of purity of the body, speech, and mind.
Buddhist Shrine at Adyar
In The Secret Doctrine there are a number of passages wherein the process of becoming is described and applied to a number of aspects. Taken together these tell us plainly that becoming is the cosmic process. We are told that;
becoming is the mode of activity of the uncreate deity. Having been endowed with the germs of becoming, matter (objective) is brought into birth, for the creative force fashions it according to the ideal forms. Matter not yet engendered had no form; it becomes when it is put into operation.
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p281
This passage tells us something of the meaning of 'becoming' at the very start of cosmic activity. Students of Theosophy will have appreciated that the whole process is a manifestation of life and that life can be thought of under a number of aspects, consciousness, energy and substance. The more common one is the duality of Spirit and Matter. However, as all theosophical students are aware, there is no beginning of anything ab initio or creation from nothing. There are always seeds carried forward from the fruits of previous periods of activity (Manvantaras). These seeds lie dormant so to speak and remain so during the whole period of Pralaya whilst every thing, being and creature that constituted a previous period of activity is re-assimilated into the One Life whence it came. As a man wakes in the morning without necessarily thinking about all that he has learnt in his life up to that time, he is nevertheless possessed of all his experience and this he calls on when he has to do whatever the day ahead has in store for him. As a universe, so he does not start his day from nothing. We have another informative passage:
Everything that is, was, and will be, eternally is, even the countless forms which are finite and perishable only in their objective, not in their ideal Form. They existed as Ideas in the Eternity, and, when they pass away, will exist as reflections. Neither the form of man, nor that of any animal, plant or stone has ever been created, and it is only on this plane of ours that it commenced "becoming", i.e. objectivizing into its present materiality, or expanding from within outwards, from the most sublimated and supersensuous essence into its grossest appearance.
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p282
This passage continues to point out the relevance of its content to man but we will see his position in the process later.
Looking again at the subject of deity in the context of ever becoming, we have the following:
According to the Esoteric philosophy, this Deity is during its "nights" and its "days", (i.e. cycles of rest or activity) "the eternal perpetual motion", the "EVER-BECOMING, as well as the ever-universally-present, and the ever-Existing". The latter is the root-abstraction, the former - the only possible conception in human mind, if it disconnects this deity from any shape or form. It is a perpetual, never-ceasing evolution, circling back in its incessant progress through aeons of duration into its original status - ABSOLUTE UNITY.
The Secret Doctrine Vol II p545
In this article we are discussing the process of Universal Becoming. This means that we are thinking in terms of THE ONE in manifestation and not the Absolute which, as H.P.B. says, is unknowable and unthinkable.
We have now been introduced to the idea of 'never-ceasing evolution' and this evolution we usually think of as the progressive development of forms, but in occultism there is a parallel evolution of the subjective faculties. We are told that
... there exists in Nature a triple evolutionary scheme ... or rather three separate schemes of evolution .... These are the Monadic (or spiritual), the intellectual and the physical evolutions. These three are the finite aspects or the reflections on the field of Cosmic Illusion of ATMA, the seventh, the ONE REALITY.
1. The Monadic is, as the name implies, concerned with the growth and development into still higher phases of activity of the Monad in conjunction with:
2. The Intellectual, represented by the Manasa-Dhyanis (the Solar Devas, or the Agnishvatta Pitris), the "givers of intelligence and consciousness" to man and:
3. The Physical, represented by the Chhayas of the lunar Pitris, round which Nature has concreted the present physical body. This body serves as the vehicle for the "growth" (to use a misleading word) and the transformations through Manas and - owing to the accumulation of experiences - of the finite into the INFINITE, of the transient into the Eternal and Absolute.
This passage is followed by the words "Each is represented in the constitution of man, the Microcosm of the great Macrocosm; and it is the union of these three streams in him which makes him the complex being he now is". Again we see how inseparable man is from the total process.
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p181
The intellectual and the physical aspects of evolution do not present much difficulty but we can ask what it is that can evolve as far as the Monad is concerned? The words are that it is developing "into still higher phases of activity". This implies that the Monad too is ever-becoming. The Monad is defined in the S.D. as being a combination of Atma and Buddhi, both universal Principles, in combination, representing the divine Life. They are usually considered as the highest states of any kind of Being. How therefore can they progress? The answer seems to be that, like everything else in Nature, they themselves are sevenfold, their sub-principles reflecting the main principles or planes of Cosmos. One could conjecture that development of Monad could take place by the progressive unfoldment, at their level, of the qualities of each of the monadic sub-planes. Reasoning by analogy, this development would be by stages, i.e. corresponding to the development of Elements according to the Rounds.
Analogy also gives us a useful clue as to 'spiritual' development in the process of ever-becoming as applied to the Cosmos. The spiritual development of man is Egoic, i.e. the Monad plus Manas. In the cosmic context this would be the Monad plus Mahat, the universal mind, as indicated by scheme (1) taking place in conjunction with scheme (2).
The development of universal mind would be by way of the accumulated experience of the whole collectivity of life forms gathered during their periods of existence. Even though only man is endowed with Manas, his distinguishing characteristic, all things, by way of the mahatic aspect of whatever principles are operating in them, will have a 'mind' content, even though they have no manasic consciousness as man has. This accounts for the intelligence manifesting in many orders in Nature, as instinct for example, in the animal kingdom. All of this will, of course, be closely associated with the Elementals; they too are on an evolutionary journey.
The process of becoming reflects that of the triple evolutionary mode. As far as objective existence is concerned, we are interested in matter, first in its own right and then as a constituent of all living forms. Here we are entering into the process or state of manifestation of unity in diversity. On p 250 of Vol I there are the words "From the ONE Life, formless and uncreate, proceeds the Universe of lives" and each atom is a life in this sense. Prior to physical atoms, according to the S.D. there are three kingdoms of development, the three elemental kingdoms or Elementals in three stages of development. These represent an invisible hinterland to objective existence in the Astral Light.
Associated with the Elementals are the Elements of which the Elementals are the 'souls'. The Elements can be regarded in two ways: one as the Earth, Water, Air, Fire, (Ether) of the mediaeval philosophers, the other as the elements of science. The S.D. tells us that the elements of science are derived from the traditional elements. The latter are those that have to do with the several states of matter which reflect into the physical world as solid, liquid, gaseous, etc. They also have to do with the qualities of matter as they manifest in the qualities of both physical material and living forms. Basically they reflect something of the qualities ascribed astrologically to the planets.
The Elements obviously play a major part in the process of ever-becoming. They too develop by stages. A passage in S.D.I says this:
The elements, whether simple or compound, could not have remained the same since the commencement of the evolution of our chain. Everything in the Universe progresses steadily in the Great Cycle, while incessantly going up and down in the smaller cycles. Nature is never stationary during manvantara, as it is ever becoming, not simply being; and mineral, vegetable, and human life are always adapting their organisms to the then reigning Elements, and therefore those Elements were then fitted for them, as they are now for the life of present humanity.
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p257
The above follows another relevant passage which begins by describing the formation of the Elements (the philosophers):
This means that every new Round develops one of the Compound Elements, as now known to Science - which rejects the primitive nomenclature, preferring to subdivide them into constituents. If Nature is the "Ever-becoming" on the manifested plane, then those Elements are to be regarded in the same light: they have to evolve, progress, and increase to the Manvantaric end. Thus the First Round, we are taught, developed but one Element, and a nature and humanity in what may be called one aspect of Nature - called by some, very unscientifically, though it may be so de facto, "One-dimensional Space". The Second Round brought forth and developed two Elements - Fire and Air and its humanity, adapted to this condition of Nature ... in a strictly figurative sense ... "a two-dimensional species".
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p250
Later on in the same passage we are introduced to the idea of matter possibly having "a fourth dimension in space". H.P.B. says that this is an unhappy phrase because in objective space there are obviously only three dimensions. She says it refers to a characteristic of matter which she calls 'permeability' and that will correspond to the next sense of man for which she proposes the name "normal clairvoyance". She suggests that this new characteristic should be referred to as the sixth corresponding to the next, i.e. the sixth, sense of man, and it would be a condition ascribable to a tattvic condition above Fire which she calls Ether, not fully due till the 5th Round.
From the foregoing it will be seen that the process of 'ever-becoming' has a number of aspects. The total process, however, has obviously to be coordinated and the coordination is done by LAW:
It is idle to speak of "laws arising when Deity prepares to create" for: (a) laws or rather LAW is eternal and uncreated; and (b) that Deity is Law, and vice versa. Moreover, the one eternal Law unfolds everything in the (to be) manifested Nature on a sevenfold principle ...
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p152
This Law is that of which all the laws of Nature are partial expression and Karma as normally thought of in association with man's destiny is also encompassed in it. The Law however is universal.
To what is this process of ever-becoming tending and what is man's part in the process? This latter is that which really concerns each of us and we are told a number of what may be to many, surprising facts. Most theosophical students will be familiar with the idea that up to the middle of the third Root Race man was hermaphrodite (androgynous). He then became bi-sexual and procreated as the then animals did and as they do now. It was at this time that man was endowed with mind and his self-conscious evolution started. There is a passage relevant to all this:
Once that Androgyne "humanity" separated into sexes, transformed by Nature into child-bearing engines, it ceased to procreate its like through drops of vital energy oozing out of the body. But while man was still ignorant of his procreative powers on the human plane (before his Fall ...) all this vital energy, scattered far and wide from him, was used by Nature for the production of the first mammal-animal forms. Evolution is an eternal cycle of becoming, we are taught; and nature never leaves an atom unused. Moreover, from the beginning of the Round, all in Nature tends to become Man. All the impulses of the dual, centripetal and centrifugal Force are directed towards one point - MAN. The progress in the succession of being, says Agassiz, "consists in an increasing similarity of the living fauna and among the Vertebrates, especially, in the increasing resemblance to Man. Man is the end towards which all the animal creation has tended, from the first appearance of the first palaeozoic fishes".
Just so; but "the palaeozoic fishes" being at the lower curve of the arc of the evolution of forms, this Round began with astral man, the reflection of the Dyani-Chohans, called the "Builders". Man is the alpha and the omega of objective creation.
The Secret Doctrine Vol II p170
This central position of man in the schemes particularly with regard to our earth comes as a surprise and new idea. It does, however, give meaning to the expression 'Heavenly Man' as the archetypal model for the whole cosmic process. Every thing tends to become man, or in the earlier stages to become a constituent part of him:
Every form on earth, and every speck (atom) in Space strives in its efforts towards self-formation to follow the model placed for it in the 'HEAVENLY MAN' ... Its (the atom's) involution and evolution, its external and internal growth and development, have all one and the same object - man; man, as the highest physical and ultimate form on this earth; the MONAD, in its absolute totality and awakened condition - as the culmination of the divine incarnations on Earth.
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p183
One of the aspects of the process of ever-becoming is that the fluid structure of Cosmos comprises a series of hierarchies through which the Monad must pass in its aeonic evolutionary journey. The beings that compose the hierarchies range from the Elementals, through the kingdoms of Nature, mineral, vegetable, animal, to man and then beyond into the Dhyan-Chohanic kingdoms, of which we are told there are three. Man again has a central position in these hierarchies, as told us:
The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who - whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyani-Chohans or Angels - are "messengers" in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence; and to call them all pure Spirits without any of the earthly alloy "which time is wont to prey upon" is only to indulge in poetical fancy. For each of these Being either was, or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle (Manvantara). They are perfected, when not incipient men; and differ morally from the terrestrial human beings, on their higher (less material) spheres, only in that they are devoid of the feeling of personality and of the human emotional nature - two purely earthly characteristics.
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p274
The significance of the above passage should not be overlooked. In effect it says that all beings in the Cosmos must pass through the human stage before they can become self-conscious post-human beings.
Man in the constitution of his being has an intimate relationship with these post-human Beings:
To the highest [of the "celestial Beings"], we are taught, belong the seven orders of pure divine spirits; to the six lower ones belong hierarchies that can occasionally be seen and heard by men, and who do communicate with their progeny of the Earth; which progeny is indissolubly linked with them, each principle in man having its direct source in the nature of those great Beings, who furnish us with the respective invisible elements in us.
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p133
In the process of ever-becoming the Cosmos at its various levels is developing beings of ever greater stature as regards their qualities and extent of consciousness. It is by reason of the progressed development of these beings that those below them on the path of evolution are invested with similar qualities. They have first of all to be acquired before they can be handed on and the beings ahead of us on the evolutionary arc have in the course of their struggles in the world of form and beyond developed faculties far beyond those that man can demonstrate at present, but he is heir to them: he possesses them potentially and can develop them and call them into activity.
These qualities are, according to the occult constitution of man, divided into two groups. The first pertains to the four lower principles of the personal man, the second to the higher three principles, those of the spiritual man. The personal man is temporary, having a karmically allotted span of life in our objective world. The other is the Egoic man whose principles are virtually everlasting; they are immortal. It is these latter which are directly 'illuminated' by the universal light of the One Life. There is a beautiful description in Stanza VII (iv), Vol I:
Just as milliards of bright sparks dance on the waters of an ocean above which one and the same moon is shining, so our evanescent personalities - the illusive envelopes of the immortal MONAD-EGO - twinkle and dance on the waves of Maya. They last and appear, as the thousands of sparks produced by the moonbeams, only so long as the Queen of the Night radiates her lustre on the running waters of life, the period of a Manvantara; and then they disappear, the beams - symbols of our eternal Spiritual Egos - alone surviving, re-merged in, and being, as they were before, one with the Mother-Source.
The Secret Doctrine Vol I p237
So man and the Cosmos in all its stages and states of ever-becoming are one and the same. An understanding of this gives us an insight into the meaning of unity. These vast concepts put our living into a context which far transcends our normal limited personal lives, and they help us to see that we are literally all children of one parent, Nature; all of us fulfilling an essential part in the great process of ever-becoming. In the light of this realization we see for an absolute fact that all other human beings are of the same family and fulfilling the same cosmic role. We are indeed truly all brothers, fellow pilgrims on the road to super-humanity with an endless vista of 'ever-becoming' ahead of us.
First published in 'The Theosophist' magazine December 1991
(This document has been reproduced from Geoffrey Farthing's digital copy created in 2002, and currently in the archive material of The Blavatsky Trust.)
Online version: The Blavatsky Trust 2012