A Study in
George Sidney Arundale
First published 1926
Dr Arundale was International President of
the Theosophical Society (Adyar) from 1933 to 1945
And, in the likeness of a river, saw
Light flowing, from whose amber-seeming waves
Flash’d up effulgence, as they glided on
‘Twist banks, on either side, painted with spring,
Incredible how fair: and, from the tide,
There ever and anon, outstarting, flew
Sparkles instinct with life; and in the flowers
Did set them like to rubies chased in gold:
Then, as if drunk with odours, plunged again
Into the wondrous flood; from which, as one
Re-enter’d, still another rose. “The thirst
Of knowledge high, whereby thou art inflamed,
To search the meaning of what here thou seest,
The more it warms thee, pleases me the more.
But first behoves thee of this water drink,
Or e’er that longing be allay’d.” So spake
The day-star of mine eyes: Then thus subjoine’d:
“This stream; and these, forth issuing from its gulf,
And diving back, a living topaz each,
With all this laughter on its bloomy shores,
Are but a preface, shadowy of the truth 8
They emblem: not that, in themselves, the things
Are crude; but on thy part is the defect,
For that thy views not yet aspire so high.”
Never did babe, that had outslept his wont,
Rush, with such eager straining to the milk,
As I toward the water; bending me,
To make the better mirrors of mine eyes
In the refining wave: and as the eaves
Of mine eye-lids did drink of it, forthwith
Seem’d it unto me turne’d from length to round.
Then as a troop of maskers, when they put
Their vizors off, look other than before;
The counterfeited semblance thrown aside
So into greater jubilee were changed
Those flowers and sparkles; and distinct I saw,
Before me, either court of heaven display’d.
O prime enlightener! though who gavest me strength
On the high triumph of thy realm to gaze;
Grant virtue now to utter what I kenn’d.
There is in heaven a light, whose goodly shine
Makes the Creator visible to all
Created, that in seeing Him alone
Have peace; and in a circle spreads so far,
That the circumference were too loose a zone
To girdle in the sun. All is one beam,
Reflected from the summit of the first,
That moves, which being hence and vigour takes.
And as some cliff, that from the bottom eyes
His image mirror’d in the crystal flood
As if to admire his brave appareling
Of verdure and of flowers; so, round about,
Eyeing the light, on more than million thrones,
Stood, eminent, whatever from our earth
Has to the skies return’d. How wide the leaves,
Extended to their utmost, of this rose,
Whose lowest step embosoms such a space
Of ample radiance! Yet, nor amplitude
Nor height impeded, but my view with ease
Took in the full dimensions of that joy.
Near or remote, what there avails, where God
Immediate rules, and Nature, awed, suspends
Her sway? Into the yellow of the rose
Perennial, which, in bright expansiveness,
Lays forth its gradual blooming, redolent
Of praise to the never-wintering sun,
As one, who fain would speak yet holds his peace,
Beatrice led me; and, “Behold,” she said,
“This fair assemblage; stoles of snowy white,
How numberless! The city, where we dwell,
Behold how vast; and these our seats so throng’d,
Few now are wanting here.
NATURALLY, I am continually brooding on, or may I say “in,” Nirvana. My comparatively busy life leaves plenty of room for such brooding, since to live in Nirvana is less to add to one’s occupations and more to follow the daily round from a new centre. I am learning to “Nirvanize” my life, which means that I am endeavouring to enter into the Nirvanic spirit in everything, and so gradually to achieve a new mode of Being.
The dominant reflection inevitably centres round the Advent of the Lord. That He has come I know, not merely because I have been told but because the whole world is visibly and audibly changed. A new richness of colour has been infused into it, a new melody permeates it, because the Lord of Nirvana, the Lord of Bliss, meditates upon His world, is engaged in the wondrous Yoga of physical incarnation so that He lives among His younger brethren as He has not lived for more than 2,000 years.
Not a single living thing is without a newer, a truer value, whatever be the kingdom of nature, for the Lord of Happiness is awakening all life to happiness. And what is this happiness but the bright shadow and reflection of Nirvanic bliss? The Advent of the Lord is a descent, an awakening, of Nirvana - the Abode of Happiness. As I have already said, the world cannot yet know Nirvana, but it can draw near. It can join in the worship, and thus gain something of the glory, as the High Priest of Happiness celebrates the great Ritual of the Transubstantiation at the altars of men’s hearts. The Lord Christ, the Jagat Guru, the Bodhisattwa, call Him by whatever name you will, has come to the whole world, to all things that live in it, has become a Priest in the innumerable tabernacles in which life dwells in this world of forms, as the Lord Sri Krishna multiplied Himself in gracious recognition of the selfless devotion of His Gopis. He is embodied Nirvana in us all. Nirvana has come to us. Can you not feel and understand all that I have written, I hope far more than I have written, because His Light shines as rarely it has shone before throughout the world?
Remember that though the nucleus, so far as regards this outer world, may be the body He has chosen for certain aspects of His ministry, yet in very truth He is omnipresent. Have you, my reader, yet welcomed the Guest Who is knocking at your door? Has He come to you, for you have welcomed Him?
I could write at length upon the inner universal transubstantiation effected by the Lord’s closer presence, how a new Light radiates upon all things and therefore from all things. But I should like my readers to be able to sense this for themselves, themselves to meet the Lord face to face in a shrine of their being. They will then know, in the flash of recognition and of adoration, more of Nirvana than any pen could depict, than any brush could paint, than any outer music could voice.
To turn to a lesser theme, may I in all humility set forth my growing conviction that gravitation should less be considered as a specific and specialized attribute of, say, the Sun or of a planet than as an inherent property of all matter everywhere? It is, I believe, said nowadays that the Sun does not exercise Gravitation upon a planet, and I believe the statement to be profoundly true, except for the fact that the finer the body the greater the power of spiritual gravitation, and the larger the mass the greater the quality of physical gravitation, so that the gravitational co-efficient of the Sun as a body is greater than that of any other body in this universe. The Law of gravitation is a law of all planes and of all modes of consciousness, for it is the Law of Brotherhood, the Law of Essential Identity.
As I have already said, the Sun is everywhere and is essentially all things, so that the Law of Gravitation is in fact nothing more, though nothing less, than an expression of a quality of Light. In the light of Nirvana I perceive a transcendent gravitation which I have expressed in the word “Being”. In that word is disclosed an apotheosis of gravitation. “Being” holds universes together, as does gravitation. I must not speculate further, but it will be seen that along this pathway is a fascinating avenue of study.
To change the subject, and to follow another line of meditation, I find that while reasoning is doubtless a useful process of growth, in the para-rational regions of Buddhi and Nirvana there are other measurement-standards.
Reasoning is a good servant, but a bad master. Reasoning helps us a little on our way, but only as far as the frontiers of the lower mind. Once beyond these, reasoning can do nothing for us. What then are the new measurement-standards?
I can only describe these in a phrase - a sense of inherent essential values. It is as if we now weighed things not in terms of logic but in terms of unity or of being.
More unity, greater value. More being, greater value. Less unity, less being, less value. And, what is more important, the greater the unity, the being, the more truly logical so far as regards the lower worlds, whatever our so-called logic may say. Logically we come to such and such a conclusion. If the logic be accurate we must come to the same conclusion when we apply the measurement of unity-value and of being-value.
How infinitely more careful those of us need to be, who have some
acquaintance with these finer instruments of precision, that we make no hasty
judgments, that we do not blindly accept outer world valuations, that we test
even vaunted logic in the keener and more penetrating light of unity and
being-measures. Things as they appear to be so often disclose little of
themselves as they are. As we develop the Buddhic and Nirvanic
measurement-standards we re-measure our worlds, and often reach startling
results, one of these being that not infrequently those who are first in the
world’s estimation are the real laggards, while those who come last in the
world's estimation are nearest to the
The logical process is a step by step process, is a process of deduction from premisses to conclusion, or is a process of inferring from individualities to generalizations. On the 9other hand, the unity and being-measurement-standards have nothing to do with stages, or with deduction or induction. They examine qualitatively. They determine direction. They listen to motifs and compare them with the Divine motif. They explore colour schemes and compare them with the Divine Colour Scheme. They stop short at the very premises themselves.
The conclusion will take care of itself. It is the child of the premises. So it is the premises that matter. Let them ring true to these inner measurement-standards and all must inevitably be well with the conclusion. Similarly with arguments and reasonings. Their validity and worth depend upon the extent to which they lead in the direction of Unity and of Being. Once Buddhi and Nirvana have been contacted there can no longer be satisfaction with written word, with Scripture, with dogma or doctrine, conventional or otherwise. To agree that such and such a theory is generally accepted, or that the Scriptures say so and so and that therefore so and so is so, ceases to be enough for those who, entering these inner regions, are beginning to learn that they can and must know for themselves.
They have ceased to be cripples walking with the aid of external sanctions. They have ceased to be orthodox or, for the matter of that, heterodox. They are learning to be true.
To record yet another reflection, I find myself increasingly impressed by the way in which the Nirvanic consciousness lifts one out of the domination of space and time and gives free access to past, present and future. Einstein has already been freeing us from slavery to time and to space. We are learning to evolve a space-time, which itself is relative, out of the two, and we emphasize our freedom from the thraldom of space and time by talking of conditions which are space-like or time-like. Even at the Buddhic level we begin the conscious transcendence of space and time, while at the Nirvanic level they almost cease to have meaning for us. Space and time were merely “invented” to show that there is something beyond them both. The value of limitation is not the life within it but rather the effort to get beyond it, and Buddhi and Nirvana are a beyond to which, as science is now dimly beginning to perceive, they point.
At the Nirvanic level of consciousness one can be, or at least begin to be, simultaneously everywhere - “everywhere” still a limited area, but a transcendence of time and space as we conceive these “down here”. The value of time and space are in connection with objectivity. Tables and chairs owe that mode of being, which we designate as table and chair, to considerations of time-space.
We need time-space to give us tables and chairs, for we need objects down here and time-space gives them to us. Objects, as we are told, are events in time-space. A table is an event. But we are not concerned with objects in Nirvanic consciousness. We are concerned with that subjectivity of which they are the expression in the lower worlds. Hence the limitations of time and space, appropriate and necessary to objective existence in the lower worlds, cease to exist when we deal with their subjective realities, and it is even possible, after practice, to a certain extent - I do not know how far - to hold this subjectivity in relation to the very objects themselves so as to perceive them in some measure without their time-space qualifications, thus uniting subject and object, or should I say thus merging object in subject and yet retaining a shadow of objectivity. I am afraid I am expressing myself somewhat confusedly, but I can only hope my readers follow to a certain extent what I am driving at.
I see what I mean; but this is hardly encouraging to those who have yet to know that there is a meaning to see. Perhaps I can make myself clearer if I suggest to you to try the experiment of universalizing a chair or a table, subjectivizing it, while at the same time, as long as you can, holding to the objectivity.
I do not advise you to try very hard. Try lazily and comfortably. You may then begin to see what I mean (about as much as I see what I mean), which, believe me, scoff as some may, is by no means not all.
But we can not only de-time-space the ordinary objects of the outer world. We can de-time-space faiths and nationalities, races and peoples. From the Nirvanic standpoint the essence of life is Universal Being, which is the same thing as Universal Truth or as Universal Law. There is no Christianity, or Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Islam, or Zoroastrianism in Nirvana. These terms are time-space terms, highly vital up to a certain point, but beyond this point perceived to be no more than a number of objects depending upon a universal subject. The subject passes through the spectrum and objects are reflected. The vision of most people does not include perception of the spectrum, so they see but one object as true.
They are not aware that it is one among many reflections. But Buddhic consciousness discloses the existence of the spectrum, enabling us to infer the subject behind; and Nirvanic consciousness takes us into the realm of the subject itself, though it is quite clear that the time will some day come when the Nirvanic “subject” will be perceived to be but a mode of a still more essential unity. How much happier the world would be if we could at least realize the subjectivity common to all faiths, however much we might in our lower bodies prefer a special reflection, a special objectivity. It is the same as regards nations and peoples and classes. There is a subjectivity embracing
them all. I would, however, recommend students to guard against the very real danger of ignoring the objects as they gain vision of the subject. To put the matter in comprehensible terms, a spirit of internationalism is a most valuable quality, but we must never be international at the expense of national duty.
Patriotism is not in the least degree irreconcilable with the spirit of universal brotherhood. On the contrary, the virtue of universal brotherhood can only truly be practised as we fulfil the smaller duties of national citizenship. We do not discard Buddhi as we assume Nirvana. We fulfil Buddhi in Nirvana.
We do not discard Christianity or any other faith as we assume Theosophy. We fulfil our faith, we fulfil our nationality, as we become Theosophists. We become wiser, not less ardent.
Let me now show how entry into the Nirvanic consciousness enables us to transcend time in a very special way. I can do this no better than by means of the following quotation from Camille Flammarion’s Popular Astronomy:A man, a spirit, leaving the earth, either by death or otherwise, this year, and transported in some hours or days to a great distance, would see the earth of
former times, and would see himself again as a child, for this aspect of the earth would not arrive where he was till after a long delay.
Now Flammarion here postulates a particular place so determined as to effect a synchronization between the individual as now and himself as then, the present meeting the past. But from the Nirvanic standpoint there is no need for transportation or place. All times and places are modes of being. It is therefore but a matter of ringing the changes upon a Mode Universal. Light travels, no doubt, or at least we say it does, though I have my doubts, but it never travels so far away that it can be lost. The Light which made that mode of time-space which I call my childhood is not, from the Nirvanic standpoint, in the past. It has not travelled away to a distance.
It is immanent. All is immanent in Nirvana, and had Flammarion experienced Nirvanic consciousness it would not have been necessary for him to go to the trouble of removing the man or spirit. He would have made him change his mode of consciousness. And as for the Past, so for the Future. That, too, is immanent, as now and then I have had occasion to experience. It is extremely difficult to suggest how the future is as immanent as past or present, but it might be useful to advance the postulate that God began with the Future and organized His unfoldment so as inevitably to lead to it. Thus everything has its Futurity as it were stamped upon it. All things are cast in the mould of the Future, however long they may take to fill the mould and to become its perfect replica. And Nirvana is a department of God's Laboratory in which certain of His Plans are stored, and in which are models - nay, more than models - of the relative perfections now being carved in the lower worlds out of the great Rough Ashlars of Life.
Is there not a complete Light-History of the world, written in the language of the Eternal Now? What is the Akashic Record but such a history?
Even we ordinary creatures can make Light-History in the form of
films. We can do this for past and present. Is it difficult to conceive that
Once again, inevitably, I am fascinated by my contemplation of our Lord the Sun. To read about Him in an astronomical treatise is, perhaps, to me the most enjoyable of all forms of reading. At every point I stop both to marvel and to relate the description, whatever it may be, to its Nirvanic counterparts. For example, I read somewhere recently the following passage:
What comes from the Sun and from all sources of Light and Heat is not then, to speak accurately, either light or heat (for these are merely impressions) but motion - motion extremely rapid. It is not heat which is scattered through space, for the temperature of space is, and remains everywhere, glacial. It is not light, for space has constantly the darkness seen at . It is motion, a rapid vibration of the ether which is transmitted to infinity, and does not produce a perceptible effect until it meets with an obstacle which transforms it.
Without being able to follow the author in his observations regarding space, the most significant fact remains that while, Nirvanically speaking, Light may be regarded as the archetypal substans of the lower worlds, yet Light itself has its own archetype for which we use the word “motion”. Light may be our supreme archetypal percept of the Divine Motion of things, yet the Divine Motion itself, which down here we may call Light or Sound, is other than these expressions of itself, as we begin to realize when we contemplate that wonderful shadow of Reality which in Hinduism is depicted as the Dance of the Lord Shiva. Even motion leaves me dissatisfied. I know that this word limits, and that our idea of motion, however exalted, is but a caricature of the Divine Motion.
But it is something to imagine, however feebly, a transcendence beyond Light, beyond the Lightning-standing-still. I am interested in the last portion of the concluding sentence - no “perceptible effect until it meets with an obstacle which transforms it”. This is an admirable statement of the continual transubstantiation taking place between higher and lower, between inner and outer. The Divine “Friction” between subjectivity and objectivity is the whole of evolution. But 0in truth, of course, obstacles are non-existent. The vibrations of Divinity do not meet obstacles. They readjust as between their respective particles. It is readjustment that is continually taking place, and readjustment only.
Then there is another passage which I would venture to quote here:
The Sun comes to us in the form of heat, He leaves us in the form of heat, but between His arrival and His departure He has given birth to the varied powers of our globe … (yet) the earth only stops in its passage the two thousand millionth part of the total radiation … all the planets of the system intercept but the
227 millionth part of the radiation emitted by the Central Star. The rest passes by the worlds and appears to be lost …but is, on the contrary, utilized to purposes of which we can have no conception.
At this point I contact once again a Universality beyond the limits of any one individual system. I know that a Centauri and Cygni, the Suns nearest to us, even though 25 and 43 millions of miles distant from us, or 4.35 and 7.2 light-years respectively away, exercise potent influences upon us in the marvellous scheme of interpenetration and cosmic adjustment with which some of the Greater Elders of our world are concerned. They reach us, affect us, modify us, through the universal Light in which the whole Cosmos shares. Indeed, though sound would take us more than three million years to reach us from Centauri, still the sound does reach us and can be heard by Those Who have the ears to hear. As has been truly said, “Light transports us into the infinite life. It also transports us into the eternal life.”
Let me add the following beautiful passage from Flammarion:
(It is the heat of the Sun) which maintains the three states of bodies - solid, liquid, gaseous … It is the Sun which blows in the air, which flows in the water, which moans in the tempest, which sings in the unwearied throat of the nightingale. It attaches to the sides of the mountains, the cataracts, and the avalanches are precipitated with an energy they draw from Him. Thunder and
lightning are in their turn a manifestation of His Power. Every fire which burns, and every flame which shines, has received its life from the Sun … and still all this is nothing, or almost nothing, compared with the real Power of Sun!
A fine description of Immanence, yet telling only a tithe of the truth, for the Sun is all things everywhere.
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