A Study in
George Sidney Arundale
First published 1926
Dr Arundale was International President of
the Theosophical Society (Adyar) from 1933 to 1945
I compare … man’s gradual progress in self-knowledge to his gradual decipherment of the nature and meaning of the sunshine which reaches him as light and heat indiscernibly intermingled.
MYERS, (Human Personality and the Survival of Bodily Death).
IT is curious how, as the days pass, one becomes increasingly conscious of a readjustment to one’s surroundings, as well as of a perpetual contact with the non-physical. My relationships with outer things have altered. It may be that the Buddhic unity has itself become intensified, for more of reverence seems due
to everything - to inanimate as much as to animate objects.
Indeed, I see clearly that there is nothing which is inanimate. All is animate with Sun-Light. All is alive with Sun-Sound, with Sun-Form. Even the minutest microcosm is a perfect macrocosm in miniature - the pebble on the beach, the speck of dust, the least animate insect. God is not original. Having made His pattern, He
never departs from it. Having chosen His pathway, He never diverges from it.
This perception of the wonderful sameness of all things, which means that in essence all things are vibrant with infinite potentiality, causes an interesting and significant physical reaction to the outer world. I must lift things more carefully, deliberately. I must touch things with more refinement in the touch. I must use things with a greater sense of the purpose to which (there is no exaggeration in the statement) they are dedicated. Nothing slipshod or careless is tolerable.
Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell,
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before, But vaster …
There is much profound truth in these lines. Through increased reverence the music does become vaster. I perceive divinity in the fountain-pen with which I write these words. It seems unfair to the pen, indeed untrue to the essential being of the pen, if I do not try to write carefully and neatly. The pen suffers other than physically if ill-treated, if used less reverently than it might be used. I seem to be under the necessity of educating, of cooperating with, my surroundings all the time, largely by my general attitude, but in no small measure by my more overt comradeship with the things that constitute them. My
office tools depend upon me, look up to me. All this may be the intensification of the Buddhic principle, but it is more than this.
Am I getting nearer to the truth when I suggest that the Unity of Buddhi is more an outward, forthgoing process, while the Unity of Nirvana is more an inward, indrawing process? Do I
at the Buddhic stage perceive my oneness with the world, and at the Nirvanic stage perceive the potentiality of all things within me? I think there is something of this kind, for our Lord the Sun seems at the Nirvanic stage to become the centre of my being.
On further contemplation, it seems as if at the Buddhic stage one goes out to find the Unity, while at the Nirvanic stage one begins to realize it everywhere. At the Buddhic stage one travels from centre to circumference, finding the centre as much at the circumference as at the centre, if you understand what I
am trying to convey. At the Nirvanic stage,that which has been two and yet one in two, becomes one. All is centre, and one is on the verge of the conception that under a certain mode of consciousness a centre need have no circumference, for all is within the centre. We draw circumferences just as we
draw double lines for easier writing. But we do not need them, and Nirvana is the state of doing without them. At the Buddhic stage there is more of realization. At the Nirvanic stage there is more of Being.
As I have already written, the Sun seems to be my King, and I realize that down here I must be a sun, the sun of my world, as He is the Sun of His system. In Him is the source of all life. In me, too, is the source of all life, because I am in Him, and of His Being. His rays pervade worlds. Do not mine, however
feebly, pervade a world? I am an infinity in the becoming because I am infinity in essence. Nothing is lacking in my nature to that stupendous end - the word “end” is, of course, absurd. I am light even as He is Light. The Nirvanic consciousness seems to produce a cognition of oneself as a throbbing, pulsating
energy or power-nucleus, slowly but surely expanding, extending its kingdom far and wide, and itself becoming more and more radiant as its frontiers are pushed forward into space. I can conceive that in the infinitely distant future my body shall be as the Sun and my kingdom a universe. I am brought face to face with my potentiality, and with its inevitable growth into power; it is a marvellous and stupendous grandeur; omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence - in the becoming. I enter my Sanctum Sanctorum. I enter the essence of my being. I perceive a burning, blinding Sun - a miniature of the Sun Himself.
It seems to me also that I am in constant contact with all outside me. This is probably a way of putting the fact that I am conscious on the plane of Universal consciousness, on which time and space are non-existent. An act of consciousness - and I contact whatever I desire to contact. It is not a question of going anywhere, of projection, but rather of tuning, and not even of tuning, but rather of attending. The act of attention makes the contact.
Of course, I am only at the very beginning of this, and I express myself badly and uncertainly, because I am merely a child, and use child-language to express unfamiliar relationships and to describe conditions about which I know next to nothing. I am just like a baby trying to describe all it met on its first
journey into the streets of the town, or the roads and lanes of the
country-side. I have received impressions, but these filter through, have indeed been contacted by, undeveloped organs. Still, perhaps you sense the truth within the halting picture. William James in one of his books has said that the nightingale of life’s eternal meaning is for ever singing in men’s hearts. From the standpoint of the Nirvanic consciousness I realize that this is profoundly true, but it means far more than probably he intended it to mean.
The eternal meaning of life is indeed for ever singing in men's hearts, but it is not, I think, until Buddhic, and later Nirvanic, consciousness is opened that one begins to hear the song, or at any rate to begin to understand it. When one does begin to hear it in one’s own heart, simultaneously one seems to hear it in the hearts of all things, even though it sings as yet to ears that are deaf. And then one knows that there is but One great Song of Life echoed in the hearts of men and things, be its variations infinite.
Such knowledge is it that brings one to a realization of the nature of Universal Consciousness. Hearing the Song of Life in harmony of Glorious Light and Colour in its Nirvanic manifestation, one hears the sound of its eternal meaning in all things, and it is but an act of consciousness to hear its note in any particular individuality, and thus to contact that individuality intimately. It is, then, but a matter of tuning-in on to the wave-length required.
The wireless apparatus is installed, even though very far from running smoothly, and I seem able to tune-in to all manner of things everywhere, to persons, to friends, to events, even though I may only rarely be able to hear accurately. I see the “dead” living on in other bodies, and with us all the time. I see the “living” in other parts of the world as near to me as those in physical propinquity. I can draw the whole world into me, and thus annihilate time and space. How much more than this world, so far as regards its sub-Nirvanic states, I may be able thus to draw in, I do not know. But I am just now beginning to perceive that the unfolding of Nirvanic consciousness brings one into touch with other worlds than this earth of ours.
Certain planets, of course, may be contacted comparatively easily without Nirvanic consciousness, but its unfoldment makes possible journeys farther afield, for on the Nirvanic plane infinitely more of our universe begins to be within reach. I have not yet journeyed far afield, but I find myself in touch with influences from distant places, the nature of which is for the time being more than strange. There are mighty influences at work among us, down here in our world, influences from far away, from other universes indeed as well as from other planets. I can say no more at the moment, for all is vague. But it is very intriguing. How strange one feels in one’s new world, with its almost illimitable vistas and marvellous scenery, peopled with wonderful Presences, linking together even universes within a stupendous cosmos.
It is a wonder that the physical brain can stand even the feeblest reflection of it all, for it is all so completely outside all previous experience. Clearly the physical brain could not stand the strain but for the previous Buddhic experience, which reinforced the brain, stamped it with Unity, enlarged its capacity, that it might gradually become ready for the further expansion. The
Nirvanic note would have been shattering but for the tuning-in the Buddhic contact achieved.
How true it is that language in this case conceals thought and meaning! I need Nirvanic language to convey the sense of Nirvanic things, and my hearers need Nirvanic understanding. How impossible to convey the sense of moreness in a medium which stops short at that very moreness! Still, perhaps you have an impression of that wondrous moreness, though until you too can begin to see, my words must often seem confused and even muddled. As Myers has said so beautifully:
O, could I tell, ye surely would believe it!
O, could I only say what I have seen!
How should I tell or how can ye receive it,
How, till He bringeth you where I have been?
The more one immerses oneself in even this lowest layer of Nirvanic consciousness the greater becomes the clarification of consciousness on the lower planes. It is like a fresh, pure stream of energy flowing through the great channels of life and vivifying the outlook at every stage. We are continually working under the Law of Readjustment, and each expansion of consciousness involves a further readjustment to the Eternal Reality. Purer and purer becomes the refracting medium as kingdom after kingdom of consciousness is conquered, till at last the Light of the Real shines through undimmed, or as nearly undimmed as is possible in the Universe of the Relative.
One of the most striking examples of this clarification is in the discovery that it is far more possible definitely to know God than I had supposed. Does one attain a vision of God, of the Creator, in a Form capable of being understood by human consciousness? I seem to have perceived God, not as an abstraction but as a cognisable Reality - a Universality within a limitation, but the limitation rarefied enough to reveal to me in deeper measure the nature of the Universality of God. The expression is unsatisfactory, but it is as if I had experienced the
Individuality of God. And the whole experience centres round the Sun which, putting it bluntly, I perceive to be the Physical Vehicle of God whereby He creates, gives, sustains and regenerates life. The Sun is, as it were, the Countenance of God, the Light of which shines upon all things.
A little more and I could describe, in so far as description is at all possible, a manner of God’s revealing of Himself on this Nirvanic Plane. Not God unveiled. I cannot see Him unveiled. The part cannot know the Whole as Whole. But I can see Him as He interposes a shadow before my eyes. To me that very shadow, irridescent with God, is God, even though but a shadow. I see God in limitation.
The part perceives a shadow of the Whole. The ocean of Nirvana is a Shadow of God. The ocean of every plane is God in Shadow. The higher the consciousness the more is the Shadow a true mirror of His Being.
I realize, too, more vividly the nature of Heaven, and somehow it does not seem so absurd to place Heaven in the heavens as I had thought. Of course, heaven is a State of Consciousness. There are many Heavens. Nirvana is a Heaven-world, infinitely greater than that higher mental plane to which we usually restrict
the title. But is not the blue sky a Heaven in special measure? If I free myself from the bondage of earth and body restrictions, and bathe myself in the sky above the clouds, do I not experience a peace and a sense of the all-Power, the all-Wisdom and the all-Love of God, which inevitably decreases as I return to the physical level?
I seem also to be able to some extent to apply Eternity to the terms of Time. Do I not contact in some degree the Eternal Mind, or, should I say more truly, a Cosmic Mind, and then Cosmic Emotions and a Cosmic Physical Plane? What is the difference between these Cosmic States and their denser counterparts?
The first word that comes to me to express the difference is “Majesty”. Mind stripped of all Time-mentality, of all constituents of the mental plane as we know it. Mind filled with the spiritual counterparts, the archetypes, of the constituents of our mental plane. The Cosmic Mind is an archetypal Mind which reflects itself in the objects of the mental plane. It is not Absolute Mind, but the nearest approach to Absolute Mind that I can so far conceive. The positive and the negative, the subject and the object, have disappeared, and there is pure Mind, Mind without the contrast between I and not-I, since the one is
merged in the other.
The same experience obtains on the plane of the emotions. On this Cosmic plane I contact Cosmic Emotion, which impresses me as being Power in Motion. I have since often looked at a physical plane storm and have seemed to perceive in it a likeness to the plane of Cosmic Emotion, always assuming that the physical plane storm is supremely purposeful and stormy to great and well-defined ends.
Cosmic Emotion is power in motion, in spiral swirl, in vast pulsation. Again, as in the case of the Cosmic Mind, I cease to sense the pairs of opposites. There is no fundamental division of love-emotions and hate-emotions; they are mutually
merged in archetypal emotion. I contact pure emotion, pure feeling, but not absolute emotion or absolute feeling. I sense the difference because I perceive a beyond, though I do not know the nature of that beyond.
These two Cosmic states are reservoirs which feed their corresponding lower planes, and I see how the pairs of opposites down here emerge from a Unity within or above, but I feel sure that this very Unity itself is but relative. Further still within or above there is a still deeper Unity, compared with which the Unity I now contact is a world of diversity.
I perceive an Apotheosis of Death. There is no death, only change, and always change with purpose, change to a greater end. Death is recreation, renewal, the dropping of fetters, the casting aside of a vehicle which has ceased to suffice,
the taking off of an overcoat. Death is in very truth a birth into a fuller and larger life, or a dipping down into matter under the law of readjustment. Progress always, and progress towards Unity. We come ever nearer to each other and to the Real through death. If only we could realize this!
I see that Death is a form of Happiness, and that only our distance from happiness prevents us from realizing the gift of happiness which death confers.
We grieve because a friend has gone into the next room, and there seem to be no doors between his room and ours. Yet there are doors, and we might open them if we would and keep them for ever afterwards wide open. Grief is ignorance and often selfish. The more we know the less we shall grieve, for true knowledge is eternal happiness.
I turn for a change to myself. I somehow know that my aura has undergone, or is undergoing, a process of readjustment. Wherever there is an expansion of consciousness there is a modification in the aura. What modification is being
brought about in my own? It seems as if it were being irradiated with Nirvanic Light. It has an electric intensity it did not before possess. The colours are in process of rearrangement, apparently in rings like the rings of Saturn. Possibly, indeed probably, this process began before, but the entry into Nirvanic consciousness has given it a great impetus.
The silver light-threads of Nirvana seem to interpenetrate the whole aura, enriching and purifying the colours, and encircling, interpenetrating, my whole being, with a Web of Light. The aura scintillates with Sun-Light. The aura sparkles in the Sun.
I have perceived since these words were written that not only does the aura undergo a Light modification, including a re-arrangement of the colour-scheme, but that the music of my being has undergone a beautiful enrichment. I feel myself to be music. True, all is music, and has been from the beginning. But at last I am beginning to understand my music and to be able to watch myself at work in the Workshop of Sound, assembling the notes I need for the Symphony I am dedicated to express, for the Sound-Universe it is my destiny to create.
Physical plane Henry Ford assembling a motor car is but a reflection of innumerable spiritual Henry Fords assembling the Universes, of which they shall be the Suns, in the Colour Workshops, in the Sound Workshops, in the Great
Laboratory of Evolution. The process is at work all the time, but only as we contact Buddhi, and later Nirvana, do we begin really to know what we are doing, and thus to do it more expeditiously and with more effective skill.
Each centre (there are many centres) glows with the new life and the new promise. Am I in the springtime of a new Cosmic year, of which the summer of spiritual maturity is the Fifth of the Great Initiations, to the threshold of which sooner or later I shall come? “Conquer this kingdom and you stand on the threshold of the next.” The seed of my being has thrust its Light-shoots through the soils of lower planes, and a bud is opening to the Sun in the pure Nirvanic air. Some day this bud will become a flower - a flower of earth’s humanity in the garden of God. Every root shall grow its bud as it sends up its Light shafts through the unreal into the real. As Heaven-Light kisses Earth-Light the bud takes form and slowly expands into the flower. I seem to see, as this imagery comes to me, the Flower of Earth’s Humanity - the Lord Buddha, a Flower of indescribable splendour, a radiant Lotus-form of golden Light.
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