The "Three-tongued flame" that never dies is the immortal spiritual triad -- the Atma-Buddhi and Manas -- the fruition of the latter assimilated by the first two after every terrestrial life. The "four wicks" that go out and are extinguished, are the four lower principles, including the body. . . .
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 moon-beams, 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, I, 237
Every mathematical point of Space is a consciousness center, a monad -- an 'individual,' the final point which cannot be divided any more, the vanishing point. Consider what this thought means. In everything around us -- all the materials in a building, the substance of all our bodies, the atoms, molecules, electrons, all so-called mathematical points, whether of the air, the world, the surrounding space of inner planes, upper and lower -- the same rule applies, for Space is a vast congeries of points of consciousness.
We are surrounded by very material things, by every kind of entity; for instance, in our own world by chemical composites: stone and wood, water and plants and flesh, and what not. All these are formed of monads, ultimately. If we press the search ever farther and deeper inwards, as far as we can go, we realize we shall never reach an end; yet the mind at last obtains a point of support which it calls a mathematical center, the core of the core of an entity -- and that is the monad, a spiritual individual with divinity at its heart. In this connection the ancients spoke of the Waters of Space, each droplet or monad emanating from the environing Ocean of Consciousness and ultimately returning to it. Or, as the Lord Buddha is stated to have said, the "dewdrop slips into the shining Sea" -- to emanate from it again at the beginning of some future manvantara. The Monas monadum, signifying the cosmic monad, is simply the aggregated monads of which it is at once the parent and final goal. It in its turn is but a minute monad in a supercosmic entity still more vast.
However deeply the mind plunges into the abysses of thought, it will never reach anything more than an ever-expanding consciousness of itself: the ultimate Self, the god within, the atman. This is the monad. This is the perpetual individual, the spiritual individuality, the indivisible part of us. The heart of the monad, its superior fountain of life and intelligence, is a divine monad, the inner god. But the word monad is used in a general way for a variety of consciousness centers in man. There is the spiritual monad, offspring of the divine monad; there is the human monad, offspring of the spiritual monad; there is the vital-astral monad, offspring of the human monad. All these together form the human constitution. Each such monad, no matter what its grade, is an evolving entity. All that we are as human beings we derive ultimately from the monadic essence which is surrounding the inmost. Our spiritual intelligence, our instincts for noble thinking, for kindly and brotherly action, the impulses to compassion which fill our hearts, the love which so dignifies us, the loftiest intuitions which our nature is capable of -- all these are derivative from and rooted in the monad. The spiritual monad, which is the 'heart' of the reincarnating ego, is itself rooted in the divine monad or inner god, the deathless part of us. Without the influence or rays from the monad streaming into our human consciousness, we should be merely human beasts. The monad would be there, though inactive, and we should indeed be humans, but spiritually darkened and unawakened.
Now the soul, which is an aggregate entity just as a monad itself really is, is simply the clothing or the psychomental veil of a monad which is passing through that particular phase of its everlasting peregrinations through periodic time and hierarchical space. This monad's expression on any plane is a soul. The soul, in turn, works through its own vehicle, whether an ethereal or a physical one. Mystically, the physical body itself may be called an aggregated monad of the physical plane, because it is formed of mathematical points, little lives or monads of which the soul is the Monad of monads of this particular bodily hierarchy; while the monad above the soul is again its supermonad or Monas monadum.
This is a wonderful mystery: the universal nature of consciousness. It shows the fallacy of having our ideas crystalized, of keeping them pigeonholed. In matters of consciousness one cannot do this. We must keep our ideas fluid like ether -- indeed, like consciousness itself! The consciousness of a man, for instance, is all over his body, yet has its different foci or points of special activity in the bodily organs. (It is possible for one's consciousness to be localized in an organ, or even in a point, in the body; but it requires the expenditure of great energy to do this.) By analogy, we see how the consciousness of the cosmic monad is universal, and how we are all in it throughout eternity, constantly increasing and expanding our consciousness in it, which really means evolving our conscious selves.
The universe expresses its inner powers, faculties and structure by means of alternating periods of world-manifestation and world-rest. At the beginning of each manvantara, it begins unfolding what is within; and when that manvantara finally ends, all the monads of the different hierarchies and classes in the universe have, each one, gone up a step on the endless ladder of cosmic life. Thus, considered as an individual, there is no beginning and no end of a universe, except insofar as the stages of its expanding growth are concerned, the periods of manifestation and pralaya -- just as a human incarnation has a definite beginning and a definite ending at what we call birth and death; but the inner spiritual consciousness streams onwards and forwards forever.
One thing a human being cannot ever do is to annihilate himself, because, as an individual droplet of the cosmic Sea, he is an individual monad continually pouring forth, somewhat like an artesian well, ever-enlarging streams of consciousness from within.
A monad begins its evolutionary course in any one of these great manvantaras at the bottom. It cannot begin elsewhere, because one cannot climb a ladder by starting at the top and going downwards. So it is with monads: they enter upon the manvantara at the beginning of things. They do so as bare monads, and gradually unfold around themselves sheaths of consciousness, each one appropriate to the sphere through which it is at the time passing, these sheaths being composed of still less evolved monads trailing after the chief monad -- children monads to which it had given birth in past manvantaras. But the core of each such monad beginning its new mahamanvantaric evolution is a monad that came from the previous mahamanvantara.
Thus the monads at the beginning of the manvantara enter the three elemental kingdoms, and proceed on up the scale to the gods. But whence come the three elemental kingdoms? From the monads at the heart of every such elemental. Every being -- god, demigod, man, subhuman entities of all classes -- each one is essentially a monad passing through that particular phase of its evolution. All impulses originate in the monad. All substances flow forth from the heart of the monad. All consciousness resides in the core of the monad, all thoughts in their ultimate origin spring forth from the flow of consciousness arising in its fountainhead.
All these entities, from the elementals on up to the gods, and so on forever, are vehicles expressing different phases of the long, long evolutionary journey of the monads through space and time. A god is as much such a vehicle as is a man, only far greater in spiritual quality. Similarly an elemental is a vehicle of a monad. Can we ever reach an ultimate, an absolute ending, by going deeper and deeper into the heart of the heart of the monad? Never; for its root is Infinity.
Certain monads by the end of the previous mahamanvantara had already evolved so far that at the beginning of the new mahamanvantara they have little to learn in its opening stages, and therefore pass very rapidly through these lower stages. But their children monads, rays from themselves, spring into active manifestation at the beginning of such a new mahamanvantara, and in consequence must go through all the lower stages as their new schoolrooms of experience.
The 'graduated' monads are, each one of them, a Monas monadum; and these are the guides and spiritual helpers of the less developed monads, their own children, trailing along behind. This is the essential thought of the doctrine of the Hierarchy of Compassion.
The ancient Hindus spoke of an 'anu,' which means infinitesimal or atomic; hence it is a monad in its lowest ranges of cosmic expression. When we say monad, do we give to it magnitude, volume or bulk? No, because our mind instinctively recognizes it as a point of consciousness, an infinitesimal, whose essence nevertheless is universal since it is a droplet of the universal consciousness. A monad (literally 'one') cannot ever be divided; it is an individual, yet it is all-embracing because its heart is Infinity. The beginning of a circle is likewise its ending; similarly, Infinitude is the ultrainfinitesimal. The spirit or self within us catches and understands this thought, because it contains it; but the brain-mind, with its insistence upon dimensions, will not catch it because it is not evolved enough. Yet even the brain-mind itself is an as yet unexpressed monad.
This is why the ancient Hindu philosophers called anu by the name of Brahman, for Brahman is both the universal and the ultrainfinitesimal. The dewdrop is not different from the shining Sea, and when it returns to the fount from which it came, it has become one with the water of its source. That is what consciousness is and does; this is what body and form are not and do not. We should try to think in terms of consciousness, in terms of understanding. If we conceive of the monad as having physical size we shall never get the essential idea, because we are then giving it limitations which do not belong to it. The phrase "it becomes one with the water" does not signify that the monadic essence producing the dewdrop coalesces with the water. The dewdrop is the physical vehicle of the inner monad and, just as our human bodies do, breaks up into its component particles which are distributed throughout the prithivi-tattwa of nature; but the monad remains the individual, the indivisible center of consciousness, and in good time will gather together again its life-atoms and reproduce the dewdrop that was and now again is -- the 'resurrection of the body,' as the Christians would phrase it.
Thus the jivanmukta or freed monad rebecomes at the closing of the manvantara the Brahman from which it originally emanated as a ray, but does not coalesce unto eternity with that Brahman, for at the opening of the cosmic drama of the succeeding manvantara the monad issues forth again, and enters on its new peregrinations in realms higher than those from which it had previously been freed as a jivanmukta.
As one of the "Sacred Slokas" quoted in The Secret Doctrine (II, 80) has it:
"The thread of radiance which is imperishable and dissolves only in Nirvana, re-emerges from it in its integrity on the day when the Great Law calls all things back into action."
The word anu, the smallest imaginable particle of matter, has much the same indefinite meaning that atom has in modern philosophical and scientific thought. Jiva means life, also a living entity. Let us then coin a term for the soul of an anu and call it a jivanu, a 'life-atom,' a life-infinitesimal, the 'soul' of the chemical atom. Superior to it, actually its parent, let us place a paramanu (parama, meaning primordial, first in order). Thus we have anu, the atom; jivanu, the life-atom; paramanu, the supreme atom or atomic monad.
The paramanu or atomic monad lasts through the whole cosmic manvantara without diminution of power or cessation of consciousness. The life-atom or jivanu lasts only for a certain period of time within the cosmic manvantara. Like our physical body, the anu is even more transitory and fugitive. Thus when a life-atom and an anu reach their term, the paramanu or atomic monad has to imbody itself again, take a new life-atom and a new aggregate of infinitesimals making a new anu. (4)
Similarly with man: our monad lasts through the whole cosmic manvantara. Our soul or reincarnating ego, which correspondentially is the human life-atom within us, lasts for the duration of the planetary chain; but our bodies last only for one earth life. Thus we have the analogies: paramanu, jivanu, anu; monad, reimbodying ego, body; or, in the Christian scheme, spirit, soul, body. Every manifested entity everywhere, on inner or on outer planes, here or anywhere in boundless Space, is constructed on identical lines. Its heart, the core of itself, is an individual or a monad, a spirit, a god, which has its soul and its bodies.
When we say that a paramanu lasts through the whole cosmic manvantara without diminution of power or cessation of consciousness, we are considering the paramanu as the monadic essence of an atom; but this does not imply that this atomic monadic essence is as highly unfolded in its innate divine and spiritual faculties and powers as is the monad of a divinity. Both a paramanu and a divine monad are in essence one; yet a paramanu is, as it were, latent or sleeping, in comparison to the divine monad which is fully expressing its transcendent powers and is, in all probability, the monadic essence of some jivanmukta (The Secret Doctrine, I, 610-34).
Another method of classifying the three main divisions of man's being is according to the three classes of the indriyas as given in Hindu philosophies. They are considered to be the organs or channels, or rather the instruments by which the ego expresses itself in and through its sheaths of consciousness: the buddhindriyas, jnanendriyas, and karmendriyas. From the theosophical standpoint, the buddhindriyas, as the word buddhi shows, are what one might call the organs or means of spiritual consciousness, apperception, sense and action; the jnanendriyas are those innate organs and functions of consciousness which pertain to the intellectual, mental, and psychical parts of the human constitution; whereas the karmendriyas fall naturally into place as the astral-vital-physical organs of sensation and of action on our plane, such as the ear, the skin, the eye, the tongue, and the nose.
To understand the esoteric philosophy it is best to forget bodies and to grip the essential consciousness of ourselves. The fatal error of Western thought in all its departments of religion, philosophy and science is that it concentrates on the body-aspects, therefore on the transitory, the ever-changing. We have forgotten that the way by which to understand ultimates is by facing and studying them; and the ultimate of ultimates is the divine Selfhood, essential consciousness.
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