The Arhats of the "fire-mist" of the 7th rung are but one remove from the Root-Base of their Hierarchy -- the highest on Earth, and our Terrestrial chain. This "Root-Base" has a name which can only be translated by several compound words into English -- "the ever-living-human-Banyan." This "Wondrous Being" descended from a "high region," they say, in the early part of the Third Age, before the separation of the sexes of the Third Race. . . .
He is the "Initiator," called the "GREAT SACRIFICE." For, sitting at the threshold of LIGHT, he looks into it from within the circle of Darkness, which he will not cross; nor will he quit his post till the last day of this life-cycle. Why does the solitary Watcher remain at his self-chosen post? Why does he sit by the fountain of primeval Wisdom, of which he drinks no longer, as he has naught to learn which he does not know -- aye, neither on this Earth, nor in its heaven? Because the lonely, sore-footed pilgrims on their way back to their home are never sure to the last moment of not losing their way in this limitless desert of illusion and matter called Earth-Life. Because he would fain show the way to that region of freedom and light, from which he is a voluntary exile himself, to every prisoner who has succeeded in liberating himself from the bonds of flesh and illusion. Because, in short, he has sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind, though but a few Elect may profit by the GREAT SACRIFICE.
It is under the direct, silent guidance of this MAHA -- (great) -- GURU that all the other less divine Teachers and instructors of mankind became, from the first awakening of human consciousness, the guides of early Humanity. It is through these "Sons of God" that infant humanity got its first notions of all the arts and sciences, as well as of spiritual knowledge; and it is they who have laid the first foundation-stone of those ancient civilizations that puzzle so sorely our modern generation of students and scholars. -- The Secret Doctrine, I, 207-8
The hierarchy of compassion is divisible into almost innumerable minor hierarchies, running down the scale of cosmic being from the supreme hierarch of our solar system through all intermediate stages and infilling every one of its planets, until finally its representatives on this physical plane are found on the different globes of the planetary chains. It is built of divinities, demigods, buddhas, bodhisattvas, and great and noble men, who serve as a living channel for the spiritual currents coming to this and every other planet of our system from the heart of the solar divinity, and who themselves shed glory and light and peace upon that pathway from the compassionate deeps of their own being. Little do men know of the immense love, the divine impulses of compassion, which sway the souls of those who form this Hierarchy of Light. They have made the great renunciation, giving up all hope of personal evolutionary progress, it may be for aeons to come, in order to remain at their appointed tasks in the service of the world. Unrecognized, unthanked, they work steadily on, watching others go past them as the slowly moving river of lives sweeps along in unending flow.
On our earth there is a minor hierarchy of light. Working in this sphere there are lofty intelligences, human souls, having their respective places in the hierarchical degrees. These masters or mahatmas are living forces in the spiritual life of the world; and awakened minds and intuitive hearts sense their presence, at least at times.
Consider the wonderful work in which labor those who have preceded us. They are revealers in the sense of unveilers, for they are the initiators, the handers on of light from age to age. Those of the order of the buddhic splendor, of wisdom and compassion, copy among us what takes place in spheres supernal, for there are revealers among the gods themselves. And with these immortals, as we conceive them to be, there is likewise a training school, and a passing on of light from manvantara to manvantara. The old Hermetists were right: what is above is the same as that which is here below, and what is here below is but a shadow, a reflection, of what is above.
At the summit of the Hierarchy of Compassion is the Silent Watcher. He has renounced all; in utter self-sacrifice he waits and watches with infinite pity, reaching downwards into our own sphere, helping and inspiring, in the silences of spiritual compassion. The Silent Watcher remains at his post from the beginning to the ending of the manvantaric life cycle, nor will he move from that post of cosmic compassion until the last thread of destiny of that hierarchy has been spun. He is called the Silent Watcher because he watches and guards through the age-long manvantara in what to us seems to be a divine silence.
This Wondrous Being is the spiritual bond and link of the various bodhisattvas and buddhas of the Hierarchy of Light, both with superior worlds and with us and the lower beings of our round. He is the chief of the spiritual-psychological hierarchy of which the masters form a part. He is the ever-living human banyan from which they -- and we too -- hang as leaves and fruit. From this Wondrous Being originally come our noblest impulses through our own higher selves: the life and aspiration we feel stirring in our minds and hearts, the urge to betterment, the sense of loyalty and troth -- all the things which make life bright and beautiful and well worth living.
We are taught that, as far as great spiritual seers know, the same hierarchical pattern exists on every globe, on every man-bearing planet of every sun in the infinitudes of Space. There is over each one a master teacher, and in each case he merits the term which H.P.B. uses, namely, the "Great Sacrifice," because from boundless compassion for those lower in the scale of evolution he has renounced all hope and opportunity of going higher in this manvantara. He can learn nothing more of this hierarchy, for all knowledge pertaining to it is his already; but he remains behind for aeons as the great inspirer and teacher. He has sacrificed himself for all below him.
Just as the hierarchies in the universe are virtually infinite in number, so are the Wondrous Beings or Silent Watchers, because every one is such only for the series of lives in its hierarchy. There is the Wondrous Being who is the supreme spiritual chief, the Silent Watcher, for the Brotherhood of Compassion. There is one for our globe, who is identic in this case with the hierarch of the Brotherhood of Compassion. There is also one for our planetary chain, and one for each of its globes; there is likewise one for our solar system, whose habitat is the sun, and one for our own home-universe, and so forth forever.
Each such Silent Watcher is the fountain, the parent, of a hierarchy of the Buddhas of Compassion. They are really the ones from which flow forth into the universe those majestic operations of consecutive and never-failingly accurate action which we call natural laws. It is the movement of their will and consciousness which expresses itself thusly, and therefore are they said to be engaged in a perpetual battle -- a human metaphor -- with the forces of pure matter, with the Ma-mo. This is a general term covering the dark and sinister spirits and operations of nature, which are merely the workings of hosts of monads of the cosmic life climbing slowly upward, but still plunged in the deep spiritual sleep of material existence. The battle of these Silent Watchers is the holding of the laws of life in orderly consequence, so that all go well, and the Light die not out from the universe.
Following the same rule of repetitive action in nature, there is a Silent Watcher for every man, his own inner god -- the buddha within him -- which is the core of his being, the origin of the fundamental law or consciousness of his hierarchical structure. And there is a Silent Watcher for every atom. As the entire framework of kosmos is built throughout on correspondences and repetitives, there are no absolutes anywhere, and everything is strictly relative to everything else. The divine of one hierarchy is actually grossest matter to another far superior hierarchy; but within one and the other the repetitive rules apply very strictly, because nature has one general and throughout-repeated course of action.
It is obvious that these Silent Watchers are of many grades. The one for our globe D of the earth chain, for instance, is still human, for, although the farthest advanced of humanity, he is not yet evolved out of the human into the god stage. There are planetary spirits, Silent Watchers, who occupy a grade intermediate between divinities and men. There are Silent Watchers among the gods, and some of these manifest themselves as suns -- not only as the heart of a sun, the god behind the glorious star which is its garment, but likewise in a sense as that garment, in the same way that a man is not only the spirit and the soul of himself, but also his vehicle; he being thus a physical, psychical, spiritual, and a divine man.
It is likewise true that a greater Silent Watcher is the head of the minor Silent Watchers which he leads, just as the Silent Watcher of our globe, who is a human demigod indeed, but yet a man, is the guardian of our humanity. It is in this Being that our roots of individual consciousness originate, much as the various offshoots of the banyan tree derive their primal origin from the parent trunk which now lives with its children as an equal, yet first among equals. The ever-living human banyan alluded to by H.P.B. is not an incarnated man. It is in fact the Mahachohan* of this earth, an entity who was a man in far past ages, in former manvantaras in fact. He is the loftiest of the Buddhas of Compassion, the supreme guide and teacher of the hierarchy of the Great Ones at the present time, the channel through whom pass the sublime inspiration and life flowing from the Silent Watcher of humanity.
[*A chohan, a mahachohan, a dhyani-chohan, of necessity is a man, or has been a man, either of this earth or in some past manvantara. It is not accurate, however, to speak of the Mahachohan as having been, in some far past manvantara, a divine being who came to earth in order to help mankind, for he has gone through the human stage as an evolving entity, and is still human. We now are passing through lower degrees of the human stage. In far distant aeons of the future, even before this planetary chain shall have reached its manvantaric end, we too, as a human host, shall become dhyani-chohans; and before that, we shall attain the lofty stage which the Mahachohan now occupies. The word Mahachohan is a title, just as is Buddha or Christ. There are great mahachohans, also those of inferior degree, but the one of whom we are here speaking is the supreme chief, the lord and teacher of the Brotherhood of adepts, and through them of us.]
The higher self of each one of us is an ever-living human banyan, the source of a multitude of human souls which have been sent forth as branches, which themselves take root in the material world; and these human souls in their turn grow through ages-long evolution to become spiritual banyans, each of them sending out new roots, new branches, but all derivative from the parent tree. Therefore this ever-living human banyan may be called the parent heart of the mahatmas.
When we call this hierarchical Wondrous Being our highest self, our Paramatman, we mean that it is the primeval or originating seed from which we grow and develop into composite entities. From it we spiritually spring. Or we can consider it, in one aspect, as a sheaf of divine light separating into innumerable monads and monadic rays in a manvantara; and, when the pralaya comes, again withdrawing and drawn back into itself, now enriched and ennobled, through its countless hosts of manifested monads and monadic rays, by the individualizing experience that these have gained. The innumerably various consciousnesses increase in power and glory and self-cognition by means of the lives through which they have passed within the life of the greater being.
Some speak of our inner god as if that were the divine ending of us. Yet its realms of consciousness are but the beginning of other realms still more divine, reaching ever deeper and deeper into the womb of Infinitude, because the ladder of life extends endlessly.
Let me try to illustrate: in future ages when the spiritual selfhood of a man will have become, say, a solar divinity, he will be a Silent Watcher of that solar system -- its apex, its head, heart and brain, ruling all the hosts of entities which infill that solar system. They will all be his children; now they are life-atoms in his physical body, also of course in his linga-sarira, kama-rupa, manas and in his spiritual part. As an individual he will have no more to learn in that Egg of Brahma, which will then be himself greatly expanded. In other words, all the beings that now compose him, that help him to express himself on all his planes, will themselves have grown into many kinds of entities: atoms, vegetables, animals, men, demigods, etc. -- call them angels, archangels, powers, principalities, for the name does not matter much. He himself will be the Silent Watcher, one who will stand in all his solar splendor throughout innumerable aeons, learning no more in the world which then will be his body, his self-expression -- living for the sake of the lives who had sprung forth from him, as sparks from a central fire. Of course, in his still higher parts he will be learning on planes correspondingly higher; but half of his attention, of his life, intelligence, and possibilities for individual growth as a god, will be devoted to the hosts composing the lower elements of his being. He cannot, will not, advance one step and leave a single life-atom behind him abandoned, on the long, long, evolutionary trail, because this would be impossible. This is partly karma, and partly pure compassion. Such is the sublime destiny of us all.
Let us take another example, the Silent Watcher of our planetary chain. When our solar system began, our planetary chain was there among the "sons of God" -- the god was Father Sun, and the sons were the divinities in and around it -- and the highest being of our chain, the most progressed planetary spirit of that same planetary chain as it was in the preceding solar manvantara, now reimbodies itself as the leader, the coryphaeus, of our present chain. Furthermore, throughout all the many reimbodiments of our planetary chain during the solar manvantara, that one planetary spirit will be our Silent Watcher. It has, so to speak, to drag the heavy weight of the whole planetary chain hanging like a multiple pendant from it, but never for an instant wishing to free itself from the multitudinous hosts composing that chain, ourselves among them.
A third example, on the human plane, is the upper triad of man's constitution, atma-buddhi-manas -- call it the Christ-monad or inner Buddha, if you will -- his own individual Silent Watcher. It is himself, and yet not himself. In this thought lies the true significance of a Silent Watcher: the solitary spiritual entity who will not go higher alone, and who reproduces as from a source every new reimbodiment of the man as a human soul. This is brought about by means of the ray from this Silent Watcher within man.
As the Pythagoreans phrased it, the highest triad remains in "silence and darkness," and verily is the root of our being. It is silence and darkness to us; but actually our human life is the darkness. In its own being this upper triad is supernal light, unspeakable glory, and its silence is such to us only because our ears are not trained to hear what there takes place.
Another instance of a human Silent Watcher is the spiritual head of all the adepts who have ever lived on this globe, who now live, or who will live in the future: the one whom they all recognize as their spiritual father, a man and yet a demigod, because a god imbodied in a highly advanced man's soul. He is an actual imbodied being, although not necessarily possessing a body of flesh. It may well be that he is imbodied as a nirmanakaya, more likely than not; a nirmanakaya is a complete man minus the lower gross triad. This entity, the Silent Watcher of our globe and its humanity, is on earth.
This Wondrous Being is the hierarchical Brotherhood of adepts of our planetary chain, begun in the fourth round on our globe at about the middle period of the third root-race -- which was the period when humanity was beginning to be self-conscious and ready for the receiving of light. The descent of this Being from a high plane, from globe A by way of globes B and C, was rather a projection of energy than a descent of an imbodied entity downwards. It was a visitation in our underworld, undertaken for the sake of helping those beings living in its 'shadows.' (Underworld is a technical term meaning any world inferior to that on which the higher being lives. There is no one absolute underworld -- even globe A is an underworld to a higher globe.)
Now this Wondrous Being is a dhyani-buddha. Interlocked in his vital essence, streaming forth from him as from a sun, are innumerable rays, and these various children rays are human egos. Like the banyan tree, this Wondrous Being sends forth tendrils of the spirit which reach down into the substantial fabric of the universe in which he lives, and there take root; and because of receiving from him the life essence, they themselves become banyan trees, growing up in their turn. In other words, they achieve full evolutionary growth, spiritual and intellectual and psychical maturity, and then send forth other new tendrils 'downwards,' which take root, thus building up new trunks, etc.
One of the most beautiful teachings of theosophy is that this Wondrous Being came from a "high region" as a visitor to us, living in what was to him the underworld, and dwelling for a time amongst us as the primal master-spirit of the human race -- a Being at once one and many -- a mystery.