Theosophy Northwest View

The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
November 2005 -- Vol. 8 Issue 9

The Doctrine of Swabhava

Swabhava means individuality, the essential characteristic of an individual, making it that individual and thereby distinguishing it from other individuals. Consequently it is not individuality which changes through the aeons as they pass. The changes come in and through the unfolding of the individuality, in its self-expressions or vehicles. The unself-conscious god-spark has its swabhava or individuality, but not yet "unfolded," "unrolled," "unwrapped."

Evolution means unfolding, unrolling, unwrapping, what is within, i.e., the swabhava, the individuality. A rose, a violet, a horse, a dog, any entity anywhere, a god, a sun, a planet, a man -- anything in self-expressing its individuality manifests its swabhava; and passes through the aeons, thus casting off vehicle after vehicle, casting off garment after garment, casting off expression of itself after expression of itself. For instance, the particular class or family of entities which is passing through the rose-stage -- or the horse- or the dog-, or the man-stage -- comprises entities all belonging to the same ray if you like, of the same solar logos, or to one of the subordinate rays of one of the solar logoi; and hence it continues as such an individuality, constantly manifesting its swabhava. It lives for a time in the rose-stage -- taking this stage as an illustration -- and then outgrows it; and the rose-stage disappears or vanishes; the manifesting individuality or swabhava meanwhile making for itself some new garment in which it lives and expresses itself for an aeon or twain or three or more, and then outlives this new stage and the new stage disappears. This process continues until finally the growing or self-expressing individuality or monad, pressing forward on its evolutionary journey, constantly unfolding, unwrapping, developing forth what is within itself, and casting body after body behind, reaches the human stage; and then after the human stage comes the god-stage. When the god-stage is reached, then humans will be no more, they will have been outlived as vehicles. -- G. de Purucker


This phrase literally signifies "self-knowledge." Now this Sanskrit word atman is exceedingly difficult to translate, but the English word "self" seems to come nearest to an adequate rendering of it. Atma-vidya means much more than ordinarily we might understand by the words "knowledge of the self"; yet, were we to know the self in its fullness, we should know all knowledge that it is possible for man to know. Hence, that technical name is given to it as descriptive of the entire branch of the esoteric philosophy which this seventh jewel contains. As it is, we can know only parts of this branch of the esoteric philosophy. We are told that it is hinted in the ancient writings, particularly in the Sanskrit, that even the most spiritual beings on earth in this our age know not fully all that is contained in this treasure.

This seventh treasure or jewel can be considered as a study of the problem of how the One becomes the many; but as a matter of fact, the One essentially never becomes the many. One might as well say that the sun which gives us our light comes down to earth in order to do it; but it does not. It sends out its rays, emanations from itself, which illuminate, vitalize, and quicken our world of matter; and similar is the case with the One. In order to elucidate our problem, we turn to the hierarchies, of which the One is the root-base if we consider it as the origin of all the beings and things in that hierarchy; or the flower or summit or acme if we consider it as the aim and end of our evolution. This, therefore, is the One. But there are other Ones, Ones innumerable, in the kosmical universe; some higher than our highest, or lower than our lowest degree. -- G. de Purucker

Monthly Discussion Group -- Bellevue Regional Library

"What Are the Seven Jewels of Wisdom?" is our subject. We will be discussing some of the basic teachings of theosophy, including:

Reincarnation: we live many times, growing and learning from our experiences.
Karma: the universal law of cause and effect.
Swabhava: each entity has a fundamental individuality, at the core of which is a spiritual urge for self-regeneration.
Evolution: every entity evolves its inner potentials through endless cycles of activity and rest.
Hierarchies: the many interblending states and beings which form our living universe.
The Two Paths of Spiritual Development: the eternal struggle between selfishness and altruism.
Self-Knowledge: every part mirrors the whole, containing all its capacities in potential.

These concepts can be found in different forms in the various religions and philosophies of the world. Come and share your ideas about them!

Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
Upcoming Topics
December 15: The Inner Nativity
January 19, 2006: Are We Part of a Spiritual Ecology?
February 9: Creating Ourselves
March: Prayer and Meditation
April: Mysteries of Memory


The topics for the monthly discussions are chosen by members of the Northwest Branch. If there is a subject that particularly interests you, or if you have ideas or suggestions about the meetings, please do not hesitate to email or mail them to the Branch or to mention them after the meetings.

Theosophical Views

The Seven Jewels of Wisdom

by Coen Vonk
All of H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine was written around, so to speak, as central pivots of esoteric thought, these Seven Treasuries of Wisdom, these seven mystery-keys, "Jewels" as they have been very properly called. These Seven Jewels are always given for study to chelas who are just putting their feet upon the Pathway. They are also given for study to the Mahatmas themselves by the still greater Teachers of these last named Great Ones. Verily, these Jewels are filled full of meaning, and the more you study them the more do you finally come to realize that they are esoteric keys opening up to you all the portals of comprehension of your own inner and indeed Inmost Self.
--G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy

What are these jewels? The first is reimbodiment. It tells us that the inner being takes on bodies again and again in order to manifest, experience, learn, become. The teaching of reimbodiment enlarges our vision of life. It becomes apparent that we live not only once, which is nothing on a cosmic time scale, but many times. Moreover, it shows that the real person is the inner being, who each time takes on new vestures at birth and after death, which is only a change of condition and plane.

The second jewel concerns karma or causation. It tells us that everything is in constant motion and that all beings are interrelated by an infinite chain of action and reaction. The teaching of karma brings home that there is not the slightest thing we do, nor the slightest thing that crosses our path, but is rooted in the past and extending into the future. It shows us that we can bless or mar our lives, and that we are our own judge. Linking the teaching of karma with reimbodiment reveals that this chain of cause and effect, which makes us what we are, reaches back infinite lives and will reach infinite lives into the future. In other words, the teaching implies that we will reap only what we have sown.

The third jewel is the doctrine of hierarchies of beings forming worlds, all working through and upon each other, the great containing the small. Coming to understand that our world is one of many in this vast universe creates an awareness of the beautiful, yet responsible, journey we are making. Why? Because we are linked with the All, from the smallest atom to the largest universe, our actions are not limited to ourselves in their effects. The whole of existence is thoroughly interdependent.

The fourth jewel, swabhava, teaches the fundamental individuality of each entity. It is the doctrine of self-becoming, the self-generation of the essential characteristics at the heart of every individual. There is a spiritual being at the heart of ourselves trying to help, trying to initiate us. This spiritual being is like a parent to the baby; it is our teacher, our inner master. Yet we have to call forth our own master, self-developed, self-generated.

The fifth jewel, evolution, means unfolding from within outwards and infolding from without inwards. The urge necessary for this evolution is found in the preceding concept of self-generation: we bring ourselves forth out of the depths of our being because the urge radiating from our spiritual self touches our heart -- the moment we are ready to become it, it is there, at that very moment. Assuredly, because we have everything in potential, everything is contained in the smallest seed of life from which blossom the great trees of being.

Winging to the sixth jewel we learn about the two paths: the spiritual path for oneself, and the path of immortality which implies the giving up of self. This jewel challenges us to deepen our motives. The upward path of spiritual growth has altruism as its foundation. The whole cosmic plan is based upon entities evolving and raising the entities below, showing them the path to growth; the entities below evolving themselves and raising other entities still beneath them, and so on throughout an infinite chain of teacher and pupil, parent and child.

The last jewel, atma-vidya, is said to be the most difficult to understand because it teaches, among other things, about our supreme self, our root origin, so it necessarily includes all the other jewels. The essential meaning is how and why the One becomes many, the one gleam becomes many stars, one tree becomes many fruits, and the one sea breaks into many waves. Yet the One never becomes the many, remaining eternally itself -- a sublime and wonderful paradox.

These, then, are the jewels of wisdom roughly outlined. Our understanding of them is a work of ages.

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