And, now let us consider the Yogi Teachings regarding the creation of the Universe, and the evolution of the living forms thereon. We shall endeavor to give you the story as plainly as may be, holding fast to the main thought, and avoiding the side-paths of details, etc., so far as is possible.
In the first place, we must imagine ourselves back to the beginning of a “Day of Brahm,”–the first dawn of that Day, which is breaking from the darkness of a “Night of Brahm.” Before we proceed further, we must tell you something about these “Days and Nights of Brahm,” of which you have seen much mention in the Oriental writings.
The Yogi Teachings contain much regarding the “Days and Nights of Brahm;” the “In-breathing and Out-breathing of the Creative Principle;” the periods of “Manvantara,” and the periods of “Pralaya.” This thought runs through all the Oriental thought, although in different forms, and with various interpretations. The thought refers to the occult truth that there is in Cosmic Nature alternate periods of Activity and Inactivity–Days and Nights–In-breathings and Out-breathings–Wakefulness and Sleep. This fundamental law manifests in all Nature, from Universes to Atoms. Let us see it now in its application to Universes. At this point we would call the attention of the student that in many of the presentations of the Hindu Teachings the writers speak as if the Absolute, Itself, were subject to this law of Rhythm, and had Its Periods of Rest and Work, like Its manifestations. This is incorrect. The highest teachings do not so hold, although at first glance it would so appear. The teaching really is that while the Creative Principle manifests this rhythm, still even this principle, great though it be, is a manifestation of the Absolute, and not the Absolute itself. The highest Hindu teachings are firm and unmistakable about this point.
And, another point, in which there is much mistaken teaching. In the periods of Creative Inactivity in a Universe it must not be supposed that there is no Activity anywhere. On the contrary, there is never a cessation of Activity on the part of the Absolute. While it is Creative Night in one Universe, or System of Universes, there is intense activity of Mid-Day in others. When we say “The Universe” we mean the Universe of Solar Systems–millions of such systems–that compose the particular universe of which we have any knowledge. The highest teachings tell us that this Universe is but one of a System of Universes, millions in number–and that this System is but one, in a higher System, and so on and on, to infinity. As one Hindu Sage hath said: “Well do we know that the Absolute is constantly creating Universes in Its Infinite Mind–and constantly destroying them–and, though millions upon millions of aeons intervene between creation and destruction, yet doth it seem less than the twinkle of an eye to The Absolute One.”
And so the “Day and Night of Brahm” means only the statement of the alternating periods of Activity and Inactivity in some one particular Universe, amidst the Infinite Universality. You will find a mention of these periods of Activity and Inactivity in the “Bhagavad Gita,” the great Hindu epic. The following quotations, and page references, relate to the edition published by the Yogi Publication Society, which was compiled and adapted by the writer of these lessons. In that edition of the “Bhagavad Gita,” you will find these words attributed to Krishna, the Absolute One in human incarnation:
“The worlds and universes–yea, even the world of Brahm, a single day of which is like unto a thousand Yugas (four billion years of the earth), and his night as much–these worlds must come and go… The Days of Brahm are succeeded by the Nights of Brahm. In these Brahmic Days all things emerge from invisibility, and become visible. And, on the coming of the Brahmic Night, all visible things again melt into invisibility. The Universe having once existed, melteth away; and lo! is again re-created.”
And, in the same edition, we find these words, attributed to the same speaker:
“At the end of a Kalpa–a Day of Brahm–a period of Creative Activity–I withdraw into my nature, all things and beings. And, at the beginning of another Kalpa, I emanate all things and beings, and re-perform my creative act.”
We may say here, in passing, that Modern Science now holds to the theory of periods of Rhythmic Change; of Rise and Fall; of Evolution and Dissolution.
It holds that, beginning at some time in the past aeons of time, there was the beginning of an upward or evolutionary movement, which is now under way; and that, according to the law of Nature, there must come a time when the highest point will be reached, and then will come the beginning of the downward path, which in time must come to an end, being succeeded by a long period of inactivity, which will then be followed by the beginning of a new period of Creative Activity and Evolution–“a Day of Brahm.”
This thought of this law of Rhythm, in its Universal form, has been entertained by the thinkers of all times and races. Herbert Spencer expressly held to it in his “First Principles,” expressing it in many ways akin to this: “Evolution must come to a close in complete equilibrium or rest;” and again, “It is not inferable from the general progress towards equilibrium, that a state of universal quiescence or death will be reached; but that if a process of reasoning ends in that conclusion, a further process of reasoning points to renewals of activity and life;” and again, “Rhythm in the totality of changes–alternate eras of evolution and dissolution.” The Ancient Western Philosophers also indulged in this idea. Heraclitus taught that the universe manifested itself in cycles, and the Stoics taught that “the world moves in an endless cycle, through the same stages.” The followers of Pythagoras went even further, and claimed that “the succeeding worlds resemble each other, down to the minutest detail,” this latter idea, however–the idea of the “Eternal Recurrence”–while held by a number of thinkers, is not held by the Yogi teachers, who teach infinite progression–an Evolution of Evolution, as it were. The Yogi teachings, in this last mentioned particular, are resembled more by the line of Lotze’s thinking, as expressed in this sentence from his Micro-cosmos: “The series of Cosmic Periods, … each link of which is bound together with every other; … the successive order of these sections shall compose the unity of an onward-advancing melody.” And, so through the pages of Heraclitus, the Stoics, the Pythagoreans, Empedocles, Virgil, down to the present time, in Nietzsche, and his followers, we find this thought of Universal Rhythm–that fundamental conception of the ancient Yogi Philosophy.
And, now, returning to the main path of our thought–let us stand here at the beginning of the dawn of a Day of Brahm. It is verily a beginning, for there is nothing to be seen–there is nothing but Space. No trace of Matter, Force or Mind, as we know these terms. In that portion of Infinite Space–that is, of course, in that “portion” of the Infinite Mind of the Absolute One, for even Space is a “conception” of that Mind, there is “Nothing.” This is “the darkest moment, just before the dawn.”
Then comes the breaking of the dawn of the Brahmic Day. The Absolute begins the “creation” of a Universe. And, how does It create? There can be no creation of something out of nothing. And except the Absolute Itself there is but Nothing.
Therefore The Absolute must create the Universe out of Its own “substance,” if we can use the word “substance” in this connection. “Substance” means, literally, “that which stands under,” being derived from the two Latin words, sub, meaning “under,” and stare, meaning “to stand.” The English word “understand” means, literally, “to stand under”–the two words really meaning the same. This is more than a coincidence.
So the Absolute must create the Universe from its own substance, we have seen. Well, what is this “substance” of the Absolute? Is it Matter? No! for Matter we know to be, in itself, merely a manifestation of Force, or Energy. Then, is it Force or Energy? No! because Force and Energy, in itself, cannot possess Mind, and we must think of the Absolute as possessing Mind, for it manifests Mind, and what is manifested must be in the Manifestor, or Manifesting Agent. Then this “substance” must be Mind? Well, yes, in a way–and yet not Mind as we know it, finite and imperfect. But something like Mind, only Infinite in degree and nature–something sufficiently greater than Mind as we know it, to admit of it being the Cause of Mind. But, we are compelled to think of it as “Infinite Mind,” for our finite Minds can hold no higher conception. So we are content to say that this “substance” from which the Absolute must create the Universe is a something that we will call Infinite Mind. Fix this in your mind, please, as the first step in our conception.