The One and the Many

As we have stated in previous Lessons, all philosophies which thinkers have considered worthy of respect, find their final expression of Truth in the fundamental thought that there is but One Reality, underlying all the manifold manifestations of shape and form. It is true that the philosophers have differed widely in their conception of that One, but, nevertheless, they have all agreed upon the logical necessity of the fundamental conception that there is, at least, but One Reality, underlying All.

Even the Materialists have conceded this conclusion, and they speak and think of a something called “Matter,” as the One–holding that, inherent in Matter, is the potentiality of all Life. The school of Energists, holding that Matter in itself is non-existent, and that it is merely a mode of manifestation of a something called “Energy,” asserts that this something called Energy is One, fundamental, real, and self-sufficient.

The various forms of Western religious thought, which hold to the various conceptions of a Personal Deity, also hold to a Oneness, inasmuch as they teach that in the beginning there was God, only, and that all the Universe has been created by Him. They do not go into details regarding this creation, and, unlike the Oriental teachers, they fail to distinguish between the conception of the creation of shape and form, on the one hand; and the creation of the substance of these shapes and forms, on the other hand. But, even accepting the premises of these people who hold to the Personal Deity conception, it will be seen that the Reason requires the acceptance of one or two ideas, viz., (1) That the Deity created the substance of these shapes and forms from Nothing; or else (2) that he created them out of his own substance–out of Himself, in fact. Let us consider, briefly, these two conceptions.

In the first conception, i.e., Creation from Nothing, we are brought face to face with an impregnable obstacle, inasmuch as the human reason positively refuses to think of Anything coming from Nothing. While it is perfectly true that the finite human mind cannot undertake to limit the powers of the Infinite; or to insist that the possibilities of the Divine Power must be measured and limited by the finite power of Man–still it must hearken to the report of its own highest faculties, and say “I cannot Think it,” or else blindly accept the teachings of other finite minds which are equally unable to “Think it,” and which have no superior sources of information. The Infinite Power has endowed us with reasoning faculties, and evidently expects us to use them to their full capacity–else the gift were a mockery. And in the absence of information from higher sources than the Reason, we must use the Reason in thinking of this matter, or else refuse to think of it at all.

In view of the above thought, let us then consider the report of the Reason, regarding this matter, And then, after having done so, let us apply the test of this report of the Reason, to the highest teaching of the Yogi Philosophy, and see how the latter stands the test. And, after having done this, we will apply the test of the Higher Consciousness to the same teachings. Remember this always, that while there is knowledge that transcends Reason–that is knowledge that comes from the Higher Regions of the Mind–still even such information of the Spiritual Mind does not run contrary to Reason, although it goes beyond it. There is harmony between the Spiritual Mind and the Highest Reason.

Returning to the consideration of the matter of Creation of Substance from Nothing, we again assert that the Reason is unable to think of the creation of Something from Nothing. It finds the statement unthinkable, and contrary to all the laws of thought. It is true that the Reason is compelled to accept as a final truth, many things that it cannot understand by reason of its finitude–but this is not one of them. There is no logical necessity for the Reason to accept any such conception as this–there is no warrant in the Reason for any such theory, idea or conclusion. Let us stop here, for a moment, and examine into this difference–it may help us to think clearer, hereafter.

We find it impossible to understand the fact of the Infinite Being having always existed–and Being without Cause. We find it impossible to conceive of the nature of an Eternal, Causeless, and Infinite Being–to conceive the nature of, such a Being, remember.

But, while this is so, still our Reason, by its own laws, compels us to think that there must be such a Being, so long as we think at all. For, if we think at all, we must think of there being a Fundamental Reality–and we must think of that Reality as being without Cause (because there can be no Cause for the First Cause); and we must think of that Reality as being Eternal (because It could not have sprung into Being from Nothing, and therefore must have always been); and we must think of that Reality as Infinite (because there is nothing outside of Itself to limit It). Think over this statement for a moment–until you grasp it fully.

But there is no such necessity, or compulsion, in the case of the question of Creation from Nothingness. On the contrary, the necessity and compulsion is all the other way. Not only is the Reason unable to think of Creation from Nothing–not only does all its laws forbid it to hold such a conception–but, more than this, it finds within itself a conception, full-grown and potent, which contradicts this idea. It finds within itself the strong certainty that Whatever Really Is has Always Been, and that all transient and finite shapes, forms, and manifestations, must proceed from that which is Real, Infinite, Causeless, and Infinite–and moreover must be composed of the substance of that Reality, for there is nothing else Real from which they could have been composed; and their composition from Nothing is unthinkable, for Nothing is Nothing, and always will be Nothing. “Nothing” is merely a name of denial of existence–an absolute denial of substantiality of any degree, kind or form–an absolute denial of Reality. And from such could come only Nothing–from Nothing, Nothing comes.

Therefore, finding within itself the positive report that All, and Anything There Is, must be composed of the Substance of the Reality, the Reason is compelled to think that the Universe is composed of the Substance of the One Reality–whether we call that One Reality, by the name of The Absolute; or whether we call it God. We must believe that from this Absolute-God all things in the Universe have flown out, or been emanated, rather than created–begotten, rather than “made.”

This does not mean the Pantheistic idea that the Universe is God–but rather that God, while existing separate and apart from His Universe, in his Essence, and Being, is nevertheless in His Universe, and His Universe in Him. And this, no matter what conception of God or Deity is had–or whether one thinks of The Absolute as Principle. The Truth is the same–Truth no matter by what names it is called, or by what misconception it is surrounded. The Truth is that One is in All, and All is in One–such is the report of the highest Reason of Man–such is the report of the Illumined–such is the Highest Teachings that have come down to the race from the great souls that have trodden The Path of Attainment.

And now let us submit the Yogi Philosophy to these conceptions, and reports of the Reason. And let us discover just what more the Yogi Philosophy has to say concerning the nature of the Substance of the Divine, which infills all Life–and how it solves the Riddle of the Sphinx, concerning the One in All; and All in One. We hope to show you that the Riddle is capable of solution, and that the old Yogi teachers have long ago grasped that for which the human mind has ever sought. This phase of the Teachings is the highest, and it is usually hinted at, rather than expressed, in the writings on the subject–owing to danger of confusion and misconception. But in these Lessons we shall speak the Truth plainly, and without fear–for such is the Message which has been given us to deliver to our students–and we will perform the Right action, leaving the Result, or Fruits of the Action, where it belongs, according to the higher teachings found in the “Bhagavad Gita,” and in the Higher Teachings of the Yogi Philosophy.

The fundamental Truth embedded in the Wisdom-Philosophies of the East–the Higher Yogi Teachings–is the impregnable doctrine of the One Self in the many selves–the many selves in the One Self. This fundamental Truth underlies all the Oriental Philosophies which are esoteric in their nature.

Notwithstanding the crude and often repulsive conceptions and practices of the masses of the people who represent the exoteric, or popular, phase of the teachings (and these two phases are to be found in all regions) still there is always this Inner Doctrine of the One Self, to be found to those who look for it.

Not only is this true among the Hindus; but even among the Mahommedans, of all countries, there is an Inner Circle of Mystics, known as the Sufis, holding to this Truth. And the inner teachings of the philosophies of all ages and races, have held likewise. And the highest thought of the philosophers of the Western races, has found refuge in this idea of the Over-soul, or Universal Self. But, it is only among the Yogis that we find an attempt made to explain the real nature of the manifestation of the One in Many–the holding of the Many forms in the One Self. Before proceeding to the consideration of how the One becomes as Many, as expounded by the Higher Yogi Teachings, it becomes necessary to speak of a matter upon which there has been much confusion and misunderstanding, not only on the part of the students of various Oriental Philosophies, but also upon the part of some of the teachers themselves. We allude to the connection between THE ONE–THE ABSOLUTE–in Its ESSENCE–and that which has been called the One Life; the Universal Life, etc.