THE SOUL OF THE WORLD
In the Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians we find the following Second Aphorism:
The Second Aphorism
The Germ within the Cosmic Egg takes unto itself Form. The Flame is re-kindled. Time begins. A Thing exists. Action begins. The Pairs of Opposites spring into being. The World Soul is born, and awakens into manifestation. The first rays of the new Cosmic Day break over the horizon.
In this Second Aphorism of Creation the Rosicrucian is directed to apply his attention to the concept of the World Soul the First Manifestation of the Eternal Parent. This World Soul the First Manifestation is represented by the Rosicrucians by the symbol of a circle containing at its centre a black dot or point. The circle, of course, represents the Infinite Unmanifest, and the black dot or point represents the Focal Point of the new Manifestation the “Germ within the Cosmic Egg,” as the old occultists poetically expressed the idea. The Rosicrucian concept of the World Soul the First Manifestation corresponds to similar conceptions found, in various forms, in most of the ancient occult teachings of the several great esoteric schools of philosophy. In some philosophies it is known as the “Anima Mundi,” or Life of the World, Soul of the World, or World Spirit. In others it is known as the Logos, or Word. In others, as the Demiurge. The spirit of the concept is this: that from the unconditioned essence of Infinite Unmanifestation there arose an Elemental and Universal Soul, clothed in the garments of the most tenuous, elemental form of Matter, which contained within itself the potency and latent possibility of all the future universes of the new Cosmic Circle, or Cosmic Day. This World Soul is spoken of in the Second Aphorism as “The Germ within the Cosmic Egg,” inasmuch as it is regarded as the tiny germ within the egg which gradually increases in size and complexity, and takes upon itself Form and Activity. The symbol of the Cosmic Egg, of which the World Soul is the Animating Germ, is a very old one, and one widely spread in usage in the ancient world.
As a prominent occultist has said: “Whence this universal symbol? The Egg was incorporated as a sacred sign in the cosmogony of every people on the earth, and was revered both on account of its form and its inner mystery. From the earliest mental conceptions of man, it was known as that which represented most successfully the Origin and Secret of Being. The gradual development of the imperceptible Germ within the closed shell; the inward working, without any apparent outward interference of force, which from a latent nothing produced an active something, needing nought save heat; and which, having gradually evolved into a concrete, living creature, broke its shell, appearing to the outward senses of all a self-generated, and self-created being must have been a standing miracle from the beginning. “The secret teaching explains the reason for this reference by the symbolism of the prehistoric races. The ‘First Cause’ had no name in the beginnings. Later, it was pictured in the fancy of the thinkers as an ever invisible Bird that dropped an Egg into Chaos, which Egg became the Universe. Hence, Brahm was called ‘Kalahansa,’ the Swan of Eternity which laid at the beginning of each Mahamanvantara a ‘Golden Egg.’ It typifies the great Circle, or O, itself a symbol for the universe and its spherical bodies.
The first manifestation of the Kosmos in the form of an egg was the most widely diffused belief of antiquity. It was a symbol adopted among the Greeks, the Syrians, Persians, and Egyptians. In the Egyptian Ritual, Seb, the god of Time and of the Earth, is spoken of as having laid an egg, or the Universe. Ra is shown like Brahma gestating in the Egg of the Universe. With the Greeks the Orphic Egg was a part of the Dionysiac and other mysteries, during which the Mundane Egg was consecrated and its significance explained. The Christians especially the Greek and Latin Churches have fully adopted this symbol, and see in it a commemoration of life eternal, or salvation and resurrection. This is found in and corroborated by the custom of ‘Easter Eggs.’ From the ‘Egg’ of the pagan Druids, to the red Easter Egg of the Slav, a cycle has passed.
And, yet, whether in civilized Europe, or among the abject savages of Central America, we find the same archaic, primitive thought; if we only search for it and do not disfigure in the haughtiness of our fancied mental and physical superiority the original idea of the symbol.” The concept of the World Soul, in some form of interpretation and under some one of many names, may be said to be practically universal. Among many of the ancient schools of philosophy it was taught that there was an Anima Mundi, or World Soul, of which all the individual souls were but apparently separated (though not actually separated) units. The conviction that Life was One is expressed through nearly all of the best of ancient philosophies; and, in fact, in subtly disguised forms, may be said to rest at the base of the best of modern philosophies. In the philosophical concept of the Logos, we find another, and more advanced, form of this same fundamental concept. The term, Logos, first became prominent in the philosophy of Heraclitus of Ephesus, where it appears as the Law of Nature, objective in the world, giving order and regularity to the movement of things. The Logos formed an important part of the Stoic System of Philosophy. The Active Principle, abiding in the world, they called the Logos, the term being likewise applied to the Universal Productive Cause.
An authority on the history of philosophy has said of the concept of the Logos: “The Logos, a being intermediate between God and the World, is diffused through the world of the senses. The Logos does not exist from Eternity like God, and yet its genesis is not like our own and that of all other created beings. It is the First-Begotten of God, and is for us imperfect beings almost as a God. Through the agency of the Logos, God created the World.” In the philosophical concept of the Demiurge, we find another form of the same fundamental concept. The Demiurge was the name given by the Platonian philosophers to an exalted and mysterious agent by whom God was supposed to have created the universe. He was akin to the Nature-God of the Pantheists, and to the “Living Nature” of other schools of philosophy.
The Demiurge was the Life of the World, or Universal Life, of which all the innumerable lives of finite creatures are but sparks in the flame or drops of water in the ocean. And, yet, in its true sense, the concept of the Demiurge was not identified with that of God, but was rather a concept of the First Great Manifestation of God, by means of which He creates and sustains the World. The idea of a Universal Will, a primal manifestation of God, existing at the Heart of Nature, and operating to build up and sustain the Universe, is found in many modern philosophies. Cudsworth, the English philosopher has sought to indicate this conception in his idea of “Plastic Nature,” of which he says: “It seems not so agreeable that Nature, as a distinct thing from the Deity, should be quite superseded or made to signifying nothing, God Himself doing all things immediately and miraculously; from whence it would follow also that they are all done either forcibly and violently, or else artificially only, and none of them by any inward principle of their own.
This opinion is further confuted by that slow and gradual process that in the generation of things, which would seem to be but a vain and idle pomp or a trifling formality if the moving power were omnipotent; as also by those errors and bungles which are committed where the matter is inept and contumacious; which argue that the moving power be not irresistible, and that Nature is such a thing as is not altogether incapable (as well as human art) of being sometimes frustrated and disappointed by the indisposition of matter.
Whereas an omnipotent moving power, as it could dispatch its work in a moment, so would it always do it infallibly and irresistibly, no ineptitude and stubborness of matter being ever able to hinder such a one, or make him bungle or fumble in anything. “Therefore, since neither all things are produced fortuitously, or by the unguided mechanism of matter, nor God himself may be reasonably thought to do all things immediately and miraculously, it may well be concluded that there is a Plastic Nature under him, which, as an inferior end subordinate instrument, doth drudgingly execute that part of his providence which consists in the regular and orderly motion of matter; yet so as there is also besides this a higher providence to be acknowledged, which, presiding over it, doth often supply the defects of it, and sometimes overrules it, forasmuch as the Plastic Nature cannot act electively nor with discretion.” Other schools of philosophy, notably that founded by Schopenhauer, have postulated the presence of a Universal Spirit (whose chief attribute is Desire-Will) from whom the universe of creatures has proceeded.
This Universal Spirit is held to be filled with a longing, craving, seeking, striving desire to express itself in phenomenal existence. Schopenhauer calls it “The Will to Live.” It is described as instinctive rather than intellectual, and as creating intellect with which to better serve its purposes of self-expression. Other philosophers have proceeded along the main lines of the concept of Schopenhauer, with various modifications. The same idea is expressed by some of the old Buddhistic philosophers, the very term “The Will-to-Live” being used to express the essential nature of the Universal Spirit. But, it must be noted, in such philosophies the Universal Spirit is considered rather as the Eternal Parent than as its First Manifestation. In the same way a certain school of thinkers postulate the existence of a “Living Nature,” which expresses itself in innumerable living creatures and things all Things in the universe being held to possess Life in some form and degree, as, indeed, the Rosicrucian creatures also hold. But it must be always noted that in the Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians the World Soul is not regarded as the Infinite Reality, but merely as the First Manifestation thereof, from which all subsequent manifestations proceed and into which they are finally resolved. The World Soul is not Eternal, but, on the contrary, appears and disappears according to the rhythm of the Cosmic Nights and Days.
The Second Aphorism states: “The Flame is rekindled.” The Dark Light once more bursts into Flame throughout the form of the World Soul, and the new Universe begins.
It also states: “Time begins.” This is seen to be true because Change has begun, and Change is the essence of Time, and Time the measure of Change.
Again: “A Thing exists.” This because the World Soul is truly a Thing, with all the characteristics of Thingness. It can be defined and described in positive terms; it can be thought of logically and in terms of intellect, though perhaps not capable of being pictured in the imagination.
Again: “Action begins.” This because from the very inception of the Germ in the Cosmic Egg there is the manifestation of Activity, Motion, and Change. The World Soul is in constant and uninterrupted activity from the moment of its faintest dawn until the moment of its expiring quiver.
Again: “The Pairs of Opposites spring into being.“ As all Thingness is accompanied by the presence of the Pairs of Opposites the contrasting sets of qualities, it follows that from the first faint breath of the World Spirit differentiation begins, and the polarity of qualities exhibit themselves.
Again: “The World Soul is born, and awakens into manifestation.” The World Soul awakens into active manifestation from the very moment of its birth. Finding within itself the impelling urge of the Will-to-Live and of Expression, it proceeds at once, along the lines of elementary Instinct to prepare for manifestation of higher and more complex forms of life and action.
Again: “The first rays of the new Cosmic Day break over the horizon.” With the coming of the World Soul the new Cosmic Day is indeed begun, and proceeds without interruption until the shades of the Cosmic Night once more overtake it in cyclic sequence.
The Rosicrucian Teaching is that the World Soul is not a soul lacking a body, but that, on the contrary, it is clothed in the garments of the most tenuous and ethereal substance a substance as much finer and more ethereal than the Ether of Space, of the material scientists, as the latter is much finer and more ethereal than the hardest steel or granite. From this ethereal substance the World Soul weaves bodies for its manifestations, even the densest forms of matter and even the tenuous bodily form of the highest forms of life, far removed from our comparatively gross earth-plane. The Rosicrucians further hold that it is not correct to think of the World Soul as having been created “out of nothing” by the Eternal Parent, and still less so think of it having been created from the substantial essence of the Eternal Parent by division, separation, or partition (such ideas being held to be logically impossible and fallacious).
On the contrary, it is held that the World Soul exists as an IDEA of the Eternal Parent just as, in a day dream, or a reverie, or a full dream, we may picture a Thing as in being. Or in other terms, even the World Soul exists merely as a PICTURE in the Infinite Imagination of the Eternal Parent, and at the last is but a SHADOW of Reality, and not Reality itself.
The World Soul, at the Dawn of the Cosmic Day, may be said to be like a dreamer freshly awakened from a deep sleep, and striving to regain consciousness of himself. It does not know what it is, nor does it know that it is but an Idea of the Eternal Parent. If it could express its thought in words it would say that it has always been, but had been asleep before that moment.
It feels within itself the urge toward expression and manifestation, along unconscious and instinctive lines this urge being a part of its nature and character and implanted into it by the content of the Idea of the Eternal Parent which brought it into being. Like the newborn babe, it struggles for breath and begins to move its limbs. And as it struggles and moves, there comes to it a response from all of its nature, and its active life begins. And here we leave the World Soul, for the moment, struggling for breath and striving to move its limbs (figuratively speaking, of course). Its future is related in the succeeding Aphorisms.