An excerpt from The Secret Doctrine on the Seven Principles of the Esoteric (Indo-Tibetan) position, as exposited in the Theosophical system; which links it with the classical systems and schools. The tenet, or teaching regarding the Seven Numerations or Principles of Nature (Cosmos), and Man, of Sidereal bodies, and Planets, was not invented by Theosophists. It was brought into view from obscurity, and elaborated to the degree, that not even the Rosicrucian philosophers, three to four hundreds years prior to this system explained.
“…nothing short of a grasp of the whole system can possibly enable us to discriminate the various parts, distinguish one from the other, and determinate the which and the what…”
—Helena P. Blavatsky
THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES IN EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHS
Verbatim: Blavatsky, Helena. (1888) The Secret Doctrine, pg. 630-33.
“The existence of these seven keys is virtually admitted, owing to deep research in the Egyptological lore, by Mr. G. Massey again. While opposing the teachings of “Esoteric Buddhism” — unfortunately misunderstood by him in almost every respect — in his Lecture on “The Seven Souls of Man,” he writes (p. 21): —
“This system of thought, this mode of representation, this septenary of powers, in various aspects, had been established in Egypt, at least, seven thousand years ago, as we learn from certain allusions to Atum (the god ‘in whom the fatherhood was individualized as the begetter of an eternal soul,’ the seventh principle of the Theosophists), found in the inscriptions lately discovered at Saqqarah. I say in various aspects, because the gnosis of the Mysteries was, at least, sevenfold in its nature — it was Elemental, Biological, Elementary (human), Stellar¹, Lunar, Solar and Spiritual — and nothing short of a grasp of the whole system can possibly enable us to discriminate the various parts, distinguish one from the other, and determinate the which and the what, as we try to follow the symbolical Seven through their several phases of character.”
¹ Editor’s Commentary: Neil deGrasse Tyson: “The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.”
If one turns to those wells of information, “The Natural Genesis” and the Lectures of Mr. Gerald Massey, the proofs of the antiquity of the doctrine under analysis become positively overwhelming. That the belief of the author differs from ours can hardly invalidate the facts. He views the symbol from a purely natural standpoint, one perhaps a trifle too materialistic, because too much that of an ardent Evolutionist and follower of the modern Darwinian dogmas. Thus he shows that “the student of Bohme’s books finds much in them concerning these Seven Fountain Spirits and primary powers, treated as seven properties of nature in the alchemistic and astrological phase of the mediaeval mysteries;”* and adds —
“The followers of Bohme look on such matter as divine revelation of his inspired Seership. They know nothing of the natural genesis, the history and persistence of the Wisdom** of the past (or of the broken links), and are unable to recognise the physical features of the ancient Seven Spirits beneath their modern metaphysical or alchemist mask. A second connecting link between the Theosophy of Bohme and the physical origins of Egyptian thought, is extant in the fragments of Hermes Trismegistus.*** No matter whether these teachings are called Illuminatist, Buddhist, Kabalist, Gnostic, Masonic, or Christian, the elemental types can only be truly known in their beginnings.**** When the prophets or visionary showmen of cloudland come to us claiming original inspiration, and utter something new, we judge of its value by what it is in itself. But if we find they bring us the ancient matter which they cannot account for, and we can, it is natural that we should judge it by the primary significations rather than the latest pretensions.***** It is useless for us to read our then say the ancients meant that.* Subtilized interpretations which have become doctrines and dogmas in theosophy have now to be tested by their genesis in physical phenomena, in order that we may explode their false pretensions to supernatural origin or supernatural knowledge.*
But the able author of the “Book of the Beginnings” and of “The Natural Genesis” does — very fortunately, for us — quite the reverse. He demonstrates most triumphantly our Esoteric (Buddhist) teachings, by showing them identical with those of Egypt. Let the reader judge from his learned lecture on “The Seven Souls of Man.”** Says the author: —
“The first form of the mystical SEVEN was seen to be figured in heaven by the Seven large stars of the great Bear, the constellation assigned by the Egyptians to the Mother of Time, and of the Seven Elemental Powers.”
Just so, for the Hindus place in the great Bear their seven primitive Rishis and call this constellation the abode of the Saptarishi, Riksha and Chitra-Sikhandinas. But whether it is only an astronomical myth or a primordial mystery, having a deeper meaning than it bears on its surface, is what their adepts claim to know. We are also told that “the Egyptians divided the face of the sky by night into seven parts. The primary Heaven was seven-fold.” So it was with the Aryans. One has but read the Puranas about the beginnings of Brahma, and his “Egg” to see it. Have the Aryans taken the idea from the Egyptians? — “The earliest forces,” proceeds the lecturer, “recognized in nature were reckoned as seven in number. (…) Seven properties were assigned to nature, as matter, cohesion, fluxion, coagulation, accumulation, station, and division and seven elements or souls to man.”
All this was taught in the esoteric doctrine, but it was interpreted and its mysteries unlocked, as already stated, with seven, not two, or at the utmost, three keys; hence the causes and their effects worked in invisible or mystic as well as psychic nature, and were made referable to metaphysics and psychology as much as to physiology. “The principle of sevening“ — as the author says — “was introduced, and the number seven supplied a sacred type that could be used for manifold purposes“; and it was so used. For “the seven Souls of the Pharaoh are often mentioned in the Egyptian texts. . . . Seven Souls or principles in man were identified by our British Druids. . . . . The Rabbins also ran the number of souls up to seven; so, likewise, do the Karens of India. . . .”
And then, the author tabulates the two teachings — the Esoteric and the Egyptian, — and shows that the latter had the same series and in the same order.
Further on, the lecturer formulates these seven (Egyptian) souls, as (1) The Soul of Blood — the formative; (2) The Soul of Breath — “that breathes“; (3) The Shade or Covering Soul — “that envelopes“; (4) The Soul of Perception — “that perceives;” (5) The Soul of Pubescence “that procreates“; (6) The Intellectual Soul — “that reproduces intellectually“; and (7) The Spiritual Soul — “that is perpetuated permanently.“
From the exoteric and physiological standpoint this may be very correct; it becomes less so from the esoteric point of view. To maintain this, does not at all mean that the “Esoteric Buddhists” resolve men into a number of elementary Spirits, as Mr. G. Massey, in the same lecture, accuses them of maintaining. No “Esoteric Buddhist” has ever been guilty of any such absurdity. Nor has it been ever imagined that these shadows “become spiritual beings in another world,” or “seven potential spirits or elementaries of another life.” What is maintained is simply that every time the immortal Ego incarnates it becomes, as a total, a com-
- This is a great mistake made in the Esoteric enumeration. Manas is the fifth, not the fourth; and Manas corresponds precisely with Seb, the Egyptian fifth principle, for that portion of Manas, which follows the two higher principles, is the ancestral soul, indeed, the bright, immortal thread of the higher Ego, to which clings the Spiritual aroma of all the lives or births.
pound unit of Matter and Spirit, which together act on seven different planes of being and consciousness. Elsewhere, Mr. G. Massey adds: — “The seven souls (our “Principles”) are often mentioned in the Egyptian texts. The moon god, Taht-Esmun, or the later sun god, expressed the seven nature-powers that were prior to himself, and were summed up in him as his seven souls (we say “principles”) . . . . The seven stars in the hand of Christ† in the Revelation, have the same significance,” etc.
And a still greater one, as these stars represent also the seven keys of the Seven Churches or the SODALIAN MYSTERIES, cabalistically. (…) other Egyptologists have also found out that the septenary constitution of man was a cardinal doctrine with the old Egyptians. In a series of remarkable articles in the “Sphinx” (Munich) Herr Franz Lambert gives incontrovertible proof of his conclusions from the “Book of the Dead” and other Egyptian records. For details the reader must be referred to the articles themselves, but the following diagram, summing up the author’s conclusions, is demonstrative evidence of the identity of Egyptian psychology with the septenary division in “Esoteric Buddhism.”
On the left hand side the Kabalistic names of the corresponding human principles are placed, and on the right the hieroglyphic names with their renderings as in the diagram of F. Lambert.
† Editors Commentary on Exerpt and Christos. Note the words. “Egyptian psychology,” “demonstrative evidence,” of a science hidden under glyphs, symbolism, and gods. Christos, in its earlier usage had a cosmic semblance. The concept of the Christos, undeniably belongs to a system preceding both Christianity and Jewish Gnosticism.