Cosmic Doctrine

Cosmic Doctrine

by Dion Fortune

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Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2000 Society of Inner Light, London
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57863-160-5



Knowledge falls into two divisions - the record of facts and the explanation thereof.

Knowledge can only consist of that which is present in the mind. That which does not enter the mind cannot be known. Therefore you can only know that which you have senses to interpret to you. As new senses open up, more planes of existence can be known. There is, however, a limit to the knowledge of the finite. Perception ceases at the barrier of manifestation. Of that which lies beyond we can only know by analogy.

The Unmanifest is pure existence. We cannot say of It that it is Not. Although it is not manifest it Is. It is the source from which all arises. It is the only 'Reality'. It alone is substance. It alone is stable. All else is an appearance and a becoming. Of this Unmanifest we can only say IT IS. IT is the verb 'to be' turned back upon itself. IT is a state of pure 'being' without qualities and without history. All we can say of IT is that it is not anything that we know, for if we know anything it must be in manifestation for us to know it, and if it is in manifestation it is not unmanifest. Therefore the very fact that we can know it proves that it is not unmanifest. The Unmanifest is the Great Negation; at the same time it is the infinite potentiality which has not occurred. It is best conceived of under the image of inter-stellar space.

In the occult teachings you have been given certain images, under which you are instructed to think of certain things. These images are not descriptive but symbolic, and are designed to train the mind, not inform it. Therefore you may think of the Unmanifest as inter-stellar space; and of the Logos as a Sun surrounded by His Solar System of Planets and of the emanations of the Logos as Rays. The Unmanifest is the only Unity. Manifestation begins when duality occurs. The prime duality is 'Space' and 'Movement'.

The first manifestation was a current in space. The metaphor I must use may convey nothing to your mind. All I can say is that space was moving. You will find these clues are a clue to much.

Now when space moves it has this peculiar quality - being frictionless it never loses momentum but continues to flow.

When space moves two forces are at work:-

(a) The force which causes it to move, being the desire of space for momentum.

(b) The force which had hitherto caused it not to move, being the desire of space for inertia.

These two factors are present in all motion , but the desire for movement, being the stronger, overcomes the desire for inertia, and the desire for inertia continues as a check upon the movement. Therefore the movement is pulled upon slightly. That is why there is no such thing as a straight line in the Cosmos. All movement therefore has a slight curve in its projection, therefore eventually it returns to the spot whence it started, and forms a spinning ring. (see Fig. 1)

Now the prime movement is just a flowing of space that returns after long aeons whence it started, and then renews its journey. This sets up a spinning belt of enormous circumference. This belt spins on one plane for immense aeons of time; spins with a changeless spinning. But its tendency is to communicate its motion to the space about it, which leads more space to flow into the spinning (all this, remember, is metaphor). The spinning in one plane continues until the stresses which it generates evoke a new movement, and a second current in space is set up at right angles to the first, and the same process is repeated. These spinning planes of force may be conceived of as resembling the Rings of Saturn, (see Fig. 2)

We have now two spinning planes which, at two points cut each other, and it is worthy of note that the second plane forms outside the first and is therefore larger in diameter.

For countless aeons these planes spin at right angles to each other, and the whole of evolution turns upon the difference in size between the planes. When the larger has got up to the same speed as the smaller and older, it commences to attract one aspect of it, the consequence being that the older circle is drawn towards the newer. (see Fig. 3)

Now the first circle must be conceived of as having an upper and a lower surface. The upper surface of the outflowing arc may be conceived of as positive and the lower as negative. The reverse being the case in the inflowing arc. (see Fig. 4) Likewise with the second circle to arise.

These circles are mutually attracting and repelling each other; so that you conceive the upper surface of the outflowing arc of the first circle, being positive, rising up towards its corresponding aspect in the second circle, and the lower circle in the returning arc pressing downwards, so that you get a second movement imparted to the spinning disc. When this secondary movement has completed its first circuit and set up its steady revolution, the new Cosmos is in being. That is the prime beginning of a Cosmos expressed in the nearest approximate metaphor.

The secondary spin of the first circuit is the Ring-Pass-Not, and the circuit of the second formation is that sphere which sets a bound to Chaos. On the outer sphere there is a secondary derivation, and though a spinning circle of motion, represents for that Cosmos, the prime stillness, - the immobility in which it is rooted; - it is the thrust-block of the force of the Cosmos, that which resists, which alone enables momentum to be achieved and you may call it the Ring-Chaos the prime evil. It is evolved from the reaction of the prime force in order to take its thrust. It spins at right angles to the prime spin. It counteracts it. It was the attraction of the Ring-Chaos inducing a secondary spin in the Ring-Cosmos which forms the Ring-Pass-Not.

Now that movement in the Ring-Cosmos, spinning in one plane and rotating while it spins as if upon an axis, sets the bounds beyond which the creatures of that universe cannot pass, even in thought. But this universe is a sphere encircled by two lines of force - the Ring-Cosmos and the Ring Chaos - rotating at right angles to each other.

The momentum of the Ring-Cosmos is the source of force from which evolution draws its momentum; and the rotation of the Ring-Chaos is the source of force from which dissolution draws its power.

Evolution is a thrust from the surface towards the centre.

Devolution, or Dissolution is a suction into outer space.

The Ring-Chaos does not belong to the universe it encircles, but to outer space. That is an important point in connection with it.

The Ring-Cosmos has its desires turned towards the sphere it encircles.

The Ring-Chaos has its desires turned towards the space that encircles it.

The Ring-Cosmos seeks to extend the centre.

The Ring-Chaos seeks to expand the circumference.

The Ring-Cosmos tends to solidify by contraction.

The Ring-Chaos to return to the Unmanifest, whence it arose, and therefore, if its influence were unchecked, to reduce the universe it encircles to nothingness.

The Ring-Cosmos, if its influence were unchecked, would be static in the immediate present.

These two influences are the source of all the force in the Cosmos-

The Ring-Cosmos because it concretes - builds up.

The Ring-Chaos because it diffuses - never grows.

Now these two Rings we will call Good and Evil; Life and Death; Light and Darkness; Spirit and Matter; Being and Not-Being; God and Devil; because each of these potencies has its root in its respective Ring. But let it be clearly conceived that the Ring "Good" and the Ring "Evil" are not good and evil as you understand them, but merely spinning circles of force at right angles to each other, and therefore in opposition, and it is merely the angle of the first to arise which is called "good" and the angle in opposition to the prime plane is called "evil" and it might well be that in another Cosmos the first plane would begin to spin at another angle - the angle of your "evil", it would still be "good" to its Cosmos, because "good" and "evil" do not depend upon any plane or angle, but are simply relative to each other. The first force to arise is called "good" because, from it arises the line of force called evolution. All subsequent secondary forces are measured by that standard. In so far as they move in the same angle they are reckoned to be "good". In so far as they approach to a right angle they are reckoned to be in opposition and are called "evil". Evil is simply that which is moving in the opposite direction to evolution. Evil is that which approaches the plane of movement of the Ring-Chaos and therefore tends to revert to the Unmanifest. All evil that builds up with a universe is attracted towards the Ring-Chaos and is self- destroyed, because the very name "evil" means a force which tends to non-existence.

So you can conceive of evil under two aspects:-

(a) That which enables you to lock up the forces of good by opposition, and so secure stability - a foot-hold. Evil enables you to get a purchase on space.

(b) Evil, if allowed to function unopposed, is the 'Scavenger of the Gods' therefore said the Great One, our Master, "resist not evil". When you resist evil you lock up good. You lock up the force of good which holds the evil inert. This serves no useful purpose, unless you have a superabundance of good which shall stand upon the platform thus formed and leap up from it to greater heights. Therefore it is not enough to meet hate with love - evil with good. This is the course of the ignorant and the reason why exoteric religion has made so little impression in the world. You must hate with hate sufficiently to cause a locking up of the force. You must hate the hate and, having rendered evil inert by opposition, the love can take its stand upon the firm platform and use it as a thrust-block.

Therefore you only oppose evil when you wish to do constructive work - when you wish to make something new. You never oppose the evil when you wish to destroy. You make a vacuum round it. You prevent opposition from touching it.

Then, being unopposed, it is free to follow the law of its own nature, which is, to join the motion of the Ring-Chaos. It, therefore, passes out to the periphery of the universe until it meets the spin of the Ring-Pass-Not which it cannot get through, but it has gone to a place of such primitive simplicity that it is resolved into its own elements, and these elements are drawn into the attraction of the nearest motion, which is the nature of the Ring-Cosmos, which is the nature of good.

Therefore evil, when unopposed, resolves itself into the undifferentiated raw material of existence - the first form of manifestation. It ceases to be organised. It ceases to have qualities. It starts afresh at the beginning, transmuted through neutrality into good. It is the spin of these two Rings which give the influences that play upon creation.

You are now in a position to know why the mystery of evil is the secret of the initiates, because when you understand evil it is exceedingly useful. But the undisciplined man, if he knew the usefulness and goodness of evil, would use it dynamically on the positive side of its manifestation, not statically by availing himself of its negative qualities as does the Initiate.

You see, it is a matter of geometry. That is why numbers are so important, and remember, numbers in occultism refer to the degrees of angles. The degrees of the numbers of White occultism are marked in the Ring-Cosmos. The degrees of the numbers of evil are marked in the Ring-Chaos. Always think of the number in referring to the degree of an angle of two intersecting lines of force, and remember that when you operate on more than one plane you get the angles of the intersecting of the planes. You will have more instruction about that.

Every plane has three Rings, like the Cosmos. Also you can get intersections between different types of movement like Time and Space. These things will be studied later.



You have found, no doubt, that the teaching is abstruse and unfamiliar. Believe me it is more difficult to give than to receive, for that which is described so greatly transcends the condition upon which language has been built up, that the very images have to be built in your consciousness before they can be evoked by any spoken word.

You have to conceive of the Cosmos, in its primal aspect, as consisting of three spinning movements. All that is nothing but movement - movement in space - pure movement. For the prime movement which gives rise to all that is, commences before there is anything to move. The Cosmos then, is bounded by that movement which is called the Ring-Pass-Not. But besides the Ring-Pass-Not there are movements in two directions. There are the Ring Cosmos and Chaos - good and evil, and they are the sources of the forces which are known to you by these names. But though these forces influence that which is within the Ring-Pass-Not, they cannot pass beyond it.

These three Rings are the three 'primaries' of the Cosmos - the first Trinity, that is why the Supreme Being is always conceived of as a Trinity; and three is the fundamental number. Everything in the end is reducible to these three influences. Whatever subsequent stresses arise may be analysed into the balancing of these three forces:-

(a) The force of the Ring-Cosmos which tends towards the centre.

(b) The force of the Ring-Chaos which tends towards outer space.

(c) The force of the Ring-Pass-Not which holds the balance between them and prevents either of these forces from going to extremes.

The Ring-Pass-Not, however, is derived from the Ring Cosmos and therefore partakes of its nature rather than of that of the Ring-Chaos.

The Ring-Chaos must always be thought of as having its affinity with the outer space of the Unmanifest, and a tendency to return to unmanifestation. It looks towards the past, and ever seeks the conditions of the past.

The Ring-Cosmos endeavours to focus, as the Ring-Chaos endeavours to diffuse.

The tendency of the Ring-Cosmos is towards the future.

The Ring-Chaos can never build anything, because whatever forces it may originate diffuse, unconfined, into outer space, but the Ring-Cosmos, in conjunction with the Ring-Pass-Not conserves its forces. For the forces which the Ring-Cosmos radiated into that space within its circumference cannot pass out again because they are confined by the influences of the Ring-Pass-Not. Therefore they act and interact among themselves producing ever greater and greater elaboration of influences.

Let us now return to the point in Time when the Ring-Pass-Not had completed its first revolution and the Cosmos is in being.

Any form of force, when it has reached the maximum momentum of its type of movement, gives rise to the secondary movements which serve to carry off the excess of force which it is generating, for force begets force when moving under frictionless conditions.

The prime activity is MOVEMENT.

The secondary activity is LIGHT.

The third activity is SOUND.

The movement of the Ring-Cosmos sets up secondary swirls within the area of its influence, its tendency is to draw more and more space into its spin. It cannot extend itself externally because it is limited by the sphere of the Ring-Chaos, it therefore extends itself internally, so that the spinning belt finally becomes a spinning disc with the centre immobile. (Fig. 4)

The spinning disc, being rotated by the secondary movement, which is the Ring-Pass-Not, becomes the spinning sphere. (Fig. 5)

The interaction of the two forms of movement is naturally neutralising, consequently there is a break-up of the simple movement of the disc into a series of compromises. The chief point of activity ceases to be the circumference and becomes the centre. (Fig. 6)

Excerpted from THE COSMIC DOCTRINE by DION FORTUNE. Copyright © 2000 Society of Inner Light, London. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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