Over the years, some people have become puzzled and confused by the various references to “Darkness” in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, especially in “The Secret Doctrine” which is where most of this occurs.
Some sincere Christians have exclaimed, “She says that Deity is Darkness! How awful! She must be evil and a worshipper of the devil!”
Perhaps they conveniently forget that their own Bible clearly declares that “darkness surrounds the pavilion” of God, “who has His hiding place in darkness.” Neither those Bible verses, nor the statements by HPB, are implying that the Divine is something evil, sinister, or lacking light.
As she explains in “Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge” (p. 35, 36), she writes of Darkness “in the sense of the Unmanifested and the Unknown as the opposite pole to manifestation, and that which falls under the possibility of speculation. … it is not Darkness as absence of Light, but as one incomprehensible primordial Principle, which, being Absoluteness itself, has for our intellectual perceptions neither form, colour, substantiality, nor anything that could be expressed by words.”
It should be remembered that most of “The Secret Doctrine” is written from the perspective of esotericism, mystical symbolism, and high metaphysical philosophy. HPB reminds the reader numerous times in various different topics and subjects not to mistake the word for the thing and to learn to read with an abstract or Eastern consciousness rather than the typically literalistic or Western consciousness.
In philosophical terminology, “Absolute” means something entirely beyond all relativity, having absolutely nothing relative about it whatsoever, entirely infinite, abstract, and unconditioned, perfectly unfathomable and indescribable, completely transcending human thought or intellectual perception, with no similarity to anything which can be imagined or conceived of, not like anything which is manifested, since it is totally and eternally unmanifested and unmanifestable.
Absolute Light is therefore Darkness – to us. Absolute Light and Absolute Darkness are interchangeable terms, as are Absolute Consciousness and Absolute Unconsciousness. But it is better to read the following, from “The Secret Doctrine,” and to do so slowly, meditatively, and reflectively, as these truths and concepts can never be understood or properly grasped by the intellect and reasoning mind alone, despite the pure logic contained in them. Metaphysical understanding requires metaphysical thinking.
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FROM “THE SECRET DOCTRINE” by H.P. BLAVATSKY
“DARKNESS ALONE FILLED THE BOUNDLESS ALL, FOR FATHER, MOTHER AND SON WERE ONCE MORE ONE, AND THE SON HAD NOT AWAKENED YET FOR THE NEW WHEEL, AND HIS PILGRIMAGE THEREON.”
– From the Secret Book of Dzyan, Stanza 1:5 (Vol. 1, p. 27)
“WHERE WERE THE BUILDERS, THE LUMINOUS SONS OF MANVANTARIC DAWN? . . . IN THE UNKNOWN DARKNESS IN THEIR AH-HI PARANISHPANNA. THE PRODUCERS OF FORM FROM NO-FORM – THE ROOT OF THE WORLD – THE DEVAMATRI AND SVABHAVAT, RESTED IN THE BLISS OF NON-BEING.” …
“THE SEVEN SONS WERE NOT YET BORN FROM THE WEB OF LIGHT. DARKNESS ALONE WAS FATHER-MOTHER, SVABHAVAT; AND SVABHAVAT WAS IN DARKNESS.”
– From the Secret Book of Dzyan, Stanza 2:1, 5 (Vol. 1, p. 28)
“THE LAST VIBRATION OF THE SEVENTH ETERNITY THRILLS THROUGH INFINITUDE. THE MOTHER SWELLS, EXPANDING FROM WITHIN WITHOUT, LIKE THE BUD OF THE LOTUS.
“THE VIBRATION SWEEPS ALONG, TOUCHING WITH ITS SWIFT WING THE WHOLE UNIVERSE AND THE GERM THAT DWELLETH IN DARKNESS: THE DARKNESS THAT BREATHES OVER THE SLUMBERING WATERS OF LIFE.
“DARKNESS RADIATES LIGHT, AND LIGHT DROPS ONE SOLITARY RAY INTO THE MOTHER-DEEP.” …
“BEHOLD, OH LANOO! THE RADIANT CHILD OF THE TWO, THE UNPARALLELED REFULGENT GLORY: BRIGHT SPACE SON OF DARK SPACE, WHICH EMERGES FROM THE DEPTHS OF THE GREAT DARK WATERS.” …
“FATHER-MOTHER SPIN A WEB WHOSE UPPER END IS FASTENED TO SPIRIT – THE LIGHT OF THE ONE DARKNESS – AND THE LOWER ONE TO ITS SHADOWY END, MATTER; AND THIS WEB IS THE UNIVERSE SPUN OUT OF THE TWO SUBSTANCES MADE IN ONE, WHICH IS SVABHAVAT.”
– From the Secret Book of Dzyan, Stanza 3:1-3, 7, 10 (Vol. 1, p. 28-29)
“FROM THE EFFULGENCY OF LIGHT – THE RAY OF THE EVER-DARKNESS – SPRUNG IN SPACE THE RE-AWAKENED ENERGIES; THE ONE FROM THE EGG, THE SIX, AND THE FIVE. THEN THE THREE, THE ONE, THE FOUR, THE ONE, THE FIVE – THE TWICE SEVEN THE SUM TOTAL. AND THESE ARE THE ESSENCES, THE FLAMES, THE ELEMENTS, THE BUILDERS, THE NUMBERS, THE ARUPA, THE RUPA, AND THE FORCE OF DIVINE MAN – THE SUM TOTAL. AND FROM THE DIVINE MAN EMANATED THE FORMS, THE SPARKS, THE SACRED ANIMALS, AND THE MESSENGERS OF THE SACRED FATHERS WITHIN THE HOLY FOUR.”
– From the Secret Book of Dzyan, Stanza 4:3 (Vol. 1, p. 30)
“”Darkness is Father-Mother: light their son,” says an old Eastern proverb. Light is inconceivable except as coming from some source which is the cause of it; and as, in the instance of primordial light, that source is unknown, though as strongly demanded by reason and logic, therefore it is called “Darkness” by us, from an intellectual point of view. As to borrowed or secondary light, whatever its source, it can be but of a temporary mayavic character. Darkness, then, is the eternal matrix in which the sources of light appear and disappear. Nothing is added to darkness to make of it light, or to light to make it darkness, on this our plane. They are interchangeable, and scientifically light is but a mode of darkness and vice versa. Yet both are phenomena of the same noumenon – which is absolute darkness to the scientific mind, and but a gray twilight to the perception of the average mystic, though to that of the spiritual eye of the Initiate it is absolute light. How far we discern the light that shines in darkness depends upon our powers of vision. What is light to us is darkness to certain insects, and the eye of the clairvoyant sees illumination where the normal eye perceives only blackness. When the whole universe was plunged in sleep – had returned to its one primordial element – there was neither centre of luminosity, nor eye to perceive light, and darkness necessarily filled the boundless all.” (Vol. 1, p. 40-41)
“The essence of darkness being absolute light, Darkness is taken as the appropriate allegorical representation of the condition of the Universe during Pralaya, or the term of absolute rest, or non-being, as it appears to our finite minds.” (Vol. 1, p. 69)
“According to the Rosicrucian tenets, as handled and explained by the profane for once correctly, if only partially, so “Light and Darkness are identical in themselves, being only divisible in the human mind;” and according to Robert Fludd, “Darkness adopted illumination in order to make itself visible” (On Rosenkranz). According to the tenets of Eastern Occultism, DARKNESS is the one true actuality, the basis and the root of light, without which the latter could never manifest itself, nor even exist. Light is matter, and DARKNESS pure Spirit. Darkness, in its radical, metaphysical basis, is subjective and absolute light; while the latter in all its seeming effulgence and glory, is merely a mass of shadows, as it can never be eternal, and is simply an illusion, or Maya.
“Even in the mind-baffling and science-harassing Genesis, light is created out of darkness “and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (ch. i. v. 2.) – and not vice versa. “In him (in darkness) was life; and the life was the light of men” (John i. 4). A day may come when the eyes of men will be opened; and then they may comprehend better than they do now, that verse in the Gospel of John that says “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” They will see then that the word “darkness” does not apply to man’s spiritual eyesight, but indeed to “Darkness,” the absolute, that comprehendeth not (cannot cognize) transient light, however transcendent to human eyes.” (Vol. 1, p. 70)
“Darkness generates light.” (Vol. 1, p. 110)
“Now light without any shadow would be absolute light – in other words, absolute darkness …” (Vol. 1, p. 201)
“”The one Universal Light, which to Man is Darkness, is ever existent,” says the Chaldean “Book of Numbers.” From it proceeds periodically the ENERGY, which is reflected in the “Deep” or Chaos, the store-house of future worlds, and, once awakened, stirs up and fructifies the latent Forces, which are the ever present eternal potentialities in it. Then awake anew the Brahmas and Buddhas – the co-eternal Forces – and a new Universe springs into being.” (Vol. 1, p. 337)
“Deity is not God. It is NOTHING, and DARKNESS. It is nameless, and therefore called Ain-Soph – “the word Ayin meaning nothing.” See Franck “Die Kabbala,” p. 153. See also Section XII., “Theogony of the Creative Gods.” The “Highest God” (the unmanifested LOGOS) is its Son.” (Vol. 1, p. 350)
“Returning to the Kabalistic deity, this Concealed Unity is then, Endless, Boundless, non-Existent, so long as the Absolute is within Oulom, the boundless and termless time, as such, En-Soph cannot be the Creator or even the modeller of the Universe, nor can he be Aur (light). Therefore En-Soph is also Darkness. The immutably Infinite and the absolutely Boundless can neither will, think, nor act. To do this it has to become finite, and it does so, by its ray penetrating into the mundane egg – infinite space – and emanating from it as a finite god. All this is left to the ray latent in the one. When the period arrives, the absolute will expands naturally the force within it, according to the Law of which it is the inner and ultimate Essence.” (Vol. 1, p. 353-354)
“Primary Creation is called the Creation of Light (Spirit); and the Secondary – that of Darkness (matter). … This must not be confused with precosmic “DARKNESS,” the Divine ALL.” (Vol. 1, p. 450)
“Throughout the first two Parts, it was shown that, at the first flutter of renascent life, Svabhavat, “the mutable radiance of the Immutable Darkness unconscious in Eternity,” passes, at every new rebirth of Kosmos, from an inactive state into one of intense activity; that it differentiates, and then begins its work through that differentiation. This work is KARMA.” (Vol. 1, p. 634-635)
“Now there are three kinds of light in Occultism, as in the Kabala. (1) The Abstract and Absolute Light, which is Darkness; (2) The Light of the Manifested-Unmanifested, called by some the Logos: and (3) The latter light reflected in the Dhyan Chohans, the minor logoi (the Elohim, collectively), who, in their turn, shed it on the objective Universe.” (Vol. 2, p. 37)
“Darkness is absolute light, a fact now neglected if not entirely forgotten in theology.” (Vol. 2, p. 489)
“Metaphysically, the Father and the Son are the “Universal Mind” and the “periodical Universe”; the “Angel” and the “Man.” It is the SON and the FATHER at one and the same time; in Pymander, the active IDEA and the passive THOUGHT that generates it; the radical key-note in Nature which gives birth to the seven notes – the septenary scale of the creative Forces, and to the seven prismatic aspects of colour, all born from the one white ray, or LIGHT – itself generated in DARKNESS.” (Vol. 2, p. 492)
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The Hindu scripture called the Isha Upanishad contains a well known passage which says that those for whom the outer world and sensual and material things alone are real “go to darkness” and that “to greater darkness they go” for whom the inner world and the spiritual is the only true reality. The Master K.H., writing from the esoteric perspective, says that “the “greater darkness” into which the perfected “Siddha” is finally merged thereby, is that Absolute Darkness, which is Absolute Light.”
In closing, we may quote from the 14th century Christian mystic Jan Van Ruysbroeck:
“When love has carried us above and beyond all things into the Divine Dark, we receive in peace the Incomprehensible Light, enfolding us and penetrating us. What is this Light, if it be not a contemplation of the Infinite, and an intuition of Eternity? We behold that which we are, and we are that which we behold; because our thought, life and being are uplifted in simplicity and made one with the Divine Truth which is God.”
~ Blavatsky Theosophy Group UK ~
You may also like to read How to successfully study the Teachings of H.P. Blavatsky, 12 Things Theosophy Teaches, Theosophy: The Ancient Wisdom, An Invitation to The Secret Doctrine, Who wrote “The Secret Doctrine”?, Esoteric Symbolism, The Impersonal Divine, and Understanding the Logos.