The Law of Periodicity
(AKA. Constant Renewal / Periodic Recurrence / Alternation)
Study Group Notes April 2004 Prepared by D Marsland
Blavatsky states that what she termed the Law of Periodicity is one of the basic laws governing existence. It states that for every period of activity there is a corresponding equal period of rest. This period of rest is followed by another span of activity.
The Law of Periodicity stresses the need for Constant Renewal. Without this renewal forces would exhaust themselves (Burn-out) Through this process of Constant Renewal everything is evolving on an eternally ascending spiral. Repeated manifestation without progress is pointless
The operation of this law is observable in the nature of night & day , the flow and ebb of tides, waking and sleeping etc. At a more esoteric level the manifestation (Manvantara) and subsequent non-manifestation (Pralaya) of a universe, a planetary system or a planet. Physical science has observed periodicity in all departments of nature.
Our universe is one in a great cosmic chain of universes just as today is one day in a person’s life. Nothing can be considered in isolation from what has gone before or from what follows after.
The universe itself is an organic living whole and everything in it expresses life. When discussing the universe Theosophists are usually speaking the totality of the cosmic process. space in the esoteric sense is dimensionless. The ultimate units of life are defined as Monads.
This is literally the period between two Manus. Manus are the entities which appear collectively first at the beginning of a manifestation and from which everything is derived or born. .
This means literally a melting away and can be best translated as a state of latency.
When a universe goes into Pralaya at the end of a Manvantara it does not cease to exist but still exists in potential.
Evolution (meaning in Theosophy)
To Theosophists, Evolution is the progressive development of everything (even atoms) this includes spiritual progress as well as material, physical and intellectual. Reincarnation is part of the evolutionary process. The whole of nature shows a progressive march for a higher life.
Evolution and Involution (The Principle of the Shadowy Arc)
Evolution does not simply involve moving progressively upwards as if following the line on the graph of a successful sales department. It is also unlike moving through school in which students tend to move up through the school at the same speed and stay in the same groups or classes.
In fact Evolution (of both spirit & matter) involves first a descending arc. Spirit must descend into matter and clothe itself in it. On the downward arc matter eclipses spirit more and more until it is shadowed (The Shadowy Arc). Matter is evolving to a greater extent than spirit during this descent.
Eventually the spirit reaches the lowest point on the arc of descent and begins to rise out of matter. In this ascending arc spirit evolves to the greater extent. Ultimately spirit separates itself from matter and the cycle is repeated again after a period of rest.
Evolution and Involution operate together, one is not possible without the other. Matter and Spirit are parts of the same whole and both must evolve.
A human incarnation is a descent into matter in which the spiritual part of man acquires a human body to gain physical experience. Humans can be described as spiritual beings who have physical experiences but when in incarnation it is easy to regard it as the other way round.
In human evolution our level of consciousness gives us a level of choice or self determination which means we can accelerate or impede our evolution both individually and as a whole.