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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Emanation

The change in Nature or in its parts arising from their inherent inner impulse to change or become. This impulse, according to theosophical philosophy, is the driving principle behind EVOLUTION, causing nature or its organisms and systems to change and mutate. Evolution is thus an unfolding of the natural potential of nature and its parts.

This view is at variance with biological evolutionary theory where change is due to the random variations of genetic factors in each succeeding generation, and these changes result in differing capacities of the offsprings to adapt to the environment, wherein the fittest variations survive, and others become extinct. The doctrine of emanation also differs from the creationist view that the universe or its objects were created by a deity out of nothing. In emanation, the cosmos is a manifestation of the primordial unmanifested state, called in the theosophy as the First and Second Logos, becoming the Third Logos or creative deity, from which the universe comes from; in Hinduism, Brahman unfolds into BRAHMA; in Sufism, AIN SOPH manifests as the Tree of Life. In Christian mysticism, it is the Godhead becoming God and the universe.

“Upon inaugurating an active period, says the Secret Doctrine, an expansion of this Divine essence from without inwardly and from within outwardly, occurs in obedience to eternal and immutable law, and the phenomenal or visible universe is the ultimate result of the long chain of cosmical forces thus progressively set in motion” (SD I:4).

Helena P. BLAVATSKY considers the process of emanation to be but the expression of an innate law in nature. It is a view, she wrote, espoused since ancient times in both East and West — Kapila, Manu, Kabbalah, the Alexandrian and Chaldean philosophers, and even in Genesis of the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 33:2, the term esh dath, commonly translated as “fiery law” but should have been rendered as “fire according to the law,” refers to this doctrine of emanation. Blavatsky wrote that “the correct rendering of the passage should be ‘from his right hand went [not a fiery law, but] a fire according to law’; viz., that the fire of one flame is imparted to, and caught up by another like as in a trail of inflammable substance. This is precisely emanation” (Theos. Glossary).

V.H.C.

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