[On Some Confusions about Rings and Rounds]
Theosophist, June, 1883
Article selections from “Cosmical Rings and Rounds”, by A Student of Occultism | Notes & Editor’s Note by H.P.B.
No. VII of the Fragments [of Occult Truth by Lay Chela] raises a difficulty for me and others, which we should be glad to have explained. . . .
[Quoting from “Fragments”:] “We have now men of the 5th Round among us, because we are in the latter half of our septenary earth ring (i.e. in the latter part of the 5th Root race). . . .
From this it is quite clear . . . that some at any rate of the 5th Round men on earth are normal 5th Rounders, who have outstripped us here, by a whole round of the cycle, and . . . that Lay Chela who says the globe immediately preceding ours is in obscuration is wrong, since 5th Round men are there as well as on the two preceding ones.
Again, in another passage, the same brother says:—
“The obscuration of the Planet on which are now evoluting the races of the 5th Round men, will of course be behind the few avant-couriers that are now here.”1
Showing clearly that the 5th Round has already commenced, which would not be possible under Lay Chela’s explanations.
1. We hope we will not be accused of attempting to reconcile entirely the difficulty between the early and later teachings, by suggesting, in this particular instance, that the word full inserted between “The” and “Obscuration” might perhaps remove a portion of the apparent contradiction. Having been taught that the earliest and latest races of humanity evoluted and died out during, and with, the dawn (or end) and the twilight (or beginning) of every Obscuration, we see no contradiction in this particular sentence, as quoted.
[Quoting from “Fragments”:] “On their 5th Round after a partial Nirvana, when the grand cycle is reached they will be held responsible henceforth in their decents from sphere to sphere, as they will have to appear on this earth as a still more perfect and intellectual race. This downward course has not yet begun, but will soon.”
According to him, therefore, the 5th Round has not yet begun, but as it soon will, humanity of the 4th Round must, at any rate some of it, be in its partial Nirvana, after passing the last planet of the cycle; which is still equally impossible under Lay Chela’s explanations.
I conclude that Lay Chela must have misconceived the instructions he received, and we who have studied carefully the original letters from some of which I have quoted, shall be grateful if you will clear up the questions for us. . . . where Lay Chela’s statements are distinctly at variance with these, as they seem to be in the present case, Lay Chela, I conclude, must be wrong.2
2. We believe not; only that the 5 Rounders have several significances. The “Student of Occultism” is only fairly entering upon the path of difficulties and most tremendous problems and need not as yet complain. Difficulty (1): The Chela who instructed the writer or “Lay Chela”—last, and gave him the new version about the fifth Rounders, is a regular and “accepted Chela” of several years standing of the “Brother” who “is no English scholar.” On the other hand the latter is the very guru who taught us the doctrine, and it coincides certainly more with that of “a student of occultism,” and as he understands it than with its version as given now by “Lay Chela.” Speaking but for ourselves we know that (new version notwithstanding), there are “normal” fifth Rounders, and we told so repeatedly. But, since the instructor chosen to explain the doctrine would not give out the key to the problem, all we could do was to submit. Evidently our Masters do not choose to give out all.
Editor’s Note [HPB]:
“Lay Chela” received from a regular and “accepted Chela” the explanations and instructions that led him to develop in Fragment VII the last theory objected to, and most decidedly it seems to clash with previous notions. Under these circumstances we do not feel justified in stepping in to make the two theories agree. Nevertheless, we have no doubt that both, however discrepant they may seem now, would be found to agree charmingly together, were the “Student of Occultism” and the “Lay Chela” given the whole doctrine and explained the great difference between the seven Rounds instead of being taught so spasmodically, and receiving small stray bits at a time. But such is the will and pleasure of those who know better than we do as to what it is fit to reveal, and what has to be kept back for a time. As much as (or perchance, from the little) we know of the doctrine, the two statements show neither a gap nor a flaw in it, however conflicting they may seem. The “apparent, distinctly contradictory statements” are no more so than would be a description of a human being emanating from two different sources, supposing one teacher would say that “the being called man crawls on all fours,” . . . and the other that “man walks erect on his two feet” and later on, that—“he walks supported on three legs”; all these statements, however conflicting for a blind man, would nevertheless be perfectly consistent with truth, and would not require an Oedipus to solve the riddle. Who of the “Lay Chelas” can say, whether there is not as much danger for our Masters in giving out at once the whole doctrine as there was for the Sphinx who had to pay for her imprudence with death? However it may be, it is not for us to give the desired explanations, nor would we accept the responsibility even if permitted. Having, therefore, submitted the above article to another regular and high Chela, we append hereto his answer. Unfortunately, instead of clearing the horizon, it overclouds it with fresh and far more tremendous difficulties.
[Here followed an explanation by a Chela who signed their name “S.T.K. * * * Chary”]