THEOSOPHY, Vol. 43, No. 6, April, 1955
(Pages 268-274; Size: 21K)


WHAT is WILL? Can exact science tell? What is the nature of that intelligent, intangible, and powerful something which reigns supreme over all inert matter? As an eternal principle, Will is not spirit. It is not substance. It is everlasting IDEATION. Will is the force of spirit in action, the first of all powers. "The great Universal Idea willed -- and the cosmos sprang into being."

Emepht, the supreme first principle, in the Egyptian allegory, produced an egg; by brooding over which, and permeating the substance of it with its own vivifying essence, the germ contained within was developed. Phtah, the active creative principle, proceeded from it and began his work. From the boundless expanse of cosmic matter (astral light, ether, fire-mist, principle of life) which had formed itself under his breath (Will) -- this creative principle (or "the law of evolution") by setting in motion the potencies latent in it, formed suns and stars, and satellites. It controlled their emplacement by the immutable law of harmony; and peopled them "with every form and quality of life." In the Hindu allegory, Kama was the first movement that stirred the ONE, after its manifestation from the purely abstract principle -- to create. "Desire first arose in IT, which was the primal germ of mind. ... Kama was born the first. Him, neither gods nor fathers (Pitara) nor men have equalled." Kama is pre-eminently the divine desire of creating happiness and love; it was by the arising of Desire in the unknown first cause, the one Absolute existence, that the whole collection of worlds was manifested, and by means of the influence of Desire in the now manifested world the latter is kept in existence.

Will is the one and sole principle of abstract eternal MOTION, or its ensouling essence. "In the beginning," the Zohar teaches, "was the Will of the King, prior to any other existence. It (the Will) sketched the forms of all things that had been concealed but now came into view. And there went forth from the head of Ain Soph, a nebulous spark of matter, without shape or form. ... Life is drawn from below, and from above the source renews itself, the sea is always full and spreads its waters everywhere." It is in the denial of the boundless and endless Entity, possessor of that invisible Will which we for lack of a better term call God, that lies the powerlessness of every materialistic science to explain occult phenomena. The ancient philosophy affirmed that it is in consequence of the manifestation of that Will -- termed by Plato the Divine Idea --that everything visible and invisible sprang into existence. As that Intelligent Idea which, by directing its sole will-power toward a centre of localized forces, called objective forms into being, so can man, the microcosm of the great Macrocosm, do the same in proportion with the development of his will power. As God creates, so man can create. Given a certain intensity of will, and the shapes created by the mind become subjective. Hallucinations, they are called, although to their creator they are real as any visible object is to any one else. Given a more intense and intelligent concentration of this will, and the forms become concrete, visible, objective; the man has learned the secret of secrets; he is a Magician.

Dzyu is the one real (magical) knowledge, or occult wisdom, which, dealing with eternal truths and primal causes, becomes almost omnipotent when applied in the right direction. Its antithesis is Dzyu-mi, that which deals with illusions and false appearances only, as in our exoteric modern sciences. Dzyu is the expression (in the highest sense) of the collective Wisdom of the Dhyani-Buddhas (Archangels). The latter are the Primordial SEVEN. Of their WILL, Fohat becomes the "Messenger" -- the fiery whirlwind, in Kosmos. No connected understanding of the sway of WILL in the Kosmos and in man can be had, without some consideration of those hierarchies of divine and cosmic forces which form the Vehicle for its manifestation.

Occultism teaches that the Dhyan Chohans, the collective hosts of spiritual beings, are this vehicle for the manifestation of the divine and universal thought and will. In their totality they are known as Fohat. They are the intelligent forces that give to and enact in Nature her "laws," while themselves acting according to laws imposed upon them in a similar manner by still higher Powers. This hierarchy of spiritual Beings, through which the Universal Mind comes into action, is like an army -- a "Host" truly -- by means of which the fighting power of a nation manifests itself, and which is composed of army corps, divisions, brigades, regiments, and so forth, each with its separate individuality or life, and its limited freedom of action and limited responsibilities; each contained in a larger individuality, to which its own interests are subservient, and each containing lesser individualities in itself. Hence it is taught that WILL is septenary in its degree of manifestation. "Emanating from the one, eternal, abstract and purely quiescent Will (Atma in Layam), it becomes Buddhi in its Alaya state, descends lower as Mahat (Manas), and runs down the ladder of degrees until the divine Eros becomes, in its lower, animal manifestation, erotic desire."

In its totality, Fohat represents the Hosts of the higher creative Dhyan Chohans. In the phenomenal and cosmic world Fohat is that occult, electric vital power which, under the Will of the Creative Logos, unites and brings together all forms, giving them the first impulse which becomes in time law. Fohat is thus the transcendental binding Unity of all cosmic energies, on the unseen as on the manifested planes, the action of which resembles -- on an immense scale -- that of a living Force created by WILL, in those phenomena where the seemingly subjective acts on the seemingly objective and propels it to action. In his secondary aspect, Fohat is the solar energy, the electric vital fluid, and the preserving fourth principle, the animal soul of Nature, so to say, or -- Electricity. There are in the universe such beings as Angels or Spirits, whose incorporeal essence may constitute an intelligent entity notwithstanding the absence of any (to us) solid organism. In the words of The Secret Doctrine, there are Formless Radiations, existing in the harmony of Universal Will and being what we term the collective or aggregate of Cosmic Will, on the plane of the subjective universe.

Deity being absolute, must be omnipresent. Hence not an atom but contains IT within itself. Democritus taught, after his instructor Leucippus, that the first principles of all things contained in the universe were atoms and a vacuum. In the kabalistic sense, the vacuum means in this instance the latent Deity, or latent force, which at its first manifestation became WILL, and thus communicated the first impulse to atoms -- whose agglomeration is matter. The imaginary atoms -- a figure of speech employed by Democritus, and gratefully seized upon by the materialists -- are like automatic workmen, moved inwardly by the influx of that universal Will directed upon them, and which, manifesting itself as force, sets them into activity. The plan of the structure to be erected is in the brain of the Architect, and reflects his will; abstract as yet, from the instant of the conception it becomes concrete through these atoms which follow faithfully every line, point and figure in the imagination of the Divine Geometer. Desire arises as the first cause; "behind Will stands Desire."

To this logic the materialist should not object, for he regards thought as matter. Conceding it to be so, the cunning mechanism contrived by the inventor; the fairy scenes born in the poet's brain; the gorgeous painting limned by the artist's fancy; the peerless statue chiselled in ether by the sculptor; the palaces and castles built in air by the architect -- all these, though invisible and subjective, must exist, for they are matter, shaped and moulded. Who shall say that there are not some men of such imperial will as to be able to drag these air-drawn fancies into view, enveloped in the hard casing of gross substance to make them tangible?

In metaphysics and occult philosophy, Will is that which governs the manifested universes in eternity. Occultists speak of memory in every atom, of will and sensation. Every being is soaked through with the primordial essence called Will. It is a colorless power, to which no quality of goodness or badness can be assigned -- but which may be used in whatever way man pleases. The thinking of oneself as this, that or the other, is the chief factor in the production of every kind of psychic or even physical phenomena. The words "whosoever shall say to this mountain be thou removed and cast into the sea, and shall not doubt ... that thing will come to pass," are no vain words. Only the word "faith" ought to be translated by WILL. Faith without Will is like a wind-mill without wind -- barren of results. When considered as that which in ordinary life is called Will, we see its operation only in connection with the material body and mind guided by desire. Looked at in respect to the hold by man upon life the will is more recondite, because its operation is beyond the ken of the (finite) mind. In ordinary life it is not man's servant, but being then guided solely by desire it makes man a slave to his desires.

As in Kosmos, so in man, the Will is first of all powers. The human Will is all-powerful, and the Imagination is a most useful faculty with a dynamic force. Paracelsus teaches that determined will is the beginning of all magical operation. "It is because men do not perfectly imagine and believe the result, that the (occult) arts are so uncertain, while they might be perfectly certain." "Kriyashakti" is the mysterious power of thought which enables the latter to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy. The ancients held that any idea will manifest itself externally if one's attention is deeply concentrated upon it. Similarly an intense volition will be followed by the desired result. "Kriyashakti is the mysterious and divine power latent in the will of every man, which if not called to life, quickened and developed by Yogi-training, remains dormant in 999,999 men out of a million, and gets atrophied." Parasara explains that when Brahma wants to create the world anew and construct progeny through his will, in the fourfold condition or four orders of beings termed Dhyan Chohans, more material devas, Pitris or Progenitors, and men -- "he collects Yoga-like his mind."

Every man, in common with every other living being, and even inert object, has an aura of his own emanations surrounding him; and, moreover, is enabled by a trifling effort to transport himself in imagination wherever he likes. Imagination is the greatest power, after Will, in the human assemblage of complicated instruments. It is the king faculty, inasmuch as the Will cannot do its work if the Imagination be at all weak or untrained. Why should it not be scientifically possible that man's thought, regulated, intensified, and guided by the powerful magician, the educated Will, may become corporealized for the time being, and appear to whom it likes, a faithful double of the original? There is no reason why one should suppose that the adept, the alchemist, the savant of the secret art should not have found out that which scientists today deny, but may discover true tomorrow, i.e., how to project electrically their astral bodies, in an instant, through thousands of miles of space, leaving their material shells with a certain amount of animal vital principle to keep the physical life going, and acting within their spiritual, ethereal bodies as safely and intelligently as when clothed with the covering of flesh. There is a higher form of electricity than the physical one known to experimenters; a thousand correlations of the latter are as yet veiled to the eye of the modern physicist, and none can tell where end its possibilities.

The adept is a man who, through the entire subjugation of matter of his corporeal system, has attained to that state of purification at which the spirit becomes nearly freed from its prison, and can produce wonders. His will, nay, a simple desire of his has become creative force, and he can command the elements and powers of Nature. The life-principle is but a blind force obeying a compelling influence. This blind force being totally submissive to his will, obeys it with servility. The will creates; for the will in motion is force, and force produces matter. This secret of secrets, that soul is not knit to flesh, was practically demonstrated in the instance of the Yogis, followers of Kapila. Having emancipated their souls from the fetters of Prakriti (the physical perception of the senses and mind), they so developed their soul-power and will-force, as to have actually enabled themselves, while on earth, to communicate with the supernal worlds, and perform what is bunglingly termed "miracles."

When a firm position is assumed with the end in view of reaching union with Spirit through concentration, the latter comes to the aid of the lower self and raises it gradually to higher planes. In this process the Will by degrees is given a stronger and stronger tendency to act upon a different line from that indicated by passion and desire. With every effort of Will toward purification and unity with the Self-God, one of the lower rays breaks and the spiritual entity of man is drawn higher and ever higher to the ray that supersedes the first, until, from ray to ray, the inner man is drawn into the one and highest beam of the Parent-Sun. It is freed from the domination of desire and subdues the mind itself. But before the perfection of the practice is arrived at, the will still acts according to desire, only that the desire is for higher things and away from those of material life.

The fourth principle, Kama, is the basis of action and the mover of the Will. Will is absolutely colorless and varies in moral quality in accordance with the desire behind it; being moved by desire it operates in all kingdoms below man. The mysterious effects of attraction and repulsion are the unconscious agents of will. Fascination, such as we see exercised by some animals, by serpents over birds, for instance, is a conscious action of it, and the result of thought. Sealing-wax, glass, and amber, when rubbed, i.e., when the latent heat which exists in every substance is awakened, attract light bodies; they exercise unconsciously will. For inorganic as well as organic matter possesses a particle of the divine essence in itself, however infinitesimally small it may be. And how could it be otherwise? Notwithstanding that in the progress of its evolution it may from beginning to end have passed through millions of various forms, it must ever retain its germ-point of that pre-existent matter, which is the first manifestation and emanation of the Deity itself. What is then this inexplicable power of attraction but an atomical portion of that essence that scientists and kabalists equally recognize as the "principle of life" -- the Akasha? Granted that the attraction exercised by such bodies may be blind; but as we ascend higher the scale of organic beings in Nature, we find this principle of life developing attributes and faculties which become more determined and marked with every rung of the endless ladder. Man, the most perfect of organized beings on earth, in whom matter and spirit -- i.e., Will --are the most developed and powerful, is alone allowed to give a conscious impulse to that principle which emanates from him; and only he can impart to the magnetic fluid opposite and various impulses without limit as to the direction.

We believe Will-Power the most powerful of magnets. The adept has no need of any extraneous aids -- the simple exertion of his will power is all sufficient. "Every created being," say the Fire-philosophers, "possesses his own celestial power and is closely allied with heaven. The spirit is everywhere diffused. The magic power of man, which can operate externally, lies hidden in the inner man. This magical wisdom and strength sleeps, but by a mere suggestion is roused into activity, and becomes more living the more the outer man of flesh and the darkness is repressed. Pure primeval magic does not consist in superstitious practices and vain ceremonies but in the imperial will of man, concealed in him as fire is concealed in the flint." This "magic" is ultimate attainment, by Will, to conscious God-hood.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


The headstrong are really the sublime. The man who is only brave owes it to impulse; the man who is only valiant merely possesses that temperament; the man who is courageous has only one virtue; the man who is headstrong in the truth is sublime. All the secrets of great souls lie in the one word, Perseverando. Perseverance is to courage what the winch is to the lever, a perpetual renewal of the point of support. Let the goal be on earth or in heaven, to reach the goal is everything; in the first case one is Columbus, in the second case, Jesus. Never to disobey the dictates of your conscience, never to allow your will to be disarmed, results in suffering, but in triumph as well. The propensity of mortals to fall does not preclude the possibility of soaring. From the fall comes the ascension. Weak souls are disconcerted by specious obstacles; strong souls, never. Perish, they possibly may; conquer, they certainly will. You might give Stephen all sorts of good reasons why he should not let himself be stoned. This contempt for sensible objections gives birth to that sublime victory which is called martyrdom. 


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