[Reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, March 1964.]
Fohat is a Tibetan term for the energic or motion aspect of the Supreme Spirit. It is usually considered in its metaphysical aspect, which is rather difficult to understand; therefore, side by side with the metaphysical, the ethical and practical-application aspect should also be understood.
Every form of life is made up of a certain grade of matter expressing a certain degree of intelligence or consciousness, and the connecting link between the two is the vital force of Fohat. It links spirit and matter, subject to object, as explained in the First Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine. It is the "bridge" by which the Eternal Thought in the Eternal Mind is objectivized as univeral Nature. The process is from within without. The slumbering energy awakes and a gradual transformation takes place from the spiritual to the ethereal, the semi-ethereal, until gross forms of matter come into existence. Primordial matter is formless and colourless. It is Fohat which translates or rather transforms the universal, archetypal ideas into various forms at various levels and becomes the guiding force. The Laws of Nature exist because of the impression of Divine Ideas on Divine Substance. It is interesting to note that some thinkers have, unconsciously to themselves, admitted the existence of the propelling force of manifestation, as stated by Madame Blavatsky in a footnote on page 649 of Volume II of The Secret Doctrine:
Fohat is the constructive power that causes the formation of planetary systems, of earth chains, of nature and of man. In the second verse of the Fifth Stanza from the Book of Dzyan it is stated: "Fohat is the steed and thought is the rider." Not only does it serve, like the steed, as a means of transportation from one place to another, from one plane to another, but it also has the power to change and transform that which was subjective into the objective, that which was noumenal into the phenomenal. Thus, an ideal image in the mind of man may be reproduced as a concrete form.
This can be understood by taking a simple illustration—that of a potter and his pot. He may have an image or images of various types of pots in his own mind. He may have the clay, the water and all the necessary ingredients in front of him, but unless and until he wills to use his own energy and with his hands moulds and shapes the clay according to the image formed in his mind, there will be no objective formation of an earthen pot. This illustration should enable the student to have a clearer understanding of what Fohat is, and how it functions at various stages of evolution. The Will of man is one aspect of Fohat in the human kingdom, on the plane of mind; the potter's use of the energic force to create a pot with his own hands and make of it an objective reality is another aspect of the vital force on another plane.
In Nature, the Fohatic principle is working all the time. A continuous transformation of forms from one state into another is taking place. What transforms water into ice or steam, its two opposite aspects? Heat and cold, rooted in Fohat, the energy of the One Life. What makes vapour gather into clouds in the sky, and the clouds to burst into rain, and the rain to fructify the seeds under the ground and bring about the growth of plants and trees, flowers and fruits, in all their changing forms? The motion aspect of the Divine Life. Motion conquers cold, rest conquers heat. When the body is cold, the mind passive, hands inactive, then motion on all planes is needed. When the body is restless, when the heat of anger rages in the mind and in the heart, a change of polarity becomes necessary to bring about calm and quiet, and this change of polarity is yet another aspect of life.
In The Theosophical Glossary Fohat is defined as Daiviprakriti, Primordial Light, the essence of Cosmic Electricity, and in the manifested universe it is "the ever-present electrical energy and ceaseless destructive and formative power." This indicates how from the one homogeneous substance-principle differentiation takes place and grosser and grosser forms of life come into manifestation through the stairway of the seven worlds or planes. It is the same vital power which creates and destroys, to re-create once more. Fohat is "the universal propelling Vital Force, at once the propeller and resultant." Attraction and repulsion, levitation and gravitation, are all caused by this universal propelling force.
What brings atoms and molecules together, what separates them? The opposing forces of cohesion and of dispersion both spring from Fohat. What but the dynamic energy of life turns a germ into a foetus in the mother's womb, and later on into a baby which becomes a man or a woman? What brings about old age, decay and death? The destructive aspect of that same energic force. What brings the body daily from the waking to the sleeping state and from the sleeping to the waking state? The unbalance caused by the impact of the universal life-energy upon individual energy. When the equilibrium is restored, it wakes up the individual for another day of work. So all growth and expansion, all decay and destruction, the play of opposing forces through a change of polarity, are brought about through one or another aspect of Fohat—the great Transformer. Thus, naturally, life is looked upon as a drama, a dance, or a song, where each being is expected to play his part, to dance or to sing in tune with the Infinite. This can only be done through a clear understanding of Deity in its triple aspect of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer, or Spirit-Matter with the connecting link of Fohat.
Human beings dissipate their energy in a thousand ways, through the avenues of thought-word-deed, because they are bound down by a hundred cords of desire. Therefore the practical lesson is to conserve one's energy for the highest work on the physical, mental, moral and spiritual planes, and, instead of following impulses from without, to follow the right principles and act from within. Krishna defines Yoga as equanimity of mind and skill in the performance of action. This can only be achieved through constant vigilance and self-control.
The way winds up-hill all the way, from the valley of mire to summits of glorious light Nirvanic, and it is necessary to use one's energy in the cultivation of virtues. One of the paramitas is "VIRYA, the dauntless energy that fights its way to the Supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial." This will transform man into a god, enabling him not only to enjoy Nirvanic peace and bliss, but also to use his energy on all planes to elevate his fellow pilgrims and relieve their suffering. Thus, to propel life from the unmanifested to manifestation, from the atom to man and man to god, is the work of Fohat, the great Transformer, at first through natural impulse and then through the self-conscious effort of man.
Karma may not be acquired like money in a bank; it cannot be deposited; but a store of merit may be laid up to the account of anyone who acts so as to lay it up. If the law is looked at from the selfish side as something that one may lay up for himself, of course it will tend to self-seeking; but it is hardly possible for one to believe in and act under the law and fail at the same time to see that if he does so selfishly he limits his store and sometime will nullify all its effects. It is not good karma to act selfishly; hence he makes bad karma by so acting from a self-seeking of benefit under the law.