Universal Brotherhood a fact in Nature
From the Writings of Helena Blavatsky
Law of Harmony and Equilibrium
Karma and Reincarnation
Karma and the Ego
Karma and the Skandhas
Law of Retribution
A FACT IN NATURE
I HAVE been requested to speak on the subject of Universal Brotherhood as a fact in nature; not as a theory, not as a Utopian dream which can never he realized; not as a fact in society, not as a fact in government, but as a fact in nature. That is, that Universal Brotherhood is an actual thing, whether it is recognized or whether it is not. Christian priests have claimed for some years, without right, that Christianity introduced the idea of Universal Brotherhood. The reason the claim was made, I suppose, was because those who made it did not know that other religions at other times had the same doctrine. It is found in the Buddhist scriptures, it is found in the Chinese books, it is found in the Parsee books, it is found everywhere in the history of the world, long before the first year of the Christian Era began. So it is not a special idea from the Christian Scriptures. Every nation, then, every civilization has brought forward this doctrine, and the facts of history show us that, more than at any other time, the last eighteen hundred years have seen this doctrine violated in society, in government, and in nations. So that at last men have come to say, “Universal Brotherhood is very beautiful; it is something that we all desire, but it is impossible to realize.” With one word they declare the noble doctrine, and with the other they deny the possibility of its ever being realized.
Why is this the case? Why is it that although Christianity and other religions have brought forward this doctrine, it has been violated? We cannot deny that it has been. The history of even the last few years proves it. The history of the last forty years in America, without going any farther back, proves that this doctrine has been violated in the West. How could it have been a doctrine that the Americans believed in when they had slavery in their midst? How could it have been believed in by the French when they stretched out their hand and demanded of Siam, a weak and powerless nation, that it must give up to them its own property? How could it have been believed in by the Germans and French when they constructed engines of war and went into battle and destroyed each other by the thousand? Does not the American War of the Rebellion and the vast amount of treasure wasted and the thousands slain in that civil war prove conclusively that Universal Brotherhood has not been practiced? It has been professed but not practiced. Now, go further back, go back in the history of the nations in Europe, without going to any other country, and what do you find? Do you not find sectarian prejudice? Their view of Universal Brotherhood has for years prevented the progress of science. Is it not true that only since science became materialized—a most remarkable thing, but it is true—I insist that since then only science has made progress. If Universal Brotherhood had been a belief of this nation, then we would not have had the burning of witches in America; nor in other countries would we have had the burning of Catholics by Protestants, nor the burning of Protestants by Catholics; we would not have had the persecutions that have stained the pages of history; and yet we have always claimed that we have had Universal Brotherhood. We have had the theory but not the practice. Now, then, has there not been something wanting? It is a beautiful doctrine. It is the only doctrine of the Theosophical Society, the only thing that any man is asked by us to subscribe to. What, then, is the matter with it? Why so many men who say that it is beautiful, but it is impossible. simply impossible? There are even some branches of the Christian church which say, “There is Jesus; why, the altruistic, noble teachings of Christ are beautiful; but no State could live three months under such doctrine.” The reason that it has not prevailed in practice is that it has been denied in the heart.
The Theosophist who knows any thing about life insists that Universal Brotherhood is not a mere theory it is a fact, a living ever present fact, from which no nation can hope to escape; no man can escape from it, and every man who violates it violates a law, violates the greatest law of nature, which will react upon him and make him suffer. And that is why we have had suffering; that is why you have in Chicago, in London, in New York, in Berlin, in all the great cities of the world, masses of people who are claiming with violence what they call their rights and saying they must have them, and that another class is oppressing them; and danger lurks in every corner because men are insisting on Universal Brotherhood. This noble doctrine has already become a danger. The reason of all these things is that men have denied the fact. Now, we propose to show you, if we can, that it is a fact.
If you will notice you will find that when it rains over a certain area vast numbers of men are affected similarly. The rain has to fall on the fields in order that the harvest may grow, so that afterwards it may be gathered, and all the farmers are affected together by the rain. If you examine society you will find that at the same hour every day almost all the people are doing exactly the same thing. At a certain hour in the morning thousands of your citizens are going down that railway or rush all together to catch the train and at another few moments afterward they are rushing out of the train to get to business, all doing the same thing, one common thought inspiring them. That is one of the proofs—a small one—in social and business life that they are affected together they are all united. Then in the evening they will come home at the same hour, and if you could see, at the same hour you would see them all eating together and digesting together, and then later on they are all lying down together at the same hour. Are they not united even in their social life? Brothers even in that? And what do we see here in business? Lately I have felt it; every man has felt it, and many women; doubtless all have felt it; lately we have had a financial crisis, perhaps have it yet, in which dollars have been scarce, during which men have discovered that there are only just so many dollars and half dollars to each person in the country, and we have altogether been suffering from that panic all over this vast country. Suffering, why? Because commercially we are united and cannot get out of it. China even is affected by it, and Japan. India, they say, was the cause of it. Some men say the reason for this panic is that India put the price of rupees down, and we who produce so much silver began to feel it. I do not know that that is the reason. But I think there is another cause. I think the American nation is so fond of luxury, so fond of fine clothes, so fond of having a heap of money, that it has gone too far and there was bound to come a reaction, because it is all united together with the whole world, and when it spread itself out too far the slightest touch broke the fabric. That is the reason, and that is another proof of Universal Brotherhood. We are all united, not only with each other here, but with the entire world.
Now, then, go further still materially and you find that all men are alike. We have the same sort of bodies, a little different perhaps in height, weight, and extension, but as human beings we are all alike, all the same color in one country, all the same shape in any country, so that as mere bodies of flesh they are united, they are the same. We know every man and woman has exuding from him or her what is called perspiration. The doctors will tell you there is a finer perspiration you cannot see, the invisible perspiration which goes out a short distance around about us; we know it comes out from every person, and the emanations of each person are affecting every other person, being interchanged always. All those in this room are being affected by these emanations and also by the ideas of each other, and the ideas of the speakers speaking to you. So it is in every direction; wherever you go, wherever you look, we are united; in what ever plane, the plane of mind as well as the plane of the body; the plane of the emotions, of the spirit, what not, we are all united, and it is a fact from which we cannot escape. Now, then, further: science is beginning to admit what the old Theosophists have always said, that there is going on every minute in every person a death, a dissolution, a disappearance. It used to be taught and thought in the West that we could see matter, that this table is made of matter. It is admitted today by your best scientific men in every part of Western civilization that you do not see matter at all; it is only the phenomena of matter we see; and it is my senses which enable me to perceive these phenomena. It is not matter at all, and so we do not see matter. Now admitting that, they go further and say there is a constant change in matter so-called; that is, this table is in motion. This is not a purely Theosophical theory. Go to any doctor of Physics and he will admit to you as I have stated it. This table is in motion; every molecule is separate from every other, and there is space between them, and they are moving. So it is with every man; he is made of atoms and they are in motion. Then how is it we remain the same size and weight nearly always from the moment of maturity until death? We eat tons of meat and vegetables but remain the same. It is not because of the things you have eaten. In addition to that the atoms are alive, constantly moving, coming and going from one person to another; and this is the modern doctrine today as well as it was the doctrine of ancient India. They call it the momentary dissolution of atoms; that is to say, to put it in another way, I am losing, all of you in this room are losing, a certain number of atoms, but they are being replaced by other atoms. Now, where do these other atoms come from? Do they not come from the people in this room? These atoms help to rebuild your body as well as does the food you eat. And we are exuding atoms from our minds, and we are receiving into ourselves the atoms other men have used. For, remember, science teaches you, and Theosophy has always insisted, that matter is invisible before it is turned into this combination of the life cycle, which makes it visible, makes it tangible to us. So these atoms leave us in a stream and rush into other people. And therefore the atoms of good men go into bad men, the atoms impressed by bad men go into good men, and vice versa. In that way as well as others we are affecting everybody in this world; and the people in Chicago who are living mean, selfish lives are impressing these invisible atoms with mean and selfish characters, and these mean and selfish atoms will be distributed by other men, and by you again to your and their detriment. That is another phase of Universal Brotherhood. It teaches us to be careful to see that we use and keep the atoms in our charge in such a condition that they shall benefit others to whom they shall go.
There is another view of Universal Brotherhood, and I don’t pretend to exhaust the argument on this point, for I have not the time nor force to state all that is put forward in the Theosophical books and literature and thought. That is, that there is in this world an actual Universal Brotherhood of men and women, of souls, a brotherhood of beings who practice Universal Brotherhood by always trying to influence the souls of men for their good. I bring to you the message of these men; I bring to you the words of that brotherhood. Why will you longer call yourselves miserable men and women who are willing to go to a Heaven where you will do nothing? Do you not like to be gods? Do you not want to be gods? I hear some men say, “What, a god! Impossible!” Perhaps they do not like the responsibility. Why, when you get to that position you will understand the responsibility. This actual Brotherhood of living men says, Why, men of the West, why will you so long refuse to believe you are gods? We are your brothers and we are gods with you. Be then as gods! Believe that you are gods, and then, after experience and attainment. you will have a place consciously in the great Brotherhood which governs the entire world, but cannot go against the law. This great Brotherhood of living men, living souls, would, if they could, alter the face of civilization; they would, if they could, come down and make saints of every one of you; but evolution is the law and they cannot violate it; they must wait for you. And why will you so long be satisfied to believe that you are born in original sin and cannot escape? I do not believe in any such doctrine as that. I do not believe I was born in original sin. I believe that I am pretty bad, but that potentially I am a god, and I propose to take the inheritance if it is possible. For what purpose? So that I may help all the rest to do the same thing, for that is the law of Universal Brotherhood; and the Theosophical Society wishes to enforce it on the West, to make it see this great truth, that we are as gods, and are only prevented from being so in fact by our own insanity, ignorance, and fear to take the position.
So, then, we insist that Universal Brotherhood is a fact in nature. it is a fact for the lowest part of nature; for the animal kingdom, for the vegetable kingdom, and the mineral kingdom. We are all atoms, obeying the law together. Our denying it does not disprove it. It simply puts off the day of reward and keeps us miserable, poor, and selfish. Why, just think of it! if all in Chicago, in the United States, would act as Jesus has said, as Buddha has said, as Confucius said, as all the great ethical teachers of the world have said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” would there be any necessity for legal measures and policemen with clubs in this park as you had them the other day? No, I think there would be no necessity, and that is what one of this great Brotherhood has said. He said all the troubles of the world would disappear in a moment if men would only do one-quarter of what they could and what they ought. It is not God who is to damn you to death, to misery. It is your self. And the Theosophical Society desires above all things, not that you should understand spiritualism, not that wonderful occult works should be performed, but to understand the constitution of matter and of Life as they are, which we can never understand but by practicing right ethics. Live with each other as brothers; for the misery and the trouble of the world are of more importance than all the scientific progress that may be imagined. I conclude by calling upon you by all that humanity holds dear to remember what I say, and whether Christians, Atheists, Jews, Pagans, Heathen, or Theosophists, try to practice Universal Brotherhood, which is the universal duty of all men.
NOTE—Address given by Wm. Q. Judge at the Parliament of Religions, Chicago, 1893
FROM THE WRITINGS OF HELENA BLAVATSKY
W E consider Karma as the Ultimate Law of the Universe, the source, origin and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature. Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being. As no cause remains without its due effect from greatest to least, from a cosmic disturbance down to the movement of your hand, and as like produces like, Karma is that unseen and unknown law which adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitably each effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer. Though itself unknowable, its action is perceivable. Though we do not know what Karma is per se, and in its essence, we do know how it works, and we can define and describe its mode of action with accuracy.
To make the working of Karma, in the periodical renovations of the Universe, more evident and intelligible to the student . . . he has to examine with us the esoteric bearing of the Karmic Cycles upon Universal Ethics. The question is, do those mysterious divisions of time, called Yugas and Kalpas by the Hindus, and so very graphically “cycle,” ring or circle, by the Greeks, have any bearing upon, or any direct connection with, human life? Even exoteric philosophy explains that these perpetual circles of time are ever returning on themselves, periodically, and intelligently in Space and Eternity. There are “Cycles of matter” and there are “Cycles of Spiritual evolution.” Racial, national, and individual cycles. May not esoteric speculation allow us a still deeper insight into the workings of these?
There is a predestination in the geological life of our globe, as in the history, past and future, of races and nations. This is closely connected with what we call Karma and Western Pantheists,
“Nemesis” and “Cycles.” The law of evolution is now carrying us along the ascending arc of our cycle, when the effects will be once more remerged into, and re-become the (now neutralized) causes, and all things affected by the former will have regained their original harmony. This will be the cycle of our special “Round,” a moment in the duration of the great cycle, or the Maha-yuga.
As our planet revolves once every year around the sun, and at the same time turns once in every twenty-four hours upon its own axis, thus traversing minor circles within a larger one, so is the work of the smaller cyclic periods accomplished and recommenced, within the Great Saros.
The revolution of the physical world, according to the ancient doctrine, is attended by a like revolution in the world of intellect—the spiritual evolution of the world proceeding in cycles, like the physical one.
Thus we see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress. The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity re asserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, some what higher than the point from which it had before descended.
But these cycles—wheels within wheels, so comprehensively and ingeniously symbolized by the various Manus and Rishis in India, and by the Kabiri in the West—do not affect all mankind at one and the same time. Hence, as we see, the difficulty of comprehending, and discriminating between them, with regard to their physical and spiritual effects, without having thoroughly mastered their relations with, and action upon the respective positions of nations and races, in their destiny and evolution. This system cannot be comprehended if the spiritual action of these periods—pre-ordained, so to say, by Karmic law—is separated from their physical course.
The Grand Cycle includes the progress of mankind from the appearance of primordial man of ethereal form. It runs through the inner cycles of his (man’s) progressive evolution from the ethereal down to the semi-ethereal and purely physical: down to the redemption of man from his coat of skin and matter, after which it continues running its course downward and then upward again, to meet at the culmination of a Round, when the manvantaric “Serpent swallows its tail” and seven minor cycles are passed. These are the great Racial Cycles which affect equally all the nations and tribes included in that special Race; but there are minor and national as well as tribal cycles within those, which run independently of each other. They are called in the Eastern esotericism the Karmic cycles. . . . Yea— “Wise are they who worship Nemesis” as the chorus tells Prometheus. And as unwise they, who believe that the goddess may be propitiated by whatever sacrifices and prayers, or have her wheel diverted from the path it has once taken. “The triform Fates and ever mindful Furies” are her at tributes only on earth, and begotten by ourselves. There is no return from the paths she cycles over; yet those paths are of our own making, for it is we, collectively or individually, who prepare them. Karma-Nemesis is the synonym of PROVIDENCE, minus design, goodness, and every other finite attribute and qualification, so unphilosophically attributed to the latter. An Occultist or a philosopher will not speak of the goodness or cruelty of Providence; but, identifying it with Karma-Nemesis, he will teach that nevertheless it guards the good and watches over them in this, as in future lives; and that it punishes the evil-doer—aye, even to his seventh rebirth. So long, in short, as the effect of his having thrown into perturbation even the smallest atom in the Infinite World of harmony, has not been finally readjusted. For the only decree of Karma—an eternal and immutable decree—is absolute Harmony in the world of matter as it is in the world of Spirit. It is not, therefore, Karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we, who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with, through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that Harmony depends, or—break them.
LAW OF HARMONY AND EQUILIBRIUM
We describe Karma as that Law of readjustment which ever tends to restore disturbed equilibrium in the physical, and broken harmony in the moral world. We say that Karma does not act in this or that particular way always; but that it always does act so as to restore Harmony and preserve the balance of equilibrium, in virtue of which the Universe exists.
Think now of a pond. A stone falls into the water and creates disturbing waves. These waves oscillate backwards and forwards till at last, owing to the operation of what physicists call the law of the dissipation of energy, they are brought to rest, and the water returns to its condition of calm tranquility. Similarly all action, on every plane, produces disturbance in the balanced harmony of the Universe, and the vibrations so produced will continue to roll backwards and forwards, if its area is limited, till equilibrium is restored. But since each such disturbance starts from some particular point, it is clear that equilibrium and harmony can only be restored by the reconverging to that same point of all the forces which were set in motion from it. And here you have proof that the consequences of a man’s deeds, thoughts, etc. must all react upon himself with the same force with which they were set in motion.
Nor would the ways of Karma be inscrutable were men to work in union and harmony, instead of disunion and strife. For our ignorance of those ways—which one portion of mankind calls the ways of Providence, dark and intricate; while another sees in them the action of blind Fatalism; and a third, simple chance, with neither gods nor devils to guide them—would surely disappear, if we would but attribute all these to their correct cause. With right knowledge, or at any rate with a confident conviction that our neighbours will no more work to hurt us than we would think of harming them, two-thirds of the World’s evil would vanish into thin air. Were no man to hurt his brother, Karma-Nemesis would have neither cause to work for, nor weapons to act through. It is the constant presence in our midst of every element of strife and opposition, and the division of races, nations, tribes, societies and individuals into Cams and Abels, wolves and lambs, that is the chief cause of the “ways of Providence.” We cut these numerous windings in our destinies daily with our own hands, while we imagine that we are pursuing a track on the royal high road of respectability and duty, and then complain of those ways being so intricate and so dark. We stand bewildered before the mystery of our own making, and the riddles of life that we will not solve, and then accuse the great Sphinx of devouring us. But verily there is not an accident in our lives, not a misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life.
KARMA AND REINCARNATION
Questions with regard to Karma and rebirths are constantly offered, and a great confusion seems to exist upon this subject. Those who are born and bred in the Christian faith, and have been trained in the idea that a new soul is created by God for every newly-born infant, are among the most perplexed. They ask whether in such case the number of incarnating Monads on Earth is limited; to which they are answered in the affirmative. It was stated that Karma-Nemesis, whose bond-maid is Nature, adjusted everything in the most harmonious manner; and that therefore, the fresh pouring-in, or arrival of new Monads, had ceased as soon as Humanity had reached its full physical development. No fresh Monads have incarnated since the middle point of the Atlanteans. Hence, remembering that, save in the case of young children, and of individuals whose lives were violently cut off by some accident, no Spiritual Entity can reincarnate before a period of many centuries has elapsed, such gaps alone must show that the number of Monads is necessarily finite and limited. .
Hence the assertion that many of us are now working off the effects of the evil Karmic causes produced by us in Atlantean bodies. The LAW of KARMA is inextricably interwoven with that of Reincarnation.
it is only this doctrine, we say, that can explain to us the mysterious problem of Good and Evil, and reconcile man to the terrible and apparent injustice of life. Nothing but such certainty can quiet our revolted sense of justice. For, when one unacquainted with the noble doctrine looks around him, and observes the inequalities of birth and fortune, of intellect and capacities; when one sees honour paid fools and profligates, on whom fortune has heaped her favours by mere privilege of birth, and their nearest neighbour, with all his intellect and noble virtues—far more deserving in every way—perishing of want and for lack of sympathy; when one sees all this and has to turn away, helpless to relieve the undeserved suffering, one’s ears ringing and heart aching with the cries of pain around him—that blessed knowledge of Karma alone prevents him from cursing life and men, as well as their supposed Creator.
Of all the terrible blasphemies and accusations virtually thrown on their God by the Monotheists, none is greater or more un pardonable than that (almost always) false humility which makes the presumably “pious” Christian assert, in connection with every evil and undeserved blow, that “such is the will of God.”
Compare this blind faith with the philosophical belief, based on every reasonable evidence and life-experience, in Karma-Nemesis, or the Law of Retribution. This Law—whether Conscious or Un conscious—predestines nothing and no one. It exists from and in Eternity, truly for it is ETERNITY itself; and as such, since no act can be co-equal with eternity, it cannot be said to act, for it is ACTION itself. It is not the Wave which drowns a man, but the personal action of the wretch, who goes deliberately and places himself under the impersonal action of the laws that govern the Ocean’s motion. Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects; which adjustment is not an act, but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position, like a bough, which, bent down too forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigour. If it happen to dislocate the arm that tried to bend it out of its natural position, shall we say that it is the bough which broke our arm, or that our own folly has brought us to grief? Karma has never sought to destroy intellectual and individual liberty, like the God invented by the Monotheists. It has not involved its decrees in darkness purposely to perplex man; nor shall it punish him who dares to scrutinise its mysteries. On the contrary, he who unveils through study and meditation its intricate paths, and throws light on those dark ways, in the windings of which so many men perish owing to their ignorance of the labyrinth of life, is working for the good of his fellow-men. KARMA is an Absolute and Eternal law in the World of manifestation; and as there can only be one Absolute, as One eternal ever present Cause, believers in Karma cannot be regarded as Atheists or materialists—still less as fatalists: for Karma is one with the Unknowable, of which it is an aspect in its effects in the phenomenal world.
Intimately, or rather indissolubly, connected with Karma, then, is the law of rebirth, or of the reincarnation of the same spiritual individuality in a long, almost interminable, series of personalities. The latter are like the various costumes and characters played by the same actor, with each of which that actor identifies himself and is identified by the public, for the space of a few hours. The inner, or real man, who personates those characters, knows the whole time that he is Hamlet for the brief space of a few acts, which rep resent, however, on the plane of human illusion the whole life of Hamlet. And he knows that he was, the night before, King Lear, the transformation in his turn of the Othello of a still earlier pre ceding night; but the outer, visible character is supposed to be ignorant of the fact. In actual life that ignorance is unfortunately, but too real. Nevertheless, the permanent individuality is fully aware of the fact, though, through the atrophy of the “spiritual” eye in the physical body, that knowledge is unable to impress itself on the consciousness of the false personality.
KARMA AND THE EGO
We distinguish between the simple fact of self-consciousness, the simple feeling that “I am I,” and the complex thought that “I am Mr. Smith” or “Mrs. Brown.” Believing as we do in a series of births for the same Ego, or reincarnation, this distinction is the fundamental pivot of the whole idea. . . . “Mr. Smith” really means a long series of daily experiences strung together by the thread of memory, and forming what Mr. Smith calls “himself.” But none of these “experiences” are really the “I” or the Ego, nor do they give “Mr. Smith” the feeling that he is himself, for he forgets the greater part of his daily experiences, and they produce the feeling of Egoity in him only while they last. We Theosophists, therefore, distinguish between this bundle of “experiences,” which we call the false (because so finite and evanescent) personality, and that element in man to which the feeling of “I am I” is due. It is this “I am I” which we call the true individuality; and we say that this “Ego” or individuality plays, like an actor, many parts on the stage of life.
Is it this Ego then which is our God? Not at all: “A God” is not the universal deity, but only a spark from the one ocean of Divine Fire. Our God within us, or “our Father in Secret” is what we call the “HIGHER SELF,” Atma. Our incarnating Ego was a God in its origin, as were all the primeval emanations of the One Un known Principle. But since its “fall into Matter,” having to incarnate throughout the cycle, in succession, from first to last, it is no longer a free and happy god, but a poor pilgrim on his way to regain that which he has lost. I can answer you more fully by repeating what is said of the INNER MAN in Isis Unveiled (Vol. II. 593):— From the remotest antiquity mankind as a whole have always been convinced of the existence of a personal spiritual entity within the personal physical man. This inner entity was more or less divine, according to its proximity to the crown. The closer the union the more serene man’s destiny, the less dangerous the external conditions. This belief is neither bigotry nor superstition, only an ever-present, instinctive feeling of the proximity of another spiritual and invisible world, which, though it be subjective to the senses of the outward man, is perfectly objective to the inner ego. Furthermore, they believed that there are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions. They rejected fatalism, for fatalism implies a blind course of some still blinder power. But they believed in destiny or Karma, which from birth to death every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided by that presence termed by some the guardian angel, or our more intimate astral inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the man of flesh or the personality. Both these lead on MAN, but one of them must prevail; and from the very beginning of the visible affray the stern and implacable law of compensation and retribution steps in and takes its course, following faithfully the fluctuating of the conflict. When the last strand is woven, and man is seemingly enwrapped in the net-work of his own doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this self-made destiny. It then either fixes him like the inert shell against the immovable rock, or like a feather carries him away in a whirlwind raised by his own actions.
Such is the destiny of the MAN—the true Ego, not the Automaton, the shell that goes by that name. Now some of our Theosophists have got into the habit of using the words “Self” and “Ego” as synonymous, . . . whereas this term [ ought never to be applied except to the One universal Self. This “Higher Self” (ATMA) . . . can never be “objective” under any circumstances, even to the highest spiritual perception. For Atman or the “Higher Self” is really Brahma, the ABSOLUTE, and indistinguishable from it. . . . For even Buddhi, the “Spiritual Soul,” is not the SELF, but the vehicle only of SELF. All the other “Selves”—such as the “Individual” self and “personal” self—ought never to be spoken or written of without their qualifying and characteristic adjectives. To avoid henceforth such misapprehensions,.....................................
THE HIGHER ONE SELF
Atma, the inseparable ray of the universal and, It is the God above, more than within, SELF is us.
Happy the man who succeeds in saturating his inner Ego with it!
THE SPIRITUAL DIVINE EGO is..........
(the Spiritual soul or Buddhi, in close union with Manas, the mind-principle, without which it is no divine EGO at all, but only the Atmic Vehicle.
THE INNER or HIGHER "EGO" is..........
Manas, the “Fifth” Principle, so called, independently of Buddhi. The Mind-Principle is only the or Spiritual Ego when merged into one with Buddhi —no materialist being supposed to have in him is such an Ego, however great his intellectual capacities. It is the permanent Individuality or the “Re incarnating Ego.”
THE LOWER or PERSONAL "EGO"
the physical man in conjunction with his lower Self, i.e., animal instincts, passions desires, etc.
It is called the false personality, and consists of or PERSONAL the lower Manas combined with Kama-rupa, and operating through the Physical body and its phantom or “double.”
The remaining “Principle” “Pranâ,” or “Life,” is, strictly speaking, the radiating force or Energy of Atma—as the Universal Life and the ONE SELF,—ITS lower or rather (in its effects) more physical, because manifesting, aspect. Prana or Life permeates the whole being of the objective Universe; and is called a “principle” only because it is an indispensable factor and the deusex machine of the living man.
It is this Ego which—having originally incarnated in the sense less human form animated by, but unconscious (since it had no consciousness) of, the presence in itself of the dual monad—made of that human-like form a real man. It is that Ego, that “Causal Body,” which overshadows every personality Karma forces it to incarnate into; and this Ego which is held responsible for all the sins committed through, and in, every new body or personality the evanescent masks which hide the true Individual through the long series of rebirths.
Why should this Ego receive punishment as the result of deeds which it has forgotten? It has not forgotten them; it knows and remembers its misdeeds as well as you remember what you have done yesterday. Is it because the memory of that bundle of physical compounds called “body” does not recollect what its predecessor (the personality that was) did, that [ imagine that the real Ego has forgotten them? As well say it is unjust that the new boots on the feet of a boy, who is flogged for stealing apples, should be punished for that which they know nothing of.
Reincarnation means that this Ego will be furnished with a new body, a new brain, and a new memory. Therefore it would be as absurd to expect this memory to remember that which it has never recorded as it would be idle to examine under a microscope a shirt never worn by a murderer, and seek on it for the stains of blood which are to be found only on the clothes he wore.
But if [ Ego] is punished in this life for the misdeeds committed in the previous one, then it . . . ought to be rewarded also, whether here, or when disincarnated. And so it is. . . . Crimes and sins committed on a plane of objectivity and in a world of matter, cannot receive punishment in a world of pure subjectivity. We believe in no hell or paradise as localities; iii no objective hell- fires and worms that never die, nor in any Jerusalems with streets paved with sapphires and diamonds. What we believe in is a post-mortem state or mental condition, such as we are in during a vivid dream.
The same unerringly wise and just rather than merciful Law, which inflicts upon the incarnated Ego the Karmic punishment for every sin committed during the preceding life on Earth, provides for the disembodied Entity a long lease of mental rest, i.e., the en tire oblivion of every sad event, aye, to the smallest painful thought, that took place in its last life as a personality, leaving in the soul memory but the reminiscence of that which was bliss, or led to happiness. During every Devachanic period the Ego, omniscient as it is per Se, clothes itself, so to say, with the reflection of the “personality” that was. . . . The ideal effloresence of all the abstract, therefore undying and eternal qualities or attributes, such as love and mercy, the love of the good, the true and the beautiful, that ever spoke in the heart of the living “personality,” clung after death to the Ego, and therefore followed it to Devachan. For the time being, then, the Ego becomes the ideal reflection of the human being it was when last on earth. . . .To the ordinary mortal, his bliss is complete. It is an absolute oblivion of all that gave it pain or sorrow in the past incarnation, and even oblivion of the fact that such things as pain and sorrow exist at all. The Deva chance lives its intermediate cycle between two incarnations surrounded by everything it had aspired to in vain, and in the companionship of everyone it loved on earth. It has reached the fulfillment of all its soul-yearnings. And thus it lives throughout long centuries an existence of unalloyed happiness, which is the reward for its sufferings in earth-life.
So Death comes to our spiritual selves ever as a deliverer and friend. . . . Nor must the personal man always go on suffering blindly the Karmic penalties which the Ego has incurred. At the solemn moment of death every man, even when death is sudden, sees the whole of his past life marshalled before him, in its minutest details. For one short instant the personal becomes one with the individual and all-knowing Ego. But this instant is enough to show to him the whole chain of causes which have been at work during his life. He sees and now understands himself as he is, unadorned by flattery or self-deception. He reads his life, remain ing as a spectator looking down into the arena he is quitting; he feels and knows the justice of all the suffering that has overtaken him. . . . the law of Karma in all its majesty and justice.
Corresponding to this. . . at the moment he is reborn on to earth, the Ego, awakening from the state of Devachan, has a prospective vision of the life which awaits him, and realizes all the causes that have led to it. He realizes them and sees futurity, because it is between Devachan and rebirth that the Ego regains his full manasic consciousness, and rebecomes for a short time the god he was, before, in compliance with Karmic law, he first descended into matter and incarnated in the first man of flesh. The “golden thread” sees all its “pearls” and misses not one of them.
KARMA AND THE SKANDHAS
After allowing the Soul, escaped from the pangs of personal life, a sufficient, aye, a hundredfold compensation, Karma, with its army of Skandhas, waits at the threshold of Devachan, whence the Ego re-emerges to assume a new incarnation. It is at this moment that the future destiny of the now-rested Ego trembles in the scales of just Retribution, as it now falls once again under the sway of active Karmic law, it is in this rebirth which is ready for it, a rebirth selected and prepared by this mysterious, inexorable, but in the equity and wisdom of its decrees infallible LAW, that the sins of the previous life of the Ego are punished. Only it is into no imaginary Hell, with theatrical flames and ridiculous tailed and horned devils, that the Ego is cast, but verily on to this earth, the plane and region of his sins, where he will have to atone for every bad thought and deed. As he has sown, so will he reap. Reincarnation will gather around him all those other Egos who have suffered, whether directly or indirectly, at the hands, or even through the unconscious instrumentality, of the past personality. They will be thrown by Nemesis in the way of the new man, concealing the old, the eternal EGO, . . . to which the reflection only of the Skandhas, or attributes, of every incarnation attaches itself. There are five Skandhas or attributes in the Buddhist teachings: “Rupa (form or body), material qualities; Vedana, sensation; Sanna, abstract ideas; Samkhara, tendencies of mind; Vinnana, mental powers. Of these we are formed; by them we are conscious of existence; and through them communicate with the world about us.”
Here is a paragraph from H. S. Olcott’s “Buddhist Catechism” which bears directly upon the subject. It deals with the question as follows:—”The aged man remembers the incidents of his youth, despite his being physically and mentally changed. Why, then, is not the recollection of past lives brought over by us from our last birth into the present birth? Because memory is included within the Skandhas, and the Skandhas having changed with the new existence, a memory, the record of that particular existence, develops. Yet the record or reflection of all the past lives must survive, for when Prince Siddhartha became Buddha, the full sequence of His previous births were seen by Him. . . . and any one who attains to the state of Jhana can thus retrospectively trace the line of his lives.” This proves to you that while the undying qualities of the personality—such as love, goodness, charity, etc.— attach themselves to the immortal Ego, photographing on it, so to speak, a permanent image of the divine aspect of the man who was, his material Skandhas (those which generate the most marked Karmic effects) are as evanescent as a flash of lightning, and can not impress the new brain of the new personality. They are destroyed as the working stock in hand of the personality; they re main as Karmic effects, as germs, hanging in the atmosphere of the terrestrial plane, ready to come to life, as so many avenging fiends, to attach themselves to the new personality of the Ego when it reincarnates. Thus, the personality with its Skandhas is ever changing with every new birth. It is, as said before, only the part played by the actor (the true Ego) for one night. This is why we preserve no memory on the physical plane of our past lives, though the real “Ego” has lived them over and knows them all.
LAW OF RETRIBUTION
What is it that regulates the duration, or special qualities of these incarnations? Karma, the universal law of retributive justice
in its effects an unfailing redresser of human injustice, and of all the failures of nature; a stern adjuster of wrongs; a retributive law which rewards and punishes with equal impartiality. It is, in the strictest sense, “no respecter of persons,” though, on the other hand, it can neither be propitiated, nor turned aside by prayer. This is a belief common to Hindus and Buddhists . . . to whom Karma and reincarnation are solid realities, simply because their minds have never been cramped and distorted by being forced into an unnatural groove. They have never had the innate human sense of justice perverted in them by being told to believe that their sins would be forgiven because another man had been put to death for their sakes. And the Buddhists, note well, live up to their beliefs without a murmur against Karma, or what they regard as a just punishment.
Christians believe in the pardon and the remission of all sins. They are promised that if they only believe in the blood of Christ (an innocent victim!), in the blood offered by Him for the expiation of the sins of the whole of mankind, it will atone for every mortal sin. And we believe neither in vicarious atonement, nor in the possibility of the remission of the smallest sin by any god, not even by a “personal Absolute” or “Infinite,” if such a thing could have any existence. What we believe in, is strict and impartial justice. Our idea of the unknown Universal Deity, represented by Karma, is that it is a Power which cannot fail, and can, therefore, have neither wrath nor mercy, only absolute Equity, which leaves every cause, great or small, to work out its inevitable effects. The saying of Jesus: “With what measure you mete it shall be measured to you again” (Matth. vii., 2), neither by expression nor implication points to any hope of future mercy or salvation by proxy. This is why, recognising as we do in our philosophy the justice of this statement, we cannot recommend too strongly mercy, charity, and forgiveness of mutual offences. Resist not evil, and render good for evil, are Buddhist precepts, and were first preached in view of the implacability of Karmic law. For man to take the law into his own hands is anyhow a sacrilegious presumption. Human Law may use restrictive not punitive measures; but a man who, believing in Karma, still revenges himself and refuses to forgive every injury, thereby rendering good for evil, is a criminal and only hurts himself. As Karma is sure to punish the man who wronged him, by seeking to inflict an additional punishment on his enemy, he, who instead of leaving that punishment to the great Law adds to it his own mite, only begets thereby a cause for the future reward of his own enemy and a future punishment for himself. The unfailing Regulator affects in each incarnation the quality of its successor; and the sum of the merit or demerit in preceding ones determines it.
Are we then to infer a man’s past from his present?—only so far as to believe that his present life is what it justly should be, to atone for the sins of the past life. Of course—seers and great adepts excepted—we cannot as average mortals know what those sins were. From our paucity of data, it is impossible for us even to determine what an old man’s youth must have been; neither can we, for like reasons, draw final conclusions merely from what we see in the life of some man, as to what his past life may have been.
[Karma] cannot be so strictly defined in effects as to show that each individual environment, and the particular conditions of life in which each person finds himself, are nothing more than the retributive Karma which the individual generated in a previous life. We must not lose sight of the fact that every atom is subject to the general law governing the whole body to which it belongs, and here we come upon the wider track of the Karmic law.. . . The aggregate of individual Karma becomes that of the nation to which those individuals belong, and further, the sum total of National Karma is that of the World. Evils . . . are not peculiar to the individual or even to the Nation, they are more or less universal; and it is upon this broad line of Human interdependence that the law of Karma finds its legitimate and equable issue.
It is impossible that Karma could readjust the balance of power in the world’s life and progress, unless it had a broad and general line of action. It is held as a truth among Theosophists that the interdependence of Humanity is the cause of what is called Distributive Karma, and it is this law which affords the solution to the great question of collective suffering and its relief. It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin, alone. In reality, there is no such thing as “Separateness”; and the nearest approach to that selfish state, which the laws of life permit, is in the intent or motive. When every individual has contributed to the general good what he can of money, labour, and of ennobling thought, then, and only then, will the balance of National Karma be struck.
The individual cannot separate himself from the race, nor the race from the individual. The law of Karma applies equally to all, although all are not equally developed. In helping on the development of others, the Theosophist believes that he is not only helping them to fulfill their Karma, but that he is also, in the strictest sense, fulfilling his own. It is the development of humanity, of which both he and they are integral parts, that he has always in view, and he knows that any failure on his part to respond to the highest within him retards not only himself but all, in their progressive march. By his actions, he can make it either more difficult or more easy for humanity to attain the next higher plane of being.
And now I advise you to compare our Theosophic views upon Karma, the law of Retribution, and say whether they are not both more philosophical and just than this cruel and idiotic dogma which makes of “God” a senseless fiend; the tenet, namely, that the “elect only” will be saved, and the rest doomed to eternal perdition!
Our present lives and circumstances are the direct results of our own deeds and thoughts in lives that are past. . . . If our present lives depend upon the development of certain principles which are a growth from the germs left by a previous existence, the law holds good as regards the future. Once grasp the idea that universal causation is not merely present, but past, present and future, and every action on our present plane falls naturally and easily into its true place, and is seen in its true relation to ourselves and to others. Every mean and selfish action sends us backward and not forward, while every noble thought and every unselfish deed are stepping- stones to the higher and more glorious planes of being. If this life were all, then in many respects it would indeed be poor and mean; but regarded as a preparation for the next sphere of existence, it may be used as the golden gate through which we may pass, not selfishly and alone, but in company with our fellows, to the palaces which lie beyond.
Once that you have assimilated all the details you will see that for logic, consistency, profound philosophy, divine mercy and equity, this doctrine of Reincarnation has not its equal on earth. It is a belief in a perpetual progress for each incarnating Ego, or divine soul, in an evolution from the outward into the inward, from the material to the Spiritual, arriving at the end of each stage at absolute unity with the divine Principle. From strength to strength, from the beauty and perfection of one plane to the greater beauty and perfection of another, with accessions of new glory, of fresh knowledge and power in each cycle, such is the destiny of every Ego, which thus becomes its own Saviour in each world and incarnation. In other words, it can return to the original state of the homogeneity of primordial essence only through the addition of the fruitage of Karma, which alone is able to create an absolute conscious deity, removed but one degree from the absolute ALL.