Who and What Reincarnates
Transmigration of Souls
Reincarnation of Animals
Karma in the Desatir
The Persian Students Doctrine
How man has come to be the complex being that he is and why, are questions that neither Science nor Religion makes conclusive answer to. This immortal thinker having such vast powers and possibilities, all his because of his intimate connection with every secret part of Nature from which he has been built up, stands at the top of an immense and silent evolution. He asks why Nature exists, what the drama of life has for its aim, how that aim may be attained. But Science and Religion both fail to give a reasonable reply. Science does not pretend to be able to give the solution, saying that the examination of things as they are is enough of a task; religion offers an explanation both illogical and unmeaning and acceptable but to the bigot, as it requires us to consider the whole of Nature as a mystery and to seek for the meaning and purpose of life with all its sorrow in the pleasure of a God who cannot be found out. The educated and enquiring mind knows that dogmatic religion can only give an answer invented by man while it pretends to be from God.
What then is the universe for, and for what final purpose is man the immortal thinker here in evolution? It is all for the experience and emancipation of the soul, for the purpose of raising the entire mass of manifested matter up to the stature, nature, and dignity of conscious god-hood. The great aim is to reach self-consciousness; not through a race or a tribe or some favored nation, but by and through the perfecting, after transformation, of the whole mass of matter as well as what we now call soul. Nothing is or is to be left out. The aim for present man is his initiation into complete knowledge, and for the other kingdoms below him that they may be raised up gradually from stage to stage to be in time initiated also. This is evolution carried to its highest power; it is a magnificent prospect; it makes of man a god, and gives to every part of nature the possibility of being one day the same; there is strength and nobility in it, for by this no man is dwarfed and belittled—no one is so originally sinful that he cannot rise above all sin. Treated from the materialistic position of Science, evolution takes in but half of life; while the religious conception of it is a mixture of nonsense and fear. Present religions keep the element of fear, and at the same time imagine that an Almighty being can think of no other earth but this and has to govern this one very imperfectly. But the old theosophical view makes the universe a vast, complete, and perfect whole.
The teachings of Theosophy deal for the present chiefly with our earth, although its purview extends to all the worlds, since no part of the manifested universe is outside the single body of laws which operate upon us. Our globe being one of the solar system is certainly connected with Venus, Jupiter, and other planets, but as the great human family has to remain with its material vehicle—the earth—until all the units of the race which are ready are perfected, the evolution of that family is of greater importance to the members of it. Some particulars respecting the other planets may be given later on. First Let us take a general view of the laws governing all. The universe evolves from the unknown, into which no man or mind, however high, can inquire, on seven planes or in seven ways or methods in all worlds, and this sevenfold differentiation causes all the worlds of the universe and the beings thereon to have a septenary constitution. As was taught of old, the little worlds and the great are copies of the whole, and the minutest insect as well as the most highly developed being are replicas in little or in great of the vast inclusive original. Hence sprang the saying, as above so below,” which Hermetic philosophers used.
The divisions of the sevenfold universe may be laid down roughly as: The Absolute, Spirit, Mind, Matter, Will, Akasa or AEither, and Life. In place of the Absolute” we can use the word Space. For Space is that which ever is, and in which all manifestation must take place. The term Akasa, taken from the Sanscrit, is used in place of AEther, because the English language has not yet evolved a word to properly designate that tenuous state of matter which is now sometimes called Ether by modern scientists. As to the Absolute we can do no more than say It Is. None of the great teachers of the School ascribe qualities to the Absolute although all the qualities exist in IT. Our knowledge begins with differentiation, and all manifested objects, beings, or powers are only differentiations of the Great Unknown. The most that can be said is that the Absolute periodically differentiates itself, and periodically withdraws the differentiated into itself.
The first differentiation—speaking metaphysically as to time—is Spirit, with which appears Matter and Mir Akasa is produced from Matter and Spirit, Will is the force of Spirit in action and Life is a resultant of the action of Akasa, moved by Spirit, upon Matter.
But the Matter here spoken of is not that which is vulgarly known as such. It is the real Matter which is always invisible, and has sometimes been called Primordial Matter. In the Brahmanical system it is denominated Mulaprakriti. The ancient teaching always held, as is now admitted by Science, that we see or perceive only the phenomena but not the essential nature, body or being of matter.
Mind is the intelligent part of the cosmos, and in the collection of seven differentiations above roughly sketched, Mind is that in which the plan of the Cosmos is fixed or contained. This plan is brought over from a prior period of manifestation which added to its ever-increasing perfectness, and no limit can be set to its evolutionary possibilities in perfectness, be cause there was never any beginning to the periodical manifestations of the Absolute, there never will be any end, but forever the going forth and withdrawing into the Unknown will go on.
wherever a world or system of worlds is evolving there the plan has been laid down in universal mind, the original force comes from spirit, the basis is matter—which is in fact invisible—Life sustains all the forms requiring life, and Akasa is the connecting link between matter on one side and spirit mind on the other, When a world or a system comes to the end of certain great cycles men record a cataclysm in history or tradition. These tr1rclitions abound; among the Jews in their flood; with the Babylonians in theirs: in Egyptian papyri; in the Hindu cosmology; and none of them as merely confirmatory of the little Jewish tradition, but all pointing to early teaching and dim recollection also of the periodical destructions and renovations. This is the waking arid the sleeping of the Great Being; the Day and the Night of Brahm the prototype of our waking days and sleeping nights as men, of our disappearance from the scene at the end of one little human life, and our return again to take tip the unfinished work in another life, in a new day.
The Day of Brahmâ is said to last one thousand years. and his night is of equal length. In the Christian Bible is a verse saying that one day is as a thousand years to the Lord and a thousand years as one day. This has generally been used to magnify the power of Jehovah, but it has a suspicious resemblance to the older doctrine of the length of Brahmâ’s day and night. It would be of more value if construed to be a statement of the periodical coming forth for great days and nights of equal length of the universe of manifested worlds.
When this day opens, cosmic evolution, so far as relates to this solar system, begins and occupies between one and two billions of years in evolving the very ethereal first matter be fore the astral kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal and men are possible. This second step takes some three hundred millions of years, and then still more material processes go forward for the production of the tangible kingdoms of nature, including man. This covers over one and one-half billions of years. And the number of solar years included in the present human” period is over eighteen millions of years.
This is exactly what Herbert Spencer designates as the gradual coming forth of the known and heterogeneous from the unknown and homogeneous. For the ancient Egyptian and Hindu Theosophists never admitted a creation out of nothing, but ever strenuously insisted upon evolution by gradual stages, of the heterogeneous and differentiated from the homogeneous and undifferentiated. No mind can comprehend the in finite and absolute unknown, which has no beginning and shall have no end; which is both last and first, because, whether differentiated or withdrawn into itself, it ever is. This is the God spoken of in the Christian Bible as the one around whose pavilion there is darkness.
This cosmic and human chronology of the Hindus is laughed at by western Orientalists, yet they can furnish nothing better and are continually disagreeing with each other on the same subject. In Wilson’s translation of Vishnu Purana he calls it all fiction based on nothing, and childish boasting. But the Free Masons, who remain inactive hereupon, ought to know better. They could find in the story of the building of Solomon’s Temple from the heterogeneous materials brought from everywhere, and its erection without the noise of a tool being heard, the agreement with these ideas of their Egyptian and Hindu brothers. For Solomon’s Temple means man whose frame is built up, finished and decorated without the least noise. But the materials had to be found gathered together and fashioned in other and distant places. These are in the periods above spoken of, very distant and very silent. Man could not have his bodily temple to live in until alt the matter in and about his world had been found by the Master, who is the inner man; when found, the plans for working it required to be detailed. They then had to be carried out in different detail until all the parts should be perfectly ready and fit for placing in the final structure. So in the vast stretch of time which began after the first almost intangible matter had been gathered and kneaded, the material and vegetable kingdoms had sole possession here with the Master—man-—-who was hidden from sight within, carrying forward the plans for the foundations of the human temple. All of this requires many, many ages, since we know that nature never leaps. And when the rough work was completed, when the human temple was erected, many more ages would be required for all the servants, the priests, and the counselors to learn their parts properly so that man, the Master, might be able to use the temple for its best and highest purposes.
WHO AND WHAT REINCARNATES
THE MOMENT WE POSTULATE a double evolution, physical and spiritual, we have at the same time to admit that it can only be carried on by reincarnation. This is, in fact, demonstrated by science. It is shown that the matter of the earth and of all things physical upon it was at one time either gaseous or molten; that it cooled; that it altered; that from its alterations and evolutions at last were produced all the great variety of things and beings. This, on the physical plane, is transformation or change from one form to another. The total mass of matter is about the same as in the beginning of this globe, with a very minute allowance for some star dust. Hence it must have been changed over and over again, and thus been physically reformed and reembodied.
To be strictly accurate, however, we cannot use the word incarnation, because “incarnate” refers to flesh. Let us say “reëmbodied,” and then we see that both for matter and for man there has been a constant change of form, which is, broadly speaking, reincarnation,’’ As to the whole mass of matter, the teaching is that it will all be raised to man’s estate when man has gone further on himself. There is no residuum left after man’s final salvation which in a mysterious way is to be disposed of or done away with in some remote dust-heap of nature. The true doctrine allows for nothing like that, and at the same time is not afraid to give the true disposition of what would seem to be a residuum. It is all worked up into other states, for as the philosophy declares there is no inorganic matter whatever but that every atom is alive and has the germ of self-consciousness, it must follow that one day it will all have been changed. Thus what is now called human flesh is. so much matter that one day was wholly mineral, later on vegetable, and now refined into human atoms. At a point of time very far from now the present vegetable matter will have been raised to the animal stage and what we now use as our organic or fleshy matter will have changed by transformation through evolution into sell-conscious thinkers, and soon up the whole scale until the time shall come when what is now known as mineral matter will have passed onto the human stage and out into that of thinker. Then at the coming on of another great period of evolution the mineral matter of that time will be some which is now passing through its lower transformations on other planets and in other systems of worlds.
We would say that the lower man
is a composite being, but in his real nature is a unity, or immortal being,
comprising a trinity of Spirit, Discernment, and Mind which requires four lower
mortal instruments or vehicles through which to work in matter and obtain
experience from Nature. This trinity is that called
Atma-Buddhi-Manas in Sanscrit, difficult
terms to render in English. Atma is Spirit,
Buddhi is the highest power of intellection, that
which discerns and judges, and Manas is Mind. This
threefold collection is the real man; Atma, Buddhi,
* Mr. Judge elsewhere suggests that the Sanscrit language will again be spoken and will be the language of philosophy.
The four lower constituents of man—that is, the Passions and Desires, the Life Principle, Astral Body and Physical Body—are transitory and subject to disintegration in themselves as well as to separation from each other. When the hour arrives for their separation to begin, the combination can no longer be kept up, the physical body dies, the atoms of which each of the four is composed begin to separate from each other, and the whole collection being disjointed is no longer fit for one as an instrument for the real man. This is what is called death” among us mortals, but it is not death for the real man because he is deathless, persistent, immortal. He is therefore called the Triad, or indestructible trinity, while the lower constituents] are known as the Quaternary or mortal four.
This quaternary or lower man is a product of cosmic or physical laws and substance. It has been evolved during a lapse of ages, like any other physical thing, from cosmic sub stance, and is therefore subject to physical, physiological, and psychical laws which govern the race of man as a whole. Hence its period of possible continuance can be calculated just as the limit of tensile strain among the metals used in bridge building can be deduced by the engineer. Any one collection in the form of man made up of these constituents is therefore limited in duration by the laws of the evolutionary period in which it exists. Just now that is generally seventy to one hundred years, but its possible duration is longer. Thus there are in history instances where ordinary persons have lived to be two hundred years of age; and by a knowledge of the occult laws of nature the possible limit of duration may be extended nearly to four hundred years.
The visible physical man is: Brain, Nerves, Blood, Bones, Lymph, Muscles, Organs of Sensation and Action, and Skin.
The unseen physical man is: Astral Body, Passions and De sires, Life Principle (called prana or jiva).
It will be seen that the physical part of our nature is thus extended to a second department which, though invisible to the physical eye, is nevertheless material and subject to decay. Because people in general have been in the habit of admitting to be real only what they can see with the physical eye, they have at last come to suppose that the unseen is neither real nor material. But they forget that even on the earth plane noxious gases are invisible though real and powerfully material, and that water may exist in the air held suspended and invisible until conditions alter and cause its precipitation.
Let us recapitulate before going into details. The Real Man is the trinity of Atma-Buddhi-Manas, or Spirit and Mind, and he uses certain agents and instruments to get in touch with nature in order to know himself. These instruments and agents are found in the lower Four—or the Quaternary—each principle in which category is of itself an instrument for the particular experience belonging to its own field, the body being the lowest, least important, and most transitory of the whole series. For when we arrive at the body on the way down from the Higher Mind, it can be shown that all of its organs are in themselves senseless and useless when deprived of the man within, Sight, hearing touch, taste, and smelling do not pertain to the body but to the second unseen physical man, the real organs for the exercise of those powers being in the Astral Body, and those in the physical body being hut the mechanical outer instruments for making the coordination between nature and the real organs inside.
Having thus gone over the field and shown what are the lower principles, we find Theosophy teaching that at the present point of man’s evolution he is a fully developed quaternary with the higher principles partly developed. Hence it is taught that today man shows himself to be moved by Passion and De sire. This is proved by a glance at the civilizations of the earth, for they are all moved by this principle, and in countries like France, England, and America a glorification of it is exhibited in the attention to display, to sensuous art, to struggle for power and place, and in a1 the habits and modes of living where the gratification of the senses is sometimes deemed the highest good. But as Mind is being evolved more and more as we proceed in our course along the line of the race development, there can be perceived underneath in all countries the beginning of the transition from the animal possessed of the germ of real mind to the man of mind complete.
This day is therefore known to
the Masters, who have given out some of the old truths, as the transition
period.’ Proud science and prouder religion do not admit this, but think we are
as we always will be. But believing in his teacher, the theosophist sees all
around him the evidence that the race mind is changing by enlargement, that the
old days of dogmatism are gone and the age of inquiry” has come, that the
inquiries will grow louder year by year and the answers be required to satisfy
the mind as it grows more and more, until at last, all dogmatism being ended,
the race will be ready to face all problems, each man for himself, all working
for the good of the whole, and that the end will be the perfecting of those who
struggle to overcome the brute. For these reasons the old doctrines are given
out again, and Theosophy asks every one to reflect whether to give way to the
animal below or look up to and be governed by the God within.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
Nature, propelled by Karma,
never recedes, but strives ever forward in her work on the physical plane; that
she may lodge a human soul in the body of a man, morally ten times lower than
any animal, but she will not reverse the order of her kingdoms; and while
leading the irrational monad of a beast of a higher order into the human form at
the first hour of a Manvantara, she will not guide
that Ego, once it has become a man, even of the lowest kind, back into the
animal species—not during that cycle (or Kalpa) at
H. P. BLAVATSKY
TRANSMIGRATION OF SOULS
“Is there any foundation for the doctrine of transmigration of souls which was once believed in and is now held by some classes of Hindus?” Is a question sent to the Path.
From a careful examination of the Vedas and Upanishads it will be found that the ancient Hindus did not believe in this doctrine, but held, as so many theosophists do, that “once a man, always a man “; but of course there is the exception of the case where men live bad lives persistently for ages. But it also seems very clear that the later Brahmins, for the purpose of having a priestly hold on the people or for other purposes, taught them the doctrine that they and their parents might go after death into the bodies of animals, but I doubt if the theory is held to such an extent as to make it a national doctrine. Some missionaries and travelers have hastily concluded that it is the belief because they saw the Hindu and the Jam alike acting very carefully as to animals and insects, avoiding them in the path, carefully brushing insects out of the way at a great loss of time, so as to not step on them. This, said the missionary, is because they think that in these forms their dead friends or relatives may be living.
The real reason for such care is that they think they have no right to destroy life which it is not in their power to restore. While I have some views on the subject of transmigration of a certain sort that I am not now disposed to disclose, I may be allowed to give others on the question “How might such an idea arise out of the true doctrine?
First, what is the fate of the astral body, and in what way and how much does that affect the next incarnation of the man? Second, what influence has man on the atoms, millions in number, which from year to year enter into the composition of his body, and how far is he—the soul—responsible for those effects and answerable for them in a subsequent life of joy or sorrow or opportunity or obscurity? These are important questions.
The student of the Theosophic scheme admits that after death the astral soul either dies and dissipates at once, or remains wandering for a space in Kama Loca. If the man was spiritual, or what is sometimes called “very good,” then his astral soul dissipates soon; if he was wicked and material, then the astral part of him, being too gross to easily disintegrate, is condemned, as it were, to flit about in Kama Loca, manifesting itself in spiritualistic séance rooms as the spirit of some deceased one, and doing damage to the mental furniture of mortals while it suffers other pains itself. Seers of modern times have declared that such eidolons or spooks assume the appearance of beasts or reptiles according to their dominant characteristic. The ancients some times taught that these gross astral forms, having a natural affinity for the lower types, such as the animal kingdom, gravitated gradually in that direction and were at last absorbed on the astral plane of animals, for which they furnished the sidereal particles needed by them as well as by man. But this in no sense meant that the man himself went into an animal, for before this result had eventuated the ego might have already re-entered life with a new physical and astral body. The common people, however, could not make these distinctions, and so very easily held the doctrine as meaning that the man became an animal. After a time the priests and seers took up this form of the tenet and taught it outright. It can be found in the Desatir, where it is said that tigers and other ferocious animals re incarnations of wicked men, and so on. But it must be true that each man is responsible and accountable for the fate of his astral body left behind at death, since that fate results directly from the man’s own acts and life.
Considering the question of the
atoms in their march along the path of evolution, another cause for a belief
wrongly held in transmigration into lower forms can be found. The initiates
could teach and thoroughly understand how it is that each ego is responsible for
the use he makes of the atoms in space, and how each may and does imprint a
definite character and direction upon all the atoms used throughout life, but
the uninitiated just as easily would misinterpret this also and think it
referred to transmigration. Each man has a duty not only to himself but also to
the atoms in use. He is the great, the highest educator of them. Being each
instant in possession of some, and likewise ever throwing them off, he should so
live that they gain a fresh impulse to the higher life of man as compared with
the brute. This impress and impulse given by us either
confer an affinity for human bodies and brains, or for that which,
corresponding to brutal lives and base passions, belongs to the lower kingdoms.
So the teachers inculcated this, and said that if the disciple lived a wicked
life his atoms would be precipitated 1own instead of up in this relative scale.
If he was dull and inattentive, the atoms similarly impressed traveled into
sticks and stones. In each case they to some extent represented the man, just as
our surroundings, furniture, and clothing generally represent us who collect and
use them. So from both these true tenets the people might at last come to
believe in transmigration
as being a convenient and easy way of formulating the problem and of indicating
a rule of conduct.
Vol. V, p. 383, March 1891.]
REINCARNATION OF ANIMALS
Very little has been said on the question whether or not the theory of Reincarnation applies to animals in the same way as to man. Doubtless if Brahman members well acquainted with Sanskrit works on the general subject were to publish their views, we should at least have a large mass of material for thought and find many clues to the matter in the Hindu theories and allegories. Even Hindu folklore would suggest much. Under all popular “superstitions” a large element of truth can be found hidden away when the vulgar notion is examined in the light of the Wisdom-Religion. A good instance of this on the material plane is to be found in the new treatment proposed for smallpox. The old superstition was that all patients with that disease must be treated and kept in darkness. But the practice was given up by modern doctors. Recently, however, some one had the usual “flash” and decided that perhaps the chemical rays of the sun had something to do with the matter, and began to try red glass for all windows where small-pox patients were. Success was reported, the theory being that the disease was one where the chemical rays injured the skin and health just as they do in ordinary sunburn. Here we see, if the new plan be found right, that an old superstition was based on a law of nature. In the same way the folklore of such an ancient people as the Hindu deserves scrutiny with the object of discovering the buried truth. If they are possessed of such notions regarding the fate of animals, careful analysis might give valuable suggestion.
Looking at the question in the light of Theosophical theories, we see that a wide distinction exists between man and animals. Man reincarnates as man because he has got to the top of the present scale of evolution. He cannot go back, for Manas is too much developed. He has a Devachan because he is a conscious thinker. Animals cannot have Manas so much developed, and so cannot be self-conscious in the sense that man is. Be sides all this, the animal kingdom, being lower, has the impulse still to rise to higher forms. But here we have the distinct statement by the Adepts through H. P. B. that while possibly animals may rise higher in their own kingdom they cannot in this evolution rise to the human stage, as we have reached the middle or turning-point in the fourth round. On this point H. P. B. has, in the second volume of the Secret Doctrine (first ed. ) at p. 196, a foot-note as follows;
In calling the animal “soulless” it is not depriving the beast, from the humblest to the highest species, of a “soul but only of a conscious surviving Ego-soul, i.e., that principle which survives after a man and reincarnates in a like man.
The animal has an astral body that survives the physical form for a short period; but its (animal) Monad does not reincarnate in the same, but in a higher species, and has no “Devachan” of course. It has the seeds of all the human principles in itself; but they are latent.
Here the distinction above adverted to is made. It is due to the Ego-Soul, that is, to Manas with Buddhi and Alma. Those principles being latent in the anima, and the door to the human kingdom being closed, they may rise to higher species but not to the man stage. Of course also it is not meant that no dog or other animal ever reincarnates as dog, but that the monad has tendency to rise to a higher species, whatever that be, when ever it has passed beyond the necessity for further experience as “dog. “ Under the position the author assumes it would be natural to suppose that the astral form of the animal did not last long, as she says, and hence that astral appearances or apparitions of animals were not common. Such is the fact. I have heard of a few, but very few, cases where a favorite animal made an apparitional appearance after death, but even the prolific field of spiritualism has not many instances of the kind. And those who have learned about the astral world know that human beings assume in that world the form of animal or other things which they in character most resemble, and that this sort of apparition is not confined to the dead but is more common among the living. It is by such signs that clairvoyants know the very life and thought of the person before them. It was under the operation of this law that Swedenborg saw so many curious things in his time.
The objection based on the
immense number of animals both alive and dead as calling for a supply of monads
in that stage can be met in this way. While it is stated that no more animal
monads can enter on the man stage, it is not said nor inferred that the incoming
supply of monads for the animal kingdom has stopped. They may still be coming in
from other worlds for evolution among the animals of this globe. There is
nothing impossible in it, and it will supply the answer to the question: Where
do the new animal monads come from, supposing that all the present ones have
exhausted the whole number of higher species possible here? It is quite possible
also that the animal monads may be carried on to
other members of the earth-chain in advance of man for the purpose of necessary
development, and this would lessen the number of their appearances here. For
what keeps man here so long is that the power of his thought is so great as to
make a Devachan for all lasting some fifteen
centuries—with exceptions—and for a number who desire “heaven” a
Devachan of enormous length. The animals, however,
being devoid of develop ed Manas,
have no Devachan and must be forced on wards to the
next planet in the chain. This would be consistent and useful, as it gives them
a chance for development in readiness for the time when the monads of that
kingdom shall begin to rise to a new human king dom.
They will have lost nothing, but, on the contrary, will be the gainers.
Vol. IX, p. 3, April 1894. ]
KARMA AND THE DESATIR
The Desatir is a collection of the writings of the different Persian Prophets, one of whom was Zoroaster. The last was alive in the time of Khusro Parvez, who was contemporary with the Emperor Revaclius and died only nine years before the end of the ancient Persian monarchy. Sir William Jones was the first who drew the attention of European scholars to the Desatir. it is divided into books of the different prophets. In this article the selections are from the “ Prophet Abad.
“In the name of Lareng! Mezdam’ separated man from the other animals by the distinction of a soul, which is a free and independent substance, without a body or anything material, indivisible and without position, by which he attaineth to the glory of the angels.
“By his knowledge he united the soul with the elemental body. If one doeth good in an elemental body, and possesseth useful knowledge, and acts aright, and is a Hirtasp, and doth not give pain to harmless animals, when he putteth off the inferior body I will introduce him to the abode of the angels that he may see me with the nearest angels.
“And everyone who wisheth to return to the lower world and is a doer of good shall, according to his knowledge and conversation and actions, receive some thing, either as a King or Prime Minister, or some high office or wealth, until he meeteth with a reward suited to his deeds.
is the Lord God, so to say.
“Those who, in the season of prosperity, experience pain and grief suffer them on account of their words or deeds in a former body, for which the Most Just now punisheth them.
“In the name of Lareng! Whosoever is an evil doer, on him He first inflicteth pain under human form; for sickness, sufferings of children while in their mother’s womb, and after they are out of it, and suicide, and being hurt by ravenous animals, and death, and being subjected to want from birth to death, are all retributions for past actions: and in like manner as to goodness.
“If any one knowingly and intentionally kill a harmless animal and do not meet with retribution in the same life either from the unseen or the earthly ruler, he will find punishment awaiting him at his next coming.”
Certain verses declare that foolish and evil doers are condemned to the bodies of vegetables, and the very wicked to the form of minerals, and then declare they so remain, “Until their sins be purified, after which they are delivered from this suffering and are once more united to a human body: and according as they act in it they again meet with retribution.
In the Desatir the doctrine is held that animals are also subject to punishment by retributive Karma; thus:
“If a ravenous animal kill a harmless animal it must be regarded as retaliation on the slain, since ferocious animals exist for the purpose of inflicting such punishment. The slaying of ravenous animals is laudable, since they in a former existence have been shedders of blood and slew the guiltless. The punisher of such is blest.
“The lion, the tiger, the
leopard, the panther, and the wolf, with all ravenous animals, whether birds,
quadrupeds, or creeping things, have once possessed authority; and everyone whom
they kill hath been their aider or
abetter who did evil by supporting or assisting, or
by the orders of, that exalted class; and having given pain to harmless animals
are now punished by their own masters, in fine, these grandees, being invested
with the forms of ravenous beasts, expire of suffering and wounds according to
their misdeeds; and if any guilt remain they will return a second time and
suffer punishment along with their accomplices.
[ Path, Vol. VI, p. 221, October 1891.]
PERSIAN STUDENTS DOCTRINE
Before the flashing diamond in the mysterious mountain behind the Temple began to lose its brilliance, many foreigners had visited the Island. Among them were students who came from Persia. Coming that great distance they sought more knowledge, as in their own land the truth was already beginning to be forgot ten. It was hidden under a thick crust of fanciful interpretations of the sayings of their sages which were fast turning into superstitious notions. And these young men thought that in the Island, the fame of which had spread over land and sea, they would find learning and wisdom and the way to power. But yet while in such a frame of mind, they regarded some things as settled even for sages. What they said did not have much influence on me until they began to quote some of the old writings from the prophets of their country, attempting to prove that men, though god-like and immortal, transmigrated sometimes backwards into beasts and birds and insects. As some old Buddhist monks had years before given out the same idea with hints of mystery underneath, the sayings of these visitors began to trouble me. They quoted these verses from the prophet the Great Abad:
Those, who, in the season of prosperity, experience pain and grief, suffer them on account of their words or deeds, in a former body, for which the Most Just now punisheth them.
Whosoever is an evil doer, on him He first inflicteth pain under the human form; for sickness, the sufferings of children while in their mother’s womb, and after they are out of it, and suicide, and being hurt by ravenous animals, and death, and being subjected to want from birth till death, are all retributions for past actions; and in like manner as to goodness.
The lion, the tiger, the leopard, the panther,.. . with all ravenous animals, whether birds or quadrupeds or creeping things, have once possessed authority; and everyone whom they kill hath been their aider or abetter, who did evil by supporting, or assisting, or by the orders of, that exalted class; and having given pain to harmless animals are now punished by their own masters.
The horse submits to be ridden on, and the ox, the camel, the mule, and the ass bear burdens. And these in a former life were men who imposed burdens on others unjustly.
Such persons as are foolish and evil doers, being enclosed in the body of vegetables, meet with the reward of their stupidity and misdeeds. And such as possess illaudable knowledge and do evil are enclosed in the body of minerals until their sins be pun tied; after which they are delivered from this suffering, and are once mere united to a human body; and according as they act in it they again meet with retribution.
These young men made such good arguments on these texts, and dwelt so strongly upon the great attainments of Abad, who was beyond doubt a prophet of insight, that doubts arose in my mind. While the verses did not deny the old doctrine of man’s reincarnation, they added a new view to the matter that had never suggested itself to me before. The students point ed out that there was a very wise and consistent doc trine in those verses wherein it was declared that murderers, tyrants, and such men would be condemned to inhabit the bodies of such murderous beasts as lions and tigers. They made out a strong case on the other verses also, showing that those weak but vicious men who had aided and abetted the stronger and more violent murderers should be condemned to precipitation out of the human cycle into the bodies of defenceless animals, in company with ferocious beasts, by the strength and ferocity of which they would at last be destroyed themselves. And thus, said these visitors, they proceed in each other’s company, lower and lower in the scale of organized life, reaching at last those kingdoms of nature like the mineral, where differentiation in the direction of man is not yet visible. And from there the condemned beings would be ground out into the great mass and slime at the very bottom of nature’s ladder.
Not wishing to admit or accept these doctrines from strangers, I engaged in many arguments with them on the matter, until at last they left the Island to continue their pilgrimage.
So one day, being troubled in mind about these sayings of Abad, which, indeed, I heard from the students were accepted in many countries and given by several other prophets, I sought out the old man who so often before had solved problems for me. He was a man of sorrow, for although possessor of power and able to open up the inner planes of nature, able to give to a questioner the inner sight for a time so that one could see for him self the real truth of material things, something ever went with him that spoke of a sorrow he could not tell about. Perhaps he was suffering for a fault the magnitude c which no one knew but himself; perhaps the final truths eluded him; or may be he had a material belief at bottom. But he was always kind, and ever ready to give the help I needed provided I had tried myself in every way and failed to obtain it.
“Brother,” I said, “do
we go into animals when we die?”
“Who said that we do?” was his answer.
“It is declared by the old prophet Abad of the Worshippers of Fire that we thus fall down from our high estate gained with pain and difficulty.”
“Do you believe it; have you reasoned it out or accepted the doctrine?”
“No,” I said, “I have not accepted it. Much as I may reason on it, there are defects in my replies, for there seems to be consistency in the doctrine that the ferocious may go into the ferocious and vicious into the wild animals; the one destroying the other and man, the hunter, killing the ferocious. Can you solve it?”
Turning on me the deep and searching gaze he used for those who asked when he would determine if curiosity alone moved them, he said, “I will show you the facts and the corrupted doctrine together, on the night of the next full moon.”
Patiently I waited for the moon to grow, wondering, supposing that the moon must be connected with the question, because we were said to have come by the way of the moon like a flock of birds who migrated north or south according to their nature. At last the day came and I went to the old man. He was ready. Turning from the room he took me to a small cave near the foot of the Diamond Mountain. The light of the diamond seemed to illuminate the sky as we paused at the entrance. We went in by the short passage in front, and here, where 1 had never been before, soft footfalls of invisible beings seemed to echo as if they were retreating before us, and half-heard whispers floated by us out into the night. But I had no fear. Those foot falls, though strange, had no malice, and such faint and melodious whispering aroused no alarm. He went to the side of the cave so that we looked at the other side. The passage had a sharp turn near the inner entrance, and no light fell around us. Thus we waited in silence for some time.
“Look quietly toward the opposite wall,” said the old man, “and waver not in thought.”
Fixing an unstrained gaze in the direction of the other side, it soon seemed to quiver, then an even vibration began across it until it looked like a tumbling mass of clouds. This soon settled into a grey flat surface like a painter’s canvas, that was still as the clear sky and seemingly transparent. It gave us light and made no reflection.
“Think of your question, of your doubts, and of the young students who have raised them; think not of Abad, for he is but a name,” whispered my guide.
Then, as I revolved the question, a cloud arose on the surface before me; it moved, it grew into shapes that were dim at first. They soon became those of human beings. They were the living pictures of my student friends. They were conversing, and I too was. there but less plain than they. But instead of atmosphere being around them they were surrounded with ether, and streams of ether full of what I took to be corporeal atoms in a state of change continually rushed from one to the other. After 1 had accustomed my sight to this, the old man directed me to look at one of the students in particular. From him the stream of ether loaded with atoms, very dark in places and red in others, did not always run to his fellows, but seemed to be absorbed elsewhere. Then when I had fixed this in my mind all the other students faded from the space, their place taken by some ferocious beasts that prowled around the remaining student, though still appearing to be a long distance from him. And then I saw that the stream of atoms from him was absorbed by those dreadful beasts, at the same time that a mask fell off, as it were, from his face, showing me his real ferocious, murderous mind.
“He killed a man on the way, in secret. He is a murderer at heart,” said my guide. “ This is the truth that Abad meant to tell. Those atoms fly from all of us at every instant. They seek their appropriate centre; that which is similar to the character of him who evolves them. We absorb from our fellows whatever is like unto us. It is thus that man reincarnates in the lower kingdoms. He is the lord of nature, the key, the focus, the highest concentrator of nature’s laboratory. And the atoms he condemns to fall thus to beasts will return to him in some future life for his detriment or his sorrow. But he, as immortal man, cannot fall. That which falls is the lower, the personal, the atomic. He is the brother and teacher of all below him. See that you do not hinder and delay all nature by your failure in virtue.”
Then the ugly picture faded out
and a holy man, named in the air in gold “Abad,
“took his place. From him the stream of atoms, full of his virtue, his hopes,
aspirations, and the impression of his knowledge and power, flowed out to other
Sages, to disciples, to the good in every land. They even fell upon the unjust
and the ferocious, and then thoughts of virtue, of peace, of harmony grew up
where those streams flowed. The picture faded, the cloudy screen vibrated and
rolled away. We were again in the lonely cave. Faint
foot falls echoed round the walls, and soft whispers as of peace and hope
trembled through the air.
[ Path, Vol. VII, p. 213, October 1892.]