The Acquirement of Individuality
Humility of Aspiration
Theosophy Generally Stated
Tridosha and Divine Therapy
Application of Theosophical Theories
Which is Vague, Theosophy or Science
Universal Applications of Doctrine
The Synthesis of Occult Science
The Kali Yuga
SHEATHS OF THE SOUL
Elementals and Elementaries
Elementals How They Act
Laws Governing Elementals
Forms of Elementals
LIVING THE HIGHER LIFE
LIVING THE HIGHER LIFE
Theosophy Magazine. vol. 30 p.194
“I have no desire for any other line of life; but by the time I had awakened to a knowledge of this life, I found myself involved by circumstances against which I do not rebel, but out of and through which, I am determined to work, neglecting no known duty to others.”
—Letter from a Friend.
THE “Dweller of the
Threshold” which stares even advanced occultists in the face and often threatens
to overwhelm them, and the ordeals of Chelaship or of probation for Chelaship,
differ from each other only in degree. It may not be unprofitable to analyze
this Dweller and those ordeals. For our present purpose, it is enough to state,
that they are of a triune nature and depend upon these three relations: (1) to
our nationality; (2) to our family; and (3) to ourselves. And every one of these
three relations is due to the assertion of a portion of our own past Karma, that
is to say, to its effects.
Why should we be born in a particular nation and in a particular family? Because of the effect of a particular set of our Karmic attractions, which assert themselves in that manner. I mean that one set of our past Karmas exhaust themselves in throwing us in our present incarnation amidst a particular nation, another set introducing us into a particular family; and a third set serving to differentiate or individualize us from all the other members of the nation or of the family. One of our Eastern proverbs says: “the five children of a family differ like the five fingers of a hand.” Unless we look at this difference from this standpoint, it must always appear to us a riddle, a problem too difficult to solve, a mystery, in short, why children born of one family, while they have some traits common to all, should still appear to differ vastly from one another. What applies to the family applies also to the nation, of which families are but units; and also to mankind as a whole, of whom nations are but families or units. The only way to decide the great question of the age, whether the laws of nature are blind and material, or spiritual, intelligent and divine, is, it seems to me, to point out in connection with every subject, the absolutely intelligent and divine manner in which these laws act, and how they force us to realize the economy of nature. This is the only way by which we could become spiritual; and I would, once for all, call upon my co-workers for the cause, to realize at every step of their study, as far as possible, the Divine
NOTE.—This article by Wm. Q. Judge first appeared n the Path for July and August, 1886.—Editors.
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Intelligence thus manifesting itself. Otherwise, how much so ever you might believe or take it for granted, that the forces that govern the universe are spiritual, the belief, however deep rooted it might appear, would be of little use to you when you have to pass through the ordeals of Chelaship; and then you are sure to succumb and exclaim that the “Law is blind, unjust and cruel,” especially when your selfishness and personality overwhelm you. When once a practical occultist and a learned philosopher met with, what seemed to him a “serious calamity and trial,” in spite of himself he exclaimed to me frankly: ‘the law of Karma is surely blind, there is no God; what better proofs are needed?” So deep-rooted in human nature is infidelity and selfishness; no one need therefore to be sure of his own spiritual nature. No amount of lip learning will avail us in the hour of need. We have to study the law in all its aspects and assimilate to our highest consciousness,—that which is called by Du Prel super sensuous consciousness—all the data which go to prove and convince us that the Power is spiritual. Look around and see whether any two persons are absolutely identical, even for a time. How intelligent must be the power that ever strives to keep each and every one of us totally different on the whole, while, if analyzed, we possess some traits in common, even with the Negro, with whom we are remotely allied.
In this connection I shall refer you to a passage in the article on “Chelas and Lay Chelas” (vide column 1, page 11 of “Supplement to the Theosophist” for July, 1883): “The Chela is not only called to face all latent evil propensities of his nature, but in addition, the whole volume of maleficent power accumulated by the community and nation to which he belongs * * until the result is known.” I shall only ask you to apply the same principle to your family relations affecting your present incarnation. Thus seven things are found to secure us a victory, or a sad, inglorious defeat in the mighty struggle known as the Dweller of the threshold and the ordeals of Chelaship: (1) The evil propensities common to ourselves and to our family; (2) those common to ourself and our nation; (3) those common to ourself and to mankind in general, or better known as the weakness of human nature, the fruits of Adam’s first transgression; (4 to 6) the noble qualities common to us and to these three; (7) the peculiar way in which the 6 sets of our past Karmas choose or are allowed to influence us now, or their effects in producing in us the present tendency. The adept alone can take the seventh or last mentioned item completely into his own hands; and every mortal who would, as I have since recently begun to reiterate, direct all his
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energies to the highest plane possible for him (“Desire always to attain the unattainable”—says the author of “Light on the Path”),— such a mortal, too, could more or less do the same thing as the adept, insofar as he acts up to the rule. Every Chela, and also those who have a desire to be Chelas even, as they suppose secretly, have to do with the first six propensities or influences.
The world is inclined—at least in this Kali Yuga (the Dark Age) —always to begin at the wrong end of anything and direct all its faculties to the perception of effects and not of their causes. So the ideas of “renunciation,” “asceticism” and of the “true feeling of universal Brotherhood” (or “mercy,” as I call it, in accordance with South Indian Ethics), all of which are compatible with Gnanis, or the most exalted of Mahatmas, all these have come to be recognized by all our Theosophists, in general, as the means of progress for a beginner; while the real means of progress for us mortals—duties to our own families and to our own nation, or “kindness” and “patriotism” in the highest and ethical sense of the terms—are discarded. True, from the standpoint of a Jivanmukta, a true friend of humanity, these two Sadhanas are really “selfishness”; still, until we attain that exalted state, these two feelings should be made the ladders for raising ourselves, the means of not only getting ourselves rid of our family defects and natural idiosyncrasies, but also of strengthening in ourselves the noble qualities of our families and of our nation. Until we reach that ideal state where the blessed soul has to make neither good nor bad Karma, we must strive to be constantly doing “good” Karma, in order that we might become Karma-less (nish Karmis).
Let it not be understood at all, that I mean by “family duties” and “National duties,” false attachments to the family or to the nation. Family duty consists not in sensuality or pleasure-hunting, but in cultivating and in elevating the emotional nature (the fourth principle), of ourselves and of our family; in being equally “kind,” not only to the members of the family, but also to all creatures, and in enjoying all such pleasures of the family life as are consistent with the acquirement of “wealth” (all the means necessary for the performance of Dharma or whole duty) according to the teachings of Valluvar, and in utilizing such pleasure and means for the performance of our duty to our nation. Patriotism consists similarly in theosophising our own nation, in not only getting ourselves rid of our national defects, as well as other members of the nation rid of the same, but also in strengthening in ourselves and in our nation as a whole, all the noble qualities which belong to our nation; in the
LIVING THE HIGHER LIFE
enjoyment of the privileges * of the nation and using them as a means for the performance of Dharma. If family duties are taken due care of, our duties to the nation and to humanity would, to a great extent, take care of themselves unimpeded. Our national duties, if strictly performed, serve to purify our fifth lower principle of its dross and to establish and develop the better part of it, while the performance of our duty to Humanity or the realization of universal tolerance and mercy, purifies the lower (human) stuff in the fifth higher principle and makes it divine, thus enabling us to free ourselves gradually from the bonds of ignorance common to all human beings.
The above assertions, might, at first sight, seem rather bold and untheosophical. But I should venture to state my conviction that the whole edifice of Aryan religions and Aryan philosophy is based upon these principles, and that, on a careful consideration of the subject, the great importance attached to household life (Grihasta ashrama) in that philosophy, would be fully borne out. To my mind no ascetics, no teachers of mankind, however eminent and full of the highest knowledge, are really such good and practical benefactors of humanity as Valluvar, of ancient times, who incarnated on earth for the express purpose, among others, of setting an example of an ideal household life to mortals who were prematurely and madly rushing against the rocks of renunciation, and of proving the possibility of leading such a life in any age however degenerated; or as Rãma, who, even after having become an avatar-purusha, came down amidst mortals and led a household life.
It has often been contended that the world has not progressed on the path, because gnanis, or Mahatmas, have dwindled in their number and greatness, and because it is Kali Yuga, or the dark age, now. Such arguments are due to our mistaking the effects for their causes. The only way to prepare the way for the advent of a favorable Yuga and for the increase of the number and greatness of Mahatmas, is to establish gradually the conditions for the leading of a true household life. I should unhesitatingly state, that that is the duty of earnest Theosophists and real philanthropists.
Is it not conceded by all philanthropists that unselfish labors for humanity can alone relieve us from the ocean of Samsara (Rebirth), develop our highest potentialities and help us to alchemise our human weakness? Applying the same principle to unselfish discharge of our family and national duties, my position becomes tenable. A Mahatma has, it appears, declared that He has still “patriotism.” But
* I use this word “privilege” in its ethical sense; privileges are to the patriot what the “pleasures” are to the family life.
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He has not said nor would say, that He has still family “attachments.” This proves that He has got out of the defects of the family to which He belongs, while He is only striving to get out of national defects, some of which at any rate cling to Him. A Buddha would say, that He has “mercy,” but no “patriotism.”
The only effectual way to get out of family defects is to discharge all our duty to our family before leaving it, as ascetics, or before we die. Blessed is he * who, in each of his incarnations, then and there, gets rid of the defects of the family into which he is ushered, thereby converts those defects in his parents, brothers and sisters, into noble qualities, thus strengthening and developing the good qualities both of himself and of his family, then strives to be born in the same family again and again, until he himself becomes a Buddha and assists his family to become a family fit for a Buddha to be born into, while he becomes the cream of all the noble qualities of the family without being tainted with its idosyncrasies. A Dugpa (Black Magician) is frequently born in the same family and becomes the cream of all its evil propensities. Here again is the operation of the sublime and divinely intelligent law of universal and natural economy asserting itself. This is beautifully allegorized in the story of a Jivanmukta churning out of the ocean the elixir of life, and leaving the visha (the poison, all the evil propensities) for the Dugpas. This is one of the meanings of the allegory. Avoiding all personalities and questionable facts, I shall rely solely upon our Puranas and scriptures to prove that in every family where Adepts and Gnanis are (or choose to be) frequently born, often Dugpas are also born, as a matter of course. Krishna was the greatest of Gnanis and his uncle, Kansa (for our present purpose), was a terrible Dugpa. The five Pandavas had a hundred wicked cousins, the Kauravas. Devas and the whole brood of wicked Asuras were born of the same parent. Vibhishana had for his brother, Ravana the prince of Dugpas; so had the good Sugriva a brother like Vali. Prahlada had a monster for his father.
Take the case of one who has not done all his duty to his family, before he dies, or before he takes the vows of renunciation and becomes an ascetic. Such ascetics find themselves attracted by the family defects and selfishness of themselves (which hitherto perhaps lay more or less dormant and now become kindled and awakened by the selfishness of the relatives) and are disturbed in the performance of the duties of their new order or Ashrama, however unselfish their
* This is the man to be in the family and not of the family like the water on the lotus leaf, making only the good traits of the family the seat of his higher self.
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relatives might have been “unconsciously” or unintentionally. In spite of themselves these relatives arrest the progress of the ascetics in whom the family defects become thus strengthened and developed. Such is the mysterious law of attraction. This man must be born again (1) either in the same family, with the family defects strengthened, both in himself and in his family; (2) or in another family. In the first case, the noble qualities of the family are not strengthened and therefore gradually disappear both from him and from the family. In the second case, he becomes an undutiful son, brother or husband, in his new family, firstly because of the natural law of repetition, which, with the terrible Karmic interest, strengthens the tendency in him to disregard duty; secondly because of the “counter family attractions” (or repulsions). Let not this unfortunate wanderer from the post of his family duty console himself with the foolish idea that this tendency would confine its havoc to family traits (good and evil) and to family duties alone. It would extend itself in all directions, wherever it can; it would make him disregard his duties to his nation and to himself (or in other words, to humanity). He would suddenly be surprised to find himself apathetic to his nation and to his highest nature, or to mankind. Such are the mazes and unknown ramifications of our evil or good propensities. Any evil or noble element of human nature converts itself, under “favorable” conditions into any other element however apparently remote. The conditions are there ready wherever the element is strong; where there is a will there is a way. Performance of family duties therefore develops patriotism and mercy.
I do not at all mean to say that the effects of Karma always assert themselves in the same shape or form; but they often might and do. Nor do I mean that the affinities above stated, blossom and ripen in the incarnation immediately succeeding; they might develop ten or even one hundred incarnations after; but in such a case, the Karma only accumulates enormous interest. The affinities might not develop at the same time in both him and her, who was once his wife; if they did at the same time, the account could be easily settled,—otherwise, woe to him and to her! Supposing that the attractions for him are developed in her, while the attachments for her are not developed in him at the same time; the result might be, that she pines and languishes for him, sends her poisonous darts consciously or “unconsciously” against him; if these arrows do not kindle the corresponding nature in him, for the time being they frustrate his achievements in other directions. Supposing by the time the affinities in him are developed, he becomes an initiate and she becomes, (let us suppose)
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his pupil (male or female). If at the time the pupil’s affinities have become converted into devotion for the initiate, the latter becomes blinded in his philanthropic work and noble duties of a sage, and commits, through the infatuation of a love for the pupil, serious blunders, which result in a catastrophe to both of them and to humanity: and both the pupil and initiate fall down and have to mount their rugged pathway again with increased difficulties in their way.
Once, in an age and in a country, when and where household life continues to be ideal, one single wretch commits the first act of transgression by impetuously rushing into the circle of ascetics, or by dying before wholly discharging his duty to his family, the natural result is that both himself, his family, and his nation, become thereby seriously affected. The Akasa* becomes affected by the impulse to transgress in this direction; this impulse forces itself gradually (with accumulated interest, redoubled force) upon others; the ignoble example becomes a precedent; other cases of a like nature follow in quick succession. In course of time, ( just when a sad descending cycle begins, such is the divine intelligence of the law that economizes energies and makes things fit it) the leading of the ideal family life becomes almost impossible and very rare; the whole community is thus ruined. Learned and great adepts retire to other spheres (where there then is an ascending cycle) and leave the nation to be swallowed by a cataclysm after ages of degradation and vice.
Let us now reverse this case, and suppose that in the most degenerate nation, in the darkest of cycles, one philanthropist becomes unselfish and intelligent enough to set a noble and intelligent example by fulfilling all family duties; then, as naturally as in the preceding case, the precedent gradually gains acceptance; the way is paved for the advent of an ascending cycle; Gnanis bless the noble man and come down from other unfavorable spheres, where descending cycles begin to dawn.
Now it may be easy to understand why Chelas and lay Chelas (who have not yet thrown off their family defects and thus become the cream of their family’s good qualities) are told to be careful lest they become Dugpas (Black Magicians).
I will ask you to apply the same kinds of arguments to the necessity for performing (and the failure to perform) our duties to our nation and to mankind. You can see that the phenomena of heresy, downfall of religions, rise of new religions, the birth in Europe of a Max Muller, who expatiates upon the greatness of the Vedic philosophy, and of Bradlaughs and other infidel sons of Christian
*The Ether, the Astral Light.—[Ed.]
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parents—all these are due to the fact (and also to other causes), that the individuals concerned had not in some one or other of their past incarnations, done their duty to the nations (or religions), to which they respectively belonged. A study of the times when and in the manner in which the traits of these men are brought into play should be profitable in several ways. Extending the analogy, it may be said that heartlessness, murder, cannibalism, etc., are due to failure to discharge, in past incarnations, one’s duty to humanity (that is to one’s self).
In conclusion it might be added that the most important element in the “Dweller of the Threshold,” and in the ordeals of Chelaship, is family defects, which ought to be first “conquered”; then in order come national defects and the “diseases of the flesh” in general. Though all these three have to be got rid of simultaneously as far as possible, and all the three kinds of duties performed, still beginners should pay more attention to the first than to the second, and more to the second than to the third, and none of these neglected.
In those happy Aryan ages, when Dharma was known and performed fully, those men and women who did not marry, remained in the family for performing their family duties and led a strictly ascetical and Vedantic life as Brahmacharis and Kannikas (or virgins). Those alone married, who were in every way qualified for leading a grihasta (household) life. Marriage was in those days a sacred and religious contract, and not at all a means of gratifying selfish desires and animal passions. These marriages were of two kinds: (1) Those who married for the express purpose of assisting each other (husband and wife) in their determination to lead a higher life, in fulfilling their family duties, in enjoying all pleasures enjoined for such a life and thereby acquiring the means for attaining the qualifications for higher ashrama of renunciation (Sannyása), and, above all, for giving the world the benefit of children, who would become gnanis and work for humanity. Such a husband and wife might be regarded as not having in their previous incarnations been able enough to become ripe for Chelaship. (2) Those who had, in their past incarnations already fitted themselves completely for entering the sanctuary of Occultism and gnana marga (path of wisdom). One of them, the Pati (the master or “husband”) was the Guru who had advanced far higher than his Patin (co-worker or pupil or “wife”). As soon as the alliance between them was made, these retired into the forest to lead the life of celibacy and practical Occultism. But, before so retiring, they had
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invariably promised to their parents and other members of their family to assist and elevate them even from a distance and offered to periodically adjust* the inner life of all the relatives. I quote the language generally used in making such promises: “Whenever mother, father, sister and brothers, any of you think of me in your hour of need, wherever or whatever I may be, I solemnly promise to lend you a helping hand.”
Needless to say, that such vows were conscientiously kept, and that those who were not really able to do so never made such promises nor retired from the side of their family, but chose to belong to the first class of married people. This second class of persons who thus retired into the forest and became hermits, were called Vanaprasthas. They always obtained the full consent ** of their near relatives and renounced “pleasures” and material prosperity (money making, etc.).
The fourth highest order of life was complete renunciation (Sannyasis). These were the blessed few who had, then and there, in each incarnation, got out of family defects. Only those were admitted into this order whom the defects of no family could affect. Long before their admission into this order, they had, by fulfilling family duties, successively, incarnation after incarnation gone far beyond the reach of family defects. Brahmacharis and Kannikas could, after they had discharged family duties, become Sannyásis. All except those belonging to the second order of life, were called upon and did take a vow to give up one or more of their dearest and strongest defects.
Such, my friends, were the Laws of Manu. If any of you could establish a community on a better foundation, I should be happy to give up my allegiance to the great Sage, Saviour, and Legislator. As every Manu establishes the same Manava Dharma again and again, and as the Manus are higher than Buddha and other founders of religions, I should call upon you to pay all possible attention to this subject. Manu is higher, because he overshadows a Buddha.
I must request the readers, to study every word and the whole of this paper (if it deserves to be so called) and not tear it piece-meal or interpret passages and phrases in it, as they please. I must add, that by “family duties” I do not at all mean sacrificing your duty or conviction and Truth, to gratify the whims of selfish nature or
* I use the word in the peculiar sense which I have already attached to it.
**“FuIl Consent” including the consent of all their various consciousnesses. If the Patin or Pati saw, and they ought to be able to see, that even in one of the consciousnesses of any of their near relatives there lurked a latent spark of hesitation to consent or of unwillingness, then the pair unselfishly gave up their determination to become Vanaprasthas and remained with the family until the proper time came.
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sectarian views of any of your “relatives.” But I use the expression “family duties” in a peculiar sense, namely, “that course and only that course of action, speech and thoughts by which you can not only get rid of your family defects in this very incarnation, but also strengthen in yourself all the noble qualities of your family, and which will at the same time enable your relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, wife, children, etc.,) also to get rid of the same defects and strengthen in themselves the same good qualities—so that you might be born again and again in the same family.” “Patriotism” is used in a similar manner; and the article “Elixir of Life” (see Theosophist) should be read in the light of this paper.
The question is asked, “Has the dweller of the threshold an objective form; upon what does its objective form depend; does it always appear to everyone in the same form as it did to Glyndon in Bulwer’s story?”
It is objective to those who have gone very far.
It depends upon (1) a certain thing I shall not here name; (2) the stage of development to which the chela or occultist has attained or is near attaining; (3) the mode of regarding elementals and the Dweller, peculiar to the chela or occultist, to his family and to his nation, or rather to the national and family legends or religion; (4) which form, more or less monstrous or incongruous, would be most frightful and overpowering to him at the critical period. Subject to the above four conditions, the Dweller assumes a form according to the manner in which the chela or occultist has or has not fulfilled his threefold duties, and according to the manner in which the sevenfold elements of the Dweller assert themselves upon him. The better he has fulfilled the threefold duties, the less does the Dweller affect him. Of course the form is not necessarily the same for everyone.
Why did the Dweller appear to Glyndon’s sister, who was not undergoing probation, and why in the same form?
Because she was sympathetic and sensitive enough. The principle involved in this case is the same as in obsession.
The Dweller might either be but one elemental, or a group or several groups of elementals assuming one collective form. It is one elemental, when the crisis comes at the very commencement of the chela’s or occultist’s attempt to elevate his lower nature. This is the case when he has the least (Karmic) stamina for the “uphill path.” The later on his path is waylaid, the more numerous are the elementals of which the Dweller is composed.
It need not be imagined that this appearance or influence confronts the chela only once until he reaches the first initiation, and an initiate only once during the interval between two initiations. It appears as
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often as the stock of his Karmic stamina falls below the minimum limit.
By Karmic stamina is meant the phala (effect or fruit) of past unselfish, good Karma that has become ripened. Though the occultist might have an immense quantity of past unselfish good Karma stored up, still, if during his crisis there be not a sufficient number of present unselfish good thoughts to ripen a sufficient portion of that quantity, he finds himself destitute of the necessary stock of stamina. Few are they who have already laid up a good quantity of unselfish good Karma; and fewer still are they who have the requisite degree of unselfish and spiritual nature during the period of trial; and there are still fewer who would not rush for further Yoga development, without having all the requisite means.
When not qualified fully for it, we ought to and could go on developing ourselves in the ordinary way, and try to secure the necessary means by leading an unselfish life and setting an example to others, and this is the stage of nearly all ordinary Theosophists. They, in common with all their fellows, are influenced by a “Dweller,” which is the effect upon them of their own, their family, and national defects; and although they may never, in this life, see objectively any such form, the influence is still there, and is commonly recognized as “bad inclinations and discouraging thoughts.”
Seek then, to live the Higher life by beginning now to purify your thoughts by good deeds, and by right speech.
I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical
hour. —HENRY DAVID THOREAU.
SEERSHIP Theosophy Magazine. vol. 6 p. 12
THE following remarks are not intended to be a critique upon the literary merits or demerits of the poem which is taken as the subject of criticism. In 1882, The Theosophist 1 published a review of “The Seer, a Prophetic Poem,” by Mr. H. G. Hellon, and as clairvoyance is much talked of in the West, it seemed advisable to use the verses of this poet for the purpose of inquiring, to some extent, into the western views of Seership, and of laying before my fellow seekers the views of one brought up in a totally different school.
I have not yet been able to understand with the slightest degree of distinctness what state is known as “Seership” in the language of western mysticism. After trying to analyze the states of many a “seer,” I am as far as ever from any probability of becoming wiser on the subject, as understood here, because it appears to me that no classification whatever exists of the different states as exhibited on this side of the globe, but all the different states are heterogeneously mixed. We see the state of merely catching glimpses in the astral light denominated seership, at the same time that the very highest illustrations of that state are called trances.
As far as I have yet been able to discover, “Seership,” as thus understood here, does not come up to the level of Sushupti, which is the dreamless state in which the mystic’s highest consciousness—composed of his highest intellectual and ethical faculties—hunts for and seizes any knowledge he may be in need of. In this state the mystic’s lower nature is at rest (paralyzed) ; only his highest nature roams into the ideal world in quest of food. By lower nature, I mean his physical, astral or psychic, lower emotional and intellectual principles, including the lower fifth. 2 Yet even the knowledge obtained during the Sushupti state must be regarded, from this plane, as theoretical and liable to be mixed, upon resuming the application of the body, with falsehood and with the preconception of the mystic’s ordinary waking state, as compared with the true knowledge acquired during the several initiations. There is no guarantee held out for any mystic that any experience, researches, or knowledge that may come within his reach in any other state whatever, is accurate, except in the mysteries of initiation.
But all these different states are necessary to growth. Yagrata—our waking state, in which all our physical and vital organs, senses, and faculties find their necessary exercise and development, is needed to prevent the physical organization from collapsing. Swapna—dream state, in which are included all the various states of consciousness between Ygrata and Sushupti, such as somnambulism, trance, dreams, visions, &c. is necessary for the physical
* This article was printed by William Q. Judge in the path for April 1886
1 See Theosophist, vol. III, p. 177
2 See Esoteric Buddism for the sevenfold classification adopted by many Theosophists.
faculties to enjoy rest, and for the lower emotional and astral faculties to live, become active, and develop; and Sushupti state comes about in order that the consciousness of both Ygrata and Swapna states may enjoy rest, and for the fifth principle, which is the one active in Sushupti, to develop itself by appropriate exercise. In the equilibrium of these three states lies true progress.
The knowledge acquired during Sushupti state might or might not be brought back to one’s physical consciousness; all depends upon his desires, and according as his lower consciousnesses are or are not prepared to receive and retain that knowledge.
The avenues of the ideal world are carefully guarded by elementals from the trespass of the profane.
Lytton makes Mejnour say : 1 “We place our tests in ordeals that purify the passions and elevate the desires. And nature in this controls and assists us, for it places awful guardians and unsurmountable barriers between the ambitions of vice and the heaven of loftier science.”
The desire for physical enjoyment, if rightly directed, becomes elevated, as a desire for something higher, gradually becoming converted into a desire to do good to others, and thus ascending ceases to be a desire, and is transformed into an element of the sixth principle.
The control by nature to which Mejnour refers is found in the natural maximum and minimum limits; there cannot be too much ascension, nor can the descent be too quick or too Low. The assistance of nature is found in the Turya state, in which the adept takes one step and nature helps for another. In the Sushupti state, one might or might not find the object of his earnest search, and as soon as it is found, the moment the desire to bring it back to normal consciousness arises, that moment Sushupti state is at an end for the time being. But one might often find himself in an awkward position when he has left that state. The doors for the descent of the truth into the lower nature are closed. Then his position is beautifully described in an Indian proverb: “The bran in the mouth and the fire are both lost.” This is an allusion to a poor girl who is eating bran, and at the same time wants to kindle the fire just going out before her. She blows it with the bran in her mouth; the bran falls on the dying ashes, extinguishing them completely; she is thus a double loser. In the Sushupti state, the anxiety which is felt to bring back the experience to consciousness acts as the brain with the fire. Anxiety to have or to do, instead of being a help as some imagine, is a direct injury, and if permitted to grow in our waking moments, will act with all the greater force on the plane of Sushupti. The result of these failures is clearly set forth by Patanjali. 2
Even where the doors to the lower consciousness are open, the knowledge brought back from Sushupti state might, owing to the
1 Zanoni, Book Iv, chapter 2.
2 Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms, 30 & 31, Part I.
distractions and difficulties of the direct and indirect routes of ascent and descent, he lost on the way either partially or wholly, or become mixed up with misconceptions and falsehood.
But in this search for knowledge in Sushupti, there must not remain a spark of indifference or idle inquisitiveness in the higher consciousness. Not even a jot of lurking hesitation about entering into the state, nor doubt about its desirability, nor about the usefulness or accuracy of the knowledge gleaned on former occasions, or to be presently gleaned. If there is any such doubt or hesitancy, his progress is retarded. Nor can there be any cheating or hypocrisy, nor any laughing in the sleeve. In our normal wakeful state it always happens that when we believe we are earnestly aspiring, some one or more of the elements of one or more of our lower consciousness belie us, make us feel deluded and laugh at us, for such is the self-inconsistent nature of desire.
In this state which we are considering, there are subjective and objective states, or classes of knowledge and experience, even as there are the same in Yagrata. So, therefore, great care should be taken to make your aims and aspirations as high as possible while in your normal condition. Woe to him who would dare to trifle with the means placed at his disposal in the shape of Sushupti. One of the most effectual ways in which western mystics could trifle with this is to seek for the missing links of evolution, so as to bring that knowledge to the normal consciousness, and then with it to extend the domain of “scientific” knowledge. Of course, from the moment such a desire is entertained, the one who has it is shut out from Sushupti.*
The mystic might be interested in analyzing the real nature of the objective world, or in soaring up to the feet of Manus, I to the spheres where Manava intellect is busy shaping the mould for a future religion, or had been shaping that of a past religion. But here the maximum and minimum limits by which nature controls are again to be taken account of. One essential feature of Sushupti is,
* “ The following from the Kaushitaki Upanishad, (see Max Muller’s translation, and also that published in the Bibliotheka Indica, with Sankaracharya’s commentary— cowell’s tran.) may he of interest to students. “Agatasatru to him: ‘Bilâki, where did this person here sleep? where was he? whence did he come back? ‘Bilâki, did not know. And Agatasatru said to him: ‘where this person here slept, where he was, whence he thus came back, is this: The arteries of the heart called Hita extend from the heart of the person towards the surrounding body. Small as a hair divided a thousand times, they stand, full of a thin fluid of various colors, white, black, yellow, red. In these the person is when sleeping, he sees no dream (Sushupti). Then he becomes one with that prana (breath) alone.’ “ (Elsewhere the number of these arteries is said to be 101.) “And as a razor might be fitted in a razor case, or as fire in the fire place, even thus this conscious self enters into the self of the body, to the very hair and nails; he is the master of all, and eats with and enjoys with them. So long as Indra did not understand the self, the Asuras (lower principles in man) conquered him, when he understood it, he conquered the Asuras, and obtained the pre-eminenee among all gods. And thus also he who knows this obtains pre-eminence, sovereignty, supremacy.” And in the Khandogya Upanishad, VI Prap. 8, Kh, I: “when the man sleeps here, my dear son, he becomes united with the True—in Sushupti sleep—he is gone to his own self. Therefore they say, he sleeps (Swapita), because he is gone (apita) to his own (sva). And in Prasno Up II, 1. “There are 101 arteries from the heart; one of them penetrates the crown of the head: moving upwards by it man reaches the immortal: the others serve for departing in different directions.” (Ed. PATH.)
I This opens up an intensely interesting and highly important subject, which cannot be here treated of, but which will be in future papers. Meanwhile, Theosophists can exercise their intuition in respect to it. (Ed. PATH.)
as far as can now be understood, that the mystic must get at all truths through but one source, or path, viz: through the divine world pertaining to his own lodge (or teacher), and through this path he might soar as high as he can, though how much knowledge he can get is an open question.
Let us now inquire what state is the seership of the author of our poem “The Seer,” and try to discover the “hare’s horns” in it. Later on we may try to peep into the states of Swedenborg, P. B. Randolph, and a few of the “trained, untrained, natural-born, self- taught, crystal, and magic mirror seers.”
I look at this poem solely to point out mistakes so as to obtain materials for our study. There are beauties and truths in it which all can enjoy.
In ancient days it was all very well for mystics to write figuratively so as to keep sacred things from the profane. Then symbolism was rife in the air with mysticism, and all the allegories were understood at once by those for whom they were intended. But times have changed. In this materialistic age it is known that the wildest misconceptions exist in the minds of many who are mystically and spiritually inclined. The generality of mystics and their followers are not free from the superstitions and prejudices which have in church and science their counterpart. Therefore in my humble opinion there can be no justification for writing allegorically on mysticism, and, by publication, placing such writings within reach of all. To do so is positively mischievous. If allegorical writings and misleading novels are intended to popularize mysticism by removing existing prejudices, then the writers ought to express their motives. It is an open question whether the benefit resulting from such popularization is not more than counterbalanced by the injury worked to helpless votaries of mysticism, who are misled. And there is less justification for our present allegorical writers than there was for those of Lytton’s time. Moreover, in the present quarter of our century, veils are thrown by symbolical or misleading utterances over much that can be safely given out in plain words. With these general remarks let us turn to “The Seer.”
In the Invocation, addressed evidently to the Seer’s guru, 1 we find these words:
“When in delicious dreams I leave this life,
And in sweet trance unveil its mysteries;
Give me thy light, thy love, thy truth divine !“
Trance here means only one of the various states known as cataleptic or somnambulic, but certainly neither Turya nor Sushupti. In such a trance state very few of the mysteries of “this life,” or even of the state of trance itself, could be unveiled. The so-called Seer can “enjoy” as harmlessly and as uselessly as a boy who idly swims in the lagoon, where he gains no knowledge and may end
1 Guru, a spiritual teacher.
his sport in death. Even so is the one who swims, cuts capers, in the astral light, and becomes lost in something strange which surpasses all his comprehension. The difference between such a Seer and the ordinary sensualist is, that the first indulges both his astral and physical senses to excess, while the latter his physical senses only. These occultists fancy that they have removed their interest from self, when in reality they have only enlarged the limits of experience and desire, and transferred their interest to the things which concern their larger span of life. 1
Invoking a Guru’s blessings on your own higher nature for the purpose of sustaining you in this trance state, is as blasphemous and reprehensible an act of assisting descent, and conversion of higher into lower energies, as to invoke your Guru to help you in excessive wine drinking; for the astral world is also material. To be able to solve the mysteries of any consciousness whatever, even of the lowest physical, while in trance, is as vain a boast of the hunters for such a state as that of physiologists or mesmerists. While you are in trance state, if you are not ethical enough in your nature, you will be tempted and forced, by your powerful lower elements, to pry into the secrets of your neighbors, and then, on returning to your normal state, to slander them. The surest way to draw down your higher nature into the miry abyss of your physical and astral world, and thus to animalize yourself, is to go into a trance or to aspire for clairvoyance.
“And thou, (Guru) left me looking upward through the veil,
To gaze into thy goal and follow thee !“
These lines are highly presumptuous. It is impossible, even for a very high Hierophant, in any of his states whatever, to gaze into his Guru’s
goal ; 2 his subjective consciousness can but barely come up to the level of the normal or objective consciousness of his Guru. It is only during the initiation that the initiated sees not only his own immediate goal, but also Nirvana, which of course includes his Guru’s goal also; but after the ceremony is over he recollects only his own immediate goal for his next “class,” but nothing beyond that. 3 This is what is meant by the God Jehovah saying to Moses: “And I will take away mine hand and Thou shalt see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” And in The Rig Veda it is said : 4 “Dark is the path of Thee, who art bright: the light is before Thee.”
Mr. Hellon opens his poem with a quotation from Zanoni: “Man’s first initiation is in trance; in dreams commence all human
1 Vide Light on the Path, Rule 1, note, part I.
2 There is one exceptional case where the Guru’s goal is seen, and then the Guru has to die, for there can be no two equals.
3 There is no contradiction between this and the preceding paragraph where it is said, To see the Guru’s goal is impossible.” During the initiation ceremony, there is no separateness between those engaged in it. They all become one whole, and therefore even the High Hierophant, while engaged in an initiation, is no more his separate self, but is only a part of the whole, of which the candidate is also a part, and then, for the time being, having as much power and knowledge as the very highest present. (Ed. PATH)
4 Rig Veda, IV, VII, 9.
knowledge, in dreams he hovers over measureless space, the first faint bridge between spirit and spirit—this world and the world beyond.”
As this is a passage often quoted approvingly, and recognized as containing no misconceptions, I may be permitted to pass a few remarks, first, upon its intrinsic merits, and secondly, on Lytton himself and his Zanoni. I shall not speak of the rage which prevails among mystical writers for quoting without understanding what they quote.
In Swapna state man gets human, unreliable knowledge, while divine knowledge begins to come in Sushupti state. Lytton has here thrown a gilded globule of erroneous ideas to mislead the unworthy and inquisitive mysticism hunters, who unconsciously price the globule. It is not too much to say that such statements in these days, instead of aiding us to discover the true path, but give rise to numberless patent remedies for the evils of life, remedies which can never accomplish a cure. Man-made edifices called true Raja Yoga, 1 evolved in trance, arise confronting each other, conflicting with each other, and out of harmony in themselves. Then not only endless disputation arises, but also bigotry, while the devoted and innocent seekers after truth are misled, and scientific, intelligent, competent men are scared away from any attempt to examine the claims of the true science. As soon as some one sided objective truth is discovered by a Mesmer, a defender of ancient Yoga Vidya 2 blows a trumpet crying out, “Yoga is self mesmerization, mesmerism is the key to it, and animal magnetism develops spirituality and is itself spirit, God, Atman,” deluding himself with the idea that he is assisting humanity and the cause of truth, unconscious of the fact that he is thus only degrading Yoga Vidya. The ignorant medium contends that her “control” is divine. There seems to be little difference between the claims of these two classes of dupes and the materialist who sets up a protoplasm in the place of God. Among the innumerable hosts of desecrated terms are Trance, Yoga, Turya, initiation, &c. It is therefore no wonder that Lytton, in a novel, has desecrated it and misapplied it to a mere semi-cataleptic state. I, for one, prefer always to limit the term Initiation to its true sense, viz., those sacred ceremonies in which alone “Isis is unveiled.”
Man’s first initiation is not in trance, as Lytton means. Trance is an artificial, waking, somnambulistic state, in which one can learn nothing at all about the real nature of the elements of our physical consciousness, and much less any of any other. None of Lytton’s admirers seems to have thought that he was chaffing at occultism, although he believed in it, and was not anxious to throw the pearls before swine. Such a hierophant as Mejnour—not Lytton himself—could not have mistaken the tomfoolery of somnambulism for even the first steps in Raja Yoga. This can be seen
1 Divine science.
2 The knowledge of Yoga, which is, “joining with your higher self.”
from the way in which
Lytton gives out absolutely erroneous ideas about occultism, while at the same
time he shows a knowledge which he could not have, did he believe himself in his
own chaffing. It is pretty well recognized that he at last failed, after some
progress in occultism as a high accepted disciple. His Glyndon might be Lytton,
and Glyndon’s sister Lady Lytton. The hieroglyphics of a book given him to
decipher, and which he brought out as Zanoni, must be allegorical. The
book is really the master’s ideas which the pupil’s highest consciousness
endeavors to read. But they were only the mere commonplaces of the master’s
mind. The profane and the cowardly always say that the master descends to the
plane of the pupil. Such can never happen. And precipitation of messages from
the master is only possible when the pupil’s highest ethical and intuitive
faculties reach the level of the master’s normal and objective state. In
Zanoni, this is veiled by the assertion that he had to read the
hieroglyphics—they did not speak to him. And he confesses in the preface
that he is by no means sure that he has correctly deciphered them. ‘Enthusiasm,”
he says, “is when that part of the soul which is above intellect soars up to the
Gods, and there derives the inspiration.” Errors will therefore be due to wilful
misstatements or to his difficulty in reading the cipher.
“In dreams I see a world so fair,
That life would love to linger there,
And pass from this to that bright sphere,
In dreams ecstatic, pure and free,
Strange forms my inward senses see,
While hands mysterious welcome me.”
Such indefinite descriptions are worse than useless. The inward senses are psychic senses, and their perceiving strange forms and mere appearances in the astral world is not useful or instructive. Forms and appearances in the astral light are legion, and take their shape not only from the seer’s mind unknown to himself, but are also, in many cases, reflections for other people’s minds.
“Oh, why should mine be ever less,
And light ineffable bless
Thee, in thy starry loneliness,”
seems to be utterly unethical. Here the seer is in first place jealous of the light possessed by his guru, or he is grasping in the dark, ignorant even of the rationale of himself being in lower states than his guru. However, Mr. Hellon has not erred about the existence of such a feeling. It does and should exist in the trance and dreaming state. In our ordinary waking state, attachments, desires, &c., are the very life of our physical senses, and in the same way the emotional energies manifest themselves on the astral plane in order to feed and fatten the seer’s astral senses, sustaining them during his trance state. Unless thus animated, his astral nature would come to rest.
No proof is therefore needed for the proposition that any state which is sustained by desires and passions cannot be regarded as anything more than as a means for developing one part of the animal nature. Van Helmont is of the same opinion as Mr. Hellon. * We cannot, therefore, for a moment believe that in such a state the “I” of that state is Atman.1 It is only the false “I” ; the vehicle for the real one. It is Ahankara—lower self, or individuality of the waking state, for even in trance state the lower sixth principle plays no greater part and develops no more than in the wakeful state. The change is only in the field of action, from the waking one to the astral plane; the physical one remaining more or less at rest. Were it otherwise, we would find somnambules day by day exhibiting increase of intellect, whereas this does not occur.
Suppose that we induce the trance state in an illiterate man. He can then read from the astral counterpart of Herbert Spencer or Patanjali’s books as many pages as we desire, or even the unpublished ideas of Spencer; but he can never make a comparison between the two systems, unless that has already been done by some other mind in no matter what language. Nor can any somnambule analyze and describe the complicated machinery of the astral faculties, much less of the emotional ones, or of the fifth principle. For in order to be analyzed they must be at rest so that the higher self may carry on the analysis. So when Mr. Hellon says:
“A trance steals o’er my spirit now,”
he is undoubtedly wrong, as Atman, or spirit, cannot go into a trance. When a lower plane energy ascends to a higher plane, it becomes silent there for a while until by contract with the denizens of its new home its powers are animated. The somnambulic state has two conditions, (a) waking, which is psycho-physiological or astro-physical; (b) sleeping, which is psychical. In these two the trance steals partly or completely only over the physical consciousness and senses.
“And from my forehead peers the sight,” etc.
This, with much that follows is pure imagination or misconception. As for instance, “floating from sphere to sphere.” In this state the seer is confined to but one sphere—the astral or psycho-physiological— ; no higher one can he even comprehend.
Speaking of the period when the sixth sense shall be developed, he says:
“No mystery then her sons shall find,
Within the compass of mankind;
The one shall read the other’s mind.”
* See Zanoni,
Book IV, c. iii.
1 Highest soul.
In this the seer shows
even a want of theoretical knowledge of the period spoken of. He has madly
rushed into the astral world without a knowledge of the philosophy of the
mystics. Even though the twelfth sense were developed—let alone the physical
sixth—it shall ever remain as difficult as it is now, for people to read one
another’s mind. Such is the mystery of Manas. 1 He is evidently deluded
by seeing the apparent triumphs during a transitional period of a race’s mental
development, of those minds abnormally developed which are able to look into the
minds of others; and yet they do that only partially. If one with a highly
developed sixth principle were to indulge for only six times in reading others’
minds, he would surely drain that development down to fatten the mind and
desires. Moreover, Mr. Hellon’s seer seems to be totally unaware of the fact
that the object of developing higher faculties is not to peer into the minds of
others, and that the economy of the occult world gives an important privilege to
the mystic, in that the pages of his life and manas shall be carefully
locked up against inquisitive prowlers, the key safely deposited with his guru,
who never lends it to any one else. If with the occult world the laws of nature
are so strict, how much more should they be with people in general. Otherwise,
nothing would be safe. The sixth sense would then be as delusive and a curse to
the ignorant as sight and learning are now. Nor shall this sixth sense man be
“perfect.” Truth for him shall be as difficult to attain through his “sense,” as
it is now. The horizon shall have only widened, and what we are now acquiring as
truth will have passed into history, into literature, into axiom. “Sense” is
always nothing else than a channel for desire to flow through and torment
ourselves and others.
The whole poem is misleading, especially such expressions as:
“His spirit views the world’s turmoil; behold his body feed the soil.—A sixth sense race borne ages since, to God’s own zone.” Our higher self—Atman—can never “view the world’s turmoil,” nor behold the body. For supposing that it did view the body or the world’s turmoil, it would be attracted to them, descending to the physical plane, where it would be converted more or less into physical nature. And the elevation of a sixth sense race unphilosophically supposes the raising up of that sense, which certainly has only to do with our physical nature, at most our astro-physical nature, to the sphere of God or Atman.
By merely training the psychical powers true progress is not gained, but only the enjoyment of those powers; a sort of alcohol on the astral plane, which results in unfavorable Karma. The true path to divine wisdom is in performing our duty unselfishly in the station in which we are placed, for thereby we convert lower nature into higher, following Dharma—our whole duty.
——————— — — MURDHNA JOTI.
1 Fifth principle.
THE SHEATHS OF THE SOUL
[ This sequel to Mr. Judge’s “Mesmerism,” published last month, continues his discussion of the psychic principles of man in the Tight of occult psychology and physiology. Readers will find it of value to correlate with this article the Secret Doctrine passages quoted in / ‘Psychic’ Characteristics” (p. 447), to see how intimately complementary are the writings of H. P. B. and W. Q. J. Of equal interest would be a comparison of this discussion of the function of the sheaths with H. P. B.’s footnote to the article, “Mediums and Yogis” (see THEOSOPHY ‘1, 185). One thing more: Idealistic systems, in which spiritual intuitions are speculatively developed, make common cause with Theosophy in denying the conclusions of psychologists who found their theories on materialistic biology. Such speculation, how ever, cannot, because it has not the knowledge, either deal with the facts revealed by science, or offer other and modifying facts that lend themselves to philosophical interpretation. Theosophy does provide facts which increase our scientific knowledge of the psychic, intellectual and moral processes of life; hence, its peculiar competency to criticize and correct the errors of materialism. “Sheaths of the Soul,” which first appeared in Lucifer for June, 1892, is an embodiment of such portions of the science of occultism as it is useful for the men of this cycle to know.—Editors, THEOSOPHY.]
IN my last article, “Mesmerism,” I arrived at the point where we discover that the inner mortal man has several sheaths through which he obtains touch with Nature, feeling her motions and exhibiting in return his own powers and functions. It is a doctrine as old as any Esoteric School now alive, and far more ancient than the modem scientific academies; an understanding of it is absolutely needful if we are to gain an adequate comprehension of real Mesmerism.
Instead of looking at the human being as that which we see, it is to be regarded as a being altogether different, functioning and perceiving in a way quite peculiar to itself, and being compelled to trans late every outward impression, as well as those coming from within, from one language into another, that is to say from pictures into words, signs and acts, or vice versa. This statement is vague, I admit, yet nevertheless true. The vagueness arises from the difficulties of a language that has as yet dealt but slightly with these subjects, and the development of which has gone on in a civilization wholly materialistic. Man is a Soul, and as such stands among material things. This Soul is not only on its way upward for itself, but is compelled at the same time to draw up, refine, purge and perfect the gross matter—so-called—in which it is compelled to live. For though we call the less fine stages of substance by the name “matter,” it is, however, made up of lives which have in them the potentiality of becoming Souls in the enormously distant future; and the Soul being itself a life made up of smaller ones, it is under the brotherly necessity of waiting in the bonds of matter long enough to give the latter the right impetus along the path of perfection.
So, during the long ages that have passed since the present evolution began in this solar system, the Soul has constructed for its own use various sheaths, ranging from very fine ones, near to its own essential being, to those that are more remote, ending with the outer physical one, and that one the most illusionary of them all, although appearing from the outside to be the truly real. These sheaths are necessary if the Soul is to know or to act. For it cannot by itself understand Nature at all, but transforms instantly all sensations and ideas by means of the different sheaths, until in the process it has directed the body below, or obtained itself experience above. By this I mean that whatever Soul initiates, it has to pass along through the several sheaths, each reporting, as it were, to the one next below it; and in like manner they report from below upward in the case of sensations from natural phenomena and impressions on the outside. In the beginnings of evolution, during all its stages, this took appreciable amounts of solar time, but at this point of the system’s march along the line of growth it takes such an infinitesimally short space that we are justified in calling it instantaneous in all cases of normal and well-balanced persons. There are, of course, instances where longer time is used in consequence of the slower action of some one of the sheaths.
The number of sharply defined sheaths of the Soul is seven, but the sub-differentiations of each araises the apparent number very much higher. Roughly speaking, each one divides itself into seven, and every one in each collection of seven partakes of the nature of its own class. There may, therefore, be said to exist forty-nine sheaths possible to classification.
Physical body may be recognized as one sheath, and the sub divisions in it are such as skin, blood, nerves, bones, flesh, mucous membrane and. Astral body is another, but not so easily recognized by the men of today. It has also its own sub-divisions answering in part to those of the physical body. But being one stage higher than the latter it includes in one of its own sub-divisions several of those in the body. For instance, the surface sensations of blood, skin, flesh and mucous membrane will be included in a single one of the astral sub-divisions. And exactly at this point the Esoteric Schools diverge from and appear to contradict modern pathology and physiology. For the modern school admits only the action of nerves along skin and mucous membrane and in flesh, as the receivers and transmitters of sensation. It would appear to be so, but the facts on the inside are different, or rather more numerous, leading to additional conclusions. Likewise, too, we clash with the nineteenth century in the matter of the blood. We say that the blood cells and the fluid they float in receive and transmit sensation.
Each sub-division among the physical sheaths performs not only the duty of receiving and transmitting sensations, but also has the power of retaining a memory of them which is registered in the appropriate ganglion of the body, and continually, from there, implanted in the corresponding centre of sensation and action in the astral body. At the same time the physical brain has always the power, as is of course a common fact, of collecting all the physical sensations and impressions.
Having laid all this down—without stopping for argument, which would end in nothing without physical demonstrations being added— the next step is this. The lower man who collects, so to say, for the Soul’s use, all the experiences below it, can either at will when trained, or involuntarily when forced by processes or accident or abnormal birth, live in the sensations and impressions of one or many of the various sheaths of the physical or astral body.
If trained, then there will be no delusions or any temporary delusion will be easily dispersed. If untrained, delusion walks arm in arm with the sensations. If diseased or forced, the outer acts may be correctly performed but the free intelligence is absent, and all the delusions and illusions of hypnotic and mesmeric states show them selves.
If the inner lower man be functioning among the sensations— or planes, if you like—of some astral sense or centre, then clairvoyance or clairaudience comes on, because he is conveying to the brain those impressions derived from similar planes of nature in any direction.
And when to this is added a partial touch of some minor physical sub-divisions of the sheaths, then delusion is made more complete, because the experience of a single set of cells is taken for the whole and reported, by means of the brain, in the language used by a normal being. Indeed, so vast are the possible combinations in this department that I have only mentioned a few by way of illustration. It is this possibility of the inner lower man being connected with one or more of the sheaths, and disconnected from all the rest, which has led one of the French schools of hypnotizers to conclude to the effect that every man is a collection of personalities, each complete in itself. The positions laid down above are not destroyed by the fact, as observed at Paris and Nancy, that the subject in hypnotic state No. 2 knows nothing about state No. I, for each normal per son, when acting normally, compounds all the various sets of sensations, experiences, and recollections into one whole, the sum total of all, and which is not recognizable as any one of them distinct from the rest.
It must also be remembered that each person has pursued in prior lives this or that course of action, which has trained and developed this or that Soul-sheath. And although at death many of them are dissolved as integral collections, the effect of such development formerly pursued is not lost to the reincarnating being. It is pre served through the mysterious laws that guide the atoms when they assemble for the birth of a new personal house to be occupied by the returning Soul. It is known that the atoms—physical and astral—have gone through every sort of training. When the Soul is reincarnating it attracts to itself those physical and astral atoms which are like unto its old experience as far as possible. It often gets back again some of the identical matter it used in its last life. And if the astral senses have received in the prior existence on earth great attention and development, then there will be born a medium or a real seer or sage. Which it will be depends upon the great balancing of forces from the prior life. For instance, one who in another incarnation attended wholly to psychic development without philosophy, or made other errors, will be born, maybe, as an irresponsible medium; another, again, of the same class, emerges as a wholly untrustworthy partial clairvoyant, and so on ad infinitum.
A birth in a family of wise devotees and real sages is declared from old time to be very difficult of attainment. This difficulty may be gradually overcome by philosophical study and unselfish effort for others, together with devotion to the Higher Self pursued through many lives. Any other sort of practice leads only to additional bewilderment.*
*Mr. Judge’s article, as written, ends here. The remaining paragraphs, which
are from a commentary on Plotinus by Porphyry, were intended by the editor of
Lucifer to fill out the page where “Sheaths of the Soul” ended, but were inserted above
Mr. Judge’s signature through a printer’s mistake. An editor’s note.
The Soul is bound to the body by a conversion to the corporeal passions; and is again liberated by becoming impassive to the body.
That which Nature binds, Nature also dissolves; and that with the Soul binds, the Soul likewise dissolves. Nature, indeed, bound the body to the Soul; but the Soul binds herself to the body. Nature, therefore, liberates the body from the Soul; but the Soul liberates herself from the body.
Hence there is a two-fold death; the one, indeed, universally known, in which the body is liberated from the Soul; but the other peculiar to philosophers, in which the Soul is liberated from the body. Nor does the one entirely follow the other.
WILLIAM 0. JUDGE, F.T.S.
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 maybe used as the golden gate through which we may pass, not selfishly and not alone, but in company with our fellows, to the palaces which lie beyond. —H. P. B.
[ Together with “Sheaths of the Soul,” which THEOSOPHY will reprint in August, show William Q. Judge as the occult scientist. Here is the psycho-physiology of the future, for which no facts will be “sacred,” none “profane.” All particulars will be seen as applications of universal doctrines.
These two articles treat more fully of the astral body than any other Theosophical writings. Of the scientific necessity for the concept of the astral body, H. P. Blavatsky has written: “The whole issue of the quarrel between the, profane and the esoteric sciences depends upon the belief in, and demonstration of, the existence of an astral body within the physical, the former independent of the latter.” (S. D. II, 149.) In the light of these fundamental propositions on the nature, powers and uses of. the astral principle in man, the recent series of historical studies on the astral body may be viewed with profit. (See THEOSOPHY xxviii, Nos. 3-10.) “Mesmerism” first appeared in Lucifer for May, 1892.—Editors, THEOSOPHY.]
THIS is the name given to an art, or the exhibition of a power to act upon others and the facility to be acted upon, which long antedate the days of Anton Mesmer. Another name for some of its phenomena is Hypnotism, and still another is Magnetism. The last title was given because sometimes the person operated on was seen to follow the hand of the operator, as if drawn like iron filings to a magnet. These are all used today by various operators, but by many different appellations it has been known; fascination is one, and psychologizing is another, but the number of them is so great it is useless to go over the list.
Anton Mesmer, who gave greater publicity in the Western world to the subject than any other person, and whose name is still attached to it, was born in 1734, and some few years before 1783, or about 1775, obtained great prominence in Europe in connection with his experiments and cures; but, as H. P. Blavatsky says in her Theosophical Glossary, he was only a rediscoverer. The whole subject had been explored long before his time—indeed many centuries anterior to the rise of civilization in Europe—and all the great fraternities of the East were always in full possession of secrets concerning its practice which remain still unknown. Mesmer came out with his discoveries as agent, in fact—though, perhaps, without disclosing those behind him—of certain brotherhoods to which he belonged. His promulgations were in the last quarter of the century, just as those of the Theosophical Society were begun in 1875, and what he did was all that could be done at that time.
But in 1639, one hundred years before Mesmer, a book was published in Europe upon the use of mesmerism in the cure of wounds, and bore the title, The Sympathetical Powder of Edricius Mohynus of Eburo. These cures, it was said, could be effected at a distance from the wound by reason of the virtue or directive faculty between that and the wound. This is exactly one of the phases of both hypnotism and mesmerism. And along the same line were the writings of a monk named Uldericus Balk, who said diseases could be similarly cured, in a book concerning the lamp of life in 1611. In these works, of course, there is much superstition, but they treat of mesmerism underneath all the folly.
After the French Academy committee, including Benjamin Franklin, passed sentence on the subject, condemning it in substance, mesmerism fell into disrepute, but was revived in America by many persons who adopted different names for their work and wrote books on it. One of them named Dodds obtained a good deal of celebrity, and was invited during the life of Daniel Webster to lecture on it before a number of United States senators. He called his system “psychology,” but it was mesmerism exactly, even to details regarding nerves and the like. And in England also a good deal of attention was given to it by numbers of people who were not of scientific repute. They gave it no better reputation than it had before, and the press and public generally looked on them as charlatans and upon mesmerism as a delusion. Such was the state of things until the researches into what is now known as hypnotism brought that phase of the subject once more forward, and subsequently to 1875 the popular mind gave more and more attention to the possibilities in the fields of clairvoyance, clairaudience, trance, apparitions, and the like. Even physicians and others, who previously scouted all such investigations, began to take them up for consideration, and are still engaged thereon. And it seems quite certain that, by whatever name designated, mesmerism is sure to have more and more attention paid to it. For it is impossible to proceed very far with hypnotic experiments without meeting mesmeric phenomena, and being compelled, as it were, to proceed with an enquiry into those as well.
The hypnotists unjustifiably claim the merit of discoveries, for even the uneducated so-called charlatans of the above-mentioned periods cited the very fact appropriated by hypnotists, that many persons were normally—for them—in a hypnotized state, or, as they called it, in a psychologized condition, or negative one, and so forth, according to the particular system employed.
In France Baron Du Potet astonished everyone with his feats in mesmerism, bringing about as great changes in subjects as the hypnotizers do now. After a time, and after reading old books, he adopted a number of queer symbols that he said had the most extraordinary effect on the subject, and refused to give these out to any except pledged persons. This rule was violated, and his instructions and figures were printed not many years ago for sale with a pretense of secrecy consisting in a lock to the book. I have read these and find they are of no moment at all, having their force simply from the will of the person who uses them. The Baron was a man of very strong natural mesmeric force, and made his subjects do things that few others could bring about. He died without causing the scientific world to pay much attention to the matter.
The great question mooted is whether there is or is not any actual fluid thrown off by the mesmerizer. Many deny it, and nearly all hypnotizers refuse to admit it. H. P. Blavatsky declares there is such a fluid, and those who can see into the plane to which it belongs assert its existence as a subtle form of matter. This is, I think, true, and is not at all inconsistent with the experiments in hypnotism, for the fluid can have its own existence at the same time that people may be self-hypnotized by merely inverting their eyes while looking at some bright object. This fluid is composed in part of the astral substance around every one, and in part of the physical atoms in a finely divided state. By some this astral substance is called the aura. But that word is indefinite, as there are many sorts of aura and many degrees of its expression. These will not be known, even to Theosophists of the most willing mind, until the race as a whole has developed up to that point. So the word will remain in use for the present.
This aura, then,
is thrown off by the mesmerizer upon his subject, and is received by the latter
in a department of his inner constitution, never described by any Western
experimenters, because they know nothing of it. It wakes up certain inner and
non-physical divisions of the person operated on, causing a change of relation
between the various and numerous sheaths surrounding the inner man, and making
possible different degrees of intelligence and of clairvoyance and the like. It
has no influence whatsoever on the Higher SeIf,* which it is impossible to reach
by such means. Many persons are deluded into supposing that the Higher Self is
the responder, or that some spirit or what not is present, but it is only one of
the many inner persons, so to say, who is talking or rather causing the organs
speech to do their office. And it is just here that the Theosophist and the
non-Theosophist are at fault, since the words spoken are some times far above
the ordinary intelligence or power of the subject in waking state. I therefore
propose to give in the rough the theory of what actually does take place, as has
been known for ages to those who see with the inner eye, and as will one day be
discovered and admitted by science.
*Atmâ in its vehicle Buddhi.
When the hypnotic or mesmerized state is complete—and often when it is partial—there is an immediate paralyzing of the power of the body to throw its impressions, and thus modify the conceptions of the inner being. In ordinary waking life everyone, without being able to disentangle himself, is subject to the impressions from the whole organism; that is to say, every cell in the body, to the most minute, has its own series of impressions and recollections, all of which continue to impinge on the great register, the brain, until the impression remaining in the cell is fully exhausted. And that exhaustion takes a long time. Further, as we are adding continually to them, the period of disappearance of impression is indefinitely postponed. Thus the inner person is not able to make itself felt. But, in the right subject, those bodily impressions are by mesmerism neutralized for the time, and at once another effect follows, which is equivalent to cutting the general off from his army and compelling him to seek other means of expression.
The brain—in cases where the subject talks—is left free sufficiently to permit it to obey the commands of the mesmerizer and compel the organs of speech to respond. So much in general.
We have now come to another part of the nature of man which is a land unknown to the Western world and its scientists. By mesmerism other organs are set to work disconnected from the body, but which in normal state function with and through the latter. These are not admitted by the world, but they exist, and are as real as the body is—in fact some who know say they are more real and less subject to decay, for they remain almost unchanged from birth to death. These organs have their own currents, circulation if you will, and methods of receiving and storing impressions. They are those which in a second of time seize and keep the faintest trace of any object or word coming before the waking man. They not only keep them but very often give them out, and when the person is mesmerized their exit is untrammeled by the body.
They are divided into many classes and grades, and each one of them has a whole series of ideas and facts peculiar to itself, as well as centres in the ethereal body to which they relate. Instead now of the brain’s dealing with the sensations of the body, it deals with something quite different, and reports what these inner organs see in any part of space to which they are directed. And in place of your having waked up the Higher Self, you have merely uncovered one of the many sets of impressions and experiences of which the inner man is composed, and who is himself a long distance from the Higher Self. These varied pictures, thus seized from every quarter, are normally overborne by the great roar of the physical life, which is the sum total of possible expression of a normal being on the physical plane whereon we move. They show themselves usually only by glimpses when we have sudden ideas or recollections, or in dreams when our sleeping may be crowded with fancies for which we cannot find a basis in daily life. Yet the basis exists, and is always some one or other of the million small impressions of the day passed unnoticed by the physical brain, but caught unerringly by means of other sensoriums belonging to our astral double. For this astral body, or double, permeates the physical one as color does the bowl of water. And although to the materialistic conceptions of the present day such a misty shadow is not admitted to have parts, powers, and organs, it nevertheless has all of these with a surprising power and grasp. Although perhaps a mist, it can exert under proper conditions a force equal to the viewless wind when it levels to earth the proud constructions of puny man.
In the astral body, then, is the place to look for the explanation of mesmerism and hypnotism. The Higher Self will explain the flights we seldom make into the realm of spirit, and is the God—the Father—within who guides His children up the long steep road to perfection. Let not the idea of it be degraded by chaining it to the low floor of mesmeric phenomena, which any healthy man or woman can bring about if they will only try. The grosser the operator the better, for thus there is more of the mesmeric force, and if it be the Higher Self that is affected, then the meaning of it would be that gross matter can with ease affect and deflect the high spirit— and this is against the testimony of the ages.
A Paramahansa of the Himalayas has put in print the following words: “Theosophy is that branch of Masonry which shows the Universe in the form of an egg.” Putting on one side the germinal spot in the egg, we have left five other main divisions: the fluid, the yolk, the skin of the yolk, the inner skin of the shell, and the hard shell. The shell and the inner skin may be taken as one. That leaves us four, corresponding to the old divisions of fire, air, earth, and water. Man, roughly speaking, is divided in the same manner, and from these main divisions spring all his manifold experiences on the outer and the introspective planes. The human structure has its skin, its blood, its earthy matter—called bones for the moment, its flesh, and lastly the great germ which is insulated somewhere in the brain by means of a complete coat of fatty matter.
The skin includes the mucous, all membranes in the body, the arterial coats, and so on. The flesh takes in the nerves, the animal cells so-called, and the muscles. The bones stand alone. The blood has its cells, the corpuscles, and the fluid they float in. The organs, such as the liver, the spleen, the lungs, include skin, blood, and mucous. Each of these divisions and all of their subdivisions have their own peculiar impressions and recollections, and all, together with the coordinator the brain, make up the man as he is on the visible plane.
These all have to do with the phenomena of mesmerism, although there are those who may think it not possible that mucous membrane or skin can give us any knowledge. But it is nevertheless the fact, for the sensations of every part of the body affect each cognition, and when the experiences of the skin cells, or any other, are most prominent before the brain of the subject, all his reports to the operator will be drawn from that, unknown to both, and put into language for the brain’s use so long as the next condition is not reached. This is the Esoteric Doctrine, and will at last be found true. For man is made up of millions of lives, and from these, unable of themselves to act rationally or independently, he gains ideas, and as the master of all puts those ideas, together with others from higher planes, into thought, word, and act. Hence at the very first step in mesmerism this factor has to be remembered, but nowadays people do not know it and cannot recognize its presence, but are carried away by the strangeness of the phenomena.
The very best of subjects are mixed in their reports, because the things they do see are varied and distorted by the several experiences of the parts of their nature I have mentioned, all of which are constantly clamouring for a hearing. And every operator is sure to be misled by them unless he is himself a trained seer.
The next step takes us into the region of the inner man, not the spiritual being, but the astral one who is the model on which the outer visible form is built. The inner person is the mediator between mind and matter. Hearing the commands of mind, he causes the physical nerves to act and thus the whole body. All the senses have their seat in this person, and every one of them is a thousand-fold more extensive in range than their outer representatives, for those outer eyes and ears, and sense of touch, taste, and smell, are only gross organs which the inner ones use, but which of themselves can do nothing.
This can be seen when we cut off the nerve connection, say from the eye, for then the inner eye cannot connect with physical nature and is unable to see an object placed before the retina, although feeling or hearing may in their way apprehend the object if those are not also cut off.
These inner senses can perceive under certain conditions to any distance regardless of position or obstacle. But they cannot see every thing, nor are they always able to properly understand the nature of everything they do see. For sometimes that appears to them with which they are not familiar. And further, they will often report having seen what they are desired by the operator to see, when in fact they are giving unreliable information. For, as the astral senses of any person are the direct inheritance of his own prior incarnations, and are not the product of family heredity, they cannot transcend their own experience, and hence their cognitions are limited by it, no matter how wonderful their action appears to him who is using only the physical sense-organs. In the ordinary healthy person these astral senses are inextricably linked with the body and limited by the apparatus which it furnishes during the waking state. And only when one falls asleep, or into a mesmerized state, or trance, or under the most severe training, can they act in a somewhat independent manner. This they do in sleep, when they live another life than that compelled by the force and the necessities of the waking organism. And when there is a paralyzation of the body by the mesmeric fluid they can act, because the impressions from the physical cells are inhibited.
The mesmeric fluid brings this paralyzing about by flowing from the operator and creeping steadily over the whole body of the subject, changing the polarity of the cells in every part and thus disconnecting the outer from the inner man. As the whole system of physical nerves is sympathetic in all its ramifications, when certain major sets of nerves are affected others by sympathy follow into the same condition. So it often happens with mesmerized subjects that the arms or legs are suddenly paralyzed without being directly operated on, or, as frequently, the sensation due to the fluid is felt first in the fore-arm, although the head was the only place touched.
There are many secrets about this part of the process, but they will not be given out, as it is easy enough for all proper purposes to mesmerize a subject by following what is already publicly known. By means of certain nerve points located near the skin the whole system of nerves may be altered in an instant, even by a slight breath from F the mouth at a distance of eight feet from the subject. But modern books do not point this out.
When the paralyzing and change of polarity of the cells are complete the astral man is almost disconnected from the body. Has he any structure? What mesmerizer knows? How many probably will deny that he has any structure at all? Is he only a mist, an idea? And yet, again, how many subjects are trained so as to be able to analyze their own astral anatomy?
But the structure of the inner astral man is definite and coherent. It cannot be fully dealt with in a magazine article, but may be roughly set forth, leaving readers to fill in the details.
Just as the outer body has a spine which is the column whereon the being sustains itself with the brain at the top, so the astral body has its spine and brain. It is material, for it is made of matter, however finely divided, and is not of the nature of the spirit.
After the maturity of the child before birth this form is fixed, coherent, and lasting, undergoing but small alteration from that day ‘ until death. And so also as to its brain; that remains unchanged until the body is given up, and does not, like the outer brain, give up cells to be replaced by others from hour to hour. These inner parts ‘ are thus more permanent than the outer correspondents to them. Our material organs, bones, and tissues are undergoing change each instant. They are suffering always what the ancients called “the constant momentary dissolution of minor units of matter,” and hence within each month there is a perceptible change by way of diminution or accretion. This is not the case with the inner form. It alters only from life to life, being constructed at the time of reincarnation to last for a whole period of existence. For it is the model fixed by the present evolutionary proportions for the outer body. It is the collector, as it were, of the visible atoms which make us as we outwardly appear. So at birth it is potentially of a certain size, and when that limit is reached it stops the further extension of the body, ‘ making possible what are known today as average weights and aver ‘age sizes. At the same time the outer body is kept in shape by the inner one until the period of decay. And this decay, followed by death, is not due to bodily disintegration per se, but to the fact that the term of the astral body is reached, when it is no longer able to hold the outer frame intact. Its power to resist the impact and war of the material molecules being exhausted, the sleep of death supervenes.
Now, as in our physical form the brain and spine are centres for nerves, so in the other there are the nerves which ramify from the inner brain and spine all over the structure. All of these are related to every organ in the outer visible body. They are more in the nature of currents than nerves, as we understand the word, and may be called astro-nerves. They move in relation to such great centres in the body outside, as the heart, the pit of the throat, umbilical centre, spleen, and sacral plexus. And here, in passing, it may be asked of the Western mesmerizers what do they know of the use and power, if any, of the umbilical centre? They will probably say it has no use in particular after the accomplishment of birth. But the true science of mesmerism says there is much yet to be learned even on that one point; and there is no scarcity, in the proper quarters, of records as to experiments on, and use of, this centre.
The astro-spinal column has three great nerves of the same sort of matter. They may be called ways or channels, up and down which the forces play, that enable man inside and outside to stand erect, to move, to feel, and to act. In description they answer exactly to the magnetic fluids, that is, they are respectively positive, negative, and neutral, their regular balance being essential to sanity. When the astral spine reaches the inner brain the nerves alter and become more complex, having a final great outlet in the skull. Then, with these two great parts of the inner person are the other manifold sets of nerves of similar nature related to the various planes of sensation in the visible and invisible worlds. These all then constitute the personal actor within, and in these is the place to seek for the solution of the problems presented by mesmerism and hypnotism.
Disjoin this being from the outer body with which he is linked, and the divorce deprives him of freedom temporarily, making him the slave of the operator. But mesmerizers know very well that the subject can and does often escape from control, puzzling them often, and often giving them fright. This is testified to by all the best writers in the Western schools.
Now this inner man is not by any means omniscient. He has an understanding that is limited by his own experience, as said before. Therefore, error creeps in if we rely on what he says in the mesmeric trance as to anything that requires philosophical knowledge, except with rare cases that are so infrequent as not to need consideration now. For neither the limit of the subject’s power to know, nor the effect of the operator on the inner sensoriums described above, is known to operators in general, and especially not by those who do not accept the ancient division of the inner nature of man. The effect of the operator is almost always to colour the reports made by the subject.
Take an instance: A. was a mesmerizer of C., a very sensitive woman, who had never made philosophy a study. A. had his mind made up to a certain course of procedure concerning other persons and requiring argument. But before action he consulted the sensitive, having in his possession a letter from X., who is a very definite thinker and very positive; while A., on the other hand, was not definite in idea although a good physical mesmerizer. The result was that the sensitive, after falling into the trance and being asked on the question debated, gave the views of X., whom she had not known, and so strongly that A. changed his plan although not his conviction, not knowing that it was the influence of the ideas of X. then in his mind, that had deflected the understanding of the sensitive. The thoughts of X., being very sharply cut, were enough to entirely change any previous views the subject had. What reliance, then, can be placed on untrained seers? And all the mesmeric subjects we have are wholly untrained, in the sense that the word bears with the school of ancient mesmerism of which I have been speaking.
The processes used in mesmeric experiment need not be gone into here. There are many books declaring them, but after studying the matter for the past twenty-two years, I do not find that they do other than copy one another, and that the entire set of directions can, for all practical purposes, be written on a single sheet of paper. But there are many other methods of still greater efficiency anciently taught, that may be left for another occasion.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE, F. T. S.
PLASTIC POWER OF SOUL
The consequence of our soul’s pre-existence is more agreeable to reason than any other hypothesis whatever; has been received by the most learned philosophers of all ages, there being scarcely any of them that held the soul of man immortal upon the mere light of Nature and reason, but asserted also her pre-existence. . . . [ soul is a] spirit endued with sense and reason, and a power of organizing terrestrial matter into human shape by vital union there with . . . the frame of the body, of which I think it most reasonable to conclude the soul herself to be the more particular architect (for I will not wholly reject Plotinus his opinion), and that the plastick power resides in her, as also in the souls of brute animals, as very worthy and learned writers have determined. —HENRY MORE.
THE ACQUIREMENT OF INDIVIDUALITY
THE “pivotal doctrine of the esoteric philosophy,” wrote H. P. Blavatsky, “admits of no special gifts or privileges in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit.”
At the outset of her presentation of the Third Fundamental Proposition of the Secret Doctrine, she recapitulates the central theses of Propositions I and II, as they bear upon man’s own situation in evolution. The source of beinghood is the same for all, she says, cyclic law is the same for all, and the experiences of manifested life are also the same. The natural direction of evolution, however, is toward the acquirement of individuality, and the proposition that individuality must be acquired is clearly the “pivotal doctrine” to which she refers.
These considerations should make evident the central reason for the continued emphasis upon the teachings of Gautama Buddha in Isis Unveiled, The Secret Doctrine and in the studies promoted by the Theosophical Society. Buddhism was a reform of Brahmanism in India; its central tenet was that no man had special gifts or privileges, nor could attain to enlightened self-consciousness save by self-induced and self-devised efforts. According to the Buddha, neither priests nor doctrinal scriptures were necessary to the attainment of se1f-realization—upon which self-conscious individuality depends.
Similarly, in both the Theosophist and Lucifer, H.P.B. stressed over and over again the fact that a true Theosophist must apprehend truth by individual inspiration, by solitary progressive awakenings. Thus she sought to guard against the tendency of human nature, quite evidently ready to manifest in all groups, to codify and doctrinalize what was decided to be “truth.” If Theosophists were to allow the ancient teachings they studied to become a religion, she implied, the “pivotal doctrine” of esoteric work would have been forgotten.
To consider the acquirement of individuality as the pivotal doctrine of the whole esoteric philosophy, however, is in no sense to endorse anarchism. The very fact that individuality, on H.P.B.’s presentation, is not given, but must be won, indicates that the overly independent attitude is but a sign of immaturity. The truism, “no man can be truly independent until he realizes the nature and extent of his interdependence” is here applicable. Fully conscious individuality, moreover, must of necessity mean a transcendence of many of those conditions of mind which we associate with the “independent personality.” Buddha, the greatest, perhaps, of all psychologists, emphasized this aspect of the quest for spiritual attainment by his demonstration of the transitoriness of all personal things. A modern psychologist sums up the paradox as follows:
The attitude most clearly exhibited and described by the mystics is an attitude of oneness not only in oneself, not only with one’s fellow men, but with all life and, beyond that, with the universe. Some may think that this attitude is one in which the uniqueness and individuality of the self are denied and the experiences of self weakened. That this is not so constitutes the paradoxical nature of this attitude ie.,The religious attitude in this sense is simultaneously the fullest experience of individuality and its opposite; it is not so much a blending of the two as a polarity.
The whole subject of morality belongs within the province of the Third Fundamental Proposition, for the reason that there is no morality without choice, and because the choices for man are always between the two differing polar orientations of his nature. The “dual” nature of man may be said to represent, on the one hand, the created elements of his being—the habits which the instruments of the soul have learned—and, on the other, the creative elements, which cannot be expressed without departure from habit. There are, then, two kinds of independence, but only one kind of individuality. A man who is indifferent to the welfare of his fellows is indifferent because he is satisfied with the pleasurable repetition of routine actions, or routine psychological states. This is pseudo-independence, for such an one is actually at the mercy of circumstances—if these no longer permit him his pleasures he is desolate. The higher independence is independence from one’s own personal propensities, which are also apt to be the prejudices and dogmas which condition the lives of the majority.
Here we finally arrive at the raison d’être for claiming theosophical content in the world’s great struggles for freedom of thought. We are still less than fully self-conscious beings. Buddhi and Manas are not yet united, and, thus, we are still predominantly creatures of habit. Both in terms of our personal biases and in terms of the institutional alliances we form, we follow routines of mental orientation. The higher mind comes awake only when we question these routines and biases, insist on a broader purview. The differences, then, between the mind content with its residual creations and the dynamically creative mind is a difference analogous to that between a circle and a spiral— for, in the former case there is a ceaseless return of the mind to the same reference points, and in the latter the mental perspective is constantly transcending old views.
When intellectual and moral revolutions take place in the course of history these are always, at least in part, rebellions against the confines of habit. Thus, in William Q. Judge’s terms, the Renaissance and the political revolutions of the eighteenth century all played a part in the further enlightening of manas. Through such transformations men have assisted one another in the “acquiring of individuality,” or, rather, accelerated the process for those concerned, and even though most revolutions in time create their own dogmas and complacencies of opinion, something has always been gained by the thinking men who have participated in the early stages. The processes of destruction and regeneration are the processes of cyclic law, by which both individuals and cultures become more than they previously were.
Thus, in the lives of Theosophical students, too, come incessant promptings for revaluation—revaluation of one’s relations to one’s fellow students, and revaluation of our interpretations of doctrine. It is doubtful whether we can gain any true conception of the meaning of the Theosophical Movement until we have consciously participated in such “destructive” and “regenerative” processes many times within ourselves, for such must be our necessary way of recapitulating the passage through “every elemental form of the phenomenal world” which precedes the acquirement of individuality.
THE HUMILITY OF ASPIRATION
Try to realize that progress is made step by step, and each step gained by heroic effort. Withdrawal means despair or timidity. Conquered passions, like slain tigers, can no longer turn and rend you. Be hopeful then, not despairing. With each morning’s awakening try to live through the day in harmony with the Higher Self. “Try” is the battle-cry taught by the teacher to each pupil. Naught else is expected of you. One who does the best he can does all that can be asked. There is a moment when even a Buddha ceases to be a sinning mortal and takes his first step towards Buddhahood. The sixteen Paramitas (virtues) are not for priests and yogis alone, as said, but stand for models for us all to strive after—and neither priest nor yogi, Chela nor Mahatma, ever attained all at once. . . . The idea that sinners and not saints are expected to enter the Path is emphatically stated in The Voice of the Silence.
H. P. BLAVATSKY
T HE difficulties encountered in efforts to live a higher life are known to every student of Theosophy, although to some more than to others. It is here, perhaps, more than in any other area, that the haunting presence of the Personal-God-idea—the heritage of our time and race—exerts its most frustrating influence. As Jasper Niemand cried out, “How shall we be proud when we are so small? How dare we be humble when we are so great? In both we blaspheme.” To speak of this double paradox as a “blasphemy” is itself a reflection of the effects of anthropomorphic religion, for why should a sense of the divinity within us be unfitting, unless we claim it as a personal glory? And why should we avoid the humility which belongs with regard for the pettiness of human nature, since human nature is no more than the raw material of evolution?
Jasper, of course, knew this, and was speaking for effect in the Christian idiom—speaking to the complexes experienced by those who attempt to make their personal minds, clouded over with conceptions of orthodox religion, penetrate to the meaning of impersonal pan theism. The next sentence resolves the paradox:
But there is that firm spot between the two which is the place “neither too high nor too low” on which Krishna told Arjuna to sit; a spot of his own.
This spot holds the psychological security every disciple longs to reach—it is perhaps the spot which is arrived at when “a Buddha ceases to be a sinning mortal and takes his first step towards Buddha-hood.” Before finding this spot of “our own,” we are given to heights of elation and depths of despair. The perfect of mankind seem entirely another species of being, impossibly inaccessible save as a fabled race which lives in the wishful dreams of erring humans. Thinking and feeling thus, we are prone to long for miracles, although we do not call them miracles. We want perfection “right now,” and will be satisfied with nothing less. Not gaining it, we blame ourselves beyond the call of duty—a procedure which can only magnify weaknesses of which we are already well aware. What, actually, has happened? We have entered the war of occultism—started our own, personal Mahabharata—but bearing only theological arms into the lists. It is an approach that was doomed to failure from the beginning.
To avoid this mistake, we may seek counsel from Krishna, who has supreme knowledge of the methods that the disciple must pursue:
When in every condition he receives each event, whether favorable or unfavorable, with an equal mind which neither likes nor dislikes, his wisdom is established, and, having met good or evil, neither rejoiceth at the one nor is cast down by the other.
This advice must be for erring humans as well as for the more advanced on the Path. It means, among other things, an equanimity to ward our own failings and defects, for these are some of the unfavorable events we meet along the way. Are we then to take a complacent view of the things that are the matter with us?
Equanimity is not complacency, nor are heroes ever hysterical. The notion we have of heroes is usually something like a mental picture of Horatio at the bridge, wielding his sword in all directions—in other words, the image of a man exerting himself beyond his powers. Heroism, we think, is setting one’s teeth and braving the storm. Heroism is certainly involved in such acts of courage and tenacity, but the heroism students of occultism are called upon to practice is the result of a slow growth which brings the potentiality of strength needed for every trial. Further, the heroism of the occultist is not an emotional phenomenon. It is not even an act of momentous decision. Before the disciple becomes a hero, his “momentous decisions” are all made. They are made, almost casually, by thousands of smaller decisions which, in the progress of time, establish an irreversible inclination toward the values and activities which belong to the higher life.
We may find in ourselves a tendency to think that reaching the spot of calm, of peace with oneself, is somehow involved in attaining to a magnificent righteousness. This is but another ghost of the Personal- God-idea. The Ego, as a matter of fact, is beyond good and evil. The Ego is doubtless “bored” by righteousness. Righteousness is related to personal virtue, and the Ego sees nothing particularly virtuous in a sensible adherence to the laws of nature.
How shall we test ourselves for equanimity? An inventory of the qualities, traits, and tendencies we think belong to us is always a good way to begin. Suppose a man finds, from such self-study, that he owns one saving virtue and is held back by one besetting sin. He is wrong, of course, for no virtue is saving, and the “sin” probably hides some thing else, some subtler phase of his nature, which is his real weakness. But what is the history of his relationship to this pair of opposites? He has tried and failed, and tried and failed, and tried and failed to renounce his sin. And he has found comfort in his virtue. But he knows in his heart that he has no real stability. His weakness is for ever with him, a voice of silent condemnation, and his virtue too often turns into vanity which, discovered, is as distasteful as a sense of guilt.
Let us experiment with the destiny of this unhappy individual—a thing permissible since he is entirely imaginary. Let us suppose that, somewhere along the way, he tried and did not fail; that he cast out the sin and turned his back upon all such doings. Everything, in this case, depends upon his state of feeling toward what he has ostensibly overcome. Does he look upon his past with revulsion? Does he now, instead of the voice of condemnation, hear soft words of approval?
Should he have these feelings, he has not overcome his sin, but only made a bargain with it. He has exchanged it for a psychic vice. His conquest is no victory, but a species of self-deception.
The path of the occultist is not the path of the moralist. The path of the occultist is the evolution of the whole man into a life of wider perceptive range, deeper sensibility. If mere conquest of “sins” were all that is required of the adept, then evolution would be an easy task indeed. The symbolism of the alchemists is far more useful than the literalism of religion in conveying what is meant by the path of the occultist. The process of regeneration which the alchemists studied was as much an elimination of the subtler weaknesses of human nature as the overcoming of the more obvious sins. It was, we shall remember, the pride of the Atlanteans which thrust them into the forgetfulness of matter. Their pride led to the sin of separateness, and their feeling of separateness drew them into identification with the principle of separation—matter and its forms. And from this followed all the ills to which the flesh is heir, all its sins and weaknesses, too. We are not here, in bodies, simply to “overcome our sins.” We are here to understand the psychological processes of human development. We are here to learn, not simply to develop emotional aversions for behavior which, at one or another stage, teachers have told us interferes with the processes of human development.
A man’s weaknesses and his strengths are the living elements for study in the laboratory of life. Every part of his nature, even parts which, in our civilization, have suffered exaggeration of their importance and unnatural stimulation, reflects the operation of law. It is this law which should be the object of our study. Once we gain the capacity to study ourselves as illustrations of the workings of law, we may see ourselves dispassionately. And, when dispassion is attained, we know the place, “neither too high nor too low,” of which Krishna told Arjuna.
One who has found this place may be far from “perfect.” He may, to all appearances, be afflicted by many more defects than some of his fellows; yet he, because he has taken the “first step” toward Buddha- hood, is able to exert a beneficent influence upon those others. The slow, sure process of regeneration has begun, although he will hardly think of it in these terms. His progress is defined by a change in natural inclination, by a loss of taste for what he once considered to be his highest pleasures. His interests reach out to wider fields, his life becomes more a life of the mind, and less a life of personal relation ships and attachments. It has been his patience with all these things, while trying to understand them, and by understanding them, transcending them, that has brought about the change.
What, then, is the “heroism” referred to by H.P.B.? It is the stubborn determination to be a philosopher, to insist, with each experience that comes, upon understanding. A conquered passion—a passion that can never rise again—is a passion which can evoke no emotional response, neither attraction nor repulsion. Passions are not worn out with indulgence, but neither are they driven away by hate and fear. These forces of nature—for passions are that—once understood, are left to nature, while the man of mind goes on to other things.
TRIDOSHA AND DIVINE THERAPY
A NECESSARY step in attempting to fulfill the second object of the original Theosophical Society is to try to understand an unfamiliar philosophy by seeing it through the eyes of its proponents. As a second step one can both draw parallels and define differences between the unfamiliar viewpoint and what is familiar. Finally, one can enrich his understanding of both systems by integrating new information with the old, filling in gaps which may exist in understanding of one’s own system with information gained from the other. A case in point is the science of Tridosha, a far departure from orthodoxy in medicine.
A recent treatise on the subject by Dr. B. Bhattacharyya was reviewed in general outline in THEOSOPHY (March, 1952), and in more detail in the Theosophical Movement (May, 1952). The Tridosha theory is actually a subdivision of Ayurveda (Science of Life or Longevity), the ancient Aryan medical doctrine. But just as a modern atomic physicist might describe the components of the atom without bothering to explain the total theory of the atom, so the Hindu practitioners often speak only of that portion of their theory which may be used in healing. Yet the complications of Tridosha are many, and the whole subject extremely metaphysical. According to Tridosha, man is composed of the three Macrocosmic elements, Air, Fire, and Water. Health depends on the proper balancing of the three, air being the active element which mixes with the other two in maintaining or upsetting the bodily equilibrium.
The complete Ayurvedic teaching* set forth that the world and man are composed of five or six basic elements—earth, water, fire, air, akasha, and thought. These six give rise to an organic juice from which the seven substances of the body are derived. These seven—chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow, and sperm—are united by a radiant principle of force, the vital juice, tejas, seated in the heart. The element of air is said to “lean” or depend on it while the water element distributes it. Thus, having given rise to the sensible portions of the body, the basic elements retain an independent existence and control over their creation.
By considering the function rather than the physical property of the body parts, one can find the parent or ruling element. Chyle and blood are the progeny of Fire, “a liquid principle of radiance,” the derangement of which causes circulatory ailments. Flesh and fat are born of Water, the wet, cold, connecting element which rules the mucous system. Air is the moving power; it uses the nerves as its vehicle and can be said to be the parent of bone, which facilitates movement, and which protects the spinal cord, its marrow. Since the sperm gives rise to other organisms containing all three elements, while remaining unaffected by their vagaries, it is the child of the highest or source element, akasha, in Ayurvedic terms. Even on the purely physical level, one sees, “it only becomes natural that one should believe as the ancients did; namely, that every Element is dual in its nature.” (S.D. I, 469.)
The seemingly arbitrary omission of the influence on the body of Akasha, Thought, and Earth in no way interferes with the practice of the physician’s art. Indeed, the position can be justified in either theosophical or Ayurvedic terminology.
Chaos-Theos-Kosmos, the triple deity, is all in all. . . . It can be known only in its active functions; hence as matter-Force and living Spirit, the correlations and outcome, or the expression on the visible plane, of the ultimate and ever-to-be-unknown UNITY.
In its turn, this triple unit is the producer of the four primary “Elements,” which are known in our visible terrestrial nature as the seven (so far the five) Elements. (S.D. I, 347.)
The four, i.e., three and the synthesis, become seven because of the dual nature of the three. Within the body, three elements form six substances; so, on the higher planes, the triple deity eventually gives rise to six planes, plus the substratum. Air in Tridosha and kama-manas in Theosophy are balance principles, created by the interaction of cosmic and terrestrial elements. “Ethereal fire is the emanation of the KABIR proper; the aerial is but the union (correlation) of the former with terrestrial fire.” (S.D. I, 469.)
On each level six elements are enclosed by a seventh—on the cosmic level, by primordial fire; on the human, by prana; on the physical, by animal vitality. Man floats in a sea of prana, the non-individualized principle, because the aim of Ayurveda is to unite all the principles by Life. In another study, the correspondences would vary and man might be shown as encircled by Atma or perhaps Buddhi-manas, depending upon the student’s purpose. The physical body cannot be shown as one of the seven principles because it is a complete microcosm in itself, but within it the mirroring of triads can be continued to ever smaller divisions, such as organs, cells, and cell components. The elements of Fire, Air and Water become merged and somewhat confused by a protean symbolism on the highest Cosmic level.
The position of Earth in Ayurveda can be inferred in two ways; first, through the Buddhist teaching, which probably derived from the Hindu, and second, through the theosophical, which dovetails without contradiction with the Ayurvedic theory. In the Buddhist Sutra (Daisokyo), the earth-element is said to be a kind of powder or dust which is held together by the water element, preserved by the fire, and propped up by the wind. Thus Earth is a passive medium acted upon by the three elements of Tridosha and has no dynamic function of its own. The Ayurvedic physician, therefore, could take this for granted, just as an art teacher takes for granted the presence of paper when he describes his technique. The Secret Doctrine (I, 252) says that the correct order of the elements is fire, air, water, earth. The two fires produce air; they interact to produce water; and all three elements are the rulers of the Earth, their counterpart in the material world.
As gods of Fire, Air, Water, they were celestial gods; as gods of the lower region, they were infernal deities: the latter adjective applying simply to the Earth. (S.D. I, 463.)
The division of celestial and infernal may be applied at any level; Earth can be referred to the lower principles of man, or his body, or the clay of the body, as in the Buddhist classification. In any case the rejection of Earth as a causal element to be wielded by the healer is justified.
In like manner the elements of akasha and thought, although causal, are directed by the dweller in the body rather than the physician, who can treat only through the three elements which direct the body.
To bring about a condition in which the body can readily absorb life, Ayurvedic physicians sought to harmonize Fire, Air, and Water. Tridosha therapy, then, consists of prescribing food, medicine, and other external treatments which will pacify an overbalanced element and strengthen a weakened one. Its elements regulated, the body reflects their harmony as well-being. In India the means of influencing the elements are traditional, and are probably comparable in their results to traditional therapies elsewhere. The theory itself is a convenient framework for studying and treating the body. Success depends mainly on, first, correct diagnosis of the disturbed element and the physician’s ability to manipulate the imbalance, and second, reaching the disharmony on the plane or principle where it originated.
When a disease is treated on a level lower than that of the cause, palliation is the result; cure is effected only by proper treatment on the same level as the cause of the trouble. Palliation is not to be completely eschewed, however, for it is often necessary, if the connection between the body and Life is to be maintained long enough to find the cure. During a particular lifetime, the cause may be on the physical plane, i.e., wrong diet, impure atmosphere, displaced vertebrae, structural defects or weaknesses, etc. More often the cause is emotional— the strain and unhappiness of personal or even world problems; or mental—living according to wrong views, misusing mental powers.
While Tridosha seems to treat the physical primarily, as by diet, and perhaps the astral when herbs are employed for their magnetic or special properties or “virtues,” treatment in the earliest Vedic scriptures consisted of incantations and religious rites. This would seem to suggest that the ancients understood that cure was dependent on regulation by the higher principles. Physical treatments were a later development, designed to give comfort and expedite nature’s cure, which is sometimes so slow and wasteful. As Hahnemann noted, Nature will preserve life, but to do so may suppurate away an eyeball, while man can save both life and sight by “artificially” removing a foreign body. Since all men carry the debris of many past errors, the old cause may have ceased by the time it comes to our attention in the form of disease, but the elimination of the refuse from the past can be considerably eased by gentle treatment. For example, many homeopaths have found it better to stimulate the draining of a fistula and then let it heal naturally rather than to close it by an operation, leaving the waste matter to seek another outlet.
On every level, or in each principle, the seed of disease can be planted and eradicated, but all disease being ultimately traceable to the astral and psychic principles, the practitioner who applies his art to those higher levels will sooner reach a lasting cure. Cure of the lower principles, like the peace which is an interval between wars, is never lasting. Perfect diet will not help the unloved individual, though he may feel less miserable if his diet is wholesome. An unstrained atmosphere is useless if one’s mind has no food for growth, and false views warp emotions and living habits. For example, mental healers by using the powers of Kriyasakti and Itchasakti can maintain health for many years by concentration on the lower principles and manipulating them according to their desire, but the result is an increased attachment and bondage to those lower planes, to the Maya of Earth life; in other words, it means suffering in the future.
Fortunately, suffering often leads man to introspection and thence to divine therapy and permanent cure. Divine therapy is that practiced on the level of man’s three highest principles; it is as effective for healing personality ills as those of the body, for indeed, one causes the other. Of course, the perfection of divine therapy is slow, yet the influence from the heavenly man flows continuously through all the lower principles, quieting the turbulent elements. The world looks on the practitioner of divine therapy and says, “He has a high resistance to disease,” or, “He is emotionally secure,” or, “He has an unprejudiced, objective outlook.” Further, once the struggle for equilibrium between the elements is stilled, the battlefield—the body—can be cleared of its dross; it responds readily to well chosen remedies.
The actual practice of divine therapy is not vague if the following passage from the Gita is considered carefully:
Only some know me truly. Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space (or Akasa, Æther), Mind, Understanding and Egoism (or the perception of all the former on the illusive plane) . . . This is a lower form of my nature. (S.D. I, 535.)
Including Earth—the lower reflection—the eight elements can correspond to the principles of man, the microcosmic reflection of the triple Deity. At the present stage of evolution, man deals with the first five elements through the senses of smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing; that is, his lower nature, including kama-manas, lies within his range of control. Further evolution will expand his realm to include the “elements,” Mind, Understanding, and Egoism, i.e.. the principles, Manas, Buddhi, and Atma, which are the fire, water, and air of the higher man. Divine therapy is practiced when one leaves the “infernal” regions to create harmony between the “celestial” elements. Although any activation of the celestial elements may seem desirable, unequal development of any one can be detrimental, and Nature kindly provides indications of such deficiencies. They can be noted and remedied as follows:
(1) When kama is strong and uncontrolled, or when the circulatory system of the body is overactive (“circulatory” includes digestion, thermal control, blood production, sight, skin condition), the fire element of higher manas needs to be developed. When the fire element of the higher triad is overdeveloped, the kamic nature will be sluggish and unresponsive, as will the circulatory system. In this case, the opposing element, water, should be stimulated. On any one level, the opposite elements must be balanced, using air (spiritual will, ordinary will power, or nerves) to manipulate water and fire. But between different principles or levels of action the same element must be balanced with its counterpart.
To regulate an overactive terrestrial fire, one must meditate on the fact that all embodied beings are necessarily imperfect reflections of the ONE: all are “divine fragments” in need of help. So, evaluation and discrimination are learned and practiced without blame or anger.
(2) The water element, or correlative of Buddhi, needs development when the astral and mucous systems are overactive, or when the higher fire is overbalanced. (“Mucous” includes all moistening functions, protection of joints, taste, carrying of nutriment to heart, and easing the function of eyes, ears, nose.)
To activate the element of Understanding, one must realize that the Self of each human being is the same, and as the Great Heresy loses its strangle-hold, one learns to see that personality differences, possessions, and external attributes are inevitably varied, yet transient and ultimately unreal.
(3) The Air element, Atma or Egoism, needs to be activated when kama-manas and the nervous system are upset and there is lack of control over the fire and water elements. Since Will is paralyzed by fear, courage must be gained: and this can be done by meditating on the eternal, omnipresence of the SELF, and by contemplating the formula, “That Thou Art.” Simultaneously all thoughts based on the idea that the limits of space and time are real must be cast out.
By wedding the triune system of Tridosha to the theosophical teaching of the structure of man and universe, one finds a workable method of spiritual healing. Other valid techniques exist, but the success of any divine therapy depends upon the constancy with which it is practiced. When the higher principles are properly cultivated, the bodily elements are harmonized, basic character faults are corrected, and their opposing virtues blossom forth. And so the requirements for entering the “secret path” are fulfilled. Sankaracharya describes the procedure in one succinct verse:
0 disciple, with mind under control, directly perceive this, the atman in thyself as—”this I am’ ‘—through the tranquillity of Buddhi cross the shoreless sea of changeful existence, whose billows are birth and death, and accomplish thy end, resting firmly in the form of Brahman. (Viveka-chudamani, 138.)
FREEDOM THROUGH RESIGNATION
The idea of Reverence for Life offers itself as the realistic answer to the realistic question of how man and the world are related to each other. Of the world man knows only that everything which exists is, like himself, a manifestation of the Will-to-Live. With this world he stands in a relation of passivity and of activity. On the one hand he is subordinate to the course of events which is given in this totality of life; on the other hand, he is capable of affecting the life which comes within his reach by hampering or promoting it, by destroying or maintaining it.
The one possible way of giving meaning to his existence is that of raising his natural relation to the world to a spiritual one. As a being in a passive relation to the world he comes into a spiritual relation to it by resignation. True resignation consists in this: that man, feeling his subordination to the course of world happenings, wins his way to in ward freedom from the fortunes which shape the outside of his existence. Inward freedom means that he finds strength to deal with every thing that is hard in his lot, in such a way that it all helps to make him a deeper and more inward person, to purify him, and to keep him calm and peaceful. Resignation, therefore, is the spiritual and ethical affirmation of one’s own existence. —ALBERT SCHWEITZER
THEOSOPHY GENERALLY STATED
[From the Official Report, World's Parliament of Religions, 1893]
THE claim is made that an impartial study of history, religion and literature will show the existence from ancient times of a great body of philosophical, scientific and ethical doctrine forming the basis and origin of all similar thought in modern systems. It is at once religious and scientific, asserting that religion and science should never be separated. It puts forward sublime religious and ideal teachings, but at the same time shows that all of it can be demonstrated to reason, and that authority other than that has no place, thus preventing the hypocrisy which arises from asserting dogmas on authority which no one can show as resting on reason. This ancient body of doctrine is known as the “Wisdom Religion” and was always taught by adepts or initiates therein who pre serve it through all time. Hence, and from other doctrines demonstrated, it is shown that man, being spirit and immortal, is able to perpetuate his real life and consciousness, and has done so during all time in the persons of those higher flowers of the human race who are members of an ancient and high brotherhood who concern themselves with the soul development of man, held by them to include every process of evolution on all planes. The initiates, being bound by the law of evolution, must work with humanity as its development permits. Therefore from time to time they give out again and again the same doctrine which from time to time grows obscured in various nations and places. This is the wisdom religion, and they are the keepers of it. At times they come to nations as great teachers and “saviours,” who only re-promulgate the old truths and system of ethics. This therefore holds that humanity is capable of infinite perfection both in time and quality, the saviours and adepts being held up as examples of that possibility.
From this living and presently acting body of perfected men H. P. Blavatsky declared she received the impulse to once more bring forward the old ideas, and from them also received several keys to ancient and modern doctrines that had been lost during modern struggles toward civilization, and also that she was furnished by them with some doctrines really ancient but entirely new to the present day in any exoteric shape. These she wrote among the other keys furnished by her to her fellow members and the world at large. Added, then, to the testimony through all tune found in records of all nations we have this modern explicit assertion that the ancient learned and humanitarian body of adepts still exists on this earth and takes an interest in the development of the race.
Theosophy postulates an eternal principle called the un known, which can never be cognized except through its manifestations. This eternal principle is in and is every thing and being; it periodically and eternally manifests itself and recedes again from manifestation. In this ebb and flow evolution proceeds and itself is the progress of the manifestation. The perceived universe is the manifestation of this unknown, including spirit and matter, for Theosophy holds that those are but the two opposite poles of the one unknown principle. They coexist, are not separate nor separable from each other, or, as the Hindu scriptures say, there is no particle of matter without spirit, and no particle of spirit without matter. In manifesting itself the spirit-matter differentiates on seven planes, each more dense on the way down to the plane of our senses than its predecessor. the substance in all being the same, only differing in degree. Therefore from this view the whole universe is alive, not one atom of it being in any sense dead. It is also conscious and intelligent, its consciousness and intelligence being present on all planes though obscured on this one. On this plane of ours the spirit focalizes itself in all human beings who choose to permit it to do so, and the refusal to permit it is the cause of ignorance, of sin, of all sorrow and suffering.
In all ages some have come to this high state, have grown to be as gods, are partakers actively in the work of nature, and go on from century to century widening their consciousness and increasing the scope of their government in nature. This is the destiny of all beings, and hence at the outset Theosophy postulates this perfectibility of the race, removes the idea of innate unregenerable wickedness, and offers a purpose and an aim for life which is consonant with the longings of the soul and with its real nature, tending at the same time to destroy pessimism with its companion, despair.
In Theosophy the world is held to be the product of the evolution of the principle spoken of from the very lowest first forms of life guided as it proceeded by intelligent perfected beings from other and older evolutions, and compounded also of the egos or individual spirits for and by whom it emanates. Hence man as we know him is held to be a conscious spirit, the flower of evolution, with other and lower classes of egos below him in the lower kingdoms, all however coming up and destined one day to be on the same human stage as we now are, we then being higher still. Man’s consciousness being thus more perfect is able to pass from one to another of the planes of differentiation mentioned. If he mistakes any one of them for the reality that he is in his essence, he is deluded; the object of evolution then is to give him complete self-consciousness so that he may go on to higher stages in the progress of the universe. His evolution after coming on the human stage is for the getting of experience, and in order to so raise up and purify the various planes of matter with which he has to do, that the voice of the spirit may be fully heard and comprehended.
He is a religious being because he is a spirit encased in matter, which is in turn itself spiritual in essence. Being a spirit he requires vehicles with which to come in touch with all the planes of nature included in evolution, and it is these vehicles that make of him an intricate, composite being, liable to error, but at the same time able to rise above all delusions and conquer the highest place. He is in miniature the universe, for he is as spirit, manifesting himself to himself by means of seven differentiations. Therefore is he known in Theosophy as a sevenfold being. The Christian division of body, soul, and spirit is accurate so far as it goes, but will not answer to the problems of life and nature, unless, as is not the case, those three divisions are each held to be composed of others, which would raise the possible total to seven. The spirit stands alone at the top, next comes the spiritual soul or Buddhi as it is called in Sanskrit. This partakes more of the spirit than any below it, and is connected with Manas or mind, these three being the real trinity of man, the imperishable part, the real thinking entity living on the earth in the other and denser vehicles by its evolution. Below in order of quality is the plane of the de sires and passions shared with the animal kingdom, unintelligent, and the producer of ignorance flowing from delusion. It is distinct from the will and judgment, and must therefore be given its own place. On this plane is gross life, manifesting, not as spirit from which it derives its essence, but as energy and motion on this plane. It being common to the whole objective plane and being everywhere, is also to be classed by itself, the portion used by man being given up at the death of the body. Then last, before the objective body, is the model or double of the Outer physical case. This double is the astral body belonging to the astral plane of matter, not so dense as physical molecules, but more tenuous and much stronger, as well as lasting. It is the original of the body permitting the physical molecules to arrange and show themselves thereon, allowing them to go and come from day to day as they are known to do, yet ever retaining the fixed shape and contour given by the astral double within. These lower four principles or sheaths are the transitory perishable part of man, not him self, but in every sense the instrument he uses, given up at the hour of death like an old garment, and rebuilt out of the general reservoir at every new birth. The trinity is the real man, the thinker, the individuality that passes from house to house, gaining experience at each rebirth, while it suffers and enjoys according to its deeds—it is the one central man, the living spirit-soul.
Now this spiritual man, having always existed, being intimately concerned in evolution, dominated by the law of cause and effect, because in himself he is that very law, showing moreover on this plane varieties of force of character, capacity, and opportunity, his very presence must be explained, while the differences noted have to be accounted for. The doctrine of reincarnation does all this. It means that man as a thinker, composed of soul, mind and spirit, occupies body after body in life after life on the earth which is the scene of his evolution, and where he must, under the very laws of his being, complete that evolution, once it has been begun. In any one life he is known to others as a personality, but in the whole stretch of eternity he is one individual, feeling in himself an identity not dependent on name. form, or recollection.
This doctrine is the very base of Theosophy, for it explains life and nature. It is one aspect of evolution, for as it is re-embodiment in meaning, and as evolution could not go on with out re-embodiment, it is evolution itself, as applied to the human soul. But it is also a doctrine believed in at the time given to Jesus and taught in the early ages of Christianity, being now as much necessary to that religion as it is to any other to explain texts, to reconcile the justice of God with the rough and merciless aspect of nature and life to most mortals, and to throw a light perceptible by reason on all the problems that vex us in our journey through this world. The vast, and under any other doctrine unjust, difference between the savage and the civilized man as to both capacity, character, and opportunity can be understood only through this doctrine, and coming to our own stratum the differences of the same kind may only thus be explained. It vindicates Nature and God, and removes from religion the blot thrown by men who have postulated creeds which paint the creator as a demon. Each man’s life and character are the outcome of his previous lives and thoughts. Each is his own judge, his own executioner, for it is his own hand that forges the weapon which works for his punishment, and each by his own life reaches reward, rises to heights of knowledge and power for the good of all who may be left behind him. Nothing is left to chance, favour, or partiality, but all is under the governance of law. Man is a thinker, and by his thoughts he makes the causes for woe or bliss; for his thoughts produce his acts. He is the centre for any disturbance of the universal harmony, and to him as the centre the disturbance must return so as to bring about equilibrium, for nature always works towards harmony. Man is always carrying on a series of thoughts, which extend back to the remote past, continually making action and reaction. He is thus responsible for all his thoughts and acts, and in that his complete responsibility is established; his own spirit is the essence of this law and provides for ever compensation for every disturbance and adjustment for all effects. This is the law of Karma or justice, sometimes called the ethical law of causation. It is not foreign to the Christian scriptures, for both Jesus and St. Paul clearly enunciated it. Jesus said we should be judged as we gave judgment and should receive the measure meted to others. St. Paul said: “Brethren, be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that also shall he reap.” And that so and reaping can only he possible under the doctrines of Karma and reincarnation.
But what of death and after? Is heaven a place or is it not? Theosophy teaches, as may be found in all sacred books, that after death the soul reaps a rest. This is from its own nature. It is a thinker, and cannot during life fulfill and carry out all nor even a small part of the myriads of thoughts entertained. Hence when at death it casts off the body and the astral body, and is released from the passions and desires, its natural forces have immediate sway and it thinks its thoughts out on the soul plane, clothed in a finer body suitable to that existence. This is called Devachan. It is the very state that has brought about the descriptions of heaven common to all religions, but this doctrine is very clearly put in the Buddhist and Hindu religions. It is a time of rest, because the physical body being absent the consciousness is not in the completer touch with visible nature which is possible on the material plane. But it is a real existence, and no more illusionary than earth life; it is where the essence of the thoughts of life that were as high as character permitted, expands and is garnered by the soul and mind. When the force of these thoughts is fully exhausted the soul is drawn back once more to earth, to that environment which is sufficiently like unto itself to give it the proper further evolution. This alternation from state to state goes on until the being rises from repeated experiences above ignorance, and realizes in itself the actual unity of all spiritual beings. Then it passes on to higher and greater steps on the evolutionary road.
No new ethics are presented by Theosophy, as it is held that right ethics are for ever the same. But in the doctrines of Theosophy are to be found the philosophical and reasonable basis for ethics and the natural enforcement of them in practice. Universal brotherhood is that which will result in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, and in your loving your neighbour as yourself—declared as right by all teachers in the great religions of the world.
WILLIAM 0. JUDGE Lucifer, December, 1893
THE APPLICATION OF THEOSOPHICAL THEORIES
THE mistake is being made by a great many persons, among them being Theosophists, of applying several of the doctrines current in Theosophical literature, to only one or two phases of a question or to only one thing at a time, limiting rules which have universal application to a few cases, when in fact all those doctrines which have been current in the East for so long a time should be universally applied. For instance, take the law of Karma. Some people say, “yes, we believe in that,” but they only apply it to human beings. They consider it only in its relation to their own acts or to the acts of all men. Sometimes they fail to see that it has its effect not only on themselves and their fellows, but as well on the greatest of Mahatmas. Those great Beings are not exempt from it; in fact they are, so to say, more bound by it than we are. Although they are said to be above Karma, this is only to be taken to mean that, having escaped from the wheel of Samsara (which means the wheel of life and death, or rebirths), and in that sense are above Karma, at the same time we will find them often unable to act in a given case. Why? If they have transcended Karma, how can it be possible that in any instance they may not break the law, or perform certain acts which to us seem to be proper at just that juncture? Why can they not, say in the case of a chela who has worked for them and for the cause, for years with the most exalted unselfishness, interfere and save him from suddenly falling or being overwhelmed by horrible misfortune; or interfere to help or direct a movement? It is because they have become part of the great law of Karma itself. It would be impossible for them to lift a finger.
Again, we know that at a certain period of progress, far above this sublunary world, the adept reaches a point when he may, if he so chooses, formulate a wish that he might be one of the Devas, one of that bright host of beings of whose pleasure, glory and power we can have no idea. The mere formulation of the wish is enough. At that moment he becomes one of the Devas. He then for a period of time which in its extent is incalculable, enjoys that condition—then what? Then he has to begin again low down in the scale, in a mode and for a purpose which it would be useless to detail here, because it could not be understood, and also because I am not able to put it in any language with which I am conversant. In this, then, is not this particular adept who thus fell, subject to the law of Karma?
There is in the Hindu books a pretty story which illustrates this. A certain man heard that every day a most beautiful woman rose up out of the sea, and combed her hair. He re solved that he would go to see her. He went, and she rose up as usual. He sprang into the sea behind her, and with her went down to her abode. There he lived with her for a vast length of time. One day she said she had to go away and stated that he must not touch a picture which was on the wall, and then departed. In a few days, fired by curiosity, he went to look at the picture; saw that it was an enameled one of a most ravishingly beautiful person, and he put out his hand to touch it. At that moment the foot of the figure suddenly enlarged, flew out from the frame, and sent him back to the scenes of earth, where he met with only sorrow and trouble.
The law of Karma must be applied to everything. Nothing is exempt from it. It rules the vital molecule from plant up to Brahma himself. Apply it then to the vegetable, animal and human kingdom alike.
Another law is that of Reincarnation. This is not to be con fined only to the souls and bodies of men. Why not use it for every branch of nature to which it may be applicable? Not only are we, men and women, reincarnated, but also every molecule of which our bodies are composed. In what way, then. can we connect this rule with all of our thoughts? Does it apply there? It seems to me that it does, and with as much force as anywhere. Each thought is of definite length. It does not last for over what we may call an instant, but the time of its duration is in fact much shorter. It springs into life and then it dies; but it is at once reborn in the form of another thought. And thus the process goes on from moment to moment, from hour to hour, from day to day. And each one of these reincarnated thoughts lives its life, some good, some bad, some so terrible in their nature that if we could see them we would shrink back in affright. Further than that, a number of these thoughts form themselves into a certain idea, and it dies to be reincarnated in its time. Thus on rolls this vast flood. Will it overwhelm us? It may; it often does. Let us then make our thoughts pure. Our thoughts are the matrix, the mine, the fountain, the source of all that we are and of all that we may be.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE The Occult Word, May, 1886
UNIVERSAL APPLICATIONS OF DOCTRINE
DURING the last few years in which so much writing has been done in the theosophical field of effort, a failure to make broad or universal applications of the doctrines brought forward can be noticed. With the exception of H. P. Blavatsky, our writers have confined themselves to narrow views, chiefly as to the state of man after death or how Karma affects him in life. As to the latter law, the greatest consideration has been devoted to deciding how it modifies our pleasure or our pain, and then as to whether in Devachan there will be compensation for failures of Karma; while others write upon reincarnation as if only mankind were subject to that law. And the same limited treatment is adopted in treating of or practising many other theories and doctrines of the Wisdom Religion. After fourteen years of activity it is now time that the members of our society should make universal the application of each and every admitted doctrine or precept, and not confine them to their own selfish selves.
In order to make my meaning clear I purpose in this paper to attempt an outline of how such universal applications of some of our doctrines should be made.
Before taking up any of these I would draw the attention of those who believe in the Upanishads to the constant insistence throughout those sacred books upon the identity of man with Brahma. or God, or nature, and to the universal application of all doctrines or laws. In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad it is said:
Tell me the Brahman which is visible, not invisible, the at man who is within all?
This, thy Self who is within all. . . . He who breathes in the up-breathing, he is thy Self and within all. He who breathes in the down-breathing, he is thy Self and within all. He who breathes in the on-breathing, he is thy Self and within all. This is thy Self who is within all.
The 6th Brahmana is devoted to showing that all the worlds are woven in and within each other; and in the 7th the teacher declares that “the puller” or mover in all things whatsoever is the same Self which is in each man.
The questioners then proceed and draw forth the statement that “what is above the heavens, beneath the earth, embracing heaven and earth, past, present, and future, that is woven, like warp and woof, in the ether,” and that the ether is “woven like warp and woof in the Imperishable.” If this be so, then any law that affects man must govern every portion of the universe in which he lives.
And we find these sturdy men of old applying their doc trines in every direction. They use the laws of analogy and correspondences to solve deep questions. Why need we be behind them? If the entire great Self dwells in man, the body in all its parts must symbolize the greater world about. So we discover that space having sound as its distinguishing characteristic is figured in the human frame by the ear, as fire is by the eye, and, again, the eye showing forth the soul, for the soul alone conquers death, and that which in the Upanishads conquers death is fire.
It is possible in this manner to proceed steadily toward the acquirement of a knowledge of the laws of nature, not only those that are recondite, but also the more easily perceived. If we grant that the human body and organs are a figure, in little, of the universe, then let us ask the question, “By what is the astral light symbolized?” By the eye, and specially by the retina and its mode of action. On the astral light are received the pictures of all events and things, and on the retina are received the images of objects passing before the man. We find that these images on the retina remain for a specific period, capable of measurement, going through certain changes before fading completely away. Let us extend the result of this observation to the astral light, and we assume that it also goes through similar changes in respect to the pictures. From this it follows that the mass or totality of pictures made during any cycle must, in this great retina, have a period at the end of which they will have faded away. Such we find is the law as stated by those who know the Secret Doctrine. In order to arrive at the figures with which to represent this period, we have to calculate the proportion thus: as the time of fading from the human retina is to the healthy man’s actual due of life, so is the time of fading from the astral light. The missing term may be discovered by working upon the doctrine of the four yugas or ages and the length of one life of Brahma.
Now these theosophical doctrines which we have been at such pains to elaborate during all the years of our history are either capable of universal application or they are not. If they are not, then they are hardly worth the trouble we have be stowed upon them; and it would then have been much better for us had we devoted ourselves to some special departments of science.
But the great allurement that theosophy holds for those who follow it is that its doctrines are universal, solving all questions and applying to every department of nature so far as we know it. And advanced students declare that the same universal application prevails in regions far beyond the grasp of present science or of the average man’s mind. So that, if a supposed law or application is formulated to us, either by ourselves or by some other person, we are at once able to prove it; for un less it can be applied in every direction—by correspondence. or is found to be one of the phases of some previously-admitted doctrine, we know that it is false doctrine or inaccurately stated. Thus all our doctrines can be proved and checked at every step. It is not necessary for us to have constant communications with the Adepts in order to make sure of our ground; all that we have to do is to see if any position we assume agrees with well-known principles already formulated and understood.
Bearing this in mind, we can confidently proceed to examine the great ideas in which so many of us believe, with a view of seeing how they may be applied in every direction. For if, instead of selfishly considering these laws in their effect upon our miserable selves, we ask how they apply everywhere, a means is furnished for the broadening of our horizon and the elimination of selfishness. And when also we apply the doc trines to all our acts and to all parts of the human being, we may begin to wake ourselves up to the real task set before us.
Let us look at Karma. It must be applied not only to the man but also to the Cosmos, to the globe upon which he lives. You know that, for the want of an English word, the period of one great day of evolution is called a Manwantara, or the reign of one Manu. These eternally succeed each other. In other words, each one of us is a unit, or a cell, if you please, in the great body or being of Manu, and just as we see ourselves making Karma and reincarnating for the purpose of carrying off Karma, so the great being Manu dies at the end of a Manwantara, and after the period of rest reincarnates once more. the sum total of all that we have made him—or it. And when I say “we.” I mean all the beings on whatever plane or planet who are included in that Manwantara. Therefore this Manwantara is just exactly what the last Manwantara made it, and so the next Manwantara after this—millions of years off— will be the sum or result of this one, plus all that have preceded it.
How much have you thought upon the effect of Karma upon the animals, the plants. the minerals, the elemental beings? Have you been so selfish as to suppose that they are not affected by you? Is it true that man himself has no responsibility upon him for the vast numbers of ferocious and noxious animals, for the deadly serpents and scorpions, the devastating lions and tigers, that make a howling wilderness of some corners of the earth and terrorize the people of India and else-where? it cannot be true. But as the Apostle of the Christians said, it is true that the whole of creation waits upon man and groans that he keeps back the enlightenment of all. What happens when, with intention, you crush out the life of a common croton bug? Well, it is destroyed and you forget it. But you brought it to an untimely end, short though its life would have been. Imagine this being done at hundreds of thousands of places in the State. Each of these little creatures had life and energy; each some degree of intelligence. The sum total of the effects of all these deaths of small things must be appreciable. If not, then our doctrines are wrong and there is no wrong in putting out the life of a human being.
Let us go a little higher, to the bird kingdom and that of four-footed beasts. Every day in the shooting season in En gland vast quantities of birds are killed for sport. and in other places such intelligent and inoffensive animals as deer. These have a higher intelligence than insects, a wider scope of feeling. Is there no effect under Karma for all these deaths? And what is the difference between wantonly killing a deer and murdering an idiot? Very little to my mind. Why is it, then, that even delicate ladies will enjoy the recital of a bird or deer hunt? It is their Karma that they are the descendants of long generations of Europeans who some centuries ago, with the aid of the church, decided that animals had no souls and therefore could be wantonly slaughtered. The same Karma permits the grandson of the Queen of England who calls her self the defender of the faith—of Jesus—to have great preparations made for his forth-coming visit to India to the end that he shall enjoy several weeks of tiger-hunting, pig-sticking, and the destruction of any and every bird that may fly in his way.
We therefore find ourselves ground down by the Karma of our national stem, so that we are really almost unable to tell what thoughts are the counterfeit presentments of the thoughts of our forefathers, and what self-born in our own minds.
Let us now look at Reincarnation, Devachan, and Karma. It has been the custom of theosophists to think upon these subjects in respect only to the whole man—that is to say, respecting the ego.
But what of its hourly and daily application? If we believe in the doctrine of the One Life, then every cell in these material bodies must be governed by the same laws. Each cell must be a life and have its karma, devachan, and reincarnation. Every one of these cells upon incarnating among the others in our frame must be affected by the character of those it meets; and we make that character. Every thought upon reaching its period dies. It is soon reborn, and coming back from its devachan it finds either bad or good companions pro vided for it. Therefore every hour of life is fraught with danger or with help. How can it be possible that a few hours a week devoted to Theosophic thought and action can counteract—even in the gross material cells—the effect of nearly a whole week spent in indifference, frivolity, or selfishness? This mass of poor or bad thought will form a resistless tide that shall sweep away all your good resolves at the first opportunity.
This will explain why devoted students often fail. They have waited for a particular hour or day to try their strength, and when the hour came they had none. If it was anger they had resolved to conquer, instead of trying to conquer it at an offered opportunity they ran away from the chance so as to escape the trial; or they did not meet the hourly small trials that would, if successfully passed, have given them a great reserve of strength. so that no time of greater trial would have been able to overcome them.
Now as to the theory of the evolution of the macrocosm in its application to the microcosm, man.
The hermetic philosophy held that man is a copy of the greater universe; that he is a little universe in himself, governed by the same laws as the great one, and in the small proportions of a human being showing all those greater laws in operation, only reduced in time or sweep. This is the rule to which H. P. Blavatsky adheres, and which is found running through all the ancient mysteries and initiations.
It is said that our universe is a collection of atoms or molecules—called also “lives”; living together and through each the spirit struggles to reach consciousness, and that this struggle is governed by a law compelling it to go on in or between periods. In any period of such struggle some of these atoms or collections of molecules are left over, as it were, to renew the battle in the next period, and hence the state of the universe at any time of manifestation—or the state of each newly-manifested universe—must be the result of what was done in the preceding period.
Coming down to the man, we find that he is a collection of molecules or lives or cells, each striving with the other, and all affected for either good or bad results by the spiritual aspirations or want of them in the man who is the guide or god, so to say, of his little universe. When he is born, the molecules or cells or lives that are to compose his physical and astral forms are from that moment under his reign, and during the period of his smaller life they pass through a small manvantara just as the lives in the universe do, and when he dies he leaves them all impressed with the force and color of his thoughts and aspirations, ready to be used in composing the houses of other egos.
Now here is a great responsibility revealed to us of a double character.
The first is for effects produced on and left in what we call matter in the molecules, when they come to be used by other egos, for they must act upon the latter for benefit or the reverse.
The second is for the effect on the molecules themselves in this, that there are lives or entities in all—or rather they are all lives—who are either aided or retarded in their evolution by reason of the proper or improper use man made of this matter that was placed in his charge.
Without stopping to argue about what matter is, it will be sufficient to state that it is held to be co-eternal with what is called “spirit.” That is. as it is put in the Bhagavad-Gita: “He who is spirit is also matter.” Or, in other words, spirit is the opposite pole to matter of the Absolute. But of course this matter we speak of is not what we see about us, for the latter is only in fact phenomena of matter: even science holds that we do not really see matter.
Now during a manvantara or period of manifestation, the egos incarnating must use over and over again in any world upon which they are incarnating the matter that belongs to it.
So, therefore, we are now using in our incarnations matter that has been used by ourselves and other egos over and over again, and are affected by the various tendencies impressed in it. And, similarly, we are leaving behind us for future races that which will help or embarrass them in their future lives.
This is a highly important matter, whether reincarnation be a true doctrine or not. For if each new nation is only a mass of new egos or souls, it must be much affected by the material environment left behind by nations and races that have disappeared forever.
But for us who believe in reincarnation it has additional force, showing us one strong reason why universal brotherhood should be believed in and practised.
The other branch of the responsibility is just as serious. The doctrine that removes death from the universe and declares that all is composed of innumerable lives, constantly changing places with each other, contains in it of necessity the theory that man himself is full of these lives and that all are traveling up the long road of evolution.
The secret doctrine holds that we are full of kingdoms of entities who depend upon us, so to say, for salvation.
How enormous, then, is this
responsibility, that we not only are to be judged for what we do with ourselves
as a whole, but also for what we do for those unseen beings who are dependent
upon us for light. W.Q.J. Path, October, 1889
WHICH IS VAGUE, THEOSOPHY OR SCIENCE?
IT is commonly charged against the exponents of Theosophy that they deal in vague generalities only. A lecture is given or paper read by a Theosophist, and the profane hearer laughs, saying, “All this is metaphysical absurdity; these are mere abstractions; let us have something like that which science gives us, something we can grasp.”
A great many persons imagine, knowing but little in reality about science, that it is sure, certain, and fixed in the vital premises which underlie the practical outcome seen in many branches of life’s activity. Why is this so? An inquiry into the question discloses the fact that some, if not all, the basic postulates of science are the purest abstractions, and that many statements from which deductions of fact are drawn are them selves the merest hypotheses. We will also find that the commonest of people unconsciously use in every work-a-day acts the most abstract and indefinite premises without which they could do but little.
Take navigation of the ocean, by which we are able to send the largest ships carrying the richest of cargoes from shore to shore of any sea. These are guided in their course by men who know little or nothing of Theosophy and who would laugh at metaphysics. But in order to safely carry the ship from departure to destination, they have to use the lines of longitude and latitude, which, while seeming very real to them, have no existence whatever, except in theory. These lines must be used, and, if not, the ship will strike a rock or run upon the shore. Where are the parallels of longitude and latitude? They are imagined to be on the earth, but their only visible existence is upon the chart made by man, and their real existence is in the mind of the astronomer and those who understand the science of navigation. The sea captain may think they are on the chart, or he may not think of it at all. Where do they stop? Nowhere; they are said to extend indefinitely into space; yet these abstractions are used for present human commercial needs. Is this any less vague than Theosophy?
In the latter we have to guide the great human ship from shore to shore, and in that immense journey are obliged to refer to abstractions from which to start. Our spiritual parallels of latitude and longitude are abstractions, indeed, but no more so than those laid down upon the seaman’s chart. The scientific materialist says: “What nonsense to speak of coming out of the Absolute!” We may reply, “What nonsense for the mariner to attempt to guide his ship by that which has no existence whatever, except in fancy; by that which is a pure abstraction!” Again he laughs at us for assuming that there is such a thing as the soul, “for,” he says, “no man has ever seen it, and none ever can; it cannot be demonstrated.” With perfect truth we can reply: “Where is the atom of science; who has ever seen it; where and when has its existence been demonstrated?” The “atom” of science is today as great a mystery as the “soul” of Theosophy. It is a pure hypothesis, undemonstrated and un demonstrable. It can neither be weighed, nor measured, nor found with a microscope: indeed, in the opinion of many Theosophists it is a far greater mystery than the soul, because some say they have seen that which may be soul; which looks like it; and no man has been, at any time, so fortunate or un fortunate as to have seen an atom.
Further, the scientific materialist says, “What do you know about the powers of the soul, which you say is the central sun of the human system?” And we answer that “it is no more in definite for us than the sun is for the astronomers who attempt to measure its heat and estimate its distance. As to the heat of the sun, not all are agreed that it has any heat whatever, for some learned men think that it is a source of an energy which creates heat when it reaches the earth’s atmosphere only.
Others, celebrated in the records of science, such as Newton, Fizeau, and many other well-known astronomers, disagree as to the quantity of heat thrown out by the sun, on the hypothesis that it has any heat, and that difference is so great as to reach 8,998,600 degrees. Thus as to the central sun of this system, there is the greatest vagueness in science and no agreement as to what may be the truth in this important matter. In Theosophy, however, on the other hand, although there is some vagueness with mere students as to the exact quantity of heat or light thrown out by the soul, those who have devoted more time to its study are able to give closer estimates than any which have been given by scientific men in respect to the sun of the solar system. Yet all these generalities of science are the very things that have led to the present wonderful material development of the nineteenth century.
But let us glance for a moment at the subject of evolution, which engages the thought of materialist and theosophist alike; let us see if theosophy is more vague than its opponents, or more insane, we might say. in ability to lay wild theories before intelligent men. The well-known Haeckel in his Pedigree of Man says. in speaking of Darwin’s teachings and lauding them: “Darwin puts in the place of a conscious creative force, building and arranging the organic bodies of animals and plants on a designed plan, a series of natural forces working blindly, or we say. without aim, without design. In place of an arbitrary act we have a necessary law of evolution.
• . . A mechanical origin of the earliest living form was held as the necessary sequence of Darwin’s teaching.” Here we have blind, undesigning forces, beginning work without design, haphazard, all being jumbled together, but finally working out into a beautiful design visible in the smallest form we can see. There is not a single proof in present life whether mineral, vegetable, or animal, that such a result from such a beginning could by any possibility eventuate But these scientific men in those matters are safe in making hypotheses, because the time is far in the dark of history when these blind, undesigning acts were begun. Yet they ought to show some present instances of similar blindness producing harmonious designs. Now is this not a wild, fanciful, and almost insane statement of Haeckel’s? Is it not ten times more absurd than theosophical teachings? We begin truly with Parabrahmam and Mulaprakriti and Hosts of Dhyan Chohans, but we allege design in every thing, and our Parabrahmam is no more vague than motion or force, pets of science.
So I have found that a slight
examination of this question reveals science as more vague than Theosophy is in
anything. But some may say results are not indefinite. The same is said by us,
the results to be reached by following the doctrines of theosophy, relating, as
they do, to our real life, will be as definite, as visible, as important as any
that science can point to.
EUSEBIO URBAN Path, November, 1890
THE SYNTHESIS OF OCCULT SCIENCE
THE impassable gulf between mind and matter discovered by modern science is a logical result of the present methods of so-called scientific investigation. These methods are analytical and hypothetical, and the results arrived at are necessarily tentative and incomplete. Even the so-called “Synthetic Philosophy” of Spencer is, at best, an effort to grasp the entire method and modulus of nature within one of its processes only. The aim is at synthesis, but it can hardly deserve the name of philosophy, for it is purely speculative and hypothetical. It is as though the physiologist undertook to study the function of respiration in man through the single process of expiration, ignoring the fact that every expiratory act must be supplemented by inspiration or respiration cease altogether.
Taking, therefore, the facts of experience derived from the phenomena of nature and viewing both cosmic and organic processes purely from their objective side, the “missing links,” “impassable gulfs,” and “unthinkable gaps” occur constantly. Not so in Occult Science. So far as the science of occultism is concerned, it is both experimental and analytical, but it acknowledges no “missing links,” “impassable gulfs,” or “un thinkable gaps,” because it finds none. Back of occult science there lies a complete and all-embracing Philosophy. This philosophy is not simply synthetical in its methods, for the simplest as the wildest hypothesis can claim that much; but it is synthesis itself. It regards Nature as one complete whole, and so the student of occultism may stand at either point of observation. He may from the stand-point of Nature’s wholeness and completeness follow the process of segregation and differentiation to the minutest atom conditioned in space and time; or, from the phenomenal display of the atom, he may reach forward and upward till the atom becomes an integral part of cosmos, involved in the universal harmony of creation. The modern scientist may do this incidentally or empirically, but the occultist does it systematically and habitually, and hence philosophically. The modern scientist is confessedly and boast fully agnostic. The occultist is reverently and progressively gnostic.
Modern science recognizes matter as “living” and “dead,” “organic” and “inorganic,” and “Life” as merely a phenomenon of matter. Occult science recognizes, “foremost of all, the postulate that there is no such thing in Nature as inorganic substances or bodies. Stones, minerals, rocks, and even chemical ‘atoms’ are simply organic units in profound lethargy. Their coma has an end, and their inertia becomes activity.” (Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 626 fn.) Occultism recognizes ONE UNIVERSAL, ALL-PERVADING LIFE. Modern science recognizes life as a special phenomenon of matter, a mere transient manifestation due to temporary conditions. Even logic and analogy ought to have taught us better, for the simple reason that so-called “inorganic” or “dead” matter constantly becomes organic and living, while matter from the organic plane is continually being reduced to the inorganic. How rational and justifiable, then, to suppose that the capacity or “potency” of life is latent in all matter!
The “elements,” “atoms,” and “molecules” of modern science, partly physical and partly metaphysical, though altogether hypothetical, are, nevertheless, seldom philosophical, for the simple reason that they are regarded solely as phenomenal. The Law of Avogadro involved a generalization as to physical structure and number, and the later experiments of Prof. Neumann deduced the same law mathematically from the first principles of the mechanical theory of gases, but it remained for Prof. Crookes to perceive the philosophical necessity of a primordial substratum, pro, and so, as pointed out in the Secret Doctrine, to lay the foundations of “Meta chemistry”; in other words, a complete philosophy of physics and chemistry that shall take the place of mere hypothesis and empiricism. If one or two generalizations deduced as logical or mathematical necessities from the phenomena of physics and chemistry have been able to work such revolutions in the old chemistry, what may we not expect from a complete synthesis that shall grasp universals by a law that compasses the whole domain of matter? And yet this complete synthesis has been in the possession of the true occultist for ages. Glimpses of this philosophy have been sufficient to give to minds like Kepler, Descartes, Leibnitz, Kant, Schopenhauer, and, lastly, to Prof. Crookes, ideas that claimed and held the interested attention of the scientific world. While, at certain points, such writers supplement and corroborate each other, neither anywhere nor altogether do they reveal the complete synthesis, for none of them possessed it. and yet it has all along existed.
“Let the reader remember these ‘Monads’ of Leibnitz, every one of which is a living mirror of the universe, every monad reflecting every other, and compare this view and definition with certain Sanskrit stanzas (Slokas) translated by Sir William Jones, in which it is said that the creative source of the Divine Mind, . . . ‘Hidden in a veil of thick darkness, formed mirrors of the atoms of the world, and cast reflection from its own face on every atom’.”—S.D., Vol. 1, p. 623.
It may be humiliating to “Modern Exact Science” and repugnant to the whole of Christendom to have to admit that the Pagans whom they have despised, and the “Heathen Scriptures” they long ridiculed or ignored, nevertheless possess a fund of wisdom never dreamed of under Western skies. They have the lesson, however, to learn, that Science by no means originated in, nor is it confined to, the West, nor are superstition and ignorance confined to the East.
It can easily be shown that every real discovery and every important advancement in modern science have already been anticipated centuries ago by ancient science and philosophy. It is true that these ancient doctrines have been embodied in unknown languages and symbols, and recorded in books in accessible to western minds till a very recent date. Far beyond all this inaccessibility, however, as a cause preventing these old truths from reaching modern times, has been the prejudice, the scorn and contempt of ancient learning manifested by the leaders of modern thought.
Nor is the lesson yet learned that bigotry and scorn are never the mark of wisdom or the harbingers of learning; for still, with comparatively few exceptions, any claim or discussion of these ancient doctrines is met with contempt and scorn. The record has, however, been at least outlined and presented to the world. As the authors of the Secret Doctrine have re marked, these doctrines may not be largely accepted by the present generation, but during the twentieth century they will become known and appreciated.
The scope and bearing of philosophy itself are hardly yet appreciated by modern thought. because of its materialistic tendency. A complete science of metaphysics and a complete philosophy of science are not yet even conceived of as possible; hence the ancient wisdom by its very vastness has escaped recognition in modern times. That the authors of ancient wisdom have spoken from at least two whole planes of conscious experience beyond that of our every-day “sense-perception” is to us inconceivable, and yet such is the fact; and why should the modern advocate of evolution be shocked and staggered by such a disclosure? It but justifies his hypothesis and extends its theatre. Is it because the present custodians of this ancient learning do not scramble for recognition on the stock ex change, and enter into competition in the marts of the world? If the practical outcome of such competition needed illustration, Mr. Keely might serve as an example. The discoveries of the age are already whole centuries in advance of its ethical culture, and the knowledge that should place still further power in the hands of a few individuals whose ethical code is below, rather than above, that of the ignorant, toiling, suffering masses, could only minister to anarchy and increase oppression. On these higher planes of consciousness the law of progress is absolute; knowledge and power go hand in hand with beneficence to man, not alone to the individual possessors of wisdom, but to the whole human race. The custodians of the higher knowledge are equally by both motive and development almoners of the divine. These are the very conditions of the higher consciousness referred to. The synthesis of occult science becomes, therefore, the higher synthesis of the faculties of man. What matter, therefore, if the ignorant shall scout its very existence, or treat it with ridicule and contempt? Those who know of its existence and who have learned something of its scope and nature can, in their turn, afford to smile, but with pity and sorrow at the willing bondage to ignorance and misery that scorns enlightenment and closes its eyes to the plainest truths of experience.
Leaving, for the present, the field of physics and cosmogenesis, it may be profitable to consider some of the applications of these doctrines to the functions and life of man.
The intellect derived from
philosophy is similar to a charioteer; for it is present with our desires, and
always conducts them to the beautiful. —DEMOPHILUS
“In reality, as Occult philosophy teaches us, everything which changes is organic; it has the life principle in it, and it has all the potentiality of the higher lives. If, as we say, all in nature is an aspect of the one element, and life is universal, how can there be such a thing as an inorganic atom!” Man is a perfected animal, but before he could have reached perfection even on the animal plane, there must have dawned upon him the light of a higher plane. Only the perfected animal can cross the threshold of the next higher. or the human plane, and as he does so there shines upon him the ray from the supra human plane. Therefore, as the dawn of humanity illumines the animal plane, and as a guiding star lures the Monad to higher consciousness, so the dawn of divinity illumines the human plane, luring the monad to the supra-human plane of consciousness. This is neither more nor less than the philosophical and metaphysical aspect of the law of evolution. Man has not one principle more than the tiniest insect; he is, how ever, “the vehicle of a fully developed Monad, self-conscious and deliberately following its own line of progress, whereas in the insect, and even the higher animal, the higher triad of principles is absolutely dormant.” The original Monad has, therefore, locked within it the potentiality of divinity. It is plainly, therefore, a misnomer to call that process of thought a “Synthetic Philosophy” that deals only with phenomena and ends with matter on the physical plane. These two generalizations of Occult philosophy, endowing every atom with the potentiality of life, and regarding every insect or animal as al ready possessing the potentialities of the higher planes though these powers are yet dormant, add to the ordinary Spencerian theory of evolution precisely that element that it lacks, viz, the metaphysical and philosophical; and, thus endowed, the theory becomes synthetical.
The Monad, then, is essentially and potentially the same in the lowest vegetable organism, up through all forms and gradations of animal life to man, and beyond. There is a gradual unfolding of its potentialities from “Monera” to man, and there are two whole planes of consciousness, the sixth and the seventh “senses,” not yet unfolded to the average humanity. Every monad that is enclosed in a form, and hence limited by matter, becomes conscious on its own plane and in its own degree. Consciousness, therefore, no less than sensitiveness, belongs to plants as well as to animals. Self-consciousness be longs to man, because, while embodied in a form, the higher triad of principles, Atma-Buddhi-Manas. is no longer dormant. but active. This activity is, however, far from being fully developed. When this activity has become fully developed, man will already have become conscious on a still higher plane, endowed with the sixth and the opening of the seventh sense, and will have become a “god” in the sense given to that term by Plato and his followers.
In thus giving this larger and completer meaning to the law of evolution, the Occult philosophy entirely eliminates the “missing links” of modern science, and, by giving to man a glimpse of his nature and destiny, not only points out the line of the higher evolution, but puts him in possession of the means of achieving it.
The “atoms” and “monads” of the Secret Doctrine are very different from the atoms and molecules of modern science. To the latter these are mere particles of matter endowed with blind force: to the former, they are the “dark nucleoles,” and potentially “Gods,” conscious and intelligent from their primemal embodiment at the beginning of differentiation in the dawn of the Manvantara. There are no longer any hard and fast lines between the “organic” and the “inorganic”; between the “living” and “dead” matter. Every atom is endowed with and moved by intelligence, and is conscious in its own degree, on its own plane of development. This is a glimpse of the One Life that—Runs through all time, extends through all extent, Lives undivided, operates unspent.
It may be conceived that the “Ego” in man is a monad that has gathered to itself innumerable experiences through eons of time, slowly unfolding its latent potencies through plane after plane of matter. It is hence called the “eternal pilgrim.”
The Manasic, or mind principle, is cosmic and universal. It is the creator of all forms, and the basis of all law in nature. Not so with consciousness. Consciousness is a condition of the monad as the result of embodiment in matter and the dwelling in a physical form. Self-consciousness, which from the animal plane looking upward is the beginning of perfection, from the divine plane looking downward is the perfection of selfishness and the curse of separateness. It is the “world of illusion” that man has created for himself. “Maya is the perceptive faculty of every Ego which considers itself a Unit, separate from and independent of the One Infinite and Eternal Sat or ‘be-ness’.” The “eternal pilgrim” must therefore mount higher, and flee from the plane of self-consciousness it has struggled so hard to reach.
The complex structure that we call “Man” is made up of a congeries of almost innumerable “Lives.” Not only every microscopic cell of which the tissues are composed, but the molecules and atoms of which these cells are composed, are permeated with the essence of the “One Life.” Every so-called organic cell is known to have its nucleus, a center of finer or more sensitive matter. The nutritive, all the formative and functional processes consist of flux and re-flux, of inspiration and expiration, to and from the nucleus.
The nucleus is therefore in its own degree and after its kind a “monad” imprisoned in a “form.” Every microscopic cell, therefore, has a consciousness and an intelligence of its own, and man thus consists of innumerable “lives.” This is but physiological synthesis, logically deduced no less from the known facts in physiology and histology than the logical sequence of the philosophy of occultism. Health of the body as a whole depends on the integrity of all its parts, and more especially upon their harmonious association and cooperation. A diseased tissue is one in which a group of individual cells refuse to cooperate, and wherein is set up discordant action, using less or claiming more than their due share of food or energy. Disease of the very tissue of man’s body is neither more nor less than the “sin of separateness.” Moreover, the grouping of cells is upon the principle of hierarchies. Smaller groups are subordinate to larger congeries, and these again are subordinate to larger, or to the whole. Every microscopic cell there fore typifies and epitomizes man, as man is an epitome of the Universe. As already remarked, the “Eternal Pilgrim,” the Alter-Ego in man, is a monad progressing through the ages. By right and by endowment the ego is king in the domain of man’s bodily life. It descended into matter in the cosmic process till it reached the mineral plane, and then journeyed up ward through the “three kingdoms” till it reached the human plane. The elements of its being, like the cells and molecules of man’s body, are groupings of structures accessory or subordinate to it. The human monad or Ego is therefore akin to all below it and heir to all above it, linked by indissoluble bonds to spirit and matter, “God” and “Nature.” The attributes that it gathers, and the faculties that it unfolds, are but the latent and dormant potentialities awaking to conscious life. The tissue cells constitute man’s bodily structure, but the order in which they are arranged, the principle upon which they are grouped, constituting the human form, is not simply an evolved shape from the lower animal plane, but an involved principle from a higher plane, an older world, viz, the “Lunar Pitris.” “Hanuman the Monkey” antedates Darwin’s “missing link” by thousands of millenniums. So also the Manasic, or mind element, with its cosmic and infinite potentialities, is not merely the developed “instinct” of the animal. Mind is the latent or active potentiality of Cosmic Ideation, the essence of every form, the basis of every law, the potency of every principle in the universe. Human thought is the reflection or reproduction in the realm of man’s consciousness of these forms, laws, and principles. Hence man senses and apprehends nature just as nature unfolds in him. When, therefore, the Monad has passed through the form of the animal ego, involved and unfolded the human form, the higher triad of principles awakens from the sleep of ages and over-shadowed by the “Manasa-putra” and built into its essence and substance. How could man epitomize Cosmos if he did not touch it at every point and involve it in every principle? If man’s being is woven in the web of destiny, his potencies and possibilities take hold of divinity as the woof and pattern of his boundless life. Why, then, should he grow weary or disheartened? Alas! why should he be degraded, this heir of all things!
The peculiarity also of this
theology, and in which its transcendency consists,
is this, that it does not consider the highest God to be the principle of
beings, but the principle of principles, i.e. of
deiform processions from itself, all which are eternally rooted in the
unfathomable depths of the immensely great source of their existence, and of
which they may be called supersensuous ramifications
and superluminous blossoms.
It has often been thought a strange thing that there are no dogmas and no creed in Theosophy or Occultism. Is theosophy a religion? is often asked. No, it is religion. Is it a philosophy? No, it is philosophy. Is it a science? No, it is science. If a consensus of religion, philosophy, and science is possible, and if it has ever been reached in human thought, that thought must long since have passed the boundaries of all creeds and ceased to dogmatize. Hence comes the difficulty in answering questions. No proposition stands apart or can be taken separately without limiting and often distorting its meaning. Every proposition has to be considered and held as subservient to the synthetic whole. Really intelligent people, capable of correct reasoning, often lack sufficient interest to endeavor to apprehend the universality of these principles. They expect, where they have any interest at all in the subject, to be told “all about it” in an hour’s conversation, or to learn it from a column in some newspaper; all about man, all about Nature, all about Deity; and then either to reject it or to make it a part of their previous creed. These are really no wiser than the penny-a-liner who catches some point and turns it into ridicule, or makes it a butt for coarse jest or silly sarcasm, and then complacently imagines that he has demolished the whole structure! If such persons were for one moment placed face to face with their own folly, they would be amazed. The most profound thinker and the most correct reasoner might well afford to devote a life-time to the apprehension of the philosophy of occultism, and other life-times to mastering the scientific details, while at the same time his ethics and his religious life are made consistent with the principle of altruism and the Brotherhood of man. If this be regarded as too hard a task, it is, nevertheless, the line of the higher evolution of man, and, soon or late, every soul must follow it, retrograde, or cease to be.
Man is but a link in an endless chain of being; a sequence of a past eternity of causes and processes: a potentiality born into time, but spanning two eternities, his past and his future, and in his consciousness these are all one, Duration, the ever- present. In a former article man was shown to be a series of almost innumerable “Lives,” and these lives, these living entities called “cells,” were shown to be associated together on the principle of hierarchies, grouped according to rank and order, service and development, and this was shown to be the “physical synthesis” of man, and the organic synthesis as well. Disease was also shown to be the organic nutritive, or physiological “sin of separateness.” Every department of man’s being, every organ and cell of his body, was also shown to possess a consciousness and an intelligence of its own, held, however, subordinate to the whole. In health every action is synchronous and rhythmical, however varied and expanded, however intense and comprehensive. Enough is already known in modern physics to justify all these statements, at least by analogy. The principle of electrical induction and vibration, the quantitative and qualitative transmission of vibration and its exact registration. and their application to telegraphy, the telephone, and the phonograph, have upset all previous theories of physics and physiology. “A metallic plate, for instance, can that talk like a human being? Yea or nay? Mr. Bouillard—and he was no common man—said No; to accept such a fact were to upset all our notions of physiology. So said Mr. Bouillard, right in the face of Edison’s phonograph in full Academy, and he throttled the luckless interpreter of the famous American inventor, accusing it of ventriloquism.”
Occultism teaches that the Ego both precedes and survives the physical body. The phenomena of man’s life and the process of his thought can be apprehended and explained on no other theory. Modern physiology teaches in detail certain facts regarding the life of man. It, moreover, groups these facts and deduces certain so-called principles and laws, but such a thing as a synthesis of the whole man is seldom even attempted. “Psychology” is mere empiricism, represented by disjointed facts, and these, of course, but little understood, and more often misinterpreted.
Ask the modern physiologist if man can think when unconscious, and he will answer No; and if asked if man can be conscious and not think, he will as readily answer No. Both answers will be based on what is known, or supposed to be known, of memory. The idea that the real man, the Ego, is always conscious on some plane, and that it “thinks,” as we ordinarily use the term, only on the lower plane through the physical brain, in terms of extension and duration, or space and time, is seldom in the least apprehended by the modern physiologist. If, however, one grasps the idea of the ego as the real man dwelling in the physical body and using it as its instrument through which it is related to space and time, perception. sensation, thought, and feeling, the gaps in physiology and psychology begin to disappear. Here again it should be particularly borne in mind that this doctrine of the ego must be considered in the light of the complete synthesis of occult ism, and just to the extent that this is intelligently done will the significance of the ego appear.
The brief and concise outline of the philosophy of occultism given in the Introduction to the Secret Doctrine is therefore very significant, and the student who desires to apprehend that which follows in these two large volumes ought to study this outline very carefully. No subsequent proposition, no principle in the life of man, can be correctly understood apart from it. The subject-matter following is necessarily fragmentary, but the outline is both inclusive and philosophical, and if one reasons logically and follows the plainest analogies he can never go far astray. The relation of mind to brain, of thought to consciousness, of life to matter. and of man to Nature and to Deity, is there clearly defined; not, indeed, in all its details, hut in a philosophical modulus, to be worked out in reason and in life. The all-pervading Life, the cyclic or periodical movements, the periods of action and of repose, and the intimate relations and inter-dependences of all things apply to Cosmos, and equally to every atom in its vast embrace.
Students sometimes complain that they cannot understand, that the subject is so vast, and so deep and intricate, and not made clear. It is because they do not realize what they have undertaken. Occultism can neither be taught nor learned in “a few easy lessons.” The “object lessons” sometimes given by H.P.B., almost always misunderstood and misapplied, though often explained at the time, served as often to excite vulgar curiosity and personal abuse as to arrest attention and study. If, before the advent of the T.S. in the face of the creeds of Christendom, the materialism of science, the indifferences and supercilious scorn of Agnosticism, and the babel of spiritualism, it had been proposed to begin at the foundations and reconstruct our entire knowledge of Nature and of man; to show the unity and the foundations of the world’s religions; to eliminate from science all its “missing links”; to make Agnosticism gnostic; and to place the science of psychology and the nature and laws of mind and soul over against “Mediumship”; it would have been held as an Herculean task, and declared impossible of accomplishment. Now that the thing has virtually been accomplished and this body of knowledge presented to the world, people think it strange that they cannot compass it all, as the poet Burns is said to have written some of his shorter poems, “while standing on one leg!”
Again, people complain at the unfamiliar terms and the strange words imported from foreign languages. Yet if one were to undertake the study of physics, chemistry, music, or medicine, quite as great obstacles have to be overcome. Is it a strange thing. then, that the science that includes all these, and undertakes to give a synthesis of the whole realm of Nature and of life, should have its own nomenclature?
Beyond all these necessary and natural obstacles, there is another, viz., that contentious spirit that disputes and opposes every point before it is fairly stated or understood. Suppose one ignorant of mathematics were to proceed in the same manner and say, “I don’t like that proposition.” “I don’t see why they turn a six upside down to make a nine,” “Why don’t two and two make five?”, and so on, how long would it take such a one to learn mathematics? In the study of the Secret Doctrine it is not a matter of likes or dislikes, of belief or unbelief, but solely a matter of intelligence and understanding. He who acknowledges his ignorance and yet is unwilling to lay aside his likes and dislikes, and even his creeds and dogmas, for the time, in order to see what is presented in its own light and purely on its merits, has neither need nor use for the Secret Doctrine. Even where a greater number of propositions are accepted or “believed” and a few are rejected, the synthetic whole is entirely lost sight of. But, says some one, this is a plea for blind credulity, and an attempt to bind the mind and the conscience of man to a blind acceptance of these doctrines. No one but the ignorant or the dishonest can make such an assertion in the face of the facts. Listen to the following from p. xix, Introduction to the Secret Doctrine. “It is above every thing important to keep in mind that no theosophical book acquires the least additional value from pretended authority.” If that be advocating blind credulity, let the enemies of the T.S. make the most of it. If any authority pertains to the Secret Doctrine, it must be sought inside, not outside. It must rest on its comprehensiveness, its completeness, its continuity and reasonableness; in other words, on its philosophical synthesis, a thing missed alike by the superficial and the contentious, by the indolent, the superstitious, and the dogmatic.
0 wise man: you have asked rightly. Now listen carefully. The illusive fancies arising from error are not conclusive.
The great and peaceful ones live regenerating the world like the coming of spring, and after having themselves crossed the ocean of embodied existence, help those who try to do the same thing. without personal motives.
—Crest Jewel of Wisdom
In the foregoing articles, necessarily brief and fragmentary, a few points have been given to show the general bearing of the Secret Doctrine on all problems in Nature and in Life.
Synthesis is the very essence o. philosophy—”the combination of separate elements of thought into a whole”—the opposite of analysis, and analysis is the very essence of science.
In the “Outline of the Secret Doctrine” by “C.J.,” now running through the pages of Lucifer, this philosophy or synthesis of the whole is made very clear.
There have been many philosophizers in modem times, but there can be but one philosophy, one synthesis of the whole of Eternal Nature. With the single exception of the writings of Plato, no one in modern times had given to the Western world any approximation to a complete philosophy, previous to the appearance of H. P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine. The writings of Plato are carefully veiled in the symbolical language of initiation. The Secret Doctrine, coming more than two millenniums later, and in an age of so-called Science, is addressed to the Scientific thought of the age, and hence considers the whole subject largely from the stand-point of Science. The present age is as deficient in philosophy as was the age of Plato in knowledge of science. It follows, therefore, that while the Secret Doctrine itself apprehends equally both philosophy and science, in addressing itself to the thought of an age it must recognize here, as it does everywhere, the law of cycles that rules in the intellectual development of a race no less than in the revolutions of suns and worlds, and so address the times from that plane of thought that is in the ascendant. It is just because analytical thought is in the ascend ant, because it is the thought-form of the age. that the great majority of readers are likely to overlook the broad synthesis and so miss the philosophy of the Secret Doctrine. The only object of these brief and fragmentary papers has been to call attention to this point.
We are now in a transition period, and in the approaching twentieth century there will be a revival of genuine philosophy, and the Secret Doctrine will be the basis of the “New Philosophy.” Science today, in the persons of such advanced students as Keely, Crookes, Lodge, Richardson, and many others, al ready treads so close to the borders of occult philosophy that it will not be possible to prevent the new age from entering the occult realm. H. P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine is a store house of scientific facts, but this is not its chief value. These facts are placed, approximately at least, in such relation to the synthesis or philosophy of occultism as to render comparatively easy the task of the student who is in search of real knowledge, and to further his progress beyond all preconception, provided he is teachable, in earnest, and intelligent. Nowhere else in English literature is the Law of Evolution given such sweep and swing. It reminds one of the ceaseless under-tone of the deep sea, and seems to view our Earth in all its changes “from the birth of time to the crack of doom.” It follows man in his triple evolution, physical, mental, and spiritual, throughout the perfect circle of his boundless life. Darwinism had reached its limits and a rebound. Man is indeed evolved from lower forms. But which man? the physical? the psychical? the intellectual? or the spiritual? The Secret Doctrine points where the lines of evolution and involution meet; where matter and spirit clasp hands; and where the rising animal stands face to face with the fallen god; for all natures meet and mingle in man.
Judge no proposition of the Secret Doctrine as though it stood alone, for not one stands alone. Not “independence” here more than with the units that constitute Humanity. It is interdependence everywhere; in nature, as in life.
Even members of the T.S. have often wondered why H.P.B. and others well known in the Society lay so much stress on doctrines like Karma and Reincarnation. It is not alone be cause these doctrines are easily apprehended and beneficent to individuals, not only because they furnish, as they necessarily do, a solid foundation for ethics, or all human conduct, but because they are the very key-notes of the higher evolution of man. Without Karma and Reincarnation evolution is but a fragment; a process whose beginnings are unknown, and whose outcome cannot be discerned: a glimpse of what might be; a hope of what should be. But in the light of Karma and Reincarnation evolution becomes the logic of what must be. The links in the chain of being are all filled in, and the circles of reason and of life are complete. Karma gives the eternal law of action, and Reincarnation furnishes the boundless field for its display. Thousands of persons can understand these two principles, apply them as a basis of conduct, and weave them into the fabric of their lives, who may not he able to grasp the complete synthesis of that endless evolution of which these doctrines form so important a part. In thus affording even the superficial thinker and the weak or illogical reasoner a perfect basis for ethics and an unerring guide in life, Theosophy is building toward the future realization of the Universal Brother hood and the higher evolution of man. But few in this gene ration realize the work that is thus undertaken, or how much has already been accomplished. The obscurity of the present age in regard to genuine philosophical thought is nowhere more apparent than in the manner in which opposition has been waged toward these doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation. In the seventeen years since the Theosophical movement has been before the world there has not appeared, from any source, a serious and logical attempt to discredit these doctrines from a philosophical basis. There have been denial. ridicule, and denunciation ad nauseum. There could be no discussion from such a basis, for from the very beginning these doctrines have been put forth and advocated from the logical and dispassionate plane of philosophy. Ridicule is both unanswerable and unworthy of answer. It is not the argument, but the atmosphere of weak minds, born of prejudice and ignorance.
The synthesis of occultism is therefore the philosophy of Nature and of Life; the full—or free—truth that apprehends every scientific fact in the light of the unerring processes of Eternal Nature.
The time must presently come when the really advanced thinkers of the age will be compelled to lay by their indifference, and their scorn and conceit, and follow the lines of philosophical investigation laid down in the Secret Doctrine. Very few seem yet to have realized how ample are these resources, because it involves a process of thought almost un known to the present age of empiricism and induction. It is a revelation from archaic ages. indestructible and eternal, yet capable of being obscured and lost; capable of being again and again reborn, or like man himself—reincarnated.
“He who lives in one color of the rainbow is blind to the rest. Live in the Light diffused through the entire arc, and you will know it all.”—The Path.
“He who knows not the common things of life is a beast among men. He who knows only the common things of life is a man among beasts. He who knows all that can be learned by diligent inquiry is a god among men.”—Plato.
THE PRESENT AGE
STUDENT.— I am very much puzzled about the present age. Some theosophists seem to abhor it as if wishing to be taken away from it altogether, inveighing against modern inventions such as the telegraph, railways, machinery, and the like, and bewailing the disappearance of former civilizations. Others take a different view, insisting that this is a better time than any other, and hailing modern methods as the best. Tell me, please, which of these is right, or, if both are wrong, what ought we to know about the age we live in.
Sage.—The teachers of Truth know all about this age. But they do not mistake the present century for the whole cycle. The older times of European history, for example, when might was right and when darkness prevailed over Western nations, was as much a part of this age, from the standpoint of the Masters, as is the present hour, for the Yuga—to use a Sanscrit word—in which we are now had begun many thousands of years before. And during that period of European darkness, although this Yuga had already begun, there was much light, learning, and civilization in India and China. The meaning of the words “present age” must therefore be extended over a far greater period than is at present assigned. In fact, modern science has reached no definite conclusion yet as to what should properly be called “an age,” and the truth of the Eastern doctrine is denied. Hence we find writers speaking of the “Golden Age,” the “Iron Age,” and so on, whereas they are only parts of the real age that began so far back that modern archeologists deny it altogether.
Student.—What is the Sanscrit name for this age, and what is its meaning?
Sage.—The Sanscrit is “Kali,” which added to Yuga gives us “Kali-Yuga.” The meaning of it is “Dark Age.” Its approach was known to the ancients, its characteristics are described in the Indian poem “The Mahabharata.” As I said that it takes in an immense period of the glorious part of Indian history, there is no chance for anyone to be jealous and to say that we are comparing the present hour with that wonderful division of Indian development.
Student.—What are the characteristics to which you refer, by which Kali-Yuga may be known?
Sage.—As its name implies, darkness is the chief. This of course is not deducible by comparing today with 8oo A.D., for this would be no comparison at all. The present century is certainly ahead of the middle ages, but as compared with the preceding Yuga it is dark. To the Occultist, material advancement is not of the quality of light, and he finds no proof of progress in merely mechanical contrivances that give comfort to a few of the human family while the many are in misery. For the darkness he would have to point but to one nation, even the great American Republic. Here he sees a mere extension of the habits and life of the Europe from which it sprang; here a great experiment with entirely new conditions and material was tried; here for many years very little poverty was known; but here today there is as much grinding poverty as anywhere, and as large a criminal class with corresponding prisons as in Europe, and more than in India. Again, the great thirst for riches and material betterment, while spiritual life is to a great extent ignored, is regarded by us as darkness. The great conflict already begun between the wealthy classes and the poorer is a sign of darkness. Were spiritual light prevalent, the. rich and the poor would still be with us, for Karma cannot be blotted out, but the poor would know how to accept their lot and the rich how to improve the poor; now, on the contrary, the rich wonder why the poor do not go to the poorhouse, meanwhile seeking in the laws for cures for strikes and socialism, and the poor continually growl at fate and their supposed oppressors. All this is of the quality of spiritual darkness.
Student.—Is it wise to inquire as to the periods when the cycle changes, and to speculate on the great astronomical or other changes that herald a turn?
Sage.—It is not. There is an old saying that the gods are jealous about these things, not wishing mortals to know them. We may analyze the age, but it is better not to attempt to fix the hour of a change of cycle. Besides that, you will be unable to settle it, because a cycle does not begin on a day or year clear of any other cycle; they interblend, so that, al though the wheel of one period is still turning, the initial point of another has already arrived.
Student.—Are these some of the reasons why Mr. Sinnett was not given certain definite periods of years about which he asked?
Student.—Has the age in which one lives any effect on the student; and what is it?
Sage.—It has effect on every one, but the student after passing along in his development feels the effect more than the ordinary man. Were it otherwise, the sincere and aspiring students all over the world would advance at once to those heights towards which they strive. It takes a very strong soul to hold back the age’s heavy hand, and it is all the more difficult because that influence, being a part of the student’s larger life, is not so well understood by him. It operates in the same way as a structural defect in a vessel. All the inner as well as the outer fibre of the man is the result of the long centuries of earthly lives lived here by his ancestors. These sow seeds of thought and physical tendencies in a way that you cannot comprehend. All those tendencies affect him. Many powers once possessed are hidden so deep as to be unseen, and he struggles against obstacles constructed ages ago. Further yet are the peculiar alterations brought about in the astral world. It, being at once a photographic plate, so to say, and also a reflector, has become the keeper of the mistakes of ages past which it continually reflects upon us from a plane to which most of us are strangers. In that sense therefore, free as we suppose ourselves, we are walking about completely hypnotized by the past, acting blindly under the suggestions thus cast upon us.
Student.—Was that why Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”?
Sage.—That was one meaning. In one aspect they acted blindly, impelled by the age, thinking they were right.
Regarding these astral alterations, you will remember how in the time of Julian the seers reported that they could see the gods, but they were decaying, some headless, others flaccid, others minus limbs, and all appearing weak. The reverence for these ideals was departing, and their astral pictures had already begun to fade.
Student.—What mitigation is there about this age? Is there nothing at all to relieve the picture?
Sage.—There is one thing peculiar to the present Kali-Yuga that may be used by the Student. All causes now bring about their effects much more rapidly than in any other or better age. A sincere lover of the race can accomplish more in three incarnations under Kali-Yuga’s reign than he could in a much greater number in any other age. Thus by bearing all the manifold troubles of this Age and steadily triumphing, the object of his efforts will be more quickly realized, for, while the obstacles seem great, the powers to be invoked can be reached more quickly.
Student.—Even if this is, spiritually considered, a Dark Age, is it not in part redeemed by the increasing triumphs of mind over matter, and by the effects of science in mitigating human ills, such as the causes of disease, disease itself, cruelty, intolerance, bad laws, etc.?
Sage.—Yes, these are mitigations of the darkness in just the same way that a lamp gives some light at night but does not restore daylight. In this age there are great triumphs of science, but they are nearly all directed to effects and do not take away the causes of the evils. Great strides have been made in the arts and in cure of diseases, but in the future, as the flower of our civilization unfolds, new diseases will arise and more strange disorders will be known, springing from causes that lie deep in the minds of men and which can only be eradicated by spiritual living.
Student.—Admitting all you say, are not we, as Theosophists, to welcome every discovery of truth in any field, especially such truth as lessens suffering or enlarges the moral sense?
Sage.—This is our duty. All truths discovered must be parts of the one Absolute Truth, and so much added to the sum of our outer knowledge. There will always be a large number of men who seek for these parts of truth, and others who try to alleviate present human misery. They each do a great and appointed work that no true Theosophist should ignore. And it is also the duty of the latter to make similar efforts when possible, for Theosophy is a dead thing if it is not turned into the life. At the same time, no one of us may be the judge of just how much or how little our brother is doing in that direction. If he does all that he can and knows how to do, he does his whole present duty.
Student.—I fear that a hostile attitude by Occult teachers towards the learning and philanthropy of the time may arouse prejudice against Theosophy and Occultism, and needlessly impede the spread of Truth. May it not be so?
Sage.—The real Occult Teachers have no hostile attitude toward these things. If some persons, who like theosophy and try to spread it, take such a position, they do not thereby alter the one assumed by the real Teachers who work with all classes of men and use every possible instrument for good. But at the same time we have found that an excess of the technical and special knowledge of the day very often acts to prevent men from apprehending the truth.
Student.—Are there any causes, other than the spread of Theosophy, which may operate to reverse the present drift towards materialism?
Sage.—The spread of the knowledge of the laws of Karma and Reincarnation and of a belief in the absolute spiritual unity of all beings will alone prevent this drift. The cycle must, however, run its course, and until that is ended all beneficial causes will of necessity act slowly and not to the extent they would in a brighter age. As each student lives a better life and by his example imprints upon the astral light the picture of a higher aspiration acted in the world, he thus aids souls of advanced development to descend from other spheres where the cycles are so dark that they can no longer stay there.
Student.—Accept my thanks for your instruction..
Path, April, 1888
PERHAPS those who have engaged in discussions about whether it is more advisable to become acquainted with the Astral Plane and to see therein than to study the metaphysics and ethics of theosophy, may be aided by the experience of a fellow student. For several years I studied about and experimented on the Astral Light to the end that I might, if possible, develop the power to look therein and see those marvelous pictures of that place which tempt the observer. But although in some degrees success followed my efforts so far as seeing these strange things was concerned, I found no increase of knowledge as to the manner in which the pictures were made visible, nor as to the sources from which they arose. A great many facts were in my possession, but the more I accumulated the farther away from perception seemed the law governing them. I turned to a teacher and he said:
"Beware of the illusions of matter."
"But," said I, "is this matter into which I gaze?"
"Yes; and of grosser sort than that which composes your body; full of illusions, swarming with beings inimical to progress, and crowded with the thoughts of all the wicked who have lived."
"How," replied I, "am I to know aught about it unless I investigate it?"
"It will be time enough to do that when you shall have been equipped properly for the exploration. He who ventures into a strange country unprovided with needful supplies, without a compass and unfamiliar with the habits of the people, is in danger. Examine and see."
Left thus to myself, I sought those who had dabbled in the Astral Light, who were accustomed to seeing the pictures therein every day, and asked them to explain. Not one had any theory, any philosophical basis. All were confused and at variance each with the other. Nearly all, too, were in hopeless ignorance as to other and vital questions. None were self-contained or dispassionate; moved by contrary winds of desire, each one appeared abnormal; for, while in possession of the power to see or hear in the Astral Light, there were unregulated in all other departments of their being. Still more, they seemed to be in a degree intoxicated with the strangeness of the power, for it placed them in that respect above other persons, yet in practical affairs left them without any ability.
Examining more closely, I found that all these "seers" were but half-seers-and hardly even that. One could hear astral sounds but could not see astral sights; another saw pictures, but no sound or smell was there; still others saw symbols only, and each derided the special power of the other. Turning even to the great Emanuel Swedenborg, I found a seer of wonderful power, but whose constitution made him see in the Astral world a series of pictures which were solely an extension of his own inherited beliefs. And although he had had a few visions of actual everyday affairs occurring at a distance, there were so few as only to be remarkable.
One danger warned against by the teacher was then plainly evident. It was the danger of becoming confused and clouded in mind by the recurrence of pictures which had no salutary effect so far as experience went. So again I sought the teacher and asked:
"Has the Astral Light no power to teach, and, if not, why is it thus? And are there other dangers than what I have discovered?"
"No power whatever has the astral plane, in itself, to teach you. It contains the impressions made by men in their ignorance and folly. Unable to arouse the true thoughts, they continue to infect that light with the virus of their unguided lives. And you, or any other seer, looking therein will warp and distort all that you find there. It will present to you pictures that partake largely of your own constitutional habits, weaknesses, and peculiarities. Thus you only see a distorted or exaggerated copy of yourself. It will never teach you the reason of things, for it knows them not.
"But stranger dangers than any you have met are there when one goes further on. The dweller of the threshold is there, made up of all the evil that man has done. None can escape its approach, and he who is not prepared is in danger of death, of despair, or of moral ruin. Devote yourself, therefore, to spiritual aspiration and to true devotion, which will be a means for you to learn the causes that operate in nature, how they work, and what each one works upon."
I then devoted myself as he had directed, and discovered that
a philosophical basis, once acquired, showed clearly how to arrive at
dispassion and made exercise therein easy. It even enables me to
clear up the thousand doubts that assail those others who are peering into the
Astral Light. They compelled the disciple to abjure all occult practices until
such time as he had laid a sure foundation of logic, philosophy, and ethics; and
only then was he permitted to go further in that strange country from which many
an unprepared explorer has returned bereft of truth and sometimes despoiled of
reason. Further, I know that the Masters of the Theosophical Society have
written these words: "Let the Theosophical Society flourish through moral worth
and philosophy, and give up the pursuit of phenomena." Shall we be greater than
They, and ignorantly set the pace upon the path that leads to ruin?
BRYAN KINNAVAN Path, July, 1890
ELEMENTALS AND ELEMENTARIES
STUDENT.—If I understand you, an elemental is a centre of force, without intelligence, without moral character or tendencies, but capable of being directed in its movements by human thoughts, which may, consciously or not, give it any form, and to a certain extent intelligence; in its simplest form it is visible as a disturbance in a transparent medium, such as would be produced by a “glass fish, so transparent as to be invisible, swimming through the air of the room,” and leaving behind him a shimmer, such as hot air makes when rising from a stove. Also, elementals, attracted and vitalized by certain thoughts, may effect a lodgment in the human system (of which they then share the government with the ego), and are very hard to get out.
Sage.—Correct, in general, except as to their “effecting a lodgment.” Some classes of elementals, however, have an intelligence of their own and a character, but they are far beyond our comprehension and ought perhaps to have some other name.
That class which has most to do with us answers the above description. They are centres of force or energy which are acted on by us while thinking and in other bodily motions. We also act on them and give them form by a species of thought which we have no register of. As, one person might shape an elemental so as to seem like an insect, and not be able to tell whether he had thought of such a thing or not. For there is a vast unknown country in each human being which he does not himself understand until he has tried, and then only after many initiations.
That “elementals . . . may effect a lodgment in the human system, of which they then share the government, and are very hard to get out” is, as a whole, incorrect. It is only in certain cases that any one or more elementals are attracted to and “find lodgment in the human system.” In such cases special rules apply. We are not considering such cases. The elemental world interpenetrates this, and is therefore eternally present in the human system.
As it (the elemental world) is automatic and like a photographic plate, all atoms continually arriving at and departing from the “human system” are constantly assuming the impression conveyed by the acts and thoughts of that person, and therefore, if he sets up a strong current of thought, he attracts elementals in greater numbers, and they all take on one prevailing tendency or color, so that all new arrivals find a homogeneous color or image which they instantly assume. On the other hand, a man who has many diversities of thought and meditation is not homogeneous, but, so to say, partly colored, and so the elementals may lodge in that part which is different from the rest and go away in like condition. In the first case it is one mass of elementals similarly vibrating or electrified and colored, and in that sense may be called one elemental, in just the same way that we know one man as Jones, although for years he has been giving off and taking on new atoms of gross matter.
Student.—If they are attracted and repelled by thoughts, do they move with the velocity of thought, say from here to the planet Neptune?
Sage.—They move with the velocity of thought. In their world there is no space or time as we understand those terms. If Neptune be within the astral sphere of this world, then they go there with that velocity, otherwise not; but that “if’ need not be solved now.
Student.—What determines their movements besides thought,—e.g., when they are floating about the room?
Sage.—Those other classes of thoughts above referred to; certain exhalations of beings; different rates and ratios of vibration among beings; different changes of magnetism caused by present causes or by the moon and the year; different polarities; changes of sound; changes of influences from other minds at a distance.
Student.—When so floating, can they be seen by any one, or only by those persons who are clairvoyant?
Sage.—Clairvoyance is a poor word. They can be seen by partly clairvoyant people. By all those who can see thus; by more people, perhaps, than are aware of the fact.
Student.—Can they be photographed, as the rising air from the hot stove can?
Sage.—Not to my knowledge yet. It is not impossible, however.
Student.—Are they the lights, seen floating about a dark séance room by clairvoyant people?
Sage.—In the majority of cases those lights are produced by them.
Student.—Exactly what is their relation to light, that makes it necessary to hold seances in the dark?
Sage.—It is not their relation to light that makes darkness necessary, but the fact that light causes constant agitation and alteration in the magnetism of the room. All these things can be done just as well in the light of day.
If I should be able to make clear to you “exactly what is their relation to light,” then you would know what has long been kept secret, the key to the elemental world. This is kept guarded because it is a dangerous secret. No matter how virtuous you are, you could not—once you knew the secret— prevent the knowledge getting out into the minds of others who would not hesitate to use it for bad purposes.
Student.—I have noticed that attention often interferes with certain phenomena; thus a pencil will not write when watched, but writes at once when covered; or a mental question cannot be answered till the mind has left it and gone to something else. Why is this?
Sage.—This kind of attention creates confusion. In these things we use desire, will, and knowledge. The desire is present, but knowledge is absent. When the desire is well formed and attention withdrawn, the thing is often done; but when our attention is continued we only interrupt, because we possess only half attention. In order to use attention, it must be of that sort which can hold itself to the point of a needle for an indefinite period of time.
Student.—I have been told that but few people can go to a séance without danger to themselves, either of some spiritual or astral contamination, or of having their vitality depleted for the benefit of the spooks, who suck the vital force out of the circle through the medium, as if the former were a glass of lemonade and the latter a straw. How is this?
Sage.—Quite generally this happens. It is called Bhut worship by the Hindus.
Student.—Why are visitors at a séance often extremely and unaccountably tired next day?
Sage.—Among other reasons, because mediums absorb the vitality for the use of the “spooks,” and often vile vampire elementaries are present.
Student.—What are some of the dangers at seances?
Sage.—The scenes visible—in the Astral—at seances are horrible, inasmuch as these “spirits”—bhuts—precipitate themselves upon sitters and mediums alike; and as there is no séance without having present some or many bad elementaries—half dead human beings,—there is much vampirizing going on. These things fall upon the people like a cloud or a big octopus, and disappear within them as if sucked in by a sponge. That is one reason why it is not well to attend them in general.
Elementaries are not all bad, but, in a general sense, they are not good. They are shells, no doubt of that. Well, they have much automatic and seemingly intelligent action left if they are those of strongly material people who died attached to the things of life. If of people of an opposite character, they are not so strong. Then there is a class which are really not dead, such as suicides, and sudden deaths, and highly wicked people. They are powerful. Elementals enter into all of them, and thus get a fictitious personality and intelligence wholly the property of the shell. They galvanize the shell into action, and by its means can see and hear as if beings them selves, like us. The shells are, in this case, just like a sleep walking human body. They will through habit exhibit the advancement they got while in the flesh. Some people, you know, do not impart to their bodily molecules the habit of their minds to as great extent as others. We thus see why the utterances of these so-called “spirits” are never ahead of the highest point of progress attained by living human beings, and why they take up the ideas elaborated day-by-day by their votaries. This séance worship is what was called in Old India the worship of the Pretas and Bhuts and Pisachas and Gandharvas.
I do not think any elementary capable of motive had ever any other than a bad one; the rest are nothing, they have no motive and are only the shades refused passage by Charon.
Student.—What is the relation between sexual force and phenomena?
Sage.—It is at the bottom. This force is vital, creative, and a sort of reservoir. It may be lost by mental action as well as by physical. In fact its finer part is dissipated by mental imaginings, while physical acts only draw off the gross part, that which is the “carrier” (upadhi) for the finer.
Student.—Why do so many mediums cheat, even when they can produce real phenomena?
Sage.—It is the effect of the use of that which in itself is sublimated cheating, which, acting on an irresponsible mind, causes the lower form of cheat, of which the higher is any illusionary form whatever. Besides, a medium is of necessity unbalanced somewhere.
They deal with these forces for pay, and that is enough to call to them all the wickedness of time. They use the really gross sorts of matter, which causes inflammation in corresponding portions of the moral character, and hence divagations from the path of honesty. It is a great temptation. You do not know, either, what fierceness there is in those who “have paid” for a sitting and wish “for the worth of their money.”
Student.—When a clairvoyant, as a man did here a year ago, tells me that “he sees a strong band of spirits about me,” and among them an old man who says he is a certain eminent character, what does he really see? Empty and senseless shells? If so, what brought them there? Or elementals which have got their form from my mind or his?
Sage.—Shells, I think, and thoughts, and old astral pictures. If, for instance, you once saw that eminent person and conceived great respect or fear for him, so that his image was graven in your astral sphere in deeper lines than other images, it would be seen for your whole life by seers, who, if untrained—as they all are here—could not tell whether it was an image or reality; and then each sight of it is a revivification of the image.
Besides, not all would see the same thing. Fall down, for instance, and hurt your body, and that will bring up all similar events and old forgotten things before any seer’s eye.
The whole astral world is a mass of illusion; people see into it, and then, through the novelty of the thing and the exclusiveness of the power, they are bewildered into thinking they actually see true things, whereas they have only removed one thin crust of dirt.
Student.—Accept my thanks for your instruction.
Path, May, 1888
STUDENT.—Permit me to ask you again, Are elementals beings?
Sage.—It is not easy to convey to you an idea of the constitution of elementals; strictly speaking, they are not, because the word elementals has been used in reference to a class of them that have no being such as mortals have. It would be better to adopt the terms used in Indian books, such as Gandharvas, Bhuts, Pisachas, Devas, and so on. Many things well known about them cannot be put into ordinary language.
Student.—Do you refer to their being able to act in the fourth dimension of space?
Sage.—Yes, in a measure. Take the tying in an endless cord of many knots—a thing often done at spiritist seances. That is possible to him who knows more dimensions of space than three. No three-dimensional being can do this; and as you understand “matter,” it is impossible for you to conceive how such a knot can be tied or how a solid ring can be passed through the matter of another solid one. These things can be done by elementals.
Student.—Are they not all of one class?
Sage.—No. There are different classes for each plane, and division of plane, of nature. Many can never be recognized by men. And those pertaining to one plane do not act in an other. You must remember, too, that these “planes” of which we are speaking interpenetrate each other.
Student.—Am I to understand that a clairvoyant or clairaudient has to do with or is affected by a certain special class or classes of elementals?
Sage.—Yes. A clairvoyant can only see the sights properly belonging to the planes his development reaches to or has opened. And the elementals in those planes show to the clairvoyant only such pictures as belong to their plane. Other parts of the idea or thing pictured may be retained in planes not yet open to the seer. For this reason few clairvoyants know the whole truth.
Student.—Is there not some connection between the Karma of man and elementals?
Sage.—A very important one. The elemental world has become a strong factor in the Karma of the human race. Being unconscious, automatic, and photographic, it assumes the complexion of the human family itself. In the earlier ages, when we may postulate that man had not yet begun to make bad Karma, the elemental world was more friendly to man because it had not received unfriendly impressions. But so soon as man began to become ignorant, unfriendly to himself and the rest of creation, the elemental world began to take on exactly the same complexion and return to humanity the exact pay, so to speak, due for the actions of humanity. Or, like a donkey, which, when he is pushed against, will push against you. Or, as a human being, when anger or insult is offered, feels inclined to return the same. So the elemental world, being unconscious force, returns or reacts upon humanity exactly as humanity acted towards it, whether the actions of men were done with the knowledge of these laws or not. So in these times it has come to be that the elemental world has the complexion and action which is the exact result of all the actions and thoughts and desires of men from the earliest times. And, being unconscious and only acting according to the natural laws of its being, the elemental world is a powerful factor in the workings of Karma. And so long as mankind does not cultivate brotherly feeling and charity to wards the whole of creation, just so long will the elementals be without the impulse to act for our benefit. But so soon and wherever man or men begin to cultivate brotherly feeling and love for the whole of creation, there and then the elementals begin to take on the new condition.
Student .—How then about the doing of phenomena by adepts?
Sage.—The production of phenomena is not possible with out either the aid or disturbance of elementals. Each phenomenon entails the expenditure of great force, and also brings on a correspondingly great disturbance in the elemental world, which disturbance is beyond the limit natural to ordinary human life. It then follows that, as soon as the phenomenon is completed, the disturbance occasioned begins to be compensated for. The elementals are in greatly excited motion, and precipitate themselves in various directions. They are not able to affect those who are protected. But they are able, or rather it is possible for them, to enter into the sphere of unprotected persons, and especially those persons who are engaged in the study of occultism. And then they become agents in concentrating the karma of those persons, producing troubles and disasters often, or other difficulties which otherwise might have been so spread over a period of time as to be not counted more than the ordinary vicissitudes of life. This will go to explain the meaning of the statement that an Adept will not do a phenomenon unless he sees the desire in the mind of another lower or higher Adept or student; for then there is a sympathetic relation established, and also a tacit acceptance of the consequences which may ensue. It will also help to understand the peculiar reluctance often of some persons, who can perform phenomena, to produce them in cases where we may think their production would be beneficial; and also why they are never done in order to compass worldly ends, as is natural for worldly people to suppose might be done,—such as procuring money, transferring objects, influencing minds, and so on.
Student.—Accept my thanks for your instruction.
ELEMENTALS—HOW THEY ACT
STUDENT.—Is there any reason why you do not give me a more detailed explanation of the constitution of elementals and the modes by which they work?
Sage.—Yes. There are many reasons. Among others is your inability, shared by most of the people of the present day, to comprehend a description of things that pertain to a world with which you are not familiar and for which you do not yet possess terms of expression. Were I to put forth these descriptions, the greater part would seem vague and incomprehensible on one hand, while on the other many of them would mislead you because of the interpretation put on them by yourself. Another reason is that, if the constitution, field of action, and method of action of elementals were given out, there are some minds of a very inquiring and peculiar bent who soon could find out how to come into communication with these extraordinary beings, with results disadvantageous to the community as well as the individuals.
Student.—Why so? Is it not well to increase the sum of human knowledge, even respecting most recondite parts of nature; or can it be that the elementals are bad?
Sage.—It is wise to increase the knowledge of nature’s laws, but always with proper limitations. All things will become known some day. Nothing can be kept back when men have reached the point where they can understand. But at this time it would not be wise to give them, for the asking, certain knowledge that would not be good for them. That knowledge relates to elementals, and it can for the present be kept back from the scientists of today. So long as it can be retained from them, it will be, until they and their followers are of a different stamp.
As to the moral character of elementals, they have none; they are colorless in themselves—except some classes—and merely assume the tint, so to speak, of the person using them.
Student.—Will our scientific men one day, then, be able to use these beings, and, if so, what will be the manner of it? Will their use be confined to only the good men of the earth?
Sage.—The hour is approaching when all this will be done. But the scientists of today are not the men to get this knowledge. They are only pigmy forerunners who sow seed and delve blindly in no thoroughfares. They are too small to be able to grasp these mighty powers, but they are not wise enough to see that their methods will eventually lead to Black Magic in centuries to come when they shall be forgotten.
When elemental forces are used similarly as we now see electricity and other natural energies adapted to various purposes, there will be “war in heaven.” Good men will not alone possess the ability to use them. Indeed, the sort of man you now call “good” will not be the most able. The wicked will, however, pay liberally for the power of those who can wield such forces, and at last the Supreme Masters, who now guard this knowledge from children, will have to come forth. Then will ensue a dreadful war, in which, as has ever happened, the Masters will succeed and the evil doers be destroyed by the very engines, principalities, and powers prostituted to their own purposes during years of intense selfish living. But why dilate on this; in these days it is only a prophecy.
Student.—Could you give me some hints as to how the secrets of the elemental plane are preserved and prevented from being known? Do these guardians of whom you speak occupy themselves in checking elementals, or how? Do they see much danger of divulgement likely in those instances where elemental action is patent to the observer?
Sage.—As to whether they check elementals or not need not be enquired into, because, while that may be probable, it does not appear very necessary where men are unsuspicious of the agency causing the phenomena. It is much easier to throw a cloud over the investigator’s mind and lead him off to other results of often material advantage to himself and men, while at the same time acting as a complete preventive or switch which turns his energies and application into different departments.
It might be illustrated thus: Suppose that a number of trained occultists are set apart to watch the various sections of the world where the mental energies are in fervid operation. It is quite easy for them to see in a moment any mind that is about reaching a clue into the elemental world; and, besides, imagine that trained elementals themselves constantly carry information of such events. Then, by superior knowledge and command over this peculiar world, influences presenting various pictures are sent out to that enquiring mind. In one case it may be a new moral reform, in another a great invention is revealed, and such is the effect that the man’s whole time and mind are taken up by this new thing which he fondly imagines is his own. Or, again, it would be easy to turn his thoughts into a certain rut leading far from the dangerous clue. In fact, the methods are endless.
Student.—Would it be wise to put into the hands of truly good, conscientious men who now use aright what gifts they have, knowledge of and control over elementals, to be used on the side of right?
Sage.—The Masters are the judges of what good men are to have this power and control. You must not forget that you cannot be sure of the character at bottom of those whom you call “truly good and conscientious men.” Place them in the fire of the tremendous temptation which such power and control would furnish, and most of them would fail. But the Masters already know the characters of all who in any way approach to a knowledge of these forces, and They always judge whether such a man is to be aided or prevented. They are not working to make these laws and forces known, but to establish right doctrine, speech, and action, so that the characters and motives of men shall undergo such radical changes as to fit them for wielding power in the elemental world. And that power is not now lying idle, as you infer, but is being always used by those who will never fail to rightly use it.
Student.—Is there any illustration at hand showing what the people of the present day would do with these extraordinary energies?
Sage.—A cursory glance at men in these western worlds engaged in the mad rush after money, many of them willing to do anything to get it, and at the strain, almost to warfare, existing between laborers and users of labor, must show you that, were either class in possession of power over the elemental world, they would direct it to the furtherance of the aims now before them. Then look at Spiritualism. It is recorded in the Lodge—photographed, you may say, by the doers of the acts themselves—that an enormous number of persons daily seek the aid of mediums and their “spooks” merely on questions of business. Whether to buy stocks, or engage in mining for gold and silver, to deal in lotteries, or to make new mercantile contracts. Here on one side is a picture of a coterie of men who obtained at a low figure some mining property on the advice of elemental spirits with fictitious names masquerading behind mediums; these mines were then to be put upon the public at a high profit, inasmuch as the “spirits” promised metal. Unhappily for the investors, it failed. But such a record is repeated in many cases.
Then here is another where in a great American city-—the Karma being favorable—a certain man speculated in stocks upon similar advice, succeeded, and, after giving the medium liberal pay, retired to what is called enjoyment of life. Neither party devoted either himself or the money to the benefiting of humanity.
There is no question of honor involved, nor any as to whether money ought or ought not to be made. It is solely one as to the propriety, expediency, and results of giving suddenly into the hands of a community unprepared and without an altruistic aim, such abnormal power. Take hidden treasure, for instance. There is much of it in hidden places, and many men wish to get it. For what purpose? For the sake of ministering to their luxurious wants and leaving it to their equally unworthy descendants. Could they know the mantram controlling the elementals that guard such treasure, they would use it at once, motive or no motive, the sole object being the money in the case.
Student.—Do some sorts of elementals have guard over hidden treasure?
Sage.—Yes, in every instance, whether never found or soon discovered. The causes for the hiding and the thoughts of the hider or loser have much to do with the permanent concealment or subsequent finding.
Student.—What happens when a large sum of money, say, such as Captain Kidd’s mythical treasure, is concealed, or when a quantity of coin is lost?
Sage.—Elementals gather about it. They have many and curious modes of causing further concealment. They even influence animals to that end. This class of elementals seldom, if ever, report at your spiritualistic seances. As time goes on the forces of air and water still further aid and some times they are able even to prevent the hider from recovering it. Thus in course of years, even when they may have altogether lost their hold on it, the whole thing becomes shrouded in mist, and it is impossible to find anything.
Student.—This in part explains why so many failures are recorded in the search for hidden treasure. But how about the Masters; are they prevented thus by these weird guardians?
Sage.—They are not. The vast quantities of gold hidden in the earth and under the sea are at their disposal always. They can, when necessary for their purposes, obtain such sums of money on whom no living being or descendants of any have the slightest claim, as would appall the senses of your greatest money getter. They have but to command the very elementals controlling it, and They have it. This is the basis for the story of Aladdin’s wonderful lamp, more true than you believe.
Student.—Of what use then is it to try, like the alchemists, to make gold? With the immense amount of buried treasure thus easily found when you control its guardian, it would seem a waste of time and money to learn transmutation of metals.
Sage.—The transmutation spoken of by the real alchemists was the alteration of the base alloy in man’s nature. At the same time, actual transmutation of lead into gold is possible. And many followers of the alchemists, as well as of the pure souled Jacob Boehme, eagerly sought to accomplish the material transmuting, being led away by the glitter of wealth. But an Adept has no need for transmutation, as I have shown you. The stories told of various men who are said to have produced gold from base metals for different kings in Europe are wrong explanations. Here and there Adepts have appeared, assuming different names, and in certain emergencies they supplied or used large sums of money. But instead of its being the product of alchemical art, it was simply ancient treasure brought to them by elementals in their service and that of the Lodge. Raymond Lully or Robert Flood might have been of that sort, but I forbear to say, since I cannot claim acquaintance with those men.
Student.—I thank you for your instruction.
Path, July, 1888
STUDENT.—You spoke of mantrarns by which we could control elementals on guard over hidden treasure. What is a mantram?
Sage.—A mantram is a collection of words which, when sounded in speech, induce certain vibrations not only in the air, but also in the finer ether, thereby producing certain effects.
Student.—Are the words taken at haphazard?
Sage.—Only by those who, knowing nothing of mantrams, yet use them.
Student.—May they, then, be used according to rule and also irregularly? Can it be possible that people who know absolutely nothing of their existence or field of operations should at the same time make use of them? Or is it something like digestion, of which so many people know nothing what ever, while they in fact are dependent upon its proper use for their existence? I crave your indulgence because I know nothing of the subject.
Sage.—“common people” in almost every country make use of them continually, but even in that case the principle at the bottom is the same as in the other. In a new country where folk-lore has not yet had time to spring up, the people do not have as many as in such a land as India or in long settled parts of Europe. The aborigines, however, in any country will be possessed of them.
Student.—You do not now infer that they are used by Europeans for the controlling of elementals?
Sage.—No. I refer to their effect in ordinary intercourse between human beings. And yet there are many men in Europe, as well as in Asia, who can thus control animals, but those are nearly always special cases. There are men in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Ireland who can bring about extraordinary effects on horses, cattle, and the like, by peculiar sounds uttered in a certain way. In those instances the sound used is a mantram of only one member, and will act only on the particular animal that the user knows it can rule.
Student.—Do these men know the rules governing the matter? Are they able to convey it to another?
Sage.—Generally not. It is a gift self-found or inherited, and they only know that it can be done by them, just as a mesmerizer knows he can do a certain thing with a wave of his hand, but is totally ignorant of the principle. They are as ignorant of the base of this strange effect as your modern physiologists are of the function and cause of such a common thing as yawning.
Student .—Under what head should we put this unconscious exercise of power?
Sage.—Under the head of natural magic, that materialistic science can never crush out. It is a touch with nature and her laws always preserved by the masses, who, while they form the majority of the population, are yet ignored by the “cultured classes.” And so it will be discovered by you that it is not in London or Paris or New York drawing-rooms that you will find mantrams, whether regular or irregular, used by the people. “Society,” too cultured to be natural, has adopted methods of speech intended to conceal and to deceive, so that natural mantrams can not be studied within its borders.
Single, natural mantrams are such words as “wife.” When it is spoken it brings up in the mind all that is implied by the word. And if in another language, the word would be that corresponding to the same basic idea. And so with expressions of greater length, such as many slang sentences; thus, “I want to see the color of his money.” There are also sentences applicable to certain individuals, the use of which involves a knowledge of the character of those to whom we speak. When these are used, a peculiar and lasting vibration is set up in the mind of the person affected, leading to a realization in action of the idea involved, or to a total change of life due to the appositeness of the subjects brought up and to the peculiar mental antithesis induced in the hearer. As soon as the effect begins to appear the mantram may be forgotten, since the law of habit then has sway in the brain.
Again, bodies of men are acted on by expressions having the mantramic quality; this is observed in great social or other disturbances. The reason is the same as before. A dominant idea is aroused that touches upon a want of the people or on an abuse which oppresses them, and the change and inter change in their brains between the idea and the form of words go on until the result is accomplished. To the occultist of powerful sight this is seen to be a “ringing” of the words coupled with the whole chain of feelings, interests, aspirations, and so forth, that grows faster and deeper as the time for the relief or change draws near. And the greater number of persons affected by the idea involved, the larger, deeper, and wider the result. A mild illustration may be found in Lord Beaconsfield of England. He knew about mantrams, and continually invented phrases of that quality. “Peace with honor” was one; “a scientific frontier” was another; and his last, intended to have a wider reach, but which death prevented his supplementing, was “Empress of India.” King Henry of Eng land also tried it without himself knowing why, when he added to his titles, “Defender of the Faith.” With these hints numerous illustrations will occur to you.
Student.—These mantrams have only to do with human beings as between each other. They do not affect elementals, as I judge from what you say. And they are not dependent upon the sound so much as upon words bringing up ideas. Am I right in this; and is it the case that there is a field in which certain vocalizations produce effects in the Akasa by means of which men, animals, and elementals alike can be influenced, without regard to their knowledge of any known language?
Sage.—You are right. We have only spoken of natural, unconsciously-used mantrams. The scientific mantrams belong to the class you last referred to. It is to be doubted whether they can be found in modern Western languages—especially among English speaking people who are continually changing and adding to their spoken words to such an extent that the English of today could hardly be understood by Chaucer’s predecessors. It is in the ancient Sanscrit and the language which preceded it that mantrams are hidden. The laws governing their use are also to be found in those languages, and not in any modern philological store.
Student.—Suppose, though, that one acquires a knowledge of ancient and correct mantrams, could he affect a person speaking English, and by the use of English words?
Sage.—He could; and all adepts have the power to translate a strictly regular mantram into any form of language, so that a single sentence thus uttered by them will have an immense effect on the person addressed, whether it be by letter or word of mouth.
Student.—Is there no way in which we might, as it were, imitate those adepts in this?
Sage.—Yes, you should study
simple forms of mantramic quality, for the purpose
of thus reaching the hidden mind of all the people who need spiritual help. You
will find now and then some expression that has resounded in the brain, at last
producing such a result that he who heard it turns his mind to spiritual things.
LAWS GOVERNING ELEMENTALS
STUDENT.—A materialist stated to me as his opinion that all that is said about mantrams is mere sentimental the theorizing, and while it may be true that certain words affect people, the sole reason is that they embody ideas distasteful or pleasant to the hearers, but that the mere sounds, as such, have no effect whatever, and as to either words or sounds affecting animals he denied it altogether. Of course he would not take elementals into account at all, as their existence is impossible for him.
Sage.—This position is quite natural in these days. There has been so much materialization of thought, and the real scientific attitude of leading minds in different branches of investigation has been so greatly misunderstood by those who think they follow the example of the scientific men, that most people in the West are afraid to admit anything beyond what may be apprehended by the. five senses. The man you speak of is one of that always numerous class who adopt as fixed and unalterable general laws laid down from time to time by well known savants, forgetting that the latter constantly change and advance, from point to point.
Student.—Do you think, then, that the scientific world will one day admit much that is known to Occultists?
Sage.—Yes, it will. The genuine Scientist is always in that attitude which permits him to admit things proven. He may seem to you often to be. obstinate and blind, but in fact he is proceeding slowly to the truth—too slowly, perhaps for you, yet not in the position of knowing all. It is the veneered scientist who swears by the published results of the work of leading men as being the last word, while, at the very moment he is doing so, his authority may have made notes or prepared new theories tending to greatly broaden and advance the last utterance. It is only when the dogmatism of a priest backed up by law declares that a discovery is opposed to the revealed word of his god, that we may fear. That day is gone for a long time to come, and we need expect no more scenes like that in which Galileo took part. But among the materialistic minds to whom you referred, there is a good deal of that old spirit left, only that the “revealed word of God” has become the utterances of our scientific leaders.
Student.—I have observed that within even the last quarter of a century. About ten years ago many well-known men laughed to scorn any one who admitted the facts within the experience of every mesmerizer, while now, under the term “hypnotism,” they are nearly all admitted. And when these lights of our time were denying it all, the French doctors were collating the results of a long series of experiments. It seems as if the invention of a new term for an old and much abused one furnished an excuse for granting all that had been previously denied. But have you anything to say about those materialistic investigators? Are they not governed by some powerful, though unperceived, law?
Sage.—They are. They are in the forefront of the mental, but not of the spiritual, progress of the time, and are driven forward by forces they know nothing of. Help is very often given to them by the Masters, who, neglecting nothing, constantly see to it that these men make progress upon the fittest lines for them, just as you are assisted not only in your spiritual life but in your mental also. These men, therefore, will go on admitting facts and finding new laws or new names for old laws, to explain them. They cannot help it.
Student.—What should be our duty, then, as students of truth? Should we go out as reformers of science, or what?
Sage.—You ought not to take up the role of reformers of the schools and their masters, because success would not attend the effort. Science is competent to take care of itself, and you would only be throwing pearls before them to be trampled under foot. Rest content that all within their comprehension will be discovered and admitted from time to time. The endeavor to force them into admitting what you believe to be so plain would be due almost solely to your vanity and love of praise. It is not possible to force them, any more than it is for me to force you, to admit certain incomprehensible laws, and you would not think me wise or fair to first open before you things, to understand which you have not the necessary development, and then to force you into admitting their truth. Or if, out of reverence, you should say, “These things are true,” while you comprehended nothing and were not progressing, you would have bowed to superior force.
Student.—But you do not mean that we should remain ignorant of science and devote ourselves only to ethics?
Sage.—Not at all. Know all that you can. Become conversant with and sift all that the schools have declared, and as much more on your own account as is possible, but at the same time teach, preach, and practice a life based on a true understanding of brotherhood. This is the true way. The common people, those who know no science, are the greatest number. They must be so taught that the discoveries of science which are unillumined by spirit may not be turned into Black Magic.
Student.—In our last conversation you touched upon the guarding of buried treasure by elementals. I should like very much to hear a little more about that. Not about how to control them or to procure the treasure, but upon the subject generally.
Sage.—The laws governing the hiding of buried treasure are the same as those that relate to lost objects. Every person has about him a fluid, or plane, or sphere, or energy, which ever you please to call it, in which are constantly found elementals that partake of his nature. That is, they are tinted with his color and impressed by his character. There are numerous classes of these. Some men have many of one class or of all, or many of some and few of others. And anything worn upon your person is connected with your elementals. For instance, you wear cloth made of wool or linen, and little objects made of wood, bone, brass, gold, silver, and other substances. Each one of these has certain magnetic relations peculiar to itself, and all of them are soaked, to a greater or less extent, with your magnetism as well as nervous fluid. Some of them, because of their substance, do not long retain this fluid, while others do. The elementals are connected, each class according to its substance, with those objects by means of the magnetic fluid. And they are acted upon by the mind and desires to a greater extent than you know, and in a way that cannot be formulated in English. Your desires have a powerful grasp, so to say, upon certain things, and upon others a weaker hold. When one of these objects is suddenly dropped, it is invariably followed by elementals. They are drawn after it, and may be said to go with the object by attraction rather than by sight. In many cases they completely envelop the thing, so that, although it is near at hand, it cannot be seen by the eye. But after awhile the magnetism wears off and their power to envelop the article weakens, whereupon it appears in sight. This does not happen in every case. But it is a daily occurrence, and is sufficiently obvious to many persons to be quite removed from the realm of fable. I think, indeed, that one of your literary persons has written an essay upon this very experience, in which, although treated in a comic vein, many truths are unconsciously told; the title of this was, if I mistake not, “Upon the Innate Perversity of Inanimate Objects.” There is such a nice balancing of forces in these cases that you must be careful in your generalizations. You may justly ask, for instance, Why, when a coat is dropped, it seldom disappears from sight? Well, there are cases in which even such a large object is hidden, but they are not very common. The coat is full of your magnetism, and the elementals may feel in it just as much of you as when it is on your back. There may be, for them, no disturbance of the relations, magnetic and otherwise. And often in the case of a small object not invisible, the balancing of forces, due to many causes that have to do with your condition at the time, prevents the hiding. To decide in any particular case, one would have to see into the realm where the operation of these laws is hidden, and calculate all the forces, so as to say why it happened in one way and not in another.
Student.—But take the case of a man who, being in possession of treasure, hides it in the earth and goes away and dies, and it is not found. In that instance: the elernentals did not hide it. Or when a miser buries his gold or jewels. How about those?
Sage.—In all cases where a man buries gold, or jewels, or money, or precious things, his desires are fastened to that which he hides. Many of his elementals attach themselves to it, and other classes of them also, who had nothing to do with him, gather round and keep it hidden. In the case of the captain of a ship containing treasure the influences are very powerful, because there the elementals are gathered from all the persons connected with the treasure, and the officer him self is full of solicitude for what is committed to his charge. You should also remember that gold and silver—or metals— have relations with elementals that are of a strong and peculiar character. They do not work for human law, and natural law does not assign any property in metals to man, nor recognize in him any peculiar and transcendent right to retain what he has dug from the earth or acquired to himself. Hence we do not find the elementals anxious to restore to him the gold or silver which he had lost. If we were to assume that they occupied themselves in catering to the desires of men or in establishing what we call our rights over property, we might as well at once grant the existence of a capricious and irresponsible Providence. They proceed solely according to the law of their being, and, as they are without the power of making a judgment, they commit no blunders and are not to be moved by considerations based upon our vested rights or our unsatisfied wishes. Therefore, the spirits that appertain to metals invariably act as the laws of their nature prescribe, and one way of doing so is to obscure the metals from our sight.
Student.—Can you make any application of all this in the realm of ethics?
Sage.—There is a very important thing you should not overlook. Every time you harshly and unmercifully criticize the faults of another, you produce an attraction to yourself of certain quantities of elementals from that person. They fasten themselves upon you and endeavor to find in you a similar state or spot or fault that they have left in the other person. It is as if they left him to serve you at higher wages, so to say.
Then there is that which I referred to in a preceding conversation, about the effect of our acts and thoughts upon, not only the portion of the astral light belonging to each of us with its elementals, but upon the whole astral world. If men saw the dreadful pictures imprinted there and constantly throwing down upon us their suggestions to repeat the same acts or thoughts, a millennium might soon draw near. The astral light is, in this sense, the same as a photographer’s negative plate, and we are the sensitive paper underneath, on which is being printed the picture. We can see two sorts of pictures for each act. One is the act itself, and the other is the picture of the thoughts and feelings animating those engaged in it. You can therefore see that you may be responsible for many more dreadful pictures than you had supposed. For actions of a simple outward appearance have behind them, very often, the worst of thoughts or desires.
Student.—Have these pictures in the astral light anything to do with us upon being reincarnated in subsequent earth lives?
Sage.—They have very much indeed. We are influenced by them for vast periods of time, and in this you can perhaps find clues to many operations of active Karmic law for which you seek.
Student.—Is there not also some effect upon animals, and through them upon us, and vice versa?
Sage.—Yes. The animal kingdom is affected by us through the astral light. We have impressed the latter with pictures of cruelty, oppression, dominion, and slaughter. The whole Christian world admits that man can indiscriminately slaughter animals, upon the theory, elaborately set forth by priests in early times, that animals have no souls. Even little children learn this, and very early begin to kill insects, birds, and animals, not for protection, but from wantonness. As they grow up the habit is continued, and in England we see that shooting large numbers of birds beyond the wants of the table, is a national peculiarity, or, as I should say, a vice. This may be called a mild illustration. If these people could catch elementals as easily as they can animals, they would kill them for amusement when they did not want them for use; and, if the elementals refused to obey, then their death would follow as a punishment. All this is perceived by the elemental world, without conscience of course; but, under the laws of action and reaction, we receive back from it exactly that which we give.
Student.—Before we leave the subject I should like to refer again to the question of metals and the relation of man to the elementals connected with the mineral world. We see some persons who seem always to be able to find metals with ease—or, as they say, who are lucky in that direction. How am I to reconcile this with the natural tendency of elementals to hide? Is it because there is a war or discord, as it were, between different classes belonging to any one person?
Sage.—That is a part of the explanation. Some persons, as I said, have more of one class attached to them than another.
A person fortunate with metals, say of gold and silver, has about him more of the elementals connected with or belonging to the kingdoms of those metals than other people, and thus there is less strife between the elementals. The preponderance of the metal-spirits makes the person more homogeneous with their kingdoms, and a natural attraction exists between the gold or silver lost or buried and that person, more than in the case of other people.
Student.—What determines this? Is it due to a desiring of gold and silver, or is it congenital?
Sage.—It is innate. The combinations in any one individual are so intricate and due to so many causes that you could not calculate them. They run back many generations, and depend upon peculiarities of soil, climate, nation, family, and race. These are, as you can see, enormously varied, and, with the materials at your command now, quite beyond your reach. Merely wishing for gold and silver will not do it.
Student.—I judge also that attempting to get at those elementals by thinking strongly will not accomplish that result either.
Sage.—No, it will not, because your thoughts do not reach them. They do not hear or see you, and, as it is only by accidental concentration of forces that unlearned people influence them, these accidents are only possible to the extent that you possess the natural leaning to the particular kingdom whose elementals you have influenced.
Student.—I thank you for your instruction
Path, September, 1888
“FORMS” OF ELEMENTALS
STUDENT.—What principal idea would it be well for me to dwell upon in my studies on the subject of elementals?
Sage.—You ought to clearly fix in your mind and fully comprehend a few facts and the laws relating to them. As the elemental world is wholly different from the one visible to you, the laws governing them and their actions cannot as yet be completely defined in terms now used either by scientific or metaphysical schools. For that reason, only a partial description is possible. Some of those facts I will give you, it being well understood that I am not including all classes of elemental beings in my remarks.
First, then, Elementals have no form.
Student.—You mean, I suppose, that they have no limited form or body as ours, having a surface upon which sensation appears to be located.
Sage.—Not only so, but also that they have not even a shadowy, vague, astral form such as is commonly ascribed to ghosts. They have no distinct personal form in which to reveal themselves.
Student .—How am I to understand that, in view of the instances given by Bulwer Lytton and others of appearances of elementals in certain forms?
Sage.—The shape given to or assumed by any elemental is always subjective in its origin. It is produced by the person who sees, and who, in order to be more sensible of the elemental’s presence, has unconsciously given it a form. Or it may be due to a collective impression on many individuals, resulting in the assumption of a definite shape which is the result of the combined impressions.
Student.—Is this how we may accept as true the story of Luther’s seeing the devil?
Sage.—Yes. Luther from his youth had imagined a personal devil, the head of the fraternity of wicked ones, who had a certain specific form. This instantly clothed the elementals that Luther evoked, either through intense enthusiasm or from disease, with the old image reared and solidified in his mind; and he called it the Devil.
Student.—That reminds me of a friend who told me that in his youth he saw the conventional devil walk out of the fire place and pass across the room, and that ever since he believed the devil had an objective existence.
Sage.—In the same way also you can understand the extraordinary occurrences at Salem in the United States, when hysterical and mediumistic women and children saw the devil and also various imps of different shapes. Some of these gave the victims information. They were all elementals, and took their illusionary forms from the imaginations and memory of the poor people who were afflicted.
Student.—But there are cases where a certain form always appears. Such as a small, curiously-dressed woman who had never existed in the imagination of those seeing her; and other regularly recurring appearances. How were those produced, since the persons never had such a picture before them?
Sage..—These pictures are found in the aura of the person, and are due to pre-natal impressions. Each child emerges into life the possessor of pictures floating about and clinging to it, derived from the mother; and thus you can go back an enormous distance in time for these pictures, all through the long line of your descent. It is a part of the action of the same law which causes effects upon a child’s body through influences acting on the mother during gestation.
1 See Isis Unveiled in the chapter on Teratology.
Student.—In order, then, to know the cause of any such appearance, one must be able to look back, not only into the person’s present life, but also into the ancestor’s past?
Sage-Precisely. And for that reason an occultist is not hasty in giving his opinion on these particular facts. He can only state the general law, for a life might be wasted in need less investigation of an unimportant past. You can see that there would be no justification for going over a whole life time’s small affairs in order to tell a person at what time or juncture an image was projected before his mind. Thousands of such impressions are made every year. That they are not developed into memory does not prove their non-existence. Like the unseen picture upon the photographer’s sensitive plate, they lie awaiting the hour of development.
Student.—In what way should I figure to myself the essence of an elemental and its real mode of existence?
Sage.—You should think of them as centres of energy only, that act always in accordance with the laws of the plane of nature to which they belong.
Student.—Is it not just as if we were to say that gunpowder is an elemental and will invariably explode when lighted? That is, that the elementals know no rules of either wrong or right, but surely act when the incitement to their natural action is present? They are thus, I suppose, said to be implacable.
Sage.—Yes; they are like the lightning which flashes or destroys as the varying circumstances compel. It has no regard for man, or love, or beauty, or goodness, but may as quickly kill the innocent, or burn the property of the good as of the wicked man.
Sage.—That the elementals live in and through all objects, as well as beyond the earth’s atmosphere.
Student.—Do you mean that a certain class of elementals, for instance, exist in this mountain, and float unobstructed through men, earth, rocks, and trees?
Sage.—Yes, and not only that, but at the same time, penetrating that class of elementals, there may be another class which float not only through rocks, trees, and men, but also through the first of the classes referred to.
Student.—Do they perceive these objects obstructive for us, through which they thus float?
Sage.—No, generally they do not. In exceptional cases they do, and even then never with the same sort of cognition that we have. For them the objects have no existence. A large block of stone or iron offers for them no limits or density. It may, however, make an impression on them by way of change of color or sound, but not by way of density or obstruction.
Student.—Is it not something like this, that a current of electricity passes through a hard piece of copper wire, while it will not pass through an unresisting space of air.
Sage.—That serves to show that the thing which is dense to one form of energy may be open to another. Continuing your illustration, we see that man can pass through air but is stopped by metal. So that “hardness” for us is not “hardness” for electricity. Similarly, that which may stop an elemental is not a body that we call hard, but something which for us is intangible and invisible, but presents to them an adamantine front.
thank you for your instruction.
Path, October, 1888