-A STUDY IN HUMAN EVOLUTION
The Resurrection of the Body and The Reincarnation of the Soul
by Dr Théophile Pascal
Translated by Fred Rothwell
The Theosophical Publishing Society - London 1910
Part 1 of 2 - Click here to go to Part 2 [proof-reading]
“Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him - It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life”.
Schopenhauer - (Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol 2, Chap 15)
|SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR'S LIFE||5|
|THE SOUL AND THE BODIES||15|
|REINCARNATION AND THE MORAL LAW||42|
|REINCARNATION AND SCIENCE||99|
REINCARNATION AND THE RELIGIOUS ANDPHILOSOPHICAL CONSENSUS OF THE AGES
SKETCH OF THE AUTHOR'S LIFE
[Page 5] Théophile Pascal was born on the 11th of May, 1860, at Villecroze, a village in the South of France. His childhood was spent amid the pleasant surroundings of a country life. Shortly after his sixteenth birthday, a relative of his, a Catholic priest ministering in Toulon, seeing that the youth showed considerable ability, sent for him and presided over his studies in this large maritime center. Before many years elapsed, he entered the Naval Medical School of the town, which he left at the age of twenty-two, with first-class honors. In his professional capacity, he took several trips on vessels belonging to the Mediterranean squadron. Four years afterwards he married, resigned active naval service, and devoted himself to building up a practice on land, becoming a homeopathic physician in the great seaport itself. It was about this time that the young doctor became interested in Theosophy, owing to the kindly services of a former patient, Commander Courmes. The closest [Page 6] friendship and sympathetic interest in theosophic thought thus began, and continued during their common labors subsequently in Paris.
Dr. Pascal entered the Theosophical Society in 1891, and during the course of the following year wrote a series of articles for the Revue Théosophique Française. These were continued year after year, and dealt with the most varied subjects: Psychic Powers; The Fall of the Angels; Kâma-Manasic Elementals; Thought Forms; Christianity, Prehistoric Races, and many others.
The young doctor had previously made a deep study of human magnetism, which proved a most fertile ground for the sowing of the seed of the Ancient Wisdom.
In 1898 attacks of serious nervous depression became frequent, forcing him to cease work of every kind. Mrs. Besant persuaded him to accompany her to India, where his general health was gradually restored, and he was enabled to return to France in the following year.
decided to leave Toulon, where he had built up a considerable practice,
and to settle in Paris, hoping to provide for the needs of himself and
his family — his
wife and only daughter — by the exercise of his profession, and at the same time
to fight the good fight for Theosophy in the capital itself.[Page 7]
The French Section of the Theosophical Society was founded in 1900, and Dr. Pascal was elected General Secretary. Throughout the next two years a number of thoughtful articles and publications appeared from his pen. The incessant labor and attention, however, which he bestowed on the spreading of theosophic instruction began to have its effect on a naturally delicate constitution, and in July, 1902, when attending the meetings of the British Convention in London, he was prostrated by an attack of congestion of the brain. The most devoted care was lavished on him, both in London and in Paris, the result being that a rapid, though only temporary, recovery took place. Had he relaxed his efforts somewhat, the cure might have been a permanent one, but Dr. Pascal, with the penetrating vision of the mystic, saw how pressing were the needs of the age, and how few the pioneers of this new presentation of the Truth, so that, at whatever cost of personal sacrifice, he plunged once more into the midst of his arduous toil.
In 1903 a series of very fine articles on the Laws of Destiny appeared in the Revue Théosophique, to be followed immediately by publication in volume form. Two years afterwards appeared the present volume — REINCARNATION: A STUDY IN HUMAN EVOLUTION; a work considered the most complete of any that have so far appeared in France [Page 8] on this subject, and the most popular of Dr. Pascal's publications.
In 1906 some of the nerve centres controlling the organs of speech became affected, but not sufficiently to compel him to remain absent from the International Theosophical Congress held that year in Paris under the presidency of Colonel Olcott. It was on this occasion that Dr. Pascal received from the hands of the President-Founder the Subba Rao medal, awarded to members of the society whose literary labours in the promulgation of the truths of Theosophy have proved eminently useful.
Twelve months afterwards he attended the Congress at Munich, under the presidency of Mrs. Besant, but was obliged to leave before the termination of the meetings. This may be regarded as Dr. Pascal's last public appearance as an active theosophist, for his subsequent prolonged stay in the South of France effected no radical improvement in the state of his health.
Returning to Paris in March, 1908, and realising how impossible it was for him to fulfil the duties incumbent on a General Secretary, he decided to resign his post. His colleagues, however, insisted on his continuing as Honorary General Secretary. From this time onward his health became gradually worse, and his physical life terminated on the 18th [Page 9] of April, 1909, his body being cremated three days afterwards at the Cemetery of Père Lachaise.
What was most striking about Dr. Pascal, in both public and private life, was his intense earnestness — the index of a well-grounded habit of concentration — and the calm strength of his convictions. It was impossible to be in his presence for any length of time without feeling the power that emanated from him, and recognising that here was a mighty soul struggling for expression.
Other characteristics were his extreme modesty, and his continual endeavour to accord praise and merit to those working for the cause so dear to his own heart. When questioned on many of the intricate points raised in a lecture or in conversation on some abstruse theosophical subject, he made no pretence at knowledge he did not possess; on such occasions his confession of ignorance would be charming, even touching in its naïveté.
But the qualities he seemed to feel it his special object to awaken in the minds of others — as will be acknowledged, I think, by those who knew him best — may be inferred from his continual insistence on the double duty, incumbent on students of Theosophy, of practising on all occasions the utmost tolerance, refusing not only to condemn but even to judge harshly the opinions or actions of others, and of seizing every opportunity to help [Page 10] another because of the recognition of the One Life throughout the world. May we who read the following pages catch somewhat of the deep earnestness and enthusiastic spirit breathing through them, and may the joy of service dissipate all meaner motives, taking as our watchword also the only key to true growth, the very heart of altruism, that exhortation he never wearied of repeating: Aidez! Aidez toujours!
It will soon be 1500 years since the decision of the Council of 543 A.D. [This council came to the following decision - Whosoever shall teach the pre-existence of the soul and the strange opinion of its returns to earth, let him be anathema!] condemned to oblivion sublime teachings which ought to have been carefully preserved and handed down to future generations as a beacon amid social reefs; teachings that would have uprooted that frightful egoism which threatens to annihilate the world, and instilled patience into the hearts of such as were being crushed beneath the wheel of the cosmic law, by showing them the scales of Justice inclining to the side filled with their iniquities of bygone times; teachings which would have been welcomed by the masses, and the understanding of which would not have called for any lofty intellectual culture.
It was one of the greatest misfortunes that could have befallen the races of the West, more especially [Page 12] the European, that they were thus deprived for centuries of this indispensable knowledge. We look upon it as a duty, following on so many others, to offer it anew, this time in the clear, logical, illuminating form presented in theosophic teachings. The necessity thereof is all the more imperative when we consider the growth of scepticism and materialism amongst the more intellectual classes, whilst the mass of the people have forsaken their blind faith only to succumb to religious indifference.
To every awakened soul the question comes:
Why does evil exist ?
So long as the enigma remains unsolved, Suffering remains a threatening sphinx, opposing God and ready to devour mankind.
The key to the secret lies in Evolution, which can be accomplished only by means of the continual return of souls to earth.
When once man learns that suffering is the necessary result of divine manifestation; that inequalities of conditions are due to the different stages which beings have reached and the changeable action of their will; that the painful phase lasts only a moment in Eternity, and that we have it in our power to hasten its disappearance; that though slaves of the past, we are masters of the future; that, finally, the same glorious goal awaits all [Page 13] beings — then, despair will be at an end; hatred, envy, and rebellion will have fled away, and peace will reign over a humanity made wise by knowledge.
Were this modest work to hasten forward this time by a few years, we should feel sufficiently rewarded.
The subject will be divided into four chapters:
(1) The Soul and the bodies.
(2) Reincarnation and the moral law.
(3) Reincarnation and science.
(4) Reincarnation and the religious and philosophical consensus of the ages. [Page 15]
THE SOUL AND THE BODIES
In a book dealing with the resurrection of bodies and the reincarnations of the Soul, a chapter must be devoted to the fundamental elements of the question.
We will give the name of Soul to abstract Being, to the Unknown, that unmanifested Principle which cannot be defined, for it is above all definition.
It is the Absolute of Western philosophers, the Parabrahm of the Hindus, the Tao of the ancient sages of China, the causeless Cause of all that has been or ever will be manifested in concrete time and space.
feeble idea of it may perhaps be obtained by comparing it with electricity,
which, though the cause of various phenomena: heat, movement, chemical
action, light, is not, per se, any one of these phenomena, undergoes no
modification from their existence, and survives them when the apparatus through
which they manifest disappears. [Page 16]
We shall set up no distinction between this Soul, which may be called the universal Soul, and the individual soul, which has often been defined as a ray, a particle of the total Soul, for logically one cannot imply parts to the Absolute; it is illusion, limitation on our part, which shows us souls in the Soul.
Bodies are “aspects” of the Soul, results of its activity — if, indeed, the Infinite can be said to be either active or passive; words fail when we attempt to express the Inexpressible. These bodies, or, more precisely, the varied forms assumed by force-matter [Which is nothing but an unknown “aspect” of abstract Divinity] are aspects of the Soul, just as light or chemical action are aspects of electricity, for one cannot suppose anything outside of infinite Being, nor can anything be imagined which is not a manifestation of the abstract Whole.
Let us also define Consciousness.
Taken absolutely, it is Being, the Soul, God; the uncaused Cause of all the states which, in beings, we call states of consciousness.
This limited consciousness may be defined as the faculty a “centre of life” possesses of receiving vibrations from its surroundings. When, in the course of evolution, a being is sufficiently developed to become conscious of a separation between its [Page 17] “ I ” and the object which sends it vibrations, consciousness becomes self-consciousness. This self-consciousness constitutes the human stage; it appears in the higher animals, but as it descends the scale of being, gradually disappears in non-individualised consciousness.
In a word, absolute Consciousness is one, though, as in the above example, it is manifested differently, according to the differences in the vehicles which express it in the concrete world in which we live.
The Soul, per se, is beyond the reach of beings who have not finished the pilgrimage of evolution. To know it, one must have attained to the eternal Centre, the unmanifested Logos. Up to that point, one can only, in proportion as one ascends, feel it in oneself, or acknowledge it by means of the logic which perceives it through all its manifestations as the universal Mover of forms, the Cause of all things, the Unity that produces diversity by means of the various vehicles which serve it as methods of expression.
Science says that intelligence, or, to be more generic, consciousness, results from the action of matter. This is a mistake.
does not change in proportion as the cells of the body are renewed; rather
it increases with physical unconsciousness, as in
somnambulism. [Page 18]
Thought is not the fruit of the brain; it offers itself to the latter, ready made, so to speak; the loftiest intellectual or artistic inspirations are flashes which strike down into the awaiting brain, when maintaining that passive expectant attitude which is the condition in which a higher message may be received.
The senses are not the thinking principle. They need to be controlled by consciousness; thus, people blind from birth, when suddenly made to see, cannot judge either distance or perspective; like animals and primitive men, they see nothing but colors on a surface.
Science says also: the organ is created for the function it has to perform; again a mistake. The eyes of the foetus are constructed in the darkness of the womb. The human germ, notwithstanding its unconsciousness and its simplicity of structure, develops a body that is complex and capable of a considerable degree of consciousness; though itself unintelligent, it produces prodigies of intelligence in this body; here, consequently, the effect would be greatly superior to the cause, which is absurd. Outside of the body and the germ is a supreme Intelligence which creates the models of forms and carries out their construction. This Intelligence is the Soul of the world.
Consciousness per se, or the Soul, is above all [Page 19] direct proof at the
present stage of human evolution, the vehicles through which it functions are
more or less apparent to us provided they are capable of affecting the brain.
At the present stage of human evolution, this is the case only with the astral
the other bodies are too fine to manifest through the nervous system such
characteristics as are calculated to furnish scientists with a proof of their
existence; they can only be felt and proved in and by Yoga [Present-day man
possesses four bodies of increasing fineness, the elements of which
interpenetrate. Proceeding from the most dense, these are: The physical, the
astral, the mental, and the causal body. In certain conditions they are capable
of disassociation, and they last for a longer or a shorter time. The astral
called the body of desire, animal soul (Kâma-rûpa, in Sanskrit) is the seat of
sensation. Evolution has in store for us higher bodies still — the buddhic body, the
atmic body, etc. . . . but these need only be mentioned at this point.
Yoga — Sanskrit, union — is a training of the different bodies of man by the will; its object is to make of these bodies complete and perfect instruments, capable of responding to the vibrations of the outer universe as well as to those of the individual soul. When this process is accomplished, man can receive, consciously and at will, in any one of his bodies, vibrations received by the soul primarily in one of the others; for instance, he may feel in the physical brain the direct action of his astral or higher bodies; he may also leave the physical, and feel directly in his astral body the action of the mental body, and so on.
Yoga can be practiced only under the guidance of a Master, i.e., a highly developed being, capable of guiding the student safely through the dangers incidental to this training]
is not without importance, however, to set forth [Page 20] the proofs of the
existence of a vehicle of consciousness immediately above the physical, for
it affords us a wider horizon and throws far more light on the rest of the
PROOFS OF THE ASTRAL BODY
Certain normal and abnormal or morbid phenomena in man have proved the existence of this vehicle, which we will call the higher consciousness, for it is far greater than normal, waking consciousness, that of the brain. In the somewhat rare cases in which this consciousness is expressed in the physical world, it is forced to make use of the brain. Now, in the majority of men, the latter is still incapable of vibrating harmoniously with the matter which forms the astral vehicle; this is because the density of the atoms of the brain cells which preside over thought is incapable of reproducing the rapid vibrations of the finer matter belonging to the body immediately above it. By special training (the yoga of the Hindus), by a particular constitution of body (sensitiveness], by certain special methods (hypnotism), or in certain maladies (somnambulism), the brain may become receptive to these vibrations, and receive from them an impression, though always an imperfect one. The rarity of this impression, its imperfection, and especially the necessity for the [Page 21] vibration of the physical brain that it may be manifested in our environment; all these have made it very difficult to prove the existence of this higher vehicle; still, there are certain considerations which show that it exists, and that it alone is capable of explaining the most characteristic phenomena of the higher consciousness.
Let us first define these two states of consciousness rather more completely, and fix their limits.
Normal consciousness is that which functions during waking hours, when the brain is in full physiological activity, freely and completely related to the outer physical world. This consciousness is more or less developed according to the individual, but its component parts — sensation, emotion, sentiment, reason, intelligence, will, intuition — do not exceed known limits; for instance, we do not find clairvoyance, the prophetic faculty, and certain other abnormal faculties, which we shall class under the higher consciousness.
The higher consciousness works in the astral body, whether externalised or not; it seldom manifests itself, and then incompletely; it is accompanied by the more or less complete inhibition of the senses, and by a kind of sleep in which the relations of the subject with the physical world are wholly or partially suspended. The characteristics of this state are greater keenness of the normal [Page 22] faculties, and the appearance of new ones, which are often inexplicable and extraordinary and the more remarkable in proportion as sleep is more profound, the brain calmer, or the physiological state more abnormal.
How can we explain the paradox that faculties shown by a brain in a state of inactivity cover an extent of ground which the brain in a state of activity cannot approach ? The reason is that the brain, in this case, is not an instrument moved directly by the cause of consciousness, the soul, but a simple recipient, which the soul, then centered in the astral body, impresses on returning to the physical body (if it has been far away) or impresses directly when, whilst acting in the finer vehicle, the latter has not left the body.[When the astral body is externalised, the subject cannot speak; he must await its return; when only partially externalised or not at all, and consciousness is centered in it, the subject can speak and relate what he sees afar off, for astral vision is possible at enormous distances. Such cases as these are frequently met with]
In other words, the brain, by reason of its functional inactivity, vibrates little or not at all in its higher centers; it plays the part of a sounding-board at rest, capable of vibrating sympathetically under the influence of a similar board placed by its side.
The necessity of cerebral quiet, if the higher consciousness [Page 23] is to make an impression, is now easy to understand; the finer vibration of the astral body cannot be impressed upon the brain when the latter is already strongly vibrating under the action of normal consciousness. For this reason also, the deeper the sleep of the physical body the better the higher consciousness manifests itself.
In ordinary man, organic quiet is scarcely ever complete during sleep; the brain, as we shall see shortly, automatically repeats the vibrations which normal consciousness has called forth during the waking state; this, together with an habitual density of the nervous elements, too great to respond to the higher vibration, explains the rarity and the confused state of the impression of astral consciousness on the brain.
The facts relating to the higher consciousness are as numerous as they are varied. We shall not enter into full details, but choose only a few phenomena quoted in well-known works.
OF THE HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS
DURING THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF SLEEP
Normal dream. During normal sleep there exists a special consciousness which must not be confounded either with waking consciousness or [Page 24] with that of the astral body. It is due to the automatic, cerebral vibration which continues during sleep, and which the soul examines on its return to the body — when awake. This dream is generally an absurd one, and the reason the dreamer notices it only on awaking is that he is absent from the visible body during sleep.
The proof of the departure of the astral body during sleep has been ascertained by a certain number of seers, But the absurdity of the commonplace dream is a rational proof thereof, one which must here be mentioned. As another rational proof of the existence of a second vehicle of consciousness, we must also notice the regular registering of the commonplace dream, because it takes place in the brain, and the habitual non-registering of the true dream experience, because this latter takes place in the externalised astral body.
Why does the astral body leave the physical during sleep ? This question is beyond our power to answer, though a few considerations on this point may be advanced.
Sleep is characterised by the transfer of consciousness from the physical to the astral body; this transfer seems to take place normally under the influence of bodily fatigue. After the day's activity, the senses no longer afford keen sensations, and as it is the energy of these sensations [Page 25] that keeps the consciousness “centered” in the brain; [In 1876, in a Leipzig hospital, there was a patient possessed of neither sensibility nor muscular sense. He had only sight in the right eye and hearing in the left ear. If this eye and ear were closed, the patient immediately fell asleep. Neither by being touched nor shaken could he be awakened; to effect this, it was necessary to open his eye and unstop his ear. (Archiv für die ges Physiologie, vol 15, p 573), this consciousness, when the senses are lulled to sleep, centers in the finer body, which then leaves the physical body with a slight shock.
It is, however, of the real dream — which is at times so intelligent that it has been called lucid, and at all events is reasonable, logical, and coordinate — that we wish to speak. In most cases this dream consists of a series of thoughts due to the soul in action in the astral body; it is sometimes the result of seeing mental pictures of the future [These pictures are often visible in the astral world; they explain the prophetic faculty of ordinary seers] or else it represents quite another form of animistic activity, as circumstances and the degree of the dreamer's development permit.
It is in the lucid dream — whether belonging to normal or to abnormal sleep — that occur those numerous and well-known cases of visions past or future to be found in so many of the books dealing with this special subject.
To these same states of higher consciousness are due such productions as Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. The author, suffering from fever, wrote this work whilst in a kind of delirious condition; Ivanhoe was printed before the recovery of the author, who, on reading it at a later date, had not the slightest recollection that it was his own production. (Ribot's Maladies de la Mémoire, p 41.)
Walter Scott remembered nothing, because Ivanhoe was the fruit of the astral consciousness impressed upon a brain which fever had rendered temporarily receptive to the higher vibrations.
There are certain peculiarities of the real dream which prove almost mathematically the superior nature of the vehicle which gives expression to it. This dream, for instance, is never of a fatiguing nature, however long it may appear to last, because it is only an instantaneous impression made upon the brain by the astral body, when the latter returns to the physical body, on awaking. On the other hand, the cerebral ideation of the waking state is fatiguing if intense or prolonged, or if the nervous system of the thinker is deprived of its normal power of resistance (in neurasthenia); the commonplace (brain) dream is also fatiguing if prolonged or at all vivid.
Another peculiarity is that a, dream — the real [Page 27] dream — which would require several years of life on earth for its realization, can take place in a second. The dream of Maury (Le Sommeil et le Rêve, p. 161), who in half a second lived through three years of the French Revolution, and many other dreams of the same nature, are instances of this. Now, Fechner has proved, in his Elemente der Psychophysik, first, that a fraction of a second is needed for the sensorial contact to cause the brain to vibrate — this prevents our perceiving the growth of a plant and enables us to see a circle of fire when a piece of glowing coal is rapidly whirled round; secondly, that another fraction of a second is needed for the cerebral vibration to be transformed into sensation. We might add that a third fraction of a second is needed for sensation to be transformed into ideation, proving that in these special dreams there can have been no more than an instantaneous, mass impression of all the elements of the dream upon the brain, [In such cases, by association of ideas or any other influence, the soul dramatizes the physical impression which calls forth the dream, and creates the long phantasmagoria of this dream in so short a time as to be scarcely appreciable. Between the sleeping physical body and the externalised astral body there is so close a degree of sympathy that the latter is conscious of everything that takes place in the former. This explains why the astral body returns so rapidly to the physical when a noise, light, or any other sensation impresses this latter] and that the dream itself has [Page 28] been produced by the imaginative action of the soul in the astral body, an extremely subtle one, whose vibratory power is such as to transform altogether our ordinary notions of time and space.
The death - bed dream. In dying people, the bodily senses gradually lose their vitality, and by degrees the soul concentrates itself within the finer vehicle. From that time signs of the higher consciousness appear, time is inordinately prolonged, visions present themselves, the prophetic faculty, is sometimes manifested, and verified cases are related of removal to a distance, like that of the Alsatian woman dying on board ship. During the final coma she went to Rio de Janeiro and commended her child to the keeping of a fellow-countryman. (D'Assier's L'humanité posthume, p. 47.) Similar instances are found in The Night Side of Nature, by C. Crowe, as well as in other works of the same kind.
The dream of intoxication. Under the influence of soporifics the same transfer of consciousness is produced, and we meet with more or less remarkable phenomena due to the higher consciousness. Opium smokers and eaters of hashish are able to form ideas with such rapidity that minutes seem to them to be years, and a few moments in dreamland delude them into the idea [Page 29] that they have lived through a whole life. (Hervey's Les rêves et les moyens de les diriger)
The dream of asphyxia. During asphyxia by submersion the higher consciousness enters into a minute study of the life now running to its close. In a few moments it sees the whole of it again in its smallest details. Carl du Prel (Philos der Mystik) gives several instances of this; Haddock (Somnolism and Psychism, p. 213) quotes, among other cases, that of Admiral Beaufort. During two minutes' loss of consciousness in a drowning condition, he saw again every detail of his life, all his actions, including their causes, collateral circumstances, their effects, and the reflections of the victim on the good and evil that had resulted therefrom.
account (Die Mystischen Erscheinungen der Menschlichen Natur)
of Catherine Emmerich, the somnambulist nun, who, when dying, saw again
whole of her past life, would incline one to think that this strange phenomenon,
which traditional Catholicism appears to have called the “Private Judgment”, and
which theosophy defines with greater preciseness is not limited to asphyxia
by submersion, but is the regular accompaniment of life's ending.[Page
MANIFESTATION OF THE HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS IN VARIOUS
CASES OF MENTAL FACULTIES LOST TO NORMAL CONSCIOUSNESS
A rather large number of people born blind have images in dreams, and can see with the higher consciousness, when placed in a state of somnambulism. This proves that the higher consciousness possesses the power of vision on its own plane, and can impress images thereof on the brain.
That this impression may be translated into the language of the physical plane,[We say “language of the physical plane” because the soul, in the astral body, sees in four dimensions, i.e. all the parts of an object at once, as though these parts were spread out on a two-dimensional plane. Consequently, the higher vision needs interpretation in order to be expressed on the physical plane] it must evidently take place in one of the physical centres of vision which make possible three-dimensional sight; these centres may be intact even when the external visual apparatus does not exist or is incapable of functioning.
A deaf and dumb idiot became intelligent and spoke during spontaneous somnambulism (Steinbach's Der Dichter ein Seher). This is a case which appears to us difficult to explain fully; indeed, if the impression of the higher vibration on that portion of the brain which presides over intelligence [Page 31] and thought can be understood, it is not easy to see how tongue and lips could suddenly utter precise sounds which they had never produced before. Another factor must have intervened here, as was the case with the child prophets of the Camisards. (V. Figuier's Histoire du merveilleux, etc.)
Young Hébert, who had gone mad as the result of a wound, regained full consciousness, the higher consciousness, during somnambulism. (Puysegur's Journal du traitement du jeune Hébert?)
Dr. Teste [Manuel pratique du magnétisme animal] came across madmen who became sane just before death, i.e when consciousness was passing into the astral body. He also mentions a servant girl, quite uneducated and of ordinary intelligence, who nevertheless became a veritable philosopher during mesmeric somnambulism and delivered learned discourses on lofty problems dealing with cosmogony.
This proves that the vibratory scale of the finer vehicle extends far beyond that of
the physical, and that the soul cannot impress on this latter vehicle all that it
knows when functioning in the former. By this we do not mean that it is
omniscient as soon as it has left the visible body; this opinion, a current one, is
contrary to the law of evolution, and will not bear examination.[Page 32]
MANIFESTATIONS OF THE HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS
UNDER THE FORM OF MEMORY
The memory that is lost by the brain is preserved in its entirety by the finer vehicle.
A musician, a friend of Hervey's, once heard a remarkable piece of music; he remembered it on awaking, and wrote it down, regarding it as his own inspiration. Many years afterwards, he found it in an old parcel of music where he knew it had been long before; he had totally forgotten it in his normal consciousness. (Hervey's Dreams.)
Coleridge tells of a servant girl who, when in a state of delirium, would recite long passages of Hebrew which she had formerly heard from the lips of a priest in whose service she had been. In the same way, she would repeat passages from Latin and Greek theological books, which she had heard under the same circumstances; in her normal state, she had no recollection whatever of all this. (Dr. Carpenter's Mental Physiology, p. 437, 1881 edition.)
Ricard (Physiologie et Hygiène du Magnétisme, p. 183) relates the case of a young man, possessed of an ordinary memory, but who, in somnambulism, could repeat almost word for word a sermon he had heard or a book he had read.
Mayo, the physiologist, states that an ignorant young girl, in a state of somnambulism, wrote whole [Page 33] pages of a treatise on astronomy, including figures and calculations, which she had probably read in the Encyclopedia Britannica, for the treatise was afterwards found in that work. ( Truths in Popular Superstitions)
Ladame (La Névrose hypnotique, p. 105) mentions a woman who, having only on one occasion been to the theatre, was able, during somnambulism, to sing the whole of the second act of Meyerbeer's L'Africaine, an opera of which she knew nothing whatever in her waking state.
During experiments with the inhaling of protoxyde of azote, H. Davy said that normal consciousness disappeared, and was followed by a wonderful power of recalling, past events. (Hibbert's Philosophy of Apparitions, p. 162.)
OF THE HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS
IN PHENOMENA OF DOUBLE CONSCIOUSNESS
The “strata of memory” met with in many cases also prove the existence of the second vehicle of consciousness which we are trying to demonstrate.
Certain dreams continue night after night, beginning again just where they
stopped the previous night; this is noticed in the case of those who talk in their
sleep and in spontaneous or forced somnambulism. [Page 34]
The memory of one intoxicated, or in a state of fever delirium is lost when consciousness returns from the astral to the physical body; it comes back on the return of the delirium or the intoxication.
The same thing takes place in madness; at the termination of a crisis, the patients take up the past just where they left it. (Wienholt's Heilkraft) Kerner relates that one of these unfortunate persons, after an illness lasting several years, remembered the last thing he did before the crisis happened, his first question being whether the tools with which he had been cutting up wood had been put away. During the whole of the interval he had been living in his higher consciousness.
Ribot (Maladies de la Mémoire p. 63) has noted the fact that the same thing happens with those who fall into a state of coma after having received a hurt or wound.
OF THE HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS,
INDICATING NOT ONLY THAT IT EXTENDS FARTHER THAN NORMAL CONSCIOUSNESS,
BUT DOMINATES, AND IS SEPARATED FROM IT, RECOGNISING THAT ITS VEHICLE
—THE BODY - IS NOTHING MORE THAN AN INSTRUMENT
The Soul functioning in the finer body sees the physical body in a state of coma. Dr. Abercromtiie relates the case of a child aged four, who was [Page 35] trepanned as the result of fracture of the skull, and whilst in a state of coma. He never knew what happened. At the age of fifteen, during an attack of fever, the higher consciousness impressed itself upon the brain, and he remembered every detail of the accident; he described to his mother where he had felt the pain, the operation, the people present, their number, functions, the clothes they wore, the instruments used, etc. (Kerner, Magikon, vol. 3, p. 364.)
The Soul, in the finer body, during somnambulism, is separated both from the physical body and from normal consciousness, it calmly foresees the illness or the death of the denser body on which it sometimes imposes serious operations. Such facts were numerous in the case of magnetisers in olden days.
Deleuze (Histoire critique, du magnétisme animal, volume 2, page 173) had a patient who, in a state of somnambulism, held moral, philosophical, and religious opinions quite contrary to those of his waking state.
Charpignon (Physiol, médecine. et métaphys. du magnétisme, p. 341) tells of a patient who, when awake, wished to go to the theatre, but during somnambulism refused to do so, saying: “She wants to go, but / don't want”. On Charpignon recommending that she should try to turn her aside [Page 36] from her purpose, she replied: “ What can I do ? She is mad! ”
Deleuze (Instructions pratiques sur le magnétisme animal, page 121) says that many somnambulists look into their body when the latter is ill; that they are often indifferent to its sufferings, and sometimes are not even willing to prescribe remedies to cure it.
Chardel (Esquisse de la nature humaine expliquée par le magnétisme animal, page 282) relates that many somnambulists are unwilling to be awakened so as not to return to a body which is a hindrance to them.
There are many madmen who speak of their body in the third person. (Ladame, La Névrose, p. 43). They function in the non-externalised finer vehicle. Some explain their use of the third person as follows: — “ It is the body; it is I who am the spirit”.
OF THE HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS
IN THE PHENOMENA OF POSSESSION AND MATERIALIZATION
In these strange phenomena, not only manifestations of the higher consciousness, analogous with or similar to those just cited, have been noted, but also a number of facts which prove, to some extent, the casual presence in a normal human body or in materialized abnormal forms, of beings other [Page 37] than that which constitutes the personality of the one possessed, or of the medium who conditions these materializations. On this point, we would mention the well-known investigations of Sir W. Crookes (Katie King), those of Colonel de Rochas (Vincent, Un cas de changement de personnalité - Lotus Bleu, 1896), and similar experiments of other savants.
“Incarnation mediums” have often lent their physical bodies to dis-incarnated human entities, whose account of what happened or whose identity it has been possible to verify. Here I will mention only one case amongst several others. I heard it from my friend, D. A. Courmes, a retired naval captain, a man who is well-informed in these matters, thoroughly sincere, and of unquestioned veracity.
In 1895, he happened to be off Algiers, on a training vessel. A boat had sunk in the harbour, and a man was drowned. His body had not been recovered. On the evening of the accident, my friend, accompanied by a doctor, a professor, and the vice-president of the Court of Algiers, attended a spiritualistic meeting in the town. One of these “incarnation mediums” happened to be present. M. Courmes suggested that the drowned man should be called up. The latter answered to the call, entered the medium, whose voice and attitude [Page 38] immediately changed. He gave the following account of what had taken place: “ When the boat sank, I was on the ladder. I was hurled down, my right leg passed between two bars, occasioning fracture of the leg, and preventing me from releasing myself. My body will be found caught in the ladder when the boat is brought to the surface. It is useless to seek elsewhere”.
This account was shortly afterwards confirmed.
These phenomena are more frequent than one would imagine; a sufficient number might be given to show that, judging from the theory of probabilities, serious consideration should be given to them.
MANIFESTATIONS OF THE HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS IN APPARITIONS
A final group of phenomena to which I wish to call attention is the one which goes under the name of apparitions. A considerable number of these are to be found; we will confine ourselves, however, to referring the reader to a volume entitled Phantasms of the Living, due to the patient investigations of a distinguished body of foreign savants. Here we find, first of all, proof of the transmission of thought to a distance. An examination into the conditions under which most of these cases took place has convinced several students of [Page 39] the existence of the finer body which we are here endeavouring to demonstrate, as well as of the possibility of its instantaneous transference to a great distance. As the proofs afforded by apparitions are not mathematical, i.e., indisputable, and as they give room for a variety of opinions, we will make no attempt to detail them, preferring to pass on to a final proof — the least important, perhaps, from a general point of view, since it is limited to the individual possessing it; the only absolute and mathematical one, however, to the man who has obtained it: — the personal proof.
There are persons — few in number, true — who, under divers influences, have been able to leave the physical body and see it sleeping on a couch. They have freely moved in an environment — the astral world — similar to our physical one in some respects, though different in many others, and have returned again to the body, bringing back the memory of their wanderings. These accounts have been given by persons deserving of credence and not subject to hallucinations.
are other individuals, though not so numerous — of whom we have the
pleasure of knowing some personally — who are able to leave their physical
bodies and return at will. They travel to great distances with the utmost rapidity
and bring back a complete memory of their journeying.[Page 40]
D'Assier gives a typical case in his work. (L’Humanité posthume, p. 59.)
Such is the proof we look upon as irrefutable, as complete and perfect. The man who can thus travel freely in his finer body knows that the physical body is only a vehicle adapted to the physical world and necessary for life in this world; he knows) that consciousness does not cease to function, and that the universe by no means provides the conditions for a state of nothingness, once this body of flesh is laid aside.
At this stage of his evolution man can, in addition, make use of his astral body at will, and obtain on the astral plane, first by reason and intuition, afterwards by personal experience, proof of another vehicle of consciousness — the mental body. At a further stage he obtains the certainty of possession of the causal body, then of higher bodies, and from that time he can no longer doubt the teachings of the Elder Brothers, those who have entered the higher evolution, the worlds that are divine. He knows, beyond all possibility of doubt, that what the ordinary man expresses in such childish language regarding these lofty problems, what he calls the Absolute and the Manifested, God and the Universe, the soul and the body, are more vitally true than he imagined; he sees that these words are dense veils [Page 41] that conceal the supreme, ineffable, infinite Being, of whom manifested beings are illusory “aspects”, facets of the divine Jewel.[There are other proofs of the existence of the causal body, the reincarnating vehicle ; the principal one is given in the middle of Chapter 3. It is there shown that the physical germs explain only a very small portion of heredity, and that logic imperiously demands the existence of an invisible, durable body, capable of gathering up the gems which preserve the moral and intellectual qualities of man]
With this introduction, we will plunge at once into the heart of the subject. [Page 42]
REINCARNATION AND THE MORAL LAW
The Goodness, Justice, and Omnipotence of God are the guarantees of Providence.
It is absolutely impossible that the faintest breath of injustice should ever disturb the Universe. Every time the Law appears to be violated, every time Justice seems outraged, we may be certain that it is our ignorance alone that is at work, and that a deeper knowledge of the net-work of evolution and of the lines of action created by human free will, sooner or later, will dissipate our error.
For all that, the whole universe appears to be the very incarnation of injustice. The constellations as they come into manifestation shatter the heavens with their titanic combats; it is the vampirism of the greatest among them that creates the suns, thus inaugurating egoism from the very beginning. Everywhere on earth is heard the cry of pain, a never-ending struggle; sacrifice is everywhere, whether voluntary or forced, offered [Page 43] freely or taken unwillingly. The law of the strongest is the universal tyranny. The vegetable kingdom feeds upon the mineral, and in its turn forms nourishment for the animal; the giants of the forests spread ruin in every direction, beneath their destructive influence the spent, exhausted soil can nourish nothing but weeds and shrubs of no importance. In the animal kingdom a war to the death is ever being waged, a terrible destruction in which those best armed for the fray pitilessly devour the weak and defenseless. Man piles up every kind and method of destruction, cruelty and barbarity of every sort; he tears away gold from the bowels of the earth, mutilates the mighty forests, exhausts the soil by intensive culture, harasses and tortures animals when unable to utilize their muscular strength, and, in addition, kills them when their flesh is eatable; his most careful calculations are the auxiliaries of his insatiable egoism, and, by might or cunning, he crushes everything that hinders or inconveniences him. Finally, from time to time, the Elements mingle their awful voice in this concert of pain and despair, and we find hurricanes and floods, fires and earthquakes pile up colossal wreck and ruin in a few hours, on which scenes of destruction the morrow's calm and glorious sun sheds his impassive beams.
And so, before reaching individual evil and [Page 44] apparent injustice, there rises up before us at the very outset the threatening spectre of universal evil and injustice. This problem is so closely bound up with our subject that we are compelled to spend a short time in considering it.
WHY DOES PAIN EXIST?
To admit, as do certain ignorant fatalists, that the Universe was created by the stroke of some magic wand, and that each planet, kingdom, and being is condemned, so to speak, to a definite crystallization in the state in which it has pleased God to fix it; to admit that the mineral will remain a mineral throughout eternity, that the vegetable will ever reproduce the same types, that the animal will definitely be confined to his instincts and impulses, without the hope, some day, of developing the superior mentality of his torturers in human form; to admit that man will never be anything but man, i.e a being in whom the passions have full play whereas the virtues are scarcely born; to admit that there is no final goal — perfection, the divine state — to crown man's labor; all this is to refuse to recognize evolution, to deny the progress everywhere apparent, to set divine below human justice; blasphemy, in a word.
It has been said by unthinking Christians that [Page 45] evidently God created human suffering, so that those might gain Heaven who, but for this suffering, would have no right to it. To speak thus is to represent the Supreme Goodness in a very unworthy aspect and to attribute the most gratuitous cruelty to Divine Justice. When, too, we see that this absurd reasoning explains neither the sufferings of animals, which have no right to enjoy the felicity of heaven, they say, nor the fact [Fortunately, this is a fact only in the imagination of those who are blinded by faith] that “there are many called but few chosen”, nor the saying that “outside the Church there is no salvation”, although for ages past God has caused millions of men to be born in countries where the Gospel has not been preached, we shall not be astonished to find that those who arrogate to themselves a monopoly of Truth bring forward none but arguments of childish folly in support of their claims.
Generally, however, it is original sin that is advanced as the cause of suffering.
The absurdity of this doctrine is so apparent that it has lost all credence by enlightened members of the Christian faith. First of all, it does not explain the sufferings of animals, which have had no participation in this sin, nor does it account for the unequal [Page 46] distribution of pain amongst men themselves. This sin being the same for all at birth, [Before men had sinned individually on earth] punishment ought to have been equally severe for all, and we ought not to see such frightful disproportions as are to be found in the condition of children who have not attained to the age of reason, i.e of responsibility. Saint Augustine felt the weight of this consideration; he reflected long on this torturing problem:
“When I come to consider the sufferings of children”, he says, “believe me, I am in a state of terrible perplexity. I have no wish whatever to speak only of the punishment inflicted on them after this life by eternal damnation to which they are of necessity condemned if they have left their bodies without receiving the sacrament of Christ, but of the pains they endure in this present life, under our very eyes. Did I wish to examine these sufferings, time would fail me rather than instances thereof; they languish in sickness, are torn by pain, tortured by hunger and thirst, weakened in their organs, deprived of their senses, and sometimes tormented by unclean beings. I should have to show how they can with justice be subjected to such things, at a time when they are yet without sin. It cannot be said that they suffer [Page 47] unknown to God or that God can do nothing against their tormentors, nor that He can create or allow unjust punishment. When men suffer, we say they are being punished for their crimes, but this can be applied only to adults. As children have in them no sin capable of meriting so terrible a punishment, tell me what answer can be given? ”
The answer, indeed, cannot be made that original sin is capable of explaining this unequal retribution; but then, ought not the very absurdity of the consequences due to such sin to justify one in refusing to examine this argument ? What soul could admit that the innocent should be punished for the guilty ? Does human justice, in spite of its imperfection, punish the offspring of criminals ? Can the millions of descendants of the mythical Adam have been chastised for a crime in which they have had no share ? And would this chastisement, multiplied millions of times without the faintest reason, never have stirred the conscience of the Church ? Saint Augustine could not make up his mind to accuse God of injustice; so, to avoid disputing the truth of the Christian teaching in which he wholly believed, he invented his famous theory of “generation”, often called “translation”.
Men suffer because of original sin, he says, but it would not be just of God to punish them for this, [Page 48] had they not shared therein [De corruptione et gratia, chap 7, No 19; Cont. .Jul Pelag, Book 4, chap 3, No 16, et De Peccat. merit. et remiss., Book 3, chap 4, No 7]; this, indeed, they have done, for the soul of a man was not created directly, by God, at the moment of the birth of the body; it is a branch taken from the soul of his father, as the latter's comes from that of his parents; thus, ascending the genealogical chain, we see that all souls issue from that of the common father of mankind: Adam. [ “Omnes illae unus homo fuerant”. De Peccat. merit. et remiss. , Book 1, chap 10, No 11. Theologians pass over St Augustine’s adoption of this theory, giving one to understand that he abandoned his error shortly before his death. (Dictionnaire de Théolologie by Abbé Berger; volume viii, article x “Traduciens” )]
So that Saint Augustine preferred to deny the creation of souls and to derive them from the soul of Adam, through a successive progeny of human vehicles, rather than to allow God to be charged with injustice. We are not called upon to demonstrate the falsity of his hypothesis, which the Church has been forced to condemn, though without replacing it with a better theory; all the same, if human souls suffer from a sin in which they have not individually and consciously participated — and such is the case, for even granting that translation be a fact, these souls existed in Adam only potentially [Page 49] , as unconscious, undeveloped germs, when the sin took place — their punishment is none the less arbitrary and revolting. Saint Augustine believed he was justifying Providence; he succeeded only in deceiving his own reason and revolted sense of justice, but he preferred by suggestion to deceive himself to such an extent as to believe in the reality of his desire rather than enrol himself against the Church.
In order to reconcile divine Justice with the injustice of punishing all for the fault of one alone, the theologians also said: “Adam sinned, his sin has been distributed over the whole of his race, but God, by sending down his son, instituted baptism; and the waters of the sacrament wash the stains of original sin from the souls of men”.
This reply is as childish as the former. As a matter of fact, according to the Church, about four thousand years intervened between the sin of Adam and the coming of the Redeemer, and so only after that interval did the souls of the just, who were waiting in the Life Beyond for the coming of the Messiah, enter Paradise!
Would not this delay in itself be an injustice ? Ought not baptism to have been instituted immediately after the sin, and should it not have been placed within the reach of all ? Besides, do we not see that even in our days, two thousand years after [Page 50] the coming of the Christ, millions of human beings are born and die without ever having heard of the existence of this sacrament. This part of the argument is too puerile to dwell upon at length, but we will spend a few moments on it to show definitely how powerless this theory is to explain evil.
Before teaching the doctrine of “Limbo”, the Church accepted the idea of the damnation of children who died without being baptized, as we have just seen in the case of Saint Augustine.[See also, on this subject, his letter to Sixtus, before the latter became Pope. Chap vii, No 31, and chap vi, No 27] Bossuet, with incredible blindness, also accepted it; and, sad to relate, his reason did not feel called upon to furnish an explanation which would justify Providence, as was the case with Saint Augustine. He rejected “translation”, and discovered nothing with which to veil the blasphemy.
On this point the following is a faithful résumé of his letter to Pope Innocent XII.
damnation of children who have died without being baptized must be firmly
believed by the Church. They are guilty because they are born under the wrath
of God and in the power of Darkness. Children of wrath by nature, objects
and aversion, hurled into Hell with the rest of the damned, they will remain
for all eternity punished by the horrible vengeance of the Demon.[Page
Such also are the decisions of the learned Denis Pétau, the most eminent Bellarmin, the Councils of Lyons, of Florence, and of Trent; for these things are not decided by human considerations, but by the authority of tradition and of the Scriptures.
Such logic makes one really doubt human reason, and reminds one of the spirit with which the courts of the Holy Inquisition were inspired. Where in Nature can there be found such lack of proportion between cause and effect, crime and punishment ? Have such arguments ever been justified by the voice of conscience ?
Official Christianity remains powerless to explain suffering. Let us see what we can learn from the philosophies and religions of the past and the greatest of modern philosophers, as well as from the admirable résumés of Teachers of theosophy.
The problem of suffering is one with that of life, i.e with that of evolution in general. The object of the successive worlds is the creation of millions of centers of consciousness in the germinal state (souls} and the transformation of these germs into divinities similar to their father, God. This is the divine multiplication, creating innumerable “gods”, in God.
To produce divine germs, homogeneous Unity must .limit its immensity and create within itself [Page 52] the diversity of matter, of form. This can be obtained by the creation of “multiplicity” and by the “limitation” of what might be called a portion of Divinity. Now, limitation implies imperfection, both general and individual, i.e suffering; and multiplicity implies diversity of needs and interests, forced submission to the general law i.e suffering again. That the divine germs may evolve, their potentialities must be awakened by their surroundings; in other words, by the action of the “opposites”, and sensation must come into being; the action of the opposites on sensation is also a cause of pain.
Outside of the unknown Being — which will be known at the end of evolution — nothing can be. Everything is in Him, He is all; the worlds, time and space are “aspects” which He assumes from time to time [ The movements of “creation” and “absorption”, which are called in Hindu symbolism the outbreathing and the inbreathing of Brahmâ]; for this reason it has been said that the Universe is an illusion, which may be expressed more clearly by saying that it is an illusion to believe that what exists is not one form of divine activity, an “aspect” of God.
That anything may exist, or rather that aspects of God may appear, there must be manifested in [Page 53] Him a special mode of being, to call forth what we designate as multiplicity.
That multiplicity [Creation] may be manifest, differences must be produced in Unity; these differences in the world are the “pairs of opposites” — the contraries. These contraries are everywhere.
Matter is the fulcrum of force — both of these terms being “aspects” of God — and without a fulcrum no force can manifest itself; there is no heat without cold, and when it is summer in the northern hemisphere it is winter in the southern. There is no movement that does not depend upon a state of rest, no light without shadow, no pleasure without the faculty of pain, no freedom that is not founded upon necessity, no good that does not betoken an evil.
The following are a few examples of duality taken from nature. The current of electricity is polarised into a positive and a negative current. It is the same with the magnet; though you break a bar into a hundred pieces, you bring into being a hundred small magnets, each possessing its positive and negative side; you will not have destroyed the “duality”, the opposites.
the magnet, the solar spectrum forms two [Page
separated by a neutral point, the blue series and the red one, united by the
violet. [After violet
and red there stretches quite another spectrum, invisible to the human eye;
it is because violet is at the beginning of our known spectrum, that one might
was not the neutral point thereof]
The terms of the two series are respectively complimentary to each other; the violet dominates the two groups of opposites and is a visible member of the axis formed by the colors that might be called neutral.
Duality appears in every shape and form.
Symbolically, we may say with the Hindus that the Universe begins and ends with two opposite movements: an emanation from Brahmâ, it is born when the breast of God sends forth the heavenly outbreathing, it dies, reabsorbed, when the universal inbreathing takes place. These movements produce attraction and repulsion, the aggregation and dissolution to be found everywhere. It is the attraction of a force-center, the “laya center” of Theosophy, which permits of the atomic condensation that gives it the envelope whose soul it is; when [Page 55] its cycle of activity ends, attraction gives place to repulsion, the envelope is destroyed by the return of its constituent elements to the source from which they were drawn, and the soul is liberated until a future cycle of activity begins.
Even the rhythm of pulmonary respiration, the contraction and dilation (systole and diastole) of the heart, the ebb and flow of the tides, as also day and night, sleeping and waking, summer and winter, life and death, are all products of that law of contraries which rules creation.
These “opposites” are the very essence of cosmic life, the twin pillars of universal equilibrium; they have been represented in Solomon's symbolical temple — here, the Universe — by Jakin and Boaz, the white and the black columns; they are also the interlaced triangles of “Solomon's Seal”, the six-pointed star, the two Old Men of the Kabbalah, the white Jehovah and the black Jehovah; Eros and Anteros, the serpents of Mercury's caduceus, the two Sphinxes of the car of Osiris, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, the Chinese “Yang” and “Yin”, the goblet and staff of Tarot, man and woman. All these images represent the same law.
Multiplicity, the fruit of the contraries, makes its appearance in the forms born in infinite, homogeneous Being; its goal is the goal of creation; [Page 56] the production, in infinite Being, of centers which are developed by evolution and finally become gods in God. These centers, or “souls”, these points in the supreme Point, are divine in essence, though, so far, they have no share at all in the perfection “manifested” by God; they are all “centers”, for God is a sphere, whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere, but they have not developed consciousness which is as yet only potential in them. Like cuttings of willow which reproduce the mother-tree, these points, veritable portions of God, are capable of germinating, growing up, and becoming “I's”, self-conscious beings, intelligent and endowed with will-power, and finally gods, having developed the entire potentialities of the All by their repeated imprisonment in the series of forms that make up the visible and invisible kingdoms of nature.
Every form, i.e aggregate of substance-force, reflects within itself one of these points of Divinity. This point is its Monad, its center of consciousness, or soul; it is the cause which is manifested as qualities in the envelopes, and these give it the illusion of separateness for a certain period,[The soul believes itself distinct from the All, because it is subjected to the illusion engendered by its body] just as a soap-bubble momentarily acquires a fictitious individuality [Page 57] and appears separate from the atmosphere — of which it forms part — so long as its illusory envelope endures.
Thus do men imagine themselves separate from one another, when all the time their soul is nothing more than a drop of the divine Ocean, hidden momentarily in a perishable body.
the anvil and the hammer which slowly forge souls by producing what might
be called sensation in general, and sensation is a fertile
cause of suffering each time the vehicles of consciousness receive vibrations
that greatly exceed their fundamental capacity of sensation. Without sensation
however — consequently without suffering — the body could neither
walk, [Without the aid of the eyes, walking is impossible
to those suffering from plantar anaesthesia] nor see, nor hear, nor show any
disturbance brought to bear upon
it; there would exist no possible relation between the Universe and the “I”,
between the All and the parts, between bodies and souls; there would be no
consciousness, or sensation of being, since no vibration from without would
find an echo in the incarnated “centres” of
life; no knowledge would be possible; man would be, as it were, in a state
of nothingness; and, without suspecting it,
his body might at any moment be crushed to the ground by the forces of Nature.[Page
But these material necessities are not by any means the only ones that demand sensation; without it, one of the principal objects of evolution — the development of “Egos” — would be impossible. As an example borrowed from the domain of physical sensation, we need only call to memory a well-known experience in childhood.
All who have been at a boarding school know how heavy and fetid is the atmosphere of a dormitory in the early winter morning, when fifty boys have been breathing the same air again and again during the whole of the night. And yet, who suspected this until he had gone out for a few minutes and then returned to the bed-room? It needed the “contrary”, the pure outside air, to make known the state of the atmosphere inside. The contrast produced sensation — that nauseous, suffocating impression of foul, mephitic air; suffering [Pleasure, like every other form of sensation, produces the same results, though perhaps with less force] generated knowledge of the vitiated air; as the result of this influence, the “centre of consciousness” felt itself an “I” distinct from its surroundings, and its “self-consciousness” received a slight increase.
What might be called passional sensibility — desire, emotion, impulse — is, like physical sensation, another indispensable factor in evolution; it is the special element in the development of the animal [Page 59] kingdom as well as of the less evolved portion of the human kingdom.
The young souls of mankind must receive the comparatively simple lessons of sensation, desire, and passion, before beginning the far more complicated study of mentality. But for desire, a host of needs could not be manifested, numberless functions would remain inactive; the body would not feed itself, and would die, were it not for hunger; danger would not be fled from, but for the instinct of self-preservation; nor without this would there be any propagation of the species. None the less is this life of sensation the source of many evils; desire and passion amongst human beings create terrible misery, fill prisons and hospitals, and are at the root of all kinds of moral suffering. In its turn, intelligence — that sensation so characteristic of the human state — is both an indispensable necessity and the most fertile source of evil, so long as it has not experienced a yearning for that inner “divinity”, deep in the heart of man, which calls to it. A powerful lever of progress, it might convert this earth into a paradise, whereas it is the weapon which the strong, in their egoism, use to crush the feeble, a terrible weapon which either creates or intensifies all the evils under which the people writhe in despair. Once it becomes the instrument of a [Page 60] regenerate humanity, that is to say, when men have become compassionate, loving, and devoted, then the social question will cease to exist, and the old instrument of torture will become a pledge of general happiness.
Even spiritual sensibility is a cause of suffering to some noble souls who have developed it, for however deep the joy of loving and giving oneself, intense too is the pain of witnessing the cruel drama of life, that fratricidal struggle in which passion strikes without mercy, whilst illusion and ignorance deal blows even more terrible, for into the wounds they make they instill the poison of revolt and despair.
The action of multiplicity, and of its creators, the “contraries”, engenders still other causes of suffering. Every being lives both for others and at their expense. For instance, physical bodies are obliged to replace with food and nourishment those particles which the various functions of life cause them to lose. The vegetable kingdom takes its constituent elements from the mineral kingdom, and itself serves as food for large portions of the animal kingdom; up to this point physical pain has not manifested itself, though there is a momentary arrest of evolution for the animistic essence which represents the individual in the destroyed vegetable. A portion of the animal kingdom feeds on [Page 61] its own members; man, too, extorts from this same kingdom a very heavy tribute; here, the arrested evolution of the victims is all the more important, inasmuch as their stage of evolution is higher, and the existence of a nervous system brings the possibility of suffering, suffering which certain influences [A magnetic effect or an emotion. All travelers who have escaped from the attacks of wild beasts mention this effect of inhibition, manifested by the absence of fear and pain at the moment of attack] either diminish or suppress altogether, when caused by animal destructiveness, but which may become intense when it is man who is the sacrificer.
Among the causes of pain, arising from multiplicity there is also the physical, mental, and moral action exercised by the solidarity of all beings. By exchanging, with those that come into contact with us, the products thrown off by our visible and invisible bodies, we are the dispensers of good or ill-health. Everyone, for instance, is aware of the far-reaching effects of an evil intellectual and moral example; physical contagion, in spite of the torture it inflicts, is far less to be dreaded than moral contagion. The spiritual qualities alone do not form a leaven of evil; they are not the double-edged instruments we meet with elsewhere. The reason of this is that they belong to the plane of [Page 62] Unity. But it is none the less true that, though the presence of a highly developed soul is a help to younger souls within its reach and influence, its powerful vibrations may, from certain points of view, prove fatiguing to those still at the foot of the ladder of evolution. This is one of the many reasons that have given rise to the saying that it is dangerous prematurely to enter the “circle of the ascetics”.
But the most powerful causes of pain, due to multiplicity, are the ignorance and the will of beings who have reached the human stage. Man can employ his mental faculties for good or evil, and so long as he does not know definitely that he is the brother of all beings, i.e until his divine faculties have been developed, and love and the spirit of sacrifice have taken possession of his heart, he remains a terrible egoist, more to be dreaded than the criminal dominated by a momentary burst of passion, for he acts in cold blood, he evades or refuses to recognize the law of humanity, he dominates and destroys. This man is at the stage of ingratitude; he no longer possesses the harmlessness of childhood, nor has he yet acquired the wisdom of advanced age. Our Western race has reached this critical stage, whereof the menacing demands of the suffering masses are a striking testimony. Here, too, God could not do otherwise [Page 63] wise; He might create bodies blindly obedient to his law, mere automata, but it would be impossible for Him to cause divine germs to evolve into “gods” without putting them through the school of evolution which teaches them, first, of the “ego”, the root of all egoism, then knowledge by ignorance, liberty by necessity, good by evil, and the perfect by the imperfect.
It may at this point just be mentioned that though human egoism appears to have free play and to be unrestrained in its cruelty, divine Law never allows innocence to suffer for the errors of evolving souls, it punishes only the guilty, whether their faults or misdeeds be known or unknown, belonging to the present life or to past ones.
Such, briefly, is the cause of pain and suffering in evolution; in the following pages we will set forth the causes of the unequal distribution of this suffering.
THE PROBLEM OF THE INEQUALITY OF CONDITIONS
If suffering in general is the child of Necessity — since it is born of multiplicity and the limitation of the Infinite, without which the Universe could not exist — it would seem that we ought to find it falling upon all beings without distinction, in uniform, [Page 64] regular, and impartial fashion. Instead of this, it is every moment losing its character of impersonality; it respects those who are guilty on a large scale; and, without any visible cause, strikes fiercely the most innocent of persons; noble souls are born in the families of criminals, whilst criminals have fathers of the utmost respectability; we find parricides, and brothers hostile to each other; millionaires die of surfeiting alongside of paupers dying of hunger; we find giants by the side of dwarfs; the healthy and well-formed near the crippled or those wasted away by terrible diseases; Apollos contrast with Quasimodos; men of genius are met with, cheek by jowl with idiots; some children are stillborn, others blind or deaf and dumb from birth. Extremely different races people the earth — on the one hand, unintelligent and cannibal Negroes; on the other, the proud, handsome, and intelligent, though selfish and cruel white race. Again, from a moral standpoint, who can explain congenital tendencies to crime, the vicious by birth, the wicked by nature, the persons with uncontrollable passions ? Wherefore are thrift and foresight lacking in so many men, who are consequently condemned to lifelong poverty and wretchedness ? Why this excess of intelligence, used mainly for the exploiting of folly ? It is useless to multiply examples, one has only to look around at hospitals [Page 65] and prisons, night-shelters, palaces and garrets; everywhere suffering has taken up its abode. Can no reply be given to this terrible charge brought against Divinity? Is man to remain in a state of dejection and discouragement, as though some irreparable catastrophe had befallen him ?
According to the Church, all this is the work of the soul which God gives at the birth of a man — a soul that is good or bad, prudent or foolish, one which damns or saves itself according as its will can, or cannot, dominate its passions, its intelligence discover the way to heaven or not; according as grace or rejection predestine it to heaven or to hell.
Is it not the depth of profanity to represent God as watching over conceptions in order to create souls so unfairly endowed, most of whom will never hear the Gospel message, and consequently cannot be saved, whilst the rest are destined to animate the bodies of savages and cannibals, devoid of moral consciousness ? Is it not an act of sacrilege thus to convert God, Who is all Wisdom and Love, into a kind of accomplice of adulterers and lewd persons or the sport of Malthusian insults. Unconscious blasphemers are they who would offer this Dead Sea fruit as the true manna of Life!
There is also another theory, often advanced in certain quarters, on which we must say a few words, for though it contains only a minimum of truth, and [Page 66] consequently cannot withstand serious examination, it has led astray more than one earnest thinker. Inequalities of suffering, it has been said, arise from inequalities of social conditions. Intelligence, morality, will, in fact all human faculties, develop more or less according to their environment; men are born equal; they become unequal as the result of different environment; pay the same care and attention to all and they will remain equal, and if they are equal, the theory seems to imply, evil will disappear from the face of the earth.
This is not so.
Inequality of suffering does not result from inequality of condition. Many a poor tiller of the fields enjoys a degree of peace and happiness that those favoured by birth or fortune would envy. Disease visits poor and rich alike; moral suffering is more especially the appanage of the so-called higher classes, and if obscurity and poverty render certain troubles specially severe, wealth and rank play the same rôle in afflictions of another kind; there is a dark side to every picture. More than this, inequality of condition is one of the fundamental factors of social equilibrium; without it, many urgent and even indispensable functions would be neglected, numerous general needs would remain unsatisfied; so-called menial work, which, in a state of society that is still imperfect and consequently [Page 67] selfish, is performed only in the hope of remuneration, would never be done at all; every man would have to provide for the whole of his necessities; no one could find time for self-improvement or for flinging himself entirely into those divers branches of activity which, if personal interest were absent, would make life infinitely better and progress extremely rapid. The partisans of this theory rely on diversity of tastes to fill the diversity of functions that are necessary in social life.- another illusion. The inferior, painful, or difficult tasks will never find sufficient workers, whilst easy or honourable posts will always be overcrowded. To believe the contrary would be to shut one's eyes to the present imperfection of men; it would mean the belief that they were noble and lofty beings, eager for self-sacrifice, demanding only to work for the happiness of all, without a single thought of their personal preferences; it would mean seeing, in present-day humanity, that of the future in which each individual has attained to such a degree of perfection that not a single idle, ill-disposed, or stupid person is to be found amongst them, for each one would regard himself as the brother and helper of all, and the universal standard of life would be: Each for all and all for each! How ardently we desire that this were so; how eagerly we pray for that future, so far away, when [Page 68] we shall have grown to this nobler stature, and the present fratricidal struggle shall have given place to a lasting peace, the offspring of a higher, spiritual, universal love. Anxiously do we await it; like lost travelers, we fix our eyes on the dark horizon to catch the first faint streaks of light, harbingers of the dawn. We greet with joy and gratitude all such as believe in that blessed future and endeavour to hasten its coming, all who impersonally and in sincerity aim at the social Unity towards which the heart aspires, and especially those whose aim it is to advance in accordance with that continuous, progressive evolution based on the physical, moral, mental, and spiritual amelioration of men, for it is they who have learned the secret of Nature. Indeed, evolution shows us that, the more souls grow, the nearer they approach that perfection to which progress destines them, and happiness exists only in perfection.
To return to other aspects of the subject.
Men are born equal, we are told.
A single glance at the differences in the moral and intellectual qualities of races and individuals, at the differences between young children, even at the differences in the instincts of infants at the breast, is sufficient to prove the contrary.
There are savages in whom no trace whatever of the moral sense can be discovered. Charles [Page 69] Darwin in one of his works relates a fact, which Mrs. Besant has quoted, in illustration of this. An English missionary reproached a Tasmanian with having killed his wife in order to eat her. In that rudimentary intellect, the reproach aroused an idea quite different from that of a crime; the cannibal thought the missionary imagined that human flesh was of an unpleasant flavour, and so he replied: “But she was very good! ”
Is it possible to attribute to the influence of surroundings alone a degree of moral poverty so profound as this ?
Many a mother has been able to find out that souls are not equal, in other words, that they are of different ages, by the discovery of diametrically opposite qualities and tendencies in two children born under the same conditions; in twins, for instance.
Every schoolmaster has noticed the same fact in the pupils under his charge. Mrs. Besant says that amongst the 80,000 children who came under her inspection in the London schools she would often find side by side with gentle, affectionate little beings others who showed criminal tendencies from birth.
Looking at the question from another point of view, are we not continually finding in schools and educational establishments pupils who, for no [Page 70] explicable reason, show a disposition for one branch of instruction only ? They shine in this, but are dunces in every other subject.
As a final example, do not infant prodigies prove that men are not born equal ? Young, who discovered the undulatory theory of light, could read with wonderful rapidity at the age of two, whilst at eight he had a thorough knowledge of six languages.
Sir W. R. Hamilton began to learn Hebrew when he was three, and knew it perfectly four years later. At the age of thirteen he knew thirteen languages.
Gauss, of Brunswick — the greatest mathematician in Europe, according to Laplace — solved problems in arithmetic when only three.
No, men are not born equal. Nor does environment cause the inequalities we find; it favours or checks the development of qualities, but has no part in their creation. Still, its influence is sufficiently important for us to give it due consideration.
We are linked to one another by the closest bonds of solidarity, whether we wish it and are conscious thereof or not. Everything absorbs and throws off, breathes in and breathes out, and this universal exchange, if at times bad, is none the less a powerful factor in evolution. The atom of carbon, on entering into the combinations of the human body, is endowed with a far higher power [Page 71] of combining than the one which has just left the lump of ore; to obtain its new properties, this atom has had to pass through millions of vegetable, animal, and human molecules. Animals brought into .close contact with man develop mentally to a degree that is sometimes incredible, by reason of the intellectual food with which our thoughts supply them. The man who lives alone is, other things being equal, weaker physically, morally, and mentally than he who lives in a large social environment; it is for this reason that the mind develops far more rapidly in large centers of life than in the country. And what is true of good is, unfortunately, true also of evil qualities.
Consequently, environment has an undeniable influence, and it is perfectly true to say that the social conditions under which individuals are born favor or impede the development of their faculties. There its influence stops; it can intensify inequality, but does not create it.
Inequality of condition arises, above all else, from the continuity of what might be called creation. Atoms are incessantly being formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother, [Primordial matter which has not yet entered into any combination and is not differentiated] by the might of the divine vortex perceived by seers in ecstatic vision, and [Page 72] which theosophy has named the Great Breath; ceaselessly are these atoms entering into multitudes of organisms ceaselessly is the plan of evolution being worked — some ending, others beginning the great Pilgrimage. It is the existence of this circuit which creates and keeps complete the hierarchy of beings, brings into existence and perpetuates the known and the unknown kingdoms of Nature; souls ascend slowly from one kingdom to another, whilst the places they leave are filled by new-comers, by younger souls.
A second cause of human inequality is the difference in effort and deed accomplished by the will of human beings who have reached a certain point in evolution. As soon as this will is guided by intelligence and the moral sense, it hastens or delays individual evolution, makes it easy when it acts in harmony with divine Law — by doing what is called “good” — or disturbs evolution by pain, when it opposes this Law, by doing “evil”. By modifying the direction of the Law, the Soul engenders beneficent or maleficent forces, which, after having played in the universe within the limit the law has imposed on them, return to their starting point — man. From that time, one understands that the balance of the scales in different individuals becomes unequal. These effects of the will influence to a noticeable degree the life during which [Page 73] they have originated; they are preserved in a latent condition after death, and appear again in future returns to earth.
Thus are men born laden with the results of their past and in possession of the capacities they have developed in the course of their evolution. Those whom the difficulties of life have filled with energy in the past return to existence on earth possessed of that might which the world admires; now it is perseverance or courage; now patient calm or violence, which is the stronger, according to the aspect of the energy developed. Others, again, are born feeble and devoid of energy; their former lives have been too easy. Men are philosophers or mathematicians, artists or savants, from the very cradle.
Objections have been brought against the doctrine of Rebirth by opponents who have looked only on one side of the individual life, and so have been unable to explain apparent anomalies, especially in those cases where it is seen that the effect does not immediately follow the cause. In reality, every force that emerges from a center of will [A soul] describes an ellipse, so to speak, which travels through a net-work of other ellipses generated by thousands of other centers [Page 74] of energy, and is accelerated or retarded in its course, according to the direction and nature of the forces with which it is connected. It is for this reason that certain actions meet with their reward or their punishment almost immediately. Then the people say: “It is the finger of God!” In other cases, again, and these are the most numerous, the reaction is postponed; the noble-hearted man, who has made sacrifices the whole of his life, seems to receive in exchange nothing but misfortune and pain, whilst close by the wicked, selfish man prospers and thrives exceedingly. Thereupon the ignorant say: “There is no God, for there is no justice”.
Not so! It is impossible to defeat Justice; though, in the interests of evolving beings, it may allow the forces around to accelerate or retard its progress. Nothing is ever lost; causes that have not fructified remain potential; and, like the grain of corn gathered thousands of years ago, grow and develop as soon as favorable soil and environment are offered them. Debts are still recorded, when the perishable sheaths of our physical bodies have been cast off; they come up for future payment, often in the next life. But this next life may not wipe off the whole of the liabilities, so the process is continued for several successive existences, and this has given rise to the [Page 75] saying that the sins of the parents [In these cases, the soul] are visited upon the children [The personalities or new bodies created by the soul, on each return to earth] unto the seventh generation. [That is to say, the seventh incarnation]
Such is the truth.
Souls, equal in potentialities whilst dormant as germs in the womb of Being, become unequal, as soon as they are born into existence in the manifested Universe, for they find predecessors, elder souls in front of them; inequality is intensified when they have reached the human stage, where intelligence and will come into play, for henceforth, inequality in the actions of individuals, variations of what might be called merit and demerit, set up a second factor in the inequality of conditions. Evolution treasures up the causes that have not been able to germinate in one existence, and, by successive returns to earth, realizes the aims and ends of that Justice which governs the Universe, the designs of that Love which makes for progress and leads to perfection.
An apparently serious objection to the doctrine of Rebirth is constantly being made. It is unjust [Page 76] and useless, people say, to be punished for misdeeds that are forgotten. As this objection has reference to moral proofs, we must deal with it here.
Does forgetfulness efface faults or destroy their consequences ? Could the assassin, who has lost all memory of the crime committed the previous evening, change his deed or its results in the slightest degree ? Rebirths are nothing more than the morrows of former lives, and though the merciful waters of Lethe have effaced their memory, the forces stored up in the soul, during the ages, perform their work all the same in the future.
On the other hand, injustice would exist, and that under a very cruel aspect, were memory to continue; for the painful vision of a past always full of weaknesses, even when free from the stain of crime, would be a continual one. And if, too — as our opponents would prefer — man knew why he was punished, i.e if he knew that each of these past errors and faults, ever present before his eyes, would carry with it a particular fruit, and that strict payment would be exacted at every step in his new life, would not the punishment be far greater than the sin ? Would there not rise from every human heart an outcry of blasphemy against a God who, by means of memory, transformed life into an endless torment,[Page 77] destroying all activity or initiative in the anxiety of expectancy, in a word, stifling the present beneath the heavy nightmare of the past ?
Men, though so unjust and little disposed to pity, have always refused to inflict on a man condemned to death the torture of anticipation; only at the last moment is he informed of the rejection of his appeal for mercy. Could divine Law be less compassionate than human law ?
Is it not rash for us, in our profound ignorance, to criticize the workings of a boundless Wisdom ? He who takes only a few steps along the pathway of Knowledge, or enters, however slightly, into the secret of the works of God, obtains the proof that Providence leaves no part of the Cosmos, no being anywhere, deprived of its fatherly care and protection. When, in our blindness, we imagine injustice, a void or an imperfection of any kind, a radiant beam of light shows us the omnipresent Life, bestowing love on all its children without distinction, from the slumbering atom to the glorious planetary Spirit, whose consciousness is so vast as to enfold the Universe.
It is more especially after death that the soul, set free from its illusory sheaths, makes an impartial review of its recent incarnation, attentively following its actions and their consequences, noting its errors and failures, along with their motives and [Page 78] causes. In this school it grows in knowledge and power; and when, in a future incarnation, the same difficulties present themselves anew, it is better equipped for the struggle; what has been learned, is retained within the soul; it knows, where formerly it was ignorant, and by the “voice of conscience”, tells the personality [Waking consciousness] what its duty is. This wisdom, sifted from the panorama of a thousand past images, is the best of all memories, for on those numerous occasions when a decision must be arrived at on the spur of the moment it would not be possible to summon forth from the depths of the past such groups of memories as refer to the decision to be reached, to see the events over again, and deduce therefrom a line of conduct. The lesson must have been learnt and thoroughly assimilated during the enlightened peace and calm of the Hereafter; then only is the soul ready to respond without delay, and its command is distinct; its judgment, sure; do this, avoid that.
When a soul, in the course of evolution, has succeeded in impressing its vibration — its thought — on a brain which it has refined and made responsive by a training which purifies the entire nature of the man, it is able to transmit to the incarnated consciousness the memory of its past lives; but this [Page 79] memory then ceases to be painful or dangerous, for the soul has not only exhausted the greater part of its karma of suffering, it also possesses the strength necessary to sustain its personality, whenever a foreboding of what we call misfortune comes upon it.
In the divine work everything comes in its own time, and we recognize the perfection of the Creator by the perfect concatenation of all creation.
Reincarnation is so intimately bound up with the Law of Causality, and receives from it such powerful support, that this chapter would be left in a very incomplete form were we not to say a few words on Karma.
THE LAW OF CAUSALITY (Karma).
Karma is the Law of the Universe, the expression of divine Will. Its seemingly essential attributes are Justice and Love; it neither punishes nor rewards, but adjusts things, restores disturbed balance and harmony, brings back evolving souls to the right path and teaches them Law.
When a man acts against the Law, he is like a swimmer, struggling against the
current of a rapid river; his strength fails, and he is borne away.[Page 80]
So does God bear away, in spite of all their efforts, those who, whether ignorantly or consciously, fight against the Law, for it is His love that wills evolution, i.e the making human beings divine; so he brings them back to the path, in spite of themselves, every time they wander astray.
“God is patient because He is eternal”, it has been said. The sentence is incomplete and must be changed, since it attributes to Divinity a vindictive nature. The Law is patient because it is perfect in Wisdom, Power, and Love.
This Law is the divine Will which moves all things and vibrates everywhere; it is the music of the spheres, the song of glory and harmony, which murmurs in the heart like the rippling of a waterfall, the chant of life and joy that eternally triumphs in its never-ending creation of beings, who, after revolving for a moment in the universe, have become perfect.
Its glorious strains resound in the heart of man, when the soul has found peace in the Law, and we are told that, when once heard, its divine accents continue for ever, like an ineffable whisper which brings us back to hope and faith, when we are sunk in the depths of despair.
God limited himself in order to become incarnate in the Universe: He is the Soul of the world. His will is exerted everywhere, it finds its reflection in [Page 81] every creature; and man, a portion of divinity in course of evolution, possesses a germ of will that is infinite in its essence, and consequently capable of limitless development; God respects this will in His creatures, and submits to violence, in order to teach them His will, which is supreme Love. Like a stone that falls into a tranquil lake, a human action creates, all round, concentric ripples which continue to the very shores or limits of the Universe; then the wave is thrown back upon itself, returns to its starting-point, and the man who began the first movement receives a recoil exactly equivalent to the original impetus. Reaction is equal to action; obstacles on the way may delay its return or break up its energy, but the time comes when the fractions return to the center that generates the disturbance, which thus receives from the Law a perfectly just retribution.
The principal element in actions is thought. Every thought is a form in a state of vibration — a ray of intelligence which unites itself with subtle matter [Those who have studied thought know that it is capable of being incorporated in divers states of astral and mental matter] and forms a being, of which this matter is the body, and thought, the soul. This being, often called a “thought-form”, possesses form, duration, and strength that bear a strict relation [Page 82] to the energy of the thought that created it; if it embodies a soul of hatred, it will react on the man who harbours this thought, and on all who come into contact with him, as a leaven of destruction, but if it is guided by love it will be, as it were, the incarnation of some beneficent power.
In certain cases its action is expressed visibly and rapidly; for instance, a venomous thought may [If the divine law allows it] cause the death of the person against whom it is directed — this is one aspect of the “evil eye” — as also it may [If the divine law has not allowed the action to take place] return to its starting-point and kill the one who generated it, by the recoil. Every mental projection of a criminal nature, however, by no means necessarily reaches the object aimed at; a sorcerer, for instance, could no more injure one who was positive, consciously and willingly good, than he could cause a grain of corn to sprout on a block of granite; favourable soil is needed to enable the seed of evil to take root in a man's heart; otherwise, the evil recoils with its full force upon the one who sent it forth and who is an irresistible magnet, for he is its very “life-center”.
Thoughts cling to their creator and attract towards this latter those of a similar
nature floating [Page 83] about in the invisible world, for they instinctively come to
vitalize and invigorate themselves by contact with him; they radiate around
him a contagious atmosphere of good or evil, and when they have left him, hover
about, at the caprice of the various currents, impelling those they touch towards
the goal to which they are making. They even recoil on the visible form of
generator; it is for this reason that physical is closely connected with moral
well-being, and most of our diseases are nothing else than the outer expression
of the hidden leaven of passion. When the action of this latter is sudden and
diseases may be the immediate consequence thereof; blinded by materialism,
certain doctors seldom acknowledge their real cause; and yet instances of hair
turning white in a single night are too numerous to be refuted, congestion
of the brain brought on by a fit of anger, jaundice and other grave maladies
grief and trouble, are to be met with continually.
When the mental forces which disturb the physical organs meet with obstacles which prevent their immediate outlet, they accumulate, like the electric fluid in a condenser, until an unexpected contact produces a discharge; this condensation often persists for a whole life in a latent condition, and is preserved intact for a future incarnation; this is the cause of original vices, which, incorporated [Page 84] in the etheric double, react upon the organic texture of the body. This also explains why each individual possesses an ensemble of pathological predispositions often radically different from those heredity should have bequeathed to him; it is also, to some extent, the key to physiognomy, for every single feature bears either the stamp of our passions or the halo of our virtues.
Thought creates lasting bonds between human beings; love and hatred enchain certain individuals to one another for a whole series of incarnations; many a victim of the past is to be found again in those unnatural sons who send a thrill of horror through society when it hears of some heinous crime — they have become the torturers of their former oppressors. In other cases, it is love which attracts and unites in renewed affection those who formerly loved one another — they return to earth as brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands or wives.
But if we are the slaves of the past, if fate compels us to reap what we have sown, we yet have the future in our hands, for we can tear up the weeds, and in their place sow useful plants. Just as, by means of physical hygiene, we can change within a few years the nature of the constituents that make up our bodies, so also, by a process of moral hygiene, we can purify our passions and then [Page 85] turn their strength in the direction of good. According as we will, so do we actually become, good or bad; every man who has taken his evolution in hand notices this rapid transformation of his personality, and sees his successive “egos” rise step by step, so to speak, throughout his whole life. Speaking generally, the first part of life is the expression of the distant past — of former lives — the second is a mixture of the past and of the energies of the present incarnation; the end of life is nothing but a sinking into an ever-deepening rut for those who crystallize in only one direction; the force of habit sets up its reign, and man finds himself bound by the chains he himself has forged. This is the reason an old man does not like the present times; he has stopped whilst time has advanced, and he is now being carried along like the flotsam and jetsam of a wreck; the very tastes and habits of his contemporaries violently clashing with his beloved past. Speak not to him of progress or evolution, he has brought himself into a state of complete immobility, and he will discover no favorable field of action nor will he acquire real energy until he has drunk of the waters of Lethe in a rest-giving Hereafter and a new body supplies his will with an instrument having the obedient suppleness of youth.
H. P. Blavatsky, in the Secret Doctrine, has well [Page 86] described this progressive enmeshing of man in the net he himself is weaving.
“Those who believe in Karma have to believe in destiny, which, from birth to death, every man is weaving, thread by thread, around himself, as a spider his web; and this destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible prototype outside of us, or by our more intimate astral or inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man. Both these lead on the outward man, but one of them must prevail; and from the very beginning of the invisible affray the stern and implacable Law of Compensation steps in and takes its course, faithfully following the fluctuations of the fight. When the last strand is woven, the man is seemingly enwrapped in the network of his own doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this self-made destiny. . . .”
She adds shortly afterwards:
“An Occultist or a philosopher will not speak of the goodness or cruelty of Providence; but, identifying it with Karma-Nemesis, he will teach that nevertheless it guards the good and watches over them in this as in future lives; and that it punishes the evil-doer, aye, even to his seventh rebirth, so long, in short, as the effect of his having thrown into perturbation even the smallest atom [Page 87] in the Infinite World of harmony, has not been finally readjusted. For the only decree of Karma — an eternal and immutable decree — is absolute Harmony in the world of matter as it is in the world of Spirit. It is not, therefore, Karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we who reward or punish ourselves, according to whether we work with, through, and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that Harmony depends, or — break them.
“Nor would the ways of Karma be inscrutable, were men to work in union and harmony instead of disunion and strife. For our ignorance of those ways — which one portion of mankind calls the ways of Providence, dark and intricate, while another sees in them the action of blind Fatalism, and a third, simple chance, with neither gods nor devils to guide them — would surely disappear, if we would but attribute all these to their correct cause. . . .
“We stand bewildered before the mystery of our own making, and the riddle of life that we will not solve, and then accuse the great Sphinx of devouring us. But verily, there is not an accident in our lives, not a misshapen day or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life. . . .”
the same subject, Mrs. Sinnett says in The Purpose of Theosophy: [Page 88]
“Every individual is making Karma either good or bad in every action and thought of his daily round, and is at the same time working out in this life the Karma bought about by the acts and desires of the last. When we see people afflicted by congenital ailments, it may be safely assumed that these ailments are the inevitable results of causes started by the same in a previous birth. It may be argued that, as these afflictions are hereditary, they can have nothing to do with a past incarnation; but it must be remembered that the ego, the real man, the individuality, has no spiritual origin in the parentage by which it is re-embodied, but is drawn by the affinities which its previous mode of life attracted round it into the current that carries it, when the time comes for re-birth, to the home best fitted for the development of those tendencies. . . .
doctrine of Karma, when properly understood, is well calculated to guide
and assist those who realize its truth to a higher and better mode of life;
for it must not be forgotten that not only our actions, but our thoughts
also, are most
assuredly followed by a crowd of circumstances that will influence for good
or for evil our own future; and, what is still more important, the future
of many of our
fellow-creatures. If sins of omission and commission could in any case be only
self-regarding, [Page 89] the effect on the sinner's Karma would be a matter of
minor consequence. The fact that every thought and act through life carries
with it, for good or evil, a corresponding influence on the members of the
family renders a strict sense of justice, morality, and unselfishness so necessary
to future happiness and progress. A crime once committed, an evil thought sent
out from the mind, are past recall — no amount of repentance can wipe out their
results on the future. . . .
“Repentance, if sincere, will deter a man from repeating errors; it cannot save him or others from the effects of those already produced, which will most unerringly overtake him either in this life or in the next rebirth”.
We will also quote a few lines from E. D. Walker in Reincarnation:
“Briefly, the doctrine of Karma is that we have made ourselves what we are by former actions, and are building our future eternity by present actions. There is no destiny but what we ourselves determine. There is no salvation or condemnation except what we ourselves bring about. . . . Because it offers no shelter for culpable actions and necessitates a sterling manliness, it is less welcome to weak natures than the easy religious tenets of vicarious atonement, intercessions, forgiveness, and death-bed conversions. . .[Page 90]
“In the domain of eternal justice, the offence and the punishment are inseparably connected as the same event, because there is no real distinction between the action and its outcome.
“It is Karma, or our old acts, that bring us back into earthly life. “The spirit's abode changes according to its Karma, and this Karma forbids any long continuance in one condition, because it is always changing. So long as action is governed by material and selfish motives, just so long must the effect of that action be manifested in physical rebirths. Only the perfectly selfless man can elude the gravitation of material life. Few have attained this, but it is the goal of mankind”.
The danger of a too brief explanation of the law of Causality consists in the possibility of being imperfectly understood, and consequently of favouring the doctrine of fatalism.
“Why act at all, the objection will be urged, if everything is foreseen by the Law ? Why stretch out a hand to the man who falls into the water before our very eyes ? Is not the Law strong enough to save him, if he is not to die; and if he is, have we any right to interfere ? . . .
“Such reasoning arises from ignorance and egoism.
“Yes, the law is powerful enough to prevent the man from drowning, and also to prevent the possibility [Page 91] of his being saved by some passer-by, who has been moved to pity by the sight; to doubt this were to doubt the power of God. In the work of evolution, however, God does more than supply man with means of developing his intelligence; in order to enrich his heart, he offers him opportunities of sacrificing himself. Again, the innumerable problems set by duty are for from being solved for us; with difficulty can we distinguish a crime from a noble action; very often we do wrong, thinking we are doing right, and it not unfrequently happens that good results from our evil deeds; this is why God sends us experiences which are to teach us our duty.
“The soul learns not only during its incarnations, but even more after leaving the body, [Man, after death, loses in succession his astral and mental bodies] for life after death is largely spent in examining the consequences of deeds performed during life on earth.
“Whenever, then, an opportunity for action offers itself, let us follow the impulse of the heart, the cry of duty, and not the sophisms of the lower nature, the selfish “ego”, the cold brain, which knows neither compassion nor devotion. Do your duty, whatever happens, says the Law, i.e do not allege, as your excuse for being selfish, that God, if He [Page 92] thinks it best, will help your brother in his trouble; why do you not fling yourself into the fire, with the thought that, if your hour has not yet come, God will prevent the flames from burning you? Does not the man, who commits suicide, himself push forward the hand on the dial of life, setting it at the fatal hour ?
“The threads of karmic action are so wonderfully interwoven, and God, in order to hasten evolution, makes such marvellous use of human forces, both good and bad, that the first few glances cast at the mêlée of events are calculated to trouble the mind rather than reveal to it the marvels of adjustment effected by divine Wisdom, but no sooner does one succeed in unraveling some of the entanglements of the karmic forces, and catching a glimpse of the harmony resulting from their surprising co-operation, than the mind is lost in amaze. Then, one understands how the murderer is only an instrument whose passions are used by God in carrying out the karmic decree which condemned the victim long before the crime was committed; then, too, one knows that capital punishment is a legal crime of which divine Justice makes use — yes, a crime, for none but God can judge; every being has a right to live, and does live, until God condemns him.
“But man, by making himself, even ignorantly, the instrument of Karma, acts against the universal [Page 93] law, and is preparing for himself that future suffering which results from every attack made on the harmony of the whole”. [La Théosophie en quelques chapitres, by the author, pages 31 to 34 ]
On the other hand, Destiny is not an immutable mass of forces; will can destroy what it has created, that is a question of time or energy; and when these are unable, within a given period, to bring about the total destruction of a barrier belonging to the past, none the less does this barrier lessen day by day, for the “resultant” of this system of opposing forces changes its direction every moment, and the final shock, when it cannot be avoided, is always diminished to a greater or less degree.
In the case of those who have attained to a perfect reading of the past, their knowledge of the hostile forces is complete, and the neutralization of these forces immensely facilitated. They can seek out, in this world or in the next, those they wronged in the past, and thus repair the harm done; they can see the source of those thoughts of hatred that are sent against them, and destroy them by the intervention of love; [“Hatred is destroyed only by love”, said the Buddha. “Return good for evil”, said Jesus.] they can find out the weak points of their personal armor and strengthen them: it is this that in theosophical language is [Page 94] called the burning of Karma in the fire of “Wisdom”.
the less, there are two points in the law of Causality, which appear to favour
the idea of fatalism, though in reality, they are merely corollaries of Karma.
According to the first, every force is fatal, in the sense that, if left to
itself, it is
indestructible. This is not fatality, for the force can be modified by meeting
with forces differing in character, and if no such encounter takes place,
it finally unites
with the cosmic Law, or else is broken to pieces upon it, according as it moves
with evolution or against it. [It is this that causes the
universal force of opposition - the Enemy or demon - to become
evil only when ignorance or the human will make use of it to oppose evolution:
apart from such cases, it is only the second pillar necessary for the support
of the Temple, the stepping-stone of
the good] Only in one sense, then, is it fatal; it cannot
be destroyed save by an opposing force of the same momentum. For instance,
in order to annihilate an
obstructive force, created in the past, the soul must expend an amount of energy
that is equal and opposite to that force; it meanwhile cannot devote itself
to any other work, thus causing, in one sense, a useless production of energy;
words, evolution will suffer delay, [Perhaps this is only
an apparent delay, for, on every plane, force is correlative, and knowledge
is the fruit of many different kinds of energy. The only real cases in which
there is delay of individual evolution are probably those in which evil
is done in return for evil. Of course, we are
speaking in relative terms and from a relative standpoint] but,
we must repeat, that is not fatality. [Page
Now to the second point.
Thought, by repetition, gains ever-increasing energy, and when the forces which thoughts accumulate have become as powerful as those of the will of the Ego which created them, a final addition of energy — another thought — alone is needed for the will to be overcome and the heavier scale of the balance to incline; then the thought is fatally realized in the action. But so long as dynamic equilibrium has not been reached, the will remains master, although its power is ever diminishing, in proportion as the difference in the forces becomes smaller. When equilibrium is reached, the will is neutralized; it becomes powerless, and feels that a fall is only a question of moments, and, with a fresh call of energy, the thought is fatally realized on the physical plane; the hour of freedom has gone and the fatal moment arrived. Like some solution that has reached saturation point, obedient to the last impulse, this thought crystallizes into an act.
Many a criminal thus meets, in a single moment, the fatality he has created in the course of several incarnations; he no longer sees anything, his reason [Page 96] disappears; in a condition of mental darkness his arm is raised, and, impelled by a blind force, he strikes automatically. “What have I done?” he immediately exclaims in horror “What demon is this that has taken possession of me?”
Then only is the crime perpetrated, without there being time for the will to be consulted, without the “voice of conscience” having been invited to speak. The whole fatality of automatism is in the deed, which has been carried through without the man suspecting or being conscious of it; his physical machine has been the blind instrument of the force of evil he has himself slowly accumulated throughout the ages. But let there be no mistake; every time a man, who is tempted, has time to think, even in fleeting fashion, of the moral value of the impulse which is driving him onward, he has power to resist; and if he yields to this impulse, the entire responsibility of this final lapse is added on to that incurred by past thoughts.
Among the victims of these actions that have become fatal are often to be found those who are near the stage of initiation, for before being exposed to the dangers of the bewildering “Path”, which bridges the abyss — the abyss which separates the worlds of unity from the illusory and transitory regions of the Universe — they are submitted to the most careful tests.[Page 97]
There may even be found souls that tread this path,[When human evolution is completed, man passes the “strait gate” leading to superhuman evolution, to the spiritual life, which develops the next higher principle, Buddhi; this is the Path. Human evolution develops the mental principle, Manas; Superhuman evolution develops the spiritual body, Buddhi] bearing within themselves [Here we are dealing with faults of a more or less venial nature] some old surviving residue which has not yet been finally thrown into the physical plane, and must consequently appear for the last time before falling away and disappearing for ever. [For ever, in this case, for the soul is above these residues, and, so to speak, has given them no vitality for ages past] Mankind, incapable of seeing the man — the divine fragment gloriously blossoming forth in these beings — often halts before these dark spots in the vesture of the great soul, these excreta flung off from the “center”, belonging to the refuse of the vehicle, not to the soul, and in its blindness pretends to see, in its folly to judge, loftily condemning the sins of a brother more evolved than itself!
The future will bring men greater wisdom, and teach them the greatness of their error.[In completion of this chapter on the Law of Causality, we refer the reader to A Besant’s book: Karma]
At the conclusion of this important chapter, let us repeat that Karma — divine Will in action — is Love as well as Justice, Wisdom as well as Power, [Page 98] and no one ought to dread it. If at times it uses us roughly and always brings us back to the strait way when folly leads us astray, it is only measuring its strength against our weakness, its delicate scales balance the load according to our strength, and when, in times of great anguish or terrible crisis, man is on the point of giving way, it suddenly lifts the weight, leaves the soul a moment's respite, and only when it has recovered breath is the burden replaced. The righteous Will of God is always upon us, filling our hearts with its might; His Love is ever about us, enabling us to grow and expand, even through the suffering he sends, for it is ourselves who have created this suffering. [Page 99]
REINCARNATION AND SCIENCE
The secret of the Universe lies in observation; it is for man to develop his senses and patiently to search into the hidden things of Nature.
All science proceeds thus, and the reason that savants have not unearthed the precious object for which they seek with such wonderful perseverance is that the physical senses, even when aided by the most delicate instruments, are able to cognise only a portion of the physical Universe — the denser portion. This is proved by the fact that when man has succeeded in directing into a channel some subtle force, he remains as ignorant of its essence as he was before chaining it down, so to speak; he has not the slightest knowledge of it. He can utilize but he cannot dominate it, for he has not discovered its source. This source is not in the physical world, but on the finer planes of being, which will remain unknown to us, so long as our [Page 100] senses are incapable of responding to their vibrations.
Because physical observation reveals only the bark, the outer crust of the Cosmos, man sees nothing but the surface of the world, and remains in ignorance of the heart and vital plexus that give it life; consequently, he calls the disintegration following upon dis-incarnation by the senseless name of “death”.
He who has lifted the veil of Isis sees divine Life everywhere, the Life that animates forms, builds them up, uses them, and finally breaks them to pieces when they have ceased to be of use; and this Life — God — thus spread about in numberless forms, by means of its many rays, develops in itself centers — souls — which gradually grow and awaken their infinite potentialities [Each part possesses in a potential state the properties of the whole] in the course of these successive incarnations.
Still, though the eye of the god-man alone can penetrate this wonderful
mechanism and study it in all its astonishing details, the savant whose mind is
unprejudiced can judge of the concealed mechanism by examining its outer
manifestations, and it is on this ground we now place ourselves with the object of
setting forth another series of proofs of reincarnation.[Page 101]
THE EVOLUTIONARY SERIES
we look attentively at the totality of beings we perceive a progressive
series of forms expressing a parallel series of qualities and states of
consciousness. The portion of this scale we are able to compass extends from
the amorphous state[The kingdoms that are invisible to physical sight are
as interesting as those we see, but we have no occasion to speak of them
Logic compels us to acknowledge them until the time comes when human
development enables them to be discovered and affords direct proof of their
existence] — which represents the minimum of consciousness — up to those
organic complexities which have allowed of a terrestrial expression being given
to the soul of the Saviors of the world. In this glorious hierarchy each step
delicate a transition between the one preceding and the one following that
on the borders of the different kingdoms it becomes impossible to trace a line
demarcation between different beings; thus one does not know whether such or
such a family should be classed among minerals, or vegetables or animals. It
is this that science has called the evolutionary series. [We do not mean to affirm
that evolutionists have not committed serious errors in their theory of
development. But the law they have set prominently forth is one of the
fundamental expressions of the working of God in the Universe] [Page 102]
THE CYCLIC PROCESS OF EVOLUTION
Another fact strikes the observer: the cyclic march of evolution. After action comes reaction; after activity, rest; after winter, summer; after day, night; after inspiration — the breath of life during which universal Movement works in a molecular aggregate and there condenses in the form of vitality — expiration — the breath of death, which causes the individualized life to flow back into the ocean of cosmic energy; after the systole, which drives the blood into every part of the body, comes the diastole, which breathes back the vital liquid into the central reservoir; after the waking state comes sleep; life here and life hereafter; the leaves sprout and fall away periodically, with the rising and descending of the sap; annual plants die at the end of the season, persisting in germinal state within a bulb, a rhizome, or a root before coming again to the light; in “metamorphoses”, we find that the germ (the egg) becomes a larva (a worm), and then dies as a chrysalis, to be reborn as a butterfly.
Ideas also have their successive cycles of glory and decadence; is not the present theosophical movement the renaissance of the Neoplatonic movement which brought the light to Greece and Egypt fifteen hundred years ago? In 1875 H. P. Blavatsky [Page 103] restored it to life, whilst its previous birth took place in the time of Ammonius Saccas, the theosophist, in the Schools of Alexandria. Those who have acquired the power to read the cosmic records [The vibratory impressions that constitute the memory of the Universe. See in Chapter 4, the final Objection] will easily recognize amongst the present pioneers of theosophy many a champion who in a former age struggled and fought in the same sublime cause.
Races are born and grow up, die and are born again; pass through a state of childhood, of youth, of maturity, and of old age. They flourish in all their splendour when the vital movement which animates them is at its height; when it leaves them and passes to other portions of the globe, they gradually fall into old age; then the more developed Egos — those incarnated in these races during their maturity — come down into the advanced nations, living on the continents animated by the “life-wave”, whilst the less evolved go to form the so-called degenerate races vegetating in obscure parts of the world. Look now at the adolescence of Russia, the youth of America, the old age of France, and the decrepitude of Turkey. Look backwards at the glorious Egypt of bygone ages; nothing remains but deserts of sand on, which imperishable structures still testify to the greatness [Page 104] of her past; the race that witnessed the majesty of the Hierophants and the divine Dynasties is now inhabiting other lands.
Continents submit to the same law; history and science show how they pass through a series of immersions and emersions; after Lemuria, which bore the third race, came Atlantis, the mother of the fourth; Europe and America now hold the various branches of the fifth; and later on, when this old land of ours is again sunk beneath the waters, new lands will have emerged from the ocean depths to bear the future race; the sixth.
The very planets, too, come under this law; issuing as nebulae from the great womb of the Universe at the beginning of the evolution of a solar system they are absorbed back again when the hour of their dissolution strikes. Finally, the very Universes go forth from the breast of Brahmâ when he out-breathes, and return to him when he in-breathes again.
then, in appearance is born and dies. In reality, each thing springs from
its germ makes an effort — the effort of the divine Will incarnated in this
germ — develops its potentialities up to a certain step in the ladder of evolution,
then garners the acquired qualities and again returns to activity in continuous
cycles of life until its full development is reached. [Page 105]
observer of Nature makes a third discovery. Every fresh cycle of life is
characterized by an advance on the preceding cycle; every stage brings
end nearer. This represents progress, and it is seen everywhere; when it does
not appear, it is because our limited vision cannot pierce its veil. Minerals
slowly develop in the bowels of the earth, and miners well know when the
ore is more or
less “ripe” [See L’or et la Transmutation
des métaux., by Tiffereau] and that
certain portions, now in a transition stage, will in a certain number of centuries
have become pure gold; experiments [Such as the one with the
magnet which, if too great a weight is suspended to its armature, loses strength,
and this it only regains by degrees when “fed” with successively stronger charges.
A steel spring that has borne too great a weight loses strength, and may break
if subjected anew to the same weight that “fatigued” it. Pieces of iron break
after being “fatigued” by a weight they easily carried before. Professor Kennedy
made very useful experiments regarding the “fatigue” of metals at the time
when metallic bridges were continually breaking, thus causing great perplexity
in the engineering world] have proved that metals are liable
to “fatigue” from excessive
tension; and that, after a rest, they acquire greater power of resistance than
before; magnets “are fed”, i.e they increase their power
of attraction, by exercise; cultivation improves and sometimes altogether transforms
certain species of [Page
106] vegetables; the rapid mental development of domestic animals
by contact with man is a striking instance of the heights to which progress
may attain when it is aided, whilst the influence of teaching and education
on the development of
individuals as well as of races is even more striking.[There
has been much discussion as to the causes of Evolution.
In his Progress and Poverty, Henry George endeavours to show that Evolution is in no way brought about by individual or collective heredity. He says that the factors of Progress are: First, the mind, which causes the advance of civilisation when not exercised solely in the “struggle for life”, or in frequent conflicts between nation and nation; second, association or combination, which ensures all the benefits to be derived from division of work; third, justice, which harmonizes the units of the social body, and without which civilisation decays and dies.
H. George saw only these elements in evolution; consequently, he could neither solve the problem of progress nor explain the rise and fall of empires. Indeed, egoism and war are in no way, as he says they are, the sole causes of the fall of races: the soil cannot feed a great nation for an indefinite period even if the country is prevented by emigration from becoming over-populated; the very nature itself of the civilisation of the time prevents it from continuing for ever. Modern western races, for instance, have for centuries past been developing energy and intelligence; a limit must be fixed to that particular line of progress, under penalty of destroying equilibrium both in the individual and the race.
If, indeed, man is to learn strength and intelligence, he must also develop love, or he will fail. The Elder Brothers behind Evolution control the advance of the races in accordance with the plan of God, whose servants they are.
The real cause of evolution does not lie in environment, as H. George and his school would have it : it is in the divine Will, incarnate in the Universe. It is God who creates the world, God [Page 107] who fills it with life, guides it and permits its development. All the laws of Nature are the expression of the supreme Intelligence; all progress is nothing but the realization of the possibilities of the divine Will.
The evolutionary edifice is based on solidarity, and here environment is undoubtedly an indispensable factor in development; still, it only acts as the field or soil, and soil without seed remains barren.
The mind is also a powerful lever in evolution, but it affects only one side of the matter. Association or co-operation facilitates only the growth of certain faculties whilst checking the development of others. Justice calls forth only certain individual and social forces, and leaves many of them in a state of stagnation.
In a word, H. George forgets that there is no useless force in the whole of Nature; that they all collaborate in the general task, and finally that there would be no progress, were it not for the existence of opposing forces. If, e.g., egoism were non-existent, those still incapable of working without the hope of personal gain would lack a powerful incentive to action. True is the saying that evil is the stepping-stone to good.
Were the Law of Re-births known, it would prove to be an explanation of the problems of evolution]
THE GOAL OF EVOLUTION
THE FORMATION OF CENTERS OF CONSCIOUSNESS THAT BECOME “EGOS”
Through innumerable wanderings this general progress traces a clear, unwavering line. Those capable of following evolution on the planes of finer matter at once perceive, as it were, wide-spreading centers forming in the sea of divine Essence, which is projected by the Logos into the Universe. As the ages pass, these centers are sub-divided into [Page 108] more restricted centers, into clearer and clearer “blocks” in which consciousness, that is, the faculty of receiving vibrations from without, is gradually developed, and when this consciousness within them reaches its limit, they begin to differentiate from their surroundings, to feel the idea of the “I” spring up within them. From that time, there is added to the power of receiving vibrations consciously, that of generating them voluntarily; no longer are they passive centers, but rather beings that have become capable of receiving and giving freely, individualities recognizing and affirming themselves more day by day; “I's”, who henceforth regard themselves as separated from the rest of the Universe; this stage is that of the Heresy of Separateness. Regarding this heresy, however, one may well say: Felix culpa.
Fortunate error, indeed, for it is the condition, sine quâ non of future divinity, of salvation. It is self-consciousness; man is born; man, the center of evolution, set midway between the divine fragment which is beginning and that which is ending its unfoldment, at the turning point of the arc which leads the most elementary of the various kingdoms of Nature to the most divine of Hierarchies, This stage is a terrible one, because it is that which represents egoism, i.e combat, the cause of every evil that afflicts the world, but it is a necessary evil, [Page 109] for there can be no individual wisdom, power, and immortality without the formation of an “I”. This ego is nothing but the first shoot, or bud, of the individual soul; it is only one of its first faculties; the finest show themselves subsequently. This bud is to blossom into a sweet-smelling flower; love and compassion, devotion, and self-sacrifice will come into manifestation, and the “center of consciousness”, after passing through the primitive stages — often called the elemental kingdoms - after being sheathed in mineral, vegetable, and animal forms, after having thought, reasoned, and willed in human forms and looked upon itself as separated from its fellow-creatures, comes finally to understand that it is only a breath of the spirit, momentarily clad in a frail garment of matter, recognizes its oneness with all and everything, passes into the angelic state, is born as Christ and so ends as a finished, perfected soul — a World-Saviour
Such is the Goal of life, the wherefore of the Universes, the explanation of these
startling evolutions of souls in the various worlds, the solution of the problem
regarding the diversity in the development of beings, the justification of
Providence before the blasphemy of the inequality of conditions.[Page 110]
A FEW DEDUCTIONS
From the facts established in the course of this comprehensive view of the Universe, we are enabled to draw important deductions.
For instance, as the basis of every “cycle of life” is found the egg or germ, that strange microcosm which appears to contain within itself the entire organism from which it proceeds and which seems capable of manifesting it in its entirety. The first embryo logic discovery we make as the result of this study — a discovery of the utmost importance is that germs are one in essence, and are all endowed with the same possibilities and potentialities. The only difference that can be found in them is that the more evolved have acquired the power of developing, in the same cycle, a greater number of links, so to speak, in the chain of forms that proceeds from the atom to the sheath, or envelope, of the Gods-Men. Thus, the highest germ which the microscope enables us to follow — the human ovule — is first a kind of mineral represented by the nucleus (the point, unity) of its germinal cell; then it takes the vegetable form — a radicle, crowned by two cotyledons (duality); afterwards it becomes a fish (multiplicity), which is successively [Page 111] transformed into a batrachian, then a bird, afterwards assuming more and more complex animal forms, until, about the third month of foetal life, it appears in the human form.
The process of transformation is more rapid when Nature has repeated it a certain number of times; it then represents a more extensive portion of the ladder of evolution, but, be it noted, the process is the same for all, and for all the ladder is composed of the same number of steps; beings start from the same point, follow the same path and halt at the same stages; nothing but their age causes their inequalities. They are more than brothers, they are all representatives of the One, that which is at the root of the Universe, Divinity, supreme Being.
We also see that progress, the result of the conservation of qualities, offers us repeated instances of these stages in the reappearance, at each step of the ladder, of the forms preceding it in the natural series. In the course of its evolution, the germ of an animal passes through the mineral and vegetable forms; if the animal is a bird, its final embryological form will be preceded by the animal forms, which, in the evolutionary series, make their appearance before the avian type; if we are dealing with a mammifer, the animal will be the summit of all the lower types; when it is the human germ that we are following in its development, we see that it also [Page 112] has contained within itself and is successively reproducing the potentialities of the whole preceding series. The microscope is able to show only clearly marked stages and the most characteristic types, for evolution runs through its initial stages with a rapidity defying the closest physical observation. If only Nature would slacken her pace in order to humour our incapacity, we should see in an even more striking fashion that she preserves everything she has attained and develops the power of reconstruction with ever-increasing rapidity and perfection.
True, each cycle of incarnation realizes only an infinitesimal fraction of the total progress made, each being advances only one step at a time along this interminable series; but then, are not these minor “cycles” in the course of which beings grow and advance towards the final Goal, the visible, material expression, the tangible and indisputable proof of the strict, the inexorable Law of Rebirths ?
What the Germ contains
Now let us examine a little more carefully this process of physical germination and attempt to discover an important secret from it; let us see whether the material germ contains the whole being, or whether, as the ancient wisdom teaches, [Page 113] the vehicles of the divine Spark in evolution are as numerous as the germs which respectively effect their development and preservation.
Although here, too, the doctrine of the Christian churches is inadequate, we cannot altogether pass it by in silence. We will, therefore, state it, recommending the reader to compare it with the theory of science and the teachings of theosophy.
The Churches deny evolution. They say: one single body, one single state of development for each human being. For the lower kingdoms a state of nothingness before birth and after death, whatever may have been the fate of these beings during the short life imposed upon them; for man a single body for which God creates a single soul and to which He gives a single incarnation on a single planet, the earth. [ A few theologians have feebly affirmed the possibility of human life on other planets than the Earth, but their voices have either been stifled or have met with no echo.
the Congress of Fribourg, in Switzerland, August, 1897, evolution was adopted
by an assembly of 700 eminent Catholics — laymen and clergy. Dr. Zahn
said that although creation is possible a, priori it is a posteriori so very
improbable that it ought to be rejected; that those who believe in
this creation rely upon the literal interpretion of Genesis, whilst the contemporary students of the
Bible affirm that the book is allegorical, that God, in the beginning
created the elements and gave them power to evolve in all the forms that characterize
organic and inorganic worlds. One voice alone was raised in protest, but it was
drowned beneath the refutations of the rest. The question, however, might be
asked: How is the transition made from one kingdom to another? What is the
missing link? Who is to interpret the Bible if it is an allegorical book? Is
it the Church which has always imposed the letter of the Bible and condemned all who
have attempted to set forth its spirit?] [Page 114]
It is our ardent wish that the signs of the growing acceptance of the idea of evolution now manifesting themselves in Christian teaching may increase, and that the Church, whatever be the influence that induces her to take the step, will in the end loyally hold out her hand to Science. Instead of remaining hostile, the two will then help each other to mount the ladder of Truth; and divine Life, the light of all sciences, philosophies, and religions, will illumine the dark path they are treading, and guide their steps towards that One Truth which is both without and within them.
Scientific materialism says:
Yes, everything is born again from its germ — thus is progress made, but that is the limit of my concessions. Everything is matter; the soul has no existence. There is evolution of matter, for matter, and by matter. When a form is destroyed, its qualities, like its power of rebirth, are stored away in a latent condition, within the germs it has produced during its period of activity. Along with the disappearance of matter, everything disappears — qualities, thoughts, “ego” — and passes into a [Page 115] latent state within the germ; along with the return of the form, qualities and attributes gradually reappear without any hypothetical soul whatever having any concern in the matter. So long as the form is in its germ stage, the being is nothing more than a mass of potentialities; when fully developed its faculties reappear, but they remain strictly attached to the form, and if the latter changes, the faculties echo the change, so to speak, with the utmost fidelity. Matter is the parent of intelligence, the brain manufactures thought, and the heart distills love, just as the liver secretes bile; such is the language of present-day science.
This theory accepts the idea of universal injustice in its entirety; we shall shortly prove that, notwithstanding its apparent logic, it explains only one side of evolution, and that if matter is the condition sine quâ non of the manifestation of spirit, it is at least curious that the latter acts so powerfully upon it, and is, beyond the possibility of a doubt, its real master.[ In hypnosis, indeed, the thought suggested is strong enough to modify organic life and bring about hematic extravasion (stigmata), burnings, vomiting, etc.....In certain ecstatic cases, fixity of thought produces analogous effects. No one who has studied these questions can have the slightest doubt that mind dominates matter]
Theosophy, as well as the Wisdom of old, says in its turn: [Page
Spirit is the All, the one Being, the only Being that exists.
Force-matter [We say force-matter, for there is no force without matter, they are the two poles of the same thing. Moreover, what is considered force in relation to dense matter plays the rôle of matter to subtler forces; electricity, e.g is force-matter, probably capable of serving as a vehicle for subtler force-matter, just as it plays the rôle of force in relation to its conductors. Force is born and dies with matter and vice versâ; both alike arise from the activity of God] is nothing but the product of the spirit's activity; in it we find many and divers properties — density, weight, temperature, volume, elasticity, cohesion, etc because we judge it from our sense perceptions; but in reality, we know it so little, that the greatest thinkers have called it “a state of consciousness”, i.e an impression produced by it within ourselves, [The sensation it calls forth vary with the forms. That which burns us, gives life to other beings; water, which suffocates us, enables fishes to live; whilst air suffocates creatures that live in the water, etc]. It is the result of the will of the supreme Spirit, which creates “differences” (forms) in unfathomable homogeneous Unity, which is incarnated in them and produces the modifications necessary for the development of its powers, in other words, for the accomplishment of their evolution. As this evolution takes place in the finite — for the Infinite can effect its “sacrifice”, i.e its incarnation, [All this must be taken figuratively. God does not incarnate Himself, He is the All. To our limited conceptions. He seems to limit Himself, in order to be the Life of the Universe] only by limiting itself — it is [Page 117] progressive, proceeding from the simple to the complex. Each incarnate, divine “fragment” [Here, too, we are speaking relatively; in reality, there are no fragments of the Absolute. We describe the process as it seems to us in the world of illusion] at first develops the simpler qualities and acquires the higher ones only by degrees; these qualities can appear only by means of a vehicle of matter, just as the color-producing properties of a ray of light only become manifest with the aid of a prism. Form plays the part of the revealer of the qualities latent in the divine germ (the soul); the more complex this form becomes, the more atomic divisions it has in a state of activity; the greater the number of senses it has awake, the greater the number of qualities it expresses.
In this process, we see at work, three main factors: Spirit, [Being: Divinity] awakening within itself vibrations [ Force-matter] which assume divers appearances. [Forms]. These three factors are one; force-matter and form cannot exist without the all-powerful, divine Will (Spirit), for this is the supreme Being, who, by his Will, creates force-matter, by his Intelligence gives it a form, and animates it with his Love.
Force-matter is the blind giant, who, in the Sankhya philosophy, carries on his shoulders the lame man who can see — a giant, for it is activity [Page 118] itself; and blind, because this activity is directed only by the intelligent Will of the Spirit. The latter is lame, because when it has not at its disposal an instrument of form-matter, it cannot act, it cannot appear, it is no longer manifested, having disappeared with the great periodical dissolution of things which the poetical East calls the inbreathing of Brahmâ.
Form — all form — creates a germ which reproduces it. The germ is an aggregate containing, in a very high state of vitalization, all the atomic types that will enter into the tissues of the form it has to build up. These types serve as centers of attraction for the atoms which are to collect round them when, under the influence of the “vital fire”, [This movement given to the germ by the union of its positive and negative forces] creative activity has been roused in the germ. Each atomic type now attracts from the immediate surroundings the atoms that resemble it, the process of segmentation which constitutes germination begins, and the particular tissues represented by the different atomic types are formed; in this way the fibrous, osseous, muscular, nervous, epithelial, and other tissues are reproduced.
The creative activity that builds up tissues, if left to itself, could create nothing but formless masses; it must have the help of the intelligence to organize [Page 119] the atoms into molecules, the molecules into tissues, and these again into organs capable of a corporate life as a single organism supplied with centers of sensation and action. This intelligence cannot proceed from the mind bodies of the various beings, for the latter manifest their qualities only when they possess a fully-developed form — which is not the case with the germs; moreover, the lower kingdoms show nothing but instinct, and even the superior animals possess only a rudimentary form of mentality. The most skillful human anatomist knows nothing more than the eye can teach him regarding the forms he dissects, though even if he were acquainted with their whole structure, he would none the less be quite incapable of creating the simplest sense organ. The Form is the expression of cosmic intelligence, of God incarnated in the Universe, the Soul of the world, which, after creating matter, aggregates it into divers types, to which it assigns a certain duration. The type of the form varies with the stage of development of the being (the soul) incarnated therein, for the instrument must be adapted to the artist's capacity; the latter could not use an instrument either too imperfect or too perfect for his degree of skill. What could the rudimentary musician of a savage tribe do if seated before the complex organ of one of our cathedrals; whilst, on the other hand, what [Page 120] kind of harmony could a Wagner produce from a shepherd's pipe ? The Cosmic intelligence would appear to have created a single, radical form-type, which gradually develops and at each step produces an apparently new form, until its series has reached the finished type of evolution. It stops the evolutionary process of each germ at the requisite point in the scale; in the case of the most rudimentary souls it allows a single step to be taken, thus supplying an instrument that possesses the requisite simplicity; the process is continued longer for the more advanced souls, but stops just when the form has become a suitable instrument. When it does not furnish the fecundated germ with the “model” which is to serve as a ground-plan for atomic deposits, segmentation takes place in a formless mass, and in this the tissues are shown without organization; it is then a môle, a false conception.
It is the same cosmic Intelligence that decides the period during which the form shall remain in a state of activity in the world. Until a soul has learnt the lesson that incarnation in a form must teach it, this form is necessary, and is given to it again and again until the soul has assimilated the experience that form had to supply; when it has nothing more to learn from the form, on returning to incarnation it passes into one that is more complex. The soul learns only by degrees, beginning [Page 121] with the letters of the alphabet of Wisdom, and gradually passing to more complex matter; thus the stages of evolution are innumerable and the transition from one to the other imperceptible; modern science states this fact, though without explaining it, when she says that “Nature makes no leaps”.
The building up of forms is effected by numerous Beings, forming an uninterrupted chain that descends from the mighty Architect, God, to the humblest, tiniest, least conscious of the “builders”. [The “builders” are inferior begins utilized by Nature in every process of germination and development. To certain readers, this will perhaps appear to be an aberration of the theosophic imagination, in which case we recommend them to supply us with a better theory and to believe in that, until the time comes when the functioning of the “inner senses” takes place in them, and enables them to perceive these beings in action] God, the universal Spirit, directs evolution, and could accomplish every detail of it directly; but it is necessary, for their own development, that the souls, whatever stage they have reached, should work in the whole of creation, and therein play the part, whether consciously or unconsciously, that they are fitted to play. Consequently they are employed at every stage; and, in order to avoid mistakes, their activity is guided by more advanced souls, themselves the agents of higher cosmic Entities, right on up to [Page 122] God, the sovereign controller of the hierarchies. Consequently there are no mistakes — if, indeed, there are any real ones at all — in Nature, except those that are compatible with evolution and of which the results are necessary for the instruction of souls; but the Law is continually correcting them in order to restore the balance. Such, in general outline, is the reason for the intervention of beings in the evolutionary process.
So far as man is concerned, the highest of these Beings supply the ideal type of the form which is to give the soul, when reincarnated, the best means of expression; others take charge of these models and entrust them to entities whose sole mission is to keep them before their mental eyes and guide the thousands of “builders ” who build round them the atoms which are to form the tabernacle of flesh in its minutest details; these Liliputian builders may be seen at work by the inner eye; they are as real as the workmen who construct material edifices in accordance with an architect's plans.
everything may be faithfully reproduced in form the entity that controls
the building must not lose sight of the model for a single moment. Nor does
it do so,
generally speaking, for one may say that this being is, as it were, the soul
of the model, being one with it and conscious only of the work it has to
many cases, however, [Page
123] it receives certain impressions before birth from
the mother's thoughts: an influence capable either of forwarding or hindering
its work. The ancient Greeks were well acquainted with this fact when they
Nature to create beautiful forms by placing in the mother's room statues of
rare plastic perfection, and removing from her sight every suggestion of ugliness.
More than this; certain intense emotions of the pregnant woman are capable
momentarily effacing the image of the model which the builder has to reproduce,
and replacing certain of its details with images arising from the mother's
imagination. If these images are sufficiently vivid, the being follows them;
and if they endure for a certain length of time they are definitely incorporated
building of the body. In. this fashion, many birth marks (naevi materni)
are produced; strawberries or other fruit, eagerly desired at times when they
cannot be procured, have appeared on the child's skin; divers objects that
have left a vivid impression on the imagination may have the same effect. The
clearness and perfection of the impression depend on the intensity and continuance
mental image; the part where it is to appear depend on the sense impressions
of the mother coinciding with the desire which forms the image — for
instance, a spot on the body touched rather sharply at the moment.[Page
This has given rise to the idea that the “longing” is impressed on that part of the body which the mother is touching during her desire. When the image is particularly strong and persistent considerable modifications of the body have been obtained; in such cases, children are born with animal-like heads, and treatises on teratology relate the case of a foetus born with the head detached from the trunk, because the mother, after witnessing an execution, had been horribly impressed by the sight of the separated heads of the victims. Malebranche, in his Recherche de la Vérité, tells of a child that was born with broken limbs because his mother had seen the torture of the wheel. In this case, the image must have been of enormous vibratory power and of considerable persistence.[Teratological phenomena attributable to the imagination of the mother are so numerous that they cannot be refuted. The case mentioned here is taken from Van Helmont's De Injectis Materialibus. The woman in question had been present at the decapitation of thirteen soldiers, condemned to death by the Duc d'Alva. In the same work are two other instances which occurred under similar circumstances: in the first, the foetus at birth was lacking a hand; and in the second, it was the whole arm that was missing; whilst, what is perhaps even stranger than this, neither arm, nor hand, nor head were found, they had been absorbed by the body of the mother.
A general or even a local arrest of development is almost always due to the phenomenon of mental inhibition experienced by the same being; it [Page 125] definitely ceases to see the plan, evolution stops, and the embryo, expelled before the time takes on the form of the evolutionary stage it had reached at that moment; if it ceases to deal with a single detail only that detail remains in statu quo, and is often embedded in portions of the organism quite away from the point where it would have been found had it continued to evolve; certain cysts belong to this class.
The third factor, the Spirit, the Soul — or, to be more exact, the incarnated divine ray — follows a line of evolution parallel to that of the matter which constitutes its form, its instrument; this parallelism is so complete that it has deceived observers insufficiently acquainted with the wonders of evolution. It is thus that scientific materialism has taken root. We will endeavour to set forth the mistake that has been made, and call to mind the correctness of the Vedantin symbol, which represents the soul as lame, incapable of acting without the giant, force-matter; though the latter, without the guidance of the former, could not advance along the path of evolution.
This soul is a “no-thing”, which, in reality, is everything; a ray of the spiritual sun (God), a divine spark incarnated in the vibration (matter) produced by the supreme Being, it is a “center”, capable of all its Father's potentialities. These [Page 126] potentialities, which may be grouped together under three general heads — power, love, and wisdom — we may sum up in the one word: consciousness. It is, indeed, a “center of consciousness” in the germinal state, that is about to blossom forth, realizing all its possibilities and becoming a being fully aware of its unity with the Being from which it comes and which it will then have become.
In this development the vibrations of outer matter play the part of the steel, which, on striking flint, causes the life latent within the latter to dart forth. Each vibration which strikes the soul arouses therein a dormant faculty, and when all the vibrations of the universe have touched it, this soul will have developed as many faculties as that universe admits of, until, in the course of successive worlds, it becomes increasingly divine in the one Divine Being. In order that all the vibrations of which a universe is capable may reach the soul the latter must surround itself with all the different types of atoms that exist in the world, for every vibration is an atomic movement, and the nature of the vibration depends on the quality of the atoms in motion. Now, the first part of evolution consists in condensing round vital centers [To be strictly logical, one should say round the only center, the one Being, but looked upon from the side of manifestation, evolution appears as stated] (souls) atoms [Page 127] aggregated in combinations of a progressively increasing density, on to those that make up the physical plane; when the soul has thus clothed itself with the elements of all the planes, the resulting form is called a “microcosm” — a small Cosmos — for it contains, in reality, all the elements contained in the Universe. During this progressive development, the soul, which thus effects its “fall” into matter, receives from all the planes through which it passes and from all the forms in which it incarnates, varied vibrations which awake within it correspondingly responsive powers and develop a non-centered, diffused, non-individualized consciousness.
In the second phase of evolution, the forms are limited, the vibrations they receive are transmitted by specialized sensorial groups, and the soul, hitherto endowed with a diffused consciousness, begins to feel varieties of vibrations that grow ever more numerous, to be distinguished from the surrounding world, to separate itself, so to speak, from everything around; in a word, to develop self-consciousness. This separation first takes place on the physical plane; it is made easier by hard, violent contacts, and the forms, in their turn, become more complex, varied, and specialized in proportion as the soul is the more perfectly individualized. When it has developed all the self-conscious [Page 128] responsive powers in the physical body, it begins to develop those faculties which have as their organs of transmission the finer bodies, and as planes of vibration the invisible worlds.
In our planetary system the number of the invisible planes is seven.[Hellenbach, in his book, Magie der Zahlen, says regarding the number seven.
“The law governing the phenomena on which our knowledge is based decrees that the vibrations of sound and light regularly increase in number, that they are grouped in seven columns, and that the vibratory elements of each column have so close a relation to one another that not only can it be expressed in figures, but it is even confirmed by practice in music and chemistry.
“The fact that this variation and periodicity are governed by the number seven cannot be disputed; it is not a matter of chance: there is a cause and we ought to discover it”.
his table of the elements grouped according to atomic weight, Mendelejef
also acknowledges that the number seven controls what he calls the Law
function. He reaches conclusions similar to those of Hellenbach.
Dr. Laycock, in his Articles on the Periodicity of Vital Phenomena (Lancet) 1842, sums up as follows: —
“It is, I think, impossible to come to any less general conclusion than this, that, in animals, changes occur every 3, 7, 14, 21 or 28 days, or at some definite period of weeks” ] Each of them in turn supplies the soul with a form; thus, when evolution - which in its second phase successively dematerializes matter, i.e. disassociates the atoms from their combinations, beginning with the denser ones - has dissolved the physical plane, the human soul will utilize, as its normal body, a finer one which it is at present using us a link between the mental and the [Page 129] physical bodies. Before this dissolution is effected, however, human beings will have developed, to some extent, several finer bodies, already existing, though hitherto not completely organized.
The first of these bodies, the astral — a very inappropriate name, though here used because it is so well known — is a copy, more or less, of the physical form in its general aspect; the resemblance and clearness of the features are pronounced in proportion to the intellectual development of the person, for thought-vibration has great influence over the building up of the centres of force and of sensation in this body.[See Man and his Bodies, by A. Besant]
second is an even finer aggregate, composed of mental substance and assuming,
during incarnation, the form of a smaller or larger ovoid — the causal
body — surrounding the physical form. [The size of the
causal body varies according to its development. It has been named causal,
because it contains within itself the causes or germs of all the other bodies,
with the exception of the denser part of the physical. We say denser because
the physical body is double:
its etheric part belongs to the causal body, its visible part comes from the
parents] At its center, and plunged in the astral body during
incarnation, is another kind of ovoid not so large and composed of denser substance
- the mental body [The mental body, which is, as it were,
an ephemeral flower of the causal, is born and developed in each incarnation,
disintegrating after the devachanic (heavenly) life.[Page
Above these states of matter, at the present stage there appears no form to the consciousness of human beings, though perfect seers can perceive, within the causal body, still higher grades of matter, which will only subsequently become centers of self-consciousness.
During incarnation, the soul, in the majority of men, is clearly conscious of itself and of its surroundings only when it is functioning through the nervous system (the brain); when it leaves the denser body, during sleep, its consciousness is in the astral body, and there it thinks,[It moves more or less freely on the astral plane, according to the development of the astral body. In men of low development, this body cannot be separated from the physical, under penalty of a nightmare which brings about a waking condition] but without being conscious of what is taking place around it. After dis-incarnation, it generally becomes highly conscious in its astral body, where it passes its purgatorial life; and this latter endures until the soul leaves the astral body. As soon as the latter is thrown off, consciousness centers in the mental body; this is the period of Devachan or Heaven. When the mental body is put off, paradise is at an end, and the soul, sheathed only in the causal body, finds itself on a very lofty plane, but here, consciousness is vague, when we are dealing with a man of average development. Instead of laying aside this garment, as so far it has done with the rest, it [Page 131] recommences, after the lapse of a certain time, another descent into the matter of the lower planes and a new incarnation begins.
To the center of the causal body are drawn atoms from the inner mental plane; these represent a new mental body.[The atoms interpenetrate in consequence of their differences of tenuity] When this latter has been formed, there are attracted to it atoms of the astral plane, and these form a new astral body; the soul, clothed in these two sheaths, if one may so express it, is brought into conscious or unconscious relation, according to its degree of development, with the two corresponding planes, lives there generally for a short time, and is directed to a mother's womb, in which is created the visible body of flesh within the center of its astral body.
This force of atomic attraction has its center in the causal body, a kind of sensitive plate on which are registered all those vibrations which disturb or affect human vehicles during incarnation. This body is, in effect, the present abode of the soul, it represents the terminal point of human consciousness, [Later on, the center of consciousness passes from the human to the superhuman state and ascends unceasingly until it reaches the center of the Divinity incarnate in the world] the real center of man. [When this center is fixed in one of the higher bodies, the buddhic for instance, the man has passed into the superhuman stage] It receives all the [Page 132] impressions of the plane on which it finds itself, as well as those which come to it from the lower planes, and responds to them the more readily as it has now attained a fuller development. It possesses the power to attract and to repel; a microcosm, it has its outbreathing and inbreathing, as has the Macrocosm; like Brahmâ, it creates its bodies and destroys them, although in the vast majority of mankind it exercises this power more or less unconsciously and under the irresistible impulsion of the force of evolution — the divine Will. When it attracts, it causes to recur within itself the vibrations it has received and registered — like a phonographic roll — during the past incarnations; these vibrations reverberate in the outer world, and certain of them attract from this world [As sand, placed on a plate in a state of vibration, assumes varying forms] — in this case the mental world — the atoms capable of responding to them. When they have created the mental body, other vibrations can be transmitted through this body to the astral world and attract atoms which will form the body bearing the same name — the astral — and finally other vibrations, making use of these two bodies as a means of transmission, will affect the physical plane and attract atoms which will assist in the building up of the denser body.
Everywhere the formative power of vibration is guided by cosmic intelligence, but it is effected far more easily in the reconstruction of the higher bodies, that precedes incarnation properly so-called, than in the creation of the new physical body. Indeed, in the astral and mental bodies, nothing is produced but an atomic mass, the many elements of which will be aggregated into complete organisms only during incarnation properly so-called, whilst the construction of the visible body admits of a mass of extremely delicate and important details. It is for this reason that we have seen this work of construction entrusted to special Beings who prepare, control and watch over it unceasingly.
is because the causal body registers every vibration the personality [The
soul acting in the mental, the astral, and more especially - in the average
man - the physical body. The Individuality is the soul acting in the causal
generated or received in the course of its series of incarnations, that the
vices and virtues are preserved, as is the case with the faults or the good
the physical body. The man who has created for himself a coarse astral body
by feeding the passions and thoughts which specially vivify the coarser matter
this body will on returning to earth find a new astral body composed of the
same elements, though then in a dormant state. He who, by the cultivation
of a [Page
134] lofty intellect, has built up a refined mental body, will
return to incarnation with a like mental body, whilst the one who, by meditation
and the practice of devotion
which bring into being the noblest qualities of the heart, has set vibrating
the purest portions of the causal body and of the divine essence (Âtmâ-Buddhi,
as it is named in Sanskrit), with which it is filled, will return to birth
endowed with those qualities which make apostles and saints, the Saviours of
In other words:
Matter has more remote boundaries than science recognizes; the numberless grades, of atoms of which it consists, their powers of aggregation, the multiplicity and duration of the bodies they form, are not even suspected by materialism.
Materialism sees nothing but the part played by matter; it denies that intelligence plays any part, and will by no means admit — in spite of evolution and progress — that above man there exists an almost endless chain of higher and higher Beings, whilst below him are kingdoms of an increasingly restricted range of consciousness. By refusing to believe in the multiplicity of the vehicles which the human soul uses, it is unable to understand individual survival or to solve the problem of heredity. Indeed, evolution is only partially explained by the physical germ; the latter, in order to act alone and [Page 135] of itself in the development of the human embryo should possess a degree of intelligence considerably superior to that of man. This is the opposite of what we find, however, and we are brought face to face with the absurd fact of a cause vastly inferior to its effect. Indeed, the intelligence shown by the germ is not its own; it is that of the cosmic Mind reflected by mighty Beings, its willing servants. Besides, this germ contains only the qualities that belong to physical matter, and, as we shall show, the moral, mental, and spiritual qualities are preserved by the finer — the causal — body, which represents the real man at the present time.
THE PROBLEM OF HUMAN HEREDITY
If materialism were the whole truth, it ought to explain the whole of heredity; instead of that it clashes with almost all the problems of life. Physical substance offers for analysis none but physical phenomena attraction, repulsion, heat, electricity, magnetism, vital movement; the anatomical constitution of the highest — the nerve — tissue, presents only the slightest differences in the animal series, if these differences are compared with the enormous distinctions in the qualities it expresses. Differences of form, visible to the microscope, are at times important, we shall be [Page 136] told, and those that affect the atomic activity and groupings [See the diagram in the chapter on the Atom, in The Ancient Wisdom, by A Besant] are perhaps even more important. That is true, especially in whatever concerns man.
Intelligence cannot always be explained by the complexity of the brain — though this complexity is the condition of faculty, as a rule — insects such as ants, bees, and spiders, whose brains are nothing but simple nerve ganglia, display prodigies of foresight, architectural ability and social qualities; whilst along with these dwarfs of the animal kingdom, we see giants that manifest only a rudimentary mind, in spite of their large, convoluted brains. Among the higher animals, there is not one that could imitate the beaver — which, all the same, is far from being at the head of the animal series — in building for itself a house in a river and storing provisions therein.
There is a vast gulf, in the zoological series, before and after these insects, as there is before and after the beaver; whilst an even wider gulf separates the highest specimens of the animal world from man himself.
do the weight and volume of the brain afford any better explanation of the
difference in intellect than does its structural complexity.[Page
The weight relations between the brain and the body of different animals have been estimated as follows by Debierre (La Moëlle et l 'Encéphale): —
|Rabbit||1 of brain for 140 of body|
|Cat||1 of brain for 156 of body|
|Fox||1 of brain for 205 of body|
|Dog||1 of brain for 351 of body|
|Horse||1 of brain for 140 of body|
If matter were the only condition sine quâ non of intelligence, we should have to admit that the rabbit was more intelligent than the cat, the fox, the dog, and even than the horse.
In the same work the following figures express the average size of the brain in different races of men.
|Pariahs of India||1332 cubic centimeters|
|Australians||1338 cubic centimeters|
|Polynesians||1500 cubic centimeters|
|Ancient Egyptians||1500 cubic centimeters|
|Merovingians||1537 cubic centimeters|
|Modern Parisians||1559 cubic centimeters|
This would prove that the people who built Karnac and the Pyramids, who raised to an elevation of about 500 feet blocks of granite, one of which would require fifteen horses to drag it along a level road, who placed these enormous stones side by side without mortar or cement of any kind and with almost invisible joints, who possessed the secret of malleable glass and of painting in colors [Page 138] that have not faded even after the lapse of centuries . . . that such a race of men were inferior to the rude, uncultured Merovingians, and scarcely the equals of the Polynesians!
Science also tells us that in a child five years of age the human brain weighs, on an average, 1250 grammes — this, too, would bear no relation whatever with the intellectual and moral development of a child of that age and that of an adult man.
Though Cuvier's brain weighed 1830 grammes, and Cromwell's 2230, that of Tiedemann, the great anatomist, when placed on the scales, weighed no more than 1254, and that of Gambetta only 1246,
The physical body of itself can give no reason for a host of psychological phenomena on which, however, a flood of light is shed if one recognizes the existence of other vehicles of consciousness possessing more far-reaching vibrations, and consequently capable of expressing higher faculties. During sleep, for instance, which is characterized by the Ego having left his physical body, reason is absent, and what we call dreams are generally nothing but a tissue of nonsense, at which the dreamer feels astonishment only when returning to his body on awaking. On the other hand, as we have seen in Chapter I., when the Ego succeeds in imprinting on the brain the vibrations of the higher consciousness, it is able to regain the memory of [Page 139] facts long forgotten and to solve problems that could not be solved during the waking state. There are madmen who have ceased to be mad during somnambulism; persons of rudimentary intelligence have proved themselves to be profound thinkers during the mesmeric trance; when under somnambulism vision is possible to those born blind and certain people can see things that are happening a great distance away, and their reports have been proved correct; certain phenomena of double-consciousness cannot be explained without the plurality — the duality, at all events — of the vehicles of consciousness.
To return to the rôle played by the germ in the question of heredity, we repeat that the physical germ, of itself alone, explains only a portion of man; it throws light on the physical side of heredity, but leaves in as great darkness as ever the problem of intellectual and moral faculty. If it represented the whole man, one would expect to find in any individual the qualities manifested in his progenitors or parents — never any other; these qualities could not exceed the amount possessed by the parents, whereas we find criminals from birth in the most respectable families and saints born to parents who are the very scum of society. You may come across twins, i.e beings born from the same germs, under the same conditions of time and [Page 140] environment, one of whom is an angel and the other a demon, though their physical forms closely resemble each other.
prodigies are sufficiently numerous to frequently trouble the thinker with
the problem of heredity. Whence came that irresistible impulse towards poetry
Ovid which showed itself from his earliest youth and in the end overcame the
vigorous opposition of his parents?
Pascal in his youth met with keen opposition from his parents, who forbade him to think of mathematics and geometry. He besought his father to tell him, at all events, “what was that science of which he was forbidden to think, and what it treated of”. The answer was given to him that “it is the method of making correct figures and finding out the proportions they bear to each other”. With nothing more than this information and the aid of reflection, he discovered for himself the first thirty-two propositions of Euclid by means of “circles and lines” traced in secret.
Mozart, at the age of three, learnt the clavecin by watching his sister play; a year afterwards he composed admirably, at the age of seven he played the violin at first sight without having had any teacher, and proved himself a composer of genius before he reached his twelfth birthday.
Pepito Ariola, the little Spaniard, was only three [Page 141] years of age when, about ten years ago, he filled with astonishment the Court of Madrid by his wonderful playing on the piano.
In the lineage of these prodigies has there been found a single ancestor capable of explaining these faculties, as astonishing as they are premature ? If to the absence of a cause in their progenitors is added the fact that genius is not hereditary, that Mozarts, Beethovens, and Dantes have left no children stamped from birth as prodigies of genius, we shall be forced to the conclusion that, within the limits it has taken up, materialism is unable to explain heredity.
A few more words must be said on physical heredity to explain why moral qualities in men of average development are often on a par with the same in their parents.
In reality, the physical germs only multiply the organic elements of the ovule, and as this latter contains the cell-types of all the tissues, it follows that these cell-types will possess the qualities of the tissues that exist in the parents. For instance, germs of sufferers from arterio-sclerosis will supply a vascular apparatus predisposed to arterio-sclerosis; tuberculous subjects will supply germs in which the vital vibrations and cellular solidity will be below the normal, and bring about those degenerate tendencies which characterise the tuberculous [Page 142] subject; those of sanguine constitution will transmit a faculty for vital assimilation and considerable corpuscular production, and so on.[We have seen that the organs formed by these tissues are the special work of a particular being controlled by lofty Intelligences]
In this transmission there are two main factors: the male and the female germs. The former represents force, it imprints on the ovule the initial vital vibration which is to be that of each of the cells of the organism in course of construction. The function of this germ may be studied more easily in animals, because their heredity is not complicated by the individual differences due to the mental vehicle. The stallion supplies the vital qualities — the blood, i.e the vivacity, brio, pace; physical resistance comes from the mare. To sum up, the modalities of matter are supplied by the feminine germ.
Peculiarities of form proceed from several causes. Phrenology and physiognomy are sciences, though the studies hitherto known by these names are almost valueless because they have not been carried on with the necessary scientific precision. Doubtless Gall and Lavater possessed the gift of penetrating both mind and heart, as was also the case with Mlle. Lenormand Desbarolles and the genuine graphologists; but this [Page 143] gift was not the result of mathematical deduction, but rather a psychometric or prophetic faculty; for this reason neither they nor their books have produced pupils worthy of the name. The main features and lines only of the human form have a known meaning — and not always a very precise one — for every physical, passional, mental, or spiritual force possesses an organ of expression in the visible body, and the varieties of form of this organ enable one to judge of the degrees of force they express on the earth plane. On this basis, peculiarities of form mainly stand; and the intensity of certain defects or qualities is at times expressed so strongly that it completely modifies the tendencies it would seem that heredity ought to pass on. The similarity of form between parent and child is not exact, because it proceeds from the peculiarities of the individual in incarnation far more than from the collective tendencies of the embryonic cells in process of proliferation.
The being charged with building the body can, in turn, considerably modify its form, copying specially striking features found in the mother's thought; certain characteristic family traits, the Bourbon nose, for instance; those belonging to strangers in continual relationship with the mother, and those that a babe, fed and brought up away from home, takes from his nurse or from the surroundings [Page 144] amid which he lives; all these probably leave their impress in the same way. In this case, indeed, the “builder” — who, it must be added, ceases the work of construction only when it is on its way to completion, which happens about the age of seven — is influenced by the forms of the new surroundings, and at times copies them, more or less, and we may ask ourselves if the unexplained fact of Negro children being born to a white woman — the widow of a Negro — remarried to a white man is in no way connected with the reproduction of a mental image of the coloured children of a former marriage.
Another fact: observers have noticed that almost all great men have had as their mother a woman of lofty character. This preponderance of the maternal influence will be understood if we remember that the cellular mass that composes the child's body belongs to the mother, not only because this mass originates from the proliferation of the ovule, and, consequently, is only the multiplication of the maternal substance, but also because the materials that have formed it and have been transmuted into flesh have been supplied by her; indeed, everything comes from this cellular mass, the elements drawn from the amniotic fluid and the blood, the milk, which, after birth, continues for long months to build up the child's body and the [Page 145] magnetic fluid, the “atoms of life”, which are continually escaping from it and which the babe absorbs whilst receiving incessant attention from his mother.
This exchange of atoms is of the utmost importance, for these ultra-microscopic particles are charged with our mental and moral tendencies as well as with the physical qualities; personally, I have had many direct proofs of this, but the most striking came at a critical period of my life. One day, when nervous exhaustion, steadily increased by overwork, had reached an extreme stage, a great Being — not a Mahatma, but a Soul at a very lofty stage of evolution — sent to me by destiny at the time, poured into my shattered body a portion of his physical life. Shortly afterwards a real transformation took place, far more of a moral than of a physical nature, and for a few hours I felt myself the “copy” or counterpart of that great Soul, and the divine influence lasted twenty-four hours before it gradually died away.
I then understood, better than by any other demonstration, the influence of the physical upon the moral nature and the method of the subtle contagion often effected by mesmerism. A man is known by the friends he keeps is an old proverb.
If atoms of life can have so marked an influence upon a man nearly forty years of age, i.e at a [Page 146] period when he is in full possession of himself, how much more powerful is this influence when exercised upon the child — a delicate, sensitive body, almost entirely lacking the control of the soul ? This is the reason hired nurses often transmit to the child their own physical features and countless moral tendencies which last some time after weaning; orphans, too, morally, often resemble the strangers who have brought them up. Like physical tendencies these moral propensities disappear only by degrees, according to change of environment, and especially to the degree in which the body is controlled by the reincarnated soul.[ As the building of the body is reaching completion, the Ego (the Soul) begins to make use of the new instrument. It is at about the age of seven years that the development of the nerve centers becomes sufficiently advanced to allow of the brain receiving the vibrations of the soul; up to this point, the real man has scarcely had any influence upon the body, although the mental projection (the mental body) which he has formed can express itself to a certain extent much earlier, from the seventh month of foetal life; up to this time, the instinctive energies of the astral body alone affect the embryo]
The most important, however, of the moral influences at work on the being again brought into touch with earth-life is connected with the emotions, the passions and thoughts of those around. The child — and under this name must be included the embryo and the foetus — possesses bodies the subtle elements of which are in a dormant state; his [Page 147] mental and sense organisms are scarcely more than masses of substance that have not yet been vitalized — a sort of collection of germs of good or of evil, which will yield fruit when they awake. The passional and mental vibrations of the parents play on the matter capable of responding to them in the invisible bodies of the child; they vivify it, attract atoms of the same nature taken from the finer atmosphere around, and awake in it passional and mental centers which, but for them, might have remained latent, or, at all events, would only have developed at a later stage, when the Ego, master of its vehicles would be in a position to struggle against the outer evil influences and not permit them to have effect save within the limits imposed by will. In this way, it is possible to bring to birth evil instincts in a child, and intensify them to a considerable extent, before a single virtue has succeeded in expressing itself on the new instrument in course of development. This mental action is so strong that it colors vividly, if not altogether, the morality of the little ones living beneath its influence, and even older children are still so sensitive to it that whole classes are seen to reflect the moral character of the teacher who has charge of them. This influence, too, does not cease with childhood, it weighs — though far less heavily — on the man during the whole of his life; and families, nations, [Page 148] nay, even races, each see through the prism of their own special atmosphere. Mighty and subtle is this illusion which man, in the course of his pilgrimage towards divine Unity, must succeed in piercing and finally entirely dissipating.
Our responsibility towards children is all the more serious in that, to the deep impression which thought makes on the subtle, plastic, and defenseless mental bodies of the little ones, is added the fact that, could one prevent the development of the germs of evil in the course of one incarnation, these germs, not having fructified, would transmit nothing to the causal body after death, and would disappear [ In Kâmaloka (Purgatory). The desires, in purgatory, cannot be satisfied, because there is no physical body to express them, and this causes a state of suffering which has been compared to a burning fire. This fire burns up the passions and leaves behind only the “germs” which the causal body takes up and bequeaths to the future astral body. But for this providential burning away, the passions would exist from early childhood in the future incarnation, i.e. at a time when the Ego has no hold whatever upon the new personality, and when the latter would be terribly affected by this influx of the forces of evil] with the disintegration of the matter of which they were composed. Consequently, with regard to children especially, we should cultivate none but noble emotions and lofty thoughts, so as to create centers of pure and worthy activity within their vehicles in course of reconstruction, and to turn their early impulses in the direction of good, [Page 149] their first actions towards duty and their first aspirations towards the lofty and luminous heights of spirituality.
One may see from this rapid sketch how numerous and important are the influences added to and blended with those of physical heredity. This group of influences, some maleficent, some beneficent, is chosen by the Beings who control destiny and give to each Ego, on reincarnation, the body and environment it has merited, or rather that are needed, for the harmonious development of its faculties. A young soul [Souls are of different ages: the savage is not so old as the civilized man, while the latter is the younger brother of those strong and wise Souls who compose the vanguard of humanity] still at the mercy of the animal impulses — necessary impulses at the outset of human development — of its kamic, i.e desire, vehicle, is sent to parents who will be able to supply its body with material elements of a particular density without which these impulses could not manifest themselves. An Ego that is approaching maturity will be drawn to a family that is physically and morally pure, in which it will receive both the finer physical vehicle it needs and that lofty environment which, when it enters upon earth life, will develop the centers of expression for its nobler faculties. Those who are named in the mystic phraseology of the East, the “Lords of Karma”, [Page 150] in their choice of the race, the family, and the environment in which the reincarnated soul is to appear, seek to give this latter the most favourable conditions for its evolution. An Ego whose artistic side needs to be developed will often be born in a family which will supply it with a nervous system accustomed to the kind of vibrations required, and an environment favourable to the early development of the physical centres of these faculties; to assist a being whose scientific, mystical, or metaphysical side needs to be developed, other environment and parentage will be chosen, and it is this relative parallelism existing between the moral qualities of the parents and those of the children which has deceived observers insufficiently instructed in the mystery of heredity, and made them believe in the influence of the physical germ alone.
It is an easy matter to supply an Ego of average development with a vehicle; an ordinary body is all that is needed. There may be extreme difficulty, however, when a new instrument has to be found for a lofty soul, and when we think that, in pressing instance's when the fortune of humanity is at stake and the hour of destiny has struck, certain great Souls accept very imperfect bodies for want of better ones, we shall no longer be astonished at finding that any particular Messenger, in his compassion for the humanity he has to enlighten and [Page 151] to direct to the ancient, eternal Source of Truth, has clothed himself with a body of flesh the ancestry of which was far from being adapted to the expression of his lofty faculties; courageous Souls are well able to put on the robe of pain and to submit to slander and calumny when the world's salvation can only be achieved at such a cost. We know scarcely anything of the conditions that control the return to earth of the Avataras, the “Sons of God”, except that sometimes great Initiates, after purifying their bodies, voluntarily hand them over to the “gods”, who come down to earth — a sublime sacrifice which, like that of the Saviors who consent to come amongst us, shows forth that supreme characteristic of divinity: the gift of oneself.
Nor is heredity always realized; many a physical characteristic is not reproduced; in families tainted with dangerous physiological defects, many children escape the evil, and the diseased tendencies of the tissues remain latent in them, although they often afflict their descendants. On the other hand, as already stated, extremely divergent mental types are often met with in the same family, and many a virtuous parent is torn with grief on seeing the vicious tendencies of his child. Here, as elsewhere, the hand of Providence, as Christianity calls it — the Intelligence that bring's about evolution, the Justice that controls and the Love that animates it — the hand of God or of those who, having become divine, collaborate in the divine plan, comes to make up for the imperfection of the vehicles, and they permit only what is necessary to come to each one — only what “he has deserved, as is generally said: this hand can create a physical or a psychic malady even where heredity and environment could not supply it, just as it can preserve a pure soul from the moral infection of the surroundings into which it is thrown.[It is impossible for heredity and environment to supply all the conditions that a soul’s evolution calls for, and nothing but these conditions; that is the reason Providence intervenes in the interests of justice]This is the reason we find that heredity and environment either fail to fulfil their promise or else give what was not their's to give.
Reincarnation is not necessary, it has been alleged; the soul's evolution is continued after death in the invisible worlds in finer bodies; consequently it is needless to return to the denser bodies of earth.
In our opinion, the trials of life, so exhausting to the will, must have given rise to this theory, for not only have those who advance it never given the slightest proof [Page 153] of its truth, but it is utterly opposed to the law of evolution.
In a world which prefers the flights of imagination to logical reasoning we are too accustomed to regard man as a being apart in Nature; we are only too prone to make exceptions on his behalf. The patient scientific researches of all ages have laid down this universally accepted axiom: Nature does not proceed by leaps. It has not so far entered anyone's mind — we think not at all events — to teach that the development of the mineral, the vegetable, and even of the animal kingdom, comes to a sudden halt on this planet, once the forms in these kingdoms are dispersed, to be completed in finer worlds; but regarding man other thoughts have prevailed, as though his intelligence and his heart had learnt all the lessons this earth is capable of teaching! From the most undeveloped of savages up to those glorious Spirits that have been the Manu, the Buddha, and the Christ, we find every step occupied on the long ladder of humanity. In the lower kingdoms all the stages exist also and are utilized, each link receiving something from its neighbours and giving them something in return, thus expressing on the visible plane that gracious unity which is divine Love: love that is instinctive and imperative in beings of a low degree of evolution; obeyed by those who, without loving [Page 143] it, understand its good services, and actually lived by such souls as have entered upon the path of sacrifice — souls that comprehend the Unity of beings. If this earth has been capable of teaching the Saviors of the world, why should divine Wisdom send thereon only for one short life this mass of imperfect men, to hurl them afterwards on to other worlds, like careless butterflies flitting from flower to flower ?
Can the evolutionary effort be so easy and simple; is divine energy of such slight value that it can thus be squandered to no purpose; is the process of creation the sport of an infant God; is the Logos, sacrificing himself in order to give life to the Universe, a prodigal, working without rhyme or reason, sending forth His intelligence and might in aimless sport and leaving evolution at the mercy of His caprice; did not Brahmâ, by means of meditation, which, as the Oriental scriptures tell us, preceded creation, practice the gentlest, the most rapid, and the easiest method of guiding beings to the Goal? Is it not sheer blasphemy to attribute such folly to the Soul of the world ? Does not the study of Nature, at each step, belie this insensate waste, of which no human being would be guilty ? Everywhere with the minimum of force, Nature produces the maximum of effect; everywhere energy is consolidated with one end in view; and [Page 155] yet, amid the general order around, is the evolution of man to form a solitary, an incomprehensible exception ?
we cannot believe it for a moment. American spiritists, [It
is in this great body, with which we are in sympathy, though we claim the
right to dispute their
theories when we regard them as erroneous, that this hypothesis is met with
more especially. True, certain schools of lower occultism teach it also, but
they form a minority, and are of no importance] however — for
it is they who have given out this hypothesis — are not in agreement
with the school of Allan Kardec on this fundamental point, and this fact
is by no means calculated to strengthen the authority for this doctrine.
Did we not know that disincarnate beings are as ignorant in the life beyond
as they were on earth; that they tend to group themselves, as they did
here below, with those who think as they do, whilst remaining aloof from
such as profess hostile opinions; that the Hindu remains a
Hindu, the Christian a Christian, and the Mussulman a Mussulman; that sceptics
are still sceptics; and atheists, atheists; we should think that spirit “communications”
with their incessant contradictions were unparalleled nonsense, since the
by no means agreed on the very things regarding which they pretend to pronounce
a judgment from which there is no appeal. [Page
Fortunately, there is a reason for these divergences. Death neither lifts the veil of Isis nor brings the soul into the presence of omniscient Light; man remains what he was, with all his former beliefs, opinions, passions, qualities, sympathies, and antipathies. True, he knows a little more than he did upon earth; no more has he doubts as to the after-life, he regains a precise memory of the whole of his life here, and the recollection of many a forgotten fact comes back to him; he understands better, for his intelligence is being served by a much finer body — but that is all. Therefore “spirits” reflect both the morality and the mentality of the nation to which they belonged on earth, and in the other life are to be found friends and enemies, believers and unbelievers, reincarnationists and non-reincarnationists.
Rebirths can be established only by personal proof, by memory; now, the soul that has entered the life beyond, after dis-incarnation, has not reached the end of its pilgrimage; it is learning that it must, by self-purification, pass from world to world until it attains to a state of supreme and final rest; but when this latter has been reached, it has lost its lower sheaths and the memory they gave it, and when the Law brings it back to earth, it puts on new bodies, which, having had no participation [Page 157] in preceding events, are ignorant of the past.
Remembrance, we shall see later on, is preserved in the cosmic Memory, but until the soul has reached a sufficient development, it cannot summon it forth, and even could it do so, it would succeed in leaving its impress on the brain only when the physical, the astral, and the mental bodies have submitted to a process of purification which harmonizes [Harmony is established when there is vibratory synchronism of all the states of matter of the different bodies, i.e when each state of matter in a body vibrates in unison with the analogous states of matter of all the other bodies] them and binds them closely together. Then only does man know that Reincarnation is true, and takes place on earth until this latter passes into a state of obscuration, [When the “life wave” has ended its cycle on this earth, it passes in succession over the other planets of our chain and leaves the earth in a state of slumber. This slumber ceases with the return of the “life wave”; it becomes death when the evolution of the chain is accomplished. See A P Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism] or, at all events, until the development of the soul enables it to utilize for its evolution some environment on the planet, other than the physical one. [At a certain stage on the Path, return to earth is no longer obligatory]
We shall be told that we are now proving what we before denied. No, we are simply stating an [Page 158] exception which happens in very few cases and only then to the pioneers of the race — an exception which is nothing but an apparent one and finds its place in the progressive order which unifies all the beings in the planetary chain to which we belong.
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