To Section 1of Ancient Wisdom
THE ASTRAL PLANE
THE MENTAL PLANE
THE BUDDHIC AND NIRVANIC PLANES
the following is in this section 2 of Ancient Wisdom
THE LAW OF SACRIFICE
BUILDING A KOSMOS
(Page 208) The ascending stages of consciousness through which the Thinker passes as he reincarnates during his long cycle of lives in the three lower worlds are clearly marked out, and the obvious necessity for many lives, in which to experience them, if he is to evolve at all, may carry to the more thoughtful minds the clearest conviction of the truth of reincarnation.
The first of the stages is that in which all the experiences are sensational, the only contribution made by the mind consisting of the recognition that contact with some object is followed by a sensation of pleasure, while contact with others is followed by a sensation of pain. These objects form mental pictures, and the pictures soon begin to act as a stimulus to seek the objects associated with pleasure, when those objects are not present, the germs of memory and of mental initiative thus making their appearance. This first rough division of the external world is followed by the more complex idea of the bearing of quantity on pleasure and pain, already referred to.
this stage of evolution, memory is (Page 209)
very short lived, or, in other words, mental images are very transitory. The
idea of forecasting the future from the past, even to the most rudimentary extent,
has not dawned on the infant Thinker, and his actions are guided from outside,
by the impacts that reach him from the external world, or at furthest by the
promptings of his appetites and passions, craving gratification. He will throw
away anything for an immediate satisfaction, however necessary the thing may
be for his future well being; the need of the moment overpowers every other
consideration. Of human souls in this embryonic condition, numerous examples
can be found in books of travel, and the necessity for many lives will be impressed
on the mind of any one who studies the mental condition of the least evolved
savages, and compares it with the mental condition of even average humanity
Needless to say that the moral capacity is no more evolved than the mental; the idea of good and evil has not yet been conceived. Not is it possible to convey to the quite undeveloped mind even elementary notion of either good or bad. Good and pleasant are to it interchangeable terms, as in the well-known case of the Australian savage mentioned by Charles Darwin. Pressed by hunger, the man speared the nearest living creature that could serve as food, and this happened to be his wife; a European remonstrated with him on the wickedness of his deed, but failed to make any impression; for from the reproach that to eat his wife was very, very bad he (Page 210) only deduced the inference that the stranger thought she had proved nasty of indigestible, and he put him right by smiling peacefully as he patted himself after his meal, and declaring in a satisfied way, УShe is very good.Ф
Measure in thought the moral distance between that man and St. Francis of Assisi, and it will be seen that there must either be evolution of souls as there is evolution of bodies, or else in the realm of the soul there must be constant miracle, dislocated creations.
There are two paths along either of which man may gradually emerge from this embryonic mental condition. He may be directly ruled and controlled by men far more evolved than himself, or he may be left slowly to grow unaided. The latter case would imply the passage of uncounted millennia, for, without example and without discipline, left to the changing impacts of external objects, and to friction with other men as undeveloped as himself, the inner energies could be but very slowly aroused.
As a matter of fact, man has evolved by the road of direct precept and example and of enforced discipline. We have already seen that when the bulk of the average humanity received the spark which brought the Thinker into being, there were some of the greater Sons if Mind who incarnated as Teachers, and that there was also a long succession of lesser Sons of Mind, at various stages of evolution, who came into incarnation as the crest-wave of the advancing tide of humanity.
These ruled the less evolved, under the beneficent sway of the great Teachers, and the compelled (Page 211) obedience to elementary rules of right living Ц very elementary at first, in truth Ц much hastened the development of mental and moral faculties in the embryonic souls. Apart from all other records the gigantic remains of civilizationsа that have long since disappeared Ц evidencing great engineering skill, and intellectual conceptions far beyond anything possible by the mass of the then infant humanity Ц suffice to prove that there were present on earth men with minds that were capable of greatly planning and greatly executing.
Let us continue the early stage of the evolution of consciousness. Sensation was wholly lord of the mind, and the earliest mental efforts were stimulated by desire. This led the man, slowly and clumsily, to forecast, to plan. He began to recognise a definite association of certain mental images, and, when one appeared, to expect the appearance of the other that had invariably followed in its wake. He began to draw inferences, and even to initiate action on the faith of these inferences Ц a great advance. And he began also to hesitate now and again to follow the vehement promptings of desire, when he found, over and over again, that the gratification demanded was associated in his mind with the subsequent happening of suffering.
This action was much quickened by the pressure upon him of verbally expressed laws; he was forbidden to seize certain gratifications, and was told that suffering would follow disobedience. When he had seized the delight-giving object and found the suffering follow upon (Page 212) pleasure, the fulfilled declaration made a far stronger impression on his mind than would have been made by the unexpected Ц and therefore to him fortuitous Ц happening of the same thing un foretold. Thus conflict continually arose between memory and desire, and the mind grew more active by the conflict, and was stirred into livelier functioning.а The conflict, in fact, marked the transition to the second great stage.
Here began to show itself the germ of will. Desire and will guide a manТs actions, and will has even been defined as the desire which emerges triumphant from the contest of desires. But this is a crude and superficial view, explaining nothing. Desire is the outgoing energyа of the Thinker, determined in its direction by the attraction of external objects. Will is the outgoing energy of the Thinker, determined in its direction by the conclusions drawn by the reason, from past experiences, or by the direct intuition of the Thinker himself. Otherwise put: desire is guided from without Ц will from within. At the beginning of manТs evolution, desire has complete sovereignty, and hurries him hither and thither; in the middle of his evolution, desire and will are in continual conflict, and victory lies sometimes with the one, sometimes with the other; at the end of his evolution desire has died, and will rules with unopposed, unchallenged sway.
Until the Thinker, is sufficiently developed to see directly, will is guided by him through the reason; and as the reason can draw its conclusions only from its stock of mental (Page 213) images Ц its experiences Ц and that stock is limited, the will constantly commands mistaken actions. The suffering which flows from these mistaken actions increases the stock of mental images, and thus gives the reason an increased store from which to draw its conclusions. Thus progress is made and wisdom is born.
Desire often mixes itself up with will, so that what appears to be determined from within is really largely prompted by the cravings of the lower nature for objects which afford it gratification. Instead of an open conflict between the two, the lower subtly insinuates itself into the current of the higher and turns its course aside. Defeated in the open field, the desire of the personality thus conspire against their conqueror, and often win by guile what they failed to win by force. During the whole of this second great stage, in which the faculties of the lower mind are in full course of evolution, conflict is the normal condition, conflict between the rule of sensations and the rule of reason.
The problem to be solved in humanity is the putting an end to conflict while preserving the freedom of the will; to determine the will inevitably to the best, while yet leaving that best as a matter of choice. The best is to be chosen, but by a self-initiated volition, that shall come with all the certainty of a foreordained necessity. The certainty of a compelling law is to be obtained from countless wills, each one left free to determine its own course. The solution of that problem is simple when it is known, (Page 214) though the contradiction looks irreconcilable when first presented. Let man be left free to choose his own actions, but let every action bring about an inevitable result; let him run loose amid all objects of desire and seize whatever he will, but let him have all the results of his choice, be they delightful or grievous. Presently he will freely reject the objects whose possession ultimately causes him pain; he will no longer desire them when he has experienced to the full that their possession ends in sorrow.
Let him struggle to hold the pleasure and avoid the pain, he will none the less be ground between the stones of law, and the lesson will be repeated any number of times found necessary; reincarnation offers us many lives as are needed by the most sluggish learner. Slowly desire for an object that brings suffering in its train will die, and when the thing offers itself in all its attractive glamour it will be rejected, not by compulsion but by free choice.
is no longer desirable, it has lost its power. Thus with thing after thing;
choice more and more runs in harmony with law. УThere are many roads of error;
the road of truth is oneФ; when all the paths of error have been trodden, when
all have been found to end in suffering, the choice to walkа in the way of truth
is unswerving, because based on knowledge. The lower kingdoms work harmoniously,
compelled by law; manТs kingdom is a chaos of conflicting wills, fighting against,
rebelling against law; presently there evolves from it a nobler unity, a harmonious
choice of voluntary (Page 215)
obedience, an obedience that, being voluntary, based on knowledge and on memory
of the results of disobedience, is stable and can be drawn aside by no temptation.
man would always have been in danger of falling; as a God, knowing good and
evil by experience, his choice of the good is raised forever beyond possibility
Will in the domain of morality is generally entitled conscience, and it is subject to the same difficulties in this domain as in its other activities. So long as actions are in question which have been done over and over again, of which the consequences are familiar either to the reason or to the Thinker himself, the conscience speaks quickly and firmly. But when unfamiliar problems arise as to the working out of which experience is silent, conscience cannot speak with certainty; it has but a hesitating answer from the reason, which can draw only a doubtful inference, and the Thinker cannot speak if his experience does not include the circumstances that have now arisen.
Hence conscience often decides wrongly; that is, the will, failing clear direction from either the reason or the intuition, guides action amiss. Nor can we leave out of consideration the influences which play upon the mind from without, from the thought-forms of others, of friends, of the family, of the community, of the nation. (Chapter 11, УThe Astral Plane.Ф) These all surround and penetrate the mind with their own atmosphere, distorting the appearance of everything, and (Page 216) throwing all things our of proportion. Thus influenced, the reason often does not even judge calmly from its own experience, but draws false conclusions as it studies its materials through a distorting medium.
The evolution of moral faculties is very largely stimulated by the affections, animal and selfish as these are during the infancy of the Thinker. The laws of morality are laid down by the enlightened reason, discerning the laws by which Nature moves, and bringing human conduct into consonance with the Divine Will. But the impulse to obey these laws, when no outer force compels, has its roots in love, in that hidden divinity in man which seeks to pour itself out to give itself to others. Morality begins in the infant Thinker when he is first moved by love to wife, to child, to friend, to do some action that serves the loved one without any thought of gain to himself thereby. It is the first conquest over the lower nature, the complete subjugation of which is the achievement of moral perfection.
Hence the importance of never killing out or striving to weaken, the affection, as is done in many of the lower kinds of occultism. However impure and gross the affections may be, they offer possibilities of moral evolution from which the cold-hearted and self-isolated have shut themselves out. It is an easier task to purify than to create love, and this is why Уthe sinnersФ have been said by great Teachers to be nearer to the kingdom of heaven than the Pharisees and Scribes.
The third great stage of consciousness sees (Page 217) the development of the higher intellectual powers; the mind no longer dwells entirely on mental images obtained from sensations, no longer reasons on purely concrete objects, nor is concerned with the attributes which differentiate one from another. The Thinker having learned clearly to discriminate between objects by dwelling upon their unlikenesses, now begins to group them together by some attribute which appears in a number of objects otherwise dissimilar and makes a link between them.
He draws out, abstracts, his common attribute, and sets all objects that posses it, apart from the restа which are without it; and in this way he evolves the power of recognising identity amid diversity, a step toward the much later recognition of the One underlying the man, he thus classifies all that is around him, developing the synthetic faculty, and learning to construct as well as analyse. Presently he takes another step, and conceives of the common property as an idea, apart from all the objects in which it appears, and thus constructs a higher kind of mental image of a concrete object Ц the image of an idea that has no phenomenal existence in the worlds of form, but which exists on the higher levels of the mental plane, and affords material on which the Thinker himself can work.
The lower mind reaches the abstract idea by reason, and in thus doing accomplishes its loftiest flight, touching the threshold of the formless world, and dimly seeing that which lies beyond. The Thinker sees these ideas, and lives among them (Page 218) habitually, and when the power of abstract reasoning is developed and exercised the Thinker is becoming effective in his own world, and is beginning his life of active functioning in his own sphere.
Such men care little for the life of the senses, care little for external observation, or for mental application to images of external objects; their powers are indrawn, and no longer rush outwards in the search for satisfaction. They dwell calmly within themselves, engrossed with the problems of philosophy, with the deepest aspects of life and thought, seeking to understand causes rather than troubling themselves with effects, and approaching nearer and nearer to the recognition of the One that underlies all the diversities of external Nature.
In the fourth stage of consciousness that One is seen, and with the transcending the barrier set up by the intellect the consciousness spreads out to embrace the world, seeing all things in itself and as parts of itself, and seeing itself as a ray of the LOGOS, and therefore as one with Him. Where is then the Thinker? He has become Consciousness, and, while the spiritual Soul can at will use any of his lower vehicles, he is no longer limited to their use, nor needs them for this full and conscious life. Then is compulsory reincarnation over and the man has destroyed death; he has verily achieved immortality. Then has he become Уa pillar in the temple of God and shall go out no more.Ф
To complete this part of our study, we need to understand the successive quickenings of the vehicles of (Page 219) consciousness, the bringing them one by one into activity as the harmonious instruments of the human Soul.
We have seen that from the very beginning of his separate life the Thinker has possessed coatings of mental, astral, etheric, and dense physical matter. These form the media by which his life vibrates outwards, the bridge of consciousness, as we may call it, along which all impulses from the Thinker may reach the dense physical body, all impacts from the outer world may reach him.
But this general use of the successive bodies as parts of a connected whole is a very different thing from the quickening of each in turn to serve as a distinct vehicle of consciousness, independently of those below it, and it is this quickening of the vehicles that we have now to consider. The lowest vehicle, the dense physical body, is the first one to be brought into harmonious working order; the brain and the nervous system have to be elaborated and to be rendered delicately responsive to every thrill which is within their gamut of vibratory power. In the early stages, while the physical dense body is composed of the grosser kinds of matter, this gamut is extremely limited, and the physical organ of the mind can respond only to the slowest vibrations sent down.
It answers far more promptly, as is natural, to the impacts from the external world caused by objects similar in materials to itself. Its quickening as a vehicle of consciousness consists in its being made responsive to the vibrations (Page 220) that are initiated from within, and the rapidity of this quickening depends on the co-operation of the lower nature with the higher, its loyal subordination of itself in the service of its inner ruler.
When after many, many life-periods, it dawns upon the lower nature that it exists for the sake of the soul, that all its value depends on the helpа it can bring to the soul, that it can win immortality only by merging itself in the soul, then its evolution proceeds in giant strides. Before this, the evolution has been unconscious; at first, the gratification of the lower nature was the object of life, and, while this was a necessary preliminary for calling out the energies of the Thinker, it did nothing directly to render the body a vehicle of consciousness; the direct working upon it begins when the life of the man establishes its centre in the mental body, and when thought commences to dominate sensation.
The exercise of the mental powers works on the brain and the nervous system, and the coarser materials are gradually expelled to make room for the finer, which can vibrate in unison with the thought-vibrations sent to them. The brain becomes finer in constitution, and increases by ever more complicated convolutions the amount of surface available for the coating of nervous matter adapted to respond to thought-vibrations. The nervous system becomes more delicately balanced, more sensitive, more alive to every thrill of mental activity. And when the recognition of its function as an instrument of the Soul, spoken of above, has come, then active co-operation in performing (Page 221) this function sets in. The personality begins deliberately to discipline itself, and to set the permanent interests of the immortal individual above its own transient gratifications.
It yields up the time that might be spent in the pursuit of lower pleasures to the evolution of mental powers; day by day time is set apart for serious study; the brain is gladly surrendered to receive impactsа from within instead of from without, is trained to answer to consecutive thinking, and is taught to refrain from throwing up its own useless disjointed images, made by past impressions. It is taught to remain at rest when it is not wanted by its master; to answer, not to initiate vibrations. (One of the signs that it is being accomplished is the cessation of the confused jumble of fragmentary images which are set up during sleep by the independent activity of the physical brain. When the brain is coming underа control this kind of dream is very seldom experienced.)
Further, some discretion and discrimination will be used as to the food-stuffs which supply physical materials to the brain. The use of the coarser kinds will be discontinued, such as animal flesh and blood and alcohol, and pure food will build up a pure body. Gradually the lower vibrations will find no materials capable of responding to them, and the physical body thus becomes more and more entirely a vehicle of consciousness, delicately responsive to all the thrills of thought and keenly sensitive to the vibrations sent outwards by the Thinker.
The etheric double so closely follows the constitution of the dense body that it is not (Page 222) necessary to study separately its purification and quickening; it does not normally serve as a separate vehicle of consciousness, but works synchronously with its dense partner, and when separated from it either by accident or by death, it responds very feebly to the vibrations initiated from within. It function in truth is not to serve as a vehicle of mental-consciousness, but as a vehicle of Prтna, of specialised life-force, and its dislocation from the denser particles to which it conveys the life-currents is therefore disturbing and mischievous.
The astral body is the second vehicle of consciousness to be vivified, and we have already seen the changes through which it passes as it becomes organised for the work. (see Chapter II, УThe Astral PlaneФ.). When it is thoroughly organised, the consciousness which has hitherto worked within it, imprisoned by it, when in sleep it has left the physical body and is drifting about in the astral world, begins not only to receive the impressions through it of astral objects that form the so-called dream-consciousness, but also to perceive astral objects by its senses Ц that is, begins to relate the impressions received to the objects which give rise to those impressions.
These perceptions are at first confused, just as are the perceptions at first made by the mind through a new physical baby-body, and they have to be corrected by experience in the one case as in the other. The Thinker has gradually to discover the new powers which he can use through this subtler vehicle, and by which he can control the (Page 223) astral elements and defend himself against astral dangers. He is not left alone to face this new world unaided, but is taught and helped and Ц until he can guard himself Ц protected by those who are more experienced than himself in the ways of the astral world. Gradually the new vehicle of consciousness comes completely under his control, and life on the astral plane is as natural and as familiar as life on the physical.
аThe third vehicle of consciousness, the mental body, is rarely, if ever, vivified for independent action without the direct instruction of a teacher, and its functioning belongs to the life of the disciple at the present stage of human evolution. (See Chapter XI, УManТs AscentФ). As we have already seen, it is rearranged for separate functioning (See Chapter IV, УThe Mental PlaneФ), on the mental plane, and here again experience and training are needed ere it comes fully under its ownerТs control. A fact Ц common to all these three vehicles of consciousness, but more apt to mislead perhaps in the subtler than in the denser, because it is generally forgotten in their case, while it is so obvious that it is remembered in the denser Ц is that they are subject to evolution, and that with their higher evolution their powers to receive and to respond to vibrations increase.
How many more shades of a colour are seen by a trained eye than by an untrained. How many overtones are heard by a trained ear, where the untrained hears only the single fundamental note. As the physical senses grow (Page 224) more keen the world becomes fuller and fuller, and where the peasant is conscious only his furrow and his plough, the cultured mind is conscious of hedgerow flower and quivering aspen, of rapturous melody down-dropping from the skylark and the whirring of tiny wings through the adjoining wood, of the scudding of rabbits under the curled fronds of the bracken, and the squirrels playing with each other through the branches of the beeches, of all the gracious movements of wild things, of all the fragrant odours of filed and woodland, of all the changing glories of the cloud-flecked sky, and of all the chasing lights and shadows on the hills. Both the peasant and the cultured have eyes, both have brains, but of what differing powers of observation, of what differing powers to receive impressions.
also in other worlds. As the as the astral and mental bodies begin to function
as separate vehicles of consciousness, they are in, as it were, the peasant
stage of receptivity, and only fragments of the astral and mental worlds, withа
their strange and elusive phenomena, make their way into consciousness; but
they evolve rapidly, embracing more and more, and conveying to consciousness
a more and more accurate reflection of its environment. Here,
as everywhere else, we have to remember that our knowledge is not the limit
of NatureТs powers, and that in the astral and mental worlds, as in the physical,
we are still children, picking up a few shells cast up by the waves, while the
treasures hid in the ocean are still unexplored. (Page
The quickening of the causal body as a vehicle of consciousness follows in due course the quickening of the mental body, and opens up to a man a yetа more marvelous state of consciousness, stretching backwards into an illimitable past, onwards into the reaches of the future. Then the Thinker not only possesses the memory of his own past and can trace his growth through the long succession of his incarnate and excarnate lives, but he can also roam at will through the storied past of the earth, and learn the weighty lessons of world-experience, studying the hidden laws that guide evolution and the deep secrets of life hidden in the bosom of Nature.
In that lofty vehicle of consciousness he can each the veiled Isis, and lift a corner of her down-dropped veil; for there he can face her eyes without being blinded by her lightening glances, and he can see in the radiance that flows from her the causes of the worldТs sorrow and its ending, with heart pitiful and compassionate, but no longer wrung with helpless pain. Strength and calm and wisdom come to those who are using the causal body as a vehicle of consciousness, and who behold with opened eyes the glory of the Good law.
the buddhic body is quickened as a vehicle of consciousness the man enters into
the bliss of non-separateness, and knows in full and vivid realisation his unity
with all that is. As the predominant element of consciousness in the causal
body is knowledge, and ultimately wisdom, so the predominant element of consciousness
in the buddhic body is bliss and love. (Page
serenity of wisdom chiefly marks the one, while the tenderest compassion streams
forth inexhaustibly from the other; when to these is added the godlike and unruffled
strength that marks the functioning of ┬tma, then humanity is crowned with divinity,
and the God-man is manifest in all the plenitude of his power, of his wisdom,
of his love.
The handing down to the lower vehicles of such part of the consciousness belonging to the higher as they are able to receive does not immediately follow on the successive quickening of the vehicles. In this matter individuals differ very widely, according to their circumstances and their work, for this quickening of the vehicles above the physical rarely occurs till probationary discipleship is reached, ( See Chapter XI, УManТs AscentФ), and then the duties to be discharged depend on the needs of the time.
The disciple, and even the aspirant for discipleship, is taught to hold all his powers entirely for the service of the world, and the sharing of the lower consciousness in the knowledge of the higher is for the most part determined by the needs of the work in which the disciple is engaged. It is necessary that the disciple should have the full use of his vehicles of consciousness on the higher planes, as much of his work can be аaccomplished only in them; but the conveying of knowledge of that work to the physical vehicle, which is in no way concerned in it, is a matter of no importance and the conveyance or non-conveyance is generally determined by the effect that the oneа course or the other would have (Page 227) on the efficiency of his work on the physical plane.
The strain on the physical body when the higher consciousness compels it to vibrate responsively is very great, at the present stage of evolution, and unless the external circumstances are very favourable this strain is apt to cause nervous disturbance, hyper-sensitiveness with its attendant evils. Hence most of those who are in full possession of the quickened higher vehicles of consciousness, and whose most important work is done out of the body, remain apart from the busy haunts of men, if they desire to throw down into the physical consciousness the knowledge they use on the higher planes, thus preserving the sensitive physical vehicle from the rough usage and clamour of ordinary life.
The main preparation to be made for receiving in the physical vehicle the vibrations of the higher consciousness are: its purification from grosser materials by pure food and pure life; the entire subjugation of the passions, and the cultivation of an even, balanced temper and mind, unaffected by the turmoil and vicissitudesа of external life ; the аhabit of quiet meditation on lofty topics, turning the mind away from the objects of the senses, and from the mental images arising from them, and fixing it on higher things ; the cessation of hurry, especially of that restless, excitable hurry of the mind, which keeps the brain continually at work and flying from one subject to another ; the genuine love for the things of the higher world, that makes them more attractive than the objects of the lower, so that the mind (Page 228) rests contentedly in their companionship as in that of a well-loved friend.
In fact, the preparations are much the same as those necessary for the conscious separation of УsoulФ from УbodyФ and those were elsewhere stated by me as follows:
The student Ц
УMust begin by practising extreme temperance in all things, cultivating an equable and serene state of mind, his life must be clean and his thoughts pure, his body held in strict subjection to the soul, and his mind trained to occupy itself with noble and lofty themes; he must habitually practise compassion, sympathy, helpfulness to others, with indifference to troubles and pleasures affecting himself, and he must cultivate courage, steadfastness, and devotion.
In fact, he must live the religion and ethics that other people for the most part only talk. Having by persevering practice learned to control his mind to some extent so that he is able to keep it fixed on one line of thought for some little time, he must begin its more rigid training, by aа daily practice of concentration on some difficult or abstract subject, or on some loftyа object of devotion; this concentration means the firm fixing of the mind on one single point, without wandering, and without yielding to any distraction caused by external objects, by the activity of the senses, or by that of the mind itself.
It must be braced up to an unswerving steadiness and fixity, until gradually it will learn so to withdrawа its attention form the outer world and from the body that the senses will remain quiet and still, while the mind is intensely alive with all its energies drawn inwards to be launched at a single point of thought, the highest to which it can attain.
When it is able to hold itself thus with comparative ease it is ready for a further step, and by a strong but calm effort of the will it can throw itself beyond the highest thought it can reach while working in the physical brain, and in the effort will rise and unite itself with the higher consciousness and find itself free of the body. When this is done there is no sense of sleep or dream nor any loss of consciousness; the man finds himself (Page 229) outside his body, but as though he merely slipped off a weighty encumbrance, nor as though he had lost any part of himself; he is not really УdisembodiedФ, but had risen out of the gross body Сin a body of lightТ which obeys his slightest thought and serves as a beautiful and perfect instrument for carrying out his will. In this he is free of the subtle worlds, but will need to train his faculties long and carefully for reliable work under the new conditions.а
УFreedom from the body may be obtained in other ways; by the rapt intensity of devotion or by special methods that may be imparted by a great teacher to his disciple.
Whatever the way, the end is the same Ц the setting free of the soul in full consciousness, able toа examine its new surroundings in regions beyond the treading of the flesh of the man of flesh. At will it can return to the body and re-enter it, and under these circumstances it can impress on the brain-mind, and thus retain while in the body, the memory of the experiences it has undergone.Ф [ Conditions of life after death" Nineteenth Century of Nov. 1896 ]
Those who have grasped the main ideas sketched in the foregoing pages will feel that these ideas are in themselves the strongest proof that reincarnation is a fact in nature. It is necessary in order that the vast evolution implied in the phrase, У the evolution of the soul,Ф may be accomplished. The only alternative Ц putting aside for the moment the materialistic idea that the soul is only the aggregate of the vibrations of a particular kind of physical matter Ц is that each soul is a new creation, made when a babe is born, and stamped with virtuous or with vicious tendencies, endowed with ability or with stupidity, by the arbitrary whim of the creative power.
As the Muhammadan would say, his fate is hung roundа his (Page 230) neck at birth, for a manТs fate depends on his character and his surroundings, and a newly created soul flung into the world must be doomed to happiness or misery according to the circumstances environing him and the character stamped upon him. Predestination in its most offensive form is the alternative of reincarnation. Instead of looking on men as slowly evolving, so that the brutal savage of today will in time evolve the noblest qualities of saint and hero, and thus, seeing in the world a wisely planned and wisely directed process of growth, we shall be obliged to see in it a chaos of most unjustly treated sentient beings, awarded happiness or misery, knowledge or ignorance, virtue or vice, wealth or poverty, genius or idiocy, by an arbitrary external will, unguided by either justice or mercy Ц a veritable pandemonium, irrational and unmeaning.
And this chaos is supposed to be the higher part of the cosmos, in the lower regions of which are manifested all the orderly and beautiful workings of a law that ever evolves higher and more complex form from the lower and the simpler, that obviously Уmakes for righteousness,Ф for harmony and for beauty.
If it be admitted that the soul of the savage is destined to live and evolve, and that he is not doomed for eternity to his present infant state, but that his evolution will take place after death and in other worlds, then the principle of soul-evolution is conceded, and the question of the place of evolution alone remains. Were all souls on earth at the same stage of evolution, much might be said for the contention (Page 231) that further worlds are needed for the evolution of souls beyond the infant stage.
But we have around us souls that are far advanced, and that were born with noble mental and moral qualities. But parity of reasoning, we must suppose them to have been evolved in other worlds ere their one birth in this, and we cannot but wonder why an earth that offers varied conditions, fit for little-developed and also for advanced souls, should be paid only one flying visit by souls at every stage of development, all the rest of their evolution being carried on in worlds similar to this, equally able to afford all the conditions needed to evolve the souls of different stages of evolution, as we find them to be when they are born here.
The Ancient Wisdom teaches, indeed, that the soul progresses through many worlds, but it also teaches that he is born in each of these worlds over and over again, until he has completed the evolution possible in that world. The worlds themselves, according to its teaching, form an evolutionary chain, and each plays its own part as a field for certain stages of evolution. Our own world offers a field suitable for the evolution of the mineral, vegetable, animal and human kingdoms, аand therefore collective or individual reincarnation goes on upon it in all these kingdoms. Truly, further evolution lies before us in other worlds, but in the divine order they are not open to us until we have learned and mastered the lessons of our own world has to teach.
There are many lines of thought that lead us to the (Page 232) same goal of reincarnation, as we study the world around us. The immense differences that separate man from man have already been noticed as implying an evolutionary past behind each soul; and attention has been drawn to these differentiating the individual reincarnation of men Ц all of whom belong to a single species Ц from the reincarnation of monadic group-souls in the lower kingdoms. The comparatively small differences that separate the physical bodies of men, all being externally recognisable as men, should be contrasted with the immense differences that separate the lowest savage and the noblest human type in mental and moral capacities. Savages are often splendid in physical development and with large cranial contents, but how different their minds from that of a philosopher or saint!
If high mental and moral qualities are regarded as the accumulated results of civilised living, then we are confronted with the fact that the ablest men of the present are over-topped by the intellectual giants ofа the past, and that none of our own day reaches the moral altitude of some historical saints. Further, we have to consider that genius has neither parent nor child; that it appears suddenly and not as the apex of a gradually improving family, and is itself generally sterile, or, if a child be born to it, it is a child of the body, not of the mind.
Still more significantly, a musical genius is for the most part born in a musical family, because that form of genius needs for its manifestation a nervous (Page 233) organisation of a peculiar kind, and nervous organisation falls under the law of heredity. But how often in such a family its object seems over when it has provided a body for a genius, and it then flickers out and vanishes in a few generations into the obscurity of average humanity. Where are the descendants of Bach, of Beethoven, of Mozart, of Mendelssohn, equal to their sires? Truly genius does not descend from father to son, like the family types of the Stuart and the Bourbon.
On what ground, save that or reincarnation, can the Уinfant prodigyФ be accounted for? Take as an instance the case of the child who became Dr. Young, the discoverer of the undulatory theory of light, a man whose greatness is scarcely yet sufficiently widely recognised. As a child of two he could read Уwith considerable fluencyФ, and before he was four he had read through the Bible twice; at seven he began arithmetic, and mastered WalkinghamТs TutorТs Assistant before he had reached the middle of it under his tutor, and a few years later we find him mastering, while at school, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, mathematics, book-keeping, French, Italian, turning and telescope-making and delighting in Oriental literature.
At fourteen he was to be placed under private tuition with a boy a year and a half younger, but, the tutor first engaged failing to arrive, Young taught the other boy. (Life of Dr. Thomas Young, by G. Peacock, D.D.).а Sir William Rowan Hamilton showed power even more precocious.а He began to learn Hebrew when he was barely three, (Page 234) and Уat the age of seven he was pronounced by one of the Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, to have shown a greater knowledge of the language than many candidates for a fellowship. At the age of thirteen he had acquired considerable knowledge of at least thirteen languages.
Among these, besides the classical and the modern European languages, were included Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, Hindustani, and even MalayЕ.. He wrote, at the age of fourteen, a complimentary letter to the Persian Ambassador, who happened to visit Dublin; and the latter said that he had not thought there was a man in Britain who could have written such a document in the Persian language. A relative of his says: УI remember him a little boy of six,а when he would answerа a difficult mathematical question, and run off gaily to his little cart.
twelve he engaged Colburn, the American Сcalculating boy,Т who was then being
exhibited as a curiosity in Dublin, and he had not always the worst of the encounter.Ф
When he was eighteen, Dr. Brinkley (Royal Astronomer of Ireland) said of him
in 1823: УThis young man, I do not say will be, but is, the
first mathematician of his age.Ф УAt college his career was perhaps unexampled.
Among a number of competitors of more than ordinary merit, he was first in every
subject, and at every examination. (North British Review, September 1866).
Let the thoughtful student compare these boys with a semi-idiot, or even with an average lad, note how, starting with these advantages, they become leaders (Page 235) of thought, and then ask himself whether such souls have no past behind them. Family likenesses are generally explained as being due to the Уlaw of heredity,Ф but differences in mental and in moral character are continually found within a family circle, and these are left unexplained.а Reincarnation explains the likenesses by the fact that a soul in taking birth is directed to a family which provides by its physical heredity a body suitable to express his characteristics; and it explains the unlikenesses by attaching the mental and moral character to the individual himself, while showing that ties set up in the past have led him to take birth in connection with some other individual of that family. (See Chapter IX, on УKarmaФ).
A Уmatter of significance in connection with twins is that during infancy they will often be indistinguishable from each other, even to the keen eye of the mother and of nurse; whereas, later in life, when Manas has been working on his physical encasement, he will have so modified it that the physical likeness lessens and the differences of character stamp themselves on the mobile features.Ф [ Reincarnation by Annie Besant, Page 64] Physical likeness with mental and moral unlikeness seems to imply the meeting of two different lines of causation.
striking dissimilarity found to exist between people of about equal intellectual
power in assimilating particular kinds of knowledge is another УpointerФ to
reincarnation. A truth is recognised at once (Page
236) by one, while the other fails to grasp it even after long and
careful observation. Yet the very opposite may be the case when another truth
is presented to them, and it may be seen by the second and missed by the first.
are attracted to Theosophy and begin to study it, at a yearТs end one is familiar
with its main conceptions and can apply them, while the other is struggling
in a maze. To the one each principle seemed familiar on presentation ; to the
other new, unintelligible, strange.
The believer in reincarnation understands that the teaching is old to the one, and new to the other; one learns quickly because he remembers, he is but recovering past knowledge; the other learns slowly because his experience has not included these truths of nature, and he is acquiring them toil fully for the first time.[ Reincarnation by annie Besant, Page 67] Ф So also ordinary intuition is Уmerely recognition of a fact familiar in a past life, though met with for the first time in the present,Ф another sign of the road along which the individual has traveled in the past.
The main difficulty with many people in the reception of the doctrine of reincarnation is their own absence of memory of their past. Yet they are every day familiar with the fact that they have forgotten very much even of their lives in their present bodies, and that the early years of childhood are blurred and those of infancy a blank. They must also know that events of the past which have entirely slipped out of their normal consciousness are yet (Page 237) hidden away in dark caves of memory and ban be brought out again vividly in some forms of disease or under the influence of mesmerism.
A dying man has been known to speak a language heard only in infancy, and unknown to him during a long life; in delirium, events long forgotten have presented themselves vividly to the consciousness. Nothing is really forgotten; but much is hidden out of sight of the limited vision of our waking consciousness, the most limited form of our consciousness, although the only consciousness recognised by the vast majority. Just as memory of some of the present life is in-drawn beyond the reach of this waking consciousness, and makes itself known again only when the brain is hypersensitive and thus able to respond to vibrations that usually beat against it unheeded, so is the memory of the past lives stored up our of reach of the physical consciousness. It is all with the Thinker, who alone persists from life to life; he has the whole book of memory within his reach, for he is the only У I У that has passed through all the experiences recorded therein.
Moreover, he can impress his own memories of the past on his physical vehicle, as soon as it has been sufficiently purified to answer his swift and subtle vibrations, and then the man of flesh can share his knowledge of the storied past. The difficulty of memory does not lie in forgetfulness, for the lower vehicle, the physical body, has never passed through the previous lives of its owner; it lies in the absorption of the present body in its present environment, in its (Page 238) coarse unresponsiveness to the delicate thrills in which alone the soul can speak. Those who would remember the past must not have their interests centred in the present, and they must purify and refine the body till it is able to receive impressions from the subtler spheres.
Memory of their own past lives, however, is possessed by a considerable number of people who have achieved the necessary sensitiveness of the physical organism, and to these of course, reincarnation is no longer a theory, but has become a matter of personal knowledge. They have learned how much richer life becomes when memories of past lives pout into it, when the friends of this brief day are found to be the friends of the long-ago, and old remembrances strengthen the ties of the fleeting present. Life gains security and dignity when it is seen with a long vista behind it, and when the loves of old reappear in the loves of today. Death fades into its proper place as a mere incident in life, a change from one scene to another, like a journey that separates bodies but cannot sunder friend from friend. The links of the present are found to be part of a golden chain that stretches backwards, and the future can be faced with a glad security in the thought that these links will endure through days to come, and form part of that unbroken chain.
Now and then we find children who have brought over a memory of their immediate past, for the mostа part when they have died in childhood and are reborn almost immediately. In the West such cases (Page 239) are rarer than in the East, because in the West the first words of such a child would be met with disbelief, and he would quickly lose faith in his own memories. In the East, where belief in reincarnation is almost universal, the childТs remembrances are listened to, and where the opportunity serves they have been verified.
There is another important point with respect to memory that will repay consideration. The memory of past events remains, as we have seen, with the Thinker only, but the results of those events embodied in faculties are at the service of the lower man. If the whole of these past events were thrown down into the physical brain, a vast mass of experiences in no classified order, without arrangement, the man could not be guided by the out come of the past, nor utilise it for present help. Compelled to make a choice between two lines of action, he would have to pick, out of the un-arranged facts from his past, events similar in character, trace out their results, and after long and weary study arrive at some conclusion Ц a conclusion very likely to be vitiated by the overlooking of some important factor, and reached long after the need for decision had passed.
All the events, trivial and important, of some hundreds of lives would form a rather unwieldy and chaoticаа mass for reference in an emergency that demanded a swift action. The far more effective plan of Nature leaves to the Thinker the memory of the events, provides a long period of excarnate existence for the mental body, during which allа events are tabulated and compared and their results are classified; then these results are embodied as faculties, and these faculties form the next mental body of the Thinker.
In this way, the enlarged and improved faculties are available for immediate use, and, the faculties of the past being in them, a decision can be comeа to, in accordance with those results and without any delay. The clear quick insight and prompt judgment are nothing else than the outcome of past experiences, moulded into an effective form for use; they are surely more useful instruments than would be a mass of unassimilated experiences, out of which the relevant ones would have to be selected and compared, and from which inferences would have to be drawn, on each separate occasion on which a choice arises.
From all these lines of thought, however, the mind turns back to rest on the fundamental necessity for reincarnation if life is to be made intelligible, and if injustice and cruelty are not to mock the helplessness of man. With reincarnation man is a dignified, immortal being, evolving towards a divinely glorious end; without it, he is a tossing straw on аthe stream of chance circumstances , irresponsible for his character, for his actions, for his destiny.
With it, he may look forward with fearless hope, however low in the scale of evolution he may be today, for he is on the ladder to divinity, and the climbing to its summit is only a question of time; without it, he has no reasonable ground of assurance as to progress in the future, nor indeed any reasonable ground (Page 241) of assurance in a future at all.а Why should a creature without a past look forward to a future?He may be a mere bubble on the ocean of time. Flung into the world from non-entity, with qualities of good or evil, attached to him without reason or desert, why should he strive to make the best of them? Will not his future, if he have one, be as isolated, as uncaused, as unrelated as his present? In dropping reincarnation from its beliefs, the modern world has deprived God of His justice and has bereft man of his security; he may be УluckyФ or УunluckyФ but the strength and dignity conferred by reliance on a changeless law are rent away from him, and he is left tossing helplessly on an un-navigable ocean of life. (Page 242)
Having traced the evolution of the soul by the way of reincarnation, we are now in a position to study the great law of causation under which rebirths are carried on, the law which is named Karma. Karma is a Sanskrit word, literally meaning УactionФ; as all actions are effects flowing from preceding causes, and as each effect becomes a cause of future effects, this idea of cause and effect is an essential part of the idea of action, and the word action,а or karma, is therefore used for causation, or for the unbroken linked series of causes and effects that make up all human activity.
Hence the phrase is sometimes used of an event, УThis is my karma,Ф i.e., УThis event is the effect of a cause set going by me in the past.Ф No one life is isolated! It is the child of all the lives before it, the parent of all the lives that follow it, in the total aggregate of the lives that make up the continuing existence of the individual.
There is no such thing as ФchanceФ or as УaccidentФ; every event is linked to a preceding cause, to a following effect; all thoughts, deeds, circumstances are causally related to the past and will causally influence the future; as our ignorance (Page 243) shrouds from our vision alike the past and the future, events often appear to us to come suddenly from the void, to be Уaccidental,Ф but this appearance is illusory and is due entirely to our lack of knowledge. Just as the savage, ignorant of the laws of the physical universe, regards physical events as uncaused, and the results of unknown physical laws as УmiraclesФ; so do many, ignorant of moral and mental laws, regard moral and mental events as uncaused, and the results of unknown moral and mental laws as good and bad Уluck.Ф
When at first this idea of inviolable, immutable law is a realm hitherto vaguely ascribed to chance dawns upon the mind, it is apt to result in a sense of helplessness, almost of moral and mental paralysis. Man seems to be held in the grip of an iron destiny, and the resigned УkismetФ of the Moslemа appears to be the only philosophical utterance. Just so might the savage feel when the idea of physical law first dawns on his startled intelligence, and he learns that every movement of his body, every movement in external nature, is carried on under immutable laws.
Gradually he learns that natural laws only lay down conditions under which all workings must be carried on, but do not prescribeа the workings; so that man remains ever free at the centre, while limited in his external activities by the conditions of the plane on which those activities are carried on. He learns further that while the conditions master him, constantly frustrating his strenuous efforts, so long as he is ignorant of them, or, knowing them, (Page 244) fights against them, he masters them and they become his servants and helpers when he understands them, knows their directions, and calculates their forces.
In truth science is possible only on the physical plane because its laws are inviolable, immutable. Were there no such things as natural laws, there could be no sciences. An investigator makes a numberа of experiments, and from the results of these he learns how Nature works; knowing this, he can calculate how to bring about a certain desired result, and if he fail in achieving that result he knows that he has omitted some necessary condition Ц either his knowledge is imperfect, or he has made a miscalculation. He reviews his knowledge, revises his methods, recasts his calculations, with a serene and complete certainty that if he ask his question rightly Nature will answer him with unvarying precision. Hydrogen and oxygen will not give him water today and prussic acid tomorrow; fire will not burn him today and freeze him tomorrow. If water be a fluid today and a solidа tomorrow, it is because the conditions surrounding it have been altered, and the reinstatement of the original conditions will bring about the original result.
Every new piece of information about the laws of Nature is not a fresh restriction but a freshа power, for all these energies of Nature become forces which he can use in proportion as he understands them. Hence the saying that Уknowledge is power,Ф for exactly in proportion to his knowledge (Page 245) can he utilise these forces; by selecting those with which he will work, by balancing one against another, by neutralising opposing energies that would interfere with his object, he can calculate beforehand the result, and bring about what he predetermines.
Understanding and manipulating causes, he can predict effects, and thus the very rigidity of nature which seemed at first to paralyse human action can be used to produce and infinite varietyа of results. Perfect rigidity in each separate force makes possible perfect flexibility in their combinations. For the forces being of every kind, moving in every direction, and each being calculable, a selection can be made and the selected forces so combined as to yield any desired result.
The object to be gained being determined, it can be infallibly obtained by a careful balancing of forces in the combination put together as a cause. But, be it remembered, knowledge is requisite thus to guide events, to bring about desired results. The ignorant man stumbles helplessly along, striking himself against the immutable laws and seeing his efforts fail, while the man of knowledge walks steadily forward, foreseeing, causing, preventing, adjusting, and bringing about that at which he aims, not because he is lucky but because he understands. The one is the toy, the slave of Nature, whirled along by her forces: the other is her master, using her energies to carry him onwards in the direction chosen by his will.
which is true of the physical realm of law is (Page
246) true of the moral and mental worlds, equally realms of law.
Here also the ignorant is a slave, the sage is a monarch; here also the inviolability,
the immutability, that were regarded as paralysing, are found to be the necessary
conditions of sure progress and of clear-sighted direction of the future. Man
can become the master of his destiny only because that destiny lies in a realm
of law, where knowledge can build up the science of the soul and place in the
hands of man the power of controlling his future Ц of choosing alike his future
character and his future circumstances.The
knowledge of karma that threatened to paralyse, becomes an inspiring, a supporting,
an uplifting force.
Karma is then, the law of causation, the law of cause and effect. It was put pointedly by the Christian Initiate, S. Paul : УBe not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.Ф(Galatians, vi, 7).а Man is continually sending out forces on all the planes on which he functions; these forces Ц themselves in quantity and quality the effects of his past activities Ц are causes which he sets going in each world he inhabits; they bring about certain definite effects both on himself and on others, and as these causes radiate forth from himself as centre over the whole field of his activity, he is responsible for the results they bring about.
a magnet has its Уmagnetic field,Ф an area within which all its forces play,
larger or smaller according to its strength, so has every man a field of influence
(Page 247) within which play the
forces he emits, and these forces work in curves that return to their forth-sender,
that re-enter the centre whence they emerged.
As the subject is a very complicated one, we will sub-divide it, and then study the subdivisions one by one.
Three classes of energies are sent forth by man in his ordinary life, belonging respectively to the three worlds that he inhabits; mental energies on the mental plane, giving rise to the causes we call thoughts;а desire energies on the astral plane, giving rise to those we call desires; physical energies aroused by these, and working on the physical plane, giving rise to the causes we call action. We have to study each of these in its workings, and to understand the class of effects to which each gives rise, if we wish to trace intelligently the part that each plays in the perplexed and complicated combinations we set up, called in their totalityа Уour Karma.Ф When a man, advancing more swiftly than his fellows, gains the ability to function on higher planes, he then becomes the centre of higher forces, but for the present we may leave these out of account and confine ourselves to ordinary humanity, treading the cycle of reincarnation in the three worlds.
studying these three classes of energies we shall have to distinguish between
their effect on the man who generates them and their effect on others who come
within the field of his influence; for a lack (Page
248) of understanding on this point often leaves the student in a
slough of hopeless bewilderment.
Then we must remember that every force works on its own plane and reacts on the planes below it in proportion to its intensity, the plane on which it is generated gives it its special characteristics, and in its reaction on lower planes it sets up vibrations in their finer or coarser materials according to its own original nature.The motive which generates the activity determines the plane to which the force belongs.
Next it will be necessary to distinguish between ripe karma, ready to show itself as inevitable events in the present life; the karma of character, showing itself in tendencies that are the outcome of accumulated experiences, and that are capable of being modified in the present life by the same power (the Ego) that created them in the past; the karma that is now making, and will give rise to future events and future character. ( These divisions are familiar to the student as Prārabdha (commenced, to be worked out in the life); Sanchita (accumulated), a part of which is seen in the tendencies, Kriyamāna, (in course of making).
Further, we have to realise that while a man makes his own individual karma he also connects himself thereby with others, thus becoming a member of various groups Ц family, national, racial Ц and as a member he shares in the collective karma of each of these groups.
It will be seen that the study of karma is one (Page 249) of much complexity; however, by grasping the main principles of its working as set out above, a coherent idea of its general bearing may be obtained without much difficulty, and its details can be studied at leisure as opportunity offers. Above all, let it never be forgotten, whether details are understood or not, that each man makes his own karma, creating alike his own capacities and his own limitations; and that working at any time with these self-created capacities, and within these self-created limitations, he is still himself, the living soul, and can strengthen or weaken his capacities, enlarge or contract his limitations.
The chains that bind him are of his own forging, and he can file them away or rivet them more strongly; the house he lives in is of his own building, and he can improve it, let it deteriorate, or rebuild it, as he will. We are ever working in plastic clay and can shape it to our fancy, but the clay hardens and becomes as iron, retaining the shape we gave it. A proverb from the Hitopadesha runs, as translated by Sir Edwin Arnold:
УLook! The clay dries into iron, but the potter moulds the clay;
Destiny today is the master Ц Man was master yesterday. У
Thus we are all masters of our tomorrows, however much we are hampered today by the results of our yesterdays.
Let us now take in order the divisions already set out under which karma may be studied.
Three classes of causes, with their effects on their (Page 250) creator and on those he influences.The first of these classes is composed of our thoughts. Thought is the most potent factor in the creation of human karma, for in thought the energies of the SELF are working in mental matter, the matter which, in its аfiner kinds, forms the individual vehicle, and even in its coarser kinds responds swiftly to every vibration of self-consciousness. The vibrations which we call thought, the immediate activity of the Thinker, give rise to forms of mind-stuff, or mental images, which shape and mould his mental body, as we have already seen; every thought modifies this mental body, and the mental faculties in each successive life are made by the thinkings of the previous lives.
A man can have no thought-power, no mental ability, that he has not himself created by patiently repeated thinkings; on the other hand, no mental image that he has thus created is lost, but remains as material for faculty, and the aggregate of any group of mental images is built into a faculty which grows stronger with every additional thinking, or creation of a mentalа image, of the same kind.
Knowing this law, the man can gradually make for himself the mental character he desires to possess and he can do it as definitely and as certainly as a bricklayer can build a wall. Death does not stop his work, but by setting him free from the encumbrance of the body facilitates the process of working up his mental images into the definite organ we call a faculty, and he brings this back with him to his next birth on the physical plane, part of the brain (Page 251) of the new body being moulded so as to serve as the organ of this faculty, in a way to be explained presently.
All these faculties together form the mental body for his opening life on earth, and his brain and nervous system are shaped to give his mental body expression on the physical plane. Thus the mental images created in one life appear as mental characteristics and tendencies in another, and for this reason it is written in one of the Upanishads: УMan is a creature of reflection: that which he reflects on in this life he becomes the same hereafter.Ф (Chhāndogyopanishad IV, xiv,1). Such is the law, and it places the building of our mental character entirely in our own hands; if we build well, ours the advantage and the credit; if we build badly, ours the loss and blame. Mental character, then, is a case of individual karma in its action on the individual who generates it.
This same man that we are considering, however, affects other by his thoughts. For these mental images that form his own mental body set up vibrations, thus reproducing themselves in secondary forms. These generally, being mingled with desire, take up some astral matter, and I have therefore elsewhere (see Karma, page 25 - Theosophical Manual No. IV) called these secondary thought-forms Ц astro-mental images. Such forms leave their creator and lead a quasi-independent life Ц still keeping up a magnetic tie with their progenitor.
They come into contact with and affect others, in this way setting up karmic links between these (Page 252) others and himself; thus they largely influence his future environment. In such fashion are made the ties which draw people together for good or evil in later lives; which surround us with relatives, friends, and enemies; which bring across our path helpers and hinderers, people who benefit and who injure us, people who love us without our winning in this life, and who hate us though in this life we have done nothing to deserve their hatred. Studying the results, we grasp a great principle Ц that while our thoughts produce our mental and moral character in their action on ourselves, they help to determine our human associates in the future by their effects on others.
The second great class of energies is composed of our desires Ц our out-goings after objects that attract us in the external world: as a mental element always enters into these in man, we may extend the term Уmental images У to include them, although they express themselves chiefly in astral matter.а These in their action on their progenitor mould and form his body of desire, or astral body, shape his fate when he passes into Kāmaloka after death, and determine the nature of his astral body in his next rebirth.
When the desires are bestial, drunken, cruel, unclean, they are the fruitful causes of congenital diseases, of weak and diseased brains, giving rise to epilepsy, catalepsy, and nervous diseases of all kinds, of physical malformations and deformities, and, in extreme cases, of monstrosities. Bestial appetites of an abnormal kind or intensity may set up (Page 253) links in the astral world which for a time chain the Egos, clothed in astral bodies shaped by these appetites, to the astral bodies of animals to which these appetites properly belong, thus delaying their reincarnation; where this fate is escaped, the bestially shaped astral body will sometimes impress its characteristics on the forming physical body of the babe during ante natal life, and produce the semi-human horrors that are occasionally born.
Desires Ц because they are outgoing energies that attach themselves to objects Ц always attract the man towards an environment in which they may be gratified. Desires for earthly things, linking the soul to the outer world, draw him towards the place where the objects of desire are most readily obtainable, and therefore it is said that a man is bornа according to his desires. ( See Brihadāranyakopanishad,IV,iv, 5,7,and context). They are one of the causes that determine the place of rebirth.
The astro-mental images caused by desires affect others as do those generated by thoughts. They, therefore, also linkа us with other souls, and often by the strongest ties of love and hatred, for at the present stage of human evolution an ordinary manТs desires are generally stronger and more sustained than his thoughts. They thus play a great part in determining his human surroundings in future lives, and mayа bring into those lives persons and influences of whose connection with himself he is totally unconscious.
Suppose a man by sending out a thought of bitter hatred and revenge has helped to form in (Page 254) another the impulse which results in a murder; the creator of that thought is linked by his karma to the committer of the crime, although they have never met on the physical plane, and the wrong he has done to him, by helping to impel him to a crime , will come back as an injury in the infliction of which the whilhom criminal will play his part. Many a Уbolt from the blueФ that is felt is utterly undeserved is the effect of such a cause, and the soul thereby learns and registers a lesson while the lower consciousness is writhing under a sense of injustice.
Nothing can strike a man that he has not deserved, but hisа absence of memory does not cause a failure in the working of the law. We thus learn that our desires in their action on ourselves produce our desire-nature, and through it largely affect our physical bodies in our next birth; that they play a great part in determining the place of rebirth; and by their effect on others they help to draw around us our human associates in future lives.
The third great class of energies, appearing on the physical plane as actions, generate much karma by their effects on others, but only slightly affect directly the Inner Man. They are effects of his past thinkings and desires, and the karma they represent is for the most part exhausted in their happening.а Indirectly they affect him in proportion as he is moved by them to fresh thoughts and desires or emotions, but the generating force lies in these and not in the actions themselves.
Again, if actions are often repeated, they set up a habit of the body (Page 255) which acts as a limitation to the expression of the Ego in the outer world; this, however, perishes with the body, thus limiting the karma of the action to a single life so far as its effect on the soul is concerned. But it far otherwise when we come to study the effects of actions on others, the happiness or unhappiness caused by these,а and the influence exercised by these as examples.They link us to others by this influence and are thus a third factorа in determining our future human associates, whileа they are the chief factor in determining what mayа be called our non-human environment. Broadly speaking, the favourable or unfavourable nature of the physical surroundings into which we are born depends on the effect of our previous actions in spreading happiness or unhappiness among other people. The physical results on others of actions on the physical plane work out karmically in repaying to the actor good or bad surroundings in a future life.
he has made people physically happy, by sacrificing wealth or time or trouble,
this action karmically brings him favourable physical circumstances conducive
to physical happiness. If he has caused people wide-spread physical misery,
he will reap karmically from his action wretched physical circumstances conducive
to physical suffering. And this is so, whatever may have been his motive in
either case Ц a factа which leads us toа consider the law that :
Every force works on its own plane. If a man sows happiness for others on the physical plane, (Page 256) he will reap conditions favourable to happiness for himself on that plane, and his motive in sowing it does not affect the result . A man might sow wheat with the object of speculating with it to ruin his neighbour, but his bad motive would not make the wheat grains grow up as dandelions. Motive is a mental or astral force, according as it arises from will or desire, and it reacts on moral and mental character or on the desire-nature severally.
The causing of physical happiness by an action is a physical force and works on the physical plane. УBy his actionsФ man affects his neighbours on the physical plane; he spreads happiness around him or he causes distress, increasing or diminishingа the sum of human welfare. This increase or diminution of happiness may be due to very different motives Ц good, bad, or mixed. A man may do an act that gives widespread enjoyment from sheer benevolence, from a longing to give happiness to his fellow creatures.
Let us say that from such a motive he presents a park to a town for the free use of its inhabitants; another may do a similar act from mere ostentation, from desire to attract attention from those who can bestow social honours (say, he might give it as purchase-money for a title); a third may give a park from mixed motives, partly unselfish, partly selfish. The motives will severally affect these three menТs characters in their future incarnations, for improvement, for degradation, for small results.
But the effect of the action is causing happiness to large numbers of people does not depend on the motive of the giver; (Page 257) the people enjoy the park equally, no matter what may have prompted its gift, and this enjoyment, due to the action of the giver, establishes for him a karmic claim on Nature, a debt due to him that will be scrupulously paid. He will receive a physically comfortable or luxurious environment, as he has given widespread physical enjoyment, and his sacrifice of physical wealth will bring him his due reward, the karmic fruit of his action.
This is his right. But the use he makes of his position, the happiness he derives from his wealth and his surroundings, will depend chiefly on his character, and here again the just reward accrues to him, each seed bearing its appropriate harvest. (see Karma, Pages 50 to 51) Truly, the ways of Karma are equal. It does not withhold from the bad man the result which justly follows from an action which spreads happiness, and it also deals out to him the deteriorated character earned by his bad motive, so that in the midst of wealth he will remain discontented and unhappy.
Nor can the good man escape physical suffering if he cause physical misery by mistaken actions done from good motive; the misery he caused will bring him misery in his physical surroundings, but his good motive, improving his character, will give him a source of perennialа happiness within himself, and he will be patient and contented amid his troubles. Many a puzzle maybe answered by applying these principles to the facts we see around us.
These respective effects of motive and of the (Page 258) results (or fruits) of actions are due to the fact that each force has the characteristics of the plane on which it was generated, and the higher the plane the more potent and the more persistent the force. Hence motive is far more important than action, and a mistaken action done with a good motive is productive of more good to the doer than a well-chosenа action done with a bad motive. The motive, reacting on the character, gives rise to a long series of effects, for the future actions guided by thatа character will all be influenced by its improvement or its deterioration С whereas the action, bringing on its doer physical happiness or unhappiness, according to its results on others, has in it no generating force, but is exhausted in its results.
If bewildered as to the path of right action by a conflict of apparent duties, the knower of karma diligently tries to choose the best path, using his reason and judgment to the utmost; he is scrupulously careful about his motive, eliminating selfish considerations and purifying his heart; then he acts fearlessly, and if his action turn out to be a blunder he willingly accepts the suffering which results from his mistake as a lesson which will be useful in the future. Meanwhile, his high motive has ennobled his character for all time to come.
This general principle that the force belongs to the plane on which it is generated is one of far-reaching import. If it (Page 260) be liberated with the motive of gaining physical objects, it works on the physical plane and attaches the actor to that plane. If it aim at devachanic objects, it works on the devachanic plane and attaches the actor thereto. If it have no motive save the divine service, it is set free on the spiritual plane, and therefore cannot attach the individual, since the individual is asking for nothing.
The Three Kinds of Karma
Ripe Karma is that which is ready for reaping and which is therefore inevitable. Out of all the karma of the past there is a certain amount which can be exhausted within the limits of a single life; there are some kinds of karma that are so incongruous that they could not be worked out in a single physical body, but would require very different types of body for their expression; there are liabilities contracted towards other souls, and all these souls will not be in incarnation at the same time; there is karma that must be worked out in some particular nation or particular social position, while the same man has other karma that needs an entirely different environment.
Part only, therefore, of his total karma can be worked out in a given life, and this part is selected by the Great Lords of Karma Ц of whom something will presently be said Ц and the soul is guided to incarnate in a family, a nation, a place, a body, suitable for the exhaustion of that aggregate of causes which can be worked out together. This aggregate of causes fixes the length of that particular life; gives to the body its characteristics, its powers, and its limitations; brings into contact with the man the souls incarnated within that life-period to whom he has contracted (Page 260) obligations, surrounding him with relatives, friends, and enemies; marks out the social conditions into which he is born, with their accompanying advantages and disadvantages; selects the mental energies he can show forth by moulding the organisation of the brain and nervous system with which he has to work; puts together the causes that result in troubles and joys in his outer career and that can be brought into a single life.
All this is the Уripe karma,Ф and this can be sketched out in a horoscope cast by a competent astrologer. In all this the man has no power of choice; all is fixed by the choices he has made in the past, and he must discharge to the uttermost farthing the liabilities he has contracted.
The physical, astral and mental bodies which the soul takes on for a new life-period are, as we have seen, the direct result of his past, and they form a most important part of this ripe karma. They limit the soul on every side, and his past rises up in judgment against him, marking out the limitations which he has made for himself. Cheerfully to accept these, and diligently to work at their improvement, is the part of the wise man, for he cannot escape from them.
There is another kind of ripe karma that is of very serious importance Ц that of inevitable actions. Every action is the final expression of a series of thoughts; to borrow an illustration from chemistry, we obtain a saturated solution of thought by adding thought after thought of the same kind, until another thought Ц or even an impulse, a vibration, from (Page 261) without Ц will produce the solidification of the whole; the action which expresses the thoughts. If we persistently reiterate thoughts of the same kind, say of revenge, we at last reach the point of saturation, and any impulse will solidifyа these into action and a crime results. Or we may have persistently reiterated thoughts of help to another to the point of saturation, and when the stimulus of opportunity touches us they crystallise out as an act of heroism.
A man may bring over with him some ripe karma of this kind, and the first vibration that touches such a mass of thoughts ready to solidify into action will hurry him without his renewed volition, unconsciously, into the commission of the act. He cannot stop to think; he is in the condition in which the first vibration of the mind causes action; poised on the very point of balancing, the slightest impulse sends him over. Under these circumstances a man will marvel at his own commission of some crime, or at his own performance of some sublime act of self-devotion. He says: У I did it without thinking,Ф unknowing that he had thought so often that he had made that action inevitable. When a man has willed to do an act many times, he at last fixes his will irrevocably, and it is only a question of opportunity when he will act.
long he can think, his freedom of choice remains, for he can set the new though
against the old and gradually wear it out by the reiteration of opposing thoughts;
but when the next thrill of the soul in response to a stimulus means action,
the power of choice is exhausted. (Page 262)
Herein lies the solution of the old problem of necessity and free will; man by the exercise of free will gradually creates necessities for himself, and between the two extremes lie all the combinations of free will and necessity which make the struggles within ourselves of which we are conscious.
We are continually making habits by the repetitions of purposive actions guided by the will; then the habit becomes a limitation, and we perform the action automatically. Perhaps we are then driven to the conclusion that the habit is a bad one, and we begin laboriously to unmake it by thoughts of the opposite kind, and, after many an inevitable lapse into it, the new thought-current turns the stream, and we regain our full freedom, often again gradually to make another fetter.
So old thought-forms persist and limit our thinking capacity, showing as individual and as national prejudices.а The majority do not know that they are thus limited, and go on serenely in their chains, ignorant of their bondage; those who learn the truth about their own nature become free. The constitution of our brain and nervous system is one of the most marked necessities in life; these we have made inevitable by our past thinkings, and they now limit us and we often chafe against them. They can be improved slowly and gradually; the limits can be expanded, but they cannot be suddenly transcended.
Another form of this ripe karma is where some past evil-thinking has made a crust of evil habits around a man which imprisons him and makes an (Page 263) evil life; the actions are the inevitable outcome of his past, as just explained, and they have been held over, even through several lives, in consequence of those lives not offering opportunities for their manifestation. Meanwhile the soul has been growing and has been developing noble qualities. In one life this crust of past evil is thrown out by opportunity, and because of this the soul cannot show his later development; like a chicken ready to be hatched, he is hidden within the imprisoning shell, and only the shell is visible to the external eye. After a time that karma is exhausted, and someа apparently fortuitous event Ц a word from a great Teacher, a book, a lecture Ц breaks the shell and the souls comes forth free.
These are the rare, sudden, but permanent Уconversions,Ф the Уmiracles of divine grace,Ф of which we hear; all perfectly intelligible to the knower of karma, and felling within the realm of the law. The accumulated karma that shows itself as character is, unlike the ripe, always subject to modifications. It may be said to consist of tendencies, strong or weak, according to the thought-force that has gone to their making, and these can be further strengthened or weakened by fresh streams of thought-force sent to work with or against them.
If we find in ourselves tendencies of which we disapprove, we can set ourselves to work to eliminate them; often we fail to withstand temptation, overborne by the strong out-rushing stream of desire, but the longer we can hold out against it, even though (Page 264) we fail in the end, the nearer are we to overcoming it. Every such failure is a step towards success, for the resistance wears away part of the energy, and there is less of it available for the future. The karma which is in the course of making has been already studied.
When a group of people is considered karmically, the play of karmic forces upon each member of the group introduces a new factor into the karma of the individual. We know that when a number of forces play on a point, the motion of the point is not in the direction of any one of these forces, but in the direction which is the result of their combination. So the karma of a group is the resultant of the interacting forces of the individuals composing it, and all the individuals are carried along in the direction of that resultant.
An Ego is drawn by his individual karma into a family, having set up in previous lives ties which closely connect him with some of the other Egos composing it; the family has inherited property from a grandfather who is wealthy; an heir turns up, descended from the grandfatherТs elder brother, who had been supposed to have died childless, and the wealth passes to him and leaves the father of the family heavily indebted; it is quite possible that our Ego had had no connection in the past with this heir, to whom in past lives the father had contracted some obligation which has resulted in this catastrophe, and yet he is threatened with suffering by his action, being involved with family karma.
If, in his own individual past, there was a wrong-doing which can be exhausted by suffering caused by the family karma, he is left involved in it; if not, he is by some Уunforeseen circumstancesФ lifted out of it, perchance by some benevolent stranger who feels an impulse to adopt and educate him, the stranger being one who in the past was his debtor.
Yet more clearly does this come out, in the working of such things as railway accidents, shipwrecks, floods, cyclones, etc. A train is wrecked, the catastrophe being immediately due to the action of the drivers, the guards, the railway directors, the makers or employees of that line, who thinking themselves wronged, send clustering thoughts of discontent and anger against it as a whole. Those who have in their accumulated karma Ц but not necessarily in their ripe karma Ц the debt of a lifeа suddenly cut short, may be allowed to drift into this accident and pay their debt; another, intending to go by the train, but with no such debt in his past, is УprovidentiallyФ saved by being late for it.
Collective karma may throw a man into the troubles consequent on his nation going to war, and here again he may discharge his debts of his past not necessarily within the ripe karma of his then life. In no case can a man suffer that which he has not deserved, but, if an unforeseen opportunity should arise to discharge a past obligation, it is well to pay it and be rid of it for evermore.
The УLords of KarmaФ are the great spiritual (Page 266) Intelligences who keep the karmic Records and adjust the complicated workings of karmic law. They are described by H.P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine as the Lipika, the Recorders of Karma, and the Mahārājas (The Mahādevas, or Chaturdevas of the Hindus) Ц and Their hosts, who are Уthe agents of Karma upon earth.Ф The Lipika are They who know the karmic record of every man, and who with omniscient wisdom select and combine portions of that record to form the plan of a single life; They give the УideaФ of the physical body which is to be the garment of the reincarnating soul, expressing his capacities and his limitations; this is taken by the Mahārājas and worked into a detailed model, which is committed to one of Their inferior agents to be copied; this copy is the etheric double , the matrix of the dense body, the materials for these being drawn from the mother and subject to physical heredity.
The race, the country, the parents, are chosen for their capacity to provide suitable materials for the physical body of the incoming Ego, and suitable surroundings for his early life. The physical heredity of the family affords certain types and has evolved certain peculiarities of material combinations; hereditary diseases, hereditary finenesses of nervous organisation, imply definite combinations of physical matter, capable of transmission.
An Ego who has evolved peculiarities in his mental and astral bodies, needing special physical peculiarities for their expression, is guided to parents whose (Page 267) physical heredity enables them to meet these requirements.а Thus an Ego with high artistic faculties devoted to music would be guided to take his physical body in a musical family, in which the materials supplied for building the etheric double and the dense body would have been made ready to adapt themselves to his needs, and the hereditary type of nervous system would furnish the delicate apparatus necessary for the expression of his faculties.
An Ego of very evil type would be guided to a coarse and vicious family, whose bodies were built of the coarsest combinations, such as would make a body able to respond to the impulses from his mental and astral bodies. An Ego who had allowed his astral body and lower mind to lead him into excesses, and had yielded to drunkenness, for instance, would be led to incarnate in a family whose nervous systems were weakened by excess, and would be born from drunken parents, who would supply diseased materials for his physical envelope. The guidanceа of the Lords of Karma thus adjust means to ends, and insures the doing of justice; the Ego brings with him his karmic possessions of faculties and desires, and he receives a physical body suited to be their vehicle.
As the soul must return to earth until he has discharged all his liabilities, thus exhausting all his individual karma, and as in each life thoughts and desires generate fresh karma, the question may arise in the mind : УHow can this constantly renewing bond be put an end to ? How can the soul attain his (Page 268) liberation?Ф Thus we come to the Уending of karma,Ф and have to investigate how this may be.
The binding element in karma is the first thing to be clearly grasped. The outward going energy of the soul attaches itself to some object, and the soul is drawn back by this tie to the place where that attachment may be realised by union with the object of desire, so long as the soul attaches himself to any object, he must be drawn to the place where that object can be enjoyed. Good karma binds the soul as much as does bad, for any desire, whether for objects here or in Devachan, must draw the soul to the place of gratification.
is prompted by desire, an act is done not for the sake of doing the act, but
for the sake of obtaining by the act something that is desired, of acquiring
its results, or, as it is technically called, of enjoying its fruit. Men work,
not because they want to dig, or build, or weave, but because they want the
fruits of digging, building, and weaving, in the shape of money or of goods.
A barrister pleads, not because he wants to set forth the dry details of a case,
but because he wants wealth and fame, and rank.Men
around us are labouring for something, and the spur to their activity lies in
the fruit it brings them and not in the labour. Desire for the fruit of action
moves them to activity, and enjoyment of that fruit rewards their exertions.
Desire is, then , the binding element in karma, and when the soul no longer desires any object in earth or in heaven, his tie to the wheel of reincarnation (Page 269) that turns in the three worlds is broken. Action itself has no power to hold the soul, for with the completion of the action it slips into the past. But the ever-renewed desire for fruit constantly spurs the soul into fresh activities, and thus new chains are continually being forged.
Nor should we feel any regret when we see men constantly driven to action by the whip of desire, for desire overcomes sloth, laziness, inertia Ц (the student will remember that these show the dominance of the tāmasic guna, and while it is dominant men do not emerge from the lowest of the three stages of their evolution) Ц andа prompts men to the activity that yields them experience. Note the savage, idly dozing on the grass; he is moved to activity by hunger, the desire for food,, and is driven to exert patience, skill, and endurance to gratify his desire. Thus he develops mental qualities, but when his hunger is satisfied he sinks again into a dozing animal. How entirely have mental qualities been evolved by the promptings of desire, and how useful have proved desires for fame, for posthumous renown. Until man is approaching divinity he needs the urgings of desires, and the desires simply grow purer and less selfishа as he climbs upwards. But none the less desires bind him to rebirth, and if he would be free he must destroy them.
a man begins to long for liberation, he is taught to practise Уrenunciation
of the fruits of actionФ; that is, he gradually eradicates in himself the wish
to possess any object; he at first voluntarily and (Page
270) deliberately denies himself the object, and thus habituates
himself to do contentedly without it; after a time he no longer misses it, and
he finds the desire for it is disappearing from his mind. At this stage he is
very careful not to neglect any work which is duty because he has become indifferent
to the results it brings to him, and he trains himself in discharging every
duty with earnest attention, while remaining entirely indifferent to the fruits
it brings forth.When
he attains perfection in this, and neither desires nor dislikes any object,
he ceases to generate karma; ceasing to ask anything fromа the earth or from
Devachan, he is not drawn to either; he wants nothing that either can give him,
and all links between himself and them are broken off. This is the ceasing of
individual karma, so far as the generation of new karma is concerned.
But the soul has to get rid of old chains as well as to cease from the forging of new, and these old chains must be either allowed to wear out gradually or must be broken deliberately. For this breaking, knowledge is necessary, a knowledge which can look back into the past, and see the causes there set going, causes which are working out their effects in the present.
Let us suppose that a person, thus looking backward over his past lives, sees certain causesа which will bring about an event which is still in the future; let us suppose further that these causes are thoughts of hatred for an injury inflicted on himself, and that they will cause suffering a year hence (Page 271) to the wrong-doer; such a person can introduce a new cause to intermingle with the causes working from the past, and he may counteract them with strong thoughts of love and goodwill that will exhaust them, and will thus prevent their bringing about the otherwise inevitable event, which would, in its turn, have generated new karmic trouble. Thus he may neutralise forces coming out of the past by sending against them forces equal and opposite, and may in this way Уburn up his karma by knowledge.Ф In similar fashion he may bring to an end karma generated in his present life that would normally work out in future lives.
Again, he may be hampered by liabilities contracted to other souls in the past, wrongs he has done to them, duties he owes them. By the use of his knowledge he can find those souls, whether in this world or in either of the other two, and seek opportunities of serving them. There may a soul incarnated during his own life-period to whom he owes some karmic debt; he may seek out that soul and pay his debt, thus setting himself free from a tie which, left to the course of events, would have necessitated his own reincarnation, or would have hampered him in a future life. Strange and puzzling lines of action adopted by occultists have sometimes this explanation Ц the man of knowledge enters into close relations with some person who is considered by the ignorant bystanders and critics to be quite outside the companionships that are fitting for him; but that occultist is quietly working out a karmic (Page 272) obligation which would otherwise hamper and retard his progress.
Those who do not possess knowledge enough to review their past lives may yet exhaust many causes that they have set going in the present life; they can carefully go over all that they can remember, and note where they have wronged any or where any has wronged them, exhausting the first cases by pouring out thoughts of love and service, and performing acts of service to the injured person, where possible on the physical plane also; and in the second cases sending forth thoughts of pardon and good will. Thus they diminish their karmic liabilities and bring near the day of liberation.
Unconsciously, pious people who obey the precept of all great Teachers of religion to return good for evil are exhausting karma generated in the present that would otherwise work out in the future. No one can weave with them a bond of hatred if they refuse to contribute any stands of hatred to the weaving, and persistently neutralise every force of hatred with one of love. Let a soul radiate in every direction love and compassion, and thoughts of hatred can find nothing to which they can attach themselves.
УThe Prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me.Фа All great Teachers knew the law and based on it Their precepts, and those who through reverence and devotion to Them obey Their directions profit under the law, although they know nothing of the details of its working. An ignorant man who carries out faithfully the instructions given him by (Page 273) a scientist can obtain results by his working with the laws of Nature, despite his ignorance of them, and the same principle holds good in worlds beyond the physical. Many who have not time to study, and perforce accept on the authority of experts rules which guide their daily conduct in life, may thus unconsciously be discharging their karmic liabilities.
In countries where reincarnation and karma are taken for granted by every peasant and labourer, the belief spreads a certain quiet acceptance of inevitable troubles that conduces much to the calm and contentment of ordinary life. A man overwhelmed by misfortunes rails neither against God nor against his neighbours, but regards his troubles as the results of his own past mistakes and ill-doings.
He accepts them resignedly and makes the best of them, and thus escapes much of the worry and anxiety with which those who know not the law aggravate troubles already sufficiently heavy.а He realises that his future lives depend on his own exertions, and that the law which brings him pain will bring him just joy as inevitably if he sows the seed of good. Hence a certain patience and a philosophic view of life, tending directly to social stability and to general contentment.
The poor and ignorant do not study profound and detailed metaphysics, but they grasp thoroughly these simple principles Ц that every man is reborn on earth time after time, and that each successive life is moulded by those that precede it. To them rebirth is as sure (Page 274) and as inevitable as the rising and setting of the sun; it is part of the course of nature, against which it is idle to repine or to rebel.
Theosophy has restored these ancient truths to their rightful place in western
thought, they will gradually work their way among all classes of societyа in
Christendom, spreading understanding of the nature of life and acceptance of
the result of the past. Then too will vanish the restless discontent which arises
chiefly from the impatient and hopeless feeling that life is unintelligible,
unjust, and unmanageable, and it will be replaced by the quiet strength and
patience which come from an illumined intellect and a knowledge of the law,
and which characterise the reasoned and balanced activity of those who feel
that they are building for eternity.(Page
THE LAW OF SACRIFICE
The study of the Law of Sacrifice follows naturally on the study of the Law of Karma, and the understanding of the former, it was once remarked by a Master, is as necessary for the world as the understanding of the latter. By an act of Self-sacrifice the LOGOS became manifest for the emanation of the universe, by sacrifice the universe is maintained, and by sacrifice man reaches perfection. (The Hindu will remember the opening words of the Brihadāranyakopanishad, that the dawn is in sacrifice; the Zoroastrian will recall how Ahura Mazda came forth from an act of sacrifice; the Christian will think of the Lamb Ц the symbol of the LOGOS Ц slain from the foundation of the world.)а Hence every religion that springs from Ancient Wisdom has sacrifice as a central teaching, and some of the profoundest truths of occultism are rooted in the law of sacrifice.
An attempt to grasp, however feebly, the nature of the sacrifice of the LOGOS may prevent us from falling into the very general mistake that sacrifice is an essentially painful thing; whereas the very essence of sacrifice is a voluntary and glad pouring forth of life that others may share in it; and pain (Page 276) only arises when there is discord in the nature of the sacrificer, between the higher whose joy is in giving and the lower whose satisfaction lies in grasping and holding.It is that discord alone that introduces the element of pain, and in the supreme Perfection, in the LOGOS, no discord could arise; the One is the perfect chord of Being, of infinite melodious concords, all tuned to a single note, in which Life and Wisdom and Bliss are blended into one keynote of Existence.
The sacrifice of the LOGOS lay in His voluntarily circumscribing His infinite life in order that He might manifest. Symbolically, in the infinite ocean of light, with centre everywhere and with circumference nowhere, there arises a full-orbed sphere of living light, a LOGOS, and the surface of that sphere is His will to limit Himself that He may become manifest, His veil (аThis is the Self-limiting power of the LOGOS, His Māyā, the limiting principle by which all forms are brought forth. His Life appears as УSpirit,Ф His Māyā as УMatter,Ф and these are never disjoined during manifestation.)in which He incloses Himself that within it a universe may take form.
That for which the sacrifice is made is not yet in existence; its future being lies in the УthoughtФ of the LOGOS alone; to him it owes its conception and will own its manifold life. Diversity could not arise in the Уpartless BrahmanФ save for this voluntary sacrifice of Deity taking on Himself form in order to emanate myriad forms, each dowered with a spark of His life and therefore with the power evolving into His image. (Page 277) УThe primal sacrifice that causes the birth of beings is named action (karma),Ф it is said (Bhagavad Gюtт, viii,3.), and this coming forth into activity from the bliss of perfect repose of self-existence has ever been recognised as the sacrifice of the LOGOS.
аThat sacrifice continues throughout the term of the universe, for the life of the LOGOS is the sole support of every separated У life У and He limits His life in each of the myriad forms to which He gives birth, bearing all the restraints and limitations implied in each form.а From any one of these Heа could burst forth at any moment, the infinite Lord, filling the universe with His glory; but only by sublime patience and slow and gradual expansion can each form be led upward until it becomes a self-dependent centre of boundless power like Himself.
Therefore does He cabin Himself in forms, and bear all imperfection till perfection is attained, and His creature is like unto Himself and one with Him, but with its own thread of memory. Thus this pouring out of His life into forms is part of the original sacrifice, and has in it the bliss of the eternal Father sending forth His offspring as separated lives, that each may evolve an identity that shall never perish, and yield its own note blended with all others to swell the eternal song of bliss, intelligence and life.
This marks the essential nature of sacrifice. Whatever other elements may become mixed with the central idea; it is the voluntary pouring out of life that others may partake of it, to bring others into life and to (Page 278) sustain them in it till they become self-dependent, and this is but one expression of divine joy. There is always joy in the exercise of activity which is the expression of the power of the actor; the bird takes joy in the outpouring of song, and quivers with the mere rapture of singing; the painter rejoices in the creation of his genius, in the putting into form of his idea; the essential activity of the divine life must lie in giving, for there is nothing higher than itself from which it can receive; if it is to be active at all Ц and manifested life is active motion Ц it must pour itself out.
Hence the sign of the spirit is giving, for spirit is the active divine life in every form.
But the essential activity of matter, on the other hand, lies in receiving; by receiving life-impulses it is organised into forms; by receiving them these are maintained; on their withdrawal they fall to pieces. All its activity is of this nature of receiving, and only by receiving can it endure as a form. Therefore it is always grasping, clinging, seeking to hold for its own; the persistence of the form depends on its grasping and retentive power, and it will therefore seek to draw into itself all it can, and will grudge every fraction with which it parts. Its joy will be in seizing and holding; to it giving is like courting death.
It is very easy from this standpoint, to see how the notion arose that sacrifice was suffering. While the divine life found its delight in exercisingа its activity of giving, and even when embodied in form cared not if the form perished by the giving, (Page 279) knowing it to be only its passing expression and the means of its separated growth; the form which felt its life-forces pouring away from it cried out in anguish, and sought to exercise its activity in holding, thus resisting the outward flow. The sacrifice diminished the life-energies the form claimed as its own; or even entirely drainedа them away, leaving the form to perish.
In the lower world of form this was the only aspect of sacrifice cognisable, and the form found itselfа driven to slaughter, and cried out in fear and agony. What wonder that men, blinded by form, identified sacrifice with the agonising form instead of with the free life that gave itself, crying gladly :ФLo! I come to do thy will, O God; I am content to do it.Ф What wonder that men Ц conscious of a higher and a lower nature, and oft identifying their self-consciousness more with the lower than with the higher Ц felt the struggle of the lower nature, the form, as their own struggles, and felt that they were accepting suffering in resignation to a higherа will, and regarded sacrifice as that devout and resigned acceptance of pain.
Not until man identifies himself with the life instead of with the form can the element of pain in sacrifice be gotten rid of. In a perfectly harmonised entity, pain cannot be, for the form is then the perfect vehicle of the life, receiving or surrendering with ready accord. With the ceasing of struggle comes the ceasing of pain. For suffering arises from jar, from friction, from antagonistic movements, and where the whole nature works in perfect harmony (Page 280) the conditions that give rise to suffering are not present.
The law of sacrifice being thus the law of life - evolution in the universe, we find every step in the ladder is accomplished by sacrifice Ц the life pouring itself out to take birth in a higher form, while the form that contained it perishes. Those who look only at the perishing forms see Nature as a vast charnel house; while those who see the deathless soul escaping to take new and higher form hear ever the joyous song of birth from the upward springing life.
The Monad in the mineral kingdom evolves by the breaking up of its forms for the production and support of plants. Minerals are disintegrated that plant-forms may be built out of their materials; the plant draws from the soil its nutritive constituents, breaks them up, and incorporates them into its own substance. The mineral forms perish that the plant forms may grow, and this law of sacrifice stamped on the mineral kingdom is the law of evolution of life and form. The life passes onward and the Monad evolves to produce the vegetable kingdom, the perishing of the lower form being the condition for the appearing and the support of the higher.
The story is repeated in the vegetable kingdom, for its forms in turn are sacrificed in order that animal forms may be produced and may grow; on every side grasses, grains, trees perish for the sustenance of animal bodies; their tissues are disintegrated that the materials comprising them may be assimilated by (Page 281) the animal and build up its body. Again the law of sacrifice is stamped on the world, this time on the vegetable kingdom; its life evolves while its forms perish; the Monad evolves to produce the animal kingdom, and the vegetable is offered up that the animal forms may be brought forth and maintained.
So far the idea of pain has scarcely connected itself with that of sacrifice, for, as we have seen in the course of our studies, the astral bodies of plants are not sufficiently organised to give rise to any acute sensations either of pleasure or of pain. But as we consider the law of sacrifice in its working in the animal kingdom, we cannot avoid the recognition of the pain there involved in the breaking up of forms.а It is true that the amount of pain caused by the preying of one animal upon another inа Уthe state of nature У is comparatively trivial in each case, but still some pain occurs.
It is also true that man, in the part he has played in helping to evolve animals, has much aggravated the amount of pain, and has strengthened instead of diminishing the predatory instincts of carnivorous animals; still, he did not implant those instincts, though he took advantage of them for his own purposes, and innumerable varieties of animals, with the evolution of which man has had directly nothing to do, prey upon each other, the forms being sacrificed to theа support of other forms, as in the mineral and vegetable kingdoms.
The struggle for existence went on long before man appeared on the scene, and accelerated the evolution alike of life and of forms, while the pains (Page 282) accompanying the destruction of forms began the long task of impressing on the evolving Monad the transitory nature of all forms, and the difference between the forms that perished and the life that persisted .
The lower nature of man was evolved under the same law of sacrifice as ruled in the lower kingdoms. But the outpouring of divine Life which gave the human Monad came a change in the way in which the law of sacrifice worked as the law of life.а In man wasа to be developed the will, the self-moving, self-initiated energy, and the compulsion which forced the lower kingdoms along the path of evolution could not therefore be employed in his case, without paralysing the growth of this new and essential power.
No mineral, no plant, no animal was asked to accept the law of sacrifice as a voluntarily chosen law of life. It was imposed upon them from without, and it forced their growth by a necessity from which they could not escape. Man was to have the freedom of choice necessary for the growth of a discriminative and self-conscious intelligence, and the question arose : УHow can this creature be left free to choose, and yet learn to choose to follow the law of sacrifice, while yet he is a sensitive organism, shrinking from pain, and pain is inevitable in the breaking up of sentient forms?Ф
Doubtless eons of experience, studied by a creature becoming ever more intelligent, might have finally led man to discover that the law of sacrifice is the fundamental law of life; but in this, as in so much else, he was not left to his own unassisted efforts. (Page 283) Divine Teachers were there at the side of man in his infancy, and they authoritatively proclaimed the law of sacrifice, and incorporated it in a most elementary form in the religions by which They trained the dawning intelligence of man.
It would have been useless to have suddenly demanded from these child-souls that they should surrender without return what seemed to them to be the most desirable objects, the objects on the possession of which their life in form depended. They must be led along a path which would lead gradually to the heights of voluntary self-sacrifice. To this end they were first taught that they were not isolated units, but were parts of a larger whole, and that their lives were linked to other lives both above and below them.
Their physical lives were supported by lower lives, by the earth; by plants, they consumed these, and in thus doing they contracted a debt which they were bound to pay, Living on the sacrificed lives of others, they must sacrifice in turn something which should support other lives, they must nourish even as they were nourished, taking the fruits produced by the activity of the astral entities that guide physical Nature, they must recruit the expended forces by suitable offerings.
Hence have arisen all the sacrifices to these forces Ц as science calls them Ц to these intelligences guiding physical order, as religions have always taught.а As fire quickly disintegrated the dense physical, it quickly restored the etheric particles of the burnt offerings to the ethers; thus the astral particles were easily (Page 284) set free to be assimilated by the astral entities concerned with the fertility of the earth and the growth of plants. Thus the wheel of production was kept turning, and man learned that he was constantly incurring debts to Nature which he must as constantly discharge.
Thus the sense of obligation was implanted and nurtured in his mind, and the duty that he owed to the whole, to the nourishing mother Nature, became impressed on his thought. It is true that this sense of obligation was closely connected with the idea that its discharge was necessary for his own welfare, and that the wish to continue to prosper moved him to the payment of his debt. He was but a child-soul, learning his first lessons, and this lesson of the interdependence of lives, of the life of each depending on the sacrifice of others, was of vital importance to his growth. Not yet could he feel the divine joy of giving; the reluctance of the form to surrender aught that nourishedа it had first to be overcome, and sacrifice became identified with this surrender of something valued, a surrender made from a sense of obligation and the desire to continue prosperous.
The next lesson removed the reward of sacrifice to a region beyond the physical world. First, by a sacrifice of material goods, material welfare was to be secured. Then the sacrifice of material goods was to bring enjoyment in heaven, on the other side of death. The reward of the sacrificer was of a higher kind, and he learned that the relatively permanent might be secured by the sacrifice of the (Page 285) relatively transient Ц a lesson that was important as leading to discriminative knowledge.The clinging of the form to physical objects was exchanged for a clinging to heavenly joys. In all exoteric religions we find this educative process resorted to by the Wise Ones Ц too wise to expect child-souls the virtue of unrewarded heroism, and content, with a sublime patience, to coax their wayward charges slowly along a pathway that was a thorny and a stony one to the lower nature.
Gradually men were induced to subjugate the body, to overcome its sloth by the regular daily performance of religious rites, often burdensome in their nature, and to regulate its activities by directing them into useful channels; they were trained to conquer the form and to hold it in subjection to the life, and to accustom the body to yield itself to works of goodness and charity in obedience to the demands of the mind, even while that mind was chiefly stimulated by a desire to enjoy reward in heaven.
We can see among the Hindus, the Persians, the Chinese, how men were taught to recognise their manifold obligations; to make the body yield dutiful sacrifice of obedience and reverence to ancestors, to parents, to elders; to bestow charity with courtesy; and to show kindness to all. Slowly men were helped to evolve both heroism and self-sacrifice to a high degree, as witness the martyrs who joyfully flung their bodies to torture and death rather than deny their faith or be false to their creed. They looked indeed for a Уcrown of gloryФ in heaven as a recompense for the (Page 286) sacrifice of the physical form, but it was much to have overcome the clinging to the physical form, and to have made the invisible world so real that it outweighed the visible.
The next step was achieved when the sense of duty was definitely established; when the sacrifice of the lower to the higher was seen to be Уright,Ф apart from all question of a reward to be received in another world; when the obligation owed by the part to the whole was recognised, and the yielding of service by the form that existed by the service of others was felt to be justly due without any claim to wages being established thereby.
Then man began to perceive the law of sacrifice as the law of life, and voluntarily to associate himself with it; and he began to learn to disjoin himself in idea from the form he dwelt in and to identify himself with the evolving life. This gradually led him to feel a certain indifference to all the activities of form, save as they consisted in Уduties that ought to be done,Ф and to regard all of them as mere channels for theа life-activities that were due to the world, and not as activities performed by him with any desire for their results. Thus he reached the point already noted, when karma attracting him to the three worlds ceased to be generated, and he turned the wheel of existence because it ought to be turned, and not because its revolution brought any desirable object to himself.
The full recognition of the law of sacrifice, however, lifts man beyond the mental plane Ц (Page 287) whereon duty is recognised as duty, as Уwhat ought to be done because it is owedФ Ц to that higher plane of Buddhi where all selves are felt as one, and where all activities are poured out for the use of all, and not for the gain of a separated self. Only on that plane is the law of sacrifice felt as a joyful privilege, instead of only recognised intellectually as true and just.
the buddhic plane man clearly sees that life is one, that it streams out perpetually
as the free outpouring of the love of the LOGOS, that life holding itself separate
is a poor and a mean thing at best, and an ungrateful one to boot. There the
whole heart rushes upwards to the LOGOS in one strong surge of love and worship,
and gives itself in joyfullest self-surrender to be a channel of His life and
love to the world. To
be a carrier of His light, a messenger of His compassion, a worker in His realm
Ц that appears as the only life worth living; to hasten evolution, to serve
the Good Law, аto lift part of the heavy burden of the world Ц that seems to
be the very gladness of the Lord Himself.а
From this plane only can a man act as one of the Saviours of the world, because on it he is one with the selves of all. Identified with humanity where it is one, his strength, his love, his life can flowа downwards into any or into every separated self.
He has become a spiritual force, and the available spiritual energy of the world-system is increased by pouring into it of his life. The forces he used to expend on the physical , astral, and mental planes, seeking things for his separated self, are now all gathered (Page 288) up in one act of sacrifice, and, transmuted thereby into spiritual energy, they pour down upon the world as spiritual life.
transmutation is wrought by the motive which determines the planeа on which
the energy is set free.
If a manТs motive be the gain of physical objects, the energy liberated works only on the physical plane; if he desire astralа objects, he liberates energy on the astral plane; if he seek mental joys, his energy functions on the mental plane; but if he sacrifice himself to be a channel of the LOGOS, he liberates energy on the spiritual plane, and it works everywhere with the potency and keenness of a spiritual force. For such a man, action and inaction are the same; for he does everything while doing nothing, he does nothing while doing everything.
For him, high and low, great and small are the same; he fills any place that needs filling, and the LOGOS is alike in every place and in every action. He can flow into any form, he can work along any line, he knows not any longer choice or difference; his life by sacrifice has been made one with the life of the LOGOS Ц he sees God in everything and everything in God. How then can place or form make to him any difference? He no longer identifies himself with form, but is self-conscious Life. УHaving nothing, he possesseth all things Уа asking for nothing, everything flows into him. His life is bliss, for he is one with his Lord, who is Beatitude; and, using form for service without attachment to it, Уhe has put and end to pain.Ф
Those who grasp something of the wonderful (Page 289) possibilities which open out before us as we voluntarily associate ourselves with the law of sacrifice will wish to begin that voluntary association long ere they can rise to the heights just dimly sketched. Like other deep spiritual truths, it is eminentlyа practical in its application to daily life, and none who feel its beauty need to hesitate to begin to work with it. When a man resolves to begin the practice of sacrifice, he will train himself to open every day with an act of sacrifice, the offering of himself, ere the dayТs work begins, to Him to whom he gives his life; his first waking thoughtа will be this dedication of all his power to his Lord.
Then each thought, each word, each action in daily life will be done as a sacrifice Ц not for its fruit, not even as duty, but as the way in which, at the moment, his Lord can be served. All that comes will beа accepted as the expression of His will; joys, troubles, anxieties, successes, failures, all to him are welcome as marking out his path of service; he will take each happily as it comes and offer it as a sacrifice; he will loose each happily as it goes, since its going shows that his Lord has no longer need for it.
Any powers he has he gladly uses for service; when they fail him, he takes their failure with happy equanimity; since they are no longer available he cannot give them. Even suffering that springs from past causes not yet exhausted can be changed into a voluntary sacrifice by welcoming it; taking possession of it by willing it, a man may offer it as a gift, changing it by this motive into a spiritual force. Every human life (Page 290) offers countless opportunities for this practice of the law of sacrifice, and every human life becomes a power as these opportunities are seized and utilised.
Without any expansion of his waking consciousness, a man may thus become a worker on the spiritual planes, liberating energy there which pours down into the lower worlds. His self-surrender here in the lower consciousness, imprisoned as it is in the body, calls out responsive thrills of life from the buddhic aspect of the Monad which is his true Self, and hastens the time when that Monad shall become the spiritual Ego, self-moved and ruling all his vehicles, using each of them at will as needed for the work that is to be done.
no way can progress be made so rapidly, and the manifestation of all the powers
latent in the Monad be brought about so quickly, as by the understanding and
the practice of the law of sacrifice. Therefore it was called by a Master, УThe
Law of evolution for man.Ф It has indeed profounder and more mystic aspects
than any touched on here, but these will unveil themselves without words to
the patient and loving heart whose life is all a sacrificial offering. There
are things that are heard only in the stillness; there are teachings that can
be uttered only by УThe Voice of the Silence.Ф Among these are the deeper truths
rooted in the law of sacrifice. (Page 291)
So stupendous is the ascent up which some men have climbed, and some are climbing, that when we scan it by an effort of the imagination we are apt to recoil, wearied in thought by the mere idea of that long journey.а From the embryonic soul of the lowest savage to the liberated and triumphant perfected spiritual soul of the divine man Ц it seems scarcely credible that the one can contain in it all that is expressed in the other, and that the difference is but a difference in evolution, that one is only at the beginning and the other at the end of manТs ascent.
Below the one stretch the long ranks of the sub-human Ц the animals, vegetables, minerals, elemental essences; above the other stretch the infiniteа gradations of the superhuman Ц the Chohans, Manus, Buddhas, Builders, Lipikas; who may name or number the hosts of the mighty Ones? Looked at thus, as a stage in a yet vaster life, the many steps within the human kingdom shrink into a narrower compass, and manТs ascent is seen as comprising but one grade in evolution in the linked lives that stretch from the elemental essence onwards to the manifested God.
We have traced manТs ascent from the appearance (Page 292) of the embryonic soul to the state of the spiritually advanced, through the stages of evolving consciousness from the life of sensation to the life of thought. We have seen him retread the cycle of birth and death in the three worlds, each world yielding him its harvest and offering him opportunities for progress. We are now in a position to follow him into the final stages of his human evolution, stages that lie in the future for the vast bulk of our humanity, butа that have already been trodden by its eldest children, and that re being trodden by a slender number ofа men and women in our own day.
stages have been classified under two headings Ц the first are spoken of as
constituting Уthe probationary Path,Ф while the later ones are included in Уthe
Path properФ or У the Path of discipleship.Ф We will take them in their natural
As a manТs intellectual, moral, and spiritual nature develops, he becomes more and more conscious of the purpose of human life, and more and more eager to accomplish that purpose in his own person. Repeated longings for earthly joys, followed by full possession and by subsequent weariness, have gradually taught him the transient and unsatisfactory nature of earthТs best gifts; so often has he striven for, gained, employed, been satiated, and finally nauseated, that he turns away discontented from all that earth can offer. УWhat doth it profit?Ф sighs the wearied soul: УAll is vanity and vexation. Hundreds, yea, thousands of times have I possessed, and finally have found disappointment even in possession.Ф (Page 293)
УThese joys are illusions, as bubbles on a stream, fairy-coloured, rainbow-hued, but bursting at a touch. I am athirst for realities; I have had enough of shadows; I pant for the eternal and the true, for freedom from the limitations that hem me in, that keep me prisoner amid these changing shows.Ф
This first cry of the soul for liberation is the result of the realisation that, were this earth all that poets have dreamed it, were every evil swept away, every sorrow put an end to , every joy intensified, every beauty enhanced, were everything raised to its point of perfection, he would still be aweary of it, would turn from it void of desire. It has become to him a prison, and, let it be decorated as it may, he pants for the free and limitless air beyond its inclosing walls.
Nor is heaven more attractive to him than earth; of that too he is aweary; its joys have lost their attractiveness, even its intellectual and emotional delights no longer satisfy. They also Уcome and go, impermanentФ like the contacts of the senses; they are limited, transient, unsatisfying. He is tired of the changing; from very weariness he cries out for liberty.
Sometimes this realisation of the worthlessness of earth and heaven is at first but a flash in consciousness, and the external worlds reassert their empire and the glamour of their illusive joys again laps the soul into content. Some lives even may pass, full of noble work and unselfish achievement, of pure thoughts and lofty deeds, ere this realisation of the emptiness of all that is phenomenal becomes the (Page 294) permanent attitude of the soul.
But sooner or later the soul once and for ever breaks with earth and heaven as incompetent to satisfy his needs, and this definite turning away from the transitory, this definite will to reach the eternal, is the gateway to the probationary Path. The soul steps off the highway of evolution to breast the steeper climb up the mountain side, resolute to escape from the bondage of earthly and heavenly lives, and to reach the freedom of the upper air.
The work which has to be accomplished by the man who enters on the probationary Path is entirely mental and moral; he has to bring himself up to the point at which he will fit to Уmeet his Master face to faceФ : but he very words Уhis MasterФ need explanation. There are certain great Beings belonging to our race who have completed Their human evolution, and to whom allusion has already been made as constituting a Brotherhood, and as guiding and forwarding the development of the race.
These Great Ones, the Masters, voluntarily incarnate in human bodies on order to form the connecting link between human and superhuman beings, and They permit those who fulfil certain conditions to become Their disciples, with the object of hastening their evolution and thus qualifying themselves to enter the great Brotherhood, and to assist in its glorious and beneficent work for man.
The Masters ever watch the race, and mark any who by the practice of virtue, by unselfish labour for human good, by intellectual effort turned to the (Page 295) service of man, by sincere devotion, piety, and purity, draw ahead of the mass of their fellows, and render themselves capable of receiving spiritual assistance beyond that shed down on mankind as a whole. If an individual is to receive special help he must show special receptivity.
For the Masters are the distributors of the spiritual energies that help on human evolution, and the use of theseа for the swifter growth of a single soul is only permitted when that soul shows a capacity for rapid progress and can thus be quickly fitted to become a helper of the race, returning to it the aid that had been afforded to himself. When a man, by his own efforts, utilising to the full all the general help coming to him through religion and philosophy, has struggled onwards to the front of the advancing human wave and when he shows a loving, selfless, helpful nature, then he becomes a special object of attention to the watchful Guardians of the race, and opportunities are put in his way to test his strength and call forth his intuition.In proportion as he successfully uses these, he is yet further helped, and glimpses are afforded to him of the true life, until the unsatisfactory and unreal nature of mundane existence presses more and more on the soul, with the result already mentioned Ц the weariness which makes him long for freedom and brings him to the gateway of the probationary Path.
His entrance on his Path places him in the position of a disciple or chelâ, on probation, and some one Master takes him under His care, recognising (Page 296) him as a man who has stepped out of the highway of evolution, and seeks the Teacher who shall guide his steps along the steep and narrow path which leads to liberation.
That Teacher is awaiting him at the very entrance of the Path, and even though the neophyte knows not his Teacher, his Teacher knows him, sees his efforts, directs his steps, leads him into the conditions that best subserve his progress, watching over him with the tender solicitude of a mother, and with the wisdom born of perfect insight. The road may seem lonely and dark, and the young disciple may fancy himself deserted, but a Уfriend who sticketh closer than a brotherФ is ever at hand, and the help withheld from the senses is given to the soul.
There are four definite УqualificationsФ that the probationary chelâā must set himself to acquire, that are by the wisdom of the great Brotherhood laid down as the conditions of full discipleship. They are not asked for in perfection, but they mustа be striven for and partially possessed ere Initiation is permitted.The first of these is the discrimination between the real and the unreal which has been already dawning on the mind of the pupil, and which drew him to the Path on which he is now entered; the distinctions grows clear and sharply defined in his mind, and gradually frees him to a great extent from the fetters which bind him, for the second qualification, indifference to external things, comes naturally in the wake of discrimination, from the clear perception of their worthlessness. (Page 297)
He learns that the weariness which took all the savour out of life was due to the disappointments constantly arising from his search for satisfaction in the unreal, when only the real can content the soul; that all forms are unreal and without stability, changing ever under the impulses of life, and that nothing is real but the one Life that we seek for and love unconsciously under its many veils. This discrimination is much stimulated by the rapidly changing circumstances into which a disciple is generally thrown, with the view of pressing on him strongly the instability of all external things.
lives of a disciple are generally lives of storm and stress, in order that the
qualities which are normally evolved in a long succession of lives in the three
worlds may in him be forced into swift growth and quickly brought to perfection.
As he alternates rapidly from joy to sorrow, from peace to storm, from rest
to toil, he learns to see in the changes the unreal forms, and to feel through
all a steady unchanging life. He grows indifferent to the presence or the absence
or the absence of things that thus come and go, and more and more he fixes his
gaze on the changeless reality that is ever present.
While he is thus gaining in insight and stability he works also at the development of the third qualification Ц the six mental attributes that are demanded from him ere he may enter on the Path itself. He need not possess them all perfectly, but he must have them all partially present at least ere he will be permitted to pass onward.
First he must (Page 298) gain control over his thoughts, the progeny of the restless, unruly mind, hard to curb as the wind. (Bhagavad Gitâ, vi. 34). Steady, daily practice in meditation, in concentration, had begun to reduce this mental rebel to order ere he entered on the probationary Path, and the disciple now works with concentrated energy to complete the task, knowing that the great increase in thought power that will accompany his rapid growth will prove a danger both to others and to himself unless the developing force be thoroughly under his control.
give a child dynamite as a plaything, than place the creative powers of thought
in the hands of the selfish and ambitious. Secondly, the young chela must add
outward self-control to inner, and must rule his speech and his actions as rigidly
as he rules his thoughts. As the mind obeys the soul, so must the lower nature
obey the mind. The usefulness of the disciple in the outer world depends as
much on the pure and noble example set by his visible life, as his usefulness
in the inner world depends on the steadiness and strength of his thoughts. Often
is a good workа marred by carelessness in this lower part of human activity,
and theа aspirant is bidden strive towards an ideal perfect in every part, in
order that he may not later, when treading the Path, stumble in his own walk
and cause the enemy to blaspheme.
As already said, perfection in anything is not demanded at this stage, but the wise pupil strives towards perfection, knowing that at his best he is (Page 299) still far away from his ideal.
Thirdly, the candidate for full discipleship seeks to build into himself the sublime and far-reaching virtue of tolerance Ц the quiet acceptance of each man, each form of existence, as it is, without demand that it should be something other shaped more to his own liking. Beginning to realise that the one Life takes on countless limitations, each right in its own place and times, he accepts each limited expression of that Life without wishing to transform it into something else; he learns to revere the wisdom which planned this world and which guides it, and to view with wide-eyed serenity the imperfect parts as they slowly work out their partial lives.
The drunkard, learning his alphabet of the suffering caused by the dominance of the lower nature, is doing as usefully in his own stage as is the saint in his, completing his last lesson in earthТs school, and no more can justly be demanded from either than he is able to perform. One is in the kindergarten stage, learning by object-lessons, while the other is graduating, ready to leave his university; both are right for their age and their place, and should be helped and sympathised with in their place.
This is one of the lessons of what is known in occultism as Уtolerance.Ф Fourthly must be developed endurance, the endurance that cheerfully bears all and resents nothing, going straight onwards unswervingly to the goal. Nothing can come to him but by the Law, and he knows the Law is good. He understands that the rocky pathway that leads up the mountain-side straight to the summit (Page 300) cannot be as easy to his feet as the well-beaten winding highway.
He realises that he is paying in a few short lives all the karmic obligations accumulated during his past, and that the payments must be correspondingly heavy. The very struggle into which he is plunged develop in him the fifth attribute, faith Ц faith in his Master and in himself, a serene strong confidence that is unshakeable. He learns to trust in the wisdom, the love, the power of his Master, and he is beginning to realise Ц not only to say he believes in Ц the Divinity within his own heart, able to subdue all things to Himself. The last mental requisite, balance, equilibrium, grows up to some extent without conscious effort during the striving after the preceding five.
The very setting of the will to tread the Path is a sign that the higher nature is opening out, and that the external world is definitely relegated to a lower place. The continuous efforts to lead the life of discipleship disentangle the soul from any remaining ties that may knit it to the world of sense, for the withdrawal of the soulТs attention from lower objects gradually exhausts the attractive power of those objects. They Уturn away from an abstemious dweller in the body,Фа ( аBhagavad Gitâ, ii, 59.) and soon lose all power to disturb this balance. Thus he learns to move amid them undisturbed, neither seeking nor rejecting any. He also learns to balance amid mental troubles of every kind, amid alternations of mental joy and mental pain, this balance being further taught by (Page 301) the swift changes already spoken of throughа which his life is guided by the ever-watchful care of his Master.
These six mental attributes being in some measure attained, the probationary chelâā needs further but the fourth qualification, the deep intense longing for liberation, that yearning of the soul towards union with deity that is the promise of its own fulfillment. This adds the last touch to his readiness to enter into full discipleship, for, once that longing has definitely asserted itself, it can never again be eradicated, and the soul that has felt it can never again quench his thirst at earthly fountains; their waters will ever taste flat and vapid when he sips them, so that he will turn away with ever-deepening longing for the true water of life.
At this stage he is Уthe man ready for Initiation,Ф ready to definitely Уenter the streamФ that cuts him off forever from the interests of earthly life save as he can serve his Master in them and help forward the evolution of the race. Henceforth his life is not to be the life of separateness; it is to be offered up on the altar of humanity, a glad sacrifice of all he is, to be used for the common good.
|The student will be glad to have the technical namesаof these stages in Sanskrit and Pâli, so that he may be able to follow them out in more advanced books:
|SANSKRIT (used by Hindus)
|PALI (used by Buddhists)
|discrimination between the real and the unreal
|the opening of the doors of the mind; a conviction of the impermanence of the earthly
|indifference to the unreal, the transitory
|preparation for action; indifference to the fruits of action
|control of thought
|attention or conduct; divided under the same headings as in the Hindu
|control of conduct
|desire for liberation
|direct order or succession, its attainment following on the other three.
|The man is then the ADHIKARI
|The man is then the GATRABHU
During the years spent in evolving the four qualifications, the probationary chelâā will have been advancing in many other respects. He will have been receiving from his Master much teaching, teaching usually imparted during the deep sleep of the body; the soul, clad in the well-organised astral body, will (Page 302) have become used to it as a vehicle of consciousness, and will have been drawn to his Master Ц to receive instruction and spiritual illumination.
аHe will further have been trained in meditation,а and this effective practice outside the physical body will have quickened and brought into active exercise many of the higher powers; during such meditation he will have reached higher regions of being, learning more of the life of the mental plane. He will have been taught to use his increasing powers in human service, and during many of the hours of sleep for the body he will have been working diligently on the astral plane, aiding the souls that have passed on to it by death, comforting the victims of accidents, teaching any less instructed than himself, and in countless ways helping those who needed it, thus in (Page 303) humble fashion aiding the beneficent work of the Masters, and being associated with Their sublime Brotherhood as a co-labourer in a however modest and lowly degree.
Either on the probationary Path or later, the chelâā is offered the privilege of performing one of those acts of renunciation which mark the swifter ascent of man. He is allowed Уto renounce Devachan,Ф that is, to resign the glorious life in the heavenly places that awaits him on his liberation from the physical world, the life which in his case would mostly be spent in the middle arūpa world in the company of the Masters, and in all the sublime joys of the purest wisdom and love. If he renounce this fruit of his noble and devoted life, the spiritual forces that would have been expended in his Devachan are set free for the general service of the world, and he himself remains in the astral region to await a speedy rebirth upon earth.
His Master in this case selects and presides over his reincarnation, guiding him to take birth amid conditions conducive to his usefulness in the world, suitable for his further progress and for the work required at his hands. He has reached the stage at which every individual interest is subordinated to the divine work, and in which his will is fixed to serve in whatever way may be required of him. He therefore, gladly surrenders himself into the hands he trusts, accepting willingly and joyfully the place in the world in which he can best render service, and perform his share of the glorious work (Page 304) of aiding the evolution of humanity.
Blessed is the family into which a child is born tenanted by such a soul, a soul that brings with him the benediction of the Master and is ever watched and guided, every possible assistance being given him to bring his lower vehicles quickly under control. Occasionally, but rarely a chelâ may reincarnate in a body that has passed through infancy and extreme youth as the tabernacle of a less progressed Ego; when an Ego comes to the earth for a very brief life-period, say for some fifteen or twenty years, he will be leaving his body at the time of dawning manhood, when it has passed through the time of early training and is rapidly becoming an effective vehicle for the soul.
If such a body be a very good one, and some chelâ be awaiting a suitable reincarnation, it will often be watched during its tenancy by the Ego for whom it was originally built, with the view of utilising it when he has done with it; when the life-period of that Ego is completed, and he passes out of the body into Kāmaloka on his way to Devachan, his cast-off body will be taken possession of by the waiting chelâ, a new tenant will enter the deserted house, and the apparently dead body will revive. Such cases are unusual, but are not unknown to occultists, and some references to them may be found in occult books.
Whether the incarnation be normal or abnormal, the progress of the soul, of the chelâ himself, continues, and the period already spoken of is reached when he is Уready for InitiationФ; through that (Page 305) gateway of Initiation he enters, as a definitely accepted chelâ, on the Path. This Path consists of four distinct stages, and the entrance into each is guarded by an Initiation. Each Initiation is accompanied by an expansion of consciousness which gives what is called Уthe key to knowledgeФ belonging to the stage to which it admits, and this key of knowledge is also a key of power, for truly is knowledgeа power in all the realms of Nature.
When the chelâ has entered the Path he becomes what has been called Уthe houseless man,Ф (The Hindus call this stage that of Parivrajaka, the wanderer; the Buddhist calls it that of Srotāpatti, he who has reached the stream. The chelâ is thus designated after his first Initiation and before his second.) for he longer looks on earth s this home Ц he has no abiding-place here, to him all places are welcome wherein he can serve his Master.
While he is on this stage of the Path there are three hindrances to progress, technically called Уfetters,Ф which he has to get rid of, and now Ц as he is rapidly to perfect himself Ц it is demanded from him that he shall entirely eradicate faults of character, and perform completely the tasks belonging to his condition. The three fetters that he must loose from his limbs ere he can pass the second Initiation are: the illusion of the personal self, doubt, and superstition. The personal self must be felt in consciousness as an illusion, and must lose forever its power to impose itself on the soul as a reality.
He must feel himself one with all, all must live and breathe in him and he in all. (Page 306) Doubt must be destroyed, but by knowledge, not by crushing out; he must know reincarnation and karma and the existence of the Masters as facts; not accepting them as intellectually necessary, but knowing them as facts in Nature that he has himself verified, so that no doubt on these heads can ever again rise in his mind.
Superstition is escaped as the man rises into a knowledge of realities, and of the proper place of rites and ceremonies in the company of Nature; he learns to use every means and to be bound by none. When the chelâ has cast off these fetters Ц sometimes the task occupies several lives, sometimes it is achieved in part of a single life Ц he findsа the second Initiation open to him, with its new Уkey of knowledgeФ and its widened horizon. The chelâ now sees before him a swiftly shortening span of compulsory life on earth, for when he has reached this stage he must pass through his third and fourth Initiations in his present life or in the next. (The chelâ on the second stage of the path is for the Hindu the Kutichaka, the man who builds a hut; he has reached a place of peace. For the Buddhist he is the Sakridāgāmin, the man who receives birth but once more.)
In this stage he has to bring into full working order the inner faculties, those belonging to the subtle bodies, for he needs them for his service in the higher realms of being. If he has developed them previously, this stage may be a very brief one, but he may pass through the gateway of death once more ere he is ready to receive his third Initiation, (Page 307) to become Уthe Swan,Ф the individual who soars into the empyrean, that wondrous Bird of Life whereof so many legends are related. ( The Hindu calls him the Paramahamsa, beyond the У I У; the Buddhist names him the Arhat, the worthy.)
On this thirdа stage of the Path the chelâ casts off the fourth and fifth fetters, those of desire and aversion; he sees the One self in all, and the outer veil can no longer blind him, whether it be fair or foul. He looks on all with an equal eye; that fair bud of tolerance that he cherished on the probationary Path now flowers out into an all-embracing love that wraps everything within its tender embrace. He is Уthe friend of every creature,Ф the Уlover of all that livesФ in a world where all things live.
As a living embodiment of divine love, he passes swiftly onwards to the fourth Initiation, that admits him to the last stage of the Path, where he is Уbeyond the Individual,Ф the worthy , the venerable. ( The Hamsa, he who realises УI am THAT,Ф in the Hindu terms; the Anāgāmin, the man who receives birth no more, in the Buddhist.)Here he remains at his will, casting off the last fine fetters that still bind him with threads however fragile, and keep him back from liberation. He throws off all clinging to life in form, and then all longing for formless life; these are the chains and he must be chainless; he may move through the three worlds, but not a shred of theirs must have power to hold him; the splendours of the Уformless worldФ must charm him no more than the concrete glories of the worlds of form.(Page 308)
Then Ц mightiest of all achievements Ц he casts off the last fetter of separateness, the УI Уever making faculty Ц(Ahamkāra, generally given as Māna, pride, since pride is the subtlest manifestation on the УIФ as distinct from others.) Ц which realises itself as apart from others, for he dwells on the plane of unity in his waking consciousness, on the buddhic plane where the Self of all is known and realised as one. This faculty was born with the soul, is the essence of individuality, and it persists till all that is valuable in it is worked into the Monad, and it can be dropped on the threshold of liberation, leaving its priceless result to the Monad, that sense of individual identity which is so pure and fine that it does not mar the consciousness of oneness.
Easily then drops away anything that could respond to ruffling contacts, and the chelâ stands robed in that glorious vesture of unchanging peace that naught can mar. And the casting away of that same УI-makingФ faculty has cleared away from the spiritual vision the last clouds that could dim its piercing insight, and in the realisation of unity, ignorance Ц (Avidyā, the first illusion and the last, that which makes the separated worlds Ц the first of the Nidānas Ц and that which drops off when liberation is attained.) Ц the limitation that gives birth to all separateness Ц falls away, and the man is perfect, is free.
Then has come the ending of the Path, and the ending of the Path is the threshold to Nirvāna. Into that marvellous state of consciousness the (Page 309) chelâ has been wont to pass out of the body while he has been traversing the final stage of the Path; now, when he crosses the threshold, the nirvānic consciousness becomes his normal consciousness, for Nirvāna is the home of the liberated Self. (The Jivanmukta, the liberated life, of the Hindu; the Asekha, he who has no more to learn, of the Buddhist.) He has completed manТs ascent, he touches the limit of humanity; above him there stretch hosts of mighty Beings, but they are superhuman; the crucifixion in flesh is over, the hour of liberation has struck, and the triumphant УIt is finished!Ф rings from the conquerorТs lips. See! Ц he has crossed the threshold, he has vanished into the light nirvānic, another son of earth has conquered death.
What mysteries are veiled by that light supernal we know not; dimly we feel that the Supreme Self is found, that lover and Beloved are one. The long search is over, the thirst of the heart is quenched forever, he has entered into the joy of his Lord.
But has earth lost her child, is humanity bereft of her triumphant son? Nay! He has come forth from the bosom of the light, and He standeth again on the threshold of Nirvāna, Himself seeming the very embodiment of that light, glorious beyond all telling, a manifested Son of God. But now His face is turned to earth, His eyes beam with divinest compassion on the wandering sons of men, His brethren after the flesh; He cannot leave them comfortless, scattered as sheep without a shepherd. Clothed in the majesty of a mighty renunciation, glorious with the (Page 310) strength of perfect wisdom and Уpower of an endless life,Ф He returns to earth to bless and guide humanity, Master of Wisdom, kingly Teacher, divine Man.
Returning thus to earth, the Master devotes Himself to the service of humanity with mightier forces at His command than He wielded while He trod the Path of discipleship; He has dedicated Himself to the helping of man, and He bends all the sublime powers that He holds to the quickening of theа evolution of the world. He pays to those who are approaching the Path the debt He contracted in the days of His own chelāship, guiding, helping, teaching them as He was guided, helped, and taught before.
Such are the stages of manТs ascent, from the lowest savagery to the divine manhood. To such goal is humanity climbing, to such glory shall the race attain. (Page 311)
BUILDING A COSMOS
It is not possible, at our present stage of evolution, to do more than roughly indicate a few points in the vast outline of the kosmic scheme in which our globe plays a part. Byа У a kosmos У is here meant a system which seems, from out standpoint, to be complete in itself, arising from a single LOGOS, and sustained by His Life. Such a system is our solar system, and the physical sun may be considered to be the lowest manifestation of the LOGOS when acting as the centre of His kosmos; every form is indeed one of His concrete manifestations, but the sun is His lowest manifestation as the life-giving, invigorating, all-pervading, all controlling, regulative, coordinating, central power.
Says an occult commentary :ааа
УSūrya (the sun), in its visible reflection, exhibits the first or lowest state of the seventh, the highest state of the Universal PRESENCE, the pure of the pure, the first manifested Breath of the ever unmanifested SAT (Be-ness). All the central physical or objective Suns are in their substance the lowest state of the first Principle of the BREATH, (Secret Doctrine; I, 330, Adyar Ed.),
are in short, the lowest state of the УPhysical BodyФ of the LOGOS.Ф
All physical forces and energies are but transmutations of the life poured forth by the sun, the Lord ( Page312) and Giver of life to his system. Hence in many ancient religions the sun stood as the symbol of the Supreme God Ц the symbol, in truth, the least liable to misconstruction by the ignorant. Mr. Sinnett well says :
УThe solar system is indeed an area of Nature including more than any but the very highest beings whom our humanity is capable of developing are in position to investigate. Theoretically we may feel sure Ц as we look up into the heavens at night Ц that the whole solar system itself is but a drop in the ocean of the kosmos, but that drop is in its turn an ocean from the point of view of the consciousness of such half-developed beings within it as ourselves, and we can only hope at present to acquire vague and shadowy conceptions of its origin and constitution. Shadowy, however, though these may be, they enable us to assign the subordinate planetary series, in which our own evolution is carried on, to its proper place in the system of which it is a part, or at all events to get a broad idea of the relative magnitude of the whole system, of our planetary chain, of the world in which we are at present functioning, and of the respective periods of evolution in which as human beings we are interested. У
For in truth we cannot grasp our own position intellectually without some idea Ц however vague it may be Ц of our relation to the whole; and while some student are content to work within their own sphere of duty and to leave the wider reaches of life until they are called to function in them, others feel the need of a far-reaching scheme in which they have their place, and take an intellectual delight in soaring upwards to obtain a birdТs-eye view of the whole field of evolution. This need has been (Page 313) recognised and met by the spiritual Guardians of humanity in the magnificent delineation of the kosmos from the standpoint of the occultist traced by their pupil and messenger, H.P.Blavatsky, in The Secret Doctrine, a work that will become ever more and more enlightening as students of the Ancient Wisdom themselves explore and master the lower levels of our evolving world.
appearance of the LOGOS, we are told, is the herald of the birth-hour of our
УWhen He is manifest, all is manifested after Him; by His manifestation this All becomes manifest.Ф (Mundakopanishad, II, ii, 10).а
With Himself He brings the fruits of a past kosmos Ц the mighty spiritual Intelligences who are to be His co-workers and agents in the universe now to be built. Highest of these areа Уthe Seven,Ф often Themselves spoken of as Logoi, since each in His place is the centre of a distinct department in the kosmos, as the LOGOS is the centre of the whole. The commentary before quoted says:
The seven Beings in the Sun are the Seven Holy Ones, Self-born from the inherent power in the matrix of Mother-substance ЕThe energy from which they sprang into conscious existence in every Sun is what some people call Vishnu, which is the Breath of the Absoluteness. We call it the one manifested Life Ц itself a reflection of the Absolute. (Secret Doctrine, I , 331, Adyar ed.)
This Уone manifested LifeФ is the LOGOS, the manifested God. (Page 314) From this primary division our kosmos takes its sevenfold character, and all subsequent divisions in their descending order reproduce this seven-keyed scale. Under each of the seven secondary Logoi come the descending hierarchies of Intelligences that form the governing body of His kingdom .
Among These we hear of the Lipika, who are the Recorders of the karma of that kingdom and of all entities therein; of the Mahārājas or Devarājas, who superintend the working out of karmic law; and of the vast hosts of the Builders, who shape and fashion all forms after the Ideas that dwell in the treasure-house of the LOGOS, in the Universal Mind, and that pass from Him to the Seven, each of whom plans out His own realm under that supreme direction and all-inspiring life, giving to it, at the same time, His own individual colouring. H. P. Blavatsky calls these Seven Realms that make up the solar systems the seven Laya centres; she says :
The seven Laya centres are the seven Zero points, using the term Zero in the same sense that chemists do, to indicate a point at which, in Esotericism, the scale of reckoning of differentiation begins. From the Centres Ц beyond which Esoteric philosophy allows us to perceive the dim metaphysical outlines of the УSeven SonsФ of Life and Light, the seven Logoi of the Hermetic and all other philosophies Ц begins the differentiation of the elements which enter into the constitution of our Solar System.(Secret Doctrine, I , 195, Adyar Ed.)
This realm is a planetary evolution of a stupendous character, the field in which are lived out the stages of life of which a physical planet, such as Venus, is but a transcient embodiment. We may speak of the Evolver and Ruler of this realm as a planetary (Page 315) Logos, so as to avoid confusion. He draws from the matter of the solar system, outpoured from the central LOGOS Himself, the crude materials He requires, and elaborates them by His own life-energies, each planetary Logos thus specialising the matter of His realm from a common stock. (See in chapter I, on УThe Physical PlaneФ the statement on the evolution of matter.)
The atomic state in each of the seven planes of His kingdom being identical with the matter of a sub-plane of the whole solar system, continuity is thus established throughout the whole. As H. P. Blavatsky remarks, atoms change Уtheir combining equivalents on every planet,Ф the atoms themselves being identical, but their combinations differing.а She goes on : -
УNot alone the elements of our planet, but even those of all its sisters in the solar system, differ as widely from each other in their combinations, as from the cosmic elements beyond our solar limitsЕEach atom has seven planes of being, or existence, we are taught. ( Secret Doctrine, Volume1, pages 166 and174, of the 1893 edition or Volume 1, 199, page 205, of the Adyar edition.)
The sub-planes, as we have been calling them, of each great plane.а On the three lower planes of His evolving realm the planetary Logos establishes seven globes or worlds, which for convenienceТ sake, following the received nomenclature, we will call globes A,B,C,D,E,F,G.
These are the Seven small wheels revolving, one giving birth to the other spoken of in Stanza vi, of the Book of Dzyan:а He builds them in the likeness of the older wheels, placing them on the imperishable centres. (Secret Doctrine, Volume 1, page 64, of the 1893 edition or Volume 1, page 249, of the Adyar edition.) (Page 316)
since each wheel not only gives birth to its successor, but is also itself reincarnated
at the same centre, as we shall see.
These globes may be figured as disposed in three pairs on the arc of an ellipse, with the middle globe at the mid-most and lowest point; for the most part globes A and G Ц the first and seventh Ц are on the Arūpa levels of the mental plane; globes B and F Ц the second and sixth Ц are on the rûpa levels; globes C and E Ц the third and fifth Ц are on the astral plane; globe D Ц the fourth Ц is on the physical plane. These globes are spoken of by H. P. Blavatsky as Уgraduated on the four lower planes of the world of formation,Ф( Secret Doctrine, Volume 1, page 221, of the1893 edition or Volume 1, page 249, of the Adyar edition- the note is important, that the archetypal world is not the world as it existed in the mind of the planetary Logos, but the first model which was made.) i.e., the physical and astral planes, and the two subdivisions of the mental (rûpa and arûpa). They may be figured : - as
is the typical arrangement, but it is modified at certain stages of evolution.
These seven globes form a planetary ring or chain, and Ц if for a moment we
regard the planetary chain as a whole, as, so to say, an entity, a
planetary life or individual Ц that chain passes through the seven globes as
a whole form its planetary body, and this planetary body disintegrates and is
reformedа seven times during the planetary life. The planetary chain has seven
incarnations, and the results obtained in one are handed on to the next.
Every such chain of worlds is the progeny and creation of another lower and dead chain Ц its reincarnation, so to say. (Secret Doctrine, Volume 1, page 176, of the 1893 Edition or Volume 1, page 207, of the Adyar Edition.)
These seven incarnations (technically called УmanvantarasФ) make up Уthe planetary evolution,Ф the realm of the planetary Logos. As there are seven planetary Logoi, it will be seen that seven of these planetary evolutions, each distinct from the others, make up the solar system. (Mr. Sinnett calls these Уseven schemes of evolutionФ). In an occult commentary this coming forth of the seven Logoi from the one, and of the seven successive chains of seven globes each, is described:
From one light seven lights; from each of the seven, seven times seven. ( Secret Doctrine, Volume1, page 147, of the 1893 Edition or Volume 1, page 180, of the Adyar edition.)
Taking up the incarnations of the chain, the (Page 318) manvantaras, we learnа that these also are sub-divisible into seven stages; a wave of life from the planetary Logos is sent round the chain, and seven of these great life-waves, each one technically spoken of as Уa round,Ф complete a single manvantara. Each globe has thus seven periods of activity during a manvantara, each in turn becoming the field of the evolving life.
Looking at a single globe we find that during the period of its activity seven root-races of a humanity evolve on it, together with six other non-human kingdoms interdependent on each other. As these seven kingdoms contain forms at all stages of evolution, as all have higher reaches stretching before them, the evolving forms of one globe pass to another to carry on their growth when the period of activity of the former globe comes to an end, and go on - from globe to globe to the end of that round; they further pursue their course round after round to the close of the seven rounds or manvantara after manvantara till the end of reincarnations of their planetary chain is reached, when the results of that planetary evolution are gathered up by the planetary Logos. Needless to say that scarcely anything of this evolution is known to us; only the salient points in the stupendous whole have been indicated by the Teachers.
Even when we come to the planetary evolution in which our own world is a stage, we know nothing of the processes through which its seven globes (Page 319) evolved during its first two manvantaras;а and of its third manvantara we only know that the globe which is now our moon was globe D of that planetary chain. This fact, however, may help us to realise more clearlyа what is meant by these successive reincarnations of a planetary chain. The seven globes which formed the lunar chain passed in due course through their sevenfold evolution; seven times the life-wave, the Breath of the planetary Logos, swept round the chain, quickening in turn each globe into life.
It is as though that Logos in guiding His kingdom turned His attention first to globe A, and thereon brought into successive existence the innumerable forms that in their totality make up a world; when evolution had been carried to a certain point, He turned His attention to globe B, and globe A slowly sank into a peaceful sleep. Thus the life wave was carried from globe to globe, until one round of the circle was completed by globe G finishing its evolution; then there succeeded a period of rest, (technically called a pralaya), during which the external evolutionary activity ceased.
At the close of this period, external evolution recommenced, starting on its second round and beginning as before on globe A. The process is repeated six times, but when the seventh, the last round, is reached, there is a change. Globe A, having accomplished its seventh life-period, gradually disintegrates, and the imperishable laya centre state supervenes; from that, at the dawn of the succeeding manvantara a new globe A (Page 320) is evolved Ц like a new body Ц in which the УprinciplesФ of the preceding planet A take up their abode. This phrase is only intended to convey the idea of a relation between globe A of the first manvantara and globe A of the second, the nature of that connection remains hidden.
Of the connection between globe D of the lunar manvantara Ц our moon Ц and globe D of the terrene manvantara Ц our earth Ц we know little more, and Mr. Sinnett has given a convenient summary of the slender knowledge we possess in The system to which we belong. He says:-
The new earth nebula was developed round a centre bearing pretty much the same relation to the dyingа planet that the centres of the earth and moon bear to one another at present. But in the nebulous condition this aggregation of matter occupied an enormously greater volume than the solid matter of the earth now occupies.
It stretched out in all directions so as to include the old planet in its fiery embrace. The temperature of the new nebula appears to be considerable higher than any temperatures we are acquainted with, and by this means the old planet was superficially heated afresh in such a manner that all atmosphere, water, and volatilisable matter upon it was brought into the gaseous condition and so became amenable to the new centre of attraction set up at the centre of the new nebula.
In this way the air and seas of the old planet were drawn over into the constitution of the new one, and thus it is that the moon in its present state is an arid, glaring mass, dry and cloudless, no longer habitable, and no longer required for the habitation of any physical beings. When the present manvantara is nearly over, during the seventh round, its disintegration will be completed and the matter which it still holds together will resolve into meteoric dust.(Op .cit., Page 19)
In the third volume of The Secret Doctrine, in which are printed some of the oral teachings given by H.P.Blavatsky to her more advancedа pupils, it is stated:
At the beginning of the evolution of our globe, the moon was much nearer to the earth, and larger than it is now. It has retreated from us, and shrunk much in size.(The moon gave all her principles to the earth.)а A new moon will appear during the seventh round, and our moon will finally disintegrate and disappear. (Op. Cit. III, 562, 1893 Ed.)
Evolution during the lunar manvantara produced seven classes of beings, technically called Fathers, or Pitris, since it was they who generated the beings of the terrene manvantara. These are the Lunar Pitris of the Secret Doctrine. More developed thanа these were two other classes Ц variously called Solar Pitris, Men, Lower Dhyānis Ц too far advanced to enter on the terrene evolution in its early stages, but requiring the aid of later physical conditions for their future growth.
The higher of these two classes consisted of individualised animal-like beings, creatures with embryonic souls, i.e., they had developed the causal body; the second were approaching its formation. Lunar Pitris, the first class, were at the beginning of that approach showing mentality, while the second and third had only developed the kāmic principle.
These seven classes of Lunar Pitris were the product the lunar chain handed on for further development to the terrene, the fourth reincarnation of the planetary chain. (Page 321) As Monads Ц with the mental principle present in the first, the kāmic principle developed in the second and third classes, this germinal in the fourth, only approaching the germ stage in the still less developed fifth, and imperceptible in the sixth and seventh Ц these entities entered the earth-chain, to ensoul the elemental essence and the forms shaped by the Builders. ( H.P.Blavatsky, in the Secret Doctrine, does not include those whom Mr. Sinnett calls first Ц and second-class Pitris in the Уmonads from the lunar chainФ : she takes them apart as Уmen,Ф as УDhyān Chohans.Ф Compare Volume 1, pages 197, 207 and 211 of the 1893 edition; Volume 1, pages 227, 236 and 239 of the Adyar edition)
The nomenclature adopted by me is that of the Secret Doctrine. In the valuable paper by Mrs. Sinnett and Mr. Scott-Elliot on the Lunar Pitris, H.P.B.Тs УLower Dhyanis,Ф that incarnate in the third and fourth rounds, are taken as the first and second classes of Lunar Pitris; their third class is therefore H.P.B.Тs first class, their fourth class her second and so on. There is no difference in the statement of facts, only in nomenclature, but this difference of nomenclature may mislead the student if it be not explained. As I am using H.P.BТs nomenclature, my fellow-students of the London Lodge and readers of their УTransactionФ will need to remember that my first is their third, and so on sequentially.
аThe УBuildersФ is a name including innumerable Intelligences, hierarchies of beings of graduated consciousness and power, who on each plane carry out the actual building of forms. The higher (Page 323) direct and control, while the lower fashion the materials after the models provided. And now appears the use of the successive globes of the planetary chain.
Globe A is the archetypal world, on which are built the models of the forms that are to be elaborated during the round; from the mind of the planetary Logos the highest Builders take the archetypal Ideas, and guide the Builders on the arūpa levels as they fashion the archetypal forms for the round.
On globe B these forms are reproduced in varied shapes in mental matter by a lower rank of Builders, and are evolved slowly along different lines, until they are ready to receive an infiltration of denser matter; then the Builders in astral matter take up the task, and on globe C fashion astral forms, with details more worked out; when the forms have been evolved as far as the astral conditions permit, the Builders of globe D take up the task of form-shaping on the physical plane, and the lowest kinds of matter are thus fashioned into appropriate types, and the forms reach their densest and most complete condition.
From this middle point onwards the nature of the evolution some what changes; hitherto the greatest attention had been directed to the building of the form; on the ascending arc the chief attention is directed to using the form as a vehicle of the evolving life and on the second half of the evolution on globe D, and on globes E and F the consciousness expresses itself first on the physical and then on the astral and lower mental planes through the equivalents of the forms elaborated on the descending arc.(Page 324)
On the descending arc the monad impresses itself as best it may onа the evolving forms, and these impressions, and so on; on the ascending arc the Monad expresses itself throughа the forms as their inner ruler. On globe G the perfection of the round is reached, the Monad inhabiting and using as its vehicles the archetypal forms of globe A.
During all these stages the Lunar Pitris have acted as the souls of the forms, brooding over them, later inhabiting them. It is on the first-class Pitris that the heaviest burden of the work falls during the first three rounds. The second and third-class Pitris flow into the forms worked up by the first;а the first prepare these forms by ensouling them for a time and then pass on, leaving them for the tenancy of the second and third classes. By the end of the first round the archetypal forms of the mineral would have been brought down, to be elaborated through the succeeding rounds, till they reach their densest state in the middle of the fourth round. УFireФ is the УelementФ of this first round.
In the second round the first-class Pitris continue their human evolution, only touching the lower stages as the human foetus still touches them today, while the second-class, at the close of the round, have reached the incipient human stage. The great work of the round is bringing down the archetypal forms of vegetable life, which will reach theirа perfection in the fifth round.а УAirФа is the second roundаа УelementФ. (Page 325)
In the third round the first-class Pitris becomes definitely human in form; though the body is jelly-like and gigantic, it is yet, on globe D, compact enough to begin to stand upright; he is ape-like and is covered with hairy bristles. The third-class Pitris reach the incipient human stage. Second class solar Pitris make their first appearance on globe D in this round, and take the lead in human evolution. The archetypal forms of animals are brought down to be elaborated into perfection by the end of the sixth round, and УwaterФ is the characteristic Уelement.Ф
The fourth round, the middle one of the seven that make up the terrene manvantara, is distinguished by bringing to globe A the archetypal forms of humanity, this round being as distinctively human as its predecessors were respectively animal, vegetable, and mineral. Not ill the seventh round will these forms be fully realised by humanity, but the possibilities of the human form are manifested in the archetypes in the fourth. "EarthФ is the УelementФ of this round, the densest, the most material. The first-class solar Pitris may be said to hover round globe D more or less in this round during its early stages of activity, but they do not definitely incarnate until after the third great out-pouring of life from the planetary Logos in the middle of the third race, and then onlyа slowly, the number increasing as the race progresses, and multitudes incarnating in the early fourth race.
The evolution of humanity on our earth, globe D, offers in a strongly marked form the continual sevenfold diversity already often alluded to. Seven races of men had already shown themselves in the third round, and in the fourth these fundamental divisions became very clear on globe C, where seven races, each with sub-races evolved. On globe D humanity begins with a First Race Ц usually called a Root Race Ц at seven different points, Уseven of them, each on his lot.Ф (Book of Dzyan (Stanzas of Dzyan, 3: 13).а Ц Secret Doctrine, Volume 2, page 18, of the 1893, editionЦ Volume 3, page 29, of the Adyar edition.)
These seven types side by side, not successive Ц make up the first root-race, and each again has its own seven sub-races. From the first root-race Ц jelly-like amorphous creatures Ц evolves the second root-race with forms of more definite consistency, and from it the third, ape-like creatures that become clumsy gigantic men. In the middle of the evolution of this third root-race, called the Lemurian, there come to earth Ц from another planetary chain, that of Venus, much farther advanced in its evolution Ц members of its highly evolved humanity, glorious Beings, often spoken of as Sons of Fire, from Their radiant appearance, a lofty order among the Sons of Mind. (Manasaputra. This vast hierarchy of self-conscious intelligences embraces many orders.)
They take up Their abode on earth, as the Divine Teachers of the young humanity, some of them acting as channels for the third outpouring and projecting into animal man the spark of monadic life which forms the causal body. Thus the first, second, and third classes of Lunar Pitris become individualised Ц the vast (Page 327) bulk of humanity. The two classes of solar Pitris, already individualised Ц the first ere leaving the lunar chain and the second later Ц form two low orders of the Sons of Mind; the second incarnate in the third race at its middle point, and the first come in later, for the most part in the fourth race, the Atlantean.
The fifth, or Aryan race, now leading human evolution, was evolved from the fifth sub-race of the Atlantean, the most promising families being in Central Asia, and the new race-type evolved, under the direct superintendence of a Great Being, technically called a Manu.а Emerging from Central Asia the first sub-race settled in India, south of the Himalāyas, and in their four orders of teachers, warriors, merchants, and workmen, ( Brāhmanas, Kshattriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras ) became the dominant race in the vast Indian peninsula, conquering the fourth-race and third-race nations who then inhabited it.
At the end of the seventh race of the seventh round, i.e., at the close of our terrene manvantara, our chain will hand on to its successor the fruits of its life; these fruits will be the perfected divine men, Buddhas, Manus, Chohans, Masters, ready to take up work of guiding evolution under the direction of the planetary Logos, with hosts of less evolved entities of every grade of consciousness, who still need physical experience for the perfecting of their divine possibilities.
The fifth, sixth, and seventh (Page 328) manvantaras of our chain are still in the womb of the future after this fourth one has closed, andа then the planetary Logos will gather up into Himself all the fruits of evolution, and with his children enter on a period of rest and bliss. Of that high state we cannot speak; how at this stage of our evolution could we dream of its unimaginable glory; only we dimly know that our glad spirits shallа Уenter into the joy of the Lord,Ф and, resting in Him, shall see stretching before them boundless ranges of sublime life and love, heights and depths of power and joy, limitless as the One Existence, inexhaustable as the One that Is.
Go to Section 1 of Ancient Wisdom
to Top of this page
Back to our On Line Documents
Back to our Main Page