Occult Science has its CHANGELESS traditions from prehistoric times. It may err in particulars; it can never become guilty of a mistake in questions of Universal laws, simply because that Science, justly referred to by philosophy as the "DIVINE," was born on higher planes, and was brought on Earth by beings who were wiser than man will be, even in the seventh Race of his Seventh Round.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 516
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, 215-17.]
The wise Solomon spoke of "the holy spirit of discipline." Statesmen of every nation today advocate the practice of discipline by the citizen. Sometimes it is sought to impose discipline from without, and then, invariably, soon or late, rebellious tendencies break loose. The lesson of the Sages, ancient and modern, is that there is only one discipline truly efficacious and that is Self-discipline. From within his own consciousness a man must evolve his own code of discipline. No one can be coerced for long by another, be the other politician or priest; the feeling that the politician is exploiting his loyalty and patriotism, the priest his devotion and faith, arises and rebellion of some kind occurs.
Robert Burton in his ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY speaks of "the fear of some divine and supreme powers, which keep men in obedience." Nevertheless, the growth of human conscience and of moral insight does take place, however indirectly, as these are not directly taught. Then the fear of powers, divine or demoniac, is overcome and the mind becomes ready to exclaim: "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God!"
Therefore discipline from within one's own mind must arise and become the guide to conduct. In the early stages of this looking within for guidance of outer acts, the person's own motives are hidden from him. Pride and self-regard are so natural to his being that the Egotist becomes the disciplinarian. Declaiming that he is the master of his fate and the captain of his soul, he proceeds to devise ways and means to express his own soul's freedom. This does not take him very far. Soon his pride and self-regard, subtly disguised, begins to function, covering his ambition for money and popularity with the veneer of a desire to do good, for which these are necessary.
The ways of Providence and Nemesis are strange. In earning money, in gaining fame, in wielding power, in practicing kindness, charity and sympathy, in pouring out love itself, the human mind-soul learns the art of disciplining its personal self. Strength of character, the habit of gentle service and the manifesting of devotion to the interests of loved ones begin to unfold. But pride continues to rule the will. Self-regard dies hard. Both hide their faces subtly and unless these are perceived and noted true self-discipline cannot be undertaken with success. When one aspect of our lower personal self tries to discipline another, it is a contest between the Devil and his disciple.
The Soul's disciplining of its personal self is the higher, true discipline. It begins to operate only when the foibles of the good, kind, affectionate, but all the same egotistic person stand revealed to the inner Divinity which shapes its own ends, however rough the hewing by the personal ego. The human being is a sprite, an elemental, posing as a godling. Karma tears the veil off his consciousness and reveals him as possessing in germ the powers of the Spirit, of a God, and as capable of evolving into a Sage-Seer. Then only does the real discipline begin.
The discipline of the disciple seeks the true teacher who has the faculty of imparting knowledge without coercion or controlling the freedom of the will. A true guru does not make slaves of his disciples; does not claim obedience from them. The disciple has grown to recognize that docility and receptivity are necessary if he is to acquire the knowledge imparted; that concentration and reflection are necessary if he is to understand, to discern, to evaluate; that obedience to the teaching carries within itself the higher obedience to the teacher.
In the course of his development he perceives how the great Guru, the Self-realized Teacher, in instructing the self-prepared pupil, is Himself the Sublime Pupil of the Most High, whose Body, invisible and, visible, is Living Nature Herself. The real Guru observes the Divine Discipline of obeying Nature and, having obtained mastery over Nature's Law and laws, obeys them. Thus the disciple learns the lesson of true discipline -- to obey Teachings and Teacher, the former permeating Living Nature, and the latter embodying the Wisdom in the single book-volume of His Disciplined Brain. And so there is this piece of instruction in H. P. Blavatsky's THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE:
Desire nothing. Chafe not at Karma, nor at Nature's changeless laws. But struggle only with the personal, the transitory, the evanescent and the perishable.
Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance.
And she will open wide before thee the portals of her secret chambers; lay bare before thy gaze the treasures hidden in the very depths of her pure virgin bosom. Unsullied by the hand of matter, she shows her treasures only to the eye of Spirit -- the eye which never closes, the eye for which there is no veil in all her kingdoms.
By J.W. Hamilton-Jones
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, August 1938, pages 92-98. That publication was a reprint from THE CANADIAN THEOSOPHIST, September 1937, with the following preface.]
From time to time the editors are glad to print articles by Theosophists who are not affiliated with the Point Loma Theosophical Society so that we may share with our readers the thoughts of fellow-workers in our Theosophical Cause who are earnestly bending their energies to the forwarding of the main purposes of the Theosophical Movement.
Mr. Hamilton-Jones is President of the Phoenix Lodge, London, connected with the Adyar Theosophical Society. In past years, as has been noted in our pages, constructive work in fraternization has taken place between the Phoenix Lodge, Adyar, and the London Lodge of the Point Loma Theosophical Society.
-- Editors of THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM
Do you recollect the note of warning that HPB sounded in the early days of Theosophy having regard to people who entertained a sincere wish to enter the Occult Path?
As soon as anyone pledges himself as a Probationer, certain occult effects ensue. Of these the first is the THROWING OUTWARDS of everything latent in the nature of the man, of his faults, habits, qualities or subdued desires, whether good, bad, or indifferent ... This is an immutable law in the Domain of the Occult.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, BLAVATSKY COLLECTED WRITINGS, XII, page 515.
Every individualized human being must eventually tread that pathway which leads to the utter control of, hence freedom from, the physical body. It is not possible for many people to undertake the necessary work, first because they have not yet reached a stage in their evolution which would allow them to make the attempt successfully, and secondly because of the extreme difficulty which faces all aspirants during the Age of Kali Yuga, that terrifically materialistic period of which HPB makes mention.
The evolution of the planet is at its midmost point. The life cycle has descended into its most dense aspect. The spiritual aspects are crushed beneath the weight of matter and materialism.
From our Theosophical studies we know that the solar system is under the direction of Hierarchies, so that even the Kali Yuga falls within the circle of necessity. We may be sure that the world and its inhabitants are never left without guidance. We learn also that there are those incarnate who are referred to in Theosophical books as Masters and Initiates, and that those Elder Brethren constantly carry on their labors for "The great Orphan Humanity."
In spite of the Kali Yuga there always have been, as there are today, schools, fraternities and societies whose purpose it is to foster and inculcate the wisdom of the Ages. They exist so that at whatever point in evolution at which a man is born, he can, by patient searching, discover the signposts that indicate the direction in which instruction may be obtained.
We are informed that the Great White Lodge of Adepts makes some effort in the last quarter of each century to rekindle the flame of Truth in Western countries. We know that our own Theosophical Society is the result of the attempt made by the Masters in 1875. Some of us are foolish enough to assert that the Theosophical Society is the only doorway leading to enlightenment amongst western races today. This is not so. Freemasonry, properly understood and applied, leads to the same end. And certain religious orders occasionally produce a great Mystic.
Apart from these, there were other movements fostered by the Adepts in 1875 as well as the Theosophical Society. Some of them were exoteric and others were secret organizations. It is well known that in addition to the Theosophical Society, there was also instituted an Esoteric School, under the direction of HPB, into which were to be admitted those aspirants who wished to make a special effort to tread the paths of occultism and mysticism.
Neither the Theosophical Society nor the Esoteric School can lay claim to having achieved very much success. The Theosophical Society drifted away from its original purpose, and the Esoteric School was closed, and replaced by what was known as the Esoteric Section.
After the death of HPB we had no Occultist of her rank in control. The observant spectator is forced to the sorry conclusion that the Theosophical approach, although sponsored by two of the Adepts, has to be considered largely a failure. Thus it joins the company of many other activities in the previous centuries, which also proved abortive.
Members of the Point Loma Theosophical Society cannot share the pessimistic viewpoint expressed in this paragraph. In a society whose growth goes steadily forwards, whose members are alive with an enthusiasm born of the Theosophic ideals imparted by the Masters of Wisdom through H. P. Blavatsky, and whose esoteric tradition and work, based on these ideals, have been uninterrupted from her time to ours, ideas of failure and of drifting have no existence because there are no facts, with us at least, which give them life.
-- Editors of THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM
Let us not despair, however. Any worthy man can always reach the portal at any time, regardless of either exoteric or esoteric organizations or the lack of them. We are told that even the West occasionally provides a recruit for the Himalayan Brotherhood and doubtless the East produces several more.
Initiates who work in the outer world today prefer to remain obscure and in the background. We may rub shoulders with them and yet never suspect their degree, which goes to show that the true teaching can only be given in secret and under oath, to those who have the capacity to assimilate it. The Rishis of India are no longer to be found. Some believe that this is due to the influence of the British Raj, but knowing something of the Cyclic Law, students will understand that the Rishis have withdrawn because their present cycle has ended.
What then should a man do who becomes fired with a strong desire for the occult life? When we open THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, we find that these priceless fragments are "Dedicated to the few." Whether one has to tread the pathway of the Mystic or the Occultist, one preliminary condition is absolutely essential and that is an intense aspiration to be of service to Humanity.
It is said that whilst the East may thrive on contemplation, the West evolves through action. In St. Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, chapter iii, v. 8 we read:
Neither did we eat any man's bread for naught; but wrought WITH LABOR AND TRAVAIL night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example unto you to follow us. Forever when we were with you, this we commanded you, THAT IF ANY WOULD NOT WORK NEITHER SHOULD HE EAT.
Interpreted in the light of the "Bread of Wisdom," we have here a law for the West given for our instruction by that Great Initiate who flourished at the commencement of the Christian era.
A broad division seems to imply a mystical development through contemplation and an occult development through action, but this is not an infallible rule because action does not necessarily apply only to physical plane affairs. The mind is the chief actor. The Mystic transcends the plane of mind. The Occultist controls it.
It would appear therefore, that in the course of his evolution every aspirant has to tread both paths, and it is the occult that is the final dominating factor.
It is as though the Mystic contemplation depends upon what is called "Seed" whereas occult meditation is "Seedless." If we study carefully the records of the Mystics we find that they were invariably imbued with an intense determination to serve some person, sage or god. The Christian Mystic aspired to serve his Lord and contemplated the joy and elation of becoming one with Him. The Mystics of the East have followed after the pattern of some teacher or deity such as Siva, Krishna, Vishnu or Kali, and by worship and devotion have, through their very penance, been caught up into ecstatic conditions, which rendered them prophetic seers, healers and teachers.
Yet mysticism even at its highest does not succeed in obliterating the personality. It may seem a peculiar thing to say, but the fact remains that Mystics are capable of feelings of jealousy towards one another, and frequently antagonize one another on the physical plane. They are capable of functioning upon exalted levels of consciousness and their purity protects them from the snares and pitfalls of the "Hall of Learning."
Usually in their physical activities, Mystics are highly impractical people, because the Mystic dwells inwardly upon exalted ideals, which are largely foreign, at least at present, to this work-a-day world in which we live. Innocence and purity are insufficient in themselves to render a man master of himself. There are vast worlds of sensation and experience that pass by him unnoticed.
The qualities that the Mystic develops belong to the negative pole, whereas, mastership demands a delicately poised and balanced state of self-consciousness on all levels of manifestation and a capacity to understand and, where necessary to control and apply all the Powers and Forces in the manifested worlds.
The disciple who is treading the Occult Path has to labor night and day in order to conquer the worlds of illusion on the physical, astral and mental planes. He is training under a Master who has himself reached that degree of perfection that enables him to impart instruction to a properly qualified aspirant. The Occult Path is full of pitfalls and thorns, and the man who treads it does so at the peril of his life. "To know: to will: to dare: to remain silent," sums up in a few words the requirements of the dauntless soul who essays the attempt.
Falls are frequent for the Occultist learns by experience. He is taught to blame himself for his falls, to pick himself up and courageously to step forward again along the path, having learnt an unforgettable lesson through his lapse.
Occultism has to be studied in its three chief divisions namely: Transcendental Science, Transcendental Philosophy and Transcendental Religion. The following definitions may help the student to a better understanding.
The term "transcendental" applies to anything pertaining outside the normal sphere of experience, whether in fancy, thought or faith. Transcendental science deals with the operation and effects of forces generally unknown. Transcendental Philosophy is that complex of doctrine which explains the phenomenal manifestation of nature, in accordance with the science of its secret laws. Transcendental Religion is the application of universal law to the interior nature of man.
-- Transaction No. 1, of the Phoenix Lodge, London
On the other hand, the practice of Occultism leads to the conscious application of all the Powers and Forces in the Manifested Universe. It is in this sphere of activity that the Occultist must learn to excel. Let us hasten, though, to explain that the application of these forces, in White Occultism, is invariably conditioned by the necessities of the age having regard to the cycles, and the work of the Hierarchy in charge of human development, at that particular period.
It will be understood that the Occultist does not work for himself. Every individual who seeks to attain occult status on the white path voluntarily renounces any reward for himself. He has become the servant of the Hierarchy and in consequence, the servant of humanity. He is learning to become indifferent to objects of perception, and is being instructed to function self-consciously on various levels of manifestation. He must not be deluded by appearances, but must seek to probe the origin and purpose of every phenomenon that he encounters.
Quite frequently he "burns his fingers." He learns to mistrust the evidence of the senses, the emotions and the mind, and to depend upon the vibrations that he "senses" rather than "feels." Thus when a trained Occultist approaches a shrub, the vibrations from the plant find an immediate response in him and he KNOWS all the qualities, properties and forces of which the shrub is the physical expression.
For this reason, it is impossible to deceive the trained Occultist. He has tested everything so thoroughly and fundamentally that all the manifested worlds proclaim their true nature to him regardless of any camouflage under which things and shapes hide themselves from the uninitiated. He is learning to function from -- not on -- the formless levels of self-consciousness. Hence he knows that all forms are merely the outward expression of the powers and forces that produced them.
It is the Occult Path that produces the Black Brother. Being essentially a positive path, it is comparatively easy to acquire and exercise the powers of the lower Iddhis, which are really the toys of the Occultist. It is in the application of powers that danger can be found. Having developed the powers, they must not be used unless their application is in strict consonance with the work that is occupying the attention of the Hierarchy at any given period of evolution.
The aspirant who treads the Occult Path undertakes a gigantic labor from the very beginning. Working in secret, often despised and rejected by men, he nevertheless becomes a focusing point in the outer world for man's upliftment. Hidden beneath the cloak of those dabblers whom the world calls charlatans, the existence of the true Occultist is unsuspected, and yet, we are informed, there are about 4,000 initiates working in the various countries of the world even today.
In order to correct any misunderstanding, it is necessary to conclude with a reminder for the Theosophical student. Very few, even amongst our own ranks, can do more than cherish an aspiration that some day it will become possible for them to essay to tread the dangerous razor-edged pathway in the service of Humanity. Eventually we shall all have to do it. "The road leads uphill all the way." But very few, indeed, are so indifferent to life in the three worlds, that they can look with complaisance upon a sphere of labor in which they are:
Self-doomed to live through future Kalpas, unthanked and unperceived by men; wedged as a stone with countless other stones which form the Guardian Wall ...
-- to shield humanity.
By Eldon B. Tucker
A distinction has been drawn at times between "what is" and "using a method." A suggestion is made that in only looking at the "what is," one is doing something profound, something higher.
I'd tend to put things another way. I'd say that there are two sides to things: the manifest and the unmanifest. The manifest consists of that part of things that exist at this moment. The unmanifest is the remaining part of the same things, which at the moment are latent, potential, and capable of existence, but not coming out into the world.
The wholeness of a thing includes all levels of it. At something's highest level is a living sense of identity with the Mystery about which nothing can be said. At a lower level of it is its timeless but still individual and unique nature. Still lower is the temporal, unmanifest part, that real part that just happens to be unmanifest at this moment in time.
When we talk about what something is, apart how is happens to be manifested at this moment in time, there are two levels of it that we could consider. At one level is the wholeness of the growing, evolving, temporal being, including its karmic storehouse and its outward manifestation. At a deeper level is the essential nature of the thing, what it essentially is, apart from the evolutionary drama, above time as we know it, basically the same throughout all of existence.
Looking at any level -- Absolute Unity, Essential Nature, or Completeness of Being -- there is no imperfection. If by imperfection we mean something that is substandard, that falls short of the ideal that is less than acceptable.
The timeless part of ourselves is not imperfect, since it was, is, and always will be US, our essential, paradoxically dynamic, essence. That part of us acts as an ideal that the temporal part of us is ever guided by, an ideal that motivates us throughout time to become more and more what we truly are.
And I'd say that the temporal part of us, the combination of the invisible and visible, of the unmanifest and manifest traits, characteristics, habits, dispositions, faculties, and ability to have consciousness -- that is perfect too. What the outer person needs is latent within, realized in the past and ready to come forth again. Or it's there in potential, and it's only a matter of time until it's attained.
At a still lower level, when we consider only the outer person, what is actually realized and manifest at the moment in time, we find it too is perfect in its own manner. It's superficial, external "fullness" is complimented by its unmanifest characteristics, its "emptiness," and in combination the two make of one a complete person.
What I'm writing about is the essential nature of existence. It applies equally well to a rock, a tree, a man, or a demigod. Depending upon what level in one's nature that one centers in, for the moment, the world will look that way. It's incorrect, I think, to say that one level or perspective is correct and higher than others. All perspectives are equally true, for all time.
When someone picks a perspective and suggests that it's the best, and that other people are misguided or inferior in some way for taking lower perspectives, it shows a lack of depth, a superficial view of life. Such an attitude may come from wanting to be better than others, which is seeking self-affirmation, seeking confirmation that they're good and valuable and special people. But they're looking in the wrong way for that affirmation. That cannot be given one from the external world. It comes from within, from keeping in touch with one's timeless self, one's essential nature or essence, one's faculty of consciousness that deals with one's meaning and purpose in existence.
When something is expressed in the world, it becomes limited. That expression is imperfect. The pure form of a circle, for instance, when hand-drawn on a sheet of paper, is far from the ideal. But in another and more important sense, the fact that the circle was given expression makes it more perfect. This is because the essential nature of the circle is never lost, and now it is something more, both ideal and unmanifest as well as concrete and manifest. The inner and outer combined, give something more that the inner by itself, mute, unexpressed, frustrated in expression in outer life.
To understand how an object is, in its ideal, and in its current potential for expression, is fine. But that understand is richer, fuller, more whole, if it also includes the practical, physical nature of it. It's complete when it includes the body or form, the current outward attributes, the methods or actions taken by that object.
This has practical application to us. It's by sharing, by expressing the higher, by making the unseen divine behind things come out into existence, that we're making ourselves, the world, and that divine itself into something more, something greater. Life is only half-complete with inner realizations, until they've worked there way out into the world, getting communicated to others and expressed in many different ways in life. The basic point is that there's nothing in life that belongs to "us" as separate individuals. Everything we become, all our strengths, abilities, and gifts are incomplete until shared with the rest of life. Both our "inside" and our "outside" need to share in what we realize in life.
By A. Trevor Barker
[From THE HILL OF DISCERNMENT, Theosophical University Press, 1941, pages 111-20.]
This particular branch of study we are going to do is a part of the teachings on life after death -- than which, as we Theosophists think, there is nothing more important for humanity to gain an insight into, at a time when the world is overridden by the activity of probably more than twenty-five million Spiritualists: viz., those who are concerned to a greater or lesser degree with what the Mahatmas have called "the cult of the Worship of the Dead."
I think that we may take it that we are not wrong in attributing so much importance to this branch of our teaching, in so far as we find that such a vast amount of space in the early teachings was devoted to this particular subject. Nowhere else in the whole range of occult literature will you find so complete an explanation of man's progress and what happens to him after he casts aside this temporary physical body. It tells us the nature of man; what he is in his inner composite being, made up of many entities held together by one dominating individuality.
The Theosophist looks at this vast problem -- the mystery of death -- from a viewpoint entirely different naturally from the orthodox Church conception, which is unenlightened by these Ancient Teachings. Right at the beginning we have a statement made by one of the writers of these letters, which strikes a note that is clean out of reach of ordinary thought upon such subjects. Here it is:
Those who know they are dead in their physical bodies (we quote from page 128) -- can only be either adepts -- or sorcerers; and these two are the exceptions to the GENERAL RULE.
Many people think, having their preconceptions and their ideas colored by the notions of modern spiritualism, that a man when he dies simply steps aside from his body and enters into a wider, freer range of life: stronger and freer for the loss of the dead weight of the material body. But this is not the teaching of Theosophy, and never has been. Here is this challenging statement: that average human beings, normal human beings who have led ordinary sorts of lives, are not aware that they are dead when they pass into the great sphere of effects that in the Roman Catholic teaching they speak of as "the purgatorial regions," and which in Sanskrit terminology is called the Kamaloka, the region of desire. When the entity enters there he is already bereft not only of his body, but also of the magnetic framework of astral matter upon which his body was built -- the substance that the Spiritualist refers to as ectoplasm; and he loses also the life principle which animates these two lower principles; all three of them together fade away after the destruction of the physical body.
And now you have left a fourfold entity that enters into this region of Kamaloka -- this sphere of desire; and the Master tells us that they are not conscious there to begin with, and that only those who have progressed far upon the Path of Occultism -- whether white or black -- retain their sense of identity and continuity of consciousness when they enter into this sphere, and where they still remember themselves in their ego, so to say as "I am I." Now this is a strange statement, and I shall have again to return to it because one of the aspects of the problem of immortality is bound up with this conception.
And now the writer goes on to elaborate this idea a little:
Both [i.e., the adept and the sorcerer] having been "coworkers with nature," the former for GOOD, the latter -- for BAD, in her work of creation and in that of destruction, they are the only ones who may be called IMMORTAL in the Kabalistic and the esoteric sense of course.
I wonder how you would define immortality to yourself if you were to sit down and think about it? Here again the Theosophist regards immortality in quite a different way from the ordinary person. We believe in and affirm the immortality of the higher, divine part of man's nature -- declare in fact that it is an immortal entity; but that which in the real sense of the word may truly be called Man -- MANAS, the thinker -- is this immortal? It is only, in Theosophical parlance, CONDITIONALLY immortal. In other words that you and I on our pathway through earth life are called upon so to run the race of human life and destiny that we shall succeed in merging our human, thinking soul -- our Human Ego -- with that immortal, divine counterpart whose ray lightens and inspires us during earth life. When we shall succeed in doing that, then during life here on earth we become in the Esoteric and Kabalistic sense immortal entities. Here is the Master's definition: "Complete or true immortality -- which means an unlimited sentient existence, can have no breaks and stoppages, no arrest of Self-consciousness." This means that every moment of the night and day, waking or sleeping, the Adept is fully aware of his identity -- his consciousness to his own reflective self is awake. When he lays his body down to sleep at night he steps aside from it, and leaves it there like a garment you put on a chair before getting into bed. But he retains his self-consciousness, steps aside as a conscious being, and because he has won this power during life (and remember it is only during life that we can win these powers) so he has it after death; so he is able when the hour comes, the moment of destiny when an incarnation closes, to enter with just the same confidence into that region of Kamaloka and to transcend it and go beyond it, because he has won his immortality during life. Such a being was HPB -- she to whom we owe the teachings that have inspired the modern Theosophical Movement since its inception in 1875. She has a very telling and very interesting phrase on page 38 of her LETTERS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY TO A.P. SINNETT where she hopes that:
[A certain Mrs. Gordon] will not dishonor by EVOKING me with some medium. Let her rest assured that it will never be my spirit or anything of me -- not even MY SHELL since this is gone long ago.
The "shell" is of course the cast-off vessel of psychic emanations or remains, which is the chief inspirer of the majority of mediums in the spiritualistic seances. On that subject we shall have more to say in our next study on "Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena." But I wanted to refer to this statement that HER SHELL HAD GONE LONG AGO. This can but open our minds and enlarge our vision in certain respects as to what we have to do if we are ever going to begin to tread the same path that she and the Mahatmas behind her have trodden. It means that this lower personality of ours has got to be transcended to the point when this Kamarupa, this gross form, this element of passion and desire, is burnt up in the fire of Spiritual Wisdom that comes from the Higher Self; burnt up to the point that it disappears. And then, clothed in that vesture through which the Adept works in the inner spheres when the personality is gone, shall we be free indeed -- "walkers of the sky" as those who reach this state of consciousness are called in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE.
Now what happens in the region of Kamaloka when the entity enters there? I would like to give you these short extracts from the book itself, because the Master's own words are so much more illuminating. I will read a paragraph here from page 103:
Every one but that ego which, attracted by its gross magnetism, falls into the current that will draw it into the "planet of Death" -- the mental as well as physical satellite of our earth - IS fitted to pass into a relative "spiritual" condition adjusted to his previous condition in life and mode of thought. To my knowledge and recollection HPB explained to Mr. Hume that man's sixth principle, as something purely spiritual could not exist, or have CONSCIOUS being in the Devachan, unless it assimilated some of the more abstract and pure of the mental attributes of the fifth principle or animal Soul: its MANAS (mind) and memory.
You see now there is the statement of the conditioned immortality of the soul. The intermediate real thinking principle in us, if it would persist and survive in the after life, has got to have that in it which is worthy of immortality. It has got to have that element of eternal thinking and living and high aspiration and purpose that, by the very force of the attraction it sets up in the higher worlds, will draw the disembodied entity up as it were and give it birth, to use the language of Theosophy -- to give it birth in the Devachan or Heaven-world. You know that a man is born in the after life just as a little child. Nature repeats itself by analogy all the time. Birth -- human birth into the earth world -- is a very real death to the Divine being that descends and incarnates. And Death when we understand it aright is the birth in the divine regions of a God.
Just think of the analogy of an entity being born as a little child on earth, with its parents and home life, surrounded by those that care for and love it, and then, because this is an event here which we cannot doubt since we have all experienced it, therefore will it have its reflective analogy -- in that which will take place after death; and we as entities, if we have lived decently, ordinarily decently, will be reborn as little children in this after state, having therein full memory of all that took place during earth life that was good and pure and had in it the elements of immortality. I will return to that in a little while. That was by way of explanation of the phrase "the more abstract and pure of the mental attributes of the fifth principle."
When man dies, his second and third principles die with him. That is, the lower triad disappears, and the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh principles form the surviving QUATERNARY.
Now to this Kamaloka question:
Thenceforth it is a "death" struggle between the Upper and Lower dualities.
This means that the entity is now bereft of his body and has entered the sphere of Kamaloka. He has lost his three lower principles; four are left, and henceforward it is a death struggle between the Higher duad and the Lower. We know what are these Higher and Lower duads. The higher is purely spiritual; the lower consists of the thinking apparatus and the desires and passions. Emotions, higher and lower, are comprised in the lower duad. And now a struggle takes place.
If the upper wins, the sixth, having attracted to itself the quintessence of Good from the fifth -- its nobler affections, its saintly (though they be EARTHLY) aspirations, and the most Spiritualized portions of its mind -- follows its divine ELDER (the 7th) into the "Gestation" State; and the fifth and fourth remain in association as an empty SHELL -- (the expression is quite correct) -- to roam in the earth's atmosphere, with half the personal memory gone, and the more brutal instincts fully alive for a certain period -- an "Elementary" in short. This is the "angel guide" of the average medium.
We have got something very interesting there. The entity falls asleep -- immediately or within a few days after death in normal cases (and for the moment we are talking about average human beings, not Adepts, not Theosophists or students of Occultism necessarily, but just men and women who lead ordinary, average decent lives). The entity has a complete review of every incident of the past life that passes through the brain before the Spiritual eye of the Ego -- immediately following the moment when the body is declared to be dead. In this connection the Master says (we quote from page 171):
Speak in whispers, ye, who assist at a deathbed and find yourselves in the solemn presence of Death. Especially have you to keep quiet just after Death has laid her clammy hand upon the body. Speak in whispers, I say, lest you disturb the quiet ripple of thought, and hinder the busy work of the Past casting on its reflection upon the Veil of the Future.
We are told moreover that it is this Divine hour of refection and revelation that will actually determine the whole course of its future incarnation. Then the entity falls asleep. Within a quicker or shorter time it enters a state in which it is relatively unconscious -- unconscious entirely from the point of view that it can neither perceive anything nor can it perform actions. It has no will to do. It is in a region of effects, and it is at the mercy entirely of its own destiny as created by the man during life. If he was upward-aspiring, if he had noble thoughts and desires, if he loved a little -- not even greatly -- there will be enough in the higher spiritual portion of him to create that upward attraction of the higher principles that will gradually cause them to separate from the lower. The man is unconscious; but if there was a very material, egotistical, or even criminal life, then there is such an attraction -- force of gravity -- in the lower principles, that the lower man yields no meed of spiritual essence to the higher.
Still pursuing the course, then, of this entity, the average mortal who falls asleep: this immediate precipitation of all the different elements of his being takes place, and is referred to symbolically as the struggle in the Kamaloka -- not dissimilar to the struggle and ordeal of the passing from the physical body. It is a drawing apart of that which has been held together for a whole incarnation. Now, assuming that there is enough in the higher part of the human, thinking principle, enough of higher emotion and higher thoughts, when the drawing apart is completed, the lower part immediately crystallizes into an elementary -- a shell -- which pursues its own course ultimately to disintegration and falling apart of the elements that made up this entity. But the Higher part, what happens to it? Does it become conscious immediately? No. It goes into that state which is exactly analogous to the prenatal state of a child of human parents -- into a gestation state -- see how nature repeats itself. And after resting asleep, growing and preparing, the entity finally at the end of this period of gestation, awakes and becomes conscious. But it becomes conscious at the period of its first conscious memories of its child state at the beginning of the last incarnation. And so it begins life over again in a kind of ideal Paradise, surrounded with its parents, with its brothers and sisters, and those that loved it on earth; it lives there, and grows from infancy, through youth, adulthood, old age, going through all the spiritual experiences and working them out in absolute and complete bliss, resting in the bosom, as it were, of its own Christ principle, its own Lord of Splendor and Light, its own Inner God.
Necessarily there is a term. There comes an end to this experience of the Ego in the Heaven-world. There will come a time when the spiritual store of energies which have given it birth there and kept it there during all this time, become completely assimilated -- just as there comes a period when you completely assimilate the meal you took a few hours ago; and then the entity immediately begins to descend -- mind you it is a gradual process: as the birth and awaking to consciousness there was gradual, so is the redescent gradual. Nevertheless the store of karmic energies on the opposite side of the scale, i.e. the evil tendencies, thoughts, desires, wrong actions, and their consequences which everyone creates to a greater or less degree during his passage through earth life -- we have not referred to this so far. What do you think happens to these? Very important for us, for the Theosophic teaching is that there is no hell, no punishment in the ordinary religious understanding of the term, for the entity after death, i.e., for the average people; but this bundle of tendencies awaits the redescending ego after its experience in the Heaven world, awaits it, according to the occult teaching "at the threshold of Devachan." Then, as the entity descends, putting down the ray of its energy into the lower planes, it then by attraction, magnetic affinity, recollects the very matter -- yes, the material substance -- of which its lower vehicles were composed in the past life. It also gradually reclothes itself with those old tendencies, the effects of which it will have to work out in the succeeding earth life. So that the hell the Theosophist believes in is veritably here. Here we have to work out all karmic retribution, all those things that we did that were contrary to that Law of Unity and Harmony of the Universe.
There are only two immortal feelings, love and hatred -- and that is a strange statement, is it not? You can be immortal in love, and you can also be relatively immortal in hatred. You can ally yourselves with the forces that make for regeneration: wisdom, understanding, life and progress; or you can identify yourselves with the forces of death and destruction and hatred and evil. These are the world's eternal ways. Verily, "he who holds the keys to the secrets of Death is possessed of the keys of life." Yes indeed, if we understand these teachings correctly, we have the key that will enable us to realize how to live now that we may enter onto the Path of Light, not only here during this life, but enter into those regions of bliss in the higher worlds, that will enable us to be merged in that Universal Over-Soul in which we know that we live and move and have our being. These are a few of the ideas that you will find worked out in very great detail in THE MAHATMA LETTERS.
By Herbert Coryn
[From THE THEOSOPHIC ISIS, August 15, 1896, pages 233-38. ]
What then are the forces that go into the making up of all the personalities which we inhabit, and in each of which we exhibit a different phase of our total powers? For as is the inner man to his various outer phases through the days and years of his life, so is the eternal man, the reincarnating ego with all its powers to the successive personalities through which his aspects, as the lives go on, find their embodiment. So, too, to these eternal Egos, is the Logos of their planet. The same analogy can be carried still higher. Perhaps the scale has no summit.
What are now the forces in our consciousness? Every one of us acts mostly by the compulsion of forces already in his consciousness. Few are they who add very much to them. In lives long past, and more recent, and in this present, we have made for ourselves habits, and modes of thought and action. Some we have found already in social existence, or have entered into by heredity. These habits almost entirely rule our lives.
As regards any one man, there reside in his consciousness the forces that he himself has generated by his past thoughts and acts, and which will inevitably discharge themselves into action when the hour strikes. There are the forces that sway him, but have taken exit from others. There is his will, sitting nearly motionless, potent when it does act, yet whose acts are in no wise to be predicted.
Let us study the working out of these three groups in the shifting personalities of men. Every act of man is twofold in its effects, and of those twain we are for a moment concerned with one only. Every act not only paves the way for its own repetition, but it also prompts to that repetition as a positive force.
We can picture man as a central glowing spot of self-consciousness, and around that spot is the halo of it. The halo is a passive register of all that is originated by the glowing spot, which is self-conscious will. When the energy of, or for an act goes forth like a spark from the flame of will, it pushes ahead of it that passive pendulum known in science as the subconscious, and goes its way outward into the act.
So the mere act is not the whole of the story, for the pendulum when it has passed on the force to the mechanisms of act, swings back to its original place and then further back still, as much further back as it had been impelled forward. Then in a time-cycle, whose length is determined by the original force, it swings to and fro. That is all of the matter, so far as a mechanical pendulum is concerned.
It becomes more complete when we use the pendulum as a symbol, not very inaccurate, of the processes of human consciousness and sub-consciousness. Suppose the pendulum hung by a catch at the backward end of its sweep, awaiting for some indefinite time the removal of the catch to recommence its return swing. Suppose it was already swinging sideways when it was caught by the forward force, and so had to combine henceforth the two motions. Suppose that it could be caught at the end of one direction of movement yet free as regards another. These will suffice to show the complex possibilities of human, latent or active, consciousness, for the field of possibility contains a vastly intricate congress of such pendulums.
Every such pendulum represents a habit, superficial, or deep, of rapid or rare recurrence. We are accustomed too much to restrict the meaning of the word habit, making it apply only to frequent recurrences, but the word has just as good an application to a thing that occurs once only in each incarnation, for example, the habit of failing at the same point in occultism, in each life through the commission of the same fault.
A little duck, directly it is hatched, takes to water. Whilst it was in the egg, the POWER OF SWIMMING was, as it were, a pendulum held back at the inner end of its swing. Directly it sees water, which provides a new outer condition, a condition that suffices to release that pendulum whose swing is the manifestation of the power of swimming.
Say that four lifetimes ago, a man was a general, devoid of fear, accustomed to command. Three lifetimes follow in whose times there was no war, or his chance of soldiery is otherwise lacking. He is developing other parts of his nature, and the power of generalship is a pendulum held back from the swing. Now, again, war and his soldiership are offered by nature, liberate that long quiet pendulum and once more he is enabled to show forth all the qualities that go to make a general.
Suppose that a previously well-conducted man murders his mother. We say this is "insanity," but it may well be that from some long passed hostilities with her who is now his mother, coupled with old slavery to a bad temper, he had that pendulum or combination of pendulums swung back and caught, in his under-consciousness, and it only required that some other swinging pendulum therein should break that catch and set it free for its fateful swing forward.
The MANIFEST character of a man is the sum of the pendulums that are swinging. The unmanifest character is the sum of the pendulums that are tied up at the inner end of the swing and which at any moment might be set free.
When death comes, all the pendulums are tied up, and activities are purely subjective. In the life following, a few swing loose. A few, for in all of us are countless millions awaiting the conditions that will allow of their swing. And the great Karmic wheel, life after life, detaches here one and there one, and will in the end bring all into open cycle.
Every man may well stand aghast at the consideration of his own latent possibilities of evil. In a beginningless past of lives with a beginningless series of acts, we set a-swinging all those pendulums. But it is Nature who ties them back for a while in their multitudes, so that an appropriate few in each life may have undisturbed swing. It is Nature, and it is also we ourselves, for in some deep sense the two are one. Those silent hung-back pendulums have a force of their own that acts in bringing about the conditions of their activity.
He who has music in his soul will SOMETIME bring about for himself the birth and conditions necessary to give that music its chance of manifestation. Karma is the coming about of such external conditions as allow of the display of activities. The conditions arise under the silent power of the apparently inactive forces in consciousness that only await them to become active. We might assume that, but everything points to it in graduated analogy.
A man builds a house to suit himself, and his coat. And he builds the brain he requires, storing it with what furniture he will. So too he selects his business, though that is less obvious and sometimes untruly seems untrue. He selects, by the unconscious force within him, that which his deeper self needs for the expansion of his folded powers. Do not confuse that deep necessity with superficial whim, the casual and passing ideas of comfort or show.
Circumstances do not bend to THAT. If one has the necessity for music in his soul, and a whim for the law, the law will be apparently denied him. It will be apparently denied, for really there is no denier. It is denied because it was by WHIM, not by imperial WILL, not by the force that acts toward manifestation as strongly in the man as in the logos. Those forces within must have their expenditure, and they require conditions most objectionable to the outer man, such as great poverty. WE ARE THE ONLY LAWGIVERS, because the inner unexpended and unexpressed forces that we have compared to tied-back pendulums must have their swing and play.
It may be hateful to the musician to have to learn his scales and compose. But the force of composition is in him and so the outer man is compelled to do that for his bread, to the end that the inner man may be brought forth as HE wills. And if it is a life of crime that is written, so also will it happen. If imprisonment follows, again so, for unexpended forces, or needs, which ignominy of detection and prison life alone can enable to act, bring it forth.
Always we are our own lawmakers and condition-makers. We only SEEM compelled from without. How can we prove this? It can only be proved by watching the inner self, and seeing how the forces liberate each other, and how the external conditions roll up in apposition as the holes in an endless chain roll up to meet the cogs on a revolving wheel.
Slowly trying this and that activity, heaping up and expending this and that force, the self learns, at last, to select only such as all others could also adopt. He does what other men should do to him, making as his test of right action, "would it be good that all others should do likewise; if not, I will not do it."
The inner man needs and asks for the maximum of activity. In all actions that are injurious to his fellows, his actions are limited by their forces. In all actions that we call moral, they are not so limited, but encouraged. In long time this tells, and though to give great scope to the higher faculties requires that we curtail the lower activities. Yet some day the inner man will learn that thus only can he be most splendidly active and unlimited.
Spirit, in one sense, is the root of action, it is even action itself. In a long view, spirit reigns most where there is most action. If we look at it properly we shall easily see that we have most scope of action when our fellows least hinder us, which is only where we work for and with them. That is brotherhood, virtue, spirit, wide and happy activity, and in the end is self-productive.
By Michele Lidofsky
[based upon a June 2, 2000 posting to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
I would like to suggest that we might need to be quite objective and detached from emotional reactions when discriminating whether there is any truth or reality in any particular teacher's body of work.
It has been suggested at times that the objective approach, detached from emotional reactions, is incomplete. The suggestion is that a deep-down emotional reaction is also important, and needs to play a role in our acceptance of spiritual works.
But it IS nearly impossible to separate and draw distinctions between our intellectual apprehension of any subject matter and the governing effects of our emotional reaction to it.
So many of these have been conditioned by unpleasant experiences we have denied or suppressed, or by events in infancy or early childhood similarly 'buried' in our subconscious.
And often when we are telling ourselves that something FEELS fishy in a situation it is merely that we have simply not yet been able to intellectually solve a puzzle in which a bundle of quite objective but unrelated clues have been presented.
Yet perhaps the only way that we, as divine beings incarnated in animal bodies awash in a sea of primitive neurochemical and hormonal 'messages' continually influencing our behavior, opinions and decisions could be COMPLETELY objective about any written work would be to read it 'blind' -- not knowing who wrote the material you are presented with.
I have entered into so many discussions regarding this question of how to determine whether the teaching of a specific teacher is 'valid' and 'true'. Most often, after ENDLESS debate, the answer eventually does reduce to some formulation of "You must go with your gut instincts, your deepest feelings should be the ultimate judge."
It is difficult to imagine how they could NOT have the last word. But over the years, my confidence in this method has been somewhat dampened. I have seen many seekers who have fallen 'in love' with a guru whose wisdom and counsel is suspect or even downright dangerous. These devotees defend their alliance because of the intensity and fervor of their 'gut reaction' to her or him, which is then complacently supported by 'intellectual' rationalization.
Haven't the adepts advised us to try to come to conclusions using "impersonal" judgment? This would imply subtracting our emotions/egos from the issues. Therefore I prefer to lend more weight to pure analysis and intellectual detachment.
I look at the writings of some second-generation theosophical writers, and I'm disappointed. My pure analysis and intellectual detachment leads me to conclude that they were neither teachers nor practitioners of wisdom and compassion.
Compared to the magnificent encyclopedic works of Blavatsky, the quality and value of some more-recent material is meager. The writing shows no evidence of any prior or future empirical support. And for these reasons alone I would be hard pressed to qualify many as teachers or to recommend their works to anyone.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording of a private class held on March 30, 1955.]
Friends, before we actually begin any discussion regarding the teachings of Theosophy, there is something on my mind that I would like to mention. Consider our own meetings here, the fact that we like them, the fact that we are free to hold them. We are, we might say, completely at liberty to exercise our own will with regard to our studies, with what we do with Theosophy, with how we speak about it. I think that sometimes we forget that all of that cannot be taken for granted.
I think that very often all of us -- I know I certainly do -- take many, many things for granted that are not to be taken for granted. They are in many ways a privilege. Not a privilege that any one of us has accorded to each other. They are a privilege in the sense of an opportunity. There is opportunity for growth, for service. We can have a mutual acquisition of knowledge by sharing our experiences with ourselves and with other people who have nothing to do with any particular group, just fellow human beings.
These ideas have been brought to my attention only this morning by a letter that I have received from a good friend of mine in Uruguay. He's engaged in translating some of the theosophical literature into Spanish. This includes some of Blavatsky's writings and excerpts of various other things. He is issuing them in pamphlet form, not only for South America, but also for a certain number of people that he can furnish with such translations in Spain and in Mexico. He asked me some questions and for some suggestions. Among other things he began to quote from a letter that was received from Spain. He says that perhaps half of our booklets will be sent to Spain. He has just this morning received a letter from the actual leader of the Theosophical Movement in Spain. That letter says:
With difficulties, we have formed 15 lodges with 400 members. We cannot have meetings outside our private homes. We cannot have any headquarters. We cannot have talks in public. We cannot publish books. We cannot give public lectures. The police are in charge of enforcing it. The church tries to link us with the masons. The masons have been terribly persecuted. We receive some books from Buenos Aires and from Mexico. Can you believe that last year it was forbidden to establish even a vegetarian society in Spain?
How would we like to study Theosophy, to actually form lodges in Los Angeles, if this were the condition prevailing here? Of course, it can never happen here.
Question: Why not?
Yes, that's what I'd like to know. It is sometimes of value, of profound worth, to get a little insight as to how the other half of the world lives. We take a great deal for granted. We think that we are persecuted or cheated out of our rights when some little thing happens that thwarts our interests or perhaps our selfish inclinations. We all indulge upon occasion in considerable criticism -- I know I do -- of existing conditions in this country.
Well, of course this is not a paradise. Oh, no! I would like to just hear the squeak and the squawk that would go on among all of us, thousands of us, studying Theosophy in perfect freedom, if 50 percent of these conditions suddenly arose right out of the earth, unannounced, like a weed, and were with us overnight. While we may recognize a great many shortcomings that exists around here, it is good to compare our degree of freedom of expression and of movement and of study and of thought.
I have to choose my words very carefully now. What shall I say? There are corners of the globe -- and they're not little corners -- vast segments of the globe where a combination of medieval obscurantism has the upper hand. It is medieval even if it is ultra-modern in its methods. It is medieval in the spirit of it. It forfeits its own ends. It is bound to collapse. It can never stop the freedom of the human soul. It can do a great deal of damage. It can make millions suffer. It can introduce and does introduce into human life some of the greatest sorrows and pains and tribulations that the human heart can endure. This is particularly so when it has to do with the freedom of the spiritual interests of the human being.
In this particular instance, we are speaking of a land that for centuries was one of the foremost centers of culture. The great Moorish philosophers, the great Arabian culture as imported into Europe, the greatest lights of many a century shone from Spain. Unquestionably, it will be the case again. Of what use in the long run is that system? Of what use is a system of repression and coercion that today has invaded millions of human hearts and minds all over the world? Of what use is a system that tries to force things, things of darkness, upon the soul of man? That soul is free. It is essentially, potentially a thing of freedom. It is only when we project these dark clouds against whatever light there is -- and there is plenty of it -- that we begin to see how futile is the effort of materialism. Whether political, religious, or psychological, materialism is utterly out of season and out of time. Today these methods belong really to the childhood of the human race.
There is something that I wanted to bring to your attention, friends, a certain point of teaching which I think is very practical. I believe we should all attempt to investigate it a little closer in the consciousness and in the mental processes of our daily life. It has to do with cycles. This is not in a very general sense, but rather in a very specific sense. I would like to bring this to your attention by means of a physical analogy, of a physical simile.
Suppose you have a fairly strong light, without fade, let's say a fairly strong bulb. You look at it for a few moments. It's not very pleasant to you because it's a little too strong to look at. Then you turn it out, and close your eyes. Of course the usual thing happens in that you see that light, usually the filament of that electric bulb, impressed on your retina. The image persists for a while. The same thing would happen if you were to look at the sun then turn away or go into a dark room. It's there before you for a while.
Have you ever watched that image? If you watch that image, you will discover, or you might discover, one of the very important laws in the occult operation of nature. Experiment with it sometime. Watch that image. It is not steady. It is not continuous. It remains for a stated number of seconds. Then it vanishes for a stated number of seconds. Then it reappears before the eye for a while. Then it vanishes again. It comes back and vanishes a number of times. It is simpler to do it if you do not try to blink. Just look steadily into the prevailing darkness with that retinal impression before you and with the eyes closed. Every time that image comes back from nowhere, it has changed slightly its shape and its color. Every time its shape will be a little different and its color will be a little different. It will become fainter and fainter. Finally it will even up with the darkness before your eyes and you will see that impression no more.
Behind this simple thing lies a profound law. All impressions are periodic. If you touch something fairly cold -- not too cold to touch or to hold, fairly cold -- and keep your finger there after the initial impression, it will become less cold after a while. You will not feel the cold, as much as you did at first. The first impression is colder. If it's something hot -- but not too hot, so that you can touch it -- the first impression is very much hotter than after a while.
The impressions produced upon our senses are periodic. If they are not periodic, if we deliberately make them non-periodic, we will lose them. Touch something. Feel that "This is a table." Think of something else. After a little while you have forgotten that your finger is on it. You don't feel it until you THINK of it. Even if you touch yourself, after a while you might forget that you are in contact with yourself. The first impression was the one you felt. Then it has deadened away, because the impression was not periodic. If the impression was periodic by your tapping this way, you feel the contact every time. Physically -- that is, on the physical plane -- the periodicity of impressions is fairly evident.
Important as it is, it is not very important unless we talk about the periodicity of the cycles in nature. Picture the periodicity of all impressions, their recurrence, their disappearance, and their recurrence again and again. This happens until they are superseded by stronger impressions. This periodicity is particularly important in psychological, intellectual, and spiritual lines. That is where they become. That is where this law becomes a tool with which we can build our lives. That is a tool with which we can help other people to build their own lives.
I think this periodicity of cycles is especially important for anyone engaged in spiritual work, either for the sake of others or upon him, and for anyone who is engaged in the healing arts. Whatever happens to us is an impression. It carries with itself an impression. You come here. You attend our discussion. You carry away impressions. If there were no further meetings held here, the memory of these meetings and more particularly of the last one that you attend would come back periodically. You would think of it periodically, but not all the time. Maybe after months or even years, according to the strength of the impression, it had been overlaid with other, more powerful impressions, and you won't think of it anymore.
You can have impressions imprinted upon a certain part of your mind, both of a constructive and a destructive nature. If you see some nasty brawl on the street, it will produce a very unpleasant impression upon you. You might remember it for a long time and feel disgusted about it. If you watch a marvelous sunset, or sunrise, that too will come back and back and uplift you every time it comes back into your consciousness. The only reason why this happens is because they recede into the subconscious part of our mind. These impressions do not remain steady. They become more and more feeble. It is because the senses, the physical senses, the mental apparatus and the nervous system are constantly bombarded. They are bombarded by new and perhaps more powerful impressions as we go along through life.
There is a practical application of this simple law, which prevails from the electron to the galaxy. This is a simple application. With it we can have control over the recurrence of these impressions.
If we indulge in any kind of an action, we will have made an impression upon our subconscious mind. It does not matter whether that action is positive or negative, ethical or unethical, beautiful or ugly. The impression will recur. It will vanish away for a while and become dormant like that picture on the retina. Then it will come back. The impression has come back into the vision or sphere of your mind. It has focalized itself and there it is again.
You then have a growing urge to repeat the original action that gave the original impression. That is when you begin to feel an urge to do the same thing again. It may be a beautiful thing. It may be an ugly one. Maybe you caught yourself sometime being dishonest in money. It was the first time. That impression comes back and is focalized before your mind a second time. You will then feel an urge to repeat the same action and do it again. I don't mean, of course, any of you here. I'm speaking in the abstract.
It so happens that when you have done this thing a second time, the impression is twice as strong. Therefore, when it comes back for the third time, the urge to do it a third time is that much stronger. Eventually a habit is formed. We indulge by then in a very natural way. The way is natural to us because we have established a habit. We indulge very naturally, almost automatically in that type of action. We have become habitually liars, habitually dishonest, habitually immoral. Or we have built a habit of kindliness, a habit of cheerfulness, a habit of meeting danger fearlessly. We have established a habit of RESISTING temptation, both on the negative side and on the positive, on the constructive and on the destructive side. As a habit is indulged in, the habit becomes a character.
We, as students of Theosophy, may see noble characters and ignoble characters. We know that they haven't become that way by the decree of some hypothetical god. They have become that way because they have given way to recurrent impressions of original actions, good or bad. They have established a habit of doing the good or the bad thing. Eventually, perhaps over a period of many lives, the habit repeated every time has become the fabric of their character. It has become the DOMINANT of their character. Note here that I say "dominant" using that word in a musical sense. Their character has other characteristics as well, but this good or bad habit is a dominant in it. It's one of the most powerful impressions because it has been indulged so often in.
There is one very interesting point here, a little-known one. We witness planets going around the sun in cyclic curves. They are obviously not closed circles. By the time the planet has gone around half of its orbit, well, the whole solar system has moved. So of course it never comes to the same spot. It is seemingly a closed circle. But it is really a spiral always in another part of space. The sun is moving away on its own orbit. Every time we see seasons roll by, every time we see the moon go around the earth once a month, every time we see the return of a comet so many few years and so many few centuries, we speak about cycles. We take many of these things for granted.
We've got a big science by the name of Astronomy. It has written a lot of books. We trust that these books are fairly correct.
We may fail to take into consideration the fact that our impressions, the impressions that we receive, also move in some kind of an orbit. These impressions may be either from other people's actions or from our own action. They are here today. They are not here tomorrow.
Today I am having a mood of depression. I am struggling against it maybe for several days. It becomes feebler and feebler. It has been overlaid with something better. I have worked myself out of it. By the end of two, three days, or maybe longer, it's gone. I'm again my better self.
By Jove! If it doesn't come back next month! Or it comes back at the expiration of six weeks. Or possibly two or three months, according to the individual. Back it is with the same effect, the same symptoms. I'm in the throes of fighting it off again. Where has it been in the meantime? Where has it traveled? It has got an orbit. It's almost like a comet that was here. Then it went behind Neptune and you couldn't even reach it with the best telescope on hand. Then it began to become visible again as it came closer to the sun. It's almost the same thing.
Well, naturally, if we were trained clairvoyants we might have the full answer to that. We would see the motions of the inner world, the circulations of the astral world. Note that this is not the motion of the physical planets. We will follow our thoughts -- which are things, which are entities -- along these circulations. I do not intend to give you the full answer because I don't know it. Suffice it to say that these impressions, giving rise to our moods and states of consciousness, are periodic. They are cyclical. And just as long as they are periodic and they are cyclical, we can do something about them.
Here is a man who is fighting that depression. He has put it down in his notebook. Between the places where he puts it in his notebook is about six weeks. Every six weeks he gets into this state of mind against his own will. Is there anything he can do about it? He has understood a little bit of the teaching of cycles. He has understood the idea of the periodic operation of impressions. These impressions are created or given rise to either in former lives or in habits of thought established in this incarnation through many years past. He has understood this thing. Is there anything that he can do about it to change it? Is this an automatic thing that cannot be touched? Is it something that we must endure? Is it something he has to learn how to live with, unable to change it? Not at all!
The key to the controlling of cycles lies in another occult law. That is the balancing of opposites. It takes will. Before exercising your will, you had better understand at least intellectually what goes on. Here you are. You're a man with that periodic mood of depression and discouragement. You have the blues, during which period everything seems useless. You are tired of everything. You lose optimism. You lose trust and hope and faith. You would like everything to end, and get away from it all, once for good.
To get away, of course, is something that you cannot do. You've got it with you. The only way in which you can control it is first to realize that it is something created by yourself. That is, it is a natural result of having indulged, once upon a time, in a building up of this series of impressions. There must have been some time in the past -- a first time -- when you gave way to it. Then come a second, and the third, and then it becomes a habit. It may have been in this life. It may have been a carry-over from another incarnation, where you have built it up in yourself. Other people may have contributed to this in your own character.
You have it now. The first thing to realize is that it is self-made. If it is self-made, you can also make the opposite. And you cannot control this thing unless and until you try to set up a new vibratory rate at the time when you feel the worst. Not at the time when it has passed away. Then everything seems easy. It has to be initiated at a time when you are down and out, relatively speaking. At that time you can force yourself.
If it is that hard for you, you can force yourself to smile. You can force yourself to feel happy about one little thing that you can find somewhere in your life. Failing this, you can force yourself just to go in front of the mirror. Smile. See how it looks. It looks attractive. That is more attractive than the other picture. Failing this, you can force yourself IN IMAGINATION to partake in or share the happiness of another. You may not even know the individual. You just happen to know that he's very happy about something. Or you may know a friend of yours who is very happy. Try to share in imagination his happy frame of mind. You've made a beginning.
Why have you made a beginning? In a little while the same mood of discouragement and pessimism and disappointment comes upon you there will come up your effort of a few weeks ago to feel happy. It comes up automatically from exactly the same deeper levels of your subconscious mind. They will be simultaneous. They are in association. From now on they are in association.
You have created a positive impression in your mind that is associated in time, cyclically associated with the other mood. And they come back together. As long as they come back together, the negative mood is somewhat lessened by your positive effort of a few weeks ago. And they're bound to come together because that's the way nature works. It's lessened.
Be sure that at the time that the mood of depression passes through your mind, there also passes a memory of what you did or tried to do last time to counteract it. Be sure at that time that you repeat the attempt to counteract it again along similar lines. This would be not identical, but similar, so as to make the positive impression of a new mood twice as strong. When the depression mood comes back the third time, it'll be less so. And a positive impression will be three times that strong.
Persevere in doing this simple exercise of yoga. That's what it is, spiritual yoga. You will then find that there comes a time when the negative mood of disgust and discouragement and the positive will to be cheerful and courageous have equalized themselves. They're equally strong. You don't know which way to feel. You can't give way to discouragement because this is too strong. You can't feel positively happy because this is too strong yet. You are uncertain which way to feel.
You have a struggle within. But that's fine. That's fine. The more we have struggle within, the better, the sooner we will grow. If you pass that point of equalization and continue your exercise, every single time that this thing happens to come back again, the positive will be stronger than the negative.
Given time, the negative mood will be completely exhausted from want of nourishment. It will be superseded by the positive impression that you have created. It must be simultaneous. Otherwise it is not going to work. In this simple fashion, you can control any vice in due course of time. You can control any negative habit, any condition of consciousness that you want to outgrow.
So we go back now. This little experiment with the light and the periodicity of its impressions can therefore be applied with a law in back of it. It can be applied to the psychological, intellectual, psychic and even physical purification of the human organism.
In due course of time we establish those rhythms within us that are creative. We establish those habits within our mind and psychological nature that are constructive and uplifting. In due course of time we begin to reach that point where we feel only what we will. When we think only what we WILL to think, we have then built a spiritual, intellectual resistance area, or resistance field.
This field cannot be penetrated by any negative influence. You are not constantly giving way to the feelings that impinge upon you from other people. You have begun to become the king of your own realm. You are not prostituting this fear of your mind to the tramping thoughts of the multitudes. You have learned how to fill the sphere of your mind with the thoughts that you have willed to think. You don't have to will to feel them and will to think them every time.
By the law of the periodicity of impressions, the higher feelings and the higher thoughts periodically come back and back and back and are being strengthened every time. They are strengthened just like the negative ones were, so that they finally become habitual.
There is no room for anything else in the sphere of your inner principles. There is no room for anything else in the part of your aura that belongs to the inner principles, because you have saturated it with this positive action from within.
Long before that, other people will know that you are different from others. They will know that you are a positive, creative thinker. Long before that, you will have opened up for yourself almost unbeknown, almost unconsciously so, opportunities of service. People attuned at all to anything like this will come your way because you will have something flowing OUT of you. You have something that is uplifting and beneficial and creative.
There is a great deal more that can be said about all of this. I think that what I've said is sufficient as a general outline. If you have anything to ask, I will be glad to discuss this a little longer.
I must say that my knowledge of these things is very limited. If it were less limited, then all of us would be much bigger individuals than we are. Can we grasp the elements of this thing? Can we grasp the fundamental law operative behind it? Then we can use this fact of nature as a tool to carve our character accordingly. We can build just like a bricklayer or a carpenter builds with tools and materials by exercising his will. We take certain specific, constructive directions to achieve certain specific ends in view.
That is just an aspect of self-directed evolution. It is not the floating, drifting down a stream together with all the other thoughtless millions. It is sailing according to certain laws that the seaman knows, sailing down currents and even sometimes against currents. We are with the wind and against the wind, because we are beginning to be captains of our own ships and not just stowaways on somebody else's ship, as most people are.
David: Would you say that habits could continue from one incarnation to another?
Yes. Habits are much deeper than they appear to most people. Many physical habits are transitory, gone when the body has disintegrated. They belong to just this particular aggregate of molecules. They endure a few years and then they are gone.
There are habits of the soul, habits of the inner structure of the man. They are psychological, intellectual, and spiritual habits. These habits pertain to the inner man, to the real actor, to the one who has built for himself a body -- and has built for himself many bodies, many times. They pertain to ways of thinking and ways of feeling, as seeds of emotions and seeds of thought. They endure in the auric sphere, field, or force that surrounds the ego.
Those seeds of habits remain in latency during the period of rest between incarnations. The individual comes back and builds for himself a new vehicle, astral and physical. Then those seeds almost automatically begin to grow. They produce by exteriorization. In the growing personality of the child, the young man, or woman, there appear the tendencies, the inclinations, and the habitual moods, which they have built for themselves in past lives. These tendencies are produced as the result of former thinking and of former feeling.
Physical heredity has a great deal to do with the picture. The most important thing is that psychological, intellectual, and spiritual heredity by which we only inherit ourselves. We are the inheritors of our own past. There is no denial of physical heredity. The physical heredity is something that has to do with the outer vehicles. It must -- if it has any meaning at all, any deeper meaning -- be correlated with the inner heredity or sum total of experience from former lives that makes this individual what he is.
Question: Boris? I was thinking of this problem -- which is a terrible trouble now -- of the alcoholic. Actually, in the beginning it is not a physical thing, is it? In other words, the body does not crave the alcohol in the beginning. It must be something mental or emotional rather than just physical. Eventually the physical does enter into the picture, probably where the body is attuned to this thing and probably then demands.
Question: Suppose a person enjoys his liquor. He drinks to excess for a couple of incarnations. Then he comes back. I know that many doctors say that certain people should never touch a drink. The minute they do, they are through. Other people can drink. It does not seem to really affect them. Other people take a drink. For them, that one drink is their downfall. Is this habit beginning again? Has this affinity for liquor, which may have accumulated through past lives, started again?
Partly. It is partly so, largely so. That is not the whole story. Say an individual has given free reign to any kind of habit. Something has been indulged in, and a habit has been established. There also has been established another pattern, a very unfortunate one. The type of habit does not matter. It does not have to be just drink. Although the rule applies to drink, just as well. It may be stealing. It may be immorality. It may be any other criminal tendency. It may be more or less serious.
There are various element-principles of the human constitution. They are bound together by links including the physical with the lower astral, the lower astral with the more higher form of the astral, the pranic or life currents with the physical and the astral, the astral with the kamic or the desire principle and the lower thought elements. These inner links between the principles have become weakened.
There is a loosening of the internal coherence of the lower principles. Where that loosening has taken place, there is what might be called holes, fractures, fissions, fissures, or openings. Instead of being solidly integrated, forming a strong, repellant wall of the self-contained entity, the loosely organized personality of the man becomes shot to pieces.
There pour into its internal structure all sorts of vicious elements and entities and streams of elemental forces from the lower realms of the astral light. It becomes more and more saturated with foreign substances and living entities, which do not belong in a harmoniously integrated, self-contained, and self-controlled individual. He is not only up against his own habits. He is also up against the urges, temptations, and motivating impulses of all sorts of other entities similar in vibratory rate to his own habit.
You might ask if he is possessed. Well, at first he is obsessed. After a while, reaching the point of delirium tremens, he is possessed. Does he ever get out of it? Certainly. Everything finally has a tendency to become equilibrated and purified. When will he see this recovery happen? It may be lives before he has been able to build, brick by brick, enough internal will, resistance, to begin the fight against the elements which have invaded his internal structure, elements that meet him every time at the threshold of a new incarnation.
It is like meeting old friends. They are there! They are your own. Is there anyone else to blame? No. It is your own doing. Imagine what marvelous things we can build into our nature. Imagine what wonderful currents of spiritual life we can become attuned to. Imagine what elemental entities from higher spheres we can beckon to our assistance and to become allies with us. Imagine what wonderful friends in them we can meet at every incarnation. It works both ways. Of course, people do not become addicted to any particular vice overnight.
The picture is still more complicated because we are karmically connected with other people. Other people may have exercised an undue influence upon us. We have to meet that. After controlling the vice within ourselves, we are also karmically required to help those others to get over theirs. It is a complex picture.
One thing remains unaltered. No amount of argument can get you away from it. That is that it is self-made, that it is self-made by stages. At every stage, it becomes easier. This could be any type of vice, any type of habit. Every time that you indulge in it, it becomes stronger.
Curiously enough, the more a habit becomes established, the more opportunities there seem to be for the lower mind, the emotionally functional mind, to invent excuses out of its own diseased imagination. It finds excuses for this condition and finds good-sounding, logical reasons why it should be indulged in. As said in THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, "The mind is the slayer of the real." The disciple is called upon to "slay the slayer." This is mystical, metaphorical language. By the mind, HPB did not mean the spiritual intellect, but the lower mind of man.
It applies to all habits. The pattern in nature is uniform. There is only one pattern. Therefore, everything said about vice applies to virtues. They have to be built the same way. Nature is run on the same pattern. Whatever mechanics or dynamics apply on the negative side, the same dynamics apply on the positive side. It is just a matter of direction or of motive. It is a matter of direction or motive. Yes, these are the best words to use.
Nicky: How is it that we can help these noble thoughts and ideas to rub off on other people? Does that process need encouragement or does it just happen automatically?
I think that to some small extent the power of example rubs off automatically. It rubs off to some small extent, not much. As a foundation, we might say that if you set an example of something high and noble, it will eventually rub off. Of course, that is not enough.
People have to be urged, never coerced, never told what to do, but given a suggestion of what they might do. Learn how to arouse in others a desire to do the noble thing or to behave the way that you think is noble. Arouse in them that desire either by direct action or indirection. If by any chance you have learned how to make them feel that they were the initiators of that action, that you had nothing to do with it, then they will start it going.
People do not like to imitate you if they think that you know that they are imitating you. They invariably imitate you. They do so as long as you do not know that they are doing it. They will imitate you, your example, as long as they know or think that you do not know anything about it.
Bring them to the point where they feel that they are doing something from within themselves. In actuality the thought, the original thought, came from you. They just took the suggestion. Treat this completely impersonally. Do not say anything to them. Then you can start them in the right direction.
Urge them to do something. Should they actually begin to do it, they would feel constantly indebted to you for that. You would make the mistake of telling them, "Well, you see, you see, now you're doing what I told you, and how fine it works."
Question: Boris, That never works.
Yes. When you have a strong conviction about something, I think it is better to exercise it, at least most of the time. It is better to exercise it silently. Not by letting people hear, "This is my conviction and this is the way I'm going to act." Act that way and let the other people guess, "Why are you acting that way?"
If they are intelligent at all, certainly not dumbbells, but if they are intelligent at all, they will finally come to ask themselves the question, "What makes that man tick that way?" Maybe they'll come to ask you definitely, "Why is it that you think that way?" or "Why are you acting that way?" "Everybody's afraid of so-and-so, but you weren't afraid of it." "Everybody got discouraged about so-and-so, but it didn't make any difference to you. Why? Is that the way you have been taught?" By the time you have brought a man to the point of asking you a question, he is lost. Because that is a door, you can drive in a whole cartload of bricks with that. He has asked a question. You can say many things, even in a few words. He has begun to grow.
The urging of others has to be done in a very wise way. I do not think that we can lay down too definite a law about it. Every instance is individual, is a specific one, and is a different one, and your own intuition will have to supply the necessary links in any particular situation. One fine approach to this is to invariably encourage whatever there is good in the other. If you know of any traits in his character that are good, speak to him about it. Say how you like them. Say that they mean quite a bit to you. Comment on them. If you find his mistakes, failings, shortcomings, and negative traits, never mention them. Never mention them, just as if they did not even exist.
I think that the circumstances when we are called upon to draw the attention of the other fellow to one of his weaknesses are very rare, very rare. They arise, yes, they arise, but they are rare. The occasions when we can make a slight comment on his good qualities are very numerous. We can make those opportunities. We can create them.
Finally, that friend of yours, he sees what you like in him. He is not quite sure of what you did not like in him, because you never mentioned those things. He is quite sure of what you like in him. As it is in the very nature of the human being that he likes to be liked. He likes to be admired. He likes to receive favorable comments about himself. For that very reason, he will try to enhance his good qualities. He knows that you will like him more for that.