For, however limitless -- from a human standpoint -- the paranirvanic state, it has yet a limit in Eternity. Once reached, the same monad will RE-EMERGE therefrom, as a still higher being, on a far higher plane, to recommence its cycle of perfected activity. The human mind cannot in its present stage of development transcend, scarcely reach this plane of thought. It totters here, on the brink of incomprehensible Absoluteness and Eternity.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, page 266.
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 185-87.]
The struggle for existence is universal. The poverty-stricken struggle hard to keep body and soul together, face problems that they are not able to solve and ultimately die, without any knowledge of death and the great hereafter. Those loaded with the gifts of fortune spend much of their time in dancing to the delusive music of life to avoid ennui and boredom. They too live by false knowledge and die in ignorance of what death is and of the great hereafter. Everyone seeks happiness according to his or her own notion of it. Happiness escapes almost everyone. Men and women pay in disappointment and headaches for the whirligig of the night before. Frustration of hopes in time sours life and embitters character.
The Great Masters of all ages have tried to help men and women to avoid frustration and the consequent discontent. Each of them has pointed to the truth that Nature's purpose fulfils itself in justice that is merciful, inasmuch as it is educative. This gives meaning to pain and points to a remedy.
Modern science recognizes that Law operates in Nature. For it, Nature or the Universe would be without any Moral Order. Justice is known as Determinism in modern materialistic science. It cannot yet accept the merciful aspect of the Law because its universe is guided by a living something which is automatic and blind. A Moral Universe is not known to modern science. This is a natural revulsion from that theological absurdity -- propounded by theologians, Christian, and non-Christian alike -- a personal God. Life has become unbearable for thousands of human beings because they accept such a God and address Him thus:
Thou great Mysterious Power, who hast INVOLVED The pride of human wisdom, to CONFOUND The DARING SCRUTINY and prove the FAITH Of thy PRESUMING creatures.
Absurd as this may sound, there are in this twentieth century thousands who believe in this ludicrous notion. Truly a robust "faith" is required to believe that it is "presumption" to question the justice of one who creates helpless little man but to "perplex" him, and to test a "faith" with which that "Power," moreover, may have forgotten, if not neglected, to endow him, as happens sometimes. Among the Hindu masses the same ignorance and superstition exist today, for the real meaning of the Law of Karma is not learnt. Karma -- Action implies effort, and self-chosen effort at that. Therefore, the power of will, exerted in ignorance, or by knowledge, is also implied.
It is not the wave which drowns a man, but the PERSONAL action of the wretch, who goes deliberately and places himself under the IMPERSONAL action of the laws that govern the Ocean's motion.
-- H.P. Blavatsky
What have the Sages and Seers taught? Jesus asked, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" and the great Apostle Paul warned, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The Master Krishna has traced the stages on the downward way. "He who attendeth to the inclinations of the senses, in them hath a concern." From this follow passion, anger, delusion, loss of memory, loss of discernment, and finally loss of all. Right effort is also described in THE GITA, and each mind can select and act upon one or another prescription. Most lucidly also has Gautama the Enlightened One expounded Karma. This grand teaching had been corrupted in India when He appeared and one of His noble endeavors was to restore to His countrymen the true meaning of Karma.
The Self is the Lord of self; what higher Lord could there be? When a man subdues well his self, he will find a Lord difficult to find.
The evil done by oneself, born of oneself, produced by oneself, crushes the fool even as the diamond breaks a hard precious stone.
Easy it is to do evil; deeds which are harmful to oneself come easy. Exceedingly hard it is to do that which is beneficial and good.
Evil is done by self alone; by self alone is one defiled. By self alone is evil left undone; by self alone is one purified. Purity and impurity belong to oneself. No man can purify another.
The foolish man reviles the teachings of the holy ones, the noble and the virtuous; he follows false doctrines which bear fruit to his own destruction, even like the fruit of the Katthaka reed.
By Hazel S. Minot
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, April 1950, pages 207-12.]
From the days of myth and legend to the busy whirl of modern life, the tree has held an honored place in the hearts of men. The oak and pine, palm, laurel, silvery olive, and many another have had their votaries. The oaks at Dodona voiced through their whispering leaves the will of Zeus. The Druids of Britain and Gaul held groves of this mighty tree sacred. The palm from of old was a symbol of victory, as was also the laurel or daphne, the prize for those who were successful in the Pythian games in honor of Apollo.
The olive, too, though linked with the dove as a symbol of peace, is emblematic of victory, a wreath of olive being the prize contended for in the Olympic Games of ancient Greece. It was likewise the highest mark of honor that could be extended to a citizen meriting well of his country.
In Egypt, the tamarisk was held sacred as possessing occult virtues, and it was often planted around temples. It is also in Egypt that we find the Lady of the Sycamore, otherwise the goddess Nut, who is pictured as if standing in the midst of the tree from which she is offering to her worshipers the fruit or the water from the Tree of Life.
Here we meet a universal symbol -- the World Tree. What more natural than that early man should choose the tree to represent Life -- not merely the never-ending force itself, but the very source from whence it comes. So truly did the ancient Hindus understand this that they represented their world tree, the Ashwattha, as growing with its roots in the heavenly worlds, and its trunk and branches extending downwards into the world of men.
When we consider the sevenfold nature of the Universe and of man its seed, and take into consideration the possibilities of only a seven times seven ramifications, we can easily envision the pattern of a majestically spreading tree. The pattern, however, is too intricate to suppose that awareness of it came to man from the piecing together of untutored observations.
The symbol of the World Tree, variously called the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge, the Tree of Speech, is, by its very universality, a truth given to infant humanity by those wise ones who are ever our guides and protectors. H.P. Blavatsky refers to it as follows:
The Symbol for Sacred and Secret Knowledge was universally in antiquity, a Tree, by which a Scripture or a Record was also meant. Hence the word Lipika, the "writers" or scribes; the "Dragons," symbols of wisdom, who guard the Trees of Knowledge: the "golden" apple Tree of the Hesperides; the "Luxuriant Trees" and vegetation of Mount Meru guarded by a Serpent. Juno giving to Jupiter, on her marriage with him, a Tree with golden fruit is another form of Eve offering Adam the apple from the Tree of Knowledge.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 128-9
She says further:
The tenacious vitality it exhibits all over the globe ... is the best proof that the seed planted by our fathers on "the other side of the flood" was that of a mighty oak, not the spore of a mushroom theology. No lightning of human ridicule can fell to the ground, and no thunderbolts ever forged by the Vulcans of science are powerful enough to blast the trunk, or even scar the branches of this world-tree of KNOWLEDGE.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, 574
In one of the works of Robert Fludd, spoken of as "the chief of the 'Philosophers by Fire,'" is an interesting pictorial interpretation of the Arber Sephirotheca, or the Sephirothal Tree of the Kabbala. [See THE BOOK OF EARTHS, by Edna Kenton, Plate xxi.] This World Tree, like the Ashwattha, is shown with its roots above, and its branches below.
In this representation of Cosmogonic emanations, we have the ten Sephiroth extending from the highest, the Crown -- the heart and center of the spreading roots on the spiritual plane -- surrounded by a glory of light whose rays extend with lessening power behind the remaining Sephiroth, ending with the tenth, or our world. From the Crown the succeeding Sephiroth are represented as globes extending from arms or branches on the trunk of the tree. The nine form three groups of three, each group or triad being the expression of the spiritual, intellectual, and material aspects or qualities of that particular plane. The tenth Sephirah, our globe, being the link, as it were, between the Universe and Man. HPB speaks of the ten as representing the seven manifest and the three unmanifest worlds.
In the illustration of Fludd referred to, the World Tree is a palm, whose ten spreading branches ray forth from the lowest world and, named after the ten Sephiroth respectively, they are a symbol of the Macrocosm in its reflection, the Microcosm, Man. In this simple manner is represented a volume of esoteric truth.
H.P. Blavatsky turns a goodly number of the pages of this volume, giving many valuable keys to their interpretation both in ISIS and THE SECRET DOCTRINE. She remarks, following a quotation of several paragraphs from Franck, the translator of the Kabbala, that
This kabalistic conception is ... proved identical with that of the Hindu philosophy. Whoever reads Plato and his DIALOGUE Timaeus, will find these ideas as faithfully re-echoed by the Greek philosopher.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, II, 40
It is not surprising that the mediaeval Rosicrucians should have taken the rose itself as the symbol of their World Tree. [See THE BOOK OF EARTHS, Plate xxiv.] Pictured as a gigantic rose sought by bees from nearby hives, it tells a most interesting story. Anything said sub rosa, under the rose, was said in confidence; and if this applied to worldly affairs, how much more binding was it with teaching given only to those who had earned the right to it!
Among the ancient Greeks, "bees" was a name for disciples, and the sacred wisdom that they sought was "honey." Referring to this, Dr. de Purucker comments:
In Greece, Melissai or Bees was a title given in certain cases to priestesses having certain recondite functions to perform; while frequently 'honey' or 'honeydew' is spoken of by some ancient writers as signifying or symbolizing Wisdom, or wisdom gained from life's experiences: just as the bees collect and digest the nectar of flowers, turning it into honey, so do human beings collect knowledge from life and spiritually and mentally digest it into Wisdom. We are reminded of the 'ambrosia' and 'nectar' on which the gods, the spiritually wise ones, feed, and which nourishes them.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, page 848
HPB links this thought with the Scandinavian Eddas, pointing out that
The honey-dew -- the food of the gods and of the creative, busy Yggdrasill -- bees -- falls during the hours of night, when the atmosphere is impregnated with humidity; and in the Northern mythologies, as the passive principle of creation, it typifies the creation of the universe OUT OF WATER; this dew is the astral light in one of its combinations and possesses creative as well as destructive properties.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, 133
Possibly the best known of the World Trees, at least in the Occident, is the Ash Yggdrasill of the Eddas. This mighty tree has three roots reaching out into three different worlds, and, like the Sephirothal tree and the Ashwattha, links these worlds together.
One root extends into the land of the gods, the Asa folk, who gather each day beneath the branches of the tree to hold their council meetings; and under this root is the fountain of Urd.
The middle root goes to the land of the Frost giants, and Mimir's well or fountain lies beneath it.
The third root extends to the underworld, and here is the fountain Hvergelmer, while gnawing at the roots of Yggdrasil is Nidhogg, variously described as a demon, a giant, and a Serpent.
Now the well of Mimir conceals within its waters wisdom and knowledge, and the inspiration for poetry and song, but the fountain of Urd is the most sacred of the waters.
[Here dwell the Norns, who sprinkle Yggdrasill daily with the waters of the fountain] that it may not wither. It remains verdant till the last days of the Golden Age. Then the Norns -- the three sisters who gaze respectively into the Past, the Present, and the Future -- make known the decree of Fate (Karma, Orlog), but men are conscious only of the Present.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Il, 520
HPB says of the Norse Legends that
One recognizes in Asgard, the habitat of the gods, as also in the Ases themselves, the same mystical loci and personifications woven into the popular "myths," as in our Secret Doctrine; ... The Norse Ask, the Hesiodic Ash-tree, whence issued the men of the generation of bronze, the Third Root-Race, and the Tzite tree of the POPOL-VUH, out of which the Mexican third race of men was created, are all one ... As in the Gogard [the Hellenic tree of life], among the luxuriant branches of all those mundane trees, the "Serpent" dwells. But while the Macrocosmic tree is the Serpent of Eternity and of absolute Wisdom itself, those who dwell in the Microcosmic tree are the Serpents of the manifested Wisdom. One is the One and All. The others are its reflected parts. The "tree" is man himself, of course, and the Serpents dwelling in each, the conscious Manas, the connecting link between Spirit and Matter, heaven and earth.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 97-98
Almost poles apart, geographically, yet with a marked sympathy of thought, is the World Tree of Fiji -- a conception brought there from the Friendly Islands by the Tongans. Here, again, is a tale of the beginnings of things, and the Tree of Speech is but an episode in the recounting of the coming of men to earth and their subsequent knowledge of decay and death. As with the Ash Yggdrasill, this is the gathering-place of the gods, and the tree grows by a fountain, the Water of Life. Told by Ma'afu, a Tongan Chief, the legend charms and impresses one with its simple dignity.
The following passages come from the legend called The Beginning of Death -- suggestive of the Norse legend! -- in this instance the Tree of Speech fulfills the office of the Norns, making known the decree of Fate.
A fine land is Bulotu, and happy are its people; for there, close to the house of Hiku-leo [the Loki of Tonga], is Vai-ola, the Water of Life, which the gods drink every day. Oh, that we had it here on earth, for it will heal all manner of sickness! Moreover, near the brink of the fountain stands Akau-lea, that wondrous tree, the Tree of Speech, under whose shadow the gods sit down to drink kava, the tree acting as master of the ceremonies, and calling out the name of him to whom the bowl shall be carried.
There came a time, however, when Maui, the king of the gods, decided to sail forth from Bulotu. It was the closing of the Golden Age, the passing of the first and second races, and the coming of the third with the knowledge of death. There was argument among the gods about this going forth, and then:
[They heard] a rustle and a stir among the leaves of the Tree of Speech, as if a sudden blast were sweeping through its branches; and all the gods kept silence, for they knew it was going to speak.
"Hear my words, Maui," it said. "Hear my words, Hiku-leo, and gods all. Go not! Evil will come to pass if you go -- an evil so great and terrible that you could not understand if I were to tell you what it is. I pray you not to go."
In the parting injunctions of Maui, who will not be stayed, there is a sadness, and a boding of ill for the future.
"Look you, my brothers," he said, "it will be well for you to stay behind and watch that evil one, lest he do mischief while we are away ... Do you keep the rest together, and have a care of Hiku-leo. What if he should cut down the Tree of Speech, or defile the Water of Life! There is nothing too evil for him when he is in one of his raging moods.
-- FOLK TALES OF ALL NATIONS, F.H. Lee, pages 444-45.
Thus, to every Race, as to every normal child, comes the urge to pass beyond the Golden Age, to learn from Life, and to grow through experience. Even the Lord Buddha had to meet the three awakening sights: sickness, old age, and death.
Lastly, let us speak of the Kounboum, the World Tree of Tibet. It is called the "tree of the 10,000 images and characters," and it is said that it will grow in no other latitude. HPB, in describing it, quotes from the Abbe Huc as one who could have no possible interest in magnifying its marvels, and we can do no better than follow her example.
Each of its leaves, in opening, bears either a letter or a religious sentence, written in sacred characters, and these letters are, of their kind, of such a perfection that the type-foundries of Didot contain nothing to excel them. Open the leaves, which vegetation is about to unroll, and you will there discover, on the point of appearing, the letters or the distinct words which are the marvel of this unique tree! Turn your attention from the leaves of the plant to the bark of its branches, and new characters will meet your eyes! Do not allow your interest to flag; raise the layers of this bark, and still OTHER CHARACTERS will show themselves below those whose beauty had surprised you. For, do not fancy that these superposed layers repeat the same PRINTING. No, quite the contrary; for each lamina you lift presents to view its distinct type. How, then, can we suspect jugglery? I have done my best in that direction to discover the slightest trace of human trick, and my baffled mind could not retain the slightest suspicion.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, 440
HPB adds that:
The characters which appear upon the different portions of the Kounboum are in the Sansar (or language of the Sun), characters (ancient Sanskrit); and that the sacred tree, in its various parts, contains in extenso the whole history of the creation, and in substance the sacred books of Buddhism.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, 440
Nourished among the branches of the Tree of Life, Man can know the realms in which its roots find strength only through daring to eat of its sacred fruit. This is the knowledge of good and evil, but having dared to eat, he has the power to choose the GOOD.
By A Student
[From the theosophical manual on KARMA put out in 1907 by the Theosophical Community at Point Loma under Katherine Tingley.]
We must emphasize the vital need, which there is at the present day, for a renewed faith in the moral law. Religion should inculcate this faith. As we have it today, religion no longer does so, nor does any other belief that we have. If we are to judge our religion and our philosophies by their fruits, we must bring them in as defaulters.
The ideals of conduct upon which men act prove that they do not realize the existence of the moral law, or at any rate they do not realize it strongly enough to influence their conduct. They act as though in the belief that it is possible to benefit one by courses that involve injustice to one's fellow man. Hence, we have the reign of individualism, better called personal-ism. In commerce, this means that one man or one corporation strives after its own individual welfare, disregarding or willfully sacrificing the interests of others. The result upon commerce as a whole is most disastrous.
With all the inventions of modern science, it ought to be possible for everyone to live in comfort with very little labor, the average prosperity is very low, and a large proportion of the population spends their days in toil. Pursued on such wrong lines, the wastage and friction of commerce is very great. We scarcely realize it. The growth of disease and insanity, the problem of how to educate and manage our children, the problem of the poor, and all the other problems that agitate us today, are evidences of the lack of law and order in our life.
The "fear of God" is no longer effectual. When it does produce an effect, this effect is not of the right kind. It conduces to the establishment of a private and personal relation with the Deity, with a view to personal salvation beyond the grave. It should incite us to reliance on the dignity of our own divine nature and to efforts to render this life a heaven.
In such expressions as Providence, the moral law, divine justice, God's will, nature, and the like, we recognize the law of karma; we recognize that, as eternal life pervades nature, so an eternal spiritual life pervades the realms of consciousness, adjusting all needs and deserts.
As the indestructible life in nature preserves the balance, destroying what is useless, recreating what is useful, and being in short a divine law of justice in the lower kingdoms; so the moral law adjusts things in the moral or spiritual world -- destroying the evil and regenerating the good.
We are conscious that a murderer offends against this moral law and that retribution will fall on him eventually. The difference between the West and other peoples is that we, with our crude unphilosophical theology, speak of the direct personal intervention of God -- the power that formed the universe of stars, while other religions have preferred to imagine the supreme Deity as manifesting his justice and power through a host of celestial beings. The difference between monotheism and polytheism is largely one of names.
Modern civilization is indebted to the influence of Hebraic and Christian religion for its strong sense of the moral law. It is true that the wisdom of the past has descended to us largely through the medium of these two religions; but have they cramped our conceptions of eternal justice? We shall find in Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, the Vedanta, and the other ancient religions, the same ideas of eternal justice and moral law, not cramped by the idea of the personal deity. This idea has introduced the notion of fear.
We talk of the "fear of God." When the absurd theological notions of Godhead cause us to reject our belief in God, we may -- possibly -- lapse into disbelief in the moral law. We need, therefore, a way of recognizing the law without the theological conceptions.
We need a living sense of the moral law and of eternal justice, detached from narrow theological conceptions. When we reject the absurdities of some theological teachings, we need not reject the moral law too. When we cease to "fear God," we need not give ourselves over to license, as if there were no law. What we need is a consciousness, a direct feeling, or perception, of the moral law, strong enough to act as an incentive to justice and a deterrent from injustice, as real as the laws of health.
No man needs a church or pulpit to tell him that it is wrong to soak him in whiskey; he feels that he is defying the laws of health and they will avenge themselves. It ought to be so with the moral law. When a man thinks of swindling you for his own immediate pecuniary gain, he ought to feel that he is injuring himself; it ought to hurt him to do it. He is ignorant and stupid; he is a fool. He has not the sense of solidarity. He has the impression that he possesses real private interests apart from the interests of his kind, which is a delusion. Experience demonstrates to us repeatedly that it is a delusion, yet we are so enslaved by our impulses and so purblind to our real interests that we continue to blunder.
What is necessary to develop in human society this consciousness of the moral law as a fact in nature, independently of religious sanction? We must develop the sense of solidarity, the sense of the unity of life. Separateness is a delusion. Men unite like the branches of one tree. Disunion means decay.
When we do injustice, we pollute the fount of our own life. This is a fact that daily experience teaches us, and it is to the shame of religion that instead of confirming and explaining it, it throws every difficulty in the way of our recognizing it. For our Occidental religion as falsely understood fosters the idea of separate personality, separate souls, and separate salvation, and makes man a radically evil being. It removes the moral law from its state of immanence in human nature and transfers it to the Deity.
What does "sense of solidarity" mean? Not a mere intellectual acceptance of the principle, for that can do any more good than sermons. We need to be conscious of some fact in our nature that corresponds to this principle; we need to be aware of our unity with each other. Such a consciousness comes gradually because of studying the teachings of the wisdom-religion as to the nature of man and constantly striving to live up to them.
We come to regard the impulses of personal desire as extraneous forces, parasitic to the real life, and to look for the dawn of a deeper consciousness in which the sense of solidarity shall be more palpable. Thus, we acquire such a strong sense of the existence of the soul that we are conscious of a feeling of resistance whenever we feel impelled to act contrary to its law. In short, the conscience awakes.
One in whom this sense is aroused no longer feels alone and apart. He feels that he cannot act in secret. He shares in common with others an interior life -- the soul-life; and this is so sacred, so important to his happiness, that he feels he cannot violate it. Though he knows he may escape detection in the ordinary sense, he will not do an unjust act. He feels that the omnipresent eye of the soul and his comrades in their inner consciousness know. He cannot violate the unspoken oath of a sacred freemasonry and cut himself off from the ties of fellowship. The sense of guilt effectively restrains him.
Awaken such a conscience or prescience of fellowship among humanity at large. Each and all could feel themselves linked in a sacred freemasonry that they dared not violate. This conscience need not rest on the fear of an avenging Deity, anxiety for one's salvation, or on a maudlin religious sentimentalism. Base it on an actual knowledge of one's divinity and of the oneness of humanity in soul and heart. Would it not be a blessed thing?
The establishment of a belief in karma means all this and more. It means the revival of lost knowledge and the anchoring of morality upon a basis of experienced facts instead of leaving it dependent upon dogmatic or so-called scientific sanctions.
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part XV. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954. This chapter is adapted from SAYINGS OF THE ANCIENT ONE, by P.G. Bowen.]
I quit this profitless toil, and said that I will seek a guide, a man of wisdom. There must be such. I seek one whom will point the way to the lost land. Then I saw a house of dark-red stone and a man arrayed in a crimson robe, standing guard at its door. The man bore a staff of that sacred wood which my lost brothers call authority. He raised it high as I spoke to him, and told him of my need.
He smiled and said, "Have hope, my son! Behold thou hast found thy guide, for I hold the pass to the lost land of knowledge. I guard the well of truth."
He placed a crimson veil on my head, and led me into the house, down a steep stairway deep into the bowels of the earth. We came into a vast cavern where shadows clustered thickly. The ground underfoot was a noisome morass overgrown with pale lichens and evil weeds.
"This is the land of knowledge," said my guide, "and yonder lies the well of truth."
I waded through the dank morass, and drank of the pool that I found in its midst. The water was foul with mud and slime. My thirst was not assuaged.
Then the voice of my unseen father spoke clearly in my ear. "Seek with strong heart, and seize with strong hand, my son." I rose up and went forth from the house of red, and set my face towards the desert.
Hunger, thirst, and weariness assailed me on my quest. I looked for a strong and kindly hand to aid me on my way. Coming to a house of rich purple stone, I craved help of the man guarding its door. The man was clad in a purple robe. He held high a tall staff of authority. "Thou art wise to have sought my aid," he replied, "for I am the guardian of truth and knowledge."
He wrapped a purple veil around me, and led me to the door of a darksome vault. Then he pointed forward with his staff, commanding my movements. "Take thou seven steps forward, then backward take thee. Take seven steps to thy right hand, and bow at each step you take. Bow deeply, for the gates of knowledge are low. Retrace thy steps, and act as thou didst before. Then take four steps backward, and kneel upon the floor."
I did as he commanded, then rose, gazing around. Dimly through my veil, I saw a vast space girt about with trees. The ground was bright with gorgeous flowers. A sparkling fountain played before me. I rushed to the fountain, and drank a great draught of its waters. Thereupon I knew that the draught was not water, but warm spice, charged wine. I cast the veil from my head, and looked about me again. I saw that the sword, the flowers, and the trees were naught but painted pictures.
Then I remembered my father's commands, the garden, the pool, the trees, and the fruit. I went out from the house of purple, and faced the desert alone.
My heart misgave me again. Strength deserted my limbs. I looked for a wise and powerful guide to aid my faltering steps. Coming to a house of crystal that shone with many jewels, I begged the man by its door to help me on my way. He wore a gorgeous robe of splendid colors. He waved on me with a milk-white wand of the sacred tree, authority. "My son, come within and rest," he said, taking me by hand. "I ask no service but that thou wear the garments that I give thee."
The man clothed me in brilliant robes, and shaded my eyes with strange-hued crystals. He led me gently forward, leaving me alone in a wondrous garden. The place was strange and lovely, and filled with a changeful mystery. There were endless vistas of trees and flowers extended on every hand. Among the trees were numberless lakes shining in misty beauty. I leaped towards one with joyful heart to slake my thirst in its waters.
Bruised and stunned, I fell to earth then. A cold, hard barrier had risen before my feet, and stayed them in mid-career. The glorious landscape was shattered. Nothing appeared about me but chaos of shifting colors and vast mocking forms. I arose, and tore the robe from my body, casting the crystals in wrath from my eyes. I saw that I stood in a narrow courtyard with walls hung with mirrors. The lovely vistas of waving trees were but tangled, sickly weeds. The myriad shining lakes were but shallow stagnant pools.
Once again, my father's voice spoke clearly in my ear. "Face the desert with strong heart, my son. Seize thou the lost kingdom with thy strong hand. For thus, and thus only wilt thou gain kingship."
I went forth into the desert, and set my heart to conquer it, asking aid from any man no longer. I turned my face from the ways of men, and my eyes from their foolish works. Alone, I traveled the desert sands until hunger had melted my flesh and thirst had dried up the springs of my life.
Death walked close behind me, his hand outstretched to seize me. His fingers failed to grasp me, though many times they touched me. Repeatedly though I fainted and fell, I rose yet again. Repeatedly in the dews of the night, in a trickle amid the burning sands, in the hollow heart of the desert flower, I found enough pure cold water to send me forward refreshed.
By Hazel S. Minot
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, September 1950, pages 528-34.]
All down the centuries there has been a persistent search for the answers to those gadfly questions: "Where did we come from?" "Why are we here?" and "Where do we go from here?" Even before we learn to read, we begin to ask these questions. Sometimes we are no wiser when we come to the last chapter of this present life.
You know the story of Theseus. He was enabled to reach the Minotaur, slay the monster, and then find his way back through the bewildering passages of the Labyrinth by means of the thread given to him by the princess Ariadne. It is, in fact, a story of universal life, and the 'whys' and 'wherefores' are so complicated because man -- an important figure in the solution of the puzzle -- is a mystery to himself.
Long ages before present-day psychologists were posing the question of man's 'psyche' the search was on, and with the ups and downs of the passing cycles there have been greater and lesser degrees of applied knowledge concerning true inner development. Progress has never been in a straight line, and this fact has served nicely as a smokescreen to the real course of human progress -- at any event, for those believing in an end-on evolution.
The way to the very heart of this 'world labyrinth' has been found by more than one seeker, and the knowledge brought back has been a veritable Ariadne's Thread for the many others who have essayed to penetrate the mystery. The pattern created by these efforts tells its own story, and gives a revealing picture of the human race, guided and instructed from age to age by those who held this Ariadne Thread of spiritual truth.
Throughout great cycles of time, there have come those who were far above their fellows in spiritual thought. Then, there have been smaller cycles, represented by outstanding figures of intellectual and spiritual capacity. In between these latter, there have been the many of lesser stature who nevertheless also 'held the thread' because of their will 'to know God.' This was not through creeds and dogmas, but by clearing away misconceptions, by probing the Universe around them, studying their relation to it, and by seeking always for a greater knowledge of themselves.
We are more or less familiar with these names -- whatever group they may belong to -- but do we realize quite so readily their relation to the 'pattern,' especially those (searchers after truth) who have 'filled in the gaps,' as it were? Time and patience show that over a period of some twenty-five centuries, there have been names, sometimes two or three in each century, whom we can recognize as carrying the Ariadne Thread. The pattern is so continuous that where an occasional break seems to come we may well believe the work was carried on in silence, or else -- entirely possible -- our own research needs to be extended.
It is worthy of note that a great many of these men have been born towards the middle or last portion of one century, thus carrying their work over to the beginning of the following century. While empire was slowly moving westward, the East was recognized as holding the keys to spiritual knowledge, and more than one wise man of the West received teaching from the sages of the East.
Our beginning -- the seventh century BC -- is necessarily arbitrary, and through the succeeding centuries, we shall confine our research in large part to representatives of European thought. The following table will assist the reader in tracing the Ariadne Thread: unhampered by the usual details of biography, he will be free to make his own deductions from hints suggested in the appended quotations. This is not an exhaustive table, but one inviting to further study on the part of the reader.
639-559 BC (Solon)
Solon is mentioned by H.P. Blavatsky in both ISIS UNVEILED and THE SECRET DOCTRINE. He studied with the Egyptian priests who told him, among other things, about Atlantis.
584 BC (Pythagoras)
HPB designates Pythagoras as a great adept, and calls him "the most mystic of the eastern philosophers." He studied with the Brahmins in India.
522-443 BC (Pindar) 525-455 BC (Aeschylus)
Both Pindar and Aeschylus give evidence in their writings of a knowledge of the Mysteries, and HPB says of the latter:
It is not the 'father of the Greek tragedy' who invented the prophecy of Prometheus; for he only repeated in dramatic form that which was revealed by the priests during the Mysteria of the Sabasia. [Thus indicating that Aeschylus had been initiated:] As otherwise, he must, like Socrates, have had a daimon to reveal to him the secret and sacred allegorical drama of initiation.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 419
469-399 BC (Socrates)
Dr. de Purucker points out that:
This great but misfortunate Greek suffered the penalty of death at Athens not so much for the reasons publicly promulgated for the carrying out of his execution, but because he had unwittingly betrayed the teachings of the Greek Mysteries.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 1030
This betrayal was unwitting because Socrates had not been initiated.
427-347 BC (Plato)
Dr. de Purucker writes of the pupil of Socrates that:
The great Plato was once accused of the same crime of "impiety," which in this sense meant divulgation of forbidden knowledge connected with the Mysteries, but Plato was unquestionably an Initiate; and he wisely fled his fatherland for a time.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 1030-31
HPB states that
Having been initiated Plato could not believe in a personal God -- a gigantic Shadow of Man. His epithets of "monarch" and "Law-giver of the Universe" bear an abstract meaning well understood by every Occultist.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 554
384-322 BC (Aristotle)
Of this pupil of Plato and his age, HPB makes the following significant statement:
[A] too-great dependence upon physical facts led to growth of materialism and a decadence of spirituality and faith. At the time of Aristotle, this was the prevailing tendency of thought. ... Few were the true adepts and initiates, the heirs and descendants of those who had been dispersed by the conquering swords of various invaders of Old Egypt. ... The triumphant brand of Aristotle's pupil swept away from his path of conquest every vestige of a once pure religion. Aristotle himself, the type and child of his epoch, though instructed in the secret science of the Egyptians, knew but little of this crowning result of millenniums of esoteric studies.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, 15-16
200's and 100's BC (Druidism)
Druidism was active in Britain and Gaul but there was no outstanding historical representative.
99-55 BC (Lucretius)
Dr. de Purucker says that this disciple of the atomistic philosophy "has been greatly misunderstood in modern times." Citing ON THE NATURE OF THINGS by Lucretius, he adds:
In important points, this is a fair approach to the Theosophical doctrine of Monads ensouling Atoms.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 276
HPB, writing of the atomists, states that
From Anaxagoras down to Epicurus, the Roman Lucretius, and finally even to Galileo, all those Philosophers believed more or less in ANIMATED atoms, not in invisible specks of so-called 'brute' matter.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 568
70-19 BC (Vergil)
[Vergil was] versed as every ancient poet was, more or less, in esoteric philosophy.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 594
Vergil, who speaks as a type of the initiates of his time in saying that after dissolution "all beings return to the Divine," doing so "conscious and alive."
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 847
Jesus the Christ.
[A] Messianic Cycle ended -- or a new one began -- some 2160 years ago, more or less, with the life and work of the Avatara whom the West knows under the name of Jesus the Christ.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 1058
[There was] Christ, one of the several world-reformers. He was a Savior but for his direct followers, but only a great and glorious Initiate for all the rest.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 653
25 BC -- ? AD (Philo Judaeus)
Philo Judaeus, or Philo the Jew, was the great Platonizing Jewish philosopher. His writings exercised a tremendous influence in their way over not only contemporary and later Jewish thought, but likewise on the beginnings of the Christian theology and therefore on the minds of many of the Church-Fathers. ... The entire purpose of Philo's writings was to show the common grounds of mystical and theological thinking that, according to him, existed between the Platonic doctrines and the sacred books of the Jews.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 615
0's AD (Apollonius of Tyana)
[With Iamblichus, he] held that it was not "in the knowledge of things WITHOUT, but in the perfection of the soul WITHIN, that lies the empire of man, aspiring to be more than men." Thus, they had arrived at a perfect cognizance of their godlike souls, the powers of which they used with all the wisdom, outgrowth of esoteric study of the hermetic lore, inherited by them from their forefathers.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, 64
HPB also says that the story of Apollonius is symbolically written, and that his journey to the wise men, and various interviews held with them "would disclose, if understood, some of the most important secrets of nature."
51-117 AD (Trajan) 76-138 AD (Hadrian)
[Though the Mysteries were no longer what they had been, these two of the "five good emperors"] did actually pass through the Eleusinian Rite. ... They did receive something. As long as the Mysteries lived, the men who conducted them ... still had some lingering sparks of the ancient verities, and were enabled to clothe their procedures and rites with at least a semblance of the Holy Fire of archaic times.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 1051
End of Second Century and Beginning of Third Century AD (Ammonius Saccas)
[He was] the founder of the Neo-Platonic School of the Philalethians or "lovers of truth." [He was] endowed with such prominent, almost divine goodness as to be called Theodidaktos, the "God-taught."
-- THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, 313
Ammonius, speaking of his philosophy, taught that their school dated from the days of Hermes, who brought his wisdom from India.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, II, 342
205-270 AD (Plotinus)
This pupil of Ammonius Saccas was called by his contemporaries Theiotatos, "divinest."
Plotinus taught a doctrine identical with that of the Vedantins, namely, that the spirit soul emanating from the One Deific Principle was after its pilgrimage on earth reunited to it.
-- THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, 360
233-304 AD (Porphyry)
Porphyry was the pupil of Plotinus, to whom -- as HPB tells us -- he gives the credit
of having been united with "God" six times during his life, and complains of having attained to it but twice, himself.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, 292fn
A natural-born mystic, he followed, like his master Plotinus, the pure Indian Raj-Yoga system.
-- THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, 361
283-330 AD (Iamblichus)
[His school] was distinct from that of Plotinus and Porphyry, who were strongly against ceremonial magic and practical theurgy as dangerous, though these two eminent men firmly believed in both.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, XLIII
Yet Iamblichus, in line with the teaching of his predecessors:
[Strictly forbade any endeavor to procure] phenomenal manifestations; unless, after a long preparation of moral and physical purification, and under the guidance of experienced theurgists.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, I, 219
331-363 AD (Julian the Apostate)
Dr. de Purucker writes of this misunderstood Emperor:
Julian one day will be vindicated for what he really was, and will be regarded in esoteric history as one of the most unfortunate martyrs in the ranks of the workers for the Ancient Wisdom.
-- THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 1052
HPB refers to Julian several times in ISIS UNVEILED, and gives the following regarding initiation:
And were I to touch upon the initiation into our sacred Mysteries," says Emperor Julian, the Kabalist, "which the Chaldean bacchised respecting the seven-rayed God, lifting up the souls through Him, I should say things unknown, and unknown to the rabble, but well known to the blessed Theurgists.
-- ISIS UNVEILED, II, 417
410-485 AD (Proclus)
He was the last teacher of importance among the Neo-Platonists. Writing of the Mysteries, HPB says:
What the hierophant was allowed to see at the last hour is hardly hinted at by them. And yet Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus, and many others knew and affirmed their reality ... As Taylor correctly observes ... it may be inferred, "that the most sublime part of the epopteia ... consisted in beholding the gods themselves invested with a resplendent light," or highest planetary spirits. The statement of Proclus upon this subject is unequivocal: "In all the initiations and mysteries, the gods exhibit many forms of themselves, and appear in a variety of shapes, and sometimes, indeed, a formless light of themselves is held forth to the view; sometimes this light is according to a human form, and sometimes it proceeds into a different shape."
-- ISIS UNVEILED, II, 113
480-524 AD (Boethius)
Boethius, Roman statesman and Stoic philosopher, was one whose firm belief "in the truth of his philosophic ethics" governed his actions in both his official and his private life. His translation of some of Aristotle's works into Latin, and his commentaries on them served largely to acquaint the Middle Ages with the writings of the Greek philosopher. HPB refers to the GEOMETRY of Boethius in vindication of the Pythagoreans and their knowledge, and use, of "the One and the Naught as the first and final cipher."
The latter part of the sixth century leads into the seventh with the coming of Mohammed. Though concerned chiefly with the Moslem world, the rise of Mohammedanism had a tremendous impact on the nations of Western as well as Eastern Europe. We find, now, a definite change in the outward form of man's search for himself, though the inner drive is always the same. Thus the seventh century, AD, offers a natural pause in our theme: the age-old quest for Truth, with those who have handed on the Ariadne Thread.
By G. de Purucker
[From STUDIES IN OCCULT PHILOSOPHY, pages 517-27.]
(The following is a stenographic report of an informal gathering at Point Loma, in which a discussion arose regarding the use of the term, 'Absolute,' in FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY.)
It is the philosophic One, the originant, which is the Absolute. From the One comes the two. From the two comes the triad. From the triad comes the tetrad, and so forth. The point is this: the philosophic One or the cosmic One is the cosmic Absolute; but it is not the zero, representing Infinitude; consequently the zero, Infinitude, holds an infinite number of such Ones or Monads, whether cosmic or not.
I understand the way you use the word 'Absolute' in FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY: you there define it, so that it is quite clear; but what is the real reason for your emphasizing that meaning of it, which is of course in the etymological derivation of the word? It is different from the usual meaning carried by the word 'Absolute' in philosophy here in the West.
That is true. I so use it, first for purposes of accuracy; second, because it is a wonderful philosophical key: every Absolute being the Hierarch of its Hierarchy, the One from which all series thereafter outflow -- one, two, three, etc. -- to the end of the Hierarchy; and each such One is an Absolute or Mukta, Jivan-Mukta, absolutus, signifying 'free,' 'set free,' -- free from servitude to all the lower planes and master thereof.
I have understood that; but still, could not that fact be said and explained without using the word ABSOLUTE for it?
It could, but it seemed inadvisable. You see that the word 'Absolute,' derived from the Latin, is an exact equivalent of the Sanskrit word Moksha or Mukti of Brahmanism; and I deliberately chose that word and tried to point out the inaccuracy of the use of this phrase 'The Absolute' in the West in order to signify 'Boundless Infinitude.' This is not only an etymological, but also a logical, fault, and I desired to point this out. The word as I used it is a true key to great things.
It will arouse criticism; and people will say, "Of course, your etymology is true; but what is the use of it? The word 'Absolute' has acquired this specific meaning in our Western languages, in all philosophies: what therefore is the use of your change? Why make use of it with a different meaning?" It only mixes things up for ordinary people studying philosophy, and therefore arouses criticism.
Many people will doubtless say just that; but I do not object to criticism. It arouses comment and thought. My use, outside of anything else, has the virtue of being accurate, of being philosophically exact, of employing a word in its proper, original, exact, etymological sense; and best of all, it is a wonderful key to greater things. It is perfectly indifferent to me if the entire Occident uses a word wrongly, because I am going to use it aright, if by that use I can strike a new keynote of thought, point out a pathway of consciousness, and give a key to a wonderful doctrine. Do you now see? If it arouse comment and criticism, as in fact I knew it would, all the better!
I think that the way you use the term in FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY is one of the most wonderful parts of the whole book.
Once that you miscall Infinity by the word 'the Absolute,' it becomes a being, therefore limited, therefore finite. It is impossible in true philosophy to predicate absoluteness of Infinity. It is neither absolute nor non-absolute. Absolute is a definite adjective, having certain logical attributes. Infinitude has no such attributes; Infinitude is neither conscious nor unconscious; it is neither alive nor dead; because consciousness and unconsciousness and life and death belong to manifested and therefore limited and therefore to non-infinite beings and things.
All those things Occidental philosophers say about the Absolute; they give that meaning to 'Absolute.'
That is just what they should not do; and that is just what I am challenging; my use therefore is a challenge.
It is a challenge. Even apart from what the word means etymologically, if we investigate that, there are many such words. They have acquired a different meaning in the language; and they are used with this meaning different from the words in the language, apart from how the words themselves originated.
That is perfectly true, my Friend, but remember that a mere fact, however common, is no proper plea in extenuation of a fault.
One cannot say that such a word is wrongly used in this way.
True, in a way; but the word nevertheless is wrongly used; and it has obtained currency. Let me illustrate my meaning: In English there is a most extraordinary grammatical, or rather ungrammatical, expression, which has obtained universal currency in the English tongue, and it is wrong. This expression is, "I am mistaken." The current meaning is, "I am wrong: I have expressed an erroneous view." But the real meaning of the words is, "I am misunderstood," and this was the original meaning of the phrase, "I am mistaken."
I have heard your argument repeatedly. People say, "Why do you bother your head about it? Everybody knows what you mean by the common usage. Why not employ it because it is a common usage?" Yes, I answer, but it is a wrong usage and foolish logically, historically, and grammatically. Among my many other faults, as some people say, I try to make people think. Why not correct an obvious error? "I am mistaken" means literally, "I am taken amiss: I am misunderstood." When a modern Englishman says, "I am mistaken," he means, "I have misunderstood." He uses an entirely wrong grammatical form.
You will never succeed in changing that usage; because it is universally common, and everybody understands it.
Assuredly so, my Friend, nor am I trying to change this particular phrase. As regards the Absolute, here is a case of a specific philosophical doctrine of the first importance; and I desire to challenge thought by challenging a crystallized and hoary error -- so far as Europeans are concerned.
This misuse arose out of the psychology in all European philosophers' minds of the Christian theological scheme, which they could not shake off: the personal god, the infinite person, the Absolute. They pursued a logical train of thinking arising in a proper conception. The term used to express this fundamental conception is wrong, for this term 'Absolute' does not mean infinity.
A person cannot be infinite: this is a contradiction in terms. There can be an absolute person, a Hierarch, the summit of a Hierarchy; and this Hierarch is only one of an infinite number of other Hierarchs, of other Hierarchies -- an infinite number of such Ones; but the Infinite, without number, attribute, qualification, or form, is therefore non-absolute. 'Absolutus' means 'freed,' and can apply only to a limited entity, however grand and sublime.
I want to make people think! I am furthermore striking at the roots of old theological superstitions, and old philosophical superstitions. If my use arouses argument, if it arouses attack, and if this makes people think, it does not much matter to me personally. They can charge me with trying to introduce new things, or with any other foolish motive. The charges being untrue, I don't care particularly about them.
In that way of thinking your use might be well worth something.
It is breaking the molds of mind.
If Occidental people had only studied, or studied a little more carefully, even the elements of some of the greater Oriental philosophical systems, they would see the difference between the Jivan-Mukta, which is an Absolute, a Freed One -- and Tat: THAT.
HPB does use the word 'Absolute' apparently in the usual Occidental way. If you examine carefully every instance where this occurs, you will find that she is refers to some great or super-great cosmos in every instance. 'Absolute' is a relative term. There are no 'Absolutes' in the sense of 'Infinitudes.' Everything that is, no matter how great, how vast, is relative -- related to something else and to all else.
The critics seem to think that I mean by 'Absolute' an 'Infinite Being,' because they have such a vague, nebulous, undefined, and cloudy idea in their own minds. They are tangled in a web of words. This very word 'Infinity' is but a human word, and it acknowledges that human imbecility of intellect, as compared with frontierless time and space, can find no better word to describe it than 'Infinitude,' which means 'Non-finitude.'
I would like to tell you something more. You know that Sanskrit is probably the perfect language for the expression of philosophical human thoughts that is known. It is, nevertheless, an offspring of human consciousness; and even the great Sages and Seers at times find themselves hard put to it to express the children of their consciousness in human words, i.e., to express their thoughts adequately.
Now, as an illustration of what I mean, there is no such sphere of esse or consciousness as what the Occidental calls the 'Infinite' -- really a word with which he cheats his mind, an abstract term. The Occidental, when he says 'Infinitude' and 'Eternity,' means by these terms endless extension and duration, which is as far as he can go intellectually -- which is merely another way of saying: 'Things as they are now, more or less changing continuously, but lasting endlessly'; and as regards the former word especially, 'Infinitude,' the average Occidental's mind becomes a blank when he uses it. He sees, or thinks he mentally sees, non-understandable, frontierless Space. That to him is Infinity. But really it is a cheating of his consciousness.
In the Sanskrit, Infinity is not commonly expressed by a negation, such as 'Non-finity,' but by the words Parabrahma and Mulaprakriti, which are two sides or elements to the one fundamental conception. What does Parabrahma mean? Brahman stands for the Absolute, the Hierarch of a Universe, a Cosmos. Para means 'beyond.' Do you now begin to get the thought? Infinitude thus is simply that which is beyond the loftiest reach of human consciousness. Human consciousness does not pretend to limit it by saying anything about it; it does not qualify it with any adjective; no operation of human consciousness can reach it. Parabrahma is confessedly a mere term: 'Beyond Brahman,' and Brahman is the Absolute.
Mulaprakriti: Prakriti means 'Nature'; Mula means 'root'; therefore Mulaprakriti signifies 'elemental,' or 'originant' Nature. Parabrahma therefore is but a word: 'Beyond Brahman'; 'Originant Nature,' Mulaprakriti; and thus you get a different conception from the vague, Occidental mental abstraction signified by a negation -- 'Non-finite.' The Oriental conception accepts the manifested universe and points to endlessness beyond it, and says 'Parabrahma' or 'Mulaprakriti.' The Occidental also accepts the manifested universe, but does not point beyond it, and simply uses a term signifying 'something different from the manifested universe'; and this latter conception is philosophically and fundamentally erroneous, for it makes a distinction in esse between the This and the Beyond.
The Orientals, and likewise the Ancient Wisdom, never use the word 'Eternity.' This is a conception that is rejected, because it is merely like a mental cloud in any human mind to speak of 'Eternity.' The best way in which Occidentals can express this conception is by saying 'Endless Duration' -- not 'Endless Time,' because 'time' is a human limited conception but 'endless enduring' -- that which endures for aye.
All that the human consciousness is authorized to postulate is that Parabrahma, 'Beyond Brahman' or the Absolute, is exactly what we see around us, as far as our human physical sense-apparatus can translate it to us, but limitlessly so. Parabrahma, therefore, is not an entity; it is not a being; as a term, it is a descriptive adjective turned into a noun, and means simply 'Beyond Brahman.'
"As above, so below" -- and there is no fundamental essential difference between the 'above' and the 'below.' Every atom has its home in a molecule; every molecule has its home in a cell; every cell has its home in a body; every body has its home in a greater body; the greater body, in this case our Earth, has its habitat or dwelling or home in the solar ether; the solar system has its home in the Galaxy; the Galaxy has its home in what we humans call the Universe -- our telescopes carry us no farther; the Universe has its home in one still more vast; and so on, as Occidentals say, ad infinitum; and that ad infinitum is exactly the Occidental's way of saying what the Oriental means when he says Parabrahma -- 'Beyond Brahman,' with this profound and radical difference, however, that the root-idea in the mind of the Oriental is the inner, invisible, spiritual worlds, which the modern Occidental almost universally ignores.
Everything exists in something else greater than itself, and contains hosts of beings inferior to itself; and Parabrahma simply means 'beyond our Absolute,' 'beyond our Brahman.' Brahman is the Absolute; and Parabrahma H.P. Blavatsky has called 'SPACE' -- not meaning 'emptiness,' but using here just a descriptive word, a descriptive noun, just as when she says 'Duration.' Duration is filled with time, moments, instants of time. Space, similarly, is filled with manifested Monads, and Absolutes which are Monads of a far advanced type; and these Absolutes contain armies and hosts of evolving inferior Monads.
This, then, is all that we mean by Parabrahma, and Mulaprakriti is but its other side -- the side of expansion and change, -- so to speak. You can say that Parabrahma is the consciousness-side of it, and that Mulaprakriti is the space-side of it. It hurts me sometimes to hear Theosophists talk about Parabrahma as if it were a kind of god. It is simply Space. It does not mean anything in particular, however, because it is a purely generalizing term. The word Parabrahma simply means 'Beyond Brahman.' It too is a confession that here the human consciousness stops: it cannot go any farther.
By Hazel S. Minot
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1950, pages 31-36.]
The words "to create" are often understood by the ordinary mind to convey the idea of evolving something out of nothing. This is clearly not its meaning. We are mentally obliged to provide our Creator with chaos from which to produce the worlds ... Out of a void Nature cannot arise.
-- THROUGH THE GATES OF GOLD
To different peoples at different times has come a revelation of universal truths. In the beginning each such revelation has been as a blinding light, and men have felt a nearness to God, an awareness of unseen divinities who were their guides and protectors, and deep within themselves there has been a glowing something which they knew was akin to the flame burning on the altar-stone of heaven. But time does strange things, and however far-reaching the revelation or pure the source from which it came, as the ages have rolled by the original inspiration has become hidden from the eyes of men, even as a mountain stream may lose itself at last in desert sands.
Where the voice of God has been imprisoned in formalized religion, creed, and dogma have done their part to still the magic of its tones and, with the passing years, echoes of far earlier revelations have been all but silenced; or, if heard, have lingered on as remnants of an age when men believed strange things about themselves and Nature. From time to time, there is a resurgent interest in these remnants. People gather myths, legends, folklore, and fairytales. It is rare, though, when these collations take their place as source-material, giving an accurate though often fragmentary picture of the opening of any great period of manifestation.
The treatment of the subject has been extensive. Despite this fact, people have not recognized these folktales as hiding grains of ancient truth. There are a number of understandable reasons why. Main groupings of the study include Ideas and Superstitious Beliefs, Traditional Customs, Traditional Narratives, and Folk Sayings -- all having several sub-headings. The approach is largely from to gain an advance in the general knowledge of folk industries, folk aesthetics, and folk sociology.
Scientific investigations of myths and their origin, or the tracing of the migrations of tales, have contributed information in respect to community of descent or with reference to interchange of ideas through geographical proximity or through emigration.
-- THE NEW INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA, "Folklore"
The method and purpose of this type of research have not concerned themselves with tracing the pattern of fundamental cosmic truths but rather with discovering the similarity of religious beliefs, the inner meaning of those beliefs hiding under the manner of presentation peculiar to any particular locality. Often enough, this cover up has been deliberate. At the time when legends and myths were first given to men, those who wove these tales gave out esoteric teaching in this form, using the simple means of symbol and allegory to convey their meaning. The relatively few who understood the symbols could interpret them. To others, they were just charming fairytales. The message was there. The story thus veiled has endured through the centuries. Today it is as vital for him who can trace its meaning as it was at the time of its first recounting.
Other factors help to bewilder. The story does not always begin, grow to a point, and finish with a grand climax. Events, especially those dealing with the birth of worlds and humanities, have a way of apparently doubling back on themselves, or suddenly telescoping, so that the hope of beholding a sequential unfolding of the picture is hardly to be realized. This may be due to wear and tear and the strange twists and turns that come with the retelling of any tale. It may also have started out a little on the bias with the express purpose of confusing the issue. In addition, one has always to bear in mind that the entire world loves a good story, and many a tale has as its prime object relaxation and entertainment.
The peoples of ancient times knew the Sacred Wisdom. Remnants of it still inhere in tribal beliefs and customs. To anyone delving into this wealth of material for proof, the most responsive field is Traditional Narratives. Under this heading are included the myths concerning creation and various cataclysmic occurrences. Searching among the legends we are reminded of H.P. Blavatsky's statement in ISIS UNVEILED (II, 431), that "there are few myths in any religious system but have an historical as well as a scientific foundation."
Comparing some of these tales of creation, one senses as a predominant factor the recognition, on the part of those who originally told them, of already existing material out of which earth and its humanities are gradually formed. For instance, in the Prose Edda, we have the story of the coming into being of the giant Ymir, from whose body the earth is later formed. Ymir took shape out of Ginnungagap (All Space) from the conflict of the elemental forces represented by Niflheim, the region of ice and snow, and Muspelheim, the region of elemental fire. This conflict caused the rime and ice of Niflheim to melt, and the falling drops assuming the shape of a mighty giant became Ymir.
HPB says of Ymir that he is:
The personified matter of our globe in a seething condition. The cosmic monster in the form of a giant, who is killed ... by the three creators ... Odin, Wili and We ... This allegory shows the three principal forces of nature -- separation, formation, and growth (or evolution) -- conquering the unruly, raging "giant" matter, and forcing it to become a world, or an inhabited globe. It is curious that an ancient, primitive, and uncultured pagan people, so philosophical and scientifically correct in their views about the origin and formation of the earth, should, in order to be regarded as civilized, have to accept the dogma that THE WORLD WAS CREATED OUT OF NOTHING!
Turning to the Greek story of creation as given to us by the poet Hesiod, we have Chaos as that from which the earth forms. This chaos, in the light of the Ancient Wisdom, is not a wildly disordered mass, but a repository, the storehouse of seeds from previous periods of manifestation, seeds that will develop into beings as well as things. It is similar to the Ginnungagap (All Space), for Space, too, is no empty nothingness, but filled full with BEING or LIFE not yet manifested. A seeming contradiction, perhaps, but then, HPB describes this Ginnungagap as "the cup of illusion (Maya) the boundless and void abyss ... this world's matrix."
Eros, the spirit of love, came from Chaos first. Though his wings may have been sadly soiled through the long, long ages, there is something surpassingly beautiful in this conception of Love as the first active principle in the evolution of the earth and the preparation for the races of men. Eros is a symbol of harmony, balance, and the never-ending quest of sentient beings for completion that this harmony and balance may be achieved. The broad-breasted Earth, Gaea, came next. Ouranos came still later. From the union of the two came the Titans.
Ouranos tried to stay the course of evolution by hurling his children back into the womb of their mother as soon as they were born, but his youngest son Kronos slew him.
[It is but a momentary halting of the work of generation that] passes into the hands of Kronos, time, who unites himself with Rhea (the earth in esotericism -- matter in general), and thus produces, after celestial -- terrestrial Titans. The whole of this symbolism relates to the mysteries of Evolution.
-- THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, 289
The story repeats itself with the children of Kronos. It is the Hellenic rendering of the unsuccessful attempts of "Earth or Nature" to create a humanity unaided, and is reminiscent of stanzas in the BOOK OF DZYAN dealing with this period of evolution. The vehicles are yet unprepared -- not merely the physical body but, more important, the intermediate nature -- and not until they are fit receptacles for the divine spark will there really be a race of men on earth.
The gods are closely linked with man: witness the case of Deukalion and Pyrrha who are commanded by the gods to found a new race following their survival of a flood. The pattern is not new, not any more than was that relating to Noah. The details vary to suit the age and race to which it applies. Nor is this link with divinity limited to august commands: the gods have literally given of themselves to form our earth and its children. Recall the names borne by the planets of our solar system and the teaching that each has played a part in the building of the earth chain. May it not have been this truth that was suggested when, in the Prose Edda, Ginki:
[A wise king] travels in search of knowledge to the home of the Asa folk -- the Norse gods -- each of whom supplies the visitor with some piece of special information
-- The bringing together of these separate items resulting in the cosmogonic history portrayed in the Edda? It is significant that the Asa folk consist of Odin and the twelve Aesir, or gods.
Turning now to the Western Hemisphere, there is much food for thought in the Creation myth of the Wichita; especially in the names of the protagonists.
Man-never-known-on-Earth created all things. When he had formed the earth, he then made a man whose name was Having-Power-to-carry-Light. He also made a woman, and her name was Bright-Shining-Woman.
Though these names foreshadow a future time of spiritual illumination, the man and the woman were yet in darkness. A thought came into the mind of Having-Power-to-carry-Light that he must journey towards the east. He did so, having many strange adventures. The myth tells how there came to be night and day, and how other promises were fulfilled that had been made by Man-never-known-on-Earth, who was henceforth to be known as Reflecting-man, the Sun.
There were now more people on the earth, and Having-Power-to-carry-Light and Bright-Shining-Woman became their instructors, teaching them how to grow the precious corn, how to hunt with bow and arrow, and the use of various implements which the people had in their possession but did not understand.
Then there came a time when the man and the woman must leave the people they had dwelt among, for each was to become something else. Before leaving, they gave final instructions. They told how people might tell what things were about to happen, how they should pay reverence to the stars and other heavenly bodies, and many other things important for them to know. Bright Shining Woman said the people could see her after the sun had gone down. In the evening, they beheld her in the sky, for she had become the moon. Having-Power-to-carry-Light told the people that they would see him early in the morning, before the light of day, and that henceforth his name would be First-Star-seen-after-Darkness-passes-by.
This simple tale, simply told, leaves no doubt but that the ancient American Indian was aware of the Divine guardians who cared for the race in its infancy. He knew, too, of his kinship with the Sun and Moon, and his debt to the planet Venus.
All peoples have had their Bibles and a profound study of the subject could well be the work of a lifetime. To the interested reader there is a veritable goldmine of interpretation to be found in the pages of ISIS UNVEILED and THE SECRET DOCTRINE. The sacred literatures themselves, their myths and legends, even of the most primitive peoples, fill one with reverence for the beauty of their language and the depth of their intuition.
By George William Russell
[From THE IRISH THEOSOPHIST, December 1893.]
Priest Merodach walked with me at evening along the banks of the great river.
"You feel despondent now," he said, "but this was inevitable. You looked for a result equal to your inspiration. You must learn to be content with that alone. Finally an inspiration will come for every moment, and in every action a divine fire reveal itself."
"I feel hopeless now. Why is this? Wish and will are not less strong than before."
"Because you looked for a result beyond yourself, and attached to external things, your mind drew to itself subtle essences of earth which clouded it. There is more in it than that. Nature has a rhythm, and that part of us which is compounded of her elements shares in it. You were taught that nature is forever becoming. The first emanation in the great deep is wisdom. Wisdom changes into desire, and an unutterable yearning to go outward darkens the primeval beauty. Lastly, the elements arise, blind, dark, troubled. Nature in them imagines herself into forgetfulness. This rhythm repeats itself in man. A moment of inspiration -- wise and clear, we determine. Then we are seized with a great desire that impels us to action. The hero, the poet, the lover, all alike listen to the music of life, and then endeavor to express its meaning in word or deed. Coming in contact with nature, its lethal influence drowses them. So baffled and forgetful, they wonder where the God is. To these in some moment the old inspiration returns, the universe is as magical and sweet as ever, a new impulse is given, and so they revolve, perverting and using, each one in his own way, the cosmic rhythm."
"Merodach, what you say seems truth, and leaving aside the cosmic rhythm, which I do not comprehend, define again for me the three states."
"You cannot really understand the little apart from the great; but applying this to your own case, you remember you had a strange experience, a God seemed to awaken within you. This passed away. You halted a little while, full of strange longing, eager for the great. Yet, you looked without on the hither side of that first moment, and in this second period, which is interchange and transition, your longing drew to you those subtle material essences I spoke of, which like vapor surrounding, dull and bewilder the mind with strange fantasies of form and sensation. Every time we think with longing of any object, these essences flow to us out of the invisible spheres and steep us with the dew of matter. Then we forget the great. We sleep. We are dead or despondent as you are despondent."
I sighed as I listened. Watchfulness over momentary desires was the first step. I had thought of the tasks of the hero as leading upwards to the Gods, but this sleepless intensity of will working within itself demanded a still greater endurance. I neared my destination. I paused and looked round. A sudden temptation assailed me. The world was fair enough to live in. Why should I toil after the far-off glory? Babylon seemed full of mystery. Its temples and palaces were steeped in the jewel glow and gloom of evening. In far-up heights of misty magnificence, the plates of gold on the temples rayed back the dying light. In the deepening vault, a starry sparkle began. An immense hum arose from leagues of populous streets. The scents of many gardens by the river came over me. I was lulled by the plash of fountains. Closer I heard voices and a voice I loved. I listened as a song came:
Tell me, youthful lover, whether Love is joy or woe? Are they gay or sad together On that way who go?
A voice answered back
Radiant as a sunlit feather, Pure and proud they go; With the lion look together Glad their faces show.
My sadness departed. I would be among them shortly, and would walk and whisper amid those rich gardens where beautiful idleness was always dreaming. Merodach looked at me.
"You will find these thoughts will hinder you much," he said.
"You mean --" I hesitated, half-bewildered, half-amazed. "I say that a thought such as the one that flamed about you just now, driving your sadness away, will recur again when next you are despondent, and so you will accustom yourself to find relief on the great quest by returning to an old habit of the heart, renewing what should be laid aside. This desire of men and women for each other is the strongest tie among the many that bind us. It is the most difficult of all to overcome. The great ones of the earth have passed that way themselves with tears."
"But surely, Merodach, you cannot condemn what I may say is so much a part of our nature -- of all nature."
"I did not condemn it, when I said it is the strongest tie that binds us here. It is sin only for those who seek for freedom."
"Merodach, must we then give up love?"
"There are two kinds of love men know of. There is one that begins with a sudden sharp delight -- it dies away into infinite tones of sorrow. There is a love that wakes up amid dead things. It is chill at first, but it takes root. It warms. It expands. It lays hold of universal joys. Thereby the man loves. Thereby the God loves. Those who know this divine love are wise indeed. They love not one or another. They are love itself. Think well over this. Power alone is not the attribute of the Gods. There are no such fearful specters in that great companionship. And now, farewell, we shall meet again."
I watched his departing figure, and then I went on my own way. I longed for that wisdom, which they only acquire who toil, strive, and suffer; but I was full of a rich life that longed for excitement and fulfillment. In that great Babylon, sin did not declare itself in its true nature, but was still clouded over by the mantle of primeval beauty.
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From the second part of a tape recording entitled "Death and After-Death States, Part I" made of a private class held on October 27, 1954.]
The unity of Atman, Buddhi, and Manas is the real you, your individuality. It is going to build another set of vehicles in the next incarnation. It is going to be a full-fledged man again. Try to get that idea. It is subtle, but it is important. You are a human entity. After death, you are a spiritual entity, because you have nothing left of your personality except the results of the incarnation just passed and the seeds with which to build a new personality.
If you were John Smith, you were that person for just one incarnation. There has never been a John Smith before and will never be another. The seeds that built this personality will build another personality next time. In the meantime, in the inner worlds between lives, you are a spiritual entity of various degrees of evolution depending on what scale you stand. You are not what we call a man, as we know one to be when incarnate.
No ordinary person knows when he is dying. Only an Initiate does. No ordinary person is self-conscious after death, unless he is an occultist. No one who has died can communicate self-consciously with those he has left behind. That is impossible, no matter what some may say.
This is the only genuine teaching of the Esoteric Philosophy. Everything in the philosophy supports it. The individual human being, the soul, the reincarnating ego, cannot communicate with the physical plane under any circumstances, whether through mediums or in any other form. All communication is closed. Otherwise, it would not be death.
Mediumistic human beings can communicate with the astral shell left behind by the man who has withdrawn. The shell is not the man. In the condition of profound sleep, you or I could touch the consciousness of our loved ones in their devachanic sleep with our inner spiritual consciousness. No one in those higher conditions can self-consciously communicate with one on this plane and know that he is so doing. That idea is wrong. The student needs to understand this.
The philosophy does not deny the myriad interesting psychic manifestations. It does not deny them, but has another explanation for them. Keep this important fact in mind.
Next time, we will consider the journeying of the monad and reincarnating ego through the inner spheres between lives.
You might ask if it is possible for an atom bomb to destroy the vital body or the emotional body. Could the damage result in a setback to one's reincarnation? Would the blast destroy his karmic record?
Physical means cannot touch anything but the physical body. Physical explosions have their repercussions in higher spheres. They affect the vital currents in the astral structure, but the worst destruction does not penetrate too far. The manner in which something destroyed the physical body affects the next incarnation. One will be in a chaotic condition or harmonious condition when he returns. We cannot brush aside the means of destruction that we have. They affect the human constitution, but not deeply, mostly in the physical and psycho-magnetic parts.
Some people die suddenly. An explosion may blow a child to pieces. Its ego needs another body immediately. The younger that one dies, the sooner he comes back. He has not generated enough spiritual effects in this life to warrant a long devachanic rest. There is nothing in him that is fatigued and needing devachanic recuperation.
The child had just come back from the devachan and now dies. He had built up his physical body. Perhaps he was only two, six, or ten years old. Then something karmic happened. He will reincarnate soon. If he were a one or two year old, he would reincarnate within the year.
There is the story of two kids in same family that were in the bombings in southern Europe. A bomb blew the three and one-half year old child to bits. The child just disintegrated. In a part of the same house, its mother was not injured. She was carrying a baby, which was born a short time afterwards. There are similarities between the astrological charts of the new baby and that of the child that blew up. Could they be the same individual? It could be a transfer in this instance. I have heard of a number of cases.
A boy in Los Angeles distinctly recalled having perished crossing the Atlantic on a steamer that blew up. It had happened two or three years earlier. These things are possible. They are more frequent than we realize, but still exceptions rather than the general rule.
The earlier you die in childhood, the sooner you will be reborn. The attraction is towards incarnation rather than away from life. In your old age, your attraction is for rest in the devachanic worlds. When young, you have no such attraction. It is a matter of attraction and repulsion. Dying very young, you begin to rebuild a new vehicle immediately.
An individual's body dies young. Disease or accident may have killed him as a child. His inner principles do not sever from each other. He has not really died. Death is the severance of the inner principles and their disassociation at the end of a lifespan.
Just because a physical body has died, that does not mean that it was the time for the inner principles to disassociate and return to the spheres from which they came. The natural tendency is to rebuild another physical body as soon as possible, continuing an incarnation that has been frustrated. The Ego will incarnate in the most suitable channel then available. It may be the same family, or elsewhere.
What are the chances of a child being reborn in the same family? Living next door to one of us, a young woman lost her baby. It was stillborn, which broke the mother's heart. She has a new baby now, born the end of August. Could this be the same individual? The chances are considerable, because of magnetic attraction.
It is logical for the child to be back with the same family, but he might have powerful karmic associations with other channels. There is an economy of nature. Nature does not like wasted effort. As there is a powerful connection with the previous family, the ego will try to return there.
There are failures in nature. They are hard to explain karmically. Suppose the child is the same one the woman lost two years ago. She has a yearning and gets the identical child. It is not easy to explain a particular case. We do not fully know many things, and our Teachers have not given out other things. The death as a child looks like a failure, but is it?
A deficiency in the effort of both the reincarnating Ego and the parents caused the child's death. The Ego may not be ready for the environment, or perhaps the parents were only equipped to furnish the environment partially. It was a borderline situation. With these children, the odds were just too much against them. It may have shown up in their astrological charts. There may be evidence that the parents were not equipped to handle the children.
There are two sides to the failure, that of the child and that of the parents. The two sides are interrelated intimately. How might it look from the standpoint of the reincarnating Ego? Is it a failure? No. It may learn little from so brief an incarnation, but it might provide the parents with a valuable experience. Where do you draw the line between the incarnating Ego and the parents? They are one. They have been evolving together. They have had many experiences together before.
Can the reincarnating Ego draw value from an incarnation of a few months to a year? Yes, something is gathered. Perhaps it missed something valuable last time that it had to gather this way.
Concerned with imperfect entities, the processes of incarnation and discarnation include mistakes. Many things can go wrong. Everything in nature is only relatively perfect. There are wrong ways of incarnating, taken by mistake. This is like a mechanical gadget, with parts that can fail. The process is not concerned with gods and demigods. It deals with imperfect entities in various stages of evolution. Mistakes can and do occur. The incarnation is frustrated. The Ego cannot accomplish its purpose, so it cuts the life short from within and tries anew. That is the other possibility.
At the time of death, it is important to avoid any disturbance. Say they embalm someone. If the embalmer does not insure silence, might that disturb the panoramic vision? No, normal and quiet physical action has no effect. Only emotional disturbances reach the Ego at this stage. There are also times when people are cremated practically before they are dead, which is like being burned to death. That will not affect their panoramic vision, as it causes little change in the spiritual aspects of their passing.
An accident to the physical body cannot thwart the processes of spiritual nature. The preparation of the physical body will not disturb the inner Ego, if done with a helpful motive. If done violently or with evil motive, the actions produce emotional disturbances, which are psychic. They are on the plane where the Ego is now, and have a powerful effect.
Embalming is not good. It does not hurt the inner man, but it is useless. The inner man has no connection with the physical body. If the law requires embalming, we may deplore it as being foolish, but not as being evil. The inner man is gone, unconcerned about his physique.
In some states, the law may be to embalm the body for viewing even when one plans to cremation it. Although embalming is bad, an autopsy is far worse. It is wrong to monkey around with the physical body. Even so, the foolish things we do with the body cannot affect spiritual nature working with the inner man. If it could, I would lose trust in the spiritual nature.
In some cases, a person only appears to be dead. Before doing anything, leave him alone at least 72 hours. There have been cases where people have been effectively dead physically for 24 to 30 hours and still came back. Recently, a man had died at five in the morning. They took him away late that night. After three days, they were taking him to the cemetery in a hearse when he woke up.
Suppose that they had embalmed him. After they took the blood out of the veins, no one could revive him. The embalming would have killed him. It would not have been violent. There was no evil motive. They did not know he was not truly death. He would not have known the difference. It is certainly karmic.
Catalepsy looks like death. There may be no perceptible heartbeat. The man is motionless. The breath is nearly impossible to detect. Appearances can be deceptive. There are no conclusive physical symptoms that death has taken place. Dr. de Purucker told me that even the beginning of decay of the physical body is no sure sign of physical death, that certain conditions of trance are so deep that death may be simulated and certain processes of decay may already begin.
We have uncovered little yet in the West about the possibilities of the human body. The higher individuals know how to withdraw from the physical body and plunge it into complete trance. They put it into suspended animation so that everything is crystallized, put on hold, and ready to use at a moment's notice. That is their secret. Throughout recorded history, advanced occultists do this, not aging, continuing to look like people 40 years old. How do they do this? They completely stop the metabolism. This is the only way a human body will not age. They must stop the wear and tear on it.
Sleep does not stop the metabolism. An anesthetic does not stop it. Even catalepsy does not stop it. Advanced occultists stop every function of the human body. This includes the heartbeat, breathing, digestion, and movement of fluids in the body, but not bringing down the body temperature. It requires knowledge of congealing the body and its fluids, which is a magnetic process. While withdrawn, the individuals function elsewhere in their astral constitution. This may last for a few hours, days, weeks, or even months.
Say one has lived ninety years. He has functioned outside of his physical body so often that it has spent fifty years in suspended animation. That body is going to look as if it were forty. It does not have ninety years of wear and tear. It was wearing out only when he was self-consciously occupying it. We cannot do this in sleep. Our body continues to wear out. Nothing is suspended.
A student related an interesting story. Her aunt and aunt's husband were in their bedroom, reading. Both a theosophist and psychic, the aunt suddenly says to her husband, "Someone is in this room with us. He is dead and does not know it." They tried to convince the man that he was dead and must leave. The next day, they found out a man had died in an accident near their home.
In another case, an accident may knock an individual out of his physical body. It destroys his nervous system and brain structure. In a condition unknown to him, he is unable to function self-consciously. He has no knowledge about the condition in which he now finds himself. He does not know what happened. He is stunned, but not dead.
The individual should have lived another 30 years. Only after that time will his inner principles disassociate, severing themselves from one another and reentering the various channels of nature from which they came. He has to wait 30 years, since he is not dead. He cannot die. He may have lost his physical body, but he has not lost the store of magnetic-pranic vitalities that saturate his inner structure.
This was an average man. He was not wicked. Nobody killed him and he did not kill himself. He is in a stupor now. One of the Masters used exactly that word, a "stupor." He is stunned. He is not self-conscious, because he has never trained himself to be conscious outside of his brain. He may not even have believed in the spiritual, but he was good.
Nature will take care of things. He will gradually enter into a dream, and not regain self-consciousness again. Some dreams will be pleasant, some semi-pleasant, and some not pleasant at all. There are many parts of his consciousness at work. In that condition, he is perfectly safe. For these 30 remaining years of what would have been his normal physical life, he is under the guidance and custodianship of spiritual entities. They have taken care of millions in that way. Then his real death begins.
Is it possible that he might be going around, seeing people, and talking to them, with them neither seeing nor talking to him? That would be more than creepy. It would be a horribly experience. No! It definitely does not happen! We might find that pseudo-occultism on the shelves of a library. Yes, and we might hear them at a so-called theosophical lodge. That is where adulterated Theosophy comes in.
The man is not in some room, trying to communicate with the living. That is impossible. The only way in which he could do this is by using his ordinary physical senses operating through his brain structure and nervous system, which he no longer has. He has not learned how to operate through his astral senses. He is stunned. He does not know that he has lost his senses.
In this state of stupor, does one ever return to his loved ones? Does he seek help or guidance from those who were close to him? Can they feel that he is disturbed? How would he return to them? Might he wander astrally near his loved ones? His magnetic attractions will draw him to places where he had attachments until the attachments fade away over time. Even so, he cannot communicate with anybody. The dreamlike consciousness has completely enwrapped him, although those he loved are in his dreams.
Does he seek guidance from loved ones so he can go where he can find peace? No. There are spiritual intelligences at work in various parts of the astral light. These advanced occultists have the duty to help these people. They take care of their needs at that time and safeguard them from dangers to which they might be exposed. Someone who has died in an accidental will not have to look for guidance. The dead one cannot look for help. He is in a dream state. He cannot look, because that takes a self-conscious effort which one cannot do while asleep and dreaming.
Is there a magnetic force that would draw them back to the places and people they knew? The attraction is automatic. For a short while, they will float around those places they knew. They will not know what is going on. They might experience release and dreamy happiness because of a powerful thought of love directed towards them by those they have left behind.
Communication between the dead and those on the physical plane is impossible because of the changed magnetism. The dead cannot associate with the living. Thank God that they cannot! What a mess it would be! We would not know whom we are dealing with, whether they are dead or alive! Thank God that there is no communication under normal conditions, even though there are exceptions.
Is it possible to sense these entities as the aunt and uncle did? Yes, a psychically sensitive individual would feel them. It is not good to be able to do so. The connection between people who died an accidental death and those left behind will fade away in a few days or weeks at most. It is not a conscious connection unless made so through the foolishness of spiritualistic seances. The newly dead will sink into sleep gradually. Over time, the sleep increasingly enwraps them. That is not devachan. It is something else. In time, it will be utterly impossible to get in touch with them in even this way.
During the first few hours or days after their accident, the newly dead might possibly have a semi-conscious awareness that something has happened. If they were good, they will not suffer. It is utterly impossible for them to be aware of what living people are doing, where they are, or to go here and there at will in search of things. That is impossible. Nature mercifully stuns their minds and will. This is the normal rule, though there are exceptions.
The Esoteric Philosophy teaches us that death is a great adventure. It is something to look forward to rather than something of which to be afraid. It depends on how a man lives. In our studies, we have only barely touched upon the after-death conditions. They are the continuation of the human, earthly consciousness. We say it is a continuation since no man becomes better or worse just because he has died.
We should not be afraid of these conditions of consciousness. Death is a release. It frees the soul from the shackles of material existence. It begins a grand spiritual adventure. The average person is partially conscious. A more advanced individual finds it specific, definite, and cognizable. Having received some degree of esoteric training, spiritually minded men and women find it an adventure undertaken in self-consciousness with some degree of awareness.
It is a journey closer to spiritual reality for men, be they great or small, evolved or unevolved. It is not spiritual reality, but is a journey closer to it. It is the temporary withdrawal from the worlds of material illusions into worlds of higher illusions. These higher worlds reflect spiritual reality better. It is also a period of needed and unavoidable rest, recuperation, and assimilation of experience and the building of character. In it, one assimilates experience and builds it into character. Passing on, the individual is on his way to his inner self. Look upon the one passing on as a symbol of the human race, going to meeting its collective higher selfhood in future ages.
The essence of death is essential to sleep. Initiation is conscious death. Sleep, death, and Initiation are three facets of the same reality. What takes place in sleep imperfectly takes place in death more perfectly. That takes place in greater fullness and with full consciousness and choice at Initiation. When passing into the inner world, the Initiate literally dies.
Initiation is conscious death. Only one who has learned how to die consciously can undergo it. What we call death is a foretaste of what human beings in the higher degrees of Initiation undergo in full consciousness. They are aware of it as it happens and aware of its purpose. Instead of fear, we see these teachings release within ourselves a great satisfaction. They release an inner spiritual joy. We realize keenly how we escape at times from the lower physical worlds to enjoy a period of recuperation and rest in realms that are more truly home.