For an exhaustive disquisition upon Adepts, Mahatmas and Nirmanakayas, more than a volume would be needed. The development illustrated by them is so strange to modern minds and so extraordinary in these days of general mediocrity, that the average reader fails to grasp with ease the views advanced in a condensed article; and nearly everything one would say about Adepts -- to say nothing of the Nirmanakayas -- requiring full explanation of recondite laws and abstruse questions, is liable to be misunderstood, even if volumes should be written upon them. The development, conditions, powers, and function of these beings carry with them the whole scheme of evolution; for, as said by the mystics, the Mahatma is the efflorescence of an age. The Adepts may be dimly understood today, the Nirmanakayas have as yet been only passingly mentioned, and the Mahatmas are misconceived by believers and deniers alike.
-- W.Q. Judge, ECHOES FROM THE ORIENT, page 32.
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 57-59.]
... The fortunate Is he whose earnest purpose never swerves, Whose slightest action or inaction serves The one great aim.
A verse in THE DHAMMAPADA says that no outer device can purify a person "who has not solved his doubts." It is no exaggeration, then, for the poet to say that "doubts are traitors."
People live so grossly centered in the without that they have no time to attend to the within. Sometimes the without is full of sensuality of the animal kind; sometimes, of adventure devoid of wickedness; for many the without is full of the humdrum passing of days and weeks into months and years; for a few that without is absorption in outer ceremonialism of penance and prayer and even asceticism, with many fasts and no festivals. But always it is preoccupation with matters of the mundane spheres.
The newcomer to Theosophy begins in enthusiasm and with intuitive faith; he becomes a student, then an aspirant, with devotion endeavoring to learn and to serve; he blossoms into a neophyte. In due course, he is overtaken by weaknesses and the fear of difficulties. Above all, he is lured by the gaiety, the pomp, and the power of the world, and he feels that his life is gliding by, untouched by all that wonder. Then come failures and frustrations, followed by doubts regarding the present mode of Theosophical living, a desire for escape or for change of venue. Boredom leads to laziness as well as discontent and the mischief is done. "My life is marred; discipline is not for me; I must change all this. To gain the soul is fine; but to lose the world for it? No."
We ought to clear our minds about the vital Esoteric teaching that the arising of doubts in the consciousness of a neophyte, if not conquered by quiet study and calm reflection, leads to desertion from the field of battle. Small slips or great sins may occur, but the temptation to commit them is overcome when the neophyte stands firm and gives battle. Even to speculate about desertion of Discipline is to strengthen our doubts about the Wisdom and the Wise Ones, about the Divinity within ourselves, about the true Altruism by which alone man feels the Peace of the Occult World, sees the Light of the Hidden Ones, hears the sound of the Spiritual Spheres. Therefore has doubt been mentioned in the same context as hypocrisy, which is called an unpardonable sin in Occultism. When one gives up the Fight, he begins to forget the rules of the Discipline of the Righteous Soldier; and in a short while he becomes careless, scoffs at the Discipline, struggles anyhow, and even fails to see himself as a deserter.
Neophytes talk of their weaknesses but they let go opportunities to learn and to overcome them. What they are called upon to do is not to fail, not to be broken, but to remain true to the Way of Discipline, to be faithful to the very end. The only sin that Occultism condemns is the sin of desertion. Doubts of the spiritual and higher life ever spring from the form of sin ( papa-purusha) of the personal man. Carnal forces sow seeds of doubt in us, tempt us to commit follies, goad us on to desert the good, the true and the beautiful. The temptation to desert does not come to the worldly man, for he has nothing to be tempted away from. He is free to "enjoy" his carnal appetites. But the neophyte is tempted to desert the Discipline. What is the form of this temptation? Carnal forces speak to him and say, "Why be a slave to the discipline you have accepted? Be free; make your own discipline." This is the blackest of delusions.
The duty of the neophyte is to possess a direct ray of thought and of purpose and to use the overcoming of his weaknesses, small or big, of body or of mind, for the fulfillment of that purpose and for intensifying the power of that ray. Says an aphorism:
Selfishness will desert you, if you do not desert the Wisdom-Word.
How encouraging is the instruction:
... each failure is success, and each sincere attempt wins its reward in time. The holy germs that sprout and grow unseen in the disciple's soul, their stalks wax strong at each new trial, they bend like reeds but never break, nor can they e'er be lost. But when the hour has struck, they blossom forth.
But where can reward come from if after any failure no sincere attempt is made? When with some degree of failure the neophyte deserts and so is broken, is he not lost? HPB has explained in more than one place the declivity which failure follows, and what this "loss" means. Failure to try and to keep on trying is the one and only real failure. Can it be turned into a success? Not until the temptation which enslaved the deserter, by the false notions of personal freedom, is destroyed; not until the doubts which caused the desertion are removed. Only then restoration to the Path of Discipline is achieved.
By Bart Lidofsky
One day, a fire started in a library that had many rare and irreplaceable volumes. One employee, a man of great faith, calmly walked out, taking nothing with him. A coworker asked excitedly, "What about the rare books?"
"Do nothing," replied the man. "They'll be taken care of."
While the man stood and watched, the other employees risked personal injury, saving many rare books. By the time the firefighters arrived, most volumes were stacked on the street. The burned and soot-covered employees stood nearby, catching their breaths.
"You see? You did all that for nothing," said the man. "They were taken care of."
THE QUEST MAGAZINE is the main voice of the Theosophical Society in America. Large amounts of information about the Society are included, as well as a single paragraph, hidden near the bottom of the indicia, saying, "The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this magazine by whomever made, unless contained in an official document of the Society. The opinions of the writers are their own."
Even so, the editorial policy is certainly that of the Theosophical Society. What appears in THE QUEST is presented as if it was the official opinion of the Theosophical Society. This is why I am extremely disappointed with the July-August, 2005 issue of the Quest.
One principle that virtually all Theosophists agree upon is the basic unity behind the perceived universe. Despite the apparent separation, everything interconnects with everything else. One does not find this principle of unity in the current issue of QUEST MAGAZINE. On the contrary, the articles present the viewpoint exemplified by the employee in the story. He was incapable of connecting the safety of the books with the work and sacrifice needed to ensure that safety, even chiding those who risked themselves to save the heart of the library.
The current issue of THE QUEST has a theme of peace, with the authors criticizing those who go to war, without ever making the connection that a temporary war may be the only way to preserve life and ensure lasting freedom. In addition, its authors disconnect action from intent, unlike previous Theosophical authors whom stress the importance of treating action and intent as a whole.
Consider the first article, "Thinking in Freedom." It starts with a quote by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, an author who would have been put to death in the gulags of the Soviet Union had it not been for the efforts of those who were willing to put their lives on the line for human freedom. Sheldon Stoff, the author, criticizes the desire to preserve freedom, claiming it grows out of ego. He writes as if there was something wrong with preserving the freedom that allows him to write the articles that he does. Stoff talks about answering hate with love, ignoring those for whom freedom means taking freedom away from others, while they cynically use love and trust to destroy those who believe in freedom. He ignores the fact that humanity has not completed its evolution. Some refuse to evolve; to them, self-determination means taking away the right of self-determination from others.
In the next article, "A Breath of Life for the Anonymous Dead," the author, Edward Tick, clearly dissociates actions from intent by indiscriminately equating the Ann Frank House, the site of My Lai, and Hiroshima. The first was a victim of a policy of atrocities by a government. The second was individuals representing government acting in a manner that the government itself considered criminal where the perpetrators were tried, found guilty, and imprisoned. As for the third, it represented the attempts to free people like Ann Frank from oppression; the oppression by the Japanese is even given in more detail by Tania Dyett in a later article, "A Lesson Learned."
Tick later equates the extermination of the Holocaust, where the Nazis systematically and purposely slaughtered millions of innocent civilians, with the deaths of Iraqi civilians killed during the current war in Iraq. He fails to mention that many were killed by fellow Iraqis, that great efforts were made to minimize the deaths of Iraqi civilians, and that the rate of civilians being killed actually went considerably DOWN during and after the invasion. Saddam Hussein killed civilians at a far greater rate than have the American forces. Once again, intent is ignored, the context is ignored, and only the action is considered.
In "The Miracle of Transformation," Kay Mouradian implies that we should ignore the adage "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it" and it is better for us to forget history if it makes us happier. The apparent message is "It is a much happier world when we let wrongdoers go unrestrained and unpunished while we just forget about the evil they do." Such a world does not remain happy, because more people are encouraged to doing evil as they see their predecessors spared the negative consequences of their actions.
In an article written over a decade ago, Tony Lysy describes a sweatshirt with a caption, "We're all on the same side." In the universal sense, where time has no meaning, this may be true, but in the time-space continuum in which we are currently rooted, this is not true at all. He writes, "Can we as a people ever grasp that unity requires diversity and not uniformity?" This ignores the people willing to kill to destroy diversity; if they are not stopped, human evolution humanity will certainly be delayed.
In his article, John Algeo promotes a similar theme, writing about the preference of archetypes of love over than archetypes of murder. This is fine when dealing with people willing to live and let live. Once again, if one is dealing with people for whom the right of self-determination includes taking that right away from others, even to the point of death, then perhaps love should be extended to those who are being oppressed.
Radha Burnier rounds out the issue in her article, "Mental Compartments." She equates the suicide bombers of Al Queda, pedantic teachers, and Siegfried and Roy, calling them all terrorists. This falsely reduces the significance and danger of the former while belittling those who make distinctions between them. Even though she fails to acknowledge it, there is definitely a difference between making somebody feel bad about themselves and maiming or killing them. Animals do NOT have the same rights as people. And there is a difference between armed criminals taking hostages and armed police freeing the hostages, even if both use weapons. Once again, one's intent is the determining factor.
On the back cover is a quote that says, in part, "War is merely the effect, the symptom, of inner moral weakness." Once again, it ignores the fact that inaction creates karma; if there is injustice that one can stop, and one fails to act to stop it, then one takes partial responsibility for that injustice. Sometimes, war is the only way available to end the injustice, in which case war arises from moral conviction, not weakness.
Several times in the issue, there is mention of people liberated from their oppressors, whereas none of the authors seem to connect the liberation with the actions required in the process of the liberation, even to the extent of condemning those actions. The freedom that the authors have to write was paid for in war, whether they acknowledge and appreciate it or not.
The issue promotes the attitude of the man who relied on faith in our imaginary library, selfishly running to his own personal safety and ignoring the safety of the rare books, since "they will be taken care of." In our world, he would be watching people as their freedom and very lives are destroyed. The issue should have at least considered the attitude of his coworkers, facing danger, and altruistically risking their personal safety for the benefit of others.
By Henry S. Olcott
[From THE THEOSOPHIST, March 1890, pages 143-44.]
THE LONDON SPIRITUALIST gives space to a full report of the inaugural address of George Wyld, the newly elected President of the British Theosophical Society, a branch of our own, which we lack the room to print. Dr. Wyld's paper is marked by the force, learning, and sincerity that are his recognized personal characteristics. It teaches the true doctrine that Adeptship, the attainment of a full spiritual condition, is only possible for those who bring the bodily lusts of all kinds under the control of the higher and better nature.
In a series of apt quotations from the four Gospels of the New Testament, he endeavors to convince his audience that Jesus, though perhaps not the very and only Son of God, was at least the highest type of human spirituality ever vouchsafed to humanity. At the same time, Dr. Wyld affirms that every man may become a "Son of God," his rule being "So to empty our souls of self that the Father, becoming manifest in His Sons, illuminates and regenerates the world."
This species of Christian Adeptship our respected brother places even above the Adeptship of the East, which he says
is secret, mysterious, and hidden from all except a select few who have passed through an ordeal so severe and dangerous that many, it is said, perish in body or in soul on making the attempt, and into which select few, so far as we know, no woman has ever been admitted.
In these utterances, so foreign to the views entertained by a large majority of Theosophists, our Oriental friends will see a practical evidence of the truly republican and cosmopolitan nature of the Theosophical Society. Dr. Wyld is an enthusiastic admirer of the character of Jesus, and yet sees his way clear to the accomplishment of that personal spiritual unfolding towards which we all aspire.
As is but natural with strong thinkers, his path seems to him the best and surest one, and he lays his scheme before his Society and the world with an ardent longing for its acceptance. Brahmo Samajists will doubtless recognize the very essence of their own ideas coming from this good Theosophist's lips, and see that our journal was not wide of the mark in saying upon its first appearance that there was ample room for Brahmo and Prarthana Samajists and even liberal Christians, in our fellowship.
Our London brother means every word he speaks on this theme, and his opinions are respected by us just as much as though he had avowed his faith in either of the ancient Eastern religions, which some of us think the best ever evolved by man. If he had been in India, studied the ancient philosophies, and seen the Eastern adepts and the practical proofs of their lofty science, he would beyond doubt change the views he now expounds so eloquently. And all this may come in time.
But, in thus conceding to Dr. Wyld the full right of private judgment, it must not be forgotten that like the rest of us, he speaks only for himself, and neither the Theosophical Society as a whole, nor even the British branch, as a body, is responsible. The very idea of "Brotherhood of Humanity" and "Republic of Conscience," both of which synonyms apply to the basis on which our Society is building up, covers the principle of strict intellectual reciprocity. Any attempt to use the Society for propaganda, whether of Christianity or any other single religion, would at once strip it of the first quality of cosmopolitanism, and make it only a sect.
For myself, I am free to say that there is no adequate proof to my mind either that Jesus was the Son of God, that be said or did the things ascribed to him, that either one of the four Gospels is anything better than a literary fabrication, or that Jesus ever lived. Nor do I see that the ideal character of Jesus is any nobler than that of Gautama, if so noble. At the proper times and places I have maintained these views, and hope to do so often again. So far from sharing Dr. Wyld's ideal of Christianity, I have, after nearly fifty years of practical observation and experience in Christian countries and among the teachers and professors of Christianity, been forced to conclude that it is a bad religion and fosters every sin and vice against which its ethical code inveighs.
This is my opinion. In expressing it, I no more compromise our Society than does Dr. Wyld, so strong an admirer of Jesus, by expressing his. Neither would Mr. Massey by his article in this number of THE THEOSOPHIST, or the Swami Dayanand, or our orthodox Hindu fellows, or the high priest Sumangala, or any other adherent of any special sect or theology by what they respectively teach. We are all individual and free as to personal beliefs, but are knitted together by the strong ties of intellectual reciprocity and universal brotherhood.
Dr. Wyld is not warranted in his definition of the nature of Oriental Adeptship, as given in the following terms:
The Oriental adept obtains magical or soul power over matter, which he uses for his own ends -- and over spirits. But the Christian adept has no dealings with low or weak spirits, except to convert them or to cast them out; but his life is spent in openly transmuting his spiritual powers into good works for the good of mankind.
The implication here is most unequivocal -- the Eastern adept uses his acquired power for selfish ends and consorts with low and weak spirits with a less commendable object than that of converting or casting them out; and, unlike his Christian compeer, does not "transmute his spiritual powers into good works for the good of mankind." Since I, as an individual, am commenting upon the opinions of Dr. Wyld as an individual, I am bound to say that nothing could be farther from the real state of the case.
Whatever the Christian adept may or may not do of beneficent deeds -- and church history is not all one-sided on that question -- it is most certain that the Eastern adept's first and last aspiration is to benefit humanity by making himself purer and better than they. So far from consorting with low and weak spirits, the very elementary instruction he receives is to avoid them and rid himself of their fatal influence by becoming too holy for them to approach him. Not a single "Eastern adept" comes within Dr. Wyld's hypothesis, except the problematical practitioner of Black Magic or Sorcery, who uses his knowledge of arcane natural powers to gratify carnal appetites and desires, and invariably falls victim to the evil spirits he has drawn to his aid.
It is equally incorrect to say that no woman has become an adept. Not to mention one example that will immediately recall itself to every Theosophist, I may say that I personally have encountered in India two other initiated women, and know of a number of others in the East. Some women, it must be remembered, are of that sex only in body -- taking sex to mean that negative quality of individuality that Dr. Wyld evidently had in mind when thinking of them.
If Jesus made adepts by breathing on men, so that they could under this afflatus do "miracles." If Loyola, Theresa, Savonarola, and the Cure D'Ars, possessed the power of aethrobacy and healing, so have hundreds of "Eastern adepts" in Indian history healed their multitudes, "miraculously" fed the hungry, and raised the dead. As for air walking, the readers of this paper need not be told that in India, even an English doctor admits, it is an exact physiological science.
My friend Dr. Wyld deplores that in Great Britain there are no examples of Adeptship to refer to. I could name at least one British Fellow of the Society who in modest privacy has already acquired by intelligent self-discipline very marked results in this direction. I have, with my own eyes, seen in the streets of London one of the most eminent of Eastern adepts, who has that to look after, which is a transmutation of his powers for the good of humanity.
These "adepts," "Rosicrucians," "initiates," or whatever else we may choose to call them, go about the world -- as Professor Alexander Wilder so clearly told us last month -- without being suspected; mingling in crowds but not affected by them and doing what is best to be done, and out of purest love for their fellowmen. Those only are permitted to recognize them whom it is necessary they should reveal themselves to, for the attainment of a definite object. But this one thing is indisputable, that, whether they outwardly call themselves Buddhists, Hindus, Parsis, or Christians, they are absolutely at one in spirit; and that spirit is to become spiritually great, so that great good may be done by them to the whole world.
By Henry S. Olcott
[From OLD DIARY LEAVES, II, pages 293-94.]
It had been arranged that I should return alone to Ceylon and begin the collection of a National Education Fund to promote the education of Buddhist boys and girls. The scheme had -- as HPB assured me -- the full approbation of the Mahatmas, and her own concurrence had been strongly expressed. Thereupon I had written to Ceylon and made all necessary arrangements with our friends.
On February 11, as it seems, HPB fell out with me because I would not cancel the engagement and stop and help her on THE THEOSOPHIST. Of course, I flatly refused to do anything of the kind, and as the natural consequence, she fell into a white rage with me.
She shut herself up in her room a whole week, refusing to see me, but sending me formal notes of one sort or another, among them one in which she notified me that the Lodge would have nothing more to do with the Society or myself, and I might go to Timbuktu if I liked.
I simply said that my tour having been fully approved of by the Lodge, I should carry it through, even though I never saw the face of a Master again; that I did not believe them to be such vacillating and whimsical creatures; if they were, I preferred to work on without them.
Her ill temper burnt itself out at last, and on the 18th of that month, she and I drove out in the new carriage that Damodar had presented to her! A Master visited her on the 19th and exposed to her the whole situation, about which I shall not go into details, as all has turned out as he forewarned us.
On leaving, he left behind a much-worn gold-embroidered head covering, of peculiar shape, which I took possession of, and have until this day.
One result of this visit was that, on the 25th of the month, she and I had a long and serious discussion about the state of affairs. This resulted, as my Diary says, "in an agreement between us to reconstruct the Theosophical Society on a different basis, putting the Brotherhood idea forward more prominently, and keeping the occultism more in the background, in short, to have a secret section for it." This, then, was the seed planting of the EST, and the beginning of the adoption of the Universal Brotherhood idea in more definite form than previously.
By S. Vahiduddin
[From THE ARYAN PATH, April 1941, pages 166-70.]
The influence of Kant in his own Country showed at first in the unfruitful tendency to bring into opposition several facets of the personality. The theory of Knowledge was rent by a conflict of reason and understanding; ethics suffered from an irreconcilable struggle between inclination and duty. It was in the philosophy of beauty that he finally attempted to bring into harmony the elements at war in his epistemology.
The faculty of judgment was the mediator between the world of understanding and the super-sensual world of reason. But ethics remained to the last the ethics of discord. The conflict of inclination with the categorical imperative was too strong for the synthetic efforts of the philosopher; they could not stand together. A poet was now needed to fulfill the mission left uncompleted by a master of systematic thought. In other words, a philosophy of culture was wanted to restore the equilibrium, and Schiller, with his idea of a beautiful soul, attained at one stroke that harmony between divergents for which his master vainly sought.
Man's straying from the path of his destiny can be of a twofold character. He can be nature alone, a devotee of the senses; or reason alone, a slave of maxims. It is Beauty's great function to forestall these deviations. What a wonder it is then that it is not infrequently held responsible for an alienation from reality! An appeal to history unfortunately confirms an unfavorable verdict.
The Romans, we know, had first to exhaust their energy in civil wars, and, enervated by Oriental superfluity, had to bow to the yoke of a fortunate dynast before Greek Art could be seen to triumph over the rigidity of their character. Culture dawned upon the Arabs only when the energy of their warlike spirit flagged under the scepter of the Abbasides. In modem Italy, fine art showed itself only when the glorious association of the Lombards was dissolved, Florence was subjected to the Medici, and the spirit of independence in all those brave cities had given place to infamous resignation.
Experience is not encouraging. If aesthetic culture can be bought only at the expense of force of character, it is not worth having. But experience is not the tribunal to which we have to appeal. The beauty we are speaking of is a concept of reason and has other sources than experience.
These philosophical reflections led Schiller to expound a remarkable theory of play. It must be noted that Schiller's theory is not to be confused with those empirical theories, Spencer's for example, which find so much favor among psychologists today. The instinct of play, says Schiller, is that via media we have been seeking all along the course of our history. It is the unity and reconciliation of the material and formal forces of human nature. The material instinct excludes from its object all self-activity and freedom. The formal instinct excludes from its object all dependence and suffering. The exclusion of freedom is the physical, the exclusion of passivity the moral necessity.
Both these instincts compel the spirit (Gemut): the one through the laws of Nature, the other through the laws of reason. The instinct of play, where both of them work in cooperation, frees the spirit (Gemut) morally and physically at the same time. While it lifts up all contingency, it will also set aside all necessity and bring freedom to man, morally and physically.
When we cling to a man who is worthy of our contempt, we feel painfully the compulsion of nature. When we are inimical towards another to whom we are forced to give our respect, we feel painfully the compulsion of reason. But the moment he interests our inclination and wins our respect simultaneously, then the compulsion of the senses as well as that of the conscience vanishes, and we begin to love him, that is, we play with our inclination as well as with our respect.
Schiller inquires into the objects of the two fundamental instincts that he elaborates in detail. The object of the material instinct is life in its widest sense, which includes all materiality and all that is presented immediately through the senses. The formal instinct has as its object what may be called "form." That is, all the formal qualities of things and their relation to the power of thought. The instinct of play refers then neither to form simply, nor to life simply, but to the form that is pregnant with life.
A block of marble, though lifeless and remaining so, can still become a living form by the will of the architect or the sculptor. A man, though he lives as a form, is not therefore a living form. For that, it is necessary that his form should be life and his life should be form. So long as we think only of his form, it is lifeless, a simple abstraction: so long as we feel its life, it is formless, mere impression. Only insofar as its form lives in sensation and its life forms itself in our understanding is it a living form, and this will be the case whenever we judge, it as beautiful.
Schiller himself anticipates the doubt that might rise in many minds, namely, that to think of beauty as an object of play does not conform to the dignity of beauty, which is after all taken to be the instrument, and the only instrument, of culture. To confine it to the beautiful at the same time contradicts the general notion of play.
Of course, we should not think of the plays that are in vogue in real life, and that are directed to some material object, but in real life we seek in vain the beauty that we desire ... When the Greeks amused themselves in the Olympic tournaments, a bloodless competition of power and alacrity, and in the nobler competitions, and when the Romans enjoyed themselves in the deadly struggle of gladiators or their Lybian enemies, it becomes clear of itself why we should seek the ideal form of a Venus, a Juno, an Apollo, not in Rome but in Greece. In a word, man should play with beauty and with that only.
The whole structure of Schiller's thought owes much to the Greek ideals of culture, and no less than his friend Goethe he sees in ancient Greece the highest realization of the ideals that bestirred their souls. It was for Holderlin later to give the most fervent and tragic expression to this attachment and passion for Greece.
What was it in the land of Plato and of Homer that so fascinated the humanists and the romantic poets of the early nineteenth century? The Greeks above all saw harmony everywhere, and they hoped their educational ideals would produce a like harmony in the soul. It was not in parts but in the whole that their spiritual metaphysics centered. It was not on multiplicity and division, but on the unity that supersedes them that the seemingly antagonistic schools of Plato and of Aristotle laid stress.
It was reserved for Hegel to give a most systematic and comprehensive expression to this feeling of unity, which not only replaces manifoldness but also transcends it. The truth is that all education must conform to the metaphysical structure of the soul and of the world. At what else but unity and harmony has it to aim?
Throughout, Schiller raises his voice against the superficial utilitarianism that is the bane of modern life. Culture, as he understands it, does not culminate in making man happy or practical, but stands quite indifferent to these aims. Kant, the philosopher who most effectively banished the notion of utility from the domain of Ethics, was of the opinion that it was not happiness as such that man should desire, but that he should rather prepare himself to deserve happiness!
Schiller, while giving full justice to the demands of reason, saw in culture the reconciliation of the senses and reason. But the world of facts and experience shows us men either in a state of tension or in a state of relaxation. It is for beauty to restore harmony in tension, and energy in relaxation.
All things can be considered in one of the four relations. A thing can relate itself to our sensual conditions (our being or well-being). This is its physical quality. Or it can relate itself to our understanding and can impart knowledge to us. This is its logical quality. Or it can relate to our will; we can regard it as an object of choice for our reasonable being. This is its moral quality. Or, lastly, it can relate itself to the totality of our manifold powers, without being an object for any of them. This is its aesthetic quality.
A man can be agreeable to us in his readiness for service. He can make us think through his conversation. He can inspire us with respect through his character. Lastly, independently of all these and without our taking into account any law or purpose, he can please us in our contemplation of him and in the way that he appears to us. In this last quality only do we judge him aesthetically.
There is then an education of health, an education of insight, an education of morals, and an education of taste and beauty. This last has for its purpose the cultivation of all our sensory and spiritual powers in the greatest possible harmony.
For Schiller, there is first a state of man when beauty has not yet begun to work. Man is only a slave of needs and desires.
In this epoch the world is only fate (i.e., something unalterably given for him) not yet an object. All has an existence for him insofar as it makes possible his existence; that which does not give anything or take anything from him is not at all present to him.
He sees in all the wealth and luxury of the world only something to exploit and in its majesty only an enemy. This is the primitive condition of man when he is not yet chastened by beauty. He lives in the present and is isolated there. He is indifferent to the dignity of himself and to the dignity of others.
Man, we can say, was at no time completely in such a brute-like condition but he has not yet extricated himself therefrom. Even in the most uncultivated subjects, we find undeniable traces of rational freedom, just as in the most cultured there are moments that remind us of that dark period of nature. It is peculiar to man to unite in his nature the highest and the lowest, and if his dignity rests on the strict distinction of one from the other, so his happiness rests on the removal of such a difference. The culture that has to bring into harmony his dignity and happiness will also have to see to the preservation of both principles in their unity.
It is here that reason makes its appearance for the first time. It is the function of reason to raise man from the immediacy of the present to the realm of eternal ideas. But by a curious misunderstanding, reason, instead of raising itself to the eternal, makes endless all desires and passions, all needs and wants.
The first fruits that a man earns in the world of spirit are anxiety and fear; both are the results of reason, not of sensuality, but a reason that misses its object.
In the end, it comes to the same whether man is ruled by reason or by the senses. In the first place, he is a rational animal, in the second, an irrational one. He should in fact be neither. Nature should not rule him exclusively nor should reason control him unconditionally.
Schiller further examines the question of beauty and knowledge. Wherever there is a question of knowledge, thought and feelings stand apart. Feeling associates with thought as something accidental. Beauty, on the other hand, rests on the synthesis of activity and passivity, of thought and feeling.
We need not therefore be at a loss to find a transition from the compulsion of the senses to moral freedom, when in beauty we find that the first can exist with the last.
The Romantic School that followed Schiller and advocated the independent claims of feeling in face of the one-sided domination of reason had its forerunner in Schiller. Unfortunately, even today, psychologists show a deep ignorance of the emotional depths of man, and their usual division of feeling into pleasure and pain is highly debatable.
It is therefore in the interest of culture that a sense of beauty should grow in us and free us from the shackles both of the senses and of reason. The primitive mind pleases itself with what it touches by the senses, or, in other words, with the brute reality of facts. It has not yet gained a feeling for what simply appears. But beauty is only in the ideal, in appearance, not in reality. We have to enjoy the beautiful without asking why it is so, without having recourse to the category of purpose. The world of beauty is the world of play. We see animals play. Why do they play? The psychologists have ventured different and highly doubtful answers. Schiller already sees that freedom from compulsion that terminates in the aesthetic play of man.
Indeed nature has raised even the irrational brutes above physical needs and has inflamed the spark of freedom in the dark life of the brute. At a time when no hunger torments the lion and no animal challenges him to fight, leisurely strength creates its own object; with an audacious roar, he fills the echoing woods, and without purpose, his overflowing energy expends itself. The insect enjoys life in the sunshine. Certainly, we find not the cry of passion in the melodies of the singing birds. Freedom is undeniable in their movements, not a freedom from desires in general, but only freedom from particular needs. An animal works when physical want goads it to activity, and it plays when it is stimulated by the overflow of energy, when the overabundance of life becomes an incentive to its own activity. Even in lifeless nature, such an abundance of energy and laxity of determination show themselves as may well be called play in the material sense. The tree produces numerous seeds that die undeveloped and shoots forth many more roots, branches, and leaves than can be made use of for the preservation of itself and its species. We find ourselves already in the freedom of movement that is its own purpose, and in the realm of matter, we have a foretaste of the unlimited and the infinite. Reveries and the free association of ideas have in themselves that freedom that is characteristic of aesthetic play, though in this case it is only a freedom of material art. Another step and we play with beauty.
If it is need that forces men into society and reason that endows him with social maxims, beauty alone can invest him with social character. Only taste can bring harmony into society, while it sets up harmony in the individual. All other forms of ideas separate man, while they establish themselves exclusively on the sensual or on the spiritual part of his being. Only the beautiful idea makes a whole of him where both these natures harmonize. All other forms of expression separate society, while they rest on the private receptivity of certain parts, or, in other words, they have to do with what differentiates man and man. Only beautiful expression unites society when it conforms to what is common to all. The pleasure of knowledge we enjoy only as a species, and insofar as we set aside assiduously from our judgments every trace of individuality. We cannot make, therefore, make the joys of reason universal, for we cannot eliminate the traces of individuality from the judgment of others as from our own. It is only the beautiful we enjoy both as a species and as an individual, that is, as a representative of the species. The good of the senses can make one happy while it rests on appropriation and exclusion. It can make one happy one-sidedly, for the personality does not take part in it. The absolute good can make us happy under conditions that cannot be presupposed universally. Truth is the reward of self-denial, and in purity of will, only a pure heart believes. Only beauty blesses the whole world, and every being forgets its limitations as long as it feels its charm.
Schiller's philosophic thought aims at restoring a totality. Man, Kant had said, is a citizen of two worlds, one of the senses (mundus sensibilis), and the other of reason (mundus intelligibilis). It is in beauty, says Schiller, that both these worlds are reconciled. Man is no more a stranger in Nature, or unfaithful to the realm of freedom. Like Shelley's skylark, he soars aloft but never loses his relation with the world. Hegel spoke of the unhappy consciousness, the feeling of inner discord, and the pang of incompleteness; but now that beauty by her magic has brought extremes to meet, personality is at peace. What else is culture but this inner peace, this beauty of the Soul?
By Jasper Niemand
[From THE PATH, January 1890, pages 313-16.]
Last night, I saw in dream, a man. He was weak, poor, an exile; his feet were torn, his wounds bled, his heart bled also. He cried out to heavens that were brass; they sent forth a dull reverberation, a sullen thunder, in reply. Around him was blackness; in his soul was a grim despair. This wretched, hunted, abandoned creature gazed wildly about him, finding nothing upon which Hope might rest, not even Death, for he knew he could not die before his time. All Life passed before him as he stood at bay, and mocked him in every tongue.
I heard a sigh as if some one beside me grieved at this piteous spectacle and, turning, I saw One who seemed to be a guide of the country, and to whom the sufferer appeared to he known. Of him, I made inquiry.
"Can no one help that man?"
"Oh yes. There is one who can help him."
"Who is that?"
"Why does he not help himself, then?"
"Because he suffers so much. His suffering engages all his attention."
"What, then, is the cause of this great suffering?"
"Himself," said the guide, and smiled.
This smile revealed a divine pity, tenderer than tears. It opened my heart, so that I said, "Teach me more of this strange Self that is at once his persecutor and his Savior."
"Nay," replied that guide. "Thou shalt ask thyself that question, for that self is thee also, and every other man as well."
Then I awoke, understanding very well that we suffer from ourselves. I could see, too, how each man was the sharer of the experience of others. Is there not that rare, tenuous ether in which every human sphere is suspended, feeling every current, every thought, every struggle of all its neighbors, of the whole vibrating mass, and translating every vibration into thoughts of its own quality in the wonderful mechanism of the human brain? Could I not see well how these thoughts, in their dynamic and formative energy, molded that ether into pictures that lived, moving along currents that were baleful or beneficent in their action upon other spheres, according as they caught the tone of the mass, or failed to reach it?
This tone was given by the Great Law Itself as the appointed chord to and by which all spheres should be regulated, in order to vibrate in unison. Where any sphere failed to do so, vibrating at its own choice and out of time and tune, the whole ether was violently agitated, with its current of light rendered turbid and its melody disturbed, destroyed.
I saw that what was mainly required for the restoration of harmony was that each human sphere should accept without resistance the great currents of the Law as these impinged upon it. Of course, at first, many of them would suffer internal confusion from this sudden change of motion; they would experience Pain, and even disintegration in some parts.
Let those who had the courage so to suffer for the restoration of general harmony would soon find a new and higher form of organization crystallizing within them. They find it just as the music of the master's bow causes the sand particles to thrill and to range themselves in ordered patterns of beauty, or as at the magnet's mysterious message iron filings range themselves in the same polarized lines as those of the human brain.
Yes, what was imperatively needed was that every human creature should stand still long enough to feel the currents of Law sweeping through his life, and then think with and obey them. In other words, the first step is Resignation.
In the year whose last sands slip by as I write, many cries have fallen upon my heart. That heart suffers like every other. This truth gives to each heart the divine right to understand all the rest. We hear the cry of the exile, and out of our own experience, we respond to him. There are so many cases. There are the comrades who wish much to do and to be. They desire greatly to work in the Altruistic Cause.
Karmic circumstance fetters them. So they devise plans whereby they may be made richer, stronger in body, freer from care and duty, or gaining more ample time in which to work. But that Karma that they themselves have made, and that is their only judge, refuses them these things. Then a deep sadness falls upon them with the failure of their plans; their energies are sapped and wasted by the thousand allies of doubt and despair. They forget that their plan is not needed. What is greatly needed is Harmony. This is only attained by submission.
Accept the Karmic Environment, and go calmly to work to take an inventory of ourselves as we now are, both externally and internally, in all our mental states and Ever Changing Motives. Then ask earnestly what such a man, in such a given condition of life, can do, just where he stands and as he is, to help Humanity. Doing so, we find an answer. We find some work to our hand. It may be only in Right Thought that we can help, but in that dynamic power, we work silently along with silent nature and the Great Vibration, whose melodies are real, profound, and heard by the inner ear alone.
In thus spreading the fluidic far-reaching energies of harmonious thought upon the ambient ether, we create currents in accord with those of that Universal Mind whose grand totality is "Angels and Archangels and all the Powers of Heaven." Is this a small power? Not so. By its means, we change our entire mental environment. That in turn will order future Karmic circumstance so that in the next life, or perhaps even in this, we shall be placed where we can help our fellows more. That help is their due and our privilege.
I think we place undue stress upon material help. The heart of man is at the bottom of every circumstance. It moulds every event, builds up all societies, and determines the character of every age. Reforms that do not reach that strange and hidden heart are built upon the sand. Nothing can reach it but Right Thought, and it is in the gift of every person to turn that reconstructive power loose upon the wild turmoil of our time. This Light stills the waves.
Instead of chafing at our limitations and our failures, let us then accept them with harmonious serenity and use them as our instruments. Thus, I know a sick person who uses the sympathy, evoked by that sickness as a means of gaining the attention of others to higher thoughts. I know a comrade in great poverty who realizes that this very poverty gains the ear of those likewise suffering, and of those too who think much of the material gifts they can bring, and so this brave soul drops a true brave word here and there on the thorny way. By acceptance of Karma, we learn great and wonderful things, and a master has said, "Karma is the great teacher. It is the wisest of guides and the best."
This does not mean that we should sit down supinely and think only. It means that we should accept the inevitable in material life, and gather what spiritual riches we can find, in order to give them all away.
Then, again, the sufferers come through Love, the hearts that cling to the personal sweetness, the strong human ties, the thousand endearing tendencies often cemented by a long although unknown Past. Death, separation or Life, sweeps between. Or the Beloved suffer, and we cry out. We cry in ignorance. Our Love is never lost. Every Universe makes for Love: that Love is Harmony, is Justice. Not one vibration of it is ever lost.
Out of our deep spiritual nature, the yearning Love comes pouring from an eternal fountain. Our personal mind translates its meaning in many perverse ways. We take it to mean all kinds of personal desire or hope. That we belie our nature is evident because, when these desires are gratified, the heart is never content with that, but goes on to new desire. It is the sacred truth that, in the very ground of our natures, a spark burns ever in the vibration of the highest Love. All our small personal affections are simply the straying tendrils of this one great root, and ought to draw us inward to it. Our Love rests in the highest bond.
We do really desire the highest fulfillment of the Being of our loved one. If we will and if we seek, we can find ourselves consciously reaching up in hope to the perfection of those beloved natures. It is really the Higher Self, the great Ideal One, that we love. The man or woman, Its faint reflection, is there to lead us to this blessed Truth. Alas! We find self far too much in so called love, but I believe -- in all conscience I can attest it -- that once we get a glimpse of this truth, our inner natures yearn to help our Beloved to greater heights, we will make a mighty effort to continue in that higher, holier hope.
From thus loving one, to loving all, we proceed gradually through the pure overflow or the natural gravitation of Love until we know nothing of Separation. For all starved natures, there is then this hope. We are not to love less, but to love more. We are to expand to fuller conceptions, to realize deeper meanings, to find within the self of flesh and sense, and all the selfish corruption of our natures, these germs of living truths. We have indeed perverted these meanings, but that we are powerless to destroy, because they are germs of that Truth that is One and indestructible, the "Law that makes for Righteousness," the Harmony that is Love.
Those who suffer will find at the very root of their suffering, no matter of what kind, some revolt against this Eternal Law of Love. We have only to turn round and obey it. We have only to cease desiring to put it to personal use, or to grind personal comforts out of it, and all its blessings and powers are ours. It lives in every heart; it gilds and glorifies every atom; it "stands at the door and knocks." It is Life; it is Light; it is Peace; for it is Eros, the one Ray. It is universal, divine Love.
Oh, suffering comrades, Accept it! Embrace it! Live by it, at any cost. Die by it if needs be, for so only shall we find Life eternal, only by receiving and acknowledging the Law, only by living in the thought of all beings, in harmony with all and with Love.
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 273-75.]
The psychological opening of the human being to truth, to the ingress of our God-Wisdom, in other words the training that every true Theosophist undergoes, begins once he is touched and his heart is opened -- begins even though he knows it not. This opening of the heart may be divided into three stages. We are familiar with these in that form of Buddhism that originated in China coming from India. In Sanskrit, it is called the Dhyani-form, and in Japan, it is known as the Zen-form of Buddhist thought. It is expressed somewhat as follows, and it applies equally well to Theosophy because the Zen or the Dhyani form of Buddhism is but a branch of Theosophic thought.
The student in entering the pronaos of the temple of wisdom, and later in entering the temple itself, goes through three phases of inner opening -- that is the word they use. Thus, in the first phase, the mountains and the waters of the earth are mountains and waters, and they are recognized as worthy of study and research, and their wonder is seen and sensed; but they are only mountains and only waters.
But by study and aspiration after truth, finally comes the second psychological opening of his character, of his understanding, of his being. He realizes that the mountains and the waters, however beautiful they may be and wondrous for study, are after all but aspects, appearances, phenomena of noumena behind, the effects of invisible and secret causes. He realizes in this second phase of the opening of his being that if he wants truth he must go deeper and study the science of the mountains and of the waters of the earth. He must investigate the causes that bring them into being, the inner causes and energies that produced the mountains and the waters. He realizes that the mountains and the waters, because they are effects, phenomena, appearances, however relatively real they may be, are but illusion, maya, because the real truth is within and behind them. And his whole being is enwrapped in the thought of this wonder.
Then gradually he begins to sense the profound wisdom of the old saying that the entire universe is a phenomenon and therefore illusory, but illusory only because we do not understand it aright. It does not mean that the universe does not exist. That is absurd and a wrong construction. He realizes that we do not understand it aright, that we must see behind and within it. The visible should portray the invisible, the effect should teach us the underlying causes. In this phase, he begins to sense his oneness. This is the finest part of the second phase of the psychological unveiling of this system of training that the Theosophist undergoes and loves so well. He begins to sense his true oneness with all that is, for he realizes that, as physical man, he is but a phenomenon, an effect; that he is in fact the product of secret and invisible causes; that behind the phenomenon of the physical man, is the human spiritual noumenon. And he grows very reverent and a great sense of sympathetic beauty enters into his heart because he realizes that he is but one of all beings and entities and creatures that infill the universe. And he begins to sense from this moment that ethics are no mere human convention; morals are rooted in the very fabric and stuff of universal nature herself. He feels immensely his oneness with all that is. "I and my Father are One."
And this leads to the third step of psychological opening, and in this third step he realizes the wonderful paradox of all that he knew before in the two earlier states. In this third step, he learns that inwards and upwards, expansively upwards, yet ever inwards, the mountains after all are the real, and the waters are after all real in a certain wondrous sense. Illusory though they may be to our relatively imperfectly evolved human understanding, nevertheless fundamental reality has produced them forth, just as we as phenomena are brought forth.
So then we see at one and the same time that the only reality is the divine, and yet that this divine because it is the utterly real, makes real in a certain sense even the illusory appearance of cosmic phenomena. And applying this to ourselves, we sense that the only real part of man is the divine within him; and yet precisely because this divine is reality, that very physical phenomenon that we call the physical man is in a certain marvelous sense real also.
We have come back; the circle has reentered itself. We come back to the point of starting. First, there were just mountains and waters that were the only real things. Then the mountains and waters seem to be but the garments, the clothing of secret, invisible, realities. Then the next step brought us to the realization that precisely because these are real things they could not produce essential unrealities; so that the very mountains and waters, strange paradox, are both real and unreal. Happy the man who can understand this third step.
The key to this understanding is another thought that I will again take from Dhyani-Buddhism, because it is fairly well known in the West mainly through the Zen Buddhist writings of Professor Suzuki of Japan (from whom, by the way, I did not take this extract). This is the Zen thought. Hearken carefully, please, because the significance is so slippery.
In the wind of the mountains and the sun of the lowlands, in the fall of night and the mists of dawn, it is cried aloud That alone was, is, abides.
The whole universe is That, and all its phenomena are the productions of divine noumena, or divine thought; so that all are essentially unified in a divine oneness. In a rather pragmatic way, we can bring down this thought and say that all men are brothers, that every one is his brother's keeper. You see the path of conduct? Any violation of this path means setting yourself in opposition to all universal nature herself.
There is a way to peace and happiness and wisdom and power. For once a man realizes that he is one with Nature, and Nature is one with him, his consciousness becomes, vibratorily speaking, co-rhythmic with the pulsing of the cosmic heart. That is why the great sages and seers can work marvels in the world: heal and raise; retain consciousness after death; transport the thinking ego to distant fields and be there in self-conscious thought and see all that passes around them; and many things more. For the Universe and we are one. There is but one life and this life is cosmic thought.
By Leoline L. Wright
[From REINCARNATION: A LOST CHORD IN MODERN THOUGHT, pages 39-48.]
Granting that reincarnation is true, where was I before I was born? This is a question sure to follow in the wake of the foregoing discussion. So far we have said little about death, one of the grandest and most important processes of life; nor shall we now go deeply into it for it is discussed fully in the manual AFTER DEATH -- WHAT?
As said before, man is, broadly speaking, a threefold entity, and those three basic elements in his constitution give him a triple line of evolution: the spiritual, the mental-emotional, and the astral-vital; and the physical body is the channel through which these express themselves.
When the body dies and breaks up, dissipating its astral-vital energies, the process is followed by the gradual dissolution of the whole personality, the mental-emotional being. Yet there will still be something, in some cases a very large part, of the personality that endures. The Spiritual Ego will absorb into itself all the personality that it can, that part of it that is of its own nature -- its spiritual aspirations, its true and abiding loves, its unselfish and pure desires.
Whatever is spiritual in man partakes of the Universal Divine that animates and supports the Cosmos. An ideal of unselfishness, purity, and noble actions, consistently lived up to, transmutes the personal elements that strive and aspire into the incorruptible gold of spirit. It raises the mortal into immortality. When death comes, this transmuted energy is not dissipated; it is incorporated into its own nature by the Reincarnating Ego.
This incorporation is assisted by the very mystical experience that takes place at the time of death. In that solemn and beautiful hour after the last sigh has been given, the Ego hovers for a brief time upon the threshold of the earthly portal. Then, before its now unclouded vision, there passes a panorama, like the unwinding of a living scroll, of all that has happened, down to the least detail from birth to death in the life just ended. In its dawning freedom the self-conscious Thinker follows these life-scenes and can then see the plan and significance of all its experiences, the relation of the parts to the whole, and of this life to those gone before.
The justice, the necessity, and the beneficence of its trials and sufferings, with their guerdon of wisdom, are brought home to the egoic consciousness. These memories are now carried with it as it ascends into the Heaven-world, called in Theosophy DEVACHAN. Here it passes a long period of blissful rest. Is this not one aspect of what Jesus meant when he said, "Lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt?"
This spiritual rest in the inner Heaven-world gives the reincarnating entity an opportunity to absorb and assimilate the experiences of its last life on earth. For the same rhythmic cycle of activity -- sleep, rest, assimilation, followed by refreshed energies -- characterizes not only our physical bodies, but is experienced by all living entities, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual. And, correspondingly, it applies to atomic, planetary, stellar, and cosmic organisms.
It may prove clarifying to review the chief reasons why the Ego in man, the Thinker, is awakened out of his blissful term of happiness to return to its tasks, to the joy and sorrow of another life on earth. The first of these reasons is that man and all things in Nature follow a universal pattern: birth, growth, youth, maturity, decline, death -- and rebirth.
The second and a most compelling reason is the thirst for material life: the hunger, the yearning for the scenes and experiences of a past to which we consciously or unconsciously cling.
There are those, as noted before, who declare vehemently, "I don't WANT to come back to this earth! I want to go somewhere else where I can forget it all and never think of this world again!" But is this verily so? For those of us who have lost a beloved helpmate or child, must not that "somewhere else" include those loved forms exactly as we remember them? Our regrets for past mistakes or unkindness, a lifelong dream of a career that was never possible, unsatisfied longings for books, music, travel, luxuries, congenial friends, or for the power to help others -- these are indeed energies: somewhere they must work out into their due consequences. These desires make the unconscious hunger of the human heart, and only human life can satisfy them. And they may well be called "secret causes" because we are too unaware of them as formative energies.
The following will give us the metaphysical side of the matter:
This "thirst" is a composite instinctual habit, compounded of a host of things -- as all habits are, if we analyze ourselves -- of loves, hates, affections of various kinds, magnetic attractions of the hosts of life-atoms composing man's constitution, both visible and invisible, and of longings and yearnings of many types. All collect during the various life-terms on earth into the human soul and mind. For these reasons, they are called by Theosophists "thought-deposits" -- emotional, mental, and psychic tendencies and biases. All these are energies, ... and they will energize the reincarnating entity's destiny until evolution and expanding consciousness and the purification of suffering finally transfer man's consciousness as an individual being to higher planes.
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 874
Then there is the other side of the picture -- the pull of the life-atoms. This is yet a third cause for the return of the Ego to earth-incarnation.
[The Reembodying Ego] "descends" through the same intermediate planes or worlds by which it had previously ascended at the end of the preceding earth life, and it takes up again as many as possible of those very life-atoms that had been left there during the previous ascent and that are now drawn back again to the descending Reembodying Ego because of affinity.
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 790
These life-atoms do not all belong to the physical plane. There are different classes or grades of them acting in the three general planes of evolution already referred to -- the physical, mental-emotional, and the spiritual. Each of these classes of life-atoms manifests a degree of evolution corresponding to the plane in which it belongs. Lifeatoms are infinitesimal, undeveloped god-sparks emanated by the central Life-Flame at the Heart of our Universe. They are the building blocks on all planes of the Cosmos: they form the "stuff" of which are built the three planes of evolution just spoken of, and from which the higher beings on that plane fashion their vehicles and are thus able to manifest and express themselves therein.
Thus, man expresses bodily actions and functions by means of the life-atoms that make up his body until death occurs and liberates them to pursue their transmigrations. Likewise he has his mental-emotional and his spiritual life-atoms through which his personal and Ego-life express themselves. In thinking of these mental-emotional life-atoms as awaiting the reincarnating entity we must remember where they have been since the Ego passed out of earth-life through the portal of death:
These life-atoms of man's intermediate nature, in other words of his vehicular "soul," are freed from the overlordship of the Monadic Ray and form a host or group or multitude on interior planes; and all these multitudes of various kinds or classes of life-atoms are attracted to or seek refuge as it were in other human beings.
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 782
There are other causes of the Ego's irresistible urge to return to earth-life, but here we have said enough to indicate the underlying "laws," or "habits" of nature.
We come now to the process by which the Ego reenters existence upon this planet Terra. Owing to the causes mentioned above, combined with others equally compelling, the Reincarnating Ego at last awakens out of its blissful heaven-dream and begins its "descent" earthward. Its progress is very gradual. Not much is told in the exoteric teachings of Theosophy as to the various states of substance and consciousness through which the Ego passes in its approach to the threshold of material life. But we know of course that at first these states are psychological, as the Ego is MANAS, the thinking-principle, the creative, formative, self-conscious intellectual element in us.
This psychological element combines with the emotional to make the personality that is the distinctive "human" consciousness in man. Thus, the psychological-emotional life-atoms awaiting the Ego on the threshold of rebirth are used to make the first garment or vehicle that the Ego weaves around it as it emerges from the higher spiritual realms. Then the lower vital forces come into play -- the life-atoms of ethereal or astral and physical substance guided by their formative tendencies ingrained into them in the last life, and further strengthened in these by their transmigrations during the inter-human interval.
The life-atoms carry the SKANDHAS referred to in Chapter II. As already said, the life-atoms are, during their association with the reincarnated entity, impressed or imprinted or shaped with the physical, emotional, and mental trends of the life being lived. What their own transmigrations are after the dissolution of the body at death will be influenced by these SKANDHAS, or attributes of character. And when the life-atoms return to the entity about to reincarnate it is these SKANDHAS embodied so to say in the life-atoms that will furnish the nature and characteristics of the mental, emotional, and physical ventures of its new earth-life.
Again, referring to the process of birth itself we are told:
The reincarnating entity, now rebecomes a bundle or aggregate of substance, is ... drawn magnetically and psychically to the family or to the particular human womb where vibrational conditions most similar to its own exist. Its lowest, i.e., more material, force and substance connect psycho-magnetically through its own astral-vital fluid with the "laya-center" of a human generative particle when the appropriate time comes; and from the instant of conception, "the appropriate time," the reincarnating entity "overshadows" that particle as this particle grows from conception through its different phases of intra-uterine life, birth, childhood, into full adulthood.
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 893
Here we naturally encounter popular theories of heredity, which nowadays is supposed to be the determining cause of all our characteristics of mind and body. Heredity, however, simply pushes a little further back, without explaining, inequalities in human destiny. Why are some men born in the slums and others with every possible advantage? It is such facts as these that do more to discourage the average man than anything else, and they cry out for an explanation.
But when we remember the selective -- because psycho-magnetic -- qualities of the various psychological, emotional, astral, and vital sheaths, garments, or vehicles, already, even before conception, formed around the Ego, we see that a reincarnating entity embodies automatically from its family stream of heredity exactly those tendencies that correspond to its own nature developed in the past. Thus viewed, our so-called heredity is seen for what it actually is, only another name for the effect of creative energies, high or low, generated by the individual itself in its own past. The family and the parents give but the inevitable channel through which these self-generated energies work themselves out as consequences in character, temperament, and physical constitution.
At this point, we encounter another instance of Nature's creative processes of repetition. For, just as the Ego on leaving the body sees, as above described, a living picture of the just ended earth-life, so immediately before it reincarnates, is this process repeated. The events of the coming life are then all foreseen by the Being standing upon the threshold of human existence. The necessity and the justice of all that will happen in the coming life are accepted by the Reincarnating Ego, which then enters willingly upon a fresh attempt to guide and urge the human personality through conscience and love into the ways of self-knowledge and self-mastery.
It is interesting to remember that because our whole nature is made up of the life-atoms used by us in many past lives we are practically the same personality of our past life. Yet, because all these life-atoms come together at birth in fresh combinations and after manifold new experiences of their own, in harmony with our own past, our new personality is in many respects different from the one we had grown so tired of when death kindly compelled us to lay it down like a worn-out tool.
Is it not wonderful to be forever the same, and yet forever new? -- forever developing and changing and perfecting the consciousness stuff and energy-stuff, and the matters of all grades through which and by means of which as spiritual Egos we work?
We may say that the time between incarnations is usually about a hundred times the length of the life just lived on earth. There are exceptions, of course. The important thing to remember is that the quality of the life just lived, the sum and substance of character, really controls both the experiences and the time-period in the after-death states. The more spiritual the life on earth the longer is the need for the rest and bliss of Devachan. This is more fully explained in the Manual AFTER DEATH -- WHAT?
This brief sketch may give some idea of the complex nature of the doctrine of Reincarnation. Yet, it is all so majestically simple when once the basic principles of evolution are grasped. These are: the unity of all beings; the cyclic and periodic nature of all manifested life; and the obligation of all entities -- supernally high or elementally humble, which make up the Cosmos -- to pass continually forward upon an ever ascending spiral of reembodiment.
By D.S. Sarma
[From THE ARYAN PATH, September 1932, pages 616-20.]
The worship of beauty is not like the pursuit of truth or the striving after righteousness. While these have never produced untoward results, men have often found beauty a snare and a delusion. Puritans all over the world look askance at those who urge the independent claims of beauty; and the lives of the artists in general and of the hierophants of beauty in particular seem to confirm their suspicions. It is no wonder that the wise teachers of mankind have refrained from laying as much stress on beauty as on righteousness and knowledge. Nevertheless, every cultured man must know exactly what beauty means, what forms it has, how far and under what conditions it is necessary for a harmonious self-development.
There is beauty even in ugliness in which we are doomed to spend our lives, and its claims are insistent. To neglect them or oppose them would be as unwise as to overrate them or make them exclusive. In the one case, we deprive ourselves of a great part of our happiness and probably of our knowledge of Reality, and in the other, we lose all sense of proportion and degrade ourselves into mere voluptuaries.
What is beauty? Libraries of books give the answer and some of them are among the dullest books that have ever been written. Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Baumgarten, Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Bosanquet, Bridges, and Croce -- to mention only a few names -- have attempted to solve the problem in the West.
In our own country, all the exponents of the Rasa theory following in the footsteps of Bharata have done the same. Lollata with his UTPATTI-VADA, Sankuka with his ANUMANA-VADA, Bhattanayaka with his BHOGA-VADA, and above all Anandavardhana and Abhinavagupta and their numerous followers with ABHIVYAKTI-VADA have tried to probe the secret of aesthetic experience. But beauty remains a mystery.
Systems of aesthetic philosophy de-signed to catch beauty are like the clumsy attempts of elderly Gopis to catch the immortal Child Krishna, who laughs, sports, and eludes them all. To some thinkers, beauty is the perfect symmetry of parts; to some, it is a function of life. To some, it is a form of knowledge; to some, it is an experience of pleasure; and to some, it is a revelation of the Spirit.
Thus, we have the mechanical, biological, intellectual, emotional, and mystic conceptions of beauty. The main differences between them arise from the different points of view from which beauty is judged. Some have taken an entirely objective view of beauty, while others have taken an entirely subjective view. Some have emphasized the formal element in beauty, while others have emphasized the expressive element. Some have identified themselves with the observer of beauty, while others have identified themselves with its creator. Some have confined themselves to the causes, while others have confined themselves to the results of beauty.
There is an element of truth in all these theories. The error lies in their exclusiveness. Beauty is the expression of Rasa, that is, of universal and impersonal emotion, as the Hindu aesthetic philosophers discovered long ago, and as Croce and his followers are explaining today. It expresses itself in harmonious or symmetrical form. It promotes the highest ends of life; and thus it brings us nearer to the knowledge of the ultimate Reality. Beauty is not entirely a thing of matter and form, for these are only its media. It is not entirely a thing of love and desire, for these are as much the result as the cause of beauty. Nor is it entirely a thing of the spirit, for this is only its unmanifest or abstract state.
Beauty is one of the ultimate values of Life having its mysterious analogue in the bliss of Spirit on the one hand and symmetry of Matter on the other. Properly understood, it is one of the pathways to Reality. The beautiful is one of the aspects of the Real. The aesthetic experience is one of the phases of spiritual experience. Rasasvada is one of the forms of Brahmasvada.
This statement is quite different from the statement contained in the well-known but rather misleading lines of Keats:
Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty; that is all Ye know on earth; and all ye need to know.
If by truth, the poet means Reality, we know that beauty is only one of the aspects and therefore the statement is only partially true. If, on the other hand, by truth the poet means what is scientifically or logically true then the statement is much less correct, for beauty is not necessarily truth, nor truth necessarily beauty, inasmuch as we have dreams that are beautiful and facts that are ugly. RIGHTEOUSNESS, BEAUTY, AND TRUTH ARE THE THREE WAYS IN WHICH WE APPREHEND REALITY ACCORDING AS WE USE OUR MORAL, AESTHETIC, OR INTELLECTUAL FACULTIES. Hence, the cultivation of beauty is as important for us as the pursuit of truth or expression of righteousness. Art is as necessary for the development of the spirit as science or ethics.
But in one sense, the statement of the poet seems to be profoundly true. Beauty is the unconscious perfection that all creatures attain when they are most true to the law of their own being. But in that case, truth is not only beauty, but also righteousness. In fact, Svadharma, in the broadest sense of the term, connotes the three highest values of truth, righteousness, and beauty. It connotes truth because the creature is true to itself. It connotes righteousness because the creature acts in accordance to the divine will, which is the law of its being. And it connotes beauty because the creature then becomes the embodiment of an impersonal and universal joy. Thus, every act of Svadharma is a miniature perfection making the creature god-like for the moment.
That is why the lilies of the field, as Jesus observed, never swerving from the law of their own being and taking no thought for the morrow are clothed in glory surpassing that of Solomon. All natural objects and creatures that instinctively follow the Law have an inimitable grace and perfection of their own. They are ensouled by the eternal bliss of Deity. But their circle of perfection is closed. They are truly STANDING examples of divine beauty. Man, on the other hand, who is free to swerve from the Law, has not a circle of perfection but a spiral.
Let us now examine some of the practical considerations of the worship of beauty.
Firstly, it is the duty of every man in practical life to make himself sensitive to beauty and to cultivate the sense not only in himself but also in others around him. To a soul sensitive to beauty, nothing gives greater pain than to be forced to endure the slovenliness of dress, coarseness of language, and crudeness of manners -- not to speak of the sight of a thousand and one unlovely objects. The only safeguard against such things is to establish standards of comeliness in the public mind and to enforce habits of conformity. Meanwhile, the worshipper of beauty should make himself a perfect example to others in matters of conduct, demeanor, and dress.
Secondly, we must see that the beauty we strive after is not of the superficial kind. It is no good to be particular in small things and indifferent in big things. We should not be pennywise and pound-foolish in the pursuit of beauty. When beauty is superficial, it amounts to mere prettiness; when it goes deep into the heart of things and lies hidden by large masses that obstruct the view, we have a difficult type of beauty called sublimity. And we have so many grades between prettiness that is small, easy, and superficial and sublimity that is great, difficult, and profound.
The worshipper of beauty should be sensitive to all of them and should always be prepared to sacrifice, if necessary, the lower to the higher. He should train his eye to look through both the microscope and the telescope to catch the fugitive gleams of beauty in the universe. In judging a work of art, he should never be carried away by mere appearance, but he should see whether there is as much internal as external beauty, and further, he has to probe and see how deep it penetrates. Is it skin-deep, flesh-deep, or bone-deep? For instance, in judging a poem, he has to ask himself if the poet gets beyond the mere beauty of words. If so, does the poet touch the mere outworks of the soul or does he reach the inner citadel? Is the poet concerned with the appetites and pleasures of the flesh or with the imagination and the sanctities of the heart?
Thirdly, the worshipper of beauty should cultivate a wide catholicity of taste and learn to appreciate all forms of beauty. One of the benefits of studying foreign literature is that the student acquires a catholicity of taste and learns to appreciate beauty in forms and modes of life -- entirely different from those to which he is accustomed. It is no small thing from the point of view of culture or of humanity for a Hindu to learn to appreciate some of the beautiful ways of life of the English society that is so different from his own. Again, apart from the perfection of form, the strange and unfamiliar beauty of the classics explains their fascination for the modern mind. Similarly, strangeness added to beauty explains the lure of romance. Therefore, the worshipper of beauty should ever be on the alert to recognize and welcome new forms of beauty in life, literature, and art.
Fourthly, the worshipper of beauty should be entirely freed from the desire of possession. The difference between the higher goods and the lower goods of life is that the latter suffer diminution when we share them with others, but the former, far from suffering diminution, acquire an enhanced value. Beauty is one of the higher values of life in which there are no exclusive property rights. In fact, many aesthetic philosophers maintain that disinterestedness is an inalienable condition of appreciation of beauty.
Beauty should be admired or cultivated for its own sake for the pure joy that it brings to the mind -- joy in the widest commonalty spread. Beauty should be regarded as an extra, above all utility, comfort, or convenience. We have already seen that it is only when a feeling ceases to be personal and becomes detached that it becomes fit for artistic treatment and thus generative of beauty. The bhava has to be impersonalized, universalized, and converted into a rasa before it becomes beautiful.
Art is supposed to possess the power of liberating us from all passions and calming our minds. That is what Aristotle calls catharsis. Art possesses this power because of the infinite or cosmic character of beauty. When the true artist waves his wand, the spirit of beauty sleeping in our souls is awakened, our upadhis are removed for a moment, and we have a taste of the bliss of the Infinite. We then understand the meaning of the famous utterance of the Hindu aesthetic philosopher that Rasasvada is akin to Brahmasvada.
Fifthly, the worship of beauty should not degenerate into a sickly sentimentality or a hidden and exclusive cult. Aestheticism has become a byword because of this mistake. Beauty, of course, is different from righteousness and truth. But all the three are interconnected. The aim of art is, of course, neither to inculcate morality nor to propagate truth. But that does not mean that art can be divorced from morality or truth any more than the different faculties of the mind to which they appeal can be divorced from one another. Far from this being the case, the foundations of all great art are moral consciousness and ideal truth.
A poet to be a poet need not inculcate virtue; he need not even be a virtuous man himself, but he must have a sense of virtue, he must love and admire nobility, generosity, and heroism and must loathe meanness, coarseness, and cowardice. Similarly, he need not be a constructive thinker, but he must know the value of thought and be able to transmit from the sphere of reason to the sphere of feeling the progressive thought of his age.
If an artist or a worshipper of beauty shuts himself in his own chamber without taking part in the drama of human life, he defeats his own end, for the goddess he worships in seclusion will soon sicken and die. No, beauty is a flower that grows in the open air. It requires for its health the sunshine of truth and the waters of purity. Remove it to the dark chamber of falsehood or expose it to the fumes of vice, and it will perish.
Sixthly and lastly, the worship of beauty, as well as pursuit of science and cultivation of moral goodness, should always be guided by a profound religious sense. Tolstoy points out in his noble essay, "What is art," that in every age and in every human society there exists a religious sense of what is good and what is bad, common to that whole society, and it is this religious perception that decides the value of feelings that should be transmitted by art. By religious perception, which is of course different from religious cult, Tolstoy means men's perception of the meaning of life. It represents the highest comprehension of life accessible to the foremost spirits of the age. This should be the guiding star of all the activities of the age, the actuating spirit of the artist and the scientist as well as the moralist.
In all healthy societies progressing in the right direction, religion, understood in its highest sense, should be the charioteer. Morality, science, and art are the horses under its whip. The charioteer sees the way; the horses have to go as he directs them else there would be no safety for the man in the chariot. If the horses get out of hand and think they know better than the charioteer does, heavens help the men in the chariot! The peoples of modern Europe stand in this predicament. If on the other hand, the horses are obedient but the charioteer old and blind, again we say heavens help the man in the chariot! In present day India, we stand in this predicament.
By Grace F. Knoche
[From TO LIGHT A THOUSAND LAMPS, Chapter 3.]
Traditions all over the globe describe an event of titanic import which occurred millions of years ago: the quickening of mind in childlike humanity. Where before we as a race had been dreamlike and without goal, now we were afire with the vigor of self-conscious thought, of choice, and the will to evolve. Legend and myth, scripture and temple preserve the record of this wondrous transition from mindlessness to self-awareness, from Eden-innocence to knowledge and responsibility -- all due to the intervention of advanced beings from higher spheres who wrought within us "a living mind ... and new mastery of thought." (PROMETHEUS BOUND, Aeschylus, trans. Gilbert Murray, lines 445-6)
In the Puranas of India, for example, and also in the BHAGAVAD-GITA and other sections of the MAHABHARATA, are a number of references to our divine ancestors being descended from seven or ten "mind-born sons of Brahma." They go under different names, but all are mind-born, MANASA, "thinking" (from MANAS, "mind," derived from the Sanskrit verb MAN, "to think, to reflect"). Occasionally they are called MANASAPUTRAS, "sons of mind"; more often AGNISHVATTAS, those who have tasted of AGNI, "fire"; also BARHISHADS, those who sit on KUSA grass for meditative or ceremonial purposes; or they are referred to simply as PITRIS, "fathers" -- terms that preserve the tradition that solar and lunar fathers, progenitors, gave mind and the power to choose to early humanity so that we humans might pursue our further evolution with conscious intent.
The awakening of mind in an entire humanity could not have been accomplished by a single heroic deed; it must have taken hundreds of thousands, if not several million years to achieve. And the humans of that predawn period no doubt were as diverse as we are today: the most enlightened were probably few in number, the great majority of mankind being in the middle range of attainment, while some lacked the impetus to activate their potential. The coming of the light-bearers was indeed an act of compassion, yet it was destined also because of karmic links with humanity from previous world cycles.
Understandably, the unleashing of this new power among a humanity as yet undisciplined in the use of knowledge called for guides and mentors to point the way. Legends and traditions of many peoples relate that higher beings remained to teach, inspire, and foster aspiration as well as intellect. They imparted practical skills: navigation, star lore, metallurgy, and husbandry, herbal medicine, carding and spinning, and hygiene; also a love of beauty through the arts. More important than all else, they impressed deep within the soul memory of those early humans certain fundamental truths about ourselves and about the cosmos, to serve as an inner talisman for ensuing cycles.
In the West poets and philosophers for centuries have elaborated on the legends surrounding Prometheus which the Greek poet Hesiod (8th century BC) recorded from very ancient sources. Among others, Aeschylus, Plato, Vergil, Ovid, and in more recent times Milton, Shelley, and others immortalized various facets of the tale. In his Dialogues Plato hints often of a wisdom beyond the myths he relates, and in his PROTAGORAS (sec 320 ff) he tells of the confrontation of Epimetheus (Afterthinker) with his older brother Prometheus (Forethinker). When the cycle had come for "mortal creatures" to be formed, the gods fashioned them from the elements of earth and fire "in the interior of the earth," but before bringing them into the light of day they commissioned Epimetheus and Prometheus to apportion to each its proper qualities. Epimetheus offered to do the main work, leaving the inspection and approval to Prometheus.
All went well with respect to furnishing the animals with suitable attributes; but, alas, Epimetheus discovered he had used everything up, "and when he came to man, who was still unprovided [for], he was terribly perplexed." Prometheus had but one recourse, and that was to procure by stealth from the common workshop of Athena, goddess of the arts, and of Hephaestus, god of fire and craftsmanship, that which was needed to equip "man in his turn to go forth into the light of day." Off Prometheus sped to the forge of the gods where burned the everlasting fire of mind. Stealing an ember from the sacred hearth, he descended again to earth and quickened man's latent mind with the fire of heaven. Man the thinker was born: instead of being less qualified than the animals which Epimetheus had so well equipped, he now stood a potential god, conscious of his power, yet innately aware that from then on he would have to choose between good and evil, and EARN the gift Prometheus had brought.
At first the youthful humans (ourselves) lived at peace, but in time many of us turned our mind-power to selfish ends and were "in process of destruction." Zeus, noting our plight, called Hermes and empowered him to go swiftly to earth and instill "reverence and justice" in every man and woman, so that all, and not merely a favored few, would share in the virtues. In short, we humans, however unequal in talent or opportunity, are equal in divine potential.
In myth form Plato transmits the beautiful truth that not only did Zeus sow within man the seed of immortality (see likewise TIMAEUS sec 41), but also, at the appointed hour, an ember of the mind-fire of the gods fructified that seed into self-conscious awareness of his divinity -- the work of Prometheus, whose daring and sacrifice for the sake of humanity make him the noblest of heroes.
The third chapter of GENESIS, when understood, tells the same story, with God warning Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or they would die. But the serpent assures Eve that they "shall not surely die," for God -- or rather gods, 'ELOHIM, plural -- know(s) that as soon as they do eat from it, their "eyes shall be opened, and [they] shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." They did eat, and they did "die" -- as a race of mind-innocent children -- and became truly human, became AS GODS, KNOWING GOOD AND EVIL. And here we are, gods in our inmost being, though largely unaware of this since memory of this momentous truth has faded.
Turning to the same story in the Stanzas of Dzyan of THE SECRET DOCTRINE we find:
The great Chohans called the Lords of the Moon, of the airy bodies. "Bring forth men, men of your nature. Give them their forms within. She [Mother Earth] will build coverings without. Males-females will they be. Lords of the Flame also ..."
They went each on his allotted land: seven of them each on his lot. The Lords of the Flame remain behind. They would not go, they would not create.
-- H.P. Blavatsky, THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, page 16
Thus it came about that seven times seven creatures were fashioned, shadowy, and each after his own kind. Yet the beings with mind had still to be born. The Fathers each provided what they had, the Spirit of the Earth as well. It was not enough: "Breath needs a mind to embrace the Universe; 'We cannot give that,' said the Fathers. 'I never had it,' said the Spirit of the Earth." Early man remained an "empty senseless" being.
"How did the Manasa, the Sons of Wisdom, act?" They spurned the earlier forms as unfit; but when the third race was produced, "the powerful with bones," they said, "We can choose, we have wisdom." Some entered the shadowy (astral) forms; others "projected the Spark"; still others "deferred till the fourth" race. Those in whom the mind-spark entered fully became enlightened, sages, the leaders and guides of average humanity in whom the spark had been but partially projected. Those in whom the spark had not been projected, or burned too low, were irresponsible; they mated with animals and bred monsters. The Sons of Wisdom repented: "This is Karma," they said, because they had refused to create. "Let us dwell in the others. Let us teach them better, lest worse should happen. They did ... Then all men became endowed with Manas [mind]."
Thus did the third race produce the fourth, whose inhabitants "became tall with pride." As the cycle of evolution rapidly moved toward its lowest point in the arc of material descent, temptations multiplied. It is recorded that a fearsome battle took place between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. "The first great waters came. They swallowed the seven great islands." The Sons of Light took birth among the incoming fifth race -- our own -- to give it the needed spiritual impetus, and "taught and instructed it." (THE SECRET DOCTRINE, II, pages 16-21, Stanzas iii-xii)
The igniting of our intellectual faculties was a climactic moment in human evolution. It quickened our awareness of everything: we became conscious of who and what we were -- self-conscious. Knowledge gave us power: power to choose, to think, and to act -- wisely and unwisely. It gave us the ability to love and to understand others. It stimulated the yearning to evolve and expand our capacities. In the process it gave us the greatest challenge of all: the awakening of our powers for both beneficence and maleficence, culminating in a contest between the light and dark forces in ourselves. When we multiply this by several billion human souls, we easily understand why there has been and still is a continual conflict of wills.
During the third great racial cycle or root-race, the manasaputras, who united their mind-essence with the latent mind of those early humans, remained with us as divine instructors. Inevitably, however, there came a time when these higher beings retired so that the young humanity could evolve and develop on its own. They withdrew from our immediate presence, but they never withdrew their love and protective concern, any more than a mother and father ideally will ever stop loving their children. The wise parent learns that the greatest gift he can give his children is his trust in them that they can make it on their own. That is what the manasaputras did for us; and what our god-essence is continuing to do for the human portion of ourselves.
In fact, WE are manasaputras, although in its higher reaches mind is not as yet fully manifest in us. Nonetheless, the truths the mind-born sons implanted in our soul-memory remain an intrinsic part of ourselves. It is for the purpose of consciously reestablishing contact with this inborn wisdom-knowledge that we come again and again to earth: to rediscover who we truly are, companions of stars and galaxies and fellow humans as surely as we are of our brothers of field, ocean, and sky -- one flowing consciousness, from our parent star to crystals and diamonds, and further, to the tiny lives that animate the world of the atom. Nor do we overlook the several classes of elemental or primary beings who maintain the integrity of the elements of aether, fire, air, water, and earth.
It may seem strange to think of ourselves as one flowing consciousness, yet this is just what we are. We see our human self as a separate unit when in fact it is only a cell, we might say, of the loftier being in which humanity is living and having its conscious evolutionary experience. Separateness is an illusion. There is an interconnection among all nature's families -- in the sense that all beings are sacrificing a little of themselves for the benefit of the kingdoms above and below them. There is an interchange of helpfulness constantly going on that we might intuit more often could we FEEL our oneness with all. Along with a constant interchange of life-atoms and of energies of many kinds, there is also an intermeshing of karma among all of nature's kingdoms. Indeed, we have the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms within us, and the elemental kingdoms as well, and we also have the god kingdoms within us, because we are gods in human form. We too often overemphasize our seeming separateness.
Today an astonishing array of evidence is confirming that consciousness is ONE and that while it manifests in different ways in stone, plant, animal, and human, it is one flowing river of life. Experiments with plants, for example, suggest plant sensitivity to human thoughts and to music. If there is reciprocity of vibration, both positive and negative, between humans and plants, it surely exists among our own species. The continuous interchange of thought-energies, of thought-atoms, among us is not limited to the human kingdom or to our planet. When we reflect on the living network of magnetic and soul force between ourselves and every aspect of the cosmic organism we call our universe, we sense something of the magnitude of our responsibility. If we could view all that occurs in our personal circumstances, in our social and communal relationships, from this perspective, from the eye of our immortal self, we would transform every aspect of human living.