The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.


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Esoteric Buddhism
by A.P. Sinnett
President of the Simla Eclectic Theosophical Society
Author of "The Occult World"
© 1884, by Houghton, Mifflin
© 1912, by A. P. Sinnett




"--- First published in 1883 Esoteric Buddhism is a practical clue to the meaning of almost all ancient religious symbolism. Sinnett says that the esoteric doctrine gives an absolute truth. He further states that the European mindset has so long been accustomed to questioning that it is impossible to deal with absolute truths..."

Table of Contents:

• Note to Sixth Edition
• Introduction to the American Edition
• Preface to the First Edition
• CHAPTER 1. Esoteric Teachers: Nature of the Present Exposition - Seclusion of Eastern Knowledge - The Arhats and their Attributes - The Mahatmas - Occultists generally - Isolated Mystics - Inferior Yogis - Occult Training - The Great Purpose - Its Incidental Consequences - Present Concessions
• CHAPTER 2. The Constitution of Man: Esoteric Cosmogony - Where to Begin - Working back from Man to Universe - Analysis of Man - The Seven Principles
• CHAPTER 3. The Planetary Chain: Esoteric Views of Evolution - The Chain of Globes - Progress of Man round them - The Spiral Advance - Original Evolution of the Globes - The Lower Kingdoms
• CHAPTER 4. The World Periods: Uniformity of Nature- Rounds and Races - The Septenary Law - Objective and Subjective Lives - Total Incarnations - Former Races on Earth - Periodic Cataclysms - Atlantis - Lemuria - The Cyclic Law
• CHAPTER 5. Devachan: Spiritual Destinies of the Ego - Karma - Division of the Principles of Death - Progress of the Higher Duad - Existence in Devachan - Subjective Progress - Avitchi - Earthly Connection with Devachan - Devachanic Periods
• CHAPTER 6. Kâma Loca: The Astral Shell - Its Habitat - Its Nature - Surviving Impulses - Elementals - Mediums and Shells - Accidents and Suicides - Lost Personalities
• CHAPTER 7. The Human Tide-Wave: Progress of the Main Wave - Obscurations - Twilight and Dawn of Evolution - Our Neighbouring Planets - Gradations of Spirituality - Prematurely Developed Egos - Intervals of Re-Incarnation
• CHAPTER 8. The Progress of Humanity: The Choice of Good or Evil - The Second Half of Evolution - The Decisive Turning-point - Spirituality and Intellect - The Survival of the Fittest - The Sixth Sense - Development of the Principles in their Order - The Subsidence of the Unfit - Provision for All - The Exceptional Cases - Their Scientific Explanation - Justice Satisfied - The Destiny of Failures - Human Evolution Reviewed
• CHAPTER 9. Buddha: The Esoteric Buddha - Re-Incarnations of Adepts - Buddha’s Incarnation - The Seven Buddhas of the Great Races - Avalokiteshwara - Addi Buddha - Adeptship in Buddha’s Time - Sankaracharya - Vedantin Doctrines - Tsong-kapa - Occult Reforms in Tibet
• CHAPTER 10. Nirvana: Its Remoteness - Preceding Gradations - Partial Nirvana - The Threshold of Nirvana - Nirvana - Para Nirvana - Buddha and Nirvana - Nirvana attained by Adepts - General Progress towards Nirvana - Conditions of its Attainment - Spirituality and Religion - The Pursuit of Truth
• CHAPTER 11. The Universe: The Days and Night of Brahma - The Various Manvantaras and Pralayas - The Solar System - The Universal Pralaya - Recommencement of Evolution - “Creation” - The Great First Cause - The Eternal Cyclic Process
• CHAPTER 12. The Doctrine Reviewed: Correspondences of the Esoteric Doctrine with Visible Nature - Free Will and Predestination - The Origin of Evil - Geology, Biology, and the Esoteric Teaching - Buddhism and Scholarship - The Origins of all Things - The Doctrine as Distorted - The Ultimate Dissolutions of Consciousness - Transmigration - The Soul and the Spirit - Personality and Individuality - Karma
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The fifth English edition of Esoteric Buddhism consists of the text of the fourth American edition, together with the larger part of the preface specially furnished by Mr. Sinnett for the American edition. He took the opportunity afforded by a new edition, also, to append to some of the chapters annotations upon points calling for explication. These annotations are now added to the sixth American edition as an appendix. The present edition therefore corresponds with the latest English edition, and has besides matter in the author’s preface not incorporated in any English edition.


THIS book was written in the early part of 1883, and now that I am venturing to recommend it to public notice afresh in the latter part of 1884, after three English editions have passed through the press, I find myself in possession of much additional information bearing on many of the problems dealt with. But I am glad to be able to say that such later teaching as I have yet received only reveals incompleteness in my original conceptions of the esoteric doctrine,—no material error so far. Indeed, I am happy enough to have received, from the great adept himself from whom I obtained my instruction in the first instance, the assurance that the book as it now stands is a sound and trustworthy statement of the scheme of Nature as understood by the initiates of occult science, which may have to be a good deal developed in future, if the interest it excites is keen enough to constitute an efficient demand for further teaching of this kind on the part of the world at large, but will never have to be remodeled or apologized for.

Further than this, the reception of the book in India has shown that the doctrines thus for the first time set forth in a coherent and straightforward way are recognized, when thus stated, by various schools of Oriental philosophy as consonant with their fundamental views. A Brahman Hindoo, writing in the Indian magazine, “The Theosophist,” for June, 1884, criticises the present volume as departing unnecessarily from accepted Sanskrit nomenclature; but his objection merely is that I have given unfamiliar names in some cases to ideas which are already expressed in Hindoo sacred writings, and that I have done too much honor to the religious system commonly known as Buddhism, by representing that as more closely allied with the esoteric doctrine than any other. “The popular wisdom of the majority of the Hindoos to this day,” says my Brahman critic, “is more or less tinged with the esoteric doctrines taught in Mr. Sinnett’s book, misnamed ‘Esoteric Buddhism,’ while there is not a single hamlet or village in the whole of India in which people are not more or less acquainted with the sublime tenets of the Vedanta philosophy. . . . The effects of Karma in the next birth, the enjoyment of its fruits, good or evil, in a subjective or spiritual state of existence prior to the reincarnation of the spiritual monad in this or any other world, the loitering of the unsatisfied souls or human shells in the earth (Kamaloca), the pralayic and manwantaric periods, . . . are not only intelligible but are even familiar to a great many Hindoos, under names different from those made use of by the author of ‘Esoteric Buddhism.’” So much the better from the point of view of Western readers, to whom it is a matter of indifference whether the exoteric Hindoo or Buddhist religion is nearest to absolutely true spiritual science, which should 'certainly bear no name that appears to wed it to any one faith in the external world more than to another. All that we in the West can be anxious for is to arrive at a clear understanding as to the essential principles of that science, and if we find the principles defined in this book claimed by the cultured representatives of more than one great Oriental creed as equally the underlying truths of their different systems, we shall be all the better inclined to believe the present exposition of doctrine worth our attention.

In regard to the complaint itself, that the teachings here, reduced to an intelligible shape are incorrectly described by the name this book bears, I cannot do better than quote the note by which the editor of “The Theosophist” replies to his Brahman contributor. He says “We print the above letter, as it expresses, in courteous language and in an able manner, the views of a large number of our Hindoo brothers. At the same time it must be stated that the name of ‘Esoteric Buddhism’ was given to Mr. Sinnett’s latest publication, not because the doctrine propounded therein is meant to be specially identified with any particular form of faith, but because Buddhism means the doctrine of the Buddhas, the Wise, i. e. the Wisdom Religion.” For my own part I need only add that I fully accept and adopt that explanation of the matter. It would, indeed, be a misconception of the design which this book is intended to subserve, to suppose it concerned with the recommendation, to a dilettante modern taste, of old world fashions in religious thought. The external forms and fancies of religion in one age may be a little purer, in another age a little more corrupt, but they inevitably adapt themselves to their period, and it would be extravagant to imagine them interchangeable. The present statement is not put forward in the hope of making Buddhists from among the adherents of any other system, but with the view of conveying to thoughtful readers, as well in the East as in the West, a series of leading ideas, relating to the actual verities of Nature, and the real facts of Man’s progress through evolution, which have been communicated to the writer in their present shape by Eastern philosophers, and thus fall most readily into an Oriental mould. But the value of these teachings will perhaps be most fully realized when we clearly perceive that they are scientific in their character, rather than polemical. Spiritual truths, if they are truths, may evidently be dealt with in a no less scientific spirit than chemical reactions. And no religious feeling, of whatever color it may be, need be disturbed by the importation into the general stock of knowledge of new discoveries about the constitution and nature of Man on the plane of his higher activities. True religion will eventually find a way to assimilate such fresh knowledge in the same way that it finally acquiesces in a gradual enlargement of knowledge on the physical plane. This, in the first instance, may sometimes disconcert notions associated with religious belief,—as geological science at first embarrassed biblical chronology. But in time men came to see that the essence of the biblical statement does not reside in the literal sense of cosmological passages, and religious conceptions grew all the purer for the relief thus afforded.

In just the same way, when positive scientific knowledge begins to embrace a comprehension of laws relating to the spiritual development of Man, some misconceptions of Nature long blended with religion may have to give way, but still it will be found that the central ideas of true religion have been cleared up and brightened all the better for the process. Especially, as such processes continue, will the internal dissensions of the religious world be inevitably subdued. The warfare of sects can only be due to a failure on the part of rival sectarians to grasp fundamental facts. Could a time come when the basic ideas on which religion rests should be comprehended with the same certainty with which we comprehend some primary physical laws, and disagreement about them be recognized by all educated people as ridiculous, then there would not be room for very acrimonious divergences of religious sentiment. Externals of religious thought would still differ in different climates and among different races,—as dress and dietaries differ, but such differences would not give rise to intellectual antagonism.

Basic facts of the kind that must, when they come to be widely recognized as such, have a tendency in this way to blend together superficially divergent views, not to provoke a trial of strength between them, are developed, it appears to me, in the exposition of spiritual science we have now obtained from our Eastern friends. It is quite unnecessary for religious thinkers to turn aside from them under the impression that they are arguments in favor of some Eastern, in preference to the more general Western, creed. If medical science were to discover a new fact about Man’s body, were to unveil some hitherto concealed principle on which the growth of skin and flesh and bone is carried on, that discovery would not be regarded as trenching at all on the domain of religion. Would the domain of religion be invaded by a discovery, for example, that should go one step behind the action of the nerves, and disclose a finer set of activities manipulating these as they manipulate the muscles? At all events, even if such a discovery might begin to reconcile science and religion, no man who allows any of his higher faculties to enter into his religious thinking would put aside a positive fact of Nature, clearly shown to be such, as hostile to religion. Being a fact, it is inevitable that it should fit in with all other facts, and with religious truth among the number. So with the great mass of information in reference to the evolution of Man embodied in the present statement. Our best plan evidently is, to ask, before we look into the report I bring forward, not whether it will square in all respects with preconceived views, but whether it really does introduce us to a series of natural facts connected with the growth and development of Man’s higher faculties. If it does this, we may wisely examine the facts first in the scientific spirit, and leave them to exercise whatever effect on collateral belief may be reasonable and legitimate, later on.

Ramifying, as the explanation proceeds, into a great many side paths, it will be seen by the readers of this book that the central idea now presented to us completes and spiritualizes the great conception of physical anthropology, which accounts for the evolution of Man’s body by successive and very gradual improvements of animal forms from generation to generation. That is a very barren and miserable theory, regarded as an all embracing account of creation; but, properly understood, it paves the way for a comprehension of the higher concurrent process, which is all the while evolving the soul of Man in the higher spiritual realms of existence. The circumstances under which this is done reconcile the evolutionary method with the instinctive craving of every self-conscious entity for perpetuity of individual life. The disjointed series of improving form on this earth have no individuality, and the life of each in turn is a separate transaction which finds no compensation for suffering involved, no justice, no fruit of its efforts, in the life of its successor. It is possible to argue on the assumption of a new independent creation of a human soul, every time a new human form is produced by physiological growth, that in the after spiritual state of such soul justice may be awarded; but then this conception is itself at variance with the fundamental idea of evolution, which traces, or believes that it traces, the origin of each soul to the working of highly developed matter in each cased. Nor is it less at variance with the analogies of Nature as these come under our observation; but without going into that, it is enough for the moment to perceive that the theory of spiritual evolution, as set forth in the teaching of esoteric science. is, at any rate, in harmony with these analogies, while at the same time it satisfactorily meets the requirements of justice and of the instinctive demand for continuity of individual life.

This theory recognizes the evolution of the soul as a process that is quite continuous in itself, though carried out partly through the intermediation of a great series of dissociated forms. Putting aside, for the moment, the profound metaphysics of the theory which trace the principle of life from the original first cause of the Cosmos, we find the soul as an entity emerging from the animal kingdom and passing into the earliest human forms, without being at that time ripe for the higher intellectual life with which the present state of humanity renders us familiar. But through successive incarnations in forms whose physical improvement, under the Darwinian law of evolution, is constantly fitting them to be its habitations at each return to objective life, it gradually gathers that enormous range of experience which is summed up in its higher development. In the intervals between its physical incarnations, it prolongs and works out, and finally exhausts or transmutes into so much abstract development, the personal experiences of each life. This is the clue to that apparent difficulty which besets the cruder form of the theory of re-incarnation, which independent speculation has sometimes thrown out. Each man is unconscious of having led previous lives, therefore he contends that subsequent lives can afford him no compensations for this one. He overlooks the enormous importance of the intervening spiritual condition, in which he by no means forgets the personal adventures and emotions he has just passed through, and in which he distills them into so much cosmic progress. In the following pages the elucidation of this profoundly interesting mystery is attempted, and it will be seen that the view of events now afforded us is not only a solution of the problems of life and death, but of many very perplexing experiences on the border land between those conditions,—or rather between physical and spiritual life,—which have engaged attention and speculation so widely of recent years in most civilized countries.

It was time, in fact, that the esoteric doctrine should be offered to modern thinkers to assist them in grappling with the enigmas which the spasmodic operation of very exalted spiritual faculties in some eases—the manifestation of some extra-physical laws and forces of Nature in others—have been latterly accumulating on our hands in great abundance. Rather, I imagine, because the conjectures put forward to account for them were unacceptable to the cultivated world at large, than because the occurrence of extra-physical manifestations of late years has been disbelieved altogether, have most people been unwilling to pay close attention to such occurrences. Nor is it necessary that they should do so now, in order to reach an intellectual standpoint from which the whole range of possibilities in regard to communications that may be established between the seen and the unseen worlds may be broadly comprehended. The higher culture of the East has been concerned with the investigation, in its own congenial retirement, of that side of Nature, while we in the West have been pushing forward our physical civilization to its present great height. Different races in the world advance in this way along different lines of progress; or, rather,— to state the idea more scientifically in the light of the occult doctrine,— all races have their cyclic progress to accomplish, at one period of which they are concerned with physical and at another with spiritual culture. We of the white race in Europe and America—embodying within the last few centuries one phase of the progress of our subsection of humanity—have been concerned almost entirely, during the historic period, with the development of our material civilization. Our religions, meanwhile, have had to do rather with the maintenance of spiritual aspirations in a potential state, than with the keen investigation of the facts of Nature in the spiritual region. We have keenly investigated these facts on the physical plane, for that was the proper function of our age; but all earnestness of effort on the part of Oriental races, in the meanwhile, has been turned in another direction. There, physical civilization has been stagnant, material progress quite unimportant, but spiritual aspirations have been not merely kept up as an underlying sentiment in people’s minds,—they have operated to produce the greatest manifestations of activity with which the race has been concerned. I do not mean that the Indian or any other Asiatic race has been as active in writing books and publishing discoveries in spiritual science as we in the West have been with the literature and research of physics. That kind of activity is itself a manifestation of material civilization. But the Asiatic races have fermented with capacities for great spiritual development, and the consequence has been that many Eastern people have devoted their lives to spiritual study and research, always, of course, pursuing the methods of research and the modes of life appropriate to a cycle of spiritual progress,—methods which lead the student of—and still more the adept in— such science into seclusion and secrecy.

Probably it may be due in some way to an opposite fermentation of causes in the East and the West now that a certain interchange of methods begins to be possible. I do not mean that the West is turning away yet from material civilization, nor the East slackening it devotion to spirituality, but we here are certainly readier now than we were a generation or two ago to recognize the possibility of acquiring real knowledge of spiritual science, and are more generally impressed with the necessity of such acquisitions. The East on the other hand has partially relaxed its hitherto inviolable reserve. The important movement of which this little book is one outcome constitutes a double illustration of the new tendency at last discernible.
It is discernible in several different ways to acute observers who once possess themselves of the key to what is going on. But it is only of that particular effort in which my own willing services have been engaged that I need now speak. A book more or less, in this ocean of books which is constantly welling forth from active Western civilization, may seem a very small matter; but to the highly conservative devotees of occult science in the East, a book which sets forth in plain language, which all who run may read, the hitherto secret interpretations of Nature’s spiritual design that have hitherto been communicated only in the deadliest secrecy to students of long absorption in the pursuit of such teaching, constitutes a violation of the old occult usage which is quite bewildering and appalling. As my Brahman critic above referred to points out, now that the esoteric doctrine is once for all plainly stated, it is seen to be embodied, a bit here and a bit there, in the various sacred writings of India. But at the same time it was nowhere stated in such terms as to be comprehensible without prolonged and special study. And for the most part the doctrine, in so far as it was stated, was wrapped in allegory that Western readers have rarely had the patience to unravel. To all intents and purposes, though the knowledge here set forth is no new discovery for those by whom it is now revealed, it is a new revelation for the whole world,—Eastern and Western alike,—in its present explicit distinctness, and has only been prepared for in the West, but I trust prepared for sufficiently, by that widespread seething interest in spiritual things which has been working among us for some years past.

This interest has been stimulated in various ways. The casual occurrence of phenomena linking our physical perceptions with the unseen world has kindled an ardent enthusiasm for inquiry along the path of investigation thus pointed out, but the laws of Nature affecting the vast realm of spiritual existence are far too complicated to be discovered from an observation of the phenomena of the relatively narrow subdivision of that realm brought within our cognizance almost exclusively by casual and irregular occurrences of the kind referred to. It is only with the help of esoteric science—the accumulated experience of a great school of inquirers, devoting faculties of the highest kind, for a long series of ages, to the exploration of spiritual mysteries—that a sufficiently wide view of Nature can be obtained to embrace the apparently disorderly phenomena of the astral world,—the first beyond the physical frontier,—in all-sufficing generalizations that cover the whole scheme of spiritual evolution. These far-reaching and magnificent conceptions of Nature should not only recommend themselves, when properly understood, to minds that have shrunk from crude conclusions based on the imperfect data of modern spiritual observation in the West, but should also be recognized by modern spiritualists themselves as calculated to purify and expand their own doctrines, and guard them from liability to underrate the grandeur of the region into which they have partly penetrated, by relying, for its interpretation, too confidently on experiences gathered at its threshold. For the theosophic teaching, which has been too hastily resented by some spiritualists who have conceived it hostile to their own acquired knowledge, will be discovered, on a closer examination, to include these experiences, and only to disconcert some of the conclusions derived from them. It must be remembered that my statements concerning the phenomena of Kama loca,—the astral world, from which most of the phenomena of spiritualism emanate,—have been the fruit of my own questions and inquiries rather than a portion of a carefully adjusted series of lessons in occult science, dictated by professors applying themselves to the art of teaching. That, indeed, has been the way in which the whole body of exposition which this book contains has been worked out, and it naturally follows that some parts of it are less complete than others, and that none can be much better than general outlines. In esoteric science, as in microscopy, the application of higher and higher powers will always continue to reveal a growing wealth of detail; and the sketch of an organism that appeared satisfactory enough when its general proportions were first discerned, is betrayed to be almost worse than insufficient when a number of previously unsuspected minutiæ are brought to notice. In this way, while no mistake has been made as regards any statement actually put forward in the following pages on the subject of human evolution after death, there will be more, I apprehend, to add to that part of the explanation in later expansions of it, if these become practicable, than to any other. The points which, meanwhile, I will ask spiritualist readers to bear in mind are especially these:

1st. It is already indicated that the dissolution of the human principles after death, though one cannot help speaking of the process as one of dispersion, is not actually a mechanical separation of parts, nor even a process analogous to the chemical dissolution of a compound body into elements on the same plane of matter. The discussion of the process as if it were a mechanical separation was represented from the first as “a rough way of dealing with the matter,” and was adopted for the sake of emphasizing the transition of consciousness from one principle to another which goes on in the astral world after death. This transition of consciousness is, in fact, the struggle between the higher and lower duad.

2d. The struggle just referred to may be regarded as an oscillation of consciousness between the two duads; and when the return of consciousness to the lower principles, during this struggle, is stimulated and encouraged by converse with still living entities on the earth plane, with the help of mediumship, the proper spiritual growth of the entity in Kama loca is, to that extent,—perhaps to a very considerable extent,—retarded. It is this consideration which may, in a greater degree than any other, account for the disapproval with which the adepts of occult science regard the active practice of spiritualistic intercourse with departed human beings. Such intercourse, though dictated from this side by the purest affection, may seriously retard and embarrass the spiritual development of those who have gone in advance of us.

3d. It is recognized in the following pages that intercourse between living human beings gifted with a very elevated sort of mediumship, or spiritual clairvoyance, and departed friends with whom they have been closely united in sympathy during life, is possible on the higher spiritual plane, after such persons have passed through the struggle of Kama loca and have been completely spiritualized. That intercourse may be of a more subtle kind than can readily be realized by reference to examples of intercourse on the earth plane, but may evidently be none the less exhilarating to the higher perceptions.

By dwelling on the points of contact between the theosophic teachings and the experience of the higher spiritualism, I think it will be found that the alleged incompatibility of theosophy and spiritualism is much less complete than is supposed. It is impossible, I venture to assert, that there can be any true psychic experience which the doctrines of theosophy or, to speak more accurately, of that esoteric science of which theosophy is the study—will fail to interpret and explain. And if this partial exposition of esoteric science may leave a good deal not yet explained in the vast region of mystery which separates death and re-birth, surely the revelations which are made here go far enough to establish a good claim on our respectful attention for the present, so that some embarrassments they may still leave to trouble our understanding may fairly be passed to a suspense account, while we await a further illumination, to be, perhaps, obtainable hereafter.

Preface to the First Edition

THE teachings embodied in the present volume let in a flood of light on questions connected with Buddhist doctrine which have deeply perplexed previous writers on that religion, and offer the world for the first time a practical clue to the meaning of almost all ancient religious symbolism.
More than this, the esoteric doctrine, when properly understood, will be found to advance an overpowering claim on the attention of earnest thinkers. Its tenets are not presented to us an the invention of any founder or prophet; its testimony is based on no written scriptures; its views of Nature have been evolved by the researches of an immense succession of investigators, qualified for their task by the possession of spiritual faculties and perceptions of a higher order than those belonging to ordinary humanity. In the course of ages, the block of knowledge thus accumulated, concerning the origin of the world and of man, and the ultimate destinies of our race,—concerning also the nature of other worlds and states of existence differing from those of our present life,—checked and examined at every point, verified in all directions, and constantly under examination throughout, has come to be looked on by its custodians as constituting the absolute truth concerning spiritual things, the actual state of the facts regarding vast regions of vital activity lying beyond this earthly existence.

European philosophy, whether concerned with religion or pure metaphysics, has so long been used to a sense of insecurity in speculations outrunning the limits of physical experiment, that absolute truth about spiritual things is hardly recognized any longer by prudent thinkers as a reasonable object of pursuit; but different habits of thought have been acquired in Asia. The secret doctrine which, to a considerable extent, I am now enabled to expound, is regarded not only by all its adherents, but by vast numbers who have never expected to know more of it than that such a doctrine exists, as a mine of entirely trustworthy knowledge, from which all religions and philosophies have derived whatever they possess of truth, and with which every religion must coincide if it claims to be a mode of expression for truth.

This is a bold claim indeed, but I venture to announce the following exposition as one of immense importance to the world, because I believe that claim can be substantiated.

I do not say that within the compass of this volume the authenticity of the esoteric doctrine can be proved. Such proof cannot be given by any process of argument; only through the development in each inquirer for himself of the faculties required for the direct observation of Nature along the lines indicated. But his prima facie conclusion may be determined by the extent to which the views of Nature about to be unfolded may recommend themselves to his mind, and by the reasons which exist for trusting the powers of observation of those by whom they are communicated.

Will it be supposed that the very magnitude of the claim now made on behalf of the esoteric doctrine, lifts the present statement out of the region of inquiry to which its title refers,—inquiry as to the real inner meaning of the definite and specific religion called Buddhism? The fact is, however, that esoteric Buddhism, though by no means divorced from the associations of exoteric Buddhism, must not be conceived to constitute a mere imperium in imperio,—a central school of culture in the vortex of the Buddhist world. In proportion as Buddhism retreats into the inner penetralia of its faith, these are found to merge into the inner penetralia of other faiths. The cosmic conceptions, and the knowledge of Nature on which Buddhism not merely rests, but which constitute esoteric Buddhism, equally constitute esoteric Brahmanism. And the esoteric doctrine is thus regarded by those of all creeds who are “enlightened” (in the Buddhist sense) as the absolute truth concerning Nature, Man, the origin of the Universe, and the destinies toward which its inhabitants are tending. At the same time, exoteric Buddhism has remained in closer union with the esoteric doctrine than any other popular religion. An exposition of the inner knowledge addressed to English readers in the present day, will thus associate itself irresistibly with familiar outlines of Buddhist teaching. It will certainly impart to these a living meaning they generally seem to be without, but all the more on this account may the esoteric doctrine be most conveniently studied in its Buddhist aspect; one, moreover, which has been so strongly impressed upon it since the time of Gautama Buddha, that though the essence of the doctrine dates back to a far more remote antiquity, the Buddhist coloring has now permeated its whole substance. That which I am about to put before the reader is esoteric Buddhism, and for European students approaching it for the first time, any other designation would be a misnomer.

The statement I have to make must be considered in its entirety before the reader will be able to comprehend why initiates in the esoteric doctrine regard the concession involved in the present disclosure of the general outlines of this doctrine as one of startling magnitude. One explanation of this feeling, however, may be readily seen to spring from the extreme sacredness that has always been attached by their ancient guardians to the inner vital truths of Nature. Hitherto this sacredness has always prescribed their absolute concealment from the profane herd. And so far as that policy of concealment—the tradition of countless ages—is now being given up, the new departure which the appearance of this volume signalizes will be contemplated with surprise and regret by a great many initiated disciples. The surrender to criticism, which may sometimes perhaps be clumsy and irreverent, of doctrines which have hitherto been regarded by such persons as too majestic in their import to be talked of at all except under circumstance of befitting solemnity, will seem to them a terrible profanation of the great mysteries. From the European point of view it would be unreasonable to expect that such a book as this can be exempt from the usual rough-and-tumble treatment of new ideas; and special convictions or commonplace bigotry may sometimes render such treatment in the present case peculiarly inimical. But all that, though a matter of course to European exponents of the doctrine like myself, will seem very grievous and disgusting to its earlier and more regular representatives. They will appeal sadly to the wisdom of the time-honored rule which, in the old symbolical way, forbade the initiates from casting pearls before swine.

Happily, as I think, the rule has not been allowed to operate any longer to the prejudice of those who, while still far from being initiated, in the occult sense of the term, will probably have become, by sheer force of modern culture, qualified to appreciate the concession.

Part of the information contained in the following pages has been thrown out in a fragmentary form during the last eighteen months in “The Theosophist,” a monthly magazine, published hitherto at Bombay, but now at Madras, by the leaders of the Theosophical Society. As almost all the articles referred to have been my own writing, I have not hesitated to weld parts of them, when this course has been convenient, into the present volume. A certain advantage is gained by thus showing how the separate pieces of the mosaic, as first presented to public notice, drop naturally into their places in the (comparatively) finished pavement.

The doctrine or system now disclosed in its broad outlines has been so jealously guarded hitherto, that no mere literary researches, though they might have currycombed all India, could have brought to light any morsel of the information thus revealed. It is given out to the world at last by the free grace of those in whose keeping it has hitherto lain. Nothing could ever have extorted from them its very first letter. It is only after a perusal of the present explanations that their position generally, as regards their present disclosures or their previous reticence, can be criticised or even comprehended. The views of Nature now put forward are altogether unfamiliar to European thinkers; the policy of the graduates in esoteric knowledge, which has grown out of their long intimacy with these views, must be considered in connection with the peculiar bearings of the doctrine itself.

As for the circumstances under which these revelations were first foreshadowed in “The Theosophist,” and are now rounded off and expanded as my readers will perceive, it is enough for the moment to say, that the Theosophical Society, through my connection with which the materials dealt with in this volume have come into my hands, owes its establishment to certain persons who are among the custodians of esoteric science. The information poured out at last for the benefit of all who are ripe to receive it has been destined for communication to the world through the Theosophical Society since the foundation of that body, and later circumstances only have indicated myself as the agent through whom the communication could be conveniently made.

Let me add, that I do not regard myself as the sole exponent for the outer world, at this crisis, of esoteric truth. These teachings are the final outcome, as regards philosophical knowledge, of the relations with the outer world which, have been established by the custodians of esoteric truth, through me. And it is only regarding the acts and intentions of those esoteric teachers who have chosen to work through me, that I can have any certain knowledge. But, in different ways, some other writers are engaged in expounding for the benefit of the world—and, as I believe, in accordance with a great plan, of which this volume is a part—the same truths, in different aspects, that I am commissioned to unfold. A remarkable book, published within the last year or two, “The Perfect Way,” may be specially mentioned, as showing how more roads than one may lead to a mountain-top. The inner inspirations of “The Perfect Way” appear to me identical with the philosophy that I have learned. The symbols in which those inspirations are clothed, in my opinion, I am bound to add, are liable to mislead the student; but this is a natural consequence of the circumstances under which the inner inspiration has been received. Far more important and interesting to me than the discrepancies between the teachings of “The Perfect Way” and my own, are the identities that may be traced between the clear scientific explanations now conveyed to me on the plane of the physical intellect, and the ideas which manifestly underlie those communicated on an altogether different system to the authors of the book I mention. These identities are a great deal too close to be the result either of coincidence or parallel speculation.

Probably the great activity at present of mere ordinary literary speculation on problems lying beyond the range of physical knowledge, may also be in some way provoked by that policy, on the part of the great custodians of esoteric truth, of which my own book is certainly one manifestation, and the volume I have just mentioned, probably another. I find, for example, in M. Adolphe d’Assier’s recently published “Essai sur l’Humanite Posthume,” some conjectures respecting the destination of the higher human principles after death, which are infused with quite a startling flavor of true occult knowledge. Again, the ardor now shown in “Psychical Research,” by the very distinguished, highly gifted, and cultivated men who lead the society in London devoted to that object, is, to my inner convictions,—knowing, as I do, something of the way the spiritual aspirations of the world are silently influenced by those whose work lies in that department of Nature,—the obvious fruit of efforts parallel to those with which I am more immediately concerned.

It only remains for me to disclaim, on behalf of the treatise which ensues, any pretension to high finish as regards the language in which it is cast. Longer familiarity with the vast and complicated scheme of cosmogony disclosed, will no doubt suggest improvements in the phraseology employed to expound it. Two years ago, neither I nor any other European living knew the alphabet of the science here for the first time put into a scientific shape,—or subject, at all events, to an attempt in that direction,—the science of spiritual causes and their effects, of super-physical consciousness, of cosmical evolution. Though, as I have explained above, ideas had begun to offer themselves to the world in more or less embarrassing disguise of mystic symbology, no attempt had ever been made by any esoteric teacher, two years back, to put the doctrine forward in its plain abstract purity. As my own instruction progressed on those lines, I have had to coin phrases and suggest English words as equivalents for the ideas which were presented to my mind. I am by no means convinced that in all cases I have coined the best possible phrases and hit on the most neatly expressive words. For example, at the threshold of the subject we come upon the necessity of giving some name to the various elements or attributes of which the complete human creature is made up. “Element” would be an impossible word to use, on account of the confusion that would arise from its use in other significations; and the least objectionable, on the whole, seemed to me “principle,” though to an ear trained in the niceties of metaphysical expression this word will have a very unsatisfactory sound in some of its present applications. Quite possibly, therefore, in progress of time the Western nomenclature of the esoteric doctrine may be greatly developed in advance of that I have provisionally constructed. The Oriental nomenclature is far more elaborate, but metaphysical Sanskrit seems to be painfully embarrassing to a translator,—the fault, my India friends assure me, not of Sanskrit, but of the language in which they are now required to express the Sanskrit idea. Eventually we may find that, with the help of a little borrowing from familiar Greek quarries, English may prove more receptive of the new doctrine—or, rather, of the primeval doctrine as newly disclosed—than has yet been supposed possible in the East.
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CHAPTER 1: Esoteric Teachers

THE information contained in the following pages is no collection of inferences deduced from study. I am bringing to my readers knowledge which I have obtained by favor rather than by effort. It will not be found the less valuable on that account; I venture, on the contrary, to declare that it will be found of incalculably greater value, easily as I have obtained it, than any results in a similar direction which I could possibly have procured by ordinary methods of research, even had I possessed, in the highest degree, that which I make no claim to possess at all, Oriental scholarship.

Every one who has been concerned with Indian literature, and still more, any one who in India has taken interest in talking with cultivated natives on philosophical subjects, will be aware of a general conviction existing in the East that there are men living who know a great deal more about philosophy, in the highest acceptation of the word, — the science, the true knowledge of spiritual things, — than can be found recorded in any books.
In Europe the notion of secrecy as applied to science is so repulsive to the prevailing instinct, that the first inclination of European thinkers is to deny the existence of that which they so much dislike. But circumstances have fully assured me during my residence in India that the conviction just referred to is perfectly well founded, and I have been privileged at last to receive a very considerable mass of instruction in the hitherto secret knowledge over which Oriental philosophers have brooded silently till now; instruction which has hitherto been only imparted to sympathetic students, prepared themselves to migrate into the camp of secrecy. Their teachers have been more than content that all other inquirers should be left in doubt as to whether there was anything of importance to learn at their hands.

With quite as much antipathy at starting as any one could have entertained to the old Oriental policy in regard to knowledge, I came nevertheless to perceive that the old Oriental knowledge itself was a very real and important possession. It may be excusable to regard the high grapes as sour, so long as they are quite out of reach; but it would be foolish to persist in that opinion if a tall friend hands down a bunch, and one finds them sweet.

For reasons that will appear, as the present explanations proceed, the very considerable block of hitherto secret teaching this volume contains, has been conveyed to me, not only without conditions of the usual kind, but to the express end that I might convey it in my turn to the world at large.

Without the light of hitherto secret Oriental knowledge, it is impossible by any study of its published literature, English or Sanskrit, for students of even the most scholarly qualifications to reach a comprehension of the inner doctrines and real meaning of any Oriental religion. This assertion conveys no reproach to the sympathetic, learned, and industrious writers of great ability who have studied Oriental religions generally, and Buddhism especially, in their external aspects. Buddhism, above all, is a religion which has enjoyed a dual existence from the very beginning of its introduction to the world. The real inner meaning of its doctrines has been kept back from uninitiated students, while the outer teachings have merely presented the multitude with a code of moral lessons, and a veiled, symbolical literature, hinting at the existence of knowledge in the background.

This secret knowledge, in reality, long ante-dated the passage through earth-life of Gautama Buddha. Brahmanical philosophy, in ages before Buddha, embodied the identical doctrine which may now be described as Esoteric Buddhism. Its outlines had indeed been blurred, its scientific form partially confused, but the general body of knowledge was already in possession of a select few before Buddha came to deal with it. Buddha, however, undertook the task of revising and refreshing the esoteric science of the inner circle of initiates, as well as the morality of the outer world.
The circumstances under which this work was done have been wholly misunderstood, nor would a straightforward explanation thereof be intelligible without explanations, which must first be furnished by a survey of the esoteric science itself.

From Buddha’s time till now the esoteric science referred to has been jealously guarded as a precious heritage belonging exclusively to regularly initiated members of mysteriously organized associations. These, so far as Buddhism is concerned, are the Arahats, or, more properly, Arhats, referred to in Buddhist literature. They are the initiates who tread the “fourth path of holiness,” spoken of in esoteric Buddhist writings. Mr. Rhys Davids, referring to a multiplicity of original texts and Sanskrit authorities, says: “One might fill pages with the awe-struck and ecstatic praise which is lavished in Buddhist writings on this condition of mind, the fruit of the fourth path, the state of an Arahat, of a man made perfect according to the Buddhist faith.” And then making a series of running quotations from Sanskrit authorities, he says: “To him who has finished the path and passed beyond sorrow, who has freed himself on all sides, thrown away every fetter, there is no more fever or grief. . . . For such there are no more births, they are in the enjoyment of Nirvana. Their old karma is exhausted, no new karma is being produced; their hearts are free from the longing after future life, and no new yearnings springing up within them, they, the wise, are extinguished like a lamp.” These passages, and all like them, convey to European readers, at all events, an entirely false idea as to what sort of person an Arhat really is, as to the life he leads while on earth, and what he anticipates later on. But the elucidation of such points may be postponed for the moment some further passages from exoteric treatises may first be selected to show what an Arhat is generally supposed to be.

Mr. Rhys Davids, speaking of Jhana and Samadhi, — the belief that it was possible by intense self-absorption to attain supernatural faculties and powers, — goes on to say: “So far as I am aware, no instance is recorded of any one, not either a member of the order, or a Brahman ascetic, acquiring these powers. A Buddha always possessed them; whether Arahats, as such, could work the particular miracles in question, and whether of mendicants only, Arahats or only Asekhas could do so, is at present not clear.” Very little in the sources of information on the subject that have hitherto been explored will be found clear. But I am now merely endeavoring to show that Buddhist literature teems with allusions to the greatness and powers of the Arhats. For more intimate knowledge concerning them, special circumstances must furnish us with the required explanations.

Mr. Arthur Lillie, in “Buddha and Early Buddhism,” tells us: “Six supernatural faculties were expected of the ascetic before he could claim the grade of Arhat. They are constantly alluded to in the Sutras as the six supernatural faculties, usually without further specification. . . . Man has a body composed of the four elements. . . . In this transitory body his intelligence is enchained. The ascetic finding himself thus confused, directs his mind to the creation of the Manas. He represents to himself, in thought, another body created from this material body, — a body with a form, members, and organs. This body, in relation to the material body, is like the sword and the scabbard, or a serpent issuing from a basket in which it is confined. The ascetic then, purified and perfected, begins to practice supernatural faculties. He finds himself able to pass through material obstacles, walls, ramparts, etc.; he is able to throw his phantasmal appearance into many places at once, . . . he can leave this world and even reach the heaven of Brahma himself. . . . He acquires the power of hearing the sounds of the unseen world as distinctly as those of the phenomenal world, — more distinctly, in point of fact. Also by the power of Manas he is able to read the most secret thoughts of others, and to tell their characters.” And so on with illustrations. Mr. Lillie has not quite accurately divined the nature of the truth lying behind this popular version of the facts; but it is hardly necessary to quote more to show that the powers of the Arhats and their insight into spiritual things are respected by the world of Buddhism most profoundly, even though the Arhats themselves have been singularly indisposed to favor the world with autobiographies or scientific accounts of “the six supernatural powers.”

A few sentences from Mr. Hoey’s recent translation of Dr. Oldenberg’s “Buddha: his Life, his Doctrine, his Order,” may fall conveniently into this place, and then we may pass on. We read: “Buddhist proverbial philosophy attributes in innumerable passages the possession of Nirvana to the saint who still treads the earth. The disciple who has put off lust and desire, rich in wisdom, has here on earth attained deliverance from death, the rest, the Nirvana, the eternal state. He who has escaped from the trackless hard mazes of the Sansara, who has crossed over and reached the shore, self-absorbed, without stumbling and without doubt, who has delivered himself from the earthly and attained Nirvana, him I call a true Brahman. If the saint will even now put an end to his state of being, he can do so, but the majority stand fast until Nature has reached her goal; of such may those words be said which are put in the mouth of the most prominent of Buddha’s disciples, ‘I long not for death; I long not for life; I wait till mine hour come, like a servant who awaiteth his reward.’”

A multiplication of such quotations would merely involve the repetition in various forms of exoteric conceptions concerning the Arhats. Like every fact or thought in Buddhism, the Arhat has two aspects, that in which he is presented to the world at large, and that in which he lives, moves, and has his being. In the popular estimation he is a saint waiting for a spiritual reward of the kind the populace can understand, — a wonder-worker meanwhile by favor of supernatural agencies. In reality he is the long-tried and proved-worthy custodian of the deepest and innermost philosophy of the one fundamental religion which Buddha refreshed and restored, and a student of natural science standing in the very foremost front of human knowledge, in regard not merely to the mysteries of spirit, but to the material constitution of the world as well.

Arhat is a Buddhist designation. That which is more familiar in India, where the attributes of Arhatship are not necessarily associated with professions of Buddhism, is Mahatma. With stories about the Mahatmas India is saturated. The older Mahatmas are generally spoken of as Rishis; but the terms are interchangeable, and I have heard the title Rishi applied to men now living. All the attributes of the Arhats mentioned in Buddhist writings are described, with no less reverence, in Indian literature as those of the Mahatmas; and this volume might be readily filled with translations of vernacular books, giving accounts of miraculous achievements by such of them as are known to history and tradition by name.

In reality, the Arhats and the Mahatmas are the same men. At that level of spiritual exaltation, supreme knowledge of the esoteric doctrine blends all original sectarian distinctions. By whatever name such illuminati may be called, they are the adepts of occult knowledge, sometimes spoken of in India now as the Brothers, and the custodians of the spiritual science which has been handed down to them by their predecessors.

We may search both ancient and modern literature in vain, however, for any systematic explanation of their doctrine or science. A good deal of this is dimly set forth in occult writing; but very little of this is of the least use to readers who take up the subject without previous knowledge acquired independently of books. It is under favor of direct instruction from one of their numbers that I am now enabled to attempt an outline of the Mahatmas teaching, and it is in the same way that I have picked up what I know concerning the organization to which most of them, and the greatest, in the present day belong.

All over the world there are occultists of various degrees of eminence, and occult fraternities even, which have a great deal in common with the leading fraternity now established in Tibet. But all my inquiries into the subject have convinced me that the Tibetan Brotherhood is incomparably the highest of such associations, and regarded as such by all other associations, — worthy of being looked upon themselves as really “enlightened” in the occult sense of the term. There are, it is true, many isolated mystics in India who are altogether self-taught and unconnected with occult bodies. Many of these will explain that they themselves attain to higher pinnacles of spiritual enlightenment than the Brothers of Tibet, or any other people on earth. But the examination of such claims in all cases I have encountered would, I think, lead any impartial outsider, however little qualified himself by personal development to be a judge of occult enlightenment, to the conclusion that they are altogether unfounded.
I know one native of India, for example, a man of European education, holding a high appointment under government, of good station in society, most elevated character, and enjoying unusual respect with such Europeans as are concerned with him in official life, who will only accord to the Brothers of Tibet a second place in the world of spiritual enlightenment. The first place he regards as occupied by one person, now in this world no longer, — his own occult master in life, — whom he resolutely asserts to have been an incarnation of the Supreme Being. His own (my friend’s) inner senses were so far awakened by this Master, that the visions of his entranced state, into which he can still throw himself at will, are to him the only spiritual region in which he can feel interested. Convinced that the Supreme Being was his personal instructor from the beginning, and continues so still, in the subjective state, he is naturally inaccessible to suggestions that his impressions may be distorted by reason of his own misdirected psychological development. Again, the highly cultivated devotees, to be met with occasionally in India, who build up a conception of Nature, the universe, and God entirely on a metaphysical basis, and who have evolved their systems by sheer force of transcendental thinking, will take some established system of philosophy as its groundwork, and amplify on this to an extent which only an Oriental metaphysician could dream of. They win disciples who put implicit faith in them, and found their little school, which flourishes for a time within its own limits; but speculative philosophy of such a kind is rather occupation for the mind than knowledge. Such “Masters,” by comparison with the organized adepts of the highest brotherhood, are like rowing boats compared with ocean steamships, — helpful conveyances on their own native lake or river, but not craft to whose protection you can trust yourself on a world-wide voyage of exploration over the sea.

Descending lower again in the scale, we find India dotted all over with Yogis and Fakirs, in all stages of self-development, from that of dirty savages, but little elevated above the gypsy fortune-tellers of an English race-course, to men whose seclusion a stranger will find it very difficult to penetrate, and whose abnormal faculties and powers need only be seen or experienced to shatter the incredulity of the most contented representative of modern Western skepticism. Careless inquirers are very apt to confound such persons with the great adepts of whom they may vaguely hear.

Concerning the real adepts, meanwhile, I cannot at present venture on any account of what the Tibetan organization is like, as regards its highest ruling authorities. Those Mahatmas themselves, of whom some more or less adequate conception may perhaps be formed by readers who will follow me patiently to the end, are subordinate by several degrees to the chief of all. Let us deal rather with the earlier conditions of occult training, which can more easily be grasped.

The level of elevation which constitutes a man — what the outer world calls a Mahatma or “Brother “— is only attained after prolonged and weary probation, and anxious ordeals of really terrible severity. One may find people who have spent twenty or thirty years or more in blameless and arduous devotion to the life-task on which they have entered, and are still in the earlier degrees of chelaship, still looking up to the heights of adeptship as far above their heads. And at whatever age a boy or man dedicates himself to the occult career, he dedicates himself to it, be it remembered, without any reservations and for life. The task he undertakes is the development in himself of a great many faculties and attributes which are so utterly dormant in ordinary mankind, that their very existence is unsuspected, the possibility of their development denied. And these faculties and attributes must be developed by the chela himself, with very little, if any, help, beyond guidance and direction from his master. “The adept,” says an occult aphorism, “becomes: he is not made.” ‘One may illustrate this point by reference to a very commonplace physical exercise. Every man living, having the ordinary use of his limbs, is qualified to swim. But put those who, as the common phrase goes, cannot swim, into deep water, and they will struggle and be drowned. The mere way to move the limbs is no mystery; but unless the swimmer, in moving them, has a full belief that such movement will produce the required result, the required result is not produced. In this case, we are dealing with mechanical forces merely, but the same principle runs up into dealings with subtler forces. Very much further than people generally imagine will mere “confidence” carry the occult neophyte. How many European readers, who would be quite incredulous if told of some results which occult chelas in the most incipient stages of their training have to accomplish by sheer force of confidence, hear constantly in church, nevertheless, the familiar biblical assurances of the power which resides in faith, and let the words pass by like the wind, leaving no impression.

The great end and purpose of adeptship is the achievement of spiritual development, the nature of which is only veiled and disguised by the common phrases of exoteric language. That the adept seeks to unite his soul with God, that he may thereby pass into Nirvana, is a statement that conveys no definite meaning to the ordinary reader; and the more he examines it with the help of ordinary books and methods, the less likely will he be to realize the nature of the process contemplated or of the condition desired. It will be necessary to deal first with the esoteric conception of Nature, and the origin and destinies of Man, which differ widely from theological conceptions, before an explanation of the aim which the adept pursues can become intelligible.

Meanwhile, however, it is desirable, at the very outset, to disabuse the reader of one misconception in regard to the objects of adeptship that he may very likely have framed.

The development of those spiritual faculties, whose culture has to do with the highest objects of the occult life, gives rise as it progresses to a great deal of incidental knowledge, having to do with physical laws of Nature not yet generally understood. This knowledge, and the practical art of manipulating certain obscure forces of Nature, which it brings in its train, invest an adept, and even an adept’s pupils, at a comparatively early stage of their education, with very extraordinary powers, the application of which to matters of daily life will sometimes produce results that seem altogether miraculous; and, from the ordinary point of view, the acquisition of apparently miraculous power is such a stupendous achievement, that people are sometimes apt to fancy the adept’s object in seeking the knowledge he attains has been to invest himself with these coveted powers. It would be as reasonable to say of any great patriot of military history that his object in becoming a soldier had been to wear a gay uniform and impress the imagination of the nurse-maids.

The Oriental method of cultivating knowledge has always differed diametrically from that pursued in the West during the growth of modern science. Whilst Europe has investigated Nature as publicly as possible, every step being discussed with the utmost freedom, and every fresh fact acquired circulated at once for the benefit of all, Asiatic science has been studied secretly and its conquests jealously guarded. I need not as yet attempt either criticism or defense of its methods. But at all events these methods have been relaxed to some extent in my own case; and, as already stated, it is with the full consent of my teachers that I now follow the bent of my own inclinations as a European, and communicate what I have learned to all who may be willing to receive it. Later on it will be seen how the departure from the ordinary rules of occult study embodied in the concessions now made, falls naturally into its place in the whole scheme of occult philosophy. The approaches to that philosophy have always been open, in one sense, to all. Vaguely throughout the world in various ways has been diffused the idea that some process of study which men here and there did actually follow, might lead to the acquisition of a higher kind of knowledge than that taught to mankind at large in books or by public religious preachers. The East, as pointed out, has always been more than vaguely impressed with this belief; but even in the West the whole block of symbolical literature relating to astrology, alchemy, and mysticism generally has fermented in European society, carrying to some few peculiarly receptive and qualified minds the conviction that behind all this superficially meaningless nonsense great truths lay concealed. For such persons eccentric study has sometimes revealed hidden passages leading to the grandest imaginable realms of enlightenment. But till now, in all such cases, in accordance with the law of those schools, the neophyte no sooner forced his way into the region of mystery, than he was bound over to the most inviolable secrecy as to everything connected with his entrance and further progress there. In Asia, in the same way, the chela, or pupil of occultism, no sooner became a chela than he ceased to be a witness on behalf of the reality of occult knowledge. I have been astonished to find, since my own connection with the subject, how numerous such chelas are. But it is impossible to imagine any human act more improbable than the unauthorized revelation by any such chela, to persons in the outer world, that he is one; and so the great esoteric school of philosophy successfully guards its seclusion.

In a former book, “The Occult World,” I have given a full and straightforward narrative of the circumstances under which I came in contact with the gifted and deeply instructed men from whom I have since obtained the teaching this volume contains. I need not repeat the story. I now come forward prepared to deal with the subject in a new way. The existence of occult adept, and the importance of their acquirements, may be established along two different lines of argument: firstly, by means of external evidence, — the testimony of qualified witnesses, the manifestation by or through persons connected with adepts of abnormal faculties, affording more than a presumption of abnormally enlarged knowledge; secondly, by the presentation of such a considerable portion of this knowledge as may convey intrinsic assurances of its own value. My first book proceeded by the former method; I now approach the more formidable task of working on the latter.
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CHAPTER 2: The Constitution of Man

A SURVEY of cosmogony, as comprehended by occult science, must precede any attempt to explain the means by which a knowledge of that cosmogony itself has been acquired. The methods of esoteric research have grown out of natural facts, with which exoteric science is wholly unacquainted. These natural facts are concerned with the premature development in occult adepts of faculties which mankind at large has not yet evolved; and these faculties, in turn, enable their possessors to explore the mysteries of Nature, and verify the esoteric doctrines, setting forth its grand design. The practical student of occultism may develop the faculties first, and apply them to the observation of Nature afterwards; but the exhibition of the theory of Nature for Western readers merely seeking its intellectual comprehension, must precede consideration of the inner senses, which occult research employs. On the other hand, a survey of cosmogony, as comprehended by occult science, could only be scientifically arranged at the expense of intelligibility for European readers. To begin at the beginning, we should endeavor to realize the state of the universe before evolution sets in. This subject is by no means shirked by esoteric students; and later on, in the course of this sketch, some hints will be given concerning the views occultism entertains of the earlier processes through which cosmic matter passes on its way to evolution. But an orderly statement of the earliest processes of Nature would embody references to man’s spiritual constitution, which would not be understood without some preliminary explanation.

Seven distinct principles are recognized by esoteric science as entering into the constitution of man. The classification differs so widely from any with which European readers will be familiar, that I shall naturally be asked for the grounds on which occultism reaches so far-fetched a conclusion. But I must, on as-count of inherent peculiarities in the subject, which will be comprehended later on, beg for this Oriental knowledge I am bringing home a hearing (in the first instance, at all events) of the Oriental kind. The Oriental and the European systems of conveying knowledge are as unlike as any two methods can be. The West pricks and piques the learner’s controversial instinct at every step. He is encouraged to dispute and resist conviction. He is forbidden to take any scientific statement on authority. Pari passu, as he acquires knowledge, he must learn how that knowledge has been acquired, and he is made to feel that no fact is worth knowing, unless he knows, with it, the way to prove it a fact. The East manages its pupils on a wholly different plan. It no more disregards the necessity of proving its teaching than the West, but it provides proof of a wholly different sort. It enables the student to search Nature for himself, and verify its teachings, in those regions which Western philosophy can only invade by speculation and argument. It never takes the trouble to argue about any thing It says: “So and so is fact; here is the key of knowledge; now go and see for yourself.” In this way it comes to pass that teaching per se is never anything else but teaching on authority. Teaching and proof do not go hand in hand; they follow one another in due order. A further consequence of this method is that Eastern philosophy employs the method which we in the West have discarded for good reasons as incompatible with our own line of intellectual development, — the system of reasoning from generals to particulars. The purposes which European science usually has in view would certainly not be answered by that plan, but I think that anyone who goes far in the present inquiry will feel that the system of reasoning up from the details of knowledge to general inferences is inapplicable to the work in hand. One cannot understand details in this department of knowledge till we get a general understanding of the whole scheme of things. Even to convey this general comprehension by mere language is a large and by no means an easy task. To pause at every moment of the exposition in order to collect what separate evidence may be available for the proof of each separate statement, would be practically impossible. Such a method would break down the patience of the reader, and prevent him from deriving, as he may from a more condensed treatise, that definite conception as to what the esoteric doctrine means to teach, which it is my business to evoke.

The reflection may suggest, in passing, a new view, having an intimate connection with our present subject, of the Platonic and Aristotelian systems of reasoning. Plato’s system, roughly described as reasoning from universals to particulars, is condemned by modern habits in favor of the later and exactly inverse system. But Plato was in fetters in attempting to defend his system. There is every reason to believe that his familiarity with esoteric science prompted his method, and that the usual restrictions under which he labored, as an initiated occultist, forbade him from saying as much as would really justify it. No one can study even as much occult science as this volume contains, and then turn to Plato, or even to any intelligent epitome of Plato’s system of thought, without finding correspondences cropping out at every turn.

The higher principles of the series which go to constitute man are not fully developed in the mankind with which we are as yet familiar, but a complete or perfect man would be resolvable into the following elements. To facilitate the application of these explanations to ordinary exoteric Buddhist writings, the Sanskrit names of these principles are given, as well as suitable terms in English.1

1: The Body: Rupa

2: Vitality: Prana, or Jiva

3: Astral Body: Linga Sharira

4: Animal Soul: Kama Rupa

5: Human Soul: Manas

6: Spiritual Soul: Buddhi

7: Spirit: Atma

Directly conceptions so transcendental as some of those included in this analysis are set forth in a tabular statement, they seem to incur certain degradation, against which, in endeavoring to realize clearly what is meant, we must be ever on our guard. Certainly it would be impossible for even the most skillful professor of occult science to exhibit each of these principles separate and distinct from the others, as the physical elements of a compound body can be separated by analysis and preserved independently of each other. The elements of a physical body are all on the same plane of materiality, but the elements of man are on very different planes. The finest gases of which the body may to some extent be chemically composed are still, on one scale at all events, on nearly the lowest level of materiality. The second principle which, by its union with gross matter, changes it from what we generally call inorganic, or what might more properly be called inert, into living matter, is at once a something different from the finest example of matter in its lower state. Is the second principIe, then, anything that we can truly call matter at all? The question lands us, thus, at the very outset of this inquiry, in the middle of the subtle metaphysical discussion as to whether force and matter are different or identical. Enough for the moment to state that occult science regards them as identical, and that it contemplates no principle in Nature as wholly immaterial. In this way, though no conceptions of the universe, of man’s destiny, or of Nature generally, are more spiritual than those of occult science, that science is wholly free from the logical error of attributing material results to immaterial causes. The esoteric doctrine is thus really the missing link between materialism and spirituality.

The clue to the mystery involved lies of course in the fact, directly cognizable by occult experts, that matter exists in other states besides those which are cognizable by the five senses.

The second principle of man, Vitality, thus consists of matter in its aspect as force; and its affinity for the grosser state of matter is so great that it cannot be separated from any given particle or mass of this, except by instantaneous translation to some other particle or mass. When a man’s body dies, by desertion of the higher principles which have rendered it a living reality, the second, or life principle, no longer a unity itself, is nevertheless inherent still in the particles of the body as this decomposes, attaching itself to other organisms to which that very process of decomposition gives rise. Bury the body in the earth, and its Jiva will attach itself to the vegetation which springs above, or the lower animal forms which evolve from its substance. Burn the body, and indestructible Jiva flies back none the less instantaneously to the body of the planet itself from which it was originally borrowed, entering into some new combination as its affinities may determine.

The third principle, the Astral Body, or Linga Sharira, is an ethereal duplicate of the physical body, its original design. It guides Jiva, in its work on the physical particles, and causes it to build up the shape which these assume. Vitalized itself by the higher principles, its unity is only preserved by the union of the whole group. At death it is disembodied for a brief period, and, under some abnormal conditions, may even be temporarily visible to the external sight of still living persons. Under such conditions it is taken of course for the ghost of the departed person. Spectral apparitions may sometimes be occasioned in other ways, but the third principle, when that results in a visible phenomenon, is a mere aggregation of molecules in a peculiar state, having no life or consciousness of any kind whatever. It is no more a being than any cloud-wreath in the sky which happens to settle into the semblance of some animal form. Broadly speaking, the Linga Sharira never leaves the body except at death, nor migrates far from the body even in that case. When seen at all, and this can but rarely occur, it can only be seen near where the physical body still lies. In some very peculiar cases of spiritualistic mediumship, it may for a short time exude from the physical body and be visible near it, but the medium in such cases stands the while in considerable danger of his life. Disturb unwillingly the conditions under which the Linga Sharira was set free, and its return might be impeded. The second principle would then soon cease to animate the physical body as a unity, and death would ensue.

During the last year or two, while hints and scraps of occult science, have been finding their way out into the world, the expression “Astral Body” has been applied to a certain semblance of the human form, fully inhabited by its higher principles, which can migrate to any distance from the physical body, projected consciously and with exact intention by a living adept, or unintentionally, by the accidental application of certain mental forces to his loosened principles, by any person at the moment of death. For ordinary purposes there is no practical inconvenience in using the expression “Astral Body” for the appearance so projected; indeed, any more strictly accurate expression, as will be seen directly, would be cumbersome, and we must go on using the phrase in both meanings. No confusion need arise; but, strictly speaking, the Linga Sharira, or third principle, is the Astral Body, and that cannot be sent about as the vehicle of the higher principles.

The three lower principles, it will be seen, are altogether of the earth, perishable in their nature as a single entity, though indestructible as regards their molecules, and absolutely done with by man at his death.

The fourth principle is the first of those which belong to man’s higher nature. The Sanskrit designation, kama rupa, is often translated “Body of Desire,” which seems rather a clumsy and inaccurate form of words. A closer translation, having regard to meanings rather than words, would, perhaps, be “Vehicle of Will,” but the name already adopted above, Animal Soul, may be more accurately suggestive still.

In “The Theosophist” for October, 1881, when the first hints about the septenary constitution of man were given out, the fifth principle was called the animal soul, as contra-distinguished from the sixth or “spiritual soul;” but though this nomenclature sufficed to mark the required distinction, it degraded the fifth principle, which is essentially the human principle. Though humanity is animal in its nature as compared with spirit, it is elevated above the correctly defined animal creation in every other aspect. By introducing a new name for the fifth principle, we are enabled to throw back the designation “animal soul” to its proper place. This arrangement need not interfere, meanwhile, with an appreciation of the way in which the fourth principle is the seat of that will or desire to which the Sanskrit name refers. And, withal, the Kama Rupa is the animal soul, the highest developed principle of the brute creation, susceptible of evolution into something far higher by its union with the growing fifth principle in man, but still the animal soul which man is by no means yet without, the seat of all animal desires, and a potent force in the human body as well, pressing upward, so to speak, as well as downward, and capable of influencing the fifth, for practical purposes, as well as of being influenced by the fifth for its own control and improvement.

The fifth principle, human soul, or Manas (as described in Sanskrit in one of its aspects), is the seat of reason and memory. It is a portion of this principle, animated by the fourth, which is really projected to distant places by an adept, when he makes an appearance in what is commonly called his astral body.

Now the fifth principle, or human soul, in the majority of mankind is not even yet fully developed. This fact about the imperfect development as yet of the higher principles is very important. We cannot get a correct conception of the present place of man in Nature if we make the mistake of regarding him as a fully perfected being already. And that mistake would be fatal to any reasonable anticipations concerning the future that awaits him, — fatal also to any appreciation of the appropriateness of the future which the esoteric doctrine explains to us as actually awaiting him.

Since the fifth principle is not yet fully developed, it goes without saying that the sixth principle is still in embryo. This idea has been variously indicated in recent forecasts of the great doctrine. Sometimes, it has been said, we do, not truly possess any sixth principle, we merely have germs of a sixth principle. It has also been said, the sixth principle is not in us; it hovers over us; it is a something that the highest aspirations of our nature must work up toward. But it is also said: All things, not man alone, but every animal, plant, and mineral, have their seven principles, and the highest principle of all — the seventh itself — vitalizes that continuous thread of life which runs all through evolution, uniting into a definite succession the almost innumerable incarnations of that one life which constitute a complete series. We must imbibe all these various conceptions, and weld them together, or extract their essence, to learn the doctrine of the sixth principle. Following the order of ideas which just now suggested the application of the term animal soul to the fourth principle and human soul to the fifth, the sixth may be called the spiritual soul of man, and the seventh, therefore, spirit itself.

In another aspect of the ideas the sixth principle may be called the vehicle of the seventh, and the fourth the vehicle of the fifth; but yet another mode of dealing with the problem teaches us to regard each of the higher principles, from the fourth upwards, as a vehicle of what, in Buddhist philosophy, is called the One Life or Spirit. According to this view of the matter the one life is that which perfects, by inhabiting the various vehicles. In the animal the one life is concentrated in the kama rupa. In man it begins to penetrate the fifth principle as well. In perfected man it penetrates the sixth, and when it penetrates the seventh, man ceases to be man, and attains a wholly superior condition of existence.

This latter view of the position is especially valuable as guarding against the notion that the four higher principles are like a bundle of sticks tied together, but each having individualities of its own if untied. Neither the animal soul alone, nor the spiritual soul alone, has any individuality at all; but, on the other hand, the fifth principle would be incapable of separation from the others in such a way, that its individuality would be preserved while both the deserted principles would be left unconscious. It has been said that the finer principles themselves even are material and molecular in their constitution, though composed of a higher order of matter than the physical senses can take note of. So they are separable, and the sixth principle itself can be imagined as divorcing itself from its lower neighbor But in that state of separation, and at this stage of mankind’s development, it could simply re-incarnate itself in such an emergency, and grow a new fifth principle by contact with a human organism; in such a case, the fifth principle would lean upon and become one with the fourth, and be proportionately degraded. And yet this fifth principle, which cannot stand alone, is the personality of the man; and its cream, in union with the sixth, his continuous individuality through successive lives.

The circumstances and attractions under the influence of which the principles do divide up, and the manner in which the consciousness of man is dealt with then, will be discussed later on. Meanwhile, a better understanding of the whole position than could ensue from a continued prosecution of the inquiry on these lines now will be obtained by turning first to the processes of evolution by means of which the principles of man have been developed.



1 The nomenclature here adopted differs slightly from that hit upon when some of the present teachings were first given out in a fragmentary form in The Theosophist. Later on it will he seen that the names now preferred embody a fuller conception of the whole system, and avoid some difficulties to which the earlier names give rise. If the earlier presentations of esoteric science were thus imperfect, one can hardly be surprised at so natural a consequence of the difficulties under which its English exponents labored. But no substantial errors have to be confessed or deplored. The connotations of the present names are more accurate than those of the phrases first selected, but the explanations originally given, as as they went, were quite in harmony with those now developed.
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 3:11 am

CHAPTER 3: The Planetary Chain

ESOTERIC Science, though the most spiritual system imaginable, exhibits, as running throughout Nature, the most exhaustive system of evolution that the human mind can conceive. The Darwinian theory of evolution is simply an independent discovery of a portion—unhappily but a small portion—of the vast natural truth. But occultists know how to explain evolution without degrading the highest principles of man. The esoteric doctrine finds itself under no obligation to keep its science and religion in separate water-tight compartments. Its theory of physics and its theory of spirituality are not only reconcilable with each other, they are intimately blended together and interdependent. And the first great fact which occult science presents to our notice in reference to the origin of man on this globe will be seen to help the imagination over some serious embarrassments of the familiar scientific idea of evolution. The evolution of man is not a process carried out on this planet alone. It is a result to which many worlds in different conditions of material and spiritual development have contributed. If this statement were merely put forward as a conjecture, it would surely recommend itself forcibly to rational minds. For there is a manifest irrationality in the commonplace notion that man’s existence is divided into a material beginning, lasting sixty or seventy years, and a spiritual remainder lasting forever. The irrationality amounts to absurdity when it is alleged that the acts of the sixty or seventy years — the blundering, helpless acts of ignorant human life — are permitted by the perfect justice of an all-wise Providence to define the conditions of that later life of infinite duration. Nor is it less extravagant to imagine that, apart from the question of justice, the life beyond the grave should be exempt from the law of change, progress, and improvement, which every analogy of Nature points to as probably running through all the varied existences of the universe. But once abandon the idea of a uniform, unvarying, unprogressive life beyond the grave, once admit the conception of change and progress in that life, and we admit the idea of a variety hardly compatible with any other hypothesis than that of progress through successive worlds. As we have said before, this is not hypothesis at all for occult science, but a fact, ascertained and verified beyond the reach (for occultists) of doubt or contradiction.

The life and evolutionary processes of this planet — in fact, all which constitutes it something more than a dead lump of chaotic matter — are linked with the life and evolutionary processes of several other planets. But let it not be supposed that there is no finality as regards the scheme of this planetary union to which we belong. The human imagination once set free is apt sometimes to bound too far. Once let this notion, that the earth is merely one link in a mighty chain of worlds, be fully accepted as probable, or true, and it may suggest the whole starry heavens as the heritage of the human family. That idea would involve a serious misconception. One globe does not afford Nature scope for the processes by which mankind has been evoked from chaos, but these processes do not require more than a limited and definite number of globes. Separated as these are, in regard to the gross mechanical matter of which they consist, they are closely and intimately bound together by subtle currents and forces, whose existence reason need not be much troubled to concede since the existence of some connection — of force or ethereal media — uniting all visible celestial bodies is proved by the mere fact that they are visible. It is along these subtle currents that the life-elements pass from world to world.

The fact, however, will at once be liable to distortion to suit preconceived habits of mind. Some readers may imagine our meaning to be that after death the surviving soul will be drawn into the currents of that world with which its affinities connect it. The real process is more methodical. The system of worlds is a circuit round which all individual spiritual entities have alike to pass; and that passage constitutes the Evolution of Man. For it must be realized that the evolution of man is a process still going on, and by no means yet complete. Darwinian writings have taught the modern world to regard the ape as an ancestor, but the simple conceit of Western speculation has rarely permitted European evolutionists to look in the other direction and recognize the probability, that to our remote descendants we may be, as that unwelcome progenitor to us. Yet the two facts just declared hinge together. The higher evolution will be accomplished by our progress through the successive worlds of the system; and in higher forms we shall return to this earth again and again. But the avenues of thought through which we look forward to this prospect are of almost inconceivable length.

It will readily be supposed that the chain of worlds to which this earth belongs are not all prepared for a material existence exactly, or even approximately resembling our own. There would be no meaning in an organized chain of worlds which were all alike, and might as well all have been amalgamated into one. In reality the worlds with which we are connected are very unlike each other, not merely in outward conditions, but in that supreme characteristic, the proportion in which spirit and matter are mingled in their constitution. Our own world presents us with conditions in which spirit and matter are, on the whole, evenly balanced in equilibrium. Let it not be supposed on that account that it is very highly elevated in the scale of perfection. On the contrary, it occupies a very low place in that scale. The worlds that are higher in the scale are those in which spirit largely predominates. There is another world attached to the chain, rather than forming a part of it, in which matter asserts itself even more decisively than on earth, but this may be spoken of later.

That the superior worlds which man may come to inhabit in his onward progress should gradually become more and more spiritual in their constitution — life there being more and more successfully divorced from gross material needs — will seem reasonable enough at the first glance. But the first glance in imagination at those which might conversely be called the inferior, but may with less inaccuracy be spoken of as the preceding worlds, would perhaps suggest that they ought to be conversely less spiritual, more material, than this earth. The fact is quite the other way, and must be so, it will be seen on reflection, in a chain of worlds which is an endless chain — i.e., round and round which the evolutionary process travels. If that process had merely one journey to travel along a path which never returned into itself, one could think of it, at any rate, as working from almost absolute matter, up to almost absolute spirit; but Nature works always in complete curves, and travels always in paths which return into themselves. The earliest, as also the latest, developed worlds — for the chain itself has grown by degrees — the furthest back, as also the furthest forward, are the most immaterial, the most ethereal of the whole series; and that this is in all ways in accordance with the fitness of things will appear from the reflection that the furthest forward of the worlds is not a region of finality, but the stepping-stone to the furthest back, as the month of December leads us back again to January. But it is not a climax of development from which the individual monad falls, as by a catastrophe, into the state from which he slowly began to ascend millions of years previously. From that which, for reasons which will soon appear, must be considered the highest world on the ascending arc of the circle to that which must be regarded as the first on the descending arc, in one sense the lowest — i. e., in the order of development — there is no descent at all, but still ascent and progress. For the spiritual monad or entity, which has worked its way all round the cycle of evolution, at any one of the many stages of development into which the various existences around us may be grouped, begins its next cycle at the next higher stage, and is thus still accomplishing progress as it passes from world Z back again to world A.
Many times does it circle, in this way, right round the system, but its passage round must not be thought of merely as a circular revolution in an orbit. In the scale of spiritual perfection it is constantly ascending. Thus, if we compare the system of worlds to a system of towers standing on a plain — towers each of many stories and symbolizing the scale of perfection — the spiritual monad performs a spiral progress round and round the series, passing through each tower, every time it comes round to it, at a higher level than before.

It is for want of realizing this idea that speculation, concerned with physical evolution, is so constantly finding itself stopped by dead walls. It is searching for its missing links in a world where it can never find them now, for they were but required for a temporary purpose, and have passed away. Man, says the Darwinian, was once an ape. Quite true; but the ape known to the Darwinian will never become a man — i. e., the form will not change from generation to generation till the tail disappears and the hands turn into feet, and so on. Ordinary science avows that, though changes of form can be detected in progress within the limits of species, the changes from species to species can only be inferred; and to account for these, it is content to assume great intervals of time and the extinction of the intermediate forms. There has been no doubt an extinction of the intermediate or earlier forms of all species (in the larger acceptation of the word) — i. e., of all kingdoms, mineral, vegetable, animal, man, etc. — but ordinary science can merely guess that to have been the fact without realizing the conditions which rendered it inevitable, and which forbid the renewed generation of the intermediate forms.

It is the spiral character of the progress accomplished by the life impulses that develop the various kingdoms of Nature, which accounts for the gaps now observed in the animated forms which people the earth. The thread of a screw, which is a uniform inclined plane in reality, looks like a succession of steps when examined only along one line parallel to its axis. The spiritual monads, which are coming round the system on the animal level, pass on to other worlds when they have performed their turn of animal incarnation here. By the time they come again, they are ready for human incarnation, and there is no necessity now for the upward development of animal forms into human forms — these are already waiting for their spiritual tenants. But, if we go back far enough, we come to a period at which there were no human forms ready developed on the earth. When spiritual monads, traveling on the earliest or lowest human level, were thus beginning to come round, their onward pressure in a world at that time containing none but animal forms provoked the improvement of the highest of these into the required form — the much talked-of missing link.

In one way of looking at the matter, it may be contended that this explanation is identical with the inference of the Darwinian evolutionist in regard to the development and extinction of missing links. After all, it may be argued by a materialist, “we are not concerned to express an opinion as to the origin of the tendency in species to develop higher forms. We say that they do develop these higher forms by intermediate links, and that the intermediate links die out; and you say just the same thing.” But there is a distinction between the two ideas for any one who can follow subtle distinctions. The natural process of evolution, from the influence of local circumstances and sexual selection, must not be credited with producing intermediate forms, and this is why it is inevitable that the intermediate forms should be of a temporary nature and should die out. Otherwise, we should find the world stocked with missing links of all kinds, animal life creeping by plainly apparent degrees up to manhood, human forms mingling in indistinguishable confusion with those of animals. The impulse to the new evolution of higher forms is really given, as we have shown, by rushes of spiritual monads coming round the cycle in a state fit for the inhabitation of new forms. These superior life impulses burst the chrysalis of the older form on the planet they invade, and throw off an efflorescence of something higher. The forms which have gone on merely repeating themselves for millenniums start afresh into growth; with relative rapidity they rise through the intermediate into the higher forms, and then, as these in turn are multiplied with the vigor and rapidity of all new growths, they supply tenements of flesh for the spiritual entities coming round on that stage or plane of existence, and for the intermediate forms there are no longer any tenants offering. Inevitably they become extinct.

Thus is evolution accomplished, as regards its essential impulse, by a spiral progress through the worlds. In the course of explaining this idea we have partly anticipated the declaration of another fact of first-rate importance as an aid to correct views of the world-system to which we belong. That is, that the tide of life — the wave of existence, the spiritual impulse, call it by what name we please — passes on from planet to planet by rushes, or gushes, not by an even continuous flow. For the momentary purpose of illustrating the idea in hand, the process may be compared to the filling of a series of holes or tubs sunk in the ground, such as may sometimes be seen at the mouths of feeble springs, and connected with each other by little surface channels. The stream from the spring, as it flows, is gathered up entirely in the beginning by the first hole, or tub A, and it is only when this is quite full that the continued inpouring of water from the spring causes that which it already contains to overflow into tub B. This in turn fills and overflows along the channel which leads to tub C, and so on. Now, though, of course, a clumsy analogy of this kind will not carry us very far, it precisely illustrates the evolution of life on a chain of worlds like that we are attached to, and, indeed, the evolution of the worlds themselves. For the process which goes on does not involve the preexistence of a chain of globes which Nature proceeds to stock with life; but it is one in which the evolution of each globe is the result of previous evolutions, and the consequence of certain impulses thrown off from its predecessor in the superabundance of their development. Now, it is necessary to deal with this characteristic of the process to be described, but directly we begin to deal with it we have to go back in imagination to a period in the development of our system very far antecedent to that which is specially our subject at present—the evolution of man. And manifestly, as soon as we begin talking of the beginnings of worlds, we are dealing with phenomena which can have had very little to do with life, as we understand the matter, and, therefore, it may be supposed, nothing to do with life impulses. But let us go back by degrees. Behind the human harvest of the life impulse there lay the harvest of mere animal forms, as every one realizes; behind that, the harvest or growths of mere vegetable forms — for some of these undoubtedly preceded the appearance of the earliest animal life on the planet. Then, before the vegetable organizations, there were mineral organizations, — for even a mineral is a product of Nature, an evolution from something behind it, as every imaginable manifestation of Nature must be, until in the vast series of manifestations the mind travels back to the unmanifested beginning of all things. On pure metaphysics of that sort we are not now engaged. It is enough to show that we may as reasonably — and that we must if we would talk about these matters at all — conceive a life impulse giving birth to mineral forms as of the same sort of impulse concerned to raise a race of apes into a race of rudimentary men. Indeed, occult science travels back even further in its exhaustive analysis of evolution than the period at which minerals began to assume existence. In the process of developing worlds from fiery nebulæ, Nature begins with something earlier than minerals — with the elemental forces that underlie the phenomena of Nature as visible now and perceptible to the senses of man. But that branch of the subject may be left alone for the present. Let us take up the process at the period when the first world of the series, globe A, let us call it, is merely a congeries of mineral forms. Now it must be remembered that globe A has already been described as very much more ethereal, more predominated by spirit, as distinguished from matter, than the globe of which we at present are having personal experience, so that a large allowance must be made for that state of things when we ask the reader to think of it, at starting, as a mere congeries of mineral forms. Mineral forms may be mineral in the sense of not belonging to the higher forms of vegetable organism, and may yet be very immaterial as we think of matter, very ethereal, consisting of a very fine or subtle quality of matter, in which the other pole or characteristic of Nature, spirit, largely predominates. The minerals we are trying to portray are, as it were, the ghosts of minerals; by no means the highly-finished and beautiful, hard crystals which the mineralogical cabinets of this world supply. In these lower spirals of evolution with which we are now dealing, as with the higher ones, there is progress from world to world, and that is the great point at which we have been aiming. There is progress downwards, so to speak, in finish and materiality and consistency; and then, again, progress upward in spirituality as coupled with the finish which matter or materiality rendered possible in the first instance. It will be found that the process of evolution in its higher stages as regards man is carried on in exactly the same way. All through these studies, indeed, it will be found that one process of Nature typifies another, that the big is the repetition of the little on a larger scale.

It is manifest from what we have already said, and in order that the progress of organisms on globe A, shall be accounted for, that the mineral kingdom will no more develop the vegetable kingdom on globe A, until it receives an impulse from without, than the earth was able to develop man from the ape till it received an impulse from without. But it will be inconvenient at present to go back to a consideration of the impulses which operate on globe A, in the beginning of the system’s construction.

We have already, in order to be able to advance more comfortably from a far later period than that to which we have now receded, gone back so far that further recession would change the whole character of this explanation. We must stop somewhere, and for the present it will be beat to take the life impulses behind globe A for granted. And having stopped there we may now treat the enormous period intervening between the mineral epoch on globe A, and the man epoch in a very cursory way, and so get back to the main problem before us. What has been already said facilitates a cursory treatment of the intervening evolution. The full development of the mineral epoch on globe A, prepares the way for the vegetable development, and as soon as this begins the mineral life impulse overflows into globe B. Then when the vegetable development on globe A is complete, and the animal development begins, the vegetable life impulse overflows to globe B, and the mineral impulse passes on to globe C. Then, finally, comes the human life impulse on globe A.

Now it is necessary at this point to guard against one misconception that might arise. As just roughly described, the process might convey the idea that by the time the human impulse began on globe A, the mineral impulse was then beginning on globe D, and that beyond lay chaos. This is very far from being the case, for two reasons. First, as already stated, there are processes of evolution which precede the mineral evolution, and thus a wave of evolution, indeed several waves of evolution precede the mineral wave in its progress round the spheres. But over and above this there is a fact to be stated which has such an influence on the course of events, that, when it is realized, it will be seen that the life impulse has passed several times completely round the whole chain of worlds before the commencement of the human impulse on globe A. This fact is as follows: Each kingdom of evolution, vegetable, animal, and so on, is divided into several spiral layers. The spiritual monads — the individual atoms of that immense life impulse of which so much has been said — do not fully complete their mineral existence on globe A, then complete it on globe B, and so on. They pass several times round the whole circle as minerals, and then again several times round as vegetables, and several times as animals. We purposely refrain for the present from going into figures, because it is more convenient to state the outline of the scheme in general terms first; but figures in reference to these processes of Nature have now been given to the world by the occult adepts (for the first time we believe in its history), and they shall be brought out in the course of this explanation, very shortly, but as we say the outline is enough for any one to think of at first.

And now we have rudimentary man beginning his existence on globe A, in that world where all things are as the ghosts of the corresponding things in this world. He is beginning his long descent into matter. And the life impulse of each “round” overflows, and the races of man are established in different degrees of perfection on all the planets, on each in turn. But the rounds are more complicated in their design than this explanation would show, if it stopped short here. The process for each spiritual monad is not merely a passage from planet to planet. Within the limits of each planet, each time it arrives there, it has a complicated process of evolution to perform. It is many times incarnated in successive races of men before it passes onward, and it even has many incarnations in each great race. It will be found when we get on further that this fact throws a flood of light upon the actual condition of mankind as we know it, accounting for those immense differences of intellect and morality, and even of welfare in its highest sense, which generally appear so painfully mysterious.

That which has a definite beginning generally has an end also. As we have shown that the evolutionary process under description began when certain impulses first commenced their operation, so it may be inferred that they are tending towards a final consummation, towards a goal and a conclusion. That is so, though the goal is still far off. Man, as we know him on this earth, is but half-way through the evolutionary process to which he owes his present development. He will be as much greater before the destiny of our system is accomplished than he is now as he is now greater than the missing link. And that improvement will even be accomplished on this earth, while, in the other worlds of the ascending series, there are still loftier peaks of perfection to be scaled. It is utterly beyond the range of faculties, untutored in the discernment of occult mysteries, to imagine the kind of life which man will thus ultimately lead before the zenith of the great cycle is attained.
But there is enough to be done in filling up the details of the outline now presented to the reader, without attempting to forecast those which have to do with existences towards which evolution is reaching across the enormous abysses of the future.
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Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 3:11 am

CHAPTER 4: The World Periods

A STRIKING illustration of the uniformities of Nature is brought out by the first glance at the occult doctrine in reference to the development of man on the earth. The outline of the design is the same as the outline of the more comprehensive design covering the whole chain of worlds. The inner details of this world, as regards its units of construction, are the same as the inner details of the larger organism of which this world itself is a unit. That is to say, the development of humanity on this earth is accomplished by means of successive waves of development which correspond to the successive worlds in the great planetary chain. The great tide of human life, be it remembered — for that has been already set forth — sweeps round the whole circle of worlds in successive waves. These primary growths of humanity may be conveniently spoken of as rounds. We must not forget that the individual units, constituting each round in turn, are identically the same as regards their higher principles, that is, that the individualities on the earth during round one come back again after completing their travels round the whole series of worlds and constitute round two, and so on. But the point to which special attention should be drawn here is that the individual unit having arrived at any given planet of the series, in the course of any given round, does not merely touch that planet and pass on to the next. Before passing on, he has to live through a series of races on that planet. And this fact suggests the outline of the fabric which will presently develop itself in the reader’s mind and exhibit that similarity of design on the part of the one world as compared with the whole series to which attention has already been drawn. As the complete scheme of Nature that we belong to is worked out by means of a series of rounds sweeping through all the worlds, so the development of humanity on each world is worked out by a series of races developed within the limits of each world in turn.

It is time now to make the working of this law clearer by coming to the actual figures which have to do with the evolution of our doctrine. It would have been premature to begin with them, but as soon as the idea of a system of worlds in a chain, and of life evolution on each through a series of re-births, is satisfactorily grasped, the further examination of the laws at work will be greatly facilitated by precise reference to the actual number of worlds and the actual number of rounds and races required to accomplish the whole purpose of the system. For the whole duration of the system is as certainly limited in time, be it remembered, as the life of a single man. Probably not limited to any definite number of years set irrevocably from the commencement, but that which has a beginning progresses onward towards an end. The life of a man, leaving accidents quite out of the account, is a terminable period, and the life of a world system leads up to a final consummation. The vast periods of time, concerned in the life of a world system, dazzle the imagination as a rule, but still they are measurable; they are divisible into sub-periods of various kinds, and these have a definite number.

By what prophetic instinct Shakespeare pitched upon seven as the number which suited his fantastic classification of the ages of man is a question with which we need not be much concerned, but certain it is that he could not have made a more felicitous choice. In periods of sevens the evolution of the races of man may be traced, and the actual number of the objective worlds which constitute our system, and of which the earth is one, is seven also. Remember the occult scientists know this as a fact, just as the physical scientists know for a fact that the spectrum consists of seven colors, and the musical scale of seven tones. There are seven kingdoms of Nature, not three, as modern science has imperfectly classified them. Man belongs to a kingdom distinctly separate from that of the animals, including beings in a higher state of organization than that which manhood has familiarized us with as yet; and below the mineral kingdom there are three others which science in the West knows nothing about; but this branch of the subject may be set aside for the present. It is mentioned merely to show the regular operation of the septenary law in Nature.

Man, returning to the kingdom we are most interested in, is evolved in a series of rounds (progressions round the series of worlds), and seven of these rounds have to be accomplished before the destinies of our system are worked out. The round which is at present going on is the fourth. There are considerations of the utmost possible interest connected with precise knowledge on these points, because each round as we especially allotted to the predominance of one of the seven principles in man, and in the regular order of their upward gradation.

An individual unit, arriving on a planet for the first time in the course of a round, has to work through seven races on that planet before he passes on to the next, and each of those races occupies the earth for a long time. Our old-fashioned speculations about time and eternity, suggested by the misty religious systems of the West, have brought on a curious habit of mind in connection with problems bearing on the actual duration of such periods. We can talk glibly of eternity, and, going to the other end of the scale, we are not shocked by a few thousand years; but directly years are numbered with precision in groups which lie in intervening regions of thought, illogical Western theologians are apt to regard such numbering as nonsense. Now, we at present living on this earth — the great bulk of humanity, that is to say, for there are exceptional cases to be considered later — are now going through the fifth race of our present fourth round. And yet the evolution of that fifth race began about a million of years ago. Will the reader, in consideration of the fact that the present cosmogony does not profess to work with eternity, never himself to deal with estimates that do concern themselves with millions of years, and even count such millions by considerable numbers?

Each race of the seven which go to make up a round — i. e. which are evolved on the earth in succession during its occupation by the great wave of humanity passing round the planetary chain — is itself subject to subdivision. Were this not the case, the active existences of each human unit would be indeed few and far between. Within the limits of each race there are seven sub-divisional races, and again within the limits of each subdivision there are seven branch races. Through all these races, roughly speaking, each individual human unit must pass during his stay on earth each time he arrives there on a round of progress through the planetary system. On reflection, this necessity should not appall the mind so much as a hypothesis which would provide for fewer incarnations. For, however many lives each individual unit may pass through while on earth during a round, be their numbers few or many, he cannot pass on until the time comes for the round wave to sweep forward. Even by the calculation ready foreshadowed, it will be seen that the time spent by each individual unit in physical life, can only be a small fraction of the whole time he has to get through between his arrival on earth and his departure for the next planet. The larger part of the time — as we reckon duration of time — is obviously, therefore, spent in those subjective conditions of existence which belong to the “World of Effects,” or spiritual earth attached to the physical earth on which our objective existence is passed.

The nature of existence on the spiritual earth must be considered pari passu with the nature of that passed on the physical earth and dealt with in the above enumeration of race incarnations. We must never forget that between each physical existence the individual unit passes through a period of existence in the corresponding spiritual world. And it is because the conditions of that existence are defined by the use that has been made of the opportunities in the next preceding physical existence that the spiritual earth is often spoken of in occult writing as the world of effects. The earth itself is its corresponding world of causes.

That which passes naturally into the world of effects after an incarnation in the world of causes is the individual unit or spiritual monad; but the personality just dissolved passes there with it, to an extent dependent on the qualifications of such personality, on the use, that is to say, which the person in question has made of his opportunities in life. The period to be spent in the world of effects — enormously longer in each case than the life which has paved the way for existence there — corresponds to the “hereafter” or heaven of ordinary theology. The narrow purview of ordinary religious conceptions deals merely with one spiritual life and its consequences in the life to come. Theology conceives that the entity concerned had its beginning in this physical life, and that the ensuing spiritual life will never stop. And this pair of existences, which is shown, by the elements of occult science that we are now unfolding, to constitute a part only of the entity’s experience during its connection with a branch race, which is one of seven belonging to a sub-divisional race, itself one of seven belonging to a main race, itself one of seven belonging to the occupation of earth by one of the seven round waves of humanity which have each to occupy it in turn before its functions in Nature are concluded,— this microscopic molecule of the whole structure is what common theology treats as more than the whole, for it is supposed to cover eternity.

The reader must here be warned against one conclusion to which the above explanations — perfectly accurate as far as they go, but not yet covering the whole ground — might lead him. He will not get at the exact number of lives an individual entity has to lead on the earth in the course of its occupation by one round, if he merely raises seven to its third power. If one existence only were passed in each branch race, the total number would obviously be 843, but each life descends at least twice into objectivity in the same branch, — each monad, in other words, incarnates twice in each branch race. Again, there is a curious cyclic law which operates to augment the total number of incarnations beyond 686. Each sub-divisional race has a certain extra vitality at its climax, which leads it to throw off an additional offshoot race at that point in its progress, and again another offshoot race is developed at the end of the sub-divisional race by its dying momentum, so to speak. Through these races the whole tide of human life passes, and the result is that the actual normal number of incarnations for each monad is not far short of 800. Within relatively narrow limits it is a variable number, but the bearings of that fact may be considered later on.

The methodical law which carries each and every individual human entity through the vast evolutionary process thus sketched out, is in no way incompatible with that liability to fall away into abnormal destinies or ultimate annihilation which menaces the personal entities of people who cultivate very ignoble affinities. The distribution of the seven principles at death shows that clearly enough, but viewed in the light of these further explanations about evolution, the situation may be better realized. The permanent entity is that which lives through the whole series of lives, not only through the races belonging to the present round wave on earth, but also through those of other round waves and other worlds. Broadly speaking, it may in due time, though at some inconceivably distant future as measured in years, recover a recollection of all those lives, which will seem as days in the past to us. But the astral dross, cast off at each passage into the world of effects, has a more or less dependent existence of its own, quite separate from that of the spiritual entity from which it has just been disunited.

The natural history of this astral remnant is a problem of much interest and importance
, but a methodical continuation of the whole subject will require us in the first instance to endeavor to realize the destiny of the higher and more durable spiritual Ego; and before going into that inquiry, there is a good deal more to be said about the development of the objective races.

Esoteric science, though interesting itself mainly with matters generally regarded as appertaining to religion, would not be the complete comprehensive and trustworthy system that it is, if it failed to bring all the facts of earth life into harmony with its doctrines. It would have been little able to search out and ascertain the manner in which the human race has evolved through eons of time and series of planets, if it had not been in a position to ascertain also, as the smaller inquiry is included in the greater, the manner in which the wave of humanity with which we are flow concerned has been developed on this earth. The faculties, in short, which enable adepts to read the mysteries of other worlds, and of other states of existence, are in no way unequal to the task of traveling back along the life-current of this globe. It follows that while the brief record of a few thousand years is all that our so-called universal history can deal with, the earth history, which forms a department of esoteric knowledge, goes back to the incidents of the fourth race which preceded ours, and to those of the third race which preceded that. It goes back still further indeed, but the second and first races did not develop anything that could be called civilization, and of them, therefore, there is less to be said than of their successors. The third and fourth did—strange as it may seem to some modern readers to contemplate the notion of civilization on the earth several millions of years ago.

Where are its traces? they will ask. How could the civilization with which Europe has now endowed mankind pass away so completely that any future inhabitants of the earth could ever be ignorant that it once existed? How then can we conceive the idea that any similar civilization can have vanished, leaving no records for us?

The answer lies in the regular routine of planetary life, which goes on pari passu with the life of its inhabitants. The periods of the great root races are divided from each other by great convulsions of Nature and by great geological changes. Europe was not in existence as a continent at the time the fourth race flourished. The continent on which the fourth race lived was not in existence at the time the third race flourished, and neither of the continents which were the great vortices of the civilizations of those two races are in existence now. Seven great continental cataclysms occur during the occupation of the earth by the human life-wave for one round period. Each race is cut off in this way at its appointed time, some survivors remaining in parts of the world, not the proper home of their race; but these, invariably in such cases, exhibiting a tendency to decay, and relapsing into barbarism with more or less rapidity.

The proper home of the fourth race, which directly preceded our own, was that continent of which some memory has been preserved even in exoteric literature — the lost Atlantis. But the great island, the destruction of which is spoken of by Plato, was really but the last remnant of the continent. “In the Eocene age,” I am told, “even in its very first part, the great cycle of the fourth race men, the Atlanteans, had already reached its highest point, and the great continent, the father of nearly all the present continents, showed the first symptoms of sinking, — a process that occupied it down to 11,446 years ago, when its last island, that, translating its vernacular name, we may call with propriety Poseidonis, went down with a crash.

“Lemuria” (a former continent stretching southward from India across what is now the Indian Ocean, but connected with Atlantis, for Africa was not then in existence) “should no more be confounded with the Atlantis continent than Europe with America. Both sank and were drowned, with their high civilizations and ‘gods,’ yet between the two catastrophes a period of about 700,000 years elapsed, Lemuria flourishing and ending her career, just about that lapse of time before the early part of the Eocene age, since its race was the third. Behold the relics of that once great nation in some of the flat-headed aborigines of your Australia.”

It is a mistake on the part of a recent writer on Atlantis to people India and Egypt with the colonies of that continent, but of that more anon.

“Why should not your geologists,” asks my revered Mahatma teacher, “bear in mind that under the continents explored and fathomed by them, in the bowels of which they have found the Eocene age, and forced it to deliver to them its secrets, there may be hidden deep in the fathomless, or rather unfathomed ocean beds, other and far older continents whose strata have never been geologically explored; and that they may some day upset entirely their present theories. Why not admit that our present continents have, like Lemuria and Atlantis, been several times already submerged, and had the time to reappear again, and bear their new groups of mankind and civilization; and that at the first great geological upheaval at the next cataclysm, in the series of periodical cataclysms that occur from the beginning to the end of every round, our already autopsized continents will go down, and the Lemurias and Atlantises come up again.

“Of course the fourth race had its periods of the highest civilization.” (The letter from which I am now quoting was written in answer to a series of questions I put.) “Greek, and Roman, and even Egyptian civilizations are nothing compared to the civilizations that began with the third race. Those of the second race were not savages, but they could not be called civilized.

“Greeks and Romans were small sub-races, and Egyptians part and parcel of our own Caucasian stock. Look at the latter, and at India. Having reached the highest civilization, and what is more, learning, both went down; Egypt, as a distinct sub-race, disappearing entirely (her Copts are but a hybrid remnant); India, as one of the first and most powerful offshoots of the mother race, and composed of a number of sub-races, lasting to these times, and struggling to take once more her place in history some day. That history catches but a few stray, hazy glimpses of Egypt some 12,000 years back, when, having already reached the apex of its cycle thousands of years before, the latter had begun to go down.

“The Chaldees were at the apex of their occult fame before what you term the Bronze Age. We hold — but then what warrant can you give the world that we are right? — that far greater civilzations than our own have risen and decayed. It is not enough to say, as some of your modern writers do, that an extinct civilization existed before Rome and Athens were founded. We affirm that a series of civilizations existed before as well as after the glacial period, that they existed upon various points of the globe, reached the apex of glory, and died. Every trace and memory had been lost of the Assyrian and Phœnician civilizations, until discoveries began to be made a few years ago. And now they open a new though not by far one of the earliest pages in the history of mankind. And yet how far back do those civilizations go in comparison with the oldest, and even them history is slow to accept. Archæology has sufficiently demonstrated that the memory of man runs back vastly further than history has been willing to accept, and the sacred records of once mighty nations preserved by their heirs are still more worthy of trust. We speak of civilizations of the ante-glacial period, and not only in the minds of the vulgar and the profane, but even in the opinion of the highly-learned geologist, the claim sounds preposterous. What would you say, then, to our affirmation that the Chinese, — I now speak of the inland, the true Chinaman, not of the hybrid mixture between the fourth and fifth races now occupying the throne, — the aborigines who belong in their unallied nationality wholly to the highest and last branch of the fourth race, reached their highest civilization when the fifth had hardly appeared in Asia? When was it? Calculate. The group of islands discovered by Nordenskiöld, of the Vega, was found strewn with fossils of horses, sheep, oxen, etc., among gigantic bones of elephants, mammoths, rhinoceroses, and other monsters belonging to periods when man, says your science, had not yet made his appearance on earth. How came horses and sheep to be found in company with the huge antediluvians?

“The region now locked in the fetters of eternal winter, uninhabited by man, that most fragile of animals, will very soon be proved to have had not only a tropical climate, something your science knows and does not dispute, but having been likewise the seat of one of the most ancient civilizations of the fourth race, whose highest relics we now find in the degenerate Chinaman, and whose lowest are hopelessly (for the profane scientist) intermixed with the remnants of the third. I told you before that the highest people now on earth (spiritually) belong to the first sub-race of the fifth root race, and those are the Aryan Asiatics; the highest race (physical intellectuality) is the last sub-race of the fifth,—yourselves, the white conquerors. The majority of mankind belongs to the seventh sub-race of the fourth root race, — the above mentioned Chinamen and their offshoots -- sad branchlets (Malayans, Mongolians, Tibetens, Javanese, etc., etc.), — with remnants of other sub-races of the fourth and the seventh sub-race of the third race. All these fallen, degraded semblances of humanity are the direct lineal descendants of highly civilized nations, neither the names nor memory of which have survived, except in such books as ‘Populvuh,’ the sacred book of the Guatemalans, and a few others unknown to science.”

I had inquired was there any way of accounting for what seems the curious rush of human progress within the last two thousand years, as compared with the relatively stagnant condition of the fourth round people up to the beginning of modern progress. This question it was that elicited the explanations quoted above, and also the following remarks in regard to the recent “rush of human progress.”

“The latter end of a very important cycle. Each round, each race, as every sub-race, has its great and its smaller cycles on every planet that mankind passes through. Our fourth round humanity has its one great cycle, and so have its races and sub-races. ‘The curious rush’ is due to the double effect of the former the beginning of its downward course — and of the latter (the small cycle of your sub-race) running on to its apex. Remember you belong to the fifth race, yet you are but a Western sub-race. Notwithstanding your efforts, what you call civilization is confined only to the latter and its offshoots in America. Radiating around, its deceptive light may seem to throw its rays on a greater distance than it does in reality. There is no rush in China, and of Japan you make but a caricature.

“A student of occultism ought not to speak of the stagnant condition of the fourth-round people, since history knows next to nothing of that condition, ‘up to the beginning of modern progress,’ of other nations but the Western. What do you know of America, for instance, before the invasion of that country by the Spaniards? Less than two centuries prior to the arrival of Cortez there was as great a rush toward progress among the sub-races of Peru and Mexico as there is now in Europe and the United States. Their sub-race ended in nearly total annihilation through causes generated by itself. We may speak only of the ‘stagnant’ condition into which, following the law of development, growth, maturity, and decline, every race and sub-race falls during the transition periods. It is that latter condition your universal history is acquainted with, while it remains superbly ignorant of the condition even India was in some ten centuries back. Your sub-races are now running toward the apex of their respective cycles, and that history goes no further back than the periods of decline of a few other sub-races belonging most of them to the preceding fourth race.”

I had asked to what epoch Atlantis belonged, and whether the cataclysm by which it was destroyed came in an appointed place in the progress of evolution, corresponding for the development of races to the obscuration of planets. The answer was: —

“To the Miocene times. Everything comes in its appointed time and place in the evolution of rounds, otherwise it would be impossible for the best seer to calculate the exact hour and year when such cataclysms great and small have to occur. All an adept could do would be to predict an approximate time, whereas now events that result in great geological changes may be predicted with as mathematical a certainty as eclipses and other revolutions in space. The sinking of Atlantis (the group of continents and isles) began during the Miocene period, — as certain of your continents are now observed to be gradually sinking, — and it culminated first in the final disappearance of the largest continent, an event coincident with the elevation of the Alps; and second with that of the last of the fair islands mentioned by Plato. The Egyptian priests of Saïs told his ancestor Solon, that Atlantis (i.e., the only remaining large island) had perished nine thousand years before their time. This was not a fancy date, since they had for millenniums preserved most carefully their records. But then, as I say, they spoke but of the Poseidonis, and would not reveal even to the great Greek legislator their secret chronology. As there are no geological reasons for doubting, but, on the contrary, a mass of evidence for accepting the tradition, science has finally accepted the existence of the great continent and archipelago, and thus vindicated the truth of one more ‘fable.’

“The approach of every new obscuration is always signaled by cataclysms of either fire or water. But apart from this, every root race has to be cut in two, so to say, by either one or the other. Thus having reached the apex of its development and glory, the fourth race — the Atlanteans — were destroyed by water; you find now but their degenerate fallen remnants, whose sub-races nevertheless, each of them, had its palmy days of glory and relative greatness. What they are now, you will be some day, the law of cycles being one and immutable. When your race, the fifth, will have reached its zenith of physical intellectuality, and developed its highest civilization (remember the difference we make between material and spiritual civilizations), unable to go any higher in its own cycle, its progress toward absolute evil will be arrested (as its predecessors, the Lemurians and the Atlanteans, the men of the third and fourth races, were arrested in their progress toward the same) by one of such cataclysmic changes, its great civilization destroyed, and all the sub-races of that race will be found going down their respective cycles, after a short period of glory and learning. See the remnants of the Atlanteans, the old Greeks and Romans (the modern belong to the fifth race). See how great and how short, how evanescent were their days of fame and glory. For they were but sub-races of the seven offshoots of the root race.1 No mother race, any more than her sub-races and offshoots, is allowed by the one reigning law to trespass upon the prerogatives of the race, or sub-race that will follow it; least of all to encroach upon the knowledge and powers in store for its successor.”

The “progress toward absolute evil,” arrested by the cataclysm of each in turn, sets in with the acquisition, by means of ordinary intellectual research and scientific advancement, of those powers over Nature which accrue even now in adeptship from the premature development of higher faculties than those we ordinarily employ. I have spoken slightly of these powers in a preceding chapter, when endeavoring to describe our esoteric teachers; to describe them minutely would lead me into a long digression on occult phenomena. It is enough to say that they are such as cannot but be dangerous to society generally, and provocative of all manner of crimes which would utterly defy detection, if possessed by persons capable of regarding them as anything else but a profoundly sacred trust. Now some of these powers are simply the practical application of obscure forces of Nature, susceptible of discovery in the course of ordinary scientific progress. Such progress had been accomplished by the Atlanteans. The worldly men of science in that race had learned the secrets of the disintegration and reintegration of matter, which few but practical spiritualists as yet know to be possible, and of control over the elementals, by means of which that and other even more portentous phenomena can be produced. Such powers in the hands of persons willing to use them for merely selfish and unscrupulous ends, must not only be productive of social disaster, but also for the persons who hold them, of progress in the direction of that evilly-spiritual exaltation, which is a far more terrible result than suffering and inconvenience in this world. Thus it is, when physical intellect, unguarded by elevated morality, runs over into the proper region of spiritual advancement, that the natural law provides for its violent repression. The contingency will be better understood when we come to deal with the general destinies toward which humanity is tending.

The principle under which the various races of man as they develop are controlled collectively by the cyclic law, however they may individually exercise the free will they unquestionably possess, is thus very plainly asserted. For people who have never regarded human affairs as covering more than the very short period with which history deals, the course of events will perhaps, as a rule, exhibit no cyclic character, but rather a checkered progress hastened sometimes by great men and fortunate circumstances, sometimes retarded by war, bigotry, or intervals of intellectual sterility, but moving continually onward in the long account at one rate of speed or another. As the esoteric view of the matter, fortified by the wide range of observation which occult science is enabled to take, has an altogether opposite tendency, it seems worth while to conclude these explanations with an extract from a distinguished author, quite unconnected with the occult world, who nevertheless, from a close observation of the mere historical record, pronounces himself decisively in favor of the theory of cycles. In his “History of the Intellectual Development of Europe,” Dr. J. W. Draper writes as follows: —

“We are, as we often say, the creatures of circumstances. In that expression there is a higher philosophy than might at first sight appear. . . . From this more accurate point of view we should therefore, consider the course of these events, recognizing the principle that the affairs of men pass forward in a determinate way, expanding and unfolding themselves. And hence we see that the things of which we have spoken as though they were matters of choice, were in reality forced upon their apparent authors by the necessity of the times. But in truth they should be considered as the presentation of a certain phase of life which nations in their onward course sooner or later assume. To the individual, how well we know that a sober moderation of action, an appropriate gravity of demeanor, belong to the mature period of life, change from the wanton willfulness of youth, which may be ushered in, or its beginning marked by many accidental incidents; in one perhaps by domestic bereavements, in another by the loss of fortune, in a third by ill health. We are correct enough in imputing to such trials the change of character; but we never deceive ourselves by supposing that it would have failed to take place had those incidents not occurred. There runs an irresistible destiny in the midst of all these vicissitudes. . . There are analogies between the life of a nation and that of an individual, who, though he may be in one respect the maker of his own fortunes, for happiness or for misery, for good or for evil, though he remains here or goes there as his inclinations prompt, though he does this or abstains from that as he chooses, is nevertheless held fast by an inexorable fate, — a fate which brought him into the world involuntarily, as far as he was concerned, which presses him forward through a definite career, the stages of which are absolutely invariable, — infancy, childhood, youth, maturity, old age, with all their characteristic actions and passions, — and which removes him from the scene at the appointed time, in most cases against his will. So also it is with nations; the voluntary is only the outward semblance, covering but hardly hiding the predetermined. Over the events of life we may have control, but none whatever over the law of its progress. There is a geometry that applies to nations an equation of their curve of advance. That no mortal man can touch.”



1 Branches of the subdivisions, according to the nomenclature I have adopted previously.
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CHAPTER 5: Devachan

IT was not possible to approach a consideration of the states into which the higher human principles pass at death, without first indicating the general framework of the whole design worked out in the course of the evolution of man. That much of my task, however, having now been accomplished, we may pass on to consider the natural destinies of each human Ego, in the interval which elapses between the close of one objective life and the commencement of another. At the commencement of another, the Karma of the previous objective life determines the state of life into which the individual shall be born. This doctrine of Karma is one of the most interesting features of Buddhist philosophy. There has been no secret about it at any time, though for want of a proper comprehension of elements in the philosophy which have been strictly esoteric, it may sometimes have been misunderstood.

Karma is a collective expression applied to that complicated group of affinities for good and evil generated by a human being during life, and the character of which inheres in the molecules of his fifth principle all through the interval which elapses between his death from one objective life and his birth into the next. As stated sometimes, the doctrine seems to be one which exacts the notion of a superior spiritual authority summing up the acts of a man’s life at its close, taking into consideration his good deeds and his bad, and giving judgment about him on the whole aspect of the case. But a comprehension of the way in which the human principles divide up at death, will afford a clue to the comprehension of the way in which Karma operates, and also of the great subject we may better take up first, the immediate spiritual condition of man after death.

At death, the three lower principles — the body, its mere physical vitality, and its astral counterpart — are finally abandoned by that which really is the Man himself, and the four higher principles escape into that world immediately above our own; above our own, that is, in the order of spirituality; not above it at all, but in it and of it, as regards real locality, the astral plane, or Kama Loca, according to a very familiar Sanskrit expression. Here a division takes place between the two duads, which the four higher principles include. The explanations already given concerning the imperfect extent to which the upper principles of man are as yet developed, will show that this estimation of the process, as in the nature of a mechanical separation of the principles, is a rough way of dealing with the matter. It must be modified in the reader’s mind by the light of what has been already said. It may be otherwise described as a trial of the extent to which the fifth principle has been developed. Regarded in the light of the former idea, however, we must conceive the sixth and seventh principles, on the one hand, drawing the fifth, the human soul, in one direction, while the fourth draws it back earthward in the other. Now, the fifth principle is a very complex entity, separable itself into superior and inferior elements. In the struggle which takes place between its late companion principles, its best, purest, most elevated, and spiritual portions cling to the sixth, its lower instincts, impulses, and recollections adhere to the fourth, and it is in a measure torn asunder. The lower remnant, associating itself with the fourth, floats off in the earth’s atmosphere, while the best elements, those, be it understood, which really constitute the Ego of the late earthly personality, the individuality, the consciousness thereof, follows the sixth and seventh into a spiritual condition, the nature of which we are about to examine.

Rejecting the popular English name for this spiritual condition, as incrusted with too many misconceptions to be convenient, let us keep to the Oriental designation of that region or state into which the higher principles of human creatures pass at death. This is additionally desirable because, although the devachan of Buddhist philosophy corresponds in some respects to the modern European idea of heaven, it differs from heaven in others which are even more important.

Firstly, however, in Devachan, that which survives is not merely the individual monad, which survives through all the changes of the whole evolutionary scheme, and flits from body to body, from planet to planet, and so forth,— that which survives in Devachan is the man’s own self-conscious personality, under some restrictions indeed, which we will come to directly, but still it is the same personality as regards its higher feelings, aspirations, affections, and even tastes, as it was on earth. Perhaps it would be better to say the essence of the late self-conscious personality.

It may be worth the reader’s while to learn what Colonel H. S. Olcott has to say in his “Buddhist Catechism” (14th thousand) of the intrinsic difference between “individuality" and “personality.” Since he wrote not only under the approval of the High Priest of the Sripada and Galle, Sumangala, but also under the direct instruction of his adept Guru, his words will have weight for the student of Occultism. This is what he says in his Appendix:—

“Upon reflection, I have substituted ‘personality’ for ‘individuality’ as written in the first edition. The successive appearances upon one or many earths, or ‘descents into generation’ of the tanhaically-coherent parts (Skandhas) of a certain being, are a succession of personalities. In each birth the personality differs from that of the previous or next succeeding birth. Karma, the deus ex mâchina, masks (or shall we say, reflects?) itself now in the personality of a sage, again as an artisan, and so on throughout the string of births. But though personalities ever shift, the one line of life along which they are strung like beads, runs unbroken.

“It is ever that particular line, never any other, it is therefore individual, an individual vital undulation which began in Nirvana or the subjective side of Nature, as the light or heat undulation through ether began at its dynamic source; is careering through the objective side of Nature, under the impulse of Karma and the creative direction of Tanha; and tends through many cyclic changes back to Nirvana. Mr. Rhys Davids calls that which passes from personality to personality along the individual chain, ‘character’ or ‘doing.’ Since ‘character’ is not a mere metaphysical abstraction, but the sum of one’s mental qualities and moral propensities, would it not help to dispel what Mr. Rhys Davids calls ‘the desperate expedient of a mystery,’ if we regarded the life undulation as individuality, and each of Its series of natal manifestations as a separate personality?

“The denial of ‘soul’ by Buddha (see ‘Sanyutto Nikaya,’ the Sutta Pitaka) points to the prevalent delusive belief in an independent transmissible personality; an entity that could move from birth to birth unchanged, or go to a place or state where, as such perfect entity, it could eternally enjoy or suffer. And what he shows is that the ‘I am I’ consciousness is, as regards permanency, logically impossible, since its elementary constituents constantly change, and the ‘I’ of one birth differs from the ‘I’ of every other birth. But everything that I have found in Buddhism accords with the theory of a gradual evolution of the perfect man, viz., a Buddha through numberless natal experiences. And in the consciousness of that person who at the end of a given chain of beings attains Buddhahood, or who succeeds in attaining the fourth stage of Dhyana, or mystic self-development, in any one of his births anterior to the final one, the scenes of all these serial births are perceptible. In the ‘Jatakattahavannana,’ so well translated by Mr. Rhys Davids, an expression continuity recurs which I think rather supports such an idea, viz., ‘Then the blessed one made manfest an occurrence hidden by change of birth,’ or ‘that which had been hidden by, etc.’ Early Buddhism, then, clearly held to a permanency of records in the Akasa, and the potential capacity of man to read the same when he has evoluted to the stage of true, individual enlightenment.”

The purely sensual feelings and tastes of the late personality will drop off from it in Devachan, but it does not follow that nothing is preservable in that state, except feelings and thoughts having a direct reference to religion or spiritual philosophy. On the contrary, all the superior phases, even of sensuous emotion, find their appropriate sphere of development in Devachan. To suggest a whole range of ideas by means of one illustration, a soul in Devachan, if the soul of a man who was passionately devoted to music, would be continuously enraptured by the sensations music produces. The person whose happiness of the higher sort on earth had been entirely centred in the exercise of the affections will miss none in Devachan of those whom he or she loved. But, at once it will be asked, if some of these are not themselves fit for Devachan, how then? The answer is, that does not matter. For the person who loved them they will be there. It is not necessary to say much more to give a clue to the position. Devachan is a subjective state. It will seem as real as the chairs and tables round us; and remember that, above all things, to the profound philosophy of Occultism, are the chairs and tables, and the whole objective scenery of the world, unreal and merely transitory delusions of sense. As real as the realities of this world to us, and even more so, will be the realities of Devachan to those who go into that state.

From this it ensues that the subjective isolation of Devachan, as it will perhaps be conceived at first, is not real isolation at all, as the word is understood on the physical plane of existence; it is companionship with all that the true soul craves for, whether persons, things, or knowledge. And a patient consideration of the place in Nature which Devachan occupies will show that this subjective isolation of each human unit is the only condition which renders possible anything which can be described as a felicitous spiritual existence after death for mankind at large, and Devachan is as much a purely and absolutely felicitous condition for all who attain it, as Avitchi is the reverse of it. There is no inequality or injustice in the system; Devachan is by no means the same thing for the good and the indifferent alike, but it is not a life of responsibility, and therefore there is no logical place in it for suffering any more than in Avitchi there is any room for enjoyment or repentance. It is a life of effects, not of causes; a life of being paid your earnings, not of laboring for them. Therefore it is impossible to be during that life cognizant of what is going on on earth. Under the operation of such cognition there would be no true happiness possible in the state after death. A heaven which constituted a watch-tower from which the occupants could still survey the miseries of the earth, would really be a place of acute mental suffering for its most sympathetic, unselfish, and meritorious inhabitants. If we invest them in imagination with such a very limited range of sympathy that they could be imagined as not caring about the spectacle of suffering after the few persons to whom they were immediately attached had died and joined them, still they would have a very unhappy period of waiting to go through before survivors reached the end of an often long and toilsome existence below. And even this hypothesis would be further vitiated by making heaven most painful for occupants who were most unselfish and sympathetic, whose reflected distress would thus continue on behalf of the afflicted race of mankind generally, even after their personal kindred had been rescued by the lapse of time. The only escape from this dilemma lies in the supposition that heaven is not yet opened for business, so to speak, and that all people who have ever lived, from Adam downward, are still lying in a death-like trance, waiting for the resurrection at the end of the world. This hypothesis also has its embarrassments, but we are concerned at present with the scientific harmony of esoteric Buddhism, not with the theories of other creeds.

Readers, however, who may grant that a purview of earthly life from heaven would render happiness in heaven impossible, may still doubt whether true happiness is possible in the state, as it may be objected, of monotonous isolation now described. The objection is merely raised from the point of view of an imagination that cannot escape from its present surroundings. To begin with, about monotony. No one will complain of having experienced monotony during the minute, or moment, or half hour, as it may have been, of the greatest happiness he may have enjoyed in life. Most people have had some happy moments, at all events, to look back to for the purpose of this comparison; and let us take even one such minute or moment, too short to be open to the least suspicion of monotony, and imagine its sensations immensely prolonged without any external events in progress to mark the lapse of time. There is no room, in such a condition of things, for the conception of weariness. The unalloyed, unchangeable sensation of intense happiness goes on and on, not forever, because the causes which have produced it are not infinite themselves, but for very long periods of time, until the efficient impulse has exhausted itself.

Nor must it be supposed that there is, so to speak, no change of occupation for souls in Devachan, — that any one moment of earthly sensation is selected for exclusive perpetuation. As a teacher of the highest authority on this subject writes — “There are two fields of causal manifestations, the objective and subjective. The grosser energies — those which operate in the denser condition of matter — manifest objectively in the next physical life, their outcome being the new personality of each birth marshaling within the grand cycle of the evoluting individuality. It is but the moral and spiritual activities that find their sphere of effects in Devachan. And, thought and fancy being limitless, how can it be argued for one moment that there is anything like monotony in the state of Devachan? Few are the men whose lives were so utterly destitute of feeling, love, or of a more or less intense predilection for some one line of thought as to be made unfit for a proportionate period of Devachanic experience beyond their earthly life. So, for instance, while the vices, physical and sensual attractions, say, of a great philosopher, but a bad friend and a selfish man, may result in the birth of a new and still greater intellect, but at the same time a most miserable man, reaping the Karmic effects of all the causes produced by the ‘old’ being, and whose make-up was inevitable from the preponderating proclivities of that being in the preceding birth, the inter-medial period between the two physical births cannot be, in Nature’s exquisitely well-adjusted laws, but a hiatus of unconsciousness. There can be no such dreary blank as kindly promised, or rather implied, by Christian Protestant theology, to the ‘departed souls,’ which, between death and ‘resurrection,’ have to hang on in space, in mental catalepsy, awaiting the ‘Day of Judgment.’ Causes produced by mental and spiritual energy being far greater and more important than those that are created by physical impulses, their effects have to be, for weal or woe, proportionately as great. Lives on this earth, or other earths, affording no proper field for such effects, and every laborer being entitled to his own harvest, they have to expand in either Devachan or Avitchi.1 Bacon, for instance, whom a poet called might reappear in his next incarnation as a greedy money-getter, with extraordinary intellectual capacities. But, however great the latter, they would find no proper field in which that particular line of thought, pursued during his previous lifetime by the founder of modern philosophy, could reap all its dues. It would be but the astute lawyer, the corrupt Attorney-General, the ungrateful friend, and the dishonest Lord Chancellor, who might find, led on by his Karma, a congenial new soil in the body of the money-lender, and reappear as a new Shylock. But where would Bacon, the incomparable thinker, with whom philosophical inquiry upon the most profound problems of Nature was his ‘first and last and only love,’ where would this ‘intellectual giant of his race once disrobed of his lower nature, go to? Have all the effects of that magnificent intellect to vanish and disappear? Certainly not. Thus his moral and spiritual qualities would also have to find a field in which their energies could expand themselves. Devachan is such a field. Hence, all the great plans of moral reform, of intellectual research into abstract principles of Nature — all the divine, spiritual aspirations that had so filled the brightest part of his life would, in Devachan, come to fruition; and the abstract entity, known in the preceding birth as Francis Bacon, and that may be known in its subsequent re-incarnation as a despised usurer — that Bacon’s own creation, his Frankenstein, the son of his Karma — shall in the meanwhile occupy itself in this inner world, also of its own preparation, in enjoying the effects of the grand beneficial spiritual causes sown in life. It would live a purely and spiritually conscious existence — a dream of realistic vividness — until Karma, being satisfied in that direction, and the ripple of force reaching the edge of its sub-cyclic basin, the being should move into its next area of causes, either in this same world or another, according to his stage of progression. Therefore, there is ‘a change of occupation,’ a continual change, in Devachan. For that dream-life is but the fruition, the harvest-time, of those psychic seed-germs dropped from the tree of physical existence in our moments of dream and hope — fancy-glimpses of bliss and happiness, stifled in an ungrateful social soil, blooming in the rosy dawn of Devachan, and ripening under its ever-fructifying sky. If man had but one single moment of ideal experience, not even then could it be, as erroneously supposed, the indefinite prolongation of that ‘single moment.’ That one note, struck from the lyre of life, would form the key-note of the being’s subjective state, and work out into numberless harmonic tones and semitones of psychic phantasmagoria. There, all unrealized hopes, aspirations, dreams, become fully realized, and the dreams of the objective become the realities of the subjective existence. And there, behind the curtain of Maya, its vaporous and deceptive appearances are perceived by the Initiate, who has learned the great secret how to penetrate thus deep into the Arcana of Being.” . . .

As physical existence has its cumulative intensity from infancy to prime, and its diminishing energy thenceforward to dotage and death, so the dream-life of Devachan is lived correspondentially. There is the first flutter of psychic life, the attainment of prime, the gradual exhaustion of force passing into conscious lethargy, semi-unconsciousness, oblivion and — not death but birth! birth into another personality and the resumption of action which daily begets new congeries of causes that must be worked out in another term of Devachan.

“It is not a reality then, it is a mere dream,” objectors will urge; “the soul so bathed in a delusive sensation of enjoyment which has no reality all the while is being cheated by Nature, and must encounter a terrible shock when it wakes to its mistake.” But, in the nature of things, it never does or can wake. The waking from Devachan is its next birth into objective life, and the draught of Lethe has then been taken. Nor as regards the isolation of each soul is there any consciousness of isolation whatever; nor is there ever possibly a parting from its chosen associates. Those associates are not in the nature of companions who may wish to go away, of friends who may tire of the friend that loves them, even if he or she does not tire of them. Love, the creating force, has placed their living image before the personal soul which craves for their presence, and that image will never fly away.

On this aspect of the subject I may again avail myself of the language of my teacher: — “Objectors of that kind will be simply postulating an incongruity, an intercourse of entities in Devachan, which applies only to the mutual relationship of physical existence! Two sympathetic souls, both disembodied, will each work out its own Devachanic sensations, making the other a sharer in its subjective bliss. This will be as real to them, naturally, as though both were yet on this earth. Nevertheless, each is dissociated from the other as regards personal or corporeal association. While the latter is the only one of its kind that is recognized by our earth experience as an actual intercourse, for the Devachanee it would be not; only something unreal, but could have no existence for it in any sense, not even as a delusion a physical body or even a Mayavi-rupa remaining to its spiritual senses as invisible as it is itself to the physical senses of those who loved it best on earth. Thus even though one of the ‘sharers’ were alive and utterly unconscious of that intercourse in his waking state, still ever dealing with him would be to the Devachanee an absolute reality. And what actual companionship could there ever be other than the purely idealistic one as above described, between two subjective entities which are not even as material as that ethereal body-shadow— the Mayavi-rupa? To object to this on the ground that one is thus ‘cheated by Nature’ and to call it ‘a delusive sensation of enjoyment which has no reality,’ is to show one’s self utterly unfit to comprehend the conditions of life and being outside of our material existence. For how can the same distinction be made in Devachan — i.e., outside of the conditions of earth-life — between what we call a reality, and a factitious or an artificial counterfeit of the same, in this, our world? The same principle cannot apply to the two sets of conditions. Is it conceivable that what we call a reality in our embodied physical state will exist under the same conditions as an actuality for a disembodied entity? On earth, man is dual in the sense of being a thing of matter and a thing of spirit; hence the natural distinction made by his mind — the analyst of his physical sensations and spiritual perceptions — between an actuality and a fiction; though, even in this life, the two groups of faculties are constantly equilibrating each other, each group when dominant seeing as fiction or delusion what the other believes to be most real. But in Devachan our Ego has ceased to be dualistic, in the above sense, and becomes a spiritual, mental entity. That which was a fiction, a dream in life, and which had its being but in the region of ‘fancy,’ becomes, under the new conditions of existence, the only possible reality. Thus, for us, to postulate the possibility of any other reality for a Devachanee is to maintain an absurdity, a monstrous fallacy, an idea unphilosophical to the last degree. The actual is that which is acted or performed de facto: ‘the reality of a thing is proved by its actuality.’ And the supposititious and artificial having no possible existence in that Devachanic state, the logical sequence is that everything in it is actual and real. For, again, whether overshadowing the five principles during the life of the personality, or entirely separated from the grosser principles by the dissolution of the body — the sixth principle, or our ‘Spiritual Soul,’ has no substance — it is ever Arupa; nor is it confined to one place with a limited horizon of perceptions around it. Therefore, whether in or out of its mortal body, it is ever distinct, and free from its limitations; and if we call its Devachanic experiences ‘a cheating of Nature,’ then we should never be allowed to call ‘reality’ any of those purely abstract feelings that belong entirely to, and are reflected and assimilated by, our higher soul — such, for instance, as an ideal perception of the beautiful, profound philanthropy, love, etc., as well as every other purely spiritual sensation that during life fills our inner being with either immense joy or pain.”

We must remember that by the very nature of the system described there are infinite varieties of well-being in Devachan, suited to the infinite varieties of merit in mankind. If “the next world” really were the objective heaven which ordinary theology preaches, there would be endless injustice and inaccuracy in its operation. People, to begin with, would be either admitted or excluded, and, the differences of favor shown to different guests within the all-favored region would not sufficiently provide for differences of merit in this life. But the real heaven of our earth adjusts itself to the needs and merits of each new arrival with unfailing certainty. Not merely as regards the duration of the blissful state, which is determined by the causes engendered during objective life, but as regards the intensity and amplitude of the emotions which constitute that blissful state, the heaven of each person who attains the really existent heaven is precisely fitted to his capacity for enjoying it. It is the creation of his own aspirations and faculties. More than this it may be impossible for the uninitiated comprehension to realize. But this indication of its character is enough to show how perfectly it falls into its appointed place in the whole scheme of evolution.

“Devachan,” to resume my direct quotations, “is, of course, a state, not a locality, as much as Avitchi, its antithesis (which please not to confound with hell. Esoteric Buddhist philosophy has three principal lokas so-called — namely, 1, Kama loka; 2, Rupa loka; and 3, Arupa loka; or in their literal translation and meaning — 1, world of desires or passions, of unsatisfied earthly cravings — the abode of ‘Shells and Victims, of Elementaries and Suicides; 2, the world of Forms — i. e., of shadows more spiritual, having form and objectivity, but no substance; and 3, the formless world, or rather the world of no form, the incorporeal, since its denizens can have neither body, shape, nor color for us mortals, and in the sense that we give to these terms. These are the three spheres of ascending spirituality in which the several groups of subjective and semi-subjective entities find their attractions. All but the suicides and the victims of premature violent deaths go, according to their attractions and powers, either into the Devachanic or the Avitchi state, which two states form the numberless subdivisions of Rupa and Arupa lokas — that is to say, that such states not only vary in degree, or in their presentation to the subject entity as regards form, color, etc., but that there is an infinite scale of such states, in their progressive spirituality and intensity of feeling; from the lowest in the Rupa, up to the highest and the most exalted in the Arupa-loka. The student must bear in mind that personality is the synonym for limitation; and that the more selfish, the more contracted the person’s ideas, the closer will he cling to the lower spheres of being, the longer loiter on the plane of selfish social intercourse.”

Devachan being a condition of mere subjective enjoyment, the duration and intensity of which is determined by the merit and spirituality of the earth-life last past, there is no opportunity, while the soul inhabits it, for the punctual requital of evil deeds. But Nature does not content herself with either forgiving sins in a free and easy way, or damning sinners out-right, like a lazy master too indolent, rather than too good-natured, to govern his household justly. The Karma of evil, be it great or small, is as certainly operative at the appointed time as the Karma of good. But the place of its operation is not Devachan, but either a new re-birth or Avitchi — a state to be reached only in exceptional cases and by exceptional natures. In other words, while the commonplace sinner will reap the fruits of his evil deeds in a following re-incarnation, the exceptional criminal, the aristocrat of sin, has Avitchi in prospect — that is to say, the condition of subjective spiritual misery which is the reverse side of Devachan.

“Avitchi is a state of the most ideal spiritual wickedness, something akin to the state of Lucifer, so superbly described by Milton. Not many, though, are there who can reach it, as the thoughtful reader will perceive. And if it is urged that since there is Devachan for nearly all, for the good, the bad, and the indifferent, the ends of harmony and equilibrium are frustrated and the law of retribution and of impartial, implacable justice, hardly met and satisfied by such a comparative scarcity if not absence of its antithesis, then the answer will show that it is not so. ‘Evil is the dark son of Earth (matter) and Good— the fair daughter of Heaven (or Spirit) says the Chinese philosopher; hence the place of punishment for most of our sins is the earth — its birthplace and playground. There is more apparent and relative than actual evil even on earth, and it is not given to the hoi polloi to reach the fatal grandeur and of a Satan every day.

Generally, re-birth into objective existence is the event for which the karma of evil patiently waits, and then it irresistibly asserts itself; not that the Karma of good exhausts itself in Devachan, leaving the unhappy monad to develop a new consciousness with no material beyond the evil deeds of its last personality. The re-birth will be qualified by the merit as well as the demerit of the previous life, but the Devachan existence is a rosy sleep — a peaceful night with dreams more vivid than day, and imperishable for many centuries.

It will be seen that the Devachan state is only one of the conditions of existence which go to make up the whole spiritual or relatively spiritual complement of our earth life. Observers of spiritualistic phenomena would never have been perplexed as they have been if there were no other but the Devachan state to be dealt with. For once in Devachan there is very little opportunity for communication between a spirit, then wholly absorbed in its own sensations and practically oblivious of the earth left behind, and its former friends still living. Whether gone before or yet remaining on earth, those friends, if the bond of affection has been sufficiently strong, will be with the happy spirit still to all intents and purposes for him, and as happy, blissful, innocent, as the disembodied dreamer himself. It is possible, however, for yet living persons to have visions of Devachan, though such visions are rare, and only one-sided, the entities in Devachan, sighted by the earthly clairvoyant, being quite unconscious themselves of undergoing such observation. The spirit of the clairvoyant ascends into the condition of Devachan in such rare visions, and thus becomes subject to the vivid delusions of that existence. It is under the impression that the spirits, with which it is in Devachanic bonds of sympathy, have come down to visit earth and itself, while the converse operation has really taken place. The clairvoyant’s spirit has been raised towards those in Devachan. Thus many of the subjective spiritual communications — most of them when the sensitives are pure-minded — are real, though it is most difficult for the uninitiated medium to fix in his mind the true and correct pictures of what he sees and hears. In the same way some of the phenomena called psychography (though more rarely) are also real. The spirit of the sensitive getting odylized, so to say, by the aura of the spirit in the Devachan becomes for a few minutes that departed personality, and writes in the handwriting the latter, in his language and in his thoughts as they were during his lifetime. The two spirits become blended in one, and the preponderances of one over the other during such phenomena determines the preponderance of personality in the characteristics exhibited. Thus, it may incidentally be observed, what is called rapport, is, in plain fact, an identity of molecular vibration between the astral part of the incarnate medium and the astral part of the disincarnate personality.

As already indicated, and as the common sense of the matter would show, there are great varieties of states in Devachan, and each personality drops into its befitting place there. Thence, consequently, he emerges in his befitting place in the world of causes, this earth or another, as the case may be, when his time for re-birth comes. Coupled with survival of the affinities, comprehensively described as Karma, the affinities both for good and evil engendered by the previous life, this process will be seen to accomplish nothing less than an explanation of the problem which has always been regarded as so incomprehensible — the inequalities of life. The conditions on which we enter life are the consequences of the use we have made of our last set of conditions. They do not impede the development of fresh Karma, whatever they may be, for this will be generated by the use we make of them in turn. Nor is it to be supposed that every event of a current life which bestows joy or sorrow is old Karma bearing fruit. Many may be the immediate consequences of acts in the life to which they belong — ready-money transactions with Nature, so to speak, of which it may be hardly necessary to make any entry in her books. But the great inequality of life, as regards the start in it which different human beings make, is a manifest consequence of old Karma, the infinite varieties of which always keep up a constant supply of recruits for all the manifold varieties of human condition.

It must not be supposed that the real Ego slips instantaneously at death from the earth-life and its entanglements into the Devachanic condition. When the division or purification of the fifth principle has been accomplished in Kama loca by the contending attractions of the fourth and sixth principles, the real Ego passes into a period of unconscious gestation. I have spoken already of the way in which the Devachanic life is itself a process of growth, maturity, and decline; but the analogies of earth are even more closely preserved. There is a spiritual ante-natal state at the entrance to spiritual life, there is a similar and equally unconscious physical state at the entrance to objective life. And this period, in different cases, may be of very different duration — from a few moments to immense periods of years. When a man dies, his soul or fifth principle becomes unconscious and loses all remembrance of things internal as well as external. Whether his stay in Kama loca has to last but a few moments, hours, days, weeks, months or years; whether he dies a natural or a violent death; whether this occurs in youth or age, and whether the Ego has been good, bad, or indifferent, his consciousness leaves him as suddenly as the flame leaves the wick when it is blown out. When life has retired from the last particle of the brain matter, his perceptive faculties become extinct forever, and his spiritual powers of cognition and volition become for the time being as extinct as the others. His Mayavi-rupa may be thrown into objectivity as in the case of apparitions after death, but unless it is projected by a conscious or intense desire to see or appear to some one shooting through the dying brain, the apparition will be simply automatic. The revival of consciousness in Kama loca is obviously, from what has been already said, a phenomenon that depends on the characteristic of the principles passing, unconsciously at the moment, out of the dying body. It may become tolerably complete under circumstances by no means to be desired, or it may be obliterated by a rapid passage into the gestation state leading to Devachan. This gestation state may be of very long duration in proportion to the Ego’s spiritual stamina, and Devachan accounts for the remainder of the period between death and the next physical rebirth. The whole period is, of course, of varying length in the case of different persons, but re-birth in less than fifteen hundred years is spoken of as almost impossible, while the stay in Devachan which rewards a very rich Karma is sometimes said to extend to enormous periods.



1 The lowest states of Devachan interchain with those of Avitchi.
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CHAPTER 6: Kâma Loca

THE statements already made in reference to the destiny of the higher human principles at death will pave the way for a comprehension of the circumstances in which the inferior remnant of these principles finds itself, after the real Ego has passed either into the Devachanic state or that unconscious intervening period of preparation therefore which corresponds to physical gestation. The sphere in which such remnants remain for a time is known to occult science as Kama loca, the region of desire, not the region in which desire is developed to any abnormal degree of intensity as compared with desire as it attaches to earth-life, but the sphere in which that sensation of desire, which is a part of the earth-life, is capable of surviving.

It will be obvious, from what has been said about Devachan, that a large part of the recollections which accumulate round the human Ego during life are incompatible in their nature with the pure subjective existence to which the real, durable, spiritual Ego passes; but they are not necessarily on that account extinguished or annihilated out of existence. They inhere in certain molecules of those finer (but not finest) principles, which escape from the body at death; and just as dissolution separates what is loosely called the soul from the body, so also it provokes a further separation between the constituent elements of the soul. So much of the fifth principle, or human soul, which is in its nature assimilable with, or has gravitated upwards toward, the sixth principle, the spiritual soul, passes with the germ of that divine soul into the superior region, or state of Devachan, in which it separates itself almost completely from the attractions of the earth; quite completely, as far as its own spiritual course is concerned, though it still has certain affinities with the spiritual aspirations emanating from the earth, and may sometimes draw these towards itself. But the animal soul, or fourth principle (the element of will and desire as associated with objective existence), has no upward attraction, and no more passes away from the earth than the particles of the body consigned to the grave. It is not in the grave, however, that this fourth principle can be put away.

It is not spiritual in its nature or affinities, but it is not physical in its nature. In its affinities it is physical, and hence the result. It remains within the actual physical local attraction of the earth — in the earth’s atmosphere — or, since it is not the gases of the atmosphere that are specially to be considered in connection with the problem in hand, let us say, in Kama loca.

And with the fourth principle a large part (as regards most of mankind unfortunately, though a part very variable in its relative magnitude) inevitably remains. There are plenty of attributes which the ordinary composite human being exhibits, many ardent feelings, desires, and acts, floods of recollections, which even if not concerned with a life as ardent perhaps as those which have to do with the higher aspirations, are nevertheless essentially belonging to the physical life, which take time to die. They remain behind in association with the fourth principle, which is altogether of the earthly perishable nature, and disperse or fade out, or are absorbed into the respective universal principles to which they belong, just as the body is absorbed into the earth, in progress of time, and rapidly or slowly in proportion to the tenacity of their substance.
And where, meanwhile, is the consciousness of the individual who has died or dissolved? Assuredly in Devachan; but a difficulty presents itself to the mind untrained in occult science, from the fact that a semblance of consciousness inheres in the astral portion the fourth principle with a portion of the fifth — which remains behind in Kama loca. The individual consciousness, it is argued, cannot be in two places at once. But first of all, to a certain extent, it can. As may be perceived presently, it is a mistake to speak of consciousness, as we understand the feeling in life, attaching to the astral shell or remnant; but nevertheless a certain spurious semblance may be reawakened in that shell, without having any connection with the real consciousness all the while growing in strength and vitality in the spiritual sphere. There is no power on the part of the shell of taking in and assimilating new ideas and initiating courses of action on the basis of those new ideas. But there is in the shell a survival of volitional impulses imparted to it during life. The fourth principle is the instrument of volition though not volition itself, and impulses imparted to it during life by the higher principles may run their course and produce results almost indistinguishable for careless observers from those which would ensue were the four higher principles really all united as in life.

It, the fourth principle, is the receptacle or vehicle during life of that essentially moral consciousness which cannot suit itself to conditions of permanent existence; but the consciousness even of the lower principles during life is a very different thing from the vaporous fleeting and uncertain consciousness, which continues to inhere in them when that which really is the life, the overshadowing of them, or vitalization of them by the infusion of the spirit, has ceased as far as they are concerned. Language cannot render all the facets of a many-sided idea intelligible at once any more than a plain drawing can show all sides of a solid object at once.
And at the first glance different drawings of the same object from different points of view may seem so unlike as to be unrecognizable as the same; but none the less, by the time they are put together in the mind, will their diversities be seen to harmonize. So with these subtle attributes of the invisible principles of man — no treatise can do more than discuss their different aspects separately. The various views suggested must mingle in the reader’s mind before the complete conception corresponds to the realities of Nature.

In life the fourth principle is the seat of will and desire, but it is not will itself. It must be alive, in union with the overshadowing spirit, or “one life,” to be thus the agent of that very elevated function of life — will, in its sublime potency. As already mentioned, the Sanskrit names of the higher principles connote the idea that they are vehicles of the one life. Not that the one life is a separable molecular principle itself, it is the union of all —the influences of the spirit; but in truth the idea is too subtle for language, perhaps for intellect itself. Its manifestation in the present case, however, is apparent enough. Whatever the willing fourth principle may be when alive, it is no longer capable of active will when dead. But then, under certain abnormal conditions, it may partially recover life for a time; and this fact it is which explains many, though by no means all, of the phenomena of spiritualistic mediumship. The ”elementary,” be it remembered — as the astral shell has generally been called in former occult writings — is liable to be galvanized for a time in the mediumistic current into a state of consciousness and life which may be suggested by the first condition of a person who carried into a strange room in a state of insensibility during illness, wakes up feeble, confused in mind, gazing about with a blank feeling of bewilderment, taking in impressions, hearing words addressed to him and answering vaguely. Such a state of consciousness is unassociated with the notions of past or future. It is an automatic consciousness, derived from the medium. A medium, be it remembered, is a person whose principles are loosely united and susceptible of being borrowed by other beings, or floating principles, having an attraction for some of them or some part of them. Now what happens in the case of a shell drawn into the neighborhood of a person so constituted? Suppose the person from whom the shell has been cast died with some strong unsatisfied desire, not necessarily of an unholy sort, but connected entirely with the earth-life, a desire, for example, to communicate some fact to a still living person. Certainly the shell does not go about in Kama Loca with a persistent intelligent conscious purpose of communicating that fact; but, amongst others, the volitional impulse to do this has been infused into the fourth principle, and while the molecules of that principle remain in association, and that may be for many years, they only need a partial galvanization into life again to become operative in the direction of the original impulse. Such a shell comes into contact with a medium (not so dissimilar in nature from the person who has died as to render a rapport impossible), and something from the fifth principle of the medium associates itself with the wandering fourth principle and sets the original impulse to work. So much consciousness and so much intelligence as may be required to guide the fourth principle in the use of the immediate means of communication at hand — a slate and pencil, or a table to rap upon — are borrowed from the medium, and then the message given may be the message which the dead person originally ordered his fourth principle to give, so to speak, but which the shell has never till then had an opportunity of giving. It may be argued that the production of writing on a closed slate, or of raps on a table without the use of a knuckle or a stick, is itself a feat of a marvelous nature, bespeaking a knowledge on the part of the communicating intelligence of powers of Nature we in physical life know nothing about. But the shell is itself in the astral world; in the realm of such powers. A phenomenal manifestation is its natural mode of dealing, it is no more conscious of producing a wonderful result by the use of new powers acquired in a higher sphere of existence than we are conscious of the forces by which in life the volitional impulse is communicable to nerves and muscles.

But, it may be objected, the “communicating intelligence” at a spiritual seance will constantly perform remarkable feats for no other than their own sake, to exhibit the power over natural forces which it possesses. The reader will please remember, however, that occult science is very far from saying that all the phenomena of spiritualism are traceable to one class of agents. Hitherto in this treatise little has been said of the “elementals,” those semi-intelligent creatures of the astral light who belong to a wholly different kingdom of Nature from ourselves. Nor is it possible at present to enlarge upon their attributes for the simple and obvious reason, that knowledge concerning the elementals, detailed knowledge on that subject, and in regard to the way they work, is scrupulously withheld by the adepts of occultism. To possess such knowledge is to wield power, and the whole motive of the great secrecy in which occult science is shrouded turns upon the danger of conferring powers upon people who have not, first of all, by undergoing the training of initiates, given moral guarantees of their trustworthiness. It is by command over the elementals that some of the greatest physical feats of adeptship are accomplished; and it is by the spontaneous playful acts of the elementals that the greatest physical phenomena of the seance room are brought about. So also with almost all Indian Fakirs and Yogis of the lower class who have power of producing phenomenal results. By some means, by a scrap of inherited occult teaching, most likely, they have come into possession of a morsel of occult science. Not necessarily that they understand the action of the forces they employ any more than an Indian servant in a telegraph office, taught how to mix the ingredients of the liquid used in a galvanic battery, understands the theory of electric science. He can perform the one trick he has been taught; and so with the inferior Yogi. He has got influence over certain elementals, and can work certain wonders.

Returning to a consideration of the ex-human shells in Kama loca, it may be argued that their behavior in spiritual seance is not covered by the theory that they have had some message to deliver from their late master, and have availed themselves of the mediumship present to deliver it. Apart altogether from phenomena that may be put aside as elemental pranks, we sometimes encounter a continuity of intelligence on the part of the elementary or shell that bespeaks much more than the survival of impulses from the former life. Quite so; but with portions of the medium’s fifth principle conveyed into it the fourth principle is once more an instrument in the hands of a master. With a medium entranced so that the energies of his fifth principle are conveyed into the wandering shell to a very large extent, the result is that there is a very tolerable revival of consciousness in the shell for the time being, as regards the given moment. But what is the nature of such consciousness, after all? Nothing more, really, than a reflected light. Memory is one thing, and perceptive faculties quite another. A madman may remember very clearly some portions of his past life; yet he is unable to perceive anything in its true light, for the higher portion of his Manas (fifth) and Buddhi (sixth) principles are paralyzed in him and have left him. Could an animal — a dog, for instance — explain himself, he could prove that his memory, in direct relation to his Canine personality, is as fresh as his master’s; nevertheless, his memory and instinct cannot be called perceptive faculties.

Once that a shell is in the aura of a medium, he will perceive, clearly enough, whatever he can perceive through the borrowed principles of the medium, and through organs in magnetic sympathy therewith; but this will not carry him beyond the range of the perceptive faculties of the medium, or of someone else present in the circle. Hence the often rational and sometimes highly intelligent answers he may give, and hence, also, his invariably complete oblivion of all things unknown to that medium or circle, or not found in the lower recollections of his late personality, galvanized afresh by the influences under which he is placed. The shell of a highly intelligent, learned, but utterly unspiritual man, who died a natural death, will last longer than those of weaker temperament, and (the shadow of his own memory helping) he may deliver, through trance-speakers, orations of no contemptible kind. But these will never be found to relate to anything beyond the subjects he thought much and earnestly of during life, nor will any word ever fall from him indicating a real advance of knowledge.

It will easily be seen that a shell, drawn into the mediumistic current, and getting into rapport with the medium’s fifth principle, is not by any means sure to be animated with a consciousness (even for what such consciousnesses are worth) identical with the personality of the dead person from whose higher principles it was shed. It is just as likely to reflect some quite different personality, caught from the suggestions of that medium’s mind. In this personality it will perhaps remain and answer for a time; then some new current of thought, thrown into the minds of the people present, will find its echo in the fleeting impressions of the elementary, and his sense of identity will begin to waver; for a little while it flickers over two or three conjectures, and ends by going out altogether for a time. The shell is once more sleeping in the astral light, and may be unconsciously wafted in a few moments to the other ends of the earth.

Besides the ordinary elementary or shell of the kind just described, Kama loca is the abode of another class of astral entities, which must be taken into account if we desire to comprehend the various conditions under which human creatures may pass from this life to others. So far we have been examining the normal course of events, when people die in a natural manner. But an abnormal death will lead to abnormal consequences. Thus, in the case of persons committing suicide, and in that of persons killed by sudden accident, results ensue which differ widely from those following natural deaths. A thoughtful consideration of such cases must show, indeed, that in a world governed by rule and law, by affinities working out their regular effects in that deliberate way which Nature favors, the case of a person dying a sudden death at a time when all his principles are firmly united, and ready to hold together for twenty, forty, or sixty years, whatever the natural remainder of his life would be, must surely be something different from that of a person who, by natural processes of decay, finds himself, when the vital machine stops, readily separable into his various principles, each prepared to travel its separate way. Nature, always fertile in analogies, at once illustrates the idea by showing us a ripe and an unripe fruit. From out of the first the inner stone will come away as cleanly and easily as a hand from a glove, while from the unripe fruit the stone can only be torn with difficulty, half the pulp clinging to its surface. Now, in the case of the sudden accidental death or of the suicide, the stone has to be torn from the unripe fruit. There is no question here about the moral blame which may attach to the act of suicide. Probably, in the majority of cases, such moral blame does attach to it, but that is a question of Karma which will follow the person concerned into the next re-birth, like any other Karma, and has nothing to do with the immediate difficulty such person may find in getting himself thoroughly and wholesomely dead. This difficulty is manifestly just the same whether a person kills himself, or is killed in the heroic discharge of duty, or dies the victim of an accident over which he has no control whatever.

As an ordinary rule, when a person dies, the long account of Karma naturally closes itself; that is to say, the complicated set of affinities which have been set up during life in the first durable principle, the fifth is no longer susceptible of extension. The balance-sheet, so to speak, is made out afterwards, when the time comes for the next objective birth; or, in other words, the affinities long dormant in Devachan, by reason of the absence there of any scope for their action, assert themselves as soon as they come in contact once more with physical existence. But the fifth principle, in which these affinities are grown, cannot be separated in the case of the person dying prematurely from the earthly principle — the fourth. The elementary, therefore, which finds itself in Kama loca, on its violent expulsion from the body, is not a mere shell — it is the person himself who was lately alive minus nothing but the body. In the true sense of the word he is not dead at all.

Certainly elementaries of this kind may communicate very effectually at spiritual seances at their own heavy cost; for they are unfortunately able, by reason of the completeness of their astral constitution, to go on generating Karma, to assuage their thirst for life at the unwholesome spring of mediumship. If they were of a very material sensual type in life, the enjoyments they will seek will be of a kind the indulgence of which in their disembodied state may readily be conceived even more prejudicial to their Karma than similar indulgences would have been in life. In such cases facilis est descensus. Cut off in the full flush of earthly passions which bind them to familiar scenes, they are enticed by the opportunity which mediums afford for the gratification of these vicariously. They become the incubi and succubi of mediæval writing, demons of thirst and gluttony, provoking their victims to crime. A brief essay on this subject, which I wrote last year, and from which I have reproduced some of the sentences just given, appeared in “The Theosophist,” with a note, the authenticity of which I have reason to trust, and the tenor of which was as follows:

“The variety of states after death is greater if possible than the variety of human lives upon this earth. The victims of accident do not generally become earth walkers, only those falling into the current of attraction who die full of some engrossing earthly passion, the selish who have never given a thought to the welfare of others. Overtaken by death in the consummation, whether real or imaginary, of acme master passion of their lives, the desire remaining unsatisfied, even after a full realization, and they still craving for more, such personalities can never pass beyond the earth attraction to wait for the hour of deliverance in happy ignorance and full oblivion. Among the suicides, those to whom the above statement about provoking their victims to crime, etc., applies, are that class who commit the act in consequence of a crime to escape the penalty of human law or their own remorse. Natural law cannot be broken with impunity; the inexorable causal relation between action and result has its full sway only in the world of effects, the Kama loca, and every case is met there by an adequate punishment, and in a thousand ways, that would require volumes even to describe them superficially.”

Those who “wait for the hour of deliverance in happy ignorance and full oblivion” are of course such victims of accident as have already on earth engendered pure and elevated affinities, and after death are as much beyond the reach of temptation in the shape of mediumistic currents as they would have been inaccessible in life to common incitements to crime.

Entities of another kind occasionally to be found in Kama loca have yet to be considered. We have followed the higher principles of persons recently dead, observing the separation of the astral dross from the spiritually durable portion, that spiritually durable portion being either holy or Satanic in its nature, and provided for in Devachan or Avitchi accordingly. We have examined the nature of the elementary shell cast off and preserving for a time a deceptive resemblance to a true entity; we have paid attention also to the exceptional cases of real four principled beings in Kama loca who are the victims of accident or suicide. But what happens to a personality which has absolutely no atom of spirituality, no trace of spiritual affinity in it fifth principle, either of the good or bad sort? Clearly in such a case there is nothing for the sixth principle to attract to itself. Or, in other words, such a personality has already lost its sixth principle by the time death comes. But Kama loca is no more a sphere of existence for such a personality than the subjective world; Kama loca may be permanently inhabited by astral beings, by elementals, but can only be an antechamber to some other state for human beings. In the case imagined, the surviving personality is promptly drawn into the current of its future destinies, and these have nothing to do with this earth’s atmosphere or with Devachan, but with that “eighth sphere” of which occasional mention will be found in older occult writings. It will have been unintelligible to ordinary readers hitherto why it was called the “eighth “sphere, but since the explanations now given out for the first time, of the sevenfold constitution of our planetary system, the meaning will be clear enough. The spheres of the cyclic process of evolution are seven in number, but there is an eighth in connection with our earth, our earth being, it will be remembered, the turning-point in the cyclic chain, and this eighth sphere is out of circuit, a cul de sac, and the bourne from which it may be truly said no traveler returns.

It will readily be guessed that the only sphere connected with our planetary chain, which is lower than our own in the scale, having spirit at the top and matter at the bottom, must itself be no less visible to the eye and to optical instruments than the earth itself, and as the duties which this sphere has to perform in our planetary system are immediately associated with this earth, there is not much mystery left now in the riddle of the eighth sphere, nor as to the place in the sky where it may be sought. The conditions of existence there, however, are topics on which the adepts are very reserved in their communications to uninitiated pupils, and concerning these I have for the present no further information to give.

One statement though is definitely made, viz., that such a total degradation of a personality as may suffice to draw it, after death, into the attraction of the eighth sphere, is of very rare occurrence. From the vast majority of lives there is something which the higher principles may draw to themselves, something to redeem the page of existence just passed from total destruction: and here it must be remembered that the recollections of life in Devachan, very vivid as they are, as far as they go, touch only those episodes in life which are productive of the elevated sort of happiness of which alone Devachan is qualified to take cognizance; whereas the life from which for the time being the cream is thus skimmed may come to be remembered eventually in all its details quite fully. That complete remembrance is only achieved by the individual at the threshold of a far more exalted spiritual state than that which we are now concerned with, and which is attained far later on in the progress of the vast cycles of evolution. Each one of the long series of lives that will have been passed through will then be, as it were, a page in a book to which the possessor can turn back at pleasure, even though many such pages will then seem to him, most likely, very dull reading, and will not be frequently referred to. It is this revival eventually of recollection concerning all the long-forgotten personalities that is really meant by the doctrine of the Resurrection. But we have no time at present to stop and unravel the enigmas of symbolism as bearing upon the teachings at present under conveyance to the reader. It may be worth while to do this as a separate undertaking at a later period; but meanwhile, to revert to the narrative of how the facts stand, it may be explained that in the whole book of pages, when at last the “resurrection” has been accomplished, there will be no entirely infamous pages; for even if any given spiritual individuality has occasionally, during its passage through this world, been linked with personalities so deplorably and desperately degraded that they have passed completely into the attraction of the lower vortex, that spiritual individuality in such cases will have retained in its own affinities no trace or taint of them. Those pages will, as it were, have been cleanly torn out from the book. And, as at the end of the struggle, after crossing the Kama loca, the spiritual individuality will have passed into the unconscious gestation state from which, skipping the Devachan state, it will be directly (though not immediately in time) re-born into its next life of objective activity, all the self-consciousness connected with that existence will have passed into the lower world, there eventually to “perish everlastingly;” an expression of which, as of so many more, modern theology has proved a faithless custodian, making pure nonsense out of psycho-scientific facts.
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CHAPTER 7: The Human Tide-Wave

A GENERAL account has already been given of the way in which the great evolutionary life-wave sweeps round and round the seven worlds which compose the planetary chain of which our earth is a part. Further assistance may now be offered, with the view of expanding this general idea into a fuller comprehension of the processes to which it relates. And no one additional chapter of the great story will do more towards rendering its character intelligible than an explanation of certain phenomena connected with the progress of world, that may be conveniently called obscurations.

Students of occult-philosophy who enter on that pursuit with minds already abundantly furnished in other ways are very liable to misinterpret its earlier statements. Everything cannot be said at once, and the first broad explanations are apt to suggest conceptions in regard to details which are most likely to be erroneous with the most active-minded and intelligent thinkers. Such readers are not content with shadowy outlines even for a moment. Imagination fills in the picture, and if its work is undisturbed for any length of time, the author of it will be surprised afterwards to find that later information is incompatible with that which he had came to regard as having been distinctly taught in the beginning. Now in this treatise the writer’s effort is to convey the information in such a way that hasty weed-growths of the mind may be prevented as far as possible; but in this very effort it is necessary sometimes to run on quickly in advance, leaving some details, even very important details, to be picked up during a second journey over the old ground. So now the reader must be good enough to go back to the explanation given in Chapter III. of the evolutionary progress through the whole planetary chain.

Some few words were said then concerning the manner in which the life impulse passed on from planet to planet in “rushes or gushes; not by an even continuous flow.” Now the course of evolution in its earlier stages is so far continuous that the preparation of several planets for the final tidal-wave of humanity may be going on simultaneously. Indeed, the preparation of all the seven planets may, at one stage of the proceedings, be going on simultaneously, but the important point to remember is that the main wave of evolution — the foremost growing wave — cannot be in more than one place at a time. The process goes on in the way which may now be described, and which the reader may be the better able to follow, if he constructs either on paper or in his own mind a diagram consisting of seven circles (representing the worlds) arranged in a ring. Calling them A, B, C, etc., it will be observed from what has been already stated that circle (or globe) D stands for our earth. Now the kingdoms of Nature as known to occultists, be it remembered, are seven in number; three having to do with astral and elementary forces, preceding the grosser material kingdoms in the order of their development. Kingdom 1 evolves on globe A, and passes on to B, as kingdom 2 begins to evolve on A. Carry out this system and of course it will be seen that kingdom 1 is evolving on globe G, while kingdom 7, the Human kingdom, is evolving on globe A. But now what happens as kingdom 7 passes on to globe B? There is no eighth kingdom to engage the activities of globe A. The great processes of evolution have culminated in the final tidal-wave of humanity, which, as it sweeps on, leaves a temporary lethargy of Nature behind. When the life-wave goes on to B, in fact, globe A passes for the time into a state of obscuration. This state is not one of decay, dissolution, or anything that can be properly called death. Decay itself, though its aspect is apt to mislead the mind, is a condition of activity in a certain direction, this consideration affording a clue to the meaning of a great deal which is otherwise meaningless in that part of Hindu mythology which relates to the deities presiding over destruction. The obscuration of a world is a total suspension of its activity; this does not mean that the moment the last human monad passes on from any given world that world is paralyzed by any convulsion, or subsides into the enchanted trance of a sleeping palace. The animal and vegetable life goes on as before, for a time, but its character begins to recede instead of advancing. The great life-wave has left it, and the animal and vegetable kingdoms gradually return to the condition in which they were found when the great life-wave first reached them. Enormous periods of time are available for this slow process by which the obscured world settles into sleep, for it will be seen that obscuration in each case lasts six times1 as long as the period of each world’s occupation by the human life-wave. That is to say, the process which is accomplished as above described in connection with the passage of the life-wave from globe A to globe B is repeated all along the chain. When the wave passes to C, B is left in obscuration as well as A. Then D receives the life-wave, and A, B, C are in obscuration. When the wave reaches G, all the preceding six worlds are in obscuration. Meanwhile the life-wave passes on in a certain regular progression, the symmetrical character of which is very satisfactory to scientific instincts. The reader will be prepared to pick up the idea at once, in view of the explanations already given of the way in which humanity evolves through seven great races, during each round period on a planet; that is to say, during the occupation of such planet by the tidal wave of life. The fourth race is obviously the middle race of the series. As soon as this middle point is turned, and the evolution of the fifth race on any given planet begins, the preparation for humanity begins on the next. The evolution of the fifth race on E, for example, is commensurate with the evolution, or rather with the revival, of the mineral kingdom on D, and so on. That is to say, the evolution of the sixth race on D coincides with the revival of the vegetable kingdom on E; the seventh race on D with the revival of the animal kingdom on E; and then when the last monads of the seventh race on D have passed into the subjective state or world of effects, the human period on B begins, and the first race begins its development there. Meanwhile the twilight period on the world preceding D has been deepening into the night of obscuration in the same progressive way, and obscuration there definitely sets in when the human period on D passes its half-way point. But just as the heart of a man beats and respiration continues, no matter how profound his sleep, there are processes of vital action which go on in the resting world even during the most profound depths of its repose. And these preserve, in view of the next return of the human wave, the results of the evolution that preceded its first arrival. Recovery for the re-awaking planet is a larger process than its subsidence into rest, for it has to attain a higher degree of perfection against the return of the human life-wave than that at which it was left when the wave last went onward from its shore. But with every new beginning, Nature is infused with a vigor of its own, — the freshness of a morning, — and the later obscuration period, which is a time of preparation and hopefulness as it were, invests evolution itself with a new momentum. By the time the great life-wave returns, all is ready for its reception.

In the first essay on this subject it was roughly indicated that the various worlds making up our planetary chain were not all of the same materiality. Putting the conception of spirit at the north pole of the circle and that of matter at the south pole, the worlds of the descending arc vary in materiality, and spirituality, like those of the ascending arc. This variation must now be considered more attentively if the reader wishes to realize the whole processes of evolution more fully than heretofore.

Besides the earth, which is at the lowest material point, there are only two other worlds of our chain which are visible to physical eyes, — the one behind and the one in advance of it. These two worlds, as a matter of fact, are Mars and Mercury, — Mars being behind and Mercury in advance of us: Mars in a state of entire obscuration now as regards the human life-wave, Mercury just beginning to prepare for its next human period.2

The two planets of our chain that are behind Mars, and the two that are in advance of Mercury, are not composed of an order of matter which telescopes can take cognizance of. Four out of the seven are thus of an ethereal nature, which people who can only conceive matter in its earthly form will be inclined to call immaterial. But they are not really immaterial at all. They are simply in a finer state of materiality than the earth, but their finer state does not in any way defeat the uniformity of Nature’s design in regard to the methods and stages of their evolution. Within the scale of their subtle “invisibility,” the successive rounds and races of mankind pass through their stages of greater and less materiality just as on this earth; but whoever would comprehend them must comprehend this earth first, and work out their delicate phenomena by correspondential inferences. Let us return, therefore, to the consideration of the great life-wave in its aspects on this planet.

Just as the chain of worlds treated as a unity has its north and south, its spiritual and material, pole, working from spirituality down through materiality up to spirituality again, so the rounds of mankind constitute a similar series which the chain of globes itself might be taken to symbolize. In the evolution of man in fact, on any one plane as on all, there is a descending and an ascending arc; spirit, so to speak, involving itself into matter, and matter evolving itself into spirit. The lowest or most material point in the cycle thus becomes the inverted apex of physical intelligence, which is the masked manifestation of spiritual intelligence. Each round of mankind evolved on the downward arc (as each race of each round if we descend to the smaller mirror of the cosmos) must thus be more physically intelligent than its predecessor, and each in the upward arc must be invested with a more refined form of mentality commingled with greater spiritual intuitiveness. In the first round, therefore, we find man a relatively ethereal being compared even on earth with the state he has now attained here, not intellectual, but super-spiritual. Like the animal and vegetable shapes around him, he inhabits an immense but loosely organized body. In the second round he is still gigantic and ethereal, but growing firmer and more condensed in body, — a more physical man, but still less intelligent than spiritual. In the third round he has developed a perfectly concrete and compacted body, at first the form rather of a giant ape than of a true man, but with intelligence coming more and more into the ascendant. In the last half of the third round his gigantic stature decreases, his body improves in texture, and he begins to be a rational man. In the fourth round intellect, now fully developed, achieves enormous progress. The direct races with which the round begins acquire human speech as we understand it. The world teems with the results of intellectual activity and spiritual decline. At the half-way point of the fourth round here the polar point of the whole seven-world period is passed. From this point outwards the spiritual Ego begins its real struggle with body and mind to manifest its transcendental powers. In the fifth round the struggle continues, but the transcendental faculties are largely developed, though the struggle between these on the one hand with physical intellect and propensity is fiercer than ever, for the intellect of the fifth round as well as its spirituality is an advance on that of the fourth. In the sixth round humanity attains a degree of perfection both of body and soul, of intellect and spirituality, which ordinary mortals of the present epoch will not readily realize in their imaginations. The most supreme combinations of wisdom, goodness, and transcendental enlightenment which the world has ever seen or thought of will represent the ordinary type of manhood. Those faculties which now, in the rare efflorescence of a generation, enable some extraordinarily gifted persons to explore the mysteries of Nature and gather the knowledge of which some crumbs are now being offered (through these writings and in other ways) to the ordinary world, will then be the common appanage of all. As to what the seventh round will be like, the most communicative occult teachers are solemnly silent. Mankind in the seventh round will be something altogether too Godlike for mankind in the fourth round to forecast its attributes.

During the occupation of any planet by the human life-wave, each individual monad is inevitably incarnated many times. This has been partly explained. If one existence only be passed by the monad in each of the branch races through which it must pass at least once, the total number accomplished during a round period on one planet would be 343, — the third power of seven. But as a matter of fact each monad is incarnated twice in each of the branch races, and also comes in, necessarily, for some few extra incarnations as well. For reasons which are not easy for the outsider to divine, the possessors of occult knowledge are especially reluctant to give out numerical facts relating to cosmogony, though it is hard for the uninitiated to understand why these should be withheld. At present, for example, we shall not be able to state what is the actual duration in years of the round period. But a concession, which only those who have long been students of occultism by the old method will fully appreciate, has been made about the numbers with which we are immediately concerned; and this concession is valuable at all events, as it helps to elucidate an interesting fact connected with evolution, on the threshold of which we have now arrived. This fact is that while the earth, for example, is inhabited, as at present, by fourth-round humanity, by the wave of human life, that is to say, on its fourth journey round the circle of the worlds, there may be present among us some few persons, few in relation to the total number, who, properly speaking, belong to the fifth round. Now, in the sense of the term at present employed, it must not be supposed that by any miraculous process any individual unit has actually traveled round the whole chain of worlds once more often than his compeers. Under the explanations just given as to the way the tide-wave of humanity progresses, it will be seen that this is impossible. Humanity has not yet paid its fifth visit even to the planet next in advance of our own. But individual monads may outstrip their companions as regards their individual development, and so become exactly as mankind generally will be when the fifth round has been fully evolved. And this may be accomplished in two ways: A man born as an ordinary fourth-round man may, by processes of occult training, convert himself into a man having all the attributes of a fifth-round man, and so become what we may call an artificial fifth rounder. But independently of all exertions made by man in his present incarnation, a man may also be born a fifth rounder, though in the midst of fourth-round humanity by virtue of the total number of his previous incarnations.

If x stands for the normal number of incarnations which in the course of Nature a monad must go through during a round period on one planet, and y for the margin of extra incarnations into which by a strong desire for physical life he may force himself during such a period, then, as a matter of fact, 24½ (z + y) may exceed 28 x; that is to say, in 3 rounds a monad may have accomplished as many incarnations as an ordinary monad would have accomplished in four complete rounds. In less than 3 rounds the result could not have been attained, so that it is only now that we have passed the half-way point of evolution on this half-way planet that the fifth rounders are beginning to drop in.

It is not possible in the nature of things that a monad can do more than outstrip his companions by more than one round. This consideration, notwithstanding Buddha was a sixth-round man; but this fact has to do with a great mystery outside the limits of the present calculation. Enough for the moment to say that the evolution of a Buddha has to do with something more than mere incarnations within the limits of one planetary chain.

Since large numbers of lives have been recognized in the above calculations as following one another in the successive incarnations of an individual monad, it is important here, with the view of averting misconceptions, to point out that the periods of time over which these incarnations range are so great that vast intervals separate them, numerous as they are. As stated above, we cannot just now give the actual duration of the round periods. Nor, indeed, could any figures be quoted as indicating the duration of all round periods equally, for these vary in length within very wide limits. But here is a simple fact which has been definitely stated on the highest occult authority we are concerned with. The present race of humanity, the present fifth race of the fourth-round period, began to evolve about one million of years ago. Now it is not yet finished; but supposing that a million years had constituted the complete life of the race,3 how would it have been divided up for each individual monad? In a race there must be rather more than 100, and there can hardly be 120, incarnations for an individual monad. But say even there have been already 120 incarnations for monads in the present race already, and say that the average life of each incarnation was a century; even then we should only have 12,000 years out of the million spent in physical existence against 988,000 years spent in the subjective sphere, or there would be an average of more than 8,000 years between each incarnation. Certainly these intervening periods are of very variable length, but they can hardly even contract to anything less than 1,500 years, — leaving out of account, of course, the case of adepts who have placed themselves quite outside the operation of the ordinary law, — and 1,500 years, if not an impossibly short, would be a very brief, interval between two rebirths.

These calculations must be qualified by one or two considerations, however. The cases of children dying in infancy are quite unlike those of persons who attain full maturity, and for obvious reasons, that the explanations now already given will suggest. A child dying before it has lived long enough to begin to be responsible for its actions has generated no fresh Karma. The spiritual monad leaves that child’s body in just the same state in which it entered it after its last death in Devachan. It has had no opportunity of playing on its new instrument, which has been broken before even it was tuned. A re-incarnation of the monad, therefore, may take place immediately, on the line of its old attraction. But the monad so re-incarnated is not to be spiritually identified in any way with the dead child. So, in the same way, with a monad getting into the body of a born idiot. The instrument cannot be tuned, so it cannot play on that any more than on the child’s body in the first few years of childhood. But both these cases are manifest exceptions that do not alter the broad rule above laid down for all persons attaining maturity, and living their earth lives for good or evil.



1 Or we may say five times, allowing for the half period of morning which precedes and the half period of evening which follows the day of full activity.

2 It may be worth while here to remark for the benefit of people who may be disposed, from physical science reading, to object that Mercury is too near the Sun, and consequently too hot to be a suitable place of habitation for man, that in the official report of the Astronomical Department of the United States on the recent “Mount Whitney observations” statements will be found that may check too confident criticisms of occult science along that line. The results of the Mount Whitney observations on selective absorption, of solar rays showed, according to the official reporter, that it would no longer be impossible to suggest the conditions of an atmosphere which should render Mercury habitable at the one extreme of the scale, and Saturn at the other. We have no concern with Saturn at present, nor, if it were necessary to explain on occult principles the habitability of Mercury, should the task be attempted with calculations about selective absorption. The fact is that ordinary science makes at once too much and too little of the Sun, as the storehouse of force for the solar system,—too much in so far as the heat of planets has a great deal to do with another influence quite distinct from the Sun, an influence which will not be thoroughly understood till more is known than at present about the correlations of heat and magnetism, and of the magnetic, meteoric dust, with which inter-planetary space is pervaded. However, it is enough — to rebut any objection that might be raised against the explanations now in progress, from the point of view of loyal devotees of last year’s science — to point out that such objections would be already out of date. Modern science is very progressive,—this is one of its greatest merits,—but it is not a meritorious habit with modern scientists to think, at each stage of its progress that all conceptions incompatible with that stage most necessarily be absurd.

3 The complete life of a race is certainly much longer than this; but when we get to figures of this kind we are on very delicate ground, for precise periods are very profound secrets, for reasons uninitiated students (“lay chelas,” as the adepts now say, coining a new designation to meet a new condition of things) can only imperfectly divine. Calculations like those given above may be trusted literally as far as they go, but must not rashly be made the basis of others.
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CHAPTER 8: The Progress of Humanity

THE course of Nature provides, as the reader will now have seen, for the indefinite progress towards higher phases of existence of all human entities. But no less will it have been seen that by endowing these entities, as they advance, with ever-increasing faculties and by constantly enlarging the scope of their activity, Nature also furnishes each human entity with more and more decisive opportunities of choosing between good and evil. In the earlier rounds of humanity this privilege of selection is not fully developed, and responsibility of action is correspondingly incomplete. The earlier rounds of humanity, in fact, do not invest the Ego with spiritual responsibility at all, in the larger sense of the term which we are now approaching. The Devachanic periods which follow each objective existence in turn dispose fully of its merits and demerits, and the most deplorable personality which the Ego during the first half of its evolution can possibly develop is merely dropped out of the account as regards the larger undertaking, while the erring personality itself pays its relatively brief penalty, and troubles Nature no more. But the second half of the great evolutionary period is carried on on different principles. The phases of existence which are now coming into view cannot be entered upon by the Ego without positive merits of its own appropriate to the new developments in prospect; it is not enough that the now fully responsible and highly gifted being which man becomes at the great turning-point in his career should float idly on the stream of progress; he must begin to swim, if he wishes to push his way forward.

Debarred by the complexity of the subject from dealing with all its features simultaneously, our survey of Nature has so far contemplated the seven rounds of human development, which constitute the whole planetary undertaking with which we are concerned, as a continuous series throughout which it is the natural destiny of humanity in general to pass. But it will be remembered that humanity in the sixth round has been spoken of so highly developed that the sublime attributes and faculties of the highest adeptship are the common appanage of all; while in the seventh round the race has almost emerged from humanity into divinity. Now every human being in this stage of development will still be identified by an uninterrupted connection with all the personalities which have been strung upon that thread of life from the beginning of the great evolutionary process. Is it conceivable that the character of such personalities is of no consequence in the long run, and that two God-like beings might stand side by side in the seventh round, developed, the one from a long series of blameless and serviceable existences, the other from an equally long series of evil and groveling lives? That surely could not come to pass, and we have to ask now, How do we find the congruities of Nature preserved compatibly with the appointed evolution of humanity to the higher forms of existence which crown the edifice?

Just as childhood is irresponsible for its acts, the earlier races of humanity are irresponsible for theirs; but there comes the period of full growth, when the complete development of the faculties which enable the individual man to choose between good and evil, in the single life with which he is for the moment concerned, enables the continuous Ego also to make its final selection. That period — that enormous period, for Nature is in no hurry to catch its creatures in a trap in such a matter as this — is barely yet beginning, and a complete round period around the seven worlds will have to be gone through before it is over. Until the middle of the fifth period is passed on this earth, the great question — to be or not to be for the future — is not irrevocably settled. We are coming now into the possession of the faculties which render man a fully responsible being, but we have yet to employ those faculties during the maturity of our Ego-hood in the manner which shall determine the vast consequences hereafter.

It is during the first half of the fifth round that the struggle principally takes place. Till then, the ordinary course of life may be a good or a bad preparation for the struggle, but cannot fairly be described as the struggle itself. And now we have to examine the nature of the struggle, so far merely spoken of as the selection between good and evil. That is in no way an inaccurate, but it is an incomplete, definition.

The ever-recurring and ever-threatened conflict between intellect and spirituality is the phenomenon to be now examined.
The commonplace conceptions which these two words denote must of course be expanded to some extent before the occult conception is realized; for European habits of thinking are rather apt to set up in the mind an ignoble image of spirituality, as an attribute rather of the character than the mind itself, — a pale goody-goodness, born of an attachment to religious ceremonial and of devout aspirations, no matter to what whimsical notions of Heaven and Divinity in which the “spiritually-minded” person may have been brought up. Spirituality, in the occult sense, has little or nothing to do with feeling devout; it has to do with the capacity of the mind for assimilating knowledge at the fountain-head of knowledge itself — of absolute knowledge — instead of by the circuitous and laborious process of ratiocination.

The development of pure intellect, the ratiocinative faculty, has been the business of European nations for so long, and in this department of human progress they have achieved such magnificent triumphs, that nothing in occult philosophy will be less acceptable to Europeans themselves at first, and while the ideas at stake are imperfectly grasped, than the first aspect of the occult theory concerning intellect and spirituality; but this does not arise so much from the undue tendency of occult science to depreciate intellect as from the undue tendency of modern Western speculation to depreciate spirituality. Broadly speaking, so far Western philosophy has had no opportunity of appreciating spirituality; it has not been made acquainted with the range of the inner faculties of man; it has merely groped blindly in the direction of a belief that such inner faculties existed; and Kant himself, the greatest modern exponent of that idea, does little more than contend that there is such a faculty as intuition, — if we only knew how to work with it.

The process of working with it is occult science in its highest aspect, the cultivation of spirituality.
The cultivation of mere power over the forces of Nature, the investigation of some of her subtler secrets as regards the inner principles controlling physical results, is occult science in its lowest aspect, and into that lower region of its activity mere physical science may, or even must, gradually run up. But the acquisition by mere intellect — physical science in excelsis — of privileges which are the proper appanage of spirituality is one of the dangers of that struggle which decides the ultimate destiny of the human Ego. For there is one thing which intellectual processes do not help mankind to realize, and that is the nature and supreme excellence of spiritual existence. On the contrary, intellect arises out of physical causes, the perfection of the physical brain, and tends only to physical results, the perfection of material welfare. Although, as a concession to “weak brethren” and “religion,” on which it looks with good-humored contempt, modern intellect does not condemn spirituality, it certainly treats the physical human life as the only serious business with which grave men, or even earnest philanthropists, can concern themselves. But obviously, if spiritual existence, vivid subjective consciousness, really does go on for periods greater than the periods of intellectual physical existence in the ratio, as we have seen in discussing the Devachanic condition, of 80 to 1 at least, then surely man’s subjective existence is more important than his physical existence, and intellect in error, when all its efforts are bent on the amelioration of the physical existence.

These considerations show how the choice between good and evil — which has been made by the human Ego in the course of the great struggle between intellect and spirituality — is not a mere choice between ideas so plainly contrasted as wickedness and virtue. It is not so rough a question as that, — whether man be wicked or virtuous, — which must really at the final critical turning-point decide whether he shall continue to live and develop into higher phases of existence, or cease to live altogether. The truth of the matter is (if it is not imprudent at this stage of our progress to brush the surface of a new mystery) that the question, to be or not to be, is not settled by reference to the question whether a man be wicked or virtuous at all. It will plainly be seen eventually that there must be evil spirituality as well as good spirituality. So that the great question of continued existence turns altogether and of necessity on the question of spirituality, as compared with physicality. The point is not so much “shall a man live; is he good enough to be permitted to live any longer?” as “can the man live any longer in the higher levels of existence into which humanity must at last evolve?” Has he qualified himself to live by the cultivation of the durable portion of his nature? If not, he has got to the end of his tether. The destiny which must befall him is annihilation, — not necessarily suffering in a conscious existence, but that dissolution that must befall the soul which has wholly assimilated itself to matter. Into the eighth sphere of pure matter that Ego must descend which is finally convicted of unfitness to go any further in the upward spiral path around the planetary chain.

It need not be hurriedly supposed that occult philosophy considers vice and virtue of no consequence to human spiritual destinies, because it does not discover in Nature that these characteristics determine ultimate progress in evolution. No system is so pitilessly inflexible in its morality as the system which occult philosophy explores and expounds. But that which vice and virtue of themselves determine is happiness and misery, not the final problem of continued existence, beyond that immeasurably distant period, when in the progress of evolution man has got to begin being something more than man, and cannot go on along the path of progress with the help only of the relatively lower human attributes. It is true again that one can hardly imagine virtue in any decided degree to fail in engendering, in due time, the required higher attributes; but we should not be scientifically accurate in speaking of it as the cause of progress, in ultimate stages of elevation, though it may provoke the development of that which is the cause of progress.

This consideration — that ultimate progress is determined by spirituality irrespective of its moral coloring — is the great meaning of the occult doctrine that “to be immortal in good one must identify one’s self with God; to be immortal in evil, with Satan. These are the two poles of the world of souls; between these two poles vegetate and die without remembrance the useless portion of mankind.” 1 The enigma, like all occult formulas, has a lesser application (fitting he microcosm as well as the macrocosm), and in its lesser significance refers to Devachan or Avitchi, and the blank destiny of colorless personalities; but in its more important bearing it relates to the final sorting out of humanity at the middle of the great fifth round, the annihilation of the utterly unspiritual Egos and the passage onward of the others to be immortal in good or immortal in evil. Precisely the same meaning attaches to the passage in Revelation (iii. 15, 16): “I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

Spirituality, then, is not devout aspiration; it is the highest kind of intellection, that which takes cognizance of the workings of Nature by direct assimilation of the mind with her higher principles. The objection which physical intelligence will bring against this view is that the mind can cognize nothing except by observation of phenomena and reasoning thereon. That is the mistake,—it can; and the existence of occult science is the highest proof thereof. But there are hints pointing in the direction of such proof all around us if we have but the patience to examine their true bearings. It is idle to say, in face, merely for one thing, of the phenomena of clairvoyance —crude and imperfect as those have been which have pushed themselves on the attention of the world — that there are no other avenues to consciousness but those of the five senses. Certainly in the ordinary world the clairvoyant faculty is an exceedingly rare one, but it indicates the existence in man of a potential faculty, the nature of which, as inferred from its slightest manifestations, must obviously be capable in its highest development of leading to a direct assimilation of knowledge independently of observation.

One of the most embarrassing difficulties that beset the present attempt to translate the esoteric doctrine into plain language is due really to the fact that spiritual perceptiveness, apart from all ordinary processes by which knowledge is acquired, is a great and grand possibility of human nature. It is by that method in the regular course of occult training that adepts impart instruction to their pupils. They awaken the dormant sense in the pupil, and through this they imbue his mind with a knowledge that such and such a doctrine is the real truth. The whole scheme of evolution, which the foregoing chapters have portrayed, infiltrates into the regular chela’s mind by reason of the fact that he is made to see the process taking place by clairvoyant vision. There are no words used in his instruction at all. And adepts themselves, to whom the facts and processes at Nature are familiar as our five fingers to us, find it difficult to explain in a treatise which they cannot illustrate for us, by producing mental pictures in our dormant sixth sense, the complex anatomy of the planetary system.

Certainly it is not to be expected that mankind as yet should be generally conscious of possessing the sixth sense, for the day of its activity has not yet come. It has been already stated that each round in turn is devoted to the perfection in man of the corresponding principle in its numerical order, and to its preparation for assimilation with the next. The earlier rounds have been described as concerned with man in a shadowy, loosely organized, unintelligent form. The first principle of all, the body, was developed, but it was merely growing used to vitality, and was unlike anything we can now picture to ourselves. The fourth round, in which we are now engaged, is the round in which the fourth principle, will, desire, is fully developed, and in which it is engaged in assimilating itself with the fifth principle, reason, intelligence. In the fifth round, the completely developed reason, intellect, or soul, in which the Ego then resides, must assimilate itself to the sixth principle, spirituality, or give up the business of existence altogether.

All readers of Buddhist literature are familiar with the constant references made there to the Arhat’s union of his soul with God. This, in other words, is the premature development of his sixth principle. He forces himself right up through all the obstacles which impede such an operation in the case of a fourth-round man, into that stage of evolution which awaits the rest of humanity — or rather so much of humanity as may reach it in the ordinary course of Nature — in the latter part of the fifth round. And in doing this, it will be observed, he tides himself right over the great period of danger, the middle of the fifth round. That is the stupendous achievement of the adept as regards his own personal interests. He has reached the further shore of the sea in which so many of mankind will perish.
He waits there in a contentment which people cannot even realize without some glimmerings of spirituality — of the sixth sense — themselves for the arrival there of his future companions. He does not wait in his physical body, let me hasten to add, to avoid misconstruction, but when at last privileged to resign this, in a spiritual condition, which it would be foolish to attempt to describe, while even the Devachanic states of ordinary humanity are themselves almost beyond the reach of imaginations untrained in spiritual science.

But, returning to the ordinary course of humanity and the growth into sixth-round people of men and women, who do not become adepts at any premature stage of their career, it will be observed that this is the ordinary course of Nature in one sense of the expression; but so also is it the ordinary course of Nature for every grain of corn that is developed to fall into appropriate soil, and grow up into an ear of corn itself. All the same a great many grains do nothing of the sort, and a great many human Egos will never pass through the trials of the fifth round. The final effort of Nature in evolving man is to evolve from him a being unmeasurably higher to be a conscious agent, and what is ordinarily meant by a creative principle in Nature herself ultimately. The first achievement is to evolve free-will, and the next to perpetuate that free-will by inducing it to unite itself with the final purpose of Nature, which is good. In the course of such an operation it is inevitable that a great deal of the free-will evolved should turn to evil, and after producing temporary suffering be dispersed and annihilated. More than this, the final purpose can only be achieved by a profuse expenditure of material; and just as this goes on in the lower stages of evolution, where a thousand seeds are thrown off by a vegetable for every one that ultimately fructifies into a new plant, so are the god-like germs of Will, sown one in each man’s breast, in abundance like the seeds blown about in the wind. Is the justice of Nature to be impugned by reason of the fact that many of these germs will perish? Such an idea could only rise in a mind that will not realize the room there is in Nature for the growth of every germ which chooses to grow, and to the extent it chooses to grow, be that extent great or small. If it seems to any one horrible that an “immortal soul” should perish, under any circumstances, that impression can only be due to the pernicious habit of regarding everything as eternity, which is not this microscopic life. There is room in the subjective spheres and time in the catenary manvantara, before we even approach the Dhyan Chohan, or god-like period, for more than the ordinary brain has ever yet conceived of immortality. Every good deed and elevated impulse that every man or woman ever did or felt must reverberate through æons of spiritual existence, whether the human entity concerned proves able or not to expand into the sublime and stupendous development of the seventh round. And it is out of the causes generated in one of our brief lives on earth that exoteric speculation conceives itself capable of constructing eternal results! Out of such a seven or eight hundredth part of our objective life on earth during the present stay here of the evolutionary life-wave, we are to expect Nature to discern sufficient reason for deciding upon our whole subsequent career. In truth, Nature will make such a large return for a comparatively small expenditure of human will-power in the right direction that, extravagant as the expectation just stated may appear, and extravagant as it is applied to ordinary lives, one brief existence may sometimes suffice to anticipate the growth of milliards of years. The adept may, in the one earth-life,2 achieve so much advancement that his subsequent growth is certain, and merely a matter of time; but then the seed germ which produces an adept in our life, must be very perfect to begin with, and the early conditions of its growth favorable, and withal the effort on the part of the man himself, life-long and far more concentrated, more intense, more arduous, than it is possible for the uninitiated outsider to realize. In ordinary cases, the life which is divided between material enjoyment and spiritual aspiration — however sincere and beautiful the latter — can only be productive of a correspondingly duplex result, of a spiritual reward in Devachan, of a new birth on earth. The manner in which the adept gets above the necessity of such a new birth is perfectly scientific and simple, be it observed, though it sounds like a theological mystery when expounded in exoteric writings by reference to Karma and Skandhas, Trishna, and Tanha, and so forth. The next earth-life is as much a consequence of affinities engendered by the fifth principle, the continuous human soul, as the Devachanic experiences which come first are the growth of the thoughts and aspirations of an elevated character, which the person concerned has created during life. That is to say, the affinities engendered in ordinary cases are partly material, partly spiritual. Therefore they start the soul on its entrance into the world of effects with a double set of attractions inhering in it; one set producing the subjective consequences of its Devachanic life, the other set asserting themselves at the close of that life, and carrying the soul back again into reincarnation. But if the person during his objective life absolutely develops no affinities for material existence, starts his soul at death with all its attractions tending one way in the direction of spirituality, and none at all drawing it back to objective life, it does not come back it mounts into a condition of spirituality, corresponding to the intensity of the attractions or affinities in that direction, and the other thread of connection is cut off.

Now this explanation does not entirely cover the whole position, because the adept himself, no matter how high, does return to incarnation eventually, after the rest of mankind have passed across the great dividing period in the middle of the fifth round. Until the exaltation of Planetary Spirit-hood is reached, the highest human soul must have a certain affinity for earth still, though not the earth-life of physical enjoyments and passions that we are going through. But the important point to realize in regard to the spiritual consequences of earthly life is that, in so large a majority of cases that the abnormal few need not be talked about, the sense of justice in regard to the destiny of good men is amply satisfied by the course of Nature step by step as time advances. The spirit-life is ever at hand to receive, refresh, and restore the soul after the struggles, achievements, or sufferings of incarnation. And more than this, reserving the question about eternity, Nature, in the inter-cyclic periods at the apex of each round, provides for all mankind, except those unfortunate failures who have persistently adhered to the path of evil, great intervals of spiritual blessedness, far longer and more exalted in their character than the Devachanic periods of each separate life. Nature, in fact, is inconceivably liberal and patient to each and all her candidates for the final examination during their long preparation for this. Nor is one failure to pass even this final examination absolutely fatal. The failures may try again, if they are not utterly disgraceful failures, but they must wait for the next opportunity.

A complete explanation of the circumstances under which such waiting is accomplished would not come into the scheme of this treatise; but it must not be supposed that candidates for progress, self-convicted of unfitness to proceed at the critical period of the fifth round, fall necessarily into the sphere of annihilation. For that attraction to assert itself, the Ego must have developed a positive attraction for matter, a positive repulsion for spirituality, which is overwhelming in its force. In the absence of such affinities, and in the absence also of such affinities as would suffice to tide the Ego over the great gulf, the destiny which meets the mere failures of Nature is, as regards the present planetary manwantara, to die, as Eliphas Levi puts it, without remembrance. They have lived their life, and had their share of Heaven, but they are not capable of ascending the tremendous altitudes of spiritual progress then confronting them.
But they are qualified for further incarnation and life on the planes of existence to which they are accustomed. They will wait, therefore, in the negative spiritual state they have attained till those planes of existence are again in activity in the next planetary manwantara. The duration of such waiting is, of course, beyond the reach of imagination altogether, and the precise nature of the existence which is now contemplated is no less unrealizable; but the broad pathway through that strange region of dreamy semi-animation must be taken note of in order that the symmetry and completeness of the whole evolutionary scheme may be perceived.

Most important, the central doctrine of nazism, that the Jew was evil and had to be exterminated, had its origin in the Gnostic position that there were two worlds, one good and one evil, one dark and one light, one materialistic and one spiritual.... The mystical teachings of Guido von List, Lanz von Liebenfels, and Rudolf von Sebottendorff were modern restatements of Gnosticism.

When the apocalyptic promise of Christ's resurrection was broken, the Gnostics sought to return men to God by another route, more Oriental than Hellenist. They devised a dualistic cosmology to set against the teachings of the early Christian Church, which, they claimed, were only common deceptions, unsuited for the wise. The truth was esoteric. Only the properly initiated could appreciate it. It belonged to a secret tradition which had come down through certain mystery schools. The truth was, God could never become man. There were two separate realms -- one spiritual, the other material. The spiritual realm, created by God, was all good; the material realm, created by the demiurge, all evil. Man needed to be saved, not from Original Sin, but from enslavement to matter. For this, he had to learn the mystical arts. Thus Gnosticism became a source for the occult tradition.

A famous medieval Gnostic sect, the Cathars, came to identify the Old Testament god, Jehovah, with the demiurge, the creator of the material world and therefore the equivalent of Satan. Within Gnosticism, then, existed the idea that the Jewish god was really the devil, responsible for all the evil in the world. He was opposed to the New Testament God. The Cathars tried to eliminate the Old Testament from Church theology and condemned Judaism as a work of Satan's, whose aim was to tempt men away from the spirit. Jehovah, they said, was the god of an earth "waste and void," with darkness "upon the face of the deep." Was he not cruel and capricious? They quoted Scripture to prove it. The New Testament God, on the other hand, was light. He declared that "there is neither male nor female," for everyone was united in Christ. These two gods, obviously, had nothing in common.

The synagogue was regarded as profane by Christians. The Cathars -- themselves considered heretical by the Church -- castigated Catholics for refusing to purge themselves of Jewish sources; Church members often blamed the [Cathar] Christian heresy on Jewish mysticism, which was considered an inspiration for Gnostic sorcery.

But Gnostic cosmology, though officially branded "false," pervaded the thinking of the Church. The Jews were widely thought to be magicians. It was believed that they could cause rain, and when there was a drought, they were encouraged to do so. Despite the displeasure of the Roman Popes, Christians, when they were in straitened circumstances, practiced Jewish customs, even frequenting synagogues.

This sheds light on an otherwise incomprehensible recurring theme within Nazi literature, as, for example, "The Earth-Centered Jew Lacks a Soul," by one of the chief architects of Nazi dogma, Alfred Rosenberg, who held that whereas other people believe in a Hereafter and in immortality, the Jew affirms the world and will not allow it to perish. The Gnostic secret is that the spirit is trapped in matter, and to free it, the world must be rejected. Thus, in his total lack of world-denial, the Jew is snuffing out the inner light, and preventing the millennium:

Where the idea of the immortal dwells, the longing for the journey or the withdrawal from temporality must always emerge again; hence, a denial of the world will always reappear. And this is the meaning of the non-Jewish peoples: they are the custodians of world-negation, of the idea of the Hereafter, even if they maintain it in the poorest way. Hence, one or another of them can quietly go under, but what really matters lives on in their descendants. If, however, the Jewish people were to perish, no nation would be left which would hold world-affirmation in high esteem -- the end of all time would be here.

... the Jew, the only consistent and consequently the only viable yea-sayer to the world, must be found wherever other men bear in themselves ... a compulsion to overcome the world.... On the other hand, if the Jew were continually to stifle us, we would never be able to fulfill our mission, which is the salvation of the world, but would, to be frank, succumb to insanity, for pure world-affirmation, the unrestrained will for a vain existence, leads to no other goal. It would literally lead to a void, to the destruction not only of the illusory earthly world but also of the truly existent, the spiritual. Considered in himself the Jew represents nothing else but this blind will for destruction, the insanity of mankind. It is known that Jewish people are especially prone to mental disease. "Dominated by delusions," said Schopenhauer about the Jew.

... To strip the world of its soul, that and nothing else is what Judaism wants. This, however, would be tantamount to the world's destruction.

This remarkable statement, seemingly the rantings of a lunatic, expresses the Gnostic theme that the spirit of man, essentially divine, is imprisoned in an evil world. The way out of this world is through rejection of it. But the Jew alone stands in the way. Behind all the talk about "the earth-centered Jew" who "lacks a soul"; about the demonic Jew who will despoil the Aryan maiden; about the cabalistic work of the devil in Jewish finance; about the sinister revolutionary Jewish plot to take over the world and cause the decline of civilization, there is the shadow of ancient Gnosticism.


By the clever and continuous use of propaganda a people can even be made to mistake heaven for hell, and vice versa, the most miserable life for Paradise. (Adolph Hitler)

-- Gods & Beasts: The Nazis & the Occult, by Dusty Sklar

And with this last contingency provided for, the whole scheme does lie before the reader in its main outlines with tolerable completeness. We have seen the one life, the spirit, animating matter in it lowest forms first, and evoking growth by slow degrees into higher forms. Individualizing itself at last in man, it works up through inferior and irresponsible incarnations until it has penetrated the higher principles, and evolved a true human soul, which is thenceforth the master of its own fate, though guarded in the beginning by natural provisions which debar it from premature shipwreck, which stimulate and refresh it on its course. But the ultimate destiny offered to that soul is to develop not only into a being capable of taking care of itself, but into a being capable of taking care also of others, of presiding over and directing, within what may be called constitutional limits, the operations of Nature herself. Clearly before the soul can have earned the right to that promotion, it must have been tried by having conceded to it full control over its own affairs. That full control necessarily conveys the power to shipwreck itself. The safeguards put round the Ego in its youth — its inability to get into higher or lower states than those of intermundane Devachan and Avitchi — fall from it in its maturity. It is potent, then, over its own destinies, not only in regard to the development of transitory joy and suffering, but in regard to the stupendous opportunities in both directions which existence opens out before it. It may seize on the higher opportunities in two ways; it may throw up the struggle in two ways; it may attain sublime spirituality for good or sublime spirituality for evil; it may ally itself to physicality for (not evil but for) utter annihilation; or, on the other hand, for (not good but for) the negative result of beginning the educational processes of incarnation all over again.



1 Eliphas Levi.

2 In practice, my impression is that this is rarely achieved in one earth-life; approached rather in two or three artificial incarnations.
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