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G. de P. — All right, Companions, I am ready to answer any questions that may be asked.
Student — I would like to ask what is the karana-sarira?
G. de P. — The karana-sarira — a Sanskrit compound, karana meaning "cause," sarira meaning "body," the causal body — actually is the veil of energy and substance surrounding the reincarnating ego. It is of a quasi-spiritual character. And it is from this karana-sarira or causal body that emanate or flow forth all the lower vehicles of the human constitution, such as the desire body, and the various grades of the ethereal bodies. Actually the physical body is the lees or deposit of the energies and substances taking their origin in the karana-sarira.
Student — I understood you to say that the soul took a long rest between incarnations. This I presume had reference to the human soul, as the ego returns to its monad. I understood the human soul had an opportunity of progression between incarnations. Is this correct, please?
G. de P. — No, it is not. The human soul's field of activity is the time of incarnation or imbodiment. Its post-mortem period is the time of rest, assimilation, digestion, and the building up of character, out of the lessons learned in the preceding life on Earth. Do you see?
Student — Yes, thank you.
Student — It is said that at death, or just after death, everyone sees or comes face to face with his warrior-soul. Does that refer to the human, to the manasaputra?
G. de P. — Where did you find that statement?
Student — I cannot tell you. I don't think I have found it. I have heard it always it seems to me, that at death one comes face to face with his warrior. Is that not true?
G. de P. — It is true in a general way. The warrior here referred to is not so much another individual, but it is an ideal term, representing the entire spiritual portion of the human constitution. So that when the human being dies and after the breaking up of the astral body and the kama-rupa, the excarnate soul, just before entering into its devachanic period of rest and bliss, has a vision of the inner god. That vision unfortunately is usually very brief, very brief indeed. It is possible for human beings who are, evolutionally speaking, far along the path, to make a personal contact with the divinity within during physical life, and actually that is what takes place in some of the higher degrees of initiation. Is the answer responsive to the thought in your mind?
Student — Quite, thank you. And I would like to ask one more question, if I may. I would like to know just where the personal consciousness is centered? I mean the consciousness which feels "I am I."
G. de P. — Do you mean in what part of the fabric of the constitution it has its place?
Student — Yes.
G. de P. — It is an illusory thing, this human consciousness. I think, in fact I know, it is wrong to look upon it as a permanent, durable, everlasting, center of consciousness; so consequently when you ask where does this human consciousness have its locus standi, that question is a very difficult one to answer. The consciousness, illusory as it is, is centered in two principles mainly, in the manasic principle and in the kama. You can figurate it to yourself by picturing to yourself a whirling pool or vortex in these two principles which interblend.
Please do not look upon the seven principles of man as you conceive a stair to be, one principle over the other. That is wrong. Each of the principles interpenetrates all the other six; every one of them. So when you speak of it being centered somewhere, you see the difficulty in giving a perfectly clear answer. It is centered in the stream of consciousness because it is a state or condition of the lower part of that stream of consciousness. It is not on any one of the stairs of the seven principles of the human constitution because there is no such stair. The principles are not one on top of the other like a pile of books or like the steps of a stair. They interpenetrate each other.
But I think what you have in your mind is this: in what part of the human constitution is the ordinary human consciousness placed? And my answer is: its vibrations are kama-manasic. Do you understand the answer?
Student — Yes, thank you. When you say manas, I suppose you mean lower manas, because I understand that above this human stage of evolution there is no such feeling. I mean, I suppose, that the pure manasic entity has no feeling of human separateness such as exists with us.
G. de P. — The higher part of the manas principle of course has no idea of separation, because the higher part of the manas is atmic or universal; in its universal aspect it is called mahat. Naturally the human consciousness, being conjoined with the kama, would be in what you call the inferior or the lower part of the manas principle; but you see — you will forgive me for pointing out this fact — you make a high and a low, and that shows that your mind still conceives these principles as existing in steps, like the steps of a stair. Please try to figurate the human principles as states of consciousness, not as one thing piled over the other, so that you can speak of a top one and a bottom one. That is quite wrong. You understand, do you not?
Student — Yes, thank you; I do.
Student — When the soul is passing out at the time when the person is dying, where is the state of consciousness — that is, when the person is very happy and peaceful?
G. de P. — Do you mean the state of consciousness of the human being, or simply the brain-mind consciousness?
Student — Well, I don't know the difference. I thought it was the brain-mind consciousness; yet it didn't seem like that. I have seen a number of people passing out, and in every case they were so conscious on some plane, and so supremely happy, and apparently cognizant of a very great deal. Now I have wondered every time where that consciousness was.
G. de P. — This sounds like a very simple question, but if you will pause a moment and reflect how complex the human consciousness is — and by human I now refer to the entire constitution of the human being — the one who is dying may have his consciousness for the moment centered in the loftiest — referring here to quality — part of his constitution, the noblest, the most impersonal. And other human beings who are dying, due to the tendencies and habits of a lifetime, may die in a state of consciousness but little superior in quality to that of the beasts. So when you say: "Where is the consciousness centered at the moment of death?" all I could answer to so general a question would be: who is the individual who is dying? Is it a noble-minded, a spiritual-minded, impersonal man, or is it one who has lived a grossly physical existence, with scarcely a thought of anything impersonal or spiritual?
Student — I can understand that that would make a difference, but it just happens to have been my experience that in all these cases they were theosophists, and they had been making very strenuous efforts in their lives to progress on spiritual lines. And as I saw in every case, there was that wonderful, beautiful, peaceful consciousness; while they were not wholly in a state of coma, that is wholly unconscious, nevertheless they were on a different plane of consciousness from the physical. They seemed to be so conscious of a state where there was something existing that was peaceful and beautiful, and they seemed to understand it so thoroughly. It happens to have been my experience to have seen this in every case, so of course I had that kind of person in mind, rather than the other one.
G. de P. — Now I understand. Now you have defined it. I can answer by describing to you a little bit of what happens before death. Death is actually the approach of the condition of devachan. Death does not take place suddenly, except by accident, or by such deaths as occur from crime, or hanging, or something of that sort. But when the body dies from disease or from old age, there has been a preparation for the death for weeks, it may be months, before the actual snapping of the vital cord. This preparation is an entering, a preliminary entering, into devachan. Remember, please, that devachan is a condition of consciousness, a state of consciousness, and not a place.
Consequently, when a noble-minded person dies, such as the high-minded theosophist you have spoken of, the consciousness is already more or less in the devachanic state. Do you understand?
Student — Yes, thank you. I follow you completely.
G. de P. — Therefore it is a spiritual state of mind. And this accounts for the beautiful things that the dying sometimes whisper or say to those around them: "Oh, how happy I am!" "How beautiful, how sweet!" Words like that.
Student — Are these different experiences of the soul in devachan, between incarnations, linked closely together one with the other? In a chain of incarnations in devachan, would they be progressive, like progressive lives, or days in one life? That is, would the consciousness beginning at the end of this life carry on from the similar state of consciousness at the end of the last life?
G. de P. — No. Whatever the keynote struck at the time of death may be, whatever may be the dominant, characteristic, note of the individual who dies, that will furnish the beginning of a stream of consciousness-events. A series of thoughts, happy dreams you can call them, but they are actual and real to the consciousness that experiences them; and this series of thoughts blends into each other, the one after the other. It is like going through a beatific experience while living in the physical body. It begins, then one thought leads to the next thought; this leads to something else; and so it continues until that specific thought-current ends. But that ending immediately starts a new train of very similar thoughts; and so the procedure continues throughout the entire devachanic period. Do you get the idea?
Student — Yes, thank you very much. I get it very clearly.
Student — I would like to ask, in regard to the review of the life that takes place at the time of death, as to the extent to which the person then sees through the delusions with which he has surrounded himself during life, and also the delusions for which, perhaps, he is not entirely to blame, as to fact. Does an individual actually see the true facts which during life he allows himself not to see?
G. de P. — He sees the truth, the actual things as they are in themselves, and his relation to them. This vision of unclothed truth is the greater and the larger, the greater the individual is who is passing.
In every case a panorama of the past life, from the first record of thought until the last conscious thought before temporary unconsciousness supervenes, is seen as it were through and through. The consciousness penetrates behind the illusory aspect of things and sees reality, sees causes, sees results, places responsibility — its own always — sees how it has acted and how it should have acted. But all this process is perfectly calm. It is uninterrupted by any emotion whatsoever. It is like a mathematician who is completely enwrapt and absorbed in solving some mathematical problem. This state is nothing wonderful. Emotion does not disturb the mind at all, even as adults look back to the experiences of youth and childhood — and many of us can do that and we find we are quite impersonal. We can see where we have made mistakes. We don't grieve for them. We feel the folly of them and we can stand off from them and regard them as something outside of ourselves; and yet know that they belong to us. In other words, the consciousness at death is detaching itself from purely personal relations — the detached feeling. Do you understand me?
Student — Yes.
Student — In cases of men facing death many times, that would have the special effect of creating such a detached feeling. In the cases of those who served during the War, for instance, they faced death every day and had those feelings coming. Would that have a special power in creating future character?
G. de P. — It would. But I must point out, dear Companion, that this stream of the panorama of the past can occur only when death actually is taking place, not when the consciousness merely anticipates that death may occur. In other words, only when death is actually occurring does this panoramic view supervene. Do you understand?
Student — Yes.
Student — If I recall correctly, you have stated that the devachani in emerging from devachan, before physical contacts are made, reviews the last incarnation in minutest detail. And I would like to ask: is that review in the nature of a memory, or is it as if that which is being reviewed is actually occurring?
G. de P. — No. It is a repetition of the panorama that ensued at the moment of death, the reason being that that panorama has been stamped on the consciousness of the reincarnating ego, and as it passes out of the devachanic condition or state, it of necessity follows step by step the same pathway or road by which it entered into the devachanic state. So consequently it passes in review these things, but in reverse order.
Student — What I was particularly desirous of knowing is whether this review is a conscious memory? Does the reviewer realize that it is a memory of what has been, or is it as if he were passing through the same experience again?
G. de P. — It is both as a matter of fact, because he could not understand this panorama or experience it unless he himself realized that he is going through it. But the process is exceedingly quick. It does not mean that a lifetime, in human time periods, is spent in going over the panorama. Just as in the dying brain the stream of consciousness passes rapidly by, so in re-entering earth-life, in going out of the devachanic state, the reincarnating egoic consciousness passes the panorama rapidly in review, and knows that these things were of its former existence on earth; but sees the events of the panorama and their connection as a detached view. Do you understand?
Student — Yes. It is probably a foolish idea on my part, not an idea, but simply a query, that in such experiences, as I understand it, time is only a figment of the imagination, in one way. You can live a lifetime in a few minutes, and vice versa; so that the fact that this review occurs in a very brief space of time does not signify so much. And if they were reviewed as if they were actual events in which the reviewer were the actor, by what method would we be able definitely to determine whether the life each one of us is living at the present time be a new life or be a review of what we have done before, with perhaps some improvements?
G. de P. — It is seen as a review. It is a recollection, a throwing on the field of consciousness of pictures, scenes, one after the other, and all this takes place but in inverse order to what takes place at the time of dying. So that when the end is reached the ex-devachani is just about ready for the period of unconsciousness supervening before entering the womb.
Student — This is a very simple question which, however, has troubled me lately somewhat. It is: what is the dividing line between reality and illusion? You have said that there is no such thing as that; even the grossest matter is fundamentally spiritual; everything exists and continues, although in different stages. Consequently it has appeared to me many times that this word illusion is merely a figure of speech, or does it signify something that has its lifetime and passes forever?
G. de P. — The question is a little involved, but I think I understand you. Illusion is not a figure of speech. Paradoxically enough, the fact that illusion exists, or a series of illusions, is the real state of affairs. The reality is that it is nothing in itself. The fundamental is pure consciousness. I do not know whether I have seized your idea. If not, please ask it again.
Student — I am sorry I made it involved. I should not have done it. You have said lately that even the grossest matter that is, and life here on earth in a later development, is fundamentally as spiritual as any of our highest faculties. Consequently these being illusive here, does not the word illusive simply apply to a single plane or to a single period and not to a later period or to a later plane? Because if that which is illusive now were to disappear, we would come to the question that matter whether spiritual or material is not indestructible, but is destructible.
G. de P. — I am awfully sorry, but I really do not quite get your idea. I do not think I have ever said — I am subject to correction — that the experiences of any one life, all the experiences indeed, while illusory are fundamentally real. Is that the way you understood me?
Student — Well, I —
G. de P. — Shape your question in a little different way, if you can.
Student — What is the dividing line between reality and illusion?
G. de P. — Illusion is everything which pertains to the phenomenal world of material existence. Reality — and reality itself is a relative thing — is everything which pertains to the spiritual world. It is the root of this material world. But as that spiritual world — the reality of any illusory world — is itself one of a host of worlds, some still more sublime, even that spiritual world is illusory to the reality of that still higher world. In other words, maya (illusion) and reality are inextricably blended.
Student — Yes, thank you so much. That is what I wanted to know. So that means that illusion and reality are only relative terms.
G. de P. — Yes, certainly.
Student — So the English word illusion is perhaps not the best word. It is a theosophical term in other words.
G. de P. — Yes, that is right. And I may point out here — and I am glad that you brought this matter forth — that illusion is an English translation of the Sanskrit word maya. Now maya does not mean a nonexistent thing. The meaning is directly the opposite of that. It means something which exists, but which the consciousness of the perceiver does not rightly understand. The Vedantists of Hindustan, for instance, illustrate this by a man returning home at night and suddenly starting aside when he sees a coiled snake in his path. He looks again and finds that it is not a snake, but a coiled rope. It was an illusion, it was maya — maya really means magic — the magic working of nature, deceiving the percipient consciousness. In other words, the consciousness does not perceive things as they are in reality. But as that consciousness grows in wisdom and experience, it perceives in constantly better ratio, in increasing ratio of certainty, the thing as the thing itself actually is. I hope that the matter is clear, because this is a very fine point of philosophy.
Student — Thank you so much.
G. de P. — The Vedantists have one more curious illustration. It is quaint. A man at eventide is walking along a path. In front of him there is a hill. On the top of the hill, against the evening sky, he sees a hare, and he sees that that hare has horns — two horns sticking up out of its head. At first glance, he is positive that the hare has two horns. He looks again and he sees that the long ears of the hare are what he mistook for horns.
That is the idea of maya, illusion. The actual hare was there with its long ears, but the percipient consciousness misunderstood, misinterpreted what was seen, misrepresented the actuality, and consequently caused or took or received an illusory impression of the thing that was.
Student — Before leaving the seven principles, may I ask a question? One thing that has been very difficult to understand. I think we clearly understand that there is one state of consciousness streaming along, but in The Secret Doctrine and elsewhere in the Instructions, HPB very explicitly points out that an adept can divide himself into the three states, three definite states, without killing himself, she says, and can send one away, and remain in another, and yet throw out a third. And then after death there is the sheath or kama-rupa which after a while according to the Masters' teachings gets a consciousness of its own, in a sort of way reflected. Now my point is that it seems possible to separate them as if there were really divisions between the principles in some way, and yet at the same time, we feel that there is a unity.
Is that one of the mysterious paradoxes of the teachings that we may grasp in a sort of intuitive way, but which is difficult to define mentally?
G. de P. — Yes. Simply because the human mentality will constantly represent to itself states of consciousness as separate radicals. That is all wrong. It is deceiving itself all the time. Now, for instance, you would die if you could separate your present brain-mind consciousness from the body. You could not do it. But there is a state of your consciousness which you can send out of the body, send out to some other part of the planet, to the Moon, to Venus, to Mars, to the Sun. And it is this science, this wonderful magic science of the sending forth of the self-conscious individual, which the Tibetans call hpho-wa.
Student — I would like to ask first a question that has come up in my mind in reference to what has just been asked. When one is doing what one habitually does, and paying attention to it, and at the same time listening to another, and also keeping one's thoughts going on a higher plane: is this an analogy with different states of consciousness?
G. de P. — I think it is, I think you are quite right.
Student — And my other question is: we are often told that if we place our consciousness on a higher plane than the habits and thoughts of the lower self that we are wishing to overcome, and do it impersonally, we rise above that lower self. Well, I have often seen one sincerely doing that, who actually suffers physical pain from the effort, who often is made sick by the effort, and yet I have to acknowledge that those that I have seen in that condition are earnestly, and as far as they are capable, impersonally striving to follow out this rule. Can you please tell why that is?
G. de P. — You mean why certain individuals --
Student — Who sincerely, and as far as my mind is capable of judging, impersonally strive to raise the consciousness above habits. For instance, it is hard for all of us suddenly to change our habits from one to another, not necessarily bad habits, but set habits, and I have often seen physical sickness result from a sincere effort to do so.
G. de P. — That is occasionally true, and it is something that every chela has to face. In fact, every reversal of consciousness, when it is forced by the will to take a direction opposite to that of the roads of habit, necessarily produces a sort of dislocation of the consciousness for the time being, and this is one of the reasons why all occult training goes step by step. As Katherine Tingley used to say: "Step by step we climb." The Masters are constantly warning you against the danger of sudden and violent subversions or reversals of things.
Now that statement, while very true, could be subjected by an ignorant man — I don't say any one of you here — into an actual invitation to keep in the old evil ways. But that is not the meaning at all. The meaning is to check evil habits and to overcome them, and to climb, to grow, but to do it symmetrically, not to do it violently. And yet even that, while it is a statement of truth, can be subjected to misconstruction too. I tell you frankly, Companions, I have answered the question truthfully, but I much more admire the man or woman who — once the light has dawned in his or her heart — immediately and if necessary forcibly follows that light, no matter what the consequence to the body may be. I tell you frankly, it is incomparably grander.
Take the case of a drunkard, a very common case. Will you tell that unfortunate human being the obvious truth: that little by little, he can come out of drunkenness into living a sober life? Or will you tell him and show him, as I would, the pathway and the means to stop it at once? Never mind what the body does. Go to your doctor, if the body soaked through with alcohol kicks up pranks. Let the doctor help you; but don't, don't parley with the devil. Have nothing to do with it. Stop it. That is my advice.
If you go to a materialistic physician who has no sense of spiritual realities, who does not believe that there are other lives, who has no idea of spiritual heroisms at all, he will say: "Oh, well, forget it! Forget it! Just keep out of jail, and do what you like. Better be decent, of course, but you cannot do it all at once." That is wrong advice. The advice of the great seers and sages has always been the contrary: "Friend — or woman — go and sin no more!" It is true.
The two parts of my answer are not contradictory. They are paradoxical. I have told you first the actual physical condition, and how the healing may be done step by step; but if you ask me as a teacher what I should advise from the standpoint of morals and decency, and as an esoteric student, I should say: "Go to it, immediately! Stop it, whatever it may be." As HPB put it once: "Play ducks and drakes with the body," providing that the soul soars supreme above it.
Let the doctor take care of the body if he can. We human beings are faced with really serious problems at times. There are times when the hero has to act, even at the cost of life, of limb, of health — and such are men.
If you, on the other hand, have not the courage, if you are a weakling and want to parley and have not the strength to step out and plunge into the noble act, there is the long slow path of evolution — but I have little patience with that slow method, at least for us of our Order.
Now that does not mean that I should advise the physician in attendance to be abrupt, unkind, harsh, critical, or unsympathetic — not at all. The physician's duty is a truly sublime one, and kindliness, understanding of the conditions, and comfort and consolation, are even, I think, sometimes more healing to a sick body than are the remedies that a physician gives.
Student — Professor, is it any use for the scientists of the present day to try to establish interplanetary communication? Because if they should accomplish it with any faculty that they have, what good would it do them? Even just the mere difference of language is an obstacle. The inhabitants of the other planets may have entirely different ways of communicating, different senses, and different everything.
G. de P. — They almost certainly have.
Student — So it seems to me that it is just a waste of time. After they have advanced sufficiently, perhaps they will be able to do it in other ways.
G. de P. — I would not go that far. The mere fact of trying to establish interplanetary communication is a good thing, I do believe. It raises the mind away from earthly things. It enlarges the imagination; it increases our sympathies, and gives us illuminating suggestions of animate entities on other planets. The effort is a good one to make. I do wonder though what would happen if our scientists could catch a Venerian or a Jovian, and put him in a glass case! What would they do to him — if they could; and I might say what might not a Venerian do to our scientists!
Student — I have been trying to formulate what would, I suppose, be called brain-mind pictures of the relation of the human ego to the god within, and one of them was in this manner: In the case of a very large business establishment, employing perhaps thousands of people, the office boy would be very likely quite unknown to the general manager. Would it be correct to think of the human ego as being practically unknown to the inner god, except through the medium of various other entities, corresponding to the managers of departments? If that were so, then the office boy by his effort and initiative could come into contact with the manager by improving himself?
G. de P. — Exactly. That generalized statement is quite true. Note that there is a difference between the human ego and the higher ego. A little while ago one of the companions spoke of the human constitution as being a stream of consciousness, and that is exactly right. But that statement is not a denial of the other fact that this stream of consciousness can be separated into principles, into different rates of vibration of that stream, if you like to put it in that way. The entire human constitution is indeed a stream of consciousness, but, to change the figure of speech, it has different colors, so to say. These different colors are the different principles — the passional, the intellectual, the spiritual, the vital, and what not. They all belong to the stream of consciousness; they are all integral therewith or thereto. Nevertheless these different aspects of the stream of consciousness exist, and are what are called the principles. Do you understand me?
Student — Thank you.
G. de P. — Now the human ego, at the core of its core, is a monad — a child-monad of the inner god, and therefore partakes of the stream of consciousness of that inner god which it recognizes as the fundamental "I am." Its own consciousness is "I am I." As time passes, as evolution proceeds, this "I am I" slowly diminishes or vanishes, and an ever larger and fuller, more universal, consciousness takes its place — "I am" — which is actually the consciousness of its own monadic essence. A wonderful mystery, I tell you, this mystery of consciousness. It is one of the most difficult studies that we have, and yet one of the most profitable to undertake.
Man is a complex entity. He has streaming through him, as a part of his stream of consciousness, the cosmic consciousness, the consciousness of his own inner god, the consciousness of his spiritual ego, of his human ego, the consciousness of his astral ego — or the ordinary brain-mind man; and there is even the sense of the consciousness of his physical body, which shows itself very clearly when the body is in pain. Every atom, and a fortiori, even more strongly, does the human ego have in itself latent capacities for becoming a god. Every atom of the physical body, every life-atom of the astral body, of the kama-rupa, every life-atom of the reincarnating ego, of the spiritual ego — and of the monad — every one of these hosts of life-atoms on any plane is destined in future aeons to evolve into a god.
Consequently, this means that one's inner god is the fundamental "I am." That is, my inner god is I and yet not I. The personal "I" is its child, destined to grow up to be an inner god like my Father in heaven, for that father in heaven is my inner god. Similarly every atom even in the physical body, in the core of the core of itself, is a monad of which the highest part, the noblest part, is its inner god. We are therefore legion; every human being's name is legion. Do you get that thought?
Many Voices — Yes.
G. de P. — Every human being, every entity, is a microcosm or little universe with its own supreme god, and all the hosts of inferior gods, and all the hosts of still less evolved entities, and thus right down the scale of the human constitution to the physical atoms of the sthula-sarira or physical body. What a wonderful picture! And if you look around upon the universe surrounding us, you see the same thing on the great scale, the macrocosm: the suns, the planets, and all the varied entities of our globe for instance, and all the varied entities of the other globes — one huge macrocosm, or great world, comprising within its boundaries hosts of microcosms or little worlds. Marvelous thought!
Student — It is not quite clear to me, but it seems as though something must prompt a great aspiration. Is it something inherent in the monad? It seems as though the spiritual will must have something to do with it.
G. de P. — It does.
Student — And yet where is that spiritual will? In the monad itself?
G. de P. — It soars forth from out of the abysses of your own fundamental consciousness-center. You may call it your own monad. It is a stream pouring forth, manifesting itself, in your human consciousness as aspiration.
Student — And to strengthen that spiritual will, I suppose that nothing but practice will do it?
G. de P. — Yes, that is it. Ever striving to be it more and more, trying to evoke more of it all the time, trying to live in that aspiration, in other words, aspiring towards the aspiration. Do you understand?
Student — Yes, I do, thank you.
G. de P. — It is all a matter of the working of consciousness.
Student — Well, as Mr. Judge says: "Behind will stands desire." Can that very spiritual part of us desire? I suppose the desire is the aspiration.
G. de P. — Behind will stands desire. The word desire here does not refer to body-desire. It refers to spiritual desire.
Student — Yes, I mean it in the spiritual sense. Then the spiritual part of us does desire to become more and more spiritual?
G. de P. — It does. The spiritual part of us aspires or desires to become greater, more spiritual. In other words, it aspires towards the divine. Just as the human aspires to become more spiritual, aspires towards the spirit, and just as the beasts around us unconsciously aspire to become men.
Student — Shall we become cognizant of this inner god, united with it, while we are still in these bodies of flesh? And if so, is this the meaning of the saying in the Bible: "While yet in the flesh, I shall see my god"?
G. de P. — Yes. There is a time in the series of initiations, as I believe I have mentioned on several other occasions, when the neophyte, no matter how high he may stand — a Master preparing for a high initiation is a neophyte until he attains that illumination — sees his own inner god face to face. And this inner god is what Jesus the Christ referred to in the New Testament, when he said, "I and my Father in Heaven."
Student — In that case do they then become what we call initiates or are they even higher?
G. de P. — Oh, there are many degrees of initiation, many degrees. There are low initiations and high initiations. Low and high as adjectives of course refer to quality, the low initiations are not so spiritual as the high initiations. Do you understand that?
Student — Yes, I understand.
G. de P. — Have you anything further to ask?
Student — No, thank you.
Student — My question is a little out of order now. I wanted to ask, when you were speaking of visiting the planets: is it possible for the ordinary psychometer to visit the planets of our solar system?
G. de P. — No, the psychometer does not visit the planets. The psychometer gets by a receptive state of consciousness an interpretation by vibrations or pictures impressed on the body which he handles, or by a ray of light for instance. But the psychometer does not visit places, such as the planets or the sun or the moon.
Student — I have been reading Denton's work, third volume, giving his experiments, such as the alleged sending his son to Mars — seeing the inhabitants on Mars. I didn't think it was possible.
G. de P. — No, the psychometer does not travel to other planets. That is something which high initiates can do, but not mere psychometers.
Student — I think it was Jesus who said: "Resist not evil." We are pledged in our Order to maintain a constant struggle against our lower nature. Is it necessary at times actually to struggle and fight with our lower tendencies, or is it best to forget ourselves and simply have high and noble thoughts and live unselfishly, so that we may best overcome our lower natures in that way?
G. de P. — Infinitely better. Don't dignify the evil in you by fighting it; ignore it, and it will die a natural death. Furthermore, the statement "resist not evil" is perfectly true, but it means do not try to fight your brother because you don't like the evil in him. That idea has led to much of the misery in the world as it exists today. We fail to see the evil in ourselves, but are continually fighting the evil which we see in others. Your hands will be pretty well filled with your own case, if you simply look at home. Then you won't have the slightest temptation to resist the evil in others in the sense in which Jesus' words are usually taken. He meant kindliness. Better it is for us to have an evil deed done to us by someone else, than to resent it and fight back and thus cause double misery in the world; remembering also that nothing comes to you which is not karmic.
Student — May I ask you how that applies to ourselves in regard to maintaining a "constant struggle against our lower nature"?
G. de P. — That is a manner of expression. For instance, the very act of ignoring the evil impulses in yourself with your will, you can properly call a constant struggle against that evil. You certainly will not ignore that evil, however, if you just set your teeth or clench your fists and say: "I won't, I won't, I won't, I won't." Then you are already its victim in that degree. You are paying so much attention to it that it has captured you thus far. Forget it! Ignore it! Let your struggle be one of willpower in the quiet ignoring of all that is base and ignoble. That is all the struggle there is about it. The phrase you quote is a manner of speech.
Student — I thank you.
Student — In The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, the Masters say that the greatest evil of the world today is religion under any guise whatsoever. May I have an explanation?
G. de P. — I think so too. But religion there means formal religion: any ceremonial faith, ritualistic faith, in which the soul of religion is lost and men seek salvation through a priesthood living on human credulity, who think, it may be sincerely, that certain ritualistic or ceremonial forms can take the place of honest-to-goodness growth by the effort of each individual from within.
The teacher there was referring to the fact that the only way by which to grow was by self-directed evolution, as our beloved Katherine Tingley used to say: by self-devised efforts for betterment, in other words growth from within, and not seeking to grow merely by looking to the teaching of someone outside of yourself. Furthermore, religion of any exterior kind brings in its train superstition and hatred between men and men, also misunderstandings, and therefore it distracts the attention entirely away from the really important things of the spirit within.
Within you lie beauty, love, peace, hope, charity, kindliness. Cultivate these things in yourself by your own efforts, and don't turn to a priesthood, or believe that by reciting credos or by following any forms or rituals, you can evolve, or that you can do good to your fellowmen. You understand, do you?
Student — Yes, thank you, Professor.
Student — In The Secret Doctrine, HPB says that theosophy is the foundation of or is to be the future religion of the world. Now she certainly means something quite different from this formal religion?
G. de P. — That is very true.
Student — Now one more thing: for undeveloped persons in a very primitive state, who understand only the very crudest things, will it not be necessary for them to have some kind of formal religion?
G. de P. — Why do you think so? That is a common Occidental idea. It is found especially in the Church of Rome, but the Protestants have it too. Will you tell me that the barbarian living as he does in some parts of the world today is a worse man than the civilized barbarian of our European or American capitals? I fail to see it. He has his faults and his grossnesses. Look at our big cities. Walk the streets. Note what our own men and women do. Is the simple barbarian without an organized religion, an organized Church, and with all his witchcrafts and voodoo practices and all the rest of it — take it all together, long and short, near and far — is he much worse? I do not think so.
The simple doctrines of brotherhood and kindliness, of universal love, of duty, of compassion, of self-sacrifice, which train the will in the way of these noble and beautiful things which the individual must practise — these are a beautiful and sublime religion in themselves because they are natural, spiritually natural. Any exoteric religion, any religion of forms and ceremonies with a priesthood to carry on these things — whether such a religion be of the barbarian or of the civilized European — distracts the attention away from the real things of the spirit living in the heart and soul of man. Now that is true.
I think that if our undeveloped people, these ignorant ones that you have spoken of, were taught these simple and beautiful rules of conduct, they would make a far better karmic record than they do now, by deceiving them with churchly observances, however sincere they may be, in which observances, if they believe at all, there is a belief based on fear and groveling because selfish hope. I see nothing ennobling about it.
Student — Have there not been ancient civilizations in which there were ignorant and undeveloped people in very large numbers, but who gave a loyal and willing and gracious obedience to spiritual teachers who ruled them?
G. de P. — True, that is quite true.
Student — I have a question, which I am afraid is a very brain-mind question, but it puzzles me very much. The universe is filled with gods, and every atom is tending to become a god; and everything is growing more and more towards godhood. Is the universe more evolved now than it was eternities ago? And yet we cannot think that there could be any improvement in a perfect being. "Being" may not be the right word, but perhaps you catch my meaning?
G. de P. — I do. That question is a very natural one and shows a thoughtful mind. It is one which I have answered on a number of occasions, but perhaps not clearly enough. In the first place, when you use the word universe, do you mean our own home universe, or boundless frontierless infinitude?
Student — I mean the latter.
G. de P. — Then how can boundless frontierless infinitude evolve, since evolution applies only to imperfect things growing steadily more perfect?
Student — That is exactly it.
G. de P. — Therefore, boundless, frontierless infinitude does not evolve, because only an imperfect thing can evolve; and if a thing is infinite and eternal, it must be infinite and eternal. Now boundless infinitude is not an entity. It is a phrase imaging an abstract idea. Furthermore, the universes which bestrew the spaces of space are infinite in number. In fact, it is these which compose boundless infinitude in their infinite aggregate. Universes are constantly coming into being from other planes. The planes are also infinite in number, infinitely beneath what we call the material, infinitely above what we call the divine, and also infinite both inwards and outwards. Consequently as things evolve, as entities evolve, they take eternity in which to evolve. There never was a beginning, there never will be an ending, but each step ahead is superior to the last — in other words an entering into new fields of space, with new forms of both cosmic energy and cosmic substance.
For instance, we of this universe entered this universe and indeed made it as being parts of it, as small atoms of it, from a universe which previously existed. We are gaining experience in these states of matter and spirit and divinity as existent in our present universe; and this process is repeated in the small in a planet which reimbodies itself from the life essences of its previous planetary parent. Do you get the idea?
Student — Yes, thank you, I understand that.
G. de P. — We begin at the beginning as unself-conscious god-sparks, go through all the evolutionary stages of a universe, reach divinity in that universe, finish with that universe in its entirety; and then that universe with all its conscious life-atoms in all grades of evolution begins a new universe on a higher plane, and at the beginning. And this process continues through infinitude and through eternity. This is a difficult problem for a human brain-mind to solve, but it is a fascinating and profitable subject for one's hours of quiet reflection.
Student — We know that everything is evolving. Well, the planets must be evolving; and I want to know if my view is correct: when the planets pursue their courses around the sun, is that their mode of evolving in cycles in the way human beings do? Because the sun is always entering new regions. Hence the planets are never going around the sun in the same courses that they followed before; they are going into new regions. Is that their way of evolving?
G. de P. — That is one of the aspects of planetary evolution. Your statement is quite true so far as it goes.
Student — But where is the highest point of their cycle?
G. de P. — It has not been reached yet.
Student — But I mean in relation to the planetary course — which is the highest point in that course?
G. de P. — Do you mean the highest point in the orbit that any planet follows?
Student — Yes, in the cycle of evolution.
G. de P. — That is a difficult question to answer for this reason: the planets, as the ages pass, slowly approach the sun; their orbits become orbits of continuously decreasing diameter. Their ultimate will be union with the sun. Now, that is another hard nut for you to crack. I do not dare to say more than this at present, because you have touched upon a very recondite matter, very recondite.
I perhaps ought to add this: I don't know whether I shall astonish you or not, but our astronomers don't yet understand the real truth about the revolutions of the planets around the sun. Would you be very much astonished if I were to say to you that the planets revolve around the sun only in our imagination, and yet that they actually do revolve? Now that is a statement of fact, and yet I simply cannot undertake to explain it in one evening; it would take me a year, I think!
A very interesting book has just been sent to me. It is written by Professor Charles Nordmann of the Observatory of Paris, in which he argues very logically and intuitively that the proponents of a geocentric universe and those of a heliocentric universe are both right, and both wrong. In other words; that Galileo was right, and also wrong; and the Roman Church was right, and also wrong.
Now, put baldly as I have put the matter before you it is true in a way; and yet in order not to mislead you and therefore to confuse you, I have to tell you that the planets do revolve around the sun, and yet at the same time it is our consciousness which figurates them as so revolving. Understand that if you can. It is a question of Einsteinian relativity.
I think that one of the most interesting, and indeed one of the most marvelous, events that have happened in the history of the Occident has been the teachings of that remarkable man, Einstein. He wanders from the truth in some instances very far, but his fundamental ideas of relativity are, I believe, our own teachings. He says, for instance, that there is no such thing as an infinite universe. That is true. We say the same. Secondly, that a ray of light leaving the sun and going straight ahead will ultimately return to the sun which it had left. It pursues what seems to be a straight path but actually is a curved path, because its path is within the universe which it cannot leave, and because the universe is so immense in extent that any one section of the path of that ray would seem to be a straight line, but taken as a whole it must be circular or elliptical. Now do you understand that part of Einstein's relativity-thought? It seems simple enough to me.
Student — Is there such a thing as using our intelligence in too great a radius and in too wide a field, and through that fact losing the possibility of making the right kind of relationships for our own mental and spiritual growth?
G. de P. — Yes there is; there certainly is. A man can become so involved in pure abstract philosophy that he loses himself in the maze and entangled problems of the forest of illusory thoughts which his own intelligence builds. And secondly, he fails to evolve himself along the lines of practical evolution, which it is his duty to do. Much better is it to cultivate the faculties that are spiritually within us — all the faculties, not merely one, as you have rightly pointed out.
It is right and good for a man to cultivate his intellect, to polish it, to use every intellectual faculty and power that he has, but in order to be balanced he must likewise use the faculties of what it is common to call the heart. He must cultivate love as well as intellect. Otherwise he becomes an unbalanced creature and loses half of life.
Student — Professor, were the primordial sages, who incarnated in illusory bodies at the beginning of the third race, avataras?
G. de P. — In a few instances they were. But in the majority of instances the great primordial sages were premature — if you like to put it in that way — incarnations of manasaputric divinities; and these last were the evolutionary cream of the preceding planetary manvantara.
Student — In that case, what does H. P. Blavatsky mean by illusory bodies, if they were not all avataras? I had supposed that an illusory body meant one that would have no previous karma nor any future karma.
G. de P. — Well, so far as the physical body is concerned, in the case of avataras their bodies are no more illusory than ours, because they are bodies of flesh, and you have described the case exactly aright in pointing out that these bodies have no individual karma. But I think that HPB alludes to the fact that all bodies, in the last analysis, are illusory. Our present physical bodies are mostly holes, mostly vacancies, empty spaces, as I have often tried to describe. The human being — if you had the electric eye, for instance — would probably not be visible to your eye at all. If you did see it, it might be as a thin vaporous and opalescent cloud. All our bodies are illusory in that sense.
Student — But in this sentence, Professor, she especially said illusory bodies, not human bodies. What is the distinction?
G. de P. — Where did you find this?
Student — On page 207 to page 210 of The Secret Doctrine, Volume I, where she was telling about Hermes and Orpheus, and the seven primordial sages who incarnated at the beginning of the third root-race.
G. de P. — I see what you mean now. These are the cases of gods, manasaputric divinities, who incarnated to waken the flame of intelligence, nascent intelligence, in the hitherto unself-conscious beings of that time, who had a consciousness something like that of little children of today. Little children today have no intellect; they are not really awake. They are in a dream state almost, intellectually speaking; physically alert, physically alive, physically conscious, but not possessing that delicate balance of spiritual and intellectual powers which the adult has and self-consciously exercises.
So these great primordial sages, manasaputric divinities, incarnated in bodies of light, illusory bodies, and taught. They taught the early human protoplasts. It was a marvelous thing. The bodies of what were to become human beings, or call them human beings if you like, of that early period were enormous in size. Well, you might figurate them to your present minds as masses of cloud wandering over the earth. The earth itself was much larger than it now is, and much more ethereal. It was a quasi-astral world.
Student — Is it because the solar system is a unit revolving within a greater unit, and the sun has the highest rate of vibration, that there is the illusion which you speak about? Is that any idea in explanation of it? Perhaps I am not clear.
G. de P. — Not very clear, I am afraid. I do not quite follow the logic of your thought.
Student — You were speaking about the planets' revolving around the sun as being illusory. I was thinking the solar system is a unit that is revolving within a greater unit. And in that case the sun, being the magnet of our unit, of the solar system unit, would give the illusion of the others revolving around it, when it is all a single unit in the greater system.
G. de P. — I see what you mean. Yes, you have seized one aspect of it. I will add this: when our chemical physicists have discovered the reality of what the atom of chemistry is and contains, they will understand this other matter better. Today our chemical physicists are greatly puzzled by the fact that the electrons which compose the atom behave in the most unaccountable way, according to the manner in which the chemists put the matter in their reports. They say that these electrons at certain times seem to be all over the place; they seem to pursue an orbit around the protonic nucleus or the 'sun' of the atom, and yet at times they seem to be everywhere in their own orbit. So that instead of being a tiny little body whirling around the protonic nucleus, an electron seems to be a streak of electronic matter.
Now if the electron is a ring around the atomic sun, instead of a tiny little body following its orbit around the protonic nucleus, of course the revolution of a spherical planet around the atomic sun does not exist in the orbits of the planets of our solar system. But — and this is the important point — it is all a matter of envisaging the problem. Our planets actually revolve around the sun, but that revolution is so because our consciousness figurates it in that way — which to some minds might be equivalent to saying that they do not in themselves revolve around the sun. But I must give up in despair any attempt to set forth in a few words the actual explanation of what I have hereinbefore said. It is almost impossible to describe briefly. I am actually sorry that I touched upon it this evening. I suppose now that I shall have all kinds of questions on it. I shall simply say, Companions, that I cannot answer them in this Group.
Student — Some few months back you described the fact that the great sages and seers could carry on interplanetary communication. I wonder if I am on the right track in the following thought: for instance, we take a man like Beethoven who hears wonderful melodies that, as far as we know, have never been heard before; and he puts them down in a symbol of notation which other people can read and reproduce as music. Now is it possible that the interplanetary communication is in the sense of a spiritualized thought? Is the communication somewhat in the nature of a very highly evolved thought?
G. de P. — Are you referring to the interplanetary communication that takes place by means of those who have been trained to do it?
Student — Yes, I am talking about sages and seers, not about scientific experimentation, but of sages and seers who project their spirits, actually project their spirits to the portals of the sun. And I am wondering if thought is a suggestion of the initial stages of the method perhaps.
G. de P. — You may call it a suggestion; but the actual fact is much more than thinking towards the sun, much more than imagining you are there. It is an actual localization of the higher part of the initiate's consciousness on the sun or moon or planet, or on some part of the earth it may be. It is an actual transference of consciousness and will. In fact, the whole being is there at the time — that is, all the important and higher part of the constitution.
Student — Doctor, may I ask another question, please? You have stated that sleep and death are twins. Sometimes one retires absolutely fresh, not feeling at all fatigued, rests well, sleeps well without any dreams, and yet arises in the morning tired and exhausted. May I ask if there is any spiritual connection, so to speak, with such a condition?
G. de P. — No, I think not. I would not ascribe the condition you describe to the spiritual part of you as causing it. I think it must be the karmic resultant of circumstances which probably, largely, had their root in the activities of the preceding day, and both in mind and body. It is not an uncommon experience, and, as you say, a man will go to bed fresh and have a good night's sleep. Theoretically he ought to awaken in the morning fresh, but actually he awakes fatigued, if I get your idea aright. That is a karmic resultant of the thoughts and emotions and the bodily exercises, whatever they may have been, of the preceding day. Possibly also he ate too much. I trust I have got your thought.
Student — Yes, you have. Thank you.
Student — I wanted to ask about this magic thing: our going to bed tired and waking up rested. I never could fully understand it. To me it always seems wonderful to wake up every morning refreshed.
G. de P. — Yes, it is a truly wonderful thing. You see people at night before they go to bed look simply worn out, sometimes tired and positively weary. They go to bed; they sleep; in the morning their whole physical being is restored, changed. It is indeed a magical thing. The secret of it lies in the electromagnetic forces which actually build the body and which when balanced hold it in health. These forces have their seat in the astral-atomic structure of the physical body; and health is simply the equilibrium between the positive and negative of both the body magnetism and the body electricity, and the way they work and work together and interblend is a most marvelous thing. It is truly magical.
Student — May I ask this: do we not live too much in the shadow, and through that medium lose our possibilities of real living? What I mean is we give the material and shadowy side of nature too much credit, and we live too little in the right things, and through that error lose our possibility of real living.
G. de P. — Yes, that is very true. That is really the basis of the teaching of all the great instructors of humanity. They are always telling you: "Live in your higher part. Strive to become your greater self. Be it." The tendency of humanity today, especially of people in the Occident, is to live in the body, to live in the things of the exterior world. You place all your values there, as a rule. What is his wealth? What has he learned? What can he do? You very rarely ask: What is he? Or rarely is your attention turned to what he is in himself. And if you do turn your attention to this nobler aspect, your pragmatical minds do not dwell so much on the fact that he is something, is of some outstanding spiritual and intellectual value, but rather to the idea: What can he do? What can he produce? What has he done? What has he won? What has he gained? — all of these being estimates in material values again. Of course, this distracts the whole attention, the whole consciousness, away from the inner realities of a man, of the man himself. You take that to heart. It is a beautiful thought that you have brought up.
Student — I would like to go back to the question of death and ask whether there is a difference in the postmortem states of a messenger as compared with those of the average man; whether you could illustrate this point by referring to any one of the three messengers who preceded you.
G. de P. — Yes, there is a great difference, which is not contradictory of the other fact that each case stands on its own ground. There are differences among the messengers themselves, as ought to be obvious, because each one has a different individuality. In the case of ordinary men the usual rule of the post-mortem karmic destiny is followed out. The rule remains pretty much the same for all. In the case of a messenger, however, his postmortem adventures are very different indeed. The probability is that there is a very short devachanic period which nature almost demands, but it is very short; and then the return to work begins immediately.
In some cases, the messenger will apparently die, in other words abandon the body which actually does die, but yet the messenger does not go into devachan, but reincarnates almost immediately; passes a few days, or weeks, or months, even, in the state of rest — this is the best way I can describe it — in the auric egg, in his own auric egg, fully conscious, however, a state closely akin to but not identical with that of the nirmanakaya, and then returns to physical incarnation in order to carry on work for the Great Brotherhood.
There are cases of messengers, also, who as individuals leave one body when it is practically worn out and death in the normal course would come very soon, and enter another body, a child's body, or a body which has died but is not yet cold, and resuscitate that body. In fact, the case of each messenger stands on its own ground. It is not, I think, possible to answer your question in a general way, as applying accurately to all instances.
Companions, I think that we will now close for tonight. Good night.
[The sounding of the gong. Silence.]