The Theosophical Forum – May 1936

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: 304-309

QUESTION 304 (from the Chicago Lodge). In the January FORUM, article entitled 'Transactions of the Point Loma Lodge,' the discussion of light and color, a statement is therein made by G. de P. which is confusing to us.

In the last paragraph on pages 35 and 36 the statement is made as follows: ". . . it is perfectly true that the more rapid the vibration, the greater the frequency of vibration a color has, the closer to matter it is; because what we call matter, physical matter, is intensity of vibration, of force." . . . "The greater the frequency of vibration, the more condensed the substance is."

What we cannot understand is that by analogy the molecular vibration of matter as exemplified in ice-water and steam seems to us to be exactly opposed to the above statement. An explanation would surely be appreciated.

G. de P. — An interesting question, this, and shows the result of study and conscientious thought. It is likewise a good illustration of the working of maya, in its philosophical sense, in our minds. There is, however, no contradiction, and the querents would easily understand the situation, I believe, if they will remember that in what I wrote in the passage quoted from me, I was referring to the sphere of the atoms, to the vibration-frequencies in the atomic sphere, and including obviously what modern science calls those infinitesimal bodies dubbed electrons. The querents apparently have forgotten this, and find their difficulty, such as it is, in the realms of molecular cohesion — in other words, in the realm of molecules; whereas, as said, I was speaking of chemical attraction, the world of the atoms.

Furthermore, my reference was specifically to the different phases of light which we humans call colors; although of course the principle which I pointed to is universally applicable. In the first place, the difference between ice-water and steam is the difference between a fluid and a gas or vapor, which latter has been torn from the body of the fluid, water, by the intrusion of an 'outside' force — heat in this case. Obviously, by heating a body, solid or fluid, we can vaporize it if the heat be sufficient, and thus the freed molecules of water are in a state of temporary and rapid molecular vibration; but these molecules are nevertheless of the same substance as the solid, or the fluid, from which they have been torn as particles of vapor or gas. The analogy drawn by the querents is not a perfect one.

Consider a moment: the particles or molecules of water-gas or water-vapor called steam are in a state of relatively high individual movement, as compared with the body of water from which the steam or particles of water have been drawn or torn. Extract the heat, otherwise chill the water-gas or vapor called steam, and we have the molecules of water again coalescing to become drops, which unite and become a body of water again. In the case of steam, we have broken the molecular cohesion of the water-particles, and thus have freed them and have made them into vapor or gas by the application to the water of an 'outside' energy or force, to wit, heat. But the molecules of water-vapor bombarding each other, let us say in a container, as steam or water-gas, and doing so at what seems to us a high rate of motion or vibration, are nevertheless moving with extreme slowness as individual molecules when we compare them with the almost incomprehensible vibration-frequencies of the electrons in an atom, which scientists now tell us are in movement around the atomic nucleus or atomic core at an almost incomprehensible rate of speed, some quadrillions of revolutions per human second.

Take the case of ice-water, or again of ice: the atomic vibrations and the electronic vibration-frequencies in this apparently inert and in the case of ice relatively rigid body, are tremendously greater than the individual movements of the particles or molecules of water-vapor or gas which we call steam; in the former case, that of the atoms and electrons, we are dealing with vibration-frequencies which we call wave-lengths held in unity by chemical attraction; in the case of the latter, we are dealing with relatively much slower movements of water-particles freed as individuals by the application of an outside force, to wit, heat.

The point to remember is what I tried to indicate in the extract quoted from me, to wit, that the higher the rate of electronic or atomic vibration, i. e. the higher the vibration-frequencies of and in the atoms, the smaller the light-waves, and consequently the greater is the condensation or condensing of the particles involved, thus producing matter whose density is the greater the higher the vibration-frequencies are. This should be clear, especially when one remembers that the high rate of the atomic and electronic vibration-frequencies remain the same in the steam as they are in the ice-water, or likewise in the solid ice.

I hope that this is clear. The querents have made a mistake in analogy, for they have tried to contrast molecular cohesion with chemical attraction; and although both chemical attraction and molecular cohesion are manifestations of electro-magnetic energy, they are not the same kinds or productions thereof, and just here is where the alleged analogy falls.

Consider for a moment the modern scientific picture of an electron whirling at vertiginous speed around its atomic center. It is moving at such a tremendous rate of speed that to our coarse senses the electron seems to be in every part of its orbit at the same instant; but to a supposititious entity of atomic size, the electron would seem to be moving in its orbit with the same majestic slowness that the planets do to our eyes. Thus it is that the more rapid the vibration, in other words the greater the vibration-frequencies, of electronic and atomic bodies, the stronger the mutually attractive forces involved, i. e. the more dense or condensed is the matter thus produced; whereas the slower the vibration-frequencies, the less is the mutual attraction, and consequently the less dense is the resultant material. Ice, ice-water, water-vapor or steam, are all formed of identic molecules, the only difference among the three states being that steam has more heat moving its particles than has ice-water, and ice-water has more heat in it than ice; but the chemical attraction, and the electronic and atomic vibration-frequencies, are the same in all three states; it is the molecular cohesion which is different.

All this should be clear enough, and if the querents will ponder over the facts herein before stated they should easily see that they are trying to compare two different kinds of things, and to draw an analogy therefrom. They should compare chemical attraction with chemical attraction, or molecular cohesion with molecular cohesion, if they want to have a perfect analogy. Iron can be vaporized into gas; but the electrons and the atoms, whether in the solid iron or in the iron-gas, have the same vibration-frequencies in both cases; what I have done is merely to affect or modify the cohesion of the iron molecules by the introduction of an 'outside' element, heat.

QUESTION 305. Do you know of a clear-cut statement by Plato that would show that he accepted Reincarnation? I am wading through some of his books now, but have not found anything very direct yet.

G. de P. — There is not a single thing that Plato wrote saying: "I accept the doctrine of Reimbodiment," but there are a number of passages in his dialogs which cannot mean anything else except such a belief. But we must remember that in those days in Greece and throughout the entire Greek world the full teaching of Reincarnation was given out solely in the Mysteries.

On the other hand, the Pythagoreans did teach the doctrine of what was called Metempsychosis, at the back of which is Reincarnation; but it meant a good deal more than that. All the ancient world believed in Reimbodiment, but in different manners and in different ways and under different forms of expression; but to say boldly and baldly that Pythagoras or Plato or any other great philosopher of the Greek world "taught Reincarnation," coming from the mouth of a Theosophist, means today to the 'man in the street' that such a philosopher taught Reincarnation as the Theosophist teaches it openly and more or less distinctly; and this is not the fact.

Many are the Greek allusions to it. Empedocles, for instance, says in substance in one of his fragments still remaining: "I was once a bush; I was once a boy; I was once a maid; I was once a fish in the glittering sea." That is not our doctrine of Reincarnation as taught today; and yet it is our doctrine if you understand the meaning behind this.

We have to be careful; we cannot afford to be slipshod as some Theosophists have been in the past in boldly making the statement that all the ancient world "taught Reincarnation," which means to the public that it taught Reincarnation as presented today by Theosophists; and any scholar could challenge such a statement. The ancient Initiates knew the doctrine, knew what all these different statements meant; and if our modern Theosophists understood Reincarnation better they would understand that the ancient philosopher taught absolute truth, taught different aspects of the general doctrine of Reimbodiment; but the modern, clear-cut, very definite teaching of the reimbodiment of the Reincarnating Ego is inadequate to express it in its fulness.

All the ancient world taught Reimbodiment; and that is one of the reasons why in my lectures and in my books I keep harping upon the difference between Reincarnation, Rebirth, Transmigration, Metempsychosis, and Metensomatosis, as being all different views or aspects of the one general doctrine of Reimbodiment. It is not just a matter of words. I am trying to bring order into the situation, to get accuracy; and the scholars of the future will appreciate it. It is just like the doctrine concerning the Absolute or the proper spelling of Karman: we need to have accuracy and definiteness and precision.

QUESTION 306. The following remarks were submitted to the Editors as coming from members of the Boston Theosophical Club, in regard to their discussion of an article, 'The Elixir of Life' in "The Theosophical Forum" for Jan., 1936. To quote:

"Discussion arose as to the sense in which the term self-forgetfulness was used. There was some objection raised as to the effectiveness of solving our problems by attempting to forget them. The feeling prevailed that a facing of facts as they existed in our lives was imperative to a subsequent understanding of those facts and a consequent successful solution of the problems. We would like a little further light on this."

G. de P. — Self-forgetfulness, as the Theosophist understands it, never and in no circumstances does or can mean neglect of our honorable obligations. Indeed the slightest psychological analysis of the situation demonstrates clearly that the man who neglects and sets aside his obligations of any kind, family or other, does so because instead of being self-forgetful in his duty, he is hunting self-satisfaction in some way, and this is just what self-forgetfulness does not mean. Self-forgetfulness means setting aside selfishness, eager self-seeking at the cost of others, putting oneself in thought and act over and above others, etc., etc. Furthermore the truest happiness is found in self-forgetting our petty desires, wishes, longings, and so forth, and living in the great and grand things.

L. L. W. — Let us suppose, in illustration of the difficulty implied in this question, a problem familiar to us all — that of our relations with someone who is uncongenial or irritating, who 'gets on our nerves' and provokes us into impulsive responses in either thought or word that we are ashamed of afterward. How about a practice of self-forgetfulness here? Irritation with others will nearly always be found to be due, when traced back to its source, to a sense of our own superiority. Suppose, for a change, that we try to find in that stupid or irritating person the respects in which he is superior to us. They will be there — and the effort both at self-control and honesty will result in the development of sympathy and a consequent broadening of heart and mind for us. It is in this sense that the term self-forgetfulness was used.

QUESTION 307. What is really accomplished in the great cycle of monadic evolution, if the monad ultimately returns to the state of pure Spirit which it left at the beginning of the cycle?

M. Savage. — "From un-self-conscious God-spark to self-conscious god" is another way of describing this evolutionary cycle; and in these words we have our answer too. An expansion of consciousness, the attaining of self-consciousness in the next higher sphere of being, is the object of the monad's evolutionary pilgrimage, for only by this means can it attain union with the Universal Consciousness. The primal urge which starts the God-spark on its descent into matter is the urge for self-unfoldment, for manifesting its swabhava, its individual and essential characteristic — for un-self-conscious as it is, it yet carries within itself the potentiality of unlimited self-development and self-expression. All that it ever attains is already in its heart, but it has to enter into and to know at first hand life on its various planes of expression.

During the progress of the monad along the Downward Arc, the trend is already towards self-consciousness, in order to reap experience consciously; but before the first gleam of self-consciousness is achieved, evolution must first proceed through lower unconscious forms until a vehicle is builded suitable for the expression of a self-conscious entity. These vehicles the monad builds for or produces from within itself, ever moving on to its "more stately mansions," until manhood or its equivalent is reached, and the manasic principle comes into expression, thereby awakening the monad to self-consciousness, thus making possible a self-directed evolution, and a knowledge of the real purpose of its existence. Godhood is glimpsed ahead, and the Universe becomes an open book in which man's own history and destiny may be read.

The treasures of experience of each planet-life are garnered in the storehouse of the manasic principle, and as each after-death state ensues, the essence of these is absorbed by the buddhic principle and added to the sum of the individuality as character. This noble harvest of experience endures beyond the gulf of death: it cannot be lost. "What emerges at the end of all things is not only 'pure and impersonal spirit,' but the collective 'personal' remembrances skimmed off every new fifth principle in the long series of being." — (The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, page 158). Yet this must not be thought of as a mere accretion of the fruits of experience. The conception would be too mechanical. It is really better conceived of as a constant widening and deepening of the consciousness, progressively allying itself more fully with the Universal Consciousness.

Nor is it more consistent to trace the evolution of a single monad, than it is to follow the course of a single drop of blood through the body, for the monad gathers to itself by magnetic and karmic attraction countless other monads of lesser development, which form a part of itself, each being in the hierarchy aiding the progress of those less evolved than itself, but all together destined for the same goal of relative perfection.

QUESTION 308. If one develops a superiority complex one is liable to be condemned; should he develop an inferiority complex he will be despised and rejected. Is there a middle course that promises a way out, or 'in'? — A. W. N.

W. E. S. — There is plenty in the philosophy of Theosophy that can form a good stiff rod with which to 'knock the stuffing' out of sufferers from a superiority complex, and at the same time give sufficient of a fillip to the imagination and understanding of one laboring under a so-called inferiority complex.

Consider that you are but an atom in the body of a greater being whose life you affect in a manner similar to that which the electron-lives of which you are practically unconscious affect your physical body. The sun itself is but an electronic particle karmically subservient, respondent, and obedient, to the 'laws' of a greater proton-Sun. The greatest you can think of is but a poor Infinite to that which is INFINITE. And you, poor mortal in your intermediate human self, are far, far behind in evolutionary grandeur those whose consciousness is of a sweep that comprises galactic systems. And you set yourself up as superior!

But consider this now: Locked up within you are secrets gathered from the evolutionary journeyings of ages — secrets of the elemental regions: of ether, fire, air, water, earth; of the mineral kingdom; of the vegetable world. Unreleased are powers acquired and ingrown into yourself during aeons — now hid within your own being. You are the hierarch of billions of lives in your own human constitution. You are lord of your thoughts. You are elder brother to all beasts. You are younger brother to the gods. You, at your heart-core are one with all beings below you, one with all beings above you, one with the secret essence of Being itself. Naught is but is rooted in your root. Therefore are you one with the Unboundaried; one with the Beyond Brahman; one with the wordless THAT.

There is no 'superior' or no 'inferior' in that which is One with the Heart of all Being.

Consider the destiny of man. Take thought of his wondrous evolutionary pilgrimage. Place him where he belongs in the great Ladder of Life — and thought of developing a 'complex' of any kind, whether so-called 'superior' or 'inferior,' will quickly dissolve into thin air, displaced by the constant picture of the Pilgrim, the Man behind the Mask, as he pursues with ever growing consciousness his pathway towards Divinity.

The "middle course that promises a way out — or 'in' " — is a complete right-about-face on feeble so-called psychological twaddle and an embracing of the solid truths of ancient esoteric philosophy. It strikes me we've heard enough about 'complexes' — of all kinds!

QUESTION 309. What do you think of Dean Inge's proposal to save Christianity by purifying it?

H. T. Edge — Dean Inge seems to be a most convinced Christian and to be very anxious to save Christianity by cleansing it. Doubtless, as is the case with so many other people, his final convictions rest upon grounds beyond the brain-mind reason; and if he is successful in achieving a harmony between his logic and his convictions, we need not press the question as to which of the twain is the predominant partner in the association.

We find ourselves in complete sympathy with the Dean in many regards. He enumerates two prime curses in the history of Christianity: the craze for asceticism, and the ecclesiastical system, neither (he thinks) discoverable in the teachings of Christ; both excrescences. He seems prepared to view with equanimity the disappearance of church organization. He realizes that Christ taught the path of perfection for the individual disciple, not any system of social polity. In short, he virtually admits that Christ was what we call an Avatara, a manifestation of divinity in human form.

But it is probably at this point that Theosophists would part company with Dean Inge; for they would have to recognise the existence of many Avataras, at different epochs and in various lands, of whom Jesus was a particular instance. They would also lay more emphasis on the point that Jesus was a teacher of the ancient wisdom, his message not being new. The main difficulty, of course, is to find out just how much of Christianity is left after it has been clarified to this extent. Looking at the matter from the angle of practical politics, too, we may well find ourselves asking whether the whole world is to be Christian, or whether there are still to be rival religions. Theosophists would say that, while there may be many forms of religion, there can be but one real Religion. The analogy of languages may be useful. Can we or should we seek to give the whole world one language? Is any one language superior or final? Is there not a common mind underlying all languages, languages being the various vehicles of that common mind?

Another point of sympathy which we must have with the Dean is in the concern as to the future of morality. Are we today living on the capital of morality engendered in days when religion was a power? If so, will that capital be exhausted? Will a new generation grow up without any moral restraints and at the mercy of their own inclinations, which would be a source of misery to themselves and their neighbors? What can the dean with his purified Christianity, or Theosophists with their restatement of the Ancient Wisdom, do in this matter?


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