The Path – June 1891

LOSS OF THE SOUL — Hadji Erinn

(Continued from April No.)

In the study of the occult science and philosophy one is continually coming upon paradoxes, and these at first seem irreconcilable. They seem like flat contradictions, and sometimes so remain for the individual student for two reasons. First: because he is unable through lack of knowledge to apprehend the broad and complex relations involved, and thus to view the subject from opposite grounds or points of observation, and so to reconcile the paradox. A second reason for the obscurity remaining in many minds is the fact that nothing short of a full explanation from the esoteric point of view is capable of reconciling the apparent contradiction; and this the teacher is not at liberty to give; is, in fact, solemnly bound not to give except under strict rules and conditions, and here is the reason why the leader of the present T. S. movement in the visible world, H. P. B., has often been misunderstood and severely criticized. Not even all members of the T. S seem to have understood the difference between a reconcilable paradox, provided one has the requisite knowledge, and a falsehood. Cases under the first class are too numerous to mention, where lack of knowledge or of ability to apprehend has allowed the paradox to remain a seeming contradiction. As a case under the second class, the discussion in Theosophist on the classification of the "principles" in man by a learned high caste Brahmin and H. P. B. may serve as an example.

The idea that all human beings spring from one common root, that all are nourished from one common and eternal fountain of life, and that this common root and this living fountain inhere also in all lower forms of life, seems irreconcilable with that other idea, that human beings exist in every possible degree of power and of unfolding, and that some are even souless, having lost the divine element, while others are far advanced in the line of the higher evolution and the divine consciousness. It is from the first idea, that of a common inheritance, that the Universal Brotherhood of man logically flows; while it is from the second idea, that of degrees of development and inherent power, that the "sin of separateness" seems logically to arise. With no distinct memory on the part of the individual of any previous state of existence, here seems to be an irreconcilable paradox. Children of one common "Father" and heirs of one common life-inheritance are unequal.

Let us suppose that the inheritance was originally equal, and that the difference now seen is the result of profit made by use of the original capital; and let us suppose that the law is so framed that he who has given away the most, who has done most to help his weaker brother, has now the most valuable possession. The paradox is thus explained, the law of action thus revealed. The original inheritance was indeed equal, and while the pains and penalties of the poorer brother have been self-inflicted, the more fortunate proves himself a worthy son of his "Father" by dividing his inheritance again and again with his poorer brother. The rich and fortunate, is therefore, not he who selfishly accumulates and tenaciously holds, but he who generously and continually gives. This is, indeed, quite the opposite of the worldly standard, where people honor the rich and despise the poor, and where the intelligent and the powerful despoil the ignorant and the weak. All real, and even all apparent, differences among individuals are the work of their own lives, the issue of their own hands. Man reaps as he has sown, and the problem of individual existence could only be solved through the efforts of the individual himself in working out either his own salvation or his own damnation. The true doctrine of the vicarious atonement has been misinterpreted and misapplied. "Christos" ( Buddhi-Manas ) suffers not for us, but has suffered like unto us; has reached the state of at-one-ment through like passions and trials, and through overcoming evil as we must also overcome it. How else could he be our "elder brother"? The sympathy and helpfulness of Christos dwell in the "man of sorrows" who remembers the poor and the afflicted, the sinning and the sorrowing which he once was. Christos must have been at one with humanity through suffering, before he could be at-one with divinity through participating in the divine nature.

The elements of weakness, of sin, and of possible failure are then due to man's own efforts; these possibilities are the very terms upon which both personal and individual existence are based. Were it otherwise, were man made perfect and incapable of falling, or diabolical and incapable of rising, he could be nothing in and of himself.

The question was recently asked, "Do you really believe in the existence and immortality of the soul?", and the reply was, "Do you really question or deny it?" Here both question and answer proceeded from the plane of consciousness. Certain teachings, and even certain forms of intellectual belief that induce certain habits of thought and modes of life, may undoubtedly modify consciousness itself. One may contract or expand, cultivate or destroy, certain forms of consciousness. When the monad reached the human plane and became endowed with self-consciousness, that consciousness involved that divine light from which the higher consciousness springs. This is man's human inheritance, involving also his divine birthright. Then begins the struggle for the Kingdom, for dominion and power, the elements of man's lower animal nature drawing him back, and the powers of his diviner nature drawing him upward toward his immortal destiny.

Thus the price of self-consciousness is the necessity of conflict; and the experience of conflict is suffering; while its reward is divinity restored to full consciousness in man. The penalty for final failure is not being born in the bodies of animals (metempsychosis), but descent to the animal plane and the final loss of self-consciousness, or the human birthright.

The double inheritance of man from the Lunar Pitris and the Manasa Putras (see Secret Doctrine), giving to the original monad Form, Desire, and Mind, constitutes him a complex being. Form and desire ascend from the lower plane; they are evolved. Mind descends from the higher plane; it is involved. Man in his present life is therefore anchored to all below him and heir to all above him. He is up-borne and overshadowed. Were it otherwise, the "germ" — that "dark nucleole" — could never expand and become incorporated in full consciousness with Eternal Nature. Man, the microcosm, is potentially Adam Cadmon, the heavenly man or microcosm. Man, therefore, as we know him in the present life, is a potency, a possibility, rather than an actuality. The actuality must be a Power, at one with its creative source, Divinity; otherwise there must eventuate two supreme powers and these antagonistic, which is an absurdity.

Man's present environment and narrow limitations hedge him about like a wall that he cannot overpass; and the more he dwells in his appetites and passions that spring from matter and belong to his animal ego the more closely press the walls about him.

Suppose we consider the planes of man's consciousness as the Spiritual (higher manas), Mental ( lower manas), Sensuous ( Kama rupa ), and the Physical (prana or jiva). Every one is familiar with these planes by experience; hence they may serve to illustrate our subject.

Consciousness in man is derived from Mahat, the universal principle of cosmic intelligence; the foundation principle of all law, proportion, relation, number, form, etc. This principle is what Plato calls "the world of divine ideas". This is the basis of consciousness in man, and it is diffused throughout all the planes of consciousness in man; the spiritual, the mental, the sensuous, and the physical, as already named. While, therefore, Mahat is the basis of consciousness in man, it is not his self-consciousness per se. Something more is necessary, viz. a laya center. This laya center is the monad, the incarnating ego, that "dark nucleoli" whose impenetrable essence is a "spark" of the one absolute Life and Light. To and from this nucleole ebb and flow the tides of life, of feeling, of thought, and of desire. The under-lying principle, Mahat, gives to these ebbing and flowing tides rhythm, form, proportion; in other words, their Law of Action and modes of expression potentially. Their actual expression comes from man's desire, his motive of action. Through his diffused consciousness man senses, "tastes" experience of action on all the planes named, and from this varied experience he must choose. The laya-center holds the light to his understanding so that he is not left without a "witness".

Now while the Mahatic principle is diffused through all planes in man as it is diffused through all planes of nature, giving shape to his body as it gives form to the crystal and proportion to chemical compounds, this diffusion occurs in regular order and in concrete degree, because it is coupled with that "spark" of the one life which is the dark and impenetrable center of the "monad". It is the relation and interaction of this center and the Mahatic principle that constitutes self-consciousness in man. Each of the "planes of consciousness" in man is a field for the display of his self-consciousness, his field of battle, and on each plane the "light of the Logos", i. e. the radiance from the spark of divine life in the heart of the monad, is focalized. There would thus arise a series of self-consciousnesses, so to say. Each plane, in other words, becomes a vehicle ( Upadhi ) for the light of the Logos. The Monad or real ego is alone self-existent. It alone directly receives the light of the Logos. The "planes" can receive the light only by reflection from the monad. The "planes" of consciousness, therefore, are not self-existent. They have no life of their own, so they receive no light of their own. It thus follows, logically, that if the monad containing the laya-center be separated, alienated, or destroyed, no further light can reach the planes thus separated from the "Father". Their dissolution would thus be only a question of time.

If now it can be shown by experience that a certain mode of life inspired by certain motives or desires tends to expand the laya-center and diffuse its light through all lower planes, and thus ministers to growth, expansion, and permanency, and that the opposite mode of life tends as inevitably to contraction, decay, and death, the consequent salvation or destruction of man's personal consciousness will have been shown to be a matter of choice. At every act called death, a separation of elements, and consequently of planes of consciousness, occurs. The physical and sensuous dissolve, leaving only the mental and spiritual, according to our classification of planes. If, therefore, the personal experience has been largely confined to these two lower planes, when the separation occurs at death such experience can have no conscious permanency. If the two higher planes, the spiritual and mental, have been dwarfed during earthly life from lack of use. and been starved by the encroachments of the lower planes, then, although they may accompany the monad into the next stage of existence, they cannot be supposed to convey or to retain the personal self-consciousness, because they had none or so little to retain. All of this pertains to the ordinary experience without considering the loss or final alienation of the soul, or divine spark, the "monad". There can be no memory of experience on the physical and sensuous planes because they have no permanent vehicle or Upadhi.


The Path

THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE