Theosophical University Press Online Edition
The Ten Avataras of Vishnu
Is Hypnotic Practice Ever Justifiable?
Vibration, Cohesion, and Attraction
Plato on Reincarnation
Complicate Nature of Man
Meat-eating Versus Vegetarianism
The Monad and the Monadic Essence
Types of Devachan
I have been puzzling over a list of the ten avataras of Vishnu, as given in the Brahmanical scriptures, and wondering if there is not some connexion between them and the scientific conception of evolution. Could you throw any light on this? The list follows: 1. Matsya, the Fish; 2. Kurma, the Tortoise; 3. Varaha, the Boar; 4. Narasimha, the Man-lion; 5. Vamana, the Dwarf; 6. Parasu-Rama, Rama with the Ax; 7. Rama, hero of the RAMAYANA; 8. Krishna, the spiritual instructor of Arjuna; 9. Buddha; 10. Kalki, the White Horse.
This line of avataric descents really is in the evolutionary line of progressive growth, even as European science teaches it. You have, first, the Fish, the Reptile, the Mammal, the beginnings of the humanity, young Humanity, as such more or less developed but unspiritual; then Rama of the Moon, Chandra, showing the beginnings of the workings of mind, and then Krishna; the avataric initiate Gautama the Buddha, and finally the Kalki-Avatara, the summit or highest of all. I might add that all these names do not imply and were never intended to imply that Brahmanical esotericism taught the descent of divinities into the respective animate beings named here. These names of different animals and men are technical, and like all zoologic mythology were chosen because of certain attributes that these various animate beings have.
Now, these avataric descents do not appertain solely to a race or a root-race, nor to a globe, nor to a chain, nor to a solar system alone. But because Nature repeats herself by analogy, for the simple reason that the little must have in it and reproduce whatever its parent the whole contains, therefore the same line of enlarging understanding, of evolutionary development, takes place in all the spheres mutatis mutandis. So that these avataric descents we can ascribe or allocate to the solar system, to the planetary chain as a whole, to a round, to a globe, to a root-race, to a sub-race therein.
It is very interesting too, that although this line of ten items, ten avataric descents, is typically Hindu, nevertheless the same scheme, suggesting growth in knowledge and wisdom and power, with all consequent spiritual and other attributes and faculties attending thereupon, were and still are found in systems of religio-philosophical and mystical thought other than the Hindu, as for instance, in Mithraism. The Mithraists had seven degrees — actually ten or twelve — seven degrees of advancing knowledge and growth in understanding. We would say seven esoteric degrees in the esoteric cycle, beginning with the lowest and rising through various degrees to the highest therein. Thus, for instance, they taught that the neophyte began his course of experience, and he was given a name, the name of a bird as I recollect. I do not remember them all in the Mithraic system, but the first grade was called Corax, the crow or the raven, and the neophyte who successfully passed that grade was called technically a crow. It did not mean that he was a crow. It was a technical word (the raven in Mithraic mythology was the servant of the Sun) marking his stage of evolutionary growth, development. Just as in the avataric list the evolutionary growth is indicated from the less to the greater, from the fish through the reptile, through the mammal, headed by man, etc., etc.
The second grade in the hierarchy of the Mithraists was Cryphius, Occult, higher than the crow. The third grade was that of the soldier. The fourth grade was that of the lion; and so forth up to the highest, which was Pater, the Father or hierophant. These were technical terms marking the advancing degrees of initiation. And to show a still greater similarity to this scheme, the Mithraists said that these same seven or ten grades of growth or advancement mark the stages of the after-death journey of the excarnate being through the planets — their ladder of life, each one a stage.
Somewhat the same thing was found in Christianity. Christian neophytes were called fishes, so that they even said of themselves: "We are little fishes. Our great Fish is our Master Jesus." Why did they choose such a curious and unpleasant little animal to designate themselves by? For certain reasons of their own which we can easily imagine. Fishes could swim in water, and are perpetually hungry, and are going through the water, which is the astral light, signifying the material world and its temptations, and all that kind of thing; hungering for light all the time. If you catch the thought, you will see the reason why the earliest Christians called themselves little fishes.
I might add that in connexion with the highest of these avataric grades, that of the Kalki Avatara, marked by the white horse, riding the white horse: the horse is a symbol of the Sun; the bull or cow is a symbol of the moon; and you may remember how in Egypt and Persia, India, Babylonia, and other places, these animals were used as symbolic suggestions. Pictures of Egyptian buildings, temples, shrines, and those of other peoples, show the sacred cow, the sacred bull, the sacred horse, and so forth. As the horse stood for the sun, so the tenth Avatara here would be an Avatara of Vishnu or Maha-Vishnu, of the Sun.
What do we learn from this? This scheme, in addition to being the names given by human beings to the Avataras, from the first to the tenth, represents likewise the technical names given to neophytes in esoteric schools. The lowest chela was called a fish, just as in Mithraism he was called by the name of a bird. The chela who had taken the second degree successfully was called a tortoise. When he took the third successfully, he was called a boar; and the highest of all was called an incarnation of the Sun, a Son of the Sun technically, called a white horse, or a brilliant horse, a dazzling horse.
You know, we can glean something else from this line of avataric descents. If you examine this carefully, you will see in time, that these different items in the ascending list from one to ten represent the ten sub-races in any one root-race, commonly enumerated as seven. Actually there are twelve.
After having unconditionally condemned some 90% of all hypnotic-phenomena and practices, is there any justification whatever in at least some of it, primarily in therapeutics? Such things as local anesthesia by hypnotism, Prevention of birth-pains by the same means, seeming cure of small Psychological defects and bad habits. This is at present done on a rather large scale, and it seems to be divided in two main categories: (a) under hypnosis and (b) without hypnotic sleep and solely by mental suggestion. My question does not refer to magnetization which, of course, can be of great help when done by clean-minded unselfish people.
Hypnotic practice is almost always bad, even though, somewhat like blood-transfusion, there are rare successes occasionally. It is just like playing with some dangerous explosive. It is fundamentally and generally bad because it weakens the will of the subject instead of evoking the will from within outwards into action thus building up a structure of inner life and power. Every repetition of hypnosis renders the subject still more flabby, still more negative, still weaker, and subjects the subject more and more to leaning on the outer instead of evoking inner powers.
Now of course like everything else, it is conceivable as a theory that an Adept, a Mahatman for instance, knowing nature's laws and all the tricks and oddities and peculiarities of human psychology and the astral body, could as an abstract theory use hypnosis in certain minor cases beneficially. But this is merely a theory, and I can assure you that no Mahatman or Adept ever would do such a thing, because the fundamental idea is wrong. They want to bring out or develop the will-power and inner vital strength of men, and hypnosis sends these last fine things to sleep, weakens them, emasculates the inner powers of reserve.
Still as a mere academic theory, by an Adept hypnotism could be used safely.
Now of course in some local things, like stroking with the hand on an affected part of the body to relieve pain such as a headache, this is really not so much hypnotic sleep in minor degree as a kind of mesmerism or animal magnetization, soothing the nerves but not weakening the will, the healthy body quieting, soothing the tangled and angry nerves of the invalid. And this is not bad if no attempt is made, as just said, to affect the will of the subject or his body as a whole, if it is purely local; because in the first place it is not hypnotism purely speaking, as this word is popularly understood, and in the second place it is purely local and the benefits are derived from the clean, strong magnetism of the operator. It is in fact animal magnetism in these last cases; and if the animal magnetism is healthy and clean, probably no harm is done and the patient can receive temporary relief, although it is not permanent because the cause is not eliminated.
I will say in this connexion that even auto-hypnosis or self-hypnosis, where the subject hypnotizes himself or herself by various means known for ages past, such as staring at a spot or a bright light or a piece of crystal or glass, or even looking at the tip of the nose concentratedly, or at the navel: all those things which are so well known are emphatically not good because they mean using the will by the subject himself to send his higher will upwards and out of the picture, and induce in the lower part of the constitution a false tranquillity or quiet by what is almost mechanical means. In other words the nerves, instead of being roused into clean wholesome healthy activity upon which the inner will can work, are put to sleep, hypnotized (which means sending to sleep), and the brain and nervous system sink below the threshold of ordinary consciousness into the vibrational rates of the glass, or other object stared at. Quiet is induced, but it is the quiet of death, of the mineral kingdom.
Therefore while self-hypnosis is not as bad as hypnosis by others, it again is emphatically not good and is not used by the true Adepts, only by magicians and Shamans and medicine men of barbarous tribes. It is this power exactly which gives the steady unwinking eye of the snake its hypnotic power over a bird or a rabbit or a mouse, popularly called fascination. The glittering eye of the human hypnotizer starts hypnotism off with the same process. It is all unfortunate and if not exactly bad in its better side, is certainly not good.
Therefore all these things should be avoided. They are unwholesome. They lower the vibrational level down into the lower kingdom instead of raising the vibrational rate of consciousness upwards into the higher psychical, intellectual and spiritual realms.
In THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January, 1936, 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.
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 solid, a fluid and a gas, 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, in other words chill the 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: the electronic vibration-frequencies in this apparently inert, 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.
The querents, as said, 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 electromagnetic energy, they are not the same kinds or productions thereof, and just here is where the alleged analogy falls.
All this should be clear enough, and if the querents will ponder over the facts hereinbefore 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.
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.
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.
According to Theosophical doctrines, man is a septenary being, in addition to his physical body having six other principles as a part of his constitution. (a) Is it true then, that in addition to his present physical body manifesting on this our material earth, he would also simultaneously be manifesting on six other material globes or planets in an appropriate physical body or vehicle, all seven physical vehicles on the seven material globes each having its own six other principles functioning in their respective spheres, contributing each and all to the Monadic center? (b) If this is so, would all seven physical vehicles die and reincarnate again at the same time, or each at a different time, depending upon the karmic energies of each vehicle?
The foregoing question does not lack profound interest; and by the changing of two words — which words because they are esoteric cannot here be stated — the question would deal with a typically esoteric matter, connected with man's septenary constitution. However, and answering with as much brevity as possible in view of the complex factors involved, and having in mind the intuitive thought behind the question, I would reply briefly to the questioner's query (a): No, if by the word 'material' is meant physical bodies on other physical planets — Globes D of their respective chains — of our Solar System.
The fact is that man in his septenary constitution has one 'material' or rather 'physical' body only; and as he is now manifesting on our own Planetary Chain, and on Globe D thereof in the Fourth Round, this his physical body is the physical body that we all know — yours, mine, any other man's or woman's physical body on this Earth.
Yet there is an intuition in this question which is struggling to find utterance, or rather to find phrasing in which it may clothe itself; and I believe that future study will prove to this querent the accuracy of this observation of mine.
Now, the querent's intuition points directly to the fact of man's composite nature, which is divisible after different manners; for instance, our usual exoteric manner which H. P. B. gave to us, and there is none better for its own purposes; then there is another manner which has been more favored by the Vedanta and the Taraka-Raja-Yoga, to which H. P. B. likewise approvingly alludes in her The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, page 157, and which refers more particularly to the different monads forming man's composite constitution. When we remember that these different monads are, each one of them, a growing and evolving entity, each one at some date in the distant future to be an individual of septenary character, we see not only the intuition in the querent's question, but also the profound truth of the famous old statement found in all mystical literature that man is a microcosm or small copy of the Macrocosm or Great Original; and, on exactly similar lines of analogy, every one of the monads in man is an as yet imperfectly evolved microcosm of the complete man as we recognise him.
With regard to the latter question, the querent's (b), it is seen from the foregoing part of my answer that there is not more than one physical body at any one time for man, and that this physical body is now found on our Globe D, Earth; and hence, the answer to this question (b) again is No. Yet just here I must enter a caveat, and point out that the same intuition before noticed is here again struggling to express itself, and it does seem to me as if this questioner had an inkling of a certain esoteric and very difficult teaching concerning the Outer Rounds. Be this as it may, my answer stands correct, that man's septenary constitution at any one time works through one physical body only, and that in the present phase of human evolution this physical body is the one in which we, as individuals, are incarnated on this Earth.
There are differences of opinion in our Lodge on the subject of eating meat. Some of the members teach that we are doing the animals a great service by killing and eating them, thus raising them to higher states and helping them to evolve. They even go so far as to state that if we did not kill the animals and eat them, their evolution would immediately come to a stop. They point to the civilization of India: how it has degenerated, and then quote a phrase from THE MAHATMA LETTERS about a bird eating a butterfly, the butterfly becoming the bird.
Others hold that there are other ways of helping the animals: for example, loving them, as a mother with her helpless babe loves and cherishes it not because of the amount of mind it manifests, but because of its need and helplessness. They say that meat-eating involves disregard for the suffering of countless innocent animals, so tenderly referred to by Master K. H. as these "infant entities." They also point out that the animals have the use of our human life-atoms after our physical death.
These differences of opinion sometimes give rise to a painful degree of disharmony in our Lodge-meetings. If we could only have some teaching that would reconcile these conflicting views!
This is indeed a question which comes popping up constantly in our Theosophical life, and pretty much everywhere. We have hundreds and hundreds of vegetarians in the T. S., although we have perhaps an even larger number of members in the T. S. who feel that they need a little meat, but who probably in their hearts wish it were not so, for no Theosophist likes even to think of some creature giving up its life in order to feed other beings.
So difficult is this question to handle without deeply wounding the feelings of thousands of Theosophists, that we have always taken the attitude that it is our duty to be just to others, and not to criticize others for differing from us. Actually, I am sure, if there has been anywhere such criticism, it is because of the deep moral sense that all our members have, whether they eat meat or not, concerning this and other questions. The meat-eaters do not like to feel that their brothers, the non-meat-eaters, are speaking unkindly of them, or are charging them with being cruel, etc., and on the other hand, our vegetarian members very naturally resent the imputation that some meat-eating members make that the vegetarians are narrow-minded and one-sided in their views.
With my sympathies on both sides, because I see the good in both sides (I mean the good in the human beings on both sides), and also seeing how both sides are so very earnest, I long ago came to the conclusion whenever my advice is asked in such a matter, to say frankly that no Theosophist has a right to criticize another Theosophist. Thus a Theosophist who eats meat has no right to criticize a brother-Theosophist who is a vegetarian; and of course vice-versa; the vegetarians should not sneer at the meat-eater, nor make the meat-eater feel that he is gross and untheosophical. In other words, live and let live in this thing.
Abstractly, of course, I think it probably true to say that every Theosophist living wishes that the habit of meat-eating had never become established, and realizes that not to eat meat of course is more beautiful than to eat meat. But on the other hand, it is unfortunately true that among Occidentals whose ancestors for several thousands of years have gorged themselves with meat, the bodies of most Occidentals really feel that they need meat in order to retain what they call their "fitness."
But I see hope in this matter, for the vegetarian movement is growing all over the world, not very fast perhaps, but nevertheless growing; and more and more people every year are eating less and less meat, and finding combinations of vegetable foods that seem to supply all the needs of the body.
But these matters must be handled not roughly, nor in a revolutionary way, trying to overthrow things in a single day; any such movement should come in slowly.
I myself find that my body really needs a little meat or fowl or fish, but I do not eat much, and as the years go by I am eating less and less of it. There was a time for many years when I was a most rigid vegetarian; years and years, I say, a vegetarian; so I know both sides of the matter, and have sympathies on both sides.
Therefore I suggest that all the members of our Lodges do their best to avoid this topic, at least in their lodge-meetings of every kind. I do not ask anyone to give up his convictions or her convictions because that would be untheosophical. But just try to avoid discussing this subject.
Every Theosophist by nature and training and study is compassionate and desires to become more and more so every year. But no Theosophist likes to be insulted, or to have his habits criticized. So the best way is to follow the beautiful Theosophical rules of not judging others, and in such matters as this to avoid by mutual consent any further discussion of it, at least in lodge-meetings.
I have the deepest sympathy with the kindliness and spirit of compassion that Theosophical vegetarians have; but I also understand the other point of view of those Theosophists who feel the need, at least at present, of eating a little meat; and I never condemn, nor do I judge. If anybody asks me about vegetarianism, I always commend it, say it is fine; and then I add: "Some day I hope that meat-eating will have been outgrown by the race as I think certainly it will be in future time."
Now as to the other matter involved in your question: that of the effect upon the beasts themselves: I fear that even some of our own dear F. T. S. make a complete mistake when they allege that if we humans eat flesh of animals, the evolution of these animals is quickened. There is such a teaching as this in the world, but I can tell you the idea is absolutely wrong. The confusion here is between the souls of the beasts we kill for food, and whose evolution is certainly not helped by such killing; and the life-atoms merely of the bodies of such beasts. Thus, to say that the beasts, that is to say the beast-souls, are quickened in their evolution if we eat their bodies, is to say something absolutely wrong. It is, however, true that the life-atoms in the beasts' bodies can be raised somewhat by entering into the bodies of humans. But this mere fact, which H. P. B. taught as long ago as 1879, should not be used as an argument for meat-eating, because it is forgetting the other fact: that the beast, that is the soul of the beast, does lose its body when its body is killed, and therefore loses time; and its evolution, instead of being quickened, is actually somewhat retarded because it loses time; and this despite the fact that the beasts, when they die, incarnate very, very quickly. They still lose a little time, which is something.
Try to get this clear, then. It is not true that the evolution of the beasts is hastened when we kill them and use their bodies for food. But it is true that the life-atoms of these dead beast-bodies are helped a little bit when taken into the human body. But the help they get is so slight that it would be monstrous to argue that we should kill the beasts so that we could help the life-atoms of their bodies by eating their bodies.
How about the souls of the beasts that have to die when they give up their bodies? This is awfully hard on the souls of these poor beasts. I honestly do not think any one of our Theosophists could have been very serious in using the above argument about helping the animal evolution by killing them. Such a belief I am sure is from thoughtlessness and from a wrong understanding of the teaching, as, for instance, given in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in one or two places.
And as a last word, let us drop any more discussion, at least in lodge-meetings, on this matter of vegetarianism or meat-eating. We have so much Theosophical work to do, the world is so harassed and anxious, it needs our Theosophical light so badly. The aching hearts and minds hungry for truth in their millions all around us, should make us energetic and active in our lodge-work, and in extending its influence, so that we can give out Wisdom to others, and give to them the help that we have received. Really we have no time for quarrels in a lodge. I think it is almost criminal to allow such disagreements to continue and to make the lodge-members feel that their lodge-room is no longer a Theosophical home for them where they all can meet in brotherly love and mutual helpfulness. This last is what a lodge-room must be.
What is the relation between the Monadic Essence and the principles which H. P. B. mentions: Atma-Buddhi?
Atman and Buddhi together form what we Theosophists call the Monad. When the Manasic fruitage of past lives is 'added' to it, then we have what is called the Reincarnating Ego. Atman means 'self'; and, as a spark comes from a fire, so likewise is the Atman which inspirits, a man, a spark from the Fire of Universal Consciousness — the Paramatman or Brahmatman to use the Sanskrit terms; and that Essence which works within the Monad, i.e., Atma-Buddhi, is the Monadic Essence, the heart of the Monad.
To put the matter in other words: Atman is the Self; but even though it belongs to the divine part of the constitution of a human being, nevertheless because this human entity is a manifested entity — however great the manifestation is — the Atman is, as it were, limited and therefore is not absolute infinity. But that Essence which is in Atman and which is the essential being of the Atman, is the kosmic Paramatman. The Monadic Essence is, as it were, a divine Atom or divine particle of the Paramatman. Therefore the Monadic Essence is the heart of Atman, the core of it.
In THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY H. P. B. says that after death the Methodist will be a Methodist, the Mohammedan a Mohammedan, at least for some time, in a perfect fool's Paradise of each man's creation and making. Will this be in Kama-loka or Devachan? I say the latter, as there is no consciousness in the Kama-loka, and H. P. B. herself has described Devachan as a fool's Paradise. THE MAHATMA LETTERS (page 103) speaks of "the pleasures realized by a Red Indian in his 'happy hunting grounds' in that Land of Dreams."
The answer to this question is in general a Yes, an affirmative. H. P. B. certainly meant mainly the devachan, since it is a mere reflexion of the spiritual vision, imperfect and poor as it is, of the man who has just died: whatever that man was in a spiritual way he will continue to be in the devachan afterwards. Thus the imperfect vision, for instance, of a Methodist or a Roman Catholic or a Mohammedan — imperfect when compared with that of a Buddha since it is a lack of complete inner vision, inner spiritual growth — will continue in the devachan in a sublimated sort of way in the "fool's Paradise," so that the Methodist will be a Methodist, but an improved Methodist, the Roman Catholic ditto, the Mohammedan ditto, and so forth. So much for this part of the question.
Yet it is obvious that the kama-loka, being the stage preceding the devachan, will not change the character of the man who has just died; and if he has died filled with the thoughts of Mohammedanism, or of Methodism, or of the Baptist, or of the Roman Catholic, he will still be this or that in the quasi-consciousness of the kama-loka. So we can say he will still remain a Methodist, or a Roman Catholic, or a Mohammedan, through the purging process of the kama-loka; and then the finest part of the man will enter the devachan, the "fool's Paradise," in which he will still have his dreams of a glorified Methodism or Roman Catholicism or Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or whatever his quasi-spiritual thoughts on earth were. So there is a certain truth, when this is understood, in the other statement also, that even in the kama-loka the man's character is not changed.
I might add that of course an ego is not cleared of all impurities thus becoming perfect before entering the devachan, as he would then be of the status of a Buddha. Nor do I mean that it is necessarily an "impurity to be cleared away" to be a Methodist or any other religionist. Of course when a man becomes through evolution so spiritually evolved that he is a Bodhisattva on earth, or a Buddha, then he will just pass through the kama-loka and devachanic states almost unconsciously, for the man is above them, and he enters a lower or higher Nirvana according to his development. And Nirvana means a vision of Reality.