G. de P. — A request has come to me from some of the Companions here, to the effect that the usual Wednesday KT Memorial Group meeting be not omitted, although the day is Christmas. I was asked what I thought, and I suggested that in a case like this the majority vote as usual should prevail. I want you to understand, however, that these groups in theory should not be held in portions. These meetings should not be held with some members absent and some members attending. If the attendance is not full, as a rule no meeting should be held at all. I will say no more than that. The matter is for you to decide. I suggest that you vote on the motion as it has been put.
Student — I move that we hold our regular KT Memorial Group meeting two weeks from tonight.
[The motion being duly seconded was carried unanimously except for one dissenting voice.]
G. de P. — I am now ready to answer questions this evening.
Student — Were the gods and goddesses of mythology, for instance the Greek and Scandinavian, the early divine instructors of men, or did they represent the higher orders of the fairy kingdoms?
G. de P. — Both, really. The word fairies is a very general term, signifying beings of widely varying degrees of evolutionary status — some very far advanced, some much less far. It is an European word and is usually used in the European sense of that word. The gods at one end of the scale could be called the fairies of divinity, the divine fairies; and the elementals at the bottom of the scale could be called the elemental fairies — beings beginning their progress. The gods also were the original instructors of humanity. But do not imagine for a moment that their instructions have ceased. They are still instructing fit and ready recipients of their communications. They are instructing all the time, and in a sense are the instructors of all beneath them in evolutionary grade.
The ordinary mythological presentations of the gods do not properly present or represent them as they are. Mythologies are fairytales, tales told about the gods, giving some outline of the truth to uninstructed minds in order to induce the spirit of reverence and holy awe. But in the esoteric schools was always taught the truth concerning the divine beings.
Now, in saying that the gods still instruct all beings below them, I must add that this is done in two ways: first, in a general way, by the influence flowing forth from them on the various planes of their own being. Their seven principles, to put the matter in actual, pictorial form emanate influences: each one of the seven principles of the gods, that is to say of each god, emanating its own especial or characteristic influence; and these emanations flow through the seven kingdoms of nature and actually are the laws or work out as, manifest themselves as, the controlling influences which men call laws, in the cosmos.
If you can rise in your mind, consciously of course, to the higher planes of the cosmic reaches, you come into direct touch with the higher influences or emanations from the divine beings, and, as it were, drink at those Pierean springs; for in these greater beings called gods we live and move and have our being. That is the general way in which the gods, by their very existence, raise, guide, lead, instruct, and inspire.
The second way by which they instruct is a very restricted one and is limited solely to those — may I say supermen, quasi-divine men — who through initiation are put into direct, individual communication with the lower ranges of the gods — the lower gods, in other words. Remember that the gods themselves in former manvantaras were men, as we are men now; and in future manvantaras we in our turn shall be gods; and our gods shall then be super-gods, beings higher than gods. And in those future manvantaras, when we shall have evolved consciously into our already inherent and innate godhood, we shall in our turn be the inspirers, instructors, stimulators, and guides of all those beings who, at the present time, are trailing behind us and existing as the creatures, as the beings, the entities, of the lower kingdoms of nature, so called — the beast kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the mineral kingdom, and the three kingdoms of the elementals.
Understand here also, please, that in speaking of the beings of these kingdoms as trailing after man in all their multitudinous hosts, I do not refer to the forms, the bodies, but to the monads in each and every case. For instance, the monads of the vegetable kingdom form the vegetable kingdom, and it is these monads which evolve. A tree does not evolve, a rose does not evolve, it is the monad and the monads composing any entity which evolve and take on these varying and impermanent forms. Do you understand the difference? It is not the form which evolves. The form is a transitory phenomenon, an evolutionary event in the evolutionary history of the monadic essence. Is the answer clear?
Student — Thank you, Professor, very much. If I may ask one more special question? Once in a while in speaking about the Scandinavian mythology, we have wondered if Odin or Wotan was one of the early instructors of the Aryan races.
G. de P. — Yes. Odin or Wotan were names merely given to a certain representative divine character. The same character is known by other names in other races of men. It does not mean that Odin and Wotan or by whatever other name you call this divine character, was a different being from the same character known by other names in other times among other races of men.
There was a Greek called Euhemerus, who lived about three hundred years before the Christian Era. He taught that the gods of the mythologies of the nations were in archaic ages, merely men, but great men, supermen; and that there were no gods as such radically distinctive from human beings, from men. His doctrine, stated as a bald fact, is true. But it has been grossly misunderstood and misconstrued, even by the ancient Greeks. He did not mean that there were no divine beings in the universe. He taught a doctrine of the Mysteries that all divine beings at one time, in former manvantaras, were men who passed through the human stage on their evolutionary course, who passed through the portals of humanity before they entered the portals of divinity. He was called by some orthodox Greeks, who held the orthodox mythology of the time, an atheist, a term which then carried less opprobrium with it than it does today. It meant merely one who did not accept the popular conception of the gods of the time, and therefore who did not believe in those popular mythological conceptions.
But you will notice that in all the fragments of history that we have of Euhemerus and of his teachings, we have not one word showing that he was ever prosecuted for impiety; which shows that the authorities, political and religious, of the time knew that he was giving a teaching of the Mysteries; for so cleverly did he clothe and disguise it that no uninitiated person would know it as a mystery-teaching taught to mankind.
The actual reason why Socrates died was because he taught some teachings of the Mysteries quite openly without clothing them in the garments of metaphor and in figures of speech; and thereby he violated one of the fundamental rules of the mystery-teachings: "Ye shall receive as others have received; ye may give only as ye have received." The rule was rigid and applies even today. Socrates was not an initiate in the Mysteries of Greece. He was a great and good man, and through his own innate spiritual powers caught these truths, as it were, from the thought-atmosphere of the planet. He must have known (a man of his capacity) that he was doing wrong; but he had given no oath to bind him. Technically he was guiltless. At the trial his judges did everything in their power to save him; but he would not save himself.
It is the same story of Jesus over again. You know even in the legends of the trial of Jesus before Pilate, that the story shows plainly that Pilate did his best to save Jesus and Jesus refused to save himself.
Now, of course, my reference to Jesus would not at all militate against or change the fact of what I have before stated, that the entire Gospel record is a mystery-tale. It does not militate against that, because the mystery-tale was told in accordance with the customs of the people of the time. Is there any other question?
Student — I have several questions on this one subject: KT used to tell us that in singing or doing any public work, it was better to clasp the hands; and as I understood her explanation, she said that if the hands were left loosely hanging at the sides, energies would leave the body through the finger tips; but if the hands were clasped, one kept the currents of energy in. I always felt that there was a more esoteric reason for this which KT could not tell us at the time. One question is: are the finger tips more open for the outflowing of prana than other parts of the physical organism?
G. de P. — Not more so, but very much so. The hands hanging loose at the sides allow pranic emanations (I use your term) to escape. Held with the tips of the fingers touching each other, or clasped, there is established a natural flow, electromagnetic you may call it, if you care to give it a modern term which no scientist understands. Holding the fingers thus there is established a natural vital circuit within the body.
But the eyes, for instance, are even more powerful emanators of the vital fluid than are the hands, and the fluid is thus more easily guided. I have seen the eyes of human beings from which at times verily there were shooting forth rays of vital force; and the force of the vital essence flowing forth from the eyes is of somewhat higher type than that which flows from the hands. I may say that every organ of the body emanates its own characteristic type of vitality: the eyes, the mouth, from the heart, from the solar plexus, from the hands, the feet, each individual finger, the ears in much less degree, yes and the very hair; each individual hair is a channel for the outflowing of pranic substance.
On this fact reposes one of the most mysterious teachings of the Mysteries, to the effect that at death the vital entity (not the spiritual entity) leaves the body by various channels. At the instant of death, when the golden cord is snapped, the vital entity leaves the body from the eyes, from the top of the head, which is the higher part of the vital energy; from the nose, from the mouth, from the heart, from the solar plexus, from the two openings of the body which are below the solar plexus; and in a small degree from each individual finger or toe, and from each individual hair or down. So that your question, you see, touches a wide field of fact.
Student — I have often seen pictures of seated Egyptian statues in which the palms of the hands were laid upon the knees; and I know from experience that that position is very calming to the nervous system. I suppose that there is some esoteric reason connected with that sculptured position.
G. de P. — There is; and the reason is practically the same as what I have already told you, but in addition there are certain religious reasons. And in the various statues of the Buddha you will find different positions given to hands and feet. These, when pertaining to the hands in especial, are technically called in Sanskrit mudras, and are all dependent upon the natural circuit of the electromagnetic vital fluids through the body. One open hand laid over the other open hand is a favorite pose of the buddhas; it is a very calming and soothing position — the hands laid quietly in the lap with the palms upon the crossing of the feet. It is very difficult for Europeans today to cross their legs and feet in that way — Europeans are not accustomed to do it — but with practice it is very beneficial in that it induces calmness of mind and bodily quiet.
Student — I have noticed that each one of the Leaders has had a photograph taken with the hand resting against the face. I wondered if there was any significance in that.
G. de P. — I don't think so. I think it was just a natural pose. I think most people do it; I know I do it constantly. I remember Brother -----, when he took my photograph, told me to rest my head on my hand, with the idea, I suppose, that I looked a little better in that way.
Student — It is said in The Secret Doctrine that the star under whose influence one is born remains with us throughout an entire manvantara. Does star here refer to any star, or is it restricted to the planets? The genii of these stars are spoken of as being our guiding or guardian angels, and also as the fathers of fire. . . .
G. de P. — You are asking two questions at once. I will try to answer your first question first; and then you can ask the other one afterwards.
Student — The first question: does the statement I speak of refer to the planets alone or does it apply to any stars in the universe?
G. de P. — Your question is a very deep one. Generally speaking, the reference in The Secret Doctrine is to any celestial body whatsoever, particularly to the planets. As regards the stellar host, the reference is rather to the constellations — the true constellations, not others. There are two stars in particular made mention of, the spiritual star and the astrological star, but the reference could be also to planets. I mean this: regarding the two stars spoken of, one is his spiritual parent, and the other star by astrological sympathy is the controlling influence at the time of birth.
Please remember — and I cannot say any more in answer to the question at present — that when stars and planets are spoken of as influencing human beings, the physical celestial body is rarely or never meant. The reference is always to the spiritual vitality of the star or planet, the genius (to use the Latin word), the over-dwelling divinity, the indwelling divinity, the inspiring divinity, of that particular celestial body, whether planet or star or constellation. What is your next question?
Student — Has the genius of that particular star any direct connection with our spiritual selves; and if so, how did it get it?
G. de P. — The connection is the most intimate possible. It is your parent; and furthermore, it is you yourself. You are a spark of that starry flame in your inmost being. Just allow your thought to dwell on that statement. You never get such direct connection, because you always are it, always have been it, and always will be it. You and that star are linked for eternity, backwards and forwards. I am now talking of the spiritual, not the astrological star, which latter governs, as the saying goes, your destiny at the moment of birth. You spoke of the spiritual star, I think.
Student — Would that be an explanation of the Roman belief that great people when they died became stars?
G. de P. — Exactly. That is the exact meaning of the Roman belief. And when the Roman Emperors died and were apotheosized, to use a Greek expression, the original idea was simply that the spiritual part of the emperor, as also of any other human being as a matter of fact, returned instantly, quicker than thought, to its parent-star.
I have told you before, on many occasions, that the mysteries connected with death are numerous and so sublime that reference to them is almost forbidden except in the higher degrees, simply for the reason that unless you are trained to understand them, you are certain to misunderstand them. Is the answer to the question now clear?
Student — I always understood that the number five had a special connection in esoteric philosophy with the manasic element or principle of evolution; and, on the other hand, if I understand rightly, the evolution of a race, of a root-race, begins about the middle period of the evolution of the preceding race. Now putting those two things together, does it mean, for instance, that the fifth root-race, the present, which is destined to attain to a considerably high state of evolution of the manasic element, originated or sprang forth, so to say, from the fifth subrace of the fourth root-race?
G. de P. — Your question is a difficult one. What do you mean by the length of a race? It is true that every succeeding race originates at about the middle period of the parent-race, as time is counted; but as every root-race carries a quality of its own, which is its own characteristic, its lifespan is longest when that characteristic in its own evolution arrives for manifestation. Do you understand me?
Student — Yes.
G. de P. — Furthermore, the sixth root-race will originate in the sixth period of the evolution of our fifth root-race. For instance, ours is the fifth root-race. Its longest period of time will be passed in its fifth stage; in the fourth root-race the longest period of the seven subperiods of its lifespan was the fourth subperiod; in the third root-race, the longest subperiod of its complete lifespan was the third subperiod; but in the fourth subperiod, originated the roots of the following fourth race. So the reference to the middle point of a race as giving birth to the next race, referred to time, not necessarily to the seven principles of the race or the seven periods considered as a category. The statement did not refer to anything so mechanical as this last. Is my answer clear to you?
Student — It is perfectly clear, only there is something else I would like to ask in that connection. In the well-known fact of the Jews calling themselves the "chosen people," does it have an esoteric meaning to the effect that their lineage may be traced to that particular subrace of the preceding race, which was chosen as the germ for the evolution of the fifth race?
G. de P. — No, not at all. Every race in antiquity has considered itself, and rightly so, as the "chosen people" of its own particular planetary instructor or guide, Saturn in the case of the Hebrews, Venus in the case of the Romans, and so forth. Every race is the "chosen people" in that sense. Only the stiff-necked temperament of the Hebrews, concerning which their own prophets so loudly complained, laid particular and very especial emphasis on the fact that they were the "chosen people."
There is also a good deal of the same feeling in the United States of America today, or used to be, to the effect that the Americans are the "chosen people." It is so with every people. It is called in modern times the nationalistic spirit; and as a spirit it has its own minor virtues. But there are few things, I really believe, which militate so strongly against the feeling of human brotherhood as does this spirit of aggressive nationalism. It is the duty of every man to love his country, to obey its laws, to be proud of its virtues, and of the noble achievements, the noble achievements, of its past; but to carry that very natural and proper feeling to the length of believing that other peoples are inferior is all wrong, because it is not true.
Student — Many years ago I had opportunity on various occasions to walk through a botanical garden, and every plant and every tree had a name attached to it; and the effect of seeing those names was often (they were of course mostly Latin names, which perhaps meant that the tree had broad leaves, or narrow leaves, or just was a Latin rendering of the name of the botanist who catalogued it) — I say that the effect of seeing those names so often was nauseating; and it often occurred to me that surely a tree or a plant or anything in fact, even a human being, had a real name, the esoteric name. Is there anything in that?
G. de P. — There certainly is. The same thought was in the mind of the writer of the Christian New Testament — in the Apocalypse, I think the case occurs (it has been so long since I have looked into the Christian Scriptures, that I may be wrong); but this Christian writing says that "His name shall be written upon his forehead" or words to that effect, which is the exact meaning of the thought that you have been trying to express. The naked character or individuality has its own "name" on the cosmic records; not a name in human words, but that vital-astral characteristic which distinguishes the being from other things, just as names with us poor human beings distinguish one thing from another thing. Every tree, every metal, every human being, indeed everything, has its own characteristic, its own individuality, and therefore its own "name."
Student — Is that svabhavat?
G. de P. — No; and yet it is in a way. Svabhavat is a term which is restricted solely to the cosmic principle which is really the higher realms of akasa. Svabhavat means self-becoming — that which is eternally becoming out of the fountains of its own self. So you see that it has a certain reference to the characteristic or vital-spiritual "name" which I spoke of in answering the previous question. You are right in the reference, but the term is badly applied.
Student — Pardon me, I have two questions. They are short. One is something that has puzzled me ever since I have known of theosophy, and it is: why some are attracted to this movement and others, who seem to have every qualification and to be very similar in every way, are not attracted at all. Has anything you have told us about the star to do with it? This movement must be under a guiding star, and the Leaders and those who are not attracted are under different stars, or something of that kind?
G. de P. — Well, I could hardly say that because every individual entity, every human being, is under a different star. No, I do not think it goes as deeply as that; I think it is rather the effect of karmic evolution. Some beings are simply more advanced than others; their higher nature is more evolved; they feel more deeply; they have the vision; they see more readily what things are; they have hungered for truth so long that when they hear of theosophy they are instantly and instinctively attracted to it. There is a community of thought, you see. I do not think it has to do with so profound or radical a link as the star.
Student — Thank you. I have one other question, which links with others that have been asked. You have referred twice to Saturn, the Saturn of the Jews. But as you were speaking of mythology, I thought of what has puzzled me very much: what was the golden age of Saturn and Rhea? I never could get its relation to the Greek Olympian Age; and I was wondering whether it was one of the minor golden ages? Could you tell us anything more about it? Is that Saturn the same as the Saturn of the Jews?
G. de P. — The reference to a golden age has had two meanings in the Greek mythology: the exoteric, meaning the time when the human race was innocent, in its youth, like a child, without real responsibility — not an elevated position at all, not one to be sought for by evolved human beings knowing the glories as well as the heavy duties of responsibility; but just as a child is innocent, no matter what it does, because the will and the understanding are not developed.
So the early races of mankind passed through what the Greeks termed a Saturnian age, an age of innocence, of a lack of intellectual understanding, but an age when there was more or less of peace and happiness, such as a child has. I do not admire a child because it is undeveloped. A child amuses me, often makes a strong appeal to my pity, to my compassion, to my sympathy, as a human being; but I do not find a child an admirable thing. It is not an example or a model to follow. It is in its Saturnian age of growth. It is innocent. It has no responsibility; it has no worries; nothing is exacted from it. It does not realize even that there are such things, or at least but vaguely. It lives from day to day. Everything is cared for, so far as it is concerned.
But while this was the popular or mythological meaning of the Age of Saturn among the Greeks, in the Mysteries the Age of Saturn referred to the distant future, paradoxically, for exactly the same reason which I mentioned a while ago, to an age of the far distant future when the time of gold, as it was called, the golden age, shall come, shall come again; when, instead of being half evolved, as we are now, we shall be fully evolved; instead of being halfway responsible, halfway irresponsible, we shall be fully responsible, having coordinated powers and faculties.
These teachings of the Mysteries referred to a Saturnian or Golden Age of the future when peace shall reign on earth, when men shall be wise, pitiful, knowing, helpful to each other, recognizing their kinship with the gods; and it will be the last age before the race disappears from off this planet.
Does my answer at all meet the idea that you have in your mind? I will try again if you wish to ask your question again in a somewhat different form.
Student — Thank you, Professor; there is only one point: is the Saturn of Italian mythology the same as the Saturn of the Jews?
G. de P. — Yes, but viewed in a very different way. Every planet has two sides, a spiritual side and a material side. In the Greek and Latin mythology it was the spiritual side of Saturn which was referred to. Now the Jews, the Hebrews, knew about the spiritual side also; but during the history of the Hebrew people, as it so happened, unfortunately for them, it was the material aspect of Saturn which filtered out from the mystery-teachings and became a dominant idea, a dominant national idea. It was a misfortune; it might have been the other way. But it was their karman. There have been highly spiritual men among the Hebrews, the Jews, just as there have been among all peoples — great men, great initiates, masters of wisdom; but, as their own prophets have told us, as a generality the people have been rather materialistic. It has been the tendency of that people. But they are not the only ones who are materialistic, and don't forget it! Does that answer your question?
Student — Absolutely, thank you.
Student — In regard to the question of buddhas among the Oriental people, particularly those peoples who have kept more closely to the teachings of Buddhism: as I understand it they have different classes or different groups of buddhas, represented by different figures; each figure has a different name. Sometimes there are just slight differences.
G. de P. — What do you mean by figures — statues?
Student — Yes, I am thinking particularly of the one that they call the bodhisattva which, whenever it is mentioned or referred to, always seems to receive a little more reverence, and as if there were something more in it. It is something that one catches more in the feel of the way in which they show their reverence to it. Is it because this particular one is more advanced or is there anything else connected with it?
G. de P. — Here again is a profound question, which opens up the very foundations of Buddhism. Let me tell you something: you are not referring to statues or sculptures. Bodhisattva is a title, just as buddha is. Buddha means "the awakened." Bodhisattva means "the essence of the buddha," or buddha-principle, — bodhi (wisdom), sattva (the essence of a thing). The buddha is the next stage higher or after the bodhisattva; but the bodhisattva, to the popular human heart, has always possessed in the Orient a greater appeal than the buddha, for this reason: to a child its parent is always dearer than some other human being, although the child may know that that other human being is greater and grander than its own parent. And it is therefore for this reason, because while the buddhas are the very incarnation of wisdom and love, the bodhisattvas are more human. They work among men, just as the buddhas do, and there are more of the bodhisattvas than there are of the buddhas.
You begin to get the idea now perhaps: the bodhisattvas are more human; they are more with us; they are more like average men. The buddhas are so far evolved that to a certain extent the average human heart senses them as a little too high. It is a wrong view to take, but that is the natural reaction of the human heart. The perfect incarnation of wisdom and love which the buddha is, is a sublimely beautiful event, but the average human being feels perhaps that such a stage is just a little too lofty for him. The average human heart craves something of a more human type, something not quite so far advanced; and therein lies the root of the reason, for the Bodhisattvas, so far as the multitude are concerned, seem rather nearer to mankind than do the buddhas. Actually the fact is not so, but such is the human feeling.
But therefore do not misunderstand these remarks. To men the bodhisattvas are human beings of a splendid type. They are great, grand, evolved men. By taking one step more, they become buddhas. The bodhisattvas also are incarnations of wisdom and compassion, but not so completely so as are the buddhas. There is more about this matter that it would take too long to explain here. This matter is one of the most beautiful mysteries of Buddhism and indeed of our own teachings, for our own teaching in that respect is identic.
For instance, I may make it a little clearer by telling you that the two Masters of wisdom and compassion at the head of our own Order, who started the Theosophical Society and who are known under the initials of M and KH, are bodhisattvas; neither is a buddha.
There are also grades of bodhisattvas. This word is a title; it is a word like king, or savior. Well, there are various kinds of kings and saviors — autocratic kings, constitutional kings, figurehead kings — kings in title that is.
Do you understand now the general drift of the idea? If you do not, please put your question again in a little different form; because, let me tell you something to which I have often before alluded: you will get an answer always closely corresponding to your question. I repeat this, because it is important. It is a law of our Order. I have no right to tell you, when answering a question, more than you have asked for. Now, try again.
Student — The part you have spoken of is quite clear; but I would like to ask one further question: are these various classes of buddhas different degrees of initiation?
G. de P. — Yes, in one sense that is about true. But actual growth, evolutionary growth in one sense may be called a slow initiation, whereas all initiation in our higher orders is merely a stimulated or quickened evolution. Do you understand? So consequently the buddhas, while products of human evolution, nevertheless must go through the regular initiatory procedure, which is a quickening of evolution, as I have already said. Is this point clear?
Student — Yes, thank you.
G. de P. — Is it indeed? If it is not, please try again.
Student — Yes, that gives me a great deal more to think about.
G. de P. — That is right. That is a good answer.
Student — Was Gautama the Buddha higher than our Masters?
G. de P. — Much higher. He was one of the buddhas of the fifth race and therefore much higher. In fact, if I could tell you all the mystery concerning the Buddha, you would understand why HPB openly called herself a Buddhist and why she permitted the use of the term "Esoteric Buddhism" in the beginning of the days of the Society. Gautama is one of the two great buddha-incarnations belonging to our fifth race. There are many Masters of Wisdom, but only two buddhas in a root-race.
Student — G. de P. . . .
G. de P. — I just want to add that the Buddha — and in this particular case I am referring to Gautama the Buddha — is constantly referred to in our own higher degrees as the Maha-chohan, the Great Lord; and it is he who furnishes the psychic material for the various avataric incarnations that have taken place and will take place during our present fifth root-race. Is that clear?
Student — So many wonderful subjects have come up tonight. It brings hundreds of questions to my mind. I would like to go back to one point that was treated some time ago with respect to the name, the mystic name. Is there not a mystic number too? We are told that we have a number and a geometrical figure as well. I think that there is something about that in our esoteric teachings.
G. de P. — The mystical number refers to an astrological idea connected with a spiritual star. It is not so much a numerical character — not at all that, as a matter of fact; but this number refers rather to quality than to quantity, if you follow me, for it is very difficult indeed to explain. Every man taken as a unit has a certain numerical vibrational rate which you may call his number, if you like; and I have heard vulgar-minded men and boys in speaking to each other sometimes say: "Well, I have got your number." Now that statement is true, for they understood the other man; they got his vibrational rate. They did not know what it was or how to set it down on paper; but the instinct of graphic speech expressed itself in that form.
Student — Can you give us any further light on the esoteric meaning of the mystical word "Om"?
G. de P. — It is curious how this question keeps coming to the fore. Om means nothing at all outside of what you put into it. The Hebrews had a corresponding term Amen, which means nothing at all outside of what you put into it. Om is written with two characters in the Sanskrit tongue; and the Hindus in their orthodox religions (and there are many in Hindustan), that is, the various sects of Brahmanism, etc., have made of this word Om almost a divine particle of speech, or rather have clothed this mystical word Om almost with the attributes of divinity; and its history is very closely similar to what Christians of the Roman Catholic persuasion of the Middle Ages made of the sign of the cross — they ascribed to it all kinds of mystical and magical powers. In fact it is a superstition. And so is the orthodox Hindu feeling with regard to the excessive power they commonly ascribe to this word Om.
I remember reading a story called Dracula, a horrible story of a vampire, which some of you must have read, written by a Roman Catholic. Of course he ascribed all kinds of magical power to the cross, saying that the vampire was laid or overcome or prevented from attacking his victims, by making the sign of the cross on his victim, or something of the sort. All that is indeed superstition.
Om is indeed a sacred word, simply on account of the effect that the combination of the O and the M sound has, when properly recited with understanding soul behind it; for it soothes, calms, refines the auric egg surrounding each human being, therefore making the mind more easily receptive of the vital essences of the higher part of the inner constitution. That is really all there is to it. It has also a number of meanings. It sometimes was used in olden days in India as a word signifying assent or consent, much like the English word yes. A person would ask a question of a fellow; the fellow would answer Om — "yes," "certainly," "just so." It has quite a history, this word. But, as I say, I am quite surprised how it keeps coming to the fore, in the way of questions about it.
Student — HPB says in her Instructions that every pronouncement of the Word breaks, destroys, a veil between the lower and the higher self, or something like that.
G. de P. — Yes, if pronounced aright, but not necessarily this word. Any word which would arouse equivalently refined and soothing vibrations could be pronounced and have precisely the same effect. There is nothing magical about the word "Om" in itself. It is simply a combination of a vowel and a sounding m. It is not a magical thing. The gods did not create it. It is a human invention — "O-M." It is, however, often used for magical purposes. Sanskritists call it a mantram. In Tibet you will find that the Tibetans, highly religious people as they are, go around morning, noon, and night, muttering "Om mani padme hum," which means "Om, the jewel in the lotus, Om." The Tibetan may be doing all kinds of sin, but by habit and custom he is muttering this mantram more or less all day long. The mere muttering of it does him no earthly good. There is no will behind it. There is no understanding. I could sit here and you could sit there and we could mutter together Om until the crack of doom, and it would not do us a bit of good. But uttered by one who knows how to pronounce it, whose heart is pure, whose will is in it, who knows how to use it to calm and soothe the aura surrounding him, then that particular combination of vowel sounds is powerful. That is all there is to it.
Student — There have to be two sides in order to play a game; and we are also told that we have to go through all suffering and experience. I wanted to ask you: is it a necessity for the individual soul some time in its evolution to go through the unspeakable experience of a black magician, or is it not necessary?
G. de P. — Not necessary. But, alas! many humans do.
Student — I was going to ask you if the description that Mr. Judge gave of the word Om in Yoga Aphorisms refers to any combination of vowels and consonants such as O and M, as he says that it represents Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, I think it was.
G. de P. — I do not remember it. But evidently Mr. Judge, who was a reincarnation of a Hindu yogi, must have had some Hindu idea in his mind at the time.
Student — I thought it was so important once that I learned the whole thing; so I was just wondering if it was merely some combination of vowels that it was good to have put together.
G. de P. — Om is a particularly good combination. It is a human invention, but a particularly good combination; and if uttered by one with a pure heart, with a kindly spirit, who is trying to throw himself into a devotional state of mind, it is much better than other words on account of the vibrations that it evokes. For instance, if I were to mutter to myself, "Cheap, cheap, cheap," that repetition is not a particularly religion-inducing combination of sounds. That is all there is to it. Again, if say, "Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck," that would cause another state of feeling, you see.
Student — I would like to ask if our English expression in answering a question, "Umph," has anything to do with Om?
G. de P. — I believe it originated in exactly the same way as did "Om." There seems to be something about the m, which appears to give consent, to give assent, to a thing. I think in the old Sanskrit it took the form of Om, and in your English and American custom people usually say umph. I think so, at least. In England it often implies doubt when a man asks you a question and you say umph.
Student — Is not that rather a question of the intonation one puts behind the word?
G. de P. — I think so. But the idea is the same.
Student — I have been very much interested lately in the differences of human beings' faces — the left side and the right side; and I have noticed in taking up many photographs in a magazine and covering one side of the face and looking at the other, that one side seems like a different individual from the other. I wondered if you would say something about it. Does one side express the higher self and the other side the lower self?
G. de P. — There is indeed a great difference between the two sides of the face. Anyone can easily prove this for himself by doing as this companion has said that she has done. But there is more than that in it. Why should the two sides of the face differ from each other? It is because it is a remnant of the former hermaphroditic condition of the human race. I don't think that the ladies here would like to have me say that the feminine portion of humanity is the lower side, for perhaps it is the higher side (they would not object to that statement!); but from the time when the human race was androgynous these two qualities, the masculine and the feminine or, to put it otherwise, the positive and the negative, or vice versa, just as you please, have endured more or less in the physical body, and actually this is the cause of what is called by biologists the bilateral symmetry of the human body — a right arm and a left arm, a right leg and a left leg, a right nostril and a left nostril, right hand and left hand, right ear and left ear, and so forth.
The time is coming when our bodies will not be shaped as they are at present, as formerly they were not shaped as they are at present. As the race evolves, new senses will come into play; old senses will take on a more general and diffuse character, and our very faces will change. Many mysterious things are coming in the future.
Would you like to think of your distant descendants as being bald, as having one eye, a very shrunken nose, with two backbones, and no sex? I could recite a number of other things. They will be beautiful creatures. To us they would seem horrible. But I can assure you that if the later third root-race people, as they did in some cases, could have looked forward into futurity and seen us, shriveled little dwarfs, they would have said: "What horrible monstrosities!" Beauty to us humans is largely dependent on custom. What is harmonious when a certain custom prevails is called beauty; for harmony and beauty are one; and beauty is recognition of harmony. That is where the sense of beauty lies.
Student — In one of Mr. Judge's mystical tales he makes the statement — it is the wonder-tale, one of the last he wrote — that those strange forms, those strange delineations, that we find in the Egyptian art, of the gods with the bird head, the ibis head, and the jackal head with the wings of the bull, and so forth, were really depicting what the priestesses of the old temple saw; that they saw these forms in the astral light. Well, then, why do not we have them in the art of other nations? How did it happen that priestesses in other nations did not seem to have seen them — at least, had not depicted them in any other land that I know of?
G. de P. — There are equivalent things in other lands.
Student — Then I suppose the astral light was diffused and what one nation saw is open to all.
G. de P. — Every nation is an assemblage of reincarnated egos with a more or less similar psychological type or bent of character. They are drawn together because they attract each other. This being so, every nation living in a certain part of the earth's surface, in a certain climate giving birth to certain beasts and plants, and so forth, sees in the astral light the beings which collect around such places, because it is these astral beings which produce the physical. If such an Egyptian seer had gone to a northern climate or had gone to India or China, had he been a true seer, he would have seen the astral originants of what produces the outward physical manifestations in these other places. Do you understand?
Student — I do. Now this other question. Every one of those here has probably read Etidorhpa. Has it any value?
G. de P. — I have not read the book. I have seen the pictures in the book. I do not know that it has any particular value. I think it was largely a work of imagination.
Student — Thank you.
Student — You said some moments ago that Gautama the Buddha was one of the two maha-chohans, I believe you said, of the fifth root-race. Can you tell us who the other was, or has he not come yet?
G. de P. — The Buddha Gautama is sometimes called the seventh buddha. Now you can make your own calculations. I am going to mix you up in confusion. The first race had two, and the second race had two, the third race had two; these make six; the fourth race had two; they make eight; and yet he is the seventh.
Student — I feel worse off than before.
G. de P. — I am awfully sorry; but this is a question that I cannot answer here.
Student — In regard to the question about having to experience all suffering: HPB says somewhere that it is possible to cross suffering on stilts, as it were, and that it is not necessary to wade through the mire; and I was wondering if this expression of experiencing all suffering means that it is not necessary that one should actually go through the material experiences, if one had the sympathy to understand them.
G. de P. — Just so. There are many, many experiences in human life that it is not necessary for one to go through. You can understand them and learn the lessons from them, if you simply use your eyes and the sympathetic understanding of the heart; and this is a particularly good thing to have clearly understood because I have known of more than a few instances in the Society of members who have told me: "I know that I have never had such and such an experience. Theosophy teaches that you must learn through experience; and how can I learn about a thing which I have never experienced? Therefore it is my duty to do these things, although I know they are wrong." You see the immoral suggestion. It is most emphatically not your duty to do a wrong thing; it is your duty not to do it.
And look further at this: we are in the fifth race, about the middle period of the fifth race; and for aeons we have been incarnating and reincarnating, time and time and time again. We already have been in the mire many times. We have gone through experiences of all kinds, and the soul needs no more dirtying in order to help it to cast off the dirt it has at present encrusted upon it, to use a figure of speech. We do not need to go and wallow in the mire like pigs. We have been there too often already. Our duty is to raise ourselves out of it. We have been through it too often as it is. Let us cross any future mires, as you say, on stilts, on the stilts of the imagination, on the stilts of the understanding heart, and cease dwelling on them in thought as quickly as possible.
Student — I gathered from what was said at the last meeting that the last planet we were on was Venus. Then where does the Moon come in? We are supposed to come from the Moon.
G. de P. — Well, I was referring to the outer rounds when I spoke of the planet Venus. The Moon, of course, is the parent of the Earth. You see, I have explained that there are two kinds of rounds: the outer rounds and the inner rounds. The outer rounds are they which the life-hosts follow in passing from one solar planet — from one planet of the solar family to another planet of the solar family, such as from Venus to Earth, from Earth to Mercury, or from Jupiter to Venus, or again from Mercury to Mars. These are the outer rounds. There are wonderful mysteries connected with this.
The inner rounds are the rounds pursued by the life-hosts in passing from globe to globe of any one planetary chain, such as the Earth's planetary chain with its seven globes, such as the Venus planetary chain with its seven globes, or the Mars planetary chain with its seven globes, and so forth. When I spoke of Venus I was speaking of the outer rounds at that time.
Student — I would like to ask: as we are under the lunar influences, and these are the results of the karma we created while inhabiting the moon, when we shall have left the earth will the earth be as the moon? Will our karma exert maleficent and beneficent influences, or shall we by the time we have reached the last stage on this earth have been able to neutralize the evil currents of karma?
G. de P. — No. Our earth will be the moon of the future planet and will possess the same down-dragging influence upon the future planet that our moon exercises upon us. But we humans as a host, as a host of life-entities, as the life-host, will by that time have become dhyan-chohans or gods. Do you understand? These degrading or evil earth influences will work upon the humanity of the planet-to-be, the child of our planet; and the entities at the present time, manifesting as our beasts and the higher parts of our vegetable kingdom, will be the humanity of the planet-to-be. Do you understand? Is the answer clear?
Student — Yes; but I should think that we ought to be responsible for the karman we have created. It seems that we get out of it if we become dhyan-chohans, and the beasts get our bad karma. Do you see what I mean?
G. de P. — We shall be held accountable to the uttermost grain in the balance. We shall be chained as dhyan-chohans to the future planet, and it will be our duty to guide, instruct, and lead. In a sense we shall then be vampirized, our vital forces will in a certain degree be sapped. We shall be held to the new planet by karmic bonds; and we cannot progress higher until we have carried along with us these others now trailing behind, and which others are to be the future humanity of that planet. That is where we shall make the karmic payment; just as our own present gods are the dhyan-chohans, the higher humanity, of the lunar chain that was. Is that clear?
Student — Very clear, thank you.
Student — Is there any definite place or spot or organ in the human anatomy through which the inner man goes in and out on waking and falling asleep?
G. de P. — Yes.
Student — I would like to have some further explanation on the subject with especial reference to someone who finds himself rather often wide awake in every way, in every respect, except the physical body, and experiences considerable difficulty in entering into it?
G. de P. — Yes, there is such a path. In fact, the vital energy can leave the body, as it regularly does, only along a channel, a path; otherwise the electromagnetic forces would chain it within the body. But this is a point on which information is regularly refused by the teachers, because if given to all and sundry it would be abused. People would hurt themselves, might even kill themselves, in experimenting, in trying to find out.
But I can tell you this. I can give you a hint, at least, and I think that in your particular case it will be helpful. The conscious being leaves the body — which is not the model-body, not the astral body or the linga-sarira — along the brahmarandhra through the skull. That is its channel, its path. But that does not tell you anything in particular, because I do not think that you know what the brahmarandhra really is. Does the answer satisfy you?
Student — There is a hint in it. I think I get it, but it is not as complete as I thought it would be.
Student — You spoke tonight and have spoken many other times about the glorious destiny of the human host; and I have read — I think it was in one of the Theosophical Manuals — that although we have passed the lowest point in our rounds, we still have the final battle to fight between the powers of light and darkness. That seems to imply that there is a certain amount of risk or that the destiny of the human race still is in the balance, that there is some chance, perhaps, of the human host as a body, as a group, not winning final victory in this manvantara.
G. de P. — No, do not put it in that way. The lowest point of the fourth round has been passed. We have passed the middle point of the fourth round. The middle point of the fourth round is the lowest point. But we have not yet definitely made our final choice, which will come in the fifth round — the self-conscious choice, the choice of the intellect. Millions and millions of the human host will not make that choice successfully; but other millions and millions will; in fact, the majority will. And that is what is meant when the Teachers have spoken of the final choice as not yet having been made. It will come in the next round. Does that answer the question?
Student — Yes, I thank you.
G. de P. — It is necessary for every human being by his life and conduct so to act, that when the final choice comes, he can carry on into the future. It is no laughing matter; it is a very real thing. You cannot begin too soon.
Student — Going back to the subject of sleep that we discussed a moment ago: why is it that some of us dream that we are in an assemblage, perhaps, and with great will power we make ourselves rise to the top of a room and float over them, and then will ourselves down again. I have dreamed this, and have spoken to others about it and have found that they have dreamed the same thing. It takes great will power to do that. I have an idea what it is.
G. de P. — That sensation is produced by a reflex action of the movement of the vital entity as it leaves the body. The nervous system, the nervous apparatus, is then not quite asleep. It is just enough awake, so to say, to translate the reflex action of this movement into consciousness. Do you get the idea? If you do not, please ask me again.
Student — I have not got the idea yet.
G. de P. — Well, when the body is asleep, the nervous system is asleep. That is what makes the body sleep. But before the nervous system is completely asleep, the vital energy begins to leave the body. And if the nervous system is still sufficiently awake to function in a small degree in the normal way, it catches this movement of the vital entity along its own fibers, and thus you have the sensation of rising and of going upward or of going down, and you feel yourself also willing. Do you get the thought? In the normal case the nervous system is so well asleep that it is duly stupefied. It does not hold the impression of the moving entity. Also it must be remembered that some of these dreams of flying are real dreams.
Student — There were two questions that I feel like asking, but this is the more important: you said a little while ago that the buddha was higher than the bodhisattva. Now, is the buddha higher than the bodhisattva because the bodhisattva has not traveled so high, or because the bodhisattva has renounced nirvana; renounced instead of entering nirvana?
G de P. — No, the buddha is the highest stage following the bodhisattva stage. The buddha is actually in a higher state. It is a farther degree of evolutionary development than is the bodhisattva state. Is that clear?
Student — Yes, thank you. I just wanted to be sure that it was normal progress and not actual renunciation.
G. de P. — Renunciation, yes, in both cases; but the renunciation has nothing to do with the evolutionary progress except this: that unless an entity is far advanced it cannot make this renunciation. The buddha makes the same renunciation that the bodhisattva does, that is to say, he renounces nirvana; but the buddha's renunciation is a larger and greater one. You are confusing two things, I think. The buddha is farther along the path and has the greater renunciation to make. The bodhisattva comes just before the buddha in evolutionary development, and consequently the renunciation is not so great.
Student — What I have to say is not in the nature of a question but in the nature of a statement. I am sure that none of us wants to see this evening draw to a close; but as this session has continued for more than two hours, I think that we shall have to consider the teacher's time.
Student — I would like to ask a question regarding the position of the hand. Is it a sign of negativity when you hold the thumb inside the closed hand, or the sign of a weak character?
G. de P. — I think the common feeling that the thumb held within the closed fingers is a sign of imperfectly developed will is correct. The thumb is the most prehensile digit of the hand, is the most used when determination to do something has been taken. Consequently if it seek shelter or hide itself, it shows that the determination is more or less weak; the will, in short, is more or less weak.
I would not like to make a very definite statement, because perhaps some companion's feelings might be hurt. He might say: "I regularly keep my thumb inside my fingers." But I think on the whole the statement is correct. The common idea is a true one. On the other hand, if we see a human being going along with his thumbs sticking out from his hands, it is rather an unpleasant thing to see. It denotes an aggressive, selfish, egoistic, kind of person. The position of the thumb should be easy and normal.