Copyright © 1997 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
G. de P. — Companions, in a very short time I shall be leaving Headquarters for five or six moons. Before going I am desirous of testing how much you have assimilated of the teachings that have been given in the KTMG. Therefore I think that for tonight I shall change the program, and instead of answering questions, I shall ask them. I have not quite decided in my own mind whether I shall call for volunteers to answer the questions that I propose asking, or whether I shall call for certain speakers by name.
First, then, and by way of introductory, I have often wondered how much your minds have assimilated of the real esoteric teaching concerning the devachan, and with regard to what it is that experiences the devachan, and where the devachan is if indeed it has position or locality, and just what these devachanic experiences are; and, secondly, I then desire to test you a little as to your ideas regarding nirvana as contrasted with devachan.
In the first place, then, what is this word devachan? Will anyone volunteer to answer this question?
Student D — A state of rest.
Student E — The abode of the gods.
G. de P. — Well, these answers are brief descriptions of the devachanic state; but as regards the word itself, is it an English word?
Many Voices — No.
Student F — (Heard above many voices): devachan is a borrowed Sanskrit word.
G. de P. — Pardon me, Companions, for saying that if you all answer together, the Recorders will be utterly unable to take down the answers. Here I shall have to call speakers by their names. F----, what is the devachan considered as a word? What are the origin and the root of it?
Student F — Deva is a Sanskrit word and chan is a Tibetan word; and the meaning is "the god-world."
G. de P. — That is correct and exact; and that is also the exoteric meaning given by the Tibetan people to the word devachan which really signifies a particular state of consciousness undergone or experienced by an excarnate human being. To call it the god-realm is to give an exact translation of this hybrid term, part Tibetan and part Sanskrit; and this exoteric rendering is correct in one sense, because the entity which undergoes the devachanic experiences belongs to that class of beings which is frequently spoken of in India as devas.
Now a deva, or rather the Hindu deva, is not exactly the same as was the Greek god in the popular mythology of Greece. There is in fact quite a large difference between the two. Nevertheless a deva or a devata is a spiritual being, or a being partaking of spiritual qualities. It was customary among the ancients of the Far East to speak in a general way of any individualized part of the human constitution above the astral as a deva or a devata, which is correct enough, the devas or devatas themselves existing in greatly various grades or degrees of ethereality or of spirituality, and of many diverse types or kinds. Deva, or devata therefore is a generalizing term signifying a spiritual or quasi-spiritual being of almost any type.
I now ask you, what part of the human being is it which enters the devachan, or goes to the devachan, or better still (and this is perhaps the best way of expressing the question) what part of the human constitution is it which becomes a devachani?
Student D — The fifth and sixth principles.
G. de P. — Yes, that is correct, with an emphasis laid upon the fifth principle.
Student B — It is the higher part of the manas.
Student P — The reincarnating ego.
G. de P. — That is correct. May I ask you, in giving the answers, that for the sake of the record, you will please first give your name when answering — please!
Thus far the answers have been, generally speaking, quite correct; nevertheless these answers you could easily have found in even our exoteric books. They do not show a very deep and clear understanding of the exact nature of the devachan. What do you consider the devachani to be? Is it an entity? Is it a mere energy? If an entity, has it a body? Will anyone venture to answer that question and to elaborate it a bit if he or she so pleases?
Student F — The devachan is a state of consciousness, the highest state of consciousness that we are capable of.
G. de P. — Yes, that is true when we consider the ordinary human being; but that answer does not quite respond to the question. The question is: what is the devachani? If it is an entity, has it a body? Is it six feet tall, or five feet two inches tall, or has it broad shoulders or not? Has it a long nose and big feet or a small nose and small feet? Of what color are its eyes? In other words, what is your mental picture, if you have one, of the devachani? Would anyone like to answer this?
Student V — It is the human monad, and it has a vehicle; that is to say, it is an entity; but it is really a life-atom one might say. It comes back as a life-atom, and so I imagine —
Student T — I venture to suggest that the devachanic entity, or at least its body, is the auric egg.
Student L — For my part, I think that it is the cream of the last personality of the ego on earth — that part of it that is able to unite with the higher manas, and that hence it lives in the spiritualized and highest elements contained in the last earth-life. And as to its body, it might indeed be said to have a body, and that body might be represented as a very small extension of space. I cannot express it quite clearly — but I think it is living in a sphere of the auric egg and also in the bosom of the monad.
G. de P. — Yes, all these three answers are each one correct as far as they go.
Student K — I hardly see how it could be the monad. I thought it was rather the projection of the monad: the child, as it were, of the monad through which the monad gained experience in earth-life and thus evolved; and that it would be imbodied in material belonging to that plane. It would not be formless. I should think that it would have a form, but of matter belonging to the devachanic plane. I really never have pictured a devachani.
G. de P. — You are speaking of the human ego, are you not?
Student K — I am speaking of the reincarnating ego, the higher part of the ego: I mean to say, the higher manas and the buddhic principle, perhaps the atma-buddhi-manas.
G. de P. — You figurate it therefore as a part of the monad, and that is correct. The human ego is a projection of the monad. That also is true. But while all these answers have been excellent, they are not clearly and accurately responsive to the question. Companion V, I think, in the few words that she said, came the closest to a responsive answer; but the question itself has not yet been answered. I now repeat it: what is your conception of the devachani as an entity, leaving apart for the present moment its spiritual and intellectual qualities? Has it extension? Does it occupy space?
Student C — I try to conceive of this by always studying myself. I find that the center of consciousness within myself must have space; and yet it cannot be clearly defined. It seems to be a unit of space that has almost infinite extension in either direction, large or small; so that I don't conceive of myself as a center of consciousness with a definite limitation as regards spacial extension.
I understand the devachani to be a center of consciousness in which the high aspirations and high thoughts of the past life have been drawn together around this center of consciousness by affinity or by attraction, and united, condensed, about this center of consciousness; and that this center stays within the auric egg, albeit as an emanation of the monad, for the period of time necessary to digest and to assimilate the spiritual experiences of the life just passed, the process of thinking or digestion going on somewhat after the manner of profound meditation or reflection. This may help to give the idea that I have formed of the devachani; and I think that it has form and substance and yet these are of a kind difficult to limit or even to define.
G. de P. — That is very well said indeed, but still I feel that the heart of my question has not been answered. Let me explain a little more, Companions. I would like a definite and clear-cut answer to the following question. In your vision or conception of the devachani, do you figurate it as an entity having extension or as being extensionless? To speak of it per se as a center of consciousness is exactly correct. It is also the reincarnating ego. It also exists at the heart of the auric egg. All the qualities and attributes that have this evening been stated as belonging to it by the various speakers have been correctly stated; but — has the devachani extension in the same way that our human physical body occupies space? Just let us answer each point as it arises; and then we will go to the next point and have that answered. In this manner I hope to bring out from within your consciousness the wisdom and the knowledge which I know exist there, but which you have not yet yourselves brought out. Will someone, therefore, answer my question?
Student T — No extension in the sense that we humans have of extension.
G. de P. — That is quite correct.
Student G — That is what I also would have said. Since the devachani is no longer on the planes of form, it would have no form, and being a center of consciousness it would have no material extension.
G. de P. — Yes, that is true; nevertheless the devachani does not strictly belong to or exist in the arupa or so-called formless worlds. The devachani still belongs to one or to another of the rupa-worlds; but devachan itself, mark you, Companions, has many degrees which range from the highest degrees of the rupa-world upwards into the arupa or formless worlds.
The devachani has been correctly defined as a center of consciousness without material extension. Now please make an important deduction from this correct answer. A center of consciousness without extension means a center of consciousness without parts, without body, occupying no space as ordinarily thought of. What then is it? A mathematical or an ideal point — and yet it exists. Hence it is. Go a step farther. Be courageous! Don't be afraid of a truth when you see it. Where is the devachan?
Many Voices — Nowhere! Everywhere! All around us!
G. de P. — Nowhere, everywhere, all around us, that is the answer. (I must again ask, Companions — this is so interesting, that in the impetuosity of your thoughts you forget my plea — for the benefit of the record, we must have the names of the speakers, even if their answers be but one word.)
Do you then understand that an entity — a center of consciousness without extension — may have its devachan in the sun, or in the moon, or on one of the planets, or in the petals of a flower on earth, or in a drop of water, or in a bit of lead or of steel? Is that correct?
Student F — It is in the bosom of the monad.
G. de P. — The answer is correct as far as it goes. But then how do you reconcile that answer with the statement which was previously made that the devachan can be anywhere?
Student L — The devachani, as I think of it, lives in its own ideal consciousness in a world of mental forms, in its thought images; and thus it also lives in a world of color and form, and hence moves and lives a real life. It has conception of extension of form, of sounds, of colors, with a spiritual content, that is true. This is, of course, maya, as everything is; yet the devachani must be represented in some way — not so fixed as are our bodily lives, with form and perhaps some ideal extension, but the latter might be very, very small; and also the devachani might follow the circulations of the cosmos in company with the monad, to the sun, even perhaps to the parent-star.
Devachan, therefore, has no fixed place in space, but I always think of it as a world consisting of a finer matter, yet that world might be exceedingly small. If everything in that world is relative, the devachani will have conceptions of that world just as easily as it would have of a great world.
G. de P. — The latter part especially of the answer is quite correct. The former seems rather vague but also correct. A mathematical point, say mathematicians, has position but no extension. Now comes the question, can a mathematical point be a portion of any concrete substantial entity? Can it be in the petal of a flower? Can it be in a part of a steel blade of a pocket-knife? Can it be in a part of the branch of a tree? No, because all these things are material things, and the devachani exists in another sphere of consciousness than that in which inhere and exist these various material things that I have mentioned. Nevertheless, the devachani, although existing in another and a more spiritual world or realm than our physical one, could be located by the imagination anywhere: in the petal of a flower, in a bit of wood, in a bit of wool — anywhere in fact — but not as an atom of such material things. The devachani essentially is a consciousness-point or center.
We have now come to another very interesting deduction. The adept, the Master of human consciousness, a mahatma in other words, finds it easily possible to make his consciousness smaller than the smallest atom, in other words, to become a consciousness-center. Having become that, the entire material sphere is permeable to that consciousness-center, and with a single effort of the will he can transfer himself, this consciousness-center, anywhere in space whither he chooses to go. And it is in this fact that lies the secret of what the Tibetans call the exercise of the hpho-wa — the projection of the consciousness.
I have chosen this question for an especial reason. If you can have your ideas clear concerning the devachani, its nature, its character, its position if any, that is its locality in space if any, its attributes and its powers, then from these clear ideas you can deduce many interesting secrets of occultism and find many explanations of mysteries that have hitherto been recondite and difficult for you to understand, because you have not had the clarity of ideas and the definiteness of vision concerning these matters.
We shall now come, if you please, to the nature or character of the devachani's consciousness. It has been spoken of as a dream. Do you consider this statement to be accurate, that devachan is actually a dream? Will someone answer that question?
Student L — No.
G. de P. — Mrs. L---- says, no. Her answer is correct. Well, but why is it so frequently spoken of, and in a way correctly spoken of, as a dream state?
Student S — I should think that it would be because the dream state is the nearest conception of devachan that our human minds can grasp. It is most like the dream state that we know.
G. de P. — That is correct as far as it goes. It is also, and perhaps more correctly, called a dream state because it is not a causal state of consciousness. It is an effectual state of consciousness, a result — and a dream state is a result of what has preceded the sleep in which the dream occurs. Devachan is called a dream merely because this word dream is the closest familiar illustration, perhaps, that can be found to describe it. Devachan is called a dream because, just as the dream state of a sleeping human being is an abstraction from actual participation in physical affairs and is nevertheless a state of consciousness, so is the devachani abstracted from working causally in the world, and nevertheless is in a state of spiritual digestion and assimilation. The devachani is in a state of effects, just as a dream of a sleeping man is for his consciousness a state of effects.
To say that the devachani is asleep is incorrect, if you use this word asleep literally. Actually the devachani is in a very active state of consciousness, but a dream also can be a very active state of consciousness. Just as dreams are the results of not only all the events of the preceding day which have made an effect on the mind, but also of the entire preceding life — that is, the life since birth up to the day of the sleep — just so is the devachan the effectual consequence or results, the effects, of the life which has just closed and indeed of all the previous reincarnations.
If you have these ideas clear in your mind, Companions, you will be enabled to answer the questions of new students, of strangers, who are just coming into theosophy, and who very naturally are more or less bewildered by what seems to them the richness of imagery and the rich treasury of thoughts which first then open out to their minds. Hence a few simple ideas concerning these things will be a great help to you in answering questions, as well as in giving to yourselves hints of other mysteries that I have pointed to.
Now then, in what way does the state of the devachani differ from the state of the nirvani?
Student R — That brings up a question that I was just going to ask. We are told that the devachan is a lower state than the nirvanic state. That statement would imply that the devachan is nearer to the material plane, in a sense. I should imagine the nirvani to be a mathematical point of consciousness, and the nirvanic plane to be or to exist in another space than that of the devachan. However, we understand the nirvani to be superior to the devachani. I was thinking, then, that if the devachani becomes a mathematical point, how can the nirvani which is also probably a mathematical consciousness-center be in any wise superior to the devachani, since both are described as consciousness-centers.
Some time ago you spoke of the different kinds of divisions in the auric egg; and you said that there were grades in the auric egg rising from something which was very nearly physical to something which was almost purely ethereal.
G. de P. — The last statement is true.
Student R — That seemed to give me a valuable clue. With our feeble brain-minds, we cannot understand a point without extension. We cannot comprehend it. We can only believe it to be so. In a sort of humble way we can get an intuitive glimpse of such things.
But my difficulty was that the grades of devachan being lower, more towards the material than the grades of nirvana, and yet both the devachani and the nirvani being spoken of as consciousness-centers which are immaterial points, how then can the devachani which is an immaterial point be less high than the nirvani which is also an immaterial point?
G. de P. — Professor R---, you have made not only some very interesting remarks, but you have included among them what is a rather perilous statement. You say that the human mind cannot conceive the state of nirvana, or words equivalent thereto?
Student R — No, I meant that the human mind cannot conceive of the state of a purely mathematical point, a purely abstract point.
G. de P. — Why not?
Student R — We have tried to do it with Euclid.
G. de P. — If you will remember that a mathematical point, according to theory, has no extension but only position, you will realize that there is nothing to understand about it as a material entity, which in fact it is not. Consequently you are running circles around the thought when you so try to consider it. A mathematical point can be understood as a point of consciousness. Examine the consciousness-side of it rather than the material extension side of it, which it does not possess, and it immediately becomes clear, easily understandable in theory at least.
Now, the nirvana in one sense of the word may be considered to be the exact opposite of the devachan. In the nirvana the consciousness-center or point is wholly and totally awake, active, in full self-conscious realization of its individual existence as an entity, and despite this fact self-conscious of its oneness with the universe. These two of necessity include each other. They are converse statements of the same thing. The devachani on the other hand is a dreaming entity, is in a state where the consciousness deals with effects only, therefore, with a certain number of visions, of seeings, of pictorial exercisings or figurations of consciousness. Through and around and above these limited numbers of pictorial exercisings of consciousness it endures through the ages as long as the devachan lasts. It runs the rounds of the body of thoughts in which it is then involved, rings all the possible changes of this group of states of consciousness. Do you follow the thought?
Student R — Most illuminating. Yes.
G. de P. — Whereas the nirvani is wholly free in his or its consciousness. It is wholly awake. It has become at one with the universe. It is in one sense the exactly opposite state of the devachan, if you understand what I mean. It has freedom instead of being involved in a dream state of its own imaginings.
Nirvana means a "blowing out," a vanishing, as, when you blow out a candle, its flame vanishes. All the flame and heat and smell and noise and fretful and fevered chattering life of the physical person is blown out, and the pure consciousness, undiluted, unadulterated, unrestricted by limitations, is then freed so that that consciousness alone remains. That is the nirvana.
When a human being can transcend all personal limitations, all personal restrictions — and they are myriad in number — then he is in nirvana, at least in one of its lower degrees. The devachani is an entity still enwrapped within the veils and garments of individual personality; or, if you like, of personal individuality, although spiritualized and dreamlike.
The matter is very simple and clear to me; I don't know whether you also understand?
Many Voices — Yes, indeed.
Student C — May I say just a word? It is more of a question than of a word, however. According to my comprehension of the devachani, as we have gathered its condition from the books, it is a something that supervenes after the death of the physical body. It is a condition of consciousness where the entity is surrounded by that which seems as real and substantial and actual as the world in which his consciousness was before the change called death took place. It is likened to a dream condition, but it is a dream condition in which there is as much of reality as there is in what we call the waking condition. In our dreams that are vivid there are causes that move to effects according to our character of consciousness at the time.
Therefore this question arises, by what standard are we to determine in our own consciousness whether we be a devachani or not? And does it not follow with a certain logical sequence that until the consciousness-center, that is the inner entity of each one, has become thoroughly self-conscious, conscious of its own divinity, of its real selfhood — in other words a nirvani — until that time of self-conscious realization has been reached and that status has been acquired, can it be said that the devachanic condition exists continuously? By what standard are we going to determine whether today in this apparently real world we be in the devachanic condition that our own imaginations have created? How is one to know?
G. de P. — That is very admirably put. In fact, it is a notably thoughtful statement. I would like to make one qualification, however. What Brother C---- has stated is perfectly true. The devachan is merely an extension of our present human state of consciousness in an ethereal realm, precisely as a dream is. But devachan nevertheless is a technical word limited to the consciousness state of the excarnate reincarnating ego.
As a matter of fact, Companions — and I have told you this before — there are human beings, many of them now on earth, who are even at present scarcely out of their last devachan. They have brought the devachan back to reincarnation with themselves. They are still to a certain extent in the devachanic state, a dreamy state, a state more or less a continuation of the inter-lives condition. The master of life is precisely he who from this dreamy state, falsely but nevertheless popularly so called, has succeeded in passing permanently into a higher spiritual state of reality, and this is the beginning of nirvana even in earth-life.
Student B — Should we not be justified in speaking of devachan as a beatific vision, and of nirvana as a beatific realization?
G. de P. — Yes, that is perhaps true from one viewpoint.
Student B — And should not one describe the nirvanic consciousness as monadic, a state of consciousness where one's individual consciousness is absorbed into the monadic?
G. de P. — Yes. Both the statements are correct, Dr. B----. I would like to qualify the last part of your statement, not indeed to correct it, but perhaps to throw a little further light on it.
The nirvanic state is a purely monadic state, but in the sense of the developed monad. All the faculties and powers now inherent in or native to the monad are then fully brought out and blossoming.
Now I want to return to Mr. T----'s perfectly correct statement regarding the devachan and its connection with the auric egg. Do you understand the auric egg to be changeless?
Many Voices — No.
G. de P. — That is correct. The auric egg like everything else changes continuously. It is not the same through two consecutive seconds of time. Like everything else it is in movement. It is growing, it is evolving, it is changing. But while it is true that the devachani is seated, so to speak, at the heart of the auric egg, is this auric egg during the state of devachan as extensive, spacially speaking, as it is during life?
Student L — No.
G. de P. — That also is correct. What then becomes of the auric egg during the devachan if it is smaller than it is during the life on earth of the individual?
Student G — Since the principles forming the constitution of man are composed of the varying grades of the auric egg, when the lower principles are thrown off it would follow that the lower grades of the Auric Egg are de facto thrown off for the time and only the higher parts remain and enter into the bosom of the monad.
G. de P. — That is correct, but still it does not quite answer the gist or heart of the question. I will put it a little differently: what size has the auric egg of the devachani? What space does it fill?
Student J — One in proportion to its size in that state.
G. de P. — Just elaborate a little. You are not wrong, but I would like to bring out your answer more clearly.
Student I — If the devachani is a mere mathematical point, the auric egg would be a mere covering of that mathematical point.
G. de P. — That is correct. Do you mean that the auric egg shrinks in dimensions to a mathematical point which has no dimensions?
Student J — You don't think of it as having dimension.
G. de P. — How do you think of it, then?
Student J — Well, a mathematical point is a center of consciousness which is alive, and therefore its auric egg must be alive too. It can be a center of consciousness, and the auric egg the effects of this center of consciousness.
G. de P. — That answer is much closer to the truth. As a matter of fact, the entire auric egg, which is the entire man, shrinks during the devachan, but differently with different individuals; yet it may be said that as a general rule the auric egg shrinks to be a mere covering or a skin around the consciousness-center.
Now here is another question. The consciousness-center being likened to a mathematical point having position but no volume, no extension, does this fact apply only to our physical world, or to the inner realms as well?
Student F — Only to the physical worlds.
G. de P. — That is correct. In other words, then, the auric egg still exists on other planes as the veil, or body of veils, surrounding the devachani. Is that correct?
Student F — Yes.
G. de P. — That is correct. Now, I want to point out something here. The auric egg is an extension of the various energies which are comprised in the center of consciousness during reincarnation. As these energies well forth from the heart of the consciousness-center, from the monad, the auric egg grows or swells pari passu. And this swelling begins and continues at and from the time the devachani leaves devachan; in other words, grows out of that state of consciousness, continues the swelling before birth and after birth until the full-grown adult is reached. The whole process post mortem consists in a drawing in of the various veils composing the auric egg which are thus reabsorbed into the consciousness-center. You must not look upon this reabsorption in the sense of a condensation. That is not the idea. They are reabsorbed into the consciousness, and that which had formerly been cast forth is now withdrawn into the consciousness-heart.
Therefore the devachani is an entity which can exist anywhere, because it has no definite bodily proportions. The devachan is a state of consciousness. The devachani is a consciousness-center seated at the heart of the human child-monad, and this child-monad, being as it were a dimensionless point, is thus withdrawn into the bosom of the monadic essence, into the bosom of its parent, the spiritual monad.
Student G — May I ask you a question?
G. de P. — Yes. I am asking questions tonight, but nevertheless ask your question.
Student G — Is it correct to say that because this entity, this devachani, is in the bosom of the monad, the monad therefore contains within itself the state of devachan, and, going still farther, that it contains within itself the state of nirvana, or in fact any state?
G. de P. — Certainly.
Student G — And that is why we say "I am That"?
G. de P. — Just so. Speaking now of the monad in a general sense and not of any specific monad, whether spiritual or human or psychological or astral, it is correct to say that the monadic essence contains within itself either active or in latency all states of consciousness. Its higher part is in nirvana or is a nirvani. The human part of it is, after the death of the physical man, in its devachan. The astral part is in a dreamless sleep, annihilated for the time being as an entity, nevertheless existing as unconscious consciousness, if you understand what I mean, somewhat like a sleeping seed of life — as is the case with the seed of a tree in which the germ of life is temporarily negative and sleeping but still it is there.
As a matter of fact, Companions, the very items of thought or points of study that we have discussed this evening apply as well to a universe as they do to a human being. Do you realize, self-consciously realize, that what we humans on account of the feebleness of our intellect call the Boundless or boundless space, is simply the akasa and its ethers and the monads and atoms existing in that akasa and its ethers belonging to a perfectly vast and incomprehensible Entity? It may be compared on the small scale to an incarnated human being. As the Christian scripture sets the matter forth: "In It we live and move and have our being." As an atom, a chemical atom, in a human body lives and moves and has a life cycle in that human body, so does a solar system or a sun or a planet or a human being form a part or portion, large or small as the case may be, of this vast incomprehensible cosmic or supercosmic Entity. You understand that, do you not?
Nevertheless this supercosmic Entity, in comparison with boundless infinitude, shrinks to the dimensions, to use a paradox, of a dimensionless point. The supercosmic Entity itself is but a life-atom in the being — in the body, to use plain English — of some Entity still more vast. Nature repeats herself everywhere, because there is one life existing according to one law, which is the law of that universal life itself, and therefore every subordinate entity or life-atom which forms the corpus or being of this one life must obey that fundamental law. This is the reason, I say again, why nature repeats herself, why cycles exist, and why the law of analogy is such a grand key for unlocking the mysteries of the universe. "As above, so below." What is below you can read as being a cyclic reproduction or reflection, if you are wise enough, of what is above.
We have used frequently this evening the expression a mathematical point. This is a favorite phrase with modern European and American mathematicians, and I have often wondered just exactly what they mean by it. It is a very convenient counter of thought, a little pigeonhole of consciousness, which has been ticketed or labeled a mathematical point. These mathematicians say that a mathematical point has position but no extension. The statement is correct in a way, because it more or less exactly describes a point of consciousness. Consciousness per se has no extension, which means limitation, because it is both punctual and universal. It has position, it has endurance, and it also has a history. It signifies an entity or a group or groups of entities.
But I want to go a step farther into the teachings of our own Oriental School and point out that because a mathematical point of consciousness is an entity and has a history — because it makes and unmakes karma — therefore its sweep of selfhood, just because it is dimensionless, is not limited by extension. Again, such a point of consciousness is not per se fixed anywhere in particular because its root is the universal consciousness; and all this is exactly the same thing as saying that it can be everywhere.
Please think over this wonderful paradox of essential consciousness. It means that the essence of consciousness is both universal and particular — universal per se and particular in the position it holds at any one time or during any one cycle. Or we may say that the essence of consciousness is universal but its living or particular veil or vehicle has position. The root of the root of the core of the heart of the core of you is the heart of the universe. Amazing paradox it is! You cannot limit the essence of consciousness, consciousness per se, by any enlargements or restrictions of special [[spacial?]] extensions. Consciousness is outside of time as human beings conceive time, such as day and of night, and of years, and of the time periods of the universe. It is greater than these which are phenomenal, and it is noumenal. It is, therefore, superior to any extensions or mensurations belonging to matter. It is in fact nowhere because nowhere in particular, which would mean that it exists in one place and could not exist elsewhere. Hence, existing nowhere in particular it exists everywhere.
Some modern European philosophers have seized this thought more or less clearly, such as the Frenchman Pascal, who adopted the idea from certain Greek and Roman philosophers. Pascal pointed out that God may be thought of as a circle which has its center everywhere and its circumference or bounding limits nowhere — which means everywhere. Or, you can invert the figure of speech and say that divinity is that which has its center nowhere and its circumference or limiting boundary everywhere. The phrasing in either case returns to the same ideal conception.
Now, Companions, don't you think that these my questions and your answers have been helpful to you?
Many Voices — Yes, Professor.
G. de P. — I also think so. We shall continue our discussion a little longer, Companions, and then I will close the meeting. Do you understand, from what we have thus far studied together, what the essence of the human being is? Leaving aside all attributes, what is the essence of a human being?
Many Voices — Consciousness.
G. de P. — Consciousness, that is it. That consciousness exists in each of us humans as an individualized consciousness-center. Do you understand that this consciousness-center is eternal?
Many Voices — Yes.
Many Voices — No.
Student C — It can be.
Student R — I think that the consciousness-center could not be eternal, but that the consciousness itself is eternal.
G. de P. — That is the correct answer when referring to the essence of consciousness or consciousness per se. But the consciousness-center is a temporary focus of a consciousness-energy; and that focus having history, in other words making and unmaking karma, must therefore of necessity be undergoing a continuous and never-ending series of changes.
Therefore when the Lord Buddha uttered one of the greatest and noblest truths in saying: "My Brothers, remember that man has no eternal soul," he gave voice to one of the profoundest psychological facts that ever human mouth uttered. This declaration is one of the most hope-giving thoughts known to me. I wonder if you understand why it is so? This declaration of the Buddha signifies eternal growth, and destroys the idea that the human ego has a supposititious immortality remaining always the same in crystallized immobility, again signifying incapacity to improve. Is it not remarkable how that grand thought of the Lord Buddha has always been so unacceptable to European minds? Indeed, it is a most helpful doctrine, a most comforting thought. How Occidentals do love themselves in their personal limitations!
Student A — I would like to say that the idea that has forced itself into my mind during the discussion this evening is that impersonality is the key to everything in the universe; that the devachanic state itself is only a sublimated state of impersonality — that is, the highest after the personality; and the more impersonal we become, the nearer do we approach to nirvana and become conscious of our real Selves. That is, the ordinary consciousness of the self is transcended and becomes the consciousness of everything that is.
G. de P. — Ah, that is very true. Brother A----, you have caught the idea of the very essence of the truth. Impersonality, which implies a growth in consciousness, is the secret of divinity, the secret mystery of divinity. All esoteric evolution, training for chelaship, is a continuous growth in impersonal life, an ever-expanding and enlarging impersonality in and of consciousness. The divine is wholly impersonal, at least to us humans. As contrasted with the utter boundless, frontierless, infinitude, what is divine to us is in fact an entity; but for us human beings, divinity is impersonality and that divinity is the very core of us. All growth, all evolution, all training in chelaship, are simply a becoming ever more and more impersonal in our consciousness. Our individual limitations are the things which restrict our consciousness, which bind us down to personality, which blind us, which are the shackles on us — on our limbs of spiritual energy. These limitations restrict our vision, because they are the personal veils around us.
The strong man is the man who is more impersonal than other men, who can take the detached view, the impersonal view; in other words see more, spiritually feel more, understand more, because he is not constricted, condensed, around the more or less temporary center of consciousness which he calls myself — me, I. The "I am I" is transmuted or passes into the I AM.
Student A — I should like to add a few words to what I said previously. Your comments on the answers that have been given to the questions you have asked seem to me to be an explanation of that wonderful passage in The Secret Doctrine, where H. P. Blavatsky speaks of life, true life, as a progressive series of awakenings, becoming ever more and more alive to the consciousness of the whole of which we as individuals, individual growing consciousness-centers, are integral parts.
G. de P. — That is so. Perfectly true.
Before closing the meeting, Companions, let me say that I am grateful to our Brother A---- for enabling me to close the meeting with thoughts on this lofty theme. Remember always that impersonality does not mean loss of consciousness. It emphatically means an ever growing extension of it. It means that the personalized consciousness breaks its shell of personality belonging to the lower selfhood and wings its way into the cosmic spaces. When we can live in those cosmic spaces consciously, we become as gods, and this is our future destiny. Nor do we end there; from divinity, from godhood, from becoming a god, there are endless series of rungs extending above us on the ladder of life. We become higher gods, then supergods, then divinities above the supergods, etc., etc. The series is endless. Every change towards impersonality in consciousness is really a new awakening, an awakening to a grander life, a happier life, a sweeter life, and a vaster life.
Have you ever looked into the bosom of a beautiful flower? Have you never felt your own consciousness vibrate in sympathy with the consciousness of that beautiful thing? If you can do that, you are already breaking the shell of the personal restrictions, the personal shell; and then — and this is perhaps easier to do for some people — look impersonally into the eyes of someone whom you love impersonally and take note of the wondrous mysteries there, the mysteries of consciousness, and the veiled depths of thought. Going out of your personal shell in this manner is, in a way, an initiation, my Brothers. When you can do this, you are breaking the personal shell around you, the shell of the personality. Continue this training, expand always — expand your self. In each new expansion is a new awakening to glory, to a sense of holy and wondrous power. I don't know how to describe adequately these things. Words fail me; but at any rate, I can give hints of the truths to you in talking in this manner.
Student P — Professor, there is one thing that clamors in my mind. As you speak, I feel that this I AM consciousness is an unconscious consciousness, which is the only manner by which I can describe it. Is it not so?
G. de P. — Yes. It is indeed unconscious consciousness to the feeble personal mind; but as you break the shell of the personal mind, this unconscious consciousness becomes a greater light of self-consciousness in the spiritual and unlimited sense. Personality vanishes into impersonality, the darkness fades into the dawn.
Let us close, Companions. I think that we have reached a point of thought in which it is good to rest and at which it is wise to close the meeting. Will you sound the gong, please?
[The sounding of the gong. Silence.]
Meeting 30 Supplement