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Student — I have inferred that the rays which the reincarnating egos send to the different globes of the earth-chain in making the inner rounds are the inhabitants of the respective globes. Is this correct?
G. de P. — Making certain reservations with regard to the form in which this question is put, I think that a general answer would be affirmative.
In the first place, this question refers to the inner rounds and not to the outer rounds, and this point must be kept clearly in mind. In the next place, to say that the different rays imbodied by the reincarnating egos as they reach each one of the globes of the earth-chain in serial succession are the inhabitants of the respective globes, is to state the facts altogether too inclusively. I mean that there are other inhabitants or living entities on the various globes of the earth-chain which are not the rays from the reincarnating egos mentioned here, and whose rays when imbodied on earth are human beings.
Just as on earth we have imbodied entities which are humans, others which are beasts, others which belong to the vegetable kingdom, others again to the mineral kingdom, and three other ranges of entities which belong to the three elemental kingdoms, just so is it on the other globes of the earth-chain.
It would be correct to say that the rays which the reincarnating egos send forth to the different globes of the earth-chain form collectively a part of the inhabitants of the respective globes, but not all the inhabitants of those globes.
However, the question on the whole shows an intuitively correct understanding of the general process. It may be more easily understood if it be remembered that our own globe D of the earth-chain is but one of a number belonging to this earth-chain, and that every human being of globe D is a ray emitted by each one's own reincarnating ego. This ray is the human being.
Now I come to a matter of the first importance in connection with a proper understanding of this answer. It would be taking an entirely erroneous view of the procedure followed by the reincarnating ego, as it passes from globe to globe of the earth-chain, to suppose that the reincarnating ego reimbodies itself on each globe, and is in all respects and without any change of color of consciousness exactly the same individual that it is on globe D, our earth, or on any other globe. Although it is the same individual reincarnating ego in each and every instance, the ray which it sends forth, being a ray of consciousness, or more accurately of consciousness-substance, is of necessity appropriate to, fit for, and evoked by the globe of the earth-chain to which such ray goes, or upon which it descends for imbodiment. In other words, each such ray is a phase or complex of consciousness, issuing, however, from the same reincarnating ego.
Perhaps this rather abstruse idea can be better understood if you will consider yourself as you are here on earth and living from day to day. On Monday you may be in a very optimistic, aggressively hopeful, and joyful mood or state of consciousness. On Friday you may be in an exactly opposite mood or state of consciousness. Now these two phases or complexes of consciousness are as opposite as one can readily imagine two things to be, and yet they both pertain to the same personality, and the stream of consciousness in each instance issues forth from the same individuality. To say that the man of Monday is the identic man of Friday is to utter an untruth, for the two states of consciousness are by no means the same.
Or take another illustration. A man, let us say twenty-five to forty-five years old, may be a selfish, egoistic, materialistic, and perhaps even a more or less depraved character. But something happens which causes a complete reversal of thought and feeling. Perhaps some great affliction falls upon this individual, causing an entire change of outlook on life, so that from forty-five to the day of his death he is a man who has entirely new ideas in life; he has had, as it were, a revolution of consciousness within. He is now kindly, strives to be unselfish, loves his fellowmen, takes a delight in nature's glories and beauties, and finds an absorbing interest in scientific and religious and philosophic ideas which meant nothing to him in the first part of his life. Here we have two entirely different, even opposite, phases or complexes of consciousness, and yet both belong to the same personality, and both are manifestations of one stream of consciousness issuing from above-within, or within-above. Just so is it with the rays from the reincarnating ego taking form or imbodiment on the different globes of the planetary chain.
It becomes evident, therefore, that while it is the same reincarnating ego which passes from globe to globe and sends forth a ray from itself to take imbodiment on each one of the globes of the planetary chain, nevertheless each such ray is appropriate to, fit for, and of the character of the globe on which it imbodies itself. Consequently, it would be wrong to say that you or I, or any other human being — each one of us being a ray from a reincarnating ego fit for and appropriate to this globe D — is the same exact and unchanged entity which takes imbodiment on any other one of the globes of the planetary chain. In each case the reincarnating ego is the same, but the ray which issues forth from the reincarnating ego, although in each case ourself, is nevertheless different because of the change of phase of consciousness.
It is the same reincarnating ego for each and every globe of the planetary chain of earth, but manifesting not as a different individuality, but as the same individuality in another phase of its consciousness, or in another mask or persona, as the Latins would say. In other words another personality with all the psychic and psychological and vital-astral phases of conditioned existence that each such new personality brings about, and indeed is. A man in a vivid dream, for instance, knows himself to be the same consciousness, but often actually feels that he is almost a stranger to himself — realizes that there are untouched deeps or ranges of consciousness, even in the ray which he is.
Student — The consciousness of our reincarnating ego is limited to the earth-chain. Has our monad or spiritual ego in its constitution a reincarnating ego or dhyan-chohan belonging to each of the sacred planets in addition to that belonging to the earth-chain?
G. de P. — This is an exceedingly interesting question. Here the range of manifestation has shifted from the inner rounds to the outer rounds. I am glad to see that the distinction is clearly drawn between the reincarnating ego on the one hand, and the spiritual monad or ego on the other hand. This spiritual monad or ego has its range and function of consciousness in and over the entire solar system; but due to past karma, a karma dating even from previous solar kalpas, it is more particularly connected with and bound to those seven individual houses of Life which the ancients called the seven sacred planets.
You ask in brief whether this spiritual monad or ego emits, or contains in its constitution, a different reincarnating ego belonging to each one of the seven sacred planetary chains, in addition to the reincarnating ego belonging to the earth-chain. The answer to this question is a decided affirmative. Each one of the planetary chains of the seven sacred planets is the home, or field of action, of a reimbodying ego which is a child of the spiritual monad, in exactly the same way that the reimbodying ego of the earth-chain is a child of that monad.
I ought perhaps to call attention here to the fact that to speak of a reincarnating ego for a planetary chain, such as that of earth, is in all probability an incorrect way of phrasing the matter. We humans are imbodied in flesh, or we undergo reincarnation on this globe D. But on other planets the bodies of the reimbodying entities may not be composed of flesh like our bodies, but of other material; bodies indeed, but not flesh bodies; and the same qualifying reservations should be made even with regard to the other globes on our own earth planetary chain. Flesh belongs to our earth, to globe D of our planetary chain. But do the rays emitted by the reimbodying ego of our planetary chain imbody themselves in vehicles of flesh, for instance on globe F or G, or again on globe A or B? Be careful, therefore, as I have so often urged before, in employing the proper words to express your meaning. To talk about a reincarnated globe, or a reincarnated planet, is entirely wrong. Such monadic rays are indeed reimbodied, but they are not reinfleshed, reincarnated.
Furthermore, just as the consciousness and function of our reincarnating ego on this globe D of earth is limited to the earth-chain, just so is the reimbodying ego on any other planetary chain, such as one of the seven sacred planets, limited in consciousness and function to its planetary chain. Now here again I must recall your attention to something which I have iterated and iterated and repeated and repeated and repeated almost ad nauseam, so that my critics are even complaining of my repetitions. They do not understand that even though I repeat and repeat and repeat, I do so with a purpose — to drive certain truths home; and that despite these constant repetitions and reiterations, I have the greatest difficulty in hammering the truths home that I am endeavoring to fix in the minds of our students and in the minds of the readers of my books and lectures. Literary elegance is very pleasing, but it is a matter of no importance in my eyes when I speak or write as a teacher. Doubtless, were my intelligence far greater than it is, and my capacity far larger, I could state a fact once and for all in such brilliantly illuminating phraseology that the idea would be carried over even into minds which are dull, and repetition then would be unnecessary. But alas, I have not this capacity nor such amazing intelligence, and I have to do the best I can to hand on the teaching even as I have received it.
Now the matter to which I am referring here, is the fact that every monad is what may be called a creative entity continually issuing forth from itself streams of children-monads, and that each one of such children-monads follows its own evolutionary course until, the great consummatum est of the solar universe. Thus it is that the divine monad has hosts of children-monads, each one of which is a spiritual monad or ego. Each entity of these hosts of spiritual monads or egos, being in its turn a creative monad, gives birth to its children-monads, rays from itself, and these children-monads in their turn give birth to other hosts of children-monads. Indeed, it is in just this manner that man's entire constitution is builded and composed. The very life-atoms, not only of man's body but of all his other intermediate vehicles, are in their essence such children-monads, each one a learning entity, a growing entity, an evolving being.
Hence, as can readily be seen, the spiritual monad or ego has as its children-monads numbers of reimbodying monads or egos which, in the case of the question that we have just been considering, are contained in its constitution as the entities which reimbody themselves in the different planetary chains — in our own cases being men of earth, as reincarnating egos. The questioner limits her query, however, to the seven sacred planets, in and to or through each of which the spiritual monad emits, or sends, or imbodies a reimbodying ego.
Finally, I should state that each such child-monad commences its career in any solar kalpa or manvantara as a superspiritual elemental, and after passing through the innumerable myriads of imbodiments or manifestations in the various realms and planes and worlds of that universal solar system, emerges at the end of the kalpa as a self-conscious divinity. Beginning its career as an unself-conscious god-spark, it ends it for that kalpa as a self-conscious god.
Student — We have been told that our monad is limited in consciousness and function to the whole solar system. Does this mean that it sends rays to, and has in its constitution a reimbodying ego belonging to planetary chains of the whole solar system as well as to those of the seven sacred planets?
G. de P. — I am able to give to your question a general but brief answer with a distinctly affirmative yes. But after having given this answer, I must immediately qualify it, lest there arise in your mind very subtle misunderstandings, by stating the other fact that for any one solar kalpa or manvantara the spiritual monad or ego, although ranging in consciousness and function over the entire solar system, in a general way is limited for that solar kalpa or manvantara to the relatively small number of planetary chains with which it is for the time being in most intimate and straitest karmic relations — the particular case to which you refer being our earth, the seven sacred planets, and the sun and moon, making ten in all.
I might say a little more in this connection. Remember that Father Sun has often been spoken of by the ancients as surrounded with twelve rays or glories, as being composed inclusively of twelve ranges of consciousness-substance. Shall we call these worlds or planes or globes? Yes, they are all three, and as the Sun is the heart of our solar system, it is obvious that all minor entities under the sway and dominance of Father Sun must themselves be twelvefold in range of consciousness, because belonging to the same corporeal unity.
In Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, especially in chapter xliv, I call attention to the astrological correspondences between the Signs, the twelve constellations of the zodiac, and the seven planets. The five globes of the twelve which are above the horizontal line on page 487 of Fundamentals are connected with five planets invisible to men, and for which in this particular diagram I have substituted the planets Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars. These five known planets have very close spiritual and psychological correspondences with the five secret planets of which I can say no more; and hence are actually substitutes for the five unknown planets, unseen by men and utterly unknown in modern astronomy. In a similar way in this same diagram the sun and the moon are properly used as substitutes, because, as individual celestial bodies, they have very close and intimate spiritual and psychological relations with the two other secret planets for which they act as substitutes. The diagram as given is accurate and correct, and can stand exactly as it is, having the further advantage of showing that the five superplanets above the horizontal line of the diagram are reflected in the four lower planes of the solar cosmos. In other words, just as there are twelve constellations or signs of the zodiac, so there are twelve globes of our planetary chain.
Student — We have also been told that the range of consciousness for the inner god or divine monad is our home-universe. Does that mean that in its constitution there are as many monads or spiritual egos as there are planetary chains in our home-universe?
G. de P. — Here again you are passing the ring-pass-not. Nevertheless, it is always my duty to give some answer to every earnest question. I will therefore reply that the proper answer to your question is yes; but instead of saying planetary chains in this connection, you should have said solar systems, because the range of a spiritual ego is over and in the solar system.
Perhaps the following reflections may help to clarify my necessarily restricted and somewhat vague answer. Our home-universe is everything that is comprised within the encircling zone of the Milky Way. Now the Milky Way, according to modern astronomers, contains — so the latest estimates of these astronomers say — some thirty billions or more of suns, of which our own Sun is but one. In the wisdom of the gods which we call theosophy, every sun is known to be the beating heart and creative mind of a solar system, as our sun is of our System.
Next, as the range in consciousness and function of the divine monad or inner god is through and over the home-universe, therefore every one of these thirty billions or more of suns, that is solar systems, is intimately connected by divine, spiritual, astral, and even physical bonds, with every such inner god, or divine monad, or ego. They are all life of one life: all of the same life, all of the same bone, the same "flesh," the same substance, the same origin and destiny, all of the same fundamental incomprehensible, superdivine consciousness or Parabrahman. Hence, as the range of consciousness of a spiritual monad or ego is over a solar system, you now have the astounding fact before you that the divine monad or inner god, has, as its children "created" by itself, or flowing forth from itself, hosts which number at least thirty billions or more; and this number does not include the totality by any means. Moreover, each such spiritual monad or ego is intimately related to its own parent sun or star.
Furthermore, each such solar system of our home-universe has its own respective numbers of planetary chains; and for each such chain there is a reimbodying ego — what on earth we call reincarnating ego. Pause, then, in thought over this stupendous and amazing picture conjured from the treasure house of reality, and laid before you for your reverence. How great, indeed, how vast and sublime, are the illimitable fields of the consciousness from which man flows forth as a tiny, evolving spark. All the universe is in you, as I have so often repeated and repeated.
Student — From what you have written, is it not correct to draw an analogy between the spiritual monad or ego which sends a reimbodying ego to each of the planetary chains, and the reincarnating ego on the earth-chain, for instance, which sends rays of itself to each globe of the earth-chain?
As the reincarnating ego of the earth-chain sends a different ray from itself to each of the earth-chain globes, is it the same with each of the other sacred planets — that the reimbodying ego of each planetary chain sends a different ray from itself to each one of the separate globes belonging to that planetary chain?
G. de P. — Yes, there is a very close analogy, for it is but a repetitive functioning of the working of the fundamental consciousness obeying the primal law or impulse of the cosmos. In other words, what happens in the great in the cosmos will be repeated in the small in the same cosmos. The spiritual monad or ego, which has its range over the entire solar system, emits from itself a reimbodying ego in each one of the planetary chains, and more particularly, in so far as we are concerned, in each one of what in esotericism are called the seven sacred planetary chains. Following exactly the same general rule of action, any such reimbodying ego belonging to a planetary chain sends forth from itself a ray or globe-ego or monad which has its sphere of activity on the globe to which it is sent, and to which in a sense it belongs.
Mark well, however, that just as every one of these planetary reimbodying egos derives its essential life from its parent the spiritual monad or ego, of which latter it is a ray, in exactly the same way the ray finding imbodiment on any globe of a planetary chain derives its essential or fundamental life from the reimbodying ego of that planetary chain. The analogy, therefore, is extremely close; and if you understand the working of one, you understand the working of the other.
Student — In previous ES meetings, you have pointed out that the keeping of pets is injurious to these animals as hastening their evolution beyond the normal. Is it not possible also that there is an injury to the human being because of the interchange of life-atoms that must take place between beast and human who are in such close physical contact, and that some of the beast life-atoms may find permanent lodgment in the human?
G. de P. — No, there is no permanent injury to the human being, because no life-atom can find permanent lodgment in a human being unless such life-atom is the offspring of the human being's own monad. All other life-atoms pass through the human being, and very frequently, but do not find permanent lodgment in him. Of course, there is the minor question of the temporary injury that may be caused to a human being by too close an association with a beast pet, but I here refer solely to the more intimate interchange of rather gross physical life-atoms that as a rule find their attractions to beast bodies.
In sheer justice to all phases of the question, I must add that in one respect a human being's character may actually be a little softened and made more gentle by the affection which such human being may have for some beloved pet. There are many instances in human story of men and women whose one saving grace seems to have been the pouring out of love or affection on some pet. We can say that at least to this extent the heart life has been awakened. Admitting all this, the affirmation must nevertheless be made, and strongly made, that in the general as well as in the particular the keeping of pets is injurious to both pet and master, but especially injurious to the pet. Many people feel a little sensitive about this question, because they dearly love their pets and often make companions of them; and every lover of animals knows how dear a faithful dog can become.
The duty of the theosophist, and especially so of one trying to lead the chela-life, is however quite contrary to the impulses which arise out of the keeping of pets. It is the chela's main objective in his training to free both heart and mind from particular and isolated attachments, and to make his life or affection, as well as his mental interests, absolutely universal. This objective, as becomes immediately obvious, is really divine. The personal must become merged in the impersonal, the restricted must become the universal, before the magnificent faculties and powers latent in the human being can be called forth into action. Personal restrictions, personal affections, personal loves, personal hatreds, all of them without any exception whatsoever, whether they be good, bad, or indifferent, condense greatly the sheaths through which the rays of the monadic essence pass in the constitution of the human being. Such personal limitations coarsen the fabric of substance of which these sheaths are builded, make them more dense and concreted. Hence it becomes immediately clear that instead of an intensification of one's personal feelings and views, they should be made impersonal, universal, unrestricted — in other words the shackles should be thrown off, and all one's strength put in an endeavor to clarify and etherealize the sheaths or vehicles of one's inner constitution. One's sympathies must pass from the personal to the universal, and one's interests, pari passu, must follow one's sympathies.
Student — We know that alcohol is injurious to the constitution because of its harmful effects; but can you not tell us something of the character or essential quality of alcohol that makes it injurious?
G. de P. — The reason why alcohol is injurious is because alcohol is a derivative of death; it is a product of decay; it is so to say the ooze of death. We may call it a condensation in a liquid of concreted lunar influences. Its sickly sweet odor is exactly the same as one who has sensitive nostrils may sense in the presence of decaying flesh or even vegetable substances. Alcohol when taken into the body has an immediate effect on the brain and nervous system, deadening and stupefying them. More particularly it has a most dangerous and unfortunate action upon the pineal and pituitary glands.
The fumes of alcohol to one who has undergone chela training have a horrible and very distressing effect — both disgusting and nauseating. Finally, I might add that alcohol feeds the lower evil flames of the matter-fire which, although it has its necessary place in the lowest realms of matter, is really the dregs of the pranas.
A confirmed dipsomaniac who suffers from the diseased state of the brain and nervous system called delirium tremens, is one whose nervous system has by this disease become attuned to similar vibrations in the lowest ranges of the astral light, which thus enables him to perceive or to feel, or as people say to see, some of the horrible, grotesque, and repulsive inhabitants or denizens of the lower regions of the astral light. The normal human being whose nervous tissues are not thus degenerated is unable to perceive or to become conscious of these lower astral regions, because the normal or functional vibrations of the nervous system are above these regions, and consequently there is no synchronous vibratory contact or fusion of consciousnesses.
Student — I am sorry that there are still some points that are not clear in my mind as regards kama-loka and the second death. When the higher triad separates itself from the kama-rupa, does the higher triad then enter the devachan, so that the higher part of the ego is in devachan at the same time that the lower part is disintegrating in kama-loka; or does the second death occur when the existence in kama-loka comes to an end?
G. de P. — When the higher triad separates itself from the kama-rupa, the higher triad thereupon immediately begins its devachanic existence, first in the lower part of it, then increases in intensity as the higher triad ascends to the higher parts of the devachan. Meanwhile, the kama-rupa which has been left behind is but an empty shell, and thereupon begins immediately to disintegrate. The separation of the higher triad from the kama-rupa is the second death. Just as the life energies quit the physical body and it thereupon expires and begins to decay, which is the first death; just so in the kama-loka, when the higher triad separates itself from the kama-rupa this is the second death, and the kama-rupa thereupon is a shell and begins immediately to disintegrate.
No, it would be impossible for the higher part of the ego to be in devachan at the same time that the lower part of the ego is in the kama-loka. Please remember that the higher part of the ego is the spiritual part, and that the lower part of the ego is the human soul. It is the human soul which has the devachan, but it cannot have the devachan until, joined with the spiritual part of the ego thus forming the higher triad, it enters the devachan.
There is a little confusion in your mind which I think lies in the fact you seem to imagine that the excarnate human entity has a human consciousness in the kama-loka by and through what is the kama-rupa. This is only the case at rare intervals, and in the instances of black magicians, or very, very evil men. When death occurs, the human soul, which is the lower part of the ego, becomes totally unconscious, although of course the spiritual part of the ego is as much and as fully conscious on its own plane as ever it was. This complete unconsciousness of the human ego still linked with the kama-rupa continues for a time, depending upon the individual. If the individual was very spiritual in earth-life, then there is practically no human consciousness at all in the kama-loka. If the human being during the last earth-life was very gross and evil, then there is a rather intense kama-lokic consciousness; because in this last case the human ego soon after death becomes conscious that it is dead and is in the astral world. The third case is that of the average human being, neither very spiritual nor very gross and evil, where the consciousness or sense of being alive in the kama-loka is very slight, more like a vague dream which lasts until the higher triad throws off the kama-rupa — which is the second death — and rises into the devachan.
Student — The last sentence of your reply has cleared the subject for me. I now understand that the second death does not occur until the entity has finished its sojourn or state of consciousness, long or short as the case may be, in the kama-loka; and that after the second death the devachanic state of consciousness then begins.
G. de P. — I might add here that the existence of the average human being in the kama-loka, before the devachan begins, before the second death occurs, also depends upon the individual case. With very spiritual men, the stay in the kama-loka is exceedingly short, a few months or weeks possibly; in the cases of the noblest human beings, perhaps only a few days or hours. On the other hand, the average human being may remain anywhere from a year to several years in the kama-loka; but this would be the very average human being who has had, during the earth-life last past, comparatively few intense spiritual aspirations.
Again, in the cases of very evil men, men very gross and material, with instincts strongly attached to material life, the stay in the kama-loka may last for a long time. Cases are known where the kama-lokic stay has been for a hundred and fifty years, before the second death is completed. But these last cases are exceedingly rare.
The teaching is, after all, very simple indeed. Just remember that the more spiritual a man is, the shorter the kama-lokic state. The more materially-minded he is, the longer the kama-lokic state. It is in every case a matter of attraction. The kama-loka after all is but the "shadow" of earth-life.
Student — This question about willing to cut short one's devachan, and other similar things, such as the Masters do, is asked of you so frequently, and was mentioned at a recent meeting. It appears to me that we are apt to minimize the difficulty of such acts, and that we are prone to imagine that all that is necessary in the premises is to decide that we shall do so-and-so, and it will then come to pass. But surely we can draw the comparison with a man who wills to become a physician. His effort does not stop with his intention, but he has years and years of hard study to go through before reaching the accomplishment of what he has willed. In the same way, I suppose that it takes lives and lives of active service for mankind, and unremitting efforts in self-conquest, before our willing to do acts similar to the Masters' has sufficient strength to insure accomplishment.
G. de P. — The last two sentences of this question, my dear Companion, are absolutely true. In order that we may rise to the plane, spiritually and intellectually speaking, whereon the Masters live, it should be obvious to everyone that we have to pass through incarnation after incarnation of absolute devotion to truth and loyalty to truth, and in absolute devotion to service for mankind, and, indeed, for all that lives. Truth, and the yearning to lay on the altar of service all that we have and are, must become one's very being before we can reach mahatmaship.
I do not say this by way of discouraging anyone, because my desire is to encourage all. Nevertheless, you should begin the new life, and begin at once; and who knows what past karma you may have of a splendid and lofty type, which, now that you have definitely set your feet upon the path, may be behind you as a great spiritual force, impelling, urging, driving you forward and, indeed, preparing and smoothing the Way before your feet.
It is, however, absurd to imagine that any student can pass from being an ordinary human to mahatmahood in one lifetime. That is simply not possible. It takes incarnation after incarnation from the time when one first definitely begins before mahatmahood is obtained. I speak here of course of one who has in this life for the first time in all his karmic history definitely set his face to accomplish this noblest of human objectives. As a matter of fact, however, all genuine theosophists have begun the path in other lives; and no one can tell how many lives ago the choice was definitely made to go forwards to join the ranks of our teachers and elder brothers.
The question of cutting short one's devachan by willpower is but one part of the training for chelaship. Even a single and strongly willed determination to shorten the devachan will indeed have its effect, especially if the same resolve had been taken in previous lives, so that there is now an accumulated energy behind the aspiration. All such acts are of course difficult to do, and it is foolish to minimize the difficulty of them. A good deal more is necessary than merely to imagine that we can do so by a single decision. In order to shorten the devachanic rest period in any appreciable amount of time, it requires the concentrated and unremitting effort of a number of lives.
But while I speak of the difficulties, and point out the obvious fact that Olympus, the seat of the gods, cannot be reached in a single step, nevertheless, dear friend, you should never forget that the time to begin is NOW; that the moment of choice is NOW; and that the sooner you make the definite choice and set your will like iron to achieve your objective, the sooner will you reach it.
Student — Inasmuch as every human being is the responsible hierarch of that hierarchy which consists of his emanations, what is the ultimate fate of the several life-sparks which have emanated from any such hierarch who eventually becomes a lost soul and suffers annihilation?
What provision is there for the proper supervision and guidance through the aeons to come of such orphans? Can there be a divine system of adoption, as it were, perhaps illustrated in a way by the attaching to our solar system of outside planets, meteors, and cosmic dust?
G. de P. — Yes, it is quite true that every human being is indeed the responsible hierarch of the hierarchy which consists of the children-monads which flow forth from him on all planes. But it should likewise be remembered that these children-monads are ultimately born of the essence of his essence, of the core of the core of his being. Consequently each one of the several life-sparks or children-monads which thus spring forth from him is an individual entity, thereafter pursuing its own karmic destiny and following its own particular path of evolutionary progress.
Now, in the case of one who after ages of emitting such children-monads becomes a lost soul and suffers annihilation, I must point out that in this case the annihilation is not of the spiritual monad, but only of a human soul of that monad. Consequently, the life-sparks or life-atoms or monads which had come from him are not affected permanently or essentially by the loss through annihilation of the human soul belonging to the constitution of the entity which had thrown forth these children-monads.
These children-monads or life-sparks are as much connected with the spiritual monad of their parent-entity as ever they were; and just as soon as this spiritual monad evolves forth from itself a new reincarnating human monad from the stored-up karmic treasure-house of previous imbodiments, then do these children-monads or life-sparks attach themselves to this new reincarnating human soul or monad, because they have the strongest links of origin with such new human soul from the common karmic treasure house.
The questioner is confused because he has mistakenly supposed that these life-sparks or children-monads spring forth from the human soul. It is not the fact, because only a relatively small portion of their great multitude do so. This relatively small portion of children-monads are still as much attached as they were when first they were born to the spiritual monadic essence out of which the human lost soul originally came.
Please remember that the human constitution is composite. There is a divine monad, a spiritual monad, a human monad, and an astral-vital monad, in every human constitution. Each one of these monads of the human constitution is an individual, although belonging to one stream of consciousness. Each such individual has its own heart of hearts or core of the core of itself, which is its own divine monad.
With this last reflection, coupled with what I have just explained, the reason becomes clear why the life-sparks or children-monads of a lost human soul are affected but in slight degree by the annihilation of a portion only of their parent.
The "proper supervision and guidance through the aeons to come of such orphans," are provided by Mother Nature herself. They are not orphans really, although they may seem to our human minds to be such. They are living in nature's great bosom and in nature's surrounding care just as safely as any other souls, and they are as closely attached to the divine monad from which the lost soul broke itself off, as they were before such loss of soul — a portion of their parent — took place.
Even in human life a child, which has lost its parents and thereby becomes an orphan, still lives, still is a full septenary human being, still is in the midst of Mother Nature of which such orphan is an inseparable part, still has its own karmic destiny behind it, its own karmic destiny in front of it. The dhyan-chohans care for such orphaned life-sparks automatically, and as naturally and as instinctively as human institutions care for human orphans — and, indeed, a millionfold more completely.
In view of the foregoing there is no need to speak of a divine system of adoption, because there is no necessity for adoption. It is really Mother Nature herself, if we follow the word of the questioner, which may be said to adopt such children-monads or life-sparks, very much in the same way as Mother Nature takes care of the seeds of plants which are cast to the winds, or eaten by birds and then dropped in proper and suitable soil where they finally take root and grow.
Student — Does the reincarnating ego, when issuing forth from the bosom of the spiritual monad, for its cycle of imbodiments on globes A, B, and C of the descending arc, and on globes E, F, and G of the ascending arc, imbody itself as a human entity on these six globes?
G. de P. — Here again there is a difficulty in answering this question adequately without some words of explanation. If we call the human entity man, as we know him on our own globe D, earth, then the obvious answer is no. But if by the phrase human entity we mean an entity possessing on all the other globes of our planetary chain a position equivalent in evolutionary dignity and standing to what the human being has on globe D, then the question must be answered in the affirmative, yes.
The matter is somewhat complicated by the fact that if we call the reimbodying entity on the other globes of our planetary chain "human," then we must conceive of a human vastly superior because vastly more ethereal and nearer the spiritual realms than the human entity on earth is, although occupying the same relative position on those other globes of our planetary chain that the human being does on globe D.
Indeed, even what we would call the beasts on the other globes of our planetary chain are, on certain ones of those globes — as for instance on globes F and G — superior to what human beings are on this globe D, although they occupy the same relative position in the hierarchical scales of globes F and G that they do on the hierarchical scale of globe D our earth. Just as on earth we have the mineral, vegetable, beast, and human kingdoms, so these same kingdoms exist on all the other globes of our planetary chain; but each kingdom on the other globes, although occupying the same relative step in the hierarchical ladder of life, nevertheless is vastly superior to the condition or state that it occupies on globe D.
The human beings on globes F and G, for instance, would be like human gods to us, because so much more ethereal, so much higher in the hierarchical ladder of life — higher not in the evolutionary scale of unfoldment, but in the scale of planes of the solar system.
Again, it can hardly be said that the reimbodying ego, when issuing forth from the bosom of the spiritual monad, imbodies itself as a human entity on globes A and B, for instance, of the descending arc, for the reasons just hereinbefore outlined. Such imbodiments occupy the same relative position on globes A and B that the human entity has on globe D; but as globes A and B are much more ethereal than is globe D, therefore the actual state or condition of the imbodying rays is far more ethereal and, indeed, far more spiritual, than it is on globe D — but possessing less of the gross brain-mind mentality than the human entity on globe D has.
Student — Seeing that the reincarnating ego imbodies itself on the upper globes of the terrestrial planetary chain after the completion of an incarnation on globe D, in what way does this passage through the upper globes differ from the passage of the human life-wave as a whole from globe D to the next higher globe, and so on?
G. de P. — This is an exceedingly difficult question to answer. There is of course a similarity, a strong analogy, between the passage of a single entity from globe to globe on the ascending arc, and the passage of the entire human life-wave from globe D to the next higher globe, and so forth. But the passage of the entire human life-wave takes place when the globe-manvantara on globe D is ended, and, with the exception of the sishtas, all entities as a body in any one kingdom pass to the next higher globe. The individual entities which pass from globe to globe on the ascending arc of our planetary chain, after these entities as individuals have finished an incarnation on globe D, do so in regular serial order through the three globes of the ascending arc. The ray from the reimbodying ego which descends into imbodiment on any one of the ascending globes of our planetary chain must obviously inhabit bodies which are of the type fit for and appropriate to each of the globes that the reimbodying ego passes through.
You have here come to one of the doors of the ancient Mystery teachings, above which we may say is written the legend:
"No one shall enter there except those who know the knock. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you." The following, however, is a hint that may be useful. The mineral kingdom of globe D, our earth, is at present in obscuration. Nevertheless there is a constant stream — which, by the way, is not a complete life-wave but minor trickles as it were — of mineral monads passing through globe D. These individual mineral monads pass from globe C to our globe D, and find imbodiment in our present mineral kingdom of this globe D, and then they pass on to globe E. Such individual mineral monads are the forerunners of the general mineral life-wave which at present is imbodied on another globe of our earth-chain.
Exactly the same general rule is followed in our own higher human kingdom when the individual units of mankind die on earth and pass to globe E and then to F and then to G on the ascending arc. In a few words, they imbody themselves in the sishtas of appropriate classes waiting for them.
Please do not ask me any more embarrassing questions about this, such, for instance, as: "As the sishtas are very few on each globe, and as the human beings who die every day number many thousands, and in a year several millions perhaps, where will they find bodies numerous enough among the sishtas of the other globes to provide vehicles for them?" Ah, indeed, again I answer: "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you!"
Student — It has been said that while the life-wave passes through globe D, the other globes of the chain are in obscuration. How can a reincarnating ego imbody itself on these other globes if they are in obscuration at present?
G. de P. — It has never been said that all the other globes of the chain are in obscuration. This statement is not true. If you will remember that the human life-wave is but one of several other life-waves cycling or circling contemporaneously around our planetary chain, you will immediately see that it is impossible that when globe D, for instance, is in activity, all the other six globes are in obscuration. Verily, it is not so. I think that I have explained this matter, or have hinted at it with sufficient clearness, in answering other questions at different times.
Remember also that no globe remains in obscuration until the cycling life-wave of a kingdom passes through all the remaining globes and reaches again on the next round the globe it had previously left. For example, when our human kingdom leaves globe D which then goes into obscuration so far as our human life-wave is concerned, our globe D does not remain in obscuration while our human life-wave passes through globes E, F and globe G, then has its interround nirvana, and then redescends through globes A, B, and C. On the contrary, within a time relatively short as compared with the long period of a complete chain-manvantara, our globe D will awaken from its obscuration to receive the next incoming life-wave or family-wave. This will happen long before our own human life-wave which had left globe D finishes its evolutionary career on globe E of the ascending arc.
All these time periods are very nicely adjusted during the rounds. A globe remains in obscuration after a great life-wave has left it for a period which is about one-tenth as long as was the previous period of global activity. Let us suppose that our present globe D in its present period of activity, and from its beginning to its end of this period of activity, requires some seventy-odd million years: then the obscuration period will be some seven million years, with a few extra hundred thousands thrown in for good measure.
In consequence, the reimbodying ego in its passage through the globes of a planetary chain on the ascending arc need not bother its head — if it have a head! — as to the globes E, F and G being in obscuration. It is obvious that a globe in obscuration may be encountered, possibly, by the reimbodying ego ascending along the luminous arc; but conditions for its imbodiment are proper and are always waiting for it, whether the globe be in obscuration or in full activity.
Student — Is each imbodiment or vesture of the reincarnating ego on the six (or eleven) other globes of the earth-chain strictly analogous, as an experience, with its incarnation on this planet?
G. de P. — If I understand the question correctly, then my answer is yes: all the imbodiments of the reimbodying ego on the different globes take place along strictly analogical lines; although, of course, because the states and conditions of the various globes differ very greatly, therefore the experiences undergone by the several rays from the reimbodying ego also are very different the ones from the others.
I suggest strongly to this questioner that for the present at least he do not confuse his mind with the six or eleven other globes that he speaks of. If he will restrict his study to the three globes of the ascending arc, globes E, F and G, of the earth-chain considered as containing seven globes only, he will in time come to understand more easily what takes place on the entire chain of twelve globes.
Each globe has its own kinds of matter, its own kinds of energies, and its own sorts and conditions and states of life, because no two globes of any one planetary chain are on exactly the same identic subplane of the solar system.
Student — Has the monad only one reincarnating ego for each chain that it visits on its pilgrimage, or do innumerable reincarnating egos, belonging to the same monad, coexist in other and to us invisible worlds?
G. de P. — Here the questioner is referring evidently to the outer rounds. First, as I have so often told you, it is erroneous to speak of reincarnating ego when what you evidently mean is a reimbodying ego. It is only to us men on earth who live in bodies of flesh that we can speak of an ego incarnating, infleshing.
Next, every spiritual monad which ranges over the entire solar system has one reimbodying ego for each planetary chain that it visits on its cosmic pilgrimage, and consequently there are as many reimbodying egos in such a spiritual monad as there are planetary chains. In fact there are more, because the spiritual monad or ego has very strong points of karmic union with other planetary chains than those of the seven sacred planets and our own earth. But as it would simply confuse you to talk of these other reimbodying egos I mention them only, and then consider them no more here.
Furthermore, I think the questioner has the wrong idea when he asks: "Do innumerable reincarnating egos, belonging to the same monad, coexist in other and to us invisible worlds?" The reimbodying egos belonging to any one spiritual monad exist as it were within the monad, within its sphere of life and substance, and are eternally attached to it. They do not exist apart from that spiritual monad in other and to us invisible worlds. Of course it is true that all reimbodying monads pass through different worlds, visible and invisible, when they make the descents and ascents in the planetary chains.
We must try to get accurate use of language in these matters, otherwise we shall be continuously talking at cross-purposes. Quite possibly the questioner means what I have just tried to explain, but his manner of phrasing is confusing.
I must add as a final thought to this — and I do hope it will not confuse you still further — that every spiritual monad is throughout eternity a creative center, and therefore virtually at every instant of time throughout duration it is incessantly giving birth to new children-monads. This fact, however, need not be considered here in answering this question. I merely subjoin these observations in order to make my answer complete.
Student — If this latter be the case, is not then the spiritual monad's circulation in the cosmos a mere transference of consciousness within itself, partaking, as the monad does, of the qualities of the whole universe, and not an actual change of locality from globe to globe or from planet to planet?
G. de P. — This is typically an Occidental question. The Occidental mind is always hovering in confusion between the matter of abstract consciousness and imbodied consciousness, and seems to find great difficulty in distinguishing between the two, although there should be, and in fact there is, in the thing itself no confusion whatsoever. Of course there is a transference of consciousness, but this transference of consciousness, by the very words here used, implies that there is an actual change of substance and of energy, and these words mean an actual passing from plane to plane, or, more accurately, from globe to globe, or from planet to planet. There could be no possible change of consciousness if an entity were existing eternally on one cosmic plane, for then it would be conscious but of itself. But as all entities are in continual and eternal motion, the so-called transference of consciousness is but another way of saying a passage of at least a part of the consciousness into different conditions or states of being, into different conditions or states of energy, into different conditions or states of substance; and this takes place from spirit to matter, and again from matter to spirit. The consciousness shifts and changes merely because it contacts in successive periods of duration different portions of the universe, at one time in the spiritual spheres, and at other times in the material spheres, and at still other times in the intermediate ranges between these two.
But here let me enter a very important caveat. It is not the monadic essence itself which leaves its own plane or transfers its consciousness to the planes of matter, but it sends forth from itself rays much as the sun does, and it is these rays which traverse or pass through the different realms or planes or spheres — the latter being globes of the cosmic universe or solar system.
Remember what Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita: "I establish all this universe with a portion of myself, and yet remain separate" — that is, "above" it, and yet "in" it and "including" it. A human being has a transferring of consciousness from day to day and from month to month and from year to year, from childhood to old age. Each day or month or year or series of years has its own kind of consciousness, and yet the dominant or encompassing or superior consciousness is the same throughout the man's life term.
The Occidental mind loves abstractions, loves to entify abstractions, to look upon them as concrete realities; and this psychological bias or habit is the cause of most of the philosophic and psychological confusion so noteworthy in the West at the present time.
Student — What is the esoteric teaching concerning the influence which the planets exercise upon the earth in general and individual human beings in particular, especially when this subject is considered in the light of the teachings regarding the circulations of the cosmos?
G. de P. — Your question calls for an extended answer on a very intricate subject, but because a full answer would be too involved for presentation now, I will point out only the following. Granting that the superior globes of our planetary chain do affect man, they affect him only through the intermediary influence or forces belonging to the globe on which man happens to be at any time. This should be obvious. All the globes on the descending arc of our chain work through globe D for and on man as long as man is on globe D; and similarly for the other globes of our chain. Expanding the thought a trifle, globes A and B, or globes F and G, do not work as individuals directly upon globe D, but only through the intervening globes as intermediaries or transmitters of the influences or forces, much as electricity will run along a chain but only through the links of that chain. The consequence of this is that the physical planets D, or globes D, of any chain, pour upon man, while he is on this globe D of the earth-chain, the various influences and powers flowing forth from these various chains through their respective globes D to earth.
There is, however, a secondary line of influences or energies flowing from the different planetary chains down to and upon globe D of the earth-chain; and this secondary line is from the respective globes of the other chains to the similar globes of the earth-chain, and thence through the intervening globes of the earth-chain to globe D of the earth-chain. Just here is where the circulations of the cosmos have to be followed. These various kinds of influences or energies must obey the regular procedures of the solar system and follow the tracks or roads already laid down, exactly as electricity automatically follows its lines of least resistance, or as the blood in the human body must follow its circulations through the arteries and veins.
These influences and their various channels of circulation are indeed too recondite to speak of at any great length, and therefore can be treated only briefly. This whole matter is involved in the existence and workings of the circulations of the cosmos, of which I have said so much and concerning which so little as yet has been understood. It also shows that true or real astrology — just because it is a starry science, a vast and beautiful study — is completely outside the purview of the modern Occidental astrologer, who really knows no more about the inner intricacies of his study than he does about the inhabitants of Neptune, if any.
Yet I will say this: the tangled remnants of Occidental astrology still have some few accurate general ideas, as for instance, the obvious one concerning the physical globes of the respective planetary chains being the bearers or carriers of the influences flowing into and through them. Modern astrologers know little or nothing, usually nothing, of planetary chains. They do not know anything about the interior globes even of our own chain, except occasionally a flash of intuition concerning them; and such influences which they thus intuitionally sense they then call by the convenient but vague term "inner influences," or by some such phrase. We must remember that esoteric astrology was one of the subjects of study in the higher Mysteries of ancient peoples, and was most carefully guarded because of the obvious dangers to human, moral, and intellectual welfare that could arise from profanation or misuse of the teachings.
The planets as well as the sun and the moon unquestionably exercise most powerful influences on human beings, not only individually as celestial bodies, but collectively as what one might call the conscious celestial machinery of the solar system. Furthermore, individual human beings themselves, just because they are units in this machinery, cogs as it were on the wheel of life, receive these influences and are affected by them. But the following fact must never be overlooked: that the human will and intelligence, precisely because this will and this intelligence are derivative from the spiritual heart of the universe, are never servilely or slavishly subject to this mass of energies, or influences acting upon humans. In other words, a human being can always react successfully, if he use his will and his intelligence, against the solar, lunar, and planetary influences. I repeat the old astrological saying: Stellae agunt, non cogunt — the stars impel but do not compel.
Furthermore, and this fact should be remembered, every human being born upon earth is spiritually a derivative from his parent-star, and is besides this closely connected because of an element in his constitution with one of the planets of the solar system — one of the seven or ten sacred planets. This last statement does not mean that such human being has no links with the other planets of the solar system. Just the contrary is the case. Every human being's constitution is builded of the same forces, substances, qualities, which the individual planets of the solar system imbody; but in every individual human being one of these planets is particularly powerful in his life, because of such human being's comprising in his constitution an unusual amount or proportion of such planet's swabhava or individual characteristic.
Student — May I ask for either a confirmation or a correction on a doctrinal point? In the course of a conversation with X concerning the processes of evolution, I pictured man as a composite being consisting of:
The divine flame or atman — whose home is the galactic system — or divine monad.
The spiritual monad — whose home is the solar system.
The spiritual soul or higher ego — whose home is the planetary chain.
The human monad or human ego — whose home is globe D.
The kamic-astral-physical complex.
I made the statement that the spiritual soul or higher ego is the reincarnating ego and is the manasaputra or agnishwatta-pitri, that it endures as long as a planetary chain lasts, that it is that which is indrawn into the bosom of the spiritual monad and rests within it in devachanic sleep; that the human monad or human ego lasts — as an aggregate entity, not as a monad which of course is indestructible — only for one incarnation, and that the aroma or noblest essence of this human ego is assimilated by the higher ego before it (the higher ego) is withdrawn into the spiritual monad.
X asserted that it cannot be so; that it is the human monad or human ego that sleeps in the bosom of the spiritual monad its devachanic sleep; that the spiritual soul or higher ego is not the manasaputra or solar pitri; and that it cannot be that the human monad lasts only for one incarnation (as an aggregate entity).
In other words this seems to strike out of consideration one of the links of the chain above enumerated, namely, the spiritual soul. There is evidently a misconception somewhere along the line. May I ask who is right, and for a few words from you in elucidation of the above problems?
G. de P. — I will make this brief reply. You are almost right and also X is almost right. As a matter of fact, I think that you both mean pretty much the same thing, but each is a little confused in usage of the various terms: monads, souls, and egos — and, indeed, I am not astonished, because such confusion in usage of words is almost inevitably certain to arise until one's fundamental ideas on this intricate matter are clear-cut and definite in outline.
In the first place, then, man as a whole, being a composite entity in his constitution, is a collection of monads in differing degrees of unfoldment or evolution. Besides this, each one of these monads by the very fact of its being a monad is virtually deathless, that is, lasts as an individualized unit as long as the solar system does. The only exception to this is the divine monad, whose tremendously long time period equals that of the galactic system. Nevertheless, the ego issuing from the bosom of any one of these monads, on any plane, is an entity which has its periodic waking and sleeping times.
Again, surrounding such ego there is its vibrating, vital, conscious sheath, called the soul. Now this soul it is which, although a living being, dies or disintegrates, when its respective time period has elapsed. Thus, as an example, the human soul lasts only for one incarnation; but the human monad, after death, is withdrawn into the bosom of the spiritual ego which in turn is withdrawn into the bosom of the spiritual monad.
It is therefore the souls which die but which nevertheless are extruded or reborn again at each new imbodiment — because their respective life-atoms are psychomagnetically re-assembled and drawn together to re-form the substance of the soul which had died or had undergone dissipation. The different monads are likewise withdrawn each one into the bosom of the next superior monad, the cases varying according to the individual monads.
You are not quite right in saying that the manasaputra or agnishwatta-pitri is exactly the same as the reincarnating ego. This is just one of the most difficult things to explain clearly, and it would take me an hour to write a fully comprehensible explanation. The manasaputras who incarnated in the third root-race are not our human egos, but are our manasic parents — spiritually-manasically speaking. Our own spiritual souls or higher egos, which are the essence of the reimbodying ego, were set aflame or quickened, each one by its own manasaputra, its spiritual parent so to say. Even today, in our now complexly composite constitution, such manasaputra has its close links of consciousness and destiny with the reimbodying or higher ego, which it had illuminated and manasically inflamed, because in each such case there still remains an actual monadic-vital link of consciousness — a sort of antaskarana.
Honestly, I don't know how I can explain this more clearly in so brief an answer. Some of the most intricate and complex teachings of the esoteric cycle of study are bound up with all this; so I suggest that you study the matter carefully and brood over it intently until light of itself streams into your mind, which it will if you can rise to the plane of understanding.
X is right in saying that it is not the human monad which lasts only for one incarnation, because such brief existence belongs to what you call the kamic-astral-physical complex, otherwise the human-animal soul. Thus you are right in saying that the lower human ego, or more accurately the human-animal soul, lasts only for one incarnation. Nevertheless, out of this human or rather human-animal soul is drawn the aroma, the spiritual essence, of it, which is then ingathered into the spiritual monad in the manner that HPB so ably describes. Remember, however, that even the human-animal soul which lasts only for one incarnation, nevertheless is psychomagnetically drawn together — that is the life-atoms which form it — when the next incarnation on earth takes place, thus re-forming for its new life the lower man of the past life; and thus not only enabling this lower man but obliging him through karma to reap the seeds that he had sown in his last life.
You will see that both you and X really mean pretty much the same thing, yet each one of you is a bit confused regarding the terminology. I will further add that, on the whole both your and X's views as you describe them are generally correct. It is the old and familiar trouble of being confused about terms, which always gives rise to misunderstandings, friendly or otherwise as the cases may be. Your hierarchy of the various monads is correct enough, I believe.
Finally, both of you should make a sharp distinction between the deathless monads, no matter where they are functioning — whether in the galaxy or in the solar system or in the planetary chain or on a globe — and the respective higher egos of such monads, which egos with their souls are the respective imbodying principles. Again, the souls are the living, conscious, sheaths or veils in which the egos clothe themselves, just as our physical body is what we may with perfect truth call the physical soul — the living, vibrating, conscious soul of matter with which the human ego clothes itself on this earth. Keep these distinctions between monad and ego, and ego and soul, clear in your mind, and then I believe that you will have little trouble in fixing their respective and proper positions in the human constitution.
Student — Could you please tell us from an esoteric standpoint what is the value of the usual custom of ceremonial funeral observances? Just what would be the best procedure for a theosophist to follow, if he did not have to take into consideration conventions and the susceptibilities of friends and relatives?
G. de P. — To give to you my own perfectly frank and candid opinion, I think there is no esoteric value whatsoever in the usual custom of ceremonial funeral observances. This does not mean that I think that the body should be regarded in an utterly heartless and cynical way. On the contrary, I think that a body which has housed the soul of one whom we have loved, or indeed of one whom we have never known, should be treated with quiet dignity and respect, not forgetting that it is but an empty shell, the empty tenement of the self-conscious and vital spirit which has left it.
On the other hand, I do believe that many of the usual ceremonial funeral observances actually have a tendency to chain to earth, by a sort of psychomagnetic attraction, the excarnate entity which is doing its best, automatically of course, to free itself from all the attractions of this physical sphere. When the relatives and friends gather into a funeral chamber, and there is weeping and wailing, or a great many expressions of love and devotion, and the virtues of the dead are recited, and incidents in his or her life are dwelt upon — all this, because of the strong psychomagnetic vibrations and elements involved, actually does tend to hinder the departing ego.
Therefore such funeral observances are not only not good but distinctly bad. Furthermore, I think the effect on those left alive is bad, for this effect is one of depression, gloom, even of horror, and gives to death a somber importance which, as the casting off of the grossest vehicle of man's constitution, it actually does not have in nature.
As concerns the latter part of the question, it is my belief that the best procedure for a theosophist to follow, especially if he do not have to take into consideration conventions and the susceptibilities of friends and relatives, would be the simplest procedure possible compatible with the dignified care and disposition of the body of the departed and loved soul. In such case I would suggest that immediately death has supervened, the windows in the death chamber be opened; that the strictest silence possible be maintained in the immediate surroundings; and if evening is drawing nigh, that a night lamp or candle be lighted and placed at or near the head of the body, due precaution against fire being taken of course. Near the head of the body, once in the morning, and once in the evening after sundown, there should be lighted a stick or cone of fragrant incense; and this for every day that the body lies before cremation or burial. If one has no incense, then it is good to burn fragrant herbs or grasses, or a little wood in the room, due precaution against fire being always taken. It does not matter much what kind of wood is burned, but it is better if possible to have some fragrant wood like cedar. The reason of this is that the burning wood or herbs and especially the incense purify the atmosphere and have a tendency to repel evil and unpleasant elemental forces which are always attracted to a deathbed after the soul has left the body. The light also has a somewhat similar effect, in repelling elementaries. These astral denizens can do no real harm except to those who are alive, and their presence is unwholesome. Old custom and common human instinct in many cases have replaced the incense or the burning of wood or herbs by bringing flowers into the funeral chamber. This is good for a short time because of the perfume, but not nearly as effective as the incense or the burning wood, because within a brief period flowers begin to decay, and the smell and presence of decay are what should be avoided.
I might say that even the smoke of tobacco is a kind of incense, and it would not be improper to burn a little tobacco; but I would not suggest this, because if a member of the family were to smoke a cigarette, which is the simplest way of using tobacco, in the death chamber, critical relatives or friends would immediately proceed to call it a cynical and heartless act because they would not understand the idea behind. But the burning of incense or some fragrant wood or herbs would arouse nobody's critical faculty, and incense is the best of all forms of purgative fumigation.
As regards any funeral ceremony, this is something which the theosophist must decide for himself, in the case of the disposition of the body of someone he has loved. I would suggest, however, that the ceremonial be as simple as possible. If he has to consider conventions and the feelings of relatives and friends, which is always a kindly thing to do, then I would suggest a reading from some one of our devotional books, possibly two readings with an interval of silence between, say of five minutes or ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, according to the wish of the one arranging the ceremony. If it is possible to have a little quiet music, a short musical number might be rendered immediately after the second reading, thus closing the ceremonial.
I have also been asked whether it is a good thing to hold the ashes in case of cremation of our beloved who have passed on. There is no objection to this except a somewhat depressing effect on those who are alive. Possibly the best way, if the law permit, would be to scatter the ashes at the will of the survivors on some beautiful countryside, or on flowing waters, or on the sea, according to the wish either of the dead or of the living.
The ancients of course were very particular about funeral ceremonies and the retention of the ashes of the dead; but this was because the ancient religions had already largely degenerated, even centuries preceding the beginning of Christianity which merely carried on the same traditional observances more or less.
Whatever happens, the main thing to be careful about is as greatly perfect a silence as possible in the death chamber for a number of hours after the person has expired. The reason is the same as that pointed out by the Master in one of our books, to the effect that for a number of hours after the last beat of the heart, the brain is still partially alive going over in mental imagery the whole panorama of its past life from the first to the last moment of conscious existence preceding the drawing of the last breath. Noise of any kind disturbs the withdrawing ego in its panoramic vision of its life just ended; and the worst possible disturbance or noise is anything that will appeal to the withdrawing ego on account of its human emotions or affections, such as weeping or expressions of sorrow or pain or regret. Preserve perfect silence in the room of death.
Meeting 34 Supplement