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G. de P. — Will you please come to order? [The sounding of the gong.] Have you any business to bring up this evening?
The Secretary — This letter is only one of several such letters that the Leader has received, and being the mildest of them, he has been requested to allow it to be read. It is dated March 15th.
"Dear Leader: After much reflection I have been moved to address you personally with reference to certain impressions received from the KTMG meeting last Wednesday. My reasons for taking this course are that the necessity for preserving the harmony of the meetings prevents one from protesting at the time and place, as one would naturally do at any ordinary meeting; and that our obligations of silence and secrecy as members of an esoteric body preclude any joint action on our part.
"I refer to what seemed to me a manifestation of disrespect towards the teacher, and even of a certain contemptuous attitude towards the teachings. The effect on me, as doubtless upon others, was to produce a conflict between the desire to avoid anything like anger and the desire to defend the teacher. I feel on the one hand that it will never do to allow a scene to take place in one of those meetings, and that any manifestation of anger would produce a deplorable result. And yet, how can we sit silent and permit the possible growth and spreading of a feeling of disrespect, or flippancy, or lack of appreciation, and ingratitude? Is it not indeed a case of "silence gives consent"?
"I feel that the private letter is the only channel open to us to express our feelings, and I suspect that others may avail themselves of it.
"Another thing is that I dread the possibility of a scene occurring at some future meeting.
"It may be that my feelings are exaggerated, but they do exist. It is not for me to suggest any course of procedure, but the receipt of such letters might serve to strengthen your hand; and the strong feeling of loyalty which we have should not be allowed to go unuttered at times when an expression may be specially appropriate.
"I feel too that it would not be enough merely to suppress the manifestation of any feeling of disrespect that may exist; but that it should not exist at all. But perhaps I have now said all that is needed, and enough. I conclude with a renewed assurance to you of my (our) great respect, appreciation, gratitude, recognition, and love; and deep regret that anything like a spirit of heckling should ever show itself.
"I also feel strongly that there may be a very few who have mistaken the teacher's generosity for weakness, and his reticence for ignorance; and I am anxious for the effect such an atmosphere might produce on some of our younger members. If I am too presumptuous, I may offer the plea that you have so often invited the candid expression of our feelings.
"Yours in all devotion,
"HENRY T. EDGE."
G. de P. — Are there any more communications? If not, I would like to make a little comment; not so much on the beautiful spirit of the companion whose letter you have just heard, but on the fact that this letter does show on the part of some of you — I will not say a lack of appreciation of the esoteric spirit — but a lack of a sufficient appreciation of the esoteric spirit. And likewise — and this perhaps is the cause of the fault — a lack of understanding of what it meant when you took your pledge.
Now as an illustration of this: within a month, my work — the necessities of the work which I have to do, and for the purposes of the general Society — led me to ask three individuals belonging to this Group, each one to undertake a certain duty and in each instance my request, my appeal, was refused. I asked nothing that would touch the pocketbook, that would touch the family life, that would touch anything, it seemed to me, except your heart — an appeal for help.
Now if this were a higher degree, a mere refusal would automatically have placed the student beyond the pale of the School. You have taken a pledge to give all you can "in time, money, and work" to the theosophical cause; to obey without caviling, without argument, without delay, all the orders that the Outer Head issues to you in all that concerns your work for theosophy or the theosophical movement. That is the pledge you took in two of its clauses.
Now if this pledge had been properly understood by these three companions, I should not have been in the position of your teacher asking for help, and having that help refused. In the Oriental School, of which our School is a prolongation or extension, it is considered an honor to be singled out to undertake a duty — an honor so great and so high that the chela lives in the hope that he may be so singled out, in order to express the love and devotion in his heart.
I know, Companions, that many of you have not understood the pledge that you have taken. You don't know what it means, and I have on various occasions tried to tell you. You are Occidentals: you are frightened at the thought of giving up your most precious "personal independence." You think that it is a terrible thing, which really means that you don't trust the School and that you don't trust your teacher. If you did, you would have no fear; you would be as fearless as the sunlight penetrating everywhere in any circumstances.
And I have not been surprised that these three consecutive refusals — the one after the other — took place. In a way I have been glad of it, because it has given me an opportunity to request those of you who do not desire to carry on, kindly to withdraw.
You don't know what this School may be in the future. You don't know what you may be called upon to do; and I don't want those who are ignorant of their esoteric duty in the School. I don't want any weak links in our chain. I dare not have them. You have had your chance. You have been given more than outer students for many, many centuries in the world's history have been given; and what you have received will remain as a precious treasury in your hearts and minds until you die.
But I want strong men and women in this group, who are not only willing, but able, to live up to their pledge: to take that pledge and study it and realize what it means, and be proud of it. If any one of you thinks that I could call upon you to do a wrong or an immoral or an impossible thing, then your place is not here.
Now I don't speak unkindly. I speak with the firmness and intensity with which my heart is filled. It is my duty so to speak to you. My heart is filled also with love and pity. I have no censure for these companions, not a particle. I know human nature too well; but they have done wrong in taking a pledge which they have not more carefully considered, for the plain English of it is sufficiently clear. And therefore I request you, I beg of you, to send in your resignation from the KT Memorial Group; and at the same time from the ES.
I am speaking now to those of you who in their hearts feel that they cannot carry on. It is the only honest thing to do, the only right thing to do. Otherwise you are here under false pretenses, coming here perhaps because others come, coming to gain what to you should be forbidden wisdom, because you are not willing to live up to your pledge.
I would liefer have a hundred men and women upon whom I could depend than one hundred thousand weaklings, forming a weak chain, a chain of straw. And in this degree, oh, how little you are called upon to do — practically nothing, babies' play! You don't know what it is to belong to the higher degrees, you have no conception of it.
In the higher degrees you are tested by life, by the forces of nature, which test and wring every fiber of your being. That is the way in which the real tests come: heart and mind, soul and spirit, will and consciousness, all are tried. It is like the gold which is cast into the flaming furnace; and like it you must come out purified. I have been through it myself, and I know whereof I speak. And that purification washes out all personality. Only karmic weaknesses remain, and those karmic weaknesses belong to the fabric of the cleansed material, whether it be cleansed copper, or cleansed iron, or cleansed lead, or cleansed gold.
It is my duty to warn you in this way, dear Companions. I am not chiding, I am not scolding. I am simply pleading with you to do the right and honest thing. If you resign honestly, you will be respected. In my own heart there will be more respect for the honest, manly and womanly withdrawal, with the statement that you feel that you cannot truly and forever live up to your Pledge, than for your continuing to come where you don't belong, and for your receiving what you are not entitled to.
I will say in answer to this beautiful letter from Brother Edge that I was not aware at the time nor did I feel that there was the slightest wish to heckle or to embarrass me. I think I know the comrade to whom Brother Edge refers and I know that his heart is as devoted as anyone's, but he does indeed have an unfortunate way of expressing himself, which, when I first knew him, I also took to be a sarcastic way. But it is not so intended. Nevertheless Brother Edge is right. It is greatly to his credit that he wrote as he did. It shows his devotion. It shows the real chela spirit, for the chela's first duty is not to protect himself but to protect his teacher.
Has any one any questions?
Student — It seems to me that the theosophical teachings concerning the essential divinity of man add to the difficulty of an explanation of the origin and existence of moral evil in the world. The nobler the nature of man intrinsically is, the more incomprehensible does wrongdoing on his part become. May I ask for further light on this subject?
G. de P. — This is a very interesting question, really a most thoughtful question, and one which probably has baffled every esoteric student at different times, and yet the answer is very plain. I will illustrate by asking a question after the method of Socrates: do the rocks commit sin? Are the plants guilty of moral evildoing? Can it be said even that the beasts are held karmically responsible for what they do? In each case the answer is no.
It is only when there is self-consciousness, and spiritual attributes misused, and spiritual energies misapplied, that evil enters into the life of the world. The rock does no evil. The rain which pours down and perhaps washes away a mountainside, carrying human lives with it, does no evil; but a man does. The man can do it, I mean. He has self-consciousness, he has discrimination, he has judgment, he has vision, he has understanding of these qualities, being an individualized entity; and when he misuses these through his lack of a still larger vision — in other words, through being imperfectly evolved — that is evildoing.
Now if we lived in the spiritual-divine parts of our nature, there would be no evildoing; but we do not live in those parts yet. We are as yet undeveloped creatures as compared with what we shall be in the far distant future; and while it is therefore obviously true that every one of us in the core of the core of his being is a divinity, we human beings are not gods, we are but poor and imperfect expressions of that inner divinity. The inner divinity sins not, for all its operations and motives are at one with the universe of which we are children. Extremes meet: the highest and the lowest are sinless; they sin not. But the intermediate portion of the ladder of life brings evil or disharmony into the world, and this portion is men. And just in proportion as the faculties and powers of this inner god shine forth, in the same proportion does evildoing become repulsive to that man, become horrible.
There is such a thing as spiritual evil in the world, and the Christian Paul speaks of it, "spiritual wickedness in high places." This is due to the fact that there are certain beings who are one-sidedly developed. It is very difficult to explain this, because the cases are very rare. There are beings who have reached a certain spiritual stature, but one-sidedly: they are spiritual abnormalities. They are like some beings whom you occasionally see born into the world, with enormous intellectual capacity and a poor, feeble, little physical body — or vice versa.
I will go a little further in order to round out the philosophical thought. While our inner god to us humans and in our own universe is sinless, incapable of sin, because it is the primal expression of divine nature itself — "children of the most high" to use a Christian expression — nevertheless when we humans shall have self-consciously attained that high plane of spiritual-divine development, even there there are spheres of life, mansions of life, as much higher than we shall then be, as our divine is higher than the point which we now occupy; and these second still more sublime entities, even what we call gods, could commit sin, not human sin of course, but what we may call spiritual sin. This is merely another way of saying that evolution is endless; that there are always higher, and sublimer, and grander heights to attain, to reach to. That is what it really means.
Student — We are taught that the dhyan-chohans through conscious efforts direct cosmic law. Does man in his sphere, by the magical power of forgiveness and love, consciously direct, but in a less degree however, the higher law?
G. de P. — No, I would not say that man directs the higher law. Great and noble men can become vehicles and channels for the higher law. They become alive to the higher law and become expressions of it. Perhaps in that restricted sense they could be said to direct the operations of the higher law, just as the mahatmas and demigods may be said to direct law — the actual truth, however, being that they become channels, vehicles, for expressing the divine law.
This is true because man is destined to become a collaborator and coworker with the gods. He is so on earth even today in his poor feeble way. He has attained self-consciousness, he has attained conscience — the sense of right and wrong. Ethics and morals are not conventions, Companions. They are based on the laws of nature, spiritual nature; for right is right and wrong is wrong eternally, no matter how high you go. Man's views of ethics or morals become broader, deeper, more profound, as he evolves — the fundamental characteristic of right action remaining always the same.
No, I would not say that man directs the higher law, but he becomes a channel through which the higher law may flow, so to speak. His love becomes consonant with the operations of spiritual being. And the dhyan-chohans, the lords of meditation, are channels on their lofty planes in just the same way, but are much grander and nobler channels than we half-developed human beings are.
Do you know that on the higher globes of our planetary chain, along the ascending arc, the animals there are hundreds of times more spiritual than we, and more evolved? That is a fact. You don't know what you have locked up within you. To say that you have an inner god is true, but you must free your imagination, wash all the superstitious cobwebs out of your brains; let your spirit soar, intuit, see, and then you will get some inkling, some intimation, of the ruling awful splendor that is within each one of you.
Student — Will you please explain the meaning of the term descending dhyan-chohans?
G. de P. — I don't quite see the application of the word "descending." Does it refer to evolution or is the reference to a mystical descent? I suppose in a general way the reference is to evolution: the descent of spirit into material life, of cosmic spirits into material existence. But if that is so, I wonder why this question is asked, as I must have explained the matter a hundred times before.
The monads, cosmic spirits, dhyan-chohans, do not descend. This word is a figure of speech; but they extend an influence from themselves, a ray as it were, just as the higher part of your own constitution does not become your own human physical body, but enlivens it, invigorates it, fills it with the reflection of its own splendor and glory, which reflection is the human soul. Furthermore this reflection on a lower plane is even the animal soul and the life in your body. But this reflection is not a descent of the god within you, into becoming flesh. That metaphor is the gross Christian way of expressing the matter, and shows how degenerated the old teachings had become when that phrase first gained currency.
While all this is perfectly true, it is also true to say — and I have pointed this out many, many times, and it is the root of the meaning of what I have just called this gross Christian expression — that this very ray from within reaches its most material aspect in our physical bodies. The modern European poet who said that when he looked upon the face of one of his fellows his heart was filled with awe, and that he knew also that when he put his hand upon a fellow human being he touched a god, spoke truth. The physical body is a concretion in matter of the lowest aspect of the monadic ray. This ray can go no lower into matter in the present stage of evolution of our hierarchy and therefore stops at and in the physical body.
The same reference, and the same allusion just spoken of, may be made to the planetary chain of seven globes — the descent of the life-wave on the descending arc until it reaches the fourth globe, which is our earth; then the turning point in the fourth root-race occurs and the beginning of the ascent along the luminous arc. In every planetary chain the life-wave can go no lower down than what is its karmic lowest point which is the most material globe of any planetary chain. Consequently, there are planetary chains in our own solar system much higher than ours; so much higher that their lowest or fourth globe we humans cannot see, because it is invisible to us, being too ethereal for our eyes to take cognizance of. Such a fourth globe is on what is to us a spiritual plane, and yet it is the most material plane of such a superior planetary chain.
The next question, please.
Student — You have told us that there are actually ten principles instead of the seven usually mentioned. May we know something of these three additional principles, please?
G. de P. — Forbidden knowledge! And yet it is my duty to answer every question if I can — at least to give some responsive answer to it. I can therefore say this, Companions, that the upper triangle or the three principles above the seven are the link by which we hang from the heart of the universe; and the seven lower principles are the pendant of jewels — to follow the figure of speech — hanging from this link. To put it in another way: the three highest principles, the three above the seven, you may look upon as an open door leading into the next and higher hierarchy.
Yes, there are not only seven principles: there are ten — three to us unmanifest, seven manifest. And there are also ten globes to every planetary chain. The three highest occupy the same analogical relation to the lower or manifest seven globes that these three highest principles of our human constitution occupy to the lower seven principles of our constitution. In a general way, these three highest, with the first of the seven, are exoterically summed up under the one generalizing word atman — the self — the essential self.
Student — You said in a former meeting that the sixth race would have two backbones, no hair, and one eye on top of the head."
As the early third race were hermaphrodite and their manner of running circular, will the sixth race also be as the third were, hermaphrodite and round? And how will they get two backbones unless two, a male and a female, incarnate in the same body? Will it be the same two that separated on the third race?
G. de P. — In the first place, I made no such statement as this questioner says. I did not say the sixth root-race, and I did not say that the eye would be on top of the head; and the reference to the circular movement of the "pudding-bags" of the third root-race was not mentioned by me at all, but is taken from a reference by HPB to Plato, who in his Banquet tells the story, a mythical tale: which is a true tale, but told in Greek mythological form.
I hardly know how to answer a question which is not accurately phrased and which makes reference to things which were not spoken of at all — things which I did not say.
I said that man in the far distant future (why the sixth root-race? perhaps in the sixth round — I particularly avoided specifying the time) would be very different in shape from what he is now. And I asked a series of questions. I said: "Would you like to have two backbones, no hair, no teeth, to shed the nails of toes and fingers yearly as a serpent does in its own particular time?" I will add to that — and this is by way of answering the unmistaken portion of this kind companion's question — if future man has two backbones (and I now say that he will have them) it will most certainly not be because the physical body is the joint dwelling place or joint vehicle of a man and of a woman, because in those times there will be no men and no women. Men and women are an evolutionary event — a present passing transitory phase of evolution. We are in that phase now. We were not in it in the early third root-race, nor in preceding root-races; and when we shall have passed through this phase sex will die out, and any child then born having one or the other sex will be a teratological phenomenon, and will be considered a monster.
The two backbones will come from this: the expression in one human vehicle of the positive and negative aspects of life — in other words of the pranic life currents acting differently from the way they now act. These life currents even today have their main channel in the spinal column.
I will go a little further than this. In our esoteric teaching, the spinal column on the astral plane is divided into three internal tubes or channels, the central one occupied by what the Hindus call the nadi or current-stream of the sushumna. Another one at the right is usually called the tube or the channel of what the Hindus call the currents of ida, and the one at the left, of the current called pingala. The one, ida, even today transmits what may be called the positive currents of life of the pranic stream, and the one at the left transmits what may be called the stream of vital electromagnetism of the negative character.
It is most difficult to find proper words for these things. I confess the words that I choose may be not the best, but they are the ones that at present occur to me, and I use them — with great reservations as regards accuracy of use — merely because they are phrases, expressions, familiar to you, and will give you some idea of what I am trying to say.
Ida on the right — and in some Hindu books the positions of ida and pingala are reversed — ida on the right then, and pingala on the left, will evolve forth into the two spinal columns, the two backbones, each one to contain half of the vital currents connected with the sushumna-current which is spoken of in the Hindu scriptures as one of the rays of the sun, transmitted to the moon — referring not only to the exterior sun, but also to the invisible orb.
Yes, I will go a little further still than this. It is along the sushumna-tube of the spinal column today that the entity whether incarnating or excarnating takes its entrance into, or departure from, the physical body.
There are many other things which future man will possess, which mankind today does not possess. Many strange things will happen to the physical body of man as time passes. Furthermore, why should this questioner think that the third race corresponds with the sixth race, which is next to the seventh or last. The correspondential race to the sixth on the ascending arc is the second on the descending arc. We correspond to the third root-race because the third is the third from the beginning and the fifth is the third before the ending. One, two, three — four — five, six, seven. Mankind will not have two backbones before our present fifth root-race has run its course. But the two backbones will most certainly come. When — I don't care to say; but they will come.
Referring a moment to the question of sex: I think that I have mentioned this before in the Temple at one of the meetings conducted under our beloved KT, when I spoke under her direction. The children of the future, that is the offspring of the human race of the future, will no longer be men-children or women-children, nor born in the present method of birth; but will be born by will power and imagination uniting together — and born consciously of course. By deliberate will and strong imagination, by kriyasakti, children will be brought forth — from what part of the body, I leave it to you to imagine. Perhaps from the head. Even today the human germ-cell is an astral deposit which grows into the human generative cell; and the children of the future will be born from their parents first — in the time of which I am speaking — as wisps of opalescent, translucent substance issuing from the body.
Student — Please explain further the three nadis: ida, pingala, sushumna.
G. de P. — Well, I think that this question has already been covered in the answer that I have just given to the previous question. I will add, however, that these three nadis, as the Hindus call them — and nadi is a Sanskrit word which means "stream," as a stream of water — are the three main vital streams in the human body, and these three nadis are in and around the spinal column. From the topmost of the cervical vertebrae, to the lowermost or the os coccygis — that is, the lowest vertebrae of the spinal column — these three channels are the channels of the life forces; and when one knows how to control them he can work wonders of magic.
I think I have said enough about this. What is the next question, please?
Student — Can something be told about Mithila, referring especially to the verse from the Mahabharata: "If Mithila is on fire, nothing of mine is burnt (in it)" (ch. 178, st. 2).
G. de P. — Mithila was one of the famous cities of ancient Hindustan. I don't recollect the passage here spoken of, but I get the idea very clearly. The writer evidently attempted to show that one who is of high spiritual grade, such as Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, has no fear of any possession that he may have being destroyed; and even though the capital city of the country may burn, whatever he owns or possesses will be safe from the conflagration. That is a statement of truth. I don't recollect at the moment the passage in the Mahabharata here spoken of, so I cannot give any more definite answer.
Student — In the srutis, seven orders of pitris are mentioned. What class or grade do the lunar pitris of The Secret Doctrine belong to?
G. de P. — A very low grade, relatively speaking. The seven classes of pitris mentioned in the srutis of Hindustan are the seven classes of the monads that HPB speaks of in The Secret Doctrine; and the lunar pitris are one of the lowest classes of these monads — one of the lowest monadic classes.
Srutis is of course a Sanskrit word, which means "tradition" — things handed down in traditional writings, the Hindus making a distinction between srutis and smritis. The smritis are the things handed down by unwritten tradition, as possibly might be said in European countries: transferred from teacher to pupil, at low breath and with mouth at ear; and this is the root of HPB's meaning where she speaks of the Smartava Brahmanas as being superior to the srautas — the smritis standing higher in the esoteric sense than the srutis, the srutis containing merely the written scriptures, whereas the Smatava Brahmanas study the smritis more particularly — the tradition handed down by word of mouth from teacher to pupil. Sruti comes from the root sru, which means to "hear." Therefore tradition heard and written down; smriti comes from smri, to "remember," therefore unwritten tradition handed down by word of mouth.
Student — Can you tell us the difference between the lives of our body that constitute our family, and the lives that merely pass through our bodies?
G. de P. — The lives that constitute our family? I presume the reference is here to the family of life-atoms which make up one's physical body. I have explained this many, many times before. Our bodies are merely built up of our own life-atoms, our own children, our own offspring, from the fount of vitality within us, therefore enchained to us through eternity. It is these, mainly, that make up the body.
The other and many fewer life-atoms that compose our body we are hosts to; but they do not remain with us. They are in peregrination through us, in transit through us.
For instance, when a man dies all the life-atoms of his being on all the planes, pursue, each life-atom, its own peregrinations or transmigrations through the beings and entities of its own plane. The life-atoms of the physical body of the man who has died pursue their peregrinations or transmigrations through entities and beings of this physical plane, through other bodies; in other words, through the bodies of other men, the bodies of beasts, the bodies of plants, even through the atoms and molecules of the mineral kingdom. But they are all gathered back into the physical man when that reincarnating ego returns to incarnation, drawn to him by a psychomagnetic attraction which is extremely powerful. They come to us through the air, through the water, through food. The man takes them in with every breath he draws, with every particle of food that he eats, and it is his own atoms that thus build up his body; and most of the rejecta — the food that is cast out of the body — is composed of the life-atoms that really do not belong to him.
So you see what it means. When you next return to physical incarnation on this earth, you will have a physical body that is simply the carrying on of this same present physical body — the same life-atoms — and having the karma behind it that this physical body has when it dies. The new body will be almost identical, improved somewhat to be sure, of different complexion perhaps, possibly not so tall, or perhaps taller, fatter or thinner as the case may be; but actually the same identical person and more or less with the same tint of complexion and color of hair, and so forth.
But through the ages there is a slow but constant improvement, so that when it is said that when a man dies he will never have his physical body again it is practically a true statement. He never will have that physical body again. It is an event which has passed, but the body he will have is the karma of this body — which is just the same thing. You know what karma is.
You have not even now the body that you had ten years ago, nor the body you had when you were a little child, and yet you retain your physical personality and grow.
It is just the same from life to life, the same identical life-atoms coming and going, but changing through the ages, just as your present physical body has changed through the years from birth. Truly this ought to be plain. And when you hear the statement made as I have made it to you so often, that you will have the same body again when you come back, you now should see the meaning. I mean that you will have the same life-atoms in the karma of the body that has gone: the same thing but just a little changed, a little improved; just as you are today not exactly what you were a week ago even, or even an hour ago. Not exactly and identically the same. That is the idea.
Student — I have been looking over the periods of Theosophical cycles, and note that the Master speaks very strongly of the first seven years in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett saying that if the Society passes through it — he didn't think it was certain that the Society could — then the Society could go on; otherwise they would have to postpone for many years.
G. de P. — Quite true, quite true. There is a seven-year period just as there is a ten-year period, which is a fuller part of the same law, and which is the same period as the solar spot cycle, usually conceived of as an eleven-year period. Questions dealing with cycles are matters which resemble very much all questions concerning the moon, which, as you know — because I have seen it in some of your articles — is in one sense the master or mistress, in other words, the governor, of earthly cycles as a rule. There are many kinds of cycles. There is a very interesting cycle of four years' duration, and this cycle arises out of a still smaller cycle of three years' duration — four and three make seven again, and three more make the ten.
Every fourth teacher is a renewer, a regenerator, or should be, and will be if the Society has lived true and has kept the link unbroken through the times of the three previous teachers. Every fourth year begins a new cycle again. It is a case of wheels within wheels. It is a most bewildering subject.
Has anyone any other question to ask?
Student — Many times during our gatherings here you have mentioned that if we only knew why it rained — and I have often wondered what you meant by that. Could you tell us? "If you knew the meaning of why it rained."
G. de P. — Yes. I could tell you but I have no right to speak of it. I am awfully sorry to have to give an answer like that. But as usual I must give you some kind of answer, and I now try. It rains because the pranic currents of the earth carry rejuvenating elements from the inner worlds into the physical sphere, largely through the rain. Rain is not a haphazard phenomenon. It comes strictly according to precedent cause, and that precedent cause is in the invisible realms, as indeed everything causal is. Let me give you a little hint.
In one of the ancient Hindu scriptures, one of the Upanishads, it is said — and it is also in the Bhagavad-Gita, I believe — that men are born from food, food is born from rain, and rain is born from sacrifice. Now just take that — I won't say put it in your pipe, because you don't smoke, but put it in your mind and think it over.
Student — May I ask a question regarding the cycles?
We understand that the age of Brahma is 311 trillions, and 40 billions, of our years, I think. But is that gaged by what our year now is? Because our year has changed, has it not, from ancient days?
G. de P. — How can I answer a question like that until you define what you mean by change?
Student — I understand that the year used to be longer than it is now.
G. de P. — Oh, you mean in length. Let me tell you what a year is in the esoteric teachings: one complete circling around the sun, whatever length of time it may take. Time has little to do with it, but from the astronomical standpoint it has everything. These years are calculated according to the number of full revolutions of the earth around the sun, where each one such revolution takes an absolute time — one of our present years, or a time period equalling ten, twenty, thirty, times the length of our year or thirty times shorter. That is your answer.
Student — Yes, thank you, Professor.
G. de P. — Therefore you see that if you are calculating in Venus years, it would be many more so far as the numerical figure goes. If you were calculating in Saturn's years, it would be many fewer, so far as the mere numerical figure goes. Do you understand me?
It is the teaching of modern astronomical science that the year is one of the constants, one of the invariables in the solar system; but that is not our teaching. Our teaching is that the year not only lengthens but decreases in what I may call absolute time.
Student — May I ask about the year? I wanted to ask a question about that for a long time. In the letters to Hume, not one of HPB's but one of the Master's, he refers to the fact that one of the patriarchs, I think it was Seth or Enos —
G. de P. — You are not going to bring in those elder Jews, are you?
Student — He said, coming down to 365 years meant that the earth came to 365 days at that time, I think; and that I fancy refers to the third and a half race, does it not? It is a very subtle allusion and I want to ask about it. I cannot find anything in The Secret Doctrine that gives, except by analogy, even a slight suggestion about it.
G. de P. — Let me understand you. You ask whether the year is illustrated by one of the Biblical Jewish Patriarchs whose lifetime was only so many days long?
Student — No, with the preceding ones, Methuselah, etc., before the third and a half race, the year was 900 days, and then shortened according to that statement; and it is given allegorically in the lengths of the lives of the Patriarchs; and when it came down to Seth or Enos, his life was said to be 365 years, which the Master said meant 365 days, and the year settled down to its present condition. I am not quite clear if that was in the third and a half race.
G. de P. — You are confusing the idea. The cycles themselves do not change relatively to each other. The year — however long it may be absolutely, in absolute time — will always have 365 days, or more accurately 360 days, and these days are rotations of the earth on its axis. The length of the day, the absolute length, may be longer or shorter; and the length of the year, the absolute length of the year as far as time periods go, may be shorter or longer than it now is. But each year will always contain 365 turns or rotations of the earth on its axis. Cycles within cycles. For instance, the year will never have 300 days or 2101/2, or 940.
Now these Jewish Patriarchs are not only men; they refer to time periods. Do you get that idea? Racial time periods. And actually Methuselah represented a race; so did the others.
Student — May we hear about the new planet? I am surprised no one has asked the question, as we are all so much interested. HPB said that Neptune does not belong to our system. Is it possible that the new planet and Neptune and onward are another septenary that we have not found yet?
G. de P. — No; the new planet — if it be proved to be a planet and I doubt it not — is simply an instance of another capture, just as Neptune is, and I don't myself believe that Uranus belongs to our solar system. In fact I have every reason not to think so.
You know what the modern chemical teaching is with regard to the capture of electrons and the ejection of electrons from the body of an atom, of course; each such capture or ejection of an electric body changing the polarity of the atom from positive to negative, then back to positive and then back to negative again. And the solar system is merely an atom on a grand scale — or, to put it more accurately, the atom is a solar system on an infinitesimal scale: and the same rule prevails in both. Hence outside bodies can be captured, and such a capture changes, reverses, the polarity of the solar system. The solar system, just like an atom, can make one or two or more captures or undergo one or two or more ejections, each such capture or ejection reversing the previous polarity of the solar system in question. Is my answer responsive?
Student — Yes.
Student — May I ask why the sun and moon are used in place of planets?
G. de P. — Simply because — and this is an easily understandable answer, I think — the planet for which the sun stands cannot at present be seen, and also simply because the planet for which the moon stands cannot at present be seen. Both are more ethereal bodies than the other planets that the astronomers see. And the planet for which the sun is used or stands is very close to the sun, and the planet for which the moon is used or stands is very close to the moon.
Now this answer, the latter part of the answer of course, would be to a scientific man the most blatant nonsense, and yet it is true.
Student — Are they the only two planets that are so closely linked to our globe that they affect it?
G. de P. — Oh no, all the other planets do, that is, all the seven sacred planets do so especially affect it.
Student — But the others we can see.
G. de P. — The others we can see?
Student — These are the only two we cannot see.
G. de P. — I see what you mean. These are the only two we cannot see.
Student — May I ask a question about planet capture? Do these planets really belong somewhere else?
G. de P. — In the first place, neither Neptune, nor this newly discovered ninth planet, are really planets. They were errant bodies in space and they have a planetary type, but they are not planets, to use the popular word, belonging to our solar system at all. They are strangers in it, they are captures.
Student — Then they don't belong anywhere? I wonder what is happening — where they really ought to be?
G. de P. — Space universal is just filled with wandering bodies of all sizes, from atomic sizes up to immense masses of solar stuff, of cosmic stuff — bodies of all sizes. The solar system is capturing cosmic atoms by the untold decillions every instant of time and also ejecting them, but these are very small in size. It is very rarely that a solar system captures a body sufficiently large to approach the dimensions of Neptune or of this newly discovered planet. They are really more of the nature of comets far advanced in cometary age.
I don't know whether that answer is very illuminating, although it is quite exact.
Student — May I ask a question which is not scientific? Why is it when there is anything of exquisite beauty in music, or in a scene, or in a character, you always feel — if it is of any deep beauty — a sort of pathos with it?
G. de P. — I think that this is very true. How often have I not felt that also. There is something about the splendor of a sunrise or of a sunset, particularly a sunset, which always impresses me with an indefinably vague pathos. I look into the heart of a rose, for instance, and I see unspeakable beauty.
There too, there is something about it that appeals, touches — appeals to me in a peculiar way, something that touches the core within me. It arouses the feeling of sadness, of pathos almost.
It is true. I would hardly know how to answer that offhand, without giving it more thought. It may be that beauty is so lofty and noble a thing that when we sense it, as we do in such circumstances, the human soul feels its own inadequacy to understand fully, to appreciate fully and to grasp such beauty; and thereupon there ensues a natural reaction upon that human soul — a self-pity perhaps taking the form of sadness or pathos — that it cannot understand or penetrate more deeply into this beautiful thing. It may be so.
Student — Will you help us to understand better the relationship of the higher self with us? Is it in the slightest degree cognizant of our interest in our troubles, and our trials, and our attempts to win out? Or is it analogous to the average man in regard to his own life-atoms?
G. de P. — The latter is the case, and how fortunate it is! Suppose that you as a human being with your ordinary human mind were so engrossed with the life-atoms of your body, that all the great and splendid things that properly and rightly should be the field and activity of your consciousness were shut out. Don't you see? The human soul is the god or the inspirer atomically of the life-atoms of the body, and just so is the inner god within us the inspirer, the enlightener, the invigorator, the guide, the teacher, the leader, of the human soul. You see the point, do you not?
Student — Yes, thank you.
G. de P. — It is for the human soul to raise itself up to, aspire towards, the Splendor within, to become at one with it — to feel the sunlight of beauty, and the truth within. Then the whole being is illuminated. Then come peace, and love, and compassion, and the sense of oneness with all that lives. I know nothing more beautiful and holy as a human feeling than that. The god does not descend; it is for the human to become at one with the god and thereby become godlike.
Student — I don't want to be personal in telling this little story, but I think I will have to mention two names, so as to be able to tell it quite correctly. I was at my mother's home the other night and we were looking at the family album, and when we came to the pictures of the twins, she said, "Now this is a picture that I sent to KT. She called for it." And on returning it, KT wrote to mother, saying that over the little boy's picture was a very dark cloud or shadow, and to be very careful with him, he was going to be very ill; and as we all know, he was. My mother asked me: "Do you think now if that picture were to be seen by a seer, would the shadow still be there?" I am going to ask you, if you answer this, may I please pass it on to her.
G. de P. — Well, this is not an easy question to answer. Shadows do not hover around the photograph and change with the advancing years. A photograph taken at a certain period of life, to the seer's eye will show shadows at that time and in the immediate future, but it would be very unlikely that shadows or light — unless the light were very strong — would be visible in the photograph even to a seer's eye for a time period much later in life. That is the general answer to your question, if I have understood it aright.
Student — Thank you very much.
G. de P. — The seer would much prefer to see the individual rather than to look at a photograph. Indeed a true seer would not even need to see the individual, but could get the seeing reaction — if you understand what I mean — from a piece of paper that the person had touched, or a lock of hair, or a garment worn, or a finger ring, or a fountain pen, something that the individual had had on his body. There are some seers so highly developed that the mere mention of a name to them, although totally unknown to the seer, immediately brings up a picture, and that is because the one who mentions the name and who knows the person, presumably has a picture in his or her mind which the seer sees, and also senses other things beyond. Do you understand?
Student — Yes, thank you.
Student — May I ask a question in regard to the higher self ? It is sometimes said that the failure of the lower ego is due to the responsibility resting with the higher self, implying that the higher self is responsible for the failure sometimes, or successes, of the lower self. It is also said that the higher self may be turned towards duty, or may be attracted lower down; and I want to ask if it is possible for the higher self to be affected in that way by the lower self?
G. de P. — Yes, yes, indeed, but not directly; vegetatively, if you understand my meaning, rather than actively. The truth that you have touched upon lies at the very basis of the heavy responsibility that the teacher in any initiation school has. He becomes individually responsible for the effect that his teachings have upon his pupils, and as his teachings affect the whole life in the future of those who believe in him, he links himself to them, to their karma, practically for ever.
The higher self is partly responsible for what the lower self does; the lower self is responsible wholly to itself. But the higher self — the link between the lower and the divine part of the life-stream — becomes responsible. The teacher becomes partly responsible for the noble deeds done or the ignoble antics made by his disciples. That does not relieve the disciples however. They will have to pay to the last penny. They will also receive the reward to the last penny. Likewise the higher self is bound, karmically bound, and must remain with the lower self until it redeems it or saves it by its own constant presence; or until the lower self, through utter degeneration cuts off the link connecting the two, and then the lower self goes to pieces, is annihilated, and this is the case of a lost soul. A lost soul is a very, very rare and unusual case. But it happens.
This idea is at the basis — unknown to the Christians but known to the framers — of some of the Christian writings of the Christian New Testament, at a time when the idea prevailed that the Christ-spirit was responsible, or became responsible, for the sins of the world.
Student — Is this then the esoteric significance of vicarious atonement?
G. de P. — That is the real background of it. Nevertheless it is not vicarious atonement. Vicarious atonement is a degraded, distorted misrepresentation of the esoteric truth. The esoteric truth is, as I have told you, that the higher self is in part spiritually responsible for what its own child does, just as the human soul is ethically and morally responsible for what its body does, because the impulses originating in the human soul, and the impulses, spiritually speaking, which prevail in the human soul, originate in the higher self. There is a deep and profound mystery here, but the general idea should be clear to you. You understand me, do you not?
Student — Yes. The question of suffering connected with that is of course something that I should like to know more about if it is permitted.
G. de P. — The suffering on whose part?
Student — The suffering of the teacher: the one who gives, the one who gives the teachings.
G. de P. — The case of a mother who brings up her child and brings it up so unwisely, or so well, that the child goes wrong or becomes a noble example of manhood, is understandable, is it not? The joy in one case and the suffering in the other. It is just so with the teacher. The mother becomes responsible for the teaching which she has given to that child, and which will give to its mind a tendency upwards or downwards.
I know no more pernicious teaching in the world than the idea that children should be allowed to run wild, grow up naturally, as the expression goes. Teaching a child is a duty. The child should be helped, it should be guided, it should be taught, it should be restrained when occasion arises; and that is what the higher self in its own spiritual plane is doing all the time. But if its admonitions fail to reach the human soul, or reach it too feebly, so that the human soul goes crooked or goes wrong, the human soul will suffer; but the higher self is partly responsible just the same. Similarly so is the teacher. The mahatmas who started the TS, who founded our Esoteric School, will be karmically linked and tied to the members of that Esoteric School forever. And they have not so worked in this life for the first time. But this refers only, of course, to those ES members who come in and who put will and creative imagination into their ES pledges and work.
The mere curiosity seeker or monger who comes in under false pretenses will naturally get the karmic consequences and payment of falsehood and evildoing. But in this case the links with the teacher are naught, because there never have been any. You understand, do you not?
Student — Yes. May I ask one more question? Is there connected with the responsibility and suffering — will the responsibility of the teacher, of the higher self —
G. de P. — You can say suffering also in many cases.
Student — Is there connected with that perhaps the greatest power in the universe?
G. de P. — There is. There is. The power arising in the very heart of being, which is compassion divine. And that compassion divine when manifesting through the teacher I will not say is the fruit, but at any rate originates in past — in the karma of acts done and undone — successes and failures.
Student — May I ask one more question? Is it then a smallness, a failure to understand these greater things, to attribute the suffering of the teacher to personal karma?
G. de P. — I do not think I quite understand your meaning.
Student — Well, I am afraid it is a kind of statement rather than a question.
G. de P. — I don't dare to answer such a question unless I understand it.
Student — Is it a lack of comprehension of these great laws on the part of people to attribute the suffering of the teacher to personal karma?
G. de P. — Most disciples usually think that. But this is because the disciples are blind, they are ignorant. A true teacher suffers in a manner that the disciple can hardly understand. It is an agony of soul that sometimes is indescribable, to see the divine spark in the disciple quenched by self-indulgence; to see possibilities slowly die down which the teacher has been working to bring out into high vigor and power. It is agony. The pupil usually ascribes this to the personal karma of the teacher and in a certain limited sense it is.
There is no denying that in a certain sense it is the teacher's karma, his individual karma. If I have rightly understood your question, this is the answer. If I have not, please try again.
Student — It seems to me it is a mistake to attribute it to personal karma of the teacher. I don't believe I have put my question clearly. Is it not a mistake of the pupil to attribute the suffering that the teacher may have during an incarnation to that teacher's personal karma, rather than to some of the wonderful laws according to which that teacher is helping?
G. de P. — I see what you mean — yes.
Student — To some higher laws that we do not understand at all?
G. de P. — That is true; and it is just of this last that I have at times attempted to give you a little inkling. I must also add that any teacher, for instance the mahatmas who started the ES and the TS, necessarily have their own individual karma, also; but the suffering that they undergo in connection with their pupils is due rather to the cosmic light of compassion, which very few pupils in their early stages of growth seem to understand anything about. It is like the alleged cry of Jesus on the Cross, and it is like his alleged exclamation: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Is the answer responsive?
Student — Yes, thank you.
Student — May I ask a question on the same subject of karma? There are one or two points that I would be very grateful if you could clear up. We are told of course that we have the power to rise above our personal karma. But there is another point and this is whether the disciple — one who undertakes a course of self-purification and service under a pledge and under a teacher — has the right to judge of another? Is it not impossible to judge another person? Because one who has taken the pledge and has pushed forward under the guidance of a teacher is meeting very many experiences for the sake of developing certain qualities in his nature. This is the way I have worked it out: a pupil in school would have many hours of study and hard work that a person not taking that certain course of study could avoid. And yet there is that other strict statement that we reap only what we sow.
Now if we sowed in those finer fields something that has brought this reaping which is a precious reaping, although it may be very bitter — we have not done so in the ordinary definition of karma. We have not sown the seeds of it. Is there not a higher law —
G. de P. — Everything that happens to anybody, god or man, man or beast, beast or mineral, is karma. The pupil is not judged by his teacher, ever. But the teacher follows the rules of the School, for those rules generation after generation of seers and sages have tested and proved to be nature's laws. He knows that if he follows those rules strictly he is working in accordance with nature's laws. But he does not judge the pupil because of the pupil's mistakes. He knows that the mistakes of the pupil arise out of two facts: in striving to reach a greater light through the present darkness, almost certainly mistakes will be made; and secondly, that that urge to strive arises in karma. No pupil enters today the Oriental School unless he has been in it in other lives. And, of course, I refer to a real pupil, a sincere student; not a false-hearted curiosity monger. Is my answer responsive?
Student — Thank you.
G. de P. — Companions, it is very nearly time to close. I will answer one more question, and then we shall adjourn the meeting, please.
Student — I would like to ask a question in regard to the three planets which are above our seven planets. You once spoke of them in those lectures that you gave when KT was with us in the ES meetings. [Published as Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy.] And I think you said, if I remember aright, that there was the upper spiritual pole; and you spoke of the connecting planets, at least that was my impression. Now I would like to ask whether these three planets, which are above, have to do with what we shall pass on to when we leave this planet; and when we have dropped those three planets below us — well I won't say this, because it would mix things up. I will simply ask the other question. Do the three planets have to do with the planets that we shall pass into, when we leave this planet?
G. de P. — They do. But we should speak of them, dear Doctor, rather as globes, in order not to cause confusion with the planets passed through during what are called the outer rounds. You are evidently referring to the globes of a planetary chain. If that is what you mean, then the answer is, yes. The three highest of the planets must also be passed through by the evolutionary life-waves before the complete cycle or turn through the chain is ended.
Student — Do you mean after we have finished these here?
G. de P. — After we have finished with the three on the ascending arc of the seven manifested globes, then we enter the two highest. Do you understand? Figure to yourself a triangle.
Student — Thank you.
G. de P. — Well, Companions, I think that we had better close tonight. It is a little late. We will have a few moments of silent thought, please.
[Sounding of the gong. Silence.]
* * *
G. de P. — Before we part tonight, Companions, I would like to add a few remarks. I have told you that a teacher never judges his pupils. The statement is accurate, but it has occurred to me that some of you may question this word "judge" and suppose therefrom, from your misunderstanding, that a teacher never should correct. It is a teacher's duty to correct as long as he feels the link between himself and the pupil to be existent. And this link depends upon the honesty of the pupil. A teacher would be a poor and imperfect preceptor if he omitted what is quite one-half of the duty of a teacher — to guide the mind and emotions of his pupils — and this he can do only at times by correction, verbal or other.
I have known teachers in this School who have been severe, but only when the character of the disciple was strong enough, pure enough, fine enough in temper, to take the severity and take it gladly and happily. Any other course would be simply a repetition of the fault in training that I have already spoken of in referring to children — allowing children to run wild. A mother, a parent, a teacher, would be at fault in permitting that, if he or she could possibly do otherwise.
It is a duty to help, and sometimes the best help can be rendered by frank, honest-to-goodness speech in reproof and reprimand; not unkindly in severity — in the sense of an injustice — but exposing the truth, without mincing of words. Then it is for the disciple to be glad and grateful for the opportunity rendered, given to him to see himself as the teacher sees him.
Good night, all!