Theosophical University Press Online Edition
The records to which in my last paper I referred, as having been kept by the Adepts and now in the possession of their present representatives and successors — Adepts also — relate not only to the birth of planets in this solar system, but also to the evolution and development of man, through the various kingdoms of nature, until he reaches the most perfect condition which can be imagined. The evolution of the human being includes not only the genesis of his mortal frame, but, as well, the history of the inner man, whom they are accustomed to call the real one.
This, then, brings us to a very interesting claim put forward for the Wisdom Religion, that it pretends to throw light not only upon man's emotions and mental faculties, but also upon his pre-natal and post-mortem states, both of which are of the highest interest and importance. Such questions as, "Where have I come from?" and, "What shall be my condition after death?" trouble and confuse the minds of all men, ignorant or cultured. Priests and thinkers have, from time to time, formulated theories, more or less absurd, as to those pre-natal and post-mortem states, while the Science of today laughs in derision at the idea of making any inquiry into the matter whatever. Theologians have offered explanations, all of which relate only to what they suppose will happen to us after death, leaving entirely out of view and wholly unanswered the natural question, "What were we before we were born here?" And, taking them on their own ground, they are in a most illogical position, because, having once postulated immortality for the soul — the real man — they cannot deny immortality in either direction. If man is immortal, that immortality could never have had a beginning, or else it would have an end. Hence their only escape from the dilemma is to declare that each soul is a special creation. But this doctrine of a special creation for each soul born upon the earth, is not dwelt upon or expounded by the priests, inasmuch as it is deemed better to keep it discreetly in the background.
The Wisdom Religion, on the other hand, remains logical from beginning to end. It declares that man is a spiritual being, and allows of no break in the chain of anything once declared immortal. The Ego of each man is immortal; "always was existent, always will be, and never can be non-existent"; appearing now and again, and reappearing, clothed in bodies on each occasion different, it only appears to be mortal; it always remains the substratum and support for the personality acting upon the stage of life. And in those appearances as mortal, the questions mooted above — as to the pre-natal and post-mortem states — are of vital interest, because knowledge or ignorance concerning them alters man's thought and action while an actor on the stage, and it is necessary for him to know in order that he may so live as to aid in the grand upward sweep of the evolutionary wave.
Now the Adepts have for ages pursued scientific experimentation and investigation upon those lines. Seers themselves of the highest order, they have recorded not only their own actual experiences beyond the veil of matter, on both sides, but have collected, compared, analyzed and preserved the records of experiences of the same sort by hundreds of thousands of lesser seers, their own disciples; and this process has been going on from time immemorial. Let Science laugh as it may, the Adepts are the only true scientists, for they take into account every factor in the question, whereas Science is limited by brain-power, by circumstance, by imperfection of instruments, and by a total inability to perceive anything deeper than the mere phenomena presented by matter. The records of the visions and experiences of the greater and lesser seers, through the ages, are extant today. Of their mass, nothing has been accepted except that which as been checked and verified by millions of independent observations; and therefore the Adepts stand in the position of those who possess actual experimental knowledge of what precedes the birth of the Ego in a human form, and what succeeds when the "mortal coil" is cast away.
This recording of experiences still goes on; for the infinity of the changes of Nature in its evolution permits of no stoppage, no "last word," no final declaration. As the earth sweeps around the sun, it not only passes through new places in its orbit, but, dragged as it is by the sun through his greater orbit, involving millions of millions of years, it must in that larger circle enter upon new fields in space and unprecedented conditions. Hence the Adepts go farther yet and state that, as the phenomena presented by matter today are different from those presented a million years ago, so matter will in another million of years show different phenomena still. Indeed, if we could translate our sight to that time, far back in the past of our globe, we could see conditions and phenomena of the material world so different from those now surrounding us that it would be almost impossible to believe we had ever been in such a state as that then prevailing. And the changes toward the conditions that will prevail at a point equally remote in advance of us, in time, and which will be not less than those that have occurred, are in progress now. Nothing in the material world endures absolutely unchanged in itself or its conditions, even for the smallest conceivable portion of time. All that is, is forever in process of becoming something else. This is not mere transcendentalism, but is an old established doctrine called, in the East, "the doctrine of the constant, eternal change of atoms from one state into another."