The Theosophical Forum – March 1936

THE MYSTERY OF BIRTH — Irene R. Ponsonby

[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]

(Based on a study of the subject in "The Esoteric Tradition")

The mystery of human birth is not solely a physiological phenomenon by any means, but is in fact a very holy one. If men and women only knew the sacredness of it, then for their own self-protection, outside of the sense of mutual respect and of decency that every normal man and woman possesses, at the bottom of his or her heart, this subject would always be approached in a spirit of truly religious awe, and marriage would become what it ever ought to be: a most beautiful, because a most holy state. — The Esoteric Tradition, p. 907

In order to understand the mystery of birth certain fundamental postulates must be accepted. These may be summarized as follows: That there is a continuous existence for every entity in the universe; that this continuous existence follows but one universal law or rule of being, however greatly the details of its manifestation may differ; that every phase of existence is the result of a precedent one and the cause of some future phase; and finally, that the universe is a living organism, and every entity in it is inextricably and vitally linked, each to each and each to all, by bonds of physical, intellectual, and spiritual affinity.

Through a recognition of these postulates, we are enabled to view birth and death as portals of ingress and egress which mark the boundaries between the states of activity and quiescence, miscalled life and death. 'Birth' is the inscription on the lintel of the portal entered by the incoming Ego, but passing under its arch, 'Death' marks the reverse side — death, or a period of exile from its spiritual home. Similarly, the portal of exit which marks the end of this phase of existence with 'Death,' bears on its reverse side 'Birth' — birth into another phase of continuous, uninterrupted existence for the individuality.

When we realize that universal Nature works in similar fashion everywhere, the mystery of birth no longer holds us in awesome ignorance, for if we can follow the consciousness-center which comes into being with the sprouting of a seed, we know how atoms, planets, universes, and the human babe are born; and recognising the present form as the result of past fashioning and the causative element in future manifestations, our study stresses the productive consciousness, and mere forms of imbodiment take their proper place, together with the principal actors and the part they play on the background of cosmic eternity.

Let us now enter the arena at that point in space and time when the Monad — our 'Father in Heaven' — after its peregrination among the stars, nears the Earth's atmosphere, and the Reincarnating Ego, dreaming within the heart of the Monad, stirs as the closing scenes of its blissful dream-state are blurred by the attractions of past forging that entice it to Earth. Just as an aeroplane descending from a high altitude breaks through the lower clouds, and encompassing the panorama of its homeland stretched before it, follows the lead of its own beacons to its landing-place, so the Reincarnating Ego dispels the quiescence of the period of assimilation, and pausing, seeks through its ray its chosen media for a period of active manifestation in the life-to-be.

Effect inevitably follows cause, consequence infallibly follows its originating action, and this Chain of Causation lasts from eternity to eternity, as a concatenation of interlinked 'events' succeeding each other in regular and unbroken serial order: an endless chain in Nature of action and reaction, belonging to each peregrinating being or entity, a chain which, precisely because it is made by the being or entity itself, and is indeed itself, is ethically absolutely just and, considered as consequences, is compensatory or retributive from its beginning to its end. — The Esoteric Tradition, p. 649

The earliest contact made by the Reincarnating Ego is in the atomic realms. There it attracts to itself a life-atom, one of intimate past association in its own atomic life-stream, and thereby this particular and hitherto temporarily dormant life-atom is quickened into active participation in the process of a new reimbodiment. As a vital life-germ it enters the aura of the father and mother-to-be, drawn thereto by psycho-magnetic attraction and through the channels of food, water, and air. The positive aspect of this vital germ finds lodgment in the body of the man, and the woman is the bearer of the negative portion of any such seed of future rebirth; and as one of the incomputably great number of life-atoms which form the body of an adult human being, there it awaits the turning of the wheel of destiny. When the moment of conception arrives, and all other conditions are appropriate, the process of reincarnation moves on to its consummation.

In this regard it is fascinating to speculate on the history and affiliation of the numberless life-atoms now sojourning in our bodies. When we realize the intricate interblending, racial and national, presented by the average family 'tree' on the physical plane alone, and quite apart from affinities of thought and spirit, such animosities as racial prejudice and national antagonism are seen to be but the wild phantasmagoria of blind ignorance, for

all human beings are linked together, not only by the bonds of emotional thought or feeling, but by the very fabric of the universe itself, all men, as well as all Beings, springing from the inner and spiritual Sun of the Universe, as its hosts of rays. . . . It is this interior unity of being and of consciousness, as well as the exterior union of us all, which enables us to grasp intellectually and spiritually the mysteries of the universe; because not merely ourselves and our own fellow human beings, but also all other things that are, are the children of the same Parent, Great Mother-Nature, in all her seven and ten Planes or Worlds of Being. — Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, p. 532

In the case of the genealogy of a family, of what does such inter-blending consist save the constant interchange of life-atoms, and the resultant human impress made on all such transmigrating entities!

From the moment that the Reincarnating Ray of the Ego makes its first contact with our physical sphere, it is attracted to, and attracts unto itself, its atomic offspring of the past, so that the 'new' body is in reality a continuation product, generally improved and not deteriorated by transmigration, of the one used by the Ego in a past life. This aspect of reincarnation is therefore seen to be a gradual and progressive one, and is punctuated by certain events of which the quickening, adolescence, the prime of life, and 'death,' are points which mark definitely increasing contact with the spiritual influences emanating from and through the Ego.

The quickening occurs, when, after its early vegetative growth the embryo first feels the higher and more spiritual influences of its Ego, and this process continues in ever increasingly greater expansion of faculty, until with adolescence the highest attributes in the child's constitution come into relatively full manifestation on this physical plane. But incarnation, through the body taking into its constitution life-atoms on every plane of being, continues right up to the time when, in preparation for birth into realms of greater ethereality and spirituality, the Ego begins to withdraw. With 'death' the entire aggregated unit of physical life-atoms, the physical body, is set aside, and the then excarnate Ego passes once more into a phase of assimilative quiescence within the encompassing protection of the Monadic Consciousness, in other words, into Devachan.

In this assimilative phase all the effects which accrue from the contact and experience of the past life are built into the Ego, so that, with the life-atoms it impressed with its dominant characteristics — and which impress has led them towards further growth during the interval between incarnations — the Ego on its return to another earth-life builds a body which is the same as that used in the previous life, in that it is constructed of the same atoms. Yet it is different, in that the intervening processes of evolution should have generally strengthened and improved every portion of the entire constitution. This, as the ancient Wisdom teaches it, is the Cycle of Reincarnation.

Thus in the drama of birth, we have as foci, inextricably linked by psycho-magnetic affinity for the coming into being of a consciousness seeking reimbodiment on earth, a triangle formed of the Reincarnating Ego which through its Ray contacts and links a life-atom, its own offspring, to the parents-to-be, who, in the sacred association of marriage, close the triangle and bring into being the diamond, which, with its four points is the symbol of physical manifestation: we can follow the Reincarnating Ego, an offspring from the Monad, as, impulsed by the compassion which is behind all evolution, it leaves the inner, causal realms, and, drawn partly by choice and partly by karmic obligation, enters the visible sphere of Earth, where it is clothed by its life-atoms in the garments fashioned of the sevenfold elements of Nature's physical constitution. Thus the Reincarnating Ego not only cements its contact with the physical universe, but in the sacred bonds of love and marriage unites into a composite whole the manifold aggregated units of its constitution for the purpose of mutual, constant, and ever-greater growth.

Love is the most magnetic thing in the Universe; love attracts love; its whole essence implies and signifies union and reunion, reuniting, and bringing together anew.

The impersonal Eros of the Universe is the cosmic energy which holds the stars and their respective planets aggregated and coherent in their courses, and it governs the building and the structure of the atoms. It is all-permeant and in consequence all-powerful. It is the cause of the energy which works in such myriad forms and everywhere, operative alike in star and in atom, holding them together in inescapable embrace; yet, marvelous paradox, it is the same power which guarantees the individual integrity of every cosmic Unit. It is also the mystic and wonderful magnetic sympathy which brings together human beings, man to man as brothers, woman to woman as sisters, and, in one of its human fields of action, in the merely human sphere, man to woman and woman to man in a genuine marriage. — The Esoteric Tradition, p. 650

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