The Permanent Individuality
Does Theosophy teach that we always retain our individuality in all states of consciousness?
G. de P. — Yes, it does indeed, provided that we use "individuality" in the technical Theosophical sense. Remember that the individuality is a very different thing from the personality. The individuality is the deathless part of us, the individuum, that which cannot be divided. Otherwise stated, it is the Monadic Essence, it is the Inner God, the spark of divinity within us, that spark of the Cosmic Fire of consciousness-life-substance which is our inmost essence. This in its root is Atman, the indivisible self, deathless, stainless, and in its own essence beginningless and endless; for it is of the very substance-consciousness of the Universe.
The personality is a vastly different thing, it is a reflexion merely of the individuality; the personality is like the moonshine, reflected light from the sun; and this personality is mortal always — and how fortunate it is that it is so! Fancy what it would be like, living in eternity in our present personalities: imperfect, undeveloped, feeble, inept, incapable of any great advancement, a poor understander, a very poor follower of noble things, incapable of receiving and retaining for any length of time the best that is in us.
Yet the personality is a wonderful instrument or vehicle through which the individuality works. I think we may say generally that the individuality is the spirit, and the personality is the mortal brain-mind of us, changing with each birth.
Thus it is clear why the individuality is the same, and that "we retain" it in all states of consciousness, for these various states of consciousness, in all their manifold and often bewildering phases and shifting qualities and attributes, when traced to their ultimate or original source, are light-stuff from the Atman. Consciousness contains many mysteries; and the real part of us is conscious even in those phases of consciousness wherein the personality is unconscious — a curious play upon words, yet containing a profound truth, and pointing to the same thought contained in the Sanskrit aphorism: Atmanam atmand pasya, "Know the self by the Self."
Mummies and Reimbodiment
I understand that the ego uses in each life the physical and other atoms it had previously. If this is the fact, in the case of embalming are new atoms furnished for the new body, or is reincarnation delayed by embalming?
S. H. W. — No, it cannot be said that reincarnation is delayed by embalming, though it is perfectly true that the atoms which formed the body of an individual in one life are used again to form the new one. How is this apparent contradiction explained? In two ways. First, H. P. Blavatsky tells us (see Complete Works, Vol. IV, p. 321) that "for 3000 years at least the "mummy," notwithstanding all the chemical preparations goes on throwing off, to the last, invisible atoms which from the hour of death re-entering the various vortices of being, go indeed "through every variety of organized life forms." " This shows that for whatever reason the Egyptians may have tried to imprison atoms by embalming, they were only partially successful.
Dr. de Purucker, in The Esoteric Tradition (consult Index) elaborates the teaching of the transmigration of life-atoms, and he further explains — and this is our second point — that no entity at any one time holds within the circumscribing sphere of its physical and inner bodies all the atoms that "belong" to it; so that whatever might be done to the physical encasement, would not even begin to affect the vast hosts of life-atoms of ours that are transients in the bodies, inner and outer, of other beings.
A larger picture is obtained if reimbodiment is viewed from the standpoint of the Ego. This Ego is irresistibly drawn back from the Devachan into earth-life by causes it has itself generated. Its urge to reimbody is so strong that it would indeed take a mighty force to hold it back. And just as we, when we are impelled from inner urge to carry out some work, don't wait for perfect circumstances but go ahead with the tools and materials we can lay hands on, so does the Reimbodying Ego do likewise.
Building a physical body is perhaps the least of the work that the ego has to do in coming back into earth-life. And since embalming cannot touch the vehicles of the higher principles in man, the ego would not even be "inconvenienced," if we wish to believe that such a thing were possible, until the very last stages of preparations for earth-life.
All the above does not imply that mummification has no ill effects. There are Theosophical teachings in this connexion, but these do not enter into a consideration of the present subject.
Theosophy and Mental Healing
What is the attitude of the Theosophical Society towards mental healing, in its various forms, both physical and mental conditions?
Arthur A. Beale — I presume the questioner means "in relation to the treatment of physical as well as mental conditions." The Point Loma Theosophical Society does not have, as part of its regime, the practice of mental healing, though it expects its members to develop a moral code of conduct and a mental attitude of control, kindliness, courtesy, helpfulness, and compassion that will aid them to radiate good-will, beneficent peace and concord, and so be healing powers in themselves, without specific ceremonies.
It has as members many physicians who are open to practise the art of healing in any way they think best, without infringing the rights of others. In such practices they are entitled to make reasonable charges as members of a social system. At the same time it has always been an unwritten law that the teachings and practices of occult lore must be free and untrammeled by any charges of a financial nature. So it is recognised that charges for spiritual teachings or the application of occult knowledge for healing are impermissible.
There are many forms of so-called mental healing extant today, but such practices can generally be traced to psychological influences that can have no permanent or effective results. It is possible for instance to put into operation attitudes of mind that can and will relieve the patient from inconvenient suffering, and such are often called cures. These, however, may only be psychological tricks that dam back consequences which if allowed to operate at the proper cyclic times, would be beneficial or beneficent, though unwelcome to the personality. Paul said, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The harvest can and may be delayed, but any amount of hoping, praying and cajolling will not prevent the harvest: the wise man will reap it at the harvest time. Therefore, a direct attempt to interfere with these consequences is fraught with harm to the patient. Yet the old invocation, "Cease to do evil and learn to do good!" is ever wise.
Many people suffer from ignorance or lack of knowledge; it is the duty of medical men to instruct their patients in laws of living and natural obligations. The wise words of Dr. Wilson, the writer of an old-time text-book on health are pertinent: "Men and women cannot be made moral or well by acts of parliament, but by a wholesome co-operation in obedience to the laws of health." Anyone suffering from ill health should endeavor to seek the best assistance available to adjust his conditions, and it may be his desert to meet with one capable of giving immediate relief. That is a question of karmic desert but the one to give it must be wise enough to know how to execute it.
On the other hand it is admitted that certain servants of the Lodge of Adepts, that have a special work to do, may even be rescued from a pending disease or death by occult knowledge and power, but that is not for the personal gratification of the servant, but for the sake of a cause, and even then, the decision must rest with the servant. Such was the case of Madame Blavatsky.
Was Thomas Paine a Messenger?
Was the American Thomas Paine a Messenger of the Masters, or at least a conscious instrument which they used in the early days of American national independence? — F. G.
C. Q. W. — The Masters themselves seldom if ever enter directly into the world of human life and affairs, especially the political. They never countenance violence or bloodshed under any circumstances; but they know that there are cycles when violence is unavoidable, and then it is that they use the best possible instruments, who may or may not be conscious of the fact that they are instruments, to do whatever is possible to avoid the terrible things that usually happen at such a time; also to guide the stream of events into a channel that will make for a brighter future.
Paine, Franklin, Washington, Patrick Henry, and other American patriots were probably unconscious instruments of the Law. That is, in their incarnation as these famous characters, the personality did not remember except dimly the true status of the individuality. We are taught that this sometimes happens when an advanced soul is in need of some particular experience, or when there is a cycle of tremendous import occurring. The cycle of "America" was due to open at that particular time. The gods only know what would have been the result if many big souls had not incarnated to nurse the new "baby" through its borning.
Tom Paine was an iconoclast, but not an atheist; in this he closely parallels Ingersoll. There were certain molds of mind that had to be broken, and Paine did good work. But neither of these men could be called Masters; nor, from an esoteric study of their writings and teachings could they be properly placed as conscious chelas or messengers. They had certain illumination, undoubtedly, regarding the Great Work, but it is doubtful if they had direct conscious connexions with the Lodge of the Masters.
Note the difference between the work of Paine and that of H. P. B. She was in direct communication with the Masters, and that in full consciousness. Her work was constructive; Paine's was on the whole destructive; although both types of work are at times necessary. The rubbish has to be cleared away before the Temple can be built. And even H. P. Blavatsky — great as she was — cannot be called a Master. This word "Master" has been so dragged in the dirt by psychics and pseudo-occultists that it is heartbreaking to those who really have a conception as to who and what the Masters are, and what they represent. Read anywhere in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett and see if you think the type of men who wrote those letters would countenance the flapdoodle that so often today is carried on in the name of the "Masters'!
"The Word Made Flesh"
Does "the word made flesh" also mean the condensation of primordial substance into what we call matter? — G. C. L. G.
Lydia Ross — The answer to this very interesting question is Yes, with the proviso that such condensation is not directly into matter as we know it, but that it is progressively "stepped down" from plane to plane. H. P. B. speaks of primordial matter as "(Pradhana) being certainly synonymous with Mulaprakriti and Akasa, and the latter (sound) with the Verbum, the Word or the Logos" (The Secret Doctrine, I, 256). The agent which transmits what she calls "the Breath crystallized into the Word" is the personified electric vital power of our old friend, Fohat,
the transcendental binding Unity of all Cosmic Energies, on the unseen as on the manifested planes, the action of which resembles — on an immense scale — that of a living Force created by will, in those phenomena where the seemingly subjective acts on the seemingly objective and propels it to action. Fohat is not only the living Symbol and Container of that Force, but is looked upon by the Occultists as an Entity — the forces he acts upon being cosmic, human and terrestrial, and exercising their influence on all those planes respectively. On the earthly plane his influence is felt in the magnetic and active force generated by the strong desire of the magnetizer. On the Cosmic, it is present in the constructive power that carries out, in the formation of things — from the planetary system down to the glow-worm and simple daisy — the plan in the mind of nature, or in the Divine Thought, with regard to the development and growth of that special thing. He is, metaphysically, the objectivised thought of the gods; the "Word made flesh," on a lower scale, and the messenger of Cosmic and human ideations: the active force in Universal Life. In his secondary aspect, Fohat is the Solar Energy, the electric vital fluid, and the preserving fourth principle, the animal Soul of Nature, so to say, or — Electricity. — The Secret Doctrine, I, 111
The Occultists recognise the power of Sound in their Mantras. H. P. B. gratefully tells of the Master's use of Sound to restore her worn-out body from impending death, on several occasions. The "text" of the above question touches on many aspects of her teachings on Hierarchies, Spirit and Matter, Will, Cosmic Mind, Vibration, etc.