Complexities of the Karman of Disease
Since disease is of a specific nature, such as blindness, paralysis, cancer, etc., is it known to Theosophists what type of ill-doing, or misdeeds, or "bad karma" would be responsible for each of these specified diseases? — C. C. C.
L. R. — As the available Theosophical literature does not make a differential diagnosis of the various diseases and give their occult causes, the "Theosophists" can hardly presume to do so. Any disease concerns a man's karman, past and present, as well as his physical, mental, psychic, and moral condition, his relation to other persons, his financial affairs, his habits, his temperament, his astrological position, the cycles which timed all the factors, etc. — no two cases alike. Evidently, the Lipikas are the only ones who can read the record. To come down to cases, however, the literature speaks of the many Westerners who today are seeking to gain "psychic powers," etc., by Hatha-Yoga methods of abnormal regulation of the breath and certain postures. The motive is usually one of some phase of self-interest, often at the expense of others" welfare. The result is a disturbance of the delicate balance of the dynamic forces which regulate and harmonize the various functions of the whole body. This tampering with the vital breath and nerve force brings about a disorder which gets out of control, and too often ends in tuberculosis or insanity. Again, consider the general mental and physical high tension of modern life, unrelieved by time and place of inner calm and moral peace for the real man within the body. Naturally, the trillions of body cells vibrate with the quality of the conscious man, and they may run riot at some point to pile up in a purposeless, functionless cancerous tumor. Or the fine-grained cells of heart and brain may degenerate for lack of the finer and nobler impulses which are the normal tonic of civilized tissues. These facts are more evident to a layman under an honest self-analysis than they are under the expert's microscope or in the laboratory test-tube. Meantime, these generalities do not explain so complex a problem as the karman of an individual case, of which we must "judge not."
In the Table of Contents of Vol. I of The Secret Doctrine (original edition), as a sub-title under "Stanza 3, the Awakening of Kosmos," is the following: "Conscious Electricity: Fohat . . . [page] 85." Turning to p. 85, this phrase also appears as the page-heading. I do not find, however, the phrase "conscious electricity" in the text either on page 85 or elsewhere in The Secret Doctrine. Is it to be understood, therefore, that the usage of the phrase "conscious electricity" in the Table of Contents and as page-heading is incorrect?
J. H. Fussell — By no means, for while the actual phrase "conscious electricity" is not employed in the text, the idea is plainly there, namely, that electricity is conscious. For instance, in the following (S. D., I, p. 85): "Some faint idea of the nature of Fohat may be gathered from the appellation "Cosmic Electricity" sometimes applied to it; but to the commonly known property of electricity must, in this case, be added others, namely, intelligence." How can intelligence be conceived as apart from consciousness? If intelligence be predicated of electricity, so also must consciousness be predicated. Hence the employment of the phrase "conscious electricity" in the Table of Contents, and as a page head-line is entirely correct. Not only is this a teaching of the Secret Doctrine of Antiquity but our modern scientists are beginning to recognise that "consciousness is the fundamental of the universe." For instance:
Professor Max Planck: I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
Sir James Jeans: I regard matter as derivative from consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe.
Thus the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom, not only as expounded by H. P. B. in The Secret Doctrine and by the Masters, but according to the greatest of our modern scientists, is that there is nothing in the Universe which does not have, or rather is not an expression of, consciousness. Thus whether we regard electricity as a force, or otherwise, it is a phase or manifestation of consciousness, and the employment of the phrase "conscious electricity" in The Secret Doctrine (Vol. I), in the Table of Contents, and as a head-line (I, 85) is entirely correct.
Common Sense in Study of the Bhagavad-Gita
I know I am bombarding you with questions, but when I cannot find an answer myself what is to be done? The allegory of physical combat on which the Bhagavad-Gita is based is hard enough to deal with, and I fear the pacifists will never agree that one could take one's brother's life whilst yet loving him, but I know what G. de P. has said about that, so I will not bother you about that, though I may mention that in a missionary tale I looked into that part of the Gita was used against the Hindus. But what I am puzzled about is where it goes on to say: "Mankind will speak ill of thee," etc. Now my own common sense tells me, and the Masters have said, that it is our own conscience that should be listened to (which of course we should be always trying to purify) and not what mankind will say about us. So I shall be very thankful for some light on this subject. — C. C. C.
H. T. Edge — The two statements are of course inconsistent, but one must not judge of a poem as if it were a treatise. The Bhagavad-Gita is an episode in the great Indian epic the Mahabharata, and conveys its teaching rather by a series of vivid pictures than by formal instruction. In it the allegorical and direct forms alternate and are mixed up. We find the same in The Pilgrim's Progress, where the allegorical characters, who represent human characteristics, nevertheless often preach like a nonconformist minister of Bunyan's day; and where one of the characters dies by martyrdom without crossing the river of death. W. Q. Judge, in the Introduction to his version of the Gita, refuses to give a commentary, saying that each student must interpret for himself. The bows and arrows, chariots and conches, should not be mixed up with the exposition of the Yoga doctrine, with which Krishna follows his exposition of the Sankhya. So long as we can glean from this valuable scripture the lessons which will be useful to us, we need not vex ourselves with trying to reduce all the imagery to an exact formula.
Initiation of an Avatara
Why did Jesus, being a perfect physical body with the loaned part (psychological intermediate part) of a Master of Wisdom and overshadowed by the Atmic Ray, have to undergo a cycle of Initiation? Was he not beyond undergoing ritual ceremonies?
L. Gordon Plummer — In the first place, we must remember that this particular combination of perfect physical body, loaned psychological apparatus of a Master of Wisdom, and the Atmic Ray, which in this case is a Divinity, a God waiting and ready to manifest here on Earth, is what Dr. de Purucker calls a feat of white magic. The combination of that particular physical body with that particular psychological apparatus of that particular Master of Wisdom, and that particular waiting Divinity is a thing that had never taken place before, and will never take place again, though there have been many Avataras before Jesus" time, and there will be many in the future. Thus, these three parts of the Avatara Jesus had to learn to work together, they had to become amalgamated, we might say, into one being. This could be done only by means of the cycle of Initiation. Furthermore, we must not think of Initiation as ritual ceremony. Ceremony may play a part in some initiations, but only as an aid to the real work being done. Initiation is a conscious expansion of the intellectual and spiritual nature of the neophyte, so that he understands by firsthand experience just what goes on in the inner planes of being, and inasmuch as this waiting Divinity comes from the inner planes of being, the only way the link can be established, first between the perfect physical body and the loaned psychological apparatus, is by the potential Avatara extending his consciousness to those inner planes. Then the second and greater link must be made with the waiting Divinity, and this does not happen until the man has reached maturity. And this can only be accomplished by making use of the forces at work during the highest of the Initiations known to man. So we see that these Initiations are not a matter of mere tests, but are an actual necessity, as the Avatara could not become such without them.