(See Letter No. XV, pages 97-9)
ELEMENTALS AND ELEMENTARIES
I would like to make a comment upon the statement quoted from The Mahatma Letters concerning the Teacher's observation that there are elementals which never become men. This tells us two things: (1) that elementals become men, and (2), that there is a certain class of elementals in our manvantara which will not have the time to become men during the remainder of the course of this manvantara. They won't have the time to run up the ladder of evolution through the different kingdoms until the human kingdom is reached. They will become men in the next manvantara or perhaps in the manvantara after that. Sometime they will be men. All elementals become men. Man as a kingdom is a goal which all kingdoms below the human look up to and aspire toward; and during the course of evolution every monad beneath the human stage is aspiring to evolve, is unfolding itself finally to become a human.
In connection with this I want to issue a word of warning; it may have struck most of you, perhaps not all. It is with regard to the word elementary and the apparent almost identity of meaning which H. P. B. or the Masters occasionally give to the two words "elemental" and "elementary." The reason was this: in the early days — and remember we are going back now to the very early days of the Theosophical Society — our vocabulary had not yet been sufficiently defined nor was it sufficiently extensive. During those early days words were used which were later dropped, such as the word "rings" in connection with the rounds and races. The word "rings" finally passed out of theosophical use.
Now the word "elementary" was taken in those early days by our theosophical writers, the Masters and H. P. B. pre-eminently, from the writings of the Kabbalists and also from the imperfect writings of Eliphas Levi, the French Abbe and Kabbalist. These Kabbalists meant by "elementary" several things, but generally what we Theosophists now today call "elemental." An elemental soul they called an elementary soul, or simply elementary for short. So therefore you will sometimes find the two words used indiscriminately. Words which were then used almost synonymously we nowadays do not use in that way.
Later on, I think it was mainly due to H. P. B.'s work, "elementary" was set aside and given a specific technical meaning of its own which we now all understand. There is a peculiar meaning which we could even yet use in the word elementary — and by the way, in H. P. B.'s Theosophical Glossary if you will look under this word you will see what she has to say about just this point — there is a certain deeply significant and occult meaning which we could give to "elementary" quite apart from its technical meaning that we now give to it as a rule. We have to go back to the early Fire Philosophers who said that the elements of nature were filled with inhabitants. In other words, to phrase it as we would today, every cosmic plane has its own inhabitants fit for that cosmic plane, utterly unfit for any other cosmic plane; precisely as we men could not live under water as the fishes do or as the whale does. We are not fit for that milieu, that medium, that cosmic plane so to say.
So by going back to this original meaning of the Fire Philosophers, which is quite a true meaning, we still today could say that an elementary in this other sense means an elemental soul, thus specifically described because defining it as climbing up the rungs of the ladder of life step by step upwards. At every step upwards it is a master, relatively at least, of what it has left below it, an elementary as to what is above it. That was really the way the Kabbalists and Eliphas Levi and the original Fire Philosophers spoke of what we now call the elementals or the beings or creatures or inhabitants of the seven fundamental cosmic elements, all of them on their way to become men, on their way as we are now to become super-men, and then gods, and then higher still. In this sense we are elementaries so far as the gods are concerned. They are elementaries so far as the super-gods are concerned.
A great deal of confusion has arisen, I think, in the minds of some readers of this wonderful book that we are studying here, from not remembering these little facts of history, and that in those days the distinctions we now give to those two words, "elementals" and "elementaries," had not yet been established.
KAMA-RUPAS — THEIR FUTURE
If you contrast the kama-rupa, which is our astral body after death, with our physical body, which is our physical body during this earth-life, you will realize that both are vehicles, both are enlivened by monads, or a center of consciousness, both disintegrate shortly after death. But the group of qualities which make my body, my physical me, are my physical skandhas. So my skandhas physically are my physical body as that body is. Just so with regard to the skandhas of the kama-rupa. The kama-rupa is its own skandhas. Subtract those skandhas, which means qualities, attributes, the life-atoms thereof, and what have you? You have not anything. It is the grouping together of these skandhas and the life-atoms through which they work, which form on the one hand the physical body in life or the corpse after death; and similarly the astral skandhas and others which inhere in the kama-rupa after death, form the kama-rupa.
Now then, is it not obvious that just as the life-atoms which made our physical bodies in a former life will return to us when we return to physical imbodiment, similarly and perhaps exactly is it with the kama-rupa. The Dweller on the Threshold is a kama-rupa so dense and heavy with matter that it lasts from one death over to the next rebirth of the entity coming back, and haunts the new, new-old man, the ego coming back to earth. That is an extreme case. But outside of extreme cases the life-atoms which form the kama-rupa are picked up by the human ego or monad as it approaches our earth, and the family into which it is to be born; and those kama-rupa life-atoms are gradually ingathered by the attraction of the ego over them, and them over it, until finally at some indefinite time, it may be in boyhood, it may not be until the boy becomes a man, it may not be even until quite late in life, the old kama-rupa life-atoms, and therefore the skandhas, have been re-absorbed by the new body, the new kama-rupa of the ego after it has come back after death.
If you will reflect, you must realize that even our physical body — and the same goes for the kama-rupa — could not hold together as a unit, in other words it could not be an entity, unless there were some holding power there. In other words there is even a monad of the physical body, and exactly so there is a monad of the kama-rupa. Remember, the kama-rupa is not a shell until it becomes a shell. Very shortly after death, the kama-rupa which has been built up during the life-time of the man, separates from the dead physical, and thereafter it begins its course in the astral light or in the kama-loka. And the monad is in that kama-rupa until the second death. Then the kama-rupa begins to fall apart because the soul so to speak has withdrawn itself, as the physical body begins to decay from the moment of physical death. And as long as the monad is in the physical body the latter is not a corpse.
THE DEATH OF A SUN
The Sun, or rather the period of its life referred to by the speaker quoting from the book, refers to the end of a Solar manvantara, or the opening drama of the Solar pralaya or dissolution time. After premonitory symptoms of decay which the Sun and those planets still surviving will experience, symptoms which it would be easy enough to describe to a certain extent if it were worth while — after certain premonitory symptoms of decay which may last for millions of years, the time will come when the Sun has reached its last instant of life. And then, like a shadow passing over the wall, like a flick of an eye-lid, the extinction of an electric light, the Sun is dead.
In exactly the same way a man dies. He may be slowly dying for years before he actually dies, but the moment of death is instant, quick as a snap of the fingers. The man may be on a sick bed for forty years, he may be dying during the last two or three years.
Premonitory symptoms are there that any capable doctor can recognize. But when death comes — gone! It is the same with the globe, or in fact anything as far as I know. It is a very wise and pitiful provision of our great Parent, because dying is a very solemn thing, and by solemn I do not mean anything arousing a sense of the ludicrous in us. It is a very important thing, so important that a weighty warning is issued by one of the Masters somewhere, I do not remember just at the moment where he tells us: (1) in a chamber of death to be as quiet as possible, for the mind of the dying man is collecting its consciousness, is passing inwards from all over the body, the brain and the heart and other organs, and that process should not be interrupted by noise. No weeping, no moving if possible, the utmost reverence and quiet. Death itself is peaceful. But of an evil person one cannot say the same; death can be hard to one whose whole affection, interest, love and yearning have been knitted into the physical life. And it is hard then simply because the snapping of the psychic bonds of attachment takes time and causes psychic and mental pain. But even then, death comes quickly when it does come.
So it is with the Sun, although the premonitory symptoms may last for millions of years. Furthermore in this same wonderful book, (2) the Master K. H. also answers in reply to the same question: Do the planets enter the Sun at the end of the Solar manvantara? He side-steps a bit because that is an esoteric doctrine which cannot be told openly, but says this: Yes, you may call the Sun the vertex of all the planets if you wish. The meaning is very clear.
The point is here that the Sun, being as it is not only the heart but the mind of the Solar System as long as this Solar System remains a coherent unity, is therefore the governor of all the life-forces in that Solar-System — governor and controller, as well as source and final focus. Now as long as the Solar System lasts, the various planetary chains in the Solar System live and die, and are disimbodied and have their Nirvanic rest and then come back again for a new term, and do this several times; but their dead bodies remain for a while as moons in the Solar spaces, each moon really following its former orbit, although a dead chain; but when the Sun reaches its final term in the Saurya or Solar manvantara, then the Sun draws into itself all the members of the Solar System, i. e., the various planetary chains, which however, before they enter the Sun, have died. The process is an analog of the manner in which a dying man for instance gathers together all the vital forces inwards and upwards before the moment of physical death supervenes and it is this ingathering of all the vital forces which brings about the phenomenon which we may call the death of our bodies.
1. The Mahatma Letters, p. 171. (return to text)
2. Op. cit., pp. 148, 176. (return to text)