Millions of years have passed since the most dramatic event in human history, the coming of the Manasaputras, who quickened in man the fires of mind. This made possible the conscious co-ordination between the hitherto latent intellectual and spiritual principles of man's constitution and the physical vehicle which had been evolved for their use in Earth-life. And for every year so many days, and for every day a night. And what can man answer if the divinity-lighted Self should question, What of the night?
With the awakening of mind a glorious promise dawned for the human race, the promise that man, now endowed with self-consciousness, with the knowledge of himself as an entity, could win awareness of the spiritual and divine elements of his sevenfold nature, which from the beginning had awaited the unfoldment that completes him as a being. And, moreover, man could now bring into function in Earth-life these intellectual, spiritual, and divine powers and faculties, all existing and evolving on planes invisible to man and unknown to him, though continuously exerting benign influences upon him. Just as the stars are invisible in daylight, so do these inner selves of man follow their shining paths unrecognized, until man wakens to the realization that the greater part of him is at all times that part which is inner and invisible. Could it be that in sleep man enters those inner worlds and lives a life as closely related to the functions of these inner selves as daytime activities are to the self man ordinarily recognizes as himself?
Some there are who protest against the continued mystery of these millions of nights. They cannot remain content with dreams which are mere reflexions of earthly things pictured as the sleeper is returning to waking consciousness. They cannot remain content with infrequent glimpses of deep dream, which are a foregleam of the full glory of experience in higher realms of consciousness. They are content to let the body rest: it is no craving for a longer interval of the pleasures of sense that irks them. But once the knowledge of the septenary constitution of man becomes a living truth to a thinker, it is common sense — or uncommon sense and a higher understanding of economy — at least to inquire: What do I do at night? I am not my tired body. I am not my weary brain. What am I doing? Why can't there be some conscious link between day and night for me? And what can I do about it?
Well, the fact of the matter is that we have been told what to do about it. But this rule has been disregarded, much like the Golden Rule, voiced in sacred teachings the world over but not thought to have sufficiently practical results, until now, perhaps, when men of science recognise that it has operated successfully in the natural world and when men are being forced to see that if they cannot learn to live as brothers there is danger that they may not continue to live at all.
Pythagoras was one of the Teachers of the Ancient Wisdom who instructed his disciples as to the right approach to conscious sleep. He pointed out how one going to sleep could as it were blaze a trail from waking consciousness by which he could pass through and by which he could return direct without being caught in the confusing and often alarming scenes of the lower Swapna state of consciousness. The injunction given was simply that the disciple before going to sleep should scan the acts and thoughts of the entire day, face all of them, then with radiant will resolve to right what was wrong and rededicate himself to the highest — should gear his faculties to clearest seeing and noblest aims and slip away without dregs of thought or desire that drag him earthwards. In the inner worlds safety requires not only seeing but being. The passport is purity of heart.
Katherine Tingley's students remember instruction given by her:
Disintegrative forces are especially active and dangerous at the present time, owing to the general unrest, and are apt to work upon us destructively when we are asleep. That is, if we are will-less or negative. So that we should take the last hour before retiring for spiritual rest, constructive thought, quiet, silent reflection on spiritual things. Such a course would place us beyond the reach of disintegrating agencies during those hours when the soul is free.
We are not so much at their mercy when awake, in a sense, for then we are on guard instinctively. But in sleep the body is in certain ways unprotected, unless guarded by the silent warrior-force of our aspirations and Spiritual Will. Just before retiring — that is the time.
The late Leader of the Theosophical Society, Dr. G. de Purucker, stressed the analogy between sleep and death. At death, which is the perfect sleep, the Inner Self of man withdraws to invisible worlds for rest and widely ranging inner experience, to return to a new body for continued experience on Earth. With sleep, the imperfect death, the Inner Self withdraws to invisible worlds the while the body is refreshed for new physical activity. The secret of this passage to and from the inner worlds is the Self's secret. Of this an Irish poet, Monk Gibbon, wrote some years ago:
What place have you been, O mind, and from what country are you returned, absent now these seven hours or more it may be? Tell me all, for it is not right that those who are comrades until sundown should be strangers then. . . .Without warning you depart, and you return without a word. . . . Is it fair that you should travel and leave no tidings, that you should journey and bring no news? Tell your secret, mind, for even today we have communed on many things. . . . Tell your secret, mind, for if I knew where you had been so often, I might know the place to which you one day go.
And all of us have pondered Wordsworth's words about the newborn child who comes "trailing clouds of glory." Is there a glory that attends the moment of waking? An opportunity for a few moments to live in the light surrounding the Self on its return? Are we, in fact, only half living when we have not solved the secret of sleep? Destiny holds much in store for man. The Universe and Man are as yet unfinished — thanks be to the twentieth century philosophers who are proclaiming this truth of Theosophical cosmology. Continuity of consciousness through sleep and waking, through death and birth, belongs to the complete human being, who has brought into function the higher intellectual and spiritual principles of his nature.
The waking moments after sleep undertaken with even a measure of conscious aspiring will bring startling glimpses of reality — a pause, in which a Greater Self is weighing everything and striking a balance, moments when vision and decision are clearer in relation to all that concerns us, hunches as to what to do and to say, hitherto unthought of, new light on personal and intellectual problems, practical enough to disarm the doubting mind. Wise would man be to take note of the analogy between sleep and death, to face himself with courage and will before his inner Self wings free into the night, and wise to gather even greater courage and wisdom from that Self as with morning it returns to Earth.