The Path – February 1890



"Time is but the space between our memories; as soon as we cease to perceive this space, time has disappeared. The whole life of an old man may appear to him no longer than an hour, or less still; and as soon as time is but a moment to us, we have entered upon eternity. Time is, then, the successive dispersion of being."
      — (Auriet's Journal page 2).

From birth to prime the faculties of man unfold; from prime to old age the faculties wane. In the natural order this unfolding and waning are really a transmutation. In early life the sensuous sphere predominates, and both the intellectual and spiritual are in abeyance. In adult and more advanced life the sensuous sphere wanes and the higher faculties take control. This is the natural order, and it is seldom seen, for there are few natural lives. The follies of youth are more often the harvest of age, dead-sea apples in place of the ripe fruit of the tree of life, while repentance and remorse embalm the living corpse of a wasted life and slighted opportunities. These are unnatural lives, and the real faculties of man are never thus realized. Mediocrity — the slumber of the soul — is, at best, the result of unnatural lives, and old age even, when reached, is miserable beyond description. What is called talent is usually a partial and unsymmetrical awakening of the soul from the dominion of the senses. Talent does with ease that which mediocrity accomplishes with great difficulty if at all. In the ordinary life of the world nothing short of real genius carries man out of himself and suggests the real nature of his being. Genius does with ease that of which mediocrity never even dreams, and of which no mere talent is capable. Genius dreams of the true, and gets glimpses of the essential being. Mediocrity follows; talent commands; genius knows and seldom stops to reason; it is beyond reason. "Time is the supreme illusion." "To escape by the ecstasy of inward vision from the whirlwind of time, to see oneself sub specie eterni, is the word of command of all the great religions of the higher races."

Mediocrity has little of either reminiscence or intuition, but may develop physical memory very largely. Talent has flashes of intuition, but is rather bias than illumination, a withdrawal of perceptions and faculties from other realms, to concentrate them on one sphere. Genius is another name for reminiscence, an ecstasy of inward vision, the essence of many memories, the synthesis of former experiences.

Physical memory is the record of passing events, but it is not the preserver of experience. Physical memory is but the outer husk of experience. Experience relates to feeling and consciousness; memory to time and sense. Memory relates solely to the past, to that which was, or rather seemed, and is not; and is, at best, the record of an illusion. Past, present, and future, — what illusions! The past is dead, the future is not, and these constitute the present as a fleeting unreality. Never until consciousness is severed from time and liberated from sense, does man realize that he is. In the outer sphere of man's life his faculties are related to the panorama of events, and these he perceives only in detail and in succession. In the inner sphere of man's being he knows all at once. This is true even in dreams, where the events of years pass in review in a moment of time. Memory grasps at the days and attempts to hold the slow-plodding years. Reminiscence has dissolved all these in the waters of oblivion, only to preserve their essence as motors, intuitions for future guidance. These are but logical deductions from our present experience, without assuming any future life. If, however, in the present life man is able to free his consciousness from the illusions of sense and time, he comes to know of essential being, and only then does he begin to correctly interpret the things of time.

All that we know of the brain shows it to be the organ of physical memory, and shows, moreover, that any change of its structure or perversion of its function impairs or obliterates memory. Cases of disease have been known from which individuals have recovered with complete oblivion of nearly all the past. Adults previously well-educated have forgotten even how to read, and have had to begin all over again like children. In some cases there has been a slow and gradual recovery of the past. In others there has been little recovered of the past. The normal function of the brain has been arrested in the middle of a sentence, memory has been thus entirely suspended, and insanity or imbecility has supervened; after the lapse of months memory and consciousness have returned, perhaps from a surgical operation, and the broken sentence has been completed. Similar cases often occur in the annals of surgery.

The forgetfulness of old age is proverbial. The tablets of memory first refuse to record new impressions. The things of yesterday are forgotten, and the memories of youth return, mere glimpses of a summer day or a night of sorrow. These also in turn disappear, and insensibility and imbecility often supervene. The man again becomes a helpless child leaning toward the great mother's breast, longing for rest and sleep.

If this is so often the record of the life of man whom "three score years and ten" reduce to imbecility, and with memory already departed, how can it be possible that, when the brain is decomposed and resolved back to its original dust, it should still perform a function which it so often loses before death? If memory fades as the brain decays, and consciousness displays itself on an entirely different plane after death, and for a thousand years, as we count time, lives a subjective life, the former records of memory are not only barred by "death," but even the bias given to consciousness must fade also. If, therefore, reincarnation should occur, there would not be the least reason to suppose that the memory that derived its form and experience from the contour and development of the brain and the circumstances of its environment, and that has been decomposed a thousand years previously, should adhere to the ego now embodied in another race and time with a new brain and a renewed consciousness. So far as memory is concerned, this is a new creation; and so far as individual consciousness is concerned, the former personality has been annihilated.

What we call memory, therefore, as a function of the organized brain perishes with the body.

If memory is the temporary record of passing events, and both the events and the record belong to time, is there not something in man that records memory itself, thus bridging the chasm of "death" and anchoring every experience of the soul to the real ego? This is precisely the nature of experience of which memory is the matter side, related to sense and time, and of which reminiscence is the spirit side related to essential being. And here again it is unnecessary to assume a life beyond the present, for our present experiences prove this to be so. It is but the subjective side of our present every-day experiences, and belongs to our mode of consciousness. In order to realize this in any large degree, it is only necessary to withdraw our consciousness gradually and persistently from the illusion of the senses to the ecstacy of inward vision, that is to gradually elevate the plane of consciousness. Man may thus come to know the super-sensitive world precisely as he knows the things of sense and time, viz. by experience. He may furthermore realize that the latter are pure illusions, while the former are the only realities. The evidence of things unseen will end thus in fruition; the unseen and the unknown become the things seen and known. Human experience on this superior plane is also fortified by analogy and by the orderly processes of nature. If we assume the continued existence of the soul (ego), we have also to assume the continuance of its method of knowing, else we annul consciousness itself. The consciousness of the ego and its real method of knowing, viz. by experience, are all that enable us to predicate continued existence. If consciousness is now displayed on both the objective plane through the medium of the senses, and on the subjective plane through intuition, reminiscence and the like, then the ego having already experience on both planes in unequal degree, often almost exclusively here on the lower plane, may display itself almost exclusively on the subjective plane, and this often occurs in trance and related conditions. This is the key to the higher consciousness and the diviner life.

One third of our present life is practically divested of memory. When the plane of consciousness is shifted in sleep, memory reveals its true character as belonging to matter and time, and as in no sense essential to existence, experience, or consciousness.

Man's immortality is therefore within his grasp, his destiny is within his own hands, and he may recover the substance of all his past while he realizes his birth-right even now.

"He who has not even a knowledge of common things is a brute among men: He who has an accurate knowledge of human concerns alone is a man among brutes: But he who knows all that can be known by intelligent energy is a god among men."

The Path