The Path – May 1891


No. According to Theosophy our earth-lives are for the purpose of acquiring through experience an education and development which we could not acquire without such experience. Here in the flesh, with the lower self at war with the higher, we must learn to conquer the lower, to sacrifice it to the higher. He who thus loses his life shall find it. This is no small task to accomplish, and one short life is not sufficient for it; hence the necessity for more, if we are to complete our development. We can conquer selfish desires and temptations to do wrong only in the realm where these enemies assail us, in the realm of matter and the body of flesh.

Theosophy does not teach the annihilation of the individuality, either in what is known as Devachan, the rest between earth-lives, or in Nirvana, the rest which comes after a great cycle of development. Those who are not in sympathy with the doctrine of Reincarnation look upon re-entering earth-life as being equivalent to a destruction of the individuality; but such is not the case. The Individuality, or Higher Ego, which consists of the higher mind and the spiritual soul, is that which continues; and it carries with it whatever of each personality is worthy to be preserved; but the present condition of matter in most organisms is too dense for the Higher Ego to impress its knowledge upon the lower mind of each personality, though sometimes in dream and trance states it does this, and there are people who in their normal state believe that they remember past lives. Pythagoras was such an one. When matter becomes more spiritualized in the upward curve of the cycle, and we inhabit more finely organized bodies than our present ones, then will our Higher Ego be able to impress our lower mind with the memory of the past. Nirvana, which is "conscious rest in Omniscience", or union with the Divine, is not loss but gain. It is entrance upon a larger life, a fuller consciousness, a higher bliss, an ineffable peace. The length of this period of rest corresponds to that of the previous period of activity, and when it is over, then from out the bosom of the Infinite emerge again the Universe and all beings to enter upon another cycle of still higher evolution.

The Path