The Path – September 1891


(Concluded from June No.)

What is meant, then, by the loss of the soul is the alienation of that "mediator", that Upadhi or vehicle which stands between our personal consciousness and the divine source of all life. This vehicle, we may say, is only lent us. It is our priceless birthright, our "pearl of great price". It becomes ours only as we become merged in it and at one with it. It suffers no decay, undergoes no deterioration, cannot possibly be degraded, but it can be separated from us. We may lose it. The process by which this may be brought about is one of slow deliberate suicide, and while it may have begun long ago it may be completed during the present life, or it may have been completed during a previous existence, and the remnant, after the separation, may have been re-born "soulless" in the present life. This soulless condition does not preclude a large degree of intelligence, we are told; for manas, though originally derived from the higher vehicle, manifests only its lower aspect, as shrewdness, cunning, and particularly that lower intelligence that manifests as self-interest. The original source of this lower manas is a reflection from the higher manas, as that is a reflection of Buddhi, and that again of Atman, or the divine spark. The most potent mark of this soulless condition is supreme selfishness, with utter disregard of the rights or the suffering of others, for as we approach the higher planes their characteristic sign is gentleness and consideration for others. "The Buddha of compassion" is he who has attained full consciousness in the higher manas, and upon whom Buddhi shines (Augoeides) in full light and glory. (Augoeides = shining brightness.)

If the life experience of the individual is a progression in selfishness, rapacity, and cruelty, that person is engulfed in a maelstrom of destruction. He cannot possibly injure anyone so much as he is injuring himself. He may, indeed, cause pain and suffering beyond all expression, but even this is of brief duration and may in the end serve a beneficent purpose to his victim. Furthermore, his evil deeds may become an embodied evil before the final separation occurs. He may give form and impulse to certain elementals, they furnishing the substance, and he thus invokes a demon indeed; and yet one largely attached to himself, its creator. This is the "Dweller of the threshold", the antithesis of his Augoeides, the reflection and embodiment of his own evil deeds in the mirror of Isis, the astral light.

How strange that these plain truths could ever have been so obscured, and the soul-paralyzing dogma of vicarious atonement and the forgiveness of sin put in their place.

"There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains."

What is this but the lullaby of destruction, when we are plainly told that we must "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling"? No spasm of sensuous emotion that leaves innate selfishness unrebuked and heartless cruelty unredeemed can be anything but blinding, paralyzing, and destructive to man. And yet how many hard-hearted, selfish old sinners have gone into ecstasies over that old hymn!

It is high time that this terrible truth should be understood. The mission of Jesus sinks into a shameless farce if Christos be either ignored or denied. Christos is Buddhi-manas, the altruistic motive and consciousness of man united with the Father Atman. Yet this very altruism has been degraded into a mere sentiment, and people have wept over the sufferings of Jesus who had no compassion for their fellowmen. These sentimentalists have passed as they have posed for "Orthodox Christians", and do still, if they be only rich and observe a fair degree of the "proprieties". If the earnest Christian clergyman really desires to know why people shun the churches and why "sinners" remain "unconverted", here is the reason. The longer they shut their eyes to these plain truths the more the churches go to pieces, and presently it will be too late to recover the lost ground. Nothing would so help these real Christians to bring the church back to its pristine purity and really saving power as the truths of Theosophy, and yet there is nothing in which they seemingly have less interest. Very well; the issues are drawn, and the Eternal Truth is no respecter of persons. The new age is marching on with the strides of a mighty giant, and the effort to instill into the measure a little of the old leaven is not in vain. The seed has been planted, and not all on stony ground, and when the crash comes and the churches tumble the seed will have grown into a tree, and many a weary bird will fold its wings in its branches. The church mummeries may vie with mammon and materialism to crush out the higher life of the soul, and yet it shall not altogether die.

Nowhere in the world today except in the doctrines of Theosophy is the real nature of man taught, so that his origin, his destiny, and the principles that determine his weal or woe may be apprehended. When, in answer to the question "Is the soul of man immortal?", the reply has been made "That depends", people have often turned away solacing themselves with the sophistry, "God is so good that he would not create any soul for destruction". Neither has he. But when the composite nature of man becomes fully apprehended, and a more definite and rational meaning is applied to the word "Soul", the question narrows itself down. Will I, John Smith, preserve in after life the consciousness of my present personality? That depends on whether the said John.Smith exercises his consciousness and employs his powers in those elements or on those planes of his complex being that have in themselves any permanency, or whether they are exercised only in the things that perish. It is not a question of sentiment, but a question of fact, easily deduced by philosophy and justified by analogy. If man lives solely in his body, and his body perishes, so perishes also the consciousness of that man. The monad may be again incarnated, or it may be so separated from its former associations as to begin again in the sub-human planes the long ascent toward human self-consciousness. The theosophical doctrines alone show in what sense and to what extent man is his own creator and his own savior, and equally his own destroyer. These doctrines are not the sole property of the present T. S., nor did they originate with its organization. This is what our Teacher, H. P. B., has been asserting from the beginning. They are old as the world, and have been lost to and recovered by the world again and again. In these brief and disjointed papers the attempt has been made to call attention to this Christian and pre-Christian doctrine of the possible loss of soul, with the hope of inciting inquiry and investigation. Until very recently the true doctrine in this regard was held secret and sacred in the pledge of the initiate: possibly because the Christian dogma of vicarious atonement and the forgiveness of sin had obtained such a hold on the Christian world that no other explanation would be for a moment tolerated. Since the true doctrine has now been given to the world by those who know, the present writer, a humble student, has availed himself of the permission thus accorded of illustrating its transcendent import by way of a few illustrations and suggestions. Those who care to examine it in detail will find many references to it in the writings of Madame Blavatsky, and may become fully informed if they choose. Again I say, if the question were one of immediate and complete annihilation it need not so much concern us, for that were painless and easy. But if this slow decay of the soul must occupy perhaps many lives and involve untold misery before the law of Karma or Divine Justice is satisfied, the question then becomes one of transcendent import. Not an "endless torment in the fires of hell", but suffering, degradation, and despair here on this earth, either in this or in succeeding incarnations.

The Path