The Path – January 1892


Out of the garden of the earth grew a pair of leaves. As they rose slowly from the surface, other leaves were added with stem and twigs, and at last, when the summer drew to a close, a well-developed shrub showed itself. It grew strong also in the various woody parts, from the putting forth of many leaves. Otherwise no sign appeared of what its purpose was, whether blossom or fruit. So the summer passed and the autumn came. When the early frosts of winter touched it with their blighting fingers the leaves disappeared, but the resistance of concentrated fibre in that which remained became more and more apparent. The snows fell, covering entirely all that had accrued of acquisition and assimilation.

Time, the recorder of the interweaving cycles of the Universe, stands not still. In due season the voice of the spring made itself heard. From out the disappearing snows the shrub once more shows itself, the same in the outer as when it disappeared from view. But not the same in the inner, for there had been a change by which the wood itself had ripened both for resistance to attacking force or influence from the outer, and for the perfecting of the power of receiving that which might be offered for its acceptance. Under the genial, kindly touch of the sun's rays, and the moisture of the showers, stirred the impulses of sequence, to fashion out of the forces hitherto stored up the buds, those indices of the renewed flow of life. They grew until the confining sheaths gave way, and that which had been concealed was revealed. Once more in the former fashion the shrub rejoices in the glory of stalk, twigs, and leaves. As the season wore on, to the watcher appeared, from one of the strongest centers of growth, a new formation. To the nourishment and development of this, all the energies of the rest of the plant seemed to be drawn. Still, this in the outer was but a stem and leaves, but upon the summit, as if crown-borne, rose a bud, quite different from the buds from which the leaves were unfolded. It was a bud of promise, of hope, of creative energy, of power, of possible unfoldment.

Looking at it from the outside, none could tell from either its size or the greenness of its covering what might be within it. Little by little it approached its maturity. The twisted points of the outer sheaths of the bud gradually loosened their hold one upon another, and as they fell apart a faint color flushed the edges. Still they loosened yet a little more, until at last, as if suddenly shaken out, the glorious beauty of the soft material of the flower revealed to the eye of the passer-by all the splendor of its coloring, and permeated the whole atmosphere with its fragrance. There is now no further question as to the contents of the bud.

Yet a little longer, and that which was so beautiful, appealing to the sense of touch, sight, and smell, finishes its mission. One by one the petals fall away, and in their place is developed a calyx or capsule. In this, securely sealed from light and from the curious eye of the meddling investigator, in darkness the wonderful transmutation takes place, by which the transmission of life in direct sequence from the plant to the seed occurs.

No human eye nor even human knowledge can say when, or where, or how there first falls upon the seed the impinging shadowing of the One, by which in years to come, under favoring circumstances, it shall produce after its kind. No one can tell the precise moment when the Omnipotent finger places within the tiny receptacle the condensation of the future shrub, enclosing it within its casket, locks the door and flings away the key. But man is familiar with the result. He knows that seed-time and harvest exist, that they always come, and will so continue to come, so long as the present race shall continue to live upon the earth.

This, O man! is a symbol of all individualized life, more perfect, perhaps, than any other, the type of reincarnating lives among the earth-born.

In the coming and the going of the seasons, in the disappearing and reappearing of new foliage to the shrub, which constantly gathers strength during its passing struggles with wind and weather, we see the incarnating ego putting itself into a new outer covering. This is temporary, because limited by the years of the incarnation; but always sure to be discarded when the purposes for which it was needed are finished.

As the stems and twigs absorb through the leaves the force, energy, and magnetic qualities needed to maintain equilibrium in growth, so do the bodies of the incarnation furnish the ego with whatever is needed for its strengthening and growth. As the incarnations are thus typified, so also is foreshadowed the spiritual unfolding and expansion by the blossom.

No man knows nor can tell what shall be the outcome of a life, measured in soul growth. But borne aloft as the crowning work of a life, all that is absorbed is spiritualized, and formed and molded into the highest perfection of form, color, fragrance, and sound. The sounds of the blossom rarely reach the corporeal sense of hearing, but that does not in any sense prove their non-existence.

As the blossom finally bursts into full bloom in all its perfected lovliness, so at last, having gathered and assimilated to itself everything possible from its incarnation, the soul also suddenly blossoms: mortals call this action death. As the flower seemingly has no connection with the rest of the shrub and leaves, simply because it is on a different stalk or plane, so the soul at the moment of dissolution is transferred to the spiritual plane. Then, as in the formation of the seed capsule, part of the outermost coverings are sloughed off, so that which is not necessary to the soul's unfoldment is left heaped up nearest to the earth plane. When separated into their ultimate elements, they can again be of use in the creation of new forms.

But as in the seed capsules new processes of assimilation and formation go forward, so in Devachan, within the soul, there must also take place assimilation, adaptation, and quickening of all the intensity of impulse, until, like the coiling up of a spring, the desire to still further pursue its journey through the immeasureable spaces of the Universe increases to such a point that reincarnation is once more inevitable.

Thus is typified by the growing shrub the whole cycle of the incarnating ego, and the soul life, as it passes from incarnation to incarnation, through all the revolving aeons of the endless ages. As below, so above.

The Path