Questions We All Ask by G. de Purucker
Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered July 27, 1930)
CONTENTS: Drifting spiritually, psychologically and mentally. A spiritual polar star really exists. — Physicians of human souls needed. — Are you like Thomas the Doubter? — The countless false self-proclaimed teachers. — The fine flowers of the human race. — The wellspring of wisdom within. — No reliable public information in regard to the psychical faculties. — Recognize the teacher by the light of intuition. — Victor Hugo on the subject of teachers. — Follow the steep and thorny road: the noblest adventure in life. — A few of the real inner powers. — Mental moonlight or the sunlight of the spirit? — Materialism is but a superstition, says a famous scientist. — Why must I rest for so long a time between lives on earth? The devachan a time of assimilation. What about the assimilation of food? A perfect analogy. — Break your chains and embark upon the sublime spiritual adventure!
The general subject of my talk to you this afternoon is, "Souls That Drift." As I look at my audiences on each Sunday, among other thoughts that occur to me, I often wonder how many of you are drifting souls. I am sure that you will not be offended at my speaking of the possibility of some of you being drifting souls, because as a matter of fact most human beings are drifting through the lifetime of the present incarnation, and this is so for the following reasons: men do not know who they are. Men have not yet found themselves. Men have no spiritual polar star, so to speak, towards which they can self-consciously turn — and nevertheless that spiritual polar star actually exists. But men as a rule in the Occident do not know that it exists. The consequence is that the majority of human beings in the Occident are souls that are drifting, spiritually, psychologically, and mentally. Leaders, true leaders of men, are lacking, for in our days most Occidentals will have naught to do with the Occidental religion in which they no longer believe. And on the other hand they are doubtful of the ordinary standards of political and social morality. What is more needed than anything else in the Occident, I think, is physicians of human souls.
Where will you find physicians for your souls? I am inclined to think that if you found one, you would at least at first be somewhat afraid of him. You would like to test him, and in a sense that would be a proper and prudent precaution. You would doubtless look for signs, perhaps for wonders, at any rate for marks of ability. You would as individuals be like Thomas the Doubter. You would want to probe with your mind into the spiritual and psychological apparatus of such a physician just as Thomas wanted to probe with his finger into the places where the nails had been in the body of his teacher, according to the legend. And you would doubtless flatter yourselves because of your caution and prudence, saying to yourselves: "How wise I am in my generation!"
On the other hand, what are you to do? You don't know how to judge a true spiritual leader from one who is a mere faker, and this is so because you have not been educated to understand and to apply the means of judging the true from the false. If a true physician of your souls were to appear amongst you, I doubt if you would accept him. You might, perhaps, if he had a charming smile or an agreeable personality, or if he had soulful eyes that appealed to your artistic instincts, or dark or perhaps golden yellow hair!
But are your souls going to be cured of the pain and sorrow which wrack you, because some human individual with a glib tongue has golden yellow hair, or dark hair, or a pair of soulful eyes? Of course not. You see, therefore, that it is just as I have said: you cannot readily discern because you do not know yourselves, because you have not found yourselves.
I asked you these same questions recently from this platform. If you knew yourself, you, each one of you as an individual, then you would have found yourself, and knowing yourself, nothing could thereafter mislead you nor bias your judgment nor sway your will, because the spiritual faculties in you would be wakened and you would recognize truth when it knocked at your minds and hearts. But men in our modern times, in the Occident more particularly, have lost all knowledge of the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind, except perhaps some faint echoes of it which are to you little more than a faint, far-flung rumor out of the distant past of human history.
As it is, you are afraid of following spiritual teachers lest you be misled; and I am obliged to tell you that perhaps your fear is your spiritual safety, because the world is replete with incompetent and often false self-proclaimed teachers. Do you then understand this situation? It is perfectly true that you must have guides to show you the way. You must have healers for your souls, which is infinitely more important than healers for your body; and yet you don't know where to look for them; and if a true healer, a true physician of the soul, were to appear among you, the chances are nine out of ten you would reject him because his physical body, perhaps, or his manner of speech, or some mannerism or idiosyncrasy or peculiarity of his personality, would be unpleasant to you. You have not the wisdom and penetrating intellectual power to look beneath the flesh of the appearance, and thus to see the fire of the flaming intelligence within, derivative from the spirit, from the god within. But once you have learned to recognize this flaming spiritual fire in yourself, it becomes unmistakable ever afterwards, and it is easy to recognize it in others.
It was precisely to show men, as far as possible, how to know themselves, how to find themselves — to show them the pathway to wisdom and light — that the ancient religion of mankind, today called theosophy, was brought anew to the western world by the founder of The Theosophical Society, H. P. Blavatsky.
The world, I tell you truly, is today in a precarious situation. Men are afraid to accept leaders, and oh, how my heart sympathizes, from one point of view, with that fear! How has man been deceived in the past by false leaders, and led astray by false gods! Nevertheless, despite this fear of accepting leaders, men's hunger for truth leads them oft to rise above this fear, and alas! to accept as leaders, men who are as blind as themselves and who know as little often of nature's holy secrets as the average man himself does.
And yet, on the other hand, men must have guides — teachers of truth, they who know; and indeed there are such great men alive in the world today. There are such great souls living even today in the world, forming a brotherhood, which men theosophists call the Elder Brothers of mankind, or by equivalent terms, such as the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace. They are the fine flowers of the human race, the products of a spiritual, intellectual, and psychical evolution. They are linked consciously — not unconsciously as the vast bulk of mankind is — but self-consciously, with the inner god, with that spark of the divine within them which is the core of the core of the heart of the heart of every son of man; and being in this self-conscious communion with their own inner divinity, they truly know, because they have experienced, they have seen, the vision sublime; and therefore they can communicate this vision, this knowledge, that they have interiorly, which they have seen, to their fellow men.
When a man thus knows himself, and has found himself, no longer is he a drifting soul. Do you know who you are? Have you found yourself? Now answer my question in the silences of your own heart. Have you solved the enigmas of life and death? If you have not, then you don't know who you are, nor have you found yourself. Yet these enigmas can be solved. They are by no means unsolvable. Man is a composite entity, rooted in the very divine fire which is the heart of the universe, and man's constitution manifests on earth in a body of gross flesh. His inner constitution is in touch, is in relation, with every plane and with every world and with every sphere of the boundless universe, and with all the vast and illimitable spaces of space, and especially of invisible space, and because he is thus linked with all the articulations and members of the universe, he has the faculties within him which will enable him to know all things. The key to all is becoming at one with the spiritual nature within. This done, all doors fly open at the mystic knock given, and truth, unveiled, pure, can be seen and understood.
Has it ever struck you that you are a child of the universe? What else can you be? You cannot be apart from the universe in which you "live and move and have your being," as Paul of the Christians truly said. The universe surrounds you. Its spiritual energies and powers permeate you because they are ubiquitous, infinite, everywhere existent. Each one of you is an inseparable part of the boundless universe. Therefore the core of the core of you, the heart of the heart of you, is the core of the universe, the heart of the universe. If you do not see and accept this obvious fact, then you will have this problem to solve: "I am a child of the universe, I am of it, I am in it. And yet I do not partake of what that universe contains and is."
Do you therefore see that this problem is unsolvable because it is not a true problem at all, and is merely a figment of human imagination based on ignorance? Consequently, all that is in the universe is in you. Everything that is in the universe is in you, mostly latent of course, because man is still a very imperfectly evolved being in all the parts of his constitution, very imperfect indeed, because not yet far evolved along the pathway of evolutionary progress; but nevertheless he is a man. He is endowed by union with the universe with the same divine flame of intelligence within that universe. He has spiritual faculties and powers within him, derivatives of and from the universe, which form a reservoir which only the great sages and seers of whom I have spoken have opened, and from which they can draw at will, because this Spiritual Divine reservoir is the self — the spiritual self, not the gross physical self, or mental self, or psychical self, but the spiritual-divine self of each one of them.
Think of the beauty of this grand picture of truth! See the hope in it! Your pathway of evolution is literally beginningless and endless. You never began. You always were. You never will end. You will be going on growing forever and forever. For since you are in your essence the universe itself, since the very heart of the universe is your heart, how can you disappear out of it?
Hence I have said: not knowing who ye are, not having found yourselves, ye are truly drifting souls; and now ask yourselves if this my statement is not true. Listen: there is a pathway to wisdom sublime and to knowledge illimitable. This pathway follows the line of your own selfhood, spiritually speaking, and if you follow it faithfully, this pathway will lead you to the very heart of you, your spiritual center which is the universe divine, the fountain of your spiritual being.
Not having found this pathway in the Occident, look what men in the West today do. Turning away from the light shining in its radiant splendor, the spiritual light within, they look outwards and run after every psychical and mental will-o'-the-wisp that their attention is called to, searching here, searching there, looking thither, turning yon — and always deceived. Yet ye need not be deceived. Men today think that they may find in the psychical faculties and powers so called, what the instinct of a man tells him is light, true life, in ever greater measure and fulness; but they are looking in the wrong direction. They look outwards instead of inwards, or rather do not penetrate into the wellspring of life and wisdom within their spiritual self.
How can you find truth, my brothers, in that which dies when you die, in other words in the material and component parts of you? Turn rather to the god within, to your inner self, deathless, relatively changeless, the spiritual sun of your being, and the fountainhead of all that you are. All your faculties, all your powers, all your energies, come from this divine sun manifesting within you; and the so-called psychic faculties and powers are but as it were the reflected inner moonlight, and like all reflected light, such faculties and powers — which undoubtedly exist — distort, deceive, mislead, as the moonlight so often does.
It has been said to me: From what you say, theosophists do not believe in these psychical faculties and powers. My answer was: You are entirely wrong. We do know of their existence, and knowing of their existence we know their danger. There is real danger, great danger, because the reflected glimmer of light from these psychical faculties is very misleading. Do we as theosophists then say that we should not employ these psychical faculties and powers which undoubtedly exist within us, although undiscovered by most men? We do not. We say: cultivate them, use them — but only after training in knowledge and wisdom showing you how to use them.
When a man has allied himself consciously with the god within him, with the real source of everything that he is, then these psychical powers and faculties so called develop and unfold as naturally as the unfolding of the petals of a flower; and the use of these psychical faculties and powers then becomes not only legitimate and proper, but necessary. But to cultivate these psychical things before you have mastered the merest elements of self-knowledge, of selfhood, before you know who you are or before you have found yourself, makes you to be as much without guides as is a bit of drifting flotsam on the ocean of life; or, to change the metaphor a bit, you are only a bit of drifting flotsam on the swiftly moving river of time, and then you are really in danger, because you do not know what these psychical faculties and powers are and what their proper use is and how to control them. There is absolutely no information about them given out publicly, no information that can be trusted. Absolutely none!
I tell you now with all the earnestness of my soul: Beware! Let me use the words of Jesus the avatara, who said in substance: "Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven, and all these other things will then be added unto you." Hence I tell you: Go first to the heart of things; take the greatest thing, the all-encompassing thing, which is yourself, and understand yourself and know yourself; and then all the smaller things within you like these psychical powers and faculties will be forthwith mastered and taken captive by you, and you can use them safely.
Your questioning minds ask: How? Uninstructed, ignorant as I am, how am I to do this? This shows that what I have told you is true: you don't know yourselves. Which shows that you have not found yourselves. I can tell you how to know yourself and how to find yourself, for this is a part of my duty as a theosophical teacher. Every true student of the wisdom-religion of mankind today called theosophy can tell you how. Then your doubtful and suspicious minds, so oft deceived, so often wrung with the agony and pain of frequent disappointment, say: "Can I trust you? Are you also a false prophet?" So deeply ingrained, O my brothers, is mistrust of other men in the Occident today, due to past centuries of religious and philosophical miseducation, that men have lost the sense of trust in their fellows, and also have almost lost the ability to recognize truth when they hear it.
As I have said, usually they will not accept a true teacher when they see him, because they understand him not and know him not. They have no standard of judgment, no rule of proof — excepting of course the chosen few, choice spirits whose intuition is like a burning flame in their hearts, giving them light to see and enabling them to choose aright, and showing them how to recognize. Verily this burning flame of intuition, the sister of almighty love, burns in the hearts of these chosen few.
But the average man is suspicious, rendered so from disappointment after disappointment. He thinks that it is a wise thing to refuse to look anywhere except in those directions where leather-lungs on the one hand, and big advertisements in the newspapers on the other hand, promise quick rewards. Then he says: Ah! here is something practical! Vain thought, arising out of the hunger of a broken and disappointed heart!
Men today are so suspicious, not only of themselves but of their fellows, that they have no standard to go by and therefore they follow anything and everything that seems to promise reality. Is not this a strange paradox? Having no standard to judge by, hunting for truth, avid for truth, they will accept anything if at the moment it seems to appeal to them. Whereas, on the other hand, if this appeal is not made in a manner which captivates them, they seem to think that they show intellectual power in refusing to receive light, in refusing to accept real leaders and guides. How can it be otherwise when their minds are filled with mental pictures that they have seen in the books of history about the deceptions practiced through the ages on mankind by designing men and crafty priesthoods?
Yet your intuition and your instinct whisper to you that not all men are unworthy of trust. There are men who are courageous enough to proclaim that searching for light and receiving it when found are signs of greatness of heart and of an expanded intellect. Let me read to you what a great Frenchman, Victor Hugo, once wrote:
The very law which requires that mankind should have NO OWNERS requires that it should have GUIDES. To be ENLIGHTENED is the reverse of being SUBJECTED. The march forwards requires a directing hand; to rebel against the pilot scarcely advances the ship; one does not see what would be gained by throwing Columbus overboard. The words "This way" never humiliated the man who was seeking the road. At night I accept the authority of the torches.
Admirable! And so do ye who drift. Ye are hungry for guides; your hearts are aching to find someone whom you can trust and who will lead you; and you know it well. The proof is seen in our theaters and lecture halls. Hundreds and thousands attend the lectures of every itinerant speaker, psychic, would-be teacher. And what do these audiences hear? Esoteric truths regarding the nature of the universe, its origin, and its destiny? Truths regarding the composition of the human being, which can be tested by your own examination and proved by the words of the greatest intellects and spiritual seers that the human race has produced? No!
Would you like to find the pathway to your own inner god — your spiritual self? There is a preliminary preparation, however, required of all — a preparation for this sublimest of adventures in the journey of the human soul. Do you know what it is? It will sound so familiar to you: Learn to forgive your fellows, for this means developing strength, the exercise of the spiritual part of you, and it is bringing into manifestation your higher manhood. Learn to love, for this is the voice of divinity within you; and when you can learn to love, the sun within is already beginning to break through the clouds of your lower surrounding selfhood. To love is divine, because it is a universal energy in your heart. The very sun which shines in the heavens is compact of that divinest of energies.
Be self-forgetful, because when you are self-forgetful the veils of personality and selfishness fall from your eyes. You are then no longer blinded by selfishness. You then see. Become impersonal; for then you are no longer gripped by personal desires, held in bondage as serfs and slaves by your own lower being.
There is the truth — the beginning of truth; and if ye follow faithfully this pathway, ancient, familiar to your hearts, ye will have put your feet on that Road which leads to the heart of the u
Pause a moment in thought. Which will ye be: drifting souls, or men and women who have taken command of their own faculties and powers and have begun to grow? It is all a matter of self-directed evolution, as our beloved Katherine Tingley so often told you from this platform! In following this pathway you become a true man; and from a true man you become a god-man, because all the interior powers and faculties within you will become more and more manifest. You will develop more and more all the powers within you, and you will be enabled to show these powers to others and thus you can prove their existence.
But no one can pass the frontiers of the lower selfhood who clings to the lower self. Therefore, strive to become selfless, become impersonal, become kindly, become brotherly, learn to forgive, learn to love, learn to be self-forgetful. All this means unselfishness; and selfishness is the root of all evil, and therefore is the fertile cause of all misfortune and pain.
On last Sunday you spoke of two pathways that man can follow in his evolution: first, drifting along slowly through the ages, on the slowly moving river of time and racial growth, as the majority of mankind does; and second, pursuing the steep and thorny road which brings a quicker return to the gods.
Later, in the same lecture, you said: "and in another life, for deeds wrongly done and deeds left undone, ye may be born a peasant in his hut or some poor untouchable," etc.
Question: When a man's lot in life seems to be particularly hard, may it not be that he has, perhaps unconsciously, chosen the "steep and thorny road" in order to hasten his growth, and not necessarily that he is reaping the fruits of a former evil existence?
Yes, it is true. Many a man who has now reached masterhood of life, one of the great sages and seers, began to follow the steep and thorny road which leads to the very heart of the sun — began to follow it unconsciously; and do you know what it means to follow this steep and thorny road? It means gaining powers, it means opening faculties within you, it means becoming a Master directing his own course on the ocean of life, instead of being merely a drifting piece of human flotsam, a drifting soul? Many a one has done this in the past and began it unconsciously; yet it means hard work.
Do you know anything more stonily hard than human hearts? Do you know anything more fragile and yet more crystallized than human minds? Human hearts are so crystallized that they won't bend even to proof sometimes, and yet are so fragile that the whole mental framework may crack and break under some accident.
The steep and thorny road, my brothers, is a difficult one. But the rewards! Is there a man here to whom this adventure does not appeal? It is the noblest adventure in life: becoming a man, taking command of yourself, living like a man, evolving forth the godlike powers and faculties within, consciously, so that at your will you can direct them; becoming a brother to all, loved of all because there is no hatefulness in you, trusted of all, hated only by the hateful.
What are these powers? I will enumerate a few only: transferring your thoughts without a word, voiceless speech. This is no psychical power. Its psychical aspect, commonly called thought-transference, is but a bagatelle and is illusory because it is but a reflected light of the real spiritual power within. I am talking about the spiritual faculty, the root of the vastly feebler power called thought-transference. If you have this truly spiritual power, then you can transfer your thought and your consciousness and your will to any part of the earth and actually be there, see what goes on, know what is happening there. No merely psychical power will ever enable you to do that. In Tibet this is called the hpho-wa. Having this power ye can pass through stone walls as easily as the electric current runs along or through the copper wire.
Another spiritual faculty is genuine clairvoyance and the spiritual ability to see and to see aright; and in seeing to know that your seeing is truth. This is no psychical faculty. The clairvoyance commonly called the psychical clairvoyance is very deceptive because nothing is really known about it, in spite of the much talk that you may hear about it. The so-called psychical clairvoyance is very deceptive because it is a mere moonlight reflection, and this moonlight reflection is uncertain, deceiving, and illusory. Genuine spiritual clairvoyance, of which the psychical clairvoyance so called is but a feeble ray, will enable you to see what passes at immense distances! You can sit in your armchair and see, with eyes closed, all that you care to see at great distances. This can be done not only in this exterior world but ye can penetrate into the interior and invisible worlds with this spiritual vision, and thus know what is going on in the worlds spiritual and ethereal; and remember also that these inner and invisible worlds are the basis or root of this mere cross section which we humans call the physical universe. This physical universe is just one phase or plane of the great universe of boundless life.
Another spiritual power is true and genuine clairaudience, real clairaudience, the ability to hear with the spiritual auditory power or faculty, even to hear what the gods are saying and doing. These words are not mere poetry. I here mean the actual inner spiritual ear. Having this power ye can hear the music of the spheres; for I tell you in solemn truth, my brothers, that every sphere that runs its course in the abysmal depths of space sings a song as it passes along. Having this spiritual power ye can hear the grass grow. Every little atom is attuned to a musical note. It is in constant movement, in constant vibration at speeds which are incomprehensible to the ordinary brain-mind of man, and each such speed has its own numerical quantity, in other words its own numerical note, and therefore sings that note; so that had ye this spiritual clairaudience the life surrounding you would be one grand sweet song and you yourself would sing a song, your very body would be as it were a symphonic orchestra, singing some magnificent, incomprehensible, musical symphonic composition. The growth of a flower for instance would be like a changing melody running along from day to day. I mean every word of this, literally.
These are instances of some of the powers and the faculties of the spirit, but not of the immensely less powerful and tertiary psychical faculties. These last are but reflected mental moonlight so to speak. Therefore I say to you: go to the sun within you, take the kingdom of heaven by violence, for it is yours, it is your spiritual heritage. Why bother with paste and false gems when ye may have all the jewels of the Golconda of the spirit?
But the greatest faculty, the greatest power, of all is that, when ye have found yourself, when ye have begun to know yourself, ye will discover within you incomprehensible mysteries, beautiful, sublime, indescriptible, grand; and I think that the most wonderful of them all is the power of almighty love, for this is the very cement of the universe, which holds all things in steady, orderly, sequential courses. Becoming one with it, in other words, becoming one with what you are within your own inner being, ye become a god, a very god, for such a god ye are in your inmost.
Now then, which will ye have? The powers of the spirit that all the great sages and seers have been telling you about for untold ages — ethics, right, justice, growth, true manhood, forgiveness, love, pity, compassion, spiritual clairvoyance, spiritual clairaudience, spiritual faculties and powers — or will ye be running after the will-o'-the-wisps, the reflected moonlight and verbal moonshine, of itinerant teachers who know but little or nothing more about it all than you yourself do?
I have used the words sunlight and moonlight. I use them advisedly, and I will tell you why. The ancient wisdom-religion today called theosophy teaches that the god within you is a child of the spiritual sun; the spirit within you, therefore, is a luminous radiance, and is your inner god; while the psychical part of you, the intermediate part between the spiritual solar ray and your physical body, reflects the powers, such as they are elementally, derivable from the moon. Hence the instinct of mankind speaks of lunatics — the moon-stricken.
Yes, I say the moon advisedly and I mean it. I know what I am talking about, and I care naught for the superstitions of our fathers — scientific superstitions or religious superstitions, it matters naught to me. Men of the Occident, you have been so trained in materialistic thought that the average belief today, or rather lack of belief, is that there is naught in a human being except his physical body, and that when he dies the dissolution of the physical corpse is the end of him. None of the human race of any outstanding spiritual and intellectual distinction has ever believed that, except the superstitious scientists and their camp followers of the days of our immediate fathers. Even the superstitious religionists were a little wiser than the former because, however mistaken their views were, and they certainly were grossly wrong on so many points, they had the brains to realize that consciousness cannot arise out of unconsciousness nor life out of lifelessness, death. If there is naught in the universe but blindly driven matter, how could such things be or ever exist as consciousness and beauty, compassion and mercy and pity and clairaudience and clairvoyance and all the other faculties active or latent that the human being possesses, and which, in the case of the great ones of the earth, can be used at will?
How could matter even move, if it has not life, and matter is full of incomprehensibly rapid vibrations; and now today when our really great scientific men are becoming mystics, becoming mystical thinkers, they talk to us about the fundamental of the cosmos being mind-stuff and consciousness-stuff; while the materialism of our immediate scientific fathers of forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty years ago, is dead. Dead indeed, but the evil effects of that old materialistic teaching are still visible everywhere in the Occident.
One of the greatest of ultramodern British scientists, J. S. Haldane, only a short time ago made the remark that materialism is a superstition — and he referred to the scientific materialism of our immediate fathers — as much a superstition as was the belief in devils and witches. There is a grand declaration for a scientist of today! And he is absolutely right. Remember that you have been brought up in the popular materialism of the West, which still is taught in your textbooks, still exists as authoritative articles in your encyclopedias, and in many cases is still taught from the lecture platforms of your universities. Remember therefore that in these cases you are taught something which is untrue, which is a scientific superstition, which does not exist, and that those who tell you to look within yourselves for truth because you have consciousness, intelligence, love, within you, are truly safe guides.
Question: I am not satisfied with some aspects of the doctrine of reincarnation as taught in theosophy. I think that the time which it is said may elapse between lives on earth, digesting our experiences, is unreasonably long. For instance: if I was a person of more or less importance in Egypt some two thousand years ago, and only now am living another earth-life here in America, and if I lived a life of about sixty years in Egypt, then it has taken me thirty times as long to get the meat out of my experiences as it did to go through them. Now, from what I know of an average human life, a fellow could sum up any one of them completely with a box of cigars and night's hard thinking. So why all that period of two thousand years? I know you're not to blame for this, but it's up to you to do some explaining.
I wish I had that chap on this platform before me. I would ask him a few questions in order more fully to draw out his mind.
In the first place, the statement has often been made in the textbooks of the theosophical philosophy that the average length of time in the devachan or so-called heaven-world passed between one reincarnation on earth and the next reincarnation on earth is about 1500 or 2000 years, and the statement, considered as an average, is correct — but it is only an average. The average span of human life, taking the world as a whole today is — do you know how long? Some fifteen years or thereabouts. That is the probably correct average. This average is secured by counting all deaths that occur in childhood, in wars, in accidents, what
not; and yet many individual men live to be seventy, eighty, ninety, and some perhaps a hundred or even more years.
There is a rule in occultism — which please do not confuse with psychism — which states that the excarnate soul or human being passes one hundred times as much time in the devachan or heaven-world as he did in the last preceding life on earth as an imbodied man. Therefore, since the average span of human life today is 1500 years, the average devachanic or between-lives time is one hundred times that, or fifteen hundred years. But some men live to be forty years old, fifty years old, sixty years old, seventy years old, and even more, and each one such will pass a period of time in devachan or the heaven-world one hundred times the number of human years that he previously had lived on earth. There are certain esoteric exceptions to this law upon which I cannot touch this afternoon.
Now comes the question of this querent why the length of devachanic time should be so long. The sense of this question therefore is that life on earth, at least in the mind of this questioner, is a fairly happy event. Men seem to think that life on earth is more or less of a heaven. They evidently don't like to leave it and want to come back to it quickly. Yes, they will come back to earth all right. There is no doubt about that. But don't you know that nature has its own way of working, and its own way of moving, and its own laws, and remembering these things we cannot be like that old dear lady I heard of once who said: "Well, I know that reincarnation isn't true." Why? "Because I don't like it! I have had one life on earth, and I don't want to have another life like that again. I have had all I want of it."
But this questioner, whose question I am trying now to answer, seems to think that life on earth is so supernally beautiful, so heavenly, that to pass his three or four or five or six or seven thousand years in devachan is going to be awfully tedious. He won't find any tedium there nor will he recognize any passage of time. The devachan is a state of unspeakable bliss, peace, and expansion of consciousness, just exactly like the most lovely rosy dream; and it is like a dream in a way because it is just like the man who wakes in the morning and who does not realize that he has been asleep, nor the length of time that he has slept.
This length of time is indeed required in the devachan for the same reason that the physical body requires the rest and recuperation of quiet sleep in order to build up the body again. The body more easily assimilates during sleep the food that it has taken. In sleep nature's building and repairing processes work quietly and rapidly. They are not interfered with by active movement either of mind or body. This assimilation requires a long time.
How long do you sleep? I have heard some people say they cannot do with less than eight hours. Eight hours are already a third of a day. And here this poor man is complaining that it takes him thirty times as long to digest the spiritual and intellectual experiences in the devachan as it takes him to live the preceding life on earth.
When you take food into your body, do you think that you digest that food and have it assimilated immediately? No indeed. It takes you a long time to digest that food. It takes you hours to digest your physical food. When the food is passed out of the stomach it is not then assimilated at all. It will take you almost a day, ten, twelve, fifteen, twenty-four hours, perhaps, for the body to take into itself, as building bricks, the molecules and atoms of the food that you have put into your stomach, and you may have occupied a quarter of an hour at your meal; and as I have just said, it takes you all the rest of the day, and probably all the time when you are sleeping that night, and some part of the morning after your sleep, before the entire cycle of digestion and assimilation is completed.
Exactly the same rule prevails in the devachan which, as I have just told you, is the digestion and assimilation of the experiences — experiences spiritual, intellectual, psychical, even physical in a sense — that you had in the last preceding life on earth. Your consciousness has to work over and build into itself recollections and memories of the nobler and spiritual part of the preceding life before that consciousness can understand them and digest them all; and understanding of what you have been through depends on the digestive and assimilative processes of the consciousness.
Consider how long a time it takes in order to train a little child from birth until the end of childhood, and some people are more or less children even when they are grown up. Furthermore — and please remember this point carefully — the nobler a man is, the more spiritual his being is, the longer is his devachan, the heaven-world period that he goes through after death. This is nature's law. This devachan is a period of rest, of intellectual recuperation of digestion and assimilation of the spiritual experiences of all kinds that were passed through in the preceding life.
On the other hand, the more material a man is in character, in other words the fewer the noble and beautiful thoughts that he had in his last life on earth, the shorter is his heaven-world period. The reason for this is that there is very little of a spiritual character to digest and assimilate in the post-mortem period.
Before I leave you this afternoon, I desire to remind you of a few facts that I have spoken of before. There is truth in the universe. What men call truth is a formulation in human language of nature's structure, operations, and processes. This truth in the universe can be had by men. Any sincere and earnest human soul can learn something at least, and often a great deal, of this truth.
This truth as a formulated philosophy is in the guardianship of the titanic spiritual intellects of the human race, many such great beings existing even today and living together as a Brotherhood — and these great ones are they whom theosophists call the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace. You can become allied with them if you live the life, if you like a sublime spiritual adventure, if you are ready to undertake the responsibility of using the faculties and powers that are latent within you, and which will be opened in you, if you are trained to use them.
Nature is immutably just and will hold you exactly accountable for everything that you think and do. And her rewards are equally sure and just. Are you ready to come to the door and knock? If you give the right knock it shall be opened. This is a promise. Every great seer and sage has told his fellow men the same. And consequently every true theosophical teacher, who is an agent of this great brotherhood, has the same promise to make. They tell you that this coming to the door of the Temple of Wisdom must be done with an absolutely clean heart. You cannot enter if you do not so come — and this is not because anybody prevents you, but because your own imperfect being prevents you from taking this step.
How can a chained dog, unless he breaks the chain, go farther than the length of the chain? Therefore I say to you: Break your chains! Be no longer drifting souls! Be true men! Break the bonds of personality that cripple you! Become the god within you! This you can do. And if you need a teacher, then come where you heard the first words that fired your heart and stimulated your imagination!
Vol 2, No 6