Studies in Occult Philosophy by G. de Purucker
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

How to Meet Despair and Depression
Leave Those in Kama-Loka Alone
The Kama Principle in Mediumship
Thoughts are Elemental Beings
Souls and Monads
The Dual Aspect of Manas

Questions and Answers

How to Meet Despair and Depression

Question — This is a rather more practical question. I believe that in LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME, Mr. Judge, speaking about Theosophists in their study having periods of being very down, says, if such a period comes, just to sit still and wait and it will soon pass over and everything will come out all right. One of the other Leaders — I believe it was our present Leader — somewhere says, if such a period comes, to hold on like grim death — I think that was the expression — and peace will return. Now, in a recent issue of THE FORUM, I believe, I also read something about it; and there was more or less an explanation given of such a period. So, as several of the Leaders have spoken about it, it is of course an experience that not only I myself have, but many people must have also had it. Now, I wanted to ask this: Can we, besides waiting, do something else to make it pass over quickly? During such a period you try to work, but you really can't even work; your thoughts seem to freeze before they become clear, and your words seem to freeze before you can utter them. It is really a time of great misery for the one who experiences it, because deep down in his heart there is the desire to go on, yet there is something which prevents it. Now, I would like to ask whether there is any way just to help a person over such a period?

G. de P. — I think I understand. If that question were asked of me in the privacy of my study, I would give exactly the same answer that I will now try to give; and it is very brief. It is this: If you are strong enough, rise and go out in service to others. Forget yourself, your sorrows and your pains, in alleviating the sorrows and pains of others, tightening them — the first duty that comes to hand; because all our pain and sorrow, all our wretchedness and misery, when it comes and as it comes and whatever it may be, arises from a reaction on our own human mentality and feelings, of conditions that we ourselves have brought about but grieve to face.

Brother Judge gave a very good rule: wait until the storm-clouds roll by. I suggested the same with the phrasing that the questioner has also quoted: 'Hold on like grim death'; never despair; that is failing. But I would like to say now, in addition to holding on, seek out others who are suffering more than you are and extend the hand of helpfulness, and your own sorrows will vanish away like wisps of mist in the morning before the sun always. It will never fail, because you forget yourself; we forget ourselves. It is an infallible rule. Most people don't like it, because (this may astonish you) many, many, many people — most human beings, perhaps — like to suffer! There is an extraordinary psychology about this. They love to torment themselves. There are even certain human beings of such distorted psychological mentality, that they torture themselves deliberately and find a pleasure in doing so. There are men and women who deliberately, for the pleasure of the thing, make themselves miserable and other people around them too. Technically, in modern psychology, this is called Sadism, a word taken from a French nobleman who was notorious, famous — or rather infamous — for his cruelties and for the pleasure which he took in inflicting cruelty; and whether this hideous psychology existing in a man's or woman's mind is practised upon his or her self, or upon others, it is the same.

The way to forget one's own pains and sorrows is to help others, help the ones nearest to you; and you will be amazed how many you will find whose faces you can gladden with a smile, whose hearts you can lighten with a kindly word. Try it! Forget your troubles! Forget your suffering! Forget your sorrows! Forget your misery! It does no good to linger upon them. It just increases them. If you are normal you know that life is full of sorrow and pain. We have to accept these things. We are in a very low state of evolution; but how great, how grand, is the man or woman who can rise above these things and be helpful to others! There is where the real chela-spirit, the Master-spirit, comes in.

Laugh and the world laughs with you,
Weep and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.

You know the old verses.

It is our duty to throw off our own sorrows and sufferings and pains and to work to help others. We Theosophists especially find it incumbent upon us to do this; and the great-minded Theosophist is he who can do this; and the more he can do it, the greater he is. There is the remedy. Try it; and you will go to sleep that night with a light heart, at peace with yourself and the world. If you practise it, it becomes continuously easier, ever more easy, every day a little easier; and finally you will attain peace, a place of peace and inner rest, where you will be actually above the reach of pain and sorrow.

Seeds are wonderful things. Keep the seeds of these thoughts in your minds; and even though you forget them at times, they will some day come back, because they will strike roots in your mind. The egoity of these thoughts will be reborn in your mind.

This reminds me of something I would like to add to my answer to the former question. It is along exactly the same line of thoughts: cyclic recurrences of things that happen. These gods and demigods, who at the Pralaya rebecome the One, 'the shining dewdrops rebecoming the shining sea' — do you imagine that those dewdrops are annihilated? Why, that is impossible. They could not have become the many from the One unless there was some reason for these many individuals. Each one is a seed, an entity, an individual, a monad; and when the great Pralaya reaches its end, the shining sea gives up again its dewdrops; and the dewdrops reappear as monads enter upon a new cycle of cosmic manifestation, but on a plane loftier and grander than the one previously ended.

And so it is with thoughts and feelings of suffering and pain: they will come back; but we must be above them; and we can be above them; and we should practise the yoga, the union, of forgetting ourselves in service for mankind. Oh, the peace, the happiness, the indescribable feeling of blessedness! Old thoughts, but very, very, very true ones!

H. A. P. — Mr. Chairman, may I ask a question on the same subject? I would ask: How can we help persons who are in such circumstances as described in the last question? Those who are unhappy, how can we help them?

G. de P. — By setting them first an example of what we can do with ourselves. The force of example is more powerful and more telling than a hundred thousand words. When you see a man bearing a misfortune with manly fortitude, standing with unflinching face to the wintry blasts that beat upon him, when you see him with unbowed head facing destiny, and facing fate, and yet advancing to it, it stirs every spark of heroism in those who watch, and we say: 'Ah! a Man!' It is thus we give courage, we stimulate courage in others. We are like the Manasaputras. We bring the flame of something holy and beautiful into others' lives. Just the same when others are in pain or sorrow, are suffering: set them an example of all that we know would help us if we were like them. Often without words is best. I think it is fatal to preach at a person. It makes people so tired when you preach at them! Sometimes the voiceless example is a thousand times more powerful than anything else. Occasionally a gentle word, a kindly expression, will work wonders. Sometimes human hearts in pain are just longing for a kindly touch, a friendly word — just that, no more than that; and then set the example of cheerfulness; but not overdone. Do anything that occurs to you, according to the person who needs the help, setting the example, showing what your feeling is. I think that is the best way. The circumstances are practically infinite. I would have to talk all the afternoon and give a quasi-infinitude of examples to cover every case. But it is so simple: set the example of what you would do if you were in the person's place, what you would do to go away from the condition.

Leave Those in Kama-Loka Alone

Question — In connexion with what has been said about the sufferings in Kama-loka, can we on Earth do anything to relieve the sufferings of those who are in Kama-loka, especially the relatives whom we have lost and whom we suppose to be suffering there?

G. de P. — That is a question which has been asked by many kindly human hearts in the past, and in what are called the Pagan times asked more insistently and more often than in Christian times — in fact, asked so frequently and an answer so insistently demanded that the Christian Church, in the Roman Communion at least, instituted what it has called the Masses for the souls in Purgatory. If you will kindly understand that you need not worry about those whom you love, when they go through the Kama-loka! Their Kama-loka is painless. They are, in most cases, utterly unconscious of the passage. It is really only the evil-minded men, the grossly minded human beings, who have the unpleasant kama-lokic experience. It is infinitely better not to think about it, infinitely better. But there is one method of direct action we can do; and it is very important in these days: Whatever you do, don't try to enter into communication with them. That is the worst and most cruel thing you could do. Here again it is my duty to speak the truth. Our Spiritistic brothers, through ignorance and often being men and women of kindly hearts and noble aspirations, have rushed in where even angels would fear to tread. They simply don't understand. Nature's methods are always kindly, always just. A prayer of the Romans was a noble one: resquiescat in pace: 'let him rest in peace.'

(Conclusion of the series of Convention Questions and Answers)

The Kama Principle in Mediumship

In your lecture last Sunday, you said that a medium was a person in whom the principles were loosely knitted together. Could you explain that a little? How can our principles be loosely knit and how can we avoid that unfortunate condition?

To say that the principles are loosely knitted together is of course a figure of speech. These are H. P. B.'s words. Perhaps I would phrase it in this way — I am sure I could not improve on H. P. B., but I have been asked this question so many times that it shows H. P. B.'s words have been ill understood — I would change the figure of speech, and say that the principles in the case of the medium are functioning badly, as in a machine. Now I am no mechanician at all, but I have noticed in riding in an automobile sometimes there are jerks and jars, and it is hard to start the thing going. The medium is something like that. The principles of the constitution are not under the control of the higher will. They do not function smoothly and easily, but there are jerks and jolts and jars. This is because the principles being more or less freed from the dominating control of the central spiritual will, are affected by outside influences. They do not function easily and are not closely welded together, compactly, so to speak.

Remember that all the principles of man are but phases of consciousness. We see it around us all the time. We see it in children; we see it in adults; we see people who do not seem to be able always to live in their highest and to do their best. They strive and yearn to do what is best but they do not always succeed. The principles lack sufficient coherence, or rather subserviency to the dominating spirit within. The Kama-principle, for instance, wants to run a bit on its own, wants to be a little independent, you know. How familiar that sounds! Or perhaps the Linga-sarira has a notion it wants to run a bit on its own apart from the other principles, and it does. And when this happens a door, as it were, is opened, there is a crack — how can I express it? — an entrance is made for the incoming into the constitution of outside influences, astral influences in this case, and the man is more or less swayed by foolish or evil thoughts; they come tramping into his brain like a lot of vagrants, and he becomes pro tempore subject to them and follows them — foolish or evil influences, wicked suggestions, vile thoughts, or it may be trivialities.

Whereas the man whose principles are under the control of the spiritual will, takes command and he is a man in every sense of the word. What he wills he does, and the principles function as smoothly and as easily as possible. That is the idea.

Now the mediums I do not mean to suggest are all foolish and evil people. On the contrary. But they are unfortunate people in whom self-control is even less manifest than in ordinary or average people. They are people in whom the spiritual will lacks full or relatively full control of the whole being.

Thoughts Are Elemental Beings

What are thoughts?

All thoughts, in esse, per se, are elemental beings, learning entities. A thought is surrounded by a thought-form, i.e., is imbodied in a thought-form, but the thought itself is an elemental energy. We ourselves at one time, in the far distant aeonic past, were thoughts of other self-conscious entities. "Guard well thy mind, O Chela, against the thoughts which impinge upon it and seek entrance therein" is one of the rules of the Esoteric School. Some of the unfortunate criminals you often hear say, in extenuation, or in attempted extenuation, of a crime: "Judge, I just couldn't help it. I don't know what was the matter with me, but something seized me and I couldn't stop!" Such cases are weak men, lacking moral self-control, lacking the protection, the akasic barrier, which automatically keeps out evil thoughts. Of course evil and good are relative, you understand that. There are evil things in the world, that is, imperfect things; but there are also good things. Here is the gist then of my answer: Every elemental is, at the core of the core of the heart of its being a divinity, a divine spark; and all evolution, all growth, is simply an unwrapping, an unfolding, of latent capacities locked up in the loftier parts of each evolving entity or thing. This applies not only to men but to the super-gods, the gods, the demi-gods, men, beasts, plants, minerals, elementals, what not!

Souls and Monads

May I receive a little more light on two passages from your FUNDAMENTALS OF THE ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY? Page 154 states that our human souls in a future manvantara will become Monads. Well, I was under the impression that our souls were already Monads.

This is a very interesting and intricate point of doctrine. As a matter of fact, a soul is a vehicle which in time will bring out from itself its own swabhavic key-note; and when that is done it becomes a monad, but it is not a monad until it becomes monadic. Do you get the idea? We have the divine monad enshrining itself in its divine soul; we have our spiritual monad enshrining itself in our spiritual soul; we have the human monad enshrining itself in the human soul. We have the animal monad enshrining itself in the animal body, because our own physical bodies are animals when considered alone and apart from the higher part. A soul is a vehicle, but a living entity. And it must become monadic, in other words a god. That is just what we are in process of becoming — slowly, but we are on the way. At the present time we self-consciously live in our human souls. It is our future destiny through evolving, that is bringing out what is wrapped up, enclosed, within us, to become from the present human souls human gods. The human soul will have recoalesced with its human monad, a divine being.

The Dual Aspect of Manas

The Manas or the Thinker is the reincarnating being. Its nature becomes dual as soon as it is attached to a body. My question is: What is the meaning of its being attached to a body and what is the meaning of 'as soon as'?

This is an interesting question because the teaching concerning the Manas as a function or organ of thought or consciousness, is a very deep and mysterious one. It has been said by some Theosophical teachers that Manas is, as it were, the mind. But strictly speaking in technical Theosophy it is erroneous so to speak of it. Manas is an organ of thought, as well as the faculty of thinking the thoughts of the kosmic consciousness which we perceive through this manasic organ. Now it must be obvious from this brief description, that an organ can be undeveloped, partially developed, or fully developed; and in the human race at the present time it is about half-way developed to what we may call relative perfection.

The question which the questioner has asked refers to the time, as I understand it, when Manas became active in the human race. Its nature becomes dual as soon as it is attached to a body. It begins to function at a certain period in the history of the human races. To speak of it as being attached to a body is but an easy, a graphic, manner of speech. Strictly speaking, the manasic faculty is no more attached to a body than the spirit is; but the former works through the body by the intermediary of a subordinate organ which we call the brain-mind. One cannot say that consciousness plays with its delicate fingers directly upon the substance of the brain because consciousness is one of the finest of energies, and the brain-substance is exceedingly coarse by comparison therewith. But between consciousness, the manasic consciousness, and the physical substance of the brain, there are stages or degrees of decreasing ethereal substance, forming, as it were, a small hierarchy or ladder of differing ethereal substances; and it is through this ladder, through these various planes or grades of substance, from the pure Manas-principle to the physical brain, that the manasic ray works. Is the answer thus far responsive?

Questioner — Brain then is body?

Well, brain of course refers to the body, because I cannot conceive that Manas acts through my toe; but the manasic principle permeates the body by means of the brain. Just as the brain is the guiding mental organ of the physical body, so is the manasic part of the constitution the guiding thought-principle of that constitution. The brain is a part of the body. I think your question had some reference to time. You emphasized the word 'time.'

Questioner — The brain in the infant is there before man becomes dual —

Now I think I see your point. All things are dual. Even electricity is dual in its action. The scientists speak of the positive pole and the negative pole. There is a positive side of consciousness and the opposite side of consciousness. Electricity is merely repeating in electrical spheres of action what happens everywhere.

Thought is bi-polar; therefore the manasic action is bi-polar, but it becomes bi-polar only when it reaches this plane of bi-polar action; and this took place in what we call the Third Root-Race of the present Fourth Round of this Globe D. Do you understand? If you do not understand and are not fully convinced by the answer, try again.

Questioner — When does the Manas become dual in entering into the brain?

Just as soon as it begins to manifest as thought. We all know that a little child does not think as a grown man. No little child can write one of the wonderful plays of Shakespeare. That comes with time. But just as soon as the mental faculty begins to function through the child's brain it becomes dual, because duality belongs to this plane. There is the higher and the lower. Just as soon as the child begins to think, it begins to perceive right and wrong, high and low, the secret or hid and the open or obvious. The Manas functions dually just as soon as the child begins to think, and this is because in our time-periods in this Fourth Round in this Globe D Manas functions in a dual action, in a dual way.

Questioner — Then at what point does it cease to be dual after it is disattached from the body?

Ah, that is a different question. We cease to be dual in action, in thought, we cease to be torn by the passions of our weak and vacillating human character, when we have risen above division and duality and reached the divine flame within. That will come fully at the end of the Fifth Round and in perfection at the end of the Seventh Round on this Earth, which of course as you know belongs to one of the Planetary Chains. Is the answer responsive or is it too abstruse?

Questioner — Does the brain after a while become an impediment to one instead of a help?

Not only after a time, but even at the present time. Do you know, there is a way of living in thought rather than in thoughts. It is thoughts with which the brain deals. But there is an organ of the brain which we cannot call the brain even though it is a part of it, but it is a center through which pours thought rather than the mere thoughts which harass and distract us all. Now when we can rise out of the region of these limiting little personal distracting and harassing thoughts into the regions of pure thought, live in the manasic principle voluntarily, that is with a will, then we shall have risen above mere thoughts, and the brain becomes non-operative then, and yet we think.

Just pause a moment. We must all of us have experienced times when, under the governance of some great idea or ideal, or under the holy guidance of an impersonal love, we realize we live in a region or in a sphere which is entirely outside the brain; and as soon as we descend into the brain-atmosphere again, or allow the brain to control our feelings or emotions, it is like a fall. This illustrates the dual action of the manasic faculty, the lower and the higher Manas.