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

Theosophic Conception of Destiny
Marie Corelli
On Foretelling the Future
Mystery of the Growing Plant
Individuality and Personality
Immortality and Good and Evil
Centers of Ancient Mystery-Teachings
A Line of Zoroasters
Mystery-Schools of Today

Questions and Answers

Theosophic Conception of Density

What is Dr. de Purucker's conception of density? Is it dependent on and measurable by the frequency of the vibrations of the intra-atomic constituents or of the atoms themselves or a combination of both?

Is density as Dr. de Purucker uses the word dependent in any sense on the number of electrons or other constituents within the atom?

The querent seems to suppose, or rather perhaps to suggest, that I have used or do use the word 'density' with a meaning somewhat different from that commonly employed. I doubt if this is the fact. As far as I can recollect, I always use the word 'density' in the manner in which it is commonly used by most educated people, realizing that the word has a general significance as well as many particular applications to different cases; and I find that this somewhat vague manner of employing the term 'dense' or 'density' is that followed by almost everybody. Density is the closeness of constituent parts, generally speaking, whether we be referring to electrons or atoms or molecular groups.

Density has been defined as "the mass or amount of matter per unit of bulk." So I understand the term; and, generally speaking, I suppose that we can measure density by the weight of a unit of bulk or by the specific gravity. In other words, density, therefore, is the amount of matter in or the mass of a material unit. Other somewhat looser definitions of density are compactness, or the state or quality of being close in constitution.

I think some confusion has arisen in the minds of those who have followed my various statements with regard to density, etc., because of the common wide prevalence of the idea in the western world for ages that the greater the activity of the units in a system, the more spiritual it is; whereas the exact contrary is in fact the case; and this is just what I have tried on many occasions to show, realizing full well that I was in conflict with common opinion.

Yet it ought to be evident that when particles are vibrating with intense and almost unimaginable frequency or rapidity, and doing so as a unit-entity, the forces involved would be harder to change and harder to move than when the vibrations are weak, diffuse, and more or less dissipate; and it is precisely this compactness of vibrations and the closeness of their interaction which produce mass or amount of matter.

Thus if we compare various densities of chemical elements, we shall find, as instances, that platinum can be reckoned as 21.4, gold as 19.3, mercury as 13.6, lead as 11.3, copper as 8.9, iron as 7.8, the earth generally as 5.6, the diamond as 3.5, ordinary rock about 2.7, magnesium 1.7, the human body generally as 1.1, lithium as 0.6, air as 0.0013 — and here we have what we can call molecular densities if we wish; but when we come to the chemical attraction in these various substances, whether chemical elements or chemical compounds, we enter into another sphere of attributes and qualities having their own densities; yet the densities in either group of cases seem to be dependent in each instance upon the number and activities of the constituent parts of the units.

Really, I think that the querent has somewhat misunderstood my words as implying that I use the term 'dense' or 'density' somewhat arbitrarily and in a different sense from that ordinarily employed; and at the moment of this writing, I am not conscious of ever having done so.

Marie Corelli

Was Marie Corelli a real mystic?

I think she was. Some of her books are extremely interesting, and show an intuitive reception of gleams of light from the fountain of Truth, which, in her case, was from within her own Higher Self, touching, as it were, her literary brain. Yet, on the other hand, she was heavily laden by some of the things of this world, as for instance I understand she was of a very jealous temperament, jealous of other literary people, and apt to be critical even of her own friends. But, after all, that belongs to the artistic temperament almost always, and can be overlooked.

I think Marie Corelli did a good work as far as it went in raising many people to a realization of mysticism and magic who never would have been awakened, even in the slight degree in which she touched them, except through the medium of some pen like hers which was graphic, thought-arresting, and inflamed the imagination of this type of mind; and there are millions of them. She was an unconscious kind of Theosophist in half of herself.

On Foretelling the Future

J. B. Priestley says the Past, Present and Future are co-existent different vibrations existing at the same time in the same place, but our minds are capable of vibrating to only the Present because the Past has had some material effect on our mind and changed it, that is why we remember it. In other words, it has become part of us. The Future has not become part of us and so we cannot understand it except by noticing what the Past did to the Present, the Present did to the Future. He also says there is no Present really, but that it is just our perception of the unevolved in this plane (although it is evolved on another), the unevolved becoming the evolved.

Some of this seems curious to me. I can understand the clairvoyant going back into the past and seeing it as H. P. B. did, because it has happened and left a record. But how can the clairvoyant go into the future and see that? If one has a super mind one can foretell the future as long as it is the extension of the Present. I mean that one can deduce what will happen, if all the facts are known, just as a builder can foretell the future of a house he is building. But to see the future by this method would need a mind larger than all the libraries in the world and an exact machine to give all knowledge its true ratio of importance, and a knowledge of how much and how fast Karma was going to be unrolled. Algebraical equations with 4 roots are hard enough, but an equation with an infinite number of roots, combined in an infinite number of ways is much too hard for even the most advanced combination of Manas and Buddhi. So I still don't know how one can foresee the future.

The matter of 'seeing the future,' etc., seems awfully difficult to answer, and indeed it is in a way, and is downright difficult to one who has not had any training in Theosophy. But here is the answer:

In occult philosophy, the past, the present, and the future, blend together in eternity, or what is called the ETERNAL Now, for Eternity has neither past, present, nor future, it being an ETERNAL Now. Eternity, furthermore, is the fundamental — or as we might say, eternity and infinity are the two sides of the same ultimate Reality, the fundamental, the ALL.

What the spiritual Seer does is to rise from this plane on which past, present, and future seem so positive and real to us, into as it were the ranges of his own spiritual being which bathe so to speak in the Eternal Now; and in this way the past is unrolled before his eyes, and the present is seen to be but a continuation of it into what we call the future, and both are glimpsed as an eternal drama whose keynote is Now. Thus likewise should karman be viewed, the karmic past, the karmic present, the karmic future; and in this way we avoid falling into the error of fatalism on the one hand, and on the other hand into the equally great error of karmic indeterminance.

As an illustration, from another angle: an atom in my body contains electrons, any atom does. On these electrons let us say there are inhabitants, living their own tiny lives, but at an enormous rate of speed compared with our time. Thus a whole cosmic solar system so to speak, of atomic size, can come into being, live its innumerable aeons, and vanish many thousand times in one of our human seconds. In other words, one of our human seconds compared with electronic time, is almost 'eternally' long.

Now, imagine an inhabitant on such an electron, living at its tremendous rate of speed which to us humans would seem incomparably quicker than a lightning flash. Yet to the electronic inhabitant, long years would be going by. To him there would be a future which we, with our slower time, would not appreciate except as a now. Thus the electronic inhabitant, because of his intense tempo, immense speed, would be undergoing his past, present, and future; whereas we, with our far more majestic time, with its slow rhythmic pulses, would scarcely realize it except by intellectual thought. To us it would be just simply now.

In exactly the same way, the gods, whose time-tempo is incomparably stately and to us humans what we would call slow, look upon our past, present, and future, which to us seem so real, as scarcely differentiated, because our time by comparison with theirs is so rapid. We have next week, next year, a billion years from now, but these are our tiny little human years. To one of the higher gods, the entire manvantara of our solar system would be scarcely a billionth part of that one god's seconds in that god's time. So in our solar system we would be looking forward into millions of years ahead, and looking back into millions of years of the past; whereas the god's consciousness would scarcely be aware of the entire life-period of the solar system as other than a tiny fraction of an instant.

Do you see now how it is possible to read the future? The Seer, the spiritual Seer, not the pretentious and half-baked clairvoyant, but the spiritual Seer, simply raises his consciousness into another tempo, into another higher plane, in which past, present, and future are visible to its vision as a Now. This of course requires initiatory training. But every adept is trained, depending upon his grade in the hierarchy, trained in some degree at least.

Now another thing: never forget that free will exists for every monad great or small in infinity. So that the tiny electronic inhabitant, just like the human on our big globe: each one has his own portion, so to speak, of free will, that is if we can divide free will up into portions that way! Really, free will is the amount of spiritual vitality and intellect that the evolving individual has been able to grasp through inner growth. Thus free will can be greatly increased, but it exists even in the tiniest atom, although of course on the scale of those spheres. Therefore, no matter what the time-ratio is, no matter whether one can foresee the future in large or in small, the entity having his portion of free will can always change his future course by that free will, which does not mean acting contrary to the future, because this would be impossible, but modifying his own conduct with regard to the future, so that he can do, or refrain from doing, in proportion as his free will is strong or weak.

Mystery of the Growing Plant

What is there in the consciousness of a plant that gives it the impulse to grow towards the light and succeed, no matter what obstacles impede its progress?

The consciousness of a plant, and indeed that of a beast, or even of a man — and we may add, the almost latent consciousness of the mineral kingdom — is the spiritual, combining with the astral, fluid in the constitution of a plant, let us say, which possesses the undying instinct or hunger to move forwards and upwards; and it is this instinct for growth, or seeking the Light as we say, which is the pushing cause or the great urge behind all evolution to better and higher things.

Thus the plant-seed, if it happens to be caught in some awkward place where the light is difficult to obtain, will as it grows, because of this monadic fluid urging it to grow and reach upwards towards what it wants, twist and turn around a stone or up through pavement, until it pushes its first tiny green blade to the light. It is really a most beautiful thing to think of and to watch, and has been a puzzle for science for two hundred years or more.

Theosophy supplies the answer, as I have tried to state it. I have seen a stone pavement broken or burst by some tender little plant, which by its monadic instinct knew the light was on the other side of the stone or the asphalt above it; and instead of growing and growing and growing under the asphalt or stone until it came to the edge, and then poking its way into the light, it just pushes with its tender little blade-points between the particles of the pavement, and breaks them apart little by little, until finally, like the chick leaving the egg, pecking through the shell, it pokes its nose into the light of the world above. It is the monadic fluid, or vital-astral fluid — the same thing in its lower form — which is instinct with intuitive consciousness, which drives or impels the plant to do exactly the right thing to reach the light.

Individuality and Personality

Does Theosophy teach that we always retain our individuality in all states of consciousness?

Yes it does indeed, provided that we use 'individuality' in the technical Theosophical sense. Remember that the individuality is a very different thing from the personality. The individuality is the deathless part of us, the individuum, that which cannot be divided. Otherwise stated, it is the Monadic Essence, it is the inner God, the spark of divinity within us, that spark of the Cosmic Fire of consciousness-life-substance which is our inmost essence. This in its root is Atman, the indivisible self, deathless, stainless, and in its own essence beginningless and endless; for it is of the very substance-consciousness of the Universe.

The personality is a vastly different thing; it is a reflexion merely of the individuality. The personality is like the moonshine, reflected light from the sun; and this personality is mortal always — and how fortunate it is that it is so! Fancy what it would be like, living in eternity in our present personalities: imperfect, undeveloped, feeble, inept, incapable of any great advancement, a poor understander, a very poor follower of noble things, incapable of receiving and retaining for any length of time the best that is in us.

Yet the personality is a wonderful instrument or vehicle through which the individuality works. I think we may say generally that the individuality is the spirit, and the personality is the mortal brain-mind of us; changing with each birth.

Thus it is clear why the individuality is the same, and that "we retain" it in all states of consciousness, for these various states of consciousness, in all their manifold and often bewildering phases and shifting qualities and attributes, when traced to their ultimate or original source, are light-stuff from the Atman. Consciousness contains many mysteries; and the real part of us is conscious even in those phases of consciousness wherein the personality is unconscious — a curious play upon words, yet containing a profound truth, and pointing to the same thought contained in the Sanskrit aphorism: Atmanam atmana pashya, "Know the self by the Self."

Immortality and Good and Evil

I have been reading the record of H. P. B.'s Inner Group in this month's FORUM (January, 1941), and in an "Editor's Note" the statement is made that only by becoming actively good or evil can one achieve immortality. The ordinary folk, neither very good or evil, cease to be. Now, if I read this aright, it seems very terrible, and although a return to this troublous world does not seem enviable just now, one feels that surely those not wholly given up to evil have a better right to continue than the utterly evil.

Also it does not seem consistent with the teaching that ALL must eventually evolve to the highest.

Perhaps I am not clear in my reasoning, for I am still very much a beginner in Theosophical thought. I read and re-read the articles in the FORUM, and often find that after many studies light dawns. But I do find this latest problem beyond me.

I am not at all astonished that the questioner was puzzled at the language used in the article in Leaves of Theosophical History as quoting from H. P. B.'s Inner Group, and the reason is that the teaching as here imbodied is given patterned after the peculiar language of the French Qabbalist Eliphas Levi, who is notorious for extreme statements on the one hand (for that was his psychology), and on the other hand for the singularity of his paradoxes. Yet because he was intuitive in some respects, H. P. B. often quoted him either verbatim or in substance.

Take careful note of the following facts: The Monads whether of gods or of men or of beasts or of plants or of stones or of elementals, are immortal for they are spiritual consciousness-centers. But the references in the passage that bothered the questioner, do not point to the monads, but to the various souls of the different hierarchies of lives or different kingdoms of lives, which either must rise up into immortality and 'god' by joining with the spirit within them, or in other words with the spiritual side of the monad; or attain immortality in what is called "evil," by descending and becoming unified with what we Theosophists call absolute matter. In this way, philosophically speaking, there is immortality; and this is the important word here, self-conscious immortality either with the divine or with the absolutely material: absolute Spirit on the one hand, or absolute Matter on the other hand — so far as our own universe is concerned, that is.

We human beings, although immortal in our monads, cannot be called immortal in our souls, because our consciousness is interrupted by death. And here is the point to remember: A person is not immortal if there ensue long lapses of his consciousness, although he is immortal in the other sense of never-ending inner or monadic consciousness. Thus we human beings are immortal in our monads, conditionally immortal in our souls, and mortal in our bodies, because these last change and our stream of consciousness is interrupted by death. The soul, if worthy of it, has its dreamy blissful state in the devachan, and then is reimbodied; but this is obviously not immortality of the self-conscious soul, because this consciousness changes. Immortality means an unchanging consciousness without modifications or variations, an uninterrupted continuance of a stream of thought, so to speak.

Now, if this stream of thought or of consciousness is interrupted by death, we cannot call it immortal. We must call it mortal, even though that stream of thought, because based in the monad, takes up its continuance when reimbodiment occurs. The difficulty lies in the odd way of using the word 'immortal' in the sense employed by Eliphas Levi and H. P. B. in this extreme thought quoted.

Thus the gods are immortal from the beginning of a manvantara to its ending, comprising billions of years; but we human beings, and monads less evolved than the gods, have many interruptions from the beginning of a manvantara to its end; and we cannot thus be called immortal, because of these interruptions. Nevertheless we are immortal in our spiritual monads; and when we as humans or souls shall have become allied with our spiritual monads, and become Buddhas or Bodhisattvas or Christs, then we shall enter immortality in this peculiar sense of speaking.

The whole difficulty, therefore, is in understanding the peculiar technical sense in which the word 'Immortal' is used in this extract. Hence Theosophists often speak of the soul as being mortal, conditionally so, or as being immortal, conditionally so, as H. P. B. does in The Key to Theosophy. The soul becomes immortal when it unites with the Buddha or Bodhisattva or Christ within itself, its "Father in Heaven," or in other words when the soul unites with the Monad. Then it enjoys the immortality of the monad, uninterrupted consciousness.

Centers of Ancient Mystery-Teachings

Could you name for us the centers where Mystery-Schools existed in ancient times?

The mistake of all scholars and mystics is to put too much emphasis upon places as Mystery-Schools. And this is why comparatively little is said about localities and places of Mystery-Schools in occult literature — ours, for instance.

From time immemorial there have been Schools of the Mysteries, some more or less publicly known like those of Eleusis and Samothrace in Greece, others thought to exist, whispered about, but not known to the multitude. These Schools of the Mysteries were formed always of two aspects, the exoteric and the esoteric. Those schools which emphasized more strongly the exoteric aspect — which was a noble work in its way because it attracted the attention of the populace and raised their eyes to higher things — were such places as the Greek Eleusis and Samothrace, Abydos and Thebes in Egypt, Ephesus in Asia Minor.

Eleusis and Samothrace were almost wholly devoted to the Mysteries, and hence they are so often spoken of, and have become wrongly looked upon as the type of Mystery-Schools elsewhere, in the world. This is not so. Most of these Mystery-Schools were attached as secret bodies to the main temples of different countries. In other words, every great temple had its private or secret Mystery-School which was unknown to the multitude or partially known. And this applies to all ancient countries. This does not mean that every ancient temple had a Mystery-School, for that is not true. It was only the main centers of religious teaching that were the places where the secret Mystery-Schools existed — not always, but usually so. Now this it seems to me is quite clear, and I hope you will understand it.

Sometimes the Mystery-Schools, as above said, were attached to the greatest of the temples; but the greater Schools of the Mysteries were those which paid no attention to buildings of any kind, mainly for the reason that buildings would at once attract attention and draw public notice, which is the very thing that these more secret, more esoteric Schools tried to avoid. Thus sometimes, when the temples were mere seats of exoteric ritual, the Mystery-Schools were held apart in secret, conducting their gatherings, meetings, initiations, initiatory rites, usually in caves carefully prepared and hid from common knowledge, occasionally even under the open sky as the Druids did among the oaks in their semi-primeval forests in Britain and in Brittany; and even in a few cases having no permanent or set location; but the Initiates receiving word where to meet from time to time, and to carry on their initiatory functions.

The location of these places was most carefully hid from everyone's knowledge, except that of the Initiates. Thus as regards Druidism and Mithraism and Judaism, as instances, the secret Mystery-Schools were often carried on in these underground or subterranean chambers; or even as in the case of the former two, in the midst of a forest — such, for instance, as Stonehenge in England, Carnac in Brittany, various places for Mithraism in the Roman Empire, and various places in Judaea, etc.

In India, certain ones of the great cave-temples like Karli, and one or two mentioned by H. P. B., were Mystery-Centers. There were equivalent ones in Ceylon and the south of India.

Memphis, Abydos, Thebes, Abu-Simbel, and Karnak in Egypt, were Mystery-Centers. Sippar in Assyria, Ecbatana in Medea, Babylon and Ur and Lagash were also others. But it would be a mistake to say that all the different countries which had places of exoteric worship were all likewise centers of esoteric initiations, for they were not.

A Line of Zoroasters

There are several references to a series of Zoroasters, some of the statements giving thirteen as the correct number, others twelve or fourteen. Could you tell us how many Zoroasters there really were?

The number of Zoroasters who have appeared from time to time is confusing, so long as we consider, and wrongly consider, these Zoroasters to be reimbodiments of one single ego, instead of different egos imbodying what we may interpret from the occult records as the 'Zoroaster-spirit.' The truth of the matter is that in the scheme and terminology of Zoroastrianism, every Root-Race and sub-race, and minor race of the latter, has its own Zoroaster or Zoroasters. The term Zoroaster means in Zoroastrianism, very much what the term Buddha does in Buddhism, or Avatara does in Brahmanism. Thus there were great Zoroasters, and less Zoroasters — the qualificatory adjective depending upon the work done by each Zoroaster, and the sphere of things. Hence we can speak of the Zoroasters as being thirteen in number from one standpoint, or fourteen from another; or like the Manus in Brahmanism, or like the Buddhas in Buddhism, we can multiply each of these by seven again, or even fourteen if we take in every little branchlet race with its guiding Zoroaster-spirit.

Mystery-Schools of Today

Is it true that there are Mystery-Schools similar to those of the Ancients functioning today? — and if so, where are they, and why are they not better known?

People like concrete facts, but there is just a danger in giving concrete facts. Dynamite is a concrete fact, whereas we can talk about explosions with safety.

If I were to tell openly where some of the Mystery-Schools are situated, these places would be pestered and overrun, not so much now, because it might take years for people to grow to believe, but in future time. For example, the Mystery-Centers today in Tibet are largely held in secret places in the mountains, but there is a Mystery-School right in Shigatse, and I don't care to specify the place, for obvious reasons!

Just as in the past, the same general system of both exoteric and esoteric aspects of teaching the Occultism of the ages, in other words, the same system of Mystery-Schools, exists even today. Only today, the exoteric form has been largely replaced by the different activities of the Theosophical Movement which itself is exoteric as a Movement.

The esoteric groups of Mystery-Schools are perhaps more numerous today than they have been for thousands of years, but they are more secretly conducted and more carefully hid.

You ask where these secret centers exist. My answer is, generally speaking, one in every great country; although as a matter of fact, 'great' refers not to frontiers or the rolling leagues of land, but to influence. Thus a little country like the Netherlands might be the center of a secret Mystery-School whose ramifications and influence would extend over half of Europe — 'great' in the sense of being at peace and quiet, etc. Yet as a matter of fact, every single National unit of the globe, has its own secret spiritual protectors, who as a body form a true esoteric center. We can call these the Occult Guardians of a people. Thus Britain has hers, Germany has hers, Russia has hers, likewise so with Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, China, India, Japan, the United States, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, etc., etc., etc.

There is still a third aspect of this question which is much more complicated than the man in the street might think. There are actually groups whose sole business is forming occult centers of Initiation, preparation of students for esoteric work in the world, and for the safeguarding of priceless treasures, the heirlooms of the human race, treasures both intellectual and material. The chief of such groups lives in what Theosophists call Sambhala. It is the center of the Occult Brotherhood of Tibet, called of Tibet merely because that happens to be at the present time the land chosen by them as the most easily guarded. There is another branch brotherhood, affiliated with the Chief Brotherhood of Tibet in Syria, still another one in Egypt, still another one in South America. There is one in Mexico and there is one in the United States. There is likewise one in Europe.

All these smaller groups are affiliates or subordinate to the mother-group of the Occult Hierarchy in Sambhala. Please understand that Sambhala is just the old Sanskrit name given to this occult center from almost immemorial time. The word Sambhala itself has no great occult significance, I mean in the numerological sense or anything like that. It might just as readily have been called the Brahma Vidya Asrama, or by some similar name, but the ancients called it Sambhala, and we merely perpetuate the same old name.

Do not confuse these occult centers just last spoken of with the National Guardians previously mentioned. These National Guardians never interfere in politics. One might almost say that their attempt is to undo the evil wrought by national and international political combines and activities. The National Guardians supervise the spiritual and intellectual welfare of the people over whom they watch, as far as karman and the natural intuitive faculties of the various peoples allow it to be done, but they never interfere in politics. They never make wars or revolutions or anything of that kind. Their work is purely spiritual, moral, intellectual, and wholly benevolent, and indeed universal, and is a silent guide to the intuitive minds of the different races. All these National Guardians are as it were envoys or deputies of one or other of the occult centers mentioned above.