Activities of Life; Memory and Soul-Growth
Our study thus far of the seven Worlds or states of matter has shown us that each serves a definite purpose in the economy of nature, and that God, the Great Spirit, in Whom we actually and in fact "live and move and have our being," is the Power that permeates and sustains the whole Universe with Its Life; but while that Life flows into and is immanent in every atom of the six lower Worlds and all contained therein, in the Seventh--the highest--the Triune God alone is.
The next highest or sixth realm is the World of Virgin Spirits. Here those sparks from the divine "Flame" have their being before they commence their long pilgrimage through the five denser Worlds for the purpose of developing latent potentialities into dynamic powers. As the seed unfolds its hidden possibilities by being buried in the soil, so these virgin spirits will, in time, when they have passed through matter (the school of experience), also become divine "Flames," capable of bringing forth universes from themselves.
The five Worlds constitute the field of man's evolution, the three lower or denser being the scene of the present phase of his development. We will now consider his as related to these five Worlds by means of his appropriate vehicles, remembering the two grand divisions into which two of these Worlds are divided, and than man has a vehicle for each of these divisions.
In the waking state these vehicles are all together. They inter-penetrate one another as the blood, the lymph, and other juices of the body inter-penetrate. Thus is the Ego enabled to act in the Physical World.
We ourselves, as Egos, function directly in the subtle substance of the Region of Abstract Thought, which we have specialized within the periphery of our individual aura. Thence we view the impressions made by the outer world upon the vital body through the senses, together with the feelings and emotions generated by them in the desire body, and mirrored in the mind.
From these mental images we form our conclusions, in the substance of the Region of Abstract Thought, concerning the subjects with which they deal. Those conclusions are ideas. By the power of will we project an idea through the mind, where it takes concrete shape as a thought-form by drawing mind-stuff around itself from the Region of Concrete Thought.
The mind is like the projecting lens of a stereopticon. It projects the image in one of three directions, according to the will of the thinker, which ensouls the thought-form.
If Attraction, the centripetal force, is aroused, it seizes the thought, whirls it into the desire body, endows the image with added life and clothes it with desire-stuff. Then the thought is able to act on the etheric brain, and propel the vital force through the appropriate brain centers and nerves to the voluntary muscles which perform the necessary action. Thus the force in the thought is expended and the image remains in the ether of the vital body as memory of the act and the feeling that caused it.
When the work designed for such a projected thought-form has been accomplished, or its energy expended in vain attempts to achieved its object, it gravitates back to its creator, bearing with it the indelible record of the journey. It success or failure is imprinted on the negative atoms of the reflecting ether of its creator's vital body, where it forms that part of the record of the thinker's life and action which is sometimes called the sub-conscious mind.
This record is much more important than the memory to which we have conscious access, for the latter is made up from imperfect and illusive sense-perceptions and is the voluntary memory or conscious mind.
The involuntary memory or sub-conscious mind comes into being in a different way, altogether beyond our control at present. As the ether carries to the sensitive film in the camera an accurate impression of the surrounding landscape, taking in the minutest detail regardless of whether the photographer has observed it or not, so the ether contained in the air we inspire carries with it an accurate and detailed picture of all our surroundings. Not only of material things, but also the conditions existing each moment within our aura. The slightest thought, feeling or emotion is transmitted to the lungs, where it is injected into the blood. The blood is one of the highest products of the vital body as it is the carrier of nourishment to every part of the body, and the direct vehicle of the Ego. The pictures it contains are impressed upon the negative atoms of the vital body, to serve as arbiters of the man's destiny in the post mortem state.
The memory (or so-called mind), both conscious and sub-conscious, relates wholly to the experiences of this life. It consists of impressions of events on the vital body. These may be changed or even eradicated, as noted in the explanation concerning the forgiveness of sins which is given a few pages further on, which change or eradication depends upon the elimination of these impressions from the ether of the vital body.
There is also a superconscious memory. That is the storehouse of all faculties acquired and knowledge gained in previous lives, though perhaps latent in the present life. This record is indelibly engraven on the life spirit. It manifests ordinarily, though not to the full extent, as conscience and character which ensoul all thought-forms, sometimes as counsellor, sometimes compelling action with resistless force, even contrary to reason and desire.
In many women, in whom the vital body is positive, and in advanced people of either sex where the vital body has been sensitized by a pure and holy life, by prayer and concentration, this superconscious memory inherent in the life spirit is occasionally, to some extent, above the necessity of clothing itself in mind stuff and desire matter in order to compel action. It does not always need to incur the danger of being subjected to and perhaps overruled by a process of reasoning. Sometimes, in the form of intuition or teaching from within, it impresses itself directly upon the reflecting ether of the vital body. The more readily we learn to recognize it and follow its dictates, the oftener it will speak, to our eternal welfare.
By their activities during waking hours the desire body and the mind are constantly destroying the dense vehicle. Every thought and movement breaks down tissue. On the other hand, the vital body faithfully endeavors to restore harmony and build up what the other vehicles are tearing down. It is not able, however, to entirely withstand the powerful onslaughts of the impulses and thoughts. It gradually loses ground and at last there comes a time when it collapses. Its "points" shrivel-up, so to say. The vital fluid ceases to flow along the nerves is sufficient quantity; the body becomes drowsy, the Thinker is hampered by its drowsiness and forced to withdraw, taking the desire body with him. This withdrawal of the higher vehicle leaves the dense body interpenetrated by the vital body in the senseless state we call sleep.
Sleep, however, is not by any means an inactive state, as people generally suppose. If it were, the body would be no different on awakening in the morning from its condition when it went to sleep at night; its fatigue would be just as great. On the contrary, sleep is a period of intense activity and the more intense it is the greater its value, for it eliminates the poisons resulting from tissue destroyed by the mental and physical activities of the day. The tissues are re-built and the rhythm of the body restored. The more thoroughly this work is done the greater the benefit accruing from sleep.
The Desire World is an ocean of wisdom and harmony. Into this the Ego takes the mind and the desire body when the lower vehicles have been left to sleep. There the first care of the Ego is the restoration of the rhythm and harmony of the mind and the desire body. This restoration is accomplished gradually as the harmonious vibrations of the Desire World flow through them. There is an essence in the Desire World corresponding to the vital fluid which permeates the dense body by means of the vital body. The higher vehicles, as it were, steep themselves in this elixir of life. When strengthened, they commence work on the vital body, which was left with the sleeping dense body. Then the vital body begins to specialize the solar energy anew, rebuilding the dense body, using particularly the chemical ether as its medium in the process of restoration.
It is this activity of the different vehicles during sleep which forms the basis for the activity of the following day. Without that there would be no awakening, for the Ego was forced to abandon his vehicles because their weariness rendered them useless. If the work of removing that fatigue were not done, the bodies would remain asleep, as sometimes happens in natural trance. It is just because of this harmonizing, recuperative activity that sleep is better than doctor or medicine in preserving health. Mere rest is nothing is comparison with sleep. It is only while the higher vehicles are in the Desire World that there is a total suspension of waste and an influx of restoring force. It is true that during rest the vital body is not hampered in its work by tissue being broken down by active motion and tense muscles, but still it must contend with the wasting energy of thought and it does not then receive the outside recuperative force from the desire body as during sleep.
It happens, however, that at times the desire body does not fully withdraw, so that part of it remains connected with the vital body, the vehicle for sense perception and memory. The result is that restoration is only partly accomplished and that the senses and actions of the Desire World are brought into the physical consciousness as dreams. Of course most dreams are confused as the axis of perception is askew, because of the improper relation of one body to another. The memory is also confused by this incongruous relation of the vehicles and as a result of the loss of the restoring force, dream-filled sleep is restless and the body feels tired on awakening.
During the life the threefold spirit, the Ego, works on and in the threefold body, to which it is connected by the link of mind. This work brings the threefold soul into being. The soul is the spiritualized product of the body.
As proper food feeds the body in a material sense, so the activity of the spirit in the dense body, which results in right action, promotes the growth of the Conscious Soul. As the forces from the sun play in the vital body and nourish it, that it may act on the dense body, so the memory of actions done in the dense body--the desires, feelings and emotions of the desire body and the thoughts and ideas in the mind--cause the growth of the Intellectual Soul. In like manner the highest desires and emotions of the desire body form the Emotional Soul.
This threefold soul in turn enhances the consciousness of the threefold spirit.
The Emotional Soul, which is the extract of the desire body, adds to the efficiency of the Human Spirit, which is the spiritual counterpart of the desire body.
The Intellectual Soul gives added power to the Life Spirit, because the Intellectual Soul is extracted from the vital body, which is the material counterpart of the Life Spirit.
The Conscious Soul increases the consciousness of the Divine Spirit because it (the Conscious Soul) is the extract of the dense body, which latter is the counterpart of the Divine Spirit.
Death and Purgatory
So man builds and sows until the moment of death arrives. Then the seed-time and the periods of growth and ripening are past. The harvest time has come, when the skeleton spectre of Death arrives with his scythe and hour-glass. That is a good symbol. The skeleton symbolizes the relatively permanent part of the body. The scythe represents the fact that this permanent part, which is about to be harvested by the spirit, is the fruitage of the life now drawing to a close. The hour-glass in his hand indicates that the hour does not strike until the full course has been run in harmony with unvarying laws. When that moment arrives a separation of the vehicles takes place. As his life in the Physical World is ended for the time being, it is not necessary for man to retain his dense body. The vital body, which as we have explained, also belongs to the Physical World, is withdrawn by way of the head, leaving the dense body inanimate.
The higher vehicles--vital body, desire body and mind--are seen to leave the dense body with a spiral movement, taking with them the soul of one dense atom. Not the atom itself, but the forces that played through it. The results of the experiences passed through in the dense body during the life just ended have been impressed upon this particular atom. While all the other atoms of the dense body have been renewed from time to time, this permanent atom has remained. It has remained stable, not only through one life, but it has been a part of every dense body ever used by a particular Ego. It is withdrawn at death only to reawaken at the dawn of another physical life, to serve again as the nucleus around which is built the new dense body to be used by the same Ego. It is therefore called the "Seed-Atom." During life the seed-atom is situated in the left ventricle of the heart, near the apex. At death it rises to the brain by way of the pneumogastric nerve, leaving the dense body, together with the higher vehicles, by way of the sutures between the parietal and occipital bones.
When the higher vehicles have left the dense body they are still connected with it by a slender, glistening, silvery cord shaped much like two figure sixes reversed, one upright and one horizontally placed, the two connected at the extremities of the hooks. (See diagram 5 1/2.)
One end is fastened to the heart by means of the seed-atom, and it is the rupture of the seed-atom which causes the heart to stop. The cord itself is not snapped until the panorama of the past life, contained in the vital body, has been reviewed.
Care should be taken, however, not to cremate or embalm the body until at least three days after death, for while the vital body is with the higher vehicles, and they are still connected with the dense body by means of the silver cord, any post mortem examination or other injury to the dense body will be felt, in a measure, by the man.
Cremation should be particularly avoided in the first three days after death, because it tends to disintegrate the vital body, which should be kept intact until the panorama of the past life has been etched into the desire body.
The silver cord snaps at the point where the sixes unite, half remaining with the dense body and the other half with the higher vehicles. From the time the cord snaps the dense body is quite dead.
In the beginning of 1906 Dr. McDougall made a series of experiments in the Massachusetts General Hospital, to determine, if possible, whether anything not ordinarily visible left the body at death. For this purpose he constructed a pair of scales capable of registering differences of one-tenth of an ounce.
The dying person and his bed were placed on one of the platforms of the scale, which was then balanced by weights placed on the opposite platform. In every instance it was noted that at the precise moment when the dying person drew the last breath, the platform containing the weights dropped with startling suddenness, lifting the bed and the body, thus showing that something invisible, but having weight, had left the body. Thereupon the newspapers all over the country announced in glaring headlines that Dr. McDougall had "weighed the soul."
Occultism hails with joy the discoveries of modern science, as they invariably corroborate what occult science has long taught. The experiments of Dr. McDougall showed conclusively that something invisible to ordinary sight left the body at death, as trained clairvoyants had seen, and as had been stated in lectures and literature for many years previous to Dr. McDougall's discovery.
But this invisible "something" is not the soul. There is a great difference. The reporters jump at conclusions when they state that the scientists have "weighed the soul." The soul belongs to higher realms and can never be weighed on physical scales, even though they registered variations of one-millionth part of a grain instead of one-tenth of an ounce.
It was the vital body which the scientists weighed. It is formed of the four ethers and they belong to the Physical World.
As we have seen, a certain amount of this ether is "superimposed" upon the ether which envelops the particles of the human body and is confined there during physical life, adding in a slight degree to the weight of the dense body of plant, animal and man. In death it escapes; hence the diminution in weight noticed by Dr. McDougall when the persons with whom he experimented expired.
Dr. McDougall also tried his scales in weighing dying animals. No diminution was found here, though one of the animals was a St. Bernard dog. That was taken to indicate that animals have no souls. A little later, however, Professor La V. Twining, head of the Science Department of the Los Angeles Polytechnic School, experimented with mice and kittens, which he enclosed in hermetically sealed glass flasks. His scales were the most sensitive procurable and were enclosed in a glass case from which all moisture had been removed. It was found that all the animals observed lost weight at death. A good sized mouse, weighing 12.886 grams, suddenly lost 3.1 milligrams at death.
A kitten used in another experiment lost one hundred milligrams while dying and at its last gasp it suddenly lost an additional sixty milligrams. After that it lost weight slowly, due to evaporation.
Thus the teaching of occult science in regard to the possession of vital bodies by animals was also vindicated when sufficiently fine scales were used, and the case where the rather insensitive scales did not show diminution in the weight of the St. Bernard dog shows that the vital bodies of animals are proportionately lighter than in man.
When the "silver cord" is loosened in the heart, and man has been released from his dense body, a moment of the highest importance comes to the Ego, and it cannot be too seriously impressed upon the relatives of a dying person that it is a great crime against the departing soul to give expression to loud grief and lamentations, for it is just then engaged in a matter of supreme importance and a great deal of the value of the past life depends upon how much attention the soul can give to this matter. This will be made clearer when we come to the description of man's life in the Desire World.
It is also a crime against the dying to administer stimulants which have the effect of forcing the higher vehicles back into the dense body with a jerk, thus imparting a great shock to the man. It is not torture to pass out, but it is torture to be dragged back to endure further suffering. Some who have passed out have told investigators that they had, in that way, been kept dying for hours and had prayed that their relatives would cease their mistaken kindness and let them die.
When the man is freed from the dense body, which was the heaviest clog upon his spiritual power (like the heavy mitten on the hand of the musician in our previous illustration), his spiritual power comes back in some measure, and he is able to read the pictures in the negative pole of the reflecting ether of his vital body, which is the seat of the sub-conscious memory.
The whole of his past life passes before his sight like a panorama, the events being presented in reverse order. The incidents of the days immediately preceding death come first and so on back through manhood or womanhood to youth, childhood and infancy. Everything is remembered.
The man stands as a spectator before this panorama of his past life. He sees the pictures as they pass and they impress themselves upon his higher vehicles, but he has no feeling about them at this time. That is reserved until the time when he enters into the Desire World, which is the world of feeling and emotion. At present he is only in the Etheric Region of the Physical World.
This panorama lasts from a few hours to several days, depending upon the length of time the man could keep awake, if necessary. Some people can keep awake only twelve hours, or even less; others can do so, upon occasion, for a number of days, but as long as the man can remain awake, the panorama lasts.
This feature of life after death is similar to that with takes place when one is drowning or falling from a height. In such cases the vital body also leaves the dense body and the man sees his life in a flash, because he loses consciousness at once. Of course the "silver cord" is not broken, or there could be no resuscitation.
When the endurance of the vital body has reached its limit, it collapses in the way described when we were considering the phenomenon of sleep. During physical life, when the Ego controls its vehicles, this collapse terminates the waking hours; after death the collapse of the vital body terminates the panorama and forces the man to withdraw into the Desire World. The silver cord breaks at the point where the sixes unite (see diagram 5 1/2), and the same division is made a during sleep, but with this important difference, that thought the vital body returns to the dense body, it no longer interpenetrates it, but simply hovers over it. It remains floating over the grave, decaying synchronously with the dense vehicle. Hence, to the trained clairvoyant, a graveyard is a nauseating sight and if only more people could see it as he does, little argument would be necessary to induce them to change from the present unsanitary method of disposing of the dead to the more rational method of cremation, which restores the elements to their primordial condition without the objectionable features incident to the process of slow decay.
In leaving the vital body the process is much the same as when the dense body is discarded. The life forces of one atom are taken, to be used as a nucleus for the vital body of a future embodiment. Thus, upon his entrance into the Desire World the man has the seed-atoms of the dense and the vital bodies, in addition to the desire body and the mind.
If the dying man could leave all desires behind, the desire body would very quickly fall away from him, leaving him free to proceed into the heaven world, but that is not generally the case. Most people, especially if they die in the prime of life, have many ties and much interest in life on earth. They have not altered their desires because they have lost their physical bodies. In fact often their desires are even augmented by a very intense longing to return. This acts in such a manner as to bind them to the Desire World in a very unpleasant way, although unfortunately, they do not realize it. On the other hand, old and decrepit persons and those who are weakened by long illness and are tired of life, pass on very quickly.
The matter may be illustrated by the ease with which the seed falls out of the ripe fruit, no particle of the flesh clinging to it, while in the unripe fruit the seed clings to the flesh with the greatest tenacity. Thus it is especially hard for people to die who were taken out of their bodies by accident while at the height of their physical health and strength, engaged in numerous ways in the activities of physical life; held by the ties of wife, family, relatives, friends, pursuits of business and pleasure.
The suicide, who tries to get away from life, only to find that he is as much alive as ever, is in the most pitiable plight. He is able to watch those whom he has, perhaps, disgraced by his act, and worst of all, he has an unspeakable feeling of being "hollowed out." The part in the ovoid aura where the dense body used to be is empty and although the desire body has taken the form of the discarded dense body, it feels like an empty shell, because the creative archetype of the body in the Region of Concrete Thought persists as an empty mold, so to speak, as long as the dense body should properly have lived. When a person meets a natural death, even in the prime of life, the activity of the archetype ceases, and the desire body adjusts itself so as to occupy the whole of the form, but in the case of suicide that awful feeling of "emptiness" remains until the time comes when, in the natural course of events, his death would have occurred.
As long as the man entertains the desires connected with earth life he must stay in his desire body and as the progress of the individual requires that he pass on to higher Regions, the existence in the Desire World must necessarily become purgative, tending to purify him from his binding desires. How this is done is best seen by taking some radical instances.
The miser who loved his gold in earth life loves it just as dearly after death; but in the first place he cannot acquire any more, because he has no longer a dense body wherewith to grasp it and worst of all, he cannot even keep what he hoarded during life. He will, perhaps, go and sit by his safe and watch the cherished gold or bonds; but the heirs appear and with, it may be, a stinging jeer at the "stingy old fool" (whom they do not see, but who both sees and hears them), will open his safe, and though he may throw himself over his gold to protect it, they will put their hands through him, neither knowing nor caring that he is there, and will then proceed to spend his hoard, while he suffers in sorrow and impotent rage.
He will suffer keenly, his sufferings all the more terrible on account of being entirely mental, because the dense body dulls even suffering to some extent. In the Desire World, however, these sufferings have full sway and the man suffers until he learns that gold may be a curse. Thus he gradually becomes contented with his lot and at last is freed from his desire body and is ready to go on.
Or take the case of the drunkard. He is just as fond of intoxicants after death as he was before. It is not the dense body that craves drink. It is made sick by alcohol and would rather be without it. It vainly protests in different ways, but the desire body of the drunkard craves the drink and forces the dense body to take it, that the desire body may have the sensation of pleasure resulting from the increased vibration. That desire remains after the death of the dense body, but the drunkard has in his desire body neither mouth to drink not stomach to contain physical liquor. He may and does get into saloons, where he interpolates his body into to bodies of the drinkers to get a little of their vibrations by induction, but that is too weak to give him much satisfaction. He may and also does sometimes get inside a whiskey cask, but that is of no avail either for there are in the cask no such fumes as are generated in the digestive organs of a tippler. It has no effect upon him and he is like a man in an open boat on the ocean. "Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink;" consequently he suffers intensely. In time, however, he learns the uselessness of longing for drink which he cannot obtain. As with so many of our desires in the Earth life, all desires in the Desire World die for want of opportunity to gratify them. When the drunkard has been purged, he is ready, so far as this habit is concerned, to leave this state of "purgatory" and ascend into the heaven world.
Thus we see that it is not an avenging Deity that makes purgatory or hell for us, but our own individual evil habits and acts. According to the intensity of our desires will be the time and suffering entailed in their expurgation. In the cases mentioned it would have been no suffering to the drunkard to lose his worldly possessions. If he had any, he did not cling to them. Neither would it have caused the miser any paid to have been deprived of intoxicants. It is safe to say that he would not have cared if there were not a drop of liquor in the world. But he did care about his gold, and the drunkard cared about his drink and so the unerring law gave to each that which was needed to purge him of his unhallowed desires and evil habits.
This is the law that is symbolized in the scythe of the reaper, Death; the law that says, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." It is the law of cause and effect, which rules all things in the three Worlds, in every realm of nature--physical, moral and mental. Everywhere it works inexorably, adjusting all things, restoring the equilibrium wherever even the slightest action has brought about a disturbance, as all action must. The result may be manifested immediately or it may be delayed for years or for lives, but sometime, somewhere, just and equal retribution will be made. The student should particularly note that its work is absolutely impersonal. There is in the universe neither reward nor punishment. All is the result of invariable law. The action of this law will be more fully elucidated in the next chapter, where we shall find it associated with another Great Law of the Cosmos, which also operates in the evolution of man. The law we are now considering is called the law of Consequence.
In the Desire World it operates in purging man of the baser desires and the correction of the weaknesses and vices which hinder his progress, by making him suffer in the manner best adapted to that purpose. If he had made others suffer, or has dealt unjustly with them, he will be made to suffer in that identical way. Be it noted, however, that if a person has been subject to vices, or has done wrong to others, but has overcome his vices, or repented and, as far as possible, made right the wrong done, such repentance, reform and restitution have purged him of those special vices and evil acts. The equilibrium has been restored and the lesson learned during that embodiment, and therefore will not be a cause of suffering after death.
In the Desire World life is lived about three times as rapidly as in the Physical World. A man who has lived to be fifty years of age in the Physical World would live through the same life events in the Desire World in about sixteen years. This is, of course, only a general gauge. There are persons who remain in the Desire World much longer than their term of physical life. Others again, who have led lives with few gross desires, pass through in a much shorter period, but the measure above given is very nearly correct for the average man of present day.
It will be remembered that as the man leaves the dense body at death, his past life passes before him in pictures; but at that time he has no feeling concerning them.
During his life in the Desire World also these life pictures roll backwards, as before; but not the man has all the feelings that it is possible for him to have as, one by one, the scenes pass before him. Every incident in his past life is now lived over again. When he comes to a point where he has injured someone, he himself feels the pain as the injured person felt it. He lives through all the sorrow and suffering he has caused to others and learns just how painful is the hurt and how hard to bear is the sorrow he has caused. In addition there is the fact already mentioned that the suffering is much keener because he has no dense body to dull the pain. Perhaps that is why the speed of life there is tripled--that the suffering may lose in duration what it gains in sharpness. Nature's measures are wonderfully just and true.
There is another characteristic peculiar to this phase of post mortem existence which intimately connected with the fact (already mentioned) that distance is almost annihilated in the Desire World. When a man dies, he at once seems to swell out in his vital body; he appears to himself to grow into immense proportions. This feeling is due to the fact, not that the body really grows, but that the perceptive faculties receive so many impressions from various sources, all seeming to be close at hand. The same is true of the desire body. The man seems to be present with all the people with whom on earth he had relations of a nature which require correction. If he has injured one man in San Francisco and another in New York, he will feel as if part of him were in each place. This gives him a peculiar feeling of being cut to pieces.
The student will now understand the importance of the panorama of the past life during the purgative existence, where this panorama is realized in definite feelings. If it lasted long and the man were undisturbed, the full, deep, clear impression etched into the desire body would make life in the Desire World more vivid and conscious and the purgation more thorough than if, because of distress at the loud outbursts of grief on the part of his relatives, at the death bed and during the three-day period previously mentioned the man had only vague impression of his past life. The spirit which has etched a deep clear record into its desire body will realize the mistakes of the past life so much more clearly and definitely than if the pictures were blurred on account of the individual's attention being diverted by the suffering and grief around him. His feeling concerning the things which cause his present suffering in the Desire World will be much more definite if they are drawn from a distinct panoramic impression than if the duration of the process were short.
This sharp, clear-cut feeling is of immense value in future lives. It stamps upon the seed-atom of the desire body an ineffaceable impression of itself. The experiences will be forgotten in succeeding lives, but the Feeling remains. When opportunities occur to repeat the error in later lives, this Feeling will speak to us clearly and unmistakably. It is the "still, small voice" which warns us, though we do not know why; but the clearer and more definite the panoramas of past lives has been, the oftener, stronger and clearer shall we hear this voice. Thus we see how important it is that we leave the passing spirit in absolute quietness after death. By so doing we help it to reap the greatest possible benefit from the life just ended and to avoid perpetuating the same mistakes in future lives, while our selfish, hysterical lamentations may deprive it of much of the value of the life it has just concluded.
The mission of purgatory is to eradicate the injurious habits by making their gratification impossible. The individual suffers exactly as he has made others suffer through his dishonesty, cruelty, intolerance, or what not. Because of this suffering he learns to act kindly, honestly, and with forbearance toward others in future. Thus, in consequence of the existence of this beneficent state, man learns virtue and right action. When he is reborn he is free from evil habits, at least every evil act committed is one of free will. The tendencies to repeat the evil of past lives remain, for we must learn to do right consciously and of our own will. Upon occasion these tendencies tempt us, thereby affording us an opportunity of ranging ourselves on the side of mercy and virtue as against vice and cruelty. But to indicate right action and to help us resist the snares and wiles of temptation, we have the feeling resulting from the expurgation of evil habits and the expiation of the wrong acts of past lives. If we heed that feeling and abstain from the particular evil involved, the temptation will cease. We have freed ourselves from it for all time. If we yield we shall experience keener suffering than before until at last we have learned to live by the Golden Rule, because the way of the transgressor is hard. Even then we have not reached the ultimate. To good to others because we want them to do good to us is essentially selfish. In time we must learn to do good regardless of how we are treated by others; as Christ said, we must love even our enemies.
There is an inestimable benefit in knowing about the method and object of this purgation, because we are thus enabled to forestall it by living our purgatory here and now day by day, thus advancing much faster than would otherwise be possible. An exercise is given in the latter part of this work, the object of which is purification as an aid to the development of spiritual sight. It consists of thinking over the happenings of the day after retiring at night. We review each incident of the day, in reverse order, taking particular note of the moral aspect, considering whether we acted rightly or wrongly in each particular case regarding actions, mental attitude and actions, mental attitude and habits. By thus judging ourselves day by day, endeavoring to correct mistakes and wrong actions, we shall materially shorten or perhaps even eliminate the necessity for purgatory and be able to pass to the first heaven directly after death. If in this manner, we consciously overcome our weaknesses, we also make a very material advance in the school of evolution. Even if we fail to correct our actions, we derive an immense benefit from judging ourselves, thereby generating aspirations toward good, which in time will surely bear fruit in right action.
In reviewing the day's happenings and blaming ourselves for wrong, we should not forget to impersonally approve of the good we have done and determine to do still better. In this way we enhance the good by approval as much as we abjure the evil by blame.
Repentance and reform are also powerful factors in shortening the purgatorial existence, for nature never wastes effort in useless processes. When we realize the wrong of certain habits or acts in our past life, and determine to eradicate the habit and to redress the wrong committed, we are expunging the pictures of them from the sub-conscious memory and they will not be there to judge us after death. Even though we are not able to make restitution for a wrong, the sincerity of our regret will suffice. Nature does not aim to "get even," or to take revenge. Recompense may be given to our victim in other ways.
Much progress ordinarily reserved for future lives will be made by the man who thus takes time by the forelock, judging himself and eradicating vice by reforming his character. This practice is earnestly recommended. It is perhaps the most important teaching in the present work.
Purgatory occupies the three lower Regions of the Desire World. The first heaven is in the upper Regions. The central Regions is a sort of borderland--neither heaven nor hell. In this Region we find people who are honest and upright; who wronged no one, but were deeply immersed in business and thought nothing of the higher life. For them the Desire World is a state of the most indescribable monotony. There is no "business" in that world nor is there, for a man of that kind, anything that will take its place. He has a very hard time until he learns to think of higher things than ledgers and drafts. The men who thought of the problem of life and came to the conclusion that "death ends it all;" who denied the existence of things outside the material-sense world--these men also feel this dreadful monotony. They had expected annihilation of consciousness, but instead of that they find themselves with an augmented perception of persons and things about them. They had been accustomed to denying these things so vehemently that they often fancy the Desire World an hallucination, and may frequently be heard exclaiming in the deepest despair, "When will it end? When will it end?"
Such people are really in a pitiable state. They are generally beyond the reach of any help whatever and suffer much longer than almost anyone else. Besides, they have scarcely any life in the Heaven world, where the building of bodies for future use is taught, so they put all their crystallizing thoughts into whatsoever body they build for a future life, and thus a body is built that has the hardening tendencies we see, for instance, in consumption. Sometimes the suffering incident to such decrepit bodies will turn the thoughts of the entities ensouling them to God, and their evolution can proceed; but in the materialistic mind lies the greatest danger of losing touch with the spirit and becoming an outcast. Therefore the Elder Brothers have been very seriously concerned for the last century regarding the fate of the Western World and were it not for their special beneficent action in its behalf, we should have had a social cataclysm compared with which the French Revolution were child's play. The trained clairvoyant can see how narrowly humanity has escaped disasters of a nature so devastating that continents would have been swept into the sea. The reader will find a more extended and thorough exposition of the connection of materialism with volcanic outbursts in Chapter XVIII, where the list of the eruptions of Vesuvius would seem to corroborate the statement of such a connection, unless it is credited to "coincidence," as the sceptic generally does when confronted with facts and figures he cannot explain.
The First Heaven
When the purgatorial existence is over the purified spirit rises into the first heaven, which is located in the three highest Regions of the Desire World, where the results of its sufferings are incorporated in the seed-atom of the desire body, thus imparting to it the quality of right feeling, which acts as an impulse to good and a deterrent from evil in the future. Here the panorama of the past again unrolls itself backward, but this time it is the good acts of life that are the basis of feeling. When we come to scenes where we helped others we realize anew all the joy of helping which was ours at the time, and in addition we feel all the gratitude poured out to us by the recipient of our help. When we come to scenes where we were helped by others, we again feel all the gratitude that we then felt toward our benefactor. Thus we see the importance of appreciating the favors shown us by others, because gratitude makes for soul-growth. Our happiness in heaven depends upon the joy we gave others, and the valuation we placed upon what others did for us.
It should be ever borne in mind that the power of giving is not vested chiefly in the monied man. Indiscriminate giving of money may even be an evil. It is well to give money for a purpose we are convinced is good, but service is a thousandfold better. As Whitman says,
Behold! I do not give lectures, or a little charity; When I give, I give myself.
A kind look, expression of confidence, a sympathetic and loving helpfulness--these can be given by all regardless of wealth. Moreover, we should particularly endeavor to help the needy one to help himself, whether physically, financially, morally, or mentally, and not cause him to become dependent upon us or others.
The ethics of giving, with the effect on the giver as a spiritual lesson, are most beautifully shown in Lowell's "The Vision of Sir Launfal." The young and ambitious knight, Sir Launfal, clad in shining armor and astride a splendid charger, is setting out from his castle to seek The Holy Grail. On his shield gleams the cross, the symbol of the benignity and tenderness of Our Savior, the meek and lowly One, but the knight's heart is filled with pride and haughty disdain for the poor and needy. He meets a leper asking alms and with a contemptuous frown throws him a coin, as one might cast a bone to a hungry cur, but
The leper raised not the gold from the dust,
"Better to me the poor man's crust,
Better the blessing of the poor,
Though I turn empty from his door.
That is not true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives only worthless gold
Who gives from a send of duty;
But he who gives from a slender mite,
And gives to that which is out of sight--
That thread of all-sustaining Beauty
Which runs through all and doth all unite,--
The hand cannot clasp the whole of his alms,
The heart outstretches its eager palms,
For a god goes with it and makes it store
To the soul that was starving in darkness before.
On his return Sir Launfal finds another in possession of his castle, and is driven from the gate.
An old bent man, worn out and frail,
He came back from seeking the Holy Grail;
Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross,
But deep in his heart the sign he wore,
The badge of the suffering and the poor.
Again he meets the leper, who again asks alms. This time the knight responds differently.
And Sir Launfal said: "I behold in thee
An image of Him Who died on the tree;
Thou also hast had they crown of thorns,
Thou also hast had the world's buffets and scorns,
And to thy life were not denied
The wounds in the hands and feet and side;
Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me;
Behold, through him I give to Thee!"
A look in the leper's eye brings remembrance and recognition, and
The heart within him was ashes and dust;
He parted in twain his single crust,
He broke the ice on the streamlet's brink,
And gave the leper to eat and drink.
A transformation takes place:
The leper no longer crouched by his side,
But stood before him glorified,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
And the Voice that was softer that silence said,
"Lo, it is I, be not afraid!
In many lands, without avail,
Thou has spent thy life for the Holy Grail;
Behold, it is here!--This cup which thou
Did'st fill at the streamlet for me but now;
This crust is by body broken for thee,
This water the blood I shed on the tree;
The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another's need;
Not what we five, but what we share--
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three--
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me."
The first heaven is a place of joy without a single drop of bitterness. The spirit is beyond the influence of the material, earthly conditions, and assimilates all the good contained in the past life as it lives it over again. Here all ennobling pursuits to which the man aspired are realized in fullest measure. It is a place of rest, and the harder has been the life, the more keenly will rest be enjoyed. Sickness, sorrow, and pain are unknown quantities. This is the Summerland of the spiritualists. There the thoughts of the devout Christian have built the New Jerusalem. Beautiful houses, flowers, etc., are the portion of those who aspired to them; they build them themselves by thought from the subtle desire stuff. Nevertheless these things are just as real and tangible to them as our material houses are to us. All gain here the satisfaction which earth life lacked for them.
There is one class there who lead a particularly beautiful life--the children. If we could but see them we would quickly cease our grief. When a child dies before the birth of the desire body, which takes place about the fourteenth year, it does not go any higher than the first heaven, because it is not responsible for its actions, any more than the unborn child is responsible for the pain it causes the mother by turning and twisting in her womb. Therefore the child has not purgatorial existence. That which is not quickened cannot die, hence the desire body of a child, together with the mind, will persist until a new birth, and for that reason such children are very apt to remember their previous life as instanced in the case cited elsewhere.
For such children the first heaven is a waiting-place where they dwell from one to twenty years, until an opportunity for a new birth is offered. Yet it is more than simply a waiting-place, because there is much progress made during this interim.
When a child dies there is always some relative awaiting it, or, failing that there are people who loved to "mother" children in the earth life who find delight in taking care of a little waif. The extreme plasticity of the desire stuff makes it easy to form the most exquisite living toys for the children, and their life is one beautiful play; nevertheless their instruction is not neglected. They are formed into classes according to their temperaments, but quite regardless of age. In the Desire World it is easy to give object-lessons in the influence of good and evil passions on conduct and happiness. These lessons are indelibly imprinted upon the child's sensitive and emotional desire body, and remain with it after rebirth, so that many a one living a noble life owes much of it to the fact that he was given this training. Often when a weak spirit is born, the Compassionate ones (the invisible Leaders who guide our evolution) cause it to die in early life that it may have this extra training to fit it for what may be perhaps a hard life. This seems to be the case particularly where the etching on the desire body was weak in consequence of a dying person having been disturbed by the lamentations of his relatives, or because he met death by accident or on the battle-field. He did not under those circumstances experience the appropriate intensity of feeling in his post mortem existence, therefore, when he is born and dies early life, the loss is made us as above. Often the duty of caring for such a child in the heaven life falls to those who were the cause of the anomaly. They are thus afforded a chance to make up for the fault and to learn better. Or perhaps they become the parents of the one they harmed and care for it during the few years it lives. It does not matter then if they do lament hysterically over its death, because there would be no pictures of any consequence in a child's vital body.
This heaven is also a place of progression for all who have been studious, artistic, or altruistic. The student and the philosopher have instant access to all the libraries of the world. The painter has endless delight in ever-changing color combinations. He soon learns that his thought blends and shapes these colors at will. His creations glow and scintillate with a life impossible of attainment to one works with the dull pigments of Earth. He is, as it were, painting with living, glowing materials and able to execute his designs with a facility which fills his soul with delight. The musician has not yet reached the place where his art will express itself to the fullest extent. The Physical World is the world of Form. The Desire World, where we find purgatory and the first heaven, is particularly the world of Color; but the World of Thought, where the second and third heavens are located, is the sphere of Tone. Celestial music is a fact and not a mere figure of speech. Pythagoras was not romancing when spoke of the music of the spheres, for each one of the heavenly orbs has its definite tone and together they sound the celestial symphony which Goethe also mentions in the prolog to his "Faust," where the scene is laid in heaven. The Archangel Raphael says,
The Sun intones his ancient song
'Mid rival chant of brother spheres.
His prescribed course he speeds along
In thund'rous way throughout the years.
Echoes of that heavenly music reach us even here in the Physical World. They are our most precious possession, even though they are as elusive as a will-o'-the-wisp, and cannot be permanently created, as can other works of art--a statue, a painting, or a book. In the Physical World tone dies and vanishes the moment after it is born. In the first heaven these echoes are, of course, much more beautiful and have more permanency, hence there the musician hears sweeter strains than ever he did during earth life.
The experiences of the poet are akin to those of the musician, for poetry is the soul's expression of it innermost feelings in words which are ordered according to the same laws of harmony and rhythm that govern the outpouring of the spirit in music. In addition, the poet finds a wonderful inspiration in the pictures and colors which are the chief characteristics of the Desire World. Thence he will draw the material for use in his next incarnation. In like manner does the author accumulate material and faculty. The philanthropist works out his altruistic plans for the upliftment of man. If he failed in one life, he will see the reason for it in the first heaven and will there learn how to overcome the obstacles and avoid the errors that made his plan impracticable.
In time a point is reached where the result of the pain and suffering incident to purgation, together with the joy extracted from the good actions of the past life, have been built into the seed-atom of the desire body. Together these constitute what we call conscience, that impelling force which warns us against evil as productive of pain and inclines us toward good as productive of happiness and joy. Then man leaves his desire body to disintegrate, as he left his dense body and vital body. He takes with him the forces only of the seed-atom, which are to form the nucleus of future desire bodies, as it was the persistent particle of his past vehicles of feeling.
As stated above, the forces of the seed-atom are withdrawn. To the materialist force and matter are inseparable. The occultist knows differently. To him they are not two entirely distinct and separate concepts, but the two poles of one spirit.
Matter is crystallized spirit. Force is the same spirit not yet crystallized.
This has been said before, but it cannot be too strongly impressed upon the mind. In this connection the illustration of the snail is very helpful. Matter, which is crystallized spirit, corresponds to the snail's house, which is crystallized snail. The chemical force which moves matter, making it available for the building of form, and the snail which moves its house are also good correspondences. That which is now the snail will in time become the house, and that which is now force will in time become matter when it has crystallized further. The reverse process of resolving matter back into spirit is also going on continually. The coarser phase of this process we see as decay when a man is leaving his vehicles behind and at that time the spirit of an atom is easily detachable from the coarser spirit which has been manifesting as matter.
The Second Heaven
At last the man, the Ego, the threefold spirit, enters the second heaven. He is clad in the sheath of mind, which contains the three seed-atoms--the quintessence of the three discarded vehicles.
When the man dies and loses his dense and vital bodies there is the same condition as when one falls asleep. The desire body, as has been explained, has no organs ready for use. It is now transformed from an ovoid to a figure resembling the dense body which has been abandoned. We can easily understand that there must be an interval of unconsciousness resembling sleep and then the man awakes in the Desire World. It not infrequently happens, however, that such people are, for a long time, unaware of what has happened to them. They do not realize that they have died. They know that they are able to move and think. It is sometimes even a very hard matter to get them to believe that they are really "dead." They realize that something is different, but they are not able to understand what it is.
Not so, however, when the change is made from the first heaven, which is in the Desire World, to the second heaven, which is in the Region of Concrete Thought. Then the man leaves his desire body. He is perfectly conscious. He passes into a great stillness. For the time being everything seems to fade away. He cannot think. No faculty is alive, yet he knows that he is. He has a feeling of standing in "The Great Forever;" of standing utterly alone, yet unafraid; and his soul is filled with a wonderful peace, "which passeth all understanding."
In occult science this is called "The Great Silence."
Then comes the awakening. The spirit is now in its home-World--heaven. Here the first awakening brings to the spirit the sound of "the music of the spheres." In our Earth life we are so immersed in the little noises and sounds of our limited environment that we are incapable of hearing the music of the marching orbs, but the occult scientist hears it. He knows that the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the seven planets from the sounding-board and strings of "Apollo's seven-stringed lyre." He knows that were a single discord to mar the celestial harmony from that grand Instrument there would be "a wreck of matter and a crash of worlds."
The power of rhythmic vibration is well known to all who have given the subject even the least study. For instance, soldiers are commanded to break step when crossing a bridge, otherwise their rhythmic tramp would shatter the strongest structure. The Bible story of the sounding of the ram's horn while marching around the walls of the city of Jericho is not nonsensical in the eyes of the occultist. In some cases similar things have happened without the world smiling in supercilious incredulity. A few years ago, a band of musicians were practicing in a garden close to the very solid wall of an old castle. There occurred at a certain place in the music a prolonged and very piercing tone. When this note was sounded the wall of the castle suddenly fell. The musicians has struck the keynote of the wall and it was sufficiently prolonged to shatter it.
When it is said that this is the world of tone, it must not be thought that there are no colors. Many people know that there is an intimate connection between color and tone; than when a certain note is struck, a certain color appears simultaneously. So it is also in the Heaven World. Color and sound are both present; but the tone is the originator of the color. Hence it is said, that this is particularly the world of tone, and it is this tone that builds all forms in the Physical World. The musician can hear certain tones in different parts of nature, such as the wind in the forest, the breaking of the surf on the beach, the roar of the ocean and the sounding of many waters. These combined tones make a whole which is the key-note of the Earth--its "tone." As geometrical figures are created by drawing a violin bow over the edge of a glass plate containing sand, so the forms we see around us are the crystallized sound-figures of the archetypal forces which play into the archetypes in the Heaven World.
The work done my man in the Heaven World is many-sided. It is not in the least an inactive, dreamy not illusory existence. It is a time of the greatest and most important activity in preparing for the next life, as sleep is an active preparation for the work of the following day.
Here the quintessence of the three bodies is built into the threefold spirit. As much of the desire body as the man had worked upon during life, by purifying his desires and emotions, will be welded into the human spirit, thus giving an improved mind in the future.
As much of the vital body as the life spirit had worked upon, transformed, spiritualized, and thus saved from the decay to which the rest of the vital body is subject, will be amalgamated with the life spirit to insure a better vital body and temperament in the succeeding lives.
As much of the dense body as the divine spirit has save by right action will be worked into it and will bring better environment and opportunities.
The spiritualization of the vehicle is accomplished by cultivation of the faculties of observation, discrimination and memory, devotion to high ideals, prayer, concentration, persistence and right use of the life forces.
The second heaven is the real home of man--the Ego, the Thinker. Here he dwells for centuries, assimilating the fruit of the last earth life and preparing the earthly conditions which will be best suited for his next step in progress. The sound or tone which pervades this Region, and is everywhere apparent as color, is his instrument, so to speak. It is this harmonious sound vibration which, as an elixir of life, builds into the threefold spirit the quintessence of the threefold body, upon which it depends for growth.
The life in the second heaven is an exceedingly active one, varied in many different ways. The Ego assimilates the fruits of the last earth life and prepares the environment for a new physical existence. It is not enough to say that the new conditions will be determined by conduct and action in the life just closed. It is required that the fruits of the past be worked into the World which is to be the next scene of activity while the Ego is gaining fresh physical experiences and gathering further fruit. Therefore all the denizens of the Heaven World work upon the models of the Earth, all of which are in the Region of Concrete Thought. They alter the physical features of the Earth, and bring about the gradual changes which vary its appearance, so that on each return to physical life a different environment has been prepared, wherein new experiences may be gained. Climate, flora, and fauna are altered by man under the direction of higher Beings, to be described later. Thus the world is just what we ourselves, individually and collectively, have made it; and it will be what we make it. The occult scientist sees in everything that happens a cause of a spiritual nature manifesting itself, not omitting the prevalence and alarmingly increasing frequency of seismic disturbances, which it traces to the materialistic thought of modern science.
It is true that purely physical causes can bring about such disturbances, but is that the last word on the subject? Can we always get the full explanation by merely recording what appears on the surface? Surely not! We see two men conversing on the street and one suddenly strikes the other, knocking him down. One observer may say that an angry knocked the man down. Another may scoff at this answer and declare that he saw the arm lifted, the muscles contract, the arm shooting out and coming in contact with the victim, who was knocked down. That is also true, but it is safe to say that had there not first been the angry thought, the blow would not have been struck. In like manner the occultist says that if materialism had not been, seismic disturbances would not have occurred.
Man's work in the Heaven World is not confined solely to the alternation of the surface of the Earth which is to be the scene of his future struggles in the subjugation of the Physical World. He is also actively engaged in learning how to build a body which shall afford a better means of expression. It is man's destiny to become a Creative Intelligence and he is serving his apprenticeship all the time. During his heaven life he is learning to build all kinds of bodies--the human included.
We have spoken of the forces which work along the positive and negative poles of the different ethers. Man himself is part of that force. Those whom we call dead are the ones who help us to live. They in turn are helped by the so-called "nature spirits," which they command. Man is directed in this work by Teachers from the higher creative Hierarchies, which helped him to build his vehicles before he attained self-consciousness, in the same way he himself now builds his bodies in sleep. During heaven life they teach him consciously. The painter is taught to build an accurate eye, capable of taking in a perfect perspective and of distinguishing colors and shades to a degree inconceivable among those not interested in color and light.
The mathematician has to deal with space, and the faculty for space perception is connected with the delicate adjustment of the three semi-circular canals which are situated inside the ear, each pointing in one of the three dimensions in space. Logical thought and mathematical ability are in proportion to the accuracy of the adjustment of these semi-circular canals. Musical ability is also dependent upon the same factor, but in addition to the necessity for the proper adjustment of the semi-circular canals, the musician requires extreme delicacy of the "fibres of Corti," of which there are about ten thousand in the human ear, each capable of interpreting about twenty-five gradations of tone. In the ears of the majority of people they do not respond to more than from three to ten of the possible gradations. Among ordinary musical people the greatest degree of efficiency is about fifteen sounds to each fivre; but the master musician, who is able to interpret and bring down music from the Heaven World, requires a greater range to be able to distinguish the different notes and detect the slightest discord in the most complicated chords. Persons who require organs of such exceeding delicacy for the expression of their faculties are specially taken care of, as the higher state of their development merits and demands. None other ranks so high as the musician, which is reasonable when we consider that while the painter draws his inspiration chiefly from the world of color--the nearer Desire World--the musician attempts to bring us the atmosphere of our heavenly home world (where, as spirits, we are citizens), and to translate them into the sounds of earth life. His is the highest mission, because as a mode of expression for soul life, music reigns supreme. That music is different from and higher than all the other arts can be understood when we reflect that a statue or painting, when once created, is permanent. They are drawn from the Desire World and are therefore more easily crystallized, while music, being of the Heaven World, is more elusive and must be re-created each time we hear it. It cannot be imprisoned, as shown by the unsuccessful attempts to do so partially by means of such mechanical devices as phonographs and piano-players. The music so reproduced loses much of the soul-stirring sweetness it possesses when it comes fresh from its own world, carrying to the soul memories of its home and speaking to it in a language that no beauty expressed in marble or upon canvas can equal.
The instrument through which man senses music is the most perfect sense organ in the human body. The eye is not by any means true, but the ear is, in the sense that it hears every sound without distortion, while the eye often distorts what it sees.
In addition to the musical ear, the musician must also learn to build a long, fine hand with slender fingers and sensitive nerves, otherwise he would not be able to reproduce the melodies he hears.
It is a law of nature that no one can inhabit a more efficient body that he is capable of building. He first learns to build a certain grade of body and afterwards he learns to live in it. In that way he discovers its defects and is taught how to remedy them.
All men work unconsciously at the building of their bodies during ante-natal life until they have reached the point where the quintessence of former bodies--which they have saved--is to be built in. Then they work consciously. It will therefore be seen that the more a man advances and the more he works on his vehicles, thus making them immortal, the more power he has to build for a new life. The advanced pupil of an occult school sometimes commences to build for himself as soon as the work during the first three weeks (which belongs exclusively to the mother) has been completed. When the period of unconscious building has passed the man has a chance to exercise his nascent creative power, and the true original creative process--"Epigenesis"--begins.
Thus we see that man learns to build his vehicles in the Heaven World, and to use them in the Physical World. Nature provides all phases of experience in such a marvelous manner and with such consummate wisdom that as we learn to see deeper and deeper into her secrets we are more and more impressed with our own insignificance and with an ever-growing reverence for God, whose visible symbol nature is. The more we learn of her wonders, the more we realize that this world system is not the vast perpetual motion machine unthinking people would have us believe. It would be quite as logical to think that if we toss a box of loose type into the air the characters will have arranged themselves into the words of a beautiful poem by the time they reach the ground. The greater the complexity of the plan the greater the argumental weight in favor of the theory of an intelligent Divine Author.
The Third Heaven
Having assimilated all the fruits of his last life and altered the appearance of the Earth in such a manner as to afford him the necessary environment for his next step towards perfection; having also learned by work on the bodies of others, to build a suitable body through which to express himself in the Physical World and having at last resolved the mind into the essence which builds the three-fold spirit, the naked individual spirit ascends into the higher Region of the World of Thought--the third heaven, Here, by the ineffable harmony of this higher world, it is strengthened for its next dip into matter.
After a time comes the desire for new experience and the contemplation of a new birth. This conjures up a series of pictures before the vision of the spirit--a panorama of the new life in store for it. But, mark this well--this panorama contains only principal events. The spirit has free will as to detail. It is as if a man going to a distant city had a time-limit ticket, with initial choice of route. After he has chosen and begun his journey it is not sure that he can change to another route during the trip. He may stop over in as many places as he wishes, within his time limit, but he cannot go back. Thus as he proceeds on his journey, he becomes more and more limited by his past choice. If he had chosen a steam road, using soft coal, he must expect to be soiled and dusty. Had he chosen a road burning anthracite or using electricity he would have been cleaner. So it is with the man in a new life. He may have to live a hard life, but he is free to choose whether he will live it cleanly or wallow in the mire. Other conditions are also within his control, subject to limits of his past choices and acts.
The pictures in the panorama of the coming life, of which we have just spoken, begin at the cradle and end at the grave. This is the opposite direction to that in which they travel in the after-death panorama, already explained, which passes before the vision of the spirit immediately following its release from the dense body. The reason for this radical difference in the two panoramas is that in the before-birth panorama the object is to show the returning Ego how certain causes or acts always produce certain effects. In the case of the after-death panorama the object is the reverse, i.e., to show how each event in the past life was the effect of some cause further back in the life. Nature, or God, does nothing without a logical reason, and the further we search the more apparent it becomes to us that Nature is a wise mother, always using the best means to accomplish her ends.
But it may be asked, Why should we be reborn? Why must we return to this limited and miserable earth existence? Why can we not get experience in those higher realms without coming to Earth? We are tired of this dreary, weary earth life!
Such queries are based upon misunderstandings of several kinds. In the first place, let us realize and engrave it deep upon the tablets of our memory that the purpose of life is not happiness, but experience. Sorrow and pain are our most benevolent teachers, while the joys of life are but fleeting.
This seems a stern doctrine and the heart cries out passionately at even the thought that it may possibly be true. Nevertheless, it is true, and upon examination it will be found not such a stern doctrine after all.
Consider the blessings of pain. If we could place our hand upon a hot stove and feel no pain, the hand might be allowed to remain until it and perhaps the arm were burned away, without our knowing anything about it until too late to save them. It is the pain resulting from the contact with the hot stove which makes us snatch our hand away before serious damage is done. Instead of losing the hand, we escape with a blister which quickly heals. This is an illustration from the Physical World. We find that same principle applies in the Moral and Mental Worlds. If we outrage morality the pangs of conscience bring us pain that will prevent us from repeating the act and if we do not heed the first lesson, nature will give us harder and harder experiences until at last the fact is forced into our consciousness that "the way of the transgressor is hard." This will continue until at last we are forced to turn in a new direction and take a step onward toward a better life.
Experience is "knowledge of the effects which follow acts." This is the object of life, together with the development of "Will," which is the force whereby we apply the results of experience. Experience must be gained, but we have the choice whether we gain it by the hard path of personal experience or by observation of other people's acts, reasoning and reflecting thereon, guided by the light of whatever experience we have already had.
This is the method by which the occult student should learn, instead of requiring the lash of adversity and pain. The more willing we are to learn in that way, the less we shall feel the stinging thorns of "the path of pain" and the more quickly shall we gain "the path of peace."
The choice is ours, but so long as we have not learned all there is to learn in this world, we must come back to it. We cannot stay in the higher worlds and learn there until we have mastered the lessons of earth life. That would be as sensible as to send a child to kindergarten one day and to college the next. The child must return to the kindergarten day after day and spend years in the grammar school and the high school before its study has developed its capacity sufficiently to enable it to understand the lessons taught in college.
Man is also in school--the school of experience. He must return many times before he can hope to master all the knowledge in the world of sense. No one earth life, however rich in experience, could furnish the knowledge, so nature decrees that he must return to Earth, after intervals of rest, to take up his work where he dropped it, exactly as a child takes up its work in school each day, after the intervening sleep of night. It is not argument against this theory to say that man does not remember his former lives. We cannot recall all the events of our present lives. We do not recollect our labors in learning to write, yet we have acquired a knowledge of the art of writing, which proves that we did learn. All the faculties we possess are a proof that we acquired them sometime, somewhere. Some people do remember their past, however, as a remarkable instance related at the end of the next chapter will show, and is but one among many.
Again, if their were no return to Earth, what is the use of living? Why strive for anything? Why should a life of happiness in an eternal heaven be the reward for a good life? What benefit could come from a good life in a heaven where everybody is already happy? Surely in a place where everybody is happy and contented there is no need for sympathy, self-sacrifice or wise counsel! No one would need them here; but on Earth there are many who need those very things and such humanitarian and altruistic qualities are of the greatest service to struggling humanity. Therefore the Great Law, which works for Good, brings man back to work again in the world for the benefit to himself and others, with his acquired treasures, instead of letting them go to waste in a heaven where no one needs them.
Preparations for Rebirth
Having thus seen the necessity for repeated embodiments, we will next consider the method by which this purpose is accomplished.
Previous to taking the dip into matter, the threefold spirit is naked, having only the forces of the four seed-atoms (which are the nuclei of the threefold body and the sheath of mind). Its descent resembles the putting on of several pairs of gloves of increasing thickness, as previously illustrated. The forces of the mind of the last life are awakened from their latency in the seed-atom. This begins to attract to itself materials from the highest subdivision of the Region of Concrete Thought, in a manner similar to that in which a magnet draws to itself iron filings.
If we hold a magnet over a miscellaneous heap of filings of brass, silver, gold, iron, lead and other metals, we shall find that it selects only iron filings and that even of them it will take no more than its strength enables it to lift. Its attractive power is of a certain kind and is limited to a certain quantity of that kind. The same is true of the seed-atom. It can take, in each Region, nothing except the material for which it has an affinity and nothing beyond a certain definite quantity even of that. Thus the vehicle built around this nucleus becomes an exact counterpart of the corresponding vehicle of the last life minus the evil which has been expurgated and plus the quintessence of good which has been incorporated in the seed-atom.
The material selected by the threefold spirit forms itself into a great bell-shaped figure, open at the bottom and with the seed-atom at the top. If we conceive of the illustration spiritually we may compare it to a diving-bell descending into a sea composed of fluids of increasing density. These correspond to the different subdivisions of each World. The matter taken into the texture of the bell-shaped body makes it heavier, so that it sinks into the next lower subdivision and it takes from that its proper quota of matter. Thus it becomes still heavier and sinks yet deeper until it has passed through the four subdivisions of the Region of Concrete Thought and the sheath of the new mind of the man is complete. Next the forces in the seed-atom of the desire body are awakened. It places itself at the top of the bell, inside, and the materials of the seventh Region of the Desire World draw around it until it sinks to the sixth Region, getting more material there, and this process continues until the first Region of the Desire World is reached. The bell has now two layers--the sheath of mind outside and the new desire body inside.
The seed-atom of the vital body is next aroused into activity, but here the process of information is not so simple as in the case of the mind and the desire body, for it must be remembered that those vehicles were comparatively unorganized, while the vital body and the dense body are more organized and very complicated. The material, of a given quantity and quality, is attracted in the same manner and under the operation of the same law as in the case of the higher bodies, but the building of the new body and the placement in the proper environment is done by four great Beings of immeasurable wisdom, which are the Recording Angels, the "Lords of Destiny." They impress the reflecting ether of the vital body in such a way that the pictures of the coming life are reflected in it. It (the vital body) is built by the inhabitants of the Heaven World and the elemental spirits in such a manner as to form a particular type of brain. But mark this, the returning Ego itself incorporates therein the quintessence of its former vital bodies and in addition to this also does a little original work. This is done that in the coming life there may be some room for original and individual expression, not predetermined by past action.
It is very important to remember this fact. There is too great a tendency to think that all which now exists is the result of something that previously existed, but if that were the case there would be no margin left for new and original effort and for new causes. The chain of cause and effect is not a monotonous repetition. There is an influx of new and original causes all the time. That is the real backbone of evolution--the only thing that gives it meaning and makes it other than an unrolling of latent actualities. This is "Epigenesis"--the free-will that consists of the freedom the inaugurate something entirely new, not merely a choice between two courses of action. This is the important factor which alone can explain the system to which we belong in a satisfactory manner. Involution and Evolution is themselves are insufficient; but coupled with Epigenesis we have a full triad of explanation.
The fate of an individual generated under the law of Consequence, is of great complexity and involves association with Egos in and out of physical existence, at all times. Even those living at one time may not be living in the same locality, so that it is impossible for one individual's destiny to be all worked out in one lifetime or in one place. The Ego is therefore brought into a certain environment and family with which it is some way related. As regards the fate to be worked out, it is sometimes immaterial into which one of several environmental the Ego is reborn, and when such is the case, it is allowed its choice as far as possible, but once an Ego is so placed the agents of the Lords of Destiny watch unseen, that no act of free will shall frustrate the working out of the portion of fate selected. If we do aught of such as to circumvent that part, they will make another move, so as to enforce fulfillment of the destiny. It cannot be too often reiterated, however, that this does not render man helpless. It is merely the same law that governs after we have fired a pistol. We are then unable to stop the bullet, or even to deflect it from its course in any way. Its direction was determined by the position in which the pistol was held when we fired. That could have been changed at any time before the trigger was pulled, as up to that time we had full control. The same is true regarding new actions which make future destiny. We may, up to a certain point, modify or even altogether counteract certain causes already set in motion, but once started, and no further action taken, they will get beyond our control. This is called "ripe" fate and it is this kind that is meant when it is said that the Lords of Destiny check every attempt to shirk it. With regard to out past we are to a great extent helpless, but in regard to future action we have full control, except insofar as we are hampered by our past actions. By and by, however, as we learn that we are the cause of our own sorrow or joy, we shall awake to the necessity of ordering our lives more in harmony with the laws of God and thus rise above these laws of the Physical World. That is the key to emancipation; as Goethe says:
From every power that all the world enchains
Man frees himself when self-control he gains.
The vital body, having been molded by the Lords of Destiny, will give form to the dense body, organ for organ. This matrix or mold is then placed in the womb of the future mother. The seed-atom for the dense body is in the triangular head of one of the spermatozoa in the semen of the father. This alone makes fertilization possible and here is the explanation of the fact that so many times sex-unions are unfruitful. The chemical constituents of the seminal fluid and the ova are the same at all times and were these the only requirements, the explanation of the phenomenon of infertility, if sought in the material, visible world alone, would not be found. It becomes plain, however, when we understand that as the molecules of water freeze only along the lines of force in the water and manifest as ice crystals instead of freezing into a homogeneous mass, as would be the case if there were no lines of force previous to coagulation, so there can be no dense body built until there is a vital body in which to build the material; also there must be a seed-atom for the dense body, to act as gauge of the quality and quantity of the matter which is to be built into that dense body. Although at the present stage of development there is never full harmony in the materials of the body, because that would mean a perfect body, yet the discord must not be so great as to be disruptive of the organism.
Thus while heredity in the first place is true only as regards the material of the dense body and not the soul qualities, which are entirely individual, the incoming Ego also does a certain amount of work on its dense body, incorporating in it the quintessence of its past physical qualities. No body is an exact mixture of the qualities of its parents, although the Ego is restricted to the use of the materials taken from the bodies of the father and mother. Hence a musician incarnates where he can get the material to build the slender hand and the delicate ear, with it sensitive fibres of Corti and its accurate adjustment of the three semicircular canals. The arrangement of these materials, however, is, to the extent named, under the control of the Ego. It is as though a carpenter were given a pile of boards to use in building a house in which to live, but is left to his own judgement as to the kind of house he wishes to build.
Except in the case of a very highly developed being, this work of the Ego is almost negligible at the present stage of man's evolution. The greatest scope is given in the building of the desire body, very little in that of the vital body and almost none in the dense body; yet even this little is sufficient to make each individual an expression of his own spirit and different from the parents.
When the impregnation of the ovum has taken place, the desire body of the mother works upon it for a period of from eighteen to twenty-one days, the Ego remaining outside in its desire body and mind sheath, yet always in close touch with the mother. Upon the expiration of that time the Ego enters the mother's body. The bell-shaped vehicles draw themselves down over the head of the vital body and the bell closes at the bottom. From this time the Ego broods over its coming instrument until the birth of the child and the new earth life of the returning Ego commences.
Birth of the Dense Body
The vehicles of the new-born do not at once become active. The dense body is helpless for a long time after birth. Reasoning from analogy we can readily see that the same must be the case with the higher vehicles. The occult scientist sees it, but even without clairvoyance reason will show that this must be so. As the dense body is slowly prepared for the separate, individual life within the protecting cover of the womb, so the other bodies are gradually born and nurtured into activity, and while the times given in the following description are but approximate, they are nevertheless accurate enough for general purposes and show the connection between the Microcosm and the Macrocosm--the individual and the world.
In the period immediately following birth the different vehicles inter-penetrate one another, as, in our previous illustration, the sand penetrates the sponge and the water both sand and sponge. But, though they are all present, as in adult life, they are merely present. None of their positive faculties are active. The vital body cannot use the forces which operate along the positive pole of the ethers. Assimilation, which works along the positive pole of the chemical ether, is very dainty during childhood and what there is of it is due to the macrocosmic vital body, the ethers of which act as a womb for the child's vital body until the seventh year, gradually ripening it during that period. The propagative faculty, which works along the positive pole of the life ether, is also latent. The heating of the body--which is carried on along the positive pole of the light ether--and the circulation of the blood are due to the macrocosmic vital body, the ethers acting on the child and slowly developing it to the point where it can control these functions itself. The forces working along the negative pole of the ethers are so much the more active. The excretion of solids, carried on along the negative pole of the chemical ether (corresponding to the solid subdivision of the Chemical Region), is too unrestrained, as is also the excretion of fluid, which is carried on along the negative pole of the life ether (corresponding to the second or fluid subdivision of the Chemical Region). The passive sense-perception, which is due to the negative forces of the light ether, is also exceedingly prominent. The child is very impressionable and it is "all eyes and ears."
During the earlier years the forces operating along the negative pole of the reflecting ether are also extremely active. In those years children can "see" the higher Worlds and they often prattle about what they see until the ridicule of their elders or punishment for "telling stories" teaches them to desist.
It is deplorable that the little ones are forced to lie--or at least to deny the truth--because of the incredulity of their "wise" elders. Even the investigations of the Society for Physical Research have proven that children often have invisible playmates, who frequently visit them until they are several years old. During those years the clairvoyance of the children is of the same negative character as that of the mediums.
It is the same with the forces working in the desire body. The passive feeling of physical pain is present, while the feeling of emotion is almost entirely absent. The child will, of course, show emotion on the slightest provocation, but the duration of that emotion is but momentary. It all on the surface.
The child also has the link of mind, but is almost incapable of individual thought activity. It is exceedingly sensitive to forces working along the negative pole and is therefore imitative and teachable.
Thus it is shown that all the negative qualities are active in the new-born entity, but before it is able to use its different vehicles, the positive qualities must be ripened.
Each vehicle is therefore brought to a certain degree of maturity by the activity of the corresponding vehicle of the macrocosm, which acts as a womb for it until that degree is reached.
From the first to the seventh year the vital body grows and slowly matures within the womb of the macrocosmic vital body and because of the greater wisdom of this vehicle of the macrocosm the child's body is more rounded and well-built than in later life.
Birth of the Vital Body
While the macrocosmic vital body guides the growth of the child's body it is guarded from the dangers which later threaten it when the unwise individual vital body takes unchecked charge. This happens in the seventh year, when the period of excessive, dangerous growth begins, and continues through the next seven years. During this time the macrocosmic desire body performs the function of a womb for the individual desire body.
Were the vital body to have continual and unrestrained sway in the human kingdom, as it has in the plant, man would grow to an enormous size. There was a time in the far distant past when man was constituted like a plant, having only a dense body and a vital body. The traditions of mythology and folk-lore all over the world concerning giants in olden times are absolutely true, because then men grew as tall trees, and for the same reason.
Birth of the Desire Body
The vital body of the plant builds leaf after leaf, carrying the stem higher and higher. Were it not for the macrocosmic desire body it would keep on in that way indefinitely, but the macrocosmic desire body steps in at a certain point and checks further growth. The force that is not needed for further growth is then available for other purposes and is used to build the flower and the seed. In like manner the human vital body, when the dense body comes under its sway, after the seventh year, makes the latter grow very rapidly, but about the fourteenth year the individual desire body is born from the womb of the macrocosmic desire body and is then free to work on its dense body. The excessive growth is then checked and the force theretofore used for that purpose becomes available for propagation, that the human plant may flower and bring forth. Therefore the birth of the personal desire body marks the period of puberty. From this period the attraction towards the opposite sex is felt, being especially active and unrestrained in the third septenary period of life--from the fourteenth to the twenty-first year, because the restraining mind is then still unborn.
Birth of the Mind
After the fourteenth year, the mind is in turn brooded over and nurtured by the macrocosmic mind, unfolding its latent possibilities and making it capable of original thought. The forces of the individual's different vehicles have now been ripened to such a degree that he can use them all in his evolution, therefore at the twenty-first year the Ego comes into possession of its complete vehicle. It does this by means of the blood-heat and by developing individual blood. This is done in connection with the full development of the light ether.
The Blood the Vehicle of the Ego
In infancy, and up to the fourteenth year, the red marrow-bones do not make all the blood corpuscles. Most of them are supplied by the thymus gland, which is largest in the fetus and gradually diminishes as the individual blood-making faculty develops in the growing child. The thymus gland contains, as it were, a supply of blood corpuscles given by the parents, and consequently the child, which draws its blood from that source, does not realize its individuality. Not until the blood is made by the child does it think of itself as "I," and when the thymus gland disappears, at the age of fourteen, the "I" feeling reaches its full expression, for then the blood is made and dominated entirely by the Ego. The following will make clear the idea and its logic:
It will be remembered that assimilation and growth depend upon the forces working along the positive pole of the vital body's chemical ether. That is set free at the seventh year, together with the balance of the vital body. Only the chemical ether is fully ripe at that time; the other parts need more ripening. At the fourteenth year the life ether of the vital body, which has to do with propagation, is fully ripe. In the period from seven to fourteen years of age the excessive assimilation has stored up an amount of force which goes to the sex organs and is ready at the time the desire body is set free.
This force of sex is stored in the blood during the third of the seven-year periods and in that time the light ether, which is the avenue for the blood-heat, is developed and controls the heart, so that the body is neither too hot nor too cold. In early childhood the blood very often rises to an abnormal temperature. During the period of excessive growth it is frequently the reverse, but in the hot-headed, unrestrained youth, passion and temper very often drive the Ego out by over-heating the blood. We very appropriately call this an ebullition or boiling over of temper and describe the effect as causing the person to "lose his head," i.e., become incapable of thought. That is exactly what happens when passion, rage, or temper overheats the blood, thus drawing the Ego outside the bodies. The description is accurate when, of a person in such a state, we say, "He has lost control of himself." The Ego is outside of his vehicles and they are running amuck, bereft of the guiding influence of thought, part of the work of which is to act as a brake on impulse. The great and terrible danger of such outbursts is that before the owner re-enters his body some disembodied entity may take possession of it and keep him out. This is called "obsession." Only the man who keeps cool and does not allow excess of heat to drive him out can think properly. As proof of the assertion that the Ego cannot work in the body when the blood is either tool hot or too cold we will call attention to the well-known fact that excessive heat makes one sleepy and, if carried beyond a certain point, it drives the Ego out, leaving the body in a faint, that is, unconscious. Excessive cold has also a tendency to make the body sleepy or unconscious. It is only when the blood is at or near the normal temperature that the Ego can use it as a vehicle of consciousness.
To further show the connection of the ego with the blood we may mention the burning blush of shame, which is an evidence of the manner in which the blood is driven to the head, thus over-heating the brain and paralyzing thought. Fear is the state when the Ego wants to barricade himself against some outside danger. He then drives the blood to the center and grows pale, because the blood has left the periphery of the body and has lost heat, thus paralyzing thought. His blood "freezes," he shivers and his teeth chatter, as when the temperature is lowered by atmospheric conditions. In fever the excess of heat causes delirium.
The full-blooded person, when the blood is not too hot, is active in body and mind, while the anemic person is sleepy. In one the Ego has better control; in the other less. When the Ego wants to think it drives blood, at the proper heat, to the brain. When a heavy meal centers the activity of the Ego upon the digestive tracts, the man cannot think; he is sleepy.
The old Norsemen and the Scots recognized that the Ego is in the blood. No stranger could become associated with them as a relative until he had "mixed blood" with them and thus become one of them. Goethe, who was an Initiate, also showed this in his "Faust." Faust is about to sign the compact with Mephistopheles and asks, "Why not sign with ordinary ink? Why use blood?" Mephisto answers, "Blood is a most peculiar essence." He knows, that who has the blood has the man; that without the warm blood, no Ego can find expression.
The proper heat for the real expression of the Ego is not present until the mind is born from the macrocosmic Concrete Mind, when the individual is about twenty-one years old. Statutory law also recognizes this as the earliest age when the man is deemed fit to exercise a franchise.
At the present stage of human development the man goes through these principal stages in each life cycle, from one birth to the next.
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