The Rosicrucian Fellowship
P.O. Box 713
Oceanside, California, 92054, USA
Before entering upon an explanation of the teachings of the Rosicrucians, it may be well to say a word about them and about the place they hold in the evolution of humanity.
For reasons to be given later these teachings advocate the dualistic view; they hold that man is a Spirit enfolding all the powers of God as the seed enfolds the plant, and that these powers are being slowly unfolded by a series of existences in a gradually improving earthy body; also that this process of development has been performed under the guidance of exalted Beings who are yet ordering our steps, though in a decreasing measure, as we gradually acquire intellect and will. These exalted Beings, though unseen to the physical eyes, are neverthless potent factors in all affairs of life, and give to the various groups of humanity lessons which will most efficiently promote the growth of their spiritual powers. In fact, the earth may be likened to a vast training school in which there are pupils of varying age and ability as we find it in one of our own schools. There are the savages, living and worshipping under most primitive conditions, seeing in stick or stone a God. Then, as man progresses onwards and upwards in the scale of civilization, we find a higher and higher conception of Deity, which has flowered here in our Western World in the beautiful Christian religion that now furnishes our spiritual inspiration and incentive to improve.
These various religions have been given to each group of humanity by the exalted beings whom we know in the Christian religion as the Recording Angels, whose wonderful prevision enables them to view the trend of even so unstable a quantity as the human mind, and thus they are enabled to determine what steps are necessary to lead our unfoldment along the lines congruous to the highest universal good.
When we study the history of the ancient nations we shall find that at about six hundred years B.C. a great spiritual wave had its inception on the Eastern shores of the Pacific Ocean where the great Confucian religion accelerated the progress of the Chinese nation, then also the religion of the Buddha commenced to win its millions of adherents in India, and still further West we have the lofty philosophy of Pythagoras. Each system was suited to the needs of the particular people to whom it was sent. Then came the period of the Sceptics, in Greece, and later, traveling westward the same spiritual wave is manifested as the Christian religion of the so-called "Dark Ages" when the dogma of a dominant church compelled belief from the whole of Western Europe.
It is a law in the universe that a wave of spiritual awakening is always followed by a period of doubting materialism; each phase is necessary in order that the Spirit may receive equal development of heart and intellect without being carried too far in either direction. The great Beings aforementioned, who care for our progress, always take steps to safeguard humanity against that danger, and when they foresaw the wave of materialism which commenced in the sixteenth century with the birth of our modern science, they took steps to protect the West as they had formerly safeguarded the East against the sceptics who were held in check by the Mystery Schools.
In the fourteenth century there appeared in central Europe a great spiritual teacher whose symbolical name was
who founded the mysterious Order of the Rosy Cross, concerning which so many speculations have been made and so little has become known to the world at large, for it is the Mystery School of the West and is open only to those who have attained the stage of spiritual unfoldment necessary to be initiated in its secrets concerning the Science of Life and Being.
If we are so far developed that we are able to leave our dense physical body and take a soul flight into interplanetary space we shall find that the ultimate physical atom is spherical in shape like our earth; it is a ball. When we take a number of balls of even size and group them around one, it will take just twelve balls to hide a thirteenth within. Thus the twelve visible and the one hidden are numbers revealing a cosmic relationship and as all Mystery Orders are based upon cosmic lines, they are composed of twelve members gathered around a thirteenth who is the invisible head.
There are seven colors in the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. But between the violet and the red there are still five other colors which are invisible to the physical eye but reveal themselves to the spiritual sight. In every Mystery Order there are also seven Brothers who at times go out into the world and there perform whatever work may be necessary to advance the people among whom they serve, but five are never seen outside the temple. They work with and teach those alone who have passed through certain stages of spiritual unfoldment and are able to visit the temple in their spiritual bodies, a feat taught in the first initiation which usually takes place outside the temple as it is not convenient for all to visit that place physically.
Let not the reader imagine that this initiation makes the pupil a Rosicrucian, it does not, any more than admission to a high school makes a boy a member of the faculty. Nor does he become a Rosicrucian even after having passed through all the nine degrees of this or any other Mystery School. The Rosicrucians are Hierophants of the Lesser Mysteries, and beyond them there are still schools wherein greater Mysteries are taught. Those who have advanced through the Lesser Mysteries are called Adepts, but even they have not reached the exalted standpoint of the twelve Brothers of the Rosicrucian Order or the Hierophants of any other Lesser Mystery School any more than the freshman at college has attained to the knowledge and position of a teacher in the high school from which he has just graduated.
A later work will deal with initation, but we may say here that the door of a genuine Mystery School is not unlocked by a golden key, but is only opened as a reward for meritorious service to humanity and any one who advertises himself as a Rosicrucian or makes a charge for tuition, by either of those acts shows himself to be a charlatan. The true pupil of any Mystery School is far too modest to advertise the fact, he will scorn all titles or honors from men, he will have no regard for riches save the riches of love given to him by those whom it becomes his privilege to help and teach.
In the centuries that have gone by since the Rosicrucian Order was first formed they have worked quietly and secretly, aiming to mould the thought of Western Europe through the works of Paracelsus, Boehme, Bacon, Shakespeare, Fludd and others. Each night at midnight when the physical activities of the day are at their lowest ebb, and the spiritual impulse at its highest flood tide, they have sent out from their temple soul-stirring vibrations to counteract materialism and to further the development of soul powers. To their activities we owe the gradual spiritualization of our once so materialistic science.
With the commencement of the twentieth century a further step was taken. It was realized that something must be done to make religion scientific as well as to make science religious, in order that they may ultimately blend; for at the present time heart and intellect are divorced. The heart instinctively feels the truth of religious teachings concerning such wonderful mysteries as the Immaculate Conception (the Mystic Birth), the Crucifixion (the Mystic Death), the Cleansing Blood, the Atonement, and other doctrines of the Church, which the intellect refuses to believe, as they are incapable of demonstration, and seemingly at war with natural law. Material advancement may be furthered when intellect is dominant and the longings of the heart unsatisfied, but soul growth will be retarded until the heart also receives satisfaction.
In order to give the world a teaching so blended that it will satisfy both the mind and heart, a messenger must be found and instructed. Certain unusual qualifications were necessary, and the first one chosen failed to pass a certain test after several years had been spent to prepare him for the work to be done.
It is well said that there is a time to sow, and a time to reap, and that there are certain times for all the works of life, and in accordance with this law of periodicity each impulse in spiritual uplift must also be undertaken at an appropriate time to be successful. The first and sixth decades of each century are particularly propitious to commence the promulgation of new spiritual teachings. Therefore the Rosicrucians were much concerned at this failure, for only five years were left of the first decade of the twentieth century.
Their second choice of a messenger fell upon the present writer, though he knew it not at the time, and by shaping circumstances about him they made it possible for him to begin a period of preparation for the work they desired him to do. Three years later, when he had gone to Germany, also because of circumstances shaped by the invisible Brotherhood, and was on the verge of despair at the discovery that the light which was the object of his quest, was only a jack-o-lantern, the Brothers of the Rosicrucian Order applied the test to see whether he would be a faithful messenger and give the teachings they desired to entrust to him, to the world. And when he had passed the trial they gave him the monumental solution of the problem of existence first published in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception in November, 1909, more than a year before the expiration of the first decade of the twentieth century. This book marked a new era in so-called "occult" literature, and the many editions which have since been published as well as the thousands of letters which continue to come to the author, are speaking testimonies to the fact that people are finding in this teaching a satisfaction they have sought elsewhere in vain.
The Rosicrucians teach that all great religions have been given to the people among whom they are found, by Divine Intelligences who designed each system of worship to suit the needs of the race or nation to whom it was given. A primitive people cannot respond to a lofty and sublime religion, and vice versa. What helps one race would hinder another, and in pursuance of the same policy there has been devised a system of soul-unfoldment suited especially to the Western people, who are racially and temperamentally unfit to undergo the discipline of the Eastern school, which was designed for the more backward Hindus.
For the purpose of promulgating the Rosicrucian Teachings in the Western World, the Rosicrucian Fellowship was founded in 1909. It is the herald of the Aquarian Age, when the Sun by its precessional passage through the constellation Aquarius, will bring out all the intellectual and spiritual potencies in man which are symbolized by that sign. As heat from a fire warms all objects within the sphere of its radiations, so also the Aquarian ray will raise the earth's vibrations to a pitch we are as yet unable to comprehend, though we have demonstrations of the material workings of this force in the inventions which have revolutionized life within the memory of the present generation. We have wondered at the X-ray, which sees through the human body, but each one has a sense latent which when evolved will enable him to see through any number of bodies or to any distance. We marvel at the telephone conversations across the continent of America, but each has within a latent sense which when evolved will enable him to see through any number of bodies or to any distance. We marvel at the telephone conversations across the continent of America, but each has within a latent sense of speech and hearing that is far more acute; we are surprised at the exploits of ships under sea and in the sky, but we are all capable of passage under water or through the sky; nay, more we may pass unscathed through the solid rock and the raging fire, if we know how, and lightning itself is slow compared to the speed with which we may travel. This sounds like a fairy tale today, as did Jules Verne's stories a generation ago, but the Aquarian Age will witness the realization of these dreams, and ever so much more that we still do not even dream of. Such faculties will then be the possessions of large numbers of people who will have gradually evolved them as previously the ability to walk, speak, hear, and see, were developed.
Therein lies a great danger, for, obviously, anyone endowed with such faculties may use them to the greatest detriment of the world at large, unless restrained by a spirit of unselfishness and an all-embracing altruism. Therefore religion is needed today as never before, to foster love and fellow-feeling among humanity so that it may be prepared to use the great gifts in store for it wisely and well. This need of religion is specially felt in a certain class where the ether is more loosely knit to the physical atoms than in the majority, and on that account they are now beginning to sense the Aquarian vibrations.
This class is again divided in two groups. In one the intellect is dominant, and the people in that class therefore seek to grasp the spiritual mysteries out of curiosity from the viewpoint of cold reason. They pursue the path of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, considering that an end in itself. The idea that knowledge is of value only when put to practical constructive use does not seem to have presented itself to them. This class we may call occultists.
The other group does not care for knowledge, but feels an inner urge God-ward, and pursues the path of devotion to the high ideal set before them in Christ, doing the deeds that He did as far as their flesh will permit, and this in time results in an interior illumination which brings with it all the knowledge obtained by the other class, and much more. This class we may describe as mystics.
Certain dangers confront each of the two groups. If the occultist obtains illumination and evolves within himeslf the latent spiritual faculties, he may use them for the furtherance of his personal objects, to the great detriment of his fellow-men. That is black magic, and the punishment which it automatically calls down upon the head of the perpetrator is so awful that it is best to draw the veil over it. The mystic may also err because of ignorance, and fall into the meshes of nature's law, but being actuated by love, his mistakes will never be very serious, and as he grows in grace the soundless voice within his heart will speak more distinctly to teach him the way.
The Rosicrucian Fellowship endeavors to prepare the world in general, and the sensitives of the two groups in particular, for the awakening of the latent powers in man, so that all may be guided safely through the danger-zone and be as well fitted as possible to use these new faculties. Effort is made to blend the love without which Paul declared a knowledge of all mysteries worthless, with a mystic knowledge rooted and grounded in love, so that the pupils of this school may become LIVING exponents of this blended soul-science of the Western Wisdom School, and gradually educate humanity at large in the virtues necessary to make the possession of higher powers safe.
Among all the vicissitudes of life, which vary in each individual's experience, there is one event which sooner or later comes to everyone--Death! No matter what our station in life, whether the life lived has been a laudable one or the reverse, whether great achievements have marked our path among men; whether health or sickness has been our lot, whether we have been famous and surrounded by a host of admiring friends or have wandered unknown through the years of our life, at some time there comes a moment when we stand alone before the portal of death and are forced to take the leap into the dark.
The thought of this leap and of what lies beyond must inevitably force itself upon every thinking person. In the years of youth and health, when the bark of our life sails upon seas of prosperity, when all appears beautiful and bright, we may put the thought behind us, but there will surely come a time in the life of every thinking person when the problem of life and death forces itself upon his consciousness and refuses to be set aside. Neither will it help him to accept the ready-made solution of anyone else without thought and in blind belief, for this is a basic problem which every one must solve for himself or herself in order to obtain satisfaction.
Upon the eastern edge of the Desert of Sahara there stands the world-famous Sphinx with its inscrutable face turned toward the East, ever greeting the Sun as its rising rays herald the newborn day. It was said in the Greek myth that it was the wont of this monster to ask a riddle of each traveler. She devoured those who could not answer, but when Oedipus solved the riddle she destroyed herself.
The riddle which she asked of men was the riddle of life and death, a query which is as relevant today as ever, and which each one must answer or be devoured in the jaws of death. But when onece a person has found the solution to the problem, it will appear that in reality there is no death, that what appears so, is but a change from one state of existence to another. Thus, for the man who finds the true solution to the riddle of life, the sphinx of death has ceased to exist, and he can lift his voice in the triumphant cry, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
Various theories of life have been advocated to solve this problem of life. We may divide them into two classes, namely the Monistic Theory, which holds that all the facts of life can be explained by reference to this visible world wherein we live, and the Dualistic Theory, which refers part of the phenomenon of life to another world which is now invisible to us.
Raphael in his famous painting, "The School of Athens," has most aptly pictured to us the attitude of these two schools of thought. We see upon that marvelous painting a Greek Court such as those wherein philosophers were once wont to congregate. Upon the various steps which lead into the building a large number of men are engaged in deep conversation, but in the center at the top of the steps stand two figures, supposedly of Plato and Aristotle, one pointing upwards, the other towards the earth, each looking the other in the face, mutely, but with deeply concentrated will; each seeking to convince the other that his attitude is right, for each bears the conviction in his heart. One holds that he is of the earth earthy, that he has come from the dust and that thereto he will return, the other firmly advocates the position that there is a higher something which has always existed and will continue regardless of whether the body wherein it now dwells holds together or not.
The question who is right is still an open one with the majority of mankind. Millions of tons of paper and printer's ink have been used in futile attempts to settle it by argument, but it will always remian open to all who have not solved the riddle themselves, for it is a basic problem, a part of the life experience of every human being to settle that question, and therefore no one can give us the solution ready-made for our acceptance. All that can be done by those who have really solved the problem, is to show to others the line along which they have found the solution, and thus direct the inquirer how he also, by his own efforts, may arrive at a conclusion.
That is the aim of this little book; not to offer a solution to the problem of life to be taken blindly, on faith in the author's ability of investigation. The teachings herein set forth are those handed down by the Great Western Mystery School of the Rosicrucian Order and are the result of the concurrent testimony of a long line of trained Seers given to the author and supplemented by his own independent investigation of the realms traversed by the Spirit in its cyclic path from the invisible world to this plane of existence and back again.
Nevertheless, the student is warned that the writer may have misunderstood some of the teachings and that despite the greatest care he may have taken a wrong view of that which he believes to have been seen in the invisible world where the possibilities of making a mistake are legion. Here in the world which we view about us the forms are stable and do not easily change, but in the world around us which is perceptible only by the spiritual sight, we may say that there is in reality no form, but that all is life. At least the forms are so changeable that the metamorphosis recounted in fairy stories is discounted there to an amazing degree, and therefore we have the surprising revelations of mediums and other untrained clairvoyants who, though they may be perfectly honest, are deceived by illusions of form which is evanescent, because they are incapable of viewing the life that is the permanent basis of that form.
We must learn to see in this world. The new-born babe has no conception of distance and will reach for things far, far beyond its grasp until it has learned to gauge its capacity. A blind man who acquires the faculty of sight, or has it restored by an operation will at first be inclined to close his eyes when moving from place to place, and declare that it is easier to walk by feeling than by sight; that is because he has not learned to use his newly acquired faculty. Similarly the man whose spiritual vision has been newly opened requires to be trained; in fact, he is in much greater need thereof than the babe and the blind man already mentioned. Denied that training, he would be like a new-born babe placed in a nursery where the walls are lined with mirrors of different convex and concave curvatures, which would distort its own shape and the forms of its attendants. If allowed to grow up in such surroundings and unable to see the real shapes of itself and its nurses it would naturaly believe that it saw many different and distorted shapes, when in reality the mirrors were responsible for the illusion. Were the persons concerned in such an experiment and the child taken out of the illusory surroundings, it would be incapable of recognizing them until the matter had been properly explained. There are similar dangers of illusion to those who have developed spiritual sight, until they have been trained to discount the refraction and view the life which is permanent and stable, disregarding the form which is evanescent and changeable. The danger of getting things out of focus always remains, however, and is so subtle that the writer feels an imperative duty to warn his readers to take all statements concerning the unseen world with the proverbial grain of salt, for he has no intention to deceive. He is therefore inclined rather to magnify than to minimize his limitations and would advise the student to accept nothing from the author's pen without reasoning it out for himself. Thus, if he is deceived, he will be self-deceived and the author is blameless.
Only three noteworthy theories have been offered as solutions to the riddle of existence and in order that we may be able to make the important choice between them, we will state briefly what they are and give some of the arguments which lead us to advocate the Doctrine of Rebirth as the method which favors soul-growth and the ultimate attainment of perfection, thus offering the best solution to the problem of life.
1) The Materialistic Theory teaches that life is but a short journey from the cradle to the grave; that there is no higher intelligence in the universe than man; that his mind is produced by certain correlations of matter and that therefore death and dissolution of the body terminate existence.
There was a day when the arguments of materialistic philosophers seemed convincing, but as science advances it discovers more and more that there is a spiritual side to the universe. That life and consciousness may exist without being able to give us a sign, has been amply proven inthe cases where a person who was entranced and thought dead for days has suddenly awakened and told all that had taken place around the body. Such eminent scientist as Sir Oliver Lodge, Camille Flammarion, Lombroso, and other men of highest intelligence and scientific training, have unequivocally stated as the result of their investigations, that the intelligence which we call man survives death of the body and lives on in our midst as independently of whether we see them or not, as light and color exist all about the blind man regardless of the fact that he does not perceive them. These scientist have reached their conclusion after years of careful investigation. They have found that the so-called dead can, and under certain circumstances do, communicate with us in such a manner that mistake is out of the question. We maintain that their testimony is worth more than the argument of materialism to the contrary, for it is based on years of careful investigation, it is in harmony with such well established laws as The Law of Conservation of Matter and The Law of Conservation of energy. Mind is a form of energy, and immune from destruction as claimed by the materialist. Therefore we disbar the materialistic theory as unsound because out of harmony with the laws of nataure and with well established facts.
2)The Theory of Theology claims that just prior to each birth a soul is created by God and enters into the world where it lives for a time varying from a few minutes to a few score years; that at the end of this short span of life it returns through the portal of death to the invisible beyond, where it remains forever in a condition of happiness or misery according to the deeds done in the body during the few years it lived here.
Plato insisted upon the necessity of a clear definition of terms as a basis of argument and we contend that that is as necessary in discussing the problem of life from the Bible point of view as in arguments from the platonic standpoint. According to the Bible man is a composite being consisting of body, soul, and Spirit. The two latter are usually taken to be synonymous but we in sist that they are not interchangeable and present the following to support our dictum.
All things are in a state of vibration. Vibrations from objects in our surroundings are constantly impinging upon us and carry to our senses a cognition of the external world. The vibrations in the ether act upon our eyes so that we see, and vibrations in the air transmit sounds to the ear.
We also breathe the air and ether which is thus charged with pictures of our surroundings and the sounds in our environment, so that by means of the breath we receive at each moment of our life, internally, an accurate picture of our external surroundings.
That is a scientific proposition. Science does not explain what becomes of these vibrations, however, but according to the Rosicrucian Mystery Teaching they are transmitted to the blood, and then etched upon a little atom in the heart as automatically as a moving picture is imprinted upon the sensitized film, and a record of sounds is engraved upon the phonographic disc. This breath-record starts with the first breath of the new-born babe and ends only with the last gasp of the dying man, and "soul" is a product of the breath. Genesis also shows the connection between breath and soul in the words: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (The same word: nephesh, is translated breath and soul in the above quotation.)
In the post-mortem existence the breath-record is disposed of. The good acts of life produce feelings of pleasure and the intensity of attraction incorporates them into the Spirit as soul-power. Thus the breath-records of our good acts are the soul which is saved, for by the union with the Spirit they become immortal. As they accumulate life after life, we become more soulful and they are thus also the basis of soul-growth.
The record of our evil acts is also derived from our breath in the moments when they were committed. The pain and suffering they bring cause the Spirit to expel the breath-record from it being in Purgatory. As that cannot exist independently of the life-giving Spirit, the breath-record of our sins disintegrates upon expurgation, and thus we see that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." The memory of the suffering incidental to expurgation, however, remains with the Spirit as conscience, to deter from repetition of the same evil in later lives.
Thus both our good and evil acts are recorded through the agency of the breath, which is therefore the basis of the soul, but while the breathrecord of good acts amalgamates with the Spirit and lives on forever as an immortal soul, the breath-record of evil deeds is disintegrated; it is the soul that sinneth and dies.
While the Bible teaches that immortality of the soul is conditional upon well-doing, it makes no distinction in respect of the Spirit. The statement is clear and emphatic when...."The silver cord be loosed...then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return to God who gave it."
Thus the Bible teaches that the body is made of dust and returns thereto, that a part of the soul generated in the breath is perishable, but that the Spirit survives bodily death and persists forever. Therefore a "lost soul" in the common acceptance of that term is not a Bible teaching, for the Spirit is uncreate and eternal as God Himself, and therefore the orthodox theory cannot be true.
3) The Theory of Rebirth: Which teaches that each spirit is an integral part of God, that it enfolds all divine possibilities as the acorn enfolds the oak; that by means of many existences in an earthly body of gradually improving texture its latent powers are being slowly unfolded and become available as dynamic energy; that none can be lost but that all will ultimately attain to perfection and reunion with God, each bringing with it the accumulated experiences which are the fruitage of its pilgrimage through matter.
Or, as we may poetically express it:
We venture to make the assertion that there is but one sin: ignorance, and but one salvation: applied knowledge. Even the wisest among us know but litte of what may be learned, however, and no one has attained to perfection, or an attain in one single short life, but we note that everywhere in nature slow persistent unfoldment makes for higher and higher development of everything, and we call this process evolution.
One of the chief characteristics of evolution lies in the fact that it manifests in alternating periods of activity and rest. The busy summer, when all things upon earth are exerting themselves to bring forth, is followed by the flood-tide. Thus, as all other things move in cycles, the life that expresses itself here upon earth for a few years is not to be thought of as ended when death has been reached, but as surely as the Sun rises in the morning after having set at night, will the life that was ended by the death of one body be taken up again in a new vehicle and in a different environment.
This earth may, in fact, be likened to a school to which we return life after life to learn new lessons, as our children go to school day after day to increase their knowledge. The child sleeps through the night which intervenes between death and a new birth. There are also different classes in this world school which correspond to the various grades from kindergarten to college. In the lower classes we find Spirits who have gone to the school of life but a few times, they are savages now, but in time they will become wiser and better than we are, and we ourselves shall progress in future lives to spiritual heights of which we cannot even conceive at the present. If we apply ourselves to learn the lessons of life, we shall of course advance much faster in the school of life than if we dilly-dally and idle our time away. This, on the same principle which governs in one of our own institutions of learning.
We are not here then by the caprice of God. He has not placed one in clover and another in a desert, nor has He given one a healthy body so that he may live at ease from pain and sickness, while He placed another in poor circumstances with never a rest from pain. But what we are, we are on account of our own diligence or negligence, and what we shall be in the future depends upon what we will to be and not upon divine caprice or upon inexorable fate. No matter what the circumstances, it lies with us to master them, or to be mastered as we will. Sir Edwin Arnold puts the teaching most beautifully in his "Light of Asia:"
Or, as Ella Wheeler Wilcox says:
When we wish to engage someone to undertake a certain mission we choose some one whom we think particularly fitted to fulfill the requirements, and we must suppose that a Divine Being would use at least as much common sense and not choose anyone to do his errand who was not fitted therefor. So when we read in the Bible that Samson was foreordained to be the slayer of the Philistines and that Jeremiah was predestined to be a prophet, it is but logical to suppose that they must have been particularly suited to such occupations. John the Baptist, also, was born to be a herald of the coming Saviour and to preach the Kingdom of God which is to take the place of the kingdom of men.
Had these people had no previous training, how could they have developed such a fitness to fulfill their various missions, and if they had been fitted, how else could they have received their training if not in earlier lives?
The Jews believed in the Doctrine of Rebirth or they would not have asked John the Baptist if he were Elijah, as recorded in the first chapter of John. The Apostles of Christ also held the belief as we may see from the incident recorded in the Sixteenth chapter of Matthew where the Christ asked them the question: "Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" The Apostles replied: "Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others Jeremias or one of the Prophets." Upon this occasion the Christ tacitly assented to the teaching of Rebirth because He did not correct the disciples as would have been His plain duty in His capacity as teacher, when the pupils entertained a mistaken idea.
But to Nicodemus He said unequivocally: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," and in the eleventh chapter of Matthew, the fourteenth verse, He said, speaking of John the Baptist: "This is Elijah." In the seventeenth chapter of Matthew, the twelfth verse, He said: "Elijah is come already and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed." "Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptist."
Thus we maintain that the Doctrine of Rebirth offers the only solution to the problem of life which is in harmony with the laws of nature, which answers the ethical requirements of the case and permits us to love God without blinding our reason to the inequalities of life and the varying circumstances which give to a few the ease and comfort, the health and wealth, which are denied to the many.
The theory of heredity advanced by materialists applies only to the form, for as a carpenter uses material from a certain pile of lumber to build a house in which he afterward lives, so does the Spirit take the substance wherewith to build its house from the parents. The carpenter cannot build a house of hard wood from spruce lumber, and the Spirit also must build a body which is like those from which the material was taken. But the theory of heredity does not apply upon the moral plane, for it is a known fact that in the rogues galleries of America and Europe there is no case where both father and son are represented. Thus the sons of criminals, though they have the tendencies to crime, keep out of the clutches of the law. Neither will heredity hold good upon the plane of the intellect, for many cases may be cited where a genius and an idiot spring from the same stock. The great Cuvier, whose brain was of about the same weight, as Daniel Webster's, and whose intellect was as great, had five children who all died of paresis; the brother of Alexander the Great was an idiot; and thus we hold that another solution must be found to account for the facts of life.
The Law of Rebirth coupled with its companion law, the Law of Causation, does that. When we die after one life, we return to earth later, under circumstances determined by the manner in which we lived before. The gambler is drawn to pool parlors and race tracks to associate with others of like taste, the musician is attracted to the concert halls and music studios where there are congenial Spirits, and the returning Ego also carries with it likes and dislikes which cause it to seek parents among the class to which it belongs.
But then someone will point to cases where we find people of entirely opposite tastes living lives of torture, because grouped in the same family, and forced by circumstances to stay there contrary to their wills. But that does not vitiate the law in the slightest. In each life we contact certain obligations which cannot then be fulfilled. Perhaps we have run away from a duty such as the care of an invalid relative and have met death without coming to a realization of our mistake. That relative upon the other hand may have suffered severely from our neglect, and have stored up a bitterness against us before death terminates the suffering. Death and the subsequent removal to another environment does not pay our debts in this life, any more than the removal from the city where we now live to another place will pay the debts we have contracted prior to our removal. It is therefore quite possible that the two who have injured each other as described, may find themselves members of the same family. Then, whether they remember the past grudge or not, the old enmity will assert itself and cause them to hate anew until the consequent discomfort force them to tolerate each other, and perhaps later they may learn to love where they hated.
The question also arises in the mind of inquirers: If we have been here before why do we not remember? And the answer is that while most people are not aware of how their previous existences were spent, there are others who have very distinct recollection of previous lives. A friend of the writer for instance, when living in France, one day started to read to her son about a certain city where they were then going upon a bicycle tour, and the boy exclaimed: "You do not need to tell me about that, Mother. I know that city. I lived there and was killed!" He then commenced to describe the city and also a certain bridge. Later he took his mother to that bridge and showed her the spot where he had met death centuries before. Another friend travelling in Ireland saw a scene which she recognized, and she also described to the party the scene around the bend of the road which she had never seen in this life, so it must have been a memory from a previous life. Numerous other instances could be given where such minor flashes of memory reveal to us glimpses from a past life. The verified case in which a little three year old girl in Santa Barbara described her life and death has been given in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. It is perhaps the most conclusive evidence as it hinges on the veracity of a child too young to have learned deception.
This theory of life does not rest upon speculation, however. It is one of the first facts of life demonstrated to the pupil of a Mystery School. He is taught to watch a child in the act of dying, also, to watch it in the invisible world from day to day, until it comes to a new birth a year or two later. Then he knows with absolute certainty that we return to Earth to reap in a future life what we now sow.
The reason for taking a child to watch in preference to an adult is that the child is reborn very quickly, for its short life on Earth has borne but few fruits and these are soon assimilated, while the adult who has lived a long life and had much experience remains in the invisible worlds for centuries, so that the pupil could not watch him from death to rebirth. The cause of infant mortality will be explained later; here we merely desire to emphasize the fact that it is within the range of possibilities of every one without exception to become able to know at first hand that which is here taught.
The average interval between two Earth-lives is about a thousand years. It is determined by the movement of the Sun known to astronomers as precession of the equinox, by which the Sun moves through one of the signs of the Zodiac in about 2,100 years. During that time the conditions upon Earth have changed so much that the Spirit will find entirely new experiences here, and therefore it returns.
The Great Leaders of evolution always obtain the maximum benefit from each condition designed by them, and as the experiences in the same social conditions are very different in the case of a man from what they are for a woman, the human Spirit takes birth twice during the 2,100 years measured by the precession of the equinox, as already explained: it is born once as a man and another time as a woman. Such is the rule, but it is subject to whatever modifications may be necessary to facilitate reaping what the Spirit has sown, as required under the Law of Causation which works hand in hand with the Law of Rebirth. Thus, at times a Spirit may be brought to birth long ere the thousand years have expired, in order to fulfill a certain mission, or it may be detained in the invisible worlds after the time when it should have come to birth according to the strict requirements of a blind law. The laws of nature are not that, however. They are Great Intelligences who always subordinate minor considerations to higher ends, and under their beneficent guidance we are constantly progressing from life to life under conditions exactly suited to each individual, until in time we shall attain to a higher evolution and become Supermen.
Oliver Wendell Holmes has so beautifully voiced that aspiration and its consummation in the lines:
If one who is capable of consciously using his spiritual body with the same facility that we now use our physical vehicles should glide away from the Earth into interplanetary space, the Earth and the various other planets of our solar system would appear to him or her to be composed of three kinds of matter, roughly speaking. The densest matter, which is our visible Earth, would appear to him as being the center of the ball as the yolk is in the center of an egg. Around that nucleus he or she would observe a finer grade of matter similarly disposed in relation to the central mass, as the white of the egg is disposed outside the yolk. Upon a little closer investigation he would also discover that this second kind of substance permeates the solid Earth to the very center, even as the blood percolates through the more solid parts of our flesh. Outside both of these mingling layers of matter he would observe a still finer, third layer corresponding to the shell of the egg, except that this third layer is the finest, most subtle of the three grades of matter, and that it interpenetrates both of the two inner layers.
As already said, the central mass, spiritually seen, is our visible world, composed of solids, liquids, and gases. They constitute the Earth, its atmosphere, and also the ether, of which physical science speaks hypothetically as permeating the atomic substance of all chemical elements. The second layer of matter is called the Desire World and the outermost layer is called the World of Thought.
A little reflection upon the subject will make clear that just such a constitution is necessary to account for facts of life as we see them. All forms in the world about us are built from chemical substances: solids, liquids, and gases, but insofar that they do move, these forms obey a separate and distinct impulse, and when this impelling energy leaves, the form becomes inert. The steam engine rotates under the impetus of an invisible gas called steam. Before steam filled its cylinder, the engine stood still, and when the impelling force is shut off its motion again ceases. The dynamo rotates under the still more subtle influence of an electric current which may also cause the click of a telegraph instrument or the ring of an electric bell, but the dynamo ceases its swift whirl and the persistent ring of the electric bell becomes mute when the invisible electricity is switched off. The forms of the bird, the animal, and the human being also cease their motion when the inner force which we call life has winged its invisible way.
All forms are impelled into motion by desire: the bird and the animal roam land and air in their desire to secure food and shelter, or for the purpose of breeding. Man is also moved by these desires, but has in addition other and higher incentives to spur him to effort; among them is desire for rapidity of motion which led him to construct the steam engine and other devices that move in obedience to his desire.
If there were no iron in the mountains man could not build machines. If there were no clay in the soil, the bony structure of the skeleton would be an impossibility, and if there were no Physical World at all, with its solids, liquids, and gases, this dense body of ours could never have come into existence. Reasoning along similar lines it must be at once apparent that if there were no Desire World composed of desire-stuff, we should have no way of forming feelings, emotions, and desires. A planet composed of the materials we perceive with our physical eyes and of no other substances, might be the home of plants which grow unconsciously, but have no desires to cause them to move. The human and animal kingdoms, however, would be impossibilities.
Furthermore, there is in the world a vast number of things, from the simplest and most crude instruments, to the most intricate and cunning devices which have been constructed by the hand of man. These reveal the fact of man's thought and ingenuity. Thought must have a source as well as form and feeling. We saw that it was necessary to have the requisite material in order to build a steam engine or a body and we reasoned from the fact that in order to obtain material to express desire there must also be a world composed of desire stuff. Carrying our argument to its logical conclusion, we also hold that unless a World of Thought provides a reservoir of mind stuff upon which we may draw, it would be impossible for us to think and invent the things which we see in even the lowest civilization.
Thus it will be clear that the division of a planet into worlds is not based on fanciful metaphysical speculation, but is logically necessary in the economy of nature. Therefore it must be taken into consideration by any one who would study and aim to understand the inner nature of things. When we see the street cars moving along our streets, it does not explain to say that the motor is driven by electricity of so many amperes at so many volts. These names only add to our confusion until we have thoroughly studied the science of electricity; and then we shall find that the mystery deepens, for while the street car belongs to the world of inert form perceptible to our vision, the electric current which moves it is indigenous to the realm of force, the invisible Desire World, and the thought which created and guides it, comes from the still more subtle World of Thought which is the home world of the human Spirit, the Ego.
It may be objected that this line of argument makes a simple matter exceedingly intricate, but a little reflection will soon show the fallacy of such a contention. Viewed superficially any of the sciences seem extremely simple; anatomically we may divide the body into flesh and bone, chemically we may make the simple divisions between solid, liquid, and gas, but thoroughly to master the science of anatomy it is necessary to spend years in close application and learn to know all the little nerves, the ligaments which bind articulations between various parts of the bony structure, to study the several kinds of tissue and their disposition in our system where they form the bones, muscles, glands, etc., which in the aggregate we know as the human body. To understand properly the science of chemistry we must study the valence of the atom which determines the power of combination of the various elements, together with other niceties, such as atomic weight, density, etc. New wonders are constantly opening up to the most experienced chemist, who understands best the immensity of his or her chosen science.
The youngest lawyer, fresh from law school, knows more about the most intricate cases, in his or her own estimation, than the judges upon the Supreme Court bench who spend long hours, weeks and months, seriously deliberating over their decisions. But those who, without having studied, think they understand and are fitted to discourse upon the greatest of all sciences, the science of Life and Being, make a greater mistake. After years of patient study, of holy life spent in close application, a man is oftentimes perplexed at the immensity of the subject he studies. He finds it to be so vast in both the direction of the great and small that it baffles description, that language fails, and that the tongue must remain mute. Therefore we hold (and we speak from knowledge gained through years of close study and investigation) that the finer distinctions which we have made, and shall make, are not at all arbitrary, but absolutely necessary as are divisions and distinctions made in anatomy or chemistry.
No form in the physical world has feeling in the true sense of that word. It is the indwelling life which feels, as we may readily see from the fact that a body which responds to the lightest touch while instinct with life, exhibits no sensation whatever even when cut to pieces after the life has fled. Demonstrations have been made by scientists, particularly by Professor Bose of Calcutta, to show that there is feeling in dead animal tissue and even in tin and other metal, but we maintain that the diagrams which seem to support his contentions in reality demonstrate only a response to impacts similar to the rebound of a rubber ball, and that must not be confused with such feelings as love, hate, sympathy and aversion. Goethe also, in his novel. "Elective Affinities," (Wahlverwandtschaft), brings out some beautiful illustrations wherein he makes it seem as if atoms loved and hated, from the fact that some elements combine readily while other substances refuse to amalgamate, a phenomenon produced by the different rates of speed at which various elements vibrate and an unequal inclination of their axes. Only where there is sentient life can there be feelings of pleasure and pain, sorrow or joy.
In addition to the solids, liquids, and gases which compose the chemical region of the Physical World there is also a finer grade of matter called ether, which permeates the atomic structure of the earth and its atmosphere substantially as science teaches. Scientists have never seen, nor have they weighed, measured, or analyzed this substance, but the infer that it must exist in order to account for transmission of light and various other phenomena. If it were possible for us to live in a room from which the air had been exhausted, we might speak at the top of our voices, we might ring the largest bell, or we might even discharge a cannon close to our ear and ] we should hear no sound, for air is the medium which transmits sound vibrations to the tympanum of our ear, and that would be lacking. But if an electric light were lighted, we should at once perceive its rays; it would illumine the room despite the lack of air. Hence there must be a substance capable of being set into vibration, between the electric light and our eyes. That medium scientists call ether, but it so subtle that no instrument has been devised whereby it may be measured or analyzed, and therefore the scientists are without much information concerning it, though forced to postulate its existence.
We do not seek to belittle the achievements of modern scientists. We have the greatest admiration for them and we entertain high expectations of what ambitions they may yet realize, but we perceive a limitation in the fact that all discoveries of the past have been made by the invention of wonderful instruments applied in a most ingenious manner to solve seemingly insoluble and baffling problems. The strength of science lies vested in its instruments, for the scientist may say to anyone: "Go, procure a number of glasses ground in a certain manner, insert them in a tube, direct that tube toward a certain point in the sky where now nothing appears to your naked eye. You will then see a beautiful star called Uranus." If his directions are followed, anyone is quickly and without preparation able to demonstrate for himself the truth of the scientist's assertion. But while the instruments of science are its tower of strength, they also mark the end of its field of investigation, for it is impossible to contact the spirit world with physical instruments; so the research of occultists begins where the physical scientist finds his limit and is carried on by spiritual means.
These investigations are as thorough and as reliable as researches by material scientists, but not as easily demonstrable to the general public. Spiritual powers lie dormant within every human being, and when awakened, they compensate for both telescope and microscope, they enable their possessor to investigate, instanter, things beyond the veil of matter, but they are only developed by a patient application and continuance in well doing extended over years, and few are they who have faith to start upon the path to attainment to perseverance to go through with the ordeal. Therefore the occultist's assertions are not generally credited.
We can readily see that long probation must precede attainment, for a person equipped with spiritual sight is able to penetrate walls of houses as easily as we walk through the atmosphere, able to read at will the innermost thoughts of those about him, and if not actuated by the most pure and unselfish motives, would become a scourge to humanity. Therefore that power is safeguarded as we would withhold the dynamite bomb from an anarchist and from the well-intentioned but ignorant person, or, as we withhold match and powder barrel from a child.
In the hands of an experienced engineer the dynamite bomb may be used to open a highway of commerce, and an intelligent farmer may use gunpowder to good account in clearing his field of tree-stumps, but in the hands of an ill-intentioned criminal or ignorant child an explosive may wreck much property and end many lives. The force is the same, but used differently, according to the ability or intention of the user, it may produce results of a diametrically opposite nature. So it is also with spiritual powers, there is a time-lock upon them, as upon a bank safe, which keeps out until they have earned the privilege and the time is ripe for its exercise.
As already said, the ether is physical matter and responsive to the same laws which govern other physical substances upon this plane of existence. Therefore it requires but a slight extension of physical sight to see ether (which is disposed in four grades of density); the blue haze seen in mountain canyons is in fact ether of the kind known to occult investigators as chemical ether. Many people who see this ether unaware that they are possessed of a faculty not enjoyed by all. Others, who have developed spiritual sight are not endowed with etheric vision, a fact which seems an anomaly until the subject of clairvoyance is thoroughly understood.
The reason is, that as ether is physical matter, etheric sight depends upon the sensitiveness of the optic nerve, while spiritual sight is acquired by developing latent vibratory powers in two little organs situated in the brain: the pituitary body and the pineal gland. Even near-sighted people may have etheric vision. Though unable to read the print in a book, they may be able to "see through a wall," owing to the fact that their optic nerve responds more rapidly to fine than to coarse vibrations.
When anyone views an object with etheric sight he sees through that object in a manner similar to the way an X-ray penetrates opaque substances. If he looks at a sewing machine, he will perceive first, an outer casing; then, the works within, and behind both, the casing farthest away from him.
If he has developed the grade of spiritual vision which opens the Desire World to him and he looks at the same object, he will see it both inside and out. If he looks closely, he will perceive every little atom spinning upon its axis and no part or particle will be excluded from his perception.
But if his spiritual sight has been developed in such a measure that he is capable of viewing the sewing machine with the vision peculiar to the World of Thought, he will behold a cavity where he had previously seen the form.
Things seen with etheric vision are very much alike in color. They are nearly reddish-blue, purple or violet, according to the density of the ether, but when we view any object with the spiritual sight pertaining to the Desire World, it scintillates and coruscates in a thousand ever changing colors so indescribably beautiful that they can only be compared to living fire. The writer therefore calls this grade of vision color sight, but when the spiritual vision of the World of Thought is the medium of perception, the seer finds that in addition to still more beautiful colors, there issues from the cavity described a constant flow of a certain harmonious tone. Thus this world wherein we now consciously live and which we perceive the world of form, the Desire World is particularly the world of color, and the World of Thought is the realm of tone.
Because of the relative proximity or distance of these worlds, a statue, a form withstands the ravages of time for millenniums, but the colors upon a painting fade in far shorter time, for they come from the Desire World; and music, which is native to the world farthest removed from us, the World of Thought, is like a will-o-the-wisp which none may catch or hold; it is gone again as soon as it has made its appearance. But there is in color and music a compensation for this increasing evanescence.
The statue is cold and dead as the mineral of which it is composed and has attractions for but few though its form is a tangible reality.
The forms upon a painting are illusory, yet they express life, on account of the color which has come from a region where nothing is inert and lifeless. Therefore the painting is enjoyed by many.
Music is intangible and ephemeral, but it comes from the home world of the Spirit and though so fleeting it is recognized by the Spirit as a soul-speech fresh from the celestial realms, an echo from the home whence we are now exiled. Therefore it touches a chord in our being, regardless of whether we realize the true cause or not.
Thus we see that there are various grades of spiritual sight, each suited to the superphysical realm which it opens to our perception: etheric vision, color vision, and tonal vision.
The occult investigator finds that ether is of four kinds, or grades of density: the chemical ether, the life ether, the light ether, and the reflecting ether.
The chemical ether is the avenue of expression for forces promoting assimilation, growth, and the maintenance of form.
The life ether is the vantage ground of forces active in propagation, or the building of new forms.
The light ether transmits the motive power of the Sun along the various nerves of living bodies and makes motion possible.
The reflecting ether receives an impression of all that is, lives and moves. It also records each change, in a similar manner as the film upon a moving picture machine. In this record mediums and psychometrists may read the past, upon the same principle as, under proper conditions, moving pictures are reproduced time and again.
We have been speaking of ether as an avenue of forces, a word which conveys no meaning to the average mind, because force is invisible. But to an occult investigator the forces are not merely names such as steam, electricity, etc. He finds them to be intelligent beings of varying grades, both sub- and superhuman. What we call "laws of nature," are great Intelligences which guide more elemental beings in accordance with certain rules designed to further their evolution.
In the Middle Ages, when many people were still endowed with a remnant of negative clairvoyance, they spoke of gnomes, elves, and fairies, which roamed about the mountains and forests. These were the earth spirits. They also told of the undines or water sprites, which inhabited rivers and streams, and of sylphs which were said to dwell in the mists above moat and moor as air spirits. But not much was said of the salamanders, as they are fire spirits, and therefore not so easily detected, or so readily accessible to the majority of people.
The old folk stories are now regarded as superstitions, but as a matter of fact, one endowed with etheric vision may yet perceive the little gnomes building green chloryphyll into the leaves of plants and giving to flowers the multiplicity of delicate tints which delight our eyes.
Scientists have attempted time and again to offer an adequate explanation of the phenomenon of wind and storm but have failed signally, nor can they succeed while they seek a mechanical solution to what is really a manifestation of life. Could they see the hosts of sylphs winging their way hither and thither, they would know who and what is responsible for the fickleness of the wind; could they watch a storm at sea from the etheric viewpoint, they would perceive that the saying "the war of the elements" is not an empty phrase, for the heaving sea is truly then a battlefield of sylphs and undines and the howling tempest is the war cry of spirits in the air.
Also the salamanders are found everywhere and no fire is lighted without their help. However, they are active mostly underground, being responsible for explosions and volcanic eruptions.
The classes of beings which we have mentioned are still sub-human, but will all at some time reach a stage in evolution corresponding to the human, though under different circumstances from those under which we evolve. But at present the wonderful Intelligences we speak of as the laws of nature, marshal the armies of less evolved entities mentioned.
To arrive at a better understanding of what these various beings are and their relation to us, we may take an illustration: Let us suppose that a mechanic is making an engine, and meanwhile a dog is watching him. It sees the man at his labor, and how he uses various tools to shape his materials, also how, from the crude iron, steel, brass, and other metals the engine slowly take shape. The dog is a being from a lower evolution and does not comprehend the purpose of the mechanic but it sees both the workman, his labor, and the result thereof which manifests as an engine.
Let us now suppose that the dog were able to see the materials which slowly change their shape, assemble, and become an engine, but that it is unable to perceive the workman and to see the work he does. The dog would then be in the same relation to the mechanic as we are to the great Intelligences we call laws of nature, and their assistants, the nature spirits, for we behold the manifestations of their work as force moving matter in various ways but always under immutable conditions.
In the ether we may also observe the Angels, whose densest body is made of that material, as our dense body is formed of gases, liquids, and solids. These Beings are one step beyond the human stage, as we are a degree in advance of the animal evolution. We have never been animals like our present fauna, however, but at a previous stage in the development of our planet we had an animal-like constitution. Then the Angels were human, though they have never possessed a dense body such as ours, nor ever functioned in any material denser than ether. At some time, in a future condition, the Earth will again become ethereal. Then man will be like the Angels. Therefore the Bible tells us that man was made a little lower than the Angels. (Hebrews 2:7).
As ether is the avenue of vital, creative forces, and as Angels are such expert builders of ether, we may readily understand that they are eminently fitted to be warders of the propagative forces in plant, animal, and man. All through the Bible we find them thus engaged: Two Angels came to Abraham and announcd the birth of Isaac, they promised a child to the man who had obeyed God. Later these same Angels destroyed Sodom for abuse of the creative force. Angels foretold to the parents of Samuel and Samson the birth of these giants of brain and brawn. To Elizabeth came the Angel (not Arch-angel) Gabriel and announced the birth of John; later he appeard also to Mary with the message that she was chosen to bear Jesus.
When spiritual sight is developed so that it becomes possible to behold the Desire World, many wonders confront the newcomer, for conditions there are so widely different from what they are here that a description must sound quite as incredible as a fairy tale to anyone who has not himself seen them.
Many cannot believe that such a world exists, and that other people can see that which is invisible to them, yet some people are blind to the beauties of this world which we see. A man who was born blind, may say to us: "I know that this world exists. I can hear, I can smell, I can taste, and above all I can feel, but when you speak of light and of color, they are non-existent to me. You say that you see these things. I cannot believe it for I cannot see myself. You say that light and color are all about me, but none of the senses at my command reveal them to me and I do not believe that the sense you call sight exists. I think you suffer from hallucinations." We might sympathize very sincerely with the poor man who is thus afflicted, but his scepticisms, reasonings, objections, and sneers notwithstanding, we would be obliged to maintain that we perceive light and color.
The man or woman whose spiritual sight has been awakened is in a similar position with respect to those who do not perceive the Desire World of which he speaks. If the blind man acquires the faculty of sight by an operation, his eyes are opened and he will be compelled to assert the existence of light and color which he formerly denied, and when spiritual sight is acquired by anyone, he also perceives for himself the facts related by others. Neither is it an argument against the existence of spiritual realms that seers are at variance in their descriptions of conditions in the invisible world. We need but to look into books on travel and compare stories brought home by explorers of China, India, or Africa; we shall find them differing widely and often contradictory, because each traveler saw things from his own standpoint, under other conditions than those met by his brother authors. We maintain that the man who has read most widely these varying tales concerning a certain country and wrestled with the contradictions of narrators, will have a more comprehensive idea of the country or people of whom he has read, than the man who has read only one story assented to by all the authors. Similarly, the varying stories of visitors to the Desire World are of value, because giving a fuller view, and more rounded, than if all had seen things from the same angle.
In this world matter and force are widely different. The chief characteristic of matter here is inertia: the tendency to remain at rest until acted upon by a force which sets it in motion. In the Desire World, on the contrary, force and matter are almost indistinguishable one from the other. We might almost describe desire-stuff as force-matter, for it is in incessant motion, responsive to the slightest feeling of a vast multitude of beings which populate this wonderful world in nature. We often speak of the "teeming millions" of China and India, even of our vast cities, London, New York, Paris, or Chicago; we consider them overcrowded in the extreme, yet even the densest population of any spot on Earth is sparsely inhabited compared with the crowded conditions of the Desire World. No inconvenience is felt by any of the denizens of that realm, however, for, while in this world two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time, it is different there. A number of people and things may exist in the same place at the same time and be engaged in most diverse activities, regardless of what others are doing, such is the wonderful elasticity of desire-stuff. As an illustration we may mention a case where the writer, while attending a religious service, plainly perceived at the altar certain beings interested in furthering that service and working to achieve that end. At the same time there drifted through the room and the altar, a table at which four persons were engaged in playing cards. They were as oblivious to the existence of the beings engaged in furthering our religious service, as though these did not exist.
The Desire World is the abode of those who have died, for some time subsequent to that event, and we may mention in the above connection that the so-called "dead" very often stay for a long while among their still living friends. Unseen by their relatives they go about the familiar rooms. At first they are often unaware of the condition mentioned: that two persons may be in the same place at the same time, and when they seat themselves in a chair or at the table, a living relative may take the supposedly vacant seat. The man we mistakenly call dead will at first hurry out of his seat to escape being sat upon, but he soon learns that being sat upon does not hurt him in his altered condition, and that he may remain in his chair regardless of the fact that his living relative is also sitting there.
In the lower regions of the Desire World the whole body of each being may be seen, but in the highest regions only the head seems to remain. Raphael, who like many other people in the Middle Ages was gifted with a so-called second sight, pictured that condition for us in his Sistine Madonna, now in the Dresden Art Gallery, where Madonna and the Christ-child are represented as floating in a golden atmosphere and surrounded by a host of genie-heads: conditions which the occult investigator knows to be in harmony with actual facts.
Among the entities who are, so to speak, "native" to that realm of nature, none are perhaps better known to the Christian world than the Archangels. These exalted Beings were human at a time in the Earth's history when we were yet plant-like. Since then we have advanced two steps; through the animal and to the human stage of development. The present Archangels have also made two steps in progression; one, in which they were similar to what the Angels are now, and another step which made them what we call Archangels.
Their densest body, though differing from ours in shape, and made of desire-stuff, is used by them as a vehicle of consciousness in the same manner that we use our body. They are expert manipulators of forces in the Desire World, and these forces, as we shall see, move all the world to action. Therefore the Archangels work with humanity industrially and politically as arbitrators of the destiny of peoples and nations. The Angels may be said to be family spirits, whose mission is to unite a few Spirits as members of a family, and cement them with ties of blood and love of kin, while the Archangels may be called race and national spirits, as they unite whole nations by patriotism or love of home and country. They are responsible for the rise and fall of nations, they give war or peace, victory or defeat, as it serves the best interest of the people they rule. This we may see, for instance, from the book of Daniel, where the Archangel Michael is called the prince of the children of Israel. Another Archangel tells Daniel (in the tenth chapter) that he intends to fight the prince of Persia by means of the Greeks.
There are varying grades of intelligence among human beings; some are qualified to hold lofty positions entirely beyond the ability of others. So it is also among higher beings. Not all Archangels are fitted to govern a nation and rule the destiny of a race, people, or tribe; some are not fitted to rule human beings at all, but as the animals also have a desire nature, these lower grades of Archangels govern the animals as Group Spirits and evolve to higher capacity thereby.
The work of the Race Spirit is readily observable in the people it governs. The lower in the scale of evolution the people, the more they show a certain racial likeness. That is due to the work of the Race Spirit. One national Spirit is responsible for the swarthy complexion common to Italians, for instance, while another causes the Scandinavians to be blond. In the more advanced types of humanity, there is a wider divergence from the common type, due to the individualized Ego, which thus expresses in form and feature its own particular idiosyncrasies. Among the lower types of humanity such as Mongolians, native African Negroes and South Sea Islanders, the resemblance of individuals in each tribe makes it almost impossible for civilized Westerners to distinguish between them. Among animals, where the separate Spirit is not individualized and self-conscious, the resemblance is not only much more marked physically but extends even to traits and characteristics. We may write the biography of a man, for the experiences of each varies from that of others and his acts are different, but we cannon write the biography of an animal, for members of each tribe all act alike under similar circumstances. If we desire to know the facts about Edward VII, it would profit us nothing to study the life of the Prince- Consort, his father, or of George V, his son, as both would be entirely different from Edward. In order to find out what manner of man he was, we must study his own individual life. If, on the other hand, we wish to know the characteristics of beavers, we may observe any individual of the tribe, and when we have studied its idiosyncrasies, we shall know the traits of the whole tribe of beavers. What we call "instinct" is in reality the dictates of "Group Spirits" which govern separate individuals of its tribe telepathically, as it were.
The ancient Egyptians knew of these animal Group spirits and sketched many of them, in a crude way, upon their temples and tombs. Such figures with a human body and an animal head actually live in the Desire World. They may be spoken to, and will be found much more intelligent than the average human being.
That statement brings up another peculiarity of conditions in the Desire World in respect of language. Here in this world human speech is so diversified that there are countries where people who live only a few miles apart speak a dialect so different that they understand each other with great difficulty, and each nation has its own language that varies altogether from the speech of other peoples.
In the lower regions of the Desire World, there is the same diversity of tongues as on Earth, and the so-called "dead" of one nation find it impossible to converse with those who lived in another country. Hence linguistic accomplishments are of great value to the Invisible Helpers, of whom we shall hear later, as their sphere of usefulness is enormously extended by that ability.
Even apart from differences of language our mode of speech is exceedingly productive of misunderstandings. The same words often convey most opposite ideas to different minds. If we speak of a "body of water," one person may think we mean a lake of small dimensions, the thoughts of another may be directed to the Great Lakes, and a third person's thoughts may be turned towards the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. If we speak of a "light," one may think of a gaslight, another of an electric arc-lamp, or if we say "red," one person may think we mean a delicate shade of pink and another gets the idea of crimson. The misunderstandings of what words mean goes even farther, as illustrated in the following.
The writer once opened a reading room in a large city where he lectured, and invited his audience to make use thereof. Among those who availed themselves of the opportunity was a gentleman who had for many years been a veritable "metaphysical tramp," roaming from lecture to lecture, hearing the teachings of everybody and practicing nothing. Like the Athenians on Mars' Hill, he was always looking for something "new," particularly in the line of phenomena, and his mind was in that seething chaotic state which is one of the most prominent symptoms of "mental indigestion."
Having attended a number of our lectures he knew from the program that: "The lecturer does not give readings or cast horoscopes for pay." But seeing on the door of the newly opened reading room, the legend: "Free Reading Room," his erratic mind at once jumped to the conclusion that although we were opposed to telling fortunes for pay, we were now going to give free readings of the future in the Free Reading Room. He was much disappointed that we did not intend to tell fortunes, either gratis or for a consideration, and we changed our sign to "Free Library" in order to obviate a repetition of the error.
In the higher Regions of the Desire World the confusion of tongues gives place to a universal mode of expression which absolutely prevents misunderstandings of our meaning. There each of our thoughts takes a definite form and color perceptible to all, and this thought-symbol emits a certain tone, which is not a word, but it conveys our meaning to the one we address no matter what language we spoke on earth.
To arrive at an understanding of how such a universal language becomes possible and is at once comprehended by all, without preparation, we may take as an illustration the manner in which a musician reads music. A German or a Polish composer may write an opera. Each has his own peculiar terminology and expresses it in his own language. When that opera is to be played by an Italian bandmaster, or by a Spanish or American musician, it need not be translated; the notes and symbols upon the page are a universally understood language of symbols which is intelligible to musicians of no matter what nationality. Similarly with figures, the German counts: ein, zwei, drei; the Frenchman says: un, deux, trois, and in English we use the words: one, two, three, but the figures: 1,2,3, though differently spoken, are intelligible to all and mean the same. There is no possibility of misunderstanding in the cases of either music or figures. Thus it is also with the universal language peculiar to the higher regions of the Desire World and the still more subtle realms in nature, it is intelligible to all, an exact mode of expression.
Returning to our description of the entities commonly met with in the lower Desire World, we may note that other systems of religion than the Egyptian, already mentioned, has spoken of various classes of beings native to these realms. The Zoroastrian religion, for instance, mentions Seven Amshaspands and the Izzards as having dominion over certain days in the month and certain months in the year. The Christian religion speaks of Seven Spirits before the Throne, which are the same beings the Persians called Amshaspands. Each of them rules over two months in the year while the seventh: Michael, the highest, is their leader, for he is ambassador from the Sun to the Earth; the others are ambassadors from the planets. The Catholic religion with its abundant occult information takes most notice of these "star-angels" and knows considerable about their influence upon the affairs of the earth.
The Amshaspands, however, do not inhabit the lower regions of the Desire World but influence the Izzards. According to the old Persian legend these beings are divisible into two groups: one of twenty-eight classes, and the other of three classes. Each of these classes has dominion over, or takes the lead of all the other classes on one certain day of the month. They regulate the weather conditions on that day and work with animal and man in particular. At least the twenty-eight classes do that, the other group of three classes has nothing to do with animals, because they have only twenty-eight pairs of spinal nerves, while human beings have thirty-one. Thus animals are attuned to the lunar month of twenty-eight days, while man is correlated to the solar month of thirty or thirty-one days. The ancient Persians were astronomers but not physiologists; they had no means of knowing the different nervous constitution of animal and man, but they saw clairvoyantly these superphysical beings; they noted and recorded their work with animal and men, and our own anatomical investigations may show us the reason for these divisions of the classes of Izzards recorded in that ancient system of philosophy.
Still another class of beings should be mentioned: those who have entered the Desire World through the gate of death and are now hidden from our physical vision. These so-called "dead" are in fact much more alive than any of us, who are tied to a dense body and subject to all its limitations, who are forced slowly to drag this clog along with us at the rate of a few miles an hour, who must expend such an enormous amount of energy upon propelling that vehicle that we are easily and quickly tired, even when in the best of health, and who are often confined to a bed, sometimes for years, by the indisposition of this heavy mortal coil. But when that is once shed and the freed Spirit can again function in its spiritual body, sickness is an unknown condition, and distance is annihilated, or at least practically so, for though it was necessary for the Saviour to liken the freed Spirit to the wind which blows where it listeth, that simile gives but a poor description of what actually takes place in soul flights. Time is non-existent there, as we shall presently explain, so the writer has never been able to time himself, but has on several occasions timed others when he was in the physical body and then speeding through space upon a certain errand. Distances such as from the Pacific Coast to Europe, the delivery of a short message there and the return to the body has been accomplished in slightly less than one minute. Therefore our assertion, that those whom we call dead are in reality much more alive than we, is well founded in facts.
We spoke of the dense body in which we now live, as a "clog" and a "fetter." It must not be inferred, however, that we sympathize with the attitude of certain people who, when they have learned with what ease soul- flights are accomplished, go about bemoaning the fact that they are now imprisoned. They are constantly thinking of, and longing for, the day when they shall be able to leave this mortal coil behind and fly away in their spiritual body. Such an attitude of mind is decidedly mistaken; the great and wise Beings who are invisible leaders of our evolution have not placed us here to no purpose. Valuable lessons are to be learned in this visible world wherein we dwell, lessons that cannot be learned in any other realm of nature, and the very conditions of density and inertia whereof such people complain, are factors which make it possible to acquire the knowledge this world is designed to give. This fact was so amply illustrated in a recent experience of the writer:
A friend had been studying occultism for a number of years but had not studied astrology. Last year she became aroused to the importance of this branch of study as a key to self-knowledge and a means of understanding the natures of others, also of developing the compassion for their errors, so necessary in the cultivation of love for one's neighbor. Love for our neighbor the Saviour enjoined upon us as the Supreme Commandment, which is the fulfillment of all laws, and as astrology teaches us to bear and forbear, it helps as nothing else can in the development of this supreme virtue. She therefore joined one of the classes started in Los Angeles by the writer, but a sudden illness quickly ended in death and thus terminated her study of the subject in the physical body, here it was well begun.
Upon one of many occasions when she visited the writer subsequent to her release from the body, she deplored the fact that it seemed so difficult to make headway in her study of astrology. The writer advised continued attendance at the classes, and suggested that she could surely get someone "on the other side" to help her study.
At this she exclaimed impatiently: "Oh, yes! Of course I attend the classes. I have done so right along; I have also found a friend who helps me here. But you cannot imagine how difficult it is to concentrate here upon mathematical calculations and the judgment of a horoscope or in fact upon any subject here, where every little thought-current takes you miles away from your study. I used to think it difficult to concentrate when I had a physical body, but it is not a circumstance to the obstacles which face the student here."
The physical body was an anchor to her, and it is that to all of us. Being dense, it is also to a great extent impervious to disturbing influences from which the more subtle spiritual bodies do not shield us. It enables us to bring our ideas to a logical conclusion with far less effort at concentration than is necessary in that realm where all is in such incessant and turbulent motion. Thus we are gradually developing the faculty of holding our thoughts to a center by existence in this world, and we should value our opportunities here, rather than deplore the limitations which help in one direction more than they fetter in another. In fact, we should never deplore any condition, each has its lesson. If we try to learn what that lesson is and to assimilate the experience which may be extracted therefrom, we are wiser than those who waste time in vain regrets.
We said there is no time in the Desire World, and the reader will readily understand that such must be the case from the fact, already mentioned, that nothing there is opaque.
In this world the rotation of the opaque earth upon its axis is responsible for the alternating conditions of day and night. We call it day when the spot where we live is turned towards the Sun and its rays illumine our environment, but when our home is turned away from the Sun and its rays obstructed by the opaque earth we term the resulting darkness night. The passage of the earth in its orbit around the Sun produces the seasons and the year, which are our divisions of time. But in the Desire World where all is light there is but one long day. The Spirit is not there fettered by a heavy physical body, so it does not need sleep and existence is unbroken. Spiritual substances are not subject to contraction and expansion such as arise here from heat and cold, hence summer and winter are also non-existent. Thus there is nothing to differentiate one moment from another in respect of the conditions of light and darkness, summer and winter, which mark time for us. Therefore, while the so-called "dead" may have a very accurate memory of time as regards the life they lived here in the body, they are usually unable to tell anything about the chronological relation of events which have happened to them in the Desire World, and it is a very common thing to find that they do not even know how many years have elapsed since they passed out from this plane of existence. Only students of the stellar science are able to calculate the passage of time after their demise.
When the occult investigator wishes to study an event in the past history of man, he may most readily call up the picture from the Memory of Nature, but if he desires to fix the time of the incident, he will be obliged to count backwards by the motion of the heavenly bodies. For that purpose he generally uses the measure provided by the Sun's precession: each year the Sun crosses the Earth's equator about the twenty-first of March. Then day and night are of even length, therefore this is called the vernal equinox. But on account of a certain wobbling motion (nutation) of the Earth's axis, the Sun does not cross over at the same place in the zodiac. It reaches the equator a little too early, it precedes, year by year it moves backwards a little. At the time of the birth of Christ, for instance, the vernal equinox was in about seven degrees of the zodiacal sign Aries. During the two thousand years which have intervened between that event and the present time, the Sun has moved backwards about twenty-seven degrees, so that it is now in about ten degrees of the sign Pisces. It moves around the circle of the zodiac in about 25,868 years. The occult investigator may therefore count back the number of signs, or whole circles, which the Sun has preceded between the present day and the time of the event he is investigating. Thus he has by the use of the heavenly time keepers an approximately correct measure of time even though he is in the Desire World, and that is another reason for studying the stellar science.
When we have attained the spiritual development necessary consciously to enter the World of Thought and leave the Desire World, which is the realm of light and color, we pass through a condition which the occult investigator calls The Great Silence.
As previously stated, the higher regions of the Desire World exhibit the marked peculiarity of blending form and sound, but when one passes through the Great Silence, all the world seems to disappear and the Spirit has the feeling of floating in an ocean of intense light, utterly alone, yet absolutely fearless, because imbued with a sense of its impregnable security, no longer subject to form or sound, past or future; all is one eternal now.