Those who have given the matter study are familiar with the havoc which an acute attack of fear or worry plays with the physical body. We know how these emotions derange digestion, interfere with the metabolic changes and with elimination of waste, and, in short, upset the whole system, with the result that in some cases the person is forced to take to his bed for a longer or shorter time depending upon the severity of the attack and the resistive power of the constitution. But there is an occult effect which is equally serious or more so that is usually not understood, and it may therefore be of considerable benefit to study the occult effect of poise and passion, anger and love, pessimism and optimism.
From the study of the Cosmo we learn that our desire body was generated in the Moon Period. If you wish to obtain a mental picture of the way things looked then, take an illustration of the foetus as shown in any book of anatomy. There are three principal parts: the placenta, which is filled with the maternal blood, the umbilical cord, which carries this vital stream, and the foetus, which is nourished from embryo to maturity thereby. Fancy now, in that far off time, the firmament as one immense placenta from which there depended billions of umbilical cords, each with its foetal appendage. Through the whole human family, then in the making, circulated the one universal essence of desire and emotion, generating in all the impulses to action which are now manifest in every phase of the world's work. These umbilical cords and foetal appendages were molded from the moist desire stuff by the emotions of the lunar Angels, while the fiery desire currents which were endeavoring to stir the latent life in mankind, then in the making, were generated by the fiery martial Lucifer Spirits. The color of that first slow vibration which they set in motion in that emotional desire stuff was red.
And while that tincture of trouble (for that is really what this ever-flowing, eternal restlessness is which even now drives us on without pause or peace) was circulating within us, the planet on which we dwelt also circled about a sun, not our present light-giver but a past embodiment of the substance which composes our present solar universe, and we in turn circled the globe on which we dwelt, from light to darkness, from heat to cold. We were thus worked upon from within and without in an endeavor to stir the sleeping consciousness. And there was a response, for though none of the partially separated spirits dwelling in an individual foetal sac would have been able to feel these impacts, although they were very strong, the cumulative feelings of billions of such spirits were sensed as a sound in the universe, a cosmic cry--the first note in the harmony of the spheres--played upon a single string. It was, nevertheless, expressive in an adequate measure of the latent longings and aspirations of the incipient human race of those far bygone days.
This desire nature has since evolved; the fiery, martial sub-stratum of passion and the aqueous lunar basis of emotion have become capable of numerous combinations. As thought furrows the brain into convolutions and the face into lines, so have the passions, desires, and emotions marshaled the mobile desire stuff into curved lines and whorls, eddies, rapids, and whirlpools, resembling a mountain torrent at the time when it is at its greatest disturbance--it is seldom ever at even comparative rest. This desire stuff has, in successive periods of its evolution, become responsive to one after another of the seven planetary vibrations emanating from the Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. Each individual desire body has, during that time, been woven into a unique pattern, and as the shuttle of fate flies back and forth unceasingly upon the loom of destiny, this pattern is being enlarged upon, embellished, and beautified, though we may not perceive it. As the weaver always does his work on the reverse side of his tapestry, so are we also weaving without fully understanding the ultimate design or seeing the sublime beauty thereof, because it is yet on the side away from us, the hidden side of nature.
But in order that we may better understand, let us take up some of these tangled threads of passion and emotion to see what effect have have on the pattern which God, the Master-Weaver, wishes us to make.
The ancient myths always shed a luminous light upon the problems of the soul, and we may profitably consider in this connection a certain part of the Masonic legend. The masons are a society of builders, "tektons" in Greek--the same society in fact to which Joseph and Jesus belonged, for the latter are called in the Greek bible, "tektons"--builders--not carpenters, as in the orthodox version. The masons under Solomon were the builders of that mystic temple designed by God, the Grand Archetekton or Master Builder, and built without sound of hammer, which Manson speaks about in that wonderful play, "The Servant in the House." He tells us there that "it is no dead pile of stone and timber, but it is a living thing. When you enter it you hear a sound, a sound as of a mighty anthem chanted, that is, if you have ears; and if you have eyes, you will presently see the temple itself, a mystery of looming shapes and shadows, leaping sheer from floor to dome. It is yet building and built upon; sometimes the work goes on in utter darkness, sometimes in blinding light." Every true mystic mason knows what this temple is and endeavors to build it. The ancient masonic legend tells us that when Hiram Abiff, the master mason in charge of the construction of Solomon's temple, a building of God made without sound of hammer, was preparing to make his masterpiece, the "molten sea," he gathered materials from all over the earth and placed them in a fiery furnace, for he was a descendant of Cain, a Son of Fire, who in turn was a son of Lucifer, the spirit of fire. Hiram proposed to make an alloy of crystal clarity, capable of reflecting all the wisdom of the world. But, so runs the story, there were among the workmen certain traitors--spies from the Sons of Seth--who, through Adam and Eve, were descendants of the lunar god Jehovah, who had an affinity for water and who hated fire. These traitors poured water into the mold in which the molten sea, the Philosopher's Stone, was to be cast. Upon the meeting of the fire with the water there was a great explosion. Hiram Abiff, the master mason, being unable to blend the warring elements, saw with unspeakable sorrow the destructive eruption of his attempted masterpiece. While he was watching the battle of the spirits in the fire and water, Tubal-Cain, his ancestor, appeared and bade him jump into the seething mass. He was then conducted to the center of the earth where he met his first ancestor, Cain, who gave him a new word and a new hammer which would enable him, when he had become skilled in the use thereof, to blend the antagonistic elements and make from them the Philosopher's Stone, the highest possible human achievement.
There is in this symbolical story more wisdom than could be given in volumes concerning human soul growth. If the student will read between the lines and meditate upon these various symbolical expressions, he will gain much more than can ever be said, for true wisdom is always generated interiorly and the mission of books is only to give a clue.
Since this ancient time the lunar Angels have taken charge principally of the moist, aqueous vital body composed of the four ethers and concerned in the propagation and nourishment of the species, while the Lucifer Spirits are singularly active in the dry and fiery desire vehicles. The function of the vital body is to build and sustain the dense body, while that of the desire body involves destruction of the tissues. Thus, there is a constant war going on between the desire and vital bodies, and it is this war in heaven that causes our physical consciousness on earth. Through many lives we have worked in every age and clime, and from each life we have extracted a certain amount of experience, garnered and stored as vibratory power in the seed-atoms of our various vehicles. Thus, each of us is a builder, building the temple of the immortal spirit without sound of hammer; each one is a Hiram Abiff, gathering material for soul-growth and throwing it in the furnace of his life-experience, there to be worked upon by the fire of passion and desire. It is being slowly but surely melted, the dross is being purged in every purgatorial experience, and the quintessence of soul growth is being extracted through many lives. Every one of us is thus preparing for initiation,--preparing whether we know it or not--learning to blend the fiery passions with the softer, gentler emotions. The new hammer or gavel wherewith the master workman rules his subordinates is now a cross of sorrow, and the new word is self-control.
Let us now see how the desire body changes under the varying feelings, desires, passions, and emotions, so that we may learn to build wisely and well the mystic temple wherein we dwell.
When we study one of the so-called physical sciences, such as anatomy or architecture, which deals with tangible things, our task is facilitated by the fact that we have words which describe the things whereof we treat, but even then the mental picture conceived by a word differs with each individual. When we speak of a "bridge," one may make a mental picture of a million-dollar iron structure, another may think of a plank across a streamlet. The difficulty which we experience in conveying accurate impressions of our meaning increases apace when we attempt to convey ideas concerning nature's intangible forces, such as electricity. We measure the strength of the current in volts, the volume in amperes, and the resistance of the conductors in ohms, but, as a matter of actual fact, such terms are only inventions to cover up our ignorance of the matter. We all know what a pound of coffee is, but the world's greatest scientist has no more accurate conception of what the volts, amperes, and ohms are of which he so learnedly discourses than the schoolboy who hears these terms for the first time.
What wonder then that super-physical subjects are described in vague and often misleading terms, for we have no words in any physical language which will accurately describe these subjects, and one is almost helpless and utterly at a loss for descriptive terms wherewith to express oneself regarding them. If it were possible to throw colored moving pictures of the desire body upon the screen and there show how this restless vehicle changes contour and color according to the emotions, even then it would not give an adequate understanding to any one who was not capable of seeing these things himself, for the vehicles of every single human being differ from the vehicles of all others in the way they respond to certain emotions. That which causes one to feel intense love, hate, anger, fear, or any other emotion may leave another entirely untouched.
The writer has a number of times watched crowds for the purpose of comparison in this respect, and has always found something startlingly new and different from what had hitherto been observed. On one occasion a demagogue was endeavoring to incite a labor union to strike; he was very much excited himself, and though the basic color of deep orange was perceivable, it was for the time being almost obliterated by a scarlet color of the brightest hue; the contour of his desire body was like the body of a porcupine with its quills sticking out. There was a strong element of opposition in the place, and as he talked one could clearly distinguish the two factions by the colors of their respective auras. One set of men showed the scarlet of anger, but in the other set this color was inter- mingled with a grey, the color of fear. It was also remarkable that, although the grey men were in the majority, the others carried the day, for each timid one believed himself alone or at least with very few supporters, and was therefore afraid to vote for or express his opinion. If one who was able to see this condition had been present and had gone to each one who manifested in his aura the signs of dissension, and had given him the assurance that he was one of a majority, the tide would have turned in the opposite direction. It is often so in human affairs, for at the present time the majority are unable to see beneath the surface of the physical body and thus to perceive the true state of the thoughts and feelings of others.
On another occasion a revival meeting was visited where many thousands were present to hear a speaker of national repute. At the beginning of the meeting it was evident from the state of the auras of the people that the great majority had come there with no other purpose than to have a good time and see some fun. The thoughts, feelings, and emotions connected with the ordinary life of each were plainly visible, but in a number a certain darkish blue color showed an attitude of worry; it seemed that they had had some disappointment in life and were very uneasy. When the speaker appeared, a curious phenomenon took place: desire bodies are usually in a state of restless motion, but at that moment it seemed as if the whole vast audience must have held its breath in an attitude of expectancy, for the varied color-play in the individual desire bodies ceased and the basic orange hue was plainly perceptible for an instant; presently each commenced his emotional activities as before, while the prelude was being played. Then commenced the singing of hymns, and this showed the value and effect of music, for as all united in singing identical words to the same tune, the same rhythmic vibrations which surged through all these desire bodies seemed to blend them and make them, for the time being, almost one. Quite a number were sitting in the scoffers' seat, so to speak, refusing to sing and unite with the others. To the spiritual sight they appeared as men of steel, clothed in an armor of that color, and from each one, without exception, went out a vibration which said so much plainer than mere words could ever have done, "Leave me alone, you shall not touch me." Something from within had drawn them there, but they were mortally afraid of giving way, and therefore their whole aura expressed this steel color of fear which is an armor of the soul against outside interference.
When the first song was ended, the unity of color and vibration lapsed almost immediately, each one taking anew his customary thought atmosphere; and had nothing more been done, each would have lapsed into his habitual inner life. But the evangelist, though not able to see this, knew from past experience that his audience was not yet ripe, and a succession of songs were therefore sung to the accompaniment of clapping hands beating drums, and gesticulations from the leader aided by a trained chorus. This brought the scattered souls again into a bond of harmony; gradually people were overwhelmed with religious fervor, and the unity necessary for the next effort was established. From the music, the leader's hand-clapping, and the stirring appeal of the songs, that vast audience had become as one, for the men of steel, the gray-tinted scoffers who thought themselves too wise to be fooled (when their emotion really was fear), were a negligible part in that vast congregation. All were then attuned as the many strings upon one great instrument, and the evangelist who appeared before them was a master artist at playing upon their emotions. He moved them from laughter to tears, from sorrow to shame; great waves of the corresponding colors seemed to go over the whole audience, as bewildering as they were magnificent. Then there were the customary calls to "stand up for Jesus"; the invitation to the "mourners' bench," etc., and each brought forth from all over the audience a certain emotional response which was plainly shown in colors, golden and blue. Then there were more songs, more clapping and gesticulations which, for the time, furthered the unity and gave this audience an experience resembling the feeling of universal brotherhood and the reality of the Fatherhood of God. The only ones upon whom the music had no effect were the men clad in the steel blue armor of fear. This color seems to be almost impervious to any other emotion; and even though the feelings experienced by the great majority were relatively impermanent, the people benefited in a measure by the revival, with the exception of these men of steel.
So far as the writer has been able to learn, the inner fear of yielding to emotion--fear being saturnine in effect and twin sister to worry--seems to require a shock that will take the person so affected out of his environment and set him down in a new place among new conditions before the old conditions can be overcome.
Worry is a condition where the desire currents do not sweep in long curved lines in any part of the desire body, but where the vehicle is full of eddies--nothing but eddies in extreme cases. The person so affected does not endeavor to take action in any line; he sees calamities where there are none, and instead of generating currents which lead to action that may prevent the thing he fears, each thought of worry causes an eddy in the desire body, and he does nothing in consequence. This condition of worry in the desire body may be likened to water which is about to congeal under a lowering temperature; fear which expresses itself as skepticism, cynicism, and pessimism may be likened to that same water when it has frozen, for the desire bodies of such people are almost motionless, and nothing one can say or do seems to have the power to alter the condition. They have, to use a common expression which fits the condition excellently, "drawn into a shell," and that saturnine shell must be broken before it is possible to get at the man and help him out of his pitiable state.
These saturnine emotions of fear and worry are usually caused by the sufferer's apprehension of economic or social difficulties. "Perhaps this investment which I have made may depreciate or become a total loss; I may lose my position and find myself starving upon the street; everything I undertake seems to go wrong; my neighbors are slandering me and trying to undermine my social position; my husband (or wife) does not care for me any more; my children are neglecting me;" and a thousand and one kindred suggestions present themselves to the mind. He should remember that every time one of these thought is indulged in, it helps to congeal the currents in the desire body and build a steel blue shell in which the person who habitually fosters fear and worry will some time find himself shut off from the love, sympathy, and help of all the world. Therefore we ought to strive to be cheerful, even under adverse circumstances, or we may find ourselves in a serious condition here and hereafter.
In the beginning of the Great War the emotions of Europe ran riot in a most horrible manner, first among the so-called "living," and then among the killed--when they awoke. This awakening took a long time because of the large guns used--but more of that later. The whole atmosphere of the countries involved was seething with currents of anger and hate, like a cloud of dark crimson it hung around every human being and over the land. Then there were dark-tinted streaks like a funeral pall, which seem always to be generated in crises of sudden disaster when reason is at a standstill and despair grips the heart. This was doubtless caused by the fact that the peoples involved realized that a catastrophe of a magnitude which they were unable to comprehend was happening. The desire bodies of the majority whirled at high speed in long waves of rhythmic pulsation which said more plainly than words, "Just kill, kill, kill." When two or three or a crowd met and commenced to discuss the war, the rhythmic pulsations indicating the settled purpose to do and dare ceased, and the thoughts and feelings of excitement generated by the discussion or speech took shape as conical projections which rapidly grew to a height of about six or eight inches, then they burst and emitted a tongue of flame. Some people generated a number of these volcanic structures at one time, in others there were only one or two at the same time. When one of these bubbles had burst in one place, another appeared somewhere else on the desire body while the discussion lasted, and it was the flames from them that colored the cloud over the land scarlet. When a crowd disbanded or friends parted after such a discussion, the bubbling and eruptions grew smaller and less frequent, finally ceasing and giving place again to the long rhythmic pulsations first mentioned.
These conditions are now seldom if ever seen; the explosive anger at the enemy thus indicated is a thing of the past so far as the great majority are concerned. The basic orange color of the western peoples' aura is again visible, and both officers and men seem to have settled down to war as to a game; each is anxious to outdo and outwit the other. The war is now mainly a channel for their ingenuity; but a number of the lay-brothers of the Rosicrucian Order believe that the condition of anger will return in a modified form when active hostilities cease and peace negotiations commence.
This form of emotion we may call abstract anger, and it differs widely from what is observed in the case of two persons who become angry with each other in private life, whether they start to fight physically or not. Seen from the hidden side of nature, there are hostilities before blows are struck. Jagged, dagger-like desire-forms project themselves from one to the other like spears until the fury which generated them has expended itself. In the patriotic anger there is no personal enemy, therefore the desire-forms are more blunt and explode without leaving the person who generated them.
The "steel man" so common in private life where worry over the thousand one things that never happen crystallizes an armor around the person who allows old Saturn to thus grip him, were are are conspicuous by their absence. The writer accounts for it on the hypothesis that the tension in their environment forced them to enlist and the shock broke the shell; then familiarity with danger bred contempt for it. It is certain that these people have benefited greatly by the war, for there is no state more hampering to soul-growth than constant fear and worry. It is also a remarkable fact that though the men engaged in war suffer awful privations, the mass of them are cultivating a tinge of soft sky-blue which stands for hope, optimism, and a dawning religious feeling, giving an altruistic touch to the character. It is an indication that that universal fellow-feeling which knows no distinctions of creed, color, or country is growing in the human heart.
In the beginning of the war the desire bodies of the combatants whirled at an awful rate, and it was noted that while people passing over from sickness, old age, or ordinary accidents regain consciousness in a short time, varying from a few minutes to a few days, those killed in war were in a great many cases unconscious for several weeks, and strange to say, those who were almost torn to pieces seemed to wake up much quicker than thousands that had only insignificant wounds. This puzzle was not solved for many months. Before we study the causes underlying this phenomenon, we must first record that when the people who had thus died in intense anger during the first part of the war awoke in the invisible world, they usually started to fight their enemies anew, and until the great educational work started by the Elder Brothers and their Invisible Helpers bore fruit, these people went about with maimed bodies and in great anguish because of their dear ones left behind. Now such occurrences are extremely rare and soon settled, for all have been taught that thought will create a new arm, limb, or face; the patriotic hatred is gone, and "enemies" able to speak each other's language often fraternize with benefit to both. The red cloud of hate if lifting, the black veil of despair is gone, there are no volcanic outbursts of passion in either the living or the dead, but so far as th writer is able to read the signs of the times in the aura of the nations, there is a settled purpose to play the game to the end. Even in homes bereaved of many members, this seems to hold good. There is an intense longing for the friends beyond but no hatred for the earthly foe. This longing is shared by the friends in the unseen and many are piercing the veil, for the intensity of their longing is awakening in the "dead" the power to manifest by attracting a quantity of ether and gas which often is taken from the vital body of a "sensitive" friend, as materializing spirits use the vital body of an entranced medium. Thus the eyes blinded by tears are often opened by a yearning heart so that loved ones now in th spirit world are met again face to face, heart to heart. This is nature's method of cultivating the sixth sense which will eventually enable all to know that man is an immortal spirit and continuity of life a fact in nature.
To understand the slowness wherewith those slain in the war regain consciousness in the unseen world, we must first undertake a more intimate study of the four ethers than has hitherto been given in "The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception."
The atoms of the chemical and life ethers gathered around the nuclear seed-atom located in the solar plexus are shaped like prisms. They are all located in such a manner that when the solar energy enters our body through the spleen, the refracted ray is red. This is the color of the creative aspect of the Trinity, namely Jehovah, the Holy Spirit, who rules Luna, the planet of fecundation. Therefore the vital fluid from the sun which enters the human body by way of the spleen becomes tinged with a pale rose color, often noted by seers when it courses along the nerves as electricity does in the wires of an electric system. Thus charged, the chemical and life ethers are the avenues of assimilation which preserve the individual, and of fecundation which perpetuates the race.
During life each prismatic vital atom penetrates a physical atom and vibrates it. to form a picture of this combination, imagine a pear-shaped wire basket having walls of spirally curved wire running obliquely from pole to pole. this is the physical atom; it is shaped nearly like our earth, and the prismatic vital atom is inserted from the top, which is widest and corresponds to the north pole of the earth. Thus the point of the prism penetrates the physical atom at the narrowest point, which corresponds to the south pole of our earth, and the whole resembles a top swinging, swaying, and vibrating. In this manner our body is made alive and capable of motion. (It is noteworthy that our earth is similarly permeated by a cosmic body of ether, and that those manifestations which we note as the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are etheric currents circling the earth from pole to equator as currents in the physical atoms do.)
The light and reflecting ethers are avenues of consciousness and memory. They are somewhat attenuated in the average individual and have not yet taken definite form; they interpenetrate the atom as air interpenetrates a sponge, and they form a slight auric atmosphere outside each atom.
At death a separation takes place; the seed atom is withdrawn from the apex of the heart along the saturnine pneumogastric nerve, through the ventricles and out of the skull (Golgotha); all the atoms of the vital body are liberated from the cross of the dense body by the same spiral motion, which unscrews each prismatic atom of ether from its physical envelope.
This process is attended with more or less violence according to the cause of death. An aged person whose vitality has been slowly ebbing may fall asleep and wake up on the other side of the veil without the slightest consciousness of how the change took place; a devout and religious person who has been prepared by prayer and meditation on the beyond would also be able to make an easy egress; people who freeze to death meet with what the writer believes to be the easiest of accidental deaths, drowning being next.
But when a person is young and healthy, especially if of an irreligious or atheistic turn of mind, the prismatic ether atom is so tightly entwined by the physical atom that a considerable wrench is required to separate the vital body. When the separation of the physical body from the higher vehicles has been accomplished and the person is dead, as we say, the light and reflecting ethers are separated from the prismatic atom. It is this stuff, as described in the Cosmo, which is molded into the pictures of the past life and etched into the desire body, which then begins to feel whatever there was of pain or pleasure in the life. The part of the vital body composed of the prismatic atoms of the chemical and life ethers then returns to the physical body, hovering above the grave and disintegrating synchronously with it.
Now comes the crux of our explanation. Ether is physical matter, and while people shot with small arms in a minor engagement may sometimes be seen walking away somewhat dazed but nevertheless conscious, the awful detonations of the big guns used so extensively have the effect of throwing the prismatic ether atoms topsy-turvy, and shattering (not scattering) the auric envelope of light and reflecting ethers which is the basis of sense-perception and memory. Until this resolves itself into its original relativity, the man remains in a stunned, comatose condition which often lasts for weeks. Under such conditions this fine etheric stuff does not lend itself to the formation of pictures of the past life--it is congealed to a certain extent.
When the Ego is on its way to rebirth through the Region of Concrete Thought, the Desire World, and the Etheric Region, it gathers a certain amount of material from each. The quality of this material is determined by the seed atom, on the principle that like attracts like. The quantity depends upon the amount of matter required by the archetype built by ourselves in the second heaven. From the quantity of prismatic ether atoms that are appropriated by a certain spirit, the Recording Angels and their agents build an etheric form which is then placed in the mother's womb and gradually clothed with physical matter which then forms the visible body of the new born child.
Only a small portion of the ether appropriated by a certain Ego is thus used, and the remainder of the child's vital body, or rather the material from which that vehicle will eventually be made, is thus outside the dense body. For that reason the vital body of a child protrudes much farther beyond the periphery of the dense body than does that of the adult. During the period of growth this store of ether atoms is drawn upon to vitalize the accretions within the body until, at the time when the adult age is reached, the vital body protrudes only from one to one and a half inches beyond the periphery of the dense body.
It has been determined by physical science that the atoms in our dense body are constantly changing so that all the material which composes our present vehicle at this moment will have disappeared in a few years, but it is common knowledge that scars and other blemishes perpetuate themselves from childhood to old age. The reason for this is that the prismatic ether atoms which compose our vital body remain unchanged from the cradle to the grave. They are always in the same relative position--that is to say, the prismatic ether atoms which vibrate the physical atoms in the toes or in the fingers do not get to the hands, legs, or any other part of the body, but remain in exactly the same place where they were placed in the beginning. A lesion of the physical atoms involves a similar impression on the prismatic ether atoms. The new physical matter molded over them continues to take on shape and texture similar to those which originally obtained.
The foregoing remarks apply only to the prismatic ether atoms which correspond to solids and liquids in the physical world, because they assume a certain definite shape which they preserve. But in addition each human being at this stage of evolution has a certain amount of the light and reflecting ethers, which are the vehicles of sense perception and memory, intermingled in his vital body. We may say that the light ether corresponds to the gases in our physical world; perhaps the best description that can be given of the reflecting ether is to call it hyper-etheric. It is a vacuous substance of a bluish color resembling in appearance the blue core of a gas flame. It appears transparent and seems to reveal everything that is within it, but nevertheless it hides all the secrets of nature and humanity. In it is found one record of the Memory of Nature. The light and reflecting ethers are of an exactly opposite nature to that of the stationary prismatic ether atoms. They are volatile and migratory. However much or little a man possesses of this material, it is an accretion, a fruitage, derived from his experiences in life. Inside the body it mingles with the blood stream and when it has grown by service and sacrifice in life's school so that it can no longer be contained within the body, it is seen on the outside as a soul body of gold and blue. Blue shows the highest type of spirituality, therefore it is smallest in volume and may be compared to the blue core of the gas flame, while the golden hue forms the larger part and corresponds to the yellow light which surrounds the core in the gas ring. The blue color does not appear outside the dense body save in the very greatest of saints-- only yellow is usually observable there. At death this part of the vital body is etched into the desire body with the life panorama which it contains. The quintessence of all our life experience is then eventually impressed upon the seed atom as conscience or virtue which urges us to avoid evil and to do good in a coming life. Thus the quality of the seed atom is altered from life to life. The quintessence of good extracted from the migratory part of the vital body in one life determines the quality of the prismatic stationary ether atoms in the next life. The highest in one life becomes the lowest in the next and thus we gradually climb the ladder of evolution towards divinity.
From the foregoing it will be evident that the vital body is a vehicle of habit; all parents know that during the first seven years of childhood when this vehicle is in course of gestation that children form one habit after another. Repetition is the keynote of the vital body and habits depend upon repetition. It is different with the desire body, the vehicle of feelings and emotions which are always changing from moment to moment; thought it has been said that the ether which forms our soul body is in constant motion and mingles with the blood stream, that motion is relatively slow compared to the rapidity of the current of the desire body; we may say that the ether moves like a snail compared with light.
The points brought out by the foregoing may be summed up as follows:
Desire stuff moves with inconceivable rapidity comparable only with light.
The two higher ethers also travel with great speed though far slower than desire stuff.
The prismatic ether atoms composing the lower ethers are stationary but have a high rate of vibratory motion.
The dense atoms are as motionless as the crystal in the rock.
No matter what people say to us or about us, their words have no intrinsic power to hurt--it is our own mental attitude towards their utterances which determines the effect of their words upon us for good or ill. Paul, when facing persecution and slander, testified that "none of these things move me." All who hope to advance spiritually must cultivate equipoise, for without it the desire body will either run riot or congeal, according to the nature of the emotions generated by intercourse with others whether worry, anger, or fear. We know that the dense body is our vehicle of action, that the vital body gives it the power to act, that the desire body furnishes the incentive to action, and that the mind was given as a brake on impulse. We learn from the Cosmo, pp. 89, 90, 91, that thought-forms from within and without the body are being continually projected upon the desire body in an endeavor to arouse feeling which will lead to action, and that reason ought to rule the lower nature and leave the higher self scope for expression of its divine proclivities. We also know that habitual thought has power to mold even physical matter, for the nature of the sensualist is plainly discernible in his features which are as coarse and gross as the features of the spiritually minded are delicate and fine. The power of thought is still greater in its potency to mold the finer vestures. We have already seen how thoughts of fear and worry congeal the desire body of any one who indulges in that habit, and it is equally certain that by cultivating an optimistic frame of mind under all circumstances we can attune our desire bodies to any key we wish. after a time, that will become a habit. It must be confessed that it is difficult to hold the desire body down to any definite lines, but it can be done, and the attempt must be made by all who aspire to spiritual advancement.
Regarding the effect from the occult standpoint of this polarization, we may learn much from certain customs in so-called secret societies. As you know, such organizations always place at the door a guard who is instructed to deny admittance to anyone not supplied with the proper pass-word and signs, and that works very well so far as the people are concerned who function only in their physical body. But the so-called secrets of these organizations are not in any sense secrets to those who are able to enter their places of assembly in their vital bodies. It is otherwise in a true esoteric order such as, for instance, the Rosicrucians. No guard is on duty at the door of that Temple when the Mystic Midnight Mass is said each night of the week. The door is wide open to all who have learned to speak the open sesame. But that is not a spoken password; the initiate who desires to attend must know how to attune his soul body to the particular rate of vibration maintained on that night. Furthermore, this vibration differs on the various nights of the week so that those who have learned to attune themselves to the vibration maintained on Saturday night when the first degree meets are as effectually barred from entering the Temple with those who carry on the work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc., as any ordinary person.
The cosmic law under which this is done applies also to the control and effect of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Paul well said that we are the temple of the living God (our Higher Self). We have also created a subtle aura about us under th guardianship of the Divine Hierarchies reigning over the seven planets, Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus. The Universe, or great world, is mystically called the seven-stringed lyre of Apollo. our individual organism or microcosm is a replica or image of God, and it behooves us to awaken in ourselves an echo of this music of the spheres. Most of us have learned to respond too much to the saturnine vibrations of sorrow, gloom, fear, and worry, which congeal our desire bodies, and it would be to the lasting benefit of all to try to cultivate the spiritual vibrations of the Sun, filling our lives with optimism and sunshine which will dispel the saturnine gloom and despondency and prevent such thoughts entering our aura in the future.
The prime necessity of advancement is equipoise. All who aspire ought to adopt Paul's motto, "None of these things move me."
As there are many among the Rosicrucian students who perform the exercises given by the Elder Brothers for the purpose of furthering soul- growth, though they have not felt inclined to enter the Path, it is thought to be well to consider the occult effect of the emotions engendered by these exercises.
When in the exercise of retrospection the aspirant to the higher life reviews the happenings of the day in reverse order and meets an incident in which he hurt some one or failed to help another or in any other way did not live up to that which he holds as his ideal of conduct, he is taught to cultivate intense remorse for whatever he has done wrong for the purpose of eradicating the record from the seed-atom in the heart where it has been imprinted by the act, and where it will remain until it is wiped out by sufferings in purgatory unless previously expunged by artificial means such as this exercise.
In purgatory the cleansing process is accomplished by the centrifugal force of repulsion which tugs and tears the desire stuff, in which the picture is formed over its matrix of ether, out of the desire body. At that particular time the soul suffers as it made others suffer, because of a singular condition in the lower regions of the Desire World where purgatory is located. Some seers who are unable to contact the higher regions speak of the Desire World as illusory, and they are right so far as the lower regions are concerned, for there all things appear reversed as we see them in a glass. This peculiarity is not purposeless--nothing in God's kingdom is; all things serve a wise end. This reversal places the erring soul in the position of its victim, so that when a scene unrolls on the screen of its past life where it did a wrong to some one, the soul does not stand as a mere spectator and see the scene re-enacted, but it becomes, for the time being, the victim of the wrong and it feels the pain felt by that wronged one, for the centrifugal force of repulsion exerted to tear the picture from th desire body of the wrongdoer must at least equal the hate and anger of the victim which impressed the picture upon the seed-atom at the time of occurrence.
During retrospection the aspirant endeavors to imitate these conditions; he tries to visualize the scenes where he did something wrong, and the remorse he endeavors to feel must at least equal the resentment felt by whomever he wronged. It then has the same effect of expunging the record of the injury as does the centrifugal force of repulsion, which accomplishes the eradication of evil in purgatory for the purpose of extracting therefrom the quality of the soul which we know as conscience, and which acts as a deterrent in hours of temptation. Thus used, the emotion of remorse cleanses and purifies the desire body of weeds and tares, leaving the soil free and fostering the growth of manifold virtues that blossom into spiritual advancement and bring greater opportunities for service in the Master's vineyard.
But as the force latent in gunpowder and kindred explosive substances may be used to further greatest objects of civilization or to outdo the most savage acts of barbarism, so also, this emotion of remorse may be misused in such a manner that it becomes a detriment and a hindrance to the soul instead of a help. When we indulge in remorse daily and hourly, we are actually wasting a great power which might be used for the most noble ends of life, for the constant indulgence of regret affects the desire body in a manner similar to that which follows excessive bathing of the physical body, as described in the "vice of excessive cleanliness," an article which appeared in our magazine, "Rays from the Rose Cross." It was there stated that water has a great affinity for ether and absorbs it most greedily, several illustrations being given to demonstrate the fact; it was also stated that when we take a bath under normal conditions, it removes a great deal of poisonous miasmatic ether from our vital bodies, provided we stay in the water a reasonable length of time. After a bath the vital body becomes somewhat attenuated and consequently gives us a feeling of weakness, but if we are in our usual good health and have not stayed in the bath too long, the deficiency is soon made good by the stream of force which flows into the body through the spleen. When this influx of fresh ether has replaced the poisoned substance carried off in the water, we feel renewed vigor which we rightly attribute to the bath, though usually without realizing the full facts as here stated.
But when a person who is not in perfect health makes a habit of bathing every day, perhaps even twice or three times, an excess of ether is taken from the vital body. The supply entering by way of the spleen is also diminished on account of the loss of tone of the seed-atom located in the solar plexus and the attenuated condition of the vital body. Thus it is impossible for such people to recuperate between such oft repeated depletions, and as a consequence the health of the dense body suffers; they lose strength continually and are apt to become confirmed invalids.
"Aa above, so below, and as below, so above," says the Hermetic aphorism, enunciating thereby the great law of analogy which is the master-key to all mysteries. When we use the centrifugal force of remorse to eradicate the acts of evil from our hearts during the evening exercise of retrospection, the effect is similar to the action of the water which removes the miasmatic poisoned ether from our vital bodies during the bath, and thus leaves room for an influx of pure health-promoting ether. After we have burned out the wrong-doings in the sacrificial fire of remorse, the poisonous substance thus eradicated leaves room for the influx of desire stuff which is morally healthier and better soil for noble deeds. The more thoroughly we are purged by this remorse, the greater the vacuum produced and the better the grade of new material we attract to our subtler vehicles.
But, on the other hand, if we indulge in regrets and remorse during every waking hour as some do, we are outdoing purgatory, for though the time there is spent in eradication of evil, the consciousness turns from each picture when it has been torn out by the force of repulsion. Here, because of the interlocking of the desire and vital bodies, we are enabled to revivify the picture in memory as oft as we please, and while the desire body is gradually dissolved in purgatory by the expurgation of the panorama of life, certain small amount is added while we are living in the physical world, to take the place of that which is ejected by remorse. Thus, remorse and regret when continually indulged in have the same effect on the desire body as excessive bathing has on the vital body. Both vehicles are depleted of strength by excessive cleansing, and for that reason it is as dangerous to the moral and spiritual health to indulge indiscriminately in feelings of regret and remorse as it is fatal to physical wellbeing to bathe too much. Discrimination should govern in both cases.
When we perform the exercise of retrospection, we should give ourselves over to the feelings of regret and remorse with our whole soul; we should endeavor to shed tears of fire that may burn into our very innermost being; we should make the cleansing process as thorough as possible, to the end that we may grow in grace thereby to the utmost. but having finished the exercise we should do the same as is done in purgatory--consider the incidents of the day closed and forget all about them, save in so far as they demand restitution of something, the making of an apology, or such subsequent acts to satisfy the demands of conscience. And having thus paid the debt, our attitude ought to be one of unfailing optimism. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." "If God be for us, who can be against us?" By that attitude we die daily to the old life and we are born each day to walk in the newness of the spiritual life, for our desire bodies are thus renewed and ready to serve a higher aim in life than the day before.
And while we are discussing regret and remorse as applied to the problem of soul-growth, with their effect on our subtle bodies, we may also profitably mention the effect of regret directed into other channels. There are people who live with regret as with a boon companion, who take it to bed with them at night and get up with it in the morning; they take it to the office, shop, or church, they sit with it at meals, they nurse it as the most precious thing in their possession, and they would sooner part with life itself than give up their regret for this, that, or the other thing.
As a vampire sucks the ether from the vital body of its victim and feeds upon it, so perpetual thoughts of regret and remorse concerning certain things become a desire-elemental which acts as a vampire and draws the very life from the poor soul who has shaped it, and by the attraction of like for like, it fosters continuance of this morbid habit of regret.
We are not helping the loved ones who have departed this life by our regrets which we love to fancy are evidences of our faithfulness, but we are hindering them. They have left the present sphere of experience and are going onwards to other realms where there are other lessons to be learned, and we are holding them back by our thoughts, for they feel us most acutely for some time after they have passed over, and we owe them a duty to think thoughts of cheer and love instead of selfish regret which hurts both us and them. Regret is subversive of all spiritual growth, for while the thought-elemental thus created hangs about us as a vampire we cannot climb the rugged path.
Loathsome as the vulture which feeds upon the noxious, decomposing carcasses of the dead are the vain regrets which live upon the morbid contemplation of the past and its mistakes. It is our duty to drive them out of our mental habitation as we would eject a vulture from our physical abode were it to seek entrance.
Instead, let us cultivate an attitude of optimism in all things, for all things work together for good--God is at the helm, nothing can go really wrong, and all will turn out right in God's good time.
The subject of prayer is well worth the attention and study of all who aspire spirituality, and we trust the following hints may help our students in their efforts in this direction.
There is only one force in the universe, namely, the Power of God, which He sent forth through space in the form of a Word; not a single word, but the creative fiat which by its sound-vibration marshaled the millions of chaotic atoms into the multitudinous shapes and forms from starfish to star and microbe to man, which constitute and inhabit the universe. As the syllables and sounds of this creative Word are being spoken, one after another through the ages, species are being created and the older ones evolved, all according to the thought and plan conceived in the Divine Mind ere the dynamic force of creative energy was sent out into the abyss of space.
This, then, is the only source of power, and in it we really, truly, and literally live and move and have our being, just as surely as the fishes live in the water. We can no more escape or withdraw ourselves from God than the fish can live and swim on dry land. It was no mere poetic sentiment when the Psalmist said: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there. If I make my bed in the grave behold Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me."
God is Light, and not even the greatest of modern telescopes which reach many millions of miles into space have found the boundaries of light. But we know that unless we have eyes wherewith to perceive the light, and ears which register the vibrations of sound, we walk the earth in eternal darkness and silence; similarly, to perceive the Divine Light which alone can illuminate our spiritual darkness, and to hear the voice of the silence which alone can guide us, we must cultivate our spiritual eyes and ears; prayer, true scientific prayer, is one of the most powerful and effcacious methods of finding favor before the face of our Father, and receiving the immersion in spiritual light which alchemically transforms the sinner to the saint and places around him the golden wedding garment of Light, the luminous soul body.
But be not deceived, prayer alone will not do this. Unless our whole life, waking and sleeping, is a prayer for illumination and sanctification, our prayers will never penetrate to the Divine Presence and bring down upon us a baptism of His power. "Ora et labora"--pray and work--is an occult injunction which all aspirants must obey or they will meet with but scant success. In this connection an ancient legend of St. Francis of Assisi will bear repetition because of the light it sheds upon the life on one wholly dedicated to the service of God.
One day St. Francis stepped up to a young brother in the monastery with the invitation: "Come, brother, let us go down to the village and preach to the people." The young brother addressed responded with alacrity, overjoyed at the prospect of a walk with the holy father, for he knew what a source of spiritual upliftment it would be. And so they walked to the village, up and down its various streets and lanes, all the while conversing upon topics of absorbing spiritual interest, and finally turned their steps homeward towards the monastery. Then suddenly it dawned upon the young brother that they had been so absorbed in their own conversation that they had forgotten the object of their walk to the village. Diffidently he reminded St. Francis of the omission, and the latter responded: "Son, while we were walking the village streets the people were watching us, they overheard snatches of conversation and noted that we were talking of the love of God and His dear Son, our Saviour; they noted our kindly greetings and our words of cheer and comfort to the afflicted ones we met, and even our garb spoke to them the language and call of religion; so we have preached to them every moment of our sojourn among them to must better purpose than if we had harangued them for hours in the market place." St. Francis had no other thought but God and to do good in His name therefore he was well attuned to the divine vibration, and it is no wonder than when he went to his regular prayers he was a powerful magnet for the divine Life and Light which permeated his whole being.
We who are engaged in the so-called secular work of the world and forced to do things that seem sordid, often feel that we are hampered and hindered on that account, but if we "do all things as unto the Lord" and are "faithful over a few things," we shall find that in time opportunities will come of which we do not dream. As the magnetic needle temporarily deflected from the North by outside pressure instantly and eagerly returns to its natural position when the pressure is removed, so we must cultivate that yearning for our Father which will instantly turn our thoughts to Him when our work in the world is done for the day and we are free to follow our own bent. We must cultivate a feeling similar to that which ensouls young lovers when after an absence they fly into each others arms in an ecstasy of delight. This is an absolutely essential preparation for prayer, and if we fly to our Father in that manner, the Light of His presence and the sweetness of His voice will teach and cheer us beyond our fondest hopes.
The next point requiring consideration is the place of prayer; this is of very vital importance for a reason not generally known even among students of occultism; it is this. Every prayer, spoken or unspoken, every song of praise, and every reading of parts of the scriptures which teach or exhort, if done by a properly prepared reader who loves and lives what he reads, brings down upon both the worshiper and the place of worship an outpouring of spirit. This in time an invisible church is built around the physical structure which in the case of a devout congregation becomes so beautiful that it transcends all imagination and defies description. Manson in the "Servant in the House" gives us only the faintest glimpse of what it is like when he tells the old Bishop:
"I am afraid you may not consider it an altogether substantial concern. It has to be seen in a certain way under certain conditions. Some people never see it at all. You must understand, this is no dead pile of stones and unmeaning timber, it is a living thing. When you enter it you hear sound, a sound as of some mighty poem chanted. Listen long enough and you will learn that it is made up of the beating of human hearts, of the nameless music of men's souls; that is, if you have ears. If you have eyes, you will presently see the church itself, a looming mystery of many shapes and shadow leaping sheer from floor to dome, the work of no ordinary builder. Its pillars go up like the brawny trunks of heroes; the sweet human flesh of men and women is moulded about its bulwarks, strong impregnable. The faces of little children laugh out from every corner stone; the terrible spans and arches of it are the joined hands of comrades, and up in the heights and spaces are inscribed the numberless musings of all the dreamers in the world. It is yet building, building, and built upon. Sometimes the work goes forward in deep darkness--sometimes in blinding light- -now beneath the burden of unutterable anguish, now to the tune of great laughter and heroic shoutings like the cry of thunder. Sometimes in the night time one may hear the tiny hammerings of comrades at work in the dome, the comrades that have climbed ahead."
But this invisible edifice is not merely lovelier than a fair palace in a poet's dream; it is as Manson says, a living thing, vibrant with divine power of immense aid to the worshiper, for it helps him in adjusting the tangled vibrations of the world which permeate his aura when he enters a true "House of God" and to get into the proper attitude of prayer. Then it helps him to lift himself in aspiration tot he throne of divine grace, and to offer there his praise and adoration which call forth from the Father a new outpouring of the spirit in the loving response, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."
Such a place of worship is essential to spiritual growth by scientific prayer, and those who are fortunate enough to have access to such a temple should always occupy the same place in it, for that becomes permeated with their individual vibrations and they fit into that environment more easily than anywhere else; consequently they get better results there.
But such places are scarce, for a real sanctuary is required in scientific prayer. No gossip or profane conversation may take place in or near it for that spoils the vibrations; voices must be hushed and the attitude reverent; each must bear in mind that he stands upon holy ground and act accordingly, Therefore no place open to the general public will answer.
Furthermore, the power of prayer increases enormously with each additional worshiper.--The increase may be compared to geometrical progression if the worshipers are properly attuned and trained in collective prayer; the very opposite may result if they are not.
Perhaps an illustration may make the principle clear. Suppose a number of musicians who have never played with others and who perhaps are not very proficient in the use of their instruments, were brought together and set to play in concert; it needs no very keen imaginations to realize that their first attempts would be marked by much discord, and were an amateur allowed to play with them, or even with a finished orchestra, no matter how earnest and how intense his desire, he would inevitably spoil their music. Similar scientific conditions govern collective prayer; to be effcacious participants must be equally well prepared as elucidated under a previous heading; they must be attuned under harmonious horoscopic influences. When a malefic in one nativity is on the ascendant of another, those two cannot profit by praying together; they may rule their stars and live in peace if they are developed souls, but they lack the basic harmony which is absolutely essential in collective prayer. Initiation removes this barrier but nothing else can.
It was made clear in Part I that there are certain occult reasons which make collective prayer inadvisable except under special conditions.
It was knowledge of these difficulties which prompted the Christ to warn his disciples not to say their prayers before men and to advise them that when they wanted to pray to enter into their closet. We cannot each have a large beautiful edifice for our devotions, not do we require it; too often prompt and display are apt to turn our hearts from God. But most of us can set a small portion of our room aside for devotion, curtain it off or with a screen separate it from the rest of the apartment, or we can take a closet (literally) and make it into a sanctuary. The nature of the encircling walls matters not; it is the apartness and the invisible house of God which we build our prayers, and the divine downpouring which we receive in response from our Father that are important. A picture of Christ and a Rose Cross may be hung upon the wall if desired, but are not essential. The All-Seeing Eye is preferred by some very successful occultists of our acquaintance as a symbol of the Father. But we remember the words of Christ, "The Father and I are one;" so though we have no authentic picture of Christ, we prefer to use such as we have, for we know that thoughts will not go astray on account of lack of authenticity. Christ is the Lord of this era; later, of course, the Father takes charge, but now Christ is mediator for the masses.
We need scarcely say that no matter how large of small, the whole room or apartment of the successful aspirant is permeated by an atmosphere if holiness, for all the thoughts which he can legitimately have apart from the faithful performance of his worldly duties are of the heavenly Father, but the corner of closet set apart as a sanctuary soon becomes filled with superlatively spiritual vibrations; therefore any aspirant who contemplates following the scientific method of prayer should first seek to secure a permanent place of residence, for if he moves about from place to place he will suffer a distinct loss every time and have to begin to build anew. The invisible temple which he built and left disintegrates by degrees when worship ceases.
It is a mystic maxim that "all spiritual development begins with the vital body." This is next in density to our dense body, its key-note is repetition, and it is the vehicle of habits, hence somewhat difficult to change or influence, but once a change has been effected and a habit acquired by repetition, its performance becomes automatic to a certain extent. This characteristic is both good and bad in respect to prayer, for the impression registered in the ethers of this vehicle will impel the aspirant to faithful performance of his devotions at stated times, even though he may have lost interest in the exercise and his prayers are mere forms. If it were not for this habit forming tendency of the vital body, aspirants would wake up their danger as soon as the real love began to wane, and it would then be easier to retrieve the loss and keep on the Path. Therefore the aspirant should carefully examine himself from time to time to see if he still has wings and power wherewith swiftly and surely to life himself to his Father in Heaven. The wings are two in number; love and aspiration are their names, and the irresistible power which propels them is intense earnestness. Without these and an intelligent understanding to direct the invocation, prayer is only a babble; properly performed it is the most powerful method of soul growth known.
The position of the body matters little in solitary prayer; that is best which is most conducive to concentration of purpose; but in collective praying it is the practice of accomplished occultists to stand with bowed heads and hands folded in a peculiar manner. This makes a magnetic circuit which unites them spiritually from the very commencement of the exercises. In communities not so advanced, the singing of a hymn so standing has been found of great benefit, provided all take part.
Prayer is a word which has been so abused that it really does not describe the spiritual exercise to which we have reference. As already said when we go to our sanctuary we must go as the lover who hastens to his beloved, our spirit must fly ahead of our slow-moving body in eager anticipation of the delights in store for us, and we must forget all else in the thoughts of adoration which fill us on the way. This ids literally true; the feeling required for success resembles nothing in the world so much as that which draws the lover to his beloved; it is even more ardent and intense. "As the hind panteth for the water brook, so thirsteth my soul after Thee," is an actual experience of the true lover of God. If we have not this spirit, it can be cultivated by prayer, and one of the most constant of the legitimate prayers for self should be, "O God, increase my love for Thee so that I may serve Thee better from day to day." "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, My strength and my Redeemer."
Invocations for temporal things are black magic; we have the promise "See ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." The Christ indicated the limit in The Lord's Prayer when He taught His disciples to say: "Give us this day our daily bread." Whether for ourselves or others we must beware of going father in scientific invocation. But even in praying for spiritual blessings we should beware lest a selfishness develop and destroy out soul growth. All the saints testify to the days of darkness when the divine Lover hides His face and the consequent depression. Then it depends upon the nature and the strength of our affection: Do we love God for Himself, or do we love Him for the delights we experience in the sweet communion with Him? If the latter, our affection is essentially as selfish as the feelings of the multitude which followed Him because He had fed them, and now as then it is necessary for Him to hide from us in such cases, a mark of His tender love and solicitude which should bring us to our knees in shame and remorse. Happy are we if we right the defect in our characters and learn the lesson of unfaltering faithfulness from the magnetic needle, which points to the pole without wavering despite rain or storm clouds that hide its beloved star.
It has been said that we must not pray for temporal things, and that we ought to be careful even in our prayers for spiritual gifts; it is therefore a legitimate question: What then shall be the burden of our invocation? And the answer is, generally, praise and adoration. We must get away from the idea that every time we approach our Father in Heaven we must ask for something. Would it not annoy us if our children were always asking for something from us? We cannot of course imagine our Father in Heaven being annoyed at our importunities, but neither can we expect Him to grant what would often do us harm. On the other hand, when we offer thanksgiving and praise we put ourselves in a favorable position to the law of attraction, a receptive state where we may receive a new downpouring of the Spirit of Love and Light, and which thus brings us nearer to our adored ideal.
Nor is it necessary that the audible of inaudible invocation should continue during the whole time of prayer. When upon the wings of Love and Aspiration, propelled by the intensity of our earnestness, we have soared to the Throne of our Father, there may come a time of sweet but silent communion more delightful than any other state or stage; it is analogous to the contentment of lovers who may sit for hours in unbroken silence, too full of love for utterance, a state which far transcends the stage where they depend upon speech for entertainment. So it is also in the final climax when the soul rests in God, all desires satisfied by that feeling of at-one-ment expressed in the words of Christ, "My Father and I are One." When that climax has been reached the soul has tasted the quintessence of joy, and no matter how sordid the world may seem or what dark fate it may have to face, the love of God which passeth all understanding is a panacea for all.
It should be said however, that that final climax is only attainable in all its fullness at rare intervals. It pre-supposes not only the intensity of purpose to soar to the divine, but a reserve fund to remain posed in that position, which most of us have not always at hand. It is a well known fact that nothing worth while comes without effort. What man had done, man can do, and if we start to cultivate the power of invocation along the scientific lines here laid down, we shall in time reap results of which we little dream.
And may our Father in Heaven bless our every effort.
It is just impossible to attain true and lasting success with living in harmony with the laws of life, as it is for a criminal to live at peace in the community whose laws he breaks. Just as he is eventually punished because of his predatory habits, and incarcerated and restrained, so also nature punishes, incarcerates, and restrains us when we break her laws. This restraint is called disease and is an enemy of happiness, for one, no matter what wealth he may have or what position he may occupy in the world, can be very happy when he is in ill health bodily. Thus it will be seen that one of the vital requirements for the man and woman who desires a full realization of happiness and success in life is health, including strength, for only in the measure that we are supplied with bubbling-over health can we feel sufficiently optimistic, cheerful and vigorous to attain the success which we are seeking.
The Bible tells us that death and disease cam into the world through eating of the "tree of knowledge," and though from the materialist point of view this may sound silly, let us not dismiss the story without looking at it a little closer. We shall find that it is perfectly in harmony with scientific facts as shown in the world today. Consider first the meaning of the tree of knowledge as illustrated by the later remarks: "Adam knew his wife and she bore Abel;" "Adam knew his wife and she bore Seth;" and Mary's words to the angel, "How shall I conceive seeing I know not a man?" From these and many similar remarks it is evident that the tree of knowledge was a symbolical expression of the generative act. Mankind is thus, as the Bible says, conceived in sin and therefore subject to death, and from this there would seem no escape.
We would, however, do well to remember that evolution is a fact in nature; that man as he is today is the result of a long past, and that this present state is not the final attainment of a standard of perfection, but that there are greater heights ahead of us. We are in a state of ever becoming; there is no halting nor resting upon the path, which is as limitless as the age of the spirit. Moreover, as what we are today is the result of what we were yesterday, so also it depends upon how we use our faculties today whether we shall be one thing or another tomorrow. Let us then examine the past, so that by learning what we have been, we may gain an inkling of what we are to be.
According to the Bible, mankind was male-female before it was separated into two distinct sexes as man and woman. We still have with us hermaphrodites who have this, as we thing today, abnormal formation to prove the truth of this Biblical assertion; and physiologically the opposite organ of either sex is latent in all. During the period when man was thus constituted fertilization must have occurred within himself; nor is this any stranger than that many plants are so fertilized today.
Let us now see from the Bible what was the effect of self-fertilization in the early days. There are two prime facts that stand out: One is that there were giants in the Earth in those days; the other that the patriarchs lived for centuries; and these two characteristics, great growth and longevity, are possessed by many plants of today. The great size of trees and the length of their life are wonderful, the live centuries where man lives only a few score years. Then the question comes, what is the reason of the evanescence of human life, and what is the remedy? Let us first take up the question of the reason, and the remedy will later be apparent.
It is well know to horticulturists that plants are stunted in their growth when they bloom too prolifically. A rose may bloom to such an extent that it dies; therefore the wise gardener prunes the buds from the plants so that the strength may go partly into growth instead of blossom. Thus by keeping the seed within itself it attains the strength required for growth and longevity. This was the secret of the great size and long life of the earliest races, as it is the secret of the size and longevity of the plants today.
That the creative essence in the seed is a spiritual substance is evident when we compare the dauntlessness and impatience at restraint of the stallion or the bull, with the docility of the steer and the gelding. Moreover, we know that the confirmed libertine and the degenerate become sterile and emaciated. When these facts have sunk into our consciousness it will not be difficult to conceive of the truth of the Bible assertion that the fruit of the flesh, which brings us under the law of sin and death, is first and foremost fornication, whereas the fruit of the spirit which make for immortality, as shown in the same book, are said to be principally continence and chastity.
Consider also the child and how the creative force used within and for the child itself causes an enormous growth during the early years, but at the age of puberty the birth of passion commences to check growth; the vital force then produces seed in order to find growth and expression elsewhere, and thenceforth growth is stunted. If we continued to grow during life as we grow during childhood, we should be giants as were the divine hermaphrodites of long ago.
The spiritual force generated from the time of puberty and all through life may be used for three purposes, generation, degeneration, or regeneration. It depends upon ourselves which of the three methods we choose; but the choice that we make will have an important bearing upon our whole life, for the use of this force is not confined in its effect to the time or occasion upon which it is thus used. It overshadows every single moment of our existence, and determines among our fellow men; how we meet the various trial of life; whether we are able to grasp our opportunities or let them slip by; whether we are healthy or sick; and whether we live our life according to a satisfactory purpose; all of this depends upon the way we use the vital force. That is the very spring of all our existence, the elixir of life.
The part of the creative force which is legitimately sacrificed upon the altar of fatherhood and motherhood is so small that it may be entirely neglected for the purpose of the present considerations. There is no reason whatever from a physical or spiritual standpoint why celibacy should be insisted upon in any religious order, neither is this at all in harmony with the Bible. The mere suppression of sexual attraction is not a virtue in itself; in fact it may be a very serious vice, for there is no question that many millions, fall into the most unspeakable vices on that account. Even if they abstain from the sexual act, their thoughts are of such a nature that they make themselves whited sepulchres, horrible within though outwardly seeming pure and white. Paul himself, thought not in the condition mentioned, said: "It is better to parry than to burn;" and the natural expression is far to be preferred to such an inward state as above described.
While there are very few who will defend abuse of the generative function, many people who follow spiritual percepts in other things still have the feeling than frequent indulgence of the desire for sexual pleasure works no harm; some even have the idea that it is as necessary as the exercise of any other organic function. This is wrong for two reasons: First, each creative act requires a certain amount of force which burns up tissue that must be replenished by an extra amount of food. This strengthens and augments the Chemical Ether. Secondly as the propagative force works through the Life Ether, this constituent of the vital body by sending the creative force downwards for gratification of our desire for pleasure; and their interlocking grip upon the two higher ethers which form the soul-body becomes tighter and more powerful as time goes on. As the evolution of our soul-powers and the faculty of traveling in our finer vehicles depends upon the cleavage between the lower ethers and the soul- body, it is evident that we frustrate the object we have in view and retard development by indulgence of the lower nature.
If we turn again to the garden we may obtain a striking illustration of the result of following the apostle's advice to "keep the seed within," by considering the qualities of the seedless varieties of fruit. Seedless fruits are larger and better flavored than those which have seeds, because in them all the sap is used for the single purpose of making the fruit delicious and succulent. Similarly, if instead of wasting our substance we live chastely and send the creative force upward for regeneration, we thereby etherealize and refine our physical bodies at the same time that we strengthen our soul bodies. In this manner we may materially lengthen life and so increase our opportunities for soul growth and advancement upon the Path in a very marked degree.
When we realize that success does not consist in the accumulation of wealth but in soul growth, it will be evident that continence is an important factor in the attainment of success in life.