Question: Are doctors justified in allowing a child to die that is bound to be an idiot and physically helpless when an operation would enable it to live? Does an idiot or an insane person gain any worthwhile experience during life? Is the Ego within aware of the physical disability of the mind and body during such a life, and does it learn thereby? Can insanity be classed among the hereditary diseases? (Vol. II, #40)
Answer: Suppose a child met with an accident while playing, a blow on the head, and hence became abnormal, or perhaps was put into a state of coma; no one would hesitate for a moment to have the operation of trepanning performed so that by taking the pressure of the skull from the brain the child might be restored to its normal state of consciousness. Then why should a weak-minded child not receive the same care, and have everything done for it that is possible? It would be considered criminal to allow a normal child to die for lack of care, and it is just as indefensible in the case of a child born to be an idiot, for when the Ego has gone through the womb in order to gain the experience of this physical life, we are in duty bound to support its efforts in every possible manner. The Ego does gain experience by a life of insanity, for the Ego itself is never insane. It is improper connection between its various vehicles, the mind, desire body, vital body, and dense body, which makes insanity. When the connection between the brain centers and the vital body is imperfect, we have what is called the idiot, often melancholy but generally perfectly harmless. When the faulty connection is between the vital body and the desire body, the conditions are somewhat similar, but include the class whose muscular control is defective, as in epilepsy, St. Vitus dance, etc.
When the connection is broken or faulty between the desire body and the mind, we have the raving maniac who is violent and dangerous. And when the connection is defective between the Ego and the mind, we have what we might call a soulless man, the most dangerous of all, gifted with a cunning that is usually at some unexpected time put to a most diabolical use.
If we consider the body, or the different bodies, as musical instruments upon which the Ego is playing, then when every connection is perfect the Ego can bring out a more or less beautiful symphony of life according to its stage in evolution. But when the connections are faulty or broken the Ego is like a musician forced to exercise his talent with an instrument lacking a number of the strings, and he is therefore unable to bring out anything but discord. To the musician it would be torture to be forced to play upon such a defective instrument; and it is the same with the Ego which is immured in a body cut off from its normal control. For reasons to be sought in past lives it is forced to stay with a body that it cannot control, and it suffers more or less acutely according to its stage in evolution; thus, however, it is learning a certain lesson in the school of life which is required to make it perfect. It is a sad condition, but though a lifetime appears to be very long, it is but as a fleeting moment in the unending life of the Spirit; and we may console ourselves with the knowledge that when such an Ego comes back to Earth it will have a normal body, provided of course that the lesson has been learned
With respect to the last part of the question as to whether insanity is hereditary, we may answer in the affirmative or the negative, according to which phase of the problem we are considering. From the spiritual point of view it is not hereditary for, as already stated, insanity is not a defect in the Ego. Because of a twist in its character it cannot build a normal body, hence by association it is drawn to a family that is similarly afflicted. This is on the very same principle that people of like character always seek one another's company; as the old saying goes, "birds of a feather flock together." Musicians congregate in music halls, at concerts, and similar places. They also seek birth in the families of musicians because there the instruments needed, long slender fingers and an ear in which the semi-circular canals are properly placed, can be obtained, which will give them the ability to express music. Sporting men and gamblers flock together at race tracks and in gambling dens. Thieves have their resorts, and so on. Similarly, those with a certain defect in their character are attracted to families which have the same defect. Hence if we view the problem of insanity from the form side, it may be said that it is hereditary.
Scientists who view the matter entirely from the form side are of the opinion that by limiting the reproduction of defectives they may stamp out disease. But just as the soft juices of the snail's body are gradually set out and crystallized into the hard and flinty shell it carries upon its back, so it is also the acts of the Ego which gradually crystallize themselves into a body wherein the Spirit must dwell until they are worked out. Relief will never be obtained by working with and upon the physical body alone, any more than operating upon the shell would cure a sick snail. Emerson said truly that "a sick man is a scoundrel who has been found out, breaking the laws of nature." The insane are in that category, and if we wish to cure them we must use spiritual means of education. All other methods are simply palliative; they do not reach the source of the disease.
Question: When we are afflicted in this life and have a surgical operation performed and the diseased organ removed, does that heal us permanently or do we return in a future body with a similar ailment? (Vol. II, #45)
Answer: Christ said: "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," and this covers the matter thoroughly when taken in its widest significance. When we enter the invisible realms after death and during the post-mortem state undergo the purgatorial and First Heaven experiences, all our vehicles are gradually dissolved, and we enter the Second Heaven where we commence to create the environment of our new existence. When that task has been completed we enter the Third Heaven where only a very, very few have consciousness as yet. Hence, forgetfulness of all that has gone before wipes the slate clean and we take with us only the quintessence of our past experiences as faculties when we reenter the Second Heaven on our way toward rebirth and mold the archetype of our coming physical body with the help of the Recording Angels and their agents.
To make the point clear let us remember that during childhood days we go through the most dreadful contortions in learning to write. The letters we form are grotesque in the extreme, but by and by in the course of time with persistent effort we acquire the faculty of writing a legible hand. Then as the years pass by we forget our difficulties in learning to write, but the faculty remains with us. Similarly, the embodied Spirit forgets all that has gone before, but the faculty of doing certain things remains with it. Therefore, if it has formed a body weak in a certain place in one life and has suffered the pain incident to that weakness and disease, even to the removal of an organ, we may be very sure that though the event will be forgotten in a coming existence the Spirit will remember the fact when it is molding the archetype and coming to rebirth. It will then endeavor to build a better organ so that it may save itself the pain which it endured in a previous life and thus, instead of perpetuating the diseased organ, it is very safe to say that an organ that was diseased in one life will be sound in the next. Gradually mankind is thus learning by past mistakes to build a better and sounder body.
To take another illustration, we may consider how an architect would act who had built a house and by living in it found certain discomforts. If he sold this house and built himself another, he would remember the discomforts he had in his previous dwelling and endeavor to build a house that would be free from those inconveniences. Then perhaps he would find other developments that were not to his taste in the new house and on selling that would build a third house that would be better than the two previous and so on. We may infer that the case is similar with the house of the Spirit which it builds anew in each life. Oliver Wendell Holmes puts that so very beautifully in the last verse of his "Chambered Nautilus," which had built larger and larger chambers as it grew and finally had left the outgrown shell. He says: "Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll. Leave thy low vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea."
This article was adapted from "The Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers, Vol. II," by Max Heindel.