Question: From the occult point of view is it right or wrong to let a defective infant die, as was done in the Bolinger case? Please let us have your view on the matter. (Vol. II, #146)
Answer: When we consider the defectives as a class, it is first necessary to realize that the Spirit is not defective. It has had innumerable past lives during which it has sown certain seeds and reaped appropriate experiences therefrom. Experiences which could not be reaped in one life have been held over until the next life or later lives, and have there attained their fruition. None of us, however, are capable of expressing in one body all of the attainments that we have acquired in our many previous lives, therefore we have many seeming anomalies brought to light in the investigation of psychical researchers who have found that ignorant people in the peasant class in this life, have been able under the spell of hypnosis or in trance to speak Greek and Hebrew, also to discourse learnedly on abstruse subjects. Thus it is evident that the Spirit may be likened to a diamond in the rough which is being gradually ground upon the grindstone of experience. In each life a new facet permits the light to enter and adds that light to the light already obtained through facets ground in many previous lives. By this process we shall eventually attain to the perfect light which makes us divine.
Because of our limited perception, we call certain actions evil and certain other actions good, whereas from the larger point of view it is simply a question of experience. Some characters or facets of the spiritual diamond seem to be fairly perfect in this life. At least they do not seem out of the ordinary to be sufficiently marked, and therefore we call them perfect. Others are different from the rest and we therefore in our ignorance call them defective. Similarly with bodies. Although as a matter of fact none of us possess a perfect body, neverthless, we take an average as a standard and anything that does not come up to that mark we call defective. We allow those who are not mentally very different from the general run of us, to go about unmolested, but imprison those who seem to have a decidedly different turn of mind. We pay no attention to the ordinary deformities of body, but designate those which are materially different form our standard as defective. Some think that they have a right to destroy anything or anybody that is not up to the standard which they think ought to be normal.
As a matter of fact, the normal body is the result of a certain mode of life in previous existences which was then standard. But the so-called defective minds and defective bodies are the results of the efforts of Spirits to be free to move among what we would call unconventional lines of thought or action. Therefore genius and idiocy have always been twin brothers, and any doctor who attempts to cut short the life of one he may think a defective is just as liable to deprive the world of a great genius as he is to rid it of a poor creature that would be a burden to himself and others during his miserable existence. Thus, even from that point of view it would be absolutely contrary to the interest of society to allow anyone to decide arbitrarily whether a child should live or die. It is the duty of every doctor to do all in his or her power to prolong life in the body so that the Spirit may gain the experience it has come for. If that life is to be cut off nature will take care to do that herself.
Investigation of the Bolinger case shows that that Ego had lived its previous life a nun, and was burned at the stake. The result was that it lost the fruit of that life, and under the law of infant mortality it was therefore necessary for the new body to die soon after birth. Thus no operation could have saved the life in this instance, but that does not do away with the fact that the doctor was negligent of duty in not endeavoring to preserve the life. This Spirit has now gone into the First Heaven and will there receive the moral training which will restore to it the fruits of experience garnered during that past unhappy life. Thus when it is reborn in the course of a few years it will probably have a perfectly normal body.
Question: Will it raise the vibrations of a room to burn spices, and if so what kind of spices should be used? (Vol. II, #148)
Answer: When disembodied Spirits wish to influence those who are still enmeshed in the mortal coil, it is necessary for them to have a vehicle of sufficient density to impinge upon the brain centers, or under certain circumstances upon the coordinating mechanism of the cerebellum. Given such a vehicle these Spirits can and do impress their victims physically, morally, or mentally, according to their disposition.
It is a self-evident truth that one does not gather grapes of thorns, and because a Spirit has no dense body is not a sign that it is a philanthropist. There are more weeds in the physical world than flowers and there are more evil (because undeveloped) Spirits in the invisible world than there are good and noble ones.
When one burns incense in a room, the smoke and the odor which we see and sense is material of such density that it may be made use of by certain classes of Spirits which are attuned to the vibratory rate of that incense which is being burned. When a reputable occultist, who has evolved spiritual sight and is able to see the various entities in the invisible world, has compounded an incense which he finds offers a vehicle only for Spirits of a helpful nature who incline to raise the vibrations of those who breathe the incense and the Spirits with it, then it may be an aid during periods of prayer to raise the consciousness of the devotees to a union with the Divine.
On the other hand, if the incense has been compounded by someone ignorant of occultism, perhaps by one who has a selfish motive in view, then it is a vehicle for Spirits of a similar nature who clothe themselves in the smoke and odor, enter the bodies of those who are present where the incense is being burned and incite them to acts of debauchery and sensualism. The Chinese punk sticks are a good example of this variety. It is also possible that when this practice has been indulged in for some time the obsessing Spirits may obtain such control over their victims that they incite them to frenzy, causing them to exhibit the symptoms of epilepsy, frothing at the mouth, etc., or they interfere with the bodily movements in a manner similar to that exhibited in the so-called St. Vitus dance. Therefore, the practice of burning incense is very dangerous, and ought to be strenuously discouraged.
Question: Is "legalized euthanasia," or lawful execution of the aged, infirm, or suffering persons who desire death, such as I read is being considered in a certain city, legitimate in your opinion? (Vol. II, #152)
Answer: At first blush and from the standpoint of people not versed in the teachings of occultism such a measure would seem to have considerable claim to commendation. Most people on seeing an animal suffering agonies and beyond hope of recovery would feel prompted by humane instincts to put it out of its misery, and the questions, "Why should we not do as much for our fellow men and women? Why should we keep them alive in excruciating suffering maybe for months or years when we know they have no chance of regaining their health and that they are looking and longing for death to put them out of pain?" seem from the common point of view to call for acquiescence. However, when we have a knowledge of the law of consequence and are sure that what we sow we reap, if not in this life then in some future existence, the matter appears in a different light.
We cannot escape out just dues. The suffering that comes to us is needed to teach us a lesson or mellow our character. The only way to shorten such suffering is by an endeavor to understand why we are in the condition that brings us pain. If it is cancer of the stomach, then how have we abused that organ? By overindulgence of food of a nature not suited to our system? Is it the heart? How many times have we lost our tempers and raged like mad, putting a tremendous strain on this part of the body? Or are the other organs of our system weak and debilitated? We may be sure that in some way, either in this life or a previous one, we have abused our body in such a manner as to cause these ailments. Otherwise we would not now be suffering, and the sooner we take the lesson to heart and commence to live a better life more in harmony with the laws of nature we have broken, the sooner our suffering will cease.
It is always in our grasp to alter conditions, though of course we cannot remedy in a day what it has taken years or lives to break down, but certainly there is no other way in which a permanent cure can be effected. Even if now, by the enactment of such a law as contemplated, the suffering is shortened, we may be sure that when the person so released from his or her body is reborn, his or her new vehicle will have the tendency to develop the same disease from which he or she escaped in such an untoward manner. Besides, as the Western Wisdom Teachings thoroughly explains, this physical body of ours is fashioned in an invisible mold which is called the archetype, and so long as that archetype persists our physical body remains alive. When death occurs from natural causes, or even in the so-called accidents, (which usually are not accidents at all but events used to terminate a life according to the design of the invisible guardians of human affairs) the archetype is disrupted and the Spirit flees.
A suicide, however, is different. In this case the archetype persists after death for a number of years until death should have occurred according to natural events, and being unable to draw to itself the physical atoms it imparts to the suicide during those years of his post-mortem existence a continuous aching feeling, something like a gnawing hunger, or a dull but exceedingly painful toothache. If the plan you mention becomes a law and people are allowed to obtain the services of others to commit sucicide (for that is what it really amounts to), there is no doubt that they will suffer in their post-mortem existence in the same manner as the suicide who prescribed his or own poison, or cut his or her own throat. It is a very dangerous plan in other respects, also, and we trust no such practice will be sanctioned by law.
This article is adapted from "The Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers, Vol. II," by Max Heindel.