It is just as impossible to attain true and lasting success without 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 never be happy when he is in ill health. 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 came into the world through eating of the "tree of knowledge," and though from the materialistic 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 to be 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, whether we shall be one thing or another tomorrow, depends upon how we use our faculties today. Let us then examine the past; 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 being separated into two distinct sexes as man and woman. We still have with us hermaphrodites who have this, as we think 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 were 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 their length of life are wonderful; they live centuries where man lives only a few score years. Then the question comes, what is the reason for 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 known 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 plant so that the strength may go partly into growth instead of the 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 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 realize 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 fruits of the Spirit, which make for immortality, 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. It overshadows every single moment of our existence, and determines our attitude in each and every single phase of life among our fellow men: how we meet various trials 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 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 who on account of convention are prohibited or prevented from seeking the natural satisfaction, 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 sepulchers, horrible within though outwardly seemingly pure and white. Paul himself, though not in the condition mentioned, said: "It is better to marry 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 precepts in other things still have the feeling that 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 is also augmented with each indulgence. Thus we strengthen the two lower ethers of the vital body by sending the creative force downwards for gratification of our desire, 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 our 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 upwards 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 accumulation of wealth but in soul-growth, it will be evident that continence is a vital factor in the attainment of success in life.
Instead of seeking physical gratification when conscious of the surging impulses of the lower nature, if the individual will focus his thoughts and imagination upon something he desires to create -- whether it be a poem, an invention, a picture, a musical composition, or some material demonstration such as a home or a new business venture -- he will find that a double purpose is served. The objective demonstration will be accelerated and the process of transmutation or regeneration within his body will, at the same dime, be noticeably stimulated. Physical exercise alone is also of help, but when accompanied by creative thoughts is more effective.
Meditation upon high and inspiring subjects has power literally to transform forces impregnating the sexual fluids, for these fluids are really carriers of etheric force, the true creative agent. An inspiring poem or passage from the scriptures can be the channel for immediate direction of the thoughts and creative power into uplifting currents. By consciously directing pure love currents from the heart into the creative centers of the brain, sexual activity may be transmuted into activities of mind and Spirit, with a corresponding birth upon the mental and spiritual plane.
Every cell of the body is, or can be made, subject to absolute control of the Ego by means of the mind. It is possible to raise the body above the forces of physical passion and to center one's whole being in the currents of Spirit. Patient persistence always succeeds, and the rewards are exceedingly gratifying: permanently better physical health, increased mental power, purer desires, unfoldment of the innate spiritual faculties latent in every human being.
The sex-pervert, or sex-maniac, is a proof of the correctness of the contention of occultists that one part of the sex-force builds the brain. He becomes an idiot because of drawing and sending out, not only dhe negative or positive part of the sex force (according to whether male or female) which is normally to be used through the sex-organ for propagation, but in addition to that, some of the force which should build up the brain, enabling it to produce thought -- hence the mental deficiency.
On the other hand, if the person is given to spiritual thought, the tendency to use the sex force for propagation is slight, and whatever part of it is not used in that way may be transmuted into spiritual force.
The Holy Spirit is the creative energy in Nature, and the sex energy is its reflection in man. Misuse or abuse of that power is the sin that is not forgiven, but must be expiated in impaired efficiency of the vehicles, in order thoroughly to teach us the sanctity of the creative force.