Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is the Buddhist an Atheist?

Is the Buddhist an Atheist?

by Remsen Whitehouse

Reprinted from "Lucifer"
Reprinted from "Theosophical Siftings" Volume 5

The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

THE very general interest evinced at the present moment by Western students in the religious system of Buddhism, although it may prove to be no deeper than an insatiable craving for new ideals, can, nevertheless, hardly fail to leave some enduring mark on contemporaneous thought. Unfortunately the vulgarization of a most complicated system of philosophy has caused serious misapprehensions, affecting important tenets of the doctrine, to become current. The allegation most constantly levelled against the creed is that it is a doctrine of pure pessimism and absolute Atheism — "that ferocious system that leaves nothing above us to excite awe, nor around us to awaken tenderness."

But is Buddhism really Atheistic?

To begin with, what is the popular definition of this much-abused word (Atheism)? We find Worcester rendering it "the denial or disbelief of a God"; while Webster amplifies it to "the disbelief or denial of the existence of a God, or Supreme intelligent Being". The theist may pronounce such a "disbelief" as constituting an irrefutable proof of atheism, holding, as he will, that theism inculcates the existence of a conscious God governing the universe by his will power. The lexicographer's definition is applicable, however, only to the materialist, who rejects any spiritual hypothesis whatever and relies wholly on matter for the formation and preservation of Cosmos. Now Buddhism, although it certainly denies the existence of an anthropomorphic and personal God, yet does not reject spirituality as an attribute of the Primordial Essence. On the contrary, a Divine Intelligence is acknowledged, but at the same time is not held to have any direct control over individual destiny, which is entirely subject to the laws of Cause and Effect, or to use a technical term, to the "Karma" (balance of merit and demerit) of the individual monad which follows and controls the state, condition or form of his re-births.

Does this denial of a personal God necessarily constitute Atheism? It is hardly fair to assume that it does; for the rejection of a personal God need not imply the denial of any God at all.

"The horror inspired by this name (Atheist) is strikingly shown in the way it is repudiated by the adherents of Pantheism, who reject a personal God and substitute the idealized principle of order that pervades the universe. It is hardly to be denied, however, that the idea associated with the word God has hitherto involved personality as its very essence; and except for the purpose of avoiding odium, there could be little propriety in retaining the word when the notion is so completely altered". Pantheism and Atheism are consequently hereby pronounced practically synonymous. But are they really so? Certainly not to the Buddhist who energetically refutes the charge of Atheism, although he avows himself, in a measure, a Pantheist.

Fleming's analysis is crushing in its comprehensive dogmatism and would seem to leave no loophole of escape for the hunted Pantheist. "Pantheism", says he, "when explained to mean the absorption of the infinite in the finite, of God in nature, is Atheism: and the doctrine of Spinoza has been so regarded by many. When explained to mean the absorption of nature in God, of the finite in the infinite, it amounts to an exaggeration of Atheism".

Before condemning Spinoza as an Atheist, however, I would quote Mr. Saltus' terse but comprehensive explanation of the doctrine of the great Jew thinker. He taught, says that writer, "that there is but one substance, and in this substance all things live, move and have their being. It is at once Cause and Effect; it is God". But the term thus used has nothing in common with the theistic idea of a Creator, who, having fashioned the world, "sits aloft and sees it go". On the contrary God and the universe were, to Spinoza, one and identical; they were correlatives; the existence of the one made that of the other a logical necessity. To him the primordial entity, the "fons et origo rerum" was God; but God was Nature, and Nature, Substance. Goethe also agrees with the Pantheist, that to "discuss God apart from Nature is both difficult and dangerous. It is as though we separated the soul from the body". And he goes on to add that "we know the soul only through the medium of the body, and God only through Nature. Hence the absurdity of accusing of absurdity those who philosophically unite the world with God". This is Pantheism, but it is not Atheism. It is not the "denial or disbelief of a God".

From such a union of God and Nature (in the widest cosmographical sense) sprang the "Divine Principle" of the Esoteric Buddhists: that which is "neither entity nor non-entity, but Abstract Entity, which is no entity, liable to be described by either words or attributes".

Without plunging into the bewildering maze of the transcendentalism of the esoteric brotherhood, which is entirely beyond the scope of the present paper, we can affirm, on general principles, that Buddhism, like Schopenhauer's philosophy, teaches that Will is the fundamental Supreme Power, whose vivifying essence pervades all cosmos, reaching in an endless circuit from the most minute inorganic atom to man. But, unlike Schopenhauer, it does not deny that this Will is the outcome of a Supreme Intelligence: it merely professes such knowledge as beyond the pale of physical conception.

Of course the above must be understood as the briefest synopsis of a most complicated hypothesis; and I hesitate to affirm that the occult sages of Lhassa or Khatmandhu would endorse such an interpretation "verbatim"; or without much amplification and exhaustive analytical distinction. But it is sufficient for the object of this paper; and I know I shall secure the suffrages of the mass of their co-religionists of the "Lesser Vehicle" when I state that these latter, far from being "materialistic-atheists", if I may borrow the phrase, do acknowledge a Supreme Essence; so absolutely and immeasurably above mundane intellect, however, as to be utterly beyond mortal conceptibility, and consequently prudently let, by their exoteric doctrine, severely alone.

It is perhaps unnecessary to state that the preceding remarks have little or no application to Chinese or Japanese Buddhism, for the religion of those countries is so hopelessly distorted by the interweaving of Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism, as to present but little interest to the student of the pure doctrine. I would add for the information of those who are not familiar with the technical terms of our subject, that by the "Greater Vehicle" the esoteric philosophy of Thibet and Nepaul is referred to; the "Lesser Vehicle" embracing Burmah, Siam and Ceylon. This last country also, lays claim to the purest and most ancient form of the Buddha's exoteric teachings.

By these the Buddhist is taught to work out his own ultimate salvation (or shall we not rather say evolution?) following the path of the most excellent Law, discovered and laid down for his guidance by Gautama Buddha. I use the term "ultimate salvation" advisedly, for it should be clearly understood that no Buddhist expects to attain Nirvana on escaping from his present existence. On the contrary, he realizes, as Mr. Sinnett expresses it, "the manifest irrationality in the commonplace notion that man's existence is divided into a material beginning, lasting sixty or seventy years, and a spiritual remainder lasting for ever". The life just passed through, the spiritual quiescence upon which he then enters, and the subsequent maze of alternating material and spiritual phases through which he must pass (their number depending on the spiritual level he has attained), are merely links in the great chain of spiritual and material evolution which will ultimately lead him, purified and etherealized, to Nirvana — that condition which is not annihilation, but a "sublime state of conscious rest in omniscience"; in very truth that peace of mind, "which passeth all understanding."

Concerning such refinement of subtilty as the permanence of Nirvana we need not concern ourselves. Still, paradoxical as it may seem even the duration of this theoretically "eternal" bliss may be computed; and as there can be no such thing as Perpetuity, there may dawn a tomorrow, millions of years hence, when the spiritual monad must again start forth on an evolutionary round; but on an immeasurably higher plane. Such is the atheology of Buddhism.

Although it touches our subject but indirectly, even this rapid sketch would be incomplete without a glance at what is meant by the Buddhist denial of the immortality of the soul. This denial it will be seen is more apparent than real.

In the Theosophist's Buddhist Catechism, by Colonel Olcott, a work which may safely be taken as authoritative on questions affecting the exoteric belief as it has been endorsed by the High Priest of the Southern Buddhists, and recommended by him for use in the Sinhalese schools, we read that "soul" (as understood in popular phraseology) is considered "a word used by the ignorant to express a false idea". "The denial of 'soul', by Buddha, points to the prevalent delusive belief in an independent transmissible personality; an entity that could move from birth to birth unchanged, or go to a place or state where, as such perfect entity, it could eternally enjoy or suffer. But this 'I am I' consciousness is, as regards permanency, logically impossible, since its elementary constituents constantly change, and 'I' of one birth differs from the 'I' of every other birth."

The distinction between the pseudonymous "soul" and this subtle "individuality" consists in the psychological "personality" transmitted by the tanha (unsatisfied desire for existence) at the moment of dissolution, to the "character" of the re-birth. We learn from the same source, that, "the successive appearances upon one or many earths, or 'descents into generation', of the 'tanhaically' coherent parts of a certain being, are a succession of personalities. In each birth the personality differs from that of the previous or next succeeding birth. Karma, the 'deus ex machina', masks (or, shall we say, reflects?) itself now in the personality of a sage, again as an artisan, and so on through the string of births. But though personalities ever shift, the one line of life along which they are strung like beads, runs unbroken; it is ever that particular line, never any other. It is, therefore, individual; an individual vital undulation, which began in Nirvana, or the subjective side of nature, as the light or heat undulation through ether began at its dynamic source; is careering through the objective side of Nature, under the impulse of Karma and the creative direction of Tanha; and tends, through many cyclic changes back to Nirvana. However incomplete in detail the foregoing may be, it is nevertheless sufficient in as far as it goes for the object we have at present in view — a cursory examination of three of the fundamental principles of Buddhistic philosophy.

Am I wrong in supposing that the unprejudiced mind will readily agree that the creed which inculcates such lofty conceptions of Man's destiny is not that of the atheist— "idealized pantheism" though it may be?


THERE is a faculty of the human mind, which is superior to all which is born or begotten. Through it we are enabled to attain union with the superior intelligences, of being transported beyond the scenes and arrangements of this world, and of partaking the higher life and peculiar powers of the heavenly ones. By this faculty we are made free from the dominations of Fate (Karma), and are made, so to speak, the arbiters of our own destinies. For, when the most excellent parts of us become filled with energy, and the soul is elevated to natures loftier than itself, it becomes separated from those conditions which keep it under the dominion of the present every-day life of the world, exchanges the present for another life, and abandons the conventional habits belonging to the external order of things, to give and mingle itself with that order which pertains to higher life.


It is as a direct beholding; what Schelling denominates a realization of the identity of subject and object called Deity; so that transported out of himself, so to speak, he thinks divine thoughts, views all things from their highest point of view, and, to use an expression of Emerson "becomes recipient of the Soul of the World". —


IN Astrachan, on the Caspian Sea, there was, during our stay there, an apothecary named Ossey (probably his sons are still there). He suffered terribly from toothache whether neuralgic or otherwise, I do not know. Probably the former, because the extraction of several teeth on that side did not relieve him. Somebody told him that there lived in the town an old retired soldier who "talked away" [This is the literal translation of the popular and mystic term "Zagovarivayt”, in Russia. For the good men and women in towns and villages who play at local medicine-men (and the people will have no others) literally “talk away”, by means of some strange words which no one understands but themselves, and by breathing on the water, all kinds of diseases and ailments most effectively] most effectually the toothache. Ossey found out the soldier-wizard, who did talk away his pain in a few minutes, so that it never returned.

Some time after, the apothecary happened to meet the soldier, and asked him whether his pain was ever likely to return; to which the soldier replied as follows: "This depends on which of us survives the other. If you die before me, then the toothache will never return; but if I die before you, the pain will return immediately, and more violent than ever".

For nine years Ossey had no pain, and the remembrance of his suffering even had vanished from his thoughts, when, in the tenth year, his neuralgia returned with redoubled violence. He rushed off in search of his soldier-healer, but could nowhere find him, and learnt a few days later that the soldier had died; and thus his forewarning had proved correct.

It seems to me that this "talking away" is just another kind of mesmeric healing. My arm pains me more and more, even interfering with my writing, as the fingers are becoming stiff. For me there is no more doubt that my rheumatism returned in Odessa, on the very day on which Evette died in Paris.

Ossey' s story is interesting as a corroboration of my own case.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Birth of Light


Translated from Eliphas Levi's" Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie."

Reprinted from "Lucifer"

THE "Lucifer" of the Kabalists is not a proscribed and fallen angel, but the spirit which illuminates and regenerates by fire; he is to the angels of peace what the comet is to the peaceful constellations of spring-time.

The fixed star is beautiful, radiant and calm; she drinks in the aromas of Heaven, and looks lovingly on her sisters; clad in her dazzling garments, and her brow adorned with diamonds, she smiles as she sings her morning and her evening hymn; she enjoys an eternal repose which nothing can disturb, and solemnly she treads the path assigned to her among the sentinels of light.

But the wandering comet, all bloodstained, and her tresses unloosed, rushes on from the depths of the sky ; she dashes across the track of the peaceful spheres like a chariot of war breaking the ranks of a procession of vestals; she dares to breast the burning sword of the guardians of the sun, and, like a lost spouse who seeks the partner visioned in her lonely night watches, she forces her way even into the tabernacle of the King of Day.

Then she rushes out, breathing forth the fires which consume herself and leaving in her train one long conflagration; the stars pale before her approach, the herded constellations, which browse upon the starry flowers in the vast meadows of the sky, seem to flee from her terrible breath. The grand council of the stars is called, and universal consternation reigns. At last the fairest of the fixed stars is charged to speak in the name of the heavenly concourse, and to propose a truce with the errant messenger.

"My sister," she says, "why troublest thou the harmony of these spheres? What harm have we done thee, and why, instead of wandering at hazard, dost thou not, like us, take up thy settled rank in the Court of the Sun? Why dost thou not join with us in chanting the evening hymn, attired, like us, in a robe of white clasped above the breast by one pure diamond? Why dost thou allow thy tresses, dripping with the sweat of fire, to float across the vapours of the night? If thou wouldst but take thy due place among the daughters of Heaven, how far more lovely thy mien! Thy face no more would be burnt up by the fatigue of thy unheard-of journeys; thy eyes would shine forth clear, and thy features smile with the tints of lily and of rose, like those of thy happy sisters; all the stars would recognise in thee a friend, and far from fearing thy transit, they would rejoice at thy approach. For thou wouldst be united to us by the indissoluble ties of universal harmony, and thy peaceable existence would be but one voice the more in the anthem of Infinite Love."

But the comet replies:
"Deem not, my sister, that I could stray at chance and disturb the harmony of the spheres. God has traced for me my path, as thine for thee, and if my course appears to thee uncertain and erratic, it is because thy rays cannot reach so far as to embrace the outlines of the great ellipse which has been given me for my career. My burning tresses are the banner of God; I am the messenger of the Suns, and I bathe me in their fires that I may distribute them on my path to those young worlds which have not yet sufficient heat, and to the declining stars that shiver in their solitude. If I court fatigue in my long joumeyings, if my beauty is less mild than thine, if my attire less virginal, I am no less than thee a worthy daughter of the sky. Leave in my hands the awful secret of my destiny, leave to me the horror which encompasses me, and slander me not if thou canst not understand me. None the less, shall I fulfil my appointed task. Happy the stars that take their rest and shine like young queens in the stately concourse of the Universe; for me, I am cast out, a wanderer, and claim the Infinite as my only fatherland. They accuse me of setting on fire the planets which I warm, and of terrifying the stars which I illume. I am reproached with disturbing the harmony of the worlds, because I do not revolve round their own fixed points, and because I bind them one to the other, setting my face alone toward the only centre of all the Suns. So rest assured, thou fairest star, I will not deprive thee of one ray of
thy so peaceful light ; the rather, I will squander on thee my warmth and my own life. Who knows, but I may vanish from the sky when I have consumed myself? My lot will still have been a noble one! For know that in the Temple of God the fires that burn are not all one. Ye are the light of the golden torches, but I, the flame of sacrifice. Let each accomplish her own destiny!"

Her words scarce uttered, the comet shakes her tresses loose, covers herself with her burning shield, and plunges once more into infinite space, where she appears to vanish for evermore.

It is thus that Lucifer appears and disappears in the allegories of the Bible.

One day, so says the book of Job, the sons of God had assembled in the presence of their Lord, and among them came Lucifer.

To him the Lord said: "Whence comest thou?"

And he replied:
"I have journeyed round the world and travelled throughout it."

This is how a Gnostic gospel, re-discovered in the East by a learned traveller, explains, in treating of the symbolical Lucifer, the genesis of Light.

"Truth which is conscious of itself is living Thought. Truth is the Thought which is contained within itself; and formulated Thought is Speech. When the Eternal Thought sought for a form it said: 'Let there be Light.' Therefore this Thought that speaks is the Word, and this Word says: 'Let there be Light, because the word itself is the light of the spirit.' "

The uncreated light, which is the divine Word, sends forth its rays because it wishes to be manifest, and when it says, " Let there be light," it commands the eyes to open; it creates the Intelligences.

And, when God said: "Let there be light," Intelligence was made and light appeared.

Then, the Intelligence which God had breathed forth, like a planet detached from the Sun, took the form of a splendid Angel and the heavens saluted him with the name of Lucifer.

Intelligence awoke and it fathomed its own depths as it heard this apostrophe of the divine Word, "Let there be Light." It felt itself to be free, for God had commanded it so to be, and it answered, raising its head and spreading its wings, "I will not be Slavery."

"Wilt thou be then Sorrow? " said the uncreated voice.

"I will be Liberty," answered the Light.

"Pride will seduce thee," replied the supreme voice, "and thou wilt give birth to Death."

"I must needs combat with Death to conquer Life," said once again the light created.

God then unloosed from his bosom the thread of splendour which held back the superb spirit, and as he watched him dive into the night, cutting in it a path of glory, he loved the child of his thought, and smiling with a smile ineffable, he murmured to himself: "How fair a thing was this Light!"

And Sorrow was the condition imposed upon the free being. If the chief of the angels had not dared confront the depths of night, the travail of God had not been complete, and the created light could not have separated itself from the light unrevealed.

Perhaps Lucifer, in plunging into the night, drew with him a shower of Stars and Suns by the attraction of his glory?

The Mystery of All Time


Reprinted from "Lucifer"

THE inner light which guides men to greatness, and makes them noble, is a mystery through all time and must remain so while Time lasts for us; but there come moments, even in the midst of ordinary life, when Time has no hold upon us, and then all the circumstance of outward existence falls away, and we find ourselves face to face with the mystery beyond. In great trouble, in great joy, in keen excitement, in serious illness, these moments come. Afterwards they seem very wonderful, looking back upon them.

What is this mystery, and why is it so veiled, are the burning questions for anyone who has begun to realise its existence. Trouble most often rouses men to the consciousness of it, and forces them to ask these questions when those, whom one has loved better than oneself, are taken away in to the formless abyss of the unknown by death, or are changed, by the experiences of life, till they are no longer recognisable as the same; then comes the wild hunger for knowledge. Why is it so? What is it, that surrounds us with a great dim cloud into which all loved things plunge in time and are lost to us, obliterated, utterly taken from us? It is this which makes life so unbearable to the emotional natures, and which developes selfishness in narrow hearts. If there is no certainty and no permanence in life, then it seems to the Egotist, that there is no reasonable course but to attend to one's own affairs, and be content with the happiness of the first person singular. There are many persons sufficiently generous in temperament to wish others were happy also, and who, if they saw any way to do it, would gladly redress some of the existing ills-the misery of the poor, the social evil, the sufferings of the diseased, the sorrow of those made desolate by death- these things the sentimental philanthropist shudders to think of. He does not act because he can do so little. Shall he take one miserable child and give it comfort when millions will be enduring the same fate when that one is dead? The inexorable cruelty of life continues on its giant course, and those who are born rich and healthy live in pleasant places, afraid to think of the horrors life holds within it. Loss, despair, unutterable pain, comes at last, and the one who has hitherto been fortunate is on a level with those to whom misery has been familiarised by a lifetime of experience. For trouble bites hardest when it springs on a new victim. Of course, there are profoundly selfish natures which do not suffer in this sense, which look only for personal comfort and are content with the small horizon visible to one person's sight; for these, there is but little trouble in the world, there is none of the passionate pain which exists in sensitive and poetic natures. The born artist is aware of pain as soon as he is aware of pleasure; he recognises sadness as a part of human life before it has touched on his own. He has an innate consciousness of the mystery of the ages, that thing stirring within man's soul and which enables him to outlive pain and become great, which leads him on the road to the divine life. This gives him enthusiasm, a superb heroism indifferent to calamity; if he is a poet he will write his heart out, even for a generation that has no eyes or ears for him; if he desires to help others personally, he is capable of giving his very life to save one wretched child from out a million of miserable ones. For it is not his puny personal effort in the world that he considers-not his little show of labour done; what he is conscious of is the over-mastering desire to work with the beneficent forces of super-nature, to become one with the divine mystery, and when he can forget time and circumstances, he is face to face with that mystery. Many have fancied they must reach it by death; but none have come back to tell us that this is so. We have no proof that man is not as blind beyond the grave as he is on this side of it. Has he entered the eternal thought? If not, the mystery is a mystery still.

To one who is entering occultism in earnest, all the trouble of the world seems suddenly apparent. There is a point of experience when father and mother, wife and child, become indistinguishable, and when they seem no more familiar or friendly than a company of strangers. The one dearest of all may be close at hand and unchanged, and yet is as far as if death had come between. Then all distinction between pleasure and pain, love and hate, have vanished. A melancholy, keener than that felt by a man in his first fierce experience of grief, overshadows the soul. It is the pain of the struggle to break the shell in which man has prisoned himself. Once broken then there is no more pain; all ties are severed, all personal demands are silenced for ever. The man has forced himself to face the great mystery, which is now a mystery no longer, for he has become part of it. It is essentially the mystery of the ages, and these have no longer any meaning for him to whom time and space and all other limitations are but passing experiences. It has become to him a reality, profound, indeed, because it is bottomless, wide, indeed, because it is limitless. He has touched on the greatness of life, which is sublime in its impartiality and effortless generosity. He is friend and lover to all those living beings that come within his consciousness, not to the one or two chosen ones only-which is indeed only an enlarged selfishness. While a man retains his humanity, it is certain that one or two chosen ones will give him more pleasure by contact, than all the rest of the beings in the Universe and all the heavenly host; but he has to remember and recognise what this preference is. It is not a selfish thing which has to be crushed out, if the love is the love that gives; freedom from attachments is not a meritorious condition in itself. The freedom needed is not from those who cling to you, but from those to whom you cling. The familiar phrase of the lover "I cannot live without you" must be words which cannot be uttered, to the occultist. If he has but one anchor, the great tides will sweep him away into nothingness. But the natural preference which must exist in every man for a few persons is one form of the lessons of Life. By contact with these other souls he has other channels by which to penetrate to the great mystery. For every soul touches it, even the darkest. Solitude is a great teacher, but society is even greater. It is so hard to find and take the highest part of those we love, that in the very difficulty of the search there is a serious education. We realise when making that effort, far more clearly what it is that creates the mystery in which we live, and makes us so ignorant. It is the swaying, vibrating, never-resting desires of the animal soul in man. The life of this part of man's nature is so vigorous and strongly developed from the ages during which he has dwelt in it, that it is almost impossible to still it so as to obtain contact with the noble spirit. This constant and confusing life, this ceaseless occupation with the trifles of the hour, this readiness in surface emotion, this quickness to be pleased, amused or distressed, is what baffles our sight and dulls our inner senses. Till we can use these the mystery remains in its Sphinx-like silence.

The Gardener and His Pupils

The Gardener and His Pupils

by Ralph Lanesdale

Reprinted from "Theosophical Siftings" Volume 4

The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

THE Master Gardener was wise with the Wisdom of many ages, and he was sad, when he saw how the gardens of earth were neglected. So sad was he for the barrenness of the earth, for he knew that it was caused by the ignorance of the people, who neglected all the old rules that their former wise master gardeners had given them. They no longer planted any seed, for they had not known how to collect it in days when the flowers and fruit trees bore seed in abundance. In those days the people had got tired of fruit and flowers, and had killed the animals and eaten them, the animals that were their servants and friends, and whom they ought to have protected and trained, so that the spirit which lived in the animals might learn to become fit to live in human bodies on another land in time to come. Then too they had dug in the earth, not to plant new fruit trees, but to get gold, and silver, and other metals, which they used to put on their clothes for ornaments, and also they made swords and spears and fought and killed each other, to get more gold for themselves. And the sun shone but the flowers bloomed no more, and the fruit trees withered, and those who tended them built houses and temples to preserve the dead trunks of the trees, and told the people that these trees had always been like that, and that they were beautiful, and the people believed them and worshipped the dead trunks, which the priests of the temples had covered with gold and silver and other metals. And sometimes one or other of these trees which was not quite dead would try to put forth a bud or leaf, but when the priests saw that, they were frightened and cut it off and put more gold over the place to keep in the life as they thought. And there were some who did not go to the temples to worship the dead trunks with the gold upon them, but they ever kept repeating songs and stories, and painting pictures and making sculptured figures, and everywhere they made the trees with leaves and fruit upon them, and the ground with leaves and flowers upon it. And the people liked these pictures and poems, and some thought that perhaps there was once a time when things like that happened. And the priests said that, that was only when gods came down on earth and not at all when men lived and ate the fruit and loved the flowers, and they called the poets and the artists wicked, because they said they told stories and laughed at their temples and dead trees.

But the artists and the poets took no notice, for they knew that it had been so once, and they knew that the world should blossom again and bear fruit and flowers, and so they went on singing and working their souls into their songs and their pictures and statues, and the people liked them and some loved their work, and a few understood. And those who did understand tried hard to find out how to make trees and flowers grow again, but they had no seed to sow, and though some of the old trees in the temples, were not quite dead yet, they could not put out leaves, because the priests had covered them up with gold and other baser metals entirely. And then some of those, who sought and sought for the seed, fell into a despair, and said, “Behold there is no truth in these things; the priests have deceived us with their golden images and there are no trees within the metal cases, and the poets and the artists have told us false stories and the flowers are all inventions of their own, and we can prove it, for behold we have searched and we have not found and therefore we are sure that there is nought". But some said, “We have sought and found nothing, but others shall tread in our footsteps, and starting where we leave off shall go farther, and perhaps in the far future they shall find what we have sought. Behold we are content."

And the sun shone bright upon them and the germ of life in the earth sighed deep in its mother earth when it heard their sad voices, and the people were sick for want of the fruit, and their hearts were cold for the want of the love of the flowers, and when the priests called them to the temples they cried "Can your golden trees bear fruit? Can you give us the flowers again?" And the priests were angry and said that they were wicked and had no faith and that the golden trees would fall upon and crush them — and all the people were in sickness and great distress. And one came from the East, and she was a woman, and she said, "Long ago I heard the cry of the people, and my heart was sore and sad, and I knew that what the poets and the artists said was true. And I went to the East and sought the Light in its own home deep in the bosom of the Wisdom of the Ancient Ones. There I found a Master Gardener who knew the secrets of all Nature and, who had kept the seed safe and had cultivated other gardens, and ever the good Gardeners had tried to find pupils who could learn the lost Art of Gardening and give it once more to those seekers on earth who might plant the trees once more and make the flowers grow. But often and often they had sent out their pupils, but again and again the people laughed at them, being heavy with the flesh food, and fierce with the greed of gold and passion of war, and the priests had taken them and put them to death and burned the seed and the gardening tools, but some of the priests were wise and said ‘Come let us take this seed for ourselves and plant it in the gardens of the Temple and show the people what we can do, and so shall we get great honour'.

But they did not know how to plant or tend the seed and it brought forth no plants, and so they were angry and said also, ‘The seed is false and the flowers cannot grow on earth’, but they told not this to the people, for they loved honour. And now, see, I have brought seed and will show you where are still the living roots of those trees and dead branches, which are covered with gold in the Temples, for the roots lie deep in unknown places and when you have cleared away the ruins of the broken Temples which cover the spot, and prepared the ground and done those things that I shall tell you to do, behold the trees shall grow again, and in time they shall bear fruit as in the old days and people shall all eat and be well; and I will give you this seed that you may plant it, and the flowers will spring up again and men shall learn Love instead of Hate. But hear my words and take heed, these fruit trees when they grow up are to bear fruit for all to eat, and the flowers shall bear their fragrance to every heart; build no Temples to guard them, they are for all, yes, even though they trample them underfoot, for the fragrance of the crushed flower shall rise in the air and soften the breeze with its sad sweetness". And the people were astonished, and some said “She is the Gardener, let us follow her and learn", but others said, “She is another mad deceiver and only fools will hear her words", and they jeered at her and scorned her pupils and made a great mockery at them.

For the pupils were as yet foolish and ignorant, and many there were would be gardeners without learning the art, and some were so full of sorrow for humanity that they cried to her, “Give us the seed at once that we may sow it, see the fields are ready and bare, and the people are sick". And they took the seed and planted it in great haste and heard not the words of caution, and most of that seed was lost; but of the labour came wisdom and those who still loved the people more than their own glory, went sadly to her and said, “Your words were the words of wisdom, let us first learn, in order that the seed may not all be lost"; but most of the people scoffed, and said cruel things in their misery and despair. And some of those who had toiled to clear away the ruins of the Temples were in great haste to dig up the ground and their tools cut the roots of the old tree and the sap ran out, and others said; "Here shall grow the tree, let us mark the spot with a post and set our names upon it", and this they did in vanity, and the post they drove deep down and hurt the root that was trying to spring up.

And the people saw the post and written upon it they saw "This is the tree that shall bear the fruit", and laughed bitterly at the post and the vanity of those that set their names upon it, and took no heed that they had laboured long and painfully to find the spot and clear the ground, and some had died there at their work. And the people knew not that love was in the hearts of the workers and the folly that they did was done in ignorance and weakness. And the post may stand or fall, it matters naught: the roots of the great tree are freed once more and men shall learn to plant fruit trees and eat the fruit, and the flowers shall grow and the earth be beautiful and men's hearts be full of love, and joy, and peace, and even the gardens of earth shall become more beautiful, while men shall hear the teaching of the Master Gardeners and learn to become themselves Masters of Wisdom.

THE strong well-balanced man accepts things as they come with a spirit attuned to the sweet melodies of creative power: and weeps not over blighted joys or withered hopes. He looks above and beyond these things, and his soul is filled with rest thereby. He does not essay to control others, for he has as much as he can do to control himself. By this means he converts his enemies into friends, who come to him, as an oracle, for counsel. His control is far greater than that of one whose whole life is spent in trying to control others. The gigantic evils of this life come from the desire to rule others — or to make others do as you wish them to do. Counsel is far better than rule. Let everyone do as they like, but scatter light and knowledge of the true way to happiness and power.

Reader, if you have lost youth and happiness — let go! If friends have proved false and ungrateful — let go ! If your heart is torn by unrequited love — let go! If you are poor — let go! If you are wealthy — let go! If Providence forsakes you — let go ! If you love life — let go! If you are tired of life — let go! If you look back upon your life's journey with regrets — let go! For “He that would save his life shall lose it, and he that would lose his life shall save it."

From The Temple of the Rosy Cross by F.B.Dowd

The Magical Evocation of Apollonius of Tyana

The Magical Evocation of Apollonius of Tyana

by Eliphas Levi

A chapter translated by the Editor from From Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie
From The Theosophist, December, 1882.
Reprinted from "Theosophical Siftings" Volume 4

The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

WE have already said that in the Astral Light, the images of persons and things are preserved. It is also in this light that can be evoked the forms of those who are no longer in our world, and it is by its means that are effected the mysteries of necromancy which are as real as they are denied.

The Cabalists, who have spoken of the spirit-worlds, have simply related what they have seen in their evocations.

Eliphas Levi Zahed (these Hebrew. names translated are Alphonse Louis Constant), who writes this book, has evoked and he has seen.

Let us first tell what the masters have written of their visions or intuitions in what they call the light of glory.

We read in the Hebrew book, the "Revolution of the Souls", that there are souls of three kinds: the daughters of Adam, the daughters of the angels, and the daughters of sin. There are also, according to the same book, three kinds of spirits: captive spirits, wandering spirits, and free spirits. Souls are sent in couples; there are, however, souls of men which are born single and whose mates are held captive by Lilth and Noemah, the queens of Strygis; [ A word applied by the Valaginians and Orientals to a certain kind of unprogressed, elementary spirits. [Editor] ] these are the souls which have to make future expiations for their rashness, in assuming a vow of celibacy. For example, when a man renounces from childhood the love of woman, he makes the spouse who was destined for him the slave of the demons of lust. Souls grow and multiply in heaven as well as bodies upon earth. The immaculate souls are the offspring of the union of the angels.

Nothing can enter into heaven except that which is of heaven. After death, then, the divine spirit which animated the man returns alone to heaven, and leaves upon earth and in the atmosphere two corpses. One terrestrial and elementary; the other aerial and sidereal; the one lifeless already, the other still animated by the universal movement of the soul of the world (Astral Light), but destined to die gradually, absorbed by the astral powers which produced it. The earthly corpse is visible: the other is invisible to the eyes of the terrestrial and living body, and cannot be perceived except by the influences of the astral or translucid light, which communicates its impressions to the nervous system, and thus affects the organ of sight, so as to make it see the forms which are preserved and the words which are written in the book of vital life.

When a man has lived well, the astral corpse or spirit evaporates like a pure incense, as it mounts towards the higher regions; but if man has lived in crime, his astral body, which holds him prisoner, seeks again the objects of passion and desires to resume its course of life. It torments the dreams of young girls, bathes in the steam of spilt blood, and hovers about the places where the pleasures of its life flitted by; it watches continually over the treasures which it possessed and concealed; it exhausts itself in unhappy efforts to make for itself material organs and live evermore. But the stars attract and absorb it; it feels its intelligence weakening, its memory is gradually lost, all its being dissolves,.................. its old vices appear to it as incarnations, and pursue it under monstrous shapes; they attack and devour............... The unhappy wretch thus loses successively all the members which served its sinful appetites; then it dies a second time and for ever, because it then loses its personality and its memory. Souls which are destined to live, but which are not yet entirely purified, remain for a longer or shorter time captives in the astral body, where they are refined by the odic light which seeks to assimilate them to itself and dissolve. It is to rid themselves of this body that suffering souls sometimes enter the bodies of living persons, and remain there for a while in a state which the Cabalists call embryonic.

These are the aerial phantoms evoked by necromancy. These are the larvae, substances dead or dying, with which one places himself in rapport; ordinarily they cannot speak except by the ringing in our ears, produced by the nervous quivering of which I have spoken, and usually reasoning only as they reflect upon our thoughts or dreams.

But to see these strange forms one must put himself in an exceptional condition, partaking at once of sleep and death; that is to say, one must magnetize himself and reach a kind of lucid and wakeful somnambulism.

Necromancy, then, obtains real results, and the evocations of magic are capable of producing veritable apparitions. We have said that in the great magical agent, which is the astral light, are preserved all the impressions of things, all the images formed, either by their rays or by their reflections; it is in this light that our dreams appear to us, it is this light which intoxicates the insane and sweeps away their enfeebled judgment into the pursuit of the most fantastic phantoms. To see without illusions in this light it is necessary to push aside the reflections by a powerful effort of the will, and draw to oneself only the rays. To dream waking is to see in the astral light; and the orgies of the witches' Sabbath, described by so many sorcerers upon their criminal trials, did not present themselves to them in any other manner. Often the preparations and the substances employed to arrive at this result were horrible, as we have seen in the chapters devoted to the Ritual; but the results were never doubtful. Things of the most abominable, fantastic and impossible description were seen, heard and touched.

In the spring of the year 1854 I went to London to escape from certain family troubles and give myself up, without interruption, to science. I had introductory letters to eminent persons interested in supernatural manifestations. I saw several, and found in them, combined with much politeness, a great deal of indifference or frivolity. Immediately they demanded of me miracles, as they would of a charlatan. I was a little discouraged, for to tell the truth, far from being disposed to initiate others into the mysteries of ceremonial magic, I have always dreaded for myself the illusions and fatigues thereof; besides, these ceremonies demand materials at once expensive and hard to collect together. I, therefore, buried myself in the study of the High Cabala, and thought no more of the English adepts until one day, upon entering my lodging, I found a note with my address. This note contained the half of a card, cut in two, and upon which I recognised at once the character of Solomon's seal, and a very small bit of paper, upon which was written in pencil: "Tomorrow, at three o'clock, before Westminster Abbey, the other half of this card will be presented you". I went to this singular rendezvous. A carriage was standing at the place. I held in my hand, with seeming indifference, my half of the card; a servant approached, and opening the carriage door, made me a sign. In the carriage was a lady in black, whose bonnet was covered with a very thick veil; she beckoned to me to take a seat beside her, at the same time showing me the other half of the card which I had received. The footman closed the door, the carriage rolled away; and the lady having raised her veil I perceived a person whose eyes were sparkling and extremely piercing in expression. "Sir", said she to me, with a very strong English accent, "I know that the law of secrecy is very rigorous among adepts; a friend of Sir Bulwer Lytton, who has seen you, knows that experiments have been requested of you, and that you have refused to satisfy their curiosity. Perhaps you have not the necessary things: I wish to show you a complete magic cabinet; but I demand of you in advance the most inviolable secrecy. If you do not give this promise upon your honour I shall order the coachman to reconduct you to your house". I promised what was required, and I show my fidelity in mentioning neither the name, the quality, nor the residence of this lady, whom I soon recognised as an initiate, not precisely of the first degree, but of a very high one. We had long conversations, in the course of which she constantly insisted upon the necessity of practical experiments to complete initiation. She showed me a collection of magical robes and instruments, even lent me some curious books that I needed; in short, she decided to try at her house the experiment of a complete evocation, for which I prepared myself during twenty-one days, by scrupulously observing the practices indicated in the 24th chapter of the Ritual.

All was ready by the 24th of July; our purpose was to evoke the phantom of the Divine Apollonius and interrogate him as to two secrets, of which one concerned myself and the other interested this lady. She had at first intended to assist at the evocation, with an intimate friend; but at the last moment her courage failed, and, as three persons or one are strictly required for magical rites, I was left alone. The cabinet prepared for the evocation was arranged in the small tower, four concave mirrors were properly disposed, and there was a sort of altar, whose white marble top was surrounded by a chain of magnetized iron. Upon the white marble was chiseled and gilded the sign of the Pentagram; and the same sign was traced in different colours upon a fresh white lambskin, which was spread under the altar. In the centre of the marble slab there was a little brazier of copper, containing charcoal of elm and laurel wood; another brazier was placed before me, on a tripod. I was clothed in a white robe, something like those used by our Catholic priests, but longer and more full, and I wore upon my head a crown of verbena leaves interwoven in a golden chain. In one hand I held a naked sword and in another the Ritual. I lighted the two fires with the substance requisite and prepared, and I began at first in a low voice; then louder by degrees, the invocations of the Ritual. The smoke spread, the flame flickered and made to dance all the objects it lighted, then went out. The smoke rose white and slow from the marble altar. It seemed to me as if I had detected a slight shock of earthquake, my ears rang and my heart beat rapidly. I added some twigs and perfumes to the brazier, and when the flame rose I saw distinctly, before the altar, a human figure, larger than life-size, which decomposed and melted away. I recommenced the evocations, and placed myself in a circle which I had traced in advance of the ceremony between the altar and the tripod; I saw then the disk of the mirror facing me, and behind the altar became illuminated by degrees, and a whitish form there developed itself, enlarging and seeming to approach little by little. I called three times upon Apollonius, at the same time closing my eyes; and, when I re-opened them, a man was before me, completely enveloped in a shroud, which seemed to me rather gray than white; his face was thin, sad and beardless, which did not seem to convey to me the idea, which I had previously formed of Apollonius. I experienced a sensation of extraordinary cold, and when I opened my mouth to question the phantom, it was impossible for me to articulate a sound. I then put my hand upon the sign of the Pentagram, and I directed towards him the point of the sword, commanding him mentally by that sign not to frighten me but to obey. Then the form became confused and suddenly disappeared. I commanded it to re-appear; upon which I felt pass near me, like a breath, and something having touched the hand which touched the sword, I felt my arm instantly stiffened as far as the shoulder. I thought I understood that this sword offended the spirit, and I planted it by the point in the circle near me. The human figure then reappeared, but I felt such a weakness in my limbs, and such a sudden exhaustion seize hold of me, that I took a couple of steps to seat myself. As soon as I was in my chair, I fell into a profound slumber, accompanied by dreams, of which, upon returning to myself, I had only a vague and confused remembrance. For several days my arm was stiff and painful. The apparition had not spoken to me, but it seemed that the questions which I wished to ask it answered themselves in my mind. To that of the lady an interior voice replied in me, "Dead!" (it concerned a man of whom she wished to have some intelligence). As to myself I wished to know if reconciliation and pardon would be possible between two persons, of whom I thought, and the same interior echo answered pitilessly, "Dead!"

I relate these facts exactly as they happened, not forcing them upon the faith of anyone. The effect of this first experiment upon me was something inexplicable. I was no longer the same man.........

I twice repeated, in the course of a few days, the same experiment. The result of these two other evocations was to reveal to me two Cabalistic secrets, which might, if they were known by everyone, change in a short time the foundations and laws of the whole of society........ I will not explain by what physiological laws I saw and touched; I simply assert that I did see and touch, that I saw clearly and distinctly, without dreaming, and that is enough to prove the efficacy of magic ceremonies.

I will not close this chapter without noticing the curious beliefs of certain Cabalists, who distinguish apparent from real death, and think that they seldom occur simultaneously. According to their story, the greatest part of persons buried are alive, and many others, whom we think living, are in fact dead. Incurable insanity, for existence, would be, according to them, an incomplete but real death, which leaves the earthly body under the exclusive instinctive control of the astral or sidereal body. When the human soul experiences a shock too violent for it to bear, it would separate itself from the body and leave in its place the animal soul, or, in other words, the astral body; which makes of the human wreck something in one sense less living than even an animal. Dead persons of this kind can be easily recognized by the complete extinction of the affectional and moral senses; they are not bad, they are not good; they are dead. These beings, who are the poisonous mushrooms of the human species, absorb as much as they can of the vitality of the living; that is why their approach paralyzes the soul, and sends a chill to the heart. These corpse-like beings prove all that has ever been said of the vampires, those dreadful creatures who rise at night and suck the blood from the healthy bodies of sleeping persons. Are there not some beings in whose presence one feels less intelligent, less good, often even less honest? Does not their approach quench all faith and enthusiasm, and do they not bind you to them by your weaknesses, and enslave you by your evil inclinations, and make you gradually lose all moral sense in a constant torture?

These are the dead whom we take for living persons; these are the vampires whom we mistake for friends!


So little is known in modern times of Ancient Magic, its meaning, history, capabilities, literature, adepts and results, that we cannot allow what precedes to go out, without a few words of explanation. The ceremonies and paraphernalia so minutely described by Levi, are calculated and were intended to deceive the superficial reader. Forced by an irresistible impulse to write what he knew, but fearing to be dangerously explicit, in this instance, as everywhere throughout his works, he magnifies unimportant details and slurs over things of greater moment. True, Oriental Occultists need no preparation, no costumes, apparatus, coronets or warlike weapons; for these appertain to the Jewish Kabala, which bears the same relation to its simple Chaldean prototype as the ceremonious observances of the Romish Church to the simple worship of Christ and his apostles. In the hands of the true adepts of the East, a simple wand of bamboo, with seven joints, supplemented by their ineffable wisdom and indomitable willpower, suffices to evoke spirits and produce the miracles authenticated by the testimony of a cloud of unprejudiced witnesses. At this séance of Levi's, upon the reappearance of the phantom, the daring investigator saw and heard things which, in his account of the first trial, are wholly suppressed, and in that of the others merely hinted at. We know this from authorities not to be questioned.



by F.K., F.T.S.

Reprinted from "Theosophical Siftings" Volume 4

The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

WE all know the meaning of the word illusion. It means a false show, a fallacious appearance, fascination, a something which is not what it seems to be. We speak of illusions and illusive imaginations, etc., meaning something wrongly perceived by the senses or ill-discriminated by the judgment.

An illusion may have so much the appearance of truth as to seem perfectly genuine and impossible to distinguish from reality during the time it lasts. For example: in moments of strong perturbation of mind it is impossible to form a clear conception conformable to the real state of things. The angry man becomes unjust, the timid sees dangers everywhere, both are in a state of illusion, causing them to act otherwise than they would have done in a calm and normal condition.

The same thing takes place in some of our dreams. What a show of actuality and verisimilitude they possess for the person who dreams! Yet to the waking consciousness they clearly show themselves to be simply the results of outer accidental causes. From all this it is evident that illusion very often, so to speak, occupies the place of reality in our experiences, and that which possesses the most vivid semblance of actuality may be nothing more than an illusion.

Let us, however, admit that even the illusive may be said to have a kind of reality for us as long as we continue on that plane on which we conceive of it as real. The hallucinations of dream are realities for the consciousness of the dreamer, but only for so long as his dream lasts.

If now, from the ordinary conception of the word illusion we proceed to the Theosophical meaning of it, we shall find that here the term signifies much more. As we have learnt from the Secret Doctrine: "The unmanifested Logos is the first ray from the Absolute, emanating from it at the beginning of the Manvantara and afterwards differentiating through numberless gradations of spiritual and corporeal existences, down to the material world which, for us, constitutes the outer reality. This Absolute, the causeless Cause, from which, the first Cause (Logos) of the whole universe has emanated, is now, properly speaking, the only Real, whereas the Manifested — Logos included — is an illusion. The whole Manvantara, with its spiritual, as well as its material, contents, is thus a period of illusion seen from the standpoint of the Absolute, and this is the so-called Maha-maya, or the great illusion. But, besides this most general and comprehensive conception, the word illusion has also in Theosophy a more limited meaning. It connotes the commonly so-called exterior, objective reality, which we may perceive with our external senses, and it is on the subject of this illusion that I wish to say a few words.

To deal first with the expression "the exterior objective reality". This is, properly speaking, only a loose and inaccurate mode of saying the image our senses represent to us of reality. What we actually experience is, in fact neither anything external, nor objective, nor any reality at all. The image, for example, which the sense of sight presents to us of any object seems something wholly exterior and objective, but cannot be identical with the reality of that object — does not exhaust the properties of the "thing in itself". Nevertheless, we are so accustomed always to confound those images, created by ourselves, with the true reality, that we seldom recognise the possibility that what we perceive with our senses can be anything other than the most imperturbable, external reality independent of ourselves. If we touch an object with our hands we never think that its firmness or softness, its form or other qualities, which our touch perceives, can be, and really are, essentially dependent upon the quality of our own nerves. On the contrary, we regard these properties as something belonging to the object itself, and thus assume it to be a reality independent of and outside ourselves. But if our hand had the firmness of iron, and if the nerves, which branch in every direction within it, were less sensible to tactile impressions, the same object which now seems firm and hard would appear to be soft and pliant.

Let us, then, accustom ourselves to regard all the experiences of our senses, on what we call the plane of the external reality, as images, essentially dependent on the nature of our own organs of sense, and we shall thus make it possible for us to acquire a truer knowledge of the nature of existence.

Now the question which arises is the following: — if the reality we think we perceive with our senses is thus a representation built up of images, how are they constructed? Are they true or false, trustworthy or not? The answer is rendered easy if we note the following considerations. It is acknowledged that each human being differs in some respects and in various degrees from all others, and this difference necessarily influencing not only the five senses, but also the manner in which they are used, it follows that the images and experiences which those impressions of the senses give to a particular individual must always be to a certain extent different from the images and experiences of other people.

The greater the differences between people in general, the more widely those images must differ from each other, and if we think of a case in point, once quoted by Annie Besant, that of four persons of whom one has only the sense of sight developed, another only the sense of hearing, the third that of taste, and the last only the sense of smell, these differences obviously become so pronounced that none of those four persons would recognise anything of what the other three described concerning their experiences. One may now begin to understand how an ordinary human being, endowed with the usual five senses, would find great difficulty in recognizing all the impressions of a perfectly clairvoyant person, which he, with the help of his sixth sense, experiences and relates. Thus, as all human beings experience in some degree, and many human beings in a high degree, differences in the images of the same reality, it must appear evident that those images, differing so much among themselves, cannot all be perfectly true, nor any of them fully reliable and exhaustive, but, on the contrary, they must all be more or less illusive.

The certainty of this fact becomes indisputable if we consider that man is a being in the course of development. As long as this is the case he will continually be acquiring new powers, which will enable him to embrace with his consciousness larger and truer views or images of reality, and, this being so, it is evident that the images he now, in his comparatively undeveloped state, receives, cannot possibly be absolutely true or perfect.

We have thus seen that our ideas concerning what we are accustomed to call objective realities may often be false and must always be incomplete — that they are, in fact illusive. The, so-called, objective reality, as conceived by ourselves, is no reality, but only a combination of those illusive images received or put forth, as the case may be, by the senses. But in whatever degree our consciousness during its development assimilates truth and perfection, to that extent this so-called reality will approximate towards the true Reality which is the basis of the former.

The veil which conceals the true reality will be worn thinner and more thin, and the illusion will become more transparent. Now what is this true Reality underlying the veil of illusion? Theosophy teaches, and our innermost feelings tell us, that it is the Absolute, the all-pervading Unity, the causeless Cause, the Parabrahm of the sages of the Orient, which Logos itself — the highest form of existence — is not able to conceive of as it is in itself, but only as clothed in the concealing veil of Mulaprakriti.

We must now consider the practical side of this question, because it has a practical side, and one of the greatest importance. It is as follows: We must learn to distinguish between perception and reality, if we do not mean to exclude ourselves from every possibility of a true conception of the all-pervading Unity — the only basis on which true brotherhood can be founded. We must learn to see the difference between that illusion which the senses represent to us as reality, and the true reality lying behind it; for if we, in spite of every reasonable objection, maintain our right to consider the external objects, as they appear to the senses to be true reality and not transitory images, we run the risk of becoming so much infatuated with objects alone, as they appear to us, that we may retard, or render really impossible, the development of those new senses and capabilities which might show things to us in a truer light.

If man, climbing up the steep mountains of evolutionary progress, stops to admire the views which present themselves from the standpoint he has already reached, he will become indifferent to the still wider expanses which beckon him on, and he will forget to strive ever onwards and upwards and, perhaps, at last miss his goal.

The Bhagavat Gita says, "The turbulent senses and organs violently snatch away the heart, even of the wise man striving after perfection. He, having controlled the senses and organs, remains at rest on me, his true Self." This true Self is the Higher Self, the Inner Voice. As it is said in The Voice of the Silence, "When he (the Lanoo) has ceased to hear the many he may discern the One — the inner sound which kills the outer".

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Elementary Note on the Seven Principles

An Elementary Note on the Seven Principles

by J.W. Brodie-Innes, F.T.S.

Reprinted from "Theosophical Siftings" Volume 4

The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

PROBABLY there are few subjects of occult learning more essential for the beginner to acquire a firm grip of than what are commonly known as the seven principles, and few, so far as my own experience goes, so generally and persistently either utterly misunderstood or abandoned as a hopeless tangle by the elementary student. The cause, I believe, lies partly in the want of careful preliminary agreement as to the use of words, partly in the attempt of teachers to expound too much at once. Nearly invariably one finds the explanation of the seven principles of humanity set forth together with that of planetary rounds and chains, with foot-races and life-cycles, till the luckless student's brain begins to swim, and he wonders whether he is in fact living on the Sun or Saturn, or whether he has swallowed the moon, a conclusion which the lunacy of some of his ideas lends colour to.

My aim in this paper is to obviate a few of these difficulties, and by attempting only to treat a very small portion of the subject to render that portion sufficiently clear to enable the student to read with understanding some of the more advanced works on occultism. With this view I propose to proceed on the method which is certainly the best for teaching, though not the most logical or philosophically correct, viz., proceeding from particulars to generals, and in the present instance from the known to the unknown.

Every fact of everyday life is a special example of some general principle of science, and; even so, every principle of science is but a special example of the Scientia Scientiarum — Occultism.

A professor delivering a course of lectures on some special subject, will probably lay down first his general principles, then deduce his formulae, and throw in some experiments by way of illustration. But not thus do we teach a little child. We familiarise the mind with the experiment first, then lead it gradually upward to grasp the cause and the cause of that cause, etc.. The bulk of mankind are, towards occultism, as little children, and indeed most students have to grasp it in this way if they would get it at all.

I propose, therefore, freely to use the terms and formulae of science wherever they suit the purpose, showing how the more profound insight of the occultist widens or restricts them, and I shall attempt to explain the nature of the seven principles by reference to that which each one knows best, viz., his own personality. When the student can realise thus much he will be fit to understand something of the great doctrine of correspondences, and to attach some meaning to the Planetary Rounds and Chains, etc..

The first step is to grasp firmly the idea in more or less detail of what each Principle is. When this is done it will be found useful to affix to it its Sanscrit name, partly because these names are commonly used in books on occultism, and partly because, not being in common use in the West, these names have not, as it were, become worn by popular use, have not acquired a string of connotations which the student has to banish from his mind, and are therefore more fitted for technical terms.

Everyone is probably familiar with the division of the material and spiritual natures of man (by whatever names they may be called), the division which regards the body as a tool or instrument which some force or power, which, for the time being, we may call unknown, uses during the term of their association. This division becomes evident on considering the difference between a dead man and a living one. In the former case the tool is there but the user is away. This, it will appear, is not by any means a precise analogy, for before the user has entirely left the tool is also gone, but for the present it is near enough. Now it is precisely the tool which is the lowest of the seven principles, and the one therefore on which the attention must first be fixed.

In the South Kensington Museum and other places you may see the constituents of the human body — a large jar of water and various packets of chemicals. These, however, are but the constituents — the elements — reduced not indeed so far as chemistry can reduce them, for the water for instance might be decomposed into Oxygen and Hydrogen, and the other salts, etc., might be decomposed further, still the reduction is sufficient for the purpose. Now when a dead body lies before us, we know that it is an accumulation of these materials, of these elements, which are in fact similar to those which form the earth; and with regard to the arrangement of these science can give us material help. Science tells us, for instance, that the human body is composed of an aggregate of differentiated cells, carriers of a substance termed protoplasm (the chemical constituents of which it also tells us ).

But in the body before us, the instant life departs (or even before) what is termed decomposition sets in, i.e., the cells begin to part company, and the bond restraining them into the shape and formation of a human body is loosened, the cells however still retain vitality and a potential capacity for going into other forms of life. If this renewal of cell-life in other forms and conditions be artificially prevented, or rendered impossible by heat or otherwise, the condition of the packets of chemicals in the museum is reached. If we can conceive this condition to be reached without disintegration of a single cell of the body, merely retaining the chemical elements in the position they held during life, but without leaving in any cell any more potentiality of life than there is in the museum packets, then the condition is attained of the tool without the user.

The well-known case of the mammoth entombed in Siberian ice, or the bodies of monks in the Great St. Bernard, or the dried-up corpses in the Capuchin monastery at Palermo, are examples, probably the nearest we can get, to the hypothetical conditions.

If the student will carefully realise this conception, examining by the light of material science everything which the idea connotes, he will have a rough sort of notion of the lowest principle of the Septenary, and having formed and firmly grasped this conception, he may affix to it the name of Sthula Sharira. Whether this be spoken of as the tool or the vehicle, or the basis of the higher principles, matters but little. The student must, however, notice that it connotes every possible or conceivable thing which is, or can be made, perceptible to the ordinary five senses by any scientific apparatus. All modes of matter are therefore merely parts or functions of Sthula Sharira, and science fixing its attention solely on this leads us at last to a blank wall, for no possible mode or combination of the elements of Sthula Sharira can produce any higher principle.

At the same time, by the doctrine of correspondences, every fact belonging to the lowest principle is the analogue, and reflection of a fact on each higher principle, every discovery of science and every recorded fact interpreted by the fuller and deeper insight of the occultist, may be of a value far transcending anything which the scientist who discovered it ever dreamed of. Thus the chemist can tell us much of the elements of which this Sthula Sharira is built; he can decompose them, predicate something of their qualities, and set down what he calls their combining numbers.

Yet these very combining numbers, if the chemist were but also an occultist, would give him the clue to the great science of proportion and mystery numbers, which is at the root of all sciences, and is the very mystery of Creation itself.

In fact, the positive teachings of science, so far as they represent the careful study of facts of our material world, truthfully and honestly set forth, with sincere devotion to truth, and not garbled or tinkered to fit in with the scientist's own theories, are of infinite value. It is only when in the arrogance of his own vanity, leading him to assume that his own little measure of knowledge represents the height and depth of final and uncontrovertible wisdom, the scientist takes on himself to limit and to deny, that he becomes pernicious.

Let us then conceive of Sthula Sharira as the lifeless chemical elements simply put together in the form, down to the minutest details, of cells and nuclei of the human body. It is plain that the whole form is but like a child's sand castle, which merely holds together till the first wash of the wave passes over it. There must be some principle in the living man which holds these elements together, that principle in fact which, separating from Sthula Sharira at death, allows the elements to fall apart and decompose. As the body maintains its form during life, and decomposes at death, this force must in fact be the life principle.

Considering now the phenomena of death in the human or animal being, we see that the decomposition of the form occurs first, but the life of the separate cells continues, and this passes into other forms of life. If the cell be subjected to heat or other influence which would destroy its life, the cell-form itself disintegrates, and thus becomes pure Sthula Sharira; the life in fact leaves the body in inverse order to that in which it came, for it is now fairly well established that the primordial cell was a very early, if not the first, form of life on this planet, and that the multicellular organisms with a corporate life of their own gradually evolved from cell-colonies, and that, such corporate life ceasing at the death of the organism, the cells are released from the bond whereby the body was composed, and they promptly decompose.

The life principle is then confined to each separate cell, which is in fact itself a highly differentiated organism, built in all probability of multitudes of cellules (if we may coin a new word for a conception not yet within the purview of modern science).

This in its turn will decompose when the life-principle leaves it, or is driven out, but in the meantime it may go to form some other body. And even after death or destruction of the cell, the protoplasmic substance (rashly assumed by some scientists to be some kind of primordial life matter) may pass into and vivify other cells of different organisms.

The function of the life principle then, first and chiefly, is to hold together the elements composing Sthula Sharira, and to prevent decomposition, and to this principle the name of Prana is given. [ Such was the teaching of H. P. B. and of learned Orientals, the modern transposition of Prana and Linga Sharira is very confusing to those trained on H. P. B.'s system, without any very obvious gain ]

But since there is a broad distinction between a marble statue and a living man, though the molecules of both are prevented by some force from falling asunder, and in the latter case the force involves a continual throwing off of waste matter and taking in of fresh, and therefore involves also powers of perceiving and responding to impulses from without (though it be but in the automatic way that a flower expands its cup in the sunshine); therefore all this vital functioning belongs to Prana, the faculty, that is, of responding to those etheric thrills (no more appropriate name probably would be intelligible to the beginner) which Easterns term Tatwas, and which Westerns may recognise as the means whereby external objects appeal to their five senses, there being a Tatwa (or scheme or system of thrills) for each sense. Prana therefore, like Sthula Sharira, is manifold: indeed, it is broadly septenary, each of its divisions being susceptible of subdivision. A conception may now be formed of the relation of Prana and Sthula Sharira, for if protoplasm were what it was originally supposed to be, an undifferentiated homogeneous primordial matter endowed with life, this would present these two principles in their simplest form. It is needless however to say that protoplasm (so-called) though a highly interesting form of matter from a scientific point of view, is not within many thousand miles of being the primordial "lifestuff"; it is something gained that the scientist can conceive of the existence of such life-stuff and try to find it.

As the labours of the chemist and anatomist were essential to the study of Sthula Sharira, so those of the biologist and physiologist prove a great assistance at the present stage. Science indeed tells us very little as to the constitution of cells, but tells us many facts of supreme importance as to the association of cells in organic bodies, from which by analogy we may infer much concerning the probable constitution of the primordial cell. Thus Weissmann, after postulating the primordial cell as the origin of life on this planet, and unicellular organisms such as Rhizopoda and Infusoria as among the earliest forms, assumes (as he is probably justified in doing) that in the course of development of the organised world it must have happened that certain unicellular organisms did not separate from each other, but lived together, at first as equivalent elements, each of which retained all the animal functions, including that of reproduction.

Now be it carefully noted that reproduction in these single-cell organisms proceeds by means of fission. Each cell grows to a certain size and then divides into two parts exactly alike in size and structure. There is no suggestion of sex here, it would be absurd to term such an unicellular organism male, or female, or even androgynous or hermaphrodite, this comes later in the life of the cell-colony.

It is thus clear that the division of sex belongs only to the development (not to the primordial forms) of Sthula Sharira, the lowest principle. And though these pages are really intended for the most elementary beginners, I warn them as they proceed with their studies, to be very careful in the interpretation of the words male and female, as applied to supersensual qualities and powers. [See " Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge"]

It is true the terms are used, and by some of the most advanced occultists, and that, as I believe, not from any inherent fitness in the terms but because some words expressing a distinction were necessary and these seemed as good as any; much the same reason in fact as induced electricians to use the terms positive and negative in relation to electricity. But to writers on occultism I would respectfully plead for the use of some terms less likely to confuse the ordinary mind, so that we might at least be spared the vulgar immoralities (to say no more or worse) of the soi-disant Spirit-brides, et hoc genus omne, including the very questionable twin-soul doctrine; for, as there can be no sex above Sthula Sharira, nor in the primal forms of that, the sexual attributes bestowed on spiritual existences are either purely metaphorical, which is the case in a Master's writing, or an impure and gross imaginary product of the lowest dregs of Astral light poisoned by emanations of human licentiousness, which is the case with some ninety percent of readers. The gradual decadence and corruption of the bisexual pantheon of ancient Greece, so pure and noble in its original symbolism, so gross and filthy in its latter corruption, should be a warning. [Compare also the history of the H. B. of L, the Lake Harris Community and the like]

The precise point of evolution of sex is well shown in "Die Entstehung der Sexualzellen bei den
Hydromedusen" by Weismann, Jena, 1883.

Returning from this digression we find that after such homogeneous cell-colony had lived together for some time, division of labour would produce a differentiation, thus certain cells would be set apart for obtaining food, others for locomotion, etc., while some would be exclusively reproductive. We thus get the Somatic and the Germ plastic cells, what in popular language we call an united life of the cell-colony; in other words, a new and collective Prana binding the cells as such into a corporate life, as each separate cell is itself bound together as an organic unit.

Such a cell colony may reproduce by fission or gemmation, or in any other way; it may be androgynous or hermaphrodite or bisexual, oviparous or viviparous, or various types by turns, as the Polypi and the Medusae for instance, but though the reproduction and the birth of a new cell-colony depends on the tiniest speck of a germ-plastic cell, the progeny will accumulate around itself somatic and germ cells with the same arrangement, the same functions in a word, as the parent colony.

It is evident therefore that there must be some scheme of arrangement, some ideal plan, according to which the cells, whether somatic, or germ-plastic, and the molecules of the body, are directed to their proper places; equally certain that Prana, whose functions merely consist in retaining all the elements together, and assuming or casting them out in accordance with such plan, could never of itself generate such plan, this would be as absurd as to conceive of Sthula Sharira itself evolving Prana. To use a somewhat suggestive analogy, the magnetic currents, raying from a magnet, sweep steel filings into ordered lines, but the direction of these currents, and the form of these lines, is determined by other forces, above and beyond the magnetic currents and controlling them.

Science, strictly so called, gives very little help here, for the ideal plan or scheme of arrangement does not appeal to the five senses nor even respond to any test applicable to matter. But the phenomena of hypnotism, now being subjected to the strictest scientific investigation, has familiarized the mind with the conception of thought-forms, which without any material presentment can be made perceptible to the consciousness of another. Discussions on thought transference, on telepathy and kindred subjects, have helped in the same direction, and honest inquirers among the spiritualists have done something, so that now the conception of the existence of any ideal but imperceptible form is no strange one.

It may be said that a thought-form postulates a thinker, though some schools of philosophy deny this. But it will be well for the student to pass by this question for the present, and taking the simple fact that any particle or molecule taken into the body can rest nowhere but in its appropriate place, reflect that this postulates the pre-existence of some ideal scheme, some plan on which that particular body was built. Further that as that same plan on which that particular body was built existed before the material body it will continue to exist after, yet it is not immortal. This plan or scheme is the next principle and is called in Sanscrit Linga Sharira. According to occult philosophy it has an existence, apart from the particular body of which it is the plan or ideal, as a separate entity; any modification of the material body takes place first in Linga Sharira, then by means of Prana the chemical constituents of Sthula Sharira are made to respond and to follow as nearly as may be the modification produced in Linga Sharira.

An artist's vision of the picture he is about to create, a musician's dream of the divine harmonies of oratorio and opera to be composed, are in a certain sense examples of Linga Sharira. Since this is the plan in accordance with which Prana restrains the material molecules, this is obviously the principle which fears and resists death, the principle which is operative in the Darwinian “struggle for existence".

The unicellular organisms or monoplastides above referred to which have but these three principles are accordingly, as Weismann has shown, immortal. “Each individual of any such unicellular species living on earth today is far older than mankind, and is almost as old as life itself" (Weismann on Heredity, page 72).

This principle appears in popular language as instinct of self-preservation.

It may assist the student somewhat in forming a conception of this rather difficult subject, to consider the illustration of a regiment, say for instance the Black Watch. The regiment is composed of a certain number of men, who apart from the organization of the regiment would be simply a chaotic incoherent mass of human beings, as it is the discipline and esprit de corps representing the regimental Prana which hold them together, assigning to each his proper place in the scheme or organization of the regiment (its Linga Sharira), thus giving it a corporate life as a distinct entity, separate from any of the men who compose it or from the aggregate of them all; for all these perish but the Black Watch goes on, with its history, its memories, its hopes, aspirations, and triumphs, wherein every man who composes that regiment has a share, but which are quite independent of his own personal memories, hopes, etc..

Such are the three lower principles, constituting, it has been said, a vegetable existence. This, however, must not be taken literally, for every vegetable now growing has more than these three principles, as will appear. In fact every vegetable has not only the three lower, which may be called the vegetable principles, constituting an existence which simply lives (so far as metabolism or the taking in of fresh molecules and casting out waste can be called life, unconscious, without thought or desire, a mere automatic machine), but has the dormant but just awakening faculties which belong to the higher life, and eventually would link the vegetable and animal kingdoms. A careful study of the lowest known forms of life throws much light on this point.

Enquiring now what man has beyond this simple vegetable existence, the answer would almost certainly be volition and self-consciousness. This probably appears to nearly everyone who thinks out the subject thus far, the real man who uses the three lower principles as a workman uses his tool. To produce any physical effect (setting aside for the moment the question of occult, falsely called superhuman, powers) physical means must be employed, i.e., the body must somehow be set to do something. To use the tool in this way we see now that Linga Sharira is the key. If a man should wish to operate any change in Sthula Sarira, his physical flesh and blood, even to the extent of changing his position, or carrying a book from the shelf, or even moving a single muscle, he must first operate that change in Linga Sharira, in other words perform the act mentally; then when Linga Sharira is modified the action of Prana is to produce a corresponding modification in Sthula Sharira. Again, any knowledge apprehended by the senses which are the gates of Sthula Sharira must, by the mediation of Prana, affect Linga Sharira; otherwise "seeing he sees not and hearing he hears not," which is the case in what we term abstraction or inattention, or in the case of a somnambulist or hypnotized subject who, with wide open eyes, is yet unconscious of the images that fall upon them.

The principle then, which can perceive the modifications of Linga Sharira proceeding from without, and can by will-force produce modifications therein, to affect Sthula Sharira, is the next principle. How is this done? How does the workman handle the tool? By what means is he able to produce what, in ordinary language, are called physical effects? We have grown so familiar with this phase of the great problem that most of us fail to see where the difficulty lies. It seems so simple for instance to desire that a thing should be done, and to go and do it. Yet it is absolutely necessary for the student to realize what the problem is, and how very far from obvious is the solution. We need only ask ourselves — "how does a single muscle move?" We wish an arm thrust out, and promptly it goes; we wish it drawn back and it comes; but how? To say that the will can affect the material fabric of the body is an obvious truism, but the realization of the operation, and all it involves, is a great occult lesson which cannot be taught, but which can be learned by any student whose faculties are sufficiently developed and who will take the trouble.

We arrive then at the faculty called Will, and in considering this several correlative ideas at once attach themselves. Will implies a choice between two possible courses. It is needless confusion to presuppose more than two; everything which we can possibly do at any moment is either "A" or "not A". Unless there are two possibilities there is no will, it is necessity, and the man is an automaton. Further, the impelling force must come from within and be personal to the man. Thus a jelly fish is washed to and fro by the currents external to itself, the vertebrate fish swims whither it wills by internal resolve.

What is it then which determines the choice? The Utilitarian philosophy gives an immediate answer, "Pleasure or Pain" — to acquire the one and to avoid the other is the spring and source of every action. Carefully reasoned out it is evident that this means simply the endeavour to establish a different condition in Sthula Sharira from that which exists, e.g., being cold the endeavour to get hot — and if the student should ask himself "why? " the question will appear so absurdly irrelevant as hardly to be worth stating, yet the more the student meditates the more difficult will the answer seem. There are certain groups of sensations affecting the nerves which he will at once desire to inhibit, and others which in the same way he will desire to repeat, but careful and concentrated analysis will modify both these desires, even if it does not actually reverse them. Further, on carefully studying them, the sensations will begin to differentiate themselves. Pain for instance will divide itself into the pain actually felt, and which the man will desire to cease feeling, and the fear lest that pain should continue indefinitely, or increase in intensity, the latter being the image of a future pain added to the present existing pain which he feels. If a man can only succeed in separating the pain presently felt, from the pain dreaded, he will often be surprised to find how little real difference there is between actual pleasure and pain.

A good classification of pleasures and pains as motives of action will be of considerable assistance to the student at this point, such as may be found in Jeremy Bentham's Principles of Morals and Legislation. Having this classification in his head, if the student will once more consider the springs of his own actions he will be able to realise how the brain causes the muscular action in obedience to the dictates of the will, which latter now appears as a blind force travelling in the line of least resistance, avoiding pain and following pleasure. (Note, of course these terms are here used in the sense the Utilitarians ascribe to them, of well-being and ill-being, thus the helping of another is according to this philosophy the avoidance of one's own sympathetic pain at another's misfortune, the attainment of one's own sympathetic joy at another's rejoicing; these being, to sympathetic persons, more keen than mere selfregarding joys and sorrows.)

Most thinkers will now be able to see at once that these motives of pleasure and pain are not the chief factors in directing human action. In order to obtain a clear mental image it was necessary to study these first by themselves, and get a clear idea of their effect on the will, and the effect of the will under their influence on physical actions, but the great sources of energy, known popularly as the passions, were for the time being left out of count.

These, such for instance as gluttony, drunkenness, personal vanity and ambition, contentiousness, or pugnacity, sexual appetites, and the like, will be recognised almost at the first blush, as producing effects utterly dis-proportioned to, and sometimes having no possible relation to, the amount of pleasure or pain involved.

It may be that a man, impelled by passion, knows perfectly well that no satisfaction but the reverse must infallibly result from his indulgence in his passion, yet he is unable to restrain himself. These passions have been well termed by some writers "The Whirlpools" or vortices, and they must be accurately investigated, and marked as dangerous currents at sea; such investigation, however, is no more for the elementary student than the investigation of physical whirlpools is for the novice at swimming — knowledge, strength, a clear cool head, and perfect self-control, are the equipment absolutely necessary for the explorer of these dangerous localities. As to the investigation and treatment of the passion whirlpools, the student may very profitably consult Jeremy Taylor's Holy Living, a work which contains far more real occultism than is generally supposed.

It is further said that these whirlpools have a well defined subjection to planetary influences, and that they are differently developed in different individuals; and further, that the particular vortices which are specially developed are indicated in various ways, by marks on the body, the lines on the hand, the position and character of moles, etc.. Lavater found indications of the relative strength of various passions in the features of the face (for character is really nothing but the resulting balance of all the passions, changing as each one is conquered or developed), and phrenologists find the same in the bumps of the head; but these are somewhat empirical sciences as compared with the indications of the hand, whereon the vortices are mapped and measured for all who can read the chart.

To these vortices also belong the influence which the elementals, famous in occult literature, exercise over human beings; they are the slaves of those who have learned to rule themselves, but the cruel tyrants of those who are helplessly dragged along in the vortex.

Meantime, the student's task is to realise that the influences which use and guide the force which we call the will, are either the sane and rational ones of pleasure and pain, each being of various degrees of higher and lower, or the insane and irrational domination of the passions; other motives there are of a still more important kind, which cannot be fully understood till, after the study of the higher principles, this fourth principle is once more taken up.

Having thus far realised what this fourth principle is, let the student now attach to it the name of Kama Rupa (literally the body of desire) and consider carefully the nature of its relations with the three principles already studied.

It is obvious at once that Kama Rupa, the seat of the will, is also the seat of the conscious perception (this is obvious if we reflect that all the three lower principles may be operative while the body is in a state of unconsciousness), it is in fact “the self". This is clear even from popular language, for a man speaks of my body, my life, etc., but when he means Kama Rupa he says myself.

Let us now trace the image of a sense-impression producing all action. An image falls, say, on the eye, and the arrangement of lenses causes a picture to be projected on the retina, as in a camera obscura; this belongs to Sthula Sharira, it would be the same in a dead eye as a living one (until disintegration commenced). By Prana this picture is translated into nerve-thrills and conveyed to the brain, and by Prana also the image becomes incorporated into Linga Sharira, producing a modification thereof. To assist in following out this somewhat complex process these considerations may be found useful — living nerves carry sensations by thrills; nerves of a body just dead, i.e., without Prana, do not; therefore the force whatever it is which traverses the nerves is a function of Prana; the Linga Sharira or image of the ideal man must include inter ali every picture on his brain, every sound that greets his ear, etc., and since these vary from moment to moment they may appropriately be called modifications of Linga Sharira). This modification Kama Rupa perceives, receives as it were into its own sphere (for it must be noted that sensations may traverse the nerves without affecting the consciousness, as a patient with a broken back does not feel conscious of his feet being tickled, yet the feet are jerked away, showing that there has been nerve action). The said modification being subjected in Kama Rupa, to the test of pleasure or pain, or stirring into action one of the vortices, the determination of the will is affected, and this force acting on Linga Sharira produces a fresh modification thereof, the modification being in fact the mental image of the act to be done; this mental image always really preceding the actual doing of the act, whence the saying that a good workman should always see his job done before he begins, meaning that the mental image should be clear and of the whole, not a part only, of his finished work. The modification will be more or less clear according to the amount of will-force exerted and this usually depends on the amount of concentration. (In very many cases the formation of the mental image and the doing of the act are practically so nearly simultaneous that the former can hardly be perceived at all; very careful attention will however show to the sensitive student that it always in fact exists.)

The amount of will-force which practically lies at a man's disposal is enormous, only a very small proportion being usually exerted. Sometimes, under the influence of a vortex, an involuntary concentration occurs, whence the saying that a man in a passion has superhuman strength, and the like.

The modification produced from within by will-force on Linga Sharira is faithfully translated and conveyed by Prana, and receives what is called physical effect in Sthula Sharira.

It will be found a useful exercise to follow this complex series of mental and physical operations in such a simple action for instance as looking at a ball and picking it up; after carefully going over and over this, the student will begin to realize Kama Rupa, and to see inter alia that he can perceive nothing but modifications of Linga Sharira, effect nothing but the production of modifications of Linga Sharira.

So he knows not his friend, he knows only the image of his friend produced in his own Linga Sharira, taken up and examined by Kama Rupa and therefore become a part of himself, and so the whole objective universe, the Cosmos, is to each man part of Kama Rupa.

To fully explain this in words is wholly impossible, but careful and concentrated meditation will bring it home to the diligent student, and the above words may then be for him the symbol of a truth, for he will have won an elementary initiation (which every student must win for himself, it cannot be given except to those who by diligent striving and long and careful thought have fitted themselves to receive the knowledge) but without such initiation these words will appear the veriest nonsense.

Here it may be useful to note that the anatomist, the physician, the naturalist, are working diligently at the elucidation of Sthula Sharira. The biologist and physiologist are exploring Prana. The spiritualist, so far as he is an honest enquirer and not a money-seeking professional charlatan with a few easy psychic tricks as his stock-in-trade wherewith to bewilder a drawing-room audience, is doing useful work in investigating the phenomena connected with Linga Sharira. While metaphysicians, theologians and ethical philosophers of every kind are endeavouring to indicate the powers and dangers of Kama Rupa, each of these looks with distrust and disfavour on the work of the others, and the epithets "Materialist", "Superstitious Dreamer", " Sacerdotalist" are freely thrown about. The occultist alone in virtue of his wider
range of thought and clearer insight understands the work of all, knowing that their relative value depends on the principle they are investigating; the higher the principle the more valuable the work, and knowing also that by the system of correspondences; the labours of each are mutually illustrative.

Yet once more, we have seen that in Sthula Sharira we have matter in its primordial state, emerged from nothingness, but as yet without form; or even if accidentally, as it were, laid together in a form, with no binding principle to retain it there — chaotic in fact. Prana gives the principle which binds these chaotic molecules into form, — usually this is a magnetic or some kindred force such as gravitation, — from this principle we have all forms of matter, the mineral kingdom in fact — elementary in stones, more highly developed in crystals. Linga Sharira gives an ideal form with a special power of its own, perhaps most nearly described by the word "arrangement"; this gives, in the first place, individuality and separateness, it may be seen in its elementary form in crystals, more highly developed in vegetables; from this principle springs what is properly known as the Darwinian "instinct of self-preservation" and the struggle for existence so important to the development theory as usually understood, for it is this principle which most dreads and resists the disintegration of physical death. Kama Rupa gives us the self-conscious perception and energizing will, with the desires actuating it, both the sane wishes and the insane vortices of passion; this principle is common to the whole animal creation, in what we call the lower animals Kama Rupa is popularly called instinct. Strictly speaking man also has instinct; the constitution of Kama Rupa is the same throughout the animal kingdom, the difference becoming perceptible only in the consideration of the higher principles.

Once more, in the light of what we have now arrived at, we may consider the phenomenon of physical death. The body, whether of a man or an animal, is composed of enormous multitudes of cells, each a perfect and to some extent a semi-independent, organism, each fulfilling a certain appointed function in the mechanism of the body. Each of these cells has also its seven principles, therefore of course its Sthula Sharira or molecules of matter which compose it; its Prana, or principle which retains the cell in form, its life-principle, as we should say; and its Linga Sharira, or ideal form of the cell, without which it could not fulfill its appointed function in the economy of the body. Neglecting, for the moment, the higher principles, which in low organisms may often be considered to be dormant, it is clear that we have here a Prana of the cell, and also a collective Prana of the whole body, built up, so to speak, of these cells; also that the Prana of the cells being the principle tending to separateness will resist the action of the collective Prana which tends to hold the cells together; in old age then or physical weakness the strength of the Prana of the separate cells is increased, and that of the whole body (the collective Prana) proportionally diminished, till at last the latter is no longer strong enough to prevent the disintegration resulting from the more abundant life and consequent separateness of the cells. The body as an entity then ceases to be, its Prana has in fact passed into the separate cells which formerly composed it, and these having no longer any bond of union naturally disintegrate. The cell however is itself composed of cellules, if we may coin the word, held together by the cellular Prana, and these will in their turn disintegrate by a precisely analogous process. If fire or other destructive agency has passed over the body, it may be that the Prana of the body and the Prana of the cells is dislodged from the material particles, or Sthula Sharira, simultaneously. The Linga Sharira, however, does not perish because Prana is loosed from Sthula Sharira, any more than an architect's conception of a sublime cathedral is lost because the material edifice embodying his dream has been burnt down. The clearer conceptions the student can form of Linga Sharira, Prana, and Sthula Sharira, the easier will he find the more advanced subjects of planetary chains and the Tatwas. He should recognize Prana to be a universal force like electricity, acting on every material body, and acting in different ways according to its different modifications.

Thus the luminiferous ether uniting the whole of the visible universe may in one sense be considered as a cosmic Prana, and the thrills of light passing through it, whereby objects become visible to us, a modification thereof; thus this, which is called a Tatwa, is seen to be a modification of Prana, perceptible to us, because through the material molecules or Sthula Sharira of our bodies it affects the Prana which holds them together, just as the currents of electricity running through the world affect the electricity, in the charged needle.

These four lower principles constitute an animal, that is to say, more accurately, constitute man's conception of an animal, which is not necessarily a true one. The will, result of self-consciousness and belonging to Kama Rupa, acts in obedience to motives which may either be the sane ones of pleasure and pain or the mad force of the passion whirlpools. Laying the latter out of count for the moment, the motives of pleasure and pain belonging to Kama Rupa are only those operating immediately, and that whether they be higher or lower. A man or an animal feels hungry and at once sets about procuring food; feels cold and sets about getting warm. Or the sight of a friend in distress from hunger or cold may suggest the greater pleasure of relieving that friend, and thus produce an action apparently contrary to the law; — apparently, but not really, unselfish, for it belongs to Kama Rupa, which is self, and so it can only be a higher or lower type of selfishness.

As soon, however, as we come to estimate pleasures and pains not directly presented to us as motives but future or contingent, we get the first glimpse of a new principle which is not animal. To make this clear by an illustration, no one ever knew animals to barter or exchange. Monkeys have been constantly kept with men, and monkeys are the most imitative of all animals. Monkeys may be, and have been, taught as a trick to light a fire, yet no one ever knew a monkey to light a fire for the purpose of warming himself. In popular language we say this implies the possession of reason, but this reason is so mixed in our ideas with the ordinary operations of Kama Rupa, that for the most part we strive vainly to disentangle them. This in fact can only be done by an exercise at once most difficult and most valuable, termed "casting out the self".

In all consideration of, or philosophy founded on, the lower principles, the key note is the leading axiom in Professor Ferrier's Institute of Metaphysics, viz., "Along with whatsoever any intelligence perceives it must have cognizance of itself. Self is an integral and essential part of every object of cognition".

In the study of the higher principles that axiom has to be thrown overboard, and henceforth every self-element in every conception has to be diligently eradicated if the student wishes to make anything like satisfactory progress.

To show how general and how persistent these self-elements are, let the student endeavour to form a conception of so simple an object, for instance, as a wooden cube — he will at once perceive some elements relating to self. It has, for instance, a side turned towards himself and a side turned away, a side to the right of himself and a side to the left, an upper and a lower side as regards himself; these are all self-elements, let him endeavour to form an idea of the cube from which these elements are absent.

A study of Hinton's New Era of Thought will show the great difficulties of forming such an idea as is above indicated, so obstinate are the self-elements; the final conception when reached is such as by no skill of writer can be embodied in words, but perhaps may be dimly indicated as a state wherein the student find himself alone in absolutely void space with only that cube, and the student himself becomes, fills, is absolute space; here there is no up nor down, for there is nothing to measure by, no right nor left, no inside nor out; for the student having now, in idea, freed himself from all material limitations, is all mind (as it were) and has no material form, but surrounds, occupies, permeates, and embodies that cube in void immensity. These words are but a faint attempt to express that which is really inexpressible, and have no value whatever, save in so far as they may serve to raise some vague idea of what is, for the majority of mankind, well-nigh unthinkable.

In this region of thought the only subject which is really to be comprehended is pure mathematics, such as is found in the first six books of Euclid, which in fact are an occult revelation to those who are able to read them in this light, and which are intelligible precisely in the ratio in which the reader is able to reach this condition. For this gives an abstract faculty, occupied with abstract matters, pure and simple, and all the self cast out. Now, as before, having this faculty in its pure condition, let the student affix to it the name Manas, this is also the Latin mens or mind, though not what is ordinarily designated "mind" in popular language.

It is plain that this selfless thinking will get rid, among other things, of the idea of size, for size being purely relative is of necessity a self-idea; thus that which appears enormous to the gnat, seems puny to the elephant, and hence the whole expanse of the starry heavens will have no more of the elements of awe or magnificence than a whirl in the waters of a tiny brook or the motions of an ant-hill. When this much is gained the student will begin to find that ideas of time are self-ideas also, and that the doctrine of an eternal present, so often insisted on, so little understood, becomes an actual and patent fact.

This explanation of the functions of Manas should give a clue to the real meaning of that terrible stumbling-block to so many, called "the fourth dimension". When the functions of Manas, which in the mass of mankind are almost dormant, can be fully stimulated into action, so that pure thought without any self-element becomes possible, it will also be possible to think in the fourth dimension. But those (and they are by far the greater part of humanity) to whom this is impossible, must always find the fourth dimension a foolish dream, without any substantial reality expressed thereby.

The definitions of what by a somewhat confused, but still comprehensible, metaphor are called "Planes," really involve and require the notion of other dimensions; this appears very clearly in The Key to Theosophy, hence the possibility of obtaining an entrance to other planes depends on the power of thinking in the fourth dimension. In other words Manas, if fully developed, is able to pass to other planes, and when there to modify Linga Sharira according to circumstances and to the conditions of the plane on which it is, so as to impress the consciousness in Kama Rupa, for this is practically what takes place when a fourth dimensional problem becomes thinkable. It is common, but profoundly unphilosophic, for the mass of mankind, to whom selfless thought is impossible, to assert roundly that it is impossible for all, and that those who pretend to have made any progress towards it are either liars or under a psychic delusion. As well might a blind man assert that all the world is blind.

It is now necessary to observe the workings of Manas on the lower principles. Manas is the judge, the comparer, the arranger of the images presented to it; it has indeed a faculty of creating impressions, but these are pure abstractions, like the propositions of Euclid; and even as to these it would probably be more correct to say that they are external verities perceived by Manas, but with no self-regarding element. In fact, the difficulty of distinguishing between perception and creation is enormous in the higher principles, and in the highest the two are one. The images presented to Manas from the lower principles are more familiar and more easy to deal with. If the student will take any ordinary intellectual operation of the day, and disentangle the sense-images, which belong to the three lower principles, and differentiate them from the operation of immediate pleasure and pain, noting carefully whether a stream from any of the whirlpools of the passions has been felt; and having extracted all this, observe carefully the intellectual operation which sets the will in motion, he will have a conception of the function of Manas more or less clear in proportion to his power, of mental analysis. The development of Manas gives us the man of science, the materialist, the agnostic, the rationalist in religion; it is, in its highest development, selfless, and therefore may form the basis of altruism. It is plain that a very high degree of moral goodness may be reached by the development of Manas alone, and this is the goodness we are often bidden to admire in the agnostic, atheist, materialist, and other types of rationalist, including the bulk of Unitarians, Socinians, and the like. Many of the Oriental faiths, exoterically at all events, owe their goodness to the development of Manas, which is often a very high one in their case, far higher in fact than we in the West have any idea of.

Manas is said by the Oriental occultists to be dual; in fact, like all the other principles, it is sevenfold, but the student will do well to defer the consideration of the sub-divisions of the principles till he has mastered the elementary conception of the principles themselves. Meantime he may understand that what is called the higher Manas corresponds in the subdivision of the principle to the three higher principles, the lower Manas to the four lower principles. The higher Manas reflects the higher principles and is in itself purely selfless, the lower Manas reflects and has to do with Kama Rupa, is therefore tangled (so to speak) with self, and is the selfish intellect, forming, if not counteracted by the other principles, a Mephisto of this type was Margrave in The Strange Story. Soulless, because all the principles above the lower Manas had become detached from the Monad, and nothing was left but the selfish intellect developed to an abnormal extent.

As in the animal nature there can be no conception of the pure intellect, so in the nature wherein Manas alone is developed, it is clear that Manas can recognize nothing higher than itself, in fact the God of the lower Manas is simply the higher Manas, an intellectual abstraction, and prayer therefore becomes an absurdity; indeed we are told that the Southern Buddhists so regard it, and frankly acknowledge it to be a hindrance, and that all outward ceremonies are vain, religious dogmas absurd; that there can be no such thing as conscience or love of God; that every good action is the result of a pure intellectual process.

Most Westerns, however, at all events, will agree in thinking that in the average human being certain motives of action may be discovered, referable directly to conscience or love of God, and which cannot possibly be resolved into any intellectual process. Indeed it may be safely laid down that such motives exist in every human being who was ever born into the world (with the exception of those soulless persons, the Margraves, to whom allusion has already been made), though occasionally it is so dormant as to be unrecognizable; and it is from these motives that we derive the next highest principle. Of course there can be no proof of their existence to those who are unconscious of experiencing the action of such motives; if these choose to deny their existence it would be as useless to try and convince them as it would be to try and convince a blind man who denied the possibility of sight. Be it remembered that denial is the easiest of all things to make, the hardest to refute. Dr. Johnson's celebrated words to Boswell when the learned Doctor showed how easy it would be to support a denial of so patent a fact, at that time, as that Canada had been taken from the French, may be studied with advantage on this point.

Seeing that in many of the Oriental systems the development of Manas has been pushed to its extremest point, to the exclusion (or rather the suppression) of everything, beyond, it is only natural that this next highest principle, to which they give the name of Buddhi, should be shrouded in mystery. It is stated that the mysteries of Buddhi, which involve the highest occult powers, are only communicated to pledged chelas, who may be trusted to make no bad use of them. [ See the “Key to Theosophy” also “Secret Doctrine” on this point ]. Such is the Oriental system, and a very little thought makes it evident that this is the only possible system for peoples of the particular type of development which is associated with the East.

In the West also it is impossible to set down in writing the functions and properties of this principle; Christians, those at least who have learned the esoteric aspects of their own faith, term it the indwelling Spirit of Christ; others call it the higher self, a term open to many objections, for in the first place it is by hypothesis selfless, also the Spirit (according to the classification of St. Paul) as far more properly represented by the three highest principles, the upper triad, Atma-Buddhi-Manas.

Passing by this, however, we know that to the sincere Christian who tries to live the Christ life, conscience and the love of God are a power more or less, and a power moreover which, if sufficiently developed, claims to dominate the entire body and to direct all the other principles down to Sthula Sharira, in other words to be incarnated.

There are some who say that there is no other Christ-soul than the higher Ego in man, it would be as wise to say that there is no magnetic current except that which is in the needle of the compass; when the Christ within is sufficiently developed en rapport with the Christ without can be established, exactly in proportion as the professing Christian lives the Christ-life of prayer, self-abnegation, self-command, universal love, purity, etc., does he develop the Christ within, and acquire the power of communicating with the Christ without — "the Master" — by whom his initiation proceeds by gradual stages, and therewith his powers, according to the promise "Greater works than these shall ye do" and "Nothing shall be impossible for you".

It is, however, useless to pursue this branch of the subject further; those who are not Christians will not either believe or understand, because these things cannot be seen from outside and they refuse to come in, in order to learn. Those who are Christians will have already gathered enough from these few words to realize the true meaning and functions of Buddhi.

One principle, the highest of all, obviously not to be expressed in words, save by some such abstraction as the "Universal Soul", the "All-Father", the "Divine Spark". How this can be universal and yet a principle in each individual man is a mystery only to be solved by the knowledge of Buddhi — "No man cometh unto the Father but by me". Yet though a mystery it plainly must be the case, for union with this Universal Soul is the hope of all great religions, the Nirvana of the Buddhist, the Eternal Hope of the Christian; and unless such Universal Soul were already somehow part of ourselves, no such idea would be possible. The union in fact already exists, but is rendered imperfect by the separatenesses, and the separatenesses proceed from self, whose home is in Kama Rupa (the Body of Desire), but whose chief manifestation is in Sthula Sharira. To this highest principle of all is given the name Atma, and Atma is to the individual man what God the Father of the Christians or Parabrahm of the Easterns is to humanity. Easterns, and more especially Europeans with an Eastern bias, will object here that Parabrahm does not correspond to the Christian's God the Father. The only answer to this is that if the correspondence of the Atma of man to the Parabrahm of the Cosmos is clear to them, they may be content to leave the analogy belonging to a system which they repudiate for the use of those to whom it may be helpful.

Thus in the higher triad of the principles of man we get a reflection as it were in the microcosm of the Trinity of the Cosmos, which has been known and recognized by every great religion in the world in some form or another, more or less fully, and only denied in comparatively modern times by ignorant eccentrics in search of a new idea with which to tickle the ears of their followers.

I have said that the common metaphor of planes is somewhat confused; in fact planes and spheres and globes are all measurements of space like the stories of a house, and novices are apt to ask whereabouts the spiritual plane is situated, just as some Christians might ask where the kingdom of heaven was; it is not easy to find any terms which are free from objection, but the student should bear this difficulty in mind.

To conclude, since Atma is the highest, the universal Union, and Sthula Sharira is the most utter separateness, we see how the one is as it were the inverse image of the other. “Daemon est Deus inversus" — so Prana is the inverse image of Buddhi, just as the Christian Fathers tell us that Adam is of Christ. So also Linga Sharira, the senseless form, the mere spook of the séances, is the inverse of Manas, the pure intellectual concept, and thus the Divine sees itself as in a mirror inverted, and the mirror is Kama Rupa. A useful image may be drawn of a man sitting under a penthouse on an island, in the midst of a clear lake, fixed it is true to his island and unable to stir off it, unable also by reason of his penthouse to look up, yet in the lake he sees mirrored the real objects beyond, the stars of heaven on the one side it may be, on the other a dung-hill; give him power by speaking to those on shore to affect the realities of the things whose reflection he sees, and the analogy though rough is workable. When the self, which is the bar that separates the higher from the lower, is finally cast out, when the atonement is accomplished, and Nirvana is won, then there is no more need for the penthouse, the man is let loose from his island, and thenceforth is able to see all things clearly, not as in a glass reflected, but with straight vision, as they are.