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G. de P. — Are there any questions this evening?
Student — On March 13th I understood you to say: "You imagine that you originate thoughts from your brains — poor men!" From this striking utterance, taken in conjunction with KT's very emphatic and repeated injunction to "think four times on a subject, and then light will come," I deduced: first that our minds are but magnetic sieves through which continually flow thoughts of many kinds and from many sources, but that we have the power to repulse or attract what class of thoughts we desire, and that by the fourfold, purposeful concentration on a given subject, we at last attract the stream of thought from the higher self and so get at the truth of the thing sought after.
In other words, each of us has the power to compel a continuous stream of thoughts from high spiritual entities to pour through our minds, in place of the heterogeneous rubbish that flows through our brains as a rule, and it is our mission to hold these high thoughts in our minds and to live them, for by so doing we clothe them with the matter of this plane and as it were imprison them in this earth's sphere so that all men can get them without effort.
Is this correct? Will you elucidate your words, please?
G. de P. — That is a long question! Remember that every thought is an elemental. Even a human being gives utterance to energy centers: utters them, that is emits them, emanates them — and these energy centers are thoughts. Being elementals they have a future before them, but they do not begin with him. I do not mean by this on the one hand that he is merely a channel through which these thoughts pass. He is more than that. He is their father, their parent. But may I ask you if the father of a child creates his child? He is somewhat more than a channel and yet he is not a creator.
Thoughts come to us, enter our minds from the thought reservoir of the planet, and yet they would not come to us if we were not capable of receiving them. The thoughts we have depend upon our own individual grade in evolutionary development. Coarse people have coarse thoughts; spiritual people attract spiritual energy centers, or thought-elementals. Furthermore, there are certain thoughts which originate in the very life essence of a human being, and these are his own very children, born of his being. They originate in the thought organ, commonly called the mind, which is one of the apparatuses of the monadic essence, somewhat like an organ in the body, a part of the body, and yet not the whole body. So the organ of thought is not the whole mind, but a part of the inner constitution, devoted, or consecrated, or built rather, for uttering, giving birth, to thoughts; just as other parts of the constitution give birth to other energy centers.
The series of observations in this long question is so complex and so complicated, and deals with so many things, that I can see the mental distress of the companion who has asked that a reply be given; but it is almost impossible to do so without spending an entire evening on this in order to answer all the points.
It is quite wrong, for instance, to speak of thoughts as being attracted down from high spiritual beings, and imprisoned here. Human beings do not do that. Human beings are merely one of the channels, one of the circulations of the cosmos, of the universe, through which the energies of the universe pass and manifest themselves. We human beings are not so frightfully important in the universe as all that the questioner's idea implies. Strictly speaking, the human being is no more important than the merest atom, for in the absolute sense of the words there is neither great nor small in the divine economy. The atom has as much right to be, and to live, and to grow as a human being has.
Thoughts are things because they are elementals. Entities are beginningless, really. Try to grasp the idea. They come into one hierarchy on the lowest plane, and grow and evolve in that hierarchy until they attain the highest plane thereof, and then pass on into a higher hierarchy, entering into the lowest plane of that superior hierarchy; and thoughts act like everything else does. We human beings may be considered to be thoughts of some entity still more sublime than we are, in which entity we live and move and have our being. And by human beings, I do not mean our bodies. I mean the thinking self-consciousness part of us, living temporarily in these physical bodies — the energy part of us.
No, the remark that I made was an attempt to destroy the impression that human beings by their brain-minds create or originate thoughts out of nothing at all; that thoughts begin and never had an existence before. That idea is all wrong. Think of the example of the father and the child: the latter bone of the bone, blood of the blood, flesh of the flesh of the former; and just passing through the father as a channel, and yet not wholly as a channel. The germ of life would not go through the father, unless there were a strong psychological bond, indeed a spiritual bond, as well as a physical bond. We are all interlinked together. We are all interblended. We are all intercommunicating.
So it is with thoughts which pass through the mind, except that wonderful class of thoughts that originate in our own Monadic Essence, and are, in a still more intimate sense, born of us, our very children; and these will be with us for eternity. We are throwing them forth constantly, evolving them forth, as well as receiving vagrant thoughts that come to us from the thought reservoirs of the planets in which are the children of other thinking entities. These other thoughts that come to us are the very children of other human beings, just as our own very children — the particular class that I spoke of — in their turn become vagrant children, through the minds, through the thought-organs, of other human beings.
These problems of consciousness are exceedingly difficult, and I have been rather astonished that so many questions have been asked about them, but I can readily see why it is so, because up to the present time, in our teachings, so little has been said about them, and it is therefore a very natural thing that you should be desirous of more explicit explanation.
Student — It cannot think thoughts; where then do thoughts originate?
G. de P. — What a most beautifully explicit and lucid question! Does It refer to parabrahman, or the brain, or the human soul, or an atom, or what? Can you kindly explain to what the It refers?
Student — If thoughts do not emanate from man, where do they emanate from? The IT is in capital letters, so to speak, as standing for the Supreme.
G. de P. — I see. The verb emanate is both right and yet wrong. Remember that thoughts do not originate out of nothing. They come into this sphere from another more ethereal sphere.
On the other hand, the human thought organ, the mind organ, which transmits them into this sphere is not the mere channel only, the idea being that a thought could not come to one particular organ and pass through it, into this sphere, unless it had karmic links with that particular organ or those particular human beings to whom it passes.
Here again you have one of the mysteries of consciousness. But how wonderful that it is so! Just imagine a universe in which thoughts were created — never had a beginning before — by every human being who thus created them, thoughts which never could pass onwards to any other human being, and you see what would happen. No two men could ever understand each other; each one would be living in an absolute universe of his own. We understand each other because the thoughts of all men are more or less akin to each other and pass through the minds of us all; and of course because men are akin to each other. This is a problem for you to think over.
Student — I have understood that insomnia keeps the soul tied to the body, when it ought to be winging its way to spiritual planes, learning, growing, expanding. Is not insomnia then a very serious handicap to soul growth?
G. de P. — No, it is not. On the contrary, it is an opportunity for soul growth. Everything that calls for the exercise of will power, self-forgetfulness, self-control, exercises the spiritual faculties and powers of a man. Sickness, disease, misfortune, are our best friends, because they call out the best that is in us.
Insomnia is not a bar to soul growth. The idea is that insomnia, just as ordinary waking during the daytime even if your sleep be perfect at night, keeps the self-conscious center of the human being more or less on this plane. And that self-conscious center does not get its period of repose and refreshment in the spiritual world, which it does during sleep. But that self-conscious center, or the ordinary man consciousness, human consciousness, is not the spiritual center at all, and the very fact that it has a longer time in wakefulness is more time for soul growth, also for self-control, the exercise of will power.
How far insomnia may affect the body adversely, is another question again; but the question that this companion asks does not refer to the body.
Student — What is its cause and cure from the spiritual, not medical, viewpoint?
G. de P. — Curing insomnia by the spiritual? I do not quite understand the question. Would you try to cure a toothache by a spiritual faculty? You would be degrading the faculty if you did, and if you could. But if you mean what method of living would so train the mind that the body would sympathetically react and insomnia would be cured, then my answer is by living aright: eating properly, thinking properly, living properly, exercising properly — in other words, clean living and high thinking. In some cases insomnia, like every other disease, is karmic. In fact everything is karmic, but here karmic in a particular sense, in the sense of its coming upon one who in the ordinary course of evolution would have passed pretty well beyond suffering so badly as you seem to have in mind. No, insomnia, like everything else, while distressing, and while every proper means should be used to cure it, is an opportunity for soul growth.
May I ask: does anyone feel sleepy?
Student — I have been feeling a little sleepy.
G. de P. — You have? Well, if sleepiness comes again, I think that you had better leave the meeting for tonight, please.
Student — I have thought this: that it is by means of the three principles above the seven generally named as composing the constitution of man, that atman the highest of the seven is drawn into its parent-star at the death of the body; and that when drawn thus it passes through the three globes of the earth-chain which are above the seven usually spoken of. Is this right?
G. de P. — The general answer to this question, without going into details is, yes. I might add, perhaps, that atman stands for the highest principles of the human constitution: in other words, the three principles forming the supertriangle, or our divine root, and the highest of the seven manifesting principles popularly called atman alone. And these do pass at the death of any human being through the three superglobes of the earth-chain, and wing their way to their own wonderful home, their original source.
This does not mean that such going home is an utter rupture or disunion with the remaining elements of the constitution of the man who has just died. Can you understand me when I tell you that your highest part may be in its own spiritual or divine home, and yet be present elsewhere? That is a fact. And it may be a hint to you of a great truth; but I can go no farther in explanation.
Student — Is it possible to take on a part or the whole of another one's karma? If possible, is it advisable?
G. de P. — Strictly speaking, it is impossible; but after laying down that statement as a general postulate, it is also right to make a modification — not of the principle that it is impossible to take upon yourself the karma in whole or in part of anyone, but a modification of the manner in which that rule should be understood. If it be a person's karma, let us say, to die by drowning — and this not in the sense of fate, but in the sense that all the circumstances of his past actions and thoughts have shaped his destiny so that that person has brought upon himself the karma of drowning — then in case someone else seeing him struggle in the water, plunges into the water in an attempt to save him and also drowns, obviously the would-be savior is not taking upon himself that other person's karma by trying vainly to save the other person and by drowning himself. Nevertheless he has tried to save that person, tried to save that life, and has perhaps helped that person unconsciously.
Now, let me take another instance, which may illustrate the point still better. A business man, let us say, involves himself by a number of careless monetary transactions in a position where he is burdened with debt. He is faced with ruin. And according to modern ideas — American ideas in particular — perhaps faced with dishonor. He has a friend who has means, and this friend comes to the rescue of the one who is so burdened with debt and helps him out of his difficulty, but at enormous cost, let us say, to himself. He saves his friend from financial ruin, but at heavy cost to himself. Has he taken upon himself his friend's karma by that noble act? No, strictly speaking he has not. But he has nevertheless involved himself closely and intimately with that person's karma, wound himself into the web of that person's karma. Had it been that person's karma to fail in every sense of the word, he would have failed. He would have undergone a financial crash. But it was his karma to have this friend come and help him.
Whatever happens, and no matter how it happens, is karma. You cannot take upon yourself another person's karma, even if you would. But one who is free — and now listen carefully, I go a third step ahead — one who is naturally free karmically, free from a certain karmic web, can by his own will power enter that web of karma and become involved in it. He cannot relieve the other one, but by his action he can help that other one. And at the bottom of this idea lies the distorted fiction of the teaching of vicarious atonement in the Christian Church.
You cannot take upon yourself the karma of another, either in whole or in part, but by your own action you can alleviate and soften that karma. In so doing, you do not take upon yourself the other person's karma, but you take upon yourself a new karma by your own action. Nevertheless, if it is done with a noble motive, in order to achieve a magnanimous end, it is, however unfortunate it may be at the time, a karma which will bring good to you someday, somewhere, and with interest added. You have done a noble act.
No, you cannot take upon yourself any part or portion of another's karma. If it were possible, then you could cheat the laws of nature, and cause and effect would be but words. You might as well say that you could take upon yourself the gaping wound in the body of someone who shoots himself. It cannot be done. Nature is not mocked. What ye sow ye shall reap, to the uttermost farthing. That is a law — nature's own operation, which the actor himself has brought upon himself. Karma is within you, not without; and everything that happens to you, you have originated in this or in some former existence.
There is no chance in the universe. You cannot interfere in another's karma, but you can help, you can alleviate, you can comfort, you can do many things along the pathway of pity and compassion. And you are acting with nature's innermost forces when you do so.
Now let us pass to the next question.
Student — You said that it is through or along the sushumna channel or tube of the spinal column that the ego enters and leaves the body at incarnation and disincarnation.
On the other hand, HPB says (The Secret Doctrine, 1, 537) that "animal vitality descends in a larger supply to vegetation in the Sushumna sun-ray which lights and feeds the moon" — penetrating man and animal during their sleep.
Do these two statements combine to show that the disincarnating ego travels along this particular sushumna ray to the moon and thence to the sun, after it has become free from the flesh?
G. de P. — Here again is the same difficulty of which I have spoken before. Parts of this question, I cannot answer — I am not allowed to do so. I like the tone of this question though. It does not ask if there is a contradiction between the two statements, which is implying a doubt in the questioner's own mind. There is an obvious attempt to reconcile the two statements, and that spirit is very good. Let me see if I cannot give some answer. That is also my duty. There is an individual call for light here. A true note of aspiration in thought has been struck.
There is a slight misunderstanding of my meaning where I speak of the sushumna nadi, or channel of the spinal cord, as being that by which the consciousness enters and leaves the body. That is true enough. But the sushumna ray is not one of the highest; and obviously the process of death has to do with the body, being a release from the body. Therefore both the sushumna ray and the sushumna channel are concerned in the release of the parts of the human constitution which temporarily are freed from the body, such as in sleep, or when the mayavi-rupa is projected, and at death. There is a slight misunderstanding here also about my words when I spoke of the reincarnating or incarnating ego entering the body through the sushumna-channel. How can that be when the body is not yet born?
I think that I have said almost enough. When the inner man leaves the body at any time for any purpose, it does so along the sushumna nada or sushumna channel of the spinal column, and it does so also at death.
I think we had better pass on to the next question. Very esoteric things indeed are touched upon unconsciously in this question, and I think I have said quite enough.
Student — I understood that the physical was always the exact replica of the astral. You said that the spinal column is composed on the astral plane of three tubes. Why then is not the physical spinal column composed also of three separate or interdependent parts? Or are the two parallel trunks of the sympathetic nervous system, running along the spinal column, the beginning of the physical manifestation of the other two astral tubes — ida and pingala?
G. de P. — The last observation is quite correct. I am not so certain that the two columns of the sympathetic nervous system here spoken of are correctly alluded to, but the idea is absolutely correct. Furthermore, the body merely reflects what the astral body is, and the reason it does not reflect everything that the astral body has, but merely foreshadows it, is because the physical body is not yet a fully evolved thing. Everything that appears in the physical body at any time originates in the astral body. That thought, I think, is clear, and there are three channels in the spinal column of the astral body, and these three channels will blend into two in time and will manifest in the physical body as two back-bones. This will come in the distant future.
The three vital channels, or channels for the passage of vital currents now working up and down the spinal column, exist in the astral body as three actual tubes or channels. And the Hindus usually call these three tubes or channels running up and down the backbone or the spinal column by the names of ida on the right, pingala on the left, and sushumna between them.
It may interest you to know that the growth of the embryo in the mother's body, and the growth of the little child when born, follows slavishly, point by point, the growth in formation of the astral body. But this astral body is always ahead of the physical body which comes trailing after, so to speak, in development. It is, I suppose, something like the trailer trailing along behind an automobile. As the automobile goes with all its turns, so does the trailer go.
And these three channels of the astral body are the actual ones that are in use all the time, that are working all the time, because the real physical man — now please try and understand this — the real physical man is the astral man. The body is as it were a garment of atoms collected around the astral man, a sort of cloak. It is like a veneer, so to speak, or a patina, which gathers around some art object. It might perhaps be spoken of as a rust around an iron tool. The real man is the astral man, and is the seat or focus of all the activities of the man, and the physical body slavishly copies everything, everything.
Student — What is meant by the "vibrant blue light behind the sun" mentioned by KT in The Gods Await, while quoting Master M's words? Is there any connection here with the scientific theory that our sun is a blue star?
G. de P. — Yes, there certainly is. Our sun is blue. And the reason that we see the solar light as golden light, is due largely to the influence of the earth's atmosphere on the solar rays. Our sun is a blue star, and this color is one expression of the individuality of that star, just as a human being has his own particular vital color, or tint, or shade.
If you could see human beings with the color-eye, so to say, you would see some beings surrounded with a red cloud, others with a blue cloud, others with a violet cloud, others with a golden cloud; others again with clouds of different shades, light green, dark green, indigo, sky blue, turquoise color — all the possible shades. Furthermore in addition to these fundamental shades, every human being at times, when in anger, or when in emotion, or in deep thought, has of course his background of aura tinged with his fundamental color, but on this background there is a constant coruscating play of other vital colors. It is a beautiful sight, beautiful to see. All these colors are merely expressions of the life forces, of the pranas, of the entity.
The blue of the sun, as I have already said, is an expression of the vital entity in and behind and above the sun. There are violet suns, there are red suns, there are yellow suns, and suns of other colors.
Student — In the last ES paper you say: "There are seven different rivers of life flowing through the human body, each one, so to say, the mother of a particular sense."
In No. 5 EST Instructions, it says: "The atom esoterically contains the six principles and dwells in the molecule."
May the electrons of the human life-atom be the six principles referred to within the molecule?
G. de P. — Most decidedly not. All the electrons of an atom, whether it be a chemical atom or a pranic atom, or a vital atom, are bodies, infinitesimal entities, all more or less on the same plane. For instance, in our solar system, are the planets revolving around the sun the principles of the solar system? Of course not. Every atom is a sevenfold entity, with its physical body, its vitality, its astral body, its kamic principle, its manasic, its buddhic principle, and its atman. It is as a human being is.
But the atom, physically speaking, or structurally speaking, is composed of a center and subordinate infinitesimal bodies which modern chemists call electrons. These electrons are not the seven principles of the atom, but are manifestations on the physical plane of some of the energies of the atom. That ought to be clear.
You might as well say that the organs of the human body are the seven principles of the man. What the organs of the body are to the body, that the electrons of the physical atom are to the atom. They are organic parts of the structure of the physical atom, but they are not the six principles of the atom.
Student — Is this what you call the "seven rivers of life," flowing through the human body, into the seven vital laya-centers or chakras, each being the mother of a sense?
My questions may not be clear, but I trust you get my thought.
G. de P. — I think so. I think I get the thought; although your questions are not very clearly phrased, because they are not very clearly thought out.
No; the seven rivers of life referred to are the seven different pranas. I think I made that clear at the time. And these seven different pranas represent seven fundamental energies which play in the body. These seven fundamental pranas or fundamental energies as manifesting in the physical body are, each one, the mother of one of the senses of the body, of which senses five have so far been developed, and two are still to come.
Nevertheless, all seven pranas are active, but only five of the pranas are usually spoken of in ordinary exoteric works simply because only five senses hitherto have been evolved, and indeed very imperfectly evolved. But while the two highest senses are not yet evolved, physically speaking, that does not prevent their energies, that is the energies of the two future senses, from being brought forth into physical life in the future.
The two pranas corresponding to these two future senses are active in the body somewhat as the spirit of man is more or less active in his consciousness, or as his buddhic principle is more or less active in his consciousness, although neither man's spiritual nature nor his buddhic nature has been fully evolved forth as yet. Nevertheless there they are; and they act.
The next question, please.
Student — Please may we have the esoteric explanation given regarding magnetic healing — more specifically, how does it affect the healer, likewise the one who is being healed? I do not refer to thought healing or any kind of hypnotic healing.
G. de P. — Well, practically all magnetic healing is hypnotic. Practically all of it. And furthermore magnetic healing is very bad for the healer. Very bad. While cures have been made, it is a method of postponing karma which is disadvantageous ultimately to the one who is relieved, or possibly healed.
You have been told before, and very clearly, that every physical ailment, every sickness, and indeed mental ailment or mental disease, is karmic; is something which is trying to work out through the channel open to it, and that channel is the physical body, including the brain. Now, if you dam that back, if you prevent its coming out through its natural channel, you are laying up all kinds of trouble for yourself in the future, and probably at a time when you will be less desirous, perhaps, to undergo that trouble than you are at present when nature wants it to come out and have done with it.
I do not know much about medicine, and I care less, but I have a notion — and I may be wrong — but I have a notion that if a doctor today tried to dam back a disease instead of leading it out carefully and naturally, and exhausting it, he would be a very poor doctor. That is my impression.
People are afraid. They do not want to face what has come upon them. They do not know the law. They do not know what karma is. They often think diseases are unfair; that they should not be afflicted; that they are not responsible; that it just happens that they are the victims of some Moloch called Nature. And they will do almost anything, and go to almost any extreme in order to get relief.
But as the wise man knows that the sooner a thing is allowed to come out the better, he goes to his physician for help. That is right, and it is the duty of the physician to help. He cannot prevent the karma, he cannot take over the karma of his patient, but he can try, by compassionate acts of helpfulness and skill, to relieve the suffering and to help the disease to come out and save the life and try to cure his patient.
Now I do not care a snap of the fingers whether modern medical theory agrees with that or not. My experience of medical theory is that it is like all other scientific or quasi-scientific theories — it is changing, it is a very changeable thing. One idea in one decade in medicine has great vogue, and in the following decade it is discarded; and a physician would feel himself disgraced, perhaps, to do what his father did, or what his grandfather did. Therefore the ideas of today will in their turn change to something else.
The time was when it was considered a medical crime to give water to a patient stricken with fever. It was thought that water would kill him. I have no doubt that in those days a physician who gave a glass of water to a fever-stricken patient might have been imprisoned. Today it is all the other way in the treatment of fevers. The best thing about modern medical theory is that it is a changing thing. The doctors are learning. The worst thing about it is that every new theory becomes a dogma and has to be smashed by some great man who comes along and risks his reputation in smashing it.
I have many medical friends whom I highly respect, and I respect them just in proportion as they are willing to learn and do not think that they know it all. I know the history of science too well, and of medicine also, to believe that the last word in medicine has been found. The more they know and the more they study, the less they find they really understand. A sad outlook, some of you may say. On the contrary, I think it is an encouraging outlook.
Have you any more questions? And please avoid medical subjects.
Student — I have been reading reports of the meetings that you held before I came here, and I was very much interested in the one that was held on Christmas Eve. And when you gave that wonderful explanation of the real meaning of Christmas, you said that there was a similar story about Easter. May I ask you to give us the story of Easter?
G. de P. — There are four seasons of the year in which, in ancient days, initiations were held. These seasons of the year are: the winter solstice; the spring equinox or what is popularly today called the Easter season; the summer solstice; and the autumnal equinox.
These seasons were chosen on account of astrological facts. The earth and the sun, and especially the planets, in theory at least, being so placed at these seasons that the line of intercommunication between the lord and giver of life, in other words the sun, and the earth, brought about conditions which greatly favored initiation. The Easter season, or in other words and more correctly stated, the spring equinox, is one of those seasons.
Perhaps the holiest and the most sublime of the initiations is the one which takes place at the time of the autumnal equinox. But it is sublime in the sense only that he who is then initiated enters upon the pathway which takes him out of the world of men. This initiation ranks the highest. But in our own Brotherhood of Compassion it is not considered to be the highest. It is the sublimest, but it is not the noblest, paradoxical as it may sound.
Let me try to illustrate this. It is so difficult to explain these things. There are two men, let us say, both of them good men. The one sets his whole heart and soul upon becoming at one with his inner god. He lives the life in every good sense of the word. He is compassionate and pitiful. He grows to love all that is. But his whole energy is set upon achieving sublimity for himself. He harms no one and nothing. He achieves, and leaves the world of men behind. It is sublime what he has done.
The other man longs to achieve, longs to be at one with his inner god, only and solely that he may the better serve his fellowmen; in order that he may the better be a channel between the gods and his fellowmen. He gives up the self for All-self. He gives himself up, his own chances, renounces attaining sublimity for himself, and consecrates his life to service for all. He, in our Order, stands highest, and is indeed nobler, superior to the first man. To this I referred a moment ago when I said that the initiation of the autumnal equinox was perhaps the sublimest in itself; but the man who went through this most sublime initiation left the world of men behind.
The initiation at the Eastertide and at the winter solstice, these two are initiations into which those who desire to live to benefit mankind pass and therein consecrate themselves. The Buddha, to speak personally, is "born" at the winter solstice, or a few days afterwards — a fortnight afterwards, let us say. The Easter or spring equinoctial period is the initiatory time chosen for those who enter among the gods, but nevertheless do not leave the world of men wholly behind.
Companions, I do not know whether you understand me or not. If you get an inkling of what I am trying to say, that is enough. There are the two classes. They are spoken of in the Buddhist scriptures: the one as the pratyeka buddhas, those who achieve buddhahood for themselves alone. It is sublime; their work in the world is beautiful, or rather their work in the universe is beautiful. They become links between humanity and divinity; but their own motive, their own effort, is for themselves. It is, in fact, a sort of spiritual selfishness, pure and holy as those beings are. Whereas the buddhas of compassion live to benefit mankind, and remain on earth among men as nirmanakayas for aeons and aeons and aeons, sacrificing their own advancement in order to be helpers of their fellowmen, to guard them against evils of which the average man has no conception. Their life is one long sacrifice. Of course, their ultimate reward is incomparably grander than that of the pratyeka buddhas.
Student — If a man or a woman working, hurts his eye on a protruding branch or twig of a tree, and it causes the loss of his sight, is there any peculiar line of karma connected with that? One can hardly think of it as just a matter of chance. It seems an extraordinary thing that such a simple thing as a twig which seems to have no connection with the man should cause him such a dreadful injury.
G. de P. — Quite interesting. But the karma has nothing to do with the twig. The karma of the man has been such that the loss of the eyesight occurs to him, and the twig is merely an incidental or instrument. It might have been anything else. It might have been a man's golf stick or a friend's tennis racket. The twig is an incidental. The karma is that he loses his sight. Everything that happens is the result of preceding causes. That idea should be perfectly clear. Everything that happens is a consequence of some preceding thing, out of which it grew, and thus a chain of cause and effect, of causation as it is called, stretches back through ages, along the lifeline of an individual, and, following it forwards it reaches the karmic culmination: the eyesight is gone. But is that the end? That is just the beginning of a new phase: the chain of causation continues. And who knows, looking at it from the theosophical standpoint, who can say, that that deprivation of one of the most precious faculties of a human being — eyesight — is not a heaven-sent blessing.
We human beings are so selfish, we are so unevolved, that if things do not go exactly as we want them to go, we think that it is all unjust. We are not logical. We talk of chance. There is no chance. You used the word chance, I believe — there is no such thing. Do you think an automobile accident is a chance happening? That a fire is a chance happening? That the loss of one's fortune is a chance happening, that sudden increment in fortune is a chance happening? Examine any such thing, or any other thing, and you will find that there was a preceding act or thought, or both; a preceding cause, out of which this result grew; and that this effect or result in its turn becomes a cause for something else.
As HPB so nobly puts it: we weave karma around ourselves as a spider weaves its web. Everything we do is karma. Everything we have or do not have is karma. We ourselves are our own karma. That is the best way of all in which to put the matter. We ourselves are our own karma. And this is precisely what the Lord Buddha meant when he said that there is no such thing as a personal or individualized soul which is eternal. It is the man's karma which lives, the man himself, the continuation of the chain of causation which any human being is. It is obviously true; but Westerners are so utterly under the old Christian psychology of a created soul, that God Almighty does everything in the universe around us, and that we are the helpless creatures of an inscrutable divine destiny; that the hand of fate writes over our forehead all we are and shall be, and having written, returns to write some more. It is not so. Man is his own creator, his own redeemer, his own sufferer, his own damner. He damns himself, he condemns himself, he saves himself.
This is an ethical doctrine and it is a doctrine of hope. It is a doctrine of optimism in the deeper sense of the word, because it shows another chance; it says that you can make yourself to be anything. You can raise yourself so high that you can confabulate with the gods, and that is but a step ahead, so to say. You can go on eternally, or you can send yourself down into the Planet of Death. You can make of yourself whatever you will. And what you are now you made yourself to be in the past. What you will be in the future, you are now making yourself to be.
Such an incident as the deprivation of sight by the mere instrumentality of the twig simply illustrates the point. An earthquake occurs, shakes buildings to pieces, crushes human beings. Is it chance? Not to me. No human being would have lost his life unless his karma, his chain of causation, had brought him to that spot at that time. He himself is responsible. And I tell you that there is no protective power so tremendous, there is no saving element in human life so certain and sure, as that of love. It casts around every human being an akasic veil, an akasic buckler, which shields against harm every human being who truly and impersonally loves, does no evil, does nothing selfish, does nothing that cripples his own forces or powers, thus making him careless and thus inviting accident. It makes one loved of others. It brings harmony and peace and beauty into life. Love and ye shall be loved. Love and ye shall be saved.
The next question, please.
Student — Is it permitted to ask a question about the teachings given in the Temple a few years ago? At that time, you gave us some teachings about the doctrine of hierarchies. It was less familiar to us then, and I would like to refresh my memory about some of it, if it is permitted. There was a word that you gave us once: hyparxis as I remember, was the word, and I should like to have that teaching explained again.
G. de P. — Hyparxis is a Greek technical term, of Greek philosophy, and favored in the Neoplatonic school, and in brief it signifies what I have at other times called the summit or acme of a hierarchy which at the same time is its essential essence or heart, and which is both beginning and end — the seed of the hierarchy, in other words its source, and also its ending. The circle meets its beginning. But please remember that any such hyparxis, or acme, or summit, or climax, is but the lowest part of the succeeding higher hierarchy from which the first one just spoken of hangs as a pendant. Have you the idea?
Student — A little while ago when our Junior Executive Committee gave a Greek Symposium, one question happened to come to me to answer; and the answer that was given in the symposium seemed depressing. The question was: "What part has philosophy to play in the awakening of the soul?"
G. de P. — Is that the question that you ask me now?
Student — Yes, please.
G. de P. — It is a typical Greek question. I do not know that a Hindu would ever ask a question like that. Supposing a Westerner were to ask one of his college professors: what part does science play in the awakening of the human mind? Now the Hindu would say, in answer to your question, that philosophy is simply the exercise of the powers of the human illuminated intellect. You cannot philosophize until your soul already is awakened; but you can study before your soul is fully awakened, and this study will help to awaken the soul more completely.
Philosophy, therefore, answering it from the Greek standpoint, plays a very prominent part in the awakening of the inner consciousness, what is called the soul here. It teaches the mind organ how to think clearly, logically, accurately, consequentially. It teaches the intellect its own powers of coordinated thought, and its own powers of reflection, and of delving into the deeper wells of consciousness. It teaches man of his destiny, of his origin, of his nature at the present time, and similarly of the universe around him.
Of course, if you construe the Greek word philosophy as a modern American student of the twentieth century, using the word philosophy in the sense in which it is usually used in the schools today of the Occident, you will not get the original Greek idea. Philosophy in Greece, when applied, meant a love of wisdom, and the wisdom of love.
Tell that to a modern professor of philosophy in one of our European or our American universities, and he would smile. His idea of philosophy is an accurate enumeration of categories; and he thinks that thereby he is thinking something. There are mathematicians who think that they understand mathematics because they have studied formulae and can work problems; but it takes a real mathematical thinker and genius to understand the meaning of these formulae themselves, and why they work.
I do not see why the question should have discouraged you.
Student — Well, the more I read it, the worse it seemed.
G. de P. — Well, do you understand the Greek idea a little better now?
Student — Yes, thank you.
Student — May I ask a question, Professor? Was there any special connection between Madame Tingley and Madame Blavatsky?
G. de P. — Yes, certainly there was.
Student — I meant to say, more so than between any of the other great Leaders.
G. de P. — Yes. Now I am going to tell you something here, and this in particular I ask you to be very careful about.
KT was closely allied spiritually and intellectually to HPB, and was in a certain peculiar sense the mind-born student of that being — I will talk plainly — of that man who worked through the female body you called HPB. Now I don't know whether my answer will make anything clearer to you, but that is the fact.
Put it in a slightly different way and say that HPB, or this inner power — this man working through HPB's body — and KT were twin rays from the same planet if you like. That is the astrological way of stating the same fact. The mystical Hindu perhaps would have spoken of a mind-born child. The meaning would be much the same, but it would be a different way of phrasing. You may be a little astonished to hear me speak of the man who was HPB, but nevertheless that was a fact.
One of HPB's principles, or to speak more accurately, a certain portion of her consciousness, was held in Tibet, and its place was occupied in her inner constitution by a teacher, a man, who worked through her. That does not mean that everything that HPB did was his doing. In the ordinary affairs of eating, drinking, clothing, washing, ordinary letter writing, that was all HPB; but as Teacher and Outer Head her body was his to work through. And this accounts for the strong masculine characteristics that so many of her students — and indeed outsiders — have spoken of as having been noted in HPB. Do you understand?
Many Voices — Yes.
G. de P. — Every one of your Leaders, every one of your Outer Heads, so far, has gone through the same trials, the same experience. A certain principle, or to speak more accurately, a certain organ of the consciousness of the inner constitution, has been removed, which does not mean lifted out of the body, but has been detained under akasic guard; and in that vacancy which is created at times there flows in the consciousness of one of the teachers, and works through the body — yes, but also through the inner constitution thus offered and given.
Are there any other questions, please?
Student — Is the part removed, that portion which we are so familiar with in ourselves as the egoistical, the assertive personal self? The selfish self?
G. de P. — The personal man, do you mean? No, it is not that part. I do not know how I can describe it to you. It is not the personal self. If that were so you would have practically a dead body before you. Nor is it the higher part. It is the intermediate part or what you might call the human soul, something better than the egoistical, fault-finding, lower, loving and hating, part of the constitution. I think the best term than can be given to it, at least the most understandable term, is what is called the human soul.
Student — That word does not have any definite meaning at all, to me.
G. de P. — Well, that is the best way by which I can describe it. It is not the atman, it is not the buddhi, it is not the physical body, it is not the prana, it is not the linga-sarira, it is not even the kama, it is not even the kama-manas. It is what you might call the kama-manas overshadowed by the buddhi. The human soul.
Student — May I say something? This is not a question, but I have a question. In Countess Wachtmeister's Reminiscences of HPB she speaks of seeing HPB's head transformed into a leonine masculine head; and I knew somebody when I was in England, who had a private interview with Madame Tingley and came away extremely overpowered, and told me afterwards that she saw a most marvelous transformation while she was speaking to her, into a large, powerful, very unusual masculine figure and head. I do not know that there is anything in those ideas, but they seem to be rather significant.
G. de P. — I think they are. Countess Wachtmeister was, in many ways, a good woman. She was rather emotional and thought she saw things; but what you describe is very probable indeed. I have seen KT in her days of strength, and I doubt not that you also have seen her at times, when she was positively transformed. I have seen her on the lecture platform, and the language she then used was as different from KT's ordinary language as it is possible to imagine two things to be different.
Student — My question refers to the giant forms of the Atlanteans. There is a very peculiar difficulty which has never been faced, I think in our literature, and we are sure to meet it sometime amongst the number of new members who are coming along, and the scientific people that we are going to attract very soon. It is the difficulty of understanding how beyond a certain size a living being could actually walk or stand, because the proportion of force necessary to move against gravitation increases, I think, by more than the square, while the height increases only double. Beyond a certain size it would be impossible to move. The elephant is almost the largest thing that can move on the surface of the earth at present; and the difficulty is to know what would have happened to those figures, persons, nine yatis high or twenty-seven feet. Were the gravitational conditions different in the Atlantean period, or had they some other source of energy; or were they more astral? It has never been explained. That difficulty has come up, and I would like to have some light on it.
G. de P. — Your difficulty is that you think they would be crushed under their own weight?
Student — Oh, yes. They certainly would, according to physics.
G. de P. — Well, that is a very pleasant theory, pleasant in the sense of being agreeable to gossip about, but I have never seen the proof of it on earth. It is just one of those theories that people like to theorize about. Now nature makes no such mistakes. If she builds a colossal body, she gives to that colossal body colossal muscular development.
It seems to me that a little thought answers the question itself. I have watched elephants move. Those pachydermatous creatures don't seem to be crumbling under their own weight. I have heard it stated very seriously indeed by engineers that it might be quite possible to build a modern building so high that it would crush its own foundations. It is possible, perhaps, but the works of man are not the works of natural forces.
I can think of a man with a head so enormous and legs so puny that the legs would give way under the weight of the head. But while I can indulge in fantasies of that kind, I know nothing in science — that is in sober science — outside a theory that would permit me to suppose that such a thing could exist. I think those theories are theories and praeterea nihil — theories and nothing more. You may be assured that if nature built huge bodies, she would put muscles in that huge body quite competent to carry it. I suppose that an ant or a mosquito might look at us human beings, and wonder why we are not crushed under our own weight, but we are not.
Student — May I ask a question, please? Was Charles Lindbergh a messenger sent in the interests of science?
G. de P. — I do not think so. Colonel Lindbergh was a fortunate young man. He was in a way one of the little men of destiny. He did a brave act, but he must have had great sport out of it. I think I would have enjoyed it too. I do not think that there is anything so very especial about Lindbergh that requires feminine adoration. I knew a young man once who cared for a father and a mother and a paralytic sister and a grandfather and two aunts, and gave them all a good home, gave up his own career and devoted himself to care for his family. He is a noble and self-sacrificing man, incomparably superior to one who merely takes joy in an adventuresome deed.
There are plenty of young fellows like Lindbergh who were not as karmically "fortunate" as he was to get the attention of the world. It is these spectacular things, you know, that attract people; but I can tell you that there is more real heroism at your elbow than perhaps you realize. A man or a woman who can go through life with a breaking heart and with a smiling face and doing good to his fellowmen, is a hero or a heroine. They are the ones who are the real kings and queens of human life. I mean kings and queens in the spiritual sense, in the real sense, of the word. The great ones.
I am not fond of spectacular achievements. But that, of course, is not said in derogation of Colonel Lindbergh. He did a very brave thing. Quite a fine gesture of self-confidence and goodwill! He did a fine act, as far as that goes. But I think that the radio operator that I was reading about some little time ago who stuck to his post sending out his SOS signals, with the ship sinking under him, and stuck to his post until everybody was off in the boats, did a far finer act than a dozen of what Lindbergh did. Heroism requires self-abnegation, devotion to duty, real self-forgetfulness of heart and mind in the service of others.
What about that telephone girl in a burning building — I forget just what the circumstances were — but there was an earthquake and the building was on fire, and she sent out calls around her for help, risked her life, was badly burned. There also was an instance of a hero-heart. These are the things that attract a real man. They are beautiful. They are sublime.
Are there any more questions? We have a short time left.
Student — I should like to ask, Professor, just what is antaskarana? Is it what is withdrawn?
G. de P. — That is a curious question. The antaskarana in any one personal human being is the bridge between the higher self and the personal man. This antaskarana, as Mr. Judge has told you, is the link; and as HPB has told you also, I believe, is the link between the Lodge — and I am now referring to one of your Leaders — and the TS; and more particularly the ES, of course.
Your question is an odd one, because it is very intuitive. This antaskarana, however, need not be withdrawn; but when withdrawn, the channel of communication is much more easily traveled. Do you understand me?
Student — Yes, Professor.
Student — I would like to ask two questions.
G. de P. — One at a time, please.
Student — You told us what happened to you as a teacher on the 11th of July. When did the same thing, or a similar thing, happen to HPB in her life?
G. de P. — To HPB?
Student — Yes.
G. de P. — When she was sent forth to do her work.
Student — Does that mean when she met the Master in London?
G. de P. — No. After that. I can give you a general date, but I do not want you to put it in your mind too particularly and too definitely, because I am referring now to her going forth as an accredited envoy, a messenger. It was at the time — leaving a few months on either side, please — at the time when she passed through the Suez Canal before the blowing up of the Greek boat on which she was, and of which you have read. That was in 1869, or '70, I think.
Student — '67, I think.
G. de P. — It was at the time of the opening of the Suez Canal, whatever year that was.
Now what is your other question?
Student — I have in my mind the terrible suffering that KT went through year after year. Now it was impossible, as you said, to take upon oneself another's karma. It is also impossible to imagine that KT, being what she was, was living out her own past karma. What is the real esoteric explanation of the reason of that suffering?
G. de P. — Because she took the karma of the Society upon herself, and that statement is not a contradiction of what has been said before. If you have a friend lying at death's door, and you give up everything to nurse and succor and help that friend, becoming infected by your friend's disease, you do not take upon yourself that person's karma in the usual sense of the word, but you take upon yourself a karma exactly equivalent. Do you understand me?
Student — Yes, to a certain extent.
G. de P. — You carry the load, you help, you give up yourself. Do you understand what I mean?
Student — Not quite, because the Society is composed of individuals.
G. de P. — Yes, but every aggregate of individuals has its karma. A body of people on a train, or on shipboard, in a flying machine, in an automobile — they have their aggregate karma. They would not be there if they did not. And someone who enters that automobile knowing what is going to happen, or goes on that ship, or into that flying machine, on a mission of mercy and compassion, takes upon himself or herself all that is going to happen. And if the act is done with an intent to ameliorate, to alleviate, to save, to help, it brings upon the one so doing unmerited suffering and pain because it is a deliberate act of choice in making the new karma for oneself. Do you understand what I mean?
Student — Yes, I do.
G. de P. — That is good. And it is precisely the same train of thought to which I was leading in the beginning of the evening, when speaking on the same point.
I will answer one or two more questions, Companions, and then we shall have to close the meeting.
Student — I would like to ask a question. By the way the last student spoke, I took it that he meant that KT was too high to be having all that karma of her own. Well, it seems to me that it is a sign of very, very high souls to go through such karma, because it might be that they are pushing through evolution so quickly in order to help humanity; and they are condensing all their karma into a very short period.
G. de P. — You are quite right from that standpoint. Of course in one way you are quite right, because everything that happens to an individual is his or her karma. So, it was KT's karma. It was the Buddha's karma. It was HPB's karma. That of course is true, but that is a very general way of putting it. It does not modify the other fact that the act of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others was deliberately chosen as the path to be followed, and therein lie the beauty and the grandeur of the act.
Student — May I ask something in that connection? KT once said to me in speaking of what she went through in her earlier life, before she was identified with this movement — she had such terrible things to pass through; they were things that you would have imagined she would have been evolved enough to escape — "I had to do these things in order to understand in this body the suffering of humanity in all these different situations."
G. de P. — Correct. That is quite true. Let me give to you an instance of how strangely karma works. When HPB married in New York the young Georgian, whose name escapes me, but you can find the name in Olcott's People from the Other World as I recollect — at any rate her marriage to him was an instance of a deliberate choice in doing what the world would regard, and properly would regard, as a most colossally foolish act, and yet it was done with a noble motive: to live out a karmic hangover, if you understand me, out of which general karma she had long since passed lives ago. But nevertheless there remained this karmic hangover. Misjudged, misunderstood, she nevertheless met the situation. From the ordinary worldly standpoint, it was a grotesque act. From HPB's standpoint it was a fine act. I should have done exactly the same thing — snapped my fingers at the world — let the world think what it liked provided my own conscience was clear; and I would know that by doing this, I should be fully foot-free for the future.
How could HPB explain these intricate details to a mocking, disbelieving, denigrating, public mentality? Impossible! She just let the matter go, just as I would have done.
It is a peculiar thing that human beings declare themselves or expose their characters by their reactions. A person who is always sneering has not a very largely developed intellect. A person who is always seeing something dirty and immoral in his fellows obviously does not stand very high in evolution. He exposes his own character, because he instinctively thinks that others are like him.
Never be swayed from your path of right by what the world says. In such case never mind what the world thinks of you. If it must be so, it is wise and good to have the world's respect; but when a question of principle arises, then follow principle always.
Now one more question, Companions, and then we will close the meeting.
Student — May we know something more about the two classes of buddhas? There is something almost irreconcilable in the idea of a selfish spirituality advancing into the condition of buddhahood.
G. de P. — Yes, that is a very natural reflection, and it is just this matter among others that Mrs. Annie Besant failed to understand. I believe that she published a statement somewhere to the effect that it was absurd to speak of the pratyeka buddhas, such lofty and exalted beings as she expressed it, as being tinged with spiritual selfishness. It was, of course, a direct criticism of HPB's comments on the pratyeka buddhas as published in The Voice of the Silence. Mrs. Besant didn't understand the fundamental truth of the distinction between the two classes of buddhas.
The word selfish is used here, not in the ordinary human sense of the word. It is used in the more strictly etymological sense of one who cultivates the inner faculties of his own selfhood, in order to attain a beautiful and sublime end, doing so when such cultivation is for the individual's own evolution, and forgetful of the world, and of others' sufferings and pain. Whereas the buddhas of compassion, who are older souls riper in wisdom, more closely knitted to the compassionate heart of being, follow the instincts of their nature which urge them to remain as guides and inspirers of those less advanced. Therefore are they called buddhas of compassion.
This reflection may help you: these buddhas of compassion become absolutely impersonal channels for the divinest side of nature to work through, whereas the pratyeka buddhas have still the tinge within them of their individual longing for achievement, for flowering out, for developing, although on a very high and lofty plane. There is, therefore, the difference between on the one hand, the buddhas of compassion, utterly impersonal channels for the cosmic life, and compassion, and intelligence; and on the other hand, the pratyeka buddhas who are not so far advanced, spirit-souls not so old and ripe in wisdom, who have the longing to be still greater and nobler. Do you see the point? Therefore is their condition spoken of as a sort of spiritual selfishness.
The buddhas of compassion are utterly selfless in motive and in feeling. And, paradoxical as it is, it is the pratyeka buddhas who are cold as compared with the buddhas of compassion whose whole being radiates love, pity, tenderness, and all the things which make human nature sublime.
That answers your question, I hope.
Student — Yes, thank you.
G. de P. — Well, Companions, I think we had better close the meeting. It is growing late.
[Seven strokes of the gong. Silence.]