The Key to Theosophy
RE-INCARNATION OR RE-BIRTH
IS MEMORY ACCORDING TO THEOSOPHICAL TEACHING?
ENQUIRER. The most difficult thing for you to do, will be to explain and give reasonable grounds for such a belief. No Theosophist has ever yet succeeded in bringing forward a single valid proof to shake my scepticism. First of all, you have against this theory of re-incarnation, the fact that no single man has yet been found to remember that he has lived, least of all who he was, during his previous life.
THEOSOPHIST. Your argument, I see, tends to the same old
objection; the loss of memory in each of us of our previous incarnation. You
think it invalidates our doctrine? My answer is that it does not, and that at
any rate such an objection cannot be final.
ENQUIRER. I would like to hear your arguments.
THEOSOPHIST. They are short and few. Yet when you take into
consideration (a) the utter inability of the best modern psychologists
to explain to the world the nature of mind; and (b) their complete ignorance of its
potentialities, and higher states, you have to admit that this objection is
based on an a priori conclusion drawn from prima facie and
circumstantial evidence more than anything else. Now what is “memory” in
your conception, pray?
ENQUIRER. That which is generally accepted: the faculty in our mind of remembering and of retaining the knowledge of previous thoughts, deeds and events.
THEOSOPHIST. Please add to it that there is a great difference
between the three accepted forms of memory. Besides memory in general you have Remembrance,
Recollection and Reminiscence, have you not? Have you ever thought
over the difference? Memory, remember, is a generic name.
ENQUIRER. Yet, all these are only synonyms.
THEOSOPHIST. Indeed, they are not—not in philosophy, at all
events. Memory is simply an innate power in thinking beings, and even in
animals, of reproducing past impressions by an association of ideas principally
suggested by objective things or by some action on our external sensory organs.
Memory is a faculty depending entirely on the more or less healthy and normal
functioning of our physical brain; and remembrance and recollection
are the attributes and handmaidens of that memory. But reminiscence is
an entirely different thing. “Reminiscence” is defined by the modern
psychologist as something intermediate between remembrance and recollection,
or “a conscious process of recalling past occurrences, but without that
full and varied reference to particular things which characterises
recollection.” Locke, speaking of recollection and remembrance, says:
“When an idea again recurs without the operation of the like object
on the external sensory, it is remembrance; if it be sought after by the mind, and with pain and
endeavour found and brought again into view, it is recollection.”
But even Locke leaves reminiscence without any clear definition,
because it is no faculty or attribute of our physical memory, but an
intuitional perception apart from and outside our physical brain; a perception
which, covering as it does (being called into action by the ever-present
knowledge of our spiritual Ego) all those visions in man which are regarded as abnormal—from
the pictures suggested by genius to the ravings of fever and even
madness—are classed by science as having no existence outside of our
fancy. Occultism and Theosophy, however, regard reminiscence in an
entirely different light. For us, while memory is physical and
evanescent and depends on the physiological conditions of the brain—a
fundamental proposition with all teachers of mnemonics, who have the researches
of modern scientific psychologists to back them—we call reminiscence
the memory of the soul. And it
is this memory which gives the assurance to almost every human being,
whether he understands it or not, of his having lived before and having to live
again. Indeed, as Wordsworth has it:
birth is but a sleep and a forgetting,
soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
elsewhere had its setting,
cometh from afar.”
ENQUIRER. If it is on this kind of memory—poetry and abnormal fancies, on your own confession—that you base your doctrine, then you will convince very few, I am afraid.
THEOSOPHIST. I did not “confess” it was a fancy. I simply said
that physiologists and scientists in general regard such reminiscences as
hallucinations and fancy, to which learned conclusion they are welcome.
We do not deny that such visions of the past and glimpses far back into the
corridors of time, are not abnormal, as contrasted with our normal daily life
experience and physical memory. But we do maintain with Professor W. Knight,
that “the absence of memory of any action done in a previous state cannot be a
conclusive argument against our having lived through it.” And every
fair-minded opponent must agree with what is said in Butler’s Lectures
on Platonic Philosophy—“that the feeling of extravagance with which
it (pre-existence) affects us has its secret source in materialistic or
semi-materialistic prejudices.” Besides which we maintain that memory, as
Olympiodorus called it, is simply phantasy, and the most unreliable thing in us.
Ammonius Saccas asserted that the only faculty in man directly opposed to
prognostication, or looking into futurity, is memory. Furthermore,
remember that memory is one thing and mind or thought is another; one
is a recording machine, a register which very easily gets out of order; the
other (thoughts) are eternal and imperishable. Would you refuse to believe in
the existence of certain things or men only because your physical eyes have not
seen them? Would not the collective testimony of past generations who have seen
him be a sufficient guarantee that Julius Caesar once lived? Why should not the
same testimony of the psychic senses of the masses be taken into consideration?
ENQUIRER. But don’t you think that these are too fine distinctions to be accepted by the majority of mortals?
THEOSOPHIST. Say rather by the majority of materialists. And to
them we say, behold: even in the short span of ordinary existence, memory is too
weak to register all the events of a lifetime. How frequently do even most
important events lie dormant in our memory until awakened by some association of
ideas, or aroused to function and activity by some other link. This is
especially the case with people of advanced age, who are always found suffering
from feebleness of recollection. When, therefore, we remember that which we know
about the physical and the spiritual principles in man, it is not the fact that
our memory has failed to record our precedent life and lives that ought to
surprise us, but the contrary, were it to happen.
DO WE NOT REMEMBER OUR PAST LIVES?
ENQUIRER. You have given me a bird’s eye view of the seven principles; now how do they account for our complete loss of any recollection of having lived before?
THEOSOPHIST. Very easily. Since those “principles” which we
call physical, and none of which is denied by science, though it calls them by
are disintegrated after death with their constituent elements, memory
along with its brain, this vanished memory of a vanished personality, can
neither remember nor record anything in the subsequent reincarnation of the EGO.
Reincarnation means that this Ego will be furnished with a new body, a new
brain, and a new memory. Therefore it would be as absurd to expect this
memory to remember that which it has never recorded as it would be idle
to examine under a microscope a shirt never worn by a murderer, and seek on it
for the stains of blood which are to be found only on the clothes he wore. It is
not the clean shirt that we have to question, but the clothes worn during the
perpetration of the crime; and if these are burnt and destroyed, how can you get
ENQUIRER. Aye! how can you get at the certainty that the crime was ever committed at all, or that the “man in the clean shirt” ever lived before?
THEOSOPHIST. Not by physical processes, most assuredly; nor by
relying on the testimony of that which exists no longer. But there is such a
thing as circumstantial evidence, since our wise laws accept it, more, perhaps,
even than they should. To get convinced of the fact of re-incarnation and past
lives, one must put oneself in rapport with one’s real permanent Ego,
not one’s evanescent memory.
ENQUIRER. But how can people believe in that which they do not
know, nor have ever seen, far less put themselves in rapport with
THEOSOPHIST. If people, and the most learned, will believe in the
Gravity, Ether, Force, and what not of Science, abstractions “and working
hypotheses,” which they have neither seen, touched, smelt, heard, nor
tasted—why should not other people believe, on the same principle, in one’s
permanent Ego, a far more logical and important “working hypothesis” than
ENQUIRER. What is, finally, this mysterious eternal principle? Can you explain its nature so as to make it comprehensible to all?
THEOSOPHIST. The EGO which re-incarnates, the individual and
immortal—not personal—“I”; the vehicle, in short, of the Atma-Buddhic
MONAD, that which is rewarded in Devachan and punished on earth, and that,
finally, to which the reflection only of the Skandhas, or attributes, of every incarnation attaches itself.
ENQUIRER. What do you mean by Skandhas?
THEOSOPHIST. Just what I said: “attributes,” among which is memory,
all of which perish like a flower, leaving behind them only a feeble perfume.
Here is another paragraph from H. S. Olcott’s Buddhist Catechism which bears directly upon
the subject. It deals with the question as follows:—“The aged man remembers
the incidents of his youth, despite his being physically and mentally changed.
Why, then, is not the recollection of past lives brought over by us from our
last birth into the present birth? Because memory is included within the
Skandhas, and the Skandhas having changed with the new existence, a memory, the
record of that particular existence, develops. Yet the record or reflection of
all the past lives must survive, for when Prince Siddhartha became Buddha, the
full sequence of His previous births were seen by Him… and any one who attains
to the state of Jhana can thus retrospectively trace the line of his
lives.” This proves to you that while the undying qualities of the
personality—such as love, goodness, charity, etc.—attach themselves to the
immortal Ego, photographing on it, so to speak, a permanent image of the divine
aspect of the man who was, his material Skandhas (those which generate the most
marked Karmic effects) are as evanescent as a flash of lightning, and cannot
impress the new brain of the new personality; yet their failing to do so impairs
in no way the identity of the re-incarnating Ego.
Do you mean to infer that that which survives is only the Soul-memory, as you
call it, that Soul or Ego being one and the same, while nothing of the
THEOSOPHIST. Not quite; something of each personality, unless the
latter was an absolute materialist with not even a chink in his nature
for a spiritual ray to pass through, must survive, as it leaves its eternal
impress on the incarnating permanent Self or Spiritual Ego.
(See On post mortem and post natal Consciousness.) The
personality with its Skandhas is ever changing with every new birth. It is, as
said before, only the part played by the actor (the true Ego) for one night.
This is why we preserve no memory on the physical plane of our past lives,
though the real “Ego” has lived them over and knows them all.
ENQUIRER. Then how does it happen that the real or Spiritual man does not impress his new personal “I” with this knowledge?
THEOSOPHIST. How is it that the servant-girls in a poor farm-house
could speak Hebrew and play the violin in their trance or somnambulic state, and
knew neither when in their normal condition? Because, as every genuine
psychologist of the old, not your modern, school, will tell you, the Spiritual
Ego can act only when the personal Ego is paralysed. The Spiritual “I” in
man is omniscient and has every knowledge innate in it; while the personal self
is the creature of its environment and the slave of the physical memory. Could
the former manifest itself uninterruptedly, and without impediment, there would
be no longer men on earth, but we should all be gods.
ENQUIRER. Still there ought to be exceptions, and some ought to remember.
THEOSOPHIST. And so there are. But who believes in their report?
Such sensitives are generally regarded as hallucinated hysteriacs, as
crack-brained enthusiasts, or humbugs, by modern materialism. Let them read,
however, works on this subject, pre-eminently “Reincarnation, a Study of
Forgotten Truth” by E. D. Walker, F.T.S., and see in it the mass of proofs
which the able author brings to bear on this vexed question. One speaks to
people of soul, and some ask: “What is Soul?” “Have you ever proved its
existence?” Of course it is useless to argue with those who are materialists.
But even to them I would put the question: “Can you remember what you were or
did when a baby? Have you preserved the smallest recollection of your life,
thoughts, or deeds, or that you lived at all during the first eighteen months or
two years of your existence? Then why not deny that you have ever lived as a
babe, on the same principle?” When to all this we add that the reincarnating
Ego, or individuality, retains
during the Devachanic period merely the essence of the experience of its past
earth-life or personality, the whole physical experience involving into a state
of in potentia, or being, so to
speak, translated into spiritual formulae; when we remember further that the
term between two rebirths is said to extend from ten to fifteen centuries,
during which time the physical consciousness is totally and absolutely inactive,
having no organs to act through, and therefore no existence,
the reason for the absence of all remembrance in the purely physical memory
ENQUIRER. You just said that the SPIRITUAL EGO was omniscient. Where, then, is that vaunted omniscience during his Devachanic life, as you call it?
THEOSOPHIST. During that time it is latent and potential, because,
first of all, the Spiritual Ego (the compound of Buddhi-Manas) is not
the HIGHER SELF, which being one with the Universal Soul or Mind is alone
omniscient; and, secondly, because Devachan is the idealized continuation of the
terrestrial life just left behind, a period of retributive adjustment, and a
reward for unmerited wrongs and sufferings undergone in that special life. It is
omniscient only potentially in Devachan, and de facto exclusively
in Nirvana, when the Ego is merged in the Universal Mind-Soul. Yet it rebecomes quasi
omniscient during those hours on earth when certain abnormal conditions and
physiological changes in the body make the Ego free from the trammels
of matter. Thus the examples cited above of somnambulists, a poor servant
speaking Hebrew, and another playing the violin, give you an illustration of the
case in point. This does not mean that the explanations of these two facts
offered us by medical science have no truth in them, for one girl had, years
before, heard her master, a clergyman, read Hebrew works aloud, and the other
had heard an artist playing a violin at their farm. But neither could have done
so as perfectly as they did had they not been ensouled by THAT which, owing to
the sameness of its nature with the Universal Mind, is omniscient. Here the
higher principle acted on the Skandhas and moved them; in the other, the
personality being paralysed, the individuality manifested itself. Pray do not
confuse the two.
ENQUIRER. But what is the difference between the two? I confess that I am still in the dark. Indeed it is just that difference, then, that you cannot impress too much on our minds.
THEOSOPHIST. I try to; but alas, it is harder with some than to
make them feel a reverence for childish impossibilities, only because they are orthodox,
and because orthodoxy is respectable. To understand the idea well, you have
to first study the dual sets of “principles”: the spiritual,
or those which belong to the imperishable Ego; and the material,
or those principles which make up the ever-changing bodies or the series of
personalities of that Ego. Let us fix permanent names to these, and say that:—
Atma, the “Higher Self,” is neither
your Spirit nor mine, but like sunlight shines on all. It is the universally
diffused “divine principle,” and is inseparable from its one and
absolute Meta-Spirit, as the sunbeam is inseparable from sunlight.
Buddhi (the spiritual soul) is only its vehicle.
Neither each separately, nor the two collectively, are of any more use to the
body of man, than sunlight and its beams are for a mass of granite buried in the
earth, unless the divine Duad is assimilated by, and reflected in, some
consciousness. Neither Atma nor
Buddhi are ever reached by Karma, because the former is the highest aspect of
Karma, its working agent of ITSELF in one aspect, and the other is
unconscious on this plane.
This consciousness or mind is,
the derivation or product in a reflected form of Ahamkara,
“the conception of I,” or EGO-SHIP. It is, therefore, when inseparably
united to the first two, called the SPIRITUAL EGO, and Taijasi (the
radiant). This is the real Individuality, or the divine man. It is this Ego
which—having originally incarnated in the senseless human form
animated by, but unconscious (since it had no consciousness) of, the presence in
itself of the dual monad—made of that human-like form a real man.
It is that Ego, that “Causal Body,” which overshadows every personality
Karma forces it to incarnate into; and this Ego which is held responsible for
all the sins committed through, and in, every new body or personality—the
evanescent masks which hide the true Individual through the long series of
ENQUIRER. But is this just? Why should this Ego receive punishment as the result of deeds which it has forgotten?
THEOSOPHIST. It has not forgotten them; it knows and remembers its
misdeeds as well as you remember what you have done yesterday. Is it because the
memory of that bundle of physical compounds called “body” does not recollect
what its predecessor (the personality that was) did, that you imagine
that the real Ego has forgotten them? As well say it is unjust that the new
boots on the feet of a boy, who is flogged for stealing apples, should be
punished for that which they know nothing of.
But are there no modes of communication between the Spiritual and human
consciousness or memory?
THEOSOPHIST. Of course there are; but they have never been
recognised by your scientific modern psychologists. To what do you attribute
intuition, the “voice of the conscience,” premonitions, vague undefined
reminiscences, etc., etc., if not to such communications? Would that the
majority of educated men, at least, had the fine spiritual perceptions of
Coleridge, who shows how intuitional he is in some of his comments. Hear what he
says with respect to the probability that “all thoughts are in themselves
imperishable.” “If the intelligent faculty (sudden ‘revivals’ of memory)
should be rendered more comprehensive, it would require only a different and
appropriate organization, the body celestial instead of the body
terrestrial, to bring before every human soul the collective experience
of its whole past existence (existences,
rather).” And this body celestial is our Manasic EGO.
THE REWARD AND PUNISHMENT OF THE EGO
ENQUIRER. I have heard you say that the Ego, whatever the
life of the person he incarnated in may have been on Earth, is never visited
with post-mortem punishment.
THEOSOPHIST. Never, save in very exceptional and rare cases of
which we will not speak here, as the nature of the “punishment” in no way
approaches any of your theological conceptions of damnation.
ENQUIRER. But if it is punished in this life for the misdeeds committed in a previous one, then it is this Ego that ought to be rewarded also, whether here, or when disincarnated.
THEOSOPHIST. And so it is. If we do not admit of any punishment
outside of this earth, it is because the only state the Spiritual Self knows of,
hereafter, is that of unalloyed bliss.
ENQUIRER. What do you mean?
THEOSOPHIST. Simply this: crimes and sins committed on a plane
of objectivity and in a world of matter, cannot receive punishment in a world of
pure subjectivity. We believe in no
hell or paradise as localities; in no objective hell-fires and worms that never
die, nor in any Jerusalems with streets paved with sapphires and diamonds. What
we believe in is a post-mortem state or mental condition, such as we
are in during a vivid dream. We believe in an immutable law of absolute Love,
Justice, and Mercy. And believing in it, we say: “Whatever the sin and dire
results of the original Karmic transgression of the now incarnated Egos
no man (or the outer material and periodical form of the Spiritual Entity) can
be held, with any degree of justice, responsible for the consequences of his
birth. He does not ask to be born, nor can he choose the parents that will give
him life. In every respect he is a victim to his environment, the child of
circumstances over which he has no control; and if each of his transgressions
were impartially investigated, there would be found nine out of every ten cases
when he was the one sinned against, rather than the sinner. Life is at best a
heartless play, a stormy sea to cross, and a heavy burden often too difficult to
bear. The greatest philosophers have tried in vain to fathom and find out its raison
have all failed except those who had the key to it, namely, the Eastern sages.
Life is, as Shakespeare describes it:—
but a walking shadow—a poor player,
struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Nothing in its separate parts, yet of the greatest importance in its
collectivity or series of lives. At any rate, almost every individual life is,
in its full development, a sorrow. And are we to believe that poor, helpless
man, after being tossed about like a piece of rotten timber on the angry billows
of life, is, if he proves too weak to resist them, to be punished by a sempiternity
of damnation, or even a temporary punishment? Never! Whether a great or an
average sinner, good or bad, guilty or innocent, once delivered of the burden of
physical life, the tired and worn-out Manu (“thinking Ego”) has won the
right to a period of absolute rest and bliss. The same unerringly wise and just
rather than merciful Law, which inflicts upon the incarnated Ego the Karmic
punishment for every sin committed during the preceding life on Earth, provided
for the now disembodied Entity a long lease of mental rest, i.e.,
the entire oblivion of every sad event, aye, to the smallest painful
thought, that took place in its last life as a personality, leaving in the
soul-memory but the reminiscence of that which was bliss, or led to happiness.
Plotinus, who said that our body was the true river of Lethe, for “souls
plunged into it forget all,” meant more than he said. For, as our terrestrial
body is like Lethe, so is our celestial body in Devachan, and much
ENQUIRER. Then am I to understand that the murderer, the transgressor of law divine and human in every shape, is allowed to go unpunished?
THEOSOPHIST. Who ever said that? Our philosophy has a doctrine of
punishment as stern as that of the most rigid Calvinist, only far more
philosophical and consistent with absolute justice. No deed, not even a sinful
thought, will go unpunished; the latter more severely even than the former, as a
thought is far more potential in creating evil results than even a deed. We believe in an unerring
law of Retribution, called KARMA, which asserts itself in a natural
concatenation of causes and their unavoidable results.
ENQUIRER. And how, or where, does it act?
THEOSOPHIST. Every labourer is worthy of his hire, saith Wisdom in
the Gospel; every action, good or bad, is a prolific parent, saith the Wisdom of
the Ages. Put the two together, and you will find the “why.” After allowing
the Soul, escaped from the pangs of personal life, a sufficient, aye, a
hundredfold compensation, Karma, with its army of Skandhas, waits at the
threshold of Devachan, whence the Ego re-emerges to assume a new
incarnation. It is at this moment that the future destiny of the now-rested Ego
trembles in the scales of just Retribution, as it now falls once again
under the sway of active Karmic law. It is in this rebirth which is ready for it,
a rebirth selected and prepared by this mysterious, inexorable, but in the
equity and wisdom of its decrees infallible LAW, that the sins of the previous
life of the Ego are punished. Only it is into no imaginary Hell, with theatrical
flames and ridiculous tailed and horned devils, that the Ego is cast, but verily
on to this earth, the plane and region of his sins, where he will have to atone
for every bad thought and deed. As he has sown, so will he reap. Reincarnation
will gather around him all those other Egos who have suffered, whether directly
or indirectly, at the hands, or even through the unconscious instrumentality, of
the past personality. They will
be thrown by Nemesis in the way of the new man, concealing the old,
the eternal EGO, and…
ENQUIRER. But where is the equity you speak of, since these new
“personalities” are not aware of having sinned or been sinned against?
THEOSOPHIST. Has the coat torn to shreds from the back of the man
who stole it, by another man who was robbed of it and recognises his property,
to be regarded as fairly dealt with? The new “personality” is no better than
a fresh suit of clothes with its specific characteristics, colour, form and
qualities; but the real man who wears it is the same culprit as of old.
It is the individuality who suffers through his “personality.” And
it is this, and this alone, that can account for the terrible, still only apparent,
injustice in the distribution of lots in life to man. When your modern
philosophers will have succeeded in showing to us a good reason, why so many
apparently innocent and good men are born only to suffer during a whole
life-time; why so many are born poor unto starvation in the slums of great
cities, abandoned by fate and men; why, while these are born in the gutter,
others open their eyes to light in palaces; while a noble birth and fortune seem
often given to the worst of men and only rarely to the worthy; while there are
beggars whose inner selves are peers to the highest and noblest of men;
when this, and much more, is satisfactorily explained by either your
philosophers or theologians, then only, but not till then, you will have the
right to reject the theory of reincarnation. The highest and grandest of poets
have dimly perceived this truth of truths. Shelley believed in it, Shakespeare
must have thought of it when writing on the worthlessness of Birth. Remember his
should my birth keep down my mounting spirit?
not all creatures subject unto time?
legions now of beggars on the earth,
their original did spring from Kings,
many monarchs now, whose fathers were
riff-raff of their age…”
Alter the word “fathers” into “Egos”—and you will have the
“The phantasy,” says Olympiodorus (in Platonis
Phæd.), “is an impediment to our intellectual conceptions; and hence, when
we are agitated by the inspiring influence of the Divinity, if the phantasy
intervenes, the enthusiastic energy ceases: for enthusiasm and the ecstasy
are contrary to each other. Should it be asked whether the soul is able to
energise without the phantasy, we reply, that its perception of universals
proves that it is able. It has perceptions, therefore, independent of the
phantasy; at the same time, however, the phantasy attends in its energies,
just as a storm pursues him who sails on the sea.”
Namely, the body, life, passional and animal instincts,
and the astral eidolon of every man (whether perceived in thought or our
mind’s eye, or objectively and separate from the physical body), which
principles we call Sthula sarira,
Prana, Kama rupa,
and Linga sarira (vide supra).
There are five Skandhas or attributes in the
Buddhist teachings: “Rupa (form or body), material qualities; Vedana,
sensation; Sanna, abstract ideas; Samkhara,
tendencies of mind; Vinnana, mental powers. Of these we are formed;
by them we are conscious of existence; and through them communicate with the
world about us.”
By H. S. Olcott, President and Founder of the
Theosophical Society. The accuracy of the teaching is sanctioned by the Rev.
H. Sumangala, High Priest of the Sripada and Galle, and Principal of the Widyodaya
Parivena (College) at Colombo, as being in agreement with the Canon of
the Southern Buddhist Church.
Or the Spiritual, in contradistinction to the personal Self.
The student must not confuse this Spiritual Ego with the “HIGHER
SELF” which is Atma, the
God within us, and inseparable from the Universal Spirit.
Even in his Buddhist Catechism,
Col. Olcott, forced to it by the logic of Esoteric philosophy, found
himself obliged to correct the mistakes of previous Orientalists who made no
such distinction, and gives the reader his reasons for it. Thus he says:
“The successive appearances upon the earth, or ‘descents into
generation,’ of the tanhaically coherent parts (Skandhas) of a
certain being, are a succession of personalities. In each birth the
PERSONALITY differs from that of a 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 throughout 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 æther
began at its dynamic source; is careering through the objective side of
nature under the impulse of Karma and the creative direction of Tanha
(the unsatisfied desire for existence); and leads through many cyclic
changes back to Nirvana. Mr. Rhys-Davids calls that which passes from
personality to personality along the individual chain ‘character,’ or
‘doing.’ Since ‘character’ is not a mere metaphysical abstraction,
but the sum of one’s mental qualities and moral propensities, would it not
help to dispel what Mr. Rhys-Davids calls ‘the desperate expedient of a
mystery’ (Buddhism, p. 101) if we regarded the
life-undulation as individuality, and each of its series of natal
manifestations as a separate personality? The perfect individual,
Buddhistically speaking, is a Buddha, I should say; for Buddha is but the
rare flower of humanity, without the least supernatural admixture. And as
countless generations (‘four asankheyyas and a hundred thousand
cycles,’ Fausboll and Rhys-Davids’ BUDDHIST BIRTH STORIES, p. 13) are
required to develop a man into a Buddha, and the iron will
to become one runs throughout all the successive births, what shall
we call that which thus wills and perseveres? Character? One’s
individuality: an individuality but partly manifested in any one birth, but
built up of fragments from all the births?” (Bud. Cat., Appendix A.
MAHAT or the “Universal Mind” is the source of
Manas. The latter is Mahat, i.e., mind, in man. Manas is also
called Kshetrajna, “embodied
Spirit,” because it is, according to our philosophy, the Manasa-putras,
or “Sons of the Universal Mind,” who created, or rather
produced, the thinking man, “manu,” by incarnating in the third
Race mankind in our Round. It is Manas, therefore, which is the real
incarnating and permanent Spiritual Ego,
the INDIVIDUALITY, and our various and numberless personalities only
its external masks.
It is on this transgression that the cruel and
illogical dogma of the Fallen Angels has been built. It is explained in Vol.
II. of the Secret Doctrine. All our “Egos” are thinking and
rational entities (Manasa-putras)who had lived, whether under human
or other forms, in the precedent life-cycle (Manvantara),
and whose Karma it was to incarnate in the man of this one. It was
taught in the MYSTERIES that, having delayed to comply with this law (or
having “refused to create” as Hinduism says of the Kumaras and
Christian legend of the Archangel Michael), i.e., having failed to
incarnate in due time, the bodies predestined for them got defiled (Vide
Stanzas VIII. and IX. in the “Slokas of Dzyan,” Vol. II. Secret
Doctrine, pp. 19 and 20), hence the original sin of the senseless forms
and the punishment of the Egos. That which is meant by the
rebellious angels being hurled down into Hell is simply explained by these
pure Spirits or Egos being imprisoned in bodies of unclean matter, flesh.
“Verily, I say unto you, that whosoever looketh at a woman to lust after
her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt. v.,