VOL. XXXIV, No. 5 Toronto, July 15th, 1953 Price 20 Cents
The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this Magazine, unless made in an official document
THE DIVINE WITHIN MAN
By John Link
It is almost an axiom among Theosophists that every man in his own right is a Divine being; that this divine being is buried deep within him and it is his great task to attain his full divinity.
While this is one of Theosophy's first principles, nevertheless we must, like Plato, affirm that first principles should be kept constantly under review. Reaffirmation is the key to instilling an idea as a living part of human nature.
A deep-seated and enduring recognition of his divinity will increase a man's power and bring him to new and better ways to master his daily problems. To achieve this, he must seize every opportunity to emphasize and reinforce the concept. One way is to examine the assertions of the great religions and the great writers, poets and philosophers. Many of their statements are clear and forthright while others are masked or can be given other interpretations. A collection of these statements has been made from our Western culture and are here presented for examination by the student.
It is most interesting to observe the extent to which the concept is a firm belief among some religions and philosophies and how others, particularly among Christian denominations, come almost up to it and then back away. With the possible exception of Quakers, very few Christian denominations will officially accept the concept that the God lies within us in spite of Christ's statement "I have said Ye are Gods". Many Christian church services acknowledge this great truth with the oft-repeated prayer from Psalm 51, "Take not Thy Holy Spirit from us." The general thought that we are the children of God will go unchallenged in any church; yet most will not stand for too close a comparison between Christ as a Son of God and we as the children of God. There is a feeling among most Christians that even potentially we are quite different from Christ and this probably stems from the Bible statement of Jesus as "the only begotten Son of God".
In what follows there has been no attempt to collect all the statements which affirm the divinity of man, but to put together enough of them to indicate their universal nature and to encourage fellow-students to seek others.
In the Bible, the most prolific mention of man's divinity comes from the New Testament. However, we find in
the Old Testament in the beautiful words of the Psalms,
"Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10)
"Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me" (Ps. 51:11)
"I have said, Ye are Gods; and all of you acre children of the most High." (Ps. 82:6)
"O Lord hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul for I am holy". (Ps. 86:1-2)
We find in Proverbs 8:22-31, "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth. . ."
In the book of Ezekiel, we find the promise of the Lord to His prophet that the children of Israel shall be turned from their profane ways, - "And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes." (Ez. 36:27) The same statement appears again in (Ez. 37:14).
If we turn now to the New Testament an abundance of references appear. In St. Luke 17:21, Christ is quoted as saying to the Pharisees, " - for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you".
In the tenth chapter of St. John, Jesus in speaking to a group of Jews repeatedly declares His closeness to God the Father. Finally He says "I and my Father are one". This so enrages the Jews that they take up stones to stone Him, but He replies that he is divine for two reasons - first, because it is declared in the Jewish scriptures (Psalm 82) that all men are gods, and secondly, because of the good works which he has done. With regard to the second reason, it is reassuring to note that on another occasion (St. John 14:12) Jesus holds that it is possible for all men to do the good works which prove he is divine - "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; . . ."
Again in St. John 14:15-18, we find this clear statement "If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you."
Again Jesus brings forth his close relationship to all men when he states (St. John 15:4), "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me".
Two passages from I. John are truly outspoken. "Hereby know we that we dwell in him and he in us, beause he hath given us of his Spirit (4:13). "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (4:16).
Of all the writers in the New Testament who refer to man's divinity, none is so insistent and forthright as Paul.
Paul declares that to know God we must be of God "Even so the things of God none knoweth save the Spirit of God. But we received not the spirit of the world but the spirit which is God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God (I. Cor. 2:11-12). * [* Note - Bible quotations are from the King James version except this one which is from Revised Edition, University Press, Oxford, 1887.]
Again - "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things,
and we in him" (I. Cor. 8:6).
In St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans we Find - "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God". "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ". (Romans 8:11-14-16-17)
There is more repetition of these ideas in Galatians and Ephesians but nothing as unequivocal as the statement, "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Eph. 4:6).
Let us pass on now to some of the great writers, poets and philosophers. The two giants among philosophers as accepted in the Western world are Socrates and Plato. Among Theosophists and mystics, Plato has always received the deference due a great soul.
On the day that Socrates was to take the fatal cup of hemlock, a group of his closest friends gathered for a final visit. The imminence of his death brought forth a discussion that in many respects summarized Socrates' deepest convictions and teachings. The account of this day long gathering as related in the Phaedo, is full of Socrates' strong conviction in the divinity of the soul:
"The founders of the mysteries would appear to have had a real meaning and were not talking nonsense when they intimated in a figure long ago that he who passes unsanctified and uninitiated into the world below will lie in a slough, but that he who arrives there after initiation and purification will dwell with the gods".
"Then reflect Cebes: of all which has been said is not this the conclusion - that the soul is in the very likeness of
the divine and intelligible and intellectual and uniform and indissoluble and unchangeable - "
"That soul, I say, herself invisible departs to the invisible world - to the divine and immortal and rational; thither arriving she lives in bliss and is released from the error and folly of men, their fears and wild passions and all other human ills and forever dwells as they say of the initiated in company with the gods".
"No one who has not studied philosophy and who is not entirely pure at the time of his departure is allowed to enter the company of the gods".
"But she [the soul] will calm passion and follow reason and dwell in her, beholding the true and divine (which is not matter of opinion) - ".
"Do you think that Homer wrote this under the idea that the soul is a harmony capable of being led by the affections of the body, and not rather of a nature which should lead and master them - herself a far diviner thing than any harmony?"
" - and you say that the demonstration of the strength and divinity of the soul and of her existence prior to our becoming men, does not necessarily imply her immortality."
In later centuries a new school of philosophy of great strength, The Neo-platonists, sprang into being. The famous Plotinus, a leader of this school, was most outspoken on the divine nature of the soul. He says:
"The wise man recognizes the idea of the good within him. This he develops by withdrawal into the holy place of his own soul. He who does not understand how the soul contains the beautiful within itself, seeks to realize beauty without by laborious production. His aim should rather be to concentrate and simplify and so to expand his being; instead of going to the manifold, to forsake it for the One, and so to float up-
wards towards the divine fount of being whose stream flows within him."
"I am weary already of this prison house, the body, and calmly await the day when the divine nature within me shall be set free from matter."
The Roman slave philosopher, Epictetus, made many references to the divine nature of the soul. In his famous Discourses we read -
"Of the Doctrine that God is the Father of Mankind".
"If a person could be persuaded to assent to this doctrine as he ought, that we are all originally descended from God and that he is the Father of gods and men, I conceive he would never think meanly or unworthily of himself."
" - So that when you have shut your doors, and darkened your room, remember never to say that you are alone, for you are not; but God is within and your genius is within, and what need have they to see What you are doing."
"You are a distinct portion of the essence of God, and contain a certain part of Him in yourself."
One of the central figures in Christian mysticism was the celebrated Jacob Boehme (1575-1624). This devout shoemaker from Gorlitz, who is reported to have received a special blessing in the form of a divine illumination wrote:
"The holy and heavenly man, hidden in the monstrous (external man) is as much in heaven as God, and heaven is in him and the heart or light of God is begotten and born in him. Thus is God in him and he in God. God is nearer to him than his bestial body.
"When thou canst throw thyself but for a moment into that where no creature dwelleth, then thou hearest what God speaketh.
"Is that near at hand or far off?
"It is in thee and if thou canst for awhile cease from all thy thinking and willing, thou shalt hear unspeakable words of God."
John Milton, the great English poet, has this to say of the matter in Comus (1:463):
"But when lust,
By unchaste looks, loose gestures and foul talk
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin
Lets in defilement to the inward parts
The soul grows clotted by contagion
Imbodies and imbrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being."
Digging through the scholarly words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, we come upon a philosophy closely akin to the ideas and thoughts of Theosophy. Here we find reincarnation, compensation (Karma), the powers of man and great emphasis on brotherhood and the divinity of the soul.
In his enlightened essay on the "Oversoul" we find the following passages -
"Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One."
"From within or from behind, a light shines through us, upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light in all. A man is the facade of a temple wherein all wisdom and all good abide. What we commonly call man the eating, drinking, planting, counting man, does not, as we know him, represent himself, but misrepresents himself. Him we do not respect, but the soul whose organ he is, would he let it appear through his action, would make our knees bend. When it breathes through his intellect, it is genius; when it breathes through his will, it is virtue; when it flows through his affection it is love. Of this pure nature every man is at sometime sensible. Language cannot paint it with his colors. It is too subtle. It is undefinable, unmeasurable, but we know that it pervades and contains us. We know that all spiritual
being is in man. A wise old proverb says, "God comes to see us without bell.'"
"I feel the same truth how often in my trivial conversation with my neighbors, that somewhat higher in each of us overlooks this byplay, and Jove nods to Jove from behind each of us."
"By the necessity of our constitution a certain enthusiasm attends the individual's consciousness of that divine presence. The character and duration of this enthusiasm varies with the state of the individual, from an ecstasy and trance and prophetic inspiration, - which is its rarer appearance, - to the faintest glow of virtuous emotion, in which form it warms, like our household fires, all the families and associations of men, and makes society possible."
"Let man then learn the revelation of all nature and all thought to his heart, this namely: that the Highest dwells with him; that the sources of nature are in his own mind, if the sentiment of duty is there."
Robert Browning had a fine feeling for the inward spiritual impulse and his "Imprisoned Splendour" is often quoted. -
"Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise from outward things, what e'er you may believe.
There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fullness; and around,
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
This perfect clear perception - which is truth.
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Binds it, and makes all error; and to know
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without."
We come now to Walt Whitman, the mystic, the brother and lover of all mankind, the writer of inspired poetry, the one who proclaimed in poem after poem the divinity of the soul. He spent a lifetime writing one book - a bible in new and glowing words.
Never has poet been so vilified and praised. Those who misunderstood, condemned and castigated - those who understood or partly understood entered a new realm of experience. Theosophists have opened their arms to the new life and breath he has swept into the meaning of brotherhood. The wisdom of the ages has been expressed in new form and with a contagious warmth and friendliness.
"A book separate, not link'd with the rest nor felt by the intellect
But you ye untold latencies will thrill to every page."
The key to an understanding of Whitman lies in the book Cosmic Consciousness, written by his friend Richard Maurice Bucke.
The passages referring to the Divinity of the soul are numerous. There follows a select few:
"Hast never come to thee an hour
A sudden glean divine, precipitating, bursting all these bubbles, fashions wealth?
These eager business aims - books, politics, art, amours
To utter nothingness?"
"I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough,
None has ever adored or worship'd half enough,
None has begun to think how divine he himself is, and how certain the future is."
"Seeing, hearing, feeling, are mir-
acles and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
Divine am I inside and out; and I make holy whatever I touch or am touched from".
"For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead -"
"Swifty rose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers and the women my sisters and lovers
And that a kelson of the creation is love -"
"You dim-descended, black, divine souled African, large
fine headed, nobly formed, superbly destined, on equal terms with me."
"Each of us allow'd the eternal purports of earth
Each of us here as divinely as any is here."
"Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God and in my own face in the glass -"
"We consider bibles and religions divine - I do not say they are not divine;
I say they have all grown out of you, and may grow out of you still
It is not they who give the life, it is you who give the life -"
"What do you suppose I would intimate to you in a hundred ways but that man or woman is as good as God
And that there is no God any more divine than yourself".
George Bernard Shaw, the stormy petrel of Letters and Drama in our time, had a strong streak of mysticism which can be seen running through many of his works. For instance, he chose to place a strong religious and mystical character - Father Keegan - in "John Bull's Other Island''. This play which is seldom done on the stage, and is often dismissed as merely a political play, contains in a few terse words what must be Shaw's beliefs on Reincarnation and the Divinity of Man. In Act IV we find: -
" . . . he (man) wastes all his virtues - his efficiency as you call it - in doing the will of his greedy masters instead of doing the will of Heaven that is in himself".
- and, again in the same act:
"It is a godhead in which all life is human and all humanity divine, three in one and one in three."
In the epilogue of "St. Joan," we find Joan saying -
"I shall owe nothing to any man, I owe everything to the spirit of God that was within me - though men destroyed my body yet in my soul I have seen God".
Later in life (1932) Shaw was inspired to write "The Adventures of the Black Girl in her Search for God." He described the reasons why he wrote the story. "I hold as firmly as Thomas Aquinas that all truths ancient or modern are divinely inspired; but I know by observation and introspection that the instrument on which the inspiring force plays may be a very faulty one."
The Black Girl on her journey in
(Continued on Page 72)
That is how he wished to be known. It was a shock to me to receive a telegram stating that our past president, Mr. C. Jinarajadasa, had passed away at Olcott, Wheaton, Illinois, on Thursday afternoon, June 18. Later I received a letter from Mr. James S. Perkins, National President of the American Section, and quote portions of this hereunder.
"Brother Jinarajadasa arrived in New York on June 7th intending to visit Olcott, the American Headquarters, and then go on a tour of some of the Lodges in the South and on the West Coast, returning again to our Headquarters to attend the National Convention in July. He had had a heart attack on the boat coming over from England and he had several more at Olcott. Advice after a visit to a heart specialist made it necessary to cancel the prospective lecture tour and Brother Jinarajadasa was `hospitalized' at Headquarters under the care of two of the staff members who are nurses. His personal physician, Dr. Henry A. Smith, lived in a nearby Chicago suburb. During the next several days he suffered further heart attacks, and on Thursday, June 18, passed away quietly at 5:54 in the evening. He had given instructions as to what should be done in the event of his death and these were followed. The next day, June 19, his body was cremated and on June 20 the Theosophists in the surrounding area gathered at the National Headquarters for an hour of remembrance. In a lovely program, throughout which there was no note of sadness, emphasis was given to the significance of his life and the beauty of his last days with us.
"His message to us was one of courage and steadfastness to carry on as he so often stated it. He carried on his work and his contacts almost to the very last. He dictated and signed personally the letters he wrote to the lodges that he was going to visit when he realized that he could not make the tour. Almost his last words to me were concerning the tour he had planned. Certainly he continued his work faithfully, and in full consciousness, to the end."
To most of us in Canada he was unknown personally and he rarely visited the Section, but we knew of him as an outstanding figure and the leader of the Society in name and deed. We were at variance with some of his ideas, but no one can assert that he rode roughshod over differences of opinion. He had a difficult task to perform and considering all the circumstances, we ungrudgingly state that he made a good job of it. The light that beats on a throne is unmerciful, yet one can truly say that he stood up well under the stress and strain. Now that it is all over our thoughts go out to him as gentle zephirs to waft his soul to the Elysian Fields for the well deserved rest to which he is entitled. A man of his discernment, ability, and love of mankind will not be long in obscuration; he will return again soon we feel sure, to take up the work he loved so well for the betterment of humanity.
- E. L. Thomson, General Secretary.
THE DESTINY OF THE EGO
"From strength to strength, from the beauty and perfection of one plane to the greater beauty and perfection of another, with accessions of new glory, of fresh knowledge and power in each cycle, such is the destiny of every Ego, which thus becomes its own saviour in each world and incarnation."
THE CANADIAN THEOSOPHIST
- The Organ of the Theosophical Society in Canada
- Published on the 15th of every month.
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THE DIVINE WITHIN MAN (Continued from Page 70)
quest of a God supposed to be without, inquires of many persons how she may find God. No answer is satisfactory until she comes to one who says, - "God is at your elbow, and He has been there all the time; but in his divine mercy He has not revealed himself to you lest too full a knowledge of Him should drive you mad. Make a little garden for yourself; dig and plant and weed and prune; and be content if He jogs your elbow when you are gardening unskilfully and blesses you when you are gardening well".
"And shall we never be able to bear His full presence?" said the Black Girl.
"I trust not" said the old philosopher. "For we shall never be able to bear His full presence until we have fulfilled all His purposes and becomes Gods ourselves."
So much for quotations. The universal agreement of the world's great souls on this theme is endless. Let us now examine some of the implications and repercussions from this profound truth. How shall we conduct ourselves? What can we do to accelerate the slow pace at which we seem to be attaining our divine goal?
Having once realized that we are all divinely akin and are in desperate need of each other's help to achieve that divinity, is it any wonder that the brotherhood of man is the first objective of the Theosophical Society. What great need there is for compassion of man for man; a spirit of helpfulness to the dejected, beaten, bewildered and confused; tolerance for foibles and eccentricities; forgiveness of anger and insolence; comfort for those in sorrow.
One thing is plain, if the God resides within us, what problem, what obstacle can exist which cannot be overcome? The promise that we can solve all difficulties runs through all the sacred writings - "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you." Whitman, whose "I" so frequently refers to the divine spirit, has put it thus:
"What place is besieged, and vainly tries to raise the seige?
Lo, I send to that place a commander, swift, brave, immortal,
And with him horse and foot and parks of artillery,
And artillery men, the deadliest that ever fired gun."
When we lag on our way - when senses and selfishness seem to have the upper hand, the divine within forever ebbing, flowing, pushing, urging, prob-
ing calls on us to get on with the task.
There is an inner urge which sends people to their churches. They do not seem to know what they want but they know in which direction it lies. Walt Whitman has ingeniously likened the activity of the divine spirit within to the work of a spider.
"A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launched forth filament, filament, filament out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you, O my soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor
Till the gassamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul."
If in what has been said there seems to be a preponderence of quotations in favor of Walt Whitman, why this is just as it should be. And how better can this be ended than with his resolute words,
"O to struggle against great odds, to meet enemies undaunted,
To be entirely alone with them, to find how much one can stand,
To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, face to face
To mount the scaffold, to advance to the muzzles of guns with perfect nonchalance
To be indeed a God!"
Beaconwood Hotel, Minehead,
The Editor, Canadian Theosophist.
In a letter written to Dr. Annie Besant in 1900 the Master KH said: -
"The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into spiritualtiy. It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional worship."
But before this H.P.B. had written in The Key to Theosophy the following terse and prophetic lines: -
"The chief point is to uproot that most fertile source of all crime and immorality - the belief that it is impossible for them (the masses) to escape the consequences of their own actions. Once teach them that greatest of all laws, Karma and Reincarnation, and besides feeling in themselves the true dignity of human nature they will turn from evil and eschew it as they would a physical danger."
And in a previous paragraph she pointed to the great obstacle to this. "Their minds are so full of intellectual subtleties and preconceptions that their natural intuition and perception of the truth cannot act."
There are signs, tender, not easily observable perhaps, but yet increasing in objectivity, that this intellectual advancement of ours is being so "taken hold of and guided".
In philosophy, G.I. Gurdjieff points to the mind as the source of error and sorrow. "A man comes into the world like a clean sheet of paper, which immediately all around him begin to dirty and fill up with education, morality, the information we call knowledge, and with all kinds of feelings of duty and honor, conscience and so on and so
forth". And he endeavors to help men rid their minds of all this so that they may begin to see reality.
In medicine, top level physicians and psychologists are now teaching that disease mostly begins in the mind, and a man must be studied and understood as a whole, mind as well as body - before he can be properly treated or cured.
In the realm of science there is a growing distrust of the mind. A recent article in a Penguin Science News began - "Even the most superficial study of the history of science shows that it is largely the history of illusions". Intellectual ones, we add. And it goes on to attack the long established concepts of species, purity, and efficiency, now by the hard facts of discovery proved inadequate and misleading.
Noticeable in the minds of thoughtful leaders too is the new emphasis and understanding given to the act of repentance ("From that time Jesus began to preach and to say "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand"). It is seen how by a determined, persistent, courageous and continuous act of self-accountancy - a cultivation of a deeper and deeper awareness of the contents of one's consciousness objective and subjective - the sources of suffering and sorrow, war and self-centredness are there seen and realized in the self-purification of the mind that follows naturally - stillness is gradually obtained and the truth "Be still and know" is realized. The eternal begins to reflect itself in the stilled mind as the skies in a smooth pool.
Thus, what was taught only in the initiatory schools, i.e. that the mind is the slayer of the real, is now being shouted on the house tops. (It need not be a slayer, but a pure reflector of the real, of course.) But can one not discern how the foundation is being laid for the world brotherhood manifest? For in the
stilled, poised mind the eternal is glimpsed and LOVE is born - universal, barrier-piercing, dynamic - the new creation.
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORLD
The question of how the world began is sometimes brought up by non-Buddhists and we are asked if there is anything in Buddhism comparable with the biblical account of creation.
It is true that the Buddhist scriptures have their eschatology and cosmogony but these are just theories about happennigs. From the Buddhist point of view such questions concerning the beginnings and endings are secondary and in any case are hardly to be perceived or grasped by the finite mind. The following story told by the Lord Buddha Sakyamuni illustrates our meaning.
The Venerable Malunkyaputta came to the Buddha with a question about the origin and end of the world, saying that he would become a follower of the Buddha if he would answer satisfactorily.
"Suppose, Malunkyaputta," said the Buddha, "a man were pierced with an arrow well steeped in poison, and his close friends and relatives were to summon a surgeon. Then suppose the man says, `I will not have this arrow pulled out until I know of the man by whom I was pierced, both his name and his position, and whether he be tall or short or of middle stature; till I know whether he be a black man, light or dark or sallow skinned; whether he be of such or such a village or town. I will not have the arrow pulled out until I know of the bow by which I was pierced, whether it was a long bow or a cross bow.
`I will not have the arrow pulled out until I know of the bow string by means of which I was pierced, whether
it was made of creeper or of reed, or of hemp or of a sap tree. Till I know of the arrow by which I have been pierced, whether it be a reed shaft or a sapling. Till I know of the feathers of it, whether they be feathers of a vulture, of a heron, or of a kite or a peacock, or of a hook bill. Till I know of the arrow that pierced me, whether it is bound by the tendon of an ox or a buffalo, or a deer or a monkey. Till I know whether the arrow which has pierced me be just an arrow or a razor edge, or a splinter or a javelin head, or a barbed headed arrow.'
"Well, Malunkyaputta, that man would die, but still the matter would not be found out by him."
This was the Buddha's way of showing that beginnings and endings were not the important questions facing humanity. The first question for a man pierced with the arrow of suffering is how to get it out.
The Lord Buddha wants us to look at the question in a practical manner. We need the spiritual teaching now. We cannot wait until we have found out the answers to questions which are relatively unimportant and which are beyond the grasp of our finite mind.
- Ernest Shinkaku Hunt
(The Venerable E. Shinkaku Hunt) International Buddhist Institute of Hawaii.
By Olive Harcourt
The word aura is derived from the Hebrew AUR, Light, and came into the English language by way of the Latin word for gold, as, for instance, aureole, the circle of glory surrounding the heads of divine beings. The human aura is an etheric tissue completely surrounding the physical body, invisible to all but those who are clairvoyant objectively, that is, who have the natural ability to see with open eyes objects just beyond the powers of normal sight - the "open vision" mentioned in the first Book of Samuel, III., v. 1, known as "sensory perception." In health, it is full of colors, those appertaining to the character of the aura are fairly static, while those arising from emotions change constantly, for all around us, impinging on our bodies, influencing our brain matter, changing the form and colors of our auras, are millions of vibrations and emanations of which we are totally unaware.
The aura of an average person extends about an inch beyond the periphery of the physical body; that of a highly developed person much further. The aura of the Buddha is said to have extended a mile in all directions. Bright clear colors indicate rare qualities of character, scarlet for courage and power, rose pink for affection and loving-kindness, clear blue for religious devotion, a lovely yellow for intellectual powers, a beautiful green for sympathy. Dull and ugly colors show evil thoughts and deeds. Colors indicating character are fairly steady. Emotions bring forth constant changes both of hue and shape.
By an effort of will, the aura can be solidified, in order to be a protection in danger and a help in difficult circumstances. If completely closed, it is remarkable what feats it can accomplish. If kept clean by unselfish and loving thoughts, it will register lovely colors and forms.
Science, it appears, has not dealt much with the aura, so we do not know
how these changes take place. According to a sentence in Sir James Jeans' book, The Universe Around Us, it would appear that there is no direct contact between the physical body and the outer world. To quote his words: -
"The wind blowing upon us is repelled by the electrical emanations from our skin when within one-thousandth of an inch from our faces, and never reaches us at all." There must, then, be a minute gap between the outer world and the aura, and one would think that reflections of that world do not affect us except as symbols, as they are supposed to do. Study, meditation and discussion may lead us to interesting revelations upon this subject. Science is beginning to grasp that etheric substances have a material basis. Some time ago there was an interesting article in the Daily Telegraph, as follows: "The production of a sheet of film, described as the thinnest thing ever made by man, was announced yesterday by the General Electric Company. The film, which is two millionths of an inch thick, and so elusive that it cannot even be felt, will be used in the manufacture of electron miscroscopic pictures".
The article goes on to say that until now an object it was desired to magnify a million times or more, under the microscope, looked like a corduroy road.
Great scientists, such as Dirac, are said to be trying to get behind matter, for which purpose they must, surely, develop that extrasensory perception, when, as Marconi said "we may find in the field of vibrations more wonders than the mind of man can conceive".
Colors in the aura are expressions of emotion. Shapes are mental concepts. Both can be, and are projected upon it by outward influences as well as by inner experience. How, then, do the outer influences reach the aura? We are told that the quanta of science are "pulses of insistence from the outer, processes manufacturing manifestations," and that electrons are forms of electric structure.
If a scientific occultist could be induced to study and meditate upon these ideas he might find valuable knowledge on the subject of auras.
Faint dark lines can be seen in an aura. In health these stand out horizontally around the edge of the aura. Disease in any organ is shown by lines drooping downward from the organ affected. The spectacles invented by Kilner are used by physicians to assist them to diagnose disease and a doctor in Eastbourne keeps a pair for that purpose. When used in the dark, they give a very good picture of the auras of his patients.
Not long before the last war, a conference of occult students was held in Paris, attended by students from all parts of the world. One of the matters discussed was the human aura. Some interesting things emerged from these talks, one being that women hold a given color in the aura much longer than men; another that yellow is the predominating color in the female aura. Another point was that there is a kind of lattice work of lines in the construction of all auras, in passing through which the light is broken up and produces colors. Goethe, great occultist as well as great statesman, poet, dramatist, philosopher and prose writer, was laughed at in his day for saying that colors are the result of the sufferings of light in limitation.
In an unhealthy body colors are faint or absent, the lattice work being too thick and close together to admit light.
The discovery of the aura is due to the German scientist, Karl von Reichenbach, who died in 1869. He found that a mysterious light streamed from
the head and from between the fingers of his patients when examined in the dark. This discovery, passed on to his friend Mesmer, brought about others, leading to all the knowledge possessed nowadays about animal magnetism.
It is recorded in Kabalistic writings that at certain important services of the synagogues those who had "the open vision" saw light streaming from the head and shoulders of the officiating priest when he lifted the chalice before the altar and pronounced the words "I will raise the Cup of Salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord", and also can another occasion when he said: "The Lord make His Light to shine upon you".
The aureole is an intensification of the aura. Being symbolically circular and of golden color, it represents the outstanding spiritual powers of the saint who wears it.
Even animals, according to some accounts, have auras. The oldest of the Kabalistic writings grant to animals spiritual powers and rights.
The Therapeutae, a Jewish group of mystics of the first century A.D., taught their disciples methods of deep meditation which had for their object the inner sight of that WHICH IS; and the spiritual powers of Reality behind the things of matter. A careful study of the aura of both men and animals might reveal much, and afford useful information about this somewhat neglected branch of knowledge.
THE SLEEPING SPHERES (Concluded from page 63)
10. Something within me arose (38.-4 )
Here her kamalokic condition ends and the next few short paragraphs describe her transition to the state of Devachan. Again, due to her exceptional condition, there is a great difference between her transitional state and that "Gestation State" which is normally preparatory to Devachan. This Gestation State lasts very long, yet is proportionate to the Ego's spiritual stamina (cf. M.L.-105). The consciousness . . . "will return slowly and gradually toward the end of the gestation . . . and fully to the Ego at the moment of its entrance into the Devachan . . . the Ego does not fall headlong but sinks into it gradually and by easy stages. With the first dawn of that state appears that life (or rather is once more lived over by the Ego) from its first day of consciousness to its last. From the most important down to the most trifling event, all are marshalled before the spiritual eye of the Ego; only, unlike the events of real life, those of them remain only that are chosen by the new liver (pardon the word) clinging to certain scenes and actors, these remain permanently - while all the others fade away to disappear for ever, or to return to their creator - the shell . . . Out of the resurrected Past nothing remains but what the Ego has felt spiritually . . . " (M.L.-187).
11. And I was a sleeping Sphere (39.-1)
Here her Devachan starts with one of the divisions of Rupa Loka where forms and personalities are still perceived.
12. I had longed to uplift the down-trodden (44.-1)
She passes now to a higher and less personal realm of Rupa Loka.
13. These thoughts . . . gradually came to lose all form (45.-1)
This happens in the highest division of Rupa Loka, preparatory to the entering of the Arupa, or formless world.
14. The universal Laws began to be learned (45.-3)
The first division of the Arupa Loka is purely mental. Knowledge is the one object in Arupa Loka, starting with the concrete and gradually changing into the abstract.
15. I seemed to sink deeper and yet deeper into a world of pure Ideation (45.4)
Now she progresses farther and farther into the Arupa regions. Her power to describe these regions becomes more and more limited.
16. Where was the Root? (45.-4)
This clamour, this desire for that which cannot be found even in the highest of the Arupa regions, again constitutes an essential difference between J.N.'s conditions and that of a real Devachani. No dissatisfaction ever mars the thoughts of the latter and all that now follows is therefore due to her not being really dead, but being still a complete sevenfold entity. This also explains why the peace became hateful to her.
17. I wanted to retrace my steps (46.-1)
This shows that J.N. possessed the element of reflective consciousness which in devachanis is always lacking: "Although the spiritual energy evolved by an inhabitant of Devachan is a factor in the spiritual development of the race, yet the entity wanting in the element of self-consciousness (as all entities are in Kama-loka and Devachan when left to themselves), cannot be credited with unselfishness any more than the tree can be styled unselfish for affording a shelter to the weary passerby. In each fact of consciousness there are two elements, the mere perception and the reflective consciousness of that perception." (Mohini M. Chatterji, The Theos. VI-143). In Devachan there is never a longing to return upon one's steps: "The disincarnate must consecutively mount each rung of the ladder of being upward from the earthly subjective to the absolutely subjective. And when this limited Nirvanic state of Devachan is attained the entity enjoys it and its vivid though spiritual realities until that phase of Karma is satisfied and the physical attraction to the next earth life asserts itself." (The Theos. IV-271) The Devachan ends very gradually: "As in actual earth-life, so there is for the Ego in devachan - the first flutter of psychic life, the attainment of prime, the gradual exhaustion of force passing into semi-unconsciousness, gradual oblivion and lethargy, total oblivion and - not death but birth - birth into another personality . . . " (M.L.-195). This is quite different from the way J.N. returns from her Devachan.
18. I knew it all (46.-3)
Compare this statement with H.P.B.'s: "As the man at the moment of death has a retrospective insight into the life he has led, so, at the moment he is reborn on to earth, the Ego, awaking from the state of Devachan, has a prospective vision of the life which awaits him, and realizes all the causes that have led to it. He realizes them and sees futurity, because it is between Devachan and rebirth that the Ego regains his full manasic consciousness and rebecomes for a short time the god he was, before, in compliance with Karmic law, he first descended into matter . . ." (The Key to Theosophy, pp. 1623).
19. I was born into my Sphere (46. 4)
Her consciousness shifted towards a more concrete center within the Devachanic Sphere.
20. The heavenly World (47.-1)
Svargaloka, devaloka, devachan,
sukhavati are all names for the same post-mortem state.
21. The home of the Self-Existent (47.-1)
The Self-Existent, or Svayambhu, is the Universal Spirit. The highest aspect of Svabhavat is its "abode."
22. Form bred need of objective action (47.-2)
Because form by itself is not permanent, but needs to be maintained by objective, i.e., outward intercourse.
23. I awoke in the outer skies (47.-3)
She awoke in her astral body, the mayavi rupa.
24. I awoke (48. 2)
Now she has entered her physical body and has returned to ordinary life again.
25. The world of effects (48.-5)
Devachan is meant.
26. The Sphere blossoms forth into objectivity (48.-5)
The Sphere is begotten during conscious and responsible life on earth. Irresponsible entities, like children before their seventh year, and congenital idiots, will have no Devachan, but are almost immediately reborn.
27. And indraws into the root of subjectivity (48.-5 )
The Sphere dissipates its energies gradually in Devachan and perishes of exhaustion at the end in the highest Arupa Loka, the root of subjectivity.
28. Thus alone can the soul know itself (48.-6)
"According to Esoteric Doctrine this evolution is not viewed as the extinguishment of individual consciousness but its infinite expansion. The entity is not obliterated, but united with the universal entity, and its consciousness becomes able not merely to recall the scenes of one of its earth-evolved Personalities, but of each of the entire series around the Kalpa, and then those of every other Personality. In short, from being finite it becomes infinite consciousness. But this comes only at the end of all the births at the great day of the absolute Resurrection. Yet, as the monad moves on from birth to birth and passes its lower and Devachanic spheres after each fresh earthly existence, the mutual ties created in each birth must weaken and at last grow inert, before it can be reborn. The record of those relationships imperishably endures in the Akasa, and they can always be reviewed when, in any birth, the being evolves his latent spiritual powers to the `fourth stage of Dhyana': but their hold upon the being gradually relaxes. This is accomplished in each internatal Devachan . . . Were this obliteration of personal ties not a fact, each being would be travelling around the Kalpa entangled in the meshes of his past relationships with his myriad fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, wives, etc., etc., of his numberless births: a jumble, indeed!" (The Theos. IV-271-2).
It must be realized by the student that the above covers only a very small fragment of the subject of the post-mortem life. J.N.'s narrative covers the experiences of a rather unusual personality, one already acquainted with Theosophy and in possession of certain clairvoyant powers. A more common human being would have quite different experiences, although the general laws governing the devachanic state are, of course, applicable in all cases. Finally, the reader must not forget that deaths by accident, violence or suicide produce their own peculiar effects upon the post-mortem condition. Also the post-mortem states of spiritually evil beings, of sorcerers and of soulless entities, are very different from the one described above, and would need a separate discussion.
- Willem B. Roos.
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