Last revised: 29 August 2008
- 1 Incarnate Perspectives
- 2 Spiritual Perspectives
- 2.1 The Soul
- 2.2 Purpose of Life
- 2.3 The Total Journey of the Individual Soul
- 2.4 Intimations of Further Journeying Past the Stage of Humanity
- 2.5 The Strenuous Efforts of the Saints
- 2.6 "Salvation"
- 2.7 Reincarnation
- 2.8 Karma
- 2.9 The Voice of the Silence
- 2.10 Impact on Religion
- 2.11 Overcoming the Animal Nature
- 2.12 Eliminating Vices
- 2.13 Cultivating Virtues
- 2.14 Service
- 2.15 Spirit Guides or Teachers
- 2.16 Spirit Communication
- 2.17 "Dead" Matter
Writing on Afterlife Conditions
Evidence does exist of a far more purposeful, strenuous and therefore rewarding kind of life, live dafter death. We can collect e the varying evidence as we would with any type of field evidence, and judge the similarities and differences in the accounts. I shall concentrate largely upon that part which seemingly emanates from witnesses who were of good caliber when on earth and whose accounts strongly suggest they retain the quality. (Paul Beard, LO, 5.)
If one ponders upon these accounts and comes eventually to accept some of them as reports of genuine experience, however incomplete, they will become guide-posts to some of the 'many mansions.' In time, other people will add new guide-posts and a picture will gradually arise a little closer to the real situation. Meanwhile, we have to be content with explorers' trails over an only partly known country. Schematic statements are the corresponding maps and are bound to be faulty or misleading, however honourably constructed. These maps are incomplete. Hence it can become confusing if they are laid, like tracings, one upon the other. ...
Nevertheless, in spite of differences of attribution or of emphasis, a picture emerges which does unquestionably point to an overall spiritual plan, though almost certainly not in the neat but somewhat rigid order which rational attention prefers and expects. (Paul Beard, LO, 180 and 182.)
It would be tedious in the extreme, however, if intellectual reserves and qualifications were added on every page. The reader if he wishes can add his own. My intention is to report with as faithful an understanding as I can muster what these narratives, taking one with another, are attempting to tell us, and then to leave the reader to form his own judgements. (Paul Beard, LO, 14.)
My particular task is to seek contributions from post-mortem minds of good caliber. (Paul Beard, LO, 7.)
Surely it can be possible that in time, lying behind the personal accounts, objective patterns of post-mortem experience will gradually emerge. (Paul Beard, LO, 5.)
The explorer of the afterlife who will one day find himself embarked on his journey, perhaps suddenly and involuntarily, can meanwhile come to recognize that it is the life pattern he is now daily creating in himself that will become his explorer's equipment then. (Paul Beard, LO, 13.)
We can know at least something now. We are being told. (Paul Beard, LO, 183.)
The conclusion, then, of my long search after truth, is that in spite of occasional fraud, which Spiritualists deplore, and in spite of wild imaginings, which they discourage, there remains a great solid core in this movement which is infinitely nearer to positive proof than any other religious development with which I am acquainted. As I have shown, it would appear to be a rediscovery rather than an absolutely new thing, but the result in this material age is the same.
The days are surely passing when the mature and considered opinions of such men as Crookes, Wallace, Flammarion, Chas. Richet, Lodge, Barrett, Lombroso, Generals Drayson and Turner, Sergeant Ballantyne, W. T. Stead, Judge Edmunds, Admiral Usborne Moore, the late Archdeacon Wilberforce, and such a cloud of other witnesses, can be dismissed with the empty "All rot" or "Nauseating drivel" formulae. As Mr. Arthur Hill has well said, we have reached a point where further proof is superfluous, and where the weight of disproof lies upon those who deny. The very people who clamour for proofs have as a rule never taken the trouble to examine the copious proofs which already exist. Each seems to think that the whole subject should begin de novo because he has asked for information.
The method of our opponents is to fasten upon the latest man who has stated the case--at the present instant it happens to be Sir Oliver Lodge--and then to deal with him as if he had come forward with some new opinions which rested entirely upon his own assertion, with no reference to the corroboration of so many independent workers before him. This is not an honest method of criticism, for in every case the agreement of witnesses is the very root of conviction. But as a matter of fact, there are many single witnesses upon whom this case could rest.
If, for example, our only knowledge of unknown forces depended upon the researches of Dr. Crawford of Belfast, who places his amateur medium in a weighing chair with her feet from the ground, and has been able to register a difference of weight of many pounds, corresponding with the physical phenomena produced, a result which he has tested and recorded in a true scientific spirit of caution, I do not see how it could be shaken. The phenomena are and have long been firmly established for every open mind. One feels that the stage of investigation is passed, and that of religious construction is overdue.
For are we to satisfy ourselves by observing phenomena with no attention to what the phenomena mean, as a group of savages might stare at a wireless installation with no appreciation of the messages coming through it, or are we resolutely to set ourselves to define these subtle and elusive utterances from beyond, and to construct from them a religious scheme, which will be founded upon human reason on this side and upon spirit inspiration upon the other?
These phenomena have passed through the stage of being a parlour game; they are now emerging from that of a debatable scientific novelty; and they are, or should be, taking shape as the foundations of a definite system of religious thought, in some ways confirmatory of ancient systems, in some ways entirely new. The evidence upon which this system rests is so enormous that it would take a very considerable library to contain it, and the witnesses are not shadowy people living in the dim past and inaccessible to our cross- examination, but are our own contemporaries, men of character and intellect whom all must respect.
The situation may, as it seems to me, be summed up in a simple alternative. The one supposition is that there has been an outbreak of lunacy extending over two generations of mankind, and two great continents--a lunacy which assails men or women who are otherwise eminently sane. The alternative supposition is that in recent years there has come to us from divine sources a new revelation which constitutes by far the greatest religious event since the death of Christ (for the Reformation was a re-arrangement of the old, not a revelation of the new), a revelation which alters the whole aspect of death and the fate of man. Between these two suppositions there is no solid position. Theories of fraud or of delusion will not meet the evidence. It is absolute lunacy or it is a revolution in religious thought, a revolution which gives us as by-products an utter fearlessness of death, and an immense consolation when those who are dear to us pass behind the veil. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, NR, n.p.)
"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar: Not in entire forgetfulness,And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close Upon the growing Boy, But He beholds the light, and whence it flows, He sees it in his joy; The Youth who daily farther from the east Must travel, still is Nature's Priest, And by the vision splendid Is on his way attended; At length the Man perceives it die away, And fade into the light of common day." (William Wordsworth, "Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.") Remember, it is the soul we love, not the body; and it is the soul that we have with us here. It may be said, 'Yes, that would be so if the friend were also dead; but suppose he is still alive; he cannot be in two places at once.' The fact is that, as far as this is concerned, he can be in two places at once, and often many more than two; and whether he is what we commonly call living, or what we commonly call dead, makes not the slightest difference. Let us try to understand what a soul really is, and we shall see better how this may be. The soul belongs to a higher plane, and is a much greater and grander thing than any manifestation of it can be. Its relation to its manifestations is that of one dimension to another - that of a line to a square, or a square to a cube. No number of squares could ever make a cube, because the square has only two dimensions, while the cube has three. So no number of expressions on any lower plane can ever exhaust the fullness of the soul, since he stands upon an altogether higher level. He puts down a small portion of himself into a physical body in order to acquire experience which can only be had on this plane; he can take only one such body at a time, for that is the law; but if he could take a thousand, they would not be sufficient to express what he really is. He may have only one physical body, but if he has evoked such love from a friend, that that friend has a strong mental image of him always present in his thought, then he is able to respond to that love by pouring into that thought-form his own life, and so vivifying it into a real expression of him on this level, which is two whole planes higher than the physical, and therefore so much the better able to express his qualities. (Charles Leadbeater, LAD, 40-1.)
Purpose of Life
You are here for a purpose - a purpose which can only be attained upon this physical plane. The soul has to take much trouble, to go through much limitation, in order to gain this earthly incarnation, and therefore its efforts must not be thrown away unnecessarily. The instinct of self-preservation as divinely implanted in our breasts, and it is our duty to make the most of this earthly life which is ours, and to retain it as long as circumstances permit. There are lessons to be learnt on this plane which cannot be learnt anywhere else, and the sooner we learn them the sooner we shall be free for ever from the need of return to this lower and more limited life. (Charles Leadbeater, LAD, 20.)
These Sparks develop by slow evolution into Flames, and return to the Parent Fire. This development and this return are appa—rently the objects for which the Sparks come forth. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 5.)
It is true that the ultimate object of man's evolution is the attainment of unity, but he must reach that final goal in full and perfect consciousness as a victorious king entering triumphantly upon his heritage. (Charles Leadbeater, DP, 27.)
Man is primarily divine, a spark of the Divine Life. This living flame, passing out from the Central Fire, weaves for itself coverings within which it dwells, and thus becomes the Triad, the Atma-Buddhi-Manas, the reflection of the Immortal Self. This sends out its Ray, which becomes encased in grosser matter, in the desire body, or kamic elements, the passional nature, and in the etheric double and the physical body.
The once free immortal Intelligence thus entangled, enswathed, enchained, works heavily and laboriously through the coatings that enwrap it. In its own nature it remains ever the free Bird of Heaven, but its wings are bound to its side by the matter into which it is plunged. When man recognises his own inherent nature, he learns to open his prison doors occasionally and escapes from his encircling gaol; first he learns to identify himself with the Immortal Triad, and rises above the body and its passions into a pure mental and moral life; then he learns that the conquered body cannot hold him prisoner, and he unlocks its door and steps out into the sunshine of his true life. (Annie Besant, DA, n.p.
When Death unlocks the door for him, he knows the country into which he emerges, having trodden its ways at his own will. And at last he grows to recognise that fact of supreme importance, that "Life" has nothing to do with body and with this material plane; that Life is his conscious existence, unbroken, unbreakable, and that the brief interludes in that Life, during which he sojourns on Earth, are but a minute fraction of his conscious existence, and a fraction, moreover, during which he is less alive, because of the heavy coverings which weigh him down.
For only during these interludes (save in exceptional cases) may he wholly lose his consciousness of continued life, being surrounded by these coverings which delude him and blind him to the truth of things, making that real which is illusion, and that stable which is transitory. The sunlight ranges over the universe, and at incarnation we step out of it into the twilight of the body, and see but dimly during the period of our incarceration; at Death we step out of the prison again into the sunlight, and are nearer to the reality.
Short are the twilight periods, and long the periods of the sunlight; but in our blinded state we call the twilight life, and to us it is the real existence, while we call the sunlight Death, and shiver at the thought of passing into it. (Annie Besant, DA, n.p.
All this knowledge, all this glory, (1) is within our reach, and must inevitably come to every one of us in the course of our evolution, as surely as day follows night. It is beyond all words now, beyond all feelings - beyond our intuition even. But there / will come a time when we shall know even as now also we are known. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 61-2.)
- (1) Leadbeater is specifically referring to the Nirvanic Plane.
What then is the Spiritual? It is alone the life of the Consciousness which recognises Unity, which sees one Self in everything and everything in the Self. The spiritual life is the life which, looking into the infinite number of phenomena, pierces though the veil of Maya and sees the One and the Eternal within each changing form. To know the Self, to love the Self, to realise the Self, that and that alone is Spirituality, even as to see the Self everywhere alone is Wisdom. All outside that is ignorance; all outside that is unspiritual. If once you understand this definition, you will find yourself compelled to choose not the phenomenal but the real, to choose the life of the Spirit as distinguished from the life of the form, though on the highest plane. (Annie Besant, LHL, 30.)
The Total Journey of the Individual Soul
The spiritual Ego of the man moves in eternity like a pendulum between the hours of life and death, but if these hours, the periods of life terrestrial and life posthumous, are limited in their continuation, and even the very number of such breaks in eternity between sleep and waking, between illusion and reality, have their beginning as well as their end, the spiritual Pilgrim himself is eternal. Therefore the hours of his posthumous life, when unveiled he stands face to face with truth, and the short-lived mirages of his terrestrial existence are far from him, compose or make up, in our ideas, the only reality. Such breaks, in spite of the fact that they are finite, do double service to the Sutratma, (1) which, perfecting itself constantly, follows without vacillation, though very slowly, the road leading to its last transformation, when, reaching its aim at last, it becomes a Divine Being. They not only contribute to the reaching of this goal, but without these finite breaks Sutratma-Buddhi could never reach it.
Sutratma is the actor, and its numerous and different incarnations are the actor's parts. I suppose you would not apply to these parts, and so much the less to their costumes, the term of personality. Like an actor the soul is bound to play, during the cycle of births up to the very threshold of Parinirvana, (2) many such parts, which often are disagreeable to it, but like a bee, collecting its honey from every flower, and leaving the rest to feed the worms of the earth, our spiritual individuality, the Sutratma, collecting only the nectar of moral qualities and consciousness from every terrestrial personality in which it has to clothe itself, forced by Karma, unites at last all these qualities in one, having then become a perfect being, a Dhyan Chohan. (3) (4)
- (1) The real Self.
- (2) A high level of enlightenment, but by no means the last. See here .
- (3) A "dyan chohan" is, as far as I know, an archangel. I am under the impression that there are seven orders of angels above them.
- (4) Excerpt from magazine, The Path, May 1890.
I died as mineral and became a plant. I died as plant and rose to animal. I died as animal and I was man. ... Yet once more I shall die as man, to soar With angels blest; but even from angelhood I must pass on: all except God doth perish. When I have sacrificed my angel soul, I shall become what no mind e'er conceived. Oh, let me not exist! For Non-existence Proclaims in organ tones, 'To Him we shall return.' (Rumi, ILWL, 58.)
Intimations of Further Journeying Past the Stage of Humanity
Inquire of the inmost, the One, of its final secret, which it holds for you through the ages. ... When the time of learning this seventeenth rule is reached, man is on the threshold of becoming more than man. (Ascended Master, probably the Master Hilarion, channelling through Mabel Collins, LOP, 29-30.)
When after ages of struggle and many victories the final battle is won (1), the final secret demanded, then you are prepared for a further path. When the final secret of this great lesson is told, in it is opened the mystery of the new way -- a path which leads out of all human experience, and which is utterly beyond human perception or imagination. At each of these points it is needful to pause long and consider well. At each of these points it is necessary to be sure that the way is chosen for its own sake. The way (2) and the truth (3) come first, then follows the life. (4) (Ascended Master, probably the Master Hilarion, channelling through Mabel Collins, LOP, 11-2.)
- (1) Sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi.
- (2) Sadhana or spiritual practice.
- (3) The first enlightenment, called spiritual awakening or seeing the Light.
- (4) Sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi -- and with it immortality and the elimination of the need to be physically reborn
Beyond [the sage's attainment], whatever it may be, there lie further mysteries awaiting his resolution. In other words, We find no conceivable end to evolution. (Franklin Merrell-Woolf, PTS, 43.)
A certain Sage..., speaking of unfolded Conscousness above the level of the highest human Adepts, said: "We attain glimpses of Consciousness so Transcendent, rising level upon level, that the senses fairly reel before the awe-inspiring Grandeur."
Here, certainly, is space for evolution far beyond the highest possibility of man as man. (Franklin Merrell-Woolf, PTS, 17.)
The Strenuous Efforts of the Saints
Choice souls like the saints by strenuous discipline hasten and bring about before death many experiences which in others only come about after it. ... Most of us unfortunately allow these unwelcome accostings to wait, postpone them until postmortem life. (Paul Beard, LO, 193.)
For him who knows, there is no question of the saving of the soul; the true man behind needs no salvation; / he needs only that the lower self should realise him and express him. He is himself already divine; and all that he needs is to be able to realise himself in all the worlds and at all possible levels, so that in them all the Divine Power through him may work equally, and so God shall be all in all. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 24-5.)
It is Allah who has created you and given you your daily bread. He will cause you to die hereafter and will then bring you back to life. (Koran, 190.)
Allah has brought you forth from the earth like a plant, and to the earth He will restore you. Then He will bring you back afresh. (Koran, 22.)
It is We (1) who will bring back the dead to life. (Koran, 170.)
- (1) The angels.
Spiritual holy love is immortal, and Karma brings sooner or later all those who loved each other with such a spiritual affection to incarnate once more in the same family group. (H.P. Blavatsky, Key to Theosophy, 101, in Besant, DA, n.p.
The Voice of the Silence
The Voice of the Silence is not one thing always, but changes as we ourselves evolve; or perhaps it would be better to say that it is in truth one thing always, the voice of God, but it comes to us at different levels as we ourselves rise. To us, now it is the voice of the ego, speaking to the per—sonality; presently it will be the voice of the Monad, speaking to the ego; later still the voice of the Deity, speaking to the Monad. Probably, (as we have already suggested,) between these last two stages there may be an intermediate one, in which the voice of one of the seven great Ministers of the Deity may speak to the Monad, and then in turn the Deity Himself may speak to His Minister; but always the Voice of the Silence is essentially divine.
It is well that we should learn to distinguish this voice - this voice which speaks from above and yet from within; for sometimes other voices speak, and their counsel is not always wise. A medium finds this, for if he has not trained himself to distinguish, he often thinks that every voice coming from the astral plane must necessarily be all but divine, and therefore to be followed unquestioningly. Therefore discrimination is necessary, as well as watch—fulness and obedience. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 21-2.)
Impact on Religion
The first thing which the orthodox Christian has to face is that the doctrine of the Trinity seems to have no adherents in advanced circles of the spirit world. The Divinity of Christ as a co-equal partner with the Father is universally denied. Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God, as also are we sons of God, for as such Christ taught us to pray to our Father. God is a universal and omnipresent Spirit and it is foolish to take part of God's Spirit and elevate it into a Person co-equal with God. (1)
Christ was incarnate in Jesus: but that is not the only occasion on which Christ's spirit has been manifested on earth and elsewhere. (Lord Dowding, MM, 107.)
- (1) If the Father be taken as stillness, the Mother or Holy Spirit as movement, and the Christ as stillness within movement, there is not the difficulties in acceptance that Dowding points to. An alternative way of expressing that is the Transcendental, the Phenomenal, and the Transcendental in the Phenomenal. See here .
Taken as a whole, the messages received over the last seventy years claim to constitute a new revelation; and, although they may not all be entirely consistent with one another, they make a combined and unanimous attack on the basic dogmas of Christian theology as at present accepted by the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Churches. On the other hand, they are equally unanimous in exalting the example and teaching of Jesus Christ as the one true pattern for human life and conduct. (Lord Dowding, MM, 101.)
Jerome, in the year 384, candidly admitted that he had amended the early scriptures to bring them into line with what he thought had really happened. Our Holy Bible today is based on Jerome's Latin translation. (Jasper Swain, FMW, 66.)
It must be repeated that while the new revelation may seem destructive to those who hold Christian dogmas with extreme rigidity, it has quite the opposite effect upon the mind which, like so many modern minds, had come to look upon the whole Christian scheme as a huge delusion. It is shown clearly that the old revelation has so many resemblances, defaced by time and mangled by man's mishandling and materialism, but still denoting the same general scheme, that undoubtedly both have come from the same source.
The accepted ideas of life after death, of higher and lower spirits, of comparative happiness depending upon our own conduct, of chastening by pain, of guardian spirits, of high teachers, of an infinite central power, of circles above circles approaching nearer to His presence--all of these conceptions appear once more and are confirmed by many witnesses. It is only the claims of infallibility and of monopoly, the bigotry and pedantry of theologians, and the man-made rituals which take the life out of the God-given thoughts--it is only this which has defaced the truth. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, NR, n.p.)
Overcoming the Animal Nature
According to certain views of the West man is a developed ape. According to the views of Indian Sages, which also coincide with those of the Philosophers of past ages and with the teachings of the Christian Mystics, man is a God, who is united during his earthly life, through his own carnal tendencies, to an animal (his animal nature). The God who dwells within him endows man with wisdom. The animal endows him with force. After death, _the God effects his own release from the man_ by departing from the animal body. As man carries within him this divine consciousness, it is his task to battle with his animal inclinations, and to raise himself above them, by the help of the divine principle, a task which the animal cannot achieve, and which therefore is not demanded of it. (Dr. Franz Hartmann quoted in Annie Besant, DA, n.p.)
We have first to learn to observe the working of sensation in ourselves from outside. So long as We are being swept away by it we cannot learn anything from it, because we are then slaves to it, but if we can rise and look down upon it, and think of it as something belonging to our past we are then in a position to observe and study it.
Waves of sensation are flowing all over the world and we have to learn to understand them so as to be able to help others, but of course we can do that only when we are no longer swayed by them. Doubtless it is largely a matter of temperament, but for many it is one of the greatest difficulties that sensations and emotions swirl about them, and as yet they do not understand fully how to control them. It is like standing in the breakers and trying to master them. A man cannot govern a thing which knocks him over again and again and sweeps him away; but people do not realize that emotion is really not an external force like that, but that it is within / oneself and may be brought perfectly within one's control if one understands how to do it.
The way is to get a firm grip on it in the very beginning. A wave of anger, depression, jealousy, or any of these passions will start in a moment and grow rapidly into a very big thing. It comes up so suddenly and people are so accustomed to regard it as the self that they do not for the moment recognize it, and so do not at once pull up and stop it, and say: " This is not I; I decline to be swept away; I stand firm." If we remember to do that in time the emotion disappears promptly.
Most people make the resolve not to be overcome when they are quite calm, but unfortunately when the wave of sensation arrives with' a rush upon them they do not at the moment want to resist it. The soul inside is not immediately awake to the danger, so it allows itself to be swept away and to be identified with the emotion or sensation. We must therefore learn to catch it exactly at the moment of its coming, for if we let that slip it is a very difficult matter, when the sensation is in full blast, to check it suddenly, though sometimes another person can do it for us. Afterwards, when we remember, we regret it. The practical thing to do is to try to control the sensation each time a little sooner, and if we can suppress it once before it gets into its swing, the probability is that we shall be able to do so invariably after that.
It is difficult at first only because the man as a Self has abdicated his rights on so many previous occasions that he has got out of the habit of asserting them. But / if he will once assert them at the critical moment he will find that he can do it again and again, because the elemental that is the cause of the difficulty will begin to be afraid, will begin to realize that he cannot sweep everything before him. At first he is quite confident, like a dog that rushes at a man, barking and snarling because he thinks him to be afraid; but if the man does not turn and run away the dog hesitates and begins to be a little doubtful about the enterprise. The elemental has not the intelligence of a dog. He may or may not know that we are stronger than he, but if he does not, it is only because we have not asserted ourselves. We should let him know that we are his master; when once he feels that, he will hesitate at the very beginning to start his wave. Check him at the beginning, and there will be no further trouble. (C.W. Leadbeater in Annie Besant and Leadbeater, CLP, 143-4.)
Among average people the artificial elementals created by feeling or desire are more vigorous and more definite than those created by thought. Thus an outburst of anger will cause a very definitely outlined and powerful flash of red, and sustained anger will make a dangerous elemental, red in colour, and pointed, barbed, or otherwise qualified to injure. Love, according to its quality, will set up forms more or less beautiful in colour and design, all shades of crimson to the most exquisite and soft hues of rose, like the palest blushes of sunset or the dawn, clouds of tenderly strong protective shapes. Many a Mother's loving prayers go to hover round her son as angel-forms, turning aside from him evil influences that perchance his own thoughts are attracting. (Annie Besant, AW, 67-8.) Character is not in the slightest degree changed by death; the man's thoughts, emotions and desires are exactly the same as before. He is in every way the same man, minus his physical body, and his happiness or misery depends upon the extent to which this loss of the physical body affects him.
If his longings have been such as need a physical body for their gratification, he is likely to suffer considerably. Such a craving manifests itself as a vibration in the astral body, and while we are still in this world most of its strength is employed in setting in motion the heavy physical particles. Desire is therefore / a far greater force in the astral life than in the physical, and if the man has not been in the habit of controlling it, and if in this new life it cannot be satisfied, it may cause him great and long-continued trouble.
Take as an illustration the extreme case of a drunkard or a sensualist. Here we have a lust which has been strong enough during physical life to overpower reason, common-sense and all the feelings of decency and of family affection. After death the man finds himself in the astral world feeling the appetite perhaps a hundred times more strongly, yet absolutely unable to satisfy it because he has lost the physical body. Such a life is a very real hell - the only hell there is; yet no one is punishing him; he is reaping the perfectly natural result of his own action. Gradually as time passes this force of desire wears out, but only at the cost of terrible suffering for the man, because to him every day seems as a thousand years. He has no measure of time such as we have in the physical world. He can measure it only by his sensations. From a distortion of this fact has come the blasphemous idea of eternal damnation.
Many other cases less extreme than this will readily suggest themselves, in which a hankering which cannot be fulfilled may prove itself a torture. A more ordinary case is that of a man who has no particular vices, such as drink or sensuality, but yet has been attached entirely to things of the physical world, and has lived a life devoted to business or to aimless social functions. For him the astral world is a place of / weariness; the only things for which he craves are no longer possible for him, for in the astral world there is no business to be done, and, though he may have as much companionship as he wishes, society is now for him a very different matter, because all the pretences upon which it is usually based in this world are no longer possible. (Charles Leadbeater, TT, 75-7.)
All is God - even the desire-elemental, and the things which we think of as evil; for many waves of life come forth from Him, and not all of them are moving in the same direction. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 18.)
It is so easy for us to feel: "I am angry; I am jealous"; when the truth is that that which is pushing us to anger or to jealousy is merely the desire-elemental, which yearns for strong and coarse undulations, which help him on his downward way into grosser matter. We must realise that the true man can never be so foolish as to wish for such vibrations as these - —that he can never desire anything but that which will be good for his own evolution, and helpful for / that of others. A man says that he feels impelled by passion. Let him wait and think: "Is it really I?" And he will discover that it is not he at all, but something else that is trying to get hold of him and make him feel thus. He has the right and the duty to assert his independence of that thing, and to proclaim himself as a free man, pursuing the road of evolution which God has marked out for him. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 16-7.)
It is not easy to banish by thought-power a raging toothache, though even that can be done under certain conditions; it is comparatively easy by thought-power to banish depression or anger or jealousy. The desire-elemental may be persistent in obtruding these feelings upon the man's notice; but at any rate they clearly are under his control; and by repeatedly throwing them off immunity from them can unquestionably be obtained. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 47.)
It is because so little effort has been made by the average man in the direction of the regulation of thought that he finds it so difficult, and indeed almost impossible, when he begins the practice of meditation. He finds himself in conflict with the habits of the mental elemental, who has been used to have things all his own way, and to drift from subject to subject at his own sweet will.
Our struggle with him is in some ways different from that which we have already waged against the desire-elemental; and the reason for this will be obvious if we remember his constitution. He re—presents the downward-pouring life of the Solar Deity at the earliest stage of its immeshing in matter - that which we usually call the First Elemental Kingdom.
Consequently, he is less used to material confinement than is the desire-elemental, who belongs to a later kingdom, and is one whole stage lower down in the scale of matter. He is consequently more active than the desire-elemental - more restless, but less powerful and determined; he is in the nature of things easier to manage, but much less used to management; so that it takes far / less actual exertion of strength to control a thought than a desire, but it needs a more persistent appli—cation of that strength.
Remember that we are now at the level of thought, where literally thoughts are things; and this restive mental matter which we find so difficult to govern is the very home and definite vehicle of the mind with which we are to control it. That mind is here on its own ground and is dealing with its own matter, so that it is only a question of practice for it to learn to manage it perfectly; whereas, when we endeavour to rule the desire-elemental, we are bringing down the mind into a world which is foreign to it, and imposing an alien ascendency from without, so that we are badly equipped for the struggle.
To sum up then: control of mind is in itself far easier than control of the emotions, but we have had a certain amount of practice in the latter, and as a rule almost no practice at all in the former; and it is for that reason only that the mental exer—cise seems so difficult to us. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 48-9.)
The matter of which all these bodies are built is not dead matter but living, and that fact has to be taken into consideration. The physical body is built up of cells, each of which is a tiny separate life animated by the Second Outpouring, which comes forth from the Second Aspect of the Deity. These cells are of varying kinds and fulfill various functions, and all these facts must be taken into account if the man wishes to understand the work of his physical body and to live a healthy life in it.
The same thing applies to the astral and mental bodies. In the cell life which permeates them there is as yet nothing in the way of intelligence, but there is a strong instinct always pressing in the direction of what is for its development. The life animating the matter of which such bodies are built is upon the outward arc of evolution, moving downwards or outwards into matter, so that progress for it means to descend into denser forms of matter, and to learn to express itself /through them. Unfoldment for the man is just the opposite of this; he has already sunk deeply into matter and is now rising out of that towards his source. There is consequently a constant conflict of interests between the man within and the life inhabiting the matter of his vehicles, inasmuch as its tendency is downward, while his is upward.
The matter of the astral body (or rather the life animating its molecules) desires for its evolution such undulations as it can get, of as many different kinds as possible, and as coarse as possible. The next step in its evolution will be to ensoul physical matter and become used to its still slower oscillations; and as a step on the way to that, it desires the grossest of the astral vibrations. It has not the intelligence definitely to plan for these; but its instinct helps it to discover how most easily to procure them.
The molecules of the astral body are constantly changing, as are those of the physical body, but nevertheless the life in the mass of those astral molecules has a sense, though a very vague sense, of itself as a whole - as a kind of temporary entity. It does not know that it is part of a man's astral body; it is quite capable of understanding what a man is; but it realizes in a blind way that under its present conditions it receives many more waves, and much stronger ones, than it would receive if floating at large in the atmosphere. It would then only occasionally catch, as from a distance, the radiation of man's passions and emotions; now it is in the very heart of them, it can miss none, and it gets them at their strongest. Therefore it / feels itself in a good position, and it makes an effort to retain that position. It finds itself in contact with something finer than itself - the matter of the man's mental body; and it comes to feel that if it can contrive to involve that finer something in its own undulations, they will be greatly intensified and prolonged.
Since astral matter is the vehicle of desire and mental matter is the vehicle of thought, this instinct, when translated into our language, means that if the astral body can induce us to think that we want what it wants, it is much more likely to get it. Thus it exercises a slow steady pressure upon the man - a kind of hunger on its side, but for him a temptation to what is coarse and undesirable. If he be a passionate man there is a gentle but ceaseless pressure in the direction of irritability; if he be a sensual man, an equally steady pressure in the direction of impurity.
A man who does not understand this usually makes one of two mistakes with regard to it: either he supposes it to be the prompting of his own nature, and therefore regards that nature as inherently evil; or he thinks of the pressure as coming from outside - as temptation of an imaginary devil. The truth lies between the two. The pressure is natural, not to the man but to the vehicle which he is using; its desire is natural and right for it, but harmful to the man, and therefore it is necessary that he should resist it. If he does so resist, if he declines to yield himself to the feelings suggested to him, the particles within him which need those vibrations become apathetic for lack of nourishment, and eventually atrophy and fall out / from his astral body, and are replaced by other particles, whose natural wave rate is more nearly in accordance with that which the man habitually permits within his astral body.
This gives the reason for what are called promptings of the lower nature during life. If the man yields himself to them, such promptings grow stronger and stronger until at least he feels as though he could not resist them, and identifies himself with them - which is exactly what this curious half-life in the particles of the astral body wants him to do.
At the death of the physical body this vague astral consciousness is alarmed. It realizes that its existence as a separated mass is menaced, and it takes instinctive steps to defend itself and to maintain its position as long as possible. The matter of the astral body is far more fluidic than that of the physical, and this consciousness seizes upon its particles and disposes them so as to resist encroachment. It puts the grossest and densest upon the outside as a kind of shell, and arranges the others in concentric layers, so that the body as a whole may become as resistant to friction as its constitution permits, and may therefore retain its shape as long as possible. (Charles Leadbeater, TT, 66-9.)
The man on the path must do his work thoroughly. On the threshold mistakes can easily be corrected. But unless the disciple gets rid entirely of the desire for power while he is in the early stages of his spiritual apprenticeship, it will become stronger and stronger. If he does not weed it out where it is based in the physical, astral and mental planes, but allows it to take root in the spiritual plane of the ego, he will find it very difficult to eradicate. Ambition thus established in the causal body is carried on from life to life. The physical, astral and mental bodies die, and he gets new ones, but the causal body does not die till the end of the kalpa; so let the pupil beware of permitting spiritual ambition to touch the causal body and build into it / [an element] of separateness which more and more encase the life. (C.W. Leadbeater in Annie Besant and Leadbeater, CLP, 64-5.)
We say: "Kill out desire," but not, "Kill out emotion." The higher emotions must be encouraged always, and the stronger they are the better. Especially is this true of love and devotion, which one should deliberately cultivate. When a man feels a great rush of such an emotion as these his aura expands; his astral body becomes perhaps ten times its normal size in the case of the ordinary person, and much more than that when the man really knows how to use his higher vehicles. When the great paroxysm of feeling is over the aura contracts again, but not exactly to what it was before; having been much stretched it remains at least a little larger than before. The first effect of the expansion is a rarefaction of the astral body, but it very speedily draws in more astral matter to fill the larger space, so as to make it up to about its normal density. (Charles Leadbeater in Annie Besant and Leadbeater, CLP, 46.)
Remember that as we help, we can be helped; remember that from the lowest to the highest we are bound together by one long chain of mutual service, and that although we stand on the lower steps of the ladder, it reaches up above these earthly mists to where the light of God is always shining. (Charles Leadbeater, LAD, 65.)
All that (1) will come to us in the course of nature (in the seventh round, as we have said), even though we drift along and make no exertion; but far earlier if we are willing to undertake the labour which earns it - hard work indeed, yet noble work and pleasant in the doing, even though at times it may bring with it much of suffering. Yet the way is the Way of Service, and each step that we take is taken not for ourselves but for others, that through our realisation others may realise, that through our exertion others may find the Path, that through the blessing which comes to us the whole world may also be blessed. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 62.)
- (1) I.e., enlightenment up to and including Nirvana.
Try to enlarge your horizons so that you may see this world and its happenings in their true perspective: see that what you do and try to do is most tremendously important and that what happens to you doesn't matter at all.
Look forward to death as something infinitely to be desire when your life's work is done; and do not mourn or pity those who die before you, but think of them as fortunate. If you loved them here, keep on loving them and hold them in your heart till you meet them again. (Lord Dowding, MM, 100-1.)
Spirit Guides or Teachers
To each man, it is said, a special teacher is allotted - his spiritual teacher, who will draw close if the man on earth permits it, who will speak to him in his innermost dreams and ideals, in his flashes of intuition, in moral compulsions which the one on earth recognizes but cannot always explain; and who will also speak to him at times through his pupil's direct telepathic sensitivity, or through the help of a sensitive, or sometimes through ideas which seem to waken of themselves in the pupil's own mind. (Paul Beard, LO, 188.)
The teacher or delegate speaks when the outer man cannot or will not listen deeply enough for himself. (Paul Beard, LO, 188.)
Whether it is the teacher talking or his own inner self prompting him, the message will basically be the same, leading away from the outer personality and towards a larger self, towards more impersonal horizons. (Paul Beard, LO, 189.)
I confidently believe that, as the years roll on, the veil between the two worlds will become thinner and thinner, and communication will become more and more a matter of course; but I think that the planning and execution of the campaign should be left to those on the other side, assisted by their specially-gifted adjutants in this life. (Lord Dowding, MM, 99.)
So far as we know, there is no such thing as "dead" matter. (Charles Leadbeater, AP, 27.)