|Simplified Scientific Christianity
We have seen that man is a very complex organism, consisting of:
The purpose of life is to transform the powers latent in the Ego into dynamic energy, whereby it may perfectly control its different vehicles and act as it pleases. We know that it does not have full sway now, or there would be no warfare in our breasts, as we say, between the Spirit and the flesh, but in reality, as we should say, between the Spirit and the flesh, but in reality, as we should say, between the Spirit and the desire body. It is this warfare that develops the spiritual muscle, as wrestling builds the physical muscle. It is easy to bid others do this and that, but to enforce obedience from oneself is the hardest task in the world, and it has been truly said that "the man who conquers himself is greater than he who takes a city." Goethe, the great initiate poet, gives us the reason why in the lines:
Such a man is above all laws, whether made by man or God — not that he would break them, far from it — but for just the opposite reason, that his perfect obedience to them renders all laws as superfluous in respect to him as the law "thou shalt not steal" is to one who has learned to respect the property rights of others.
Sin or action contrary to the will of God, or the laws of Nature, was before all Law, and St. Paul well appreciates its beneficent action when he says that "the law is a taskmaster to bring us to Christ, for without 'Law' we had not known sin."
Whenever we break one of Nature's laws, that transgression, as a cause, brings as effect a corresponding retribution. If we overeat, or eat improperly, indigestion may result, or perhaps, if the disturbance we have caused is serious, it may be necessary for Nature to burn it out on the physical plane of action by means of a fever. If we sin against the laws of morality, social ostracism follows, and thus wrong on the moral plane brings retribution. But the man who uses his mental powers unworthily is the worst as well as the most dangerous, for the gourmand may be an otherwise exceedingly respectable and lovable person, practically injuring no one but himself. The immoral person, the common brawl and the gossip are cancers on society, dangerous to all. They can, however, be shunned and avoided, and thus the dangers incident to contact with them may at least be minimized. They may and sometimes do repent and reform, but the most insidious of all wrong is that done upon the mental plane of action, where a man under the guise of perfect respectability, often under the cloak of benevolence, can blight the lives of others, bend their wills to his own ends, yet seemingly remain irreproachable himself, and even be looked upon as a friend and benefactor by his victims.
Thus, without danger of detection he gains his end, whether that be gold or aggrandizement.
His transgression is seldom punished in the same life in which committed, but often in later lives finds its expiation in congenital idiocy, without the chance of repentance or forgiveness, such as, for instance, a realization of wrong to another may bring in ordinary cases, when repentance is accompanied by reform. The crime of the determined hypnotist is in fact a phase of what the Bible describes as "sin against the Holy Spirit," spiritual evil, the greatest danger to society.
The Holy Spirit is the creative principle in nature and the creative force in man is its direct expression. The same force expresses itself through the generative organs to create a new body and through the brain to create new thoughts, which are afterwards crystallized to "things."
When anyone is victimized by a hypnotist he ceases to be his own master and loses his faculty for independent thought under the spell of the hypnotist's suggestions — which are in fact commands, because the victim has no choice, but must obey.
Therefore, as the hypnotist interferes with the expression of the creative faculty of thought in his victim, which faculty is a direct expression of the Holy Spirit, he is committing a sin against the Holy Spirit.
To give point and force to the descriptions of such abnormal conditions as exist in dreams, trance, hypnotism, mediumship, obsession, and insanity we will begin with an explanation of the condition of man in the normal state of waking and sleep, as viewed from the standpoint of esoteric science.
The Waking State. — In the waking state all the vehicles of man are confined within the same space. As the bones, the flesh, and the various juices of the body are confined within the skin, so all the bodies of man are gathered within an egg-shaped cloud that reaches above the head, below the feet and all around the visible body. No matter what position the dense body may take, it is always in the center of this aura, as the yolk is in the center of an egg. The aura surrounds man's dense body as the white of the egg surrounds the yolk. But that is not all, for this aura composed of man's finer vehicles not only surrounds the dense body, but permeates its every particle as well, in a manner similar to the way in which the blood pervades the whole dense body.
Thus we see that these bodies are nearer than hands and feet, and, though as invisible as our breath, they are not less real or less necessary. During life man cannot ordinarily separate them; and unless they are all together he cannot move and act as he does in ordinary daily life.
During the waking state there is a constant war between the vital body and the desire body. The desires and impulses from the desire body are constantly impinging upon the dense body, impelling it to action, regardless of any damage resulting to the latter instrument, so that desire is gratified. It is the desire vehicle that urges the drunkard to fill his system with liquor, so that the chemical combustion of spirit may raise the vibrations of the dense body to such a pitch as to make it the willing tool of every mad impulse, wasting its stored energy with reckless prodigality.
The vital body, on the other hand, has no other interest than the preservation of the dense vehicle. By way of the spleen it specializes the colorless solar energy with pervades space, and by some strange chemical process transforms it into a vital fluid of a beautiful pale rose color, sending it along every nerve and fiber of the body. The vital body ever aims to husband the energy it has stored in the dense body. It is constantly concerned in rebuilding the tissues when they are broken down and destroyed by the powerful onslaughts of the rampant desire body.
This "vital fluid" has a function similar to that of electricity in a telegraph system, for even when such a system is built with wires connecting different stations, and operators at their keys, the system will be dead until electricity speeds along the lines and carries the messages. So is the dense body useless unless the nerves are traversed by this vital fluid. When that fails in whole or in part, we say that the body is paralyzed to that extent. We note the effect, but do not see the cause in the material world.
We have in our body two nervous systems, the voluntary and the involuntary. The first named is operated directly by the desire body, and controls the movements of the body, tends to break down and destroy, only partially restrained in its ruthless task by the mind. The involuntary system has its particular vantage ground in the vital body; it governs the digestive and respiratory organs, which rebuild and restore the dense body.
It is this war between the vital body and the desire body which produces consciousness in the physical world, but did not the mind act as a brake on the desire body, our waking hours would be very short, and so would or lives, for the vital body would soon be overridden in its beneficent offices by the reckless desire body, as evidenced in the exhaustion which follows a fit of temper, for temper is a condition where the man has "lost control" and the desire body rules unchecked.
Sleep and Natural Trance. — In spite of all its efforts, however the vital body slowly loses ground as the day goes along, the poisons of decaying tissue accumulate and impede the flow of the vital fluid, its motion becomes more and more sluggish. In consequence the visible body shows signs of exhaustion. At last the vital body, so to say, collapses; the vital fluid ceases to flow along the nerves in sufficient quantity to maintain the poise of the dense body, and that renders it unconscious and therefore unfit for the use of the Spirit. That is sleep.
It is the idea of many people that sleep is a passive or negative state. Nothing could be more erroneous, and if that were the case, the body would awake as tired as when it went to sleep, or rather, it would never wake; for it was its inability to receive the vital fluid (caused by being clogged with poisons of decay) which sent it to sleep, and if the only effect of that state were a negative cessation of waste and energy, the conditions would remain in status quo, and the body would sleep on. Sometimes such a conditions exists, lasting perhaps weeks or even months. The sleeper is then said to be in a "trance." To keep up that state for any length of time, and not have it result in death, functions of the vital body must not be entirely suspended; it must take care of a limited amount of digestion.
What, then, is it that makes sleep a restorative state? In the very term "restorative" there is implied an activity. If a building is to be restored, it is necessary that the tenants move out, and that destruction, wear and tear cease. But that is not enough. Workmen must be brought in to repair the damage incident to the use of the building. Only when that work has been done is restoration complete and the building ready for re-occupancy by the tenants.
So also with the temple of the Ego, our dense body, when that has been exhausted. It is then necessary that the Ego, mind, and desire body vacate and give the vital body full sway, that it may restore the tone of the dense body; and thus, when the dense body goes to sleep, there is a separation. The Ego and the mind, clothed in the desire body, draw out from the vital body and the dense body, the two latter remaining on the bed, while the higher vehicles hover above or near the sleeping body.
The process of restoration now begins. In a fight in the Physical World the injuries are never all on one side; the winner always has some lesions. The fiercer the fight, and the more evenly the combatants are matched, the more lesions go to each. So with the combating vital and desire bodies, the desire body wins every time, yet its victory is always a defeat, for it is then forced to leave the battlefield and the prize, the dense body, in the hands of the vanquished vital body and withdraw to repair its own shattered harmony.
When it withdraws from the sleeping body it enters that sea of force and harmony called the Desire World. Here it lives over the scenes of the day, but in reverse order, from effects to causes, straightening out the tangles of the day, forming true pictures to replace the wrong impressions due to the limitations of the life in the dense body, and as the harmonies of the Desire World pervade it, and wisdom and truth replace error, it regains its rhythm and its tone, the time required to restore it varying according to how illusive, impulsive and strenuous had been the life of the day.
Then, and then only, does the work of restoring the vehicles left on the bed commence, and the restored desire body starts to revive the vital body, pumping rhythmic energy into it, and that in turn starts to work upon the dense body, eliminating the projects of decay, principally by means of the sympathetic nervous system, with the result that the dense body is restored and overflowing with life when the desire body, mind, and Ego enter in the morning and cause it to wake.
Dreams. — It sometimes happens, however, that we have become so absorbed and interested in the affairs of our mundane existence that even after the vital body has collapsed and rendered the dense body unconscious we cannot make up our minds to leave it and commence the works of restoration; the desire body will cling like grim death, is perhaps only dragged half out by the Ego, and starts to ruminate over the happenings of the day in that position.
It is evident that this is an abnormal condition. The proper connection between the different vehicles is ruptured in the first place by the collapse of the vital body, and further disarranged by the unusual relative positions of the higher vehicles, which has partially disconnected the sense centers of the former from the latter, and the inevitable result is those confused dreams where the sounds and sights of the Desire World are mixed with the happenings of daily life in the most grotesque and impossible way.
At times, when something in daily life has particularly agitated the desire body, it happens that when it has severed connection with the lower vehicles and is engaged in the work of restoration by the above mentioned review, that when a trying incident of the day appears, and the desire body sees the solution, it will rush back into the dense body in order to impress the ideas on the brain, thereby causing the dense body to wake with a start. It is only in the fewest cases that it is able to bring back the solution that was so clear in the Desire World. Even if it does succeed in impressing the solution on the brain, it is usually forgotten in the morning.
The knowledge of this fact has caused many people to keep paper, pencil, and a light by the bedside, and often they are rewarded by finding solutions to their problems written in the morning, without having even a recollection of writing. It is a good idea to follow.
Under such a condition, where there is no complete separation of the vehicles, it is evident that waste is still going on and that restoration is impeded, the dense body tossing on the bed in extreme cases, and in consequence there is a tired feeling left in the morning, due to the imperfect separation of the vehicles, which causes dreams and makes the sleep restless.
Not all dreams are confused, however; those, for instance, which bring logical solutions to problems of life or prophetically warn of impending trouble, often enable us to avoid or avert disaster. Such dreams generally occur just before waking, and only when there has been a complete separation of the vehicles previous to the awakening, for only then is it possible for a dream to be logical, and in that case it is merely that the knowledge of impending disaster seen by the Ego in the Desire World is successfully transmitted to the brain. It is a great help in furthering such impressions in the coming night if we hold the thought to the last on going to sleep: "I want to know about so and so, and I am going to remember it in the morning." If this is the last thought on going to sleep, it will bring the memory of the solution arrived at.
To take up the time giving instances to prove the value of dreams would be a waste of time in a lecture. The daily press teems with instances of providential escapes attributable to warning dreams. The records of the Society for Physical Research give voluminous evidence, and anyone in search of evidence will have no trouble in finding it.
Hypnotism. — It is characteristic of the invisible bodies of man that they are acted upon by will. Every impulse to action that comes from within originates in the will of the man himself, while incentives to action arising from outside sources, commonly called "circumstances" originate in the will of others, and the difference between the man of strong character, good or bad, and the weak man, is that the former is impelled by his own will, acting from within, which enables him, regardless of circumstances, to make his way as he determines.
On the other hand, the weakling who has not will is the helpless sport of the billows of circumstance, dominated by the will of others, driftwood on the shoreless sea of life.
To control others by the exercise of will power is mental assault, and is even more reprehensible than assault on the physical plane of action. It is this mental assault which is called "hypnotism," and it is graded in its effect just as physical assault is. A strong man may administer a playful slap to get another to do his bidding, or he may beat him to unconsciousness. The hypnotist salesman administers just enough force to make the customer buy something he does not want or cannot afford, and then deludes himself by calling it legitimate business.
Bad and widespread as this is, it is at least not attended by any of the after-effects incident to the practice of putting "subjects" into hypnotic sleep. The enormity of this crime can only be appreciated when the effect upon the invisible bodies of the subject is noted.
No strong-willed person can be dominated by a hypnotist to the extent of being put to sleep, and not one who keeps a positive mental attitude can be dominated, hence the unsuspecting victim is first told to be perfectly negative and willing to be put to sleep. The passes of the hypnotist are not directed to the head and impinge upon the head of the vital body, squeezing it through the physical head, so that it lies around the neck in thick rolls, something like the collar of a sweater.
Thus the connection between the Ego and the dense body is severed, as in sleep, and the higher vehicles withdrawn. But there is now a different condition than in the sleep state. The head of the vital body is not in its proper place, enveloping and permeating the dense physical head of the victim. That is not pervaded by ether from the vital body of the hypnotist, and thus he obtains power over his victim.
If we know what "wire-tapping" means we have the key to the relation between the hypnotist and his victim, at least in a measure. If a man has a private telephone connection from his home to his office, and someone makes a connection in between, he will be able to intercept messages, impersonate the business man, issue orders, etc. The hypnotist does something like that. He taps the line of communication between the Ego and body of his victim by interposing part of himself in the line, and by virtue of that hold he may force the Ego to go out in the invisible world and get whatever information he desires, as far as it is possible; or he may make the dense body do foolish or criminal acts according to his pleasure.
But even this is not the worst about hypnotism. By far the gravest danger to the victim arises from the fact that, once a part of they hypnotist's vital body has been introduced into his own, it cannot be entirely withdrawn at the awakening. A small part remains and forms a nucleus by which the hypnotist may gain ingress and subdue his victim more easily the next time, and each succeeding time something is added to this nucleus, so that by degrees the poor victim becomes perfectly helpless, amenable to the will of his master independent of the distance until the death of one or the other breaks the connection.
This remnant of the hypnotist's vital body is also the storehouse for commands to be carried out at a future time, involving the performance of a certain act, on a certain day, at a certain hour. When the time arrives the impulse is released like the spring of an alarm clock, and the victim must carry out the command even to murder, yet has no idea that he is influenced by someone else. Therefore, hypnotism is the greatest crime on earth and the greatest danger to society.
It is sometimes contended that hypnotism may be used benevolently for the cure of drunkenness and other vices, and it is readily admitted that, viewed solely from the material standpoint, that appears to be true. But from the viewpoint of esoteric science it is far otherwise. Like all other desires, the craving for liquor is in the desire body, and it is the duty of the Ego to master it by will power. That is why he is in the school of experience called life, and no man can do his moral growing for him, any more than he can digest another's dinner for him. Nature is not to be cheated; each must solve his own problems, overcome his own faults by his own will. If, therefore, a hypnotist overpowers the desire body of a drunkard, the Ego in the drunkard will have to learn its lesson in a future life, if he dies before the hypnotist. But if the hypnotist dies first the man will inevitably turn to drink again, for then the part of the hypnotist's vital body which held the evil desire in check gravitates back to its source, and the cure is nil. The only way permanently to master a vice is by one's own will.
At the death of a hypnotist all his victims are released, and no suggestion for a subsequent date will compel them.
Mediumship. — To understand mediumship it is necessary to know that at death the same separation takes place as in sleep, but it is permanent. The so called dead have Ego, mind, and desire body, and are often conscious of the world they have left for some time after. Some cling to the earth life, and cannot set their minds to learn the new lessons; we call them "Earth-bound Spirits." They cannot function in the visible world without a body, however, and so they take advantage of the fact that all Spirits are not confined with equal rigor to the prison of the dense body. Those who are most closely bound are the rank materialists; those whose cords do not bind them so tightly are "impressionists," capable of answering in some measure to spiritual vibrations. Persons of positive character thus constituted, if they develop, do so by their own will, and become trained esotericists. Those of weak will can only develop by the aid of others, and in a negative way. They are the prey of Earth-bound Spirits who constitute themselves "Spirit guides" and develop their victims as "trance mediums," or, if the connection between the victim's dense and vital bodies be particularly lax, into "materializing mediums."
These Earth-bound Spirit controls are in every respect like the hypnotist, except that they are invisible to their victims and have more power over them, because looked up to as "higher beings," "angels" devoid of evil, and unselfishly aiming to diffuse happiness or wisdom.
As a matter of fact, there is no transforming power in death. The sinner does not become a saint nor the ignoramus a Solomon because of it, and it is a pathetic sight to the trained clairvoyant who sees the imposition practiced by unprincipled Spirit controls upon their unsuspecting victims, who are so thoroughly unsophisticated that they fail to distinguish the true character of the impostors and accept their inane, goody-goody phrases as sublime wisdom. They have done some good in proving the reality of a life after death, but much harm to mediums.
The modus operandi of the invisible manipulator is simply to push the higher vehicles out of the lower bodies of the unresisting medium, step in himself and take control. When he leaves, he also takes part of the medium's vital body to use as a key or lever next time.
In some cases he is not satisfied to borrow a body, but steal one, `nd keess the ovner out permanently. We see the same body, but there is another soul within, which shows different habits and tastes altogether. That is called "obsession," and can be detected by the fact that the iris neither responds to light nor distance by contraction or expansion, for the eye is the window of the soul and only the owner can truly manipulate it; hence the eyes of mediums under control are always closed, or have a glassy stare.
There are certain means of getting rid of an obsessing Spirit and restoring the body to the owner, but that cannot be given publicly.
We have seen that in the waking state the dense body and the vital body are surrounded and interpenetrated by an egg-shaped cloud comprising the desire body and the mind. These vehicles are all concentric, and form so many links in a chain. It is the interpolation of one into the other, so that the sense centers in one are in proper alignment with the sense centers of the other, which enables the Ego to manipulate the complex organism and perform in an ordered manner the life processes which we call reason, speech, and action. If there is a maladjustment anywhere the Ego will be correspondingly hampered in its expression. This perfect balance is health, the opposite is disease.
Disease takes many forms; one is insanity, and that also is of different kinds. Where the connection between the sense centers of the dense body and the vital body is askew, where sometimes the head of the vital body towers above the dense head instead of being concentric with it, the vital body is out of adjustment with both the higher vehicles and the dense body. Then we have the docile idiot. Where the dense and vital bodies are in adjustment but the break is between the vital body and the desire body, a similar condition obtains; but when the break is between the desire body and the mind we have the raving maniac, who is more ungovernable than a wild animal, for that is checked by the Group Spirit. In that case all the animal propensities are followed blindly.
When the break is between the Ego and the mind, the latter takes charge of the three vehicles, and we have the consummate cunning which characterizes a certain class of insane. Such an one will successfully hide his baneful designs and outwit all to attain revenge for fancied wrong or other low desire until the victim is within his power. Then the brute nature of the desire body will spend itself in some horrible outrage, or the mind may even then dominate the desire body and exert its diabolical cunning in slow torture before the desire body breaks away and ends the sufferings of the victim, perhaps brutally, but far more mercifully than continued torture.
The object lesson to be learned from a knowledge of these matters is that we must remain our own masters and never under any pretext allow ourselves to be hypnotized or controlled by an outside agency; also that self-mastery is our goal, and not mastery over others.
Amid all the uncertainties which are the characteristics of the world, there is but one certainty — Death. At one time or another, after a short or a long life, comes this termination to the material phrase of our existence which is a birth into a new world, as that which we term "birth" is, in the beautiful words of Wordsworth, a forgetting past.
Birth and death may therefore be regarded as the shifting of man's activity from one world to another, and it depends upon our own position whether we designate such a change birth or death. If a man enters the world in which we live, we call it birth, if he leaves our plane of existence to enter another world, we call it death; but to the individual concerned the passage from one world to another is but as the removal to another city here; he lives, unchanged; only his exterior surroundings and condition are changed.
The passage from one world to another is often attended by more or less unconsciousness, like sleep as Wordsworth says, and for that reason our consciousness may be fixed upon the world we have left. In infancy heaven lies about us in actual fact; children are all clairvoyant for a longer or shorter time after birth, and whoever passes out at death still beholds the material world for some time. If we pass out in the full vigor of physical manhood or womanhood, with strong ties of family, friends, or other interests, the dense world will continue to attract our attention for a much longer time than if death occurred at a "ripe old age," when the earthly ties have been severed before the change we call death. This is on the same principle that the seed clings to the flesh of unripe fruit, while it is easily and cleanly detached from the ripe fruit. Therefore it is easier to die at an advanced age than in youth.
The unconsciousness which usually attends the change of the incoming spirit at birth, and the outgoing spirit at death is due to our inability to adjust our focus instantly, and is similar to the difficulty we experience when passing from a darkened room to the street on a light, sunny day, or vice versa. Under those conditions some time elapses before we can distinguish objects about us; so with the newly born and to the newly dead, both have to readjust their viewpoint to their new condition.
When the moment arrives which marks the completion of life in the physical world, the usefulness of the dense body has ended, and the Ego withdraws from it by way of the head, taking with it the mind and the desire body, as it does every night during sleep, but now the vital body is useless, so that too is withdrawn, and when the "silver cord" which united the higher to the lower vehicles snaps, it can never be repaired.
We remember that the vital body is composed of ether, superimposed upon the dense bodies of plant, animal, and man during life. Ether is physical matter, and has therefore weight. The only reason why the scientists cannot weigh it is because they are unable to gather a quantity and put it upon a scale. But when it leaves the dense body at death a diminution in weight will take place in every instance, showing that something having weight, yet invisible, leaves the dense body at that time.
In 1906 Dr. McDougall, of Boston, weighed a number of dying persons by putting their beds upon scales, which he balanced. It was noted that the platform bearing the weights came down with startling suddenness at the moment when the last breath was drawn. The news was flashed all over the Union that the soul had been weighed, an achievement that can never be accomplished, for the soul is not amenable to physical laws. Later Professor Twining, of Los Angeles, supposedly weighed the soul of a mouse, but what the scientists really did was to weigh the vital body as it leaves the dense body at death.
A word should be spoken in regard to the treatment of dying persons, who suffer unspeakable agony in many cases through the mistaken kindness of friends. More suffering is caused by administering stimulants to the dying than perhaps in any other way. It is not hard to pass out of the body, but stimulants have the effect of throwing the departing Ego back into its body with the force of a catapult, to experience anew the sufferings from which it was just escaping. Departed souls have often complained to investigators, and one such person said that he had not suffered as much in all his life as he did while kept from dying for many hours. The only rational way is to leave Nature to take it course when it is seen that the end is inevitable.
Another and more far-reaching sin against the passing Spirit is to give vent to loud crying or lamentation in or near the death chamber. Just subsequent to its release and from a few hours to a few days afterwards, the Ego is engaged upon a matter of the utmost importance; a great deal of the value of the past life depends upon the attention given to it by the passing spirit. If distracted by the sobs and lamentations of loved ones, it will lose much, as we shall see, but if strengthened by prayer and helped by silence, much future sorrow to all concerned may be avoided. We are never so much our brother's keeper as when he is passing through Gethsemane, and it is one of our greatest opportunities for serving him and laying up heavenly treasure for ourselves.
We have studied the phenomenon of birth, and have evolved a science of birth. We have qualified obstetricians and trained nurses to minister in the best possible manner to both mother and child to make them comfortable, but we are sadly, very sadly, in need of a science of death. When a child is coming into the world we bustle about in intelligent endeavor; when a lifelong friend is about to leave us we stand helplessly about, ignorant of how to aid, or worse, worse than all, we bungle, and cause suffering instead of helping.
Physical science knows that whatever the power which moves the heart, it does not come from without, but is inside the heart. The esoteric scientist sees a chamber in the left ventricle, near the apex, where a little atom swims in a sea of the highest ether. The force in that atom, like the forces in all other atoms is the undifferentiated life of God; without that force the mineral could not form matter into crystals, the plant, animal, and human kingdoms would be unable to form their bodies. The deeper we go the plainer it becomes to us how fundamentally true it is that in God we live, move, and have our being.
That atom is called the "seed-atom." The force within it moves the heart and keeps the organism alive. All the other atoms in the whole body must vibrate in tune with this atom. The forces of the seed-atom have been immanent in every dense body ever possessed by the particular Ego to whom it is attached, and upon its plastic tablet are inscribed all the experiences of that particular Ego in all its lives. When we return to God, when we shall all have become one in God once more, that record, which is peculiarly God's record, will still remain, and thus we shall retain our individuality. Our experiences we transmute, as will be described, into faculties; the evil is transmuted into good and the good we retain as power for higher good, but the record of the experiences is OF God, and in God, in the most intimate sense.
The "silver cord" which unites the higher and lower vehicles terminates at the seed-atom in the heart. When material life comes to an end in the natural manner the forces in the seed-atom disengage themselves, pass outward along the pneumogastric nerve, the back of the head and along the silver cord together with the higher vehicles. It is this rupture in the heart which marks physical death, but the connecting silver cord is not broken at once, in some cases not for several days.
The vital body is the vehicle of sense-perception. As that remains with the body of feeling and the etheric cord connects them with the discarded dense body, it will be evident that until the cord is severed there must be a certain amount of feeling experienced by the Ego when its dense body is molested. Thus, it causes pain when the blood is extracted and embalming fluid injected, when the body is opened for post-mortem examination, and when the body is cremated.
A case was told the writer where a surgeon amputated three toes from a (living) person under anesthetics. He threw the severed toes into a bright coal fire, and immediately the patient commenced to scream, for the rapid disintegration of the material toes caused an equally rapid disintegration of the etheric toes, which were connected with the higher vehicles. In like manner molestations affect the discarnate Spirit from a few hours to three and one-half days after death. Then all connection is severed, and the body begins to decay.
Therefore great care should be taken not to cause the passing Spirit discomfort by such measures. If laws or other circumstances prevent keeping the body quietly in the room where death took place for a few days, it can at least be interred for that length of time and then treated in any desired way. Quiet and prayer are of enormous benefit at that time, and if we love the departed Spirit wisely we shall be able to earn its lasting gratitude by following the above instructions.
In Lecture No. 3 we saw that the vital body is the storehouse of both the conscious and subconscious memory; upon the vital body is branded indelibly every act and experience of the past life, as the scenery upon an exposed photographic plate. When the Ego has withdrawn it from the dense body, the whole life, as registered by the subconscious memory, is laid open to the eye of mind. It is the partial loosening of the vital body which causes a drowning person to see his whole past life, but then it is only like a flash, preceding unconsciousness; the silver cord remains intact, or there could be no resuscitation. In the case of a Spirit passing out at death, the movement is slower; the man stands as a spectator while the pictures succeed one another in the order from death to birth, so that he sees first the happenings just prior to death, then the years of manhood or womanhood unroll themselves; youth, childhood and infancy follow, until it terminates at birth. The man, however, has no feeling about them at that time, the object is merely to etch the panorama into the desire body, which is the seat of feeling, and from that impress the feeling will be realized when the Ego enters the Desire World, but we may note here that the intensity of feeling realized depends upon the length of time consumed in the process of etching, and the attention given thereto by the man. If he was undisturbed for a long period, by noise and hysteria, a deep, clear-cut impress will be made upon the desire body. He will feel the wrong he did more keenly in purgatory, and be more abundantly strengthened in his good qualities in heaven, and though the experience will be lost in a future life, the feelings will remain, as the "still, small voice." Where the feelings have been strongly indented upon the desire body of an Ego, this voice will speak in no vague and uncertain terms. It will impel him beyond gainsaying, forcing him to desist from that which caused pain in the life before, and compel him to yield to that which is good. Therefore the panorama passes backwards, so that the Ego sees first the effects, and then the underlying causes.
As to what determines the length of the panorama, we remember that it was the collapse of the vital body which forced the higher vehicles to withdraw; so after death, when the vital body collapses, the Ego has to withdraw, and thus the panorama comes to an end. The duration of the panorama depends, therefore, upon the time the person could remain awake if necessary. Some people can remain awake only a few hours, others can endure for a few days, depending upon the strength of their vital body.
When the Ego has left the vital body, the latter gravitates back to the dense body, remaining hovering above the grave, decaying as the dense body does, and it is indeed a noisome sight to the clairvoyant to pass through a cemetery and behold all those vital bodies whose state of decay clearly indicates the state of decomposition of the remains in the grave. If there were more clairvoyants, incineration would soon be adopted as a measure of protection to our feelings, if not for sanitary reasons.
When the Ego has freed itself from the vital body, its last tie with the physical world is broken, and it enters the Desire World. The ovoid form of the desire body now changes its form, assuming the likeness of the discarded dense body. There is, however, a peculiar arrangement of the materials out of which it is formed, that has great significance in regard to the kind of life the departed will lead there.
The desire body of man is composed of matter from all the seven regions of the Desire World, as a dense body is build of the solids, liquids, and gases of this world. But the quantity of matter from each region in the desire body of a man depends upon the nature of the desires which he cherishes. Coarse desires are built of the coarsest desire stuff, which belongs to the lowest region of the Desire World. If a man has such, he is building a coarse desire body, where the matter from the lowest regions predominates. If he persistently puts coarse desires away from himself, yielding only to the pure and the good, his desire body will be formed of the materials of the higher regions.
At present no man is wholly evil, and none wholly good; we are all mixtures of both; but there may be and is a difference in our make-up. In the desire bodies of some there is a preponderance of coarse and in others of fine desire stuff; and that makes all the difference in the environment and status of the man when he enters the Desire World after death, for then the matter of his desire body, while taking on the likeness of the discarded dense body, at the same time arranges itself so that the subtlest matter which belongs to the higher regions of the Desire World forms the center of the vehicle, and the matter from the three densest regions is on the outside. When the Ego's earth life is ended it exerts centrifugal force to free itself from its vehicles. Following out the same law which causes a planet to throw that part of itself which is most dense and crystallized out into space, it first discards its dense body. When it enters the Desire World this centrifugal force also acts so as to throw the coarsest matter in the desire body outwards, and thus man is forced to stay in the lower regions until he has been purged of the coarser desires which were embodied in he densest desire matter. The coarsest desire matter is therefore always on the outside of his desire body while he is passing through Purgatory, and is gradually eliminated by the purging centrifugal force; the force of Repulsion, which tears the evil out of man and the allows him to pass upwards into the First Heaven in the upper part of the Desire World, where the Force of Attraction alone holds sway and builds the good of the past life into the Ego as soul power. The discarded part of the desire body is left as an empty "shell."
When the Ego has left its dense body, that dies quickly. Physical matter becomes inert the moment it is deprived of the quickening, life-giving energy; it dissolves as a form. Not so with the matter of the Desire World; once life has been communicated to it, that energy will subsist for a considerable time after the influx of life has ceased, varying as to the strength of the impulse. The result is that after the Ego has left them these "shells" subsist for a longer or a shorter time. They live an independent life, and if that Ego to which they belonged was very much given to worldly desires, perhaps cut off in the prime of life, with strong and unsatisfied ambitions, this soul-less shell will often make the most desperate efforts to get back to the Physical World, and much of the phenomena of spiritualistic seances are due to the actions of these shells. The fact that the communications received from many of these so-called "Spirits" are utterly devoid of sense is easily accounted for when we realize that they are not Spirits at all, but only a soul-less part of the garment of the departed Spirit, and therefore without intelligence. They have a memory of the past life, owing to the panorama which was etched after death, which often enables them to impose upon relatives by stating incidents not known to others, but the fact remains that they are but the cast-off garment of the Ego, endowed with an independent life for the time being.
It is not always, however, that these shells remain soul-less, for there are different classes of beings in the Desire World, whose evolution naturally belongs there. They are good and bad, as are human beings. Generally they are classed under one heading as "elementals," although differing vastly in appearance, intelligence and characteristics. We will only deal with them so far as their influence touches the postmortem state of man.
It sometimes happens, especially where a man has been in the habit of invoking Spirits, that these beings take possession of his dense body in earth life and make him an irresponsible medium. They generally lure him at first with seemingly high teachings, but by degrees lead to gross immorality, and worst of all, they may take possession of his desire body after he has left it and ascended into heaven. As the impulses contained in the desire body are the basis of the life in heaven, and also the springs of action which cause man to reincarnate for renewed growth, this is indeed a very serious matter, for the whole evolution of a man may be stopped for ages, before the elemental releases his desire body.
It is these elements who are the originators of many of the spiritualistic phenomena where more intelligence is displayed than can be accounted for by the action of soul-less shells, particularly at materializations, at least. Though shells may take part, phenomena are always directed by a being with intelligence. The difference between a materializing medium and an ordinary person is that the connection between the dense body can be withdrawn, and also some of the gases and even liquids of the medium's dense body may be used to form the bodies of apparitions. This withdrawal and the process of clothing the shells is generally performed by the elemental who extracts the vital body of the medium out through the spleen. As a rule, the body of the medium shrinks horribly in consequence. When the dense body is thus deprived of its vital principle, it becomes terribly exhausted and unfortunately the medium often seeks to restore the equilibrium by strong drink, becoming a confirmed drunkard.
In Lecture No. 4 it was pointed out how dangerous it is to allow a hypnotist to dominate our will and deprive us of our liberty, but in that case the victim can at least see, and may form an opinion of the hypnotist who controls him. In the case of the medium the danger is multiplied a thousandfold, for the dominating influence cannot be seen. The death of the hypnotist releases his victims, but the gravest danger to the medium is after death. Therefore, a negative state in which the whole body or even the hand of a person is used automatically, apart from the individual's own volition, is hazardous. It is not denied that sometimes there are genuine communications from a departed Spirit, or that there are cases of benevolent communications from beings outside our volition, but our purpose is to point out the dangers to those who meddle with that they know not. Philanthropists do not grow on every bush in the Desire World any more than here. They are positively not great and good beings, angels, who enjoy knocking a man's hat over his ears, spilling water down his neck, or doing any other of the foolish tricks exhibited at the ordinary spiritualistic seance; those are emphatically either the soul-less shells of scapegraces, or elementals on a prank.
When a man wakes up in the Desire World he is with one exception the very same man in every respect as before death. Anyone seeing him there would know him if they had known him here. There is no transforming power in death; the man's character has not changed, the vicious man and the drunkard are vicious and dissipated still, the miser is a miser still, the thief is as dishonest as ever, but there is one great and important change in them all — they have all lost their dense body, and that makes all the difference in regard to the gratification of their various desires.
The drunkard cannot drink; he lacks the stomach, and though he may and at first often does, get into the whiskey casks of the saloons, it is no satisfaction to him, for whiskey in a cask does not give out fumes as it does during chemical combustion in the alimentary canal. He then tries the effect of getting into the dense body of drunkards on earth. He succeeds easily for the desire body is so constituted that it is no inconvenience to occupy the same space with another person. "Dead" people, at first, are often annoyed when their friends sit down in the chair they are occupying, but after a while they learn that it is not necessary to hurry out of their seat because a friend yet in earth life is approaching to sit down. It does not hurt the desire body "to be sat on"; both persons can occupy the same chair without inconveniencing each other's movements. So the drunkard enters into the body of people who are drinking, but even there he receives no real satisfaction, and in consequence he suffers the tortures of Tantalus, until at last the desire burns itself out for want of gratification, as all desires do, even in physical life.
This is "purgatory," and we note that it is not an avenging deity who measures out the suffering, or a devil who executes the judgment, but the evil desires cultivated in earth life, incapable of gratification in the Desire World, that cause the suffering, until in time they burn out. Thus the suffering is strictly proportionate to the strength of the evil habit. Take the case of the miser; he loves gold as dearly after death as before, but cannot gather any more; he has no physical hand wherewith to grasp, and worst of all, cannot protect what he had. He may sit watching in front of his safe, but the heirs may come and put their hands right through him, take away his cherished gold, perhaps laughing at the "stingy old fool" while he is nearly in a spasm with rage and mortification. He suffers terribly because unable to check them. At last, however, he learns to content himself; he is automatically purges of grasping, as was the drunkard of drink, by the Law of Consequence, which eradicates from each person his faults in an impersonal way. There is in truth no punishment, all suffering is entirely due to our self-acquired habits, is strictly proportionate to them. Benevolently it rids us of our faults, so that in consequence of purgation we are born innocent and may more easily acquire virtue when tempted anew, by listening to the voice that warns. Each evil act, at least, is therefore an act of free will.
While our evil habits are dealt with in this general way, our specific evil actions in the past life are dealt with in the same automatic manner by means of the life panorama which was etched into the desire body. That panorama begins to unfold backwards from death to birth, upon our entrance into the Desire World. It unfolds backwards at the rate of about three times the speed of the physical life, so that a man who was 60 years of age at the time of death would live over his past life in the Desire World in about twenty years.
We remember that when viewing this panorama just after death he had not feeling at all about it, standing there merely as a spectator, looking at the pictures as they unrolled. Not so when they appear in his consciousness in Purgatory. There the good makes no impression, but all the evil reacts upon him in such a way that in the scenes where he had made another suffer he himself feels as the injured one. He suffers all the pain and anguish his victim felt in life, and as the speed of the life is tripled, so is the suffering. It is even more acute, for the dense body is so slow of vibration that it dulls even suffering, but in the Desire World, where we are minus physical vehicles, suffering is more acute, and the more clearcut the panoramic impression of the past life was etched into the desire body at the time of death the more the man suffers and the more clearly he will feel in after lives that transgression is to be avoided.
There is a peculiar phase of this suffering, which also adds to its disagreeable character. If in life a man had injured two men at the same time, and one is living in Maine, the other in California, at the time when their tormentor is undergoing his purgatorial realization of the sufferings he caused them, he will feel himself as present with both at the same time, as if one part were in Maine and the other in California. It gives him a peculiar but indescribable feeling of being torn to pieces.
There are two classes of people for whom the purgative process does not commence at once, namely, the suicide and victim of murder. In the case of the suicide it does not commence until the time when the body would have died in the course of natural events, but in the meantime he suffers for his act in a way that is as dreadful as it is peculiar. He has a feeling of being hollowed out, as it were, and of inhabiting an aching void, due to the continued activity of the archetype of his form in the region of Concrete Thought. In the case of people, young or old, who die naturally or by accident, archetypal activity ceases; the higher vehicles undergo a modification at death, so that the loss of the dense body in itself gives no feeling of discomfort; but the suicide experiences no such change until the archetype of his body ceases to work, at the time when death would have naturally occurred. The space where his dense body ought to have been is empty, because the archetype is hollow, and it hurts indescribably. Thus he also learns that it is not possible to play truant from the school of life without bringing about unpleasant consequences, and in later lives when the way seems hard he will remember in his soul that the cowardly attempt to escape by suicide only brings added suffering.
There are people who commit suicide for unselfish reasons, to rid others of a burden, and they of course have their reward in another way, but do not escape the suffering of the suicide, any more than the man who enters a burning building to save others is immune from burns.
The victim of murder escapes this suffering because he is in a comatose state as a rule, until the time when natural death should have occurred, and is taken care of in that respect, like the victims of so-called accidents, but the latter are always conscious at once or shortly after death. If the murderer is executed between the time of the murder and the time when his victim would naturally have died, the comatose desire body of the latter floats to its slayer by magnetic attraction following him wherever he goes, without a moment's respite. The picture of the murder is always before him, causing him to feel the suffering and anguish which must inevitably accompany this incessant reenactment of his crime in all its horrible details. This goes on for a time corresponding to the period of life of which he deprived his victim. If the murderer escaped hanging, so that his victim has passed beyond Purgatory before he dies, the "shell" of his victim remains to act the part of Nemesis in the drama of reenactment of the crime.
Thus the Ego is purged of evil of every kind, by the impersonal action of the Law of Consequence, made fit to enter heaven and become strengthened in good, as it has been discouraged in evil.
We saw in the last lecture how the evil acts of life and our undesirable habits are dealt with by the impersonal law of consequence, and make for good in future lives, and to illustrate we noted its operation in such cases as those of the murderer, suicide, drunkard, and miser. These are extreme cases, however, and there are many people who have lived good moral lives, tainted more by petty selfishness, which is the besetting sin of our age, than by actual pronounced evil, and for them the stay in the purgatorial regions of the Desire World is of course correspondingly shortened and the suffering incidental is lightened. Thus in time all pass to the upper regions of the Desire World where the First Heaven is located.
This is the "Summerland" of the Spiritualists. Of the matter of this region the thoughts and fancies of people during life build the actual forms they see in their imagination. It is a characteristic of the inner worlds that the matter in them is readily molded by thought and will, and all these fantastic forms created by people go about, ensouled by elementals and enduring as long as the thought or desire which formed them endures. Around Christmas time, for instance, Santa Claus actually lives and rides around in his sleigh. There are all sorts of variety of him, and he remains in vigorous health for a month or more until the desires of the children who created him cease to flow in that direction, then he fades away till he is recreated next year. The New Jerusalem, with its pearly streets and sea of glass, and all the other pious and moral fancies of the church people are there also. Purgatory has its thought-form devil, with horns and cloven hoof, created by the thoughts of people, but in this upper part of the Desire World we find only that which is good and desirable in human aspirations. Here the student revels in libraries and is able to pursue his studies in a much more effective way than while confined to the dense body. If he desires a book, presto, it is there. The artist by his imagination shapes his models perfectly, he paints with living fiery colors instead of with the dead and dull pigments of earth, which are the physical artist's despair, for here in Earth-life it is impossible for him to reproduce the tints he sees with his inner vision, but the Desire World is the world of color par excellence, and therefore he obtains his heart's desire in the First Heaven, and receives inspiration and power to continue his work in future lives.
The sculptor likewise finds this part of the postmortem state a joy and an upliftment; he shapes with facility the plastic materials of this world into the statues he dreamt of in Earth-life. The musician is also benefited, but he is not yet in the true world of tone. That ocean of harmony, where the heavenly "music of the spheres" is heard, is in the part of the Region of Concrete Thought which, in the esoteric Christian religion, we call the second heaven; and so the musician only hears the echoes of the celestial strains; yet they are sweeter than any he ever heard on Earth, and his soul revels in their exquisite harmony, the earnest of better things to come.
Here we also find all the little children, who go directly to this place after passing out, and if their friends could see the, there would be no mourning, for theirs is rather an enviable life. They are always met by some relative or friend who has previously passed out, and are taken care of in every respect. There are people who lay up a great deal of treasure for themselves by giving much of their time to the invention of plays and toys for the little ones, and thus life in this First Heaven is spent in the most beautiful way by the children, nor is their instruction neglected. They are brought together in classes, not only according to age and capability, but according to temperament, and are particularly instructed in the effects of desires and emotions, which can so easily be done in a world where those things can be objectively demonstrated. Thus they are taught by object-lessons the benefit of cultivating good and altruistic desires, and many a soul who lives a moral life now, owes it to such a cause as the death in infancy and fifteen or twenty years in the First Heaven before a new incarnation was entered upon. It is often asked why children die. There are many causes, one is death under the dreadful strain of accident, by fire, or on the battlefield in a previous life, for under such circumstances the departing Ego could not properly concentrate upon the panoramic view of its past life. This is also the case where loud lamentations of relatives hinder. The result is of course a weak imprint of the life-experiences upon the desire body, with an insipid purgatorial and First Heaven life.
In such cases the Ego does not reap what it has sown, and so it might commit the same follies or sins life after life. To prevent such a contingency the new desire body which the Ego gathers before its next birth must be impressed with the needed lesson. The Ego is always unconscious on its way to rebirth, blinded by the matter it draws around itself, as we are blinded when we enter a house on a sunny day. Only after birth does the consciousness return in a measure. Then, when by death it passes into the First Heaven it is taught objectively in a different way the lesson it should have learned on its outward passage in the former life. When that lesson has been mastered and impressed upon the still unborn desire body the Ego is reborn on Earth and goes on in the ordinary manner.
Children who die before the seventh year have only been born so far as the dense and vital bodies are concerned and are not responsible to the Law of Consequence. Even up to twelve of fourteen years the desire body is in process of gestation, as will be more fully explained in the next lecture, and as that which has not been quickened cannot die, the dense and vital bodies alone go to decay when a child dies. It retains its desire body and mind to the next birth. Therefore it does not go around the whole path which the Ego usually traverses in a life cycle, but only ascends to the First Heaven to learn needed lessons, and after a wait of from one to twenty years it is reborn, often in the same family as a younger child.
It is a mistake to think that heaven is a place of unalloyed happiness for all. No one can reap any more happiness than what he sowed on Earth. The measure of our joy there will be the good deeds we did in Earth- life. The panorama of life etched into our desire-bodies just after death forms the basis of our enjoyment in heaven, as it was the decreer of our suffering in purgatory.
We remember, that as the panorama of the past life unrolled in Purgatory, only the scenes in which we had injured people operated to produce suffering. In the First Heaven only the good desires and unselfish acts are productive of feeling. When we behold a scene where we helped some one, soothing their sorrow and alleviating their suffering, we not only feel the most intense personal satisfaction, but in addition we feel all that the recipient of our favor felt in ease of body, of mental relief and gratitude to the helper. It does not matter whether he knew who helped him or not, the feeling he poured out to us when we helped him will be realized there, independent of other circumstances. On the other hand, if we have ourselves been grateful to our benefactors, we will feel the same feeling of relief from distress and gratitude for the help over again. As all these feelings and desires are built into the Ego by the spiritual alchemical forces generated when they are being realized there, and as they undergo a transmutation into faculties, usable in future incarnations, it is easily seen how important it is to our own soul-growth that we should feel and express our gratitude for favors shown us, for thus we lay the foundation for the receipt of new favors both in this and future lives. It is said that the Lord loves a cheerful giver; it is equally true that the "Law" (of Consequence) loves an appreciative heart.
When "giving" is under consideration let us beware of the fallacious idea that only the moneyed man can give. Indiscriminate gifts of money are a curse to both the giver and the recipient. Only when the giver bestows thought and heart also may gold be of value. But what is gold carelessly given compared to sympathy? Expression of faith in a man may give him the courage to go in and win; stirring his ambition we help him to help himself, where financial aid would render him helplessly dependent on our bounty. When we give, let us give ourselves first.
The ethics of giving, with the effect on the giver as a spiritual lesson, are most beautifully shown in Lowell's The Vision of Sir Launfal. The young and ambitious knight, Sir Launfal, clad in shining armor and astride a splendid charger, is setting out from his castle to seek The Holy Grail. On his shield gleams the cross, the symbol of the benignity and tenderness of Our Saviour, the meek and lowly One, but the knight's heart is filled with pride and haughty disdain for the poor and needy. He meets a leper asking alms and with a contemptuous frown throws him a coin, as one might cast a bone to a hungry cur, but —
On his return Sir Launfal finds another in possession of his castle, and is driven from the gate.
Again he meets the leper, who again asks alms. This time the knight responds differently.
A look in the leper's eye brings remembrance and recognition, and
A transformation takes place:
There are two classes for whom post-mortem existence is particularly blank and monotonous: the materialist and the man who was so absorbed in his material business that he never gave a thought to the spiritual worlds. The reason is not far to seek. They led good, moral lives as a rule, indulged in none of the vices of the lower Desire World, but neither have they done any good such as would find its fruition in feelings of joy in the First Heaven. To have given even large sums of money for the building of churches, libraries, or parks will help nothing there, unless the giver took particular interest in his gift, and thus gave himself with the money. Merely to give money will bring affluence in a future life, but to give oneself is more than money, it is soul-growth. The materialistic business man therefore goes to the fourth region, which is a sort of Borderland between Purgatory and the First Heaven. He is too good to suffer in Purgatory and not good enough to have a First Heaven life. He has still a keen longing for business. With no interests, save desires that cannot be gratified there, his life is an unenviable monotony, though he suffers in no other way.
The out-and-out materialist, who denies God and has the idea that death is annihilation, is in the worst of straits. He sees his mistake, yet having so dissociated himself from spiritual ideas, he often cannot believe but that this is a prelude to annihilation. The dreadful suspense wears terribly on such people, and it is not an uncommon sight to see them going about murmuring to themselves: Is it not soon the end? And, worst of all, if anyone who is instructed tries to inform them they will deny the existence of spirit there as much as they did in Earth-life, calling him visionary for thinking that there is anything beyond.
The natural tendency of the desire body is to harden and consolidate all it comes into contact with. Materialistic thought accentuates this tendency to such an extent that it very often results, in succeeding lives, in that dread disease, consumption, which is a hardening of the lungs. These should remain soft and elastic. It also sometimes happens that the desire body crushes the vital body in the next life, so that it fails altogether to counteract the hardening process, and then we have quick consumption. In some cases materialism makes the desire body brittle, as it were; then it cannot perform its proper hardening work on the dense body, and as a result we have "rachitis," where the bones soften. So we see what dangers we run by entertaining materialistic tendencies: either hardening of the soft parts of the body, as in consumption, or softening of the hard bony parts, as in rachitis. Of course not every case of consumption shows that the sufferer was a materialist in a former life, but it is the teaching of esoteric science that such a result often follows materialism. There is another cause for the prevalence of this dread disease back in the Middle Ages.
In the course of time every man makes ready to ascend into the Second Heaven, which is located in the Region of Concrete Thought. All good aspirations and desires of the past life are etched into and branded upon the mind, which then contains all that is of permanent value. The Ego withdraws from the desire body, which is then but an empty shell, and clothed only in the mind, it ascends into the Second Heaven.
We remember, that after the termination of the panorama, just subsequent to death, when the Ego withdrew from the vital body, it went through a period of unconsciousness before it awoke in the Desire World. There is also an interval between the withdrawal from the desire body in the First Heaven to the awakening in the Second Heaven. But this time there is no unconsciousness; every faculty is keenly on the alert, there is a state of hyper-consciousness, as the Spirit passes through this interval, which is called "The Great Silence." No matter how materialistic a man may have been on Earth, that state of mind has now vanished, and the man knows that he is inherently divine when he reaches this Great Silence which is the portal to his heavenly home. It is as when one awakens after a dreadful dream, and draws a deep sigh of relief at finding that the occurrences of the dream were not realities. So the Ego, when it enters this Great Silence, awakes from the delusions and illusions of Earth-life with a sense of infinite relief, is filled with a feeling of impregnable security, feels anew the restful repose of being in the everlasting arms of the Great Universal Spirit.
Presently there break upon the Ego's ear the indescribable harmonies of celestial music which fills this Region incessantly. It is no figment of the fancy when celestial music is spoken of, although it is untrue that the dead people who had little or no sense for music during Earth-life have suddenly developed a passion for and the faculty of expressing music at death. The fact of the matter is, that the World of Thought, where the Second Heaven is located, is also the realm of tone, as the Desire World is the world of light and color, and the Physical World is the world of form. The artist gets his color-schemes and his light-effects from the Desire World, but the musician must draw upon the more subtle World of Thought for his inspirations, and in this fact we have the reason why music is the highest art we possess. The painter draws upon a world closer at hand, and is therefore able to fix his creation once for all upon canvas, there to be seen by all who have eyes at any time. Music cannot be thus fixed; it is more elusive, it must be recreated each time, and at once vanishes into silence. In return, however, it has so much greater power to speak to us than even the greatest painting, for it comes directly from the heaven world, fresh and fragrant with echoes from the home of the Ego, awakening memories of and putting us in touch with that which we so often forget in our material existence. Therefore music, above all other human arts, alone has power to still the savage breast and affect us in a way that nothing else can.
Goethe was an initiate, and in his "Faust" emphasizes twice the fact that in the heavenly realms all things are reducible to terms of sound. The opening scene is laid in heaven, and the Archangel Raphael is represented as saying:
Again, in the second part:
Pythagoras' "music of the spheres" is a fact in the Second Heaven, and to some musicians this is not at all a far-fetched idea, for they know that every city, every lake and forest has its own peculiar tone. The babbling brook and the summer zephyr which stirs the young leaves in the wood speak the language of the Universal Soul. The true musician hears its grand, majestic voice in the mountain torrent and in the storm upon the great deep. No mere intellectual conception of God, life and superphysical things can every reach the sublime heights achieved by him, for he knows.
In Purgatory the evil habits and acts of life produced suffering which was transmuted into right feeling in the First Heaven. The good in the past life was extracted in the First Heaven, and when the Ego enters the Second Heaven it broods over the good in such a way as to transmute it into right thought to act as a guide in future lives on Earth. Thus at every new birth the Ego brings with it, as capital, the accumulated wisdom derived from the experiences of all its past lives, which is its capital or stock in trade. The experience in each new life is interest, which in the Second Heaven is added to the capital.
Man there is also preparing himself for his next dip into matter, qualifying himself for the new battle with ignorance in the coming life-day in God's great school. If any worthy ambitions had failed of realization, he sees where the fault lay, and learns to carry out next time his designs on improved lines. The musician takes with him grander melodies when he returns, to gladden the heart of man in his exile to Earth conditions. The painter brings new aspirations, for it must not be supposed that the Second Heaven is devoid of color because it was called the region of tone. Both color and form are there, just as in the Physical World, but tone is the predominating feature of the World of Thought. Color is most accentuated in the Desire World and form in the Physical World, although it is also true that the colors and forms of the Second Heaven are much more beautiful than in either of the two other worlds.
We have spoken of this process of brooding and assimilation of the good and lasting part extracted from the experiences of the past life as if it were a negative process, and many students have the idea that existence in the Second Heaven is a dreamy, illusory experience. Nothing could be more erroneous, for the actual activities of life in heaven are manifold. Man not only reviews or lives his past, but he is also actively preparing his future.
We are wont to speak of evolution, but do we ever analyze what it is that makes evolution, why it does not stop in stagnation? If we do, we must realize that there are forces back of the visible which make the alteration in the flora and fauna, the climatic and topographical changes which are constantly going on; and it is then but a natural question, What or who are the forces or agents in evolution?
Of course, we are well aware that scientists give certain mechanical explanations. They deserve great credit; they have accomplished much, when we take into consideration that science is but an infant and has only five senses and ingenious instruments at its command. Its deductions are marvelously true, but that does not say that there may not be underlying causes which it cannot, as yet, perceive, but which give a more thorough understanding of the matter than the mere mechanical explanation affords. An illustration will elucidate the point.
Two men are conversing, when suddenly one knocks the other down. There we have an occurrence, a fact, and we may explain it in a mechanical way by saying: "I saw one man contract the muscles of his arm, direct a blow at the other, and knock him down." That is a true version, so far as it goes, but the esoteric scientist would see also the angry thought which inspired the blow, and would be giving a more complete version if he said that the man was knocked down by a thought, for the clenched fist was but the irresponsible instrument of aggression. Failing the impelling force of the angry thought, the hand would have remained inert and the blow would never have been struck.
Thus the esoteric scientist refers all causes to the Region of Concrete Thought, and tells how they are generated there by human and superhuman Spirits.
Remembering that the creative archetypes of everything we see in the visible world are in the World of Thought, which is the realm of tone, we are prepared to understand that the archetypal forces are constantly playing through these archetypes which then emit a certain tone, or, where a number of them have massed to create a species of plant, animal, or human forms, the different sounds blend into one grand chord. That single tone or chord, as the case may be, is then the keynote of the form thus created, and as long as it sounds, the form or the species endures; when it ceases the single form dies or the species dies out.
A jumble of sound is not music any more than words massed together haphazardly are a sentence, but orderly rhythmic sound is the builder of all that is, as John says in the first verses of his gospel, "In the beginning was the word, ...... and without it was not anything made"; also "the Word was made flesh."
Thus we see that sound is the creator and sustainer of all form, and in the Second Heaven the Ego becomes one with the nature forces. With them he works upon the archetypes of land and sea, on flora and fauna, to bring about the changes which gradually alter the appearance and condition of the Earth, and thus afford a new environment, made by himself, in which he may reap new experience.
He is directed in his work by great teachers belonging to the Creative Hierarchies, which are called Angels, Archangels, and other names, who are God's ministers. They instruct him then consciously in the divine art of creation, both as to the world and the objects in it. They teach him how to build a form for himself, giving him the so-called "nature-spirits" as helpers, and thus man is serving his apprenticeship to become a creator each time he goes to the Second Heaven. There he builds the archetype of the form which he later externalizes at birth.
In Lecture No. 3 we spoke about the four ethers, and we said the forces of assimilation work in the chemical ether. The Egos in the heaven world are those forces and thus the very people whom we call dead are the ones who build our bodies and help us to live. We may also note that no one can have a better dense body than he can build. If they make mistakes in heaven, they find it out when they come to use such a defective body on Earth, and thereby learn to correct the fault next time.
This brings to mind an interesting phase of the Law of Consequence, as in the case of Egos who require a body of peculiar construction, like musicians, where not only the hand, but also the ear has to be specially adjusted, so that the three semicircular canals point as accurately as possible to the three dimensions of space, and the fibres of Corti have to be unusually delicate; such an instrument cannot be formed out of raw materials, and therefore such an Ego must be born in a family where others have build along similar lines, and that is not always to be found.
Supposing, then, that an occasion offers 100 years before the time such an Ego should be normally reborn, and that the Recording Angels who have charge of the administrations of the Law of Consequence, see that another opportunity will not occur for perhaps 300 years, that Ego may then be brought into birth 100 years ahead of time, and the loss of time in heaven made up at another time. Thus we see that the living and the so-called dead are constantly acting and reacting upon each other while traveling onwards along the path of evolution.
Having thus progressed through the Second Heaven, the Ego at last withdraws from the sheath of mind, which was its garment there, and thus entirely free and untrammeled enters the Third Heaven, which is the highest point attainable by man at his present stage of development. Thither we will follow him in the next lecture.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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