In addition to the visible body and the vital body we also have a body made of desire stuff from which we form our feelings and emotions. This vehicle also impels us to seek sense gratification. But while the two instruments of which we have already spoken are well organized, the desire body appears to spiritual sight as an ovoid cloud extending from sixteen to twenty inches beyond the physical body. It is above the head and below the feet so that our dense body sits in the center of this egg-shaped cloud as the yolk is in the center of an egg.
The reason for the rudimentary state of this vehicle is that it has been added to the human constitution more recently than the bodies previously mentioned. Evolution of form may be likened to the manner in which the juices in the snail first condense into flesh and later become a hard shell. When our present visible body first germinated in the Spirit, it was a thought-form, but gradually it has become denser and more concrete until it is now a chemical crystallization. The vital body was next emanated by the Spirit as a thought-form, and is in the third stage of concretion which is etheric. The desire body is a still later acquisition. That also was a thought-form at its inception, but has now condensed to desire-stuff, and the mind, which we have only recently received, is still but a mere cloudy thought-form.
Arms and limbs, ears and eyes are not necessary to use the desire body, for it can glide through space more swiftly than wind without such means of locomotion as we require in this visible world.
When viewed by spiritual sight, it appears that there are in this desire body a number of whirling vortices. We have already explained that it is a characteristic of desire-stuff to be in constant motion, and from the main vortex in the region of the liver, there is a constant outwelling flow which radiates toward the periphery of this egg-shaped body and returns to the center through a number of other vortices. The desire body exhibits all the colors and shades which we know and a vast number of others which are indescribable in earthly language. Those colors vary in every person according to his or her characteristics and temperament, and they also vary from moment to moment as passing moods, fancies, or emotions are experienced by him. There is, however, in each one a certain basic color dependent upon the ruling star at the moment of his or her birth. The man in whose horoscope Mars is peculiarly strong usually has a crimson tint in his aura; where Jupiter is the strongest planet the prevailing tint seems to be a bluish tone; and so on with the other planets.
There was a time in the Earth's past history when incrustation was not yet complete, and human beings of that time lived upon islands here and there, amid boiling seas. They had not yet evolved eyes or ears, but a little organ: the pineal gland, which anatomists have called the Third Eye, protruded through the back of the head and was a localized organ of feeling. It warned the man when he came too near a volcanic crater and thus enabled him to escape destruction. Since then the cerebral hemispheres have covered the pineal gland, and instead of a single organ of feeling, the whole body inside and out is sensitive to impacts, which of course is a much higher state of development.
In the desire body every particle is sensitive to vibrations similar to those which we call sight, sounds, and feelings, and every particle is in incessant motion, rapidly swirling about so that in the same instant it may be at the top and bottom of the desire body and impart at all points to all the other particles a sensation of that which it has experienced. Thus every particle of desire-stuff in this vehicle of ours will instantly feel any sensation experienced by any single particle. Therefore the desire body is of an exceedingly sensitive nature, capable of most intense feelings and emotions.
This is the latest acquisition of the human Spirit, and in most people who have not yet accustomed themselves to orderly, consecutive thought, it is a mere inchoate cloud disposed particularly in the region of the head. When looking at a person clairvoyantly there appears to be an empty space in the center of the forehead just above and between the eyebrows. It looks like the blue part of a gas flame. That is mind-stuff which veils the human Spirit, or Ego, and the writer has been told that not even the most gifted seer can penetrate that veil, said to have been spoken of in ancient Egypt as "The Veil of Isis." None may lift it and live, for behind that veil is the Holy of Holies, the temple of our body, where the Spirit is to be left secure from all intrusion.
To those who have not previously studied the deeper philosophies the question may occur: But why all these divisions? Even the Bible speaks only of soul and body, for most people believe soul and Spirit to be synonymous terms. We can only answer that this division is not arbitrary but necessary, and founded upon facts in nature. Neither is it correct to regard the soul and the Spirit as synonymous. Paul himself speaks of the Natural Body which is composed of physical substances: solids, liquids, gases, and ethers; he mentions a Spiritual Body, the vehicle of the Spirit, composed of the mind and desire body, and the Spirit Itself, which is called Ego in Latin or "I" in English.
That term "I" is an application which can be made only by the human Spirit of itself. We may all call a dog, dog; or we may call a table, table, and any one else may apply the same name to the dog and to the table, but only a human being can be called "I." Only he himself can apply that most exclusive of all words, "I," for this is the badge of self-consciousness, the recognition by the Human Spirit of Itself as an entity, separate and apart from all others.
Thus we see that the constitution of man is more complex than appears upon the surface, and we will now proceed to note the effect upon this multiplex being of various conditions of life.
There are two classes of people in the world. In one class the vital and dense bodies are so firmly cemented that the ethers cannot be extracted under any circumstances but remain with the dense body at all times and under all conditions from birth to death. Those people are insensible to any supersensuous sights or sounds. They are therefore usually exceedingly skeptical, and believe nothing exists but what they can see.
There is another class of people in whom the connection between the dense and the vital bodies is more or less loose, so that the ether of their vital bodies vibrates at a higher rate than in the first class mentioned. These people are therefore more or less sensitive to the spiritual world.
This class of sensitives may again be divided. Some are weak characters, dominated by the will of others in a negative manner, as mediums, who are the prey of disembodied Spirits desirous of obtaining a physical body when they have lost their own by death.
The other class of sensitives are strong positive characters who act only from within, according to their own will. They may develop into trained clairvoyants, and be their own masters instead of slaves of a disembodied Spirit. In some sensitives of both classes it is possible to extract part of the ether which forms the vital body. When a disembodied Spirit obtains a subject of that nature, it develops the sensitive as a materializing medium. The man who is capable of extracting his own vital body by an act of will, becomes a citizen of two worlds, independent and free. These are usually known as Invisible Helpers. There are certain other abnormal conditions where the vital body and the dense body are separated totally or in part, as for instance, if we place our limb in an uncomfortable position so that circulation of the blood ceases. Then we may see the etheric limb hanging down below the visible limb as a stocking. When we restore circulation and the etheric limb seeks to enter into place, an intense prickly sensation is felt, due to the fact that the little streams of force, which radiate all through the ether, seek to permeate the molecules of the limb and stir them into renewed vibration. When a person is drowning, the vital body also separates from the dense vehicle and the intense prickly pain incident to resuscitation is also due to the cause mentioned.
While we are awake and going about our work in the Physical World, the desire body and mind both permeate the dense and the vital bodies, and there is a constant war between the desire nature and the vital body. The vital body is continually engaged in building up the human organism, while the impulses of the desire body tend to tire and to break down tissue. Gradually, in the course of the day, the vital body loses ground before the onslaughts of the desire body, poisons of decay slowly accumulate, and the flow of vital fluid becomes more and more sluggish until at length it is incapable of moving the muscles. The body then feels heavy and drowsy. At last the vital body collapses, as it were; the little streams of force which permeate each atom seem to shrivel up, and the Ego is forced to abandon its body to the restorative powers of sleep.
When a building becomes dilapidated and is to be restored and put in thorough repair, the tenants must move out to let the workmen have a free field. So also when the building of a Spirit has become unfit for further use, it must withdraw therefrom. As the desire body caused the damage, it is a logical conclusion that it also must be removed. Every night when our body has become tired, the higher vehicles are withdrawn, only the dense and vital bodies being left upon the bed.
Then the process of restoration commences and lasts for a longer or shorter time according to circumstances.
At times, however, the grip of the desire body upon our denser vehicles is so strong that it refuses to let go. When it has become so interested in the proceedings of the day, it continues to ruminate over them after the collapse of the physical body, and is perhaps only half extracted from that vehicle. Then it may transmit sights and sounds of the Desire World to the brain. But, as the connections are necessarily askew under such conditions, the most confused dreams result. Furthermore, as the desire body compels motion, the dense body is very apt to toss about when the desire body is not fully extracted; hence the restless sleep which usually accompanies dreams of a confused nature.
There are times, of course, when dreams are prophetic and come true, but such dreams result only after complete extraction of the desire body. Under circumstances where the Spirit has seen some danger, perhaps, which may befall, it then impresses the fact upon the brain at the moment of awakening.
It also happens that the Spirit goes upon a soul flight and omits to perform its part of the work of restoration; then the body will not be fit to re-enter in the morning, so it sleeps on. The Spirit may thus roam afield for a number of days, or even weeks, before it again enters its physical body and assumes the normal routine of alternating waking and sleeping. This condition is called trance, and the Spirit may remember upon its return what it has seen and heard in the super-physical realm, or it may have forgotten, according to the stage of its development and the depth of the trance condition. When the trance is very light, the Spirit is usually present in the room where its body lies all the time, and upon its return to the body it will be able to recount to relatives all they said and did while its body lay unconscious. Where the trance is deeper, the returning Spirit will usually be unconscious of what happened around its body, but may recount experiences from the invisible world.
A few years ago a little girl by the name of Florence Bennett in Kankakee, Illinois, fell into such a trance. She returned to the body every few days, but stayed within only a few hours each time, the whole trance lasting three weeks, more or less. During the returns to her body she told relatives that in her absence she seemed to be in a place inhabited by all the people who had died. But she stated that none of them spoke about dying and no one among them seemed to realize that they were dead. Among those she had seen was a locomotive engineer who had been accidently killed. His body was mangled in the accident which caused death. The little girl perceived him there walking about minus arms, and with lesions upon his head, all of which is in line with facts usually seen by mystic investigators. Persons who have been hurt in accidents go about thus, until they learn that a mere wish to have their body made whole will supply a new arm or limb; for desire-stuff is most quickly and readily molded by thought.
After a longer or shorter time there comes in each life a point when the experiences which a Spirit can gain from its present environment have been exhausted, and life terminates in death. Death may be sudden and seemingly unexpected, as for instance by earthquake, upon the battle-field, or by accident, as we call it, though in reality death is never accidental or unforeseen by Higher Powers. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without divine will. There are along life's path partings of the way, as it were; on one side the main line of life continues onward, the other path leads into what we might call a blind alley. If the man takes the latter path, it soon ends in death. We are here in life for the sake of gaining experience and each life has a certain harvest to reap. If we order our life in such a manner that we gain the knowledge it is intended we should acquire, we continue in life, and opportunities of different kinds constantly come our way. But if we neglect them, and the life goes into paths which are not congruous to our individual development, it would be a waste of time to let us stay in such an environment. Therefore the great and wise Beings who are behind the scheme of evolution, terminate our life, that we may have a fresh start in a different sphere of influence. The Law of Conservation of Energy is not confined to the Physical World, but operates in the spiritual realms also. There is nothing in life that has not its purpose. We do wrong to rail against circumstances, no matter how disagreeable. We should rather endeavor to learn the lessons which are contained therein, that we may live a long and useful life. Some one may object and say: "You are inconsistent in your teachings. You say there is really no death; that we go into a brighter existence, and that we have to learn other lessons there in a different sphere of usefulness! Why then aim to live a long life?"
It is very true that we make these claims, and they are perfectly consistent with the other assertions just mentioned. However, there are lessons to be learned here which cannot be learned in the other worlds, and we have to bring up this physical body through the useless years of childhood, through hot and impulsive youth, to the ripeness of manhood or womanhood, before it becomes of true spiritual use. The longer we live after maturity has been attained, when we have commenced to look upon the serious side of life and started truly to learn lessons which make for soul-growth, the more experience we shall gather and the richer our harvest will be. Then, in a later existence, we shall be much more advanced and capable of taking up tasks that would be impossible with less length of life and breadth of activity. Besides, to die is hard for the man in the prime of life with a wife and growing family whom he loves, with ambitions of greatness unfulfilled, with hosts of friends about him, and with interests all centered upon the material plane of existence. It is sad for the woman whose heart is bound up in home and the little ones she has reared to leave them, perhaps without anyone to care for them; to know that they have to fight their way alone through the early years when tender care is needed and perhaps to see those little ones abused, and she unable to lift a hand, though her heart may bleed as freely as it would in Earth life. All these things are sad, and they bind the spirit to earth for a much longer time than ordinarily; they hinder it from reaping the experiences it should reap upon the other side of death, and they make it desirable, along with other reasons already mentioned, to live a long life before passing onwards.
The difference between those who pass out at a ripe old age and one who leaves this Earth in the prime of life may be illustrated by the manner in which the seed clings to a fruit in an unripe state. A great deal of force is necessary to tear the stone from a green peach; it has such a tenacious hold upon the fruit that shreds of pulp adhere to it when forcibly removed. So also the Spirit clings to the flesh in middle life and a certain part of its material interest remains and binds it to Earth after death. On the other hand, when a life has been lived to the full, when the spirit has had time to realize its ambitions or to find out their futility, when the duties of life has been misspent and the pangs of conscience have worked upon the man, and shown him his mistakes; when, in fact, the Spirit has learned the lessons of life, as it must have to come to old age, then it may be likened to the seed of the ripe fruit which falls out clean, without a vestige of flesh clinging thereto, at the moment the encasing pulp is opened. Therefore we say, as before, that though there is a brighter existence in store for those who have lived well, it is nevertheless best to live a long life and to live it to the fullest extent possible.
We also maintain that no matter what may be the circumstances of a man's death, it is not accidental; it has either been brought about by his own neglect to embrace opportunities of growth or else life has been lived to the ultimate possible. There is one exception to that rule, and that is due to man's exercise of his divine prerogative of interference. If we lived according to schedule, if we all assimilated the experiences designed for our growth by the Creative Powers, we should live to the ultimate length, but we ourselves usually shorten our lives by not taking advantage of opportunities. It also happens that other men may shorten our lives and cut them off as suddenly as the so-called accident whereby the divine rulers terminate our life here. In other words, murder, or fatal accidents brought about by human carelessness are in reality the only termination to life not planned by invisible leaders of humanity. No one is ever compelled to do murder or other evil, or there could not come to them a just retribution for their acts. The Christ said that evil must come but woe unto him by whom it cometh, and to harmonize that with the law of divine justice, "as a man soweth, so shall he also reap," there must at least be absolute free will in respect to evil acts.
There are also cases where a person lives such a full and good life of such vast benefit to humanity and to himself that his days are lengthened beyond the ultimate, as they are shortened by neglect, but such cases are of course too few to allow of their being dwelt upon at length.
Where death is not sudden as in the case of accidents, but occurs at home after an illness, quietly and peacefully, dying persons usually experience a falling upon them as of a pall of great darkness before termination of life. Many pass out from the body under that condition and do not see the light again until they have entered the superphysical realms. There are many other cases, however, where the darkness lifts before the final release from the body. Then the dying person views both worlds at once, and is cognizant of the presence of both dead and living friends. Under such circumstances it very often happens that a mother sees some of her children who have gone before, and she will exclaim joyously: "Oh, there is Johnny standing at the foot of the bed: my, but hasn't he grown!" The living relatives may feel shocked and uneasy, thinking the mother is suffering from hallucinations, while in reality she is more clear-sighted than they. She perceives those who have passed beyond the veil, who have come to greet and assist her to find herself at home in the new world she is entering.
Each human being is an individual, separate and apart from all others, and as experiences in the life of each differ from those of all others in the interval from the cradle to the grave, so we may also reasonably infer that the experiences of each Spirit when it passes through the gates of birth and death. We print what purports to be a spirit message communicated by the late professor James of Harvard at the Boston Spirit Temple, and in which he describes sensations which he felt when passing through the gate of death. We do not vouch for its authenticity as we (the writer) have not investigated the matter personally.
Professor James had promised to communicate after death with his friends in this life, and the whole world of psychic research was and still is on watch for a word from him. Several mediums have claimed that Professor James has communicated through them, but the most remarkable are those given through the Boston Spirit temple as follows:
"And this is death, only to fall asleep, only to awaken in the morning and to know that all is well. I am not dead, only arisen.
"I only know that I experienced a great shock through my entire system, as if some mighty bond had been rent asunder. For a moment I was dazed and lost consciousness. When I awakened I found myself standing beside the old body which had served me faithfully and well. To say that I was surprised would only inadequately express the sensation that thrilled my very being, and I realized that some wonderful change had taken place. Suddenly I became conscious that my body was surrounded by many of my friends, and an uncontrollable desire took possession of me to speak and touch them that they might know that I still lived. Drawing a little nearer to that which was so like and yet unlike myself, I stretched forth my hand and touched them, but they heeded me not."
"Then it was that the full significance of the great change that had taken place flashed upon my newly awakened senses; then it was that I realized that an impenetrable barrier separated me from my loved ones on Earth, and that this great change which had taken place was indeed death. A sense of weariness and longing for rest took possession of me. I seemed to be transported through space, and I lost consciousness, to awaken in a land so different and yet so similar to the one which I had lately left. It was not possible for me to describe my sensations when I again regained consciousness and realized that, though dead, I was still alive.
"When I first became conscious of my new environment I was resting in a beautiful grove, and was realizing as never before what it was to be at peace with myself and all the world."
"I know that only with the greatest difficulty shall I be enabled to express to you my sensations when I fully realized that I had awakened to a new life. All was still, no sound broke the silence. Darkness had surrounded me. In fact, I seemed to be enveloped in a heavy mist, beyond which my gaze could not penetrate. Soon in the distance I discerned a faint glimmer of light, which slowly approached me, and then, to my wonder and joy, I beheld the face of her who had been my guiding star in the early days of my earth life."
One of the saddest sights witnessed by the seer at a death-bed is the tortures to which we often subject our dying friends on account of ignorance of how to care for them in that condition. We have a science of birth; obstetricians who have been trained for years in their profession and have developed a wonderful skill assist the little stranger into this world. We have also trained nurses attendant upon mother and child, the ingenuity of brilliant minds is focused upon the problem of how to make maternity easier; neither pains nor money are spared in these beneficent efforts for one whom we have never seen. But when the friend of a lifetime, the man who has served his kind well and nobly in profession, state, or church, is to leave the scene of his labors for a new field of activity, when the woman, who has labored to no less good purpose in bringing up a family to take its part in the world's work, has to leave that home and family, when one whom we have loved all our lives is about to bid us the final farewell, we stand by, utterly at a loss how to help. Perhaps we even do the very things most detrimental to the comfort and welfare of the departing one.
Probably there is no form of torture more commonly inflicted upon the dying than that which is caused by administering stimulants. Such potions have the effect of drawing a departing Spirit into its body with the force of a catapult, to remain and to suffer for some time longer. Investigators of conditions beyond have heard many complaints of such treatment. When it is seen that death must inevitably ensue, let not selfish desire to keep a departing Spirit a little longer prompt us to inflict such tortures upon them. The death chamber should be a place of the utmost quiet, a place of peace and of prayer, for at that time, and for three and one-half days after the last breath, the Spirit is passing through a Gethsemane and needs all the assistance that can be given. The value of the life that has just been passed depends greatly upon conditions which then prevail about the body; yes, even the conditions of its future life are influenced by our attitude during that time, so that if ever we were our brother's keeper in life, we are a thousand times more so at death.
Post-mortem examinations, embalming, and cremation during the period mentioned, not only disturb the passing Spirit mentally, but are even productive of a certain amount of pain, there still being a slight connection with the discarded vehicle. If sanitary laws require us to prevent decomposition while thus keeping the body for cremation, it may be packed in ice till the three and one-half days have passed. After that time the Spirit will not suffer, no matter what happens to the body.
No matter how long we may keep the Spirit from passing out, however, at last there will come a time when no stimulant can hold it and the last breath is drawn. Then the silver cord of which the Bible speaks, and which holds the higher and the lower vehicles together, snaps in the heart and causes that organ to stop. That rupture releases the vital body, and it, with the desire body and mind, floats above the visible body for from one to three and one-half days, while the Spirit is engaged in reviewing the past life, an exceedingly important part of its post-mortem experience. Upon that review depends its whole existence from death to a new birth.
The question may arise in the student's mind: "How can we review our past life from the cradle to the grave, when we do not even remember what we did a month ago? To form a proper basis for our future life, this record ought to be very accurate, but even the best memory is faulty." When we understand the difference between the conscious and subconscious memory and the manner in which the latter operates, the difficulty vanishes. This difference and the manner in which the subconscious memory keeps an accurate record of our life experiences may be best understood by an illustration, as follows: When we go into a field and view the surrounding landscape, vibrations in the ether carry to us a picture of everything within the range of our vision. It is as sad as it is true, however, that "we have eyes and see not," as the Saviour said. These vibrations impinge upon the retina of our eyes, even to the very smallest details, but they usually do not penetrate to our consciousness, and therefore are not remembered. Even the most powerful impressions fade in the course of time, so that we cannot call them back at will when they are stored in our conscious memory.
When a photographer goes afield with his camera, the results which he obtains are different. The ether vibrations emanating from all things upon which his camera is focused, transmit to the sensitive plate an impression of the landscape, true to the minutest detail; and, mark this well, this true and accurate picture is in no wise dependent upon whether the photographer is observant or not. It will remain upon the plate and may be reproduced under proper conditions. Such is the subconscious memory, and it is generated automatically by each of us during every moment of time, independently of our volition, in the following manner.
From the first breath which we draw after birth to our last dying gasp we inspire air which is charged with pictures of our surroundings, and the same ether which carries that picture to the retina of our eye is inhaled into our lungs where it enters the blood. Thus it reaches the heart in due time. In the left ventricle of that organ, near the apex, there is one little atom which is particularly sensitized and which remains in the body all through life. It differs in this respect from all other atoms which come and go, for it is the particular property of God,and of a certain Spirit. This atom may be called the book of the Recording Angel, for as the blood passes through the heart, cycle after cycle, the pictures of our good and evil acts are inscribed thereon to the minutest detail. This record may be called the subconscious memory. It forms the basis of our future life when reproduced as a panorama just subsequent to death. By removal of the seed atom — which corresponds to the sensitized plate in a camera — the reflecting ether of the vital body serves as a focus, and as the life unrolls slowly, backwards, from death to birth the pictures thereof are etched into the desire body, which will be our vehicle during our sojourn in Purgatory and the First Heaven where evil is eradicated and good assimilated, so that in a future life the former may serve as conscience to withhold the man from repeating mistakes of the past, and the latter will spur him to greater good.
A phenomenon similar to the panorama of life usually takes place where a person is drowning. People who have been resuscitated speak of having seen their whole life in a flash. That is because under such conditions the vital body also leaves the dense body. Of course there is no rupture of the silver cord, or life could not be restored.
Unconsciousness follows quickly in drowning, while in the usual post-mortem review the consciousness continues until the vital body collapses in the same manner that it does when we go to sleep. Then consciousness ceases for a while and the panorama is terminated. Therefore also the time occupied by the panorama varies with different persons, according to whether the vital body was strong and healthy, or had become thin and emaciated by protracted illness. The longer the time spent in review, and the more quiet and peaceful the surroundings, the deeper will be the etching which is made in the desire body. As already said, that has a most important and far-reaching effect, for then the sufferings which the Spirit will realize in Purgatory on account of bad habits and misdeeds will be much keener than if there is only a slight impression, and in a future life the still small voice of conscience will warn much more insistently against mistakes which caused sufferings in the past.
When conditions are such at the time of death that the Spirit is disturbed by outside conditions, as for instance the din and turmoil of a battle, the harrowing conditions of an accident, or the hysterical wailings of relatives, the distraction prevents it from realizing an appropriate depth in the etching upon the desire body. Consequently its post-mortem existence becomes vague and insipid; the Spirit does not harvest the fruits of experience as it should have done had it passed out of the body in peace and under normal conditions. It would therefore lack incentive to do good in a future life, and miss the warning against evil which a deep etching of the panorama of life would have given. Thus its growth would be retarded in a very marked degree, but the beneficent Powers in charge of evolution take certain steps to compensate for our ignorant treatment of the dying and other untoward circumstances mentioned. What these steps are, we shall discuss when considering the life of children in heaven; for the present let it be sufficient to say that in God's kingdom every evil is always transmuted to a greater good, though the process may not be at once apparent.
During life the collapse of the vital body at night terminates our view of the world about us, and causes us to lose ourselves in the unconsciousness of sleep. When the vital body collapses just subsequent to death, and the panorama of life is terminated, we also lose consciousness for a time which varies according to the individual. A darkness seems to fall upon the Spirit; then after a while it wakes up and begins dimly to perceive the light of the other world, but is only gradually accustomed to the altered conditions. It is an experience similar to that which we have when coming out of a darkened room into sunlight, which blinds us by its brilliancy, until the pupils of our eyes have contracted so that they admit a quantity of light bearable to our organism.
If under such a condition we turn momentarily from the bright sunlight and look back into the darkened room, objects there will be much plainer to our vision than things outside which are illumined by the powerful rays of the Sun. So it is also with the Spirit; when it has first been released from the body it perceives sights, scenes, and sounds of the material world which it has just left much more readily than it observes the sights of the world it is entering. Wordsworth in his Ode To Immortality noted a similar condition in the case of newborn children, who are all clairvoyant and much more awake to the spiritual world than to this present plane of existence. Some lose the spiritual sight very early, others retain it for a number of years, and a few keep it all through life, but as the birth of a child is a death in the spiritual world and it retains the spiritual sight for a time, so also death here is a birth upon the spiritual plane, and the newly dead retain a consciousness of this world for some time subsequent to demise.
When one awakes in the Desire World after having passed through aforementioned experiences, the general feeling seems to be one of relief from a heavy burden, a feeling perhaps akin to that of a diver encased in a heavy rubber suit, a weighty brass helmet upon his head, leaden soles under his feet, and heavy weights of lead upon his breast and back, confined in his operations on the bottom of the ocean by a short length of air tube, and able to move only clumsily and with difficulty. When after the day's work such a man is hauled to the surface, and divests himself of his heavy garments and he moves about with the facility we enjoy here, he must surely experience a feeling of great relief. Something like that is felt by the Spirit when it has been divested of the mortal coil and is able to roam all over the globe instead of being confined to the narrow environment which bound it upon earth.
There is also a feeling of relief for those who have been ill. Sickness, such as we know it, does not exist there. Neither is it necessary to seek food and shelter, for in that world there is neither heat nor cold. Nevertheless, there are many in the purgatorial region who go to all the bothers of housekeeping, eating and drinking just as we do here. George Du Maurier in his novel, Peter Ibbetson, gives a very good idea of this condition, in his life lived between the hero and the Countess of Towers. This novel also illustrates splendidly what has been said of the subconscious memory, for George Du Maurier has somewhere, somehow discovered an easy method which anyone may apply to do what he calls "dreaming true." By taking a certain position in going to sleep, it is possible, after a little practice, to compel the appearance, in a dream, of any scene in our past life, which we desire to live over again. The book is well worth reading on that account.
When a fiery nebulae has been formed in the sky and commences to revolve, a little matter in the center where motion is slowest commences to crystallize. When it has reached a certain density it is caught in the swirl, and whirled nearer, and nearer to the outward extremity of what has, by that time, become the equator of a revolving globe. Then it is hurled into space and discarded from the economy of the revolving Sun.
This process is not accomplished automatically as scientists would have us believe, an assertion which has been proven in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception and other places in our literature. Herbert Spencer rejected the nebular theory because it required a First cause, which he denied (though unable to form a better hypothesis of the formation of solar systems), but it is accomplished through the activity of a Great Spirit, which we may call God or any other name we choose. As above, so below, says the Hermetic axiom. Man, who is a lesser Spirit, also gathers about himself spirit-substance, which crystallizes into matter and becomes the visible body which the spiritual sight reveals as placed inside an aura of finer vehicles. The latter are in constant motion. When the dense body is born as a child it is extremely soft and flexible.
Childhood, youth, maturity, and old age are but so many different stages of crystallization, which goes on until at last a point is reached where the Spirit can no longer move the hardened body and it is thrown out from the Spirit as the planet is expelled from the Sun. That is death — the commencement of a disrobing process which continues in Purgatory. The low evil passions and desires we cultivated during life have crystallized the desire-stuff in such a manner that also must be expelled. Thus the Spirit is purged of evil under the same law that a sun is purged of the matter which later forms a planet. If the life has been a reasonably decent one, the process of purgation will not be very strenuous nor will the evil desires thus expurgated persist for a long time after having been freed, but they quickly disintegrate. If, on the other hand, an extremely vile life has been led, the part of the expurgated desire nature may persist even to the time when the Spirit returns to a new birth for further experience. It will then be attracted to him and haunt him as a demon, inciting him to evil deeds which he himself abhors. The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is not a mere fanciful idea of Robert Louis Stevenson, but is founded upon facts well known to spiritual investigators. Such cases are extremes, of course, but they are nevertheless possible, and we unfortunately have laws which convert such possibilities to probabilities in the case of a certain class of so-called criminals. We refer to laws which decree capital punishment as penalty for murder.
When a man is dangerous he should of course be restrained, but even apart from the question of the moral right of a community to take the life of anyone — which we deny — society by its very act of retaliatory murder defeats the very end it would serve. If the vicious murderer is restrained under whatever discipline is necessary in a prison, for a number of years until his natural death, he will have forgotten his bitterness against his victim and against society, and when he stands as a free Spirit in the Desire World, he may even by prayer have obtained forgiveness and have become a good Christian. He will then go on his way rejoicing, and will in the future life seek to help those whom he hurt here.
When society retaliates and puts him to a violent death shortly after he has committed the crime, he is most likely to feel himself as having been greatly injured, and not without cause. Then such a character will usually seek to "get even," as he calls it, going about for a long time inciting others to commit murder and other crimes. Then we have am epidemic of murders in a community, a condition not infrequent.
The regicide in Serbia shocked the Western world (in 1914) by wiping out an entire royal house in a most shockingly bloody manner, and the Minister of the Interior was one of the chief conspirators. Later he wrote his memoirs, and therein he writes that whenever the conspirators had tried to win anyone as a recruit, they always succeeded when they burned incense. He did not know why, but simply mentioned it as a curious coincidence.
To the mystic investigator the matter is perfectly clear. We have shown the necessity of having a vehicle made of the materials of any world wherein we wish to function. We usually obtain a physical vehicle by going through the womb, or perhaps in a few special cases, from a particularly good materializing medium, but where it is only necessary to work upon the brain and influence someone else to act, we need but a vehicle made of such ether as may be obtained from fumes of many different substances. Each kind attracts different classes of Spirits, and there is no doubt that the incense burned at meetings where the conspirators were successful was of a low and sensual order and attracted Spirits who had a grudge against humanity in general and the King of Serbia in particular. These malcontents were unable to injure the king himself, but used a subtle influence which helped the conspirators in their work. The released murderer who has a grudge against society on account of his execution, may enter low gambling saloons where the fumes of liquor and tobacco furnish ample opportunity for working upon the class of people who congregate in such places, and the man whose spiritual sight has been developed is often sadly impressed when he sees the subtle influences to which those who frequent such places are exposed. It is a fact, of course, that a man must be of a low caliber to be influenced by low thoughts, and that it is as impossible to incite a person of benevolent character to do murder — unless we put him into a hypnotic sleep — as to make a tuning fork which vibrates to C sing by striking another attuned to the key of G. But the thoughts of both living and dead constantly surround us, and no man ever thought out a high spiritual philosophy under the influence of tobacco fumes or while imbibing alcoholic stimulants. Were capital punishment, newspaper notoriety of criminals, and the manufacture of liquor and tobacco eliminated from society, the gun factories would soon cease to advertise and go out of business along with most of the locksmiths. The police force would decrease, and jails and taxes would be correspondingly minimized.
When a person enters Purgatory he is exactly the same person as before he died. He has just the same appetites, likes and dislikes, sympathies and antipathies, as before. There is one important difference, however, namely, that he has no dense body wherewith to gratify his appetites. The drunkard craves drink, in fact, far more than he did in this life, but has no stomach which can contain liquor and cause the chemical combustion necessary to bring about the state of intoxication in which he delights. He may and does enter saloons where he interpolates his body into the body of the physical drunkard so that he may obtain his desires at second hand, as it were, inciting his victim to drink more and more.
Yet there is no true satisfaction. He sees the full glass upon the counter but his spirit hand is unable to lift it. He suffers the tortures of Tantalus until in time he realizes the impossibility of gratifying his base desire. Then he is free to go on, so far as that vice is concerned. He has been purged from that evil without intervention of an angry Deity or a conventional devil with hell's flames and pitchfork to administer punishment, but under the immutable law that as we sow so shall we reap, he has suffered exactly according to his vice. If his craving for drink was of a mild nature, he would scarcely miss the liquor which he cannot there obtain. If his desires were strong and he simply lived for drink, he would suffer veritable tortures of hell without need of actual flames. Thus the pain experienced in eradication of his vice would be exactly commensurate with the energy he had expended upon contracting the habit, as the force wherewith a falling stone strikes the earth is proportionate to the energy expended in hurling it upwards into the air.
Yet it is not the aim of God to "get even;" love is higher than law and in His wonderful mercy and solicitude for our welfare He has opened the way of repentance and reform whereby we may obtain forgiveness of sin, as taught by the Lord of Love: the Christ. Not indeed contrary to law, for His laws are immutable, but by application of a higher law, whereby we accomplish here that which would otherwise be delayed until death had forced the day of reckoning. The method is as follows:
In our explanation concerning the subconscious memory we noted that a record of every act, thought, and word is transmitted by air and ether into our lungs, thence to the blood, and finally inscribed upon the tablet of the heart: a certain little seed atom, which is thus the book of the Recording Angels. It was later explained how this panorama of life is etched into the desire body and forms the basis of retribution after death. When we have committed a wrong and our conscience accuses us in consequence, and this accusation is productive of sincere repentance accompanied by reform, the picture of that wrong act will gradually fade from the record of our life, so that when we pass out at death it will not stand accusingly against us. We noted that the panorama of life unwinds backwards just after death. Later in the purgatorial life it again passes before the spiritual vision of the man, who then experiences the exact feeling of those whom he has wronged. He seems to lose his or her identity for the time being and assumes the condition of his one time victim, he experiences all the mental and physical suffering himself which he inflicted upon others. Thus he learns to be merciful instead of cruel, and to do right instead of wrong in a future life. But if he awakens to a thorough realization of a wrong previous to his death, then, as said, the feeling of sorrow for his victim and the restitution or redress which he gives of his own free will makes the suffering after death unnecessary. Hence "his sin is forgiven."
The Rosicrucian Mystery Teaching gives a scientific method whereby an aspirant to the higher life may purge himself continually, and thus be able entirely to avoid existence in Purgatory. Each night after retiring the pupil reviews his or her life during the day in reverse order. He starts to visualize as clearly as possible the scene which took place just before retiring. He then endeavors to view impartially his actions in that scene, examining them to see whether he did right or wrong. If the latter, he endeavors to feel and realize as vividly as possible that wrong. For instance, if he spoke harshly to someone, and upon later consideration finds it was not merited, he will endeavor to feel exactly as that one felt whom he wronged and at the very earliest opportunity to apologize for the hasty expression. Then he will call up the next scene in backward succession which may perhaps be the supper table. In respect of that scene he will examine himself as to whether he ate to live, sparingly and of foods prepared without suffering to other creatures of God (such as flesh foods that cannot be obtained without taking life). If he finds that he allowed his appetite to run away with him and that he ate gluttonously, he will endeavor to overcome these habits, for to live a clean life we must have a clean body, and no one can live to his highest possibilities while making his stomach a graveyard for the decaying corpses of murdered animals. In this respect there occurs to the writer a little poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
"I am the voice of the voiceless;
Through me the dumb shall speak,
Till a deaf world's ear
Shall be made to hear
The wrongs of the wordless weak.
The same force formed the sparrow
That fashioned man the king;
The God of the whole
Gave a spark of soul
To furred and feathered thing.
And I am my brother's keeper
And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word
For beast and bird
Till the world shall set things right.
Thus the pupil will continue to review each scene in reverse order from night till morning, and to feel really sorry for whatever he has done amiss. He will not neglect to feel glad either when he comes to a scene where he has done well, and the more intensely he can feel, the more thoroughly he will eradicate the record upon the tablet of the heart and sharpen his conscience, so that as time goes on from year to year, he will find less cause for blame and enhance his soul power enormously. Thus he will grow in a measure impossible by any less systematic method, and there will be no necessity for his stay in Purgatory after death.
This evening exercise, and another for the morning, if persistently performed day by day will in time awaken the spiritual vision as they improve life. This matter has, however, been so thoroughly treated in number 11 of the lecture series "Spiritual Sight and Insight" that it is unnecessary to dwell upon the matter further in this place.
In the First Heaven, which is located in the higher regions of the Desire World, the panorama of life again unrolls and reveals every scene where we aimed to help or benefit others. They were not felt at the time the Spirit was in the lower regions, for higher desires cannot express themselves in the coarse matter composing the lower regions of the Desire World; but when the Spirit ascends to the First Heaven it reaps from each scene all the good which it expressed in life. It will feel the gratitude poured out by those whom it helped; if it comes to a scene where itself received a favor from others and was grateful, it will experience the gratitude anew. The sum of all these feelings is there amalgamated into the Spirit to serve in a future life as incentives to good.
Thus the Spirit is purged from evil in Purgatory and strengthened in good in the First Heaven. In one region the extract of sufferings become conscience to deter us from doing wrong, in the other region the quintessence of good is transmuted to benevolence and altruism, which are the basis of all true progress. Moreover, Purgatory is far from being a place of punishment. It is perhaps the most beneficent realm in nature, for because of purgation we are born innocent life after life. The tendencies to commit the same evil for which we suffered remain with us, and temptations to commit the same wrongs will be placed in our path until we have consciously overcome the evil here. Temptation is not sin, however, the sin is in yielding.
Among the inhabitants of the invisible world there is one class which lives a particularly painful life, sometimes for a great many years, namely, the suicide who tried to play truant from the school of life. Yet it is not an angry God or a malevolent devil who administers punishment, but an immutable law which proportions the sufferings differently to each individual suicide.
We learned previously, when considering the World of Thought, that each form in this visible world has its archetype there — a vibrating hollow mold which emits a certain harmonious sound. That sound attracts and forms physical into the shape we behold, much in the same manner as when we place a little sand upon a glass plate and rub the edge with a violin bow; the sand is shaped into different geometrical figures which change as the sound changes.
The little atom in the heart is the sample and the center around which the atoms in our body gather. When that is removed at death, the center is lacking, and although the archetype keeps on vibrating until the limit of the life has been reached — as also previously explained — no matter can be drawn into the hollow shape of the archetype. Therefore the suicide feels a dreadful gnawing pain as if he were hollowed out, a torture which can only be likened to the pangs of hunger. In his case, the intense suffering will continue for exactly as many years as he should have lived in the body. At the expiration of that time, the archetype collapses as it does when death comes naturally. Then the pain of the suicide ceases, and he commences his period of purgation as do those who die a natural death. But the memory of sufferings experienced in consequence of the act of suicide will remain with him in future lives and deter him from a similar mistake.
In the First Heaven there is a class who have not had any purgatorial existence and who lead a particularly joyous life: the children. Our home may be saddened almost beyond endurance when the little flower is broken and the sunshine it brought has gone. But could we see the beautiful existence which these little ones lead, and did we understand the great benefits which accrue to a child from its limited stay there, our sorrow would be at least ameliorated in a great measure, and the wound upon our heart would heal more quickly. Besides, as nothing else in the world happens without a cause, so there is also a much deeper cause for infant mortality than we are usually aware of, and as we awake to the facts of the case, we shall be able to avoid in future the sorrow incident to loss of our little ones.
To understand the case properly we must revert to the experiences of the dying in the death hour. We remember that the panorama of the past life is etched upon the desire body during a period varying from a few hours to three and one-half days just subsequent to demise. We recall also that upon the depth of this etching depends the clearness of the picture, and that the more vivid this panorama of life, the more intensely will the Spirit suffer in Purgatory and feel the joys of heaven; also, that the greater the suffering Purgatory the stronger the conscience in the next life.
It was explained how the horrors of death upon the battle field, in an accident, or other untoward circumstances would prevent the Spirit from giving all its attention to the panorama of life, with the result that there would be a light etching in the desire body, followed by a vague and insipid existence in Purgatory and the First Heaven. It was also stated that hysterical lamentations in the death chamber would produce the same effect.
A Spirit which had thus escaped suffering proportionate to its misdeeds, and which had not experienced the pleasure commensurate with the good it had done, would not in a future life have as well developed a conscience as it ought to have, nor would it be as benevolent as it ought to be, and therefore the life, terminated under conditions over which the Spirit had no control, would be partly wasted. The Great Leaders of humanity therefore take steps to counteract such a calamity and prevent an injustice. The Spirit is brought to birth, caused to die in childhood, re-enters the Desire World and in the First Heaven it is taught the lessons of which it was deprived previously.
As the First Heaven is located in the Desire World (which is the realm of light and color), where matter is shaped most readily by thought, the little ones are given wonderful toys impossible of construction here. They are taught to play with colors, which work upon their moral character in exactly the manner each child requires. Anyone who is at all sensitive is affected by the color of his clothing and surroundings. Some colors have a depressing effect, while others inspire us with energy, and others again soothe and comfort us. In the Desire World the effect of colors is much more intense; they are much more potent factors of good and evil there than here. In this color play, the child imbibes unconsciously the qualities which it did not acquire on account of accident or lamentations of relatives. Often it also falls to the lot of such relatives to care for a child and see it die. Thus they receive just retribution for the wrong committed. As wars cease, and man learns to be more careful of life, also how to care for the dying, infant mortality, which now is so appalling, will decrease.
When both the good and evil of a life have been extracted, the Spirit discards its desire body and ascends to the Second Heaven. The desire body then commences to disintegrate as the physical body and the vital body have done, but it is a peculiarity of desire-stuff that, once it has been formed and inspired with life, it persists for a considerable time. Even after that life has fled it lives a semiconscious, independent life. Sometimes it is drawn by magnetic attraction to relatives of the Spirit whose clothing it was, and at spiritualistic séances these shells generally impersonate the departed Spirit and deceive its relatives. As the panorama of the past life is etched into the shells, they have a memory of incidents in connection with these relatives, which facilitates the deception. But as the intelligence has fled, they are of course unable to give any true counsel, and that accounts for the inane, goody-goody nonsense of which these things deliver themselves.
When passing from the First to the Second Heaven, the Spirit experiences the condition known and described previously as the Great Silence, where it stands utterly alone, conscious only of its divinity. When that silence is broken there floats in upon the Spirit celestial harmonies of the World of Tone where the Second Heaven is located. It seems then to lave in an ocean of sound and to experience a joy beyond all description and words, as it nears its heavenly home — for this is the first of the truly spiritual realms from which the Spirit has been exiled during its Earth life and the subsequent post-mortem existence. In the Desire World its work was corrective, but in the World of Thought the human Spirit becomes one with the nature forces and its creative activity begins.
Under the Law of Causation we reap exactly what we sow, and it would be wrong to place one Spirit in an environment where there is a scarcity of the necessities of life, where a scorching sun burns the crop and millions die from famine, or where the raging flood sweeps away primitive habitations not built to withstand its ravages, and to bring another Spirit to birth in a land of plenty, with fertile soil which yields a maximum of increase with a minimum of labor, where the earth is rich in minerals that may be used in industry to facilitate transportation of products of the soil from one point to another.
If we were thus placed without action or acquiescence upon our part, there would be no justice, but as our post-mortem existence in Purgatory and the First Heaven is based upon our moral attitude in this life, so our activities in the Second Heaven are determined by our mental aspirations. They produce our future physical environment, for in the Second Heaven, the Spirit becomes part of the nature forces which work upon the earth and change its climate, flora, fauna. A Spirit of an indolent nature, who indulges in daydreams and metaphysical speculations here, is not transformed by death respecting its mental attitude any more than regarding its moral propensities. It will dream away time in heaven, glorying in its sights and sounds. Thus it will neglect to work upon its future country and return to a barren and arid land. Spirits, on the other hand, whose material aspirations lead them to desire so-called solid comforts of hearth and home, who aim to promote great industries, and whose mind is concerned in trade and commerce, will build in heaven a land that will suit their purpose: fertile, mineralized, with navigable rivers and sheltered harbors. They will return in time to enjoy upon Earth the fruits of their labors in the Second Heaven, as they reap the result of their life upon Earth in Purgatory and the First Heaven.
In the Third Heaven most people have very little consciousness, for reasons explained in connection with the Region of Abstract Thought, for there the Third Heaven is located. It is therefore more of a place of waiting where the Spirit rests between the time when its labors in the Second Heaven have been completed and the time when it again experiences the desire for rebirth. But from this realm inventors bring down their original ideas, there the philanthropist obtains the clearest vision of how to realize his utopian dreams, and the spiritual aspirations of the saintly minded are given renewed impetus.
In time the desires of the Spirit for further experiences draw it back to rebirth, and the great celestial Beings who are known in the Christian Religion as Recording Angels, assist the Spirit to come to birth in the place best suited to give it the experience necessary further to unfold its powers and possibilities.
We have all been here many times and in different families, we have had relations of varying nature with many different people, and usually there are several families among whom we may seek re-embodiment to work out our self-generated destiny and reap what we have sown in former lives. If there are no special reasons why we should take birth in any particular family among certain friends or foes, the Spirit is allowed to choose its own place of birth. Thus it may be said that most of us are in our present places by our own prenatal choice.
In order to assist us in making that choice the Recording Angels call up before the Spirit's vision a panorama in general outlines of each of the offered lives. This panorama will show what part of our past debts we are to pay, and what fruits we may be expected to reap in the coming life.
The Spirit is left free to choose between the several lives offered. But once a choice has been made no evasion is possible during life. We have free will with regard to the future, but the past mature destiny we cannot escape, as shown by the incident recorded in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, where the writer warned a well known Los Angeles lecturer that if he left his home upon a certain day, he would be injured by a conveyance, in head, neck, breast and shoulders. The gentleman believed and intended to heed our warning. Nevertheless, he went to Sierra Madre to lecture upon the fateful day. He was injured by a collision in the places stated and later explained: "I thought the twenty-eighth was the twenty-ninth."
When the Spirit has made its choice, it descends into the Second Heaven where it is instructed by the Angels and Archangels how to build an archetype of the body which it will later inhabit upon Earth. Also here we note the operation of the great Law of Justice which decree that we reap what we sow. If our tastes are coarse and sensual, we shall build an archetype which will express these qualities; if we are refined and of aesthetic taste, we shall build an archetype correspondingly refined, but no one can obtain a better body than he can build. Then, as the architect who builds a house in which he afterwards lives, will suffer discomfort if he neglects to ventilate it properly, so also the Spirit feels disease in a poorly constructed body. As the architect learns to avoid mistakes and remedy the shortcomings of one house when building another, so also the Spirit which suffers from defects in its body learns in time to build better and better vehicles.
In the Region of Concrete Thought, the Spirit also draws to itself materials for a new mind. As a magnet draws iron filings but leaves other substances alone, so also each Spirit draws only the kind of mind-stuff which it used in its former life, plus that which it has learned to use in its present post-mortem state. Then it descends into the Desire World where it gathers materials for a new desire body such as will express appropriately its moral characteristics. Later it attracts a certain amount of ether which is built into the mold of the archetype constructed in the Second Heaven and acts as cement between the solids, liquids, and gaseous material from the bodies of parents which form the dense physical body of a child, and in due time the latter is brought to birth.
It must not be imagined, however, that when the little body of a child has been born, the process of birth is completed. The dense physical body has had the longest evolution, and as a shoemaker who has worked at his trade for a number of years is more expert than an apprentice and can make better shoes and quicker, so also the Spirit which has built many physical bodies produces them quickly, but the vital body is a later acquisition of the human being. Therefore we are not so expert in building that vehicle. Consequently, it takes longer to construct it from the materials not used in making the lining of the archetype, and the vital body is not born until the seventh year. Then the period of rapid growth commences. The desire body is a still later addition of composite man, and is not brought to birth until the fourteenth year, when the desire nature expresses itself most strongly during the so-called "hot" youth, and the mind, which makes man, does not come to birth until the twenty-first year. In law that age is recognized as the earliest time he is fitted to exercise a franchise.
This knowledge is of the utmost importance to parents, as a proper understanding of the development which should take place in each of the septenary epochs enables the educator to work intelligently with nature and thus fulfill more thoroughly the trust of a parent than those who are ignorant of the Western Mystery Teaching. We shall therefore devote the remaining pages to an elucidation of this matter and to the importance of the knowledge of astrology upon the part of the parent.
"God is Light," says the Bible, and we are unable to conceive of a grander simile of His omnipresence, or the mode of His manifestation. Even the greatest telescopes have failed to reach the boundaries of light, though they reveal to us stars millions of miles from the Earth, and we may well ask ourselves, as did the Psalmist of old: "Whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend into heaven Thou art there, if I make my bed in the grave Thou art there, if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea. Even there shall thy hand lead me."
When, in the dawn of Being, God The Father enunciated the Word, and The Holy Spirit moved upon the sea of homogeneous virgin matter, primeval darkness was turned to light. That is therefore, the prime manifestation of Deity, and a study of the principles of Light will reveal to the mystic intuition a wonderful source of spiritual inspiration. As it would take us too far afield from our subject we shall not enter into an elucidation of that theme here, except so far as to give an elementary idea of how divine Life energizes the human frame, and stimulates to action.
Truly, God is One and undivided. He unfolds within His being all that is, as the white light embraces all colors. But He appears threefold in manifestation, as the white light is refracted in three primary colors: blue, yellow, and red. Wherever we see these colors they are emblematic of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three primary rays of divine Life are diffused or radiated through the Sun and produce Life, Consciousness, and Form upon each of the seven light-bearers, the planets, which are called "the Seven Spirits before the Throne." Their names are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. Bode's Law proves that Neptune and Pluto do not "belong" to our solar system. See Simplified Scientific Astrology for mathematical demonstration of this conception.
Each of the seven planets receives the light of the Sun in a different measure, according to its proximity to the central orb and the constitution of its atmosphere, and the beings upon each, according to their stage of development, have affinity for some of the solar rays. They absorb the colors congruous to them, and reflect the remainder upon the other planets. This reflected ray bears with it an impulse of the nature of the beings with which it has been in contact.
Thus the divine Light and Life comes to each planet, either directly from the Sun, or reflected from its sister planets, and as the summer breeze which has been wafted over blooming fields carries upon its silent invisible wings the blended fragrance of a multitude of flowers, so also the subtle influences from the garden of God bring to us the co-mingled impulses of all the Spirits, and in that varicolored light we live and move and have our being.
The rays which come directly from the Sun are productive of spiritual illumination, the reflected rays from other planets make for added consciousness and moral development, and the rays reflected by way of the Moon give physical growth.
But as each planet can absorb only a certain quantity of one or more colors according to the general stage of evolution there, so each being upon Earth: mineral, plant, animal, and man, can only absorb and thrive upon a certain quantity of the various rays projected upon the Earth. The remainder do not affect it or produce sensation, any more than the blind are conscious of light and color which exists everywhere around them. Therefore each being is differently affected by the stellar rays, and the science of astrology, a fundamental truth in nature, is of enormous benefit in the attainment of spiritual growth.
From a horoscopic figure in mystic script we may learn our own strength and weakness, with the path best suited to our development, or we may see the tendencies of those friends who come to us as children, and what traits are dormant in them. Thus we shall know clearly how to discharge our duty as parents, by repressing evil before it comes to birth, and fostering good so that it may bring forth most abundantly the spiritual potencies of the Spirit committed to our care.
As we have already said, man returns to Earth to reap that which he has sown in previous lives and to sow anew the seeds which make for future experience. The stars are the heavenly time keepers which measure the year; the Moon indicates the month when the time will be propitious to harvest or to sow.
The child is a mystery to us all. We can know its propensities only as they slowly develop into characteristics, but it is usually too late to check when evil habits have been formed and the youth is upon the downward grade. A horoscope cast for the time of birth in a scientific manner shows the tendencies to good or evil in the child, and if a parent will take the time and trouble necessary to study the science of the stars, he or she may do the child entrusted to his or her care an inestimable service by fostering tendencies to good and repressing the evil bent of a child before it has crystallized into habit. Do not imagine that a superior mathematical knowledge is necessary to erect a horoscope. Many construct a horoscope in such an involved manner, so "fearfully and wonderfully made," that it is unreadable to themselves or others, while a simple figure, easy of reading, may be constructed by anyone who knows how to add and subtract. This method has been thoroughly elucidated in Simplified Scientific Astrology, and parents who have the welfare of their children thoroughly at heart should endeavor to learn the stellar science for themselves. Even though their ability may not compare with that of a professional astrologer, their intimate knowledge of the child and their deep interest will more than compensate for such lack and enable them to see most deeply into the child's character by means of its horoscope.
Respecting the birth of the various vehicles and the influence which that has upon life, we may say that during the time from birth to the seventh year the lines of growth of the physical body are determined, and as it has been noted that sound is builder both in the great and small, we may well imagine that rhythm must have an enormous influence upon the growing and sensitive little child's organism. The apostle John in the first chapter of his Gospel expresses this idea mystically in the beautiful words: "In the beginning was the Word...and without it was not anything made that was made... and the word became flesh." The Word is a rhythmic sound, which issued from the Creator, reverberated through the universe and marshaled countless millions of atoms into the multiplex variety of shapes and forms which we see about us. The mountain, the mayflower, the mouse, and the man are all embodiments of the great Cosmic Word which is still sounding through the universe and which is still building and ever building though unheard by our insensitive ears. But though we do not hear that wonderful celestial sound, we may work upon the little child's body by terrestrial music, and though the nursery rhymes are without sense, they are nevertheless bearers of a wonderful rhythm. The more a child is taught to say, sing, and repeat them, to dance and to march to them, the more music is incorporated into a child's daily life, the stronger and healthier will be its body in future years.
There are two mottoes which apply during this period, one to the child and the other to the parent: Example and imitation. No creature under heaven is more imitative than a little child, and its conduct in after years will depend largely upon the example set by its parents during its early life. It is no use to tell the child "not to mind." It has no mind wherewith to discriminate, but follows its natural tendency, as water flows down a hill, when it imitates. Therefore it behooves every parent to remember from morning till night that watchful eyes are upon him all the time, waiting but for him to act in order to follow his example.
It is of the utmost importance that the child's clothing should be very loose, particularly the clothing of little boys, as chafing garments often product vices which follow a man through life.
If anyone should attempt forcibly to extract a babe from the protecting womb of its mother, the outrage would result in death, because the babe had not yet arrived at a maturity sufficient to endure impacts of the Physical World. In the three septenary periods which follow birth, the invisible vehicles are still in the womb of Mother Nature. If we teach a child of tender years to memorize, or to think, or if we arouse its feelings and emotions, we are in fact opening the protecting womb of nature, and the results are equally as disastrous in other respects as a forced premature birth. Child prodigies usually become men and women of less than ordinary intelligence. We should not hinder the child from learning or thinking of his own volition, but we should not goad them on as parents often do to nourish their own pride.
When the vital body is born at the age of seven a period of growth begins and a new motto, or rather a new relation, is established between parent and child. This may be expressed by the two words Authority and Discipleship. In this period the child is taught certain lessons which it takes upon faith in the authority of its teachers, whether at home or at school, and as memory is a faculty of the vital body it can now memorize what is learned. It is therefore eminently teachable; particularly because it is unbiased by preconceived opinions which prevent most of us from accepting new views. At the end of this second period, from about twelve to fourteen, the vital body has been so far developed that puberty is reached. At the age of fourteen we have the birth of the desire body, which marks the commencement of self-assertion. In earlier years the child regards itself more as belonging to a family, and subordinate to the wishes of its parents than after the fourteenth year. The reason is this: In the throat of the fetus and the young child there is a gland called the thymus gland, which is largest before birth, then gradually diminishes through the years of childhood and finally disappears at ages which vary according to the characteristics of the child.
Anatomists have been puzzled as to the function of this organ and have not yet come to any settled conclusion, but it has been suggested that before development of the red marrow bones, the child is not able to manufacture its own blood, and that therefore the thymus gland contains an essence, supplied by the parents, upon which the child may draw during infancy and childhood, till able to manufacture its own blood. That theory is approximately true, and as the family blood flows in the child, it looks upon itself as part of the family and not as an Ego. But the moment it commences to manufacture its own blood, the Ego asserts itself; it is no longer papa's girl or mama's boy; it has an "I"-dentity of its own.
Then comes the critical age when parents reap what they have sown. The mind has not yet been born, nothing holds the desire nature in check, and much, very much, depends upon how the child has been taught in earlier years and what example the parents have set. At this point in life self-assertion, the feeling "I Am Myself," is stronger than at any other time, and therefore authority should give place to advice. The parent should practice the utmost tolerance, for at no time in life is a human being as much in need of sympathy as during the seven years from fourteen to twenty-one when the desire nature is rampant and unchecked.
It is a crime to inflict corporal punishment upon a child at any age. Might is never right, and as the stronger, parents should always have compassion for the weaker. But there is one feature of corporal punishment which makes it particularly dangerous to apply it to the youth: namely, that it wakens the passional nature which is already perhaps beyond the control of the growing boy.
If we whip a dog, we shall soon break its spirit and transform it into a cringing cur, and it is deplorable that some parents seem to regard it as their mission in life to break the spirit of their children with the rule of the rod. If there is one universal lack among the human race which is more apparent than any other, it is lack of will, and as parents we may remedy the evil in a large measure by guiding the wills of our children along such lines as dictated by our own more mature reason. Thus we help them to grow a backbone instead of a wishbone, with which unfortunately most of us are afflicted. Therefore, never whip a child; if punishment is needed, correct by withholding favors or withdrawing privileges.
At the twenty-first year the birth of the mind transforms the youth into an adult fully equipped to commence his own life in the school of experience.
Thus we have followed the human Spirit around a life cycle from death to birth and maturity; we have seen how immutable law governs its every step and how it is ever encompassed by the loving care of the great and glorious Beings who are the ministers of God. The method of his future development will be explained in a later work which will deal with the Christian Mystic Initiation.
If you are a parent, the horoscope will aid you to detect the evil latent in your child and teach you how to apply the ounce of prevention. It will show you the good points also, that you may make a better man or woman of the Spirit entrusted to your care. It will reveal systematic weakness and enable you to guard the health of your child; it will show what talents are there, and how the life may be lived to a maximum of usefulness. Therefore, the message of the marching orbs is so important that you cannot afford to remain ignorant thereof.
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