Questions in "The Theosophical Forum"

Answered by William Q. Judge

[April 1889 through April 1895, in Numbers One to Seventy, First Series.]
Questions 102 through 219


Is it honest for a sincere Theosophist to celebrate in any way, whether by present-giving or by entertainments, the festivals of Christendom, such as Christmas and Easter? What is the practice of Occultists and the leaders of the Theosophical Society in this regard?

W.Q.J.-- Theosophical sincerity is not a strange moral product of a new reform, but is exactly sincerity as always defined by philosophers and moralists in every age. The word sincere is derived from a Latin word which is in its turn supposed to be from sine "without" and cera "wax," that is, pure honey. The wax is prejudice, and he who harbors that, be he an F.T.S. or not, may consider his practice right in preventing him from viewing broadly all customs of all men, but one who accumulates the pure honey of sincerity may just as well join in Christmas festivities in Christendom as he would in those of Buddha's birthday in Ceylon. 


As to there being seven earth: to me analogy would suggest that there are not seven earths; rather that our fellow globes are the more ethereal principles of that of which this earth is but its lowest aspect. "As above, so below."

W.Q.J. -- I do not understand what sort of analogy the questioner uses, but the point raised is evidently in respect to the statement in The Secret Doctrine that as there are seven moons, so there are seven earths and seven principles or divisions in man. The seven earths referred to are not the seven globes of the earth-chain -- the only one of which has been called "earth" is this one, but are the seven principles of this globe, the most gross of which is that seen by us. No other word could be used for these except "earth," since as yet we are not well enough acquainted with them to give them distinct names. Were we to name them we should say (1) earth's physical shell, (2) earth's jiva principle, (3) earth's linga-sarira or astral body, and so on through the whole seven. This applies equally to all the globes of the earth-chain, and the other six of those cannot be called "earths" and were never intended to be, because they are composed of matter which is not perceptible to our eyes. So, when the questioner says that "there are not seven earths" there is a confounding together of two subjects, for the seven earths referred to are this earth and its principles, whereas the "fellow-globes" are the other globes in our chain and not our earth's higher principles. Each of the globes in the chain is septenary, (see The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 167) and hence if we count these globe principles we have seven times seven, equals forty-nine, instead of only seven for the whole, as would follow from the questioner's position.


What is the Theosophical view of "Obsession?" Are the New Testament accounts of "casting out devils" to be regarded as literally true? If so, is it a retribution coming under the law of Karma, as with persons under seven years of age? There are cases where the so-called obsessing power seems so far superior in force of will as to be wholly irresistible by the victim: where is the remedy?

W.Q.J. -- The T.S. has no "view" about obsession. All on such subjects must be the expression of individual opinion. The editor appears to intimate that there are really no cases of obsession, and if that is the intention of the answer, it must result from the fact that he has never met a case. It is true that as superstition abates instances of obsession do also, but that does not prove the phenomena to be the product wholly of belief in their possibility. Nor do the writings of men like Lecky prove much to my mind on these topics, since he thinks from a standpoint entirely at variance with mine. Since I have, in common with many other members of the Society, known of clear cases of obsession, no amount of argument by one who had never encountered such would be of any avail; and it is quite likely that those who do not believe in the possibility of these abnormal occurrences will never meet one, because the mind is not directed in that direction. There are obsessions, then, as we think from observation, but the classes of obsession given in the first answer, two in number only, are not adequate. We have to include in obsession that most mysterious thing -- insanity. Physicians do not understand this affliction. They cannot explain how a man suddenly loses his identity and becomes a raving maniac. Or in milder cases, where a man periodically becomes for months at a time some other person with no memory of the former state, and so relapses from one to the other. I know of such a case in which a boy first showed this form of insanity, and has gone on for years with the alternation of personality until now he is of age. His trouble would long ago have brought him to the insane asylum if it were not that he was born in a rich and fortunate family. What is to be said of such cases? Are they voluntary or not? They do not come under either of the heads in the answer by the editor. As they are wholly involuntary, is free-will invaded or justice dethroned? I think not. Karma rules in this as in all else, and it is only when one limits his view of karma to this one life that he can be confused. Acts in a former life set up such tendencies in the ocean of life that when the ego came back again it was sure to one day become insane, which only means that a disarrangement of astral and physical forces was brought about resulting in a total inability to correlate the soul and body, and this is called insanity. It was free will that laid down the causes, and free will has no power to alter the effects. But, as in the case I cited, there may be ameliorations brought about by karma in the same way. For in that one we see -- as is often not the case with others -- that the poor insane person is protected by reason of the effect of another kind of karma, and is in this long insane or obsessed life cared for and made as happy as is possible. Remember, the mind of each is connected with the body in a certain definite manner and not merely in an imaginary way. This definite method is by certain channels and filaments or nerves; among the most difficult to explain are the magnetic and electric ties for the mind. Now our hold upon the body we have been born into may be so weak that we are not able to keep possession of these channels, and stronger forces may even unconsciously go in where we have tried to stay. This is not caprice any more than it is caprice that water will leak from a tank if there be any cracks. So there may come a time that the building called the body, which we hoped to occupy for a long time, becomes so imperfect that our mental tenancy is no longer possible and we drift off altogether, leaving it to the use of other forces or intelligences good or bad; or, as is often the case, we are now driven out for a time and then again get complete posession for a short term, until in that process the cords of magnetism and the electric channels are clogged up or destroyed so far as we are concerned, when we leave altogether. All this of course may happen by what is called the man's own will or act, as where one suffers from paresis brought about by gross dissipation, but all the cases are not of this kind, nor are they all due to spiritualistic seances. As to remedies, those suggested by the editor are good, but there are others possible by the use of strong magnetism used by one who knows all these laws in every detail and can intelligently apply the remedy.


Are there well-authenticated cases on record of clairvoyance in persons born blind, where correct descriptions of things have been given as they appear to the organ of sight?

W.Q.J. -- I have heard of one or two such cases, but as now they cannot be produced they are not of present value. But it is well known that blind people have ideas as to objects and localities which they have never perceived as those who do have perfect sight. In these cases they must have concepts, probably the same as those arising in others from good sight. This, however, is not clairvoyance. It is, however, certain that cases such as the question calls for must be very rare, inasmuch as blind people would not be usually credited with clairvoyance, but would, in telling of places, naturally be thought to describe scenes of the imagination. Furthermore, it is extremely doubtful if a clairvoyant blind from birth could have possession of terms to use in describing objects so as to be understood by others not blind.


If it is wrong to cure disease by mesmerism or magnetism, -- at least, if thereby the patient is controlled to any extent, how did Col. Olcott heal so many in India by such means?

W.Q.J. -- There seems to be no necessary connection between the premise on this question and the query put. Even if it were "wrong to cure disease by mesmerism or magnetism," it would not therefore follow that one could not heal people thereby. But I have never heard from any source of weight that it is wrong to so cure people of their ailments. To relieve distress must be right in general. There is much dispute as to magnetism, but Col. Olcott seems to be of opinion that its cures are effected by actual virtue in magnetic fluid, and not by "control" of any patient. But in many of his cures there was a lack of permanence, due probably to lack of continuance of treatment, as he was constantly on the move. Questions of this sort ought to refer to some fact or publication in support of the assumption put in the question, as otherwise it is not possible to answer intelligently or adequately.


Has a mother a right to use her will power in throwing off disease and the painful result of accidents from herself and children? Please draw the line clearly between white and black magic in such work, occult work?

W.Q.J. -- It is not clear from the question whether the querent means to ask about the use of the will pure and simple or about the practice of mind-cure, as it is called, or spiritual healing. In respect to the use of the will considered alone, the editor of Forum has replied sufficiently, I think, especially pointing out that the use of that power is not well understood; and it would seem that the questioner does not understand it.

There is a remarkable absence of treatment of the question of the will in such books as the Yoga Aphorisms and the like, the very books where one would expect to see something about it if it is a thing that can be treated of separately. But we may see the reason for this when we remember the old saying of the Kabalists, that "behind will stands desire." And by considering men as we see them, this saying appears to be a true one, for in everyday life and in every act we perceive that the prime mover is desire, and that the question of weak will or strong will depends on that in nearly every case. The wicked are of strong will because they have strong desires, and the weak person will be found to act with the most powerful will when the desire is strong. Their appearance of being weak arises from the fact that they are pulled about every moment by contrary wishes, not being concentrated enough to have definite wishes of their own. And it is here that the distinction between White and Black Magic can be easily found, for if the desired object be a selfish one or against the general good, then the act performed will be of the nature of Black Magic. The will is only used as an agent to carry out the desire. So in the case of an actual adept of either school, will is at his disposition no matter what be his object.

Now if the question put is in view of the practices of the so-called metaphysical healing schools, then a very different set of questions arises of mixed nature, some including moral aspects and some not, but every one raising a doubt about the claims made of curative power, as also about the way in which any cures that do take place have been accomplished.

The editor has pointed out that a well-balanced and centered mind will conduce to health, as has been held for ages; even savages know this and act accordingly. And if one finds from actual experience that the fact of his or her being of a cheerful, happy, contented, charitable, loving, faithful, sunny disposition will always have the effect of giving health to those about in the family or elsewhere, then there can surely be nothing wrong or inexpedient in such a state. And that, in my opinion, is the right limit for the practice of metaphysical healing. For if one goes beyond that, and, following the rules of these schools, proceeds to send his thoughts out to another with the object of taking hold of that other's mind, then there is the greatest danger and also Black Magic. For no one has the right to take the mind of another, for any purpose, into his possession. If such be done, then the other ceases to be a free agent. And this is true as much in the case of one's child as in that of any other person. Moral wrong attaches here because one is acting on another. But in the event of acting on oneself there can only be a question of expediency, and that is a very wide and important one, since momentous consequences may flow to us and to others from the tendencies we set up in ourselves.

Bodily ailments may be roughly divided for the purpose of the present into two classes, one being those that are acute or due to the imagination or the reaction of the imagination on the processes in the bodily economy; the other being those due to strong physical karma showing out in diseases in the mortal envelope, and being entirely beyond the reach of the imagination and not due to reactions from the mind of the sufferer. These last are of the greater number; we see them in small children as well as in adults, and also in savages and the semi-savages of our own civilization who compose what some people call a lower element in the social body.

In the first class the physical troubles from reaction will of course disappear so soon as the person trains himself to look at life cheerfully and to grow into a more independent frame of mind. The cures are not due to the causes assumed in the schools we refer to. They come about as a natural result of the new state of mind withdrawing from the nerves and fluids of the body the old strain and oppression. When those are removed the actual state of health at the bottom comes to the surface. And the result would be the same in the instance of the most degraded savage who might be induced by accident or by the words of his medicine man to fix his mind in another direction. Obviously there it would not be due to a system of philosophy. And additional proof of this is to be had in the very schools we speak of. In those we see widely different systems; one requires faith in the Bible and in Jesus, and the other does not, and yet each makes equal claim to success. H. P. Blavatsky says: "This is all the secret. Half, if not two-thirds of our ailings and diseases are the fruit of our imagination and fears. Destroy the latter and give another bent to the former, and nature will do the rest."

In the second class of diseases it is quite true, as has been often said by the metaphysical healer, that the disease comes from thought, but the error is in supposing it to be present thought had in this body. The thoughts are those of a past life, and have passed altogether from the mind plane into the realm of causes for dynamic disturbance, or of tendency, that are quite beyond the reach of the present imagining power, but sure to result in the course of time in visible difficulty suddenly appearing, or resulting from our going into situations that bring to us the germs of disease. For Karma acts on us not only in inherited troubles but also in accord with the tendencies we have set up in ourselves in a previous life. Those latter impel us to go to places or to mix with such people as that the inevitable result will be to cause effects on our mind or body that otherwise would not be felt. As in the case of one who set up in a previous life a tendency to consort with good and cultured people; this will come out and lead to a similar line of action with very different results from the case of one whose tendencies were in the opposite direction.

These causes for disease then being in the mind plane from the last life, and having become mechanical causes in this, are now on their way out of the system in the proper channel, and that channel is a physical, mechanical one. They are leaving us by the way of the body, are on the way down, and should not be stopped and sent back to the mind plane again. They should be treated by the ordinary methods of hygiene, of medicine, of surgery, of food. Hygiene and food furnish the right conditions for adjustment, and make no new present cause for trouble; medicine helps nature in her mechanical acts of purging and alteration; and surgery replaces dislocations, removes dead tissues, or puts bones that are broken into position for proper joining. No one would be so foolish as to say that thinking will remove from the brain the pressure of a fractured bone that is making the patient mad, or that imagination will set a dislocated shoulder. And if rotting food in the stomach is affecting the head and the whole system, it is certainly wiser to get rid of the offending substance as quickly as possible, supplying the body with good food in its place, than to let the evil stay to be absorbed as evil into the tissues while one busies himself by calling on the higher powers of mind to make him think he is not disturbed while nature is going on with her cure. In many cases this latter is all that happens, for any strong-minded person can resolve to endure great pain during the process of rectification of internal trouble by ordinary change of tissue and of fluids. So a disciple of the schools in question may be so full of the notion that mind, or God, or Christ is curing him that he endures until the vis medicatrix naturae has done its work.

Granting that these causes are on their way down and out, the effect of calling with a powerful will on the same plane of power is that the cause may be sent back to the inner mind and disappear from the body. But this is no cure: it is something like one's cutting off his hair because the flies walk in it, it is planting once more in our deathless body disease that will surely come out again in another life as disease, or as madness in that one or presently in this. And in the life of many a practitioner nowadays this has happened. For wherever one is very sensitive the practices enjoined create abnormal states that have resulted in dementia.

But a still more pressing danger lies in the half-truth of the practices. They are, divested of all pretention to systematic and right philosophy, partially correct yoga practices.

As soon as they are begun they set up in the astral currents in the practitioner definite changes that at once begin to react on the humors and fluids in the body and are strong enough to bring about definite alteration in the physical envelope. This has been known for ages and has been treated of by the older Hindus. But they have always been careful to say that they ought not to be gone on with in the absence of a guide who is competent to know every symptom, to note every effect, and to give the right corrective.

These correctives were not purely mental either, for many of them have to be physical, since the rapidity of the changes and the effects of the practices far outrun any application of mental correction in many instances. And this knowledge did not mean a mere following of a definite rule, but included an ability to see the peculiarities of each person as he proceeded. For as each is under a different set of laws peculiar to himself, the strict following of a general rule would lead to the greatest danger.

But what do the "metaphysical healers" know of this?

Nothing but the vague rule of the doctors that one must watch the patient and know, if possible, something of his medical record. Outside of that they are at sea with no pilot. They are inviting the explosion of forces they know nothing about, and when the difficulty arises they are powerless. From actual experiment I know the facts to be as stated. The pulse may be lowered or increased, or the first symptoms of paralysis produced, or fainting brought on, singing in the ears and mist before the eyes made to show themselves; but where is the corrective? Unknown, for the simple reason that when we are dealing with such forces as these we are out of the realm of general rules for correction and must be able to at once see the exact inner state of the person and to select unerringly out of the vast range of possible cures the right one so that it shall work without any mistake.

What, then, shall the querent do for herself and her children, as she asks? Use her best judgment, follow the best rules for the cure of diseases, train her children to be self-reliant and careful so that they shall have few accidents, teach them to avoid evil and danger and keep their minds and bodies in right condition, and karma, and will take care of the rest. And if they are hurt or really sick, then send for a good physician.


Is it unwise or wrong to say mentally to a person "You are well," or "You are virtuous, Your higher nature can control your lower"? Is that kind of mental treatment a wrong use of power if the motive is pure and unselfish?

W.Q.J. -- Buddha and Jesus -- two great teachers -- performed cures. Not by assertion and denial but by scientific use of power. To the wicked whom they cured they said "sin no more." Both taught that the cause of sorrow was evil thought leading to evil act, but neither said that that existed not which was plain before one's eyes. They recognized the existence of fact, of law, of reason. In some cases they could not cure. Why? Because the causes working on the sufferer were too strong for them. Mere optimism which says all is good is of a kind that grows out of sentiment unsupportable by reason. We ought to do all the good we can, but that does not mean we should blind our minds to the reality which is necessary for cognition.


Do persons remain in Devachan for a time proportioned to their previous life on earth? For example: does one dying at 100 remain in Devachan ten times as long as one dying at ten?

W.Q.J. -- On this the ancient writers say: "And when the reward is exhausted the being sinks back again into mortal life."


In the Jan. "Forum" H.P.B. is quoted as saying, "This is all the secret. Half, if not two thirds, of all our ailings and diseases are the fruit of our imagination and fears." In the same number W.Q.J. says, "The greater number are due to strong physical Karma," and "are entirely beyond the reach of imagination." Will the FORUM point out the reconciliation?

W.Q.J. -- It is quite true that I said in reply to Question 161 that the greater number of diseases are those which are due to physical Karma and beyond the reach of the imagination rather than to the reaction of the imagination upon the body, and that H.P.B. in Lucifer said that "half if not two-thirds of our ailings and diseases are the fruit of our imagination," but there seems to be no great contradiction since both statements were general, and in the last Forum mine was declared to be in respect to a rough classification and not to a specific accurate one. H.P.B.'s expression "half if not two-thirds" is well known to be an idiom which means much or little. It is one of those constantly used when one is not speaking of exact quantities. Hence it need not be set over against mine. But if any think it important, then let them consider that I did not say what I did as to the proportions. However, there are no statistics obtainable as to the two classes of causes for disease, and it is very evident that H.P.B. had no thought of being mathematically exact, nor was there need for her to be. Her remark was not to point out proportions but to show how strong imagination may be and how, just as I sought to point out that when the direction of the mind is altered the strain is taken off from the body and nature makes a further change, instead of our minds bringing about a state of health. A careful glance at the substantial point aimed at in the reply criticized would have revealed nothing of the nature of contradiction between writer and H.P.B.


In a recent discussion upon Karma a prominent Theosophist contended that at death a regular balance-sheet of good and bad Karma was, as it were, automatically made, and the resultant, always bad Karma, was what guided the next incarnation. That the product was always bad Karma, he stated, was proven by the fact that the particular Ego incarnated at all; incarnation being considered a misfortune and necessarily resulting from evil Karma. The other side of the controversy maintained that there was no such process as could be analogued to a balance-sheet; that both good and bad Karma held over; that good Karma as well as bad necessitates reincarnation; and that the future condition of the Ego is the resultant modifications of some or all of both kinds of Karma. The point was unsettled. Will not the FORUM illuminate us?

W.Q.J. -- Sorry to disagree from the EDITOR, but I must on the distinct assertion that "Karma is not the cause of incarnation." The word Karma means "action." Each incarnation of a being is action; each manifestation of a system of worlds is action on the part of the entities that manifest. It is our Karma that brings us into whatever sort of body, in no matter what sort of environment, with whatever character, good or bad, high or low, broad or narrow. Karma in respect to things about us produces circumstances of environment, of change, for reward, for punishment, for pleasure or for pain. As to ourselves considered as moral beings, it produces from life to life a tendency for good, virtuous, wise actions and thoughts, or the reverse. Thus we see one man of lofty character environed by circumstances of the most painful nature, while another of a bestial or vicious character is placed where all circumstances appear to be pleasant. Which is good or bad Karma here? And what is the formula to determine whether Karma is good or bad? In the case of the good man surrounded by adversity it may well be good Karma, if so be that it strengthens him and broadens his sympathies; while with the other it may be wholly bad, since he only wallows in the mud of sensuality, thus redeepening his evil tendencies. "Good Karma -- or action -- is that which is pleasing, and bad that which is displeasing, to the Higher Self."

So too the balance-sheet illustration is good, for it is by balancing of our Karma that we arrive here at such and such a place, with such and such a character, to experience differences of environment. That Karma which works on circumstances may be ordinarily unpleasant and thus by some called bad, but our character, acquired by other Karma, may be such as to enable us to triumph over adversity and now glean help and strength from the field badly sown in other lives by error or by mischance. So to me the discussion seems to have proceeded on wrong lines, while each of the disputants was right in his way but made wrong application. Karma is a doctrine too vast and complicated to be disposed of by set rules applied like balance-sheets to commercial enterprises; but one thing is certain -- Karma is action viewed from every side and on each occasion.


What is meant in the Proem of The Secret Doctrine (Vol. I, page 14) by the term "bare subjectivity" as contrasted with "Unconditioned Consciousness," for the latter would seem to be "bare subjectivity" itself? It is entirely comprehensible how the Absolute "Be-ness" may be symbolized, on the one hand, by abstract Space, and, on the other, by abstract Motion, but not so readily perceived how Space may be defined as "bare subjectivity" when Motion is contrasted with it as the pure noumenon of Thought.

W.Q.J. -- In the Proem cited the author distinctly says under (a) that "speculation is impossible" about the omnipresent Principle, and then to give one way of symbolizing it -- which is certainly not definition -- proceeds to state that the Infinite Principle is the same as the "unconscious" and "unknowable" of European philosophy, in which, indeed, the FORUM editor takes delight. She then says it is symbolized in The Secret Doctrine as absolute abstract space, which one must conceive of as space distinct from all things existing therein; we cannot exclude this, nor at the same time really conceive of it. And in the same way, when we come to regard this omnipresent Principle from the point of view of the root of consciousness, we postulate it as being -- in this aspect -- absolute abstract motion, because consciousness has the quality of motion in it and not the quality of space in which to move. So then, having thus vaguely symbolized space, which is not consciousness, we have to say that, on the other hand, considering it as apart from consciousness, it may be said to be "bare subjectivity," although we have to use our consciousness in order to deal with it at all. The editor's question, "Can any one conceive of abstract color?", seems peculiar, since it is not foreign to all the schools of Western thought, where many assert -- as, indeed, it would appear they must -- that apart from any particular motion or color we can conceive of motion and color in the abstract apart from particularization.


Is it possible that our lower nature is composed of groups of elementary beings (sub-human) which under the higher tutelage can be welded into a force for good, rather than something evil that has to be cast off? If so, ought not the Higher Ego to be considered a trainer and teacher of the Lower Manas rather than as a foe, even as a parent restrains his children from wrong-doing, and would not this view make the conflict between the animal and spiritual nature easier to most people?

W.Q.J. -- The editor is right in saying the lower nature cannot be cast off, but must be subjugated. We might as well say we can annihilate universal mind as to say we can "cast off" anything that is a part of nature and going to make us what we are. The lower nature must be discovered in all its ramifications and carefully subdued, as thus it is transformed and not cast off. But I cannot agree with him in respect to "sub-human elementals" composing us and which he calls "fanciful." They are not fanciful, even though the questioner views them in the wrong light and the editor in no light at all. If there is any point strongly made in occultism it is that we are a compound of lives, that every part of us is so made, and hence it follows that our lower nature is made of these lives. There is no vacuum in the universe void of a life. But while this is so, these lives, in so far as they go to make up man, are not to be considered as separate beings from himself whom he can "educate," as inferred in the question, from a position as man which is apart from them. They exist in him, and as he lives and thinks so he impresses on them his thoughts and acts, and as they are leaving him every moment of time it follows that a stream of these lives of many grades and sorts is continually being projected from him into space and forming his own karma. For they are unintelligent and only act in their own way, just as water acts when it runs downhill. If we regard them as beings that we are educating we will fall into superstition, but if, on the other hand, we say they do not exist and have no place in us, as the editor infers, we will never come to right knowledge of the universe as it is.

They are matter, in fact, and a certain quantity of it comes into the charge, so to say, of every man, and everyone is therefore responsible for the impressions he gives to the atoms that make him up, and if he does not live aright he will have to suffer the consequences sooner or later. For these very elementals are the means whereby karma operates, for without them -- considering atoms as points of sensitiveness -- there would be a break and no way for karma to have effect. If they do not exist, then there is no way to make the connection between matter and mind and thought and circumstance.

The conflict between the higher and the lower can be made easy only by the old rule "to look on all parts of the universe as containing spiritual beings, the same in kind and only differing from each other in degree."


Is there any statement in the writings of Madame Blavatsky or of any one else who might be supposed to know, to the effect that the Ego incarnates alternately in the different sexes, or at all in the opposite sex?

W.Q.J. -- I do not remember reading anywhere in the writings of H. P. B. a statement to the effect referred to, nor in the written remarks on various subjects by the Adepts who sent her into the world can there be found, as far as my recollection goes, a declaration to the effect that the Ego incarnates alternately in male and female bodies. There may be found the doctrine that by this time in our evolution the egos now in human bodies have been through every sort of experience and both sexes, but that does not support the inference that such incarnation as to sex is alternated regularly -- nor does it refute. It simply has nothing exactly to do with the question.

The question, it seems, is interesting to many, but I must confess an entire lack of interest in it. If my next birth shall be in the body-female, it is a matter of indifference. It is of record that an ego did very well in the body called Helena P. Blavatsky; and contrariwise, another did well in the body-male called Sankaracharya. It is said that one Maji -- a woman -- in India is a great Yogi also. So, as I am perfectly indifferent, my remarks may be concluded to be uncolored by the partisanship of sex, so clear to some and so often productive of clouds over vision.

Well, then, I do not adhere to the alternating theory. It is too cut-and-dried at the very first impression. Further it appears to violate, with the appearance of a personal director behind it, the natural conclusions to be drawn from human life and character, -- our only guide in such matters. If we assume an anthropomorphic God, who made it a law that every ego should now have male and next female form for living in, no matter how the laws of tendency of attraction and repulsion work in other directions, there might be some probability of sustaining the position that regular alternation of sex is the rule. But the universe is governed by law, not by caprice. Let us, then, look a moment at one or two points.

Karma -- from other lives -- determines where, how, and when we shall be born. But in the matter under debate, one of the ramifications of the law of Karma which must have most to do with this is tendency. In other words, the tendency set up in a prior life will determine the tendency toward a particular family next birth. And we must look also at the question of male and female character essentially, and not as a mere question of appearance or function. If we discover what is the essential distinguishing characteristic of the female character as opposed for comparison to the male, then we can perhaps arrive at a probable conclusion -- though, as I above remarked, a very uninteresting and useless one in any event.

Now to my limited vision the female character is per se concrete; that is, its tendency in thought, speech, and act is toward the concrete; while the male character seems to me to be per se the opposite. The Kabalists and the ancients of all lands may not stand as authority for my readers, but they support this view. And the existence of exceptions in both sexes does not contradict the opinion, but rather goes to sustain it, forasmuch as we so easily recognize a woman who has a man's character or a man who has a woman's. The difference was not invented by tyrannical men, but seems actually to exist in the race. For no matter where you go, or how civilized or barbarous, modern or ancient, your examples are, they ever show the same differences and characteristics.

And whether you admit or deny the particular description by concreteness and abstractness, it still remains true that the essential female character -- whatever be the distinguishing mark -- is totally different from the essentially male one. 

Now, then, if Ego (A) has evolved with infinite pain and many lives the female character, is it likely that that tendency will exhaust itself at once? Or if it has been set up by one life, is it likely to exhaust at death so as to permit the next incarnation to be in the opposite sex? I think not. It might be that the Ego could, as man in prior life, incarnate next as woman, but that would mean that he had set up a tendency to whatever is the essential character of the female, -- in my opinion, concreteness of thought in the depths of his nature -- or for other of many reasons. It is not wise to set down such fixed and iron rules. Nature does not thus work. She is always about to break some rule we have foolishly thought to be of eternal duration. So I conclude on this that the Ego will go on as woman or man just so long as its deeper nature is of the same cut, fashion, and tendency as the particular sex in general in which it incarnates. For my poor judgment, the regular alternation theory is wholly without foundation. But, after all, it is a question none of us can decide. The Christian Apostles decided female incarnation to be lower in scale than male when they said women are saved only by marriage, but even some Christian Theosophists may reject the Apostles on this.


What is Imagination, and what are its limits? Often I see mental pictures of myself and others, acting, talking, etc. Sometimes these pictures are realized, sometimes not. Where is one to draw the line?

W.Q.J. -- In my opinion imagination is exactly what it imports on its face, that is, the image-making power possessed surely by man, and inferred in brute creation. It was so defined by the ancient occultists and by the hermetic philosophers. But nowadays it is given a low place generally, yet has been raised to slightly greater eminence by the Metaphysical Healers who have stumbled unknowingly on a great law. That which is often called imagination is, in fact, only fancy, or the idle creation of images whose tenure of life is short. But conscious exercise of this power raised to its highest degree is one of the necessities of occult art, for no occult feat can be performed without it. Experiments in mesmerism for a century, and lately those in hypnotism, show that each person has the power to create an image about himself which is perfectly objective to the inner senses of the seer. This creation is done by the use of imagination solely. If the image be indefinite, owing to the imagination not working strongly, the seer or subject will only see indefiniteness, because the subjective picture was badly constructed. But the constructor, poor or good, was the imagination. The Indian fakir makes you see the snake or other object -- though you have all your senses -- because through centuries of heredity and years of training his imagination has been put into such order that it sees before it the form so vividly that you perceive, as you suppose, an objective reality when none in fact exists. And turning to the letters from Adepts to Mr. Sinnett, we find them saying that in order to precipitate a note they must see (in imagination) each and every letter complete and unwavering before they can precipitate the material elements through that matrix upon the paper. So not only have we the testimony of all the mystics, but also that of those Adepts who in later days have shown those things to some.

As to drawing the line for the questioner. That can hardly be done. For if he is a clairvoyant partial or wholly, then he sometimes sees the pictures of what we improperly call the future. For there is no future; it is all now. In such seeing he does not use imagination. But where vain day-dreams interpose, then he is either using his fancy, or is bringing forgotten combinations of thought, or is being influenced for the moment by the fleeting thoughts of another. Johann Georg Gichtel once saw come out from heaven the hand of a widow who desired to marry him, and then a voice saying, "You must have her." He knew then that his stray thought and imagination had momentarily thrown a picture before his inner sense. That had but little to do with his imagination.


The Key to Theosophy, page 306, speaking of the attempt made by Masters during the last quarter of every century to help on the spiritual progress of humanity, says, "Some one or more persons have appeared in the world as their agents, and a greater or less amount of occult knowledge and teaching has been given out. If you care to do so, you can trace these movements back, century by century, so far as our detailed historical records extend." Have these movements ever been so traced out, century by century, and if so, can the Forum give such as have been tabulated?

W.Q.J. -- No one, to my knowledge, has so far taken the trouble to tabulate these movements. One was in Anton Mesmer's time. He founded a Society of Harmony with objects like ours. In Europe there were Theosophical Societies. In Dr. Buck's library I have read an old book, of about two hundred years ago, called Theosophical Transactions. Without doubt very careful research would give a complete record all through the centuries even to the time of Ammonius Saccas. The name adopted, however, would not necessarily be "Theosophical" in each case. In Germany there were many attempts, and Baron de Liebistorf and Louis Claude de Saint-Martin were engaged in one of those. Although the Encyclopedias call Cagliostro an impostor, he was engaged in such an attempt and was no impostor. Count de Saint-Germain is another of the messengers.


Does the Ego enter the body at or before birth?

W.Q.J. -- The Ego does not enter the body at any time. The body is a grossly material instrument which is overshadowed or informed by the Ego. We are accustomed to saying that our souls are caught in our bodies because the ancients so spoke. But when they used that phrase there was an additional explanation current about body, and it was believed that the latter was more than merely physical, visible carcass. The body and its entanglements extend much further than is visible to our eyes. In fact, what we see of our bodies is only the hard or visible part; each person carries around at the same time the more intangible parts of body, which, however, are very powerful in their action. Visible body is the material nucleus, and the rest is the less material fringe or emanation. So when the ancients spoke of the soul entangled in body, they included in the word "body" the above enlarged meaning. At the time of conception the astral body -- or model form -- is made, and the potentiality of an Ego being enmeshed by the person is created; the connection of the Ego with the body -- by means of the principle Manas -- is made, in general, at seven years of age, and from then on the Ego is involved or entangled in body. But before such material entanglement it was first caught and involved in the passions and desires -- or in the principle kama -- which is always the efficient or producing cause for the embodiment of the Ego. This kama is known to form a part of the skandhas or aggregates, of which material body is one.

I cannot see the force of the objection to reincarnation that it conflicts with the power of the mother to influence the child. It does not, for she gives it the body with all the tendencies thereof, and she gives it milk, thus increasing those tendencies. She certainly cannot directly touch the Ego, and it is fortunate she cannot, because then she might actually thwart its development. It is the karma of the past that brings the child to that mother, and that karma may be to have a good or a bad birth, to be influenced for benefit or for injury by the mother.


If the soul passes into Devachan during sleep, why are not all dreams agreeable

W.Q.J. -- It is not strictly accurate to say the soul passes into Devachan in sleep, because Devachan is a word applied to a state after the death of the body and the abandonment of the latter. The word to designate dreaming is in the Sanskrit Swapna, and that state may be pleasant or unpleasant because the body and Kama still affect the soul, whereas in Devachan all is blissful and pleasant. The Soul does not pass into Devachan during sleep, but sometimes in dreaming or Swapna state dreams are pleasant and often not. This being the fact, it is a sufficient reply to the question as put. With this explanation the Editor's above reply gives an answer to the question "Why are not all dreams agreeable?"


If the victims of accidental death, like suicides, do not enter Devachan till the time when they would have died naturally, they must remain in the earth-sphere as a whole and with all their faculties. Why, then, should they not be able to communicate with the living, whether through mediums or otherwise? Is not their case an exception to the usual law?

W.Q.J. -- As I understand our philosophy, victims of accidental death and suicides do remain out of Devachan until the time they would have died naturally shall have come. Kama-Loka, where these and all others go, has its grades in the same way as human living states. The first statements of these doctrines were naturally general, but elaborations have also appeared in which specific points have been dealt with. Not all suicides are alike. Certainly a thoroughly insane person who kills himself is not like one who, while sane and cowardly, does the deed, nor is this last the same as he who from a foolish philosophy or the want of it cuts off his life. They all differ one from another, and hence their stay in Kama-Loka will vary. But in those general cases where the person stays in Kama-Loka, the personality, consisting of astral body with the passions and desires, can and does communicate with the living, whether a medium or not. This is exactly the danger of mediumship, of suicide, and of legal murder or execution of criminals. The last is a very great danger -- one of the unseen but powerful curses of the times. An executed criminal's death is the same as that of one who is accidentally killed in effect, only that it is deliberately done, and in most cases the elements of hate, revenge, and anger in the criminal are added. His fierce and angry personality -- compound of astral body and Kama -- is thrust suddenly out of life; his higher principles wait in upper Kama-Loka in a benumbed or torpid state; but his personal life flits about the abodes of men, attempting to get revenge or to do other wicked things, and every day injects into the sensitive human natures it meets all its mass of vile and unappeasable thoughts. It thus creates picture after picture of murder and hate. Mediums are not the only ones affected by these astral personages; indeed, they are often too closely associated with other sorts of shells, and the personality of the criminal has definite attractions towards other persons. Is it any wonder, then, that the Theosophist who has worked out our doctrines of man's nature to their proper conclusions should deplore the custom of executing criminals? He knows that one legal execution may and nearly always does lead to many another sudden murder or suicide. And as the astral personalities of suicides and executed criminals are in closer touch with us than any other sort of spook, it follows that they also are more likely to come first to any Spiritualistic seance. All those who respect the suggestions of H. P. B. will be interested to know that the above was her own view, often given to me, and further certified as reasonable by Adepts who can see the facts behind the scenes.


In "The Secret Doctrine," Vol. I, among the remarks upon sentiency of matter and force, I find this statement -- "This consciousness has no relation to our consciousness." Now as all knowledge is the result of comparison, and our "consciousness" being at one and the same time the cause and instrument of knowledge, as acts the process of obtainment and knowledge itself, why does "The Secret Doctrine" make affirmations, the data of thought or knowledge being absent?

W.Q.J. -- The statement made by H. P. B. as above is a copy of that made by her teachers called "Masters" by her. These are supposed to know the facts they give. Whether the claim be true or not, it is evident that insects have a consciousness which is different from ours, as we seem to add the element which makes ours "self-consciousness." And when H. P. B. spoke of our consciousness it is very plain she meant the ordinary sort and not the extraordinary. If the questioner will reflect that she has no comprehension of the consciousness of elemental spirits -- which yet do actually exist and function in their own sphere -- she may see that there may be varieties of consciousness not ours as yet.


In Forum No. 37 [Ques. 180] Mr. Judge asserts that "Metaphysical Healers have stumbled unknowingly on a great law." Now as I have been, and am still, possessed with the idea that each individual is herself alone conscious of her conscious efforts to obtain knowledge of principles and laws, I shall esteem it a favor if Mr. Judge will explain the principle by which he determines the fact that others, knowingly or unknowingly, find truth.

 W.Q.J. -- I do not claim that there is some "principle by which I determine that others knowingly or unknowingly find truth." I merely state the fact that in my opinion the healers spoken of have stumbled on a law. I did not nor do I now state what that law is. If they know what law I mean, then they need no information from me. But I do not agree that the questioner is right in saying that "each individual alone is conscious of her (why her and not his also) conscious efforts," since I have for many years known that other individuals may also at the same time be fully aware of these "conscious efforts" by others. I know -- in a way I am not obliged to detail -- that the members of our Great Lodge have full information, unknown to those outside the Lodge, of the "conscious efforts to obtain knowledge of principles and laws" on the part of good men and women, and in this search that help is frequently extended but is not seen nor recognized, although it is felt and has results. But I am wholly at a loss to see any sequence whatever between the premise of the question and the question itself. The healers have hit upon a law, but they fail as yet to know it fully, and I for one should be sorry that they knew it all until they show to my limited understanding that they are philosophically fitted to have complete possession of a very dangerous force. However, if the march of cyclic evolution decrees that people should find edged tools to play with and cut themselves withal, I am too puny to be able to prevent it. But each day more proof is offered that H. P. B. was right when she wrote to the American Section that powers were surely coming forth in this people, and that efforts must be made to provide a new soil for them to grow in instead of our present selfish, greedy, and individualized but uncivilized human nature, from which of course I claim no exemption. 


Do earthly friends recognize one another during their passage through Kama-Loka? If so, who or what is the recognizer.

W.Q.J. -- Kama-Loka being a state and not a place, there is no passage through it. No doubt in some cases, if two beings are in the Kama-Loka state at the same time, and for similar reasons, and with the same magnetic currents, they may recognize each other. But as Kama-Loka is the state in which the Soul is freeing itself from the astral body and the passions and desires, it cannot with ease be concerned with any other process than that one; and hence, in the sense of the question as put, there is no recognition, although the being has what it may suppose to be a recognition of friends and enemies. In Kama-Loka all its old thoughts take shape, and torment the soul if the life has been evil, or merely temporarily detain it if the opposite has been the case. 


How can a soul be lost?

W.Q.J. -- A great deal depends here upon the emphasis to be put on these words. If upon the word "how," then the process of loss is desired to be explained; if upon the word "can," or the rest of the question, then there is an implied doubt as to the possibility of loss of soul. I do not know which question this is intended to be.

If we consider the matter from the Buddhist side, we may briefly sum it up. The soul is a composite thing (or entity) and therefore not necessarily permanent. Hence it may be destroyed. It is that which has in it the potentiality of immortality. To put it another way: There are body, soul, spirit. Of these three, spirit alone is immortal. Body we know is quickly proved to be impermanent and destructible. Soul is that which lying between body and spirit is the connecting bond. If the course of our many lives be persistently wicked, then at last the soul no longer can remain as such but is resolved into its original elements, becomes a part of unconscious nature, to coin a phrase, and no longer acts as the connecting bond. Now the very question raised implies that it is really spirit which causes it to be asked, for it cannot be body that loses soul nor soul that loses itself. This is approaching a great mystery which I am not capable of dealing with. All one can say is that the Monad -- spirit -- for its own purposes selects this connecting bond called soul, giving it thereby the chance to become consciously joined with spirit. If soul refuses to so join, there occurs what is called "loss of soul."

This soul so selected by spirit -- I omit the article "the," since Spirit is one and not multiple -- has a so-called immortality, so considered because its term of life as such is said to last through a whole manvantara, which is a period so inconceivably long that for our mind it is eternal. But it has an end in fact, and if by the close of that immense period the soul has not effected union with spirit, then the loss or destruction of soul as such takes place. Meanwhile during the manvantara the soul migrates from body to body and world to world in the eternal struggle to reach reunion with the divine. But such union may be attained long ages before the end of the manvantara by dispassion, discipline, and effort unremittingly continued.


In his reply to Question 180 Mr. Judge affirms the sole requisite for occult feats to be the exercise of imagination raised to high intensity by cultivation, and refers to the Indian fakir who makes one see snakes, etc. because through centuries of heredity and years of training his imagination sees the form so vividly that the bystander supposes himself to see an objective reality, though none exists. Now if occult feats consist in immediate formation in gross matter, and not only the means of these feats but the processes by which these means are obtained are in all instances the same, how is it possible for the fakir to fail in producing objective reality, while the feat of the Adept is a successful materialization? For since the function of a knife is to cut, it will perform that function irrespective of the hand which holds it.

W.Q.J. -- I certainly never intended to say "the sole requisite for occult feats to be the exercise of the imagination raised to high intensity by high cultivation," and a careful reference to my reply to Question 180 ought to show that I stated the above to be but one of the requisites. It is one of the absolutely necessary requisites to the performance of those feats I had in mind, and they include the greater number. But while it is an absolute prerequisite, there are other things and requisites to be taken into account if one is to perform certain feats. Any hypnotic experiment or effect needs only this image-making power joined with strong will to concentrate the image. But where more difficult performances are to be accomplished, such as apportation of solid objects, precipitation upon paper, condensation of image so as to make it actually tangible, or controlling elementals, then there has to be added a knowledge of chemical, electrical, and magnetic substances and laws, together with will and high mathematics. For if the imagining power is weak, there is no possibility of forming the currents to work upon nor a matrix for certain occult chemical work. Having, then, thus declared other "requisites for occult feats," it seems that the rest of the question must fall to the ground or be considered from other points. A "knife with a cutting function" will not cut unless some hand not only holds but also wields it. Nor do I see how a good trained, wonder-working fakir should fail to produce an objective reality if he so desired and carried his occult operation far enough for the purpose. And as, indeed, I have seen fakirs do this very thing, I cannot deny what I know has been accomplished.


The more I think of it, the greater mystery this appears to me. If we are reincarnated either for better development or for punishment for sins committed in a former incarnation, why should there be so many infants who only live a few days or weeks? They go out of the body again without being advanced any, nor do they suffer a great deal.

W.Q.J. -- Mysteries will deepen for the questioner if he lays down definitely that any one statement of a part of a Theosophical doctrine is necessarily the whole doctrine. In the question it is assumed we are incarnated only for better development or for punishment, whereas this is but a partial view of the matter. We are reincarnated as a result of causes set in motion. Thus we may be here for reward, or punishment, or by choice, or merely to work again, or for pleasure, or for punishment of others or their discipline, or for our own discipline, and so on for a thousand purposes. The race evolution compels us to reincarnate, and we do so according to law. The first answer fully explains most of this, but still another view is possible. Looked at from the side of the parents, the birth and early death of the infant are at once a pleasure, a discipline, and a punishment. If the loss is properly accepted, then discipline results; if rebelled against, then only punishment is felt; the pleasure and reward came with the child's birth, and though soon the cause of that pleasure disappeared, its possible effect on father and mother was not destroyed. Then, again, the Ego that attempted to begin life in that family only to quickly fall out of it may have either made a short step toward better environments than it had before, or escaped from a family where nothing save obstacles and evils would have surrounded. By such reflections as these the "mysteries" will be made plain.


Did Swedenborg's visions extend to the Devachanic loka, or were they entirely confined to the astral plane defined as Kama-Loka?

W.Q.J. -- Without doubt his visions often touched the Devachanic state of other egos, and also too he went into a Devachanic state almost completely for himself while living. But it is not a proper use of "loka" to apply it to Devachan, as here the latter describes a more metaphysical state, while Kama-Loka is still quite physical. Swedenborg had visions in Kama-Loka, as can be easily seen in his books; but he also saw facts of earth life. His heavens were the different Devachanic states -- of himself and others -- into which he went. Many mediums, seers, and clairvoyants have done the same and are doing it every day. In some cases Swedenborg partook of the Devachanic thoughts of highly developed Egos, but as Devachan is as much a delusion as are Kama-Loka and Earth life, his visions are not of the highest value.


It is the duty of every one to help in repressing criminals, or is the bringing to light of unknown crimes a cause of inducing avoidable Karma on the head of the revealer? In other words, when a man knows of a crime or a criminal, is it his duty to give warning to humanity; or, from the point of view of Karma, is it better to treat the thing with mercy and act on the principle "Qu'il aille se faire pendre ailleurs." [["Let him go elsewhere to get himself hanged."]] trusting to the criminal's own Karma to warn society?

W.Q.J. -- In a proper social organization the King or Ruler should be the final protection against all troubles from criminals within or assaults from without. But such an organization does not exist with us. The citizen should therefore act up to his duty without thinking of his Karma, because he cannot have a Karma which his fellow citizens do not share with him. So, if he knows of a crime to be committed, he should warn. A crime past he may have some connection with compelling denunciation, but with others he may not. The man who expends energy to denounce criminals when his particular duty does not require it wastes and scatters nature's forces and does no good. And general rules do not settle these particular cases. The hunting and catching of criminals is the duty of the final protector, and not that of the single citizen.


Are misfortune, accident, physical deformity, etc., due to Karmic causes?

W.Q.J. -- And to add, the indissoluble unity of the race demands that we should consider every man's troubles as partly due to ourselves, because we have been always units in the race and helped to make the conditions which cause suffering.


As I understand it, the astral body is first formed, and around it is built the physical body, its vehicle. The astral changes but slightly during life. The physical body is constantly changing, and is renewed about once in seven years. Why do we grow old physically?

W.Q.J. -- The premises laid down answer the question exactly. For that which is made up of component parts must come to an end: the combination must wear out; such is experience; that which changes cannot endure. All bodies, in whatever sphere, change and disappear. "Growing old" is only a term which describes the ossification of tissue, the wearing out of the physical cohesive force. For a reality the body does not grow old, since it is made of matter up to its last moment, and after death it changes into still live matter, young again and divided into elements. But when the inner forces reach their limit the body can work no longer, and hence men invented the expression "old." 


Theosophy holds God to be One and eternal -- Absoluteness itself. The Bible says that man was made in the image of God. Man we understand to be composed of seven principles -- a union of the three higher, the immortal, principles with the four lower, those which disintegrate and go back to the dust. Are not all these principles, or parts, which are found in man, found also in God? I ask because some teach "Nothing is but Spirit." Matter seems to me to be one aspect of Spirit. It comes from something and goes back to its place, and there is no place outside of God.

W.Q.J. -- I have not the hardihood, as the Editor has, to affirm in one breath that we must not speculate on the Infinite, and in the next to give attributes to the Infinite, such as immanency in all things, separability from us, and the like, and, taking his advice to confine ourselves to common-sense and what we can know, I waive the discussion on the question of the Absolute or an infinite God. It is hopeless. The quotation in the question proceeds in use therein upon the assumption of a God who can be understood and described either directly or by analogy or contrast. This is wholly beyond me. But I am quite willing to repeat that the Teachers whom I follow say that the Absolute exists and cannot be discovered nor known; that at the dawning of what is commonly called creation and evolution Spirit and Matter appear in space. This I accept, for it fits in with the logic of the rest of the doctrine. They call this the first differentiation. The assertion -- made chiefly by the schools of mind-cure -- assumes that spirit only is, but cannot explain nor justify the assumption, which is only, indeed, for the purpose of founding other assertions regarding mere bodily ills of no great consequence except to the weak or those devoted to material enjoyments. It is further taught and seemingly with reason that, in all, seven cosmic differentiations take place, and from these the sevenfold constitution of man is derived. His gross body stands for the whole of gross matter, his astral body for another differentiation, his passions for the energy of the heterogeneous cosmos, his life copies another of the seven, and so on until all are complete. But if you postulate a God, you must put man either in him or outside; and if the latter then your God is not infinite, but has in his universe something that is not himself -- for the Infinite must be all. It is much safer to construe these Bible verses in the old Theosophical way, which would in the present instance show that man is made in the image of his God, who is his Higher Self. If the other position is adopted, that of postulating a God and giving him any attributes whatever, then your mind can have no possibility of reaching a conclusion save by the arguments and distinctions made by the schoolmen of Europe and the disputing theologians of India -- and that conclusion may temporarily, say for one life, satisfy you, but it will remain false. It belongs to the great number of the illusions of matter which are ever deluding the mind of man.


Since the time spent in physical life is the time of actual progress and the time spent in Devachan is merely a time of rest, or, at most, digestion, why should the law of evolution require such a vast disproportion of time to be wasted in Devachan -- a disproportion of something like eight thousand years of rest to less than one hundred years of work?

W.Q.J. -- The general proportion as I have always known of it between earth life and Devachan is that between 70 years of life and 1500 years in Devachan. Further it is known that many persons emerge from the Devachanic state very soon after entering it. A reflection on the fact that the years of our life are full of thoughts attached in vast numbers to every single act will show why Devachan is so much longer than earth-life. The disproportion between the act done and the thoughts intimately belonging to it is enormous, and, compared with Devachan as related to earth-life, it is vast. In Devachan these thoughts, which could never find but the very smallest fraction of expression in this life, must exhaust and can be exhausted nowhere else. This is what is required, not by evolution, but by thought itself. And those who have but little aspiration here, who indulge in act more than thought, lay but little basis for Devachan, and hence emerge from it sooner than others.


Can an Adept who has never studied music, but who has the wonderful powers (to us, omnipotent) ascribed to him by Theosophical books, go to a piano for the first time and play one of Beethoven's symphonies? There has been a debate upon this point with unsatisfactory conclusions.

W.Q.J. -- The question discloses in its concluding words that some persons, presumably Theosophists, have wasted valuable time in a debate upon a point wholly trivial just now. What possible use to the Society or to Humanity would this debate upon pianos and Adepts have or even lead to? None that I can see. It is like wasting time and energy in destroying Nature's works. And I would like to ask if the debaters on this matter have such a knowledge of the doctrines of Karma, Reincarnation, and the Sevenfold Constitution as to be able to impart them to anxious inquirers. If not, then the debate on the pianos and Adepts was time worse than wasted.

The piano is a false instrument with an entirely false scale, as all musicians know. It is therefore perfectly mechanical. Yet we see that Blind Tom from birth almost can use this mechanical false instrument. Therefore the playing of it by him brings up the question of the power of co-ordination between an ordinary brain and body and mind. If the querents know something of those questions first and foremost, then they will be qualified to see how an Adept might play a piano although never in this life having learned to do so. This enters deeply into the nature of man's sevenfold constitution. For if uneducated Blind Tom could do it, why not an Adept? And if this be so, how can an Adept do so? I affirm my thorough belief that an Adept -- of the degree evidently in view in the question -- can do all and more than the question asks. For by the aid of elemental forces he could play on the piano in this century even if he had never, in any incarnation, seen or heard of one. But having replied in the affirmative, what good does the reply do unless it is in a discussion regularly and intelligently pursued upon those doctrines, the truth of which must be shown before one passes to a discussion of trivialities?


Is the sinful nature of man located in the reincarnating Ego or in the perishable personality? If in the former, what becomes of the teaching that nothing but what is good enters Devachan? If in the latter, how is it just to punish one perishable personality for the faults which another perished personality committed centuries ago?

W.Q.J. -- The Ego is deluded by ignorance, and hence incarnates and reincarnates in various states; that is, it obtains a vehicle for every state into which ignorance puts it. So it obtains an earthly vehicle (body and personality) which is delusive and binding on the Ego so long as ignorance of the truth continues. It leaves the earthly vehicle and goes to another state -- Devachan -- where it has a vehicle appropriate to that sphere, and is there deluded and retained by the ignorance which is related wholly to pure, noble, and pleasant thoughts. From that it comes again to the earthly sphere, and so on until the hour when ignorance is destroyed. The so-called "sinful nature" is in the earthly vehicle, but as that is a part of the whole which includes the Ego, the latter is responsible for permitting the lower to rule it, and therefore suffers. For the body and astral body do not suffer nor know nor feel; they are merely blind instruments for the Ego who knows and feels through them, and are also the weights and clogs which keep the Ego down so long as ignorance prevails. Hence the continual revolving from one sphere to another, and in this is the reply to the question.


In the "Seven Principles of Man" by Mrs. Besant, on pages 1 and 14, she says, "Many of the movements of objects that occur at such seances and at other times, without visible contact, are due to the action of the Linga-Sarira [the etheric double] and the student can learn how to produce such phenomena at will. They are trivial enough: the mere putting out of the astral [etheric] hand is no more important than the putting out of the dense counterpart and neither more nor less miraculous." Now I want to know how an astral hand can lift a physical book, for instance. Not that I doubt the fact, but I want the philosophical explanation.

W.Q.J. -- It may be added to the foregoing very good reply that by considering weight and gravity to be in fact the working of negative and positive poles, to be really the result of attraction and repulsion, we may see how an astral hand can move a book. The book has no real weight of its own for if taken to the top of a very high mountain it will not weigh the same as at the bottom. Alter the polarity of the book, and at once it may become as light as a feather. Alter the relation between the largest or the smallest object and the earth immediately under it, and it may be either greatly increased in weight or deprived of all weight. It is under this law that the lightning often carries heavy bodies great distances, -- yet that fluid is imponderable. Now in the case in point the book might be depolarized as one way of taking it from its place. If this process were not used, then the astral hand has to be made dense and compact enough to lift it, but always when the astral hand approaches any object that object is immediately depolarized to a great extent because the astral hand has the natural power to effect this result; hence a very great density of the astral member is not required. But when Mrs. Besant called this trivial, she meant that it is not an important matter, although it may not be trivial as an act or occurrence.


I often read the assertion that we come back to earth with our former friends and companions, and that this is a reason for having only agreeable relations with all we meet, because otherwise they might retaliate and harm us. Do all people who are on earth at one time come back together?

W.Q.J. -- In answering this question every department of Occultism as well as all fundamental theosophical doctrines have to be kept in view; how, then, clearly and succinctly reply in these short papers? To the Adepts we must turn, because science and records are dumb, with the question about the number of times the Monads now in human bodies have reincarnated and since when have new Monads ceased arriving into the human stage? For if there is a definite number to the Monads and if Monads in our human stage have ceased coming in or arriving at that stage some ages since, then the question is not so easily disposed of as would appear, by references to the resemblance between cold coffee and Karma. Karma is subtle, ceaseless, relentless, and not subject to cooling; cold coffee is something so entirely different that even for illustration it is of no utility. Quoting the Adepts, H. P. B. writes in The Secret Doctrine -- just as anyone might expect from the use of reason -- that the number of Monads is definite in this system of worlds, and, secondly, that the door to the human kingdom has been closed for many thousands of years, that is, at the middle of the Fourth Round. Hence the reincarnating human Egos have all met now over and over again with the certainty with every century of all meeting each other more and still more times. There is no escape. The door being closed and the human Egos having been numbered since the middle of the Fourth Round, they meet with increasing frequency because no new acquaintances can come forward from either lower kingdoms or other spheres. This therefore establishes the probability of encountering at almost every turn Egos whom we have been with before in lives on earth.

The Editor assumes that time will use up the Karmic effects of our acts. Time has no such effect per se (as it has on cold coffee); the Karma will not act until the time comes when the Egos connected with it meet in life; until then it is inactive. For this reason the man you abused 10,000 years ago will react upon you when you and he meet, and this meeting will happen, for action and reaction will draw you into reincarnation together. Nor can I understand why the Editor also assumes the likelihood of enmities not being carried over while he thinks likes and affections are. There seems no difference to me between these two -- likes and dislikes -- as to the carrying over. It is true he used his words in respect to "coming back together"; but any person whom we meet, intimately or casually, in family or out of it, has "come back" to reincarnation with us. And from my knowledge of human nature the conclusion is forced on me that enmity has the stronger hold on man, and the presumption is enormous when we observe such an enmity as that described -- exceptionally strong -- that its roots lie in another life.

There is no safe ground in calculations about Devachan and rebirth based upon the times when people die after or before one another, because each rebirth has power to so immensely alter the forces that A, who died 200 years before B, a friend of two lives back, may emerge into rebirth exactly with B, in time, because of the effects and causes produced and generated by B in the intervening lives. And so on indefinitely. They may swing off again and be separated for many, many lives. If it were all an iron-bound rule and dependent on man's free will and mental action, it would be easy to calculate. But as it depends on his mental action, and as each rebirth throws the Ego into the line of probability of meeting one who will alter his course of thought, no one can safely say when they will meet again any Ego they have ever met before.

Every inimical and uncharitable thought makes for disunion, and every opposite one for harmony. The skandhas are full of all the impressions we received; those skandhas wait and are ours again when we emerge from Devachan. If we meet those Egos who are related to our good or evil, charitable or uncharitable thoughts, the force acts at once -- not before -- and unless the man we injured, condemned, or filled with anger meets us in next life or the one after, or whenever, we have to await his return with us (and that does not mean in family, it means wherever he can act on us) before we can tell whether he will repay in kind. If he has not become a saint meanwhile, he will at once be the cause of our hurt for hurt received, of benefit for benefit. These laws act through us with automatic regularity until we know them and bring up counteractions. And the value of it all is, that we know if we treat all men now with unfailing charity and love we are wiping off old scores clean and making no new sorrows; but if we will condemn, punish, resent, in short, consider ourselves Karmic agents without knowing the meaning of that term, we are sowing dragons' teeth, we only are planting cause for future sorrow.

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