[April 1889 through April 1895, in Numbers One to Seventy, First Series.]
On page 175, Vol. I, of"The Secret Doctrine" there are the words ". . . from the 'mineral' monad up to the time when that monad blossoms forth by evolution into the DIVINE MONAD," while on page 178 it is said that "It would be very misleading to imagine a Monad as a separate Entity trailing its slow way in a distinct path through the lower Kingdoms, and, after an incalculable series of transformations, flowering into a human being." These passages seem a flat contradiction.
W.Q.J.-- The passages quoted are not a contradiction. In reading this book, just as in reading any serious book, all the passages must be taken together and construed together and not separately. Now H. P. B. definitely explains that in using the terms "Mineral monad, vegetable monad, and animal monad," and so on, the same monad is always meant, the qualifying word simply designating the particular kingdom in which the monad is at work. And if you will reflect a moment, the word "monad" precludes any other construction -- since monad means one. The very quotation at page 178 which you give agrees with what I say, because she is there stating that it would be misleading to suppose that a monad is a separate entity which makes its way through the lower kingdoms and then instantly becomes a human being. No such thing as this is a fact, nor is it stated, although if you read these pages hurriedly or carelessly you may think that the statement is made. For when the monad reaches the human stage it is the same monad which was once in the mineral stage, meaning that the monad is necessary to each kingdom, and what we call the human monad is simply the unchangeable monad now functioning in bodies called human which are of a higher capacity for experience and cognition than the bodies of the lower kingdoms. A mineral is as much a body as a human body is. And as Dr. Archibald Keightley says today, the second passage you quote explains the first, and in many parts of The Secret Doctrine it is shown that the monad manifested in any department of nature has to be designated by some name which indicates the particular kingdom in which it is manifesting; but this does not alter its character. All men are "men," but we are in the habit of saying "Englishmen," "Chinamen," "Fiji men," "African men." Are these all human beings or are they not? The particular qualifying title given to each simply designates the variety of man, and the particular qualifying title given to the monad simply designates the particular department of nature in which the monad is incarnating and at work. I think these will show you the necessity for very careful reading and thinking while you read on subjects such as these, since they are new to our thought.
What would be the correct name for that"thing" which can be conscious of the physical body, feeling hunger, thirst, the pain of a cut or blow, then go to the state of Kama and feel passion and emotion, or enter into a state of mentality and act on the plane of thought?
W.Q.J.-- Read the chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita which treats of Kshetra and Kshetrajna, or the Knower and the Known, as also those which describe the three qualities, their action and function. Your question deals with consciousness, and no one has yet been able to finish its definition. The Self, who is made up of Manas-Buddhi-Atman, three in one, is the knower and the perceiver. If there were no Self present, all that you have described would be merely motions in Prana or the movement of the three qualities, for it is the Self who enables us to give names, derived from sensation, to these effects. And any name given to the Self, in any language, will be but the attempt of the man to name that which is nameless. In your own remarks under the question you have skipped from one subject to another, for you began with what relates to the perception of the knower while dwelling in the body, and ended with the essential nature of the monad, an entirely different matter. This confusion of topics will only create confusion in your own mind. There is no benefit from increasing words on the self-perceptive cognition, for all that you can say of it is that you possess the I am I consciousness. Hence all that you have said can be resolved by the statement that the consciousness functions in many different planes of experience, and in each one uses the means or instruments appropriate thereto. And in order to so pass from one plane to another, holding intelligence in each, the presence of Manas is necessary as one of the integral parts or powers of the Self, for without Manas we are only of the brute or lower kingdoms. For one moment consider the brutes who, moving and dwelling in the mental plane with man, know nothing of our manasic sensations. It is because Manas is dormant in them; but in you it has begun to awake, thus enabling you as man to note the effects upon yourself of the motions of the qualities of nature.
On page 29 of"What is Theosophy?" Mr. Old accounts for the existence in arctic regions of the remains of tropical mammalia and vegetation on the theory that the earth's axis was once in the plane of its orbit. Given this position of the axis, it follows that while for half the year the regions mentioned would be in perpetual sunlight, during the other half they would be turned from the sun. Such terrestrial refrigeration would then take place as would destroy every vestige of animal and vegetable life that had not already been burned up in the fiery heat of a nightless tropic. How can the claim of Theosophy that life flourished on the planet under such conditions be supported scientifically?
W.Q.J.-- Nearly the whole page of Mr. Old's book quoted from is devoted to showing that the record of the rocks and the discoveries of the men of science prove the claim advanced by Theosophical students. His remarks do not seem to sustain the implication in the question nor to justly provoke it. The facts stated by him -- following many who are older than he -- that fossil mammalia and tropical vegetation are found in regions now arctic are indisputable. Today you can see in a Russian museum the bones and skin of a gigantic hairy elephant 25 feet high which was cut out of the ice. An imitation of it belongs to the city of San Francisco. He distinctly asks how tropical vegetation and mammalia -- such, for instance, as the elephant described by me -- could be there in fossilized condition unless the equator at one time was at or near that spot. Theosophy never having made any claim that life in bodies like those of today flourished under impossible conditions, there is really no question left to answer. It is not the province nor duty of the FORUM to go into scientific speculation as to what would happen if the pole of the earth altered so as to be on the equator. Opinions differ, but all agree with the theosophical writers that such an alteration would at once bring on great seismic convulsions. On such changes accruing, life would have to proceed in bodies suitable to such a state of affairs; and that is about all Theosophy has to say on the matter. But as to life itself it points to water, air, and earth to show that anyone who asserts that he knows under what conditions living beings may or may not exist is rash in the extreme. Were we condemned to function in perpetual fire, nature no doubt would provide that sort of covering or body which would be in every way convenient for use in the fiery element but not serviceable in water or ice, and so on for every changed condition or environment, be those physical, astral, or otherwise.
Devachan, I understand, is a state and not a locality; but evidently there must be some sort of locality in which the Devachanic state can take place. Is there any information as to the whereabouts of this particular locality?
W.Q.J.-- Inasmuch as the doctrine of Devachan is postulated and declared only in respect to the inhabitants of our world, it must follow that those of us who go into that state must keep within the attractive limits of the earth's chain of planets. This would give the "place" in space in which the Ego undergoes Devachanic experience, but as the earth and its "companion globes" are always moving through space, it is evident that this loka is moveable. Imagine a huge hollow ball containing the earth and rolling through space. The hollow ball may stand for the attractive limits of the Ego who belongs for the time to the race, and within those limits -- fixed in themselves but ever moving in space -- the being goes into and remains in the devachanic state. And as there the weight of the physical is not felt nor its density perceived, the Devachanic state may as well be on the earth as anywhere else outside up to the limits of attraction spoken of.
Do the physical atoms reincarnate? Personally, I think they do, and I think that an article by H. P. B. in "Five Years of Theosophy" entitled "The Transmigration of the Life-atom" furnishes authority for the belief. It would seem that the law of reincarnation acts upon every plane, and that the Ego carries the same atoms through its evolution. But I have found so few to agree with me that I desire the opinion of other Theosophists.
W.Q.J.-- The analysis and explanation by the Editor of the word "reincarnation" are undoubtedly correct. The word is often loosely used, indeed sometimes quite unavoidably, because the English has as yet no word to express the recombination of the same atoms on the physical plane. And it is quite possible to imagine a certain number of atoms -- this word being also loosely used -- being combined in one mass, going out of it and recombining once more. For instance, a mass of quicksilver may be volatilized by heat and thrown into the invisible state, and being kept in the limits of a receiver may be recombined into quicksilver again. While they are vaporized who can say that they are quicksilver, inasmuch as that is the name for a definite thing? Similarly with a mass of water changed into steam and vapor and back to water and then to ice. So, while the Editor is right as to the proper use of the term "reincarnation," the real question put is not solved.
It relates to the greater combinations, permutations, and probabilities of the cosmos, upon which mere argument sheds no light unless it proceeds from the actual facts in respect to atoms or molecules and their method, power, and time of combination. The Adepts know about this, but have only given hints, as we are not yet ready to know. Now first, there must be a definite amount of matter in use in our solar system; and second, it is definitely stated -- and is metaphysically necessary -- that there is a definite number of Egos using that quantity of matter. To me there seems to be no improbability and no materialism in supposing that a time may come when any one Ego shall recombine into a body in which it incarnates the exact atoms it once before used, which of course have also been used by other Egos. But when such a cycle of recombination is, I do not know. The Egyptians made it 3000 and 5000 years. It is an idea not of any great use at present, but very interesting, and I find it illustrating for me the idea of universal brotherhood. For if we have all, as Egos, used over and over again the atoms physical which all other Egos have used, we lose all individual property in the atoms and each is common owner of all. I believe, but am unable to prove, that we use over again the atoms we once used in a body, but how many times the great wheel of the solar system allows this permutation and recombination to happen is beyond me and my generation.
Do Theosophists know of the previous incarnation of H. P. B. and can they identify her with any historical personage?
W.Q.J.-- Speculation on such personal matters was always very distasteful to H. P. B., and from my own knowledge, backed by that of several men who have advanced far on the path of knowledge, I can say that the soul known to us as H. P. B. was and is so far in front of this race that it is mere idle talk for us to connect her real self with an aunt in her family or with a Hindu or other woman. Furthermore I know from her own lips that she cared not whether she was in male or female body, but took that body (regardless of sex) which would enable her to do the most work; and also she said that, given the power to control a female incarnation and all that that implies, more could now be done in such than in the male form, but such control and ability were impossible for the general run of people, and solely for the latter reason would she -- if unable to control -- prefer a male incarnation. I know also that she often smiled at the petty personality and feeble notions that lead us weak mortals to desire either male or female bodies for our next rebirth. She had other matters on hand, and was too great inside to be understood by those who have claimed to know her so well, and from this I except no one, not even Col. Olcott who knew her so many years.
In reading"Esoteric Buddhism" I was much struck with what was said in the chapter entitled "The Progress of Humanity" about the sort of Rubicon in the middle of the 5th Round, beyond which point no entity can go unless he has previously reached a certain definite degree of spiritual development, all not reaching this degree of evolution becoming unconscious until the next Planetary Manvantara. I remember nothing in H. P. B.'s writings to confirm this statement, yet it is very positive and clear. Is it one of the points, like the "Eighth Sphere," where Mr. Sinnett drew upon his imagination, making wrong deductions from true but insufficient premises?
W.Q.J.-- This is not one of the points in which Mr. Sinnett erred. All through The Secret Doctrine this is taught, though not perhaps so definitely. The race as yet has not fully evolved Manas -- the 5th principle -- and will not until the next round. For that reason it cannot, as a race, make a fully intelligent choice. But each man's life now is important, inasmuch as in it he is either sowing seeds of weeds or wheat. If weeds, they may grow so as to choke all the rest; if wheat, then when the time for the great reaping comes he will be able to choose right. Those who deliberately in the 5th round make a choice for evil will be annihilated as far as their souls are concerned; those who drift along and never choose right or wrong, but are whirled off to the indifferent side, will go into that state Mr. Sinnett describes until the next Manvantara, while the consciously wicked who deliberately choose wrong will have no place whatever. In a smaller degree it is the same for each man in every life or series of lives; for we are setting up tendencies in one direction or the other, and thus in the end compel ourselves to make very disagreeable choices for next life. And man's little life is a copy in miniature of the greater life included under the word Manvantara. If the system in respect to the human Ego is understood the cosmic system can be grasped, as it is the same, only enlarged.
The most authoritative books on Theosophy teach that the monad passes up through the lower kingdoms to the animal andthen to the human, and yet also teach that man appeared before the animals. If the latter is true, how can the former be?
W.Q.J.-- If after the word "animal" we insert the words "in this round," then both statements will be correct and there will be no confusion. On this matter we have to accept or to reject the teachings of those Adepts who gave the system out through H. P. Blavatsky, for modern science knows nothing about the matter and believes still less. Now if anything is plainly taught and reiterated over and over again in The Secret Doctrine, it is that the time of the appearing here of the human form alters after the second round of the life-wave in the earth's chain.
The teaching that the monad passes through the lower kingdoms from metals up to man is right as a general statement, for it is alleged to be the fact and is also in accord with reasoning from the other premises of Theosophical doctrine. But on this chain of globes the stream of monads of all stages begins in the first two rounds -- the whole number of rounds being seven -- by going steadily through the lower orders up to man as the last form and stage for those rounds. In the third round the plan alters, because the first class of monads has obtained in prior rounds enough knowledge to be able to emerge into the form of man ahead of the lower classes who are yet at that time in the lower kingdoms of nature. And in the fourth round, which is the one we are in now, Man as we know him appears before the others just because the monads of that class of progress have the power, and in this round all the lower kingdoms in respect to their outer coating of materiality get all that coating from what man casts off. This is also clearly taught and not an inference of mine.
The first rounds had in them the potentiality of the rest, and as it was the fate or the law that materiality should prevail in this round, it was prepared for by the most advanced class of monads. All this does not negative the standing and general rule that the monad must (at some point in its career) go through all the kingdoms in regular order from the lowest to the highest, and must follow that line for whatever is the necessary period from the lowest first and not skip any; but when the class of monads which came into this evolution first has obtained the right knowledge and power, it will then alter its rule and come in with the fourth round as first of all. In our own life on earth as individuals we do the same thing, for some of us are able to skip over in some life that which others have to painfully acquire; and this is because reincarnation and previous experience enable us to do it. The same rule holds in the greater scheme, and there by reason of reincarnation and experience in the first two rounds the monads of that class are first as human beings, and not last in the fourth round. Meanwhile the general rule governs other and lower classes of monads, who are even now slowly creeping through lower kingdoms of nature and have been unable to emerge with man in this round ahead of the other forms. But in future rounds and manvantaras they also will come in ahead of the lower orders of nature. Let those of us who accept the statements of the Masters remember that they have certified in writing that The Secret Doctrine is the triple production of those two great beings and H. P. Blavatsky. Such a certificate they have given of no other book. Their certificate will not be accepted by outsiders nor by that small class of Theosophists who loudly proclaim they will accept nothing that does not accord with their reason; but one is puzzled to know how their reason can work in respect to matters such as these about which the Adepts alone know the truth. As for myself, I find the teaching quite consistent with the whole of the philosophy and explanatory of natural facts; for the rest I am willing to believe the parts I cannot yet verify and to wait a little longer.
In"The Secret Doctrine," Vol. I, p. 15, H.P.B. says: "This Infinite and Eternal Cause . . . is the rootless root of 'all that was, is, or ever shall be.' It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite being." H.P.B. repeats the statement in other places in her works, and it has been a constant puzzle, for I cannot understand how It can be without relation to manifested being and at the same time be the root, however rootless, of all that was, is, or ever shall be. To my mind the essential idea of "root" is relation, and, as the word is used in the text, the ultimate of all relativity is reached.
W.Q.J.-- I may use the laconic style of the Editor and reply: You are wrong. Not wrong in being puzzled, for that is evident, just as it is a fact that the quotation you make is not on page 15 of The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, but is found on p. 14. A little matter you think this error. Yes, but in high metaphysics little errors assume immense proportion, and the mistake as to the page will show liability to the other mistake of not looking into the whole subject. Only a few lines above the words quoted, H.P.B., defining a highly abstruse metaphysical position, lays down the proposition that there is "an Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible." This is the "Rootless Root" spoken of. Its nature cannot be speculated on, although we may say IT IS, for we have to start from that. Necessarily it is out of relation to manifested things, since relativity begins only upon manifestation. You can perhaps say that this Rootless Root is potential of all things, but not that it is related. The "Rootless Root" is only a means of stating in convenient form what is said in the larger sentence I have quoted, and not to permit disputes as to relativity because of the meaning of "root." That such is H.P.B.'s meaning -- in which she agrees with many old philosophers as well as some modern ones -- is very clear indeed, for but four lines above the place where you culled your quotation she asks you to remember that this Principle "antecedes all manifested conditioned being." But long and wordy speculations avail nothing, and unless you take the time to saturate your mind with metaphysics and the relative terminology which every philosophy is compelled to use -- especially English -- in speaking of things and ideas not relative, and become familiar with time and place for seeing a new meaning in words so materialistic as ours, you will always be puzzled. The word "spirit" is used in English in reference to God, to Man's Soul, to Man's nervous currents, to elementals, to astral shells, to mere alcohol, and to describe simply a quality of an act, all these running up and down the gamut from most gross to highest spirit. Is it to be wondered at that you and the Editor found a difficulty in the question? In Sanskrit you would find no such difficulty.
I have seen(I think in "The Path") that Buddha orders his disciples not to have anything to do with music nor to live by it, though in many works on Theosophy music is represented as having a civilizing effect. Can you say why Buddha condemned music and those who practiced it? Is it because it is time wasted and prevents meditation?
W.Q.J.-- It would be well to consult references before stating premises on which questions are put. I do not remember any statement in The Path of that kind quoted. Secondly, it is quite important to know what sort of music Buddha referred to when he prohibited it -- if he did so. It is more than probable that good organs were not then in use. Can we say that he would have prohibited those? Again, we do not know to what school of music he adverted. Was it sensuous, or sensual, or trifling, or what? All this is important, for supposing the music of that day was of a highly sensuous or sensual style, he would have been perfectly right in ordering his disciples to give it no attention. So first I conclude that there is no way of answering the question properly until we have exact knowledge of the styles and schools of music of Buddha's time, as well as of the kinds of instruments in use. So far as my recollection extends, Buddha did not condemn those who practiced music.
But having looked at the purely instrumental and objective side of the matter, we come to the real question on which Buddha, like all other great teachers, laid stress. It is found not only in his words but in the older Brahmanical religion. It is the direction to the student -- not to the man of the world -- to leave off sight and sound, meaning that unless sensation is overcome the mind will be bound to rebirth. This will include music and all sounds. It covers a large subject relating to how and by what the soul is attached to the miseries of rebirth, but it has very little to do with the music to which the questioner refers.
What in Theosophy is regarded as having been the original cause of the"obscuration of the effulgence of the mysterious Being of Tathagata"?
W.Q.J.-- The Being of Tathagata is the Being of Buddha. It is a mystical statement made by Orientals of the doctrine that the Divine Man, the Higher-Self of the Universe, has been obscured by its "descent into matter." For they hold that all Buddhas throughout eternity are the same, and that the Highest nature of Man is the same as the Buddha. Hence this sentence is only a statement that the original effulgence or glory radiated by the Highest Self becomes temporarily obscured by dwelling in matter during evolution; but that effulgence will be restored and shine again at the end of the seventh Round because then matter will have been altered and refined by the indwelling effulgent Buddha. But such quotations as that in the question should never be given without the context in which they occur.
Does an individual when acting as an agent for Karma entail any Karmic consequences upon himself because of the acts thus committed?
W.Q.J.-- A great many of the things said by the Editor in the foregoing are very good, but I am compelled to differ from him on the main point. And I may say that while the articles "Topics in Karma" are very well written, they do not by any means dispose of the question raised here. In the first place, the questioner assumes in the first ten words of the question that a human being sometimes is not an agent of Karma. According to my studies, and as I think inevitable according to the law of Karma, there is no time when a human being is not an agent of Karma, for in every act and thought we are carrying out Karma, making new Karma, suffering old Karma, or producing effects on other people, or all these together. This is clearly stated by the Editor in the first paragraph of his answer. So I take it that the questioner means to ask whether one is justified in attempting, of his own motion, to administer as judge, jury, and executioner, to another the effects of Karma. This is involved in the question, as well as whether any consequences are entailed upon a person so acting. Now the first paragraph of the Editor's answer stating clearly the law, it must follow that consequences are entailed upon some one in this supposed case of a person making himself a direct Karmic agent. Certainly both the actor in the case and the person to whom the punishment or reward is administered must have consequences entailed upon them, because the "Karmic agent" is the center from which the action flows, and upon whom it must react, and the other person is the person who receives the present consequences. Merely to say to yourself that you are enforcing a right or administering what you conclude is punishment or reward does not absolve you from the consequences, whatever those may be. And those consequences will come to you in two ways. First, through your own attitude, and second, from what you set up in the other person. Involved in the first is a seemingly third possibility, which is, a possible violation by you through ignorance of a law of nature. For instance, if you assume to administer punishment, considering yourself a Karmic agent, it is more than possible that you are simply gratifying some old spite or ill-feeling, under the guise of a judicial enforcement of right or punishment for wrong. We see this possibility every day in those cases where a person, declaring himself to be impartial and judicial, administers on the one hand to persons whom he does not particularly like punishment which he considers their just due, and withholds similar punishment from another person for whom be has such a regard that he fails to administer punishment, but exercises instead forgiveness and charity. This being a common human experience, does it not indicate that inasmuch as a person is through old Karmic likes and affinities led to be kind and charitable through what is called partiality, he may on the other hand, through old dislikes and antipathies, be led by a repulsion to administer punishment, when he might as well have exercised forgiveness? Each man, I think, can be left to himself to decide what is his duty in redressing wrong done to another, which redressing involves perhaps the punishment of a third. But in my opinion no one is wise who considers himself a Karmic agent for any purpose. Further, and overlooked by the Editor and apparently by the questioner, the term "Karmic agent" has a technical significance under which only certain persons are so considered; that is, the larger class of men are not Karmic agents, except in the mere sense that they are in the very act of life making or experiencing Karma in the mass. A few persons are what is known as "Karmic agents," that is, human beings who by a certain course of training and previous life have become concentrated agents for the bringing about of certain definite effects which are well foreseen by the trained and initiated seer. This is one of the declarations of the Initiates who are supposed to know about these matters, and therefore any person assuming to be a Karmic agent may possibly be assuming too much altogether, and be bringing himself within the range of laws which will operate upon him with ten-fold force in future lives. It is therefore more charitable, more wise, more kind, more theosophic to follow the words of Jesus, Buddha, and hosts of other Teachers which direct us to forgive our brother seventy times seven times, which tell us that charity covers a multitude of sins, and which warn us against the self-righteousness that might induce us to presume we have been raised up from the foundation of the world to correct abuses in other men's actions rather than to attend to our own duty.
Mr. Mead says on page 26 of September"Lucifer": -- "There are two paths which lead to Nirvana, the selfish and the unselfish, the 'open' and the 'secret.' " A man can attain to the knowledge and bliss of the Nirvanic state by keeping the former for his own selfish advantage, and he can gain the latter bliss at the expense of his fellows. I had previously supposed that a life of altruism was absolutely necessary to the attainment of that state. If it can be gained without laboring and suffering for others, and especially if they occupy a higher place, the "Buddhas of Compassion" being "lower in rank," then it would seem that the majority would prefer "their own selfish advantage" and act accordingly. We are taught here and now that the more we do for others the more rapidly we advance ourselves. Is this law changed or reversed when one has reached a certain plane of unfoldment?
W.Q.J.-- It seems certainly correct for Mr. Mead to say that there are two methods of attaining Nirvana, one selfish and the other unselfish, but the word selfish here would designate really unselfishness among us. It refers to the refinement of selfishness in that a person is working by unselfish acts to obtain that which, in the end of all analysis, is selfish, because it is for the benefit of the person involved. But it never was taught that a man could obtain Nirvana by working for his own selfish advantage as his motive, and he does not gain it at the expense of any one; therefore his selfishness in obtaining Nirvana, being at no one's expense, is of a very different quality from what we ordinarily call selfishness. As a matter of fact it is stated that at a certain point of development the highly spiritualized person may in a moment pass into Nirvana through an instantaneous personal desire to gain that state.
What evidence is there of the existence of any such exalted beings as the Masters or Mahatmas?
W.Q.J.-- Evidence is of several different kinds, and the inquirer should not confine himself to one single department of evidence or testimony. I assume that in using the word "evidence" the questioner means to include testimony as well. There is testimony of very extensive nature of the existence of Masters or Mahatmas in history and tradition, and these two again divide themselves into many sorts. There is profane as well as religious history, tradition depending on recollection solely, and also tradition which has been turned into an historical account of tradition. In religious history and tradition there are many accounts of such beings, reaching from the earliest known religious book down to the very latest date. And in the history of nations, aside from religion, there are numerous accounts of Adepts, magicians, Masters, and others of like character. In almost every country on the globe the traditions of the people are full of statements of the existence and powers and appearances of master minds, magicians, great men, who knew the secrets of nature. United States history of course is very young and need not be called upon for an answer, but the history of Europe as well as its traditions confirms the statements I have made. Going to Asia we have an immense mass of tradition and history telling the same story, while China and all her dependencies relate similar tales of such beings. In the East everywhere there is a universal belief that they exist, have existed, and will appear again. All this cannot be set aside as folly or useless or insufficient, unless one determines to believe nothing but what he himself has seen. If that position be assumed, then no one living today can say that they know or believe that the historical characters of the past, known to every nation, had any existence. Turning now to later testimony, we have that of H.P.B., A. P. Sinnett, H. S. Olcott, Mrs. Besant, hundreds of Hindus, many Europeans, some Americans, all telling the same story that they know that the Adepts, Masters, Mahatmas exist and have communicated with or to them. The fact that the inquirer may not have communicated with the Adepts does not dispose of them, nor does it invalidate the testimony of other persons.
Turning from this department of proof we have that which depends upon argument, illustration, deduction. Here everything is as strongly in favor of the existence of the exalted beings spoken of as in the other department; for evolution demands that such beings shall exist. To this conclusion even such a doubter as Prof. Huxley has come, and in his last essays declares for the existence of beings of superior intelligence who are as much beyond us as we are beyond the black beetle, and this is more than any Theosophist has ever yet said for the Adepts. If the questioner proceeds along these lines he will come to the same conclusion as many another inquirer has come to.
Will not the force which tips tables, causes flowers to be produced, etc. do more astonishing things if properly directed? How do you explain the phenomena?
W.Q.J.-- There is not the slightest doubt that the force referred to in the question will do more astonishing things, and it looks as if the person asking the question had not read of the most extraordinary and astonishing things which have been done by that force, both when it was properly and improperly directed. The limits of the FORUM would not permit of the explanation of the phenomena asked about, but full explanations have been given in The Path, in Lucifer, by Eliphas Levi, in The Key to Theosophy, and elsewhere.
If Masters really exist, why do they not make themselves known to earnest seekers after truth, and especially to such as are working for the good of mankind? And why do they not effectuate peace on earth and right education of the young?
W.Q.J.-- This question has been very frequently answered, and even by the Masters themselves. As to the last part, they said in The Occult World that if it were possible to alter the state of things and to make a peaceful earth and a right humanity without following the law of evolution, they would willingly do it, but mankind can only be altered step by step. They have also stated that they do not make themselves objectively known to believers in them except in those cases where those believers are ready in all parts of their nature, are definitely pledged to them, with the full understanding of the meaning of the pledge. But they have also stated that they help all earnest seekers after truth, and that it is not necessary for those seekers to know from where the help comes so long as it is received. In The Path this subject was discussed in its other bearings. Personally I know that the Masters do help powerfully, though unseen, all those who earnestly work and sincerely trust in their higher nature, while they follow the voice of conscience without doubt or cavil.
Is sympathy a quality of Kama? If not, of what principle is it a part? Should it be indulged to the extent of having one's enjoyment of a pleasure almost destroyed because so many who would like to enjoy it cannot from want of money?
W.Q.J.-- Sympathy comes from kama sometimes, and sometimes is derived from other parts of our constitution. It is often a disease with unintelligent persons, or in those who have not disciplined their minds and do not use their judgment or whose judgment is deficient. But sympathy in its highest aspect must flow from the spiritual part of our nature. However, I think that in its ordinary exhibition it is derived from the principle of desire acting with the mind, the memory, and the sensations. Very often it is false; but true sympathy can never be false, and no matter what principle in our nature it arises from, being a noble and healthful thing, it should be exercised, always however with judgment.
It would certainly be folly to allow our sympathies to carry us so away that we are plunged ourselves into needless sorrow, for in such case we will lose power to judge how to be able to act for the benefit of others. The mere fact that others have no money is not in itself a proper cause for arousing sympathy. The want of money is not the cause of trouble, but the desire for money is. We may sympathize with others who have no money, but not because they are deficient in that means; it should be on account of their failure to see that within themselves is the realization of happiness, and that in fact they should not depend upon anything outside for true enjoyment.
Does the Devachanic or incarnating Ego possess qualities or propensities which draw it back to incarnation here?
W.Q.J.-- A careful study of the philosophy will show that it is held that the Ego in Devachan, consisting of Atma, Buddhi, and Manas, must contain within it the seeds, qualities, or propensities which will draw it back to life on earth again. If this is not so, then there would never be any reincarnation whatever. If this be so, as I believe it is, then all the rest of the discussion seems to be merely discussion in a circle about nothing, but that which will lead to mental confusion. The last part of the discussion is settled by reflecting that if the Ego using Manas in Devachan keeps itself in a state or condition which is connected with earth life, it will inevitably return to earth-life because of the attraction which it retains for that state of existence.
The"Secret Doctrine," in its theory of sequential relations between the astral and the gross physical body, adduces spiriutalistic phenomena as evidence of the truth or validity of said theory, Vol. I, pages 276 and 297, Vol. II, pages 86, 149 and p. 737. In Vol. I, page 258, is found the statement "Like must produce like," which admission, taken in connection with the other statements, amounts to a negation of the usual "shell" explanation of spiritualistic materializations, unless it can be shown that these phenomena are realistic (having an intelligent basis) when they support certain theories, and are seemings upon all other occasions.
W.Q.J.-- It does not appear to me that the statement in The Secret Doctrine, "Like produces like" -- which is a very old Hermetic maxim -- taken in connection with the other matters brought forward in The Secret Doctrine, is a negation of the Theosophic theory that many, if not all, Spiritualistic materializations are brought about by the agency of astral shells of once-living persons. Nor is the connection at all apparent between this assumed negation and the necessity for showing that those phenomena are "realistic," the questioner appearing to have some new meaning for the word "realistic," as she adds after that word the words "having an intelligent basis." The Theosophical theory about Spiritualistic phenomena has been given over and over again in Isis, in The Secret Doctrine, in Lucifer, in The Path, The Theosophist, and elsewhere. It has always been claimed that materializations had an intelligent actor or actors behind them. That intelligence is the intelligence of the living medium, of the living sitters of the seance, or the automatic or natural intelligence of elemental spirits. H. P. Blavatsky and those who think as she does have always used the phenomena occurring in seance rooms as proof of the theories about the astral world and the astral body, as well as also other established facts such as the facts of hypnotism and the like. The sentence "Like must produce like" does not mean nor support the idea that because the transitory materialized thing seen at a seance and which exactly resembles a deceased or living person is the same person; in such a case it would mean that the astral form existing on the astral plane enables us to produce its similar on the physical plane, and by the use of that Hermetic sentence in H.P.B.'s book or in any other the astral shell explanation for materialization is not negatived. It is very plain that the questioner does not fully understand H.P.B.'s explanation about materializations and other Spiritualistic phenomena.
Man having free-will, is it not probable that some individuals suffer or enjoy that to which their individual Karma does not entitle them, by reason of the acts of others? If so, is not this temporary surplus suffering or enjoyment balanced by the merit or demerit of succeeding incarnations?
W.Q.J.-- It seems to me impossible that any person suffers or enjoys anything whatever except through Karma; whether we are in families, nations, or races, and thus suffer and enjoy through general causes, it is still because of our own Karma leading us to that place. In succeeding incarnations we are rewarded or punished according to the merit or demerit of preceding lives, and wherever it is stated in Theosophic books by competent writers that people are "rewarded for unmerited suffering" it always refers to the fact that a person does not himself perceive any connection between the suffering or reward and his own act. Consequently in Devachan he makes for himself what he considers a complete reward for any supposed unmerited suffering, but in his life upon earth he receives only that which he exactly merits, whether it be happiness or the opposite. This is a brief statement of the doctrine, but I think it can be sustained by argument. It seems to me the whole philosophy would fall to the ground if for a moment we admitted that any suffering or reward was not that to which the individual was exactly entitled, for the largeness of the reward which the Ego makes for itself in Devachan is something that he is entitled to, inasmuch as it balances the mental attitude he assumed while living and satisfies his individual needs without disturbing anyone else.
Are the majority of people, those who are neither very wicked nor very spiritual, conscious in Kama-Loka that they are dead; and are they able to see the Kamic sights with which it is said to be filled? I have read Stanton's "Dreams of the Dead," and although I cannot accept all he says, the information gained from other sources has been too meager to permit of my discriminating accurately between what is true and what is false.
W.Q.J.-- Precisely as physicians know that every human body has its own physical idiosyncrasies, which are well known in their effects upon and relations with medicine, so in the state after death the idiosyncrasy of the person has an effect upon the state there. There is no positive or definite rule which applies invariably to every being after death. Consequently there are many different kinds of states in "Kama-Loka." Some people are aware that they left the earth, others are unaware of it; some are able to see those they have left behind, others not; and certainly everybody in Kama-Loka is able to see all that pertains to the particular division of that state in which he may be at the time. Mr. Stanton's book is excellent in many respects, but cannot be exhaustive. What he describes is beyond doubt what happens to some persons in Kama-Loka, but he by no means describes all the possible cases or facts of that state. But one thing may be asserted as positively so, or else the whole system is at fault, and that is that the being in Kama-Loka sees whatever pertains to the state in which he is, as it is all a question of state.
If H.P.B. was taught of Masters for years in Tibet as stated, previous to giving out Their teaching to the Western world in1875, why was the doctrine of Reincarnation disavowed by her in her early writings? The Masters could not have spoken then, any more than later, in an uncertain tone on this great tenet of Theosophy, which is so interwoven with all Their teaching as to be inseparable from it. Yet in "Isis Unveiled" it is emphatically stated that "Reincarnation is the exception, not the rule, for the race at large."
W.Q.J.-- First, there is no evidence published that "H.P.B. was taught of Masters for years in Tibet." I should like to know where such a fact is alleged by any competent witness. Second, the doctrine of reincarnation was not disavowed in her early writings. Third, the quotation from Isis at the end of the question is incorrect. Reincarnation is not denied; but reincarnation of the astral monad is denied as the rule. The words omitted from the quotation are the hinge on which this question and reply must turn. Inquirers and members should be careful in making references, as well as in getting the real import of what is read.
Turn to The Theosophist, pp. 288-9 of August, 1882, and you will find the question answered and the remark in Isis explained. Turn to Path, Vol. I, p. 232, November, 1886, and you will find the article Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits dealing with the same matter and by H. P. B. She wrote that article at my request because of a similar question arising from a like misunderstanding. Furthermore assert I as a witness that from 1875 to 1879 H. P. B. taught and explained Reincarnation, and in my case in respect to a relative of mine who died during that period. But when Isis was written, the full scheme of man's real constitution had not yet been given out, though hinted at broadly. Attention was then paid to the Kardec school of Reincarnationists with the object of overthrowing their theory, and H. P. B. then, as later, denied personal reincarnation. The re-embodiment of the personal astral -- called "astral monad" in Isis -- never was taught and is not taught by the school from which The Secret Doctrine emanates. Hence her denial of it as the rule in 1877 still holds good and is reasserted in the articles I have pointed out. There is therefore no inconsistency, though it must be admitted that her English in 1877 -- by one who had never written for publication -- was not as clear as these abstruse subjects demand. For this we must allow, and we ought not to hold all her words to the strict rule we follow in dealing with an English philosopher, but should construe all together.
Reincarnation of the "astral monad" -- that is, the personal being and the astral body -- is not the rule but is the exception; but reincarnation of the Individual or "spiritual monad" is the rule and the doctrine; and it is taught in Isis, to which readers are referred. Wherever H.P.B. seems to deny reincarnation in Isis, she is referring to personal reincarnation, using the word "man" or "person" in that sense. By consulting the various paragraphs it is seen that the doctrine of successive rebirths is taught plainly, and when she speaks of reincarnation -- a new word for her then -- she refers to the idea of personal reincarnation. Some of her paragraphs go with detail into the causes for rebirths, but then she is referring to the reincarnation of the "thread-soul," which is not the astral soul. It should also be remembered that terms have been better defined and more often used since 1875 than they were then when all was new, even though such mediums as Cora Richmond had before that taught now and then reincarnation as a law without defining it. It is of course to be regretted that Col. Olcott tries with labor to show H.P.B. ignorant of the law in 1875, but that only convicts him of not then knowing the doctrine himself and as not having referred to her full explanations of 1882 and 1886. It does not prove anything against her save bad English. Yet with all her unfamiliarity with our tongue, the very sentence around which these discussions arise -- and the sole important sentence that can be found -- contains in itself in the words "astral monad" the solution of the difficulty. She began by saying "reincarnation of the individual," the words personality and individuality then and worse than now being doubtful and interchangeable, but immediately qualifies the description by adding "or rather of his astral monad." If she were to construct the sentence now, the same idea would be there, but expressed in words intelligible to Theosophical students. But even up to this day our words are inadequate, for the terms personality and individuality, soul and spirit, are causes of confusion to different minds.
[Citing various quotations, K. E. Turnbull further challenged Judge concerning H.P.B.'s obscure references to her training in a Himalayan retreat. However, Mr. Judge counters with the following reply:]
W.Q.J.-- The Countess Wachtmeister in Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky, etc., published since the last FORUM, quotes (page 57) H.P.B.'s statement to her that the Master forewarned her that she would have to spend three years in Tibet, which is certainly authoritative.
There seems to be a glaring inconsistency not only between the two answers to the question[No. 257] in FORUM 51 about unmerited suffering and its reward, but between what W.Q.J. says now and what he said when answering a question in relation to the unmerited Karma of some of the people who perished in the Johnstown flood. In his old answer he took for granted the existence of some unmerited suffering, but now he says there is no such thing.
W.Q.J.-- Quite possibly the reply made by me in FORUM 51 may not agree with the Editor's, but that is only because my view and his are not the same, and in the T. S. each man is entitled to his own opinion. But I find no inconsistency between my answer and what I said respecting the Johnstown sufferers; however, as the question does not say where the Johnstown matter is printed, it may be left on one side.
I do not think any suffering or any enjoyment is unmerited. Whatever we have comes by law and justly. But as this is a world governed by cause and effect, the mental attitude of those who suffer or enjoy must be considered; it has its force and effect; it must be provided for. Men in their ignorance do not always see why they suffer, as no connection is visible between the punitive circumstances and the prior cause, which, indeed, had arisen in some long-gone life. Hence, while suffering, the person feels deeply that he does not merit it. This is what is meant by "unmerited suffering." In the mind is lodged the thought that pain has been suffered which was not merited. Devachan provides for this just as it provides for many another supposed ill or injustice. There the person -- due to the thought I have spoken of -- finds for himself the reward for "unmerited suffering." If he were fully enlightened, of course he would see that all that had happened was just, and no unmerited suffering would exist in that case.
Modern minds are always dwelling on objective modes of thought which constantly ignore the truth that the mind is the source alike of pain and pleasure, of punishment and reward. The Universe is a vast ideation alone, and everywhere we must remember that the mind rules. Until the mind is free, illusion exists on every plane. In Devachan and in Earth-life the illusions are equally great. Inasmuch as the mind is the ruler, the guide, and the standard, it must happen that we will often suppose we have been unjustly treated. Now the mere fact that we were not does not prevent the feeling of unmerited suffering unless the person is fully aware of the fact and accepts it. And as most of us are not fully enlightened, we are constantly subjected to what seems unjust. Criminals often think they have been victims of injustice. This must be taken into account in nature, for their minds and thoughts are as much a part of it as any other mind. Hence a large sum of suffering must exist that is classed as unmerited. This is provided for in Devachan. But in Earth-life exact objective as well as mental results follow. If this "unmerited suffering" is not to be so classed, we will have to find some other word. At present we would have to use a long sentence to express the idea, thus: "In Devachan the person finds compensation for those sufferings which in earth-life were supposed by the sufferer to be unmerited, in consequence of prior causes not being known."
But most certainly every circumstance, all suffering, all pleasure, each reward and every punishment, are the due and exact result of causes set up by the person who is the experiencer. And the richness or the barrenness of Devachan itself is in each case also an exact result of causes set up in the preceding Earth-life, which in turn are the outcome -- due to evolved character -- of all previous lives.
How is one to learn the nature of and how to practice the specific course of training, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, spoken of in the"Epitome of Theosophy"?
W.Q.J-- The specific course of training spoken of in the tract referred to in the question is found in many Hindu, European, and other writings. It was practiced in part by the Christian mystics just as much as by others, but it is specially given and explained in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. If one follows all the directions of that book he will reach the highest result of spiritual cultivation, but the difficulty is that many Theosophists, after reading that book, attempt to practice portions of it without attending to the high moral precept therein, and naturally they create disturbance within themselves without any very beneficial result.
InFORUM No. 43, Question 216, the doctrine of the Antinomians is denounced. How are we to understand in "Tea Table" of "Path" for January, 1892, "For desire ceases to attract us when we no longer identify it with ourself"?
W.Q.J.-- I see no connection whatever between the doctrine of the Antinomians and the passage quoted from The Path. The Antinomians, doubtless arguing upon St. Paul's statement that certain persons become a law unto themselves, held that they were not subject to any law and could satisfy or work their desires in any direction. The statement in the "Tea Table" is intended to convey the idea that when we have gotten beyond desire it ceases to attract us, which is an entirely different matter from the Antinomian question. The Theosophic philosophy teaches that by overcoming desire, by ceasing to desire, by controlling the appetites, by turning away from the objects which attract the appetites, desire ceases to attract us, all of which seems to me to be almost the statement of a truism.
What is the process whereby the Kamic elements of man become embodied after death in the entity known as the Kama-Rupa? How can intangible subjective desires, passions, and the like become "rupa," or whence comes the body or rupa?
W.Q.J.-- If the process were given it would not be understood, since it is one for which our language has no words. It is for this reason that descriptions given by clairvoyants of various occult things seem pure twaddle and vague mutterings to those who for themselves cannot clairvoyantly see the same thing. How could it be possible to describe the operations of the occult Cosmos in the terms of materialistic science and philosophy? That hidden Cosmos is ideal in its fineness, and the very attempt to fully describe the process enquired of would convey only doubt and certainly result in confusion. But it is no more hidden than is the process by which the body builds itself up every day; nor than that by which a thought will affect the entire nervous system. A simple thought will bring a hot flush or a cold shiver. How? No one knows. Certainly no scientific terms exist to describe the mode and means whereby the thought connects itself with the human physiological machine. And if this be so on this plane, is it likely that an Adept's description of the coalescence of Kama with an astral body after death would be comprehended save in the most general way? This general way may be gotten at by considering the action of the magnet. It attracts, but no scientific man can look behind that fact; it even can attract an electric flame, but there too the process is occult. In the same way there is an attraction between the mass of desires called Kama and the astral form which causes them to come together just as a similar attractive force brought Ego and body together.
But desires and passions are not intangible and subjective in the sense given by the question. They are in their sphere -- though not in this -- quite tangible and objective, and those two words must be altered when we pass beyond the consideration of this plane. If the questioner insists that on every plane desires and passions are intangible and subjective, that will dispose of the question, because in such a case they certainly could never attract anything. But it will first have to be explained how such "intangible and subjective" things as passion and desire can and do have an objective effect even on this plane. As on their own plane they are full of force and tangibility, they attract to themselves the necessary quantum of astral matter, invisible to us but still there, to form a sheath of covering. Having their center in the thinker they radiate from that and cause their effects until cut off from their center, when they begin to dissipate unless linked with some other center from which they might get activity. But the whole difficulty grows, it seems to me, out of the prevalent habit of regarding this so-called objective world as real, and forgetting that the mental and spiritual realms are the only real ones, this being simply the phenomenal expression of those. I therefore disagree from the editor when he says that such and such desires "are not existences apart from the mind and capable of assuming an objective form," for I think they are just such existences and have the capacity to take on an objective form. He is simply stating modern conceptions, which are wholly erroneous and springing from a system of philosophy which does not know that the mind is an entity, and while his illustrations are all good for the school to which they belong, they are completely negtived by the facts of Occultism. For instance, if a practitioner of magic -- and not a very high one either -- were to fix in his mind the image of an object, it would soon become objective to our physical senses, just as it was first in fact objective to our inner senses. This could not be possible if the objective and subjective of one plane are forever on every plane subjective and objective. That which we now from this plane call "abstract qualities" change on another plane into "objective things." So I regard it an error to call the desire and passions abstract qualities, unless we say at the same time that we mean it relatively.
If the cause of rebirth is in unsatisfied desire to live(Tanha), why should they be reborn who are weary of life and have no desire to continue or repeat it?
W.Q.J.-- There is slight but important inaccuracy in the doctrinal statement of the question, and the question also leaves out of account the desires of life counting from the cradle as well as those desires of other and past lives which were never satisfied.
The inaccuracy is, that it is not the doctrine that unsatisfied desire leads to rebirth, but that desire is the cause of rebirth, and this makes a great difference in the matter. The want of satisfaction of desire only adds another element leading to rebirth. Desire of any sort, satisfied or not, deludes the Ego, and it is thereby drawn into the magnetic attractions (from which through ignorance it cannot escape) which must and will operate in time to cause rebirth. The desire operates the instant it is entertained, and, sinking into the inner recesses of being, is a cause for rebirth. The mere fact that it is forgotten or that all earthly life in time becomes distasteful does not do away with its force in those parts of our nature which while we are ignorant remain hidden from us. For with each desire -- and there are millions of them -- there is a thought, and it is these thoughts which make the bonds which draw us back to earth. And with each person this goes on for many years, for but few children are wise enough to control desires. This immense mass of desires and thoughts is to be taken into account. The question appears to ignore them altogether. If in mature years one begins to see the futility and uselessness of desire for life or any other desire, it means that experience has been gained, but not by any means that the forces engendered during preceding years have been exhausted.
Furthermore, there is behind each one the whole sum of other lives with all their desires, much of which must be yet unexhausted. These are each a cause for rebirth.
And it is not merely the desire to live which causes rebirth. That is a prime cause, and one that being seated in general human nature is more subtle and powerful than any other, for it relates to life itself, no matter where. And I take it that if the person who says life here seems worthless were offered life on some other planet in most harmonious, beautiful, and gratifying circumstances, he would find the deeply seated wish for life suddenly blazing up, causing him to immediately accept the offer.
My own experience, and the statements of candid and observing men like Mr. Sinnett, convince me that intelligent beings"on the other side" sometimes -- perhaps frequently -- communicate with mortals through sight and sound, sometimes voluntarily, at other times by solicitation, both by night and in strong light, natural and artificial. I should much like to know what and who these beings are, that is, "with what body do they come" and of what grade of intelligence. I ask because, 1st, I have myself seen, known, and felt such beings at different times through their manipulation of the finer elements of matter about us; 2nd, I am sure Theosophy is able to enlighten me, and, since they have taken the initiation of intercourse, the question seems proper.
W.Q.J.-- Without claiming any authority on this matter, it seems to me that the "intelligent beings" are in most cases elementals, of which there are some of very high grade but all of which are below the human as to soul and conscience. They do not in the end lead to good, but most frequently to the opposite. The door once open to them, others of any sort may just as well come in. But every case of the sort experienced by the questioner is not necessarily the coming of any other intelligence than one of the many interior selfs we are made up of; many of them may be the production of the power of the person's own astral body which has had some education retained in itself in some other life and now only kept back by Karma and environment. Such is the case with many mediums who do strange things, using their own astral senses and members without at the time knowing that such is the method, just as a man may walk quite well in his sleep. And as it is taught in all good books on this, the elemental world, acting with the inner principles of living men and with the strong shells of gross persons and the astral bodies of those in the astral world who are not wholly dead but live in the passions and astral bodies, is able to "mold matter" in many strange ways and to bring about phenomena of a remarkable character. A simple thought evolved in a definite manner and with a certain intensity will, acting automatically with an elemental, produce a rap of great or small force, and may also bring about sensation, such as sight and feeling and hearing. If, however, a seemingly higher order of intelligence had taken the initiative, one should then exercise the very greatest care, as it is certain such intercourse cannot yet be carried on without a disturbance in the system that is for this age out of the normal. But what exactly each experience is or may be would have to be decided on its own merits and by one who could look behind the veil.
Are Plane and Principle ever interchangeable terms? Can a Principle be said to be a Plane of the working of the next higher Plane, i.e., as Buddhi is the vehicle of Atma, or the ethereal double necessary as the bridge for Prana to cross over to the physical body? May they be said to be analogous to Spirit and Matter, opposite poles of the same thing?
W.Q.J.-- It does not seem to be right to try to interchange these two words, for it will result in mixing up the ideas. A plane is, like a plane surface, quite different from a principle, just as gas is different from the place in which it may exist and be felt. Plane of consciousness is used to designate the stage or metaphysical place the consciousness has reached or may be on or in. But to say that a principle of this plane is a plane for some higher state is very mixed, for it would result that thereby our individuality would be lost and all be reduced to annihilation. Whereas each individual retains his identity and thus must preserve the identity of his principles, whatever those are, it must follow that his principles are not planes but remain as before principles. However, it must be remembered that the word "principle" is used loosely, and sometimes that which is not such is so called. It is easy and definite to retain the actual meaning of "plane" and not try to mix it with some other word. I cannot see any analogy between these two words and "spirit and matter," inasmuch as plane means a place for operation or use, and principle is that which uses or operates on a plane.
Does not the law of Karma set men anexample to be retaliative, since the workings of that law are essentially retaliative in retribution, apparently enforcing "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth"? Or should we not look upon the law as retaliative or retributive at all, only our short-sighted conception of justice making it appear so?
W.Q.J.-- I do not understand how any one could imagine that the law of Karma, rightly understood, could lead one to retaliation. Certainly a law such as this cannot "set an example," for that infers the action of a being such as a God, or other being. The law of Karma should not be regarded as a law of retaliation, because retaliation again infers the action of a being and not the working of law. Karma is the working out of effect from cause, as well as the creation of cause from which an effect must follow. Hence Karma is completely merciful, because justice and mercy in their highest aspect are one. The exact result must follow the cause, and from every act will flow many effects, both good and bad. Those who wish to have an excuse for retaliation can of course warp any law to their own ends, and the way to warp the law of Karma so as to support retaliation is to talk of it as setting an example, or doing some other thing which can only be performed by an individual with conscience, intelligence, and responsibility.
I amnot able to see that the law of Karma as expounded by most Theosophists is not retaliative in both its retributive and its beneficent aspect. "W.Q.J." says: "The law of Karma should not be regarded as a law of retaliation, because retaliation infers the action of a being and not the working of a law." But how can a law work without the action of some being or beings; and even if it did so work, a law can have a retaliative character as well as a being. And since a law expresses the will of some being or beings, this will may express retaliation through its laws just as many human laws do. Such a law could emanate only from an anthropomorphic being, and furnishes a selfish motive for right doing or abstention from evil doing. If wrong doing is the cause of suffering, and if right doing is invariably rewarded, we should find these effects always following these causes, but such is not the fact. Right doing is very often the cause of suffering, and wrong doing the cause of pleasure. If there is any such law that rewards us for doing right and punishes for doing wrong, it should be inoperative among beings which had no sense of right and wrong, such as animals; yet we find that animals have suffering and sorrows, pleasures and joy. Is it not nobler and more spiritual to do right because it is our duty and from love of the right and of our fellow-creatures? Such has been the motive of all great souls. The law of Karma is the law of cause and effect, or of evolution, and as such of course includes all causes of suffering or pleasure, but when it is stated that the ethical character of the cause determines what the effect shall be, we state what cannot be substantiated by fact.
W.Q.J.-- This question has been referred to me because, I suppose, my name is mentioned. It seems to deal chiefly with the meaning of words. As I understand good and bad Karma, they mean respectively action which is pleasing and that which is displeasing to the Higher Self. Hence seemingly retaliative Karma may be for the good and benefit of the soul experiencing it, while pleasure may be the opposite. The word "retaliation" carries with it in my mind the notion of a person who retaliates, and I would not apply it to a law or to a natural result. As, for instance, burning will follow on placing the hand in the fire, for the reason that it is the law or nature of fire to burn, but how can it be other than vague and confusing to say that the fire retaliates on the hand? If such a use of words were common we would have to make gods and deities of all natural forces and operations. Karma as a cosmic law metes out the exact result for act, but this is cause and effect, and not retaliation. The man, however, who hits back because he is hit retaliates on the hitter. The effect in such a case is that in the mind of each is set a seed or cause which must sooner or later make an effect. If a blind and helpless man accidentally hits another in the eye, causing hurt, it is usual for the hurt person to excuse the act and to feel no resentment, and hence to bear within no seed for future hate; but the same sort of act done on purpose generally rouses hate or resentment. Imagine now the resentful person dying at once. He carries the seed of hate in his mind, and in some other life it will come out when the time is ripe under the law. But the act in both cases was the same, while the ethics and the mental states in both were not the same.
What is the source of Conscience? From what plane does it come? Why does the savage delight in cruelty to his enemy, and the so-called enlightened man in sharp practices which the really enlightened know to be wrong? In other words, is Conscience a matter of education?
W.Q.J.-- Conscience seems to be a faculty which may be stilled or made active. In my opinion its source is in the Higher Self, and as it comes down through plane after plane it loses its force or retains power according to the life and education of the being on earth. The conscience of the savage is limited by his education just as were the consciences of the New Englander and the European religionists who destroyed men for the sake of God and Christ. We cannot assert that the men who indulged in religious persecution were not going according to what they called their conscience. By this I do not mean that conscience is a matter of education, but that the power of its utterances will be limited by our education, and consequently if we have a bigoted religion or a non-philosophical system we are likely to prevent ourselves from hearing from our conscience. And in those cases where men are doing wrong according to what they call their conscience, it must be true that they have so warped their intuition as not to understand the voice of the inward monitor.
Is it a fact, as sometimes asserted in print, that everything in Nature is dual, and that nothing can exist or even be conceivable without its opposite? I don't see the necessity for this.
W.Q.J.-- The editor's easy disposal of the question is also pure assertion, it seems to me. I can think of no proposition so easy of proof, and of which there is so much evidence in the material, mental, and psychic realms, as the one that duality rules universally in Nature. The Sun is the day ruler, the Moon the night ruler; the first giving direct light, the other reflected beams, -- in both cases dual. The day is one side, the night the other; and thus light and dark are a duality. In the earth's travel it brings two opposites -- heat and cold. Man and animals are male and female -- dualities in sex. The word "male" would not connote its present meaning unless there were its opposite. The magnet -- a mundane universality -- has two opposite poles, one attracting, the other repelling; they are opposite in position as well as in effect. Indeed, it would be tedious to prolong a list that could be extended over the whole range of nature from the little to the great. In the argument used by the Editor that "Intelligence would be intelligence just as truly if there were no such thing as" its opposite, and in other like arguments and illustrations, there is pure assumption. The word "intelligence" describes a quality found among men, but "stupidity" is also to be found there, and one is hardly justified in assuming that a time will come when stupidity will be gone from the cosmos, leaving only intelligence, unless it also assumed that the complete and exclusive prevalence of intelligence is the known object and end to which the universe is tending. Of course optimistic thought may make this assumption, but pessimism is as much entitled to construct an opposite one and say that stupidity and chaos are the final end and aim. In order to apply the editor's illustration we must grant the possibility underlying his words "if," but no one knows that intelligence is the quality that shall finally prevail above all, and it is allowable to reunite his sentence thus: "Stupidity would be stupidity just as truly if there were no such thing as intelligence."
We are dealing with Nature wherein there is the duality referred to. Every illustration used by the Editor is in itself a duality and understood only through the existence of duality. To assume the destruction of duality is to reduce into a state of nothingness both as to consciousness and the thing cognized. If we take his illustration of evil disappearing and good prevailing, then there must be assumed for the event a cognizer to perceive the good and to feel its effect, which at once makes the final all-embracing duality of a cognizer and the thing cognized, felt, or perceived. If no cognizer is present, but the Universe is simply goodness and naught else, then we have nothingness once more, since there is no mind or consciousness to note it. But as this is not so, we have to conclude that in the final analysis, whether objects be one or many, there must be a perceiver and that which is perceived.