Questions in "The Theosophical Forum"

Answered by William Q. Judge

[April 1889 through April 1895, in Numbers One to Seventy, First Series.]
Questions 276 through 345


Do we begin a new round of embodiments after Pralaya? If the past does not suffice to end the "descent into matter," can we expect the future to do so?

W.Q.J. -- One of the cardinal principles of Theosophy is that evolution by means of manifestation is periodical, one manvantara succeeding the preceding one as its logical and natural successor. Hence the present one is the legitimate successor of that which preceded it, is its resultant in every way, but necessarily higher since there can be no going back. It is postulated in The Secret Doctrine that the descent into matter changes into the reascent to spirit in this present round. Those of the race who shall not succeed before Pralaya comes on in attaining to truth will necessarily have to go through whatever reembodiment is needed in the succeeding manvantara. This is natural, just, and reasonable. Those who attain in the vast stretch of centuries yet before us to the height of power, wisdom, and perfection will not have to go through reembodiment unless they wish to do so; it is quite likely that a great many of them will, out of love for the new and struggling ones of that future manvantara, descend into matter for the help and benefit of those below them. Perhaps by that time, so many millions of years hence, the questioner will have developed so much through struggle and effort as to be quite undismayed by the prospect of another fight with matter then. But certainly now it is looking a long way ahead, seeking for a fanciful idea to dwell on this future possibility in a manvantara which is for us inconceivable in time as well as in quality.


Are those who predict that the United States are to be the theater of Black Magic in time to come able to foresee what will be the catastrophe? Will our race be left to itself until it shall work out its own destruction by a cataclysm, like the Atlanteans; or will an Avatar appear at the crisis, as Krishna did in the days of Kansa? Is there any record or tradition of an Avatara's having appeared among the Atlanteans previous to their final extinction?

W.Q.J. -- If the Adepts have predicted that the United States will be the scene for a catastrophe of Black Magic, they certainly are able to know what that catastrophe will be. The question does not seem to me profitable, but rather one of those arising more from curiosity, quite natural but still not valuable. It is doubtless true that at important epochs in the World's history under the law of cycles and Karma great beings appear for the confusion of the wicked and the re-establishment of virtue. We have no information as to the appearance of such beings amongst the Atlanteans, as nearly all we have heard about that race is in The Secret Doctrine, and there it merely says that such beings have appeared periodically; hence they must have come to the Atlanteans.


What finally becomes of thoughts, both good and bad, sent out by human beings?

W.Q.J. -- So far as the remarks of the editor go they are very just, but a wider field appears to have been overlooked. It has been said that "thoughts are things," an assertion with which I am prepared to agree entirely; and I also firmly believe that the time is not far off when their substantiality will be recognized and understood by science more fully than at present.

A thought implies many things besides pure force exerted. If force is exerted, then there must be that which exercises it. What is this, and what is the effect of the exercise? When we think, it is known that there is a disturbance or disintegration of the grey matter of the brain. But next we must observe that there is at the same time physiological disturbance, change, or alteration, in the whole frame. For instance, a thought of shame or disaster or punishment may bring all over the body a hot flush or a cold shiver; the thought of a great danger just escaped has made men dizzy and women faint. Is there nothing in this? Further, each thought makes a picture, save perhaps a purely metaphysical syllogism, but even there it is difficult to escape the formulating by the mind of some concrete illustration as the syllogism proceeds; and even in pure mathematics it will be impossible for the thinker to prevent the rising up of a picture of the figures used in the operation, because from youth the numerals were impressed on his memory. Going on with this, we see that clairvoyants report that each thought makes a flash or picture objective to the inner sense, and from all the experiments in hypnotism we find that the old claim of occultism that each thought makes a definite picture must be true. Every clear seer will confirm this from personal experience. Still further, the astral light being a preserver of these pictures like a photographic plate, it follows that every thought has its picture preserved, and by that means what has been done or is being done may be known unerringly. Therefore thoughts, while they may be fugitive so far as concerns the thinker, are not so otherwise, but persist as seeds for good or evil in the whole race.

But, still more, every thought leaves a seed in the mind or manas of the thinker, no matter how fugitive the thought was. The whole sum of such small seeds will go to make up a larger seed for thought, and thus constitute a man of this, that, or the other general character. Thoughts, then, are highly important, for, as the Buddha said, we are made up of thought and built of thought; as we think, so we act and will act, and as we act and think so will we suffer or rejoice, and the whole world with us.


Are the statements in the 9th chapter of "Esoteric Buddhism" regarding the later incarnations of Buddha as Sankaracharya (sixty years after Buddha's death) and Tsong-ka-pa (born in the 14th century) correct? I do not remember anything by H.P.B. which confirms these very interesting statements.

W.Q.J. -- The statement in Esoteric Buddhism referred to is not the first time that such a view has been given out, as for many, many years the assertion has been made in India and other Oriental countries that Buddha reincarnated in Sankaracharya for the purpose of making a reform in Hindu philosophy. From reading Mr. Sinnett's words it would seem that he is using the terms of the letters from the Adepts on which the book is founded, but that cannot be said certainly until he admits it or the letters themselves are published. I do not remember now any passage in which H.P.B. said anything about it, but other students may be able to find such. The same may be said as to Tsong-ka-pa. The doctrine of reincarnations of an Avatara is clearly put in The Bhagavad-Gita in the fourth chapter, thus: "And thus I incarnate from age to age for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of virtue"; and so also is it given in many other of the old scriptures. As Buddha came to those who were outside the Vedic law, so it was natural at that time, a little later, he or someone else should come to make a reform in Hindu Vedic philosophy. Whether both were the same souls is not very important, but it is quite evident that the soul of each was in every sense a "maha-atma," for the influence of Sankara is as much felt to this day in the Vedic philosophical schools as is that of Buddha outside of them. The coming and going of such highly advanced egos is always "by a secret path," as is the phrase, and generally curiosity is what brings out references on the point of identification, for did we know who any particular person was in another birth nothing much of value would be gained. Supposing it to be certain that Buddha and Sankara were one and the same soul, we gain nothing but some confusion, since much that one said will not harmonize on the surface with that said by the other, inasmuch as we know nothing of their secret reasons, and the systems given by each have many radical differences.


Why did the Egyptians, whose priests were many of them advanced Adepts, teach the necessity of carefully preserving the bodies of the dead, while the advanced Theosophists of the present day advocate the rapid destruction of the body by means of cremation?

W.Q.J. -- In asking a question why the Egyptians did this or another thing you expect too much of us. We really cannot know. And no matter why they did what they did with mummies, it would be no reason for or against what now is advanced by Theosophists and others. But cremation is not a thing the Theosophists proposed; it was proposed long before the T.S. was founded, and but little is said of it by Theosophists. But at the same time it is not known what was the real origin of making mummies, as the examples we have belong to very recent periods of the Egyptians, who must have existed many thousands of years before the times we can know of their history. It has been suggested very justly that the practice began with their Adept kings for reasons of their own, and that it came to be imitated afterwards. If this is so, then it would be natural for the kings to permit it among the people so as to create a greater security for their own mummies; for if there be mummies for all, no one will bother to look for any particular mummy for some special reason, whereas if only kings were known to be mummied, then later people might want to exhume and inspect them, for the early kings were thought by the people to be Adepts, as is evident from the records. But on all this we are as yet but making assumptions.


How can we discern whether it is the divine conscience animating us and directing us in a certain direction, or the animal soul seeking release from seemingly unfavorable environments?

W.Q.J. -- The divine conscience acts in all struggles for betterment, but clouded more or less in each by reason of education and habit of thought; hence it varies in brightness. It is not possible to make a hard-and-fast fixed rule for finding out what is the animating motive. If we are trying to get into a better state, it is for us to decide if that be simply and wholly selfish. All actions are surrounded by desire as the rust is round the polished metal or the smoke round the fire, but we must try. So if we fix for ourselves the rule that we will try to do the very best we can for others, we will generally be led right. If we rely on the higher self and aspire to be guided by it, we will be led to the right even if the road goes through pain, for sorrow and pain are necessary for purification of the soul. But if we wish to run away from an environment because we do not like it and without trying to live in it while not of it, we are not altering ourselves but simply altering the circumstances, and may not always thereby gain anything.


What is the real meaning of that phrase so often seen in Theosophical papers, "the great orphan, Humanity"?

W.Q.J. -- This phrase has a deep significance for me. An orphan may also be one who had no parents, as the state of orphanage is that of being without father or mother. If we imagine a child appearing on the earth without a parent, we would have to call it an orphan. Humanity is the "great orphan" because it is without parents in the sense that it has produced itself and hence from itself has to procure the guidance it needs. And as it wanders in the dark valley of the shadow of death, it is more in need of help and counsel than the mere body of a child which is the ordinary orphan. The soul is parentless, existing of itself from all eternity, and considered as soul, mankind is hence an orphan. Plunged into matter, surrounded on every side by the vast number of intricate illusions and temptations that belong to earthly life, it stands every day and hour in need of protection as well as guidance.

If the idea of a loving parent be applied to the notion that a definite God has produced mankind, then we find that this supposed parent has at the same time invented the most diversified and ingenious series of bedevilments and torments to beguile, hurt, harass, and finally destroy the child. For if a certain one God is the maker or parent of man, then He also is the one who made nature. Nature is cruel, cold, and implacable. It stops for no man, it never relents, it destroys without mercy. When inhabitants of earth multiply, Nature manages to destroy millions of people in a night or two, as has now and then happened in China; the very elect of the earth are swept off the earth in a moment; slowly and painfully the infant races creep up the ladder of time, leaving as they go vast heaps of slain at the foot. The whole of life presents, indeed, to man more frowns than smiles. It is this fact that has made so many who are told of a loving father and at the same time of an illogical scheme of salvation revolt altogether from the idea of any meaning to life but despair.

I cannot see how the phrase "great orphan" carries with it the notion of being without guide or helper. The orphan is everywhere; but among the units composing it are some who have risen through trial to the state where they can help the lower ones. Orphans themselves, they live to benefit mankind of which they are a part. They are the head of the body of which the lower members are the less developed units or atoms. Enthusiasm for the "orphan" is that which will lead to devotion and sacrifice; and that enthusiasm must be developed not only in the Theosophist, but in all the men of earth. Having it they will help all on their own plane, and each stratum of men rising in development will help all below until all belonging to the globe have risen to to the perfect height. Then they can proceed to other spots in cosmos where are also wandering vast masses of souls, also units in the "orphan," who require and can then receive the same help that we had extended to us. If this is not the destiny of man during the time when all things are manifesting, then the remark of Spencer to the effect that altruism is useless because when universal there is no one to benefit, must be accepted. However, the phrase in the question is one of those rhetorical ones that must not be read in its strict letter and ordinary meaning.


In a recent lecture by an F.T.S. the grand possibilities open to a multi-millionaire for the accumulation of an enormous wealth of Karma by the altruistic expenditure of riches were dwelt upon so rapturously, while the Karma born of the "Widow's Mite" was mentioned with such marked decrease of consideration (perhaps not intentionally or even consciously) that the following queries suggested themselves:

(1) Is it not inconsistent to suppose that good Karma can be accumulated in larger quantities by the altruistic expenditure of a millionaire's wealth than by the giving of the "Widow's Mite," since a man can only be judged generous by what he has left after the gift?

(2) Can Karma be acquired, or deposited like money in a bank to he drawn upon for future needs; and is not the contemplation of it as a thing to be stored up illogical, illusory, and a direct incentive to self-seeking?

(3) Is any Karma good "per se," or in fact good at all, except in so far as it compensates and atones for past transgression; and is it operative any more after all misdeeds have been expiated, i.e., can a man have Karma to his credit?

(4) Does not Nirvana follow the full satisfaction of Karmic law, and, if so, how can there be any more place for Karma of any kind?

W.Q.J. -- As to (1) the altruistic expenditure by a millionaire of his wealth in large quantities must accumulate to him more "karmic credit" than if he had but little. Mere expenditure of money is nothing, but the really altruistic, unselfish use of it is much. Every time such a person thus expends for the good of others he thereby excites in all who are benefited a sympathy and a portion, small or large, of love. This cannot be wiped out, any more than an evil act, until it is exhausted by a corresponding action on the part of the person who thus gets benefit. Hence such a millionaire necessarily makes to himself friends who will one day in some life benefit him. If this is not so, then all the doctrines of karma and cause and effect are of no value.

(2) Karma may not be acquired like money in a bank; it cannot he deposited; but a store of merit may be laid up to the account of any one who acts so as to lay it up. If the law is looked at from the selfish side as something that one may lay up for himself, of course it will tend to self-seeking; but it is hardly possible for one to believe in and act under the law and fail at the same time to see that if he does so selfishly he limits his store and sometime will nullify all its effects. It is not good karma to act selfishly; hence he makes bad karma by so acting from a self-seeking of benefit under the law.

(3) Good karma is that act and thought which is pleasing to the Higher Self. Hence sorrow and pain and discipline may be good karma. Bad karma is that act and thought which displeases the Higher Self. Hence all self-seeking acts, no matter how high and outwardly virtuous they are, are bad karma, since the Higher Self desires no such acts for its sake.

(4) Nirvana comes to those who have risen up over all delusions and have realized the supreme unity of all; then it may be taken; but if it is then taken for oneself, leaving others in the mire of life unhelped, it becomes an enormous selfishness which later on must result in the being having to do penance in some other manvantara.


Somewhere in Theosophy we are told that the Egos now on the planet are largely the reappearance of the Atlanteans. But I notice more resemblance to the Romans and Greeks. Our style of architecture, our ideas of pastime, such as prize-fights, foot-ball, wrestling, and rough or unrefined amusements, are all in line with the classic ones. Even the Greek type of feminine beauty is apparent once more, and women affect Greek ideas in dress and fixings. How does this consist with the statement in question?

W.Q.J. -- The questioner seems to have misunderstood the matter. As the Atlanteans preceded the Romans and the Greeks by many millions of years, the Romans and Greeks themselves may have been and likely were an appearance of the Atlanteans. It was said by H.P.B. that all the present Race are Atlanteans. This must be so if the first parts of her anthropological scheme are correct, for the reason that that old form of race preceded all the later, the latter being simply the various reincarnations of the former. If, then, the sports of the present or any other form of life led by us seem like the Roman or the Greek, that is only because we do not know what were the forms in which the Atlanteans in their time indulged. Similarly as we have no knowledge of what was the Atlantean type of beauty or of intellectual achievement, there is nothing in what the questioner says which in any way militates against the Atlantean theory. When we shall have discovered fully all about the Atlantean civilization and the physical form as well as mental caliber of that race, we can then say what subsequent smaller race most resembles it. It must also be remembered that we as souls are quite likely to be the same souls that inhabited the bodies of the Atlantean man, because that race existed so very long ago as to be sui generis.


In killing out desire, do you not also kill out worldly ambition? When a man has done this, is he fit to fight the battle of life, or to be the head of a family?

W.Q.J. -- In killing out desire we do not kill out right action, though we may kill ambition. It is likely you have a wrong meaning for the word "ambition," as it is wrongly used by many. It is used out of its way to mean energy and action, whereas it does not mean that. It means the desire to get gain and power and glory and wealth for oneself, and that is selfishness of the worst, and hence ambition may be rightly killed and no true progress is made till it is put under. But by following the rules given, that is, to do your duty, you cannot neglect your great and small duties, hence you will care for your family. But if you give the word "ambition" the meaning of the opposite of "apathy" and say that he who kills ambition becomes apathetic, then all would be folly. Fitness to fight the battle of life is not from worldly ambition at all, but from a right and strong sense of duty, from a determination to do it, and from a true sense of your duty to your neighbor.


What entities, besides Kama-Rupa, communicate with man from the astral plane, and what vehicles for manifestation are used besides the Rupa and astral body of the medium? Which of the communicating entities are friendly and which hostile and what are the means of distinguishing between them? Have in mind the evocation of Apollonius of Tyana. 

W.Q.J. -- Hundreds of classes of beings communicate from the astral plane with the living through mediums and otherwise. Of this subject the West does not know. Hence you will have to take on faith if you believe at all what I reply. Many degrees of elementals communicate. These are all of no use to us, but harmful. Many of them are used by black magicians who live in the astral world in their kama-rupas. They use the elementals, they live thus on the living by absorption, and this is the great danger of all such things. Some of them may be friendly, but unless you have the means and sight of your own to tell which, no direction would be of any use. Even while friendly they are injurious, for they must use a part of you or some one for the work, and they thus set up the likelihood of another not friendly using you the same way. Apollonius was an adept and cannot be safely imitated by any less person. If you are too strong to be influenced and get another person as the means for it, then you will be wrongly exposing the other to a danger you are yourself exempt from.


In the Ocean of Theosophy, on page 46, is made the statement that it is desire and passion which caused us to be born, and will bring us to birth again and again in this body or in some other. How could we again inhabit this body? Please explain.

W.Q.J. -- The statement on p. 46 of Ocean of Theosophy was a slip of the pen. The intent was to say that desire and passion make rebirth in some body, and should have said "in some body on this earth or another globe." I do not believe we come back to this body. I also think it is from the context reasonably clear. The "Ocean" was written in a very few days, and hence some slips have occurred in it; this is one, and will be corrected in another edition.


In regard to the third object of the T.S., what, if anything, is being done in the way of investigating the "psychic powers latent in man"?

W.Q.J. -- There are two ways to understand the word "investigate." Either it means an actual physical and experimental investigation, or another sort, the other being investigation of the philosophy and the laws underlying the phenomena. The former has not been done by the T.S. for the reason that the philosophy as given out by writers like H.P.B. indicates a danger to the experimenter; and experience sustains the views promulgated by her and those who follow her lead. It is said that a profitable investigation of the psychic realm is only possible when we have first the instruments and next the character -- in the line of purity and virtue -- without which no right investigation in a practical way is possible. There are no mechanical tools or instruments that are of use; the realm is full of delusion and darkness; mediums, seers, and psychics are all alike (until we get those who really know) unaware of the source of the phenomena or the meaning of them when they come; they give different explanations for the same thing, and they contradict each other as often as not. Unsensitive experimenters, equally with the seers and psychics, are ignorant of the realm they deal with in almost all cases, and in many they deny obvious explanations known to be true by those who have studied the philosophy. And as far as the T.S. is concerned, it has not from the beginning paid attention to this so-called practical investigation. The phenomena of H.P.B.'s production were her own and not the Society's, and no one has since been like her. Evidently she had, as she said, a distinct purpose and reason for the doing of her phenomena. It was to draw attention and to leave a record of a different sort from the long and sad one of mediumship. Experience in that has amply sustained her views. We know that the medium's record is sad and full of instances going to prove the grave dangers incurred by those who attempt to deal before they are inwardly ready with forces belonging to other planes of being. All through the ages the wise have said that the mere wish of the practical man of the day for phenomena and for the production of them is not a good reason for complying with the request. H.P.B., a later teacher, said that the moral and ethical philosophical ground must be fully and precedently prepared for the new growth that is to come in the line of psychic powers, for if they are permitted to develop in such a selfish and sordid soil as is now afforded in our civilization they will come to be a menace and terror in place of being a blessing. This is why I for one would be sorry to see any of the T.S. Branches engaged in such practical investigation.

But of the other sort of investigation we have had and still have a good deal. Our philosophy explains the facts already at hand, and shows distinctly how the virtues and excellences of character must be developed and realized before we are at all ready for practically touching the psychic forces. At the same time, by giving a sufficient analysis of man's composite nature it tends to prevent and do away with all superstition in respect to the many psychic phenomena that daily have place. This latter method of investigation is the right one in my opinion, and the one to be retained rather than the other. 


What effect, if any, does the cremation of the body have on the remaining material principles?

W.Q.J. -- Cremation has no direct effect on any of the sheaths or vehicles, but it must have the indirect effect of freeing the astral form from the influence of the material body and thus give the astral a chance to more quickly dissipate. It has much less effect on kama and the others above, and none on prana, for the latter is ever present, and in the case of death is simply at work somewhere else. Material fire can have no effect directly on any sort of matter that is not on its own plane, and hence has no effect at all on manas or those above that. From a sanitary point of view cremation is of high importance, as it does away with injurious matter or matter in such a state as to be injurious to the living.


Are our human souls born as infants or as adults into the Devachanic state? I am of opinion that a soul may or may not enter that state as an infant, according to the knowledge acquired by the person while living.

W.Q.J. -- It seems to me to be a mistake to consider questions relating to the soul from the materialistic point of view of "infant" or "adult." The soul is not born, nor does it die; it cannot be called an infant or an adult; those terms should only be used as more or less metaphorical, to show, as the editor points out, a difference in character. The soul assumes in the astral or ethereal realms of being that shape or form which most resembles its real character: it may seem to be what we would call infant or adult irrespective of the age of the body it had just quitted, or it might take the form of a beast or maybe a deformed, misshapen human body if its real life could be but fitly thus represented. This was well known to Swedenborg and many other seers, who saw souls wandering in such shapes which the very law of their being compelled them to assume. And it does not require physical death to bring this about, for in life many a person presents to the clairvoyant the actual picture of the inner character, no matter how horrible that may be. Form, shape, or lineament has then in the life of the soul to do with essential character. It is reported that one of the Adepts writing of Devachan spoke of our growing old there and then dying out of it. But this means, as was also then explained, only the uprush of force, its continuance in activity, and then at last its gradual decline to extinction or birth into another life. Adhering strictly to the words of the question, I do not think infants -- and those are mere babes -- have any Devachan, but that they pass on at once to another human birth as soon as the body of the baby is dead. They have accumulated no force for Devachan; they have but in them the impulse for birth, and that having been thwarted by death, it is continued by an immediate search for another body, to be continued until a body is found with sufficient vitality in it to allow the soul to go on with its pilgrimage among men. It is true that mediums and clairvoyants often report this, that, or the other infant as present from the so-called "world of spirits," but I think that all such cases are only occupations by elementals of the images or shapes of infants who have died out of earth-life, and hence prove nothing at all but the infinite power of delusion possessed by the astral world.


If our Higher Self was primarily an emanation from the Divine, why the necessity for this pilgrimage of successive incarnations? What advantage does the Ego derive from its association with the mass of matter we call our personality? If it is said that it is for the sake of gaining knowledge and experience in relation to every aspect or manifestation of the universe and on every plane of consciousness, why the necessity of such to what was divine from the beginning, and must from its very nature possess a consciousness of all existence and be in itself the source of all knowledge?

W.Q.J. -- It seems to me very difficult if not impossible to answer this question. It is one of those which the great sages and teachers of the world have refused to answer, on the ground that it was profitless to attempt it when we are unable to understand much simpler matters of consciousness, and, were one able to cognize spirit, the question would not be brought forward. Hence they were accustomed to make enquirers wait until they got more interior light. It would seem as if all one could do would be to give probable reasons why no full answer can be made.

If we say that God is not the universe but is an entity apart, then placing the spirit of man as a third separate entity, it will be seen, I should think, that for it to descend into the material universe would be a great degradation from our point of view. But it does not follow that our view is correct; we know that our knowledge of material nature is so limited that we often think that degraded which in fact is not, as is perceived by other minds more comprehensive. Even in the case supposed the spirit might of itself make up its mind to sacrifice and for its own reasons descend into matter. Similarly in life we know there are instances where pure, good, and happy persons take up with relatively degraded conditions for sacrifice or for charity combined with sacrifice. This would be sufficient answer to the question under the assumptions made, unless we think that our individual opinion of what is and what is not the best thing to do must govern.

But I view God and Man and Universe as one whole. As an unmanifested whole I can only name it the Absolute; when it manifests it becomes what is called Spirit and Matter, still of the whole. Without such manifestation there would be nothing: it would abide in itself as what we should have to call "nothing," because then there would be neither cognizer nor cognized. Since it is evident that it has manifested, it must follow that it has done so for its own purposes, said by us to be for obtaining consciousness and experience. If so, any "descent into matter" will not be a fall nor a degradation at all, since those are relative terms altogether, and since spirit and matter acting together do so for the one purpose. Man's present state is described by man to be a fallen one, but that is because living in a world of relative things he has to use terms to describe his present state. It does not follow that he will always deal in such words. When evolution shall have carried the whole race to a point of immense progress, knowledge, and wisdom, the mind of man will see more of truth, and doubtless be well satisfied with all the work and discipline gone through, leading up to the new and better state.

I think questions of this nature arise unconsciously from a sort of dissatisfaction with present environment in the world, and evolution from a desire of personal satisfaction and betterment, according to a standard made up from and in a civilization that is based on a fundamental idea of separateness. For if we think we are separate from God and his universe, then alterations of state and condition will be naturally thought of as needful, and the question will arise, "Why did we fall if we were once divine?" I do not admit that "we were once divine and have fallen"; but say that we are divine and always were, and that the falling is but apparent and due to the personal consciousness which calls that soul which is not and that not which is. We are God, and working out in various personalities and environments the great plan in view, and that plan is well known to the dweller in the body who calmly waits for all the material elements to come to a realization of their oneness with God.


I should like light on some contradicting points in the fifteenth chapter in "The Ocean of Theosophy."

(1) Man did not come from any tribe or family of monkey.

(2) No more Egos from the lower kingdoms will come into the human kingdom until the next Manvantara. 

(3) The Egos in the lower kingdoms could not finish their evolution in the preceding globe-chain before its dissolution, and coming to this they go forward age after age, gradually approaching nearer the man stage. One day they too will become men and act as the advance-guard and guide for other kingdoms of this and other globes.

To my understanding this is two different teachings.

W.Q.J. -- Beyond question The Ocean of Theosophy must have faults.

But I cannot see a contradiction between No. 1 and any of the other paragraphs in the question. The statement that "man did not come from monkeys" is one that relates wholly to his physical evolution. It does not relate to the Ego. The inrush of new Egos ceased at a period long passed. What can be drawn from this is that Egos and Monads now involved in the earth's evolution are restricted from this on to the end of this Manvantara from coming into the human stage of evolution, with the exception of those confined in the true anthropoid ape family. What this has to do with contradictions I fail to perceive. The statement in No. 3, if correctly quoted (and no page is given), is general and not specific. The Egos in lower kingdoms will become men -- but not in this Manvantara -- and then will have to begin the next Manvantara to help those below them. No assertion being made that the Egos thus lower now will be men in this Manvantara, there is no contradiction. In order to make a contradiction one has to import into the sentence that which is not in it nor strictly inferable, and this is not an allowed rule of construction. Especially so when the whole of the book is construed together. There are, therefore, not two different sorts of systems or evolutions present, but at most a slight want of clearness due to great condensation of a good deal into a small book. A better writer than I am would undoubtedly have prevented the slightest confusion in the reader. But in reading a book the best rule of construction is that which harmonizes the whole rather than one which finds errors by isolating sentences.


If the Ego does not ensoul the body of a child until seven years of age, how is the suffering under that age to be justified? Of what benefit can it be to the Ego?

W.Q.J. -- Certainly no child could suffer unless such were its Karma. And as some children do not suffer, the question may be put, why is it that such a child has only joy? The answer must be that such is its Karma. In the same way as to suffering: that is the Karma of the soul. It must be, too, that the Ego perceives the suffering and knows what it is for. The child may not, but even in one's life it often is seen in mature years why and for what certain sufferings were undergone. Take the case of a youth who has many hardships and privations from the very earliest moment, and who thereby has developed in him fortitude and other good qualities, but who might if always in easy circumstances in youth have become much less strong and not so good; the suffering here was of value. Again, take the cases of children of savages, who are subjected to what a civilized child would call suffering. In those there is no suffering at all unless we say there is an absolute definition of what suffering is. But while it is said the soul does not gain full possession of the body until seven as a general rule, it is Karma alone that leads the soul to that body, and hence all the suffering or the joy is exactly the property of that soul through the molecules of the body, as we should always remember that the whole man, body and soul, is united as one, and the mass of molecules per se is as much the Karma of the incoming soul as any other circumstance, environment, or quality. The question is not to be determined solely on the ground of "benefit to the Ego," but from the point of view of cause and effect, of relation and of Karma.


Does Theosophy teach that this earth is the hell of this planetary system? And, if so, does each solar system have its own hell?

W.Q.J. -- Very many writers affirm it to be their opinion that the real hell is this earth, but it is not clear that such is the view "of Theosophy," meaning thereby the exact truth. It was taught, apparently, by Buddha that there is a hell after death of the body, and some of the conditions of Kama-Loka are a hell most surely; it is also taught in Hinduism that there is a hell apart from earth-life. Some Kabalists seem to lean to the view that earth is hell, and when we consider the troubles of the soul therein it would appear to be so. For what could be more dreadful than to be living on the earth with a full knowledge that your acts will lead to a worse state after death and may finally blot out the soul? But in my opinion the question of hell, like that of heaven, is to be decided on a consideration of a man as a thinker who thinks always and who is because he is a thinker. Hence his life at any time or place must be the result of his thoughts, must be founded on his thoughts, and have its color and effect from his thoughts. So if after the death of the body his thoughts before that naturally lead to the weaving of a beautiful, heavenly web, he will reside in those thoughts until they are exhausted, and then coming back to earth again his only hell will be this life. But if, enjoying himself or not here, he indulges in those thoughts that inevitably lead to the bitterness of a black life in Kama-Loka, then his hell must be a stage or condition of that state of the very worst description, to which earth-life is heaven in comparison; in his case the return to life here would be heaven and the other life hell. This leads me to the conclusion that the very lowest and worst hell must be a condition of the mind, and that it must have place out of a body and hence be a stage or degree of Kama-Loka. This would explain the various statements as to bells, because the awful condition that some souls must be in after the limitations of the body are shaken off, would be of just the sort described, and their particular locus should be in the vicinity of the earth, as that is the representative of the grossest form of matter.

If the law of analogy is to rule, then other worlds must have their own hells of this sort; but the solar system seems to be quite a large enough subject for us to be content with for the present. But it seems to me that all the theories of hell, no matter of what awful variety, are founded on the life of the mind and the soul, and to be drawn from descriptions of that life according to natural results. A dream of oppressive character will give some idea of what a hell may be, for there the mind devoid of body is suffering that which the body afterwards knows to be wholly of thought.


Is the sixth principle (Buddhi), in union with the fifth principle (Manas) acting as spiritual consciousness, identical with what has been called "the voice of conscience"?

W.Q.J. -- The voice of conscience may be said to be Manas guided by Buddhi, but at the same time the Atman must also be concerned or there would be no real spiritual basis and no true certainty nor justice in the moving influence of conscience. Call the voice of conscience the voice of the Higher Self and you will be nearer right, and certainly safer from falling into a mere intellectual conception of the Soundless Sound that is very difficult to hear.


Two inferences may be drawn from Theosophical writings with regard to the Ego of man: one, that the Ego is a direct incarnation of a god descended from a higher plane to take up its abode in the human form evolved for its use by Nature; the other, that the Ego is latent until the body is sufficiently evolved, when the Ego gradually awakens to activity. While aware that there is only an apparent contradiction, I should be glad to see the two conceptions reconciled.

W.Q.J. -- Unless the questioner has some special and peculiar meaning for "direct incarnation," there does not appear to be any actual or apparent contradiction between the two inferences stated. What the special meaning is I do not know. Assume that the Ego is a "god on a higher plane," and there is no impossibility in supposing that, coming to this plane, it is so surrounded by the clouds of matter as to become latent or hidden until the time when the form suitable for this plane is evolved. This is the only sort of latency which can be alleged of the Ego. This also is what Theosophical writings say to me, and among those writings I place The Bhagavad-Gita. In that, Krishna, the Supreme Being, identifies himself with Isvara, who is the Ego "seated in the hearts of all beings." Patanjal also says the same, naming that Ego, who is the Spectator of all things, by the name Om or Lord of Glory. The Secret Doctrine continues the same view. The Christian view and Theosophy must also agree, since Jesus, in exhorting his disciples to be as perfect as the Father in heaven, must have had in view the doctrine that the Father dwelt in and is Man: otherwise we could not become perfect as he is. I therefore do not see the need for reconciling contradictions which do not exist.

The Ego -- meaning thereby the Self, Isvara, Krishna, the Supreme -- is unborn, changeless, all-knowing. It knows evolving Nature, the instrument, but the latter comes but slowly to a knowledge of the Self. It is therefore latent only in the sense that there are periods when the instrument, the false personality, recognizes it not. Such a period is the present, when although the body has been evolved by Nature -- with the aid of the Ego -- we do not know the Ego. Why not, then, if the inferences of the question are right, apply them to the present time? If thus applied, then, under the position thus taken, the Ego is still latent and will be until Manas is fully developed in a succeeding round.

To assume that the Ego is latent until Nature has had time to evolve the suitable form is to give to Nature power and consciousness which we withhold from the Ego. Why, then, not call Nature the Ego and do away altogether with the latter? Or you would have to assume a God beyond and above both Nature and Ego. The universe is either self-existent or it was projected into existence by some being whom we will call God. The Ego either was created by this God or is this God in itself. If the universe was not projected but is self-existent, then it and the Ego are one -- God. Hence Nature in "evolving a body" which the Ego chooses to use is only showing forth the action of one of the powers of that Ego. But we can never solve the question of why the Universe or the Ego chooses to have two sides or ends, the negative and positive. All we know is that it must be so. The negative is -- Nature, qualities, false personality, matter; the positive is -- God, Ego, Spirit, Life.


In what way and through whom have the special efforts been made by the Masters the last quarter of each century to bring about the results now attempted through the T.S.

W.Q.J. -- On the belief held by so many that the Masters have acted through the T.S. and have done so before in other centuries, many names might be mentioned as possibly those who at other times have been made or induced to act to the same end. Jacob Boehme seems to be one. He was acted on thus and wrote much in the same line, though with a Christian and anthropomorphic tendency and bias. He was followed by many, and to this day has influence through his books. He was very ignorant as the world goes, but showed great interior learning. He was a poor shoemaker. He was once interviewed by a total stranger who told him he was destined to wield such an influence, and never saw the person again. De Saint-Martin in France was another, and Count de Saint-Germain, both having, as would appear from their writings, a knowledge of the source of their inspiration absent from Boehme. De Saint-Martin was learned and had much correspondence with other lands on these very matters, but of course not so specific in detail. Cagliostro was another, and from all the records left of him, much of which was used by the novelist Dumas, he was an active agent of similar influences and spoke the same words and dealt in similar matters. He was not a charlatan, but was a man of great power. At the same time was Swedenborg, who was an unconscious instrument, but one who wielded a very great influence in all directions even down to the present day. His theories were in advance of the time.

As to the manner of setting the work going, it differs with each place and time, and according to the time assumes a different phase. Boehme, for instance, was moved from within, and Swedenborg the same, for if an Adept has the powers credited to him it is easy for him to inject the right thought and aspiration at the right time to bring on the desired effect. In the case of H. P. Blavatsky we have one who evidently was fully aware of the work and who and what was at work. Hence her greater and wider power. This was exactly in accordance with the times she lived in, for now thought and religion are free; and hence, as she said, the time was come to make it more plain and definite. Doubtless at the next messenger's coming it will be plainer still, as it is not likely the world will go back to barbarism.


Is it an advantage or otherwise for a child to be psychic? If an adult is mediumistic, is it to be regarded as an evil, or, properly trained, is it a help on the Path? If sometimes a person suddenly feels impelled -- the words tumbling out of one's mouth, as it were -- to foretell future events, which more often than not come true, is that mediumship and to be avoided? There is no seeing or hearing, only an impelling force: is that to be struggled against? These questions have come up in our Branch. 

W.Q.J. -- If a child is born as a psychic in a family where the true philosophy of life is understood, so that right training is given to faculties so much misunderstood and abused, then such psychic inheritance might become a boon. When the opposite is the case -- as will generally be in these days -- then the difficulties and dangers may be many. However, the question seems profitless to me, because birth, like death, is inevitable for all who are born -- it is a fact, and so will the possession of psychic powers be a fact. To be born in a wise family is fortunate, to come into a wicked one may be the reverse.

Mediumship, in general, is not a blessing, but often the opposite. Preliminary inquiry should be made to see if proper training can be had, if right knowledge of philosophy is possessed by the person. But as mediumship means -- as now used -- being under the control of some other power or consciousness than one's own, then it ought to be avoided. Inspiration from or by one's Higher Ego is not mediumship; it is illumination. It cannot be secured save by discipline, altruism, charity, deep love, and highest aspiration.

The editor has excellently answered the query referring to prophetic and other utterances. If those come naturally they ought to be allowed. No selfish use should be made of the power, and if the utterer remains pure in motive, thought, and act, sufficient protection will be afforded by the power of those virtues. Lastly, I should think that questions like these are not profitable for Branches. They relate wholly to phenomena which cannot be understood nor explained until one has thoroughly and accurately grasped the philosophy of man's nature. They are matters more for personal and individual attention and investigation than for the serious consideration of a Branch.


If we follow out the Law of Analogy, would we not naturally suppose that other worlds, in this or any other chain, would have similar forms if in the same state of development? Would not those inhabiting them, if endowed with reason and Manas, naturally have forms similar to ours? Would not the chemical conditions be similar to our own? I ask because there seems to be a difference of opinion. The great ocean of nebular matter from which worlds are formed must have been of one and the same matter, operated on by the same force, moved by the same Spirit.

W.Q.J. -- I do not think the law of analogy will show that in other worlds, save those that go through the same sort of evolution, the human being will have the same form as ourselves. The law of analogy as to plan and general matters may apply, but form is something that is infinite in variety not only here but probably everywhere. If here we find, as we do, an almost endless difference as to form, then why should we suppose that in other worlds the same form for man obtains? I do not think it does. Nor do I think that the form we now have is the one we will have for our bodies in the distant future, nor that it was the first form man had on this globe. He began, in my opinion, quite differently, and will end for this earth as different as he began. Of course as to this we have definite statements from H.P.B. alone, but hers seem to me to agree with general laws and with the course of evolution.

Take, for instance, what she says as to the pineal gland, its former use and future possibilities. She shows quite strongly that at one time it was on the outside of the frame and had its use as an eye, and asserts that in the far future it will again be in use with the other two, thus making three. This will be a substantial variation. Similarly as to the spinal column: she says later there will be two, and this would add another variety. And so on, could we go through many other departments. For if, as she says, the Fifth Race will witness the coming out in the air of a new and now unknown element that will correspond to fully-developed Manas, that must also produce greater difference and variety. So if we find now so much difference here as to form and think there may be still more for the future, what ground is there for supposing that on other worlds men will have or do have our form?

But there is another reason for the negative answer. It is in the septenary necessities of nature. Each of the companion globes has its place, use, and evolution for the race which goes around the whole chain of seven, and on each a different form might be the one appropriate, for there all will be quite different and just as real then as what we have here is real to us. And if similar great laws prevail elsewhere, as we are bound to think, then the differences as to form must be entirely beyond comprehension now.

While it is held to be true that one law and one spirit are in and under the whole, it is also held that that great whole has in itself, as we can see from a view of nature, infinite possibilities for change of form, function, power, environment, or anything else. So I am not able to see how a difference of opinion can rightly arise on the point raised, since to hold the contention that the forms must be similar is to say in effect that nature does not and will not change and has not, and did not present to our eyes and perception the most wonderful variety of form. The facts seem to throw the burden upon those who think the form must be the same, for all the facts as far back as we can go are against that view.

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