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The questions contained in this book have been asked of the writer after lectures delivered by him in various cities, and, in most cases, the questions reveal a certain knowledge of the subject on the part of the inquirer.
For the benefit of those who are not familiar with The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, it may be well to give the following information concerning the philosophy and the terms used. With that key, it will be easy for anyone to understand the answer to the questions. It may also be in place to state at this point that each question has been answered regardless of what has been said in answer to any other question, so that each answer is complete in itself. This has occasioned repetition of some things said in answer to one questions when replying to another which is similar, but it will be found that in all cases where there is such repetition it presents a new aspect of the subject, so that the writer has no apology to make, for he considers the method used of greater value than a reference to some other answer which perhaps the inquirer might not have time to look up.
The Rosicrucian Philosophy teaches that man is a complex being who possesses:
(1) A Dense Body, which is the visible instrument he uses here in this world to fetch and carry; the body we ordinarily think of as the whole man.
(2) A Vital Body, which is made of Ether and pervades the visible body as ether permeates all other forms, except that human beings specialize a greater amount of the universal ether than other forms. That ethereal body is our instrument for specializing the vital energy of the sun.
(3) A Desire Body, which is our emotional nature. This finer vehicle pervades both the vital and dense bodies. It is seen by clairvoyant vision to extend about 16 inches outside our visible body, which is located in the center of this ovoid cloud as the yolk is in the center of an egg.
(4) The Mind, which is a mirror, reflecting the outer world and enabling the Ego to transmit its commands as thought and word, also to compel action. The Ego is the threefold spirit which uses these vehicles to gather experience in the school of life.
Question: If we were pure spirit and a part of an all-knowing God, why was it necessary for us to take this long pilgrimage of sin and sorrow through matter?
Answer: In the beginning of manifestation, God differentiated within Himself a multitude of potential spiritual intelligences as sparks are emitted by a fire. These spiritual intelligences were thus potential flames or fires, but they were not yet fires, for, though endowed with the all-consciousness of God, they lacked self-consciousness; being potentially omnipotent as God, they lacked dynamic power available for use at any moment according to their will; and in order that these qualities might be evolved it was imperative that they should go through matter. Therefore, during Involution each Divine Spark was encased in various vehicles of sufficient density to shut off the outer world from its consciousness. Then the spirit within, no longer able to contact the without, turns and finds Itself. With wakening self-consciousness comes the spirit's struggle to free itself from its prison, and during evolution the various vehicles which the spirit possess will be spiritualized into soul, so that, at the end of manifestation, the spirit will not only have gained self-consciousness but also soul-power.
There is a tendency upon the part of most people to believe that all that is the result of something else, leaving no place for any original new building. Those who study life usually speak only of Involution and Evolution; those who study the form, namely, the modern scientists, are concerned with Evolution only, but the most advanced among them are now beginning to find another factor, which they have called Epigenesis. Already, in 1757, Caspar Wolff issued his Theorea Generations, wherein he showed that in the development of the ovum, there are a series of new buildings not at all foreshown by what has gone before, and Haeckel, endorsing this work, says that nowadays we are no longer justified in called epigenesis a theory. For it is a fact which we may demonstrate, in the case of the lower forms where the changes are rapid, under a microscope. Since the mind was given to man, it is this original creative impulse, epigenesis, which has been the cause of all our development. Truly do we build upon that which has been already created, but there is also something new due to the activity of the spirit and thus it is that we become creators, for if we only imitated that which had already been laid out for us by God or Angel, it would never be possible for us to become creative intelligences; we would simply be imitators. And even though we make mistakes, it may be said that we often learn much more by our mistakes than by our successes. The sin and the suffering which the inquirer speaks about are merely the result of the mistakes we make, and their impression upon our consciousness causes us to be active along other lines which are found to be good—that is to say, in harmony with nature. Thus this world is a training school and not a vale of tears wherein we have been placed by a capricious God.
Question: If "God made man a little lower than the angels," how is it possible that man is ultimately to become their superior in the spiritual world?
Answer: This question reveals a misapprehension upon the part of the inquirer. It has never been so stated in the Rosicrucian teachings, but something has been said which may have been so misconstrued. The fact of the matter is that evolution moves in a spiral and there is never a repetition of the same condition. Angels are an earlier stream of evolution who were human in a previous incarnation of the earth, called the Moon Period among Rosicrucians. The Archangels were the humanity of the Sun Period and the Lords of Mind, called by Paul the "Powers of Darkness," were the humanity of the dark Saturn Period. We are the humanity of the fourth period of the present scheme of manifestation, the Earth Period. As all beings in the universe are progressing, the humanity of the previous periods have also progressed so that they are now at a higher stage than they were when they were human-they are superhuman. Therefore, it is perfectly true that God made man a little lower than the Angels. But as everything is in a state of spiral progression, it is also true that our present humanity is a higher and more evolved humanity than the Angels were; and that the Angels were a higher order of humanity than the Archangels were when they were human. In the next step we shall attain something like the stage of the Angels at the present time, but we shall be superior to what they are now.
Question: Why should it be necessary for us to come into this physical existence? Could we not have learned the same lessons without being imprisoned and limited by the dense conditions of the material world?
Answer: The New Testament was written in Greek originally, and the word logos means both word and the thought which precedes the word, so that when John tells us in the first chapter of his Gospel that "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God," we may also translate the verse: In the beginning was the thought, and the word was with God, and God was the word. Everything exists by virtue of that fact (the word). In that is "life."
Everything that exists in the universe was first a thought, that thought then manifesting as a Word, a Sound, which built all Forms and itself manifested as the Life within those forms. That is the process of creation, and man, who was made in the image of God, creates in the same way to a certain extent. He has the capability of thinking; he may voice his thoughts and in that way, where he is not capable of carrying out his ideas alone, he may secure the help of others to realize them. But a time is coming when he will create directly by the word of his mouth, so that when in time he becomes able to use His Word to create directly he will know how. That training is absolutely necessary. At the present time he would make many mistakes. Besides, he is not yet good-he would bring into being demoniac creations.
In the earliest dawn of man's endeavor, he used the solids; muscular force was his only means of performing work, and from bones and stones which he picked up from the ground, he shaped his first crude instruments to be wielded by his arm. Then came a time when in a crude dug-out he first trusted himself to the waters; a liquid and the water wheel was the first machinery. The liquid is already much stronger than the solid. A wave will raze the decks of a ship, tear out masts and twist the stoutest iron bar as it were a thin wire; but water power is a stationary force and therefore limited to work in its immediate vicinity. When man learned to use the still more subtle force which we call air, it became possible for him to erect windmills in any place to do his work and sailing vessels brought the whole world into communication. Thus, man's next step in unfoldment was achieved by the use of a force still subtler than water and more universally applicable than that element. But wind was fickle and not to be depended upon; therefore, the advancement in human civilization achieved by its use paled into insignificance when man discovered how to utilize the still more subtle gas which is called steam, for that can be made anywhere and everywhere, and the progress of the world has been enormous since its advent. There is, however, the drawback to its utility that steam-power requires cumbersome transmission machinery. This drawback is practically eliminated by using a still subtler force, more readily transmissible; electricity, which is altogether invisible and intangible.
Thus, we see that the progress of man in the past has depended upon the utilization of forces of increasing subtlety, each force in the scale being more readily capable of transmission than the ones previously available, and we can readily realize that further progress depends upon the discovery of still finer forces transmissible with still greater facility. We know that that which we call wireless telegraphy is accomplished without even the use of wires, but even that system is not ideal, for it depends upon energy generated in a central plant, which is stationary. It involves the use of costly machinery and is, therefore, out of reach of the majority. The ideal force would be a power which man could generate from himself at any moment without machinery.
A few decades ago Jules Verne thrilled us with delight when he conjured up before our imagination the submarine boat, the trip around the earth in eighty days, etc. Today the things he pictured have become facts surpassing even his imagination, and the day will come when we shall have available for use a power plant such as spoken of above. Bulwer Lytton, in his "Coming Race," has pictured to us a force called "Vril," which certain imaginary beings are possessed of and which they can use to propel themselves over land, through the air and in various other ways. Such a force is latent within every one of us, and we speak of it sometimes as emotion. We feel its far-reaching power at times as temper when it is unleashed, and say "a man has lost control of himself." No amount of work can so tire the physical body and wreck it as when the enormous energy of the desire body is let loose in a fit of temper. Usually, at the present time, this enormous force sleeps, and it is well that it should be so until we have learned to use it by means of thought, which is a still more subtle force. This world is a school to teach us how to use these two subtle forces—the power of thought and the power of emotion.
An illustration will make clear how this world serves that purpose. An inventor gets an idea. The idea is not yet a thought, it is but as it were a flash which has not yet taken shape, but gradually he visualizes it in mind stuff. He forms in his thought a machine, and before his mental vision that machine appears with the wheels revolving this way and that, as necessary to accomplish the required work. Then he commences to draw the plans for the machine, and even at that stage of concretion it will most certainly appear that modification are necessary. Thus we see that already the physical conditions show the inventor where his thought was not correct. When he builds the machine in appropriate material for the accomplishment of the work, there are usually more modifications necessary. Perhaps, he may be obliged to throw the first machine away, entirely rearrange his conception and build a new machine. Thus the concrete physical conditions have enabled him to detect the flaw in his reasoning; they force him to make the necessary modifications in his original thought to bring out a machine that will do the work. Had there been only a World of Thought, he would not have known that he had made a mistake, but the concrete physical conditions show him where his thought was wrong.
The Physical World teaches the inventor to think aright, and his successful machines are the embodiments of right thought.
In the mercantile, social or philanthropic endeavors, the same principle holds good. If our ideas concerning the various matters in life are wrong, they are corrected when brought into so-called practical uses and thus this world is an absolute necessity to teach us how to wield the power of thought and desire, these forces being held in leash to a great extent at the present time by our material conditions. But as time goes on and we learn to think aright more and more, we shall at last obtain such a power of thought and we shall be able to think the right thought at once in every case without experimenting, and then we shall also be able to speak our thought into actual being, as a thing. There was a time, in the far, far past, when man was yet a spiritual being and when the conditions of earth were more plastic. Then he was taught directly by the Gods to use the word as a means of creation and he worked thus formatively on the animals and the plants. We are told in the Bible that God brought the animals to man and he named them. This naming was not simply calling a lion a lion, but it was a formative process that gave man a power over the thing he named, and it was only when selfishness, cruelty and unbridled anger unfitted him for the mastership that the word of power spoken of by the masons was lost. When holiness shall have again taken the place of profanity, the word will be found again and will be the creative power of the divine man in a future age.
Question: If this earth life is so important and really the basis of all our soul growth, the latter resulting from the experiences we gain here, why is our earth life so short in comparison with the life in the inner worlds, approximating a thousand years between two earth lives?
Answer: All that is in this world which has been made by the hand of man is crystallized thought; the chairs upon which we sit, the houses in which we live, the various conveniences, such as telephone, steamship, locomotive, etc. were once a thought in the mind of man. If it had not been for that thought, the thing would never have appeared. In similar manner, the trees, the flowers, the mountain and the seas are crystallized thought forms of the nature forces. Man, when he leaves this body after death and enters the Second Heaven, becomes one with those nature forces he works under the direction of the creative hierarchies, making for himself the environment which is necessary for his next step in unfoldment. There he builds in mind stuff" the archetypes of the land and the sea; he works upon the flora and the fauna; he creates everything in his environment as thought forms, as he changes the conditions, so they appear when he is reborn.
But working things out in mind stuff is very different from working thinks out in the concrete. At the present time we are very poor thinkers, and therefore it takes an enormous period of time for us to shape the thought forms in the second heaven; then, also, we must wait a considerable time before these thought forms have crystallized into the actual dense physical environment to which we are to come back. Therefore, it is necessary that we should stay in the Heaven World for a much longer time than we remain in the earth life. When we have learned to think aright, we shall be able to create things here in the Physical World in a much shorter time than it now takes to laboriously form them. Neither will it be necessary then to stay out of earth life as long as the present time.
Question: How long will it be before we can do without the physical bodies, and function altogether in the spiritual worlds again?
Answer: This question reveals a state of mind which is all too common among people who have become acquainted with the fact that we possess spiritual bodies in which we may move through space with lightning rapidity, bodies which do not need the material raiment and, therefore, will require no care on the part of their owners. These people long then for the time when they may grown such figurative wings and shed this "low and vile mortal coil" altogether.
Such a state of mind is extremely unfortunate. We should be very thankful for the material instrument which we have, for that is the most valuable of all our vehicles. While it is perfectly true that our physical body is the lowest of all our vehicles, it is also a fact that this vehicle is the most finished of our instruments, and without that the other vehicles would be of little use to us at this time. For while this splendidly organized instrument enables us to meet the thousand and one conditions here, our higher vehicles are practically unorganized. The vital body is formed organ for organ as our dense physical body, but until it has been trained by esoteric exercises it is not a fit instrument to function in alone. The desire body has only a number of sense centers which are not even active in the great majority of people, and as for the mind, it is an unformed cloud with the great majority. We should aim today to spiritualize the physical instrument, and we should realize that we must train our higher vehicles before they can be of use. For the great mass of people that will take a long, long time. Therefore, it is best to do the duty that is close to our hands, then we hasten the day when we shall be able to use the higher vehicles, for that day depends upon ourselves.
Question: Does the spirit enter the body at the time of conception or at the time of birth?
Answer: It has been ascertained by clairvoyant investigation that at the time of death the spirit takes with it the forces of one little atom located in the left ventricle of the heart, which is called the seed atom, for its the nucleus or seed around which all the material in the body gathers, and every atom in the body must be capable of vibrating in unison with that seed atom. Therefore, that atom is deposited in the semen of the father some time previous to conception, and later placed in the womb of the mother. But conception is not at all identical with the time of sexual union of the parents. The impregnated spermatozoa is sometimes not imbedded in the ovum until fourteen days after the union of the parents. It is this impregnation of the ovum that may be called the time of conception, for from the moment when the impregnated ovum leaves the Fallopian tube the period of gestation commences. During the first eighteen to twenty-one days, all the work is done by the mother, but at that time the reincarnating Ego, clothed in a bell-shaped cloud of desire and mind stuff, enters the womb of the mother and the bell-shaped cloud closes at the bottom so that it is then ovoid, or egg-shaped . Then the spirit is definitely enmeshed in the flesh and cannot escape any more, but must stay with the mother until liberated by birth. In the present stage of our unfoldment, the spirit does very little conscious work upon its coming vehicle, but it is present all the time and helps unconsciously in the task of providing its instrument. This is no more remarkable than that we are able to digest our food and work our respiratory organs without being conscious of the process.
Question: What was the purpose in the division of the sexes?
Answer: The division of the sexes was brought about at a very early stage of man's evolution, when he had as yet no brain or larynx. One-half of the creative force was then turned upward in order that these two organs might be built. The brain was made for the evolution of thought whereby man creates in the Physical World. Houses, cities, steamships, railways, everything made by the hand is crystallized human thought. The larynx was also made by the creative sex-force in order that man might express his thoughts. The connection between those organs will be evident when we remember that the boy who possesses the positive creative force changes his voice at the time of puberty, when he is first able to procreate his kind; also that the man who abuses his sex-force becomes an idiot, while the profound thinker who uses nearly all his creative force in thought will have little or no inclination for amorous practices.
Prior to this division man was, like some plants today, a complete creative unit capable of perpetuating his kind without the help of another. The faculties of thought and speech have been bought at the loss of this creative power; but now that half of the creative force which is expressed through brain and larynx may be used to create things in the world—houses, ships, etc.
Question: Is the soul of a woman masculine and the soul of a man feminine?
Answer: Speaking generally, we might say "yes," the vital body which is eventually transformed, transmuted and spiritualized into soul is of the opposite sex. It is formed organ for organ exactly like the dense physical body with this one exception, and this elucidates many facts otherwise unexplainable. The faculties inherent in the vital body are growth, propagation, assimilation and memory. The woman having the positive vital body is matured earlier than the male, the parts which remain plant-like, such as, for instance, the hair, grows longer and more luxuriant, and naturally a positive vital body will generate more blood than the negative vital body possessed by the masculine, hence we have in woman a greater blood pressure, which it is necessary to relieve by the periodical flow, and when that ceases at the climacteric period there is a second growth in woman, particularly well expressed in the saying "fat and forty."
The impulses of the desire body drive the blood through the system at varying rates of speed, according to the strength of the emotions. Woman, having an excess of blood, works under much higher pressure than man, and while this pressure is relieved by the periodical flow, there are times when it is necessary to have an extra outlet; then the tears of woman, which are white bleeding, act as a safety valve to remove the excessive fluid. Men, although they may have as strong emotions as women, are not given to tears because they have no more blood than they can comfortably use.
Being positively polarized in the Etheric Region of the Physical World, the sphere of woman has been the home and the church where she is surrounded by love and peace, while man fights the battle of the strong for the survival of the fittest, without quarter in the dense Physical World, where he is positive.
Question: Do we keep the same temperament through all our lives?
Answer: The Ego may be likened unto a precious stone, a diamond in the rough. When it is taken out of the earth the stone is far from beautiful; a rough coating hides the splendor within, and before the rough diamond becomes a gem, it must be polished upon the hard grindstone. Each application to the stone removes a part of the rough coat and grinds a facet through which the light enters and is refracted at a different angle from the light thrown back by the other facets.
So it is with the Ego. A diamond in the rough, it enters the school of experience, the pilgrimage through matter, and each life is as an application of the gem to the stone. Each life in the school of experience removes part of the roughness of the Ego and admits the light of intelligence at a new angle, giving a different experience, and thus as the angles of light vary in the many facets of the diamond, so the temperament of the Ego differs in each life. In each life we can show forth only a small part of our spiritual natures, we can realize only a small part of the splendor of our divine possibilities, but every life tends to make us more rounded and our temperaments become more even. In fact, it is the work upon the temperament that is the principal part of our lesson, for self-mastery is the goal. As Goethe says,
"From every power which all the world enchains,
Man liberates himself when self-control he gains."
Question: Is the desire body subject to sickness and does it need nutrition and replenishment?
Answer: In a certain sense it is, during earth life; that is to say, sickness shows itself first in the desire body and in the vital body, which become thinner in texture and do not specialize the vital fluid in the same proportion as usual during health. Then the dense physical body becomes sick. When recovery takes place the higher vehicles show improvement before the manifestation of health is apparent in the physical world.
But if the inquirer means to ask concerning conditions after death, the matter is different. Although a person may be sick here, perhaps bedridden for years and unable to move about, when death has taken place, and he feels himself without the dense body, there is at once a sense of relief, a feeling of gladness and lightness which is unusual to him, and he suddenly wakes up to the fact that he has no pain and is able to move about. If he understands conditions, he will also know that it is unnecessary for him to take nourishment, for the desire vehicle needs no replenishment. Many people, however, are not aware of the fact and therefore we find in the lower regions of the Desire World that sometimes they will go through all the motions of ordinary house keeping. Hence the stories of some spiritualistic investigators, who have found these conditions in the Invisible World; and this also accounts for a great deal of that which George du Maurier has told of the life of Peter Ibbetson and the Countess of Towers, in his novel bearing the hero's name. This novel is recommended to the reader as giving a fine illustration of the operation of the subconscious memory where the hero deals with his child-life, and of actual conditions in the lower regions of the Invisible World, where his experiences with the countess are concerned.
Question: How is it that one atones for all sin in purgatory, then at rebirth must again suffer through the law of cause and effect for sins of a former life?
Answer: There are two distinct activities in Purgatory. First, there is the eradication of bad habits. For instance, the drunkard craves drink just as much as he did before death, but now he has no stomach and alimentary canal wherein to contain the liquor, so that, although he may go around to the various saloons, although he may even get inside the whiskey casks and steep himself in the liquor, he obtains no satisfaction, for there are no fumes as when chemical combustion takes place in a stomach. Thus he suffers all the tortures of Tantalus—"Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink."
But, as desire in this world burns out when we realize that is cannot be gratified, so in time the drunkard is cured of his desire for drink, because he can obtain no liquor, and he is born innocent of evil so far as that particular vice is concerned. However, he must overcome that vice consciously, and so at a certain time temptation will come in his way. When he has grown up a companion may ask him to "come and have a drink." Then it depends upon whether he yields or not. If he does, he sins anew and must be purged anew, till at last the cumulative pains of repeated purgatorial existence will cause him to have a disgust for drink. Then he will have consciously overcome temptation and there will be no more suffering from that source.
As to the evil that we have done to others, for instance, where we have dealt cruelly with a child placed under our care, where we have beaten and starved it or otherwise maltreated it, the scenes where we have thus done wrong will have impressed themselves upon the atom in the heart; later on, the etching will have been transferred to the desire body and the panorama of life, which unrolls backward, will again bring these scenes before our consciousness. We shall then ourselves feel as the child felt who was our victim; we shall feel the stripes that we inflicted just as the child felt them; we shall feel the mental anguish and mortification, we shall suffer pang for pang, and then, when we are reborn, we shall meet our victim and have the opportunity to do good to the victim instead of doing evil. If we do so, well and good; if our old enmity asserts itself as before, then further stripes in the next Purgatory will at last cause us to see that we ought to be merciful to those under our care. So we do not suffer anew for sins of a former life; we are born innocent through the blessed ministrations of Purgatory, and at least every evil act we commit is an act of free will. But temptations are placed before us in order to ascertain whether the purging has been sufficient to teach us the needed lessons, and it is our privilege either to yield or to stand strong and firm for the good.
Question: Is conscience the voice of God or of our guardian angel?
Answer: When the spirit passes out of the body at death, the panorama of its past life passes before it during the first three and one-half days after its release from the body. These pictures are etched into the desire body and form the basis of life in Purgatory and the First Heaven, which are located in the Desire World. The past life is reproduced in pictures shifting backward so that the scenes which happened just previous to death are first gone over; then follows the life toward childhood and infancy. In Purgatory only the scenes where the soul did wrong are re-enacted, and the soul sees itself as being the one whom it wronged and suffers as those suffered whom it wronged in earth life. The record of these sufferings is indelibly engraved upon the seed atom, which is the only part of the dense body the soul takes with it and keeps permanently from life to life. This is, in a way, the "book" of the "Recording Angel," and as the suffering caused by a certain act has been engraved upon this seed atom in Purgatory, it is evident that when in a new life similar circumstances arise and the old temptations come before us, the suffering which we experienced because of that wrong deed is present in the seed atom to warn us that such and such a course of action is wrong. That is the "voice of conscience," and if the suffering entailed in Purgatory was sufficiently intense, we shall have the power to resist whatever temptation comes before us. If, on the other hand, from certain different causes, the suffering was not keen enough, we may yield permanently or temporarily in another life to the same temptations that cost suffering in previous lives; we may yield even against the small murmurings of conscience. But when we are released from our bodies and pass into Purgatory the next time, we shall there have the added suffering caused by our yielding to temptation, and the cumulative effects of this suffering will at last be sufficient to restrain us from the course which caused us pain.
When a temptation has come before us in an earth life and has been put aside consciously, we have learned the lesson and conscience has accomplished its purpose.
Replying definitely to the question, we may therefore say that conscience is the spirit's memory of past sufferings occasioned by the mistakes in previous lives.
Question: What is genius?
Answer: From the ordinary standpoint, genius seems to be an accident. The theory of heredity will not account for it, for sometimes the most commonplace people bring a child into the world which is a genius, and the most highly educated and intellectual people have idiots for their children. At other times we find both idiots and geniuses in the same family. In fact, insanity and genius may be said to be the two extremes where the mental qualities of humanity meet.
If we try to account for genius by heredity, we cannot help asking ourselves why there is not a long line of mechanical ancestors before Thomas Edison, who might then be regarded as the flower of a family. But we find that in all cases the appearance of genius is not possible of deduction to any law when viewed from the mere material standpoint.
When we bring the law of causation and its companion law, the law of rebirth, to bear upon the problem, the matter is very different. This theory asserts that earth life is a school of experience; that at each new birth we are born with the accumulated experiences of all our past lives as our stock in trade, our capital; that some of us have attended this school of experience during many lives, and have gathered much store. Perhaps we have developed one particular faculty more than others, so that we have become extremely expert in one special line of endeavor. That is genius.
In order to express some of our faculties, for instance, music, it is necessary that we should have certain physical characteristics such as long and slender fingers, a delicate nervous system, and, particularly, the ear should be specially developed in order that we may express ourselves as musicians. Material required for that expression cannot be found anywhere, but the Law of Association would naturally draw a musician to other musicians, and there he will find ready to his hand the materials wherewith to build himself a body such as is required for the expression of his talent. Therefore, it sometimes seems as if musicians are born in families; for instance, twenty-nine musicians were born in the Bach family in two hundred and fifty years.
Question: Is a soul that is born as a woman always a woman in its after lives, and can it never become a man? And what is the time between incarnations?
Answer: No, the spirit is double-sexed and usually expresses itself in its successive lives alternately as man and woman. There are, however, sometimes cases where, according to the Law of Consequences, it is preferable that a spirit should appear for several successive lives in a certain sex.
The law is this:
As the sun moves backward among the twelve constellations by the movement which we call the precession of the equinoxes, the climate of the earth, the flora and fauna are slowly changed, thus making a different environment for the human race in each successive age. It takes the sun about two thousand years to go through one of the signs by precession, and in that time the spirit is usually born twice, once as a man and once as a woman. The changes which take place in the thousand years between incarnations are not so great but that the spirit will be able to extract the experiences of that environment from the standpoint of both man and woman.
However, there may sometimes be cases where the time is also changed. None of these laws are inflexible as the laws of the Medes and the Persians, but are administered by Great Intelligences for the benefit of mankind, so that conditions may be changed in order to fit the exigencies of individual cases. For instance, in the case of a musician. He cannot find the material wherewith to build his body everywhere. He needs particular help to build the three semi-circular canals of his ear in such a manner that they will point as nearly as possible in the three directions of space; he also needs special help to build the delicate fibers of Corti, for his ability to distinguish shades of tone depends upon these features.
In such a case, when a family of musicians with whom he has connection is in a position to give birth to a child, he may be brought there, though his stay in the Heaven World should not ordinarily terminate for another hundred years, for perhaps another opportunity might not offer for two or three hundred years after he should be born if the law were adhered to. Then, of course, such a man is ahead of his time, and not appreciated by the generation among which he lives. He is misunderstood, but even that is better than if he had been born later than he should have been, for then he would have been behind the times.
Thus it is that we so often see geniuses unappreciated by their contemporaries, though highly valued by succeeding generations who can understand their viewpoint.
Question: When a man pays his debts, cares for his family and lives a moral life here, will he not be all right hereafter?
Answer: No, there is something more required, and there are many people of just that belief who have a rather unenviable time in the Desire World after death. They are, of course, to be looked up to from the standpoint of this life only, but at the present time we are required to at least cultivate some altruistic tendencies in order to progress beyond our present evolutionary status.
We find the people who have neglected the higher duties in the fourth region of the Desire World after death. There is the business man who paid a hundred cents on the dollar, who dealt honestly by everyone; who worked for the material improvement of his city and country as a good citizen, paid his employees fair wages, treated his wife and family with consideration, gave them all possible advantages, etc. He may even through them have built a church, or at least given very liberally to it, or he may have built libraries or founded institutes, etc. But he did not give himself. He only took interest in the church for the sake of his family or for the sake of respectability; he had not heart in it, all his heart was in his business, in making money or attaining a worldly position.
When he enters the Desire World after death he is too good to go to Purgatory and not good enough to go to heaven. He has dealt justly with everyone and wronged nobody. Therefore, he has nothing to expiate. But neither has he done any good that could give him a life in the First Heaven where the good of his past life is assimilated. Therefore, he is in the fourth region—between Heaven and Hell, as it were. The fourth region is the center of the Desire World and the feeling there is most intense; the man still feels a keen desire for business, but there he can neither buy nor sell, and so his life is a most dreadful monotony.
All that he gave to the churches, institutes, etc., counts as nothing because of his lack of heart. Only when we give for love will the gift avail to bring happiness hereafter. It is not the amount that we give, but the spirit that accompanies the gift, which matters; therefore, it is within the power of everyone to give and thus benefit himself and others. Indiscriminate money giving, however, often causes people to become thriftless and indigent, but by giving heartfelt sympathy; by helping people to believe in themselves and start in life with fresh ardor when they have fallen by the wayside; by giving ourselves in services rendered humanity, we lay up treasure in heaven and give more than gold. Christ said: "The poor are with us always." We may not be able to bring them from poverty to riches and that may not be best for them, but we can encourage them to learn the lesson that is to be learned in poverty; we can help them to a better view of life, and unless the man who is in the position designated by the inquirer does that also, he will not be "all right" when he passes out; he will suffer that dreadful monotony in order to teach him that he must fill his life with something of real value, and thus in a succeeding life his conscience will spur him on to do something better than to grind out dollars, though he will not neglect his material duties, for that is as bad as to spurn spiritual endeavor.
Question: It is sometimes contended that we have a right to think what we will and are not responsible for our thoughts. Is that so from an esoteric point of view?
Answer: No, indeed; it is very much the reverse, and we do not need to go as far as what is usually called esotericism; we find that idea expressed by Christ in the sermon on the mount, where he tells us that "The man who has looked upon a woman with desire has, in fact, already committed adultery," and when we realize that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, we shall have a much clearer conception of life if we only take into consideration the acts of men, for every act is the outcome of a previous thought but these thoughts are not always our own.
When we strike a tuning fork, another tuning fork of the same pitch being near, not only the one which is struck will ring, but the other will also commence to sing in sympathy. Likewise, when we think a thought and another person in our environment has been thinking along the same line, our thoughts coalesce with his and strengthen him for good or evil according to the nature of the thought. It is no mere fancy when in the play called "The Witching Hour," the hero aims to help a scoundrel escape from the State of Kentucky, where the latter is about to be arrested for murder of the Governor. The hero, a man of considerable thought power feels that he may have prompted the criminal. He tells his sister that previous to the time of the murder he had thought that the murder could be committed just in the manner in which it was actually done. He is under the impression that his thought may have been caught by the brain of the murderer and have shown him the way to commit the murder.
When we go into a jury box and we see before ourselves the criminal, we behold only his act; we have no cognizance of the thought which prompted him. If we have been in the habit of thinking evil, malicious thoughts against one person or another, these thoughts may have been attractive to that criminal, and on the principle that when we have before ourselves a saturated solution of salt it will only take a single crystal to make that salt solution solidify, so also if a man has saturated his brains with thoughts of murder, the thought that we sent out may be the last straw breaking the back of the camel, destroying the last barrier which would have held him from committing the act.
Therefore, our thoughts are of vastly more importance than our acts, for if we will only think right, we shall always act right. No man can think love to his fellowmen; can scheme in his mind how to aid and help them, spiritually, mentally or physically, without acting out these thoughts at some time in his life, and if we will only cultivate such thoughts, we shall soon find sunshine spreading around us; we shall find that people will meet us in the same spirit that we send out, and if we could realize that the desire body (which surrounds each of us and extends about sixteen to eighteen inches beyond the periphery of the physical body) contains all these feelings and emotions, then we would meet people differently, for we would understand that everything we see is viewed through the atmosphere which we have created around ourselves which colors all we behold in others.
If, then, we see meanness and smallness in the people whom we meet, it would be well to look within to ascertain if it is not the atmosphere we are looking through which colors them thus. Let us see if we have not within ourselves those undesirable qualities, and then being to remedy the defect within ourselves. The man who is mean and small will appear mean to him for he will call out from others the very qualities which he manifests, on the principle that the vibration of a tuning fork of a certain pitch, when struck, will cause another of identical pitch to vibrate. On the other hand, if we cultivate a serene attitude, an attitude that is free from covetousness and is frankly honest and helpful, we shall call out the best in other people. Therefore let us realize that it is not until we have cultivated the better qualities in ourselves that we can expect to find them in others. We are thus in very truth responsible for our thoughts, we are indeed the keepers of our brothers, for as we think when we meet them, so do we appear to them, and they reflect our attitude. Applying the foregoing principle, if we want to obtain help to cultivate those better qualities, let us seek the company of people who are already good, for their attitude of mind will be of immense help to us to call forth in us the finer qualities.
Question: If a person is constantly bothered by evil thoughts which keep coming into his mind, although he is constantly fighting them, is there any way in which he can cleanse his mind so that he will think only pure and good thoughts?
Answer: Yes, there is, and a very easy way at that. The inquirer has himself suggested the chief difficulty in his question, when he says that he is constantly fighting these thoughts. If we take an illustration we shall see the point.
Supposing we have a particular dislike for a certain person whom we meet every day upon the street, perhaps a number of times. If we stop each time we meet that person and berate him for walking upon the street, for not keeping out of our sight, we are each time adding fuel to the fire of our enmity, we are stirring him up, and for pure spite he may seek to waylay us so much the more. Both like and dislike have a tendency to attract a thought or an idea to us, and the added thought force which we send out to fight evil thoughts will keep them alive and bring them to our mind the oftener, in the same way that quarreling will cause the person we dislike to waylay us for spite. But if, instead of fighting him, we adopt the tactics of indifference. If we turn our heads the other way when we meet him upon the street, he will soon grow tired of follow us; and, on the same principle, when thoughts of evil come into our minds. If we will but turn away with indifference and apply our minds to something that is good and ideal, we shall find in a short time that we are rid of their companionship and have only the good thoughts we desire to entertain.
Question: If woman is an emanation from man, as per the rib story, will she in the final return to unity be reabsorbed, losing her individuality in the masculine divinity?
Answer: The "rib story" is one of those instances of gross ignorance upon the part of the Bible translators—who possessed no esoteric knowledge—in dealing with the language of the Hebrews, which in writing was not divided into words and had no vowel points. By inserting vowels at different points and dividing words differently, various meanings to the same text may be obtained in many places. This is one case where a word pointed in one way reads "tsad" and in another way "tsela." The Bible translators read the story that the God had taken something from Adam's side ("tsela"), and they were puzzled as to what it was and so, perhaps, they thought it would have done him the least harm to take a rib ("tsad"), hence the foolish story.
The fact was that man had first been like the Gods, "made in their image," male and female, a hermaphrodite, and later one side was taken away so that he became divided into two sexes. It may be further said that the first organ which was developed as it is now was the female organ, the feminine side having always existed in everything before the masculine, which came later, and, according to the law in evolution, that "the first shall be the last," the feminine will remain a distinct sex longer than the masculine, and, therefore, the inquirer is altogether wrong in the supposition. It is the masculine that will be absorbed in the feminine. Even now it is seen that the masculine organ is gradually contracting at its base and will finally cease to be.
As for losing her individuality, such a thing is impossible, it is just the purpose of evolution that we should become individuals, self-conscious and separate during evolution, self-conscious and united during the interludes between manifestations.
Question: Why has woman been cursed by inequality, assumed inferiority and injustice since the beginning of human existence upon this plane?
Answer: In the first place, we must remember that the spirit is neither male nor female, but manifests in that way alternately, as a rule. We have all been men and we have all been women. Therefore there can be no question of inequality if we look at life from the larger point of view. Certain lessons must be learned by the spirit in each age which can only be learned from the standpoint of a woman, and there are other lessons only to be learned by incarnation in a male body. Therefore, of a necessity, there must be the change in sex. It sometimes happens, of course, that for reasons a person must appear as a male for several incarnations and then, of course, when he takes upon himself the female garb, it may jar considerably. In that case we have a very masculine woman, perhaps a suffragette of a militant nature. On the other hand, a spirit may sometimes have been embodied for several incarnations in a female garb and then may appear as a man of a very effeminate nature, a regular "sissy." But even upon the hypothesis of alternating incarnations, many of us probably were incarnated in Rome in the opposite sex, and taking the law of causation into consideration, the treatment of women by the men of that time was not such as to cause these Roman women when incarnated now as men to give any great concessions to their former masters.
Question: Why was the suffering of Marguerite so extreme and out of proportion to that of Faust, even to imprisonment and the death penalty, while his life, liberty and pursuit of happiness was unmolested?
Answer: This question has reference to one of the myths which have come down through the ages, and contrary to the popularly accepted opinion a myth is not a story made out of whole cloth, but is veiled truth, revealing in symbol great spiritual principles. These myths were given to infant humanity for the same reason that we give our children ethical teachings in nursery stories and picture books, which impress themselves upon the infant mind in a way intellectual teaching would be incapable of doing.
Goethe, who was an initiate, has treated this Faust myth in a way that is wonderfully illuminative, and the key to the problem is found in the prologue, which is laid in Heaven, much in the same way as we find in the opening of the Book of Job. The Sons of God appear before the Throne and the Devil among them, for he is also one of the Sons of God. He is given permission to try to seduce Faust in order that the spiritual activities may be called forth and virtue developed. It is one of our great mistakes to regard innocence and virtue as synonymous; every one among us is born innocent, he comes here without any evil, that has all been purged away, but he has certain tendencies which may develop into vice and, therefore, he must be tried in every life to see whether he will yield to temptation and embrace vice, or whether he will stand firm and develop virtue. Faust is tempted, he falls, but afterwards he sincerely repents and transmutes the evil forces to good, so that at last he is saved. Repentance and reform before death has wrought his salvation, the impure passion he felt for Marguerite gave place to his pure love for Helen. Marguerite also yields to the temptation, she repents and is saved by means of the forgiveness of sins. Thus in the case of one it is salvation by acts. By his energy, which dominates the evil forces, he builds a new land, a land where a free people may live under better conditions; he is seeking to lift humanity to a higher plane, and by that act, by his unselfish work for others, he is redeemed from the powers of evil. In Marguerite's case, salvation results from prayer and repentance. Thus we have in that drama, as represented by Goethe, a perfect symbol of the Western teaching that there is both the forgiveness of sins and the expiration of a wrong act by a corresponding right act. Death is something that comes to all and the suffering which was incident to the wrong act in each case is surely none the less in the case of Faust, where it was prolonged over a long period of years, than in the case of Marguerite, where the life is ended in a much shorter time. The only difference is that Faust has overcome consciously and will in future life be immune to temptation, while the case of Marguerite is problematical. In a future earth life she will yet have to meet temptation in order that it may be made manifest whether or not she has developed the strength of character requisite to withstand the wrong and adhere to the right.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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