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Death: And Life In Purgatory
Amid all the uncertainties which are the characteristics of the world, there is but one certainty—Death. At one time or another, after a short or a long life, comes this termination to the material phrase of our existence which is a birth into a new world, as that which we term "birth" is, in the beautiful words of Wordsworth, a forgetting past.
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
Birth and death may therefore be regarded as the shifting of man's activity from one world to another, and it depends upon our own position whether we designate such a change birth or death. If a man enters the world in which we live, we call it birth, if he leaves our plane of existence to enter another world, we call it death; but to the individual concerned the passage from one world to another is but as the removal to another city here; he lives, unchanged; only his exterior surroundings and condition are changed.
The passage from one world to another is often attended by more or less unconsciousness, like sleep as Wordsworth says, and for that reason our consciousness may be fixed upon the world we have left. In infancy heaven lies about us in actual fact; children are all clairvoyant for a longer or shorter time after birth, and whoever passes out at death still beholds the material world for some time. If we pass out in the full vigor of physical manhood or womanhood, with strong ties of family, friends, or other interests, the dense world will continue to attract our attention for a much longer time than if death occurred at a "ripe old age," when the earthly ties have been severed before the change we call death. This is on the same principle that the seed clings to the flesh of unripe fruit, while it is easily and cleanly detached from the ripe fruit. Therefore it is easier to die at an advanced age than in youth.
The unconsciousness which usually attends the change of the incoming spirit at birth, and the outgoing spirit at death is due to our inability to adjust our focus instantly, and is similar to the difficulty we experience when passing from a darkened room to the street on a light, sunny day, or vice versa. Under those conditions some time elapses before we can distinguish objects about us; so with the newly born and to the newly dead, both have to readjust their viewpoint to their new condition.
When the moment arrives which marks the completion of life in the physical world, the usefulness of the dense body has ended, and the Ego withdraws from it by way of the head, taking with it the mind and the desire body, as it does every night during sleep, but now the vital body is useless, so that too is withdrawn, and when the "silver cord" which united the higher to the lower vehicles snaps, it can never be repaired.
We remember that the vital body is composed of ether, superimposed upon the dense bodies of plant, animal, and man during life. Ether is physical matter, and has therefore weight. The only reason why the scientists cannot weigh it is because they are unable to gather a quantity and put it upon a scale. But when it leaves the dense body at death a diminution in weight will take place in every instance, showing that something having weight, yet invisible, leaves the dense body at that time.
In 1906 Dr. McDougall, of Boston, weighed a number of dying persons by putting their beds upon scales, which he balanced. It was noted that the platform bearing the weights came down with startling suddenness at the moment when the last breath was drawn. The news was flashed all over the Union that the soul had been weighed, an achievement that can never be accomplished, for the soul is not amenable to physical laws. Later Professor Twining, of Los Angeles, supposedly weighed the soul of a mouse, but what the scientists really did was to weigh the vital body as it leaves the dense body at death.
A word should be spoken in regard to the treatment of dying persons, who suffer unspeakable agony in many cases through the mistaken kindness of friends. More suffering is caused by administering stimulants to the dying than perhaps in any other way. It is not hard to pass out of the body, but stimulants have the effect of throwing the departing Ego back into its body with the force of a catapult, to experience anew the sufferings from which it was just escaping. Departed souls have often complained to investigators, and one such person said that he had not suffered as much in all his life as he did while kept from dying for many hours. The only rational way is to leave Nature to take it course when it is seen that the end is inevitable.
Another and more far-reaching sin against the passing Spirit is to give vent to loud crying or lamentation in or near the death chamber. Just subsequent to its release and from a few hours to a few days afterwards, the Ego is engaged upon a matter of the utmost importance; a great deal of the value of the past life depends upon the attention given to it by the passing spirit. If distracted by the sobs and lamentations of loved ones, it will lose much, as we shall see, but if strengthened by prayer and helped by silence, much future sorrow to all concerned may be avoided. We are never so much our brother's keeper as when he is passing through Gethsemane, and it is one of our greatest opportunities for serving him and laying up heavenly treasure for ourselves.
We have studied the phenomenon of birth, and have evolved a science of birth. We have qualified obstetricians and trained nurses to minister in the best possible manner to both mother and child to make them comfortable, but we are sadly, very sadly, in need of a science of death. When a child is coming into the world we bustle about in intelligent endeavor; when a lifelong friend is about to leave us we stand helplessly about, ignorant of how to aid, or worse, worse than all, we bungle, and cause suffering instead of helping.
Physical science knows that whatever the power which moves the heart, it does not come from without, but is inside the heart. The esoteric scientist sees a chamber in the left ventricle, near the apex, where a little atom swims in a sea of the highest ether. The force in that atom, like the forces in all other atoms is the undifferentiated life of God; without that force the mineral could not form matter into crystals, the plant, animal, and human kingdoms would be unable to form their bodies. The deeper we go the plainer it becomes to us how fundamentally true it is that in God we live, move, and have our being.
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That atom is called the "seed-atom." The force within it moves the heart and keeps the organism alive. All the other atoms in the whole body must vibrate in tune with this atom. The forces of the seed-atom have been immanent in every dense body ever possessed by the particular Ego to whom it is attached, and upon its plastic tablet are inscribed all the experiences of that particular Ego in all its lives. When we return to God, when we shall all have become one in God once more, that record, which is peculiarly God's record, will still remain, and thus we shall retain our individuality. Our experiences we transmute, as will be described, into faculties; the evil is transmuted into good and the good we retain as power for higher good, but the record of the experiences is of God, and in God, in the most intimate sense.
The "silver cord" which unites the higher and lower vehicles terminates at the seed-atom in the heart. When material life comes to an end in the natural manner the forces in the seed-atom disengage themselves, pass outward along the pneumogastric nerve, the back of the head and along the silver cord together with the higher vehicles. It is this rupture in the heart which marks physical death, but the connecting silver cord is not broken at once, in some cases not for several days.
The vital body is the vehicle of sense-perception. As that remains with the body of feeling and the etheric cord connects them with the discarded dense body, it will be evident that until the cord is severed there must be a certain amount of feeling experienced by the Ego when its dense body is molested. Thus, it causes pain when the blood is extracted and embalming fluid injected, when the body is opened for post-mortem examination, and when the body is cremated.
A case was told the writer where a surgeon amputated three toes from a (living) person under anesthetics. He threw the severed toes into a bright coal fire, and immediately the patient commenced to scream, for the rapid disintegration of the material toes caused an equally rapid disintegration of the etheric toes, which were connected with the higher vehicles. In like manner molestations affect the discarnate Spirit from a few hours to three and one-half days after death. Then all connection is severed, and the body begins to decay.
Therefore great care should be taken not to cause the passing Spirit discomfort by such measures. If laws or other circumstances prevent keeping the body quietly in the room where death took place for a few days, it can at least be interred for that length of time and then treated in any desired way. Quiet and prayer are of enormous benefit at that time, and if we love the departed Spirit wisely we shall be able to earn its lasting gratitude by following the above instructions.
In Lecture No. 3 we saw that the vital body is the storehouse of both the conscious and subconscious memory; upon the vital body is branded indelibly every act and experience of the past life, as the scenery upon an exposed photographic plate. When the Ego has withdrawn it from the dense body, the whole life, as registered by the subconscious memory, is laid open to the eye of mind. It is the partial loosening of the vital body which causes a drowning person to see his whole past life, but then it is only like a flash, preceding unconsciousness; the silver cord remains intact, or there could be no resuscitation. In the case of a Spirit passing out at death, the movement is slower; the man stands as a spectator while the pictures succeed one another in the order from death to birth, so that he sees first the happenings just prior to death, then the years of manhood or womanhood unroll themselves; youth, childhood and infancy follow, until it terminates at birth. The man, however, has no feeling about them at that time, the object is merely to etch the panorama into the desire body, which is the seat of feeling, and from that impress the feeling will be realized when the Ego enters the Desire World, but we may note here that the intensity of feeling realized depends upon the length of time consumed in the process of etching, and the attention given thereto by the man. If he was undisturbed for a long period, by noise and hysteria, a deep, clear-cut impress will be made upon the desire body. He will feel the wrong he did more keenly in purgatory, and be more abundantly strengthened in his good qualities in heaven, and though the experience will be lost in a future life, the feelings will remain, as the "still, small voice." Where the feelings have been strongly indented upon the desire body of an Ego, this voice will speak in no vague and uncertain terms. It will impel him beyond gainsaying, forcing him to desist from that which caused pain in the life before, and compel him to yield to that which is good. Therefore the panorama passes backwards, so that the Ego sees first the effects, and then the underlying causes.
As to what determines the length of the panorama, we remember that it was the collapse of the vital body which forced the higher vehicles to withdraw; so after death, when the vital body collapses, the Ego has to withdraw, and thus the panorama comes to an end. The duration of the panorama depends, therefore, upon the time the person could remain awake if necessary. Some people can remain awake only a few hours, others can endure for a few days, depending upon the strength of their vital body.
When the Ego has left the vital body, the latter gravitates back to the dense body, remaining hovering above the grave, decaying as the dense body does, and it is indeed a noisome sight to the clairvoyant to pass through a cemetery and behold all those vital bodies whose state of decay clearly indicates the state of decomposition of the remains in the grave. If there were more clairvoyants, incineration would soon be adopted as a measure of protection to our feelings, if not for sanitary reasons.
When the Ego has freed itself from the vital body, its last tie with the physical world is broken, and it enters the Desire World. The ovoid form of the desire body now changes its form, assuming the likeness of the discarded dense body. There is, however, a peculiar arrangement of the materials out of which it is formed, that has great significance in regard to the kind of life the departed will lead there.
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The desire body of man is composed of matter from all the seven regions of the Desire World, as a dense body is build of the solids, liquids, and gases of this world. But the quantity of matter from each region in the desire body of a man depends upon the nature of the desires which he cherishes. Coarse desires are built of the coarsest desire stuff, which belongs to the lowest region of the Desire World. If a man has such, he is building a coarse desire body, where the matter from the lowest regions predominates. If he persistently puts coarse desires away from himself, yielding only to the pure and the good, his desire body will be formed of the materials of the higher regions.
At present no man is wholly evil, and none wholly good; we are all mixtures of both; but there may be and is a difference in our make-up. In the desire bodies of some there is a preponderance of coarse and in others of fine desire stuff; and that makes all the difference in the environment and status of the man when he enters the Desire World after death, for then the matter of his desire body, while taking on the likeness of the discarded dense body, at the same time arranges itself so that the subtlest matter which belongs to the higher regions of the Desire World forms the center of the vehicle, and the matter from the three densest regions is on the outside. When the Ego's earth life is ended it exerts centrifugal force to free itself from its vehicles. Following out the same law which causes a planet to throw that part of itself which is most dense and crystallized out into space, it first discards its dense body. When it enters the Desire World this centrifugal force also acts so as to throw the coarsest matter in the desire body outwards, and thus man is forced to stay in the lower regions until he has been purged of the coarser desires which were embodied in he densest desire matter. The coarsest desire matter is therefore always on the outside of his desire body while he is passing through Purgatory, and is gradually eliminated by the purging centrifugal force; the force of Repulsion, which tears the evil out of man and then allows him to pass upwards into the First Heaven in the upper part of the Desire World, where the Force of Attraction alone holds sway and builds the good of the past life into the Ego as soul power. The discarded part of the desire body is left as an empty "shell."
When the Ego has left its dense body, that dies quickly. Physical matter becomes inert the moment it is deprived of the quickening, life-giving energy; it dissolves as a form. Not so with the matter of the Desire World; once life has been communicated to it, that energy will subsist for a considerable time after the influx of life has ceased, varying as to the strength of the impulse. The result is that after the Ego has left them these "shells" subsist for a longer or a shorter time. They live an independent life, and if that Ego to which they belonged was very much given to worldly desires, perhaps cut off in the prime of life, with strong and unsatisfied ambitions, this soul-less shell will often make the most desperate efforts to get back to the Physical World, and much of the phenomena of spiritualistic seances are due to the actions of these shells. The fact that the communications received from many of these so-called "Spirits" are utterly devoid of sense is easily accounted for when we realize that they are not Spirits at all, but only a soul-less part of the garment of the departed Spirit, and therefore without intelligence. They have a memory of the past life, owing to the panorama which was etched after death, which often enables them to impose upon relatives by stating incidents not known to others, but the fact remains that they are but the cast-off garment of the Ego, endowed with an independent life for the time being.
It is not always, however, that these shells remain soul-less, for there are different classes of beings in the Desire World, whose evolution naturally belongs there. They are good and bad, as are human beings. Generally they are classed under one heading as "elementals," although differing vastly in appearance, intelligence and characteristics. We will only deal with them so far as their influence touches the postmortem state of man.
It sometimes happens, especially where a man has been in the habit of invoking Spirits, that these beings take possession of his dense body in earth life and make him an irresponsible medium. They generally lure him at first with seemingly high teachings, but by degrees lead to gross immorality, and worst of all, they may take possession of his desire body after he has left it and ascended into heaven. As the impulses contained in the desire body are the basis of the life in heaven, and also the springs of action which cause man to reincarnate for renewed growth, this is indeed a very serious matter, for the whole evolution of a man may be stopped for ages, before the elemental releases his desire body.
It is these elements who are the originators of many of the spiritualistic phenomena where more intelligence is displayed than can be accounted for by the action of soul-less shells, particularly at materializations, at least. Though shells may take part, phenomena are always directed by a being with intelligence. The difference between a materializing medium and an ordinary person is that the connection between the dense body can be withdrawn, and also some of the gases and even liquids of the medium's dense body may be used to form the bodies of apparitions. This withdrawal and the process of clothing the shells is generally performed by the elemental who extracts the vital body of the medium out through the spleen. As a rule, the body of the medium shrinks horribly in consequence. When the dense body is thus deprived of its vital principle, it becomes terribly exhausted and unfortunately the medium often seeks to restore the equilibrium by strong drink, becoming a confirmed drunkard.
In Lecture No. 4 it was pointed out how dangerous it is to allow a hypnotist to dominate our will and deprive us of our liberty, but in that case the victim can at least see, and may form an opinion of the hypnotist who controls him. In the case of the medium the danger is multiplied a thousandfold, for the dominating influence cannot be seen. The death of the hypnotist releases his victims, but the gravest danger to the medium is after death. Therefore, a negative state in which the whole body or even the hand of a person is used automatically, apart from the individual's own volition, is hazardous. It is not denied that sometimes there are genuine communications from a departed Spirit, or that there are cases of benevolent communications from beings outside our volition, but our purpose is to point out the dangers to those who meddle with that they know not. Philanthropists do not grow on every bush in the Desire World any more than here. They are positively not great and good beings, angels, who enjoy knocking a man's hat over his ears, spilling water down his neck, or doing any other of the foolish tricks exhibited at the ordinary spiritualistic séance; those are emphatically either the soul-less shells of scapegraces, or elementals on a prank.
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When a man wakes up in the Desire World he is with one exception the very same man in every respect as before death. Anyone seeing him there would know him if they had known him here. There is no transforming power in death; the man's character has not changed, the vicious man and the drunkard are vicious and dissipated still, the miser is a miser still, the thief is as dishonest as ever, but there is one great and important change in them all—they have all lost their dense body, and that makes all the difference in regard to the gratification of their various desires.
The drunkard cannot drink; he lacks the stomach, and though he may and at first often does, get into the whiskey casks of the saloons, it is no satisfaction to him, for whiskey in a cask does not give out fumes as it does during chemical combustion in the alimentary canal. He then tries the effect of getting into the dense body of drunkards on earth. He succeeds easily for the desire body is so constituted that it is no inconvenience to occupy the same space with another person. "Dead" people, at first, are often annoyed when their friends sit down in the chair they are occupying, but after a while they learn that it is not necessary to hurry out of their seat because a friend yet in earth life is approaching to sit down. It does not hurt the desire body "to be sat on"; both persons can occupy the same chair without inconveniencing each other's movements. So the drunkard enters into the body of people who are drinking, but even there he receives no real satisfaction, and in consequence he suffers the tortures of Tantalus, until at last the desire burns itself out for want of gratification, as all desires do, even in physical life.
This is "Purgatory," and we note that it is not an avenging deity who measures out the suffering, or a devil who executes the judgment, but the evil desires cultivated in earth life, incapable of gratification in the Desire World, that cause the suffering, until in time they burn out. Thus the suffering is strictly proportionate to the strength of the evil habit. Take the case of the miser; he loves gold as dearly after death as before, but cannot gather any more; he has no physical hand wherewith to grasp, and worst of all, cannot protect what he had. He may sit watching in front of his safe, but the heirs may come and put their hands right through him, take away his cherished gold, perhaps laughing at the "stingy old fool" while he is nearly in a spasm with rage and mortification. He suffers terribly because unable to check them. At last, however, he learns to content himself; he is automatically purges of grasping, as was the drunkard of drink, by the Law of Consequence, which eradicates from each person his faults in an impersonal way. There is in truth no punishment, all suffering is entirely due to our self-acquired habits, is strictly proportionate to them. Benevolently it rids us of our faults, so that in consequence of purgation we are born innocent and may more easily acquire virtue when tempted anew, by listening to the voice that warns. Each evil act, at least, is therefore an act of free will.
While our evil habits are dealt with in this general way, our specific evil actions in the past life are dealt with in the same automatic manner by means of the life panorama which was etched into the desire body. That panorama begins to unfold backwards from death to birth, upon our entrance into the Desire World. It unfolds backwards at the rate of about three times the speed of the physical life, so that a man who was 60 years of age at the time of death would live over his past life in the Desire World in about twenty years.
We remember that when viewing this panorama just after death he had not feeling at all about it, standing there merely as a spectator, looking at the pictures as they unrolled. Not so when they appear in his consciousness in Purgatory. There the good makes no impression, but all the evil reacts upon him in such a way that in the scenes where he had made another suffer he himself feels as the injured one. He suffers all the pain and anguish his victim felt in life, and as the speed of the life is tripled, so is the suffering. It is even more acute, for the dense body is so slow of vibration that it dulls even suffering, but in the Desire World, where we are minus physical vehicles, suffering is more acute, and the more clear cut the panoramic impression of the past life was etched into the desire body at the time of death the more the man suffers and the more clearly he will feel in after lives that transgression is to be avoided.
There is a peculiar phase of this suffering, which also adds to its disagreeable character. If in life a man had injured two men at the same time, and one is living in Maine, the other in California, at the time when their tormentor is undergoing his purgatorial realization of the sufferings he caused them, he will feel himself as present with both at the same time, as if one part were in Maine and the other in California. It gives him a peculiar but indescribable feeling of being torn to pieces.
There are two classes of people for whom the purgative process does not commence at once, namely, the suicide and victim of murder. In the case of the suicide it does not commence until the time when the body would have died in the course of natural events, but in the meantime he suffers for his act in a way that is as dreadful as it is peculiar. He has a feeling of being hollowed out, as it were, and of inhabiting an aching void, due to the continued activity of the archetype of his form in the region of Concrete Thought. In the case of people, young or old, who die naturally or by accident, archetypal activity ceases; the higher vehicles undergo a modification at death, so that the loss of the dense body in itself gives no feeling of discomfort; but the suicide experiences no such change until the archetype of his body ceases to work, at the time when death would have naturally occurred. The space where his dense body ought to have been is empty, because the archetype is hollow, and it hurts indescribably. Thus he also learns that it is not possible to play truant from the school of life without bringing about unpleasant consequences, and in later lives when the way seems hard he will remember in his soul that the cowardly attempt to escape by suicide only brings added suffering.
There are people who commit suicide for unselfish reasons, to rid others of a burden, and they of course have their reward in another way, but do not escape the suffering of the suicide, any more than the man who enters a burning building to save others is immune from burns.
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The victim of murder escapes this suffering because he is in a comatose state as a rule, until the time when natural death should have occurred, and is taken care of in that respect, like the victims of so-called accidents, but the latter are always conscious at once or shortly after death. If the murderer is executed between the time of the murder and the time when his victim would naturally have died, the comatose desire body of the latter floats to its slayer by magnetic attraction following him wherever he goes, without a moment's respite. The picture of the murder is always before him, causing him to feel the suffering and anguish which must inevitably accompany this incessant re-enactment of his crime in all its horrible details. This goes on for a time corresponding to the period of life of which he deprived his victim. If the murderer escaped hanging, so that his victim has passed beyond Purgatory before he dies, the "shell" of his victim remains to act the part of Nemesis in the drama of re-enactment of the crime.
Thus the Ego is purged of evil of every kind, by the impersonal action of the Law of Consequence, made fit to enter heaven and become strengthened in good, as it has been discouraged in evil.
Life And Activity In Heaven
We saw in the last lecture how the evil acts of life and our undesirable habits are dealt with by the impersonal law of consequence, and make for good in future lives, and to illustrate we noted its operation in such cases as those of the murderer, suicide, drunkard, and miser. These are extreme cases, however, and there are many people who have lived good moral lives, tainted more by petty selfishness, which is the besetting sin of our age, than by actual pronounced evil, and for them the stay in the purgatorial regions of the Desire World is of course correspondingly shortened and the suffering incidental is lightened. Thus in time all pass to the upper regions of the Desire World where the First Heaven is located.
This is the "Summerland" of the Spiritualists. Of the matter of this region the thoughts and fancies of people during life build the actual forms they see in their imagination. It is a characteristic of the inner worlds that the matter in them is readily molded by thought and will, and all these fantastic forms created by people go about, ensouled by elementals and enduring as long as the thought or desire which formed them endures. Around Christmas time, for instance, Santa Claus actually lives and rides around in his sleigh. There are all sorts of variety of him, and he remains in vigorous health for a month or more until the desires of the children who created him cease to flow in that direction, then he fades away till he is recreated next year. The New Jerusalem, with its pearly streets and sea of glass, and all the other pious and moral fancies of the church people are there also. Purgatory has its thought-form devil, with horns and cloven hoof, created by the thoughts of people, but in this upper part of the Desire World we find only that which is good and desirable in human aspirations. Here the student revels in libraries and is able to pursue his studies in a much more effective way than while confined to the dense body. If he desires a book, presto, it is there. The artist by his imagination shapes his models perfectly, he paints with living fiery colors instead of with the dead and dull pigments of earth, which are the physical artist's despair, for here in Earth-life it is impossible for him to reproduce the tints he sees with his inner vision, but the Desire World is the world of color par excellence, and therefore he obtains his heart's desire in the First Heaven, and receives inspiration and power to continue his work in future lives.
The sculptor likewise finds this part of the postmortem state a joy and an upliftment; he shapes with facility the plastic materials of this world into the statues he dreamt of in Earth-life. The musician is also benefited, but he is not yet in the true world of tone. That ocean of harmony, where the heavenly "music of the spheres" is heard, is in the part of the Region of Concrete Thought which, in the esoteric Christian religion, we call the second heaven; and so the musician only hears the echoes of the celestial strains; yet they are sweeter than any he ever heard on Earth, and his soul revels in their exquisite harmony, the earnest of better things to come.
Here we also find all the little children, who go directly to this place after passing out, and if their friends could see them, there would be no mourning, for theirs is rather an enviable life. They are always met by some relative or friend who has previously passed out, and are taken care of in every respect. There are people who lay up a great deal of treasure for themselves by giving much of their time to the invention of plays and toys for the little ones, and thus life in this First Heaven is spent in the most beautiful way by the children, nor is their instruction neglected. They are brought together in classes, not only according to age and capability, but according to temperament, and are particularly instructed in the effects of desires and emotions, which can so easily be done in a world where those things can be objectively demonstrated. Thus they are taught by object-lessons the benefit of cultivating good and altruistic desires, and many a soul who lives a moral life now, owes it to such a cause as the death in infancy and fifteen or twenty years in the First Heaven before a new incarnation was entered upon. It is often asked why children die. There are many causes, one is death under the dreadful strain of accident, by fire, or on the battlefield in a previous life, for under such circumstances the departing Ego could not properly concentrate upon the panoramic view of its past life. This is also the case where loud lamentations of relatives hinder. The result is of course a weak imprint of the life-experiences upon the desire body, with an insipid purgatorial and First Heaven life.
In such cases the Ego does not reap what it has sown, and so it might commit the same follies or sins life after life. To prevent such a contingency the new desire body which the Ego gathers before its next birth must be impressed with the needed lesson. The Ego is always unconscious on its way to rebirth, blinded by the matter it draws around itself, as we are blinded when we enter a house on a sunny day. Only after birth does the consciousness return in a measure. Then, when by death it passes into the First Heaven it is taught objectively in a different way the lesson it should have learned on its outward passage in the former life. When that lesson has been mastered and impressed upon the still unborn desire body the Ego is reborn on Earth and goes on in the ordinary manner.
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Children who die before the seventh year have only been born so far as the dense and vital bodies are concerned and are not responsible to the Law of Consequence. Even up to twelve or fourteen years the desire body is in process of gestation, as will be more fully explained in the next lecture, and as that which has not been quickened cannot die, the dense and vital bodies alone go to decay when a child dies. It retains its desire body and mind to the next birth. Therefore it does not go around the whole path which the Ego usually traverses in a life cycle, but only ascends to the First Heaven to learn needed lessons, and after a wait of from one to twenty years it is reborn, often in the same family as a younger child.
It is a mistake to think that heaven is a place of unalloyed happiness for all. No one can reap any more happiness than what he sowed on Earth. The measure of our joy there will be the good deeds we did in Earth-life. The panorama of life etched into our desire-bodies just after death forms the basis of our enjoyment in heaven, as it was the decreer of our suffering in purgatory.
We remember, that as the panorama of the past life unrolled in Purgatory, only the scenes in which we had injured people operated to produce suffering. In the First Heaven only the good desires and unselfish acts are productive of feeling. When we behold a scene where we helped some one, soothing their sorrow and alleviating their suffering, we not only feel the most intense personal satisfaction, but in addition we feel all that the recipient of our favor felt in ease of body, of mental relief and gratitude to the helper. It does not matter whether he knew who helped him or not, the feeling he poured out to us when we helped him will be realized there, independent of other circumstances. On the other hand, if we have ourselves been grateful to our benefactors, we will feel the same feeling of relief from distress and gratitude for the help over again. As all these feelings and desires are built into the Ego by the spiritual alchemical forces generated when they are being realized there, and as they undergo a transmutation into faculties, usable in future incarnations, it is easily seen how important it is to our own soul-growth that we should feel and express our gratitude for favors shown us, for thus we lay the foundation for the receipt of new favors both in this and future lives. It is said that the Lord loves a cheerful giver; it is equally true that the "Law" (of Consequence) loves an appreciative heart.
When "giving" is under consideration let us beware of the fallacious idea that only the moneyed man can give. Indiscriminate gifts of money are a curse to both the giver and the recipient. Only when the giver bestows thought and heart also may gold be of value. But what is gold carelessly given compared to sympathy? Expression of faith in a man may give him the courage to go in and win; stirring his ambition we help him to help himself, where financial aid would render him helplessly dependent on our bounty. When we give, let us give ourselves first.
The ethics of giving, with the effect on the giver as a spiritual lesson, are most beautifully shown in Lowell's The Vision Of Sir Launfal. The young and ambitious knight, Sir Launfal, clad in shining armor and astride a splendid charger, is setting out from his castle to seek The Holy Grail. On his shield gleams the cross, the symbol of the benignity and tenderness of Our Saviour, the meek and lowly One, but the knight's heart is filled with pride and haughty disdain for the poor and needy. He meets a leper asking alms and with a contemptuous frown throws him a coin, as one might cast a bone to a hungry cur, but—
The leper raised not the gold from the dust:
"Better to me the poor man's crust,
Better the blessing of the poor,
Though I turn me empty from his door;
That is no true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives nothing but worthless gold
Who gives from a sense of duty;
But he who gives but a slender mite,
And gives to that which is out of sight,
That thread of the all-sustaining Beauty
Which runs through all and doth all unite—
The hand cannot clasp the whole of his alms,
The heart outstretches its eager palms,
For a god goes with it and makes it store
To the soul that was starving in darkness before."
On his return Sir Launfal finds another in possession of his castle, and is driven from the gate.
An old, bent man, worn out and frail,
He came back from seeking the Holy Grail;
Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross,
But deep in his soul the sign he wore,
The badge of the suffering and the poor.
Again he meets the leper, who again asks alms. This time the knight responds differently.
And Sir Launfal said, "I behold in thee
An image of Him who died on the tree;
Thou also hast had thy crown of thorns,—
Thou also hast had the world's buffets and scorns,—
And to thy life were not denied
The wounds in the hands and feet and side;
Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me;
Behold, through him, I give to Thee!"
A look in the leper's eye brings remembrance and recognition, and
The heart within him was ashes and dust;
He parted in twin his single crust,
He broke the ice on the streamlet's brink,
And gave the leper to eat and drink.
A transformation takes place:
The leper no longer crouched at his side,
But stood before him glorified,
. . . . . . . . . . . .
And the Voice that was calmer than silence said,
"Lo it is I, be not afraid!
In many climes, without avail,
Thou hast spent thy life for the Holy Grail;
Behold, it is here,—this cup which thou
Didst fill at the streamlet for me but now;
This crust is my body broken for thee,
This water His blood that died on the tree;
The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another's need;
Not what we give, but what we share—
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three—
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and Me."
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There are two classes for whom post-mortem existence is particularly blank and monotonous: the materialist and the man who was so absorbed in his material business that he never gave a thought to the spiritual worlds. The reason is not far to seek. They led good, moral lives as a rule, indulged in none of the vices of the lower Desire World, but neither have they done any good such as would find its fruition in feelings of joy in the First Heaven. To have given even large sums of money for the building of churches, libraries, or parks will help nothing there, unless the giver took particular interest in his gift, and thus gave himself with the money. Merely to give money will bring affluence in a future life, but to give oneself is more than money, it is soul-growth. The materialistic business man therefore goes to the fourth region, which is a sort of Borderland between Purgatory and the First Heaven. He is too good to suffer in Purgatory and not good enough to have a First Heaven life. He has still a keen longing for business. With no interests, save desires that cannot be gratified there, his life is an unenviable monotony, though he suffers in no other way.
The out-and-out materialist, who denies God and has the idea that death is annihilation, is in the worst of straits. He sees his mistake, yet having so dissociated himself from spiritual ideas, he often cannot believe but that this is a prelude to annihilation. The dreadful suspense wears terribly on such people, and it is not an uncommon sight to see them going about murmuring to themselves: Is it not soon the end? And, worst of all, if anyone who is instructed tries to inform them they will deny the existence of spirit there as much as they did in Earth-life, calling him visionary for thinking that there is anything beyond.
The natural tendency of the desire body is to harden and consolidate all it comes into contact with. Materialistic thought accentuates this tendency to such an extent that it very often results, in succeeding lives, in that dread disease, consumption, which is a hardening of the lungs. These should remain soft and elastic. It also sometimes happens that the desire body crushes the vital body in the next life, so that it fails altogether to counteract the hardening process, and then we have quick consumption. In some cases materialism makes the desire body brittle, as it were; then it cannot perform its proper hardening work on the dense body, and as a result we have "rachitis," where the bones soften. So we see what dangers we run by entertaining materialistic tendencies: either hardening of the soft parts of the body, as in Consumption, or softening of the hard bony parts, as in Rachitis. Of course not every case of consumption shows that the sufferer was a materialist in a former life, but it is the teaching of esoteric science that such a result often follows materialism. There is another cause for the prevalence of this dread disease back in the Middle Ages.
In the course of time every man makes ready to ascend into the Second Heaven, which is located in the Region of Concrete Thought. All good aspirations and desires of the past life are etched into and branded upon the mind, which then contains all that is of permanent value. The Ego withdraws from the desire body, which is then but an empty shell, and clothed only in the mind, it ascends into the Second Heaven.
We remember, that after the termination of the panorama, just subsequent to death, when the Ego withdrew from the vital body, it went through a period of unconsciousness before it awoke in the Desire World. There is also an interval between the withdrawal from the desire body in the First Heaven to the awakening in the Second Heaven. But this time there is no unconsciousness; every faculty is keenly on the alert, there is a state of hyper-consciousness, as the Spirit passes through this interval, which is called "The Great Silence." No matter how materialistic a man may have been on Earth, that state of mind has now vanished, and the man knows that he is inherently divine when he reaches this Great Silence which is the portal to his heavenly home. It is as when one awakens after a dreadful dream, and draws a deep sigh of relief at finding that the occurrences of the dream were not realities. So the Ego, when it enters this Great Silence, awakes from the delusions and illusions of Earth-life with a sense of infinite relief, is filled with a feeling of impregnable security, feels anew the restful repose of being in the everlasting arms of the Great Universal Spirit.
Presently there break upon the Ego's ear the indescribable harmonies of celestial music which fills this Region incessantly. It is no figment of the fancy when celestial music is spoken of, although it is untrue that the dead people who had little or no sense for music during Earth-life have suddenly developed a passion for and the faculty of expressing music at death. The fact of the matter is, that the World of Thought, where the Second Heaven is located, is also the realm of tone, as the Desire World is the world of light and color, and the Physical World is the world of form. The artist gets his color-schemes and his light-effects from the Desire World, but the musician must draw upon the more subtle World of Thought for his inspirations, and in this fact we have the reason why music is the highest art we possess. The painter draws upon a world closer at hand, and is therefore able to fix his creation once for all upon canvas, there to be seen by all who have eyes at any time. Music cannot be thus fixed; it is more elusive, it must be recreated each time, and at once vanishes into silence. In return, however, it has so much greater power to speak to us than even the greatest painting, for it comes directly from the heaven world, fresh and fragrant with echoes from the home of the Ego, awakening memories of and putting us in touch with that which we so often forget in our material existence. Therefore music, above all other human arts, alone has power to still the savage breast and affect us in a way that nothing else can.
Goethe was an initiate, and in his "Faust" emphasizes twice the fact that in the heavenly realms all things are reducible to terms of sound. The opening scene is laid in heaven, and the Archangel Raphael is represented as saying:
"The sun intones his ancient song,
'Mid rival chant of brother-spheres.
His prescribed course he speeds along,
In thunderous way throughout the years."
Again, in the second part:
"Sound unto the spirit-ear
Proclaims the coming day is near.
Rocky gates are creaking, rattling,
Phoebus' wheels are rolling, singing—
What intense sound the light is bringing."
Pythagoras' "music of the spheres" is a fact in the Second Heaven, and to some musicians this is not at all a far-fetched idea, for they know that every city, every lake and forest has its own peculiar tone. The babbling brook and the summer zephyr which stirs the young leaves in the wood speak the language of the Universal Soul. The true musician hears its grand, majestic voice in the mountain torrent and in the storm upon the great deep. No mere intellectual conception of God, life and superphysical things can every reach the sublime heights achieved by him, for he knows.
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In Purgatory the evil habits and acts of life produced suffering which was transmuted into right feeling in the First Heaven. The good in the past life was extracted in the First Heaven, and when the Ego enters the Second Heaven it broods over the good in such a way as to transmute it into right thought to act as a guide in future lives on Earth. Thus at every new birth the Ego brings with it, as capital, the accumulated wisdom derived from the experiences of all its past lives, which is its capital or stock in trade. The experience in each new life is interest, which in the Second Heaven is added to the capital.
Man there is also preparing himself for his next dip into matter, qualifying himself for the new battle with ignorance in the coming life-day in God's great school. If any worthy ambitions had failed of realization, he sees where the fault lay, and learns to carry out next time his designs on improved lines. The musician takes with him grander melodies when he returns, to gladden the heart of man in his exile to Earth conditions. The painter brings new aspirations, for it must not be supposed that the Second Heaven is devoid of color because it was called the region of tone. Both color and form are there, just as in the Physical World, but tone is the predominating feature of the World of Thought. Color is most accentuated in the Desire World and Form in the Physical World, although it is also true that the colors and forms of the Second Heaven are much more beautiful than in either of the two other worlds.
We have spoken of this process of brooding and assimilation of the good and lasting part extracted from the experiences of the past life as if it were a negative process, and many students have the idea that existence in the Second Heaven is a dreamy, illusory experience. Nothing could be more erroneous, for the actual activities of life in heaven are manifold. Man not only reviews or lives his past, but he is also actively preparing his future.
We are wont to speak of evolution, but do we ever analyze what it is that makes evolution, why it does not stop in stagnation? If we do, we must realize that there are forces back of the visible which make the alteration in the flora and fauna, the climatic and topographical changes which are constantly going on; and it is then but a natural question, What or who are the forces or agents in evolution?
Of course, we are well aware that scientists give certain mechanical explanations. They deserve great credit; they have accomplished much, when we take into consideration that science is but an infant and has only five senses and ingenious instruments at its command. Its deductions are marvelously true, but that does not say that there may not be underlying causes which it cannot, as yet, perceive, but which give a more thorough understanding of the matter than the mere mechanical explanation affords. An illustration will elucidate the point.
Two men are conversing, when suddenly one knocks the other down. There we have an occurrence, a fact, and we may explain it in a mechanical way by saying: "I saw one man contract the muscles of his arm, direct a blow at the other, and knock him down." That is a true version, so far as it goes, but the esoteric scientist would see also the angry thought which inspired the blow, and would be giving a more complete version if he said that the man was knocked down by a thought, for the clenched fist was but the irresponsible instrument of aggression. Failing the impelling force of the angry thought, the hand would have remained inert and the blow would never have been struck.
Thus the esoteric scientist refers all causes to the Region of Concrete Thought, and tells how they are generated there by human and superhuman Spirits.
Remembering that the creative archetypes of everything we see in the visible world are in the World of Thought, which is the realm of tone, we are prepared to understand that the archetypal forces are constantly playing through these archetypes which then emit a certain tone, or, where a number of them have massed to create a species of plant, animal, or human forms, the different sounds blend into one grand chord. That single tone or chord, as the case may be, is then the keynote of the form thus created, and as long as it sounds, the form or the species endures; when it ceases the single form dies or the species dies out.
A jumble of sound is not music any more than words massed together haphazardly are a sentence, but orderly rhythmic sound is the builder of all that is, as John says in the first verses of his gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, . . . and without it was not anything made"; also "the Word was made flesh."
Thus we see that sound is the creator and sustainer of all form, and in the Second Heaven the Ego becomes one with the nature forces. With them he works upon the archetypes of land and sea, on flora and fauna, to bring about the changes which gradually alter the appearance and condition of the Earth, and thus afford a new environment, made by himself, in which he may reap new experience.
He is directed in his work by great teachers belonging to the Creative Hierarchies, which are called Angels, Archangels, and other names, who are God's ministers. They instruct him then consciously in the divine art of creation, both as to the world and the objects in it. They teach him how to build a form for himself, giving him the so-called "nature-spirits" as helpers, and thus man is serving his apprenticeship to become a creator each time he goes to the Second Heaven. There he builds the archetype of the form which he later externalizes at birth.
In Lecture No. 3 we spoke about the four ethers, and we said the forces of assimilation work in the chemical ether. The Egos in the heaven world are those forces and thus the very people whom we call dead are the ones who build our bodies and help us to live. We may also note that no one can have a better dense body than he can build. If they make mistakes in heaven, they find it out when they come to use such a defective body on Earth, and thereby learn to correct the fault next time.
This brings to mind an interesting phase of the Law of Consequence, as in the case of Egos who require a body of peculiar construction, like musicians, where not only the hand, but also the ear has to be specially adjusted, so that the three semicircular canals point as accurately as possible to the three dimensions of space, and the fibers of Corti have to be unusually delicate; such an instrument cannot be formed out of raw materials, and therefore such an Ego must be born in a family where others have build along similar lines, and that is not always to be found.
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Supposing, then, that an occasion offers 100 years before the time such an Ego should be normally reborn, and that the Recording Angels who have charge of the administrations of the Law of Consequence, see that another opportunity will not occur for perhaps 300 years, that Ego may then be brought into birth 100 years ahead of time, and the loss of time in heaven made up at another time. Thus we see that the living and the so-called dead are constantly acting and reacting upon each other while traveling onwards along the path of evolution.
Having thus progressed through the Second Heaven, the Ego at last withdraws from the sheath of mind, which was its garment there, and thus entirely free and untrammeled enters the Third Heaven, which is the highest point attainable by man at his present stage of development. Thither we will follow him in the next lecture.
Birth: A Fourfold Event
When we left the Ego in its pilgrimage through the invisible worlds, we had reached the point where it entered the Third Heaven after having discarded the dense body at death, the vital body shortly afterwards, the desire body upon leaving Purgatory and the First Heaven, and finally before leaving the Second Heaven it also left the sheath of mind behind, and then entered the Third Heaven absolutely free of any encumbrance. All the discarded vehicles decay, only the Spirit persists, laving for a while in the great spiritual reservoir of force which we call the Third Heaven, in order to fortify itself for the next rebirth into Earth-life. Sir Edwin Arnold has put this idea so poignantly and beautifully in his "Song Celestial," where he says:
Never the Spirit was born
The Spirit shall cease to be never;
Never was time it was not,
End and beginning are dreams;
Birthless and deathless the spirit remaineth forever,
Death has not touched it at all,
Dead though the house of it seems.
Nay but as one layeth
His worn-out robe away,
And taking another sayeth:
This will I wear today,
So putteth by the Spirit
Lightly its garment of flesh;
And passeth on to inherit
A residence afresh.
The Law of Consequence determines our existence after death in accord with the life we have lived here. If in Earth-life we were mostly given to low desires and passions our purgatorial existence is the most vivid part of our post-mortem state; the existence in the various heavens will be insipid. If we lived in the higher emotions, life in the First Heaven will be the richest of the different stages. Did we love to plan improvements and was our mind constructive in Earth-life? Then we shall have great benefit from our stay in the Second Heaven, where concrete thought is the basis of concrete things on Earth, but in order to have a conscious existence in the Third Heaven we must have given time and effort to abstract thought which had no relation to time or space.
Most of us are incapable of thinking abstractly and therefore we lack consciousness in the Third Heaven. If we think of "Love" we associate it with some person. We dislike mathematics because it is dry, unemotional and abstract. There is no feeling connected with the statement that twice two is four, but it is this very fact which is of value, for when we rise above feeling we leave bias behind and truth is at once apparent. No one would say that twice two is five, or quarrel over the proposition that the squares of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the other sides of a triangle. That was the reason why Pythagoras and other esoteric teachers demanded that applicants for tuition should first have a knowledge of mathematics. A mind used to grappling with mathematics is trained in sequential thought, capable of testing truth apart from bias, and only such a mind can safely be given esoteric training.
The great majority of people are not yet past the stage where they properly progress along what is called "practical lines," and for them the Third Heaven is simply a waiting place where they are unconscious, as in sleep, until the time is ripe for a new birth. The man, for instance, who had lived a low life of sense-gratification, who had been utterly destructive, would have a painful existence in Purgatory, as he had been very bad. He would rapidly and unconsciously pass through the First Heaven because he had done no good. His destructiveness would render his life in the Second Heaven almost unconscious and he would have absolutely no existence in the Third Heaven, where advanced Egos evolve original ideas which later manifest as genius in Earth-life. Hence such a backward Ego would remain asleep until the time for a new birth would awaken it to another day in Life's School, another chance of improvement.
We often hear people say, upon first hearing this doctrine: "Oh, but I don't want to come back." That is the cry of the weary and tired body, the consequence of a hard life; but as soon as the experience of that life has been assimilated in heaven, the Law of Consequence and desire for more knowledge draws the Ego back to Earth, as a magnet draws a needle, and it begins to contemplate a re-embodiment.
Here again the Law of Consequence is the determining factor, the new birth is conditioned by our past lives. Having lived many times it is evident, of course, that we have met many different persons and had varying relations with them, affecting them for good or ill, or we have been thus acted upon by them. Causes were thus generated between them and us, and many were left fallow, as it were, unable to produce their sequential effect, for one reason or another.
The invariableness of Law requires that these causes should find their consummation some time, and so the Recording Angels who are the Great Intelligences in charge of the law of adjustment, look up the past of each man, at the time he is ready for a new birth, and find out who among the friends or foes are living at that time, and where they are. As we have made an enormous number of such relations in our past, there are generally several groups of such people in Earth-life, and if there are no special reasons why one of them in particular should then be taken, the Recording Angel gives the Ego its choice of the opportunities offered. They select in each case the amount of ripe causation that the Ego is thus to work out, and show to the Ego in a series of pictures a panorama of what the coming life will be in each of the proposed lives, any of which the Ego may then choose. These panoramas run from the cradle to the grave, and give the great outline of the life, but leave room for the Ego to fill in the details by new or free-will action.
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Thus, the Ego has a certain latitude as to the place of birth, and it may therefore be said that in the great majority of cases we are where we are by our own choice; it matters not that we do not know it in our brain, the Ego is yet weak, and not able to freely penetrate the veil of flesh, is largely dependent even upon the lower personality to help it grow, and the more we determine in our brain-mind to live for the higher self, the sooner the day will come when the Ego will shine through, and we shall know.
When the Ego has made its choice, it is bound by that choice to go through with the adjustment of debts contracted in former lives and now ripe for liquidation. That then forms the destiny, or the hard and fast conditions of life, which cannot possibly be changed. Any attempt to do so will surely be frustrated, but let no one fall into the delusion that his destiny compels him to do wrong at any time. The law works only for good, and as we have seen, the evil in any life is the first thing purged after death, and only the tendency to do this particular wrong remains, with the feeling of aversion, generated by the suffering experienced in the process of expurgation. When the temptation to commit a similar evil act comes in a later life, this feeling of past pain, which we call conscience, warns and repels us from yielding to the temptation. If we fall in spite of this warning voice, the suffering we experience in Purgatory will add to and strengthen the previous feeling, until our conscience develops the necessary stability to resist the particular evil involved, and from that moment it ceases to be a temptation to us.
Thus we see that no man is ever fated to do wrong, that at least every evil act is an act of free-will, committed even against the resistance of whatever amount of conscience we have previously developed regarding that particular phase of evil.
The question as to the coming rebirth having been decided, the Ego descends first into the Region of Concrete Thought, and begins to draw to itself the materials for a new mind.
As said previously, the man withdraws from his different bodies in the course of his post-mortem career, these bodies go to decay, but there is an atom saved from each, one from the mind also, and it is those so-called "seed-atoms" which are the nuclei of the new vestures in which the Spirit will appear in its coming life.
When now, the Ego descends into the Region of Concrete Thought, the latent forces in the seed-atom of the mind of its previous lives are aroused into activity, and it begins to draw to itself the materials for a new mind, as a magnet draws iron filings around its poles. If we hold a magnet over a heap of shavings of brass, iron, gold, lead, silver, wood, etc., we shall find that it will only take the iron filings, and also that it will take only a certain quantity, according to its strength. Its attractive power is limited to a certain quantity of a particular kind. So with the seed-atom, it can attract in each region only such materials as it has affinity for, and only a certain definite quantity. This material then forms itself into a great bell-shaped thing, open at the bottom and with the seed-atom at the top.
This may be likened to a diving-bell, diving into a sea of gradually increasing density. The materials taken from each realm and woven into the bell add to its weight, so as to make it sink farther and farther until it reaches the bottom.
Thus the returning Ego sinks through the Region of Concrete Thought and in the passage the seed-atom gathers the materials for the new mind.
The descent continues. The Ego, clothed in its bell-shaped garment of mind-stuff, sinks into the Desire World; the forces of the seed-atom saved from its former desire body are awakened, and placed inside a top of the bell. Thence it draws to itself the kind and quantity of the materials needed to furnish the returning Ego with a new desire body appropriate to its particular needs, so that when the densest region of the Desire World has been reached there are two layers in the bell, the sheath of mind-stuff on the outside and the materials for the desire body inside.
The next step downwards brings the spirit into the Etheric Region, where the materials for the new vital body are gathered, and from a part of that material the agents of the Recording Angels fashion a mold or matrix, which is placed in the womb of the mother, to give appropriate form to the new dense body, while the seed-atom is placed in the semen of the father. Without the presence of these two factors no union of the sexes will bring results, and when a marriage is barren, though both partners are healthy and desirous of children, it means simply that no incoming Ego is attracted to them.
As soon as the vital body has been placed the returning Ego, clothed in its bell-shaped covering, hovers constantly near the future mother. She alone does the work upon the new dense body in the first eighteen to twenty-one days after fertilization, Then the Ego enters the mother's body, drawing the bell-shaped covering down over the fetus, the opening at the bottom closes, and the Ego is once more incarcerated in the prison-house of the dense body.
The moment of entrance into the womb is one of great importance in life, for when the incoming Ego first contacts the before-mentioned matrix vital body it sees there again the panorama of the coming life which has been impressed upon the matrix by the Recording Angels in order to give it the tendencies required to work out the ripe causation due to be liquidated in the coming life.
At this time the Ego is already so much blinded by the veil of matter that it does not recognize the good end in view in the same unbiased manner as when making its choice in the Region of Abstract Thought, and when a particularly hard life reveals itself to the vision of the returning Ego at the moment of entering the womb, it sometimes happens that the Ego is so startled and frightened that it seeks to rush out again. The connection cannot be severed, however, but may be strained, so that instead of the vital body being concentric with the dense body, the head of the vital body maybe above the head of the dense body. Then we have a congenital idiot.
Under the most favorable conditions it is a great strain for the Ego to go through the womb, and everything should be done by the parents not to make it more aggravated than necessary; we never can tell where the breaking point is; inharmonious relationship between the parents at the critical periods of gestation, particularly the first, may sometimes prove the last straw.
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Before the event we term birth, the coming man is enclosed in another body (the mother's), and thus unable to directly contact the sense-world. This seclusion is necessary to bring the organism to the proper point of maturity, where it is fit to receive these impressions itself. When that point is reached, the protective covering of the womb opens and the new human being enters the arena of the world.
As we have seen, man is a great deal more than the mere dense body, and it must not be imagined that all his vehicles are equally mature when he is born into the Physical World. As a matter of fact they are not; the vital body grows and ripens inside its covering of ether until the seventh year, or the changing of the teeth. The desire body requires protection from the onslaughts of the Desire World until about the fourteenth year it is born at the time we call puberty; and the mind is not sufficiently ripe to be released from its protective cover until the man reaches his majority at about twenty-one. These periods are only approximately correct, for each person differs from all others in regard to exact time periods, but those given are near enough.
The reason for this slow unfoldment of the higher vehicles lies in the fact that they are comparatively recent additions to the economy of the Ego, while the dense body has had much the longest evolution, and is by far the most perfect and valuable instrument we possess. When people who have sometimes but recently come to a knowledge of the existence of higher vehicles are constantly talking and thinking of how nice it would be to fly off in the desire body and leave the "low" and "vile" physical, it shows that they have not yet learned to appreciate the difference between "higher" and "perfect." The dense body is a marvel of perfection, with its strong articulated skeleton, its delicate sense organs, its coordinating mechanism of nerve and brain, which makes it superior to any other mechanism in the world. Looked at in detail, take for instance the large bone of the thigh, the femur, and examine the thick ends. If we split it open we shall see that only a thin outside shell is made of compact bone. This is stiffened by beams and cross-beams of thin cancellated bone, making it of prodigious strength, coupled with a lightness as far beyond the skill of the greatest living structural engineer as differential calculus is beyond an ant.
Therefore, though we realize that some day in the distant future our higher vehicles will attain a perfection far, far beyond that of our dense body, we must remember that at present they are more or less unorganized, and are of little value when detached from the perfect physical organism, and we should in all things give thanks to the exalted Beings who helped us to evolve this splendid instrument whereby we are now functioning in the world as self-conscious human beings and working out our destiny, life after life, becoming each time a little more like our Father in Heaven.
Thus we see that birth is a fourfold event, and in order to do our full duty as educators, it is absolutely necessary that we should know this and the facts that follow from it. We cannot easily tear the unborn babe out of the womb and expose it to the impacts of the outside world—to do so would kill it. It is equally dangerous to break through the wombs of the unseen bodies and expose the immature child to the impacts of the moral and mental world, and though such a proceeding does not always kill the dense body it invariably stunts its capacity, for what hurts one body is detrimental to the other vehicles. To educate the child properly, it is therefore necessary to have a knowledge of the effect of training upon the different vehicles, and the right methods to employ, bearing in mind constantly, however, that general rules do not always apply in individual cases.
We saw that when the Ego had finished its day in the school of life the centrifugal force of Repulsion caused it to throw off its dense vehicle at death, Then the vital body, which is the next coarsest. Next in purgatory the coarsest desire stuff accumulated by the Ego as embodiment for its lowest desires was purged by this centrifugal force. In the higher realms only the force of Attraction holds sway and keeps the good by centripetal action, which tends to draw everything from the periphery to the center.
This centripetal force of Attraction also governs when the Ego is coming to rebirth. We know that we can throw a stone farther than we can throw a feather. Therefore the coarsest matter was thrown outwards after death by the force of Repulsion, and for the same reason the coarsest material wherein the returning Ego embodies the tendency to evil is whirled inwards to the center by the centripetal force of Attraction, with the result that when a child is born all that is best and purest appears on the outside. The latent evil does not usually manifest until after the desire body is born at about the age of fourteen, and the currents in that vehicle commence to well outwards from the liver. At that time the Ego commences to "live" its individual life and show what is within.
The stars are the Clock of Destiny; they show the hidden tendencies, and while astrologers are fallible in prediction of events, a good and careful astrologer will be able to reveal the character of a person accurately in 99 per cent of all cases. Thus parents may obtain a guide to the hidden side of a child's nature. But it requires very little ability to cast a horoscope, and it is always better for the parents to learn than to employ a stranger. They will then get a much deeper insight into the character of their child.
With the physical birth the dense body begins to feel the impacts of the outside world, which act upon it as the forces of the mother's body previously did. What these did during ante-natal life, the impacts of the elements continue all through physical life. Up to the time of the seventh year, or change of teeth, there is one particular activity going on, which is widely different from the activities of the succeeding epochs of life. The sense organs take certain definite forms which give them their basic structural tendencies and determine their line of development in one direction or another. Later they grow, but all growth follows the lines laid down in those first seven years, and the mistakes or neglect of opportunities during this period can seldom be retrieved in after life. If the limbs and organs have taken the proper forms, the whole after growth will be harmonious; but if malformation takes place then, the little body will be more or less misshapen. It is the duty of the educator to give the proper environment to the little child in this period, as nature does before birth, for only that can give the sensitive organism the right direction and tendency of growth.
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There are two magic words which denote the manner in which the child comes into contact with the formative influences of its environment—example and imitation. There is under the whole heaven no creature so imitative as a little child, and in this imitation we have the force which gives tendency and direction to the little organism. Everything in a child's environment leaves its impress for good or evil, and we should realize that our slightest action may do incalculable harm or good in the life of our children, and that we ought never to do anything in the presence of the child which we would not be perfectly willing to have it imitate.
It is no use to teach it to mind, or to moralize at this period; example is the only teacher the child needs or heeds. It cannot help imitating any more than water can help running down hill, for that is its only method of growth in this epoch. Teaching of morals and reason comes later; to apply them now is like taking a child out of the womb prematurely; all that the child is to acquire of thoughts, ideas, and imagination must come of itself in the same way that the eyes and ears develop before the birth of the dense body.
The child should be a given playthings on which it may exercise its imitative faculty—something with life, or a doll, jointed, so that it can be put in different positions, and let the child dress it herself; in that way she exercises her formative force in the right manner. Give the boys tools and patterns, or molds and clay. Never give them anything finished, where they have nothing to do but look at it. That leaves the brain no chance for development, and it must ever be the care and aim of the educator at this time to furnish the means of developing the physical organs harmoniously.
In regard to food, great care must be taken in this period, for a healthy or diseased appetite in after life will depend upon how it is fostered in the first septenary epoch. Here also example is the great teacher. Highly seasoned dishes spoil the organism; the plainer the food and the more it is conducive to thorough mastication, the more it promotes a healthy appetite that will guide the man through life and give him the health of body and ease of mind that is unknown to the gourmand. Let us not have one dish for ourselves, however, and another for our child. In that way we may keep it from eating it at home, but we generate a hankering that will seek satisfaction when it gets old enough to have a will of its own. The imitative faculty will then assert itself.
In regard to clothing, let us always be sure that a child's apparel is of full size, and is replaced before it becomes so small that it irritates. Many an immoral nature that has spoiled a life was first wakened by the chafing of a too small garment, particularly in the case of boys. Immorality is one of the worst and most tenacious plague-spots on our civilization. To save our child, let us attend to this point, and seek in every way to keep it unconscious of its sex-organ before the seventh year. Corporeal punishment is also an exceedingly fruitful factor in forcing the sex-nature, and cannot be sufficiently deprecated.
In regard to the education of the temperament it will be found that colors are of the greatest significance, although the matter involves not only a knowledge of the effect of colors, but particularly of the complementary colors, for it is the latter that do the work in the organism of the child. If we have to deal with a boisterous, hot-tempered nature, it is soothed and softened by an environment of red. Rooms, furniture and clothing of red will produce in the child the cooling green effect and calm its nerves. One who is of a melancholy and lethargic nature will be roused to action and life by an environment of blue or blue-green, which creates in the child's organs the warm, rousing red or orange.
Nursery-rhymes are of the greatest importance in this period. It does not matter so much about the sense they have, as about the rhythm—that is of supreme importance and builds the organs in a harmony not realized by any of the other aids; therefore, this, and a cheerful atmosphere are the greatest of all means of education, and will even make up to a great extent for the lack of others.
By the seventh year the vital body of the child has reached a perfection sufficient to allow it to receive impacts from the outside world. It sheds its protective covering of ether, and commences its free life. An now the time begins in which the educator may work on the vital body and help it in the formation of memory, conscience, good habits and a harmonious temperament. Authority and Discipleship are the watchwords of this epoch, when the child is to learn the meaning of things. In the first epoch it learns that things are, but must not be bothered about their meaning, except what it picks up of its own accord, but in the second epoch from seven to fourteen years, it is essential that the child should learn the meaning of them, but should learn to take things on the authority of parents and teachers, memorizing their explanations, rather than reasoning for itself, for reason belongs to a later development, and though he may do so of his own accord, with profit, it is harmful at this period to force him to think.
In order that the growing child should derive the proper benefit from the instruction of parents and teachers, it is of course necessary that he should have the greatest veneration for them, and admiration for their wisdom, and it behooves us to comport ourselves so that he may always retain it, for if he sees in us frivolity, hears light talk and observes a generally loose conduct, we deprive him of the greatest staff of strength in life, faith and trust in others. It is in this age that cynics and skeptics are made. We are responsible to God for the lives committed to our care, and will have to answer to the Law of Consequence if we neglect, through slothful conduct, the great opportunity for guiding the early steps of a fellow-being in the right path, and example is always better than precept.
There is little use of warnings. Let us show the child living examples of the effects of virtue and vice, paint before his youthful fantasy a picture of the drunkard and thief, and others of the saint, that will affect his vital body in such a way that there will be an abhorrence of the one and an ardent purpose to emulate the other.
In this period the child should also be instructed in the origin of his being, so that he may be well prepared for the storm time of passion which makes adolescence so dangerous; that information should also be given in mental picture and examples from nature, but in such a way as to thoroughly impress the child with the sanctity of the function. It is the bounden duty of the educator to properly enlighten the child. Not to do this is like putting him blindfolded among innumerable pitfalls, with the admonition not to stumble. Tear the bandage away at least; he will be handicapped sufficiently without that.
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Let the instructor take a flower, which is the generative organ of the plant, and teach from that, for one who understands the process of generation in the plant will understand it in animal and man also. Let us avoid the mistake of giving the child many names to grapple with, such as "stamen" and "anthers," or "pistillate" and "staminate" flowers. That would frustrate our object by making the children tired of the study. They like fairy tales, and the skillful instructor can make the story of the flower more fascinating than any fairy tale known, and in addition may throw a halo of beauty and sanctity over the generative act which will hover over the child all through life to protect it in temptation and trial when the fires of passion surge around it.
We know that the stamen and pollen are male, the pistil and ovule female, also that some flowers have only one kind, others another kind and still others have both stamen and pistil. We also know that the bees have pollen baskets on their legs and carry pollen to the pistils of other flowers. There the pollen works its way to the ovule which then is fertilized and capable of growing into a new plant and flowers.
With these data and some flowers, let us gather the children, let us tell them and show them how flowers are like families. In some (the staminate) there are only boys, in others (the pistillate), there are only girls, and in some there are both boys and girls. The flower boys (pollen) are as adventuresome as human boys, they ride away into the wide world on winged steeds (bees) as the old-time knights did and search for the princess immured in her magic castle (the ovule in the pistil); the little flower-boy-knight dismounts from his steed (the bee), and works his way into the secret chamber where the princess (ovule) is. Then they are married and have lots of little flower boys and girls.
This narrative may be varied and embellished to suit the fancy of the educator, and can later be supplemented with stories of birds and animals. It will awaken in the child an understanding of the genesis of its own body that will invest the love story of papa and mama with all the romance of the flower boys and girls and obviate the slightest thought of odium connected with birth in the mind of the child.
The desire-body is born about the 14th year, at the time of puberty. That is the time the feelings and passions are beginning to exercise their power upon the young man or woman, as the womb of desire-stuff which formerly protected the nascent desire body is removed. This is in most cases a trying time, and it is well for the youth who has learned reverently to look to parents or teachers, for they will be to him an anchor of strength against the inrush of the feelings. If he has been accustomed to take the statements of his elders on trust, and they have given him wise teaching, he will by now have developed an inherent sense of truth that will be a sure guide, but just in the measure that he has failed to do so will he be liable to go adrift.
It is now the time that he should be taught to investigate things for himself, and thus to form individual opinions. Let us always impress upon him the necessity of careful investigation before he judges, and also that the more fluidic he can keep his opinions, the better he will be able to examine new facts and acquire new knowledge. In this way he will reach his majority at 21, when the mind is also fully free, and will be able to take his place in the world as a full-fledged citizen, a credit to those whose loving care shielded him in his years of development, a thoroughbred man or woman.
The Science Of Nutrition, Health, And Protracted Youth
In the previous lectures we have constantly tried to emphasize the value of the dense body; it is the most priceless of all our material possessions, and strange to say, it is the one we neglect most of all. To protect worthless property we will risk life and limb, throwing away the wheat to save the tares. But it is not our worse crime that we do that upon occasion; the greatest trouble arises from the neglect and disregard which we practice daily, from before birth, to the moment of death.
In the case of our cattle and horses we are very careful regarding breeding; we see that the animals are in perfect health and seek out the mate for them which our common sense and experience tell us will bring forth best strain; we inquire carefully into the pedigree of a dog or a stallion before we allow it to become the sire of our stock, but our prospective children get not a thought. We marry for wealth, a home, social standing, etc., and not to secure a partner mentally, morally, and physically fit to be a progenitor of a more advanced generation, and worst of all, marriage is generally regarded as a license to unlimited coition which is in many cases carried on uninterrupted through the whole period of gestation. What wonder that passion rules the child from infancy! Marriage and propagation are social duties for persons in good health and of sufficient means; but excess is a crime, a cancer which gnaws at the vitals of society as the vulture at Prometheus' liver, and cannot be too strongly condemned.
Thus our forefathers have brought us into the world with many a serious handicap in life, and we are hampering our children in the same way on account of lack of thought and self-restraint, yet wondering why there is sickness and pain. If we would take half the care in the selection of mothers and fathers for our children that we do in the case of our animals there would be a great improvement, particularly if the mother were left unmolested during the period of gestation.
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But it is not enough that we bring our children thus handicapped into the world; from earliest childhood we ignorantly implant habits in them which are deleterious to health and well-being, particularly by giving them wrong food; teaching them to live to eat, instead of eating to live; to look more to the things that please the eye than wholesomeness, inculcating a taste for highly seasoned dishes which arouse the passional nature most potently. Suppose a builder should try to erect a house from old rags, tin cans, offal and refuse of every kind, and live in it. Would we be surprised if it fell down and hurt him? No! we should be surprised if it did not, and when the catastrophe occurred, we should say that he had himself to blame for flying the fact of Nature. So with ourselves, when we employ analogous methods and build our body from any kind of materials without regard to their fitness, we alone are to blame for the ills resulting. Sickness, decrepitude, and infirmity are all effects from causes which may be in a great measure avoided by a tithe of the thought and care we give to the thousand and one things of minor importance. Let us try to outline the underlying causes which produce disastrous effects.
There is no "faith once for all delivered" in any department of knowledge; truth is many-sided, and new phases are constantly opening to the investigator. Yet there are certain basic laws and facts which are ever true, and it is with such facts that we will deal, because they apply to all without exception, and will be found to be conducive to health in all, though health is a strictly individual matter, independent of looks only conditioned by whether the Ego feels "at ease" in the body. If the Ego feels diseased, the body is ill, no matter if it looks what we call "the picture of health."
When the antenatal life of a human being commences as an embryo it is a small pulpy globule composed of albumen (white of egg). Then a change occurs: there appear various particles of more solid substance within it, which grow larger, firmer, and finally touch each other. At points of contact they form "joints" and gradually the skeleton is formed. At the same time the pulpy matter becomes more organized and we have the "fetus," a child in the womb.
The growth continues and birth reveals the child as a soft little body, yet immensely more dense and solid than the embryo. Infancy, childhood, and youth bring increased consolidation and in time the acme of solidity is reached in old age, and ended by death.
In each of these epochs of human life the body is hardened beyond what it was previously, the flesh and the bones, the tendons and the ligaments, every part alike becomes hard and inflexible. The fluids also thicken. The joints no longer are oiled by the synovial fluid, because it gets too thick to flow, and the joints become stiff and begin to creak, the blood which in infancy and youth flowed unimpeded through the arteries, veins, and the minute capillaries, which in early life are all as elastic as rubber tubes, flows slowly and stagnates in the contracted, hardened, and inflexible arteries of old age. In consequence the body bends, the flesh shrinks for want of nutrition, the hair falls out, and last the tired heart can drive the blood no longer, so the body dies. The whole course from the womb to the tomb is one uninterrupted process of consolidation, and infancy, childhood, youth, maturity, and old age are but so many stages of the way.
The only difference between the body of youth and age is, that one is soft and elastic, the other hard and rigid, and the vital question is: What is the cause of this ossification, can it be controlled or at least minimized so as to prolong the halcyon days of youth?
To the latter part of the question it may be answered without qualification, that it is possible by knowledge to minimize the consolidating process and to live our appointed time to greater advantage than if we live unthinkingly as most people unfortunately do.
In regard to the cause of ossification which hardens the tissue of our bodies, chemical analysis has proved that any part of tendon, flesh, blood, urine, perspiration, saliva, and, in fact, any part of the body we examine, contains an immense amount of calcareous or chalky matter not present in childhood, so that while, for instance, the bones of a child are composed of three parts of gelatin and one part of phosphate of lime or bone matter, in old age the proportion is exactly reversed so that there is only one part of gelatin to three parts of bone matter, which is the reason why an old man's bones will not knit when broken. A child's bones knit readily because there is plenty of the cementing material in its bones, and very little of the phosphate of lime or bony matter, sulfate of lime or plaster of Paris, and carbonate of lime or common chalk, which are the choking substances principally causing rigidity and old age.
The question now arises: What is the source? whence do we get this calcareous choking matter. It seems to be beyond dispute that all the solids of the body are built by the blood, which nourishes every part of the system, and that all that the body contains must first have been in the blood. The blood is renewed from the chyle, the chyle from the chyme and ultimately from the food and drink. Food and drink then, which nourish our bodies must therefore at the same time be the source of the earthy deposits which choke our bodies and produce old age and decrepitude.
Chemical analysis also bears out this inference, for it has shown that the arterial blood which comes fresh from the heart, pure and red, is heavier with earthy matter than the venous blood which contains the impurities of the system. Thus it is proven that the life-giving stream which flows through every part of the body to renew and build, at the same time is the bringer of death, for in every cycle it leaves behind a fresh accumulation of choking lime compounds to harden the tissues.
This is the Waterloo upon which all "perpetual life" theories meet their doom, for it is necessary to eat to live, yet every morsel of food has in it both life and death.
While we, therefore, cannot escape taking death-dealing substances into our system, we may at least regulate our food so that we take as little of it as possible, for there is a great difference in the amount contained in different foods; powdered cocoa for instance is one of the most nourishing foods; but at the same time a most potent clogging agent, containing three or four times as much ash as the worst of all other foods. Chocolate on the other hand is still more nourishing than cocoa and contains no earthy matter at all. Anyone knows that as long as we can supply fuel to a fire and keep it free from ashes it will burn and heat: so with our body which is a chemical furnace, as long as we give it proper food and are able to eliminate the refuse by way of the kidneys, skin, and rectum, we can keep it in health and vigor. By taking only such foods as contain the smallest amount of earthy substance we may put off the evil day when rigidity and old age take the place of the elasticity of youth. It lies with ourselves to do so, and the tables of food-values sent out by the U.S. Government give the chemical constituents of the various foods.
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Speaking broadly, and from the chemical standpoint, there are two classes of food (1) the carbonaceous, including the sugars and fats; and (2) the nitrogenous, including the proteins.
The carbonaceous foods are the fuel whence we derive heat and muscular power; they come from the starch and sugar in vegetables, also from butter, cream, milk, olive oil, nuts, fruits, and the yolk of eggs.
These foods contain very little earthy matter; many of them, particularly green, fresh vegetables and fruits are entirely free from it.
The proteins are the material we use to repair waste of the body incident to work and use. They may be obtained from lean meat, such vegetables as beans, peas, etc., from nuts, milk, and white of egg.
Most people feel that a meal without meat is incomplete, for from time immemorial it has been regarded as an axiom that meat is the most strengthening food we have. All other foodstuffs are looked upon as mere accessories to the one or more kinds of flesh on the menu. Nothing could be more erroneous; science has proved by experiments that invariably the nourishment obtained from vegetables has a greater sustaining power, and the reason is easy to see when we look into the matter from the esoteric side.
The Law of Assimilation is that "no particle of food may be built into the body by the forces whose task that is (see Lecture No. 6) until it has been overcome by the indwelling Spirit," because he must be absolute and undisputed ruler in the body, governing the cell-lives as an autocrat, or they would each go their own way as they do in decay when the Ego has fled.
It is evident that the dimmer the consciousness of a cell is, the easier it is to overpower it, and the longer it will remain in subjection. In Lecture No. 3 we saw that the different kingdoms had different vehicles and consequently a different consciousness. The mineral has only its dense body and a consciousness like the deepest trance state. It would therefore be easiest to subject food taken directly from the mineral kingdom, mineral food would remain with us the longest, obviating the necessity for eating so often; but unfortunately we find that the human organism vibrates so rapidly that it is incapable of assimilating the inert mineral directly. Salt and the like substances are passed out of the system at once without having been assimilated at all, the air is full of nitrogen which we need to repair waste, we breathe it into our system, yet cannot assimilate it or any other mineral till it has first been transmuted in nature's laboratory and built into the plants.
As we saw in Lecture No. 3, the plants have a dense and a vital body, which enables them to do this work; their consciousness we also saw, was as a deep, dreamless sleep. Thus it is easy for the Ego to overpower the vegetable cells and keep them in subjection for a long time; hence the great sustaining power of the vegetables.
In animal food the cells have already become more individualized, and as the animal has a desire body giving it a passional nature, it is easily understood that when we eat meat it is harder to overcome these cells which have animal consciousness resembling the dream state, and also that such particles will not stay long in subjection; hence, a meat diet requires larger quantities and more frequent meals than the vegetable or fruit diet.
If we should go one step farther and eat the flesh of carnivorous animals, we should find ourselves hungry all the time, for there the cells have become exceedingly individualized and will therefore seek their freedom and gain it so much the quicker. That this is so is well illustrated in the case of the wolf, the vulture, and the cannibal which have become proverbs for hunger; and as the human liver is too small to take care of even the ordinary meat diet, it is evident that if the cannibal lived solely upon human flesh instead of using it as an occasional "tidbit" he would soon succumb, for while too much of the carbohydrates, sugars, starches, and fats do little if any harm to the system, being exhaled through the lungs as carbonic acid gas or passing as water by way of the kidneys and the skin, an excess of meat is also burned up, but leaves poisonous uric acid and it is being more and more recognized that the less meat we eat the better for our physical well-being.
Looking at the matter of flesh-eating from the ethical side also it is against the higher conceptions to kill to eat. In olden times man went out to the chase as any beast of prey, rough and callous; now he does his hunting in the butcher shop, where none of the nauseating sights of the slaughter-house will sicken him. If each had to go into that bloody place where all the horrors described in Upton Sinclair's books are enacted day after day to be able to satisfy an abnormal injurious habit which causes more sickness and suffering than even the liquor craving; if each had to wield the bloody knife and plunge it into the quivering flesh of his victim, how much meat would we eat? Very little. In order to escape doing this nauseating work ourselves on occasion, we force a fellow being to stand in that bloody pen day after day killing thousands of animals every day of the week; we brutalize him to such an extent that the law will not allow him to sit on a jury in a capital case because he has ceased to have any regard for life. When he gets into a fight as is often the case in the stockyard district of Chicago, and other slaughter cities, he always uses the knife and always unconsciously uses the peculiar twisting cut which makes his stab fatal.
It is no use to say he need not do it. When hunger drives, a man will refuse no means of livelihood; and we, society, who demand this food, force some fellow being to supply it and are therefore responsible for his degradation. We are our brother's keeper both individually and collectively as society.
The animals which we kill also cry aloud against this murder; there is a cloud of gloom and hatred over the great slaughter-cities. The law protects cats and dogs against cruelty. We all rejoice to see the little squirrels in the city parks come and take food from our hands but as soon as there is money in the flesh or fur of an animal, man ceases to have regard for its right to live, and becomes its most dangerous foe, feeding and breeding it for gain, imposing suffering and hardships upon a fellow being for the sake of gold. We have a heavy debt to pay to the lower creatures whose mentors we should be; whose murderers we are, and the good law which works ever to correct abuses will also in time relegate the habit of eating murdered animals to the scrapheap of obsolete practices as cannibalism is now.
We are not advocating a vegetarian diet for everyone. Long practice of flesh eating and particularly the temperamental peculiarities of many people make it unsuitable for them to do without meat, yet others, like the writer, find it no trouble to live and grow fat on two meals of meatless dishes. Eggs, fish, and other low forms are necessary to some, others can live months or years on fruit. Diet, like health, is determined individually and no general standard can be set up. At the same time it may be safely said that the less meat we can get along with, the better our general health will be. But if we want to do without it altogether, it is absolutely essential that we should study a table of food values so that we get the necessary proteins from the vegetables we eat. No man can go to the ordinary table and get sufficient nourishment if he eats only the vegetables provided as accessories to the meat; he must have beans, peas, nuts, and the like foods which are rich in protein to take the place of the discarded flesh or he will starve. As a hint to brain workers it may be said that carrots contain about four times as much phosphoric acid as any other food. The leaves can be used as salad and they have three times as much phosphoric acid as the carrot itself.
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More dangerous to man than any food as a clogging and hardening agent of the system is water. It does not matter how clear and pure it looks, there is an enormous amount of the lime compounds and magnesia in the best we have, and neither filtration nor boiling will take it out. The amount of mineral in the water is easily determined by the way our teakettle "furs up," and it is a mistake to think that the deposit comes from the water that we pour out of the kettle to make tea or coffee with, for it is the solid remains of the water that has evaporated as steam, the water left is harder if anything. The only thing that enables us to live beyond childhood is the enormous eliminative power of the kidneys; were it not for them we should be old in infancy, and if we want to preserve health and youth in old age we must cease drinking and cooking with this death-dealing fluid, using for all internal purposes only distilled water which is absolutely free from the injurious lime-compounds.
The only solvents of a permanent beneficent nature which the writers knows are buttermilk and the juice of grapes, obtained preferably by eating the grape or the juice taken unfermented. A systemic course of treatment with grape juice or buttermilk will open up the closed capillaries and stimulate the blood, so that even aged persons whose flesh has dried up and shrunk will again fill out and take on the look of youth, provided they are not of a too worrying pessimistic nature, for nothing will avail against such a temperament. That, and fear and ignorance in the selection of food are in fact the most productive causes of sickness and the most obstinate foes of the physician.
There are two great aids to health which enable us to get so much more benefit from our food that all who desire to get health or to keep it, ought to employ them. Their names are "thorough mastication" and "enjoyment." They will do more for the welfare of the body than all the drugs or doctors in the world, and like all other habits, they can be cultivated.
The "Quick Lunch Counter" is one of the greatest sins of our nation. A man runs post haste from his office to the high uncomfortable chair found in these places. In five minutes he swallows as many courses, rushes back to his office, and then wonders why he feels uncomfortable and drowsy. Perhaps he feels forced to employ alcoholic stimulants in order to "brace up." All that can be avoided by taking time to eat in comfort.
The question is not how much we eat, but how much we assimilate. When we swallow a large quantity of food nearly whole we get less nourishment than if we take the time necessary to masticate and enjoy our food. Not that we should make it a labored process, but that we should regard eating as the welcoming of a friend into our house, where we are gladly doing all in our power to make him comfortable. Our bodies are in fact comparable to large hotels where we are the hosts and the cells in our food are the guests. They come and go, staying a longer or a shorter time and are a profit or a loss to the proprietor according to whether he makes them feel at home or not.
Imagine two hotels, one run on the basis of cordiality and helpfulness, where the proprietor meets each guest at the door with a cordial shake of the hand and where an ideal, contented set of servants are anxious to anticipate the slightest wish of the guests. Of course things will go swimmingly in that hotel; the guests will feel satisfied and stay long because they will be loath to leave so kind a host. Similarly, if we meet our food with "the glad hand," we shall find that it will fit in easily. If we masticate it in thorough enjoyment, we are making arrangements for its comfort, as the hotel proprietor does for his guest by having a bath and other necessaries in readiness. Enjoying the food, our mental attitude is even more important than mastication. The man who finds fault with his food is like a hotel proprietor who would meet his guests at the door with a scowling face and ask: "What do you want here? I don't like you; I have to take in guest such as you in order to keep my hotel running, but I want you to know that I don't like it."
What wonder if travelers who were forced to enter such a hotel should get angry, cause trouble, and try to get away as soon as possible; what wonder that the man who sniffs and snorts at his food gets indigestion. Whose the fault for his condition but his own? Faultfinding and hate drive the good of our food away from us just as much as they estrange us from friends; enjoyment of food and friend will knit the ties with both closer. As the amount of work we may do in the world, both spiritual and material, depends upon the condition of our bodies, it is of the greatest importance that we cultivate health and prolong youth to the limit of our allotted stay here if it is possible. By following the general directions here given, it will soon be perceived that there is an improvement in the bodily condition which will give fuller and freer scope to the mental faculties.
The Astronomical Allegories Of The Bible
In the previous lectures we have been considering man as a unit, showing how man, a Spirit, has several bodies, or vehicles of consciousness besides the dense body, and how he uses these bodies in gathering experience as a workman uses tools; how experience is garnered in each life and assimilated between death and the next birth, so that in each new Earth-life, we have as faculty the sum of all our experience in our former lives; and how we are thus progressing towards the glorious goal of perfection, which all will eventually attain before we cease returning to this Earth, were each life in a dense body is as a day at school to a child. When we have learned all that is to be learned here, there are other and higher evolutions that we may enter, just as a child enters the grammar school after passing through kindergarten. Endless progress is before the Ego, limitations are unthinkable, for the human Spirit is a spark from the Infinite, enfolding all possibilities.
Man is not only a unit, a separate entity, however; at least, he is that only in a relative sense, for he is a member of a family, a community, a nation, one of the inhabitants of the Earth, and through that related to other worlds with their inhabitants, for they are all inhabited, as some astronomers, arguing from analogy, have asserted. Esoteric science also teaches that they are inhabited, and this teaching is founded on firsthand knowledge, gained and verified by means of faculties possessed by some, though as yet latent in the many.
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This view of the Universe and our little Earth, though strange to most people, should not be nearly as hard to believe as the seven-day Creation Story, when taken literally, for if God created the Earth in that brief space of time, He must also have mixed in the fossil remains; twisted the strata, made the glacier-marks and the mark of erosion by water—all for His own glory, and to the eternal mystification of man. It is certainly more logical to hold that the different heavenly bodies are inhabitants for evolving life and form, than that they are merely lamps hung up in the firmament to light our little mite of Earth.
This relation of the Sun, Moon, and planets is shown in every one of the different world religions, the Christian religion included, and the olden temples are monuments to the faith now nearly forgotten in the Western World; yet as relevant today as in the days of old.
The great Pyramid of Gizeh, which stands upon the edge of the vast desert of Sahara, at the head of the Delta of the Nile, is one of the oldest structures on the Earth and one of the witnesses to the knowledge of the ancients concerning the true cosmic relationship for they built these cosmic measurements into that monumental pile.
Many theories have been advanced regarding the age and object of this Pyramid. Astronomers have pointed out that in the year 2170 B.C., Alpha Draconis, the pole-star then, pointed directly down the slanted entrance-way on the north side of the Pyramid. Professor Proctor asserts that it was also in the required position 3350 B.C.; but Egyptologists say that this is far too late; and as the latter figure takes into consideration the relationship then existing between Alpha Draconis and Alcyone, which can occur only once in a sidereal year (25,868 solar years), and as the Dendera Zodiac shows that the ancient Egyptians had records of three sidereal years, the age of the pyramid may be 78,000 years or older. This age has at least as much claim to scientific belief as Professor Proctor's date.
The esoteric investigations which are based upon the imperishable records found in the Memory of Nature fix the date of construction at about 250,000 B.C. when it was used as a temple of initiation into the Mysteries, and was the shrine in which a great talisman was kept.
H. P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine tells us that the construction of the pyramids was based on the program of the Mysteries and of the series of Initiations...hence the Pyramids are the everlasting record on Earth of these Initiations "as the course of the stars are in heaven." The cycle of Initiation was a reproduction in miniature of that great series of cosmic changes to which astronomers have given the name of sidereal year (25,868 ordinary years).
"Just as, at the close of the cycle of the sidereal year (measured by the precession of the equinoxes round the circle of the zodiac), the heavenly bodies return to the same relative positions...so, at the close of the cycle of Initiation, the inner man has regained the pristine state of divine purity and knowledge" from which he departed to perform the pilgrimage through matter, but richer by the experiences he has gone through.
Being a symbol, it must of course embody all, or at least a part of the most prominent features of the things symbolized; and thanks to the able, if somewhat narrow-minded works of Professors Piazzi Smith and Proctor, both astronomers of repute, but ranged on opposite sides in regard to the question concerning the use of the Pyramid—we have an overwhelming amount of proof of the relation of the measurements of the different parts of the Pyramid to terrestrial and cosmic cycles and distances.
Professor Proctor's testimony is the most valuable, because he is a dissenter from the theory that the Pyramid was constructed by divine architects; and would do, and does do anything he can, in honor, to refute such a theory, attributing the numerous measurements which he works out, and their relation to cosmic measures to "mere coincidence"; a method which caused Mme. Blavatsky to vent her rare sarcasm upon him, as "the champion coincidentalist." He admits that "all the theories concerning its origin leave unexplained the most striking features of the Great Pyramid, save the one wild (?) theory which attributes its construction to divine architects"...also that "the theory that it was used for astrological purposes is supported by all known evidence, and strong though that support is, it derives greater strength from the failure of all other admissible theories to sustain the weight against them." In another place he admits that the only difficulty with the astrological theory arises from "our inability to understand how men ever had such fullness of faith in astrology as to devote many years of labor and enormous sums of money to the pursuit of astrological researches, even for their own interests."
Proclus tells us that according to tradition the pyramid ended at one time in a platform, with the head of the grand gallery projecting upward from the center, and Professor Proctor grows enthusiastic over the possibilities of the Pyramid as an observatory when in that architecturally unfinished, but astronomically perfect state, closing his eulogy by saying that "given modern instruments" it might have remained the most important astronomical observatory in the world. He shows how the opening of the grand gallery points to the zodiac, so that as the Sun, Moon, and planets pass around their course in the heavens, they would throw a shadow into the grand gallery at a different angle for each day of the year or month and that thus their positions could be measured in a most efficient manner.
The most important measurements embodied in the pyramid are:
Each side measures 913.15 inches at the base; thus the sum of the 4 sides is 36,526 inches. Allowing 100 inches for each day in the year, gives us 365 1/4 days, or exactly the number of days in a year, even to the quarter day which we save up for four years and use in the leap year.
The length of one of the diagonals of the base is 12,934 inches, so the sum of them both is 25,868 inches or 1 inch for every year in the great sidereal or world-year.
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As the base of the Pyramid measures the time it takes the Earth to revolve around the Sun in its yearly course, it would be a fair inference that the height of the Pyramid ought to measure the distance of the Earth from the Sun and it does.
The height of the pyramid is 5,819 inches. That multiplied by a thousand million inches equals 91,840,000 miles, which Professor Proctor admits is more likely the true distance of the Earth from the Sun, than any calculated by the astronomers. Therefore, "wild theory" or not, the evidence is all in favor of the supposition that divine architects built the pyramid, and that ought to convince us of this theory.
At a later period in its history, esoteric information tells us that the Pyramid was the temple of the mysteries which have now degenerated into "Masonry." In one of the rites called "the gate of death," the candidate was tied to a wooden cross and carried into a subterranean crypt, where he remained entranced for three and one-half days. During that time, while his dense body lay inert, the Ego, clothed in its finer vehicles, was consciously roaming the Desire World in the hierophant's charge. He was put through the "trials by fire, Earth, air, and water." That is, he was shown that when functioning in such a body none of the elements could harm him; that he could then pass through a mountain as easily as through air; that he could live in a roaring furnace or on the bottom of the Great Deep in perfect ease and comfort. At first the neophyte is usually afraid of the elements, therefore the initiator is present to help and give assurance to the neophyte.
At sunrise on the fourth day, he was carried to the platform of the Pyramid, where the rays of the rising Sun woke him from his sleep (during which he had been visiting Purgatory).
When awakened, he was given "the Word," and was called "first-born."
This rite lingers yet as the third degree in Masonry; the death and resurrection of Hiram Abiff, the "Widow's son," the Grand Architect of Solomon's temple and hero of the Masonic legend. Dragon, the eminent French Masonic authority, says that the legend of Hiram is an astronomical allegory representing the Sun from the summer solstice downward. "During the summer the Sun calls forth songs of gratitude from all that breathes, hence Hiram who represents it, can give the Word, that is to say life to all. Then the Sun enters the southern signs at the fall equinox, nature becomes mute, and Hiram, the Sun, can no longer give the sacred Word; he meets the three murderers: the zodiacal signs Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius, which the Sun goes through in October, November, and December. The first strikes him with a 24-inch rule emblematic of the 24 hours the Earth takes to revolve on its axis. The second strikes him with an iron square, symbolizing the four seasons, and at last the mortal blow is given by the third murderer with a mallet, which, being round, signifies that the Sun has completed its circle and dies to give room for the Sun of another year."
The initiates of the temples in Egypt were called "phree messen" which means "children of light" because they had received the light of knowledge, and it is this which has been changed into "Free Mason."
In the religion of Judaism we hear of a God making certain promises to a man by the name of Abraham. He promised that he would make Abraham's seed as numerous as the sands upon the seashore; and we are told how he dealt with Abraham's grandson, Jacob, who was the husband of four wives, by whom he had 12 sons and one daughter. These are looked upon as the forefathers of the Jewish nation.
This also is an astronomical allegory dealing with the migration of the heavenly bodies, as will be evident from a careful perusal of the 49th chapter of Genesis and the 33rd chapter of Deuteronomy, where the blessings of Jacob upon his sons show how they are identified with the 12 signs of the Zodiac; Simon and Levi sharing the sign of Gemini, the twins, and the feminine sign Virgo being allotted to Jacob's only daughter, Dinah. The four wives are the four phases of the Moon and Jacob is the Sun.
This is similar to the teaching we find among the Greeks, where Gaia, the Earth, is the wife of Apollo, the Sun; and among the Egyptians, where heat and moisture, the Sun and the moon, were personified as Osiris and Isis. The sacred rivers Jordan and Ganges are also connected etymologically with the river Eridanus, which is one of the constellations. It means "source of descent," and for agriculturists such as were these ancient people, these rivers were the source of the waters of life. Josephus tells us that the Jews carried the 12 signs of the Zodiac on their banners, and camped around the tabernacle which held the seven-branched candlestick representing the Sun and the heavenly bodies which move inside the circle formed by the 12 signs of the Zodiac.
The Jews located their temples so that the four corners pointed N.E., S.E., S.W., and N.W., and the sides directly North, East, South, and West, and like all solar temples the main entrance was in the East, so that the rising Sun might illumine its portal and herald each day the victory of light over the powers of darkness; this to bring to the nascent humanity the message that the contest of light and darkness on the material plane is but the counterpart of a similar contest in the moral and mental worlds where the human soul is groping its way towards the light, for the battle of light and darkness in the material world, like all other phenomena, is a suggestion of the realities in the invisible realms, and these truths were given to man as myths by divine leaders who led him until his growing intellect gave birth to arrogance which caused his benefactors to withdraw, and let him learn by the hard knocks of experience. Then he forgot them and has come to regard the ancient stories of gods and demigods as imaginary. Yet, even the early Christian church was imbued with this knowledge of the significance of the solar myth, for the Cathedral of St. Peter at Rome is built facing East, like all other solar temples, telling humanity of the "Great Light of the World" who is to come and dispel the spiritual darkness which as yet envelops us; the Light-bringer who shall bring peace on Earth and good will among men, causing the nations to beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning-hooks.
The Jews greeted the Sun with the morning-sacrifice; and took leave of him at sunset in a similar manner by an evening oblation, offering up on their sabbath and additional sacrifice to the lunar "Race-god," Jehovah. Him they also worshiped by sacrifice at the New Moon.
One great feast was Easter, when they celebrated the Passover; the time when the Sun "passes over" his "easter(n) node; leaving the southern hemisphere where he winters and commencing his northern journey in his chariot of fire, hailed with joy by men as their savior from hunger and cold which would inevitably result if he stayed in south declination always.
The last of the Jewish feasts and the most important is the feast of the Tabernacles, when the Sun crosses its western node in autumn, having yielded to man the "bread of life" wherewith to sustain his material being until the next return of the Sun to the northern heavens.
For the above reasons the six southern signs which the Sun occupies in winter are always called "Egypt," the "land of the Philistines," etc.—a name for something that is bad for "God's people"; whereas the northern signs in which the Sun is in the fruitful season are "heaven," "the promised land," which "flows with milk and honey."
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We see this in such passages as the one where the celebration of the Passover is enjoined "to remember the coming out of Egypt." This feast is a rejoicing over the emergence of the Sun from the southern signs, also from the recorded fact that Jacob was with Joseph in Egypt when he died. At the winter solstice when the Sun of the past year has completed its journey and reached its lowest degree of south declination it is in the zodiacal sign Sagittarius. By reference to Genesis 49:24 where the dying Jacob speaks of the "bow" of Joseph, it is easy to identify him with the sign Sagittarius which represents a centaur in the act of drawing his bow, and thus the story of Jacob dying in Egypt with Joseph, is re-enacted each year when the Sun dies in the sign Sagittarius at the winter solstice.
The story of Samson is another phase of the solar myth. As long as Samson's hair was allowed to grow, his strength would increase; Samson is the Sun, and its rays represent Samson's hair. From the winter solstice in December to the summer solstice in June the Sun's rays grow, and he gains in strength with every day. This frightens the "powers of darkness," the winter months, the Philistines, for if this Light-bringer continues to reign their kingdom will come to an end; and they counsel together against Samson to discover wherein his strength lies. They secure the cooperation of the woman Delilah, which is the sign Virgo, and when Samson, the Sun, passes through that sign in September he is said to have laid his head in the woman's lap, and to have confided his secret to her. She shears him of his locks, for at that time the rays of the Sun grow shorter, and lose their strength. Then the Philistines or winter months come and carry the debilitated giant into their prison: the southern signs where the Sun is in winter. They put out his eyes or deprive him of his light and at last bring him to their temple, their stronghold, at the winter solstice; there they subject him to infamous indignities, believing they have vanquished the light completely, but with his last remaining strength the fettered solar giant shatters their temple and although he dies in the effort, he overcomes his enemies and thus leaves the way clear for another Sun-child to be born to save humanity from the cold and famine which would result if he had remained bound in the toils of the powers of darkness, the Philistines, the winter months.
The lives of all the saviors of mankind are also founded upon the passage of the Sun around the circle of the zodiac, which pictures the trials and triumphs of the initiate, and the fact has given rise to the erroneous conclusion that these saviors never existed, that the stories are merely Sun-myths. This is wrong. All divine teachers sent to man are cosmic characters, and the ordering of their lives is in accord with the marching orbs, which contain, as it were, an anticipated biography of their lives. Each came with divine spiritual light and knowledge to help man to find God, and therefore the events in their lives were in accord with the events which the physical light-bearer, the Sun, encounters on his pilgrimage through the year.
The Saviors are all born of an immaculate Virgin, at the time when darkness is greatest among mankind, as the Sun of the coming year is born, or begins his journey, on the longest night of the year, when the zodiacal sign Virgo, the Virgin, stands on the eastern horizon in all latitudes between 10 and 12 P.M. She remains as immaculate as ever, after she has given birth to her Sun-child; hence we see the Egyptian goddess Isis sitting on the crescent moon nursing her divine Babe Horus; Astarte, the immaculate lady of Babylon, with her babe Tammuz and a crown of seven stars over her head; the lady Devaki in India with her infant Krishna, and our own Virgin Mary giving birth to the Saviour of the Western World under the star of Bethlehem. Everywhere the same story: the immaculate Mother—the divine Babe—and the Sun, Moon, or stars.
As the material Sun is weak and has to flee from the powers of darkness, so all these divine light-bringers are searched for and forced to flee from the powers of the world; and like the Sun, they always escape. Jesus fled before King Herod. King Kansa and King Maya are his counterparts in other religions. The baptism occurs at the time when the Sun passes through the sign Aquarius, the Waterman, and when he goes through the sign of the Fishes in March we have the fast of the Initiate, for Pisces is the last of the southern signs, and all the stores laid by from the bounteous gifts of the Sun of the previous year and nearly exhausted, and man's food is scant. The fish-food of Lent which occurs at this time is a further corroboration of this solar origin of the fast.
At the vernal equinox the sun "crosses the equator" and at that time the "crossification" or crucifixion occurs, for then the Sun-god commences to give his life as food for his worshipers, ripening the corn and the grape, which is made into the "bread and wine." To do that he must leave the equator and soar heavenward. Similarly it would benefit humanity nothing spiritually if their saviors stayed with them, therefore they soar heavenwards as "sons (or suns) of righteousness," ministering to the faithful from above, as the Sun does for man when high in the heavens.
The Sun attains its highest point of north declination at the summer solstice; he then sits upon "the throne of his father," the Sun of the previous year; but he cannot remain there more than three days, then he is carried downwards towards his western node. Likewise the Saviors of mankind ascend to the throne of the Father, to be reborn from time to time for the good of mankind, which truth is embodied in the sentence of the Nicean creed: "thence he shall return."
The movement known as the "precession of the equinoxes," whereby the Sun crosses the equator on the 21st of March at a different point each year, determines the symbol of the Savior. At the time of the birth of Jesus the Sun crossed in about the 5th degree of the sign Aries, the Ram. Consequently Christ was "the lamb of God." There was a dispute, however. Some thought that owing to what is called the orb of influence, power of the Sun was really in the sign Pisces, the fishes, and that the symbol of Christ should have been a fish. As a relic of that dispute we see that to this day the Bishop's mitre is in the form of the head of a fish. At the time of Mithras, the Persian Savior, the Sun crossed in the sign of the Bull, hence we find Mithras riding on a bull, and this was also the foundation for the worship of the Bull Apis in Egypt. At present the vernal equinox is in about 10 degrees of Pisces, the fishes, so that if a savior were born now he would be a "Fish-man" like Oannes of Nineveh, corrupted into Jonah and the whale by the Bible.
The four letters said to have been on the cross of Christ and the method of fixing Easter in commemoration of the event, also go to show the cosmic character of the occurrence; these letters, I.N.R.I., are commonly supposed to have meant Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum, but they are also the initial letters of the Hebrew names of the four elements: Iam (water), Nour (fire), Ruach (air or spirit), Iabeshah (Earth). It would be foolish to fix the anniversary of the death of an individual as Easter is fixed by the Sun and Moon, but it is the proper thing in respect of a solar festival and a cosmic character, related to the sun as spiritual light-bringer to physical luminary.
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When the Sun leaves his throne at the summer solstice, June 21, he passes into the sign Leo, the Lion of Judah. Then we have the Catholic feast of the "Assumption" on August 15, in Leo. Thence, onward to his western node, he enters the sign of the Virgin about August 22. Thus the Virgin is born from the Sun as it were.
This brings to mind the astronomical solution to that passage in Revelation, "I saw a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet." That phenomenon happens every September just after the new Moon; for viewed from our Earth, the Sun covers or clothes the sign Virgo all through September, and as the Moon is leaving the conjunction of the Sun, that appears to be beneath the Virgin's feet. When John the Baptist is represented as saying concerning Christ that "he must increase, but I must decrease," he is symbolizing the Sun at the summer solstice when it must decrease in light for the coming half year, while Christ by his birthday at Christmas is identified with the newborn Sun which increases the length of the day until the middle of summer.
Thus we see that the contest of Light and Darkness in the physical world is closely connected in the scriptures of the different religions with the contest of the powers of spiritual light and life against those of darkness and ignorance; that this truth is universally spread among all peoples in all ages. The myths of the dragon-slayers embody the same truth, where the Greeks tell of the victory of Apollo over Python, and of Hercules over the dragon of the Hesperides, the Norseman tells of the contest of Beowulf slaying the fire-drake, of Siegfried slaying the dragon Fafner, and of St. George and the dragon. In our materialistic age these truths are temporarily relegated to oblivion or regarded as fairy stories without any basis in truth; but the time will come and is not far distant when these relics will again be restored to honor as embodiments of great spiritual truths.
Astrology: Its Scope and Limitations
In modern times the Science of Astrology has come to be regarded as an exploded fallacy, and, like the clairvoyant, the astrologer is looked upon as a charlatan, and not without reason; for such advertisements as are found in almost any paper offering to cast a horoscope telling one's fortune from the cradle to the grave for the magnificent sum of ten cents or even for a postage stamp are enough to give a certain justification for the appellation "fakir," and this lecture is given to show another side, not popularly known, to this ancient and misjudged science; to show its uses and its limitations.
There are two kinds of astrology and two kinds of astrologers: those who do not even cast a horoscope for their patrons but only ask the month of birth, which information tells them what sign the Sun was in at the time of the person's birth. Then they copy from a book or have a set of twelve mimeographed forms telling the person's "fortune."
It is evident to any reasoning mind that there are more than twelve classes of people in the world, and according to that method there would be a similarity of life in the case of every twelfth person, whereas we know that no two persons have the same experience; that every life is different from all others, and any method that does not make such a difference must be false upon the face of it.
The ten-cent astrologer is a good business man. His mimeographed "reading," stationery and postage do not cost more than two cents, so he has a profit of eight cents for every horoscope (?). Commercially that is an enormous profit, but it fades into insignificance before the fact that every time the astrologer (?) gets an order he gets the name of a fool, and he has a regular "follow up" system whereby he notifies his customers from time to time that certain very important developments are due to take place in a near future which he will reveal for a dollar. He will work his victim systematically until at last experience has taught him how worthless are the prognostications he receives, and then such people cry down astrology as fraud or folly.
The scientific method demands first, month, day, and year, from the applicant, because it takes into consideration all of the nine heavenly bodies in the solar system, and it knows that they have at that time a certain relative position to one another. That same position will not occur again until a sidereal year has passed, and that is 25,868 of our ordinary years in length, so that if a child is born today it would take 25,868 years before another child could be born with the same horoscope. But even that is not enough, for it is estimated that a child is born every second; that would give 86,400 whose experience in life would be alike if only the day of birth were taken into consideration. Therefore the scientific astrologer demands both the hour and place or birth in addition to the day, month, and year, for there are seldom two people born in the same place at the same
hour and minute; even twins come from twenty minutes to a number of hours apart, and that makes a great difference. Where they are born from the same sac and alike, they will have been born when the same zodiacal sign was rising in the East, for that is an important factor in giving form to the body, but where they are born from separate envelopes and dissimilar, calculation will bring out the fact that the end of one sign was rising at the birth of one, and the beginning of the next when the second was delivered, or, where there are several hours between, there may be more signs between, for as the Earth turns on its axis through the day, a new sign rises every two hours at the equator, but nearer the pole some signs are passed quicker on account of the inclination of the Earth's axis, so that at times there may be several signs between the birth of twins, which would make their lives very different.
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When, however, it happens that two children are born in the same place at the same time, there is also a marked similarity in their lives. There are such cases on record. One instance will suffice: A Mr. Samuel Hemmings was born in the same parish in London, at the same hour and near the same minute as King George the Third, June 4, 1738. He went into business as an ironmonger on the same day the King was crowned; he was married the same day as his majesty, died on the same day, and also other events in the two lives resembled each other. The difference in station precluded both being kings, but on the same day when one became the monarch of a kingdom, the other also became an independent business man.
Astronomy stands in about the same relation to astrology as anatomy to physiology. Anatomy gives the dry facts as to the location and the structure of the constituent organs of the body, and astronomy gives like dry data with regard to the heavenly bodies. But, as it is reserved for physiology to enunciate the utility of the different organic parts of the body, which alone makes such knowledge of value, so it is the part of astrology to explain the significance of the changing relative positions of the heavenly bodies in regard to the actions of mankind.
It will need no argument to prove that the chemical condition of the Earth's atmosphere is different in the morning from what it is at noon or evening. We also see the changes produced in the different seasons, and we recognize that these changes are due to the Sun's changed position. We also recognize the effect of the Moon on the tides, etc. These bodies move fast, yet are constantly producing changes in the atmospheric conditions of the Earth; and in these days of wireless telegraphy it should not be hard to conceive that the other heavenly bodies also produce an effect. As we have already seen, these changes are so numerous that the same chemical condition could not occur except at intervals of 25,868 years. Thus we see that the electrostatic condition of the atmosphere at the moment a child draws its first breath would give to each atom of the little sensitive body an individual stamp. It is as if we were charging a new electric battery, and any change in the atmospheric condition will affect that brain differently from all others, for its original stamp varied from all others.
There is in the mind of many people the idea that astrology is fatalistic; and while it may so appear, a deeper study will show that this idea is erroneous; that as all our sorrows and pains are the result of ignorance, so knowledge will avert misfortune if applied in time; and in order to understand the scope of our free will we must recognize the fact that the result of our past deeds goes through a threefold process of ripening.
In the first place there are causes which have been allowed to run their course unchecked by other acts and have so nearly worked themselves into effects that they are like the ball shot from a pistol—they are beyond our power of interference and must be allowed to run their course for good or ill. They are called "ripe" causation in esotericism, and they are clearly shown in the horoscope when properly cast. Of course it would do us no good in one sense to know them when we cannot avert them, but sometimes we may alter the conditions under which such a ripe cause spends itself, and then there is the hope. We see the passing cloud, we know when it will have spent its fury, and that gives us a hope we should not have save for the prognostications of astrology.
The second kind of causes is that generated and worked out from day to day; a sort of "pay as you go transaction." This kind may often be avoided or rectified by a knowledge of astrology. The tendencies are also shown in the horoscope.
The third kind of causes is that which we are making but which we cannot work out now. That is saved up for adjustment in later years or later lives. In regard to this class we have absolute freedom. The horoscope will aid us by showing the tendencies, so that we may be particularly careful at critical times, working with all our might to catch the good opportunities and taking extra pains to avoid an evil tendency.
To illustrate the working of the Law of Consequence in relation to prediction we may cite some cases within our own experience.
Mr. L., a well known and popular lecturer, had never studied astrology, but was interested and was offered tuition. In order to lend interest to the study his own horoscope was used as a basis of instruction, as he would thus be able to check the interpretations of the past and thus arrive at a better understanding than if someone else's nativity had been used. In the course of the calculations it came out that Mr. L. was subject to frequent accidents. Previous accidents and happenings were figured out to the very day they happened, which impressed Mr. L very much.
It was further seen that on the 21st of July, 1906, another accident was due and would affect the upper part of the chest, arms, and neck to the lower part of the head; also that it would result from a short journey. Mr. L. was warned that as the new Moon, occurring on that day, was the factor in bringing about the event, he must stay in the house on that day and also on the seventh day after, the latter being even more dangerous than the original. He was much impressed and promised to obey the injunction carefully.
Just previous to the critical time we wrote Mr. L. from Seattle to insure remembrance of directions and received a letter in reply that he was mindful and would be careful.
The next communication was from a mutual friend, stating that on the critical day, July 28, Mr. L. had gone to Sierra Madre in an electric car and at a railway crossing had come in collision with a train, was hurled out through a window and sustained injuries in the placed mentioned in the prediction; also a lesion to a tendon which had not been seen.
It was a sore puzzle, of course, to know why Mr. L. had disregarded the injunction, as he was very much impressed with the reality of the danger. The answer came three months later, when he was able to write himself. He said: "I thought the 28th was the 29th." This was plainly a case of "ripe" causation that could not be avoided. In other cases people have been warned of accidents, have followed instructions and escaped, and said afterwards: "But do you really think I would have been hurt if I had not done so?" That is the difficulty! People do not believe unless they get it knocked into them, as Mr. L. did. He wrote: "These accidents have deepened my respect for astrology immensely." But is that the only way we can learn? If so, the more the pity for us.
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It is a true saying that "no man liveth to himself." We all affect each other. That also is shown in the horoscope. The death of the parents is particularly shown in each one's horoscope, for they are the source of the body in which we live, and often where the birth hour is unknown the proficient astrologer can find it from the great events in life, particularly if the father's and mother's death day is given him. Husband and wife are also so tied that the great events in the life of one are shown in the horoscope of the other. A case in point came under notice a few years ago when a Mrs. F. was warned of a danger of rupture of relations between herself and Mr. F. She was told that an anticipated journey would be stopped and social functions suspended. (They were society people.) The lady acknowledged having contemplated a journey to Europe, but pooh-poohed the idea of giving it up
and asked if Mr. F. was in danger of death. The answer was: Worse! But as it was a delicate matter and she a stranger, no more could be said, save that November would be a time of disaster. The 14th of that month her husband was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary for criminal assault on a little girl. The journey was of course suspended and social ostracism followed. This case shows particularly the delicate position of the astrologer. Though he may see and is desirous of helping, conventions debar him from saying outright what he sees. The before-mentioned case is in point. Though anxious to avert suffering it was impossible to warn. Therefore we advocate the study of astrology by all.
Not even the best astrologer who is a stranger can see into the lives of those near and dear to us as we can when we have studied astrology, because of the insight we have already gained into their characters. Conventions do not hinder us to the same extent as they affect a stranger. Besides, a bought horoscope never can engender in us the sympathy for others which comes from the personal knowledge of astrology. When a visitor to Columbus, Ohio, the writer was shown the horoscope of a certain boy cast by his aunt. It was seen at once that the boy was going through a crisis which would last about six years. During that time an enormous amount of evil would surely come to the surface, and all would depend upon what his treatment at home would be—and oh, the pity of it, ignorance of the hidden causes governed the attitude of the parents. Instead of forbearance, love, and sympathy, he was getting lectures and punishments. Regarded as a scapegrace, how could he be expected to be good at that age! A great wave of sympathy swept over the writer at the realization of what that poor boy must suffer, and when a horoscope of the lad's younger sister revealed the fact that when about 14 she would enter upon a similar crisis, the need was felt of sending an urgent message to those parents, telling them for pity's sake to lavish love on that child in the few years which would elapse before the commencement of the crisis, to make home so dear and homelike to her that when the crisis comes she will have so much love and cheer at home that all other companionships and all other places must seem dull by comparison. Only in that way will it be possible to save that child and it has been a frequent prayer with the writer that the advice may be heeded.
We have those mysteries, the children, all around and amongst us. Upon the way we solve the riddle will it depend what we reap as a result of our guardianship. It is not beyond the average intellect to be able to cast an ordinary horoscope and read it for character. Character is destiny, and if we know the character of a growing child we may lay up for ourselves great treasure in heaven by strengthening the good tendencies and helping it by example and precept to weed out the evil.
One of the greatest uses of astrology in the writer's opinion is in determining the character of children and bringing them up so as to strengthen their weak points and stem the evil tendencies. In character reading astrology is correctly interpreted in 99 per cent of the cases by most experienced astrologers, and no parent can benefit and help a child more than by getting a horoscope for it, except by learning to case it. In the meantime a friend who understands astrology may be utilized to furnish a horoscope for the child.
While astrology is an absolutely true science, it must always be taken into consideration that the astrologer is but human and therefore fallible. Though a conscientious astrologer with the ability to combine and blend the stellar influences will generally give correct forecasts, he is every liable to meet his Waterloo, often where he least expects it. The writer has only once said that a prediction he made would not fail and that time it did fail. There was an escape-clause and it was seen, but the aspects were so strong that it seemed impossible that the predicted event could fail to materialize. It nearly happened, but was frustrated at the critical moment, showing the potency of the escape-clause.
That predictions fail at times is due to a factor which the astrologer cannot take into consideration—the free will of man. So long as people drift aimlessly with the time and tide of life, wafted hither and thither by the wind of circumstance the task of prediction is easy, and the careful and competent astrologer can predict accurately for the great majority of people for the horoscope shows their tendencies, and apart from individual effort mankind follows these tendencies unresistingly. But the more evolved the man, the more liable is the astrologer to fail, for he can only see the tendencies; the will of the man as a factor it is beyond him to calculate. In the nature of things there must be this element of uncertainty. If conditions were so hard and fast that no mistake were possible, it would show that inexorable fate governed human life, and there would be no use in making an effort to change conditions, but the very fact that predictions do fail is an inspiration, for it shows that a certain amount of free will does exist.
There is one phase of prediction where astrology is perhaps infallible and of great use, that is in determining the affinity of people, so that instead of making marriage a lottery or chance it can be ascertained before-hand what amount of happiness or sorrow will result from such a union. There would certainly be no need for divorce in cases where a fairly competent astrologer had recommended the union.
In the previous lectures we have seen that human life is governed by a great law of nature, the law of Consequence or Causation; that our every act is causative and will bring its inevitable effect as surely as the pebble thrown into the air returns to earth. Under this Great Law we meet again both friends and foes and it seems that it is impossible to come into the closest of all relations—marriage—with a stranger. Therefore it appears that the influences which thus incite people are ripe causation which cannot be avoided. The writer has noticed that when people ask for an astrological forecast of a proposed marriage, and predictions are favorable, they invariably hurry the ceremony because it is in line with their wishes, but where the astrologer is compelled to predict disaster they invariably conclude that "he does not know as much as he thinks he does," and they either get married anyway or consult someone who predicts as they wish and then follow his advice.
The greatest of all the uses of astrology is in dealing with sick people, and that is the only use the writer makes of it now. We have spoken of the Law of Consequence, which brings to each at the appointed time the results of his past actions, whether in this or other lives. The stars are the Clock of Destiny, as it were; the twelve signs of the zodiac correspond to the face of the clock with its twelve figures; the Sun and the planets with their slow motions indicate the year when any certain event is due, and the swift-moving Moon will tell us the month.
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There is one class of people who are particularly under the influence of Luna—the Moon. Lunatics we call them on that account. In their lives the changes of the moon are particularly felt and the astrologer can forecast not only to the day, but even to the very hour when crises manifest. A case in point from the writer's experience will illustrate.
The wife of a friend became mentally ill and was put under the care of two nurses. Warning was given concerning crises at different periods and the precautions taken prevented serious trouble. The lady's husband always made it a point to be on hand to help the nurses and a straitjacket was used. One such night a warning had been given for two a.m. The gentleman was there as usual in the room with the patient. He lay on the bed fully dressed, and the lady was sitting up in bed during the fore part of the night, talking, mostly rationally, and pleaded to have the wrist-bands of the straitjacket untied.
As she seemed so rational the husband complied, and a little later the lady herself unfastened the straps imprisoning her lower limbs.
About two a.m. she arose and searched the room for something, still speaking quietly and rationally, but Mr. — got the idea that she was hunting for a knife, so he also arose to watch her, but as he did so she sprang at him, biting his cheek, and a knife fell to the floor. It took the combined efforts of the husband and nurses to get her back into the straitjacket.
A few days later Mr. — discovered that his trousers had been pierced in two places by a glancing blow from the knife. The attack occurred at the very hour predicted.
When sickness comes to anyone the crisis is shown by the horoscope, and from that it is possible to see the developments in the case, so as to be able to take advantage of the propitious times. Then the healing remedies will have so much greater effect, and if the healer is unable to make much progress on account of adverse planetary conditions he can at least hold out hope and say when a change will occur.
Such a case happened in Duluth when the writer was asked to attend a lady suffering from blood poison. She had been given up by the doctors. On casting her horoscope it was seen that she has had a similar disease seven years before and that another crisis was due in a few days, when the new Moon would aggravate the condition.
The lady was in great agony, with her relatives around her. She was taking leave of them and expected to die. As the Moon was dark it did not hinder much and in about twenty minutes the patient was resting easy and without pain. In two days the poison had been driven from the abdomen down to the knees; but then the new Moon stopped progress, and the third day itching and pain in the lower part of the limbs commenced again. We fought it for three days, but, while able to stop the pain during treatments, it commenced an hour or two after. The swelling remained as before. It was then plain that no relief was possible till the Moon had turned the full. The patient was told that no relief was possible at once, but on a designated day the swelling would yield to the treatments already given and the pain cease. On the day designated the lady got up in the morning and could put her shoes on with ease. The sickness was past.
In this relation a physician and surgeon in Portland, Oregon, said that his experience had led him to always perform his operations, if at all possible, while the Moon is increasing, as he had noticed that there was greater vitality at that time and wounds healed better than when the operation was performed while the Moon was decreasing.
To the esotericist the twelve signs of the zodiac are the visible vehicles of the twelve great Creative hierarchies which helped man to evolve up to his present stage of self-consciousness, the Sun being the vesture of the highest spiritual intelligence manifest in our system at the present time. The seven planets: Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, Mercury, and the bodies of the seven great Star Angels, of whom we hear in all religions as the seven Spirits before the Throne, the seven Archangels of the Mohammedans, the seven Rishis of the Hindus, the seven Amshaspands of the Parsis, etc. They act according to the law of Consequence, and are the Ministers of our Lord, the Sun-God, each taking care of a definite part of God's will.
From them as Spirits we have all come in seven "rays," and one of them is thus our "Father-Star," and remains so throughout all our lives. That fact does not preclude that we may be and are born at different times under all the other stars, so as to gather varied experience, and our horoscope will show what particular star is our "ruler" in this life, but we never know our Father-Star until at the last initiation. From this fact comes also the beautiful doctrine of "twin souls" not to be confounded with the coarse and bestial teaching which has been made the excuse for abominable adulterous practices. But all who have emanated from the same father-star are brother, sister, or twin souls in all their lives on Earth, and no one can enter an esoteric school except the one composed of our brothers from the same ray or star-angel from which we have emanated. This was what Christ Jesus meant when He said to the disciples, "Your Father and my Father," whereby we may understand that Jesus and his disciples were twin souls emanated from the same ray. To the Pharisees he ascribes a different origin, calling them children of the devil, Saturn or Satan. Yet it must not be supposed that Saturn is evil; he has his beneficent mission to fulfill, like all the other of God's ministers; he is the subduing influence which brings sorrow to put a damper upon our arrogance; the tempter, to bring out our imperfections that we may be purged of evil and become perfect and virtuous; and his virtues are grand and great, chastity and justice, a rectitude that will never swerve, but it lacks mercy, and love; that comes from the beautiful Venus. From her also come music and art, which serve to turn us to the higher side of nature. Jupiter is the beacon that lures us on to heaven and inspires us with lofty thoughts of devotion to God and altruistic aspirations. Mars is the energizer spurring us on to work in the vineyard of life. Were it not for his prodding influence there would be no vim or vigor in man. In his evil aspects he gives passion, war and strife, but that is because we misuse the energy he imparts. In the same way Venus will give sloth, and Jupiter indolence; but when we allow their good influences to be misdirected by our lower natures, Saturn comes and puts us through the trials of sorrow and tribulation to bring us again to the path of advancement and purity.
Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, is the fount of wisdom whence the human mind gets its tone, the smallest of all the planets, but the kingdom of the star-angel who has the most important mission of all in respect to our human race. Upon its position and configurations in the horoscope will depend whether the coming life will be one of devotion to the higher self or if the lower nature will hold sway, for the mind is the link between the higher Self and the lower nature. If it is so posited that it cares more for the pleasures of sense than the joys of the soul, sorrowful will be the end. Yet it should always be remembered that no man is compelled to do evil, and that the greater the temptation, the greater the reward to him that overcometh the tendencies shown in the horoscope. For let it always be remembered that though the stars impel, they cannot and do not compel. In the final analysis we are the arbiters of our destiny, and despite all the evil influences it is within our power to rule our stars by the exercise of Will, the badge of our divinity to which all else must bow.
As Ella Wheeler Wilcox has said so poignantly:
One ship sails east and another sails west,
With the selfsame winds that blow,
'Tis the set of the sail and not the gale,
Which determines the way they go.
As the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life,
'Tis the act of the soul that determines the goal
And not the calm or the strife.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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