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The questions contained herein were answered by Max Heindel in Rays from the Rose Cross Magazine during the years between 1913 and 1919. Since most of these magazines are now out of print, this compilation is for the purpose of sharing with the general public in book form much valuable esoteric information from the pen of Max Heindel which would otherwise not be easily available.
For the benefit of those not familiar with the teachings given in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, we give the following information concerning the Western Wisdom Teachings and the terms used. With these basic facts, it will be easy for anyone to understand the answers to the questions. It may also be in place to state here that each question has been answered regardless of what has been said in answer to any other question, so that each answer is complete in itself. This has occasioned repetition of some things said in answer to one question when replying to another which is similar, but it will be found that in all cases where there is such a repetition it presents a new aspect of the subject, thus giving added information.
The Rosicrucian Philosophy teaches that man is a complex being, an Ego, or threefold Spirit possessing:
(1) A Dense Body, composed of the solids, liquids and gasses of the Physical World. It is the visible instrument he uses here in this world to fetch and carry--the body people ordinarily think of as the whole man.
(2) A Vital Body, which is made of ether and interpenetrates the visible body as ether permeates all other forms, except that human beings specialize a greater amount of the universal ether than other forms. This ethereal body is our instrument for specializing the vital energy of the sun, and for carrying on the functions of assimilation, growth, propagation, etc.
(3) A Desire Body, which is our emotional nature. This finer vehicle pervades both the dense and vital bodies. It is seen by clairvoyant vision to extend about sixteen inches outside the visible body, which is located in the center of this ovoid cloud as the yolk is in the center of an egg. The desire body contains sense centers which, when properly developed, are man's means of perception in the Desire World.
(4) The Mind, which is a mirror, reflecting the outer world and enabling the Ego to transmit its commands as thought and word. It is the link between the Spirit and its bodies. At the present time it is but an unformed cloud, but will eventually be as well organized as man's other bodies.
The Ego is the threefold Spirit which uses these vehicles to gather experience in the school of life and transmute it into soul power.
Does the purgatorial experience of the Ego continue from death until the panorama reaches the birth of the life just ended, or are there periods of respite between the end of suffering for this, that, or the other deed and the beginning of suffering for the next?
Answer: Nature which is God in Manifestation, always aims at the conservation of energy, attaining the greatest results with the least expenditure of force and the least waste of energy. The Law of Analogy applies to this case. If we study the effect of change in the physical world, we shall learn something of its consequence in the realm above us. A person who is here suffering acutely for a short time usually feels pin very intensely; whereas those who suffer for years in succession, though the pain which is inflicted upon them may be as severe, do not seem to feel the suffering in the same measure. They have, as it were, grown used thereto, and their frame has in a certain sense become emaciated and adjusted to pain; hence suffering is not felt as keenly by these as by the person in the first case.
It is similar in the purgatorial experience. When a person (man or woman) has been very hard and harsh in life, when he has thought nothing of the feelings of others, when he has inflicted severe pain here, there, and everywhere on whatever occasion offered, we shall find that his suffering in purgatory will be very severe, intensified of course by the fact that the purgatorial experience is shorter than the life lived upon earth; but the pain is intensified in proportion. Now, therefore, it is evident that if his experience were continuous, if the pain engendered by one act were followed immediately by the next, much of the effect of the suffering would be lost upon the soul because it would not feel its full intensity. Therefore the experiences, as it were, come to them in waves so that there is a period of respite after each period of suffering in order that the full intensity of the next may be felt.
Some may think, of course, that this is cruel, and that it is inflicting pain needlessly, taking advantage of every finesse to make the suffering as acute as possible. This is not so, however. While the effect is there, the motive is a greater good, for nature, or God, never seeks to revenge or avenge any wrong, but only to teach those who permit themselves to do wrong not to repeat the act, by giving the wrong-doer exactly pain for pain. The tendency in a future life is to cause him to respect the feelings of others and so be merciful to all the world. Thus the very highest intensity in pain is necessary for the conservation of energy, and to make him good and pure sooner than would be the case if the pain were continuous and the suffering correspondingly lessened.
Question No. 2
How do the so-called dead appear as to outer apparel? How are they clad? Does their thought mold the ethereal matter into garments or anything they desire? One would judge so from what is said in the Cosmo about the Desire World. Does the desire body take the shape of the dense body immediately after the silver cord is severed?
Answer: It is possible for the so-called dead to form by their thoughts any article of clothing they desire. They usually think of themselves as being clothed in the conventional garb of the country in which they lived prior to their passing into the Desire World, and therefore they appear so clothed without any particular effort of thought. But when they desire to obtain something new or an unusual article of clothing, naturally they have to use their will power to bring that thing into existence; and such an article of clothing will last as long as the person thinks of himself as being clad in that apparel.
But this amenability of desire stuff to the molding power of thought is also used in other directions. Generally speaking, when a person leaves the present world in consequence of an accident, he thinks of himself as being disfigured by that accident in a certain manner, perhaps minus a leg or arm or with a hole in the head. This does not inconvenience him at all; he can move about there of course just as easily without arms or legs as with them; but it shows the tendency of thought to shape the desire body. At the beginning of the war when great numbers of soldiers passed over into the Desire World with lesions of the most horrible nature, the Elder Brothers and their pupils taught these men that by merely holding the thought that they were sound of limb and body, they would at once be healed of their disfiguring wounds. This they immediately did. Now all newcomers, when they are able to understand matters over there, are at once healed of their wounds and amputations in this manner, so that to look at them nobody would think they had passed over in consequence of an accident in the physical world.
As a result this knowledge has become so general that many people who have passed over since have availed themselves of this property of desire stuff and have molded it by thought in case they wanted to change their bodily appearance. Some times those who are very corpulent want to appear more slim and, vice versa, those who are very thin want to appear as if they had more flesh. This change or transformation is not permanently successful, however, on account of the archetype. The extra flesh put on a thin person or the quantity taken off one who is corpulent does not stay on or off permanently, but after a while the man who was originally thin returns to this original stature, while the person who tries to take off flesh finds himself putting it back on by degrees, and then has to go through the process anew. It is similar with people who attempt to mold their features and change them to an appearance that suits them better than their original one. However, changes affecting the features are less permanent because the facial expression there has here is an indication of the nature of the soul; therefore whatever is sham is quickly dispersed by the habitual thought of the person.
With regard to the second part of the question, we may say that during physical life the desire body is shaped more or less like an ovoid cloud surrounding the dense body. But as soon as the person gains consciousness in the Desire World and begins to think of himself as having the shape of the dense body, then the desire body begins to assume that form. This transformation is facilitated by the fact that the soul body, composed of the two higher ethers, the light and the reflecting ether, is still with the man the Ego. To put it more clearly and bring in a helpful comparison, we may remember that at the time when the Ego is coming down to rebirth the two lower ethers gathered around the seed atom of the vital body are molded into a matrix by the Lords of Destiny--the Recording Angels and their agents. This matrix is placed in the womb of the mother, where the physical particles are embedded in it so that they gradually form the body of the child, which is then born. At that time the child has no soul body. Whatever there may be of the two higher ethers is not assimilated until later in life and is built upon by deeds that are good and true. When the soul body has reached a certain density, it is possible for the person to function in it as an Invisible Helper, and during his soul lights the desire body mold itself readily into this prepared matrix. When he returns to the physical body, the effort of will whereby he enters it automatically dissolves the intimate connection between the desire body and the soul body. Later on when the life in the physical world has been finished and the two lower ethers discarded with the dense body, the luminous soul body or "golden wedding garment" still remains with the higher vehicles, and into this matrix the desire body is molded at its birth into the Invisible World. So as the body of the child was made in conformity to the matrix of the two lower ethers before coming to physical birth, similarly the birth into the Invisible World which follows death in the physical region is attended by an impregnation with desire stuff of the matrix formed of the two higher ethers, to form the vehicle that will be used in that world.
But the so-called dead are not the only ones who have the power thus to mold desire stuff into any shape they please. This power is shared by all the other denizens of the Desire World even down to the elementals, and they very often use this faculty of transformation to frighten or mislead the newcomer, as many a neophyte has found out to his consternation when he first entered that realm. For these little imps are quick to know when a person is a stranger and not conversant with the nature of things there, and they seem to take a special delight in annoying newcomers by transforming themselves into the most grotesque and terrifying monsters. Then they may feign atrocious attacks upon him, and its seems to give them the keenest delight if they are able to chase him into a corner and make him cringe with feat while they stand gnashing their teeth as if ready to devour him. But the moment the neophyte learns that in reality there is nothing that can hurt him, that in his finer vehicles he is immune from all danger of being torn to pieces or devoured, and that a quiet laugh at the harmless creatures and a stern command to take themselves off is all that is needed to cause them to turn their attention elsewhere, they soon learn to leave him alone. Thus he learns to force them to do his will, for in that world all creatures which have not been individualized are compelled to do the bidding of higher intelligences, and man is among the latter.
Thus a man may take an elemental and form it into any shape he desires and use it to do his bidding. The beings thus created with his life and will power and given a certain mission to do will faithfully obey his orders, and according to the intensity which he puts into that work will the thing last for a longer or shorter time. In this manner many so-called spooks have been created and given a mission lasting for centuries after the person who originally started the spell had gone into the higher Heaven World. That is probably the origin of the "white lady" who warns the Hohenzollerns of impending death. She and kindred apparitions which have given rise to so much speculation have been created by the superlative intensity of desire of a human being launched into the Desire World under particularly painful or distressing circumstances, which wrought the required magic spell unconsciously to the person himself.
Some writers seem to teach that it is possible to go straight from the physical world to the higher spiritual world without having to pass through the lower regions of the Desire World, thus escaping all the noisome sights which are peculiar to that region. You, on the other hand, always speak as if it were necessary to pass through every realm of nature in succession. Why this discrepancy?
Answer: We are well aware that some people make statements as above relative to the transition from the physical to the higher spiritual realms by way of what they learnedly call the "atomic subplanes." For guidance as to who is right, we refer you to the Law of Analogy, "As above so below," which is the master key to all mysteries, spiritual or physical, for this law is one in whatever realm of Nature we investigate. You know it is impossible for a diver to get to the bottom of the sea without starting at the surface and descending through the intervening water. It is also evident that it is impossible for an airplane to ascend above the clouds without first passing through the intervening space of air between the earth and the clouds. Similarly the Ego after death gradually ascends through the various spiritual realms to the Third Heaven, and at the time of rebirth it gradually descends through the Region of Concrete Thought, the Desire World, and the Ether to the physical plane. These are facts known to many who have investigated, and are beyond dispute or argument to the esoteric scientist as much as it is beyond argument to the material scientist that the earth moves on its axis; anyone who contends otherwise is simply mistaken.
Nor does the writer say this solely upon the basis of his own experience, for he is acquainted with hundreds of others who possess the ability to function outside the body in the various spiritual realms. He has never expressly discussed this phase of superphysical experience with any of them, but their repeated references to things which happened to different ones when passing through the lower realms of the Desire World and the Ether make him feel certain that none of his acquaintances have ever mounted to the higher parts of the Desire World or the Region of Concrete Thought without first passing through the Ether and the lower Desire World strata, namely the Purgatorial Region.
Furthermore, even if there were such a short cut as that mentioned from the physical world to the highest spiritual realms, do you think that one of God's helpers would ever make use of it for the sake of escaping the noisome sights and the suffering to be found in Purgatory? Most assuredly not! The Christ never turned in disgust from a leper or anyone else in sorrow and affliction. He always sought them out in order that He might heal and help them. What work to you think an Invisible Helper could do in the First Heaven and the Region of Concrete Thought, where there is no sorrow, suffering, or misery, but where all is happiness and joy? There he is not needed by any means. His work lies in the very regions which these writers profess to be able to skip, and if there were such a short cut as mentioned, no true Invisible Helper would ever want to make use of it; but as a matter of fact there is no such byway to heaven.
Why do you say that some persons after they have passed into the other life are Earth-bound? Is there anything we can do here by which such a condition can be avoided hereafter?
Answer: Yes, indeed! People who are earth-bound have their treasures on earth instead of in heaven. They have all left something behind. It may not always be money; they may have other ties on earth, somebody that they think they own—their wife, their husband, their children. Their idea is that because I love you, you must do just as I want you to do. They don't regard the person they love as having any rights at all. Later when they pass out, that relation continues, and they endeavor to impress their loved ones, to keep close to them and be in their company as much as they can. People who have houses and lands and such things and are very much attached to them are the worst off. We see such a person sometimes watching a safe where he has a lot of stock and bonds. Then the heirs will come and take the bonds out and laugh at the old fool for hoarding his money. Or it may be people who have lived for society. They have jewels, dresses, and other things. They still love them and feel they cannot part with them, therefore they are bound to earth as long as they have that feeling.
The best way is to give everything away. Of course we have to watch that we do not put ourselves in a position where people that we give such things to would put us out in the street and cause us to be entirely destitute in old age. But if we use judgment, when we see that we have lived our life to the end of usefulness, we may say: here are things that I have no more use for, and I know I am getting towards the end; where can I do most good with them, who will enjoy them most, or whom can I help to establish in business so he can do something for himself? Or we may find other similar ways of disposing of things. Also with regard to the affections: we should hold ourselves in check so that we do not love anybody with an inordinate love--such as that which makes idols of others and puts them before everything else. If we thus get ourselves free from all earthly ties so we are ready to go, then we are like the ripe kernel falling out of the ear of grain. If we are free from all earthly ties whether financial, personal, or whatever they may be, we cannot be kept earth-bound. If, however, people have committed crimes, they are sometimes unavoidably earth-bound by association with the places where they were committed and by trying to undo the wrong that was done.
If there is a strong attraction between two people which cannot reach a legitimate consummation in marriage because of previous ties and one of them passes out of this life with that longing in mind, will they be reunited in Heaven, and will they meet and mate in a future Earth life?
Answer: Yes, in all probability the attraction they feel for each other and which cannot find expression now will in many such cases bring them together even before the next life; for though there is no marriage in Heaven, those who love each other and are therefore in a sense necessary to each other's happiness, are united in a bond of closest friendship during the stay in the First Heaven if they pass out at or near the same time. But if one remains in the body for a number of years after the other has passed over, the one who is in the Heaven World will with his or her loving thought create an image of the other and endow it with life for we must remember that the Desire World is so constituted that we are able to give bodily shape to whatever we think of. Thus, although this image will only be ensouled by his thought and the thoughts of the other person still living in the physical region, it embodies all the conditions that are necessary to fill the cup of happiness of this inhabitant of the Heaven World.
Similarly, when the second person passes on, if the first person has progressed into the Second Heaven, his or her shell, so-called (the disintegrating desire body in which he or she lived), will answer the purpose and seem perfectly real to the second lover until his or her life in this realm is ended. Then when they both pass into the Second and Third Heavens, forgetfulness of the past comes over them, and they may part for one or more lives without loss. But some time, somewhere, they will meet again, and the dynamic force which they have generated in the past by their yearnings for each other will unvaryingly draw them together so that their love may reach its legitimate consummation.
This applies not only to lovers in the generally accepted sense of the word, but the love existing between brothers and sisters, parents and children, or friends who are not related by blood will also work itself out in a similar manner. Our life in the First Heaven is always blessed and filled by the presence of those we love. If they are not in the spirit world and thus actually present, their images will be; and it must not be thought that these are pure illusion, for they are ensouled by the love and the friendship sent out by the absent ones toward the person of whose heaven life they are a part.
In the Cosmo it is stated regarding the First Heaven: "The student and the philosopher have instant access to all the libraries of the world." Is the knowledge retained which is obtained there? Is it held by the mind and brought to Earth at the next birth? Can study be continued there and we reap the reward of that study in the next of some following Earth life?
Answer: We have great opportunities if we have a mind to take them after we pass over into the Invisible World. But the great majority of people seem to live almost as they lived here. They do not need to eat, but they do eat, as the spiritualists say; and they do have houses over there, and they so seem to live in other respects exactly as they lived here, just having as good and easy a time as they possibly can and enjoying themselves in that way. That class of people are not getting any great good out of their post- mortem existence.
But those who are studious and try to study humanity there have a great field. They can do a wonderful lot of work, and its helps them. It doesn't seem to bring soul growth in the same sense that it does here; but just the same it promotes their standing, gives them greater spirituality, and helps them in their evolution to a wonderful extent. Thus the essence of the knowledge gained there is retained and brought to earth at the next birth.
It is said that the body should not be cremated within three and one-half days after death. Is there a detrimental effect experienced from a burial at any time within three and one-half days?
Answer: No, not from the burial of the body in itself if it is not molested in any other way. But of course a burial cannot usually take place without more or less commotion and the body being more or less disturbed; therefore it is best to wait until after the period mentioned has passed. Of course any incision in the body such as used for the purpose of embalming, or anything like that, is felt by the Spirit. Just as the spirit dimly feels the cutting when a doctor performs an operation upon a person under ether, so a post-mortem operation causes enough sensation to make the Spirit feel uncomfortable; therefore we should avoid these things if we possibly can. There should be as much quiet as possible around the body during these three and one-half days, as whatever is done to disturb its rest and peace is really detrimental to the Ego.
In embalming the blood is drawn from the body while it is still warm and a fluid forced into the arteries. What is the effect of this operation?
Answer: The Spirit feels pain from embalming and consequently is disturbed in that most important of all things, the meditation over the panorama of life. We should realize that at the time of death the harvest is beginning; we have been sowing all through life, and when death comes the reaping begins. The first and most important fruitage comes from the study of the panorama of life as it unrolls in reverse order, showing first the events of the past life and then the causes that produced them. If the body is disturbed at that time by the lamentations of relatives or by moving it out to be buried, then the Spirit is disturbed in the same degree. And naturally a post-mortem examination or embalming will have far more detrimental effects. Therefore it is wrong to do either.
My only brother died last November and must now find himself in one of the lowest regions of the Desire World. Would you advise me to let him know that by a simple effort of the will he can prevent the matter of the desire body from forming itself into concentric layers, as it were, the coarser matter on the outside and the finer within? I mean to say that by an effort of will he could make the matter of the seven regions of the Desire World which form his desire body, come to the surface of that body, and by this means he would be able to contact at once all the seven regions of the Desire World instead of only the lower regions. There is, I believe, no serious objection to this use of will power.
Answer: This question refers to the fact that when death has taken place and man finds himself in the Desire World, the magnetic powers of the seed atom are spent, the archetype is dissolving, and therefore the centrifugal force of Repulsion forces the desire stuff of the desire body outward towards its periphery. The matter belonging to the lower regions is thrown off first by the process of purgation, which cleanses the man from all the evil acts of his past life. This is the result of the same natural law that in the physical world causes a sun to throw off matter which then becomes planets. To interfere with this law would be disastrous to any human being even supposing it were possible, which it is not. So it is useless to attempt to help your brother in that manner.
It is different with the Initiate who goes to the Desire World during life. Then the seed atom of the desire body forms a natural center of attraction, or gravitation, which holds the desire stuff in that vehicle to the accustomed lines. Also it is different with anyone who performs the scientific exercises given in the Mystery Schools. Such a person is constantly purging his desire body of the coarser matter so that at death he is not affected to the same degree by the centrifugal force of Repulsion as those who have not had this training.
But there is another way in which we may help someone near and dear to us provided we have his cooperation. To make this clear it is necessary to mention first that the coarser the desire stuff in the desire body, the more tenacious is its hold upon a man; therefore expurgation by the force of Repulsion causes great pain, and that is what we feel in the purgatorial experience. If we were perfectly willing to let go and acknowledge our faults when the pictures of them appear in the life panorama instead of trying to make excuses for ourselves or being stirred anew by the anger and hate of the past, then it would involved much less pain to eradicate them from our desire body. If this fact can be impressed on one whom we are anxious to help, if we can get him into the state of mind where he is willing to acknowledge his wrongs and mistakes from the very bottom of his heart, then the process of purgation will be both shorter and less painful, and he will rise to the higher regions where the force of attraction hold sway in a much shorter time than otherwise.
The same result can be accomplished by prayer; also by kind thoughts, thoughts of upliftment and helpfulness, for these have the same effect on those who are out of the body as kind words and helpful acts have on people who live in this world.
At present so many deplorable casualties are occurring daily and hourly, and people are being hurled into the next world in a hideously maimed and disfigured condition. Do those who pass into that world under the ordinary peaceful deathbed conditions have to face these horrible sights on the other side?
Answer: Conditions there are not quite so bad now as they were in the beginning of the war (World War I). At that time the Spirits who passed over thought of themselves as being maimed, and they had no way of correcting that impression; therefore they carried about with them the wounds on the various parts of their bodies and appeared minus limbs, etc. Often they suffered very acutely, believing themselves to be still afflicted with the physical pain. But the Invisible Helpers have not been idle; a system of education has been inaugurated and systematized so that nearly everybody is now aware of the fact that physical disabilities are not necessarily permanent on the other side. They have learned that a hand which has been shot off may be replaced in the desire body by the mere thought of having a hand and its being complete. This word has been passed from one to another so that now everyone who goes to the other side with a gunshot wound or minus arms or legs or even a head, is at once instructed in the fact that desire stuff is readily molded by thought and will, and as a result almost everyone there is perfect in body.
In fact, those who now pass from this life halt, lame, hunchbacked or in any other way physically disfigured have taken a leaf out of this book, and whereas in years before the war one would find as many hunchbacked and halt people there as in the physical world, one will now find nearly everyone with a perfect body. It is amusing, to say the least, to see people who were vain in the earth life, now molding their faces and bodies in harmony with their conceptions of beauty by a mere effort of will. This makes it a little more difficult than it used to be to find people there, for those who were tall and skinny but who had a keen desire to be more fleshy have changed their appearance in accordance with their wish, and conversely those who were fleshy and suffered from a superabundance of avoirdupois have often made themselves slender as sylphs. Thus the knowledge which before the war was largely confined to the esotericist has now become general property in the other world, and has caused the inhabitants there to change their shapes insofar as this has not been prevented by the purgatorial experience.
The great majority of recent arrivals have nothing of the above nature to divert their attention in the Desire World, and are intently watching developments here on the material plane. Having been taken out of the physical world in the very prime of manhood, their hole life before them so to speak, they are still very much attached to physical conditions, and will probably be earth-bound for a considerable number of years during which time they will form an unseen but very potent factor in shaping the world's destiny. They upon their side will endeavor by all possible means to establish communication with this world, and their combined efforts will be felt as a powerful force by an increasing number of sensitive people.
We may therefore expect to see spiritualism flourish as it never did before in the world's history. This involves the development of mediumship, which is a very dangerous phase of psychic unfoldment. Neptune, the planet of psychism, is now entering Leo, the sign of the heart, and the heartstrings of love and desire for intercommunication will pull the people in the two worlds together. This will establish the spiritual verities beyond cavil. But we should prepare ourselves to go there consciously and not allow them to come back here through mediumship, much less draw them on, for that is retrogression for them. Instead, if we cultivate our latent sixth sense we shall be able to see them, and to speak with those who have passed over just as well as we did when they were with us in the flesh.
You remember Outram Court, a one-time student of yours who committed suicide? Well, I have taken my mind entirely off him lately, because I supposed by this time he was safe in his own. But one of my peons has just told me he attended a spiritualistic meeting a few nights ago and Outram Court came. To prove his identity he insisted upon speaking English although he spoke Spanish just as well, and as none of those present understood English there was a delay until they found a spirit who understood both languages. Outram said he was still living at my neighbor's where he killed himself; that he was suffering torture from hunger, and wanted them to give him food. Later in the interview he changed to Spanish.
Now, I wonder what I can do. The worst of it is I cannot bring back the memory of anything that happens in my sleep. And I do so want to remember. What can I do?
Answer: This question opens up the vast subject of abnormal transition into the beyond, both by accident and design, together with the feelings experienced by people who have thus passed the gate of death, and their communications through mediums; also the curious fact that many of the people we call dead are unaware that they have lost their physical body.
To elucidate it is necessary first to state a few of the salient facts concerning man and the world in which we live. Everyday observation as well as scientific researches prove that matter exists and moves in states which we cannot see. Water is evaporated by the sun's heat and again condensed as rain; ether is as necessary to transmit light and electricity as air is to the transmission of sound. The invisible wind, which is air in motion, is as surely a cosmic force as the electricity moving in the still finer realm of ether. In short, we are surrounded by an invisible world of force and matter, as real as, or more so than, the world we know through our physical senses.
And as we eat the substances of this gross, dens world to sustain our visible bodies, we assimilate a certain amount of matter belonging to the invisible ethereal worlds, which forms a garment for the Spirit when it has dropped the mortal coil. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but knoweth now whence it cometh or whither it goeth; so is everyone who is born of the spirit.
Under normal conditions the exit of the Spirit from its outgrown body is like the falling of the seed from the ripe fruit. But when the Spirit severs the tie before the appointed harvest time of death, the unripe spiritual vehicle cannot ascend to the higher realms; it hovers close to its earthly haunts, as hungry for more physical sustenance as the kernel forcibly extracted from the unripe fruit. In the nature of things this cannot be gratified, and therefore intense unsatisfied hunger causes the suicide the most excruciating torture. He sometimes obtains a little temporary surcease by inhaling the fumes of highly flavored dishes.
Furthermore, as the flesh clings to the kernel when it is forcibly torn from unripe fruit, so also some of the lower ethers and even gases of the slain body cling to the higher vehicles of the suicide, with the result that he is very nearly material, and is susceptible to gross, sensual suggestions in a manner and to a measure not felt by humanity in the body. If his nature is such that he would entertain and take pleasure in such things he may here wallow in the deepest mire of the darkest hell, with very serious detriment to his spiritual welfare. But if he dislikes the coarse and sensual, the atmosphere of bestiality in which the suicide finds himself will jar upon his sensibilities in proportion to his refinement; as several have expressed it to the writer, the orthodox hell with its devil would be a mild form of amusement by comparison. Some describe the pain which we have compared to unsatisfied hunger as a gnawing, throbbing toothache, with the difference that the pain is felt all over the body instead of being confined to the dental region.
The experience of Outram Court bears out the foregoing teachings of the Rosicrucians. He is still earth-bound in the same house where he formerly lived, and his desire body evidently remains very dense, so dense that at times he cannot realize that he has passed over because he sees clearly the physical world and the people in it; he probably sits at their tables and endeavors to partake of their food, or at least to feed upon the odor. Nor is it strange that he frequents the spiritualistic meetings of the peons, for these people are at a low stage of development, very sensual, and practice without being aware of it a good deal of black magic under the guise of spirit communication.
There are two ways of helping such an Ego: one is by direct communication with him at night, by reasoning with him and showing him that he is making a rod which will whip him sorely in the future; that he ought to try to bear the pain patiently till the archetype collapses at the time when he would have died normally. This may or may not be successful, but it is worth a trial. If the writer of the letter were conscious of what happens to him at night he could go and talk the matter over with Outram Court just as he would if both were in the physical body; but still he is not shut off from helping even if lacking this consciousness. It is the will that determines our actions there as here, and if he holds his thought before going to sleep intently on the work he wishes to do, preparing himself with arguments and centering his whole being on helping Outram Court, this last thought before going to sleep will also be the first waking thought on entering the invisible world where the sleeping and the dead meet and converse. This thought then becomes a sort of "fixed idea" which he will follow during the night to the exclusion of all other thoughts and desires, and the results are bound to be beneficial.
The other method, for those who are not trained in concentration, is prayer. This is a good method of helping such a case as the present one, for the attitude of prayer often acts as a guide to the person to be helped, and brings about a change in his mental state which furthers him spiritually. The thought forms of prayer then take the place of the Invisible Helper; but they are more easily put aside and therefore not so efficient, nor can they meet an argument.
We always advise a combination of these two methods for the untrained. Pray for those you want to help, whether they are in the body or out (living or dead). Think out all you would like to say to them just before going to sleep. When you meet in "Dreamland," if you are not yet conscious and cannot either plead or argue, your feelings in the matter will make some impression at least, and if kept up for some time the effect will certainly be noticebale.
Our friend says in his letter that the mother of Outram Court does not know she is dead. No one who has lost the dense body thinks of himself as "dead"; as a matter of fact the so-called "dead" feel themselves much more alive than we do. When they pass out normally they know neither sickness nor pain, and they cannot therefore be expected to take our view, who think of the physical body as the man, when it is only a garment we wear and wear out. Their consciousness is focused entirely in their spiritual bodies, with nothing to remind them of the discarded dense vesture. On the other hand, the suicide feels every moment the sensation of hunger occasioned by the attempt of the archetypal body to draw physical material to itself, and his feeling that he is not dead springs therefore from a very different root than the similar idea of the general run of people who now live in the invisible world.
Will you please tell me just how we may best help those who have passed on?
Answer: We have often expressed our appreciation of the Science of Birth with its efficient methods of helping both the mother and the child when the latter is entering our earth-life, but we have also heartily deplored the lack of a Science of Death which would teach people how to help intelligently the Ego that is passing from earth-life into the unseen realms of nature. At such times we usually stand helplessly by, and often do in our ignorance the very things which are detrimental to the comfort of the Spirit then in transition. If people could only know how their moans and hysterical outbursts affect their dear departing ones, unselfish consideration would probably change their attitude and quiet their manner.
So far as the body is concerned it is not really dead until about three and one-half days after the Spirit has passed out of it, for the silver cord still connects it with the higher vehicles. During this time anything in the nature of a post-mortem examination, embalming, or cremation is felt by the Spirit almost a keenly as if still within the body. These are facts well known to all students of the Rosicrucian Philosophy, but they have perhaps not received the emphasis they deserve. We should remember that our attitude after that time continues to affect the Spirit, for our friends do not usually leave their accustomed places right away. Many stay in or near the home for a number of months after they have left the body and can feel conditions there even more keenly than when in earth-life. If we sigh, mourn, and moan for them we transfer to them the gloom we ourselves carry about with us or else we bind them to the home because of their efforts to cheer us.
In either case we are a hindrance and a stumbling block in the way of their spiritual progress, and while this may be forgiven in those who are ignorant of the facts concerning life and death, people who have studied the Rosicrucian Philosophy or kindred teachings are incurring a very grave responsibility when they indulge in such practices. We are well aware that custom used to demand the wearing of mourning and that people were not considered respectable if they did not put on a sable garb as a token of their sorrow. But fortunately times are changing and a more enlightened view is being taken of the matter. The transition to the other world is quite serious enough in itself, involving as it does a process of adjustment to strange conditions all around, and the passing Spirit is further hampered by the sorrow and anguish of the dear ones whom it continues to see about itself. When it finds them surrounded by a cloud of black gloom, clothed in garments of the same color and nursing their sorrow for months or years, the effect cannot be anything but depressing.
How much better then the attitude to those who have learned the Rosicrucian Teachings and have taken them to heart. Their attitude when a dear one makes the transition is cheerful, hopeful, and encouraging. The selfish grief at the loss is controlled in order that the passing Spirit may receive all the encouragement possible. Usually the survivors in the family dress in white at the funeral and a cheerful, genial spirit prevails throughout. The thought of the survivors is not, "What shall I do now that I have lost him (or her)? All the world seems empty for me." but the thought is, "I hope he (or she) may find himself (or herself) to rights under the new conditions as quickly as possible and that he (or she) will not grieve at the thought of leaving us behind." Thus by the good-will, intelligence, unselfishness, and love of the remaining friends the passing Spirit is enabled to enter the new conditions under much more favorable circumstances, and students of the Rosicrucian Philosophy cannot do better than to spread this teaching as widely as possible. According to the Bible the redeemed of the Lord will finally vanquish the last enemy, death, and they will then exclaim "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?" For those who have evolved spiritual sight there is of course no death, but even those who have studied the Rosicrucian Teachings may in a measure be said to have attained this great victory.
The Cosmo states that the dead miser in the lower Desire World can see his gold and his heairs squandering it, when he has no sense organs or any material coarse enough in vibration to be in harmony with the dense physical world. We cannot see the Desire World until we evolve the centers of the Desire Body; how then can those in the Desire World see us when they have discarded the physical sense organs?
Answer: You understand, of course, that the Desire World, the Ethers, and the Physical World interpenetrate one another so that the miser is right here among us just the same as he was when he had a physical body to wear. It is not generally understood, however, that the densest desire stuff of which the lower regions of the Desire World are composed, and the Chemical Ether which is the lowest of the four ethers, and even the physical gases, are exceedingly closely knit and form the outside layer of all Spirits which have just been released from the physical body. They are therefore living in the lower region of the Desire World in such close touch with the physical that it is amazing to the writer that people cannot see them going about among us. They are like the man who has left a room on a bright sunny day: the sunshine blinds him, but he can see clearly things inside the room when he turns towards it.
Thus the miser and all others who have just left the physical body see the people in this world much more clearly than they see the things of the Desire World where they are; for as the man who goes out in the sunshine must first accustom himself to see things by adjusting the focus of his eyes, so also the Spirits which have just entered the Desire World after death, require a little time for this readjustment. And the densest material in their being, which is thrown out toward the periphery by the centrifugal force of Repulsion, keeps them earthbound for a longer or a shorter time until they have shed this coarsest material and are able to contact the finer vibrations of the higher regions. For that reason the miser, the drunkard, the sensualist, and similar people whose desires are naturally low and vicious, remain in these nether regions, which may well be called hell, for a much longer time than people with high ideals and spiritual aspirations who have endeavored during life to eradicate their vices and to subdue their lower nature. Their desire bodies contain comparatively little coarse material and that is soon worn away, leaving them free to soar to higher spheres.
With regard to the question as to how the miser can see the physical things when he has no sense organs, we may say that there are no specialized sense organs in the finer vehicles, but just as we feel with the whole surface of our body, so the Spirits see and hear, not only with the surface, but with every single atom of their spiritual body, inside and out. What they perceive is not really the physical things which we see with our physical eyes, but every chair, desk, or others physical implement, is interpenetrated by both ethers and desire stuff--it is this that they perceive, and that to them is as real and tangible as the physical forms are to our senses.
It is stated in the Cosmo that the drunkard in the lower Desire World cannot gratify his desires, but it is also stated that the spirits in the First Heaven which is located in the upper Desire World, can actually mold desire stuff into real environment according to their desires and ideas. Why cannot the drunkard do such in the lower Desire World and create real conditions of vice suitable to his temperament?
Answer: It has been remarked by many students of The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception that it always anticipates and answers the questions which may come up in the reader's mind, and you may there read: "In the finest and rarest substance of the three higher Regions of the Desire World the force of attraction alone holds sway, but it is also present in some degree in the denser matter of the three lower Regions, where it works against the force of repulsion, which is dominant there. The disintegrating force of Repulsion would soon destroy every form coming into these three lower regions were it not at that it is thus counteracted. In the densest or lowest region, where it is strongest, it tears and shatters the forms built there in a way dreadful to see. Yet it is not a vandalistic force. Nothing in nature is vandalistic. All that appears so is but working towards good. So with this force in its work in the lowest Region of the Desire World. The forms here are demoniac creations, built by the coarsest passions and desires of man and beast.
"The tendency of every form in the Desire World is to attract to itself all it can of a like nature and grow thereby. If this tendency to attraction were to predominate in the lowest Regions, evil would grow like a weed. There would be anarchy instead of order in the Cosmos. This is prevented by the preponderating power of the force of Repulsion in this Region. When a coarse desire form is being attracted to another of the same nature, there is a disharmony in their vibrations, whereby one has a disintegrating effect upon the other. Thus, instead of uniting and amalgamating evil with evil, they act with mutual destructiveness and in that way the evil in the world is kept within reasonable bounds. When we understand the workings of the twin forces in this respect, we are in a position to understand the esoteric maxim, "A lie is murder and suicide in the Desire World."
As a matter of fact, the drunkards in the Desire World usually attempt to manufacture the drink for which they crave when they have once learned that it is possible to so mold desire stuff that it becomes whatever you want it to be; but they all declare unanimously that the strong drink or the drugs which they manufacture in that manner give no satisfaction. They can imitate the taste perfectly, but the drink thus manufactured has no power to make them drunk. The nearest they can get to the satisfaction of a real drunk is to insinuate their bodies into those of drunkards who are still in the physical world. Therefore, they are continually haunting bar-rooms and endeavoring to get the frequenters of these places to take an excess dose of intoxicants.
They also say that they get considerable satisfaction from the fumes carried by the breath of drunkards in the physical body and the more heavy and pungent the atmosphere is in the bar-rooms, the nearer they come to finding the satisfaction for which they are seeking. If only the poor weaklings who visit such places could see and understand the disgusting tactics of the invisible reprobates hanging about such places, surely it would be an awakening which would probably help those who are not too far gone to retrace their steps to the path of decency and honest living. But, thank God (both for the visible and invisible drunkards) it is impossible for them to create a den of vice in the desire stuff because the force of Repulsion tends to destroy it as fast as they can bring it into existence.
In the November, 1917, issue of Rays from the Rose Cross there was a story called, "Facing the Firing Squad," stating how a spy was placed against a wall and shot. Immediately afterwards he, being in full possession of his consciousness, converses with a Rosicrucian and in his company travels thousands of miles to visit his sister. Is not this contrary to what is taught in the Rosicrucian Philosophy? It is there stated that after the seed atom in the heart has been removed and the silver cord ruptured, a period of unconsciousness lasting about three and one-half days follows, during which time the Spirit reviews the panorama of its past life.
Answer: Yes, it is so stated in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, and that holds good under all ordinary circumstances. However, it is also stated in explanation of the law of infant mortality that when a person passes out under untoward circumstances, such as a fire or a railway accident, or suddenly as by a fall from a building or a mountain, or on a battlefield, or when the lamentations of relatives around the bedside of the newly dead make it impossible for him to concentrate upon the life-panorama, then the etching in the two higher ethers, the light ether and the reflecting ether, and their amalgamation with the desire body, does not take place. Man does not then lose consciousness, and because there is no etching on the finer vehicles such as is normally the case, he has no purgatorial existence; that is to say, he does not reap what he has sown, there is no suffering in consequence of his wrong-doings and no feeling of joy and love on account of the good he has done. The fruitage of the life has been lost.
To offset this great disaster the Spirit on entering its next earth life is caused to die in childhood so far as the physical body is concerned, but the vital body, the desire body, and mind, which do not ordinarily come to birth until the dense body is seven, fourteen, and twenty-one years old, respectively, remain with the passing Spirit, as that which has not been quickened cannot die. Then in the First Heaven the Spirit strays from one to twenty years, receiving such instructions and object lessons as will teach it that which it would otherwise have learned by the panorama of its past life had it not been interrupted by the accident which terminated it. And so it is reborn, ready to take its proper place on the path of evolution.
There is in this consideration a great deal of food for thought. The large percentage of infant mortality today has its root in the wars of former ages. The loss of life was comparatively slight, though the toll of national wars must have been greatly increased by the deaths which occurred in duels, feuds, and common quarrels, where deadly weapons were used in those days. Nevertheless, the sum total of these casualties seems insignificant when compared with the awful carnage which is now going on, and if this is to be corrected in the same manner, then a future generation will certainly reap a harvest of tears on account of the epidemics which will devastate the homes of their children. But as we have pointed out at other times, every tear shed because of the loss of some loved one is wearing away the scales from our eyes until one day we shall see with sufficient clarity to penetrate the veil that now separates us from those we mistakenly call dead, but who are really much more alive than we are. Then shall come to pass the victory over death, and we shall be able to exclaim: "O, Death, where is thy sting? O, Grave, where is thy victory?"
I was in our talking shop a few days ago when our most radical member was urging the granting of a lapsed scholarship to a poor boy who had won one when legally too young to receive it, and who being sick at this particular examination was beaten by another boy. Still he was pronounced by the examiners in England as morally entitled to this scholarship.
While listening to the debate some one sitting by my side touched me and said: "Look, Mr. MacF!" I looked in the direction pointed out to me, and there was one of the College Masters, Mr. Mac, standing behind the Government Secretary, listening intently to the debate. I told the person that Mr. Mac and I were schoolmates and that I had not seen him for years, yet he did not seem to grow old.
After the Government Secretary ahd spoken, Mr. Mac went out. I remarked that perhaps the youngster was one of his favorites, which caused him to leave his college duties to come and hear the debate.
A few days later I went to see a friend a little out of town and in the course of our conversation I told her of the debate. Imagine my surprise then when she said that Mr. Mac was dying at the moment when I thought I has seen him. I told her that she must be misinformed because someone pointed him out to me and I knew him too well to be deceived. "Well," she said, "Go into the next chamber and you will see him." I went. There on the bed lay my schoolfellow, Mr. Mac, nothing but skin and bones, waiting for the end. He had heard my conversation and was interested, but I did not consider him in a fit state to gratify his desire for a repetition. This was on a Saturday afternoon. I promised to go next day, Sunday, and tell him what happened, but was prevented. He died on Monday.
How could such an emaciated person appear as being in the full vigor of manhood? Can one see ghosts of the living?
Answer: Yes, indeed, there are a considerable number of cases of phantasms of the living. All that is required is that the body should be in a very deep state of sleep or unconsciousness, such as usually occurs when the person is near the door of death. It may be in the act of drowning, or when induced by the fall from a horse, automobile, or similar conditions, or after receiving a blow on the head, or on the sickbed, when the physical body is very emaciated and frail and close to dissolution, as in the case mentioned by our correspondent. Then most of the ether constituting the vital body may be drawn out of the physical vehicle, which is left in a trance- like condition that may last only a few minutes, but as space is no barrier in the invisible worlds, the desire of the person thus momentarily liberated may carry him to the ends of the world and cause him to appear to some loved one many thousands of mile from the place where his body is lying.
It is much easier for such a Spirit to materialize than for those who have left the body at death, because with these phantasms of the living the silver cord is still intact--connection with the seed atom in the heart has not been broken. Thus it is quite possible that the youngster whose scholarship was under discussion was a favorite of Mr. MacF., as was supposed by our correspondent, and when he felt himself liberated by a sinking spell on that afternoon, his desire to be well an about his work in the college took him to his familiar haunts and made him listen to the debate concerning the boy's title to receive the benefit.
With regard to the question how a man who is so emaciated could appear in full vigor, we may state that it is a law in the Desire World that as a man thinketh, so is he--literally and without qualification. Should he think of himself as aged, worn, and decrepit, he would shape his vehicle along those lines and appear so to all others, but the gentlemen in question was evidently thinking of regaining his health and vigor so that he might take up his work anew. Consequently he appeared in perfect health when seen by our correspondent, and the person who pointed him out.
Do those now passing over come to rebirth again before the Aquarian Age If they still have lessons to learn to fit them to live in that Age, can they come back and learn them?
Answer: That all depends. the usual time between two births is a thousand years, so as to give people a chance of being embodied once as a man and once as a woman while the sun is passing through each sign of the zodiac by precession, which takes about 2,100 years. This is done because the lesson during that period are so many and so different that they cannot all be effectively learned in the same sexual type of body. Experiences are very different from the standpoint of a man and that of a woman. But this law is like all other laws of nature, it is not blind. It is under the dominion of four great Beings called the Recording Angels, and they have to do with all the details of human evolution. They see that everyone gets a chance to obtain as much experience as he or she can stand. If it is necessary for a person to remain the whole one thousand years in the invisible worlds, he remains. If not, he comes back sooner. Some people come back within a few hundred years because they have evolved to the point where they learn quickly. People who "live the life" as Probationers, who have assimilated their life experience before they leave here and are already doing a good deal of work in the invisible worlds, will not need to spend such a long time on the other side. They have put themselves definitely on the side of the laws of God, and are therefore given greater opportunities for evolution by service.
When a man lives a life of sorrow and suffering we may account for it by the fact that he is reaping now what he has sown in former lives, but how can we reconcile the awful suffering and torture of animals with the justice of God? What will be the fate of those who now mistreat animals?
Answer: To view life from the standpoint of present conditions alone is just as inconsistent a it is to look upon a man as having neither childhood behind him nor old age before him. Our present life, and many lives before that, have made us what we are now, and from that past is determined in a large measure the direction which we shall follow in future lives. At the beginning of manifestation the Spirit was free and like the Father save in one thing, namely that it had no self-consciousness, and the pilgrimage through matter was undertaken in order that this might be gained. To further this object the Spirit was crystallized into vehicles during the process of involution. A physical, a vital, and a desire body were gradually drawn around it to limit it and shut it off from all other spirits. Then by the gift of mind the Ego or individual was finally formed. Imprisoned in the various veils mentioned, the Spirit can no longer contact the outside world directly, but turning its gaze inward it sees itself and recognizes itself and recognizes itself as "I." At the same time, however, it feels its limitations; it recognizes the fact that it is feeding upon husks and that it is necessary to return to the Father's house in order to take again its place as a Son of God.
The resolution to return to the Father is made more intense by the fact that pain and sorrow are experienced on account of the limitations of the present mode of existence. The cramping conditions of the prison house which the Spirit feels are a goad to drive it on. "No one cometh to the Father but by me," said Christ, and it is a fact that whenever the Christ is born within us we become men of sorrow and acquainted with grief. Treading the path of probation, of purity and spiritual endeavor, draws the face with lines of pain, and gradually the body is broken up; it becomes more ethereal and leaves the Spirit more free. In the measure that we subdue our passions we kindle the fire of fellow feeling which will eventually burn up the dross of the flesh and leave the spiritual increment of our natures free to function in the new heaven and the new earth where pain, sorrow, and death are overcome. This will be a foretaste of conditions in the Jupiter Period when we shall function in our vital bodies and be free from the physical vehicle with its attendant discomforts. At present the thought of the ordinary individual has little or no power, but in that day our thoughts will be capable of giving life to a certain lower order of spirit, and therefore it is of the greatest importance that we should first become thoroughly purified before such a terrible power is given us.
The path of evolution is not a circle but a spiral. We are a better humanity than the angels were when they were human during the Moon Period, and the animals which will be human during the Jupiter Period will be a better humanity than we. As the lowest globe at that time will be in the Etheric Region, only a vehicle made of ether will then be used by any being. The finer forces of nature will be available to all during that time, and the humanity of the Jupiter Period as well as ourselves will be ale to wield the lightning. Therefore it is necessary that they should know by experience the nature of pain which may be inflicted by the misuse of a superior power. To give them the necessary compassion they have been made in certain respects like ourselves, capable of feeling the pain and suffering incident to physical existence. Thus from the present evil there will come good to both man and beast.
The fact must nevertheless be taken into consideration that there is woe in store for him by whom evil comes. The lower kingdoms act as stepping-stones for the higher. Did not the mineral exist, plant life would be an impossibility, for it could not take root and obtain the sustenance necessary for growth. If there were no plants, animal and man would have no means of obtaining earth bodies. The service rendered by the lower to the higher as stepping-stones can only be paid for by service. The higher owes the lower a debt of gratitude. Christ recognized this, that without pupils there could be no teacher, and in gratitude for the privilege of teaching and bringing into the world the wonderful Christian religion He washed His disciples' feet. In future aeons the lower kingdoms now action as stepping-stones and a means of growth and experience to us will need help and service, which must then be given by us. Thus the human race, which now abuses the animals, will then have to act as their servitors, aiding them to attain the very utmost from the school of evolution as it will be carried on in that day. The animal spirits whose bodies we now torture and destroy will in that day become our pupils, and it will be our duty as their guardians to help them grow and propagate the life we now deprive them of.
For those brought up in the teachings of Spiritualism and Swedenborgianism it is easy enough to accept the fact of life hereafter and of incidental purgatorial experience therein, but it is not easy for them to understand why it is not feasible for the individual to obtain all the experience necessary for progression in the spiritual world without returning to the physical plane for rebirth in new bodies. If there is an imperative reason for periodical returns to the flesh as Rosicrucianism sees it, will you not state this briefly but explicitly?
Answer: The necessity for rebirth has two phases, one physical and one spiritual. If the mineral components of our bodies did not crystallize, and it were thus possible for us to keep them young and pliable for millions of years, it would not be necessary to take rebirth; we could learn the lessons of life through the unbroken stretch of ages. But on account of our ignorance and abuse of his body it does not usually last a great deal more than three score and ten years, as the tradition is, and probably not much more than half that time as an average. Hence if we lived here only one short life of thirty or forty years, we would be unable to learn all the lessons which should be taught us in this environment, and that would be a waster of energy. We, as human beings, would not think of building an elaborate school and furnishing all the equipment for teaching the pupils and then graduate them after one day's attendance; but that would be exactly analogous to a cosmic system which would require the attendance of pupils at the school of life during only one life-day. When the first school day is over we send the child home to assimilate his lesson and prepare for the next day's schooling, and so on through many days and years.
Similarly, the divine Hierarchies who guide our evolution send us to school on earth each life-day, and at the close thereof we are called to our heavenly home to rest and prepare for the schooling of the next life-day. It would be an absolute impossibility for our schoolmasters to cram all the wisdom to be leaned in the school into the head of any pupil, were he ever so precocious, if the time were limited to one day. But given many successive days, which in the end amount to years, they are able to impart gradually all their knowledge to him. Similarly in life's school: cosmic wisdom and cosmic love cannot be taught in a short time; it takes ages, for the divine qualities are not mushroom growths which can be attained over night. They resemble rather the sturdy oak which requires a century to develop, but which has a sturdiness and strength not even remotely approached by the mushroom.
Furthermore, the constitution of and conditions in the spiritual worlds render them unsuitable for the phases of progression which man must learn the phases of progression which man must learn in the physical world. At the present time mankind is developing the mind by the use of right thought, which has to be turned into right action, and this can best be done in a realm where conditions are firm and rigid. When an inventor visualizes a machine or contrivance it may seem to work splendidly in his mind, but the wheels which revolve so nicely in his the mental world where interpenetration is the law are often found to rub against each and be in each other's way when the model is made in physical material. This shows that his thought was wrong, and he is then forced to go to work and correct the mistake or abandon his project. Thus the physical condition acts as a corrective, and by showing him his mistake makes it possible for him to learn gradually to evolve the right thought and embody it in a machine that will work. Similarly, a man who undertakes a business project thinks out in detail how it should work, but subsequent developments often teach him that he has miscalculated. Thus he also, by his mistakes, is shown where his thought was wrong, and is given the opportunity to correct it.
These things cannot be learned in the spiritual world, where one goes out of a window or up the chimney, just as easily as through a door, because there everything is fluidic and plastic. Being divine, we have infinite possibilities latent in us, we are gods in the making. Thought is a creative power, and unless we learn how to use it in the right manner it will prove a curse instead of a blessing, both to ourselves and the creatures who are to be helped by us in future ages. In that case we should be unable to help them in the creation of suitable vehicles, as we have been helped and are being helped by other higher than we in the scale of evolution, and we would create monstrosities. Therefore the school of earth is an absolute necessity to teach us to think right, and thereby create right in both the denser and the finer cosmic substances with which we have to work.
It is stated in the Rosicrucian Teachings that children who die in infancy are brought to rebirth in from one to twenty years. Do they return to the same station in life, or do they sometimes return to a different environment, more or less desirable, from wealth to poverty, or vice versa?
Answer: This question was asked years ago when the writer was a novice in the investigation of the spiritual world, and it was answered correctly at that time. But later investigations make it possible to give more detail based upon what has actually happened in a considerable number of cases. Notes were made of the results at the time of the investigations, but these have been mislaid. Nevertheless, according to our recollection, it was found that out of twenty children we watched who came to rebirth within five years of the time of death, fifteen or sixteen went back into the same family. It can be seen at the time when a child dies whether it will be a long or a short time in the invisible worlds. We therefore selected another group of twenty which are still in the invisible world and not expected to take rebirth until ten or more years have passed. But the tendencies are already quite plainly shown, for when a Spirit seeks rebirth it is usually drawn to the prospective mother years before it enters the womb, and sometimes women still unmarried are surrounded by their prospective children even before they have become engaged. Judging from this fact what the results will be, we find that out of the group of twenty only three are staying with their former mothers; the other seventeen are scattered among other families, and two of them are keeping company with small girls, showing that they are waiting for them to grow up and become their mothers.
This tendency of Spirits who are seeking embodiment to follow their prospective mothers around for years sometimes gives rise to laughable and embarrassing situations in connections with mediums who do not understand the conditions. We remember the case of a young lady who went to a seance and was told that she had a child in spirit land who was standing beside her and calling her mother. Naturally she denied the allegation indignantly, and arose and left the meeting. So there was a case where both were right through making diametrically opposite statements; each thought the other dishonest because each lacked the knowledge to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable.
You state that from the spiritual point of view all things are good, or words to that effect. But take, for instance the unspeakably vile and dastardly crimes being inflicted on the helpless civilian population of some of the nations in the war zone. The theory of rebirth might argue that these wretched people thus suffering may have committed similar atrocities in previous existences, but even so do two wrongs make a right? In view of such conditions one feels almost driven at times to take refuge behind that philosophical doctrine which teaches that the report of the senses is illusory, the bad-dream theory, as an explanation of the evil in the world; or simple materialism, which of course, from its nature does not need to make any of the explanations expected of spiritual teaching. Is there another solution to the problem?
Answer: Yes, indeed, there is, for although we with our finite minds are unable to grasp the intricate details of the tangled web of destiny, still the broad outline of the law of love which works for good through what seems to be evil may be readily discerned by every one. But before we enter into direct discussion of the question, allow us to correct our correspondent. We do not say that all things are good, for if that were true it would be well to continue these atrocities of which our correspondent speaks. Instead, we have always maintained and do still assert that every evil is really good in the making—that is to say, out of that condition something good will come. We do not shrink from calling a cloud a cloud, but we also point to the silver lining which shows that beyond and back of the cloud the sun still shines as beautifully as ever. And if the sorrow and suffering caused by this war are the means of finally abolishing wars from the face of the earth, surely the cost is not too great.
From you remark that the theory of rebirth argues that the wretched people mentioned may have committed kindred atrocities in previous existences, it is evident that you are under the common misconception that all present conditions must be referred to actions in past lives, and that you are either unaware of or have failed to take into consideration the fact that every moment of our lives we are generating new destiny at the same time that we are working out our old scores. This great and important fact was set forth in the ancient Greek mythology, where the Fates are represented as three-past, present, and future; also in the Norse mythology, where the three Norns, Urda, Skuld, and Verdande, are spinning the thread of fate and unraveling it again. Nor is fate simply a measure to get even. If in one life A stole from B and ruined him, we must not assume that a following life B is going to become dishonest and steal from A. That would indeed be a bad solution of the problem, for it is surely better for a man to lose his money altogether than to retrieve it at the expense of his honesty.
Similarly, supposing that in a previous existence, as suggested, the present victims of military atrocity were guilty of atrocities against those who are now causing them suffering, it would have been far better for their soul growth if they had no revenge rather than in this present life to be made into savage beasts. If the latter were the way the law works, then cruelties and atrocities would multiply, and one could only shudder to think of what is in store for humanity in the next life when the injured civilian of today wreaks vengeance upon the heads of the present military aggressors.
But, thank God, that is not so, A study of the Memory of Nature has shown conclusively the truth of the spiritual teaching that hate ceases not by hate, but by love and service. It has been found in all the cases investigated by the writer-and they number hundreds-that whenever in one life a person has injured another, the suffering brought upon himself by the act during the purgatorial expiation following death has compelled realization and repentance, at least in a measure. he is then placed in a position where he may render some service to the one he injured when both return to physical life. If he grasps the opportunity, well and good; then both parties are benefited; peace on earth and good will are fostered. If he refuses he is placed in a position where coals of fire are heaped upon his head, and then in the third life he may be induced to pay the debt of service. Or he may be made the victim of some one else's wrong-doing and thus learn the sympathy and fellow feeling which induces the required service. But whatever the method, and the possible methods are legion, in some way or other the debt of hate will eventually be repaid by love, for that is the only way that humanity can grow better.
Applying these ideas to the present problem of the sufferings of the civilian population in the war zone (War World I), and while admitting that the past may have something to do with it in some cases, it is undoubtedly a fact that a vast amount of new destiny is now being generated, both by the aggressors and the victims. Neither should it be forgotten that the aggressors are suffering great tribulations themselves as well as their victims. It is a time of suffering all around, and the purgatorial experiences of those who are now allowing their lower nature to run riot will be exceedingly severe. Then when a new life begins and they are placed in a position where they meet their victims, the subconscious memory of the purgatorial suffering will engender the vast majority a desire to make adequate amend, so that out of the fiery furnace of the present affliction there will come a reign of peace on earth and good will among men.
While Theosophy, representing the Wisdom of the East, and the Rosicrucian Philosophy, the Wisdom of the West, agree in many respects, there are certain points in which there is a difference between the teachings of these two schools of esotericism. One of these points is concerning rebirth. Theosophy teaches that the interval between Earth lives of the average Ego is about five thousand years, while the Rosicrucians hold that it is about one thousand years. With reference to the sex of the Ego the Rosicrucians teach that male and female embodiments alternate, while Theosophy holds that the alternation of sex is not in individual lives but by series; that is, a series of seven male embodiments alternates with a female series of equal number. Will you kindly explain these discrepancies?
Answer: It is our invariable rule never to criticize or belittle the teachings of any other spiritual movement. Therefore we can only say that your are correct with respect to the teachings of the Rosicrucians, that the Ego is ordinarily reborn twice during the time it takes the sun by precession to go through a sign of the zodiac, namely 2,100 years. It is also taught that these embodiments are alternately male and female because the conditions on earth do not so appreciably change during two thousand years, and the purpose is to give the Ego all the lessons that can be drawn from experiences on earth under each sign, these varying from the man and the woman. Thus if the Ego is born once as a man and the next time as a woman under the same sign, it will learn practically all the lessons that can be extracted from the conditions existing on earth under such planetary vibrations.
Each neophyte is given the proof of this shortly after Initiation: he is first told to watch a certain Ego who is passing out of the body. Then he continues to watch its life in the invisible world for a year or two, and when an embodiment is found for it he knows the absolute truth of the doctrine of rebirth. He is always given for this demonstration an Ego which passes out as a child, and therefore seeks a quick re-embodiment.
When that lesson has been learned and he knows from first-hand knowledge that rebirth is a fact in nature, he is taught to watch the lives of certain people in the Memory of Nature so that he may gain an understanding of the various details connected with this matter. This, however, cannot be done until the Initiate has learned to function in the Region of Concrete Thought for the etheric record of the Memory of Nature does not reach sufficiently into the past to give the detailed information. Every Initiate who has progressed sufficiently far knows these matters as well as he knows his name.
The Law of Rebirth is not a blind law. It is under the administration of four great Beings of wonderful knowledge and power. They are called the Recording Angels in the Christian terminology. When it is necessary to vary the interval between death and rebirth in the case of a certain Ego, the necessary modifications are made so that it may be a much longer or a much shorter time before it is reborn.
It has been published in the newspaper reports of lectures given by Mrs. Besant, and it is also generally stated by her followers, that she claims to have been Hypatia in ancient Alexandria, a woman. It is also said that later she was born as Giordana Bruno in Rome, and at the present time she is again in a female embodiment. This, if true, would bear out the teaching of the Rosicrucians rather than that of the school which, as you say, claims there are a series of seven male embodiments followed by a series of seven of the other sex.
If a person has a life full of hardship at present and strives to the best of his or her ability to fulfill all duties, will the next life be lived under easier and more bearable circumstances; or if he is an advanced soul must he have hardships in order to learn to help and heal humanity?
Answer: During the earlier part of its evolution mankind committed the most atrocious crimes because actuated entirely by selfishness and disregard for other people's feelings. In those early lives we were cunning, cruel, and seldom did a good deed. In fact, it is recorded that at that time man spent the whole of the interval between earth lives in the purgatorial regions expiating the crimes he had committed during his physical life, and there was not heaven life to speak of. That was the condition spoken of in the Bible as "lost in trespasses of sin," which made it necessary for the Christ to enter the earth and attempt the task of raising the vibrations, so that altruism might gradually conquer egoism and give us a heaven life upon which promotion and progression in our evolutionary career could be based.
Now, it will be evident that during that period of degradation and sin we contracted a great many heavy debts and obligations to one another which we must now work out by love, kindness, and service. Each of us had this burden of the past, and it is that which constitutes the so-called Dweller on the Threshold.
It is said, and said truly, that thought "the mills of God grind slowly, they grind exceeding fine," and every transgression under the law merits a just recompense. Therefore the debt of the past must be paid, and in the interval between each two earth lives there is shown to us the pictures of that part of it which must them be paid by the ordinary processes of evolution. We are them allowed to choose our future as we will from among the opportunities presented to us. Therefore if the Ego is, as you say, an advanced one it will choose the hardest life possible so that it may the more quickly dissolve the burden of debt which ahs accumulated from the past; for the more quickly it is liquidated, the sooner will the Spirit be ready to go on to its highest mission. On the other hand, it is said that "the Lord tempers the wind to the shorn lamb." The weaker souls who are unable to bear up under hardships are therefore given what we see as easier lives where they may pay their debts in small coin, a little at a time, but it will take correspondingly longer before they are finally liberated. Thus there is a good reason why a Job is called a friend and favorite of God, and why it is said that "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth." By giving us all we can bear according to our request and with our consent the great Hierarchies who are in charge of evolution are really showing us favors. This is why the Christ called those blessed who were persecuted for His name's sake, that is to say, as He emphasized, when it was falsely done.
The light of esotericism upon the problem of sorrow is one of the strongest rays of hope to the one who is blessed with this knowledge. It should give us all heart to bear up under all affliction. Whatever comes to us we have earned, and if we are only careful to learn the lesson and to render the help and the service required of us in each particular case, then we may be sure that we are not only liquidating debts of the past, but also laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven which will revert to us as usable soul power to keep us on the path of rectitude in future lives.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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