Although considerable new light and much information was given upon this subject in the "Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception" and our subsequent literature, letters have been coming to Headquarters from students at various times, requesting more light upon such subjects as obsession, mediumship, insanity, abnormal conditions of character, etc. These have given the writer cause to investigate the subject more deeply than theretofore. The maxim that "practice makes perfect" holds good in research of the spiritual realms as well as in physical things. Therefore it is hoped that the light upon this subject, which will be contained in the following pages, may help the student to see more clearly into the causes that are productive of effects in this life.
In order that we may thoroughly understand this subject, it will be necessary to begin at the beginning; to realize that the first fundamental facts of existence are the continuity of life and that action is the expression of life in manifestation. As soon as the spirit has taken its first action, it has thereby generated a cause which must have its effect. This is an absolute necessity in order that the equilibrium of the universe may be maintained. If this action was physical, that is to say, performed by a spirit in a physical body, the reaction must of necessity be physical also. If this be granted, then it follows as a matter of course that we must take birth in this world from time to time, for it is a matter of observation patent to everyone that we all generate causes in this world from day to day which cannot and do not have their adequate reaction, and if we cannot reap what we have sown in this body, we must certainly come back to reap in a new body or else the law is invalidated. If the law of Cause and Effect is true, periodical rebirth is a matter of absolute logical necessity. Thus, whether we realize it or not and whether we relish it or not, we are in a circle of necessity, and because of our own past actions, bound to come back to act and to react until we develop a power which shall be greater than the one that is now swirling us about. What this power is, Goethe, the great German mystic, indicated in the few words:
"From ev'ry power that holds the world in chains,
Man frees himself when self-control he gains."
And as knowledge is power, it is evident that the more thorough our understanding of the operation of the twin laws of Consequence and Rebirth, the easier we shall find the way to liberation, and also better know how to help others.
Science is to be much commended for the ingenuity, the patience, and the persistence it displays in the invention of instruments wherewith to ferret out the secrets of nature. But while it can thus successfully deal with matter, the secrets of spirit and of life are to the savants a closed book, as Mephisto says with fine sarcasm to a scholar who knocks at the door of Faust, seeking admission to the college:
"Who'er would know and treat of aught alive
Seeks first the living spirit thence to drive.
Then are the lifeless fragments in his hand,
He lacks, alas! the vita spirit band."
There is only one instrument which is adequate to investigate the things of the spirit, and that is the Spirit itself. Just as it is necessary to train a man for scientific research in the physical world, so also is a long and slow process required to fit oneself for investigation of the spiritual world. As the man of science must pay the price of his knowledge in months and years of unflinching, unremitting labor, so also the mystic investigator must give years of his life to understand and be capable of investigating by methods of the spirit.
As you know, that which is now the physical body was the first vehicle acquired by man as a thought form; it has undergone an immense period of evolution and organization until it is now the splendid instrument which serves him so well here; but it is hard, set, and difficult to act upon. The next vehicle acquired was the vital body, which has also gone through a long period of development and has condensed to the consistency of ether. The third vehicle, the desire body, has been comparatively lately acquired and is in a state of comparative flux. Lastly, there is the mind, which is only as an unformed cloud, not worthy of the name of vehicle, being as yet but a link between the three vehicles of man and the spirit.
These three vehicles, the physical, vital, and desire bodies, together with the link of mind, are the tools of the spirit in its evolution, and, contrary to the common conception, the ability of the spirit to investigate the higher realms does not depend upon the finest of these bodies as must as upon the denser. The proof of this assertion is close at hand, and indeed, anyone who has ever seriously tried has had this proof himself. If not, he may have it forthwith simply by following the directions for changing the condition of his mind. Let us say that a person has formed certain habits of thought which he does not like. Perhaps after a religious experience he finds that in spite of all his desires these habits of thought will not leave him. But if he decides to cleanse his mind so that it shall contain nothing but pure and good thoughts, he may do this by simply refusing to admit impure thoughts. He will find that after a week or two his mind is noticeably cleaner than at the commencement of his effort; that it holds by preference the religious thoughts he is seeking to generate in it. Even a most abnormally degenerate mind can be thoroughly cleansed inside of a few months. This is actual knowledge to many who have tried it, and anyone who wishes and is sufficiently persistent may have the same experience and enjoy a clean mind in a very short time.
But while clean thoughts take us a long step on the path of attainment, the emotions and desires of the desire body are not so easily subdued, for that vehicle is already considerably more set than the mind. While the regenerate mind readily agrees to the idea that we should love our enemies, the desire body, the emotional and passionate nature, aims with every fiber of its being to get even, to get an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Sometimes, even years and years after we think that the sleeping serpent is subdued, that we have at last gained mastery over it, and that it cannot mar our peace, it may suddenly rise and overthrow all our hopes, take the bit between its teeth, go on a rampage, and vow vengeance for some real or fancied wrong. Then it takes the whole power of the higher nature to subdue this rebellious part of our being. This, the writer thinks, is the thorn in the flesh concerning which Paul besought the lord thrice and was given the answer: "My grace is sufficient for thee." It certainly does need all the grace one can command to overcome, and eternal vigilance is the price of safety, so let us "watch and pray."
It is the desire body which is responsible for all our actions, good, bad, or indifferent, and the oriental philosophers have therefore given directions to their disciples to kill out desire and to abstain from action, good or bad, as much as possible, in order that they may thus save themselves from the wheel of birth and death. But that temper which is such a great menace when it takes control, may be made as effective for service under our proper guidance. We would not for one moment think of taking the temper our of a knife; we should then be unable to cut anything therewith. The temper of the desire body must be controlled but not by any means killed. For the dynamic power of motion and action in the invisible world is stored in this desire body, and unless it is intact, we cannot expect to control ourselves there any more than an ocean liner whose engines were disabled could buffet the ocean waves. There are certain societies which teach negative methods of development, and one of their first instructions to the pupil is to drop the jaw and make himself perfectly negative. Anyone who floated from the physical world toward the spiritual world by such methods would certainly find himself as driftwood upon the ocean, cast hither and thither by the waves, the prey and the sport of every current. And there are in the inner worlds, as well as here, beings who are anything but benevolent, who are ready to take advantage of anyone that ventures into their world not fully prepared to protect himself against them. Thus we see the supreme importance of subjecting our desires to the will of the spirit here in this world, of forcing this desire before we attempt to enter the inner world. Here it is, in a very large measure, held in check by the fact that it is interpolated within the dense body, and therefore cannot sway us hither and yon in the same degree as it can when it has been released from the physical prison house.
But even the subjection of the desire body, difficult as it is to accomplish, will not serve to make a man conscious in the invisible worlds, for the desire body has not evolved to such a point that it can act as a real instrument of consciousness. It is unformed and cloud-like in the great majority of people, and only a number of vortices are present as sense centers or centers of consciousness; these are not yet sufficiently unfolded so that they can serve the purpose without some other help. Therefore it is necessary to work upon and educate the vital body in such a manner that it may be used in soul-flights. This vehicle, as we know, is composed of the four ethers. It is by means of this body that we manipulate the densest of all our vehicles, the physical body, which we usually think of as the whole man. The chemical and life ethers form a matrix for our physical bodies. Each molecule of the physical body is embedded in a meshwork of ether which permeates and infuses it with life. Through these ethers the bodily functions, such as respiration, etc., are carried on, and the density and consistency of these matrices of ether determine the state of health. But the part of the vita body formed of the two higher ethers, the light ether and the reflecting ether, is what we may term the soul body; that is to say, it is more closely linked with the desire body and the mind and also more amenable to the spirit's touch than are the two lower ethers. It is the vehicle of intellect, and responsible for all that makes man, man. Or observations, our aspirations, our character, etc., are due to the work of the spirit in these two higher ethers, which become more or less luminous according to the nature of our character and habits. Also, as the dense body assimilates particles of food and thus gains in flesh, so the two higher ethers assimilate our good deeds during life and thus grow in volume as well. According to our doings in this present life we thus increase or decrease that which we brought with us at birth. If we are born with a good character, expressed in these two higher ethers, it will not be easy for us to change this because the vital body has become very, very set during the myriad of years through which we have evolved it. On the other hand, if we have been lax and negligent and indulgent in the habits which we call evil, if we have formed a bad character in past lives, then it is difficult to overcome because of this set nature of the vital body, and it will require years of constant effort to change its structure. This is the reason the Mystic Christian Teaching says that all mystic development begins with the vital body.
There are a great many people who associate spirituality with a great show of emotionalism but as we saw in the last section, this idea has absolutely no foundation in fact; on the contrary, the kind of spirituality which is developed by and associated with the emotional nature of the desire body is unreliable in the extreme; this is the variety that is generated in revival meetings where emotionalism is brought up to a high pitch, causing a person to make a great splurge of religious fervor which soon spends itself and leaves him exactly as he was before, much to the chagrin of the revivalists and other people who are engaged in evangelical work. But what else can they expect? They set out to save souls with drums and fifes, with rhythmic revival songs, with appeals made in a voice which is raised and lowered in harmonic waives, all of which are as powerfully effective on the desire body as storms which stir the sea to fury and then subside. The vital body is much more set, and it is only when conversion affects this vehicle that it sticks and stays with a man or woman for life. Those who have the true spirituality do not feel saved one day, in the seventh heaven of ecstasy, and the next feel themselves down in the dumps and miserable sinners that can never be forgiven; for their religion is not based upon the emotional nature which feels these things, but is rooted in the vital body which is the vehicle of reason, set and persistent in the path it has once chose. As new forms are propagated through the second ether of the vital body, so the Higher Self, the Christ within, is formed through this same vehicle of generation, the vital body, in its higher aspects embodied in the two upper ethers.
But as a child that is born into the world requires nourishment, so also the Christ that is born within is a babe and requires to be nourished to the full stature of manhood. And as the physical body grows by a continual assimilation of material from the chemical region, the solids, liquids, and gases, so also, as the Christ grows, will the two higher ethers grow in volume and form a luminous cloud around the man or woman sufficiently discerning to set his or her face heavenward; it will invest the pilgrim with light so brilliant that he "walks in the light," as a matter of actual fact. By the exercises given in the Western Mystery School of the Rosicrucians, it becomes possible in time to detach the two higher ethers, and the man may then step away from his physical body, leaving it for a time invested and vitalized only by the two lower ethers; he is then what we call an Invisible Helper.
There are various grades of spiritual sight. One grade enables a man to see the ordinarily invisible ether with the myriad of beings that invest that realm. Other and higher variants give him the faculty to see the desire world and even the world of thought while remaining in the physical body. But these faculties, though valuable when exercised under full control of the human will, are not sufficient to read the "memory of nature" with absolute accuracy. To do this and to make the necessary investigations in order that one may understand how the "Web of Destiny" is made and unmade, it is necessary to be able at will to step from the physical body and function outside in that soul body which we have spoken of as composed of the two higher ethers, this being also invested with the desire body and the mind. Thus the investigator is in full possession of all his faculties, he knows all that he knew in the physical world, and has the ability to bring back into the physical consciousness the things which he has learned without. When he has this ability he must also learn to balance himself, to understand the things which he sees outside, for mark this: It is not enough to be able to step outside the body into another world and to see things there; we do not by that fact become omniscient any more than we understand what everything is used for and how everything works here in this physical world because we live here from day to day and year to year. It requires study and application to become thoroughly familiar with the facts of the invisible world as it does with the facts of the world in which we are now living in our physical bodies. Therefore the book, the "Memory of Nature," is not read easily at the first attempt or at the second either, for just as it takes a child time to learn how to read our ordinary books here, so, also, it requires time and effort to decipher this wonderful scroll.
It is a familiar fact to students of science that the history of the earth is written in unmistakable characters upon the rocks and by the glaciers. Upon every stone there is found some sign which guides the trained investigator in deciphering its message concerning the development of the earth during past ages, and it is wonderful to read in the text books upon this subject how well the scientific investigators have been able to make a connected story out of these many clues. It is also well known that wherever we move individually, we leave behind us marks which may be traced though they are unseen even by ourselves. The wonderful ingenuity displayed by the Indians, as told by Fenimore Cooper and others, in tracing their friends or their foes through the virgin forest guided by broken twigs, etc., is far exceeded by scientists today, who trace the criminal by his finger prints. The seemingly fantastic exploits of Sherlock Holmes are duplicated by actual experience in criminal detection. The actions of men now living may be reproduced by the moving picture camera a hundred years hence when the real actors have long moldered in the grave; and so we can by the light of these later discoveries prepare our minds for the belief that there is an automatic record of every human life and of the lives of communities, kept in what we may call, for want of a better name, the Memory of Nature. This shows the stages in evolution attained by all living things, and gives the ministers of God, the Recording Angels, the needed perspective in order to aid us in our attainment of wisdom, knowledge, and power; the clue to what lessons are needed to carry us further on the Path. So far as the individual is concerned, this record starts at the moment when he draws the first breath and continues until the last respiration has emptied the arteries of blood. We know that the whole universe is vibrant with life, that each object constantly emits from itself vibratory waves which reveal its nature and presence. We also know that when a child takes its first complete breath, the physiological conditions in the heart are changed, the foramen ovale is closed, and the blood forced to circulate through the heart and lungs. There is meets the air charged with a picture of the surroundings. Thus the blood, which is the vehicle of the Ego, absorbs in the lungs a complete picture of the outside world. When it rushes through the left ventricle of the heart, it leaves an impress upon the little seed atom situated at the apex and which corresponds to the film of the camera, nor should it be an obstacle to belief in this idea that a large number of pictures must be imprinted upon a very small surface. When we consider that the picture of the Moon which we see in the retina is less than one two-hundredth part of one inch in diameter, we can see that a very small picture can be very distinct, for even within that small space we note upon the Moon a number of mountains and valleys with the naked eye. The picture of a man at a distance of a hundred feet or so is not one-twentieth of an inch in size, according to an authority upon this subject, yet we distinguish in that minute picture the expression of the face, the pattern of the clothing, etc. Similarly, there is upon this minute seed atom a picture of every action ever performed, of every scene in which we have ever found ourselves, during the whole time from birth to death. George du Maurier and Jack London describe in "Peter Ibbetson" and in "The Star Rover," how a prisoner in the flesh may live over again the scenes of his childhood, where he sees himself, his playmates, his parents, his whole environment, effectively reproduced from the etheric record of his child life or even of past lives. Any one who knows the secret of how to put himself in touch with these pictures may find and read the lives of the people with whom he comes in contact, as proved by mediums. But while fresh or contemporary records may be read with comparative ease, it becomes increasingly difficult to read as we go backwards, for the records which are made in the ether are faint compared with the ones in the next higher realms and fade gradually.
When a seer examines one who is about to become ill, he will find that the vital body is actually becoming more attenuated, and when it has reached a point of tenuity where it can no longer support the physical body, the latter commences to manifest signs of what we call disease. Again, some time before we see physical recovery, the vital body gradually becomes more dense in structure; then the period of convalescence commences. It is also patent to all who have to do with victims of accidents that they do not suffer as keenly just after the accident as later; this is because the vital body at the time of the accident is uninjured, and therefore the whole effect of the accident is not felt until this vehicle has become attenuated and unable to support the vital processes. Thus we see that there are changes in the ether of a human being; and according to they mystic axiom, "As above, so below," and vice-versa, there are also changes in the planetary ether which constitutes the vital body of the Earth Spirit. As the conscious memory of recent events which is strong in the human being gradually fades, so also the etheric record, which is the lowest aspect of the Memory of Nature, fades in time.
In the highest sub-division of the Region of Concrete Thought, just on the border line between pure spirit and matter, an impress is made of the things and events in this world which is relatively much clearer and more lasting than the etheric record, for while events inscribed upon the etheric record fade away in spots in a few hundred years, and even important events may last only one or two thousand years, the record found in the highest sub-division of the Region of Concrete Thought lasts for the Earth Period. While the records made on the reflecting ether may be read by the uninstructed who have just a little spiritual sight, several initiations are required before it is possible for any one to read the records kept in the higher region noted above. You will readily understand the relation of this record to the one made in the ether, and also to the absolutely permanent record which is inscribed in the World of Life Spirit, if you examine diagram No. 1 on page 52 of the Cosmo. Paracelsus calls the record made in the ether, Sidereal Light; and Eliphas Levi, the great Kabalist, speaks of these records as being kept in the Astral light. This is in a sense correct, for though they have nothing to do with the stars, as the name would seem to imply, they are found in the Etheric Region outside the earth's atmosphere. The medium or hypnotic victim who leaves the body by negative processes under outside control, levitates towards these realms as naturally as our physical body gravitates towards the earth.
As stated in the Cosmo in connection with the constitution of our planet, the path of initiation goes through the earth from circumference to center, one stratum at a time, and though our physical bodies are drawn that way by the force of gravitation, their density prevents trespass as effectually as the force of levitation which repels the uninstructed class spoken of from sacred precincts. Only when by the power of our own spirit we have left our dense body, instructed by and because of right living, are we able to read the etheric record to best advantage. At a farther point of progress the "water stratum" in the earth is opened to the Initiate, and he is then in a position to read the record of past events permanently engraved in the living substance of the Region of Archetypal Forces, where duration and space are practically non-existent, and where all is an eternal Here and Now.
While we are studying "The Web of Destiny, How Made and Unmade," it is expedient that we devote some time to the mysterious "Dweller on the Threshold," a subject that is quite misunderstood. Our investigations of the previous lives of a number of people who have applied to the Fellowship headquarters for relief from so-called obsession, have proved that their trouble is due to one phase of what has been mistakenly called by previous investigators, "The Dweller on the Threshold." When cases are examined merely by the use of spiritual sight or by reading in the etheric record, such a mistake may very easily be made as to confuse that apparition with the true Dweller on the Threshold. But as soon as we look the cases up in the imperishable records contained in the Region of Archetypal Forces, the matter is at once cleared up and the facts developed in these investigations may be summed up as follows:
At the moment of death when the seed atom in the heart is ruptured which contains all the experience of the past life in a panoramic picture, the spirit leaves its physical body taking with it the finer bodies. It then hovers over the dense body which is now dead, as we call it, for a time varying from a number of hours to three and one half days. The determining factor as to the time is the strength of the vital body, the vehicle which constitutes the soul body spoken of in the Bible. There is then a pictorial reproduction of the life, a panorama in reverse order from death to birth, and the pictures are etched upon the desire body through the medium of the reflecting ether in this vital body. During this time the consciousness of the Spirit is concentrated in the vital body, or at least it should be, and it has therefore no feeling about this matter. The picture that is impressed upon the vehicle of feeling and emotion, the desire body, is the basis of subsequent suffering in the life in Purgatory for evil deeds, and of enjoyment in the first Heaven on account of the good done in the past life.
These were the main facts which the writer was able to personally observe about death at the time when the teachings were first given to him and when he was introduced by the help of the Teacher to the panoramic reproductions of life when persons were going through the gate of death, but the investigations of later years have revealed the additional fact that there is another process going on during these important days following death. A cleavage takes place in the vital body similar to that made by the process of initiation. So much of this vehicle as can be terms "soul," coalesces with the higher vehicles and is the basis of consciousness in the invisible worlds after death. The lower part, which is discarded, returns to the physical body and hovers over the grave in the great majority of cases, as stated in the Cosmo. This cleavage of the vital body is not the same in all persons but depends upon the nature of the life lived and the character of the person that is passing out. In extreme cases this division varies very much from normal. This important point was brought out in many cases of supposed spirit obsession which have been investigated from headquarters; in fact it was these cases which developed the far-reaching and astounding discoveries brought out by our most recent researches into the nature of the obsession from which the people who appealed to us were suffering. As might be expected, of course, the division in these cases showed a preponderance of evil, and efforts were then made to find out if there were not also another class of people where a different division with a preponderance of good takes place. It is a pleasure to record that this was found to be the case, and after weighing the facts discovered, balancing one with another, the following seems to be a correct description of the conditions and their reason:
The vital body aims to build the physical, whereas our desires and emotions tear down. It is the struggle between the vital body and the desire body which produces consciousness in the physical world, and which hardens the tissue so that the soft body of the child gradually becomes tough and shrunken in old age, followed by death. The morality or immorality of our desires and emotions acts in a similar manner on the vital body. Where devotion to high ideals is the mainspring of action, where the devotional nature has been allowed for years to express itself freely and frequently, and particularly where this has been accompanied by the scientific exercises given to probationers in the Rosicrucian Fellowship, the quantity of the chemical and life ethers gradually diminishes as the animal appetites vanish, and an increased amount of the light and reflecting ether takes their place. As a consequence, physical health is not as robust among people who follow the higher path as among people whose indulgence of the lower nature attracts the chemical and life ethers, in proportion to the extent and nature of their vice, to the partial or total exclusion of the two higher ethers.
Several very important consequences connected with death follow this fact. As it is the chemical ether which cements the molecules of the body in their places and keeps them there during life, when only a minimum of this material is present, disintegration of the physical vehicle after death must be very rapid. This the writer has not been able to verify because it is difficult to find men of high spiritual proclivities who have passed out recently, but it would seem that this is so from the fact recorded in the Bible that the body of Christ was not found in the tomb when the people came to look for it. As we have said before in relation to this matter, the Christ spiritualized the body of Jesus so highly, made it so vibrant, that it was almost impossible to keep the particles in place during his ministry. This was a fact known to the writer by the teachings of the Elder Brothers and by what investigation he has made of the subject in the memory of Nature, but the bearing of this fact upon the general subject of death and the after-existence was not know until lately.
The real "Dweller on the Threshold" is the composite elemental entity created on the invisible planes by all our untransmuted evil thoughts and acts during all the past period of our evolution. This "dweller" stands guard at the entrance to the invisible worlds and challenges our right to enter therein. This entity must be redeemed or transmuted eventually. We must generate poise and will power sufficient to face and command it before we can consciously enter the super-physical worlds.
As before stated, a worldly life increases the proportion of the lower ethers in the vital body to that of the higher. Where, in addition, a so-called "clean life" is lived and excesses avoided, the health during life is more robust than that of the aspirant to the higher life, because the latter's attitude to life builds a vital body composed principally of the higher ethers. He loves "the bread of life" more than physical sustenance, and therefore his instrument become increasingly high-strung, nervous, and delicate, a sensitive condition which greatly furthers the objects of the spirit, but which is a hardship from the physical viewpoint.
In the great majority of mankind there is such a preponderance of selfishness and a desire to get the most out of life as they view that matter, that either they are busy keeping the wolf from the door or accumulating possessions and taking care of them, and hence they have very little time or inclination to undertake the soul culture so necessary to true success in life. The writer has often heard them contend that if they pay the minister to study the Bible during the six days and give them on the seventh an epitome of what he has found, that should be all that is required to get a ticket to heaven. They subscribe to the church and to the things ordinarily called for in life as honorable and upright; for the rest, they have "a good time." Therefore there is so little that persists in each life of the majority and evolution is so frightfully slow that until one is able to view the act of death from the higher regions of the World of Concrete Thought and, so to say, look downwards, it does not appear that anything is saved of the vital body. This body seems to return complete to the physical body and to hover over the grave, there it disintegrate simultaneously with the latter. As a matter of fact, an increasing part cleaves to the higher vehicles and goes with them into the desire world, there to be a basis of consciousness in, and to live through, the purgatorial and heaven lives, generally persisting until man enters the second heaven and unites with the nature forces there in his efforts to create for himself a new environment. By that time, it has been absorbed by the spirit or almost so, and whatever may remain of a material nature will quickly fade away. Thus the personality of the past life has vanished and the spirit will not meet with it in the future lives upon this earth.
But there are some people who are of such an evil nature that they enjoy a life spent in vice and degenerate practices, a brutal life, and who delight in giving pain. Sometimes they even cultivate the esoteric arts for evil purposes so that they may have a greater power over their victims. Then their fiendish, immoral practices result in hardening their vital body.
In such extreme cases where the animal nature has been paramount, where there has been no soul expression in the preceding earth life, the division in the vital body spoken of before cannot take place at death, for there is no dividing line. In such a case, if the vital body should gravitate back to the dense body and there gradually disintegrate, the effect of a very evil life would not be so far-reaching, but unfortunately there is in such cases an interlocking grip of the vital and desire bodies which prevents separation. We have seen that where a man lives mostly in the higher nature, his spiritual vehicles are nourished to the detriment of the lower. Conversely, where his consciousness is centered in the lower vehicles, he strengthens them immeasurably. It should be understood that the life of the desire body is not terminated by the departure of the spirit; it has a residual life and consciousness. The vital body is also able to sense things in a slight measure for a few days after death in ordinary cases (hence the suffering caused by embalming, postmortem examinations, etc., immediately after death), but where a low life has hardened and endued it with great strength, it has a tenacious hold on life and an ability to feed on odors of foods and liquors. Sometimes, as a parasite, it even vampirizes people with whom it comes in contact.
Thus an evil man may life for many, many years unseen in our very midst, yet so close that he is nearer than hands and feet. He is far more dangerous than the physical criminal for he is able to prompt others of a similar bent to criminal or degenerate practices without fear of detection or punishment by law.
Such beings are therefore one of the greatest menaces to society imaginable. They have sent countless victims to prison, broken up homes and caused an unbelievable amount of unhappiness. They always leave their victims when the latter have come into the clutches of the law. They gloat over their victims' sorrow and distress, this being a part of their fiendish scheme. There are other classes which delight in posing as "angels" in spiritualistic séances. They also find victims there and teach them immoral practices. The so-called "Poltergeist" which enjoys breaking dishes, upsetting tables, knocking hats over the heads of the delighted audience, and similar horseplay, is also in this class. The strength and density of the vital body of such beings makes it easier for them to give physical manifestations than for those who have passed beyond into the desire world; in fact the vital bodies of this class of spirits are so dense that they are nearly physical, and it has been a mystery to the writer that some of the people who are taken in by such entities cannot see them. Were they once discovered, one look at their evil sneering faces would very soon dispel the delusion that they are angels.
There is another class of spirits belonging to this same category who appeal to person seeking spiritual development outside the spiritualistic line, by posing to them as individual teachers and giving them a lot of goody-goody nonsense. They also play upon the credulity of their victims in an almost unbelievable manner, and even though for years they may keep their intentions secret, sometime or other they will show themselves in their true colors. Therefore it cannot be reiterated too often that no one should accept from any one else, either visible or invisible, teachings in the slightest degree contrary to his own highest conception of ethics. It is dangerous to trust absolutely to people in this world and admit them to our full confidence; we know this by experience and act accordingly. We ought, naturally, to be much more careful when the question comes to matters of the soul, and not trust that most important of all matters, our spiritual welfare, in the hands of some one we cannot at least see and judge accordingly. There are many spirits, of course, who have not the wits to do anything very evil with their victims, and who just lead them around by the nose for years and years without any particularly harmful results. But self reliance is the most essential virtue to be cultivated by us at this stage of our evolution; the mystic maxim, "If thou art Christ, help thyself," is always sounded in the ears of those who endeavor to tread the true path. Hence we ought to guide ourselves without fear or favor from any spirit.
It is amazing when one searches the Memory of Nature of the past to find how prevalent this interlocking condition of the desire and vital bodies was in former centuries and millenniums. We realize, of course, in a sort of an abstract way, that the further we go back into the history of men the more savage we find them, but that in our own historical times this savagery should have been so common and so brutal and that might was the measure of right absolutely and beyond dispute, was, to say the least, quite a shock to the writer. It has been taught that selfishness and desire were purposely fostered under the regime of Jehovah to give incentive to action. This in the course of time had so hardened the desire body that when the advent of Christ took place, there was almost no heaven life among the people then living; but the writer, personally, never realized what this fact implied until the recent investigations of "The Web of Destiny" were commenced.
Nor were these ancient people content to do all the evil they could in life and then get away, but they must even have their war horses killed, their weapons laid down in their coffins, and everything else possible done to keep them here, for the ether in those things which had belonged to them during life had an attraction for them, and was a means to further keeping them within the earth's sphere. It enabled them to haunt, for they actually did haunt, their castles for years and years, and of course it was not only the rich or the warrior classes but also others. In cases of blood feuds where people were slain, the ghosts incited their relatives to avenge them by remaining about and helping them to carry out the bloody deeds. Thus they perpetuated evil and kept the world in a turmoil of blood and strife; nor is this condition entirely broker in what we call modern days. Wherever a person dies who has fostered malice and hatred in his heart, these interlock the desire and vital bodies and make him a more serious menace to the community than anyone can imagine who has not investigated this subject.
Therefore, if for no other reason, capital punishment should be abolished so that we may not let loose upon the community such dangerous characters to incite the morally weak to follow in their footsteps.
Earthbound spirits, such as previously mentioned, gravitate to the lower regions of the desire world which interpenetrate the ether, and are in constant and close touch with those people on earth most favorably situated for aiding them in their evil designs. They usually stay in this earthbound condition for fifty, sixty, or seventy-five years, but extreme cases have been found in which such people so remain for centuries. So far as the writer has been able to discover up to the present time, there seems to be no limit to what they may do or how soon they will let go. But all the while they are piling up for themselves an awful load of sin, nor can they escape suffering therefor; for the vital body reflects and etches deeply into the desire body a record of their misdeeds, and when at last they do let go and enter the purgatorial existence, they meet the retribution which they well deserve. This suffering is naturally lengthy in proportion to the time they have continued their nefarious practices after the death of the dense body—another proof that "Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small."
When the spirit has left the sin body, as we will call this vehicle, in contrast to the soul body, to ascend to the second heaven, it does not disintegrate as quickly as the ordinary shell left behind by normal people, for the consciousness in it is enhanced by its dual composition; that is to say, being composed of both a vital and desire body, it has an individual or a personal consciousness that is very remarkable. It cannot reason, but there is a low cunning present which makes it seem as though it were actually endowed with a spiritual presence, an ego, and this enables it to live a separate life for many centuries. The departed spirit meanwhile enters the second heaven, but having done no work on earth to desire or merit a prolonged stay there or in the third heaven, it only stays there sufficiently long to create a new environment for itself and it is then reborn much earlier than usual—to satisfy the cravings for material things which draw it so strongly.
When the spirit returns to earth, this Sin Body is naturally attracted towards it, and usually stays with it all its life as a demon. Investigations have proved that this class of soulless creatures were very prevalent during Biblical times, and it was to them that our Savior referred as devils, they being the cause of various obsessions and bodily ills such as are recorded in the Bible. The Greek word "daimon" describes them accurately. Even today a large proportion of southern Europe, the Orient, Africa and the American South is thus harassed.
But unfortunately the evil is not confined to the above-mention ed regions. In northern Europe and in North and South America, we find that demoniac possession is far from infrequent, although, of course, its form is not so abject as in the first mentioned places where it is often accompanied by the most filthy and abominable practices.
The writer was at one time quite apprehensive of the effect which war might have in respect to locking the desire and vital bodies together and bringing to birth legions of monsters to afflict future generations. But it is with great thankfulness that he records his conviction that we need have no fear on that score. Only when people are premeditatively malicious and vindictive, and persistently harbor a desire and a purpose to get even with some one, only when such feelings are hugged, nursed, and entertained do they harden the vital body and cause the interlocking grip of these vehicles. We know from the records of the great war that the rank and file have no such sentiments against one another, but that enemies meet as friends whenever chance brings them into such relationship that they may converse with one another. So, though war is responsible for the awful mortality now and will cause deplorable infant mortality in a future age, it will be blameless with regard to the dreadful diseases engendered by obsession and the crimes suggested by these demoniacal sin bodies.
The discarded sin bodies mentioned in the preceding parts of this section, inhabit normally and by preference the lowest regions of the ether and condense themselves to the very line of sight. Sometimes they even make use of some of the constituents of the air and seem usually to be perfectly visible to those people whom they harass, although their victims are usually very careful not to allow anyone to suspect that they have such a demon about them, that is at least in the western world; there seems to be no such delicacy in the southern part of Europe.
Following the above investigations, the writer attempted a number of experiments with spirits who were in the higher realms of the ether, having just passed out, and with people who had been in the desire world for a longer or shorter time, some of them being almost ready for the first heaven. A number of spirits who had departed this life kindly cooperated as subjects. The aim of the experiments was to determine how far it would be possible for them to clothe themselves in the materials of the lower etheric and even the gaseous regions. It was noticed that those who had just passed out could quite readily endure the lower ether vibrations, although being of good character they were not well satisfied to remain there longer than necessary, for they were uncomfortable. But as we tried people from successively higher regions of the desire world up to the first heaven, it became more and more difficult to wrap themselves in ether or descend into it. The consensus of opinion was that it was like going down into a deep well, there to smother. It was also found that it was absolutely impossible for any one in the physical to see them. We tried by every method of suggestion to arouse the people in rooms which we visited, to a sense of our presence, but we found no response, though in a number of cases the forms which we condensed were so opaque that it seemed to the writer as if they were nearly as dark as those physical people whom we desired to attract. We placed our experimental subjects between the physical people and the light; nevertheless we had no success in any case, either with those who were from the higher realms or with those who had passed out recently and were able to stay in the given position and density for a considerable time.
In addition to the entities already mentioned who dwell in a sin body made by themselves, and who thus suffer entirely from their own deeds in the period of expiation, two classes were found which were similar in certain respects although entirely different in others. In addition to the divine Hierarchies and the four life waves of spirits now evolving in the physical world through the mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms, there are also other life waves which express themselves in the various invisible worlds. Among them there are certain classes of sub-human spirits which are called elementals. It sometimes happens that one of these elementals takes possession of the sin body of some one of a savage tribe, and thus adds extra intelligence to that being. At the rebirth of the spirit that generated this sin body, the usual attraction brings them together, but on account of the elemental ensouling the sin body, the spirit becomes different from the other members of the tribe, and we find them then acting as medicine men or in a similar capacity. These elemental spirits ensouling the sin bodies of Indians also act upon mediums as spirit controls, and having obtained power over the medium during life, when he dies, these elemental spirit controls oust him from the vehicles which contain his life experience, and thus the medium may be retarded in evolution for ages, for there is no power that can compel these spirits to let go, once they have gained control of such a body. Therefore, though mediumship may produce no seeming evil effect in a lifetime, there is a very, very, grave danger after death to the person who allows his body to be taken possession of. Spiritualism has done a necessary work in the world. It was probably the chief means of checking the absolute materialism of science, and it has brought solace to thousands of suffering souls who grieved for the loss of departed ones; it has turned unbelievers to believe in a higher existence. We have no desire, whatever, to speak in a derogatory manner of its workers, but we cannot refrain from voicing a warning, as we feel it a duty to point out the enormous danger to those who allow themselves to be habitually controlled by spirits whom they cannot see, and about whom they cannot possibly know anything.
It is a curious fact that subhuman elementals sometimes attach themselves to certain persons, to a family, or even to a religious society; but in such cases it was always found that their vehicle did not consist of the hardened sin body composed of an interlocking desire and vital body, but that the vehicle had been obtained through mediumship practiced by a person of ordinarily good character, and that the ether of this vehicle was in a state of disintegration. To offset this and to prolong their hold on such a vehicle, they demand of those whom they serve, regular offerings of food and the burning of incense; though they cannot, of course, assimilate the physical food, they can and do live upon the ether fumes and odors which arise from it, also upon the fumes of incense.
This is only another illustration of the fact that purity of motive will not protect us when we go contrary to the laws of God, any more than we can escape a burn if we put our hand on a hot stove, no matter why we did it. But, nevertheless, it has been found in cases where a medium has been ensouled by pure motives and high religious devotion, it is very difficult for such evil entities to hold the vital body for a long time; they soon tire of the effort and seek another victim who is more in accordance with their nature. Thus in the south of Europe and in the far East there are elementals that take possession of the vital bodies of a family, generation after generation, leaving one for another and performing certain services for the family for a consideration of food, which is usually offered at regular times. Some of them are too vile to be satisfied with the offering of ordinary food and demand blood, even human blood. This is also the basis of Ancestor Worship in the East.
These as well as the sin bodies which are not ensouled by an outside intelligence have been called "The Dwellers on the Threshold," merely owing to the fact that when the person by whom they were originally generated was reborn, this demon attached itself to him and became a tempter and a devil to him all through life. Not infrequently it was found that in the case of a person who had in one life generated such a demon, but who had taken the lessons of that life so much to heart that they were expiated in the purgatorial existence, and who when reborn endeavored in the most whole-souled way to live a clean, upright, and honest life, this sin body was still always on hand to hamper him. Many of the people who were thus afflicted were so sincere in their desire to reform that they entered monasteries and practiced dreadful austerities upon their bodies, each of them believing that the demon which haunted him and of whose presence he was conscious was the devil or an emissary from him.
It is said truly that the boy is the father of the man. In a similar sense our previous existences are the progenitors of our present and future lives, and it is very certain that in this sense at least, "the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children"; nor can we deny the justice thereof, for the cruelties practiced by these people which caused the formation of the sin body were generally of the most atrocious nature imaginable.
You have probably heard it said that when a bull dog has taken a grip on anything, he will not let go. This implies, however, that he has the power to do so if he wants to. But it is different with a snake; its teeth are pointed towards the back of the mouth so that when once it has sunk its fangs into the flesh of its victim, it cannot let go but must perforce swallow the victim. Curiously enough, something similar is the case in obsession.
You will remember that the writer has always contended that spirit controls stand outside their victim's body and behind him, manipulating the organ of speech or the whole body, as the case may be, from and through the cerebellum and medulla oblongata where the flame of life burns with a double, buzzing sound composed of two tones, indicative of the resistance of the body to the manipulations of the intruder. Our latest investigations have, however, disclosed the fact that the spirit controls who thus manipulate their victims from without, are the wise ones who are too wary to be caught in a trap. While they are without, they can let go at any time they wish and leave their victim to pursue his daily life as desired, while they do the same themselves. But there are other spirits who are not so wise, or who are perhaps more foolhardy or else so anxious to get into the physical world that they throw all caution aside. Entering the body of their victims, they find themselves in almost the same position as the prey of the snake; the body of their intended victim has a lock grip upon them and they cannot let go under ordinary circumstances. Thus the obsession becomes permanent, and the whole personality of that victim changes.
If the obsessing spirit be an elemental or subhuman entity which is not able to use a mind or larynx, these being the latest human acquisitions, the person so obsessed becomes a hopeless lunatic, not infrequently of a malevolent nature, and the faculty of speech is also impaired. It is almost impossible to dislodge such an entity once it has entered. Investigation of former lives shows that this affliction is usually the outcome of a desire to run away from life's experience; for those who are obsessed are often found to have been suicides in a previous existence. Then they had a body which they did not appreciate, and as a consequence in a later life the mentality became weakened either through an organic disease, a great shock, or by obsession. In any one of these cases the spirit was ousted from its body, always hovering around it and eager to obtain possession but unable to do so because of the lack of mind wherewith to focus thought upon the brain or because of obsession by an extraneous entity.
Sorrow and disappointment are usually the causes of suicide, and often a great sorrow was found to derange the mind; but the spirit is then quite capable of understanding and handling the situation even though it may not be able to use its vehicles because of the lacking focus of mind. But where it has given way and attempted to escape by suicide, it learns in the manner described to realize the value of a body and of the links therewith, so that in the future no provocation will be sufficient to cause it to sever the silver cord. In fact, sometimes sorrows come to tempt a person who has given way in the past to do this very act; and when he resists, it shows he has become immune from the temptation. It seems to be the same principle upon which the drunkard of a former life is tempted to drink in order to test his stability of character by his conscious refusal to yield.
It is curious that the commission of suicide in one life and the consequent post-mortem suffering during the time when the archetype still exists often generate in such people a morbid fear of death in the next life, so that when the event actually occurs in the ordinary course of life, they seem frantic after they leave the body and so anxious to get back to the physical world again that they frequently commit this crime of obsession in the most foolish and unthinking manner. However, as there are not always negative human subjects available for obsession, (and even if there were, it is not certain that the person who has just passed out and who is seeking such a chance will find one in whom he may take refuge) a strange, a horrible thing often happens, namely, that such a spirit ousts the real owner of an animal body and then ensouls its vehicle. It is then under the dreadful necessity of living an animal existence, pure and simple. If the animal is subjected to cruelty by its master, the obsessing human spirit suffers as the animal spirit would have suffered; if the animal is to be killed for food, the man within sees and understands the preparation for slaughter and has to go through the horrible experiences connected therewith. Nor are cases of this nature infrequent at all; in fact they happen very often, as a visit to some of the great American slaughter-houses has brought home to the writer in a most forcible manner; and the realization of this, to him, new fact has brought home in an almost painful manner the necessity of educating the people to the great truth that death, like birth, is only an event of frequent occurrence in the never-ending life of the immortal spirit.
Full faith in this doctrine would take away untold misery from mankind, and we ought to do all in our power to help spread this gospel of Life.
It also sometimes occurs that an evil man embodies himself in a beast of prey and takes a fiendish delight in terrorizing a community. When the Christ walked upon earth, such cases of animal obsession by human spirits were met with every day, and the instances recorded in the Bible are not at all myths or foolishness to one endowed with spiritual sight and able to read in the Memory of Nature, for it is found that these things actually did happen; in fact, the ancient seers who observed this habitual entrance of people of low and evil character into the bodies of beasts when they had passed out of their own bodies at death, thought that this was the regular course of nature instead of being an anomalous condition, and they therefore formulated the doctrine of Transmigration.
It is a fact evident from the merest superficial observation that while animals act alike under like circumstances, because they are guided by a group spirit, the human being does not. In humanity there are as many species as there are individuals, each one being a law unto himself; and we can never predict from the actions of one, how another will act under similar circumstances; even the same individual may act differently, and probably will, under similar circumstances at different times. On that account it is difficult to handle or properly elucidate a subject like "The Web of Destiny," when we are only equipped with minds of such small capacity as human beings have at present. To fully understand this subject would require the wisdom of such great beings as the Recording Angels, who have charge of this intricate department of life.
It must not, therefore, be thought that the writer is giving in this book more than a very superficial view of how destiny is made and unmade. Each act of each individual calls forth in the universe a certain vibration which spends itself, reacting upon him and others in his environment; and no mere human mind could either watch or tabulate the results of these actions and reactions in a few short months, years, or lives. But we have sought from the general picture impressed upon our mind by the study of our subject, to classify the causes engendered in the past as they appear to us, and their effect in present lives. Several hundred persons have been investigated in the course of this study, and in some cases we have gone back for three, four, or even more lives in order to get at the root of the matter and to determine how the actions in the past react to make conditions in present lives. But although we have thus done our very best under the circumstances, students are particularly requested not to regard this as any authoritative conclusion in the matter, but rather as a fingerpost which, we hope, may help to solve certain problems. As regards environment, it would seem that people who are of a particularly difficult nature to get along with and who have a hard life before them, are often born among strangers where they will not receive any sympathy and where their sufferings will not create upon their next of kin according to the flesh any appreciable sympathetic impression; or else they
are orphaned, or deserted by their parents, or they run away from home at an early age. Where this is the case, the soul often hungers for a sympathy which it had neglected to give to others in previous lives. We have also found cases where certain people committed the most atrocious outrages in the past and brought shame and dishonor upon their nearest kin, who suffered deeply because they loved the miscreant. And in the life where this erring soul was to atone for past misdeeds, it would find itself in an altogether unsympathetic environment, hungering and thirsting for the love that it had despised in a previous life; thus its lot was made all the harder. If the man did not learn the lesson in one life, several lives of similar experience would teach him to be sympathetic to those who loved him, as well as to do honestly and rightly by others.
It was also found that often a soul had gone wrong in past lives because of a lack of kindly influence on the part of those who composed his immediate family, and who should have given to him their loyalty, support, and love. The lack of this sympathetic environment did not, of course, excuse his misdeeds in the eyes of the law, and he was forced in later lives to expiate the misdeeds of the past. But in such cases the tables were usually reversed; the family, which in past lives had been indifferent to him, would not dote upon him and thus would feel keenly whatever sorrow and suffering he must go through on account of his past. Thus they expiated their part in making him what he was because of their lack of sympathy and kindness.
These are extreme cases; but, naturally, one cannot draw a definite lesson from cases not clearly marked; the more bluntly events stand out, the easier it is to tabulate them. The law which holds good in extreme cases would also hold good in lesser cases, with modifications in proper degree to cover choice of environment.
The foregoing facts show us clearly that we are truly our brother's keeper, and that it behooves every one of us to show all the sympathy and kindness we possibly can to those who are in misfortune, either in or out of our families. For though upon the face of things and looking at life from the viewpoint of our present embodiment alone, we may not seem to have any responsibility for the condition of a scapegrace relative; nevertheless if we could view the larger life, if we could see behind the veil, probably we should find that we ourselves had helped him to sink into degradation.
We frequently hear the expression that such and such a person is the "odd one" in a certain family; and we may nearly always take it that the poor soul so designated is a stranger among strange people, having to stay there for this life on account of some misdeeds in the past. "Blood is thicker than water," says an old proverb; but as a matter of fact, the tie of blood is of no consequence unless the spirits in a family are bound to one another by love or hate from the past, which determines their real relationship in the present life. A soul may be clothed in the flesh of a certain family, it may sit at their board and have a legal right to a part of their estate, while still it is as much a stranger to them as a passing tramp who begs a meal at their kitchen door. Do you remember that the Christ said, "For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in." And then, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me." When we find such a soul, one that is "odd," lonely, and strange in its environment, it should be our endeavor as Christians to emulate the example set forth by our Lord; we should endeavor to make such a strange soul at home and cultivate its acquaintance for Christ's sake, regardless of its supposed oddities.
The disabilities which affect humanity may be divided into large classes; mental and physical. The mental troubles are particularly traceable to the abuse of the creative function, when they are congenital, with one exception which we shall note later. The same holds true in case of impairment of the faculty of speech. This is reasonable and easy to understand. The brain and the larynx were built with half of the creative force by the Angels, so that man who, prior to the acquisition of these organs, was bisexual and able to create from himself alone, lost that faculty when these organs were created and is now dependent upon the cooperation of another of opposite polarity or sex in order to generate a new vehicle for an incoming spirit.
When we use the spiritual sight to look at man in the Memory of Nature during the time when he was yet in the making, we find that wherever there is now a nerve, there was first a desire current; that the brain itself was made of desire substance in the first place and also the larynx. It was desire that first sent a motive impulse through the brain and created these nerve currents, that the body might be moved and obtain for the spirit whatever gratification was indicated by desire. Speech, also, is used for the purpose of obtaining a desired object or end. Through these faculties man has obtained a certain mastery over the world, and if he could just flit from one body to another, there would be no end to his abuse of his power for gratifying every whim and desire. But under the law of consequence he takes with him into a new body, faculties and organs similar to those which he left behind in the one preceding.
When passion has wrecked the body in one life, it is stamped upon the seed atom. In the next descent to rebirth it is therefore impossible for him to gather sound material with which to build a brain of stable construction. He is then usually born under one of the common signs, and usually, also, the four common signs are on the angles; for through these signs passionate desire finds it difficult to express itself. Thus the powerful impulse which formerly ruled in his brain and which might be used for the purpose of rejuvenescence is absent; he lacks incentive in life and therefore he becomes helpless—a log upon the ocean of life—and often insane.
But the spirit is not insane; it sees, knows, and has a keen desire to use the body, though that be an impossibility, for often it cannot even send a correct impulse along the nerves. The muscles of face and body are therefore not under the control of its will. This accounts for the lack of coordination which makes the maniac such a pitiable sight. And thus the spirit learns one of the hardest lessons in life, namely, that it is worse than death to be tied to a living body and unable to find expression through it because the desire force necessary to accomplish thought, speech, and motion has been spent in unrighteous living in a previous life and left the spirit without the necessary energy to operate its present fleshly instrument.
Though mental disabilities, when congenital, are generally traceable to abuse of the creative function in a past life, there is at least one notable exception to this rule, namely, cases such as mentioned in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception and elsewhere in our literature, and described as follows: Where a spirit, who has a particularly hard life before it, comes down to rebirth and feels upon entering the womb that the panorama of the coming life then shown it marks an existence too hard for it to undergo, it sometimes tries to run away from the school of life. At that time the Recording Angels or their agents have already made the connection between the vital body and the sense centers of the brain in the forming fetus; therefore the effort of the spirit to escape from the mother's womb is frustrated, but the wrench that is given by the Ego deranges the connection between the etheric and physical sense centers, so that the vital body is not concentric with the physical, causing the etheric head to extend above the physical cranium. Thus it is impossible for the spirit to use the dense vehicle; it is tied to a mindless body which it cannot use, and the embodiment is practically wasted.
We also find cases where a great shock later in life causes the spirit to endeavor to run away with the invisible vehicles. As a result a similar wrench is given to the etheric sense centers in the brain, and the shock deranges the mental expression. Everybody has probably felt a similar sensation on receiving a fright; a surging as of something endeavoring to get out of the dense body; that is the desire and vital bodies, which are so swift in their motion that an express train is as a snail by comparison. They see and feel the danger and are frightened before the scare is transmitted to the inert and slow physical body in which they are anchored, and which prevents their escape under ordinary strain.
But at times, as said, the fright and shock are sufficiently severe to give them such an impulse that the etheric sense centers are deranged. This most frequently happens to persons born under common signs, which are the weakest in the zodiac. However, as a ligament that has been stretched and torn may gradually regain comparative elasticity, so also, in these cases, it is easier to restore the mental faculties than in those cases where congenital insanity, brought over from past lives, has caused inadequate connection.
Hysteria, epilepsy, tuberculosis, and cancer were all found to result from the erratic propensities of a past life. It was noticed that though many of the subjects had been, in the past lives investigated, almost maniacal in the gratification of their lasciviousness, they were at the same time of a highly devotional and religious nature; and in such cases, it seems that the physical body generated in the present life was normally healthy and their disability altogether mental; while in other cases where the indulgence of the passional nature was coupled with a vile character and a cruel disregard of others, epilepsy together with rachitis, hysteria, and a deformed body were the present result; also, frequently, cancer, especially cancer of the liver or breast.
In this connection, however, we wish to again warn students not to draw hasty conclusions that these are hard and fast conditions. The number of investigations made, though very large and an arduous task for one researcher to handle, are too few to be really conclusive in matters involving millions of human beings. They are, however, in line with the teachings of the Cosmo given by the Elder Brothers regarding the effect of materialism in bringing about rachitis a softening of a part of the body that should be hard, and tuberculosis, which hardens tissues that should remain soft and pliable. Cancer is essentially similar in effect; and when we consider that the sign Cancer is ruled by the moon, the planet of generation, and that the lunar sphere is under the sway of Jehovah, the God of generation, whose angels announce and preside over birth as instanced in the case of Isaac, Samuel, John the Baptist, and Jesus, we readily see that abuse of the generative functions can cause both cancer and lunacy in the most differentiated forms.
Therefore with regard to physical abnormalities and deformities, the rule seems to be that as the physical indulgence of passion reacts on the mental state, so the abuse of the mental powers in one life leads to physical disability in later existences. An esoteric maxim says that "A lie is both murder and suicide in the Desire World." The teachings of the Elder Brothers given in the Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception explain that whenever an occurrence takes place, a certain thought form generated in the invisible world makes a record of the incident. Every time the event is talked about or commented upon, a new thought form is created which coalesces with the original and strengthens it, provided they are both true to the same vibration. But if an untruth is told concerning what happens, then the vibrations of the original and those of the reproduction are not identical; they jar and jangle, tearing each other to pieces. If the good an true thought form is sufficiently strong, it will overcome and break down the thought forms based upon a lie, and the good will overcome the evil; but where the lies and malicious thoughts are the stronger, they may overcome the true thought form of the occurrence and thus demolish it. Afterwards they will jar among themselves, and all in turn will be annihilated.
Thus a person who lives a clean life, endeavoring to obey the laws of God and striving earnestly for truth and righteousness, will create thought forms about him of a corresponding nature; his mind will run in grooves that harmonize with truth; and when the time comes in the second heaven to create the archetype for his coming life, he will readily, intuitively, by force of habit from the past life, align himself with the forces of right and truth. These lines, being built into his body, will create harmony in the coming vehicles, and health will therefore be his normal portion in the coming life. Those who, on the other hand, have in the past life taken a distorted view of things, displayed a disregard for truth, and exercised cunning, extreme selfishness, and disregard for the welfare of others, are bound in the second heaven to see things in an oblique manner also, because that is their habitual line of thought. Therefore, the archetype built by them will embody lines of error and falsity; and consequently, when the body is brought to birth, it will exhibit a weakness in various organs, if not in the whole bodily organization.
Again we warn students not to draw quick conclusions from these tentative rules. It is not our intention to imply that every one that has a seemingly healthy body has been a paragon of virtue in his past life, and he who suffers from one disability or another has been a scapegrace or good-for-nothing. None of us are able to tell at the present time, "the whole truth and nothing but the truth." We are deceived because our senses are illusive. A long street seems to narrow in the distance, when, as a matter of fact, it is just as wide a mile away as where we are standing. The sun and moon seem much larger when near the horizon than when at the zenith; but, as a matter of fact, we know that they do not gain in size by descending toward the horizon, nor lose by ascending into the mid-heaven. Thus we are constantly making allowances for and correcting sense illusions; similarly, with everything else in the world. What seems to be true is not always so, and what is true today regarding conditions of life may change tomorrow. Therefore it is impossible for us to know truth in the ultimate under the evanescent and illusory conditions of physical existence.
It is only when we enter into the higher realms, and particularly into the Region of Concrete Thought, that the eternal verities are to be perceived; hence we must necessarily make mistakes again and again, even despite our most earnest efforts to always know and tell the truth. On that account it is impossible for us to build a thoroughly harmonious vehicle. Were that possible, such a body would really be immortal, and we know that immortality in the flesh is not the design of God; for Paul says that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."
But we know that even today only a very small percentage are ready to live as near the truth as they see it, to confess it and profess it before men by service and by righteous and harmless living. We can also understand that such must have been few and far between in the by-gone ages, when man had not evolved the altruism that came to this planet with the advent of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. The standards of morality were much lower then, and the love of truth almost negligible in the greater part of humanity, who were engrossed in their endeavors to accumulate as much wealth or gain as much power or prestige for themselves as possible. They were therefore naturally inclined to disregard the interests of others, and to tell a lie seemed in no way reprehensible and sometimes even appeared meritorious.
The archetypes were consequently full of weaknesses, and the organic functions of the body today are interfered with to a serious degree as a result, particularly as the western bodies are becoming more high strung and more sensitive to pain on account of the spirit's growing consciousness.
Assimilation of the fruits of each past life takes place before the spirit descends to rebirth, and consequently the character generated is fully formed and readily expressed in the subtle, mobile mind-stuff of the Region of Concrete Thought, where the archetype of the coming dense body is built. If the spirit seeking rebirth loved music, it will seek to build a perfect ear with the semi-circular canals accurately placed and the ampullae very thin and sensitive to vibration; it will seek to form long and slender fingers wherewith to execute the heavenly chords caught by the ear. But if it detested music, if in the past life it endeavored to close its ears to sounds of gladness or the sob of sorrow, the desire to shut itself away from others thus formed would cause it to neglect the ear when building the archetype, and as a consequence this organ would be defective in a degree commensurate with the neglect caused by the character of the previous existence.
Similarly with the other senses; who drinks from a fount of knowledge and endeavors to share his knowledge with his neighbor, lays the foundation for powers of oratory in a future life, because the desire to communicate knowledge would cause him to pay particular attention to the formation and strength of the vocal organ when he is building the archetype of his coming body. Those who, on the other hand, endeavor to gain access to the mysteries of life for the sake of curiosity or to gratify their own pride of intellect, neglect to build an adequate organ of expression and are therefore found to have weak voices or impediments in speech. In this way it is brought home to them that expression is a valuable asset. Although the brain of one thus afflicted may not sense the lesson, the spirit learns that we are strictly accountable for the use we make of our talents, and we must pay the penalty sometime, somewhere, if we neglect to speak the word of Life to light our brothers or sisters upon the path, when well qualified by knowledge to do so.
Regarding lack of vision or disabilities of the organ of sight it has long been known among researchers that it is the effect of extreme cruelty in a past life. Recent investigations have developed the further information that much of the eye trouble now prevalent among people is due to the fact that our eyes are changing; they are, in fact, becoming responsive to a higher octave of vision than before, because the ether surrounding the earth is becoming more dense and the air is growing more rare. This is particularly true in certain parts of the world, southern California among others. It is noteworthy in this connection that the Aurora Borealis is becoming more frequent and more powerful in its effects upon the earth. In the early years of the Christian Era this phenomenon was almost unknown, but in the course of time as the Christ wave which descends into the earth during part of the year, infuses more and more of its own life into the dead, earthly lump, the etheric vital rays become visible at intervals. Later they became more and more numerous and are now commencing to interfere with our electrical activities, particularly with telegraphy, which service is sometimes completely demoralized by these radiating streamers.
It is also noteworthy that the disturbances are confined to wires going east and west. If you will refer to pages eighty-five and eighty-six in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, you will see it stated there that rays or lines of force from the plant group spirits radiate in all directions from the center of the earth towards the periphery and then outwards, passing through the roots of plants or trees, then upward toward the top of same.
The currents of the animal group spirits, on the other hand, encircle the earth. The comparatively weak and invisible currents generated by the group spirits of the plants, and the very strong powerful rays of force generated by the Christ Spirit now becoming visible as the Aurora Borealis, have hitherto been of about the same nature as static electricity, while the currents generated by the animal group spirits and which encircle the earth may be likened to dynamic electricity which gave the earth its power of motion in by-gone ages. Now, however, the Christ currents are becoming more and more forceful and their static electricity is being liberated. The etheric impulse which they give will inaugurate a new era, and the sense organs now possessed by mankind must accommodate themselves to this change. Instead of the etheric rays which emanate from an object bringing a reflected image to the retina of our eye, the so-called "blind spot" will be sensitized and we shall look out through the eye and see directly the thing itself instead of the image upon our retina. Then we shall not only see the surface of the thing we observe, but we shall be able to see through and through it as those who have cultivated the etheric vision do now.
As time goes on and the Christ by His beneficent ministrations attracts more and more of the interplanetary ether to the earth, thus making its vital body more luminous, we shall be walking in a sea of light, and when we learn to forsake our ways of selfishness and egotism through the constant contact with these beneficent Christ vibrations, we also shall become luminous. Then the eye as it is now constituted would not be of service to us, therefore it is now beginning to change and we are experiencing the discomfort incident to all reconstruction. It may be said further with reference to the Aurora and its effects upon us, that these rays are radiated through every part of the earth, which is the body of Christ, from the center to the periphery, but in the inhabited parts of the world these rays are absorbed by humanity as the rays of the plant group spirits are absorbed by the flower. These rays constitute the "inner urge" which is slowly but surely impelling mankind to adopt an attitude of altruism. They are the impregnating rays which fructify the soul, so that eventually the immaculate conception will take place and the Christ will be born within each of us. When we have all thus become perfectly impregnated, the Christ light will begin to radiate from us. Then we shall walk in the Light as He is in the Light, and we shall all have Fellowship, one with another.
Just a few words concerning collective destiny will end these lessons:
Besides the individual destiny generated by ourselves in each life, there is also a collective destiny which we incur by the fact that we are members of a community or a nation. It is well known that communities sometimes act as a whole, either for good or for evil, and it is only reasonable that these collective actions should also have a collective effect in future lives upon the members of that community or nation which takes part in them. And it is found that when these acts are evil the debt thus contracted is generally liquidated in the course of accidents, so called, on a large scale. It has been taught as a matter of fact that there are no accidents save where man, who has the divine prerogative of initiating new causes, breaks into other lives and thereby causes a change in their affairs, or when by carelessness he takes the life of a fellow-being. The latter is an accident in many cases. But such great cataclysms as that which we witnessed in Sicily, and such as the San Francisco earthquake, the great European War, etc., are not accidents, but are causative acts of the community involved or the result of such acts in past lives. Knowing what we do of the working of the laws of infant mortality, we can readily realize, for instance, that as so many hundreds of thousands of victims of the Great War have passed out upon the battle field where it is absolutely impossible for them to etch in the panorama of their past life, it will be necessary for them to pass out in the next existence during childhood, and how can this wholesale death come to the infants of a future age save through some epidemic or some cataclysm which will sweep the earth? On that hypothesis we may see in the Sicilian earthquake, San Francisco's destruction, the famines in Ireland and India, and similar national catastrophes, the workings of destiny from the past, bringing to each nation the fruits of its past lives and actions as a community.
What has been said in the foregoing pages is a very slight hint of how we make and unmake destiny. Please remember that the few hundred cases investigated do not give an adequate basis for a general idea of the scope of the Law, and the student is bound to find incongruities in individual cases regarding what has been said. Questions will undoubtedly present themselves regarding this, that, or the other specific case, and while it is easy enough to investigate single cases and state what causes in one life produced certain effects in another life of one person, it is very different when we come to tabulate them and endeavor to form a general law, as we have tried to do in the present work. To perform this task in a perfect manner would require superhuman knowledge and wisdom, and the present attempt may perhaps be characterized as a case of a fool rushing in where angels might well fear to tread. Personally, the writer has gained much more knowledge than he has been able to communicate, but he hopes nevertheless that what has been said may be of some little use to the student as hints concerning the great mystery of life. May these studies in the Web of Destiny generate in each student a keener desire to live day by day in such a manner that there shall be more peace on earth and good will among men.
Those who have given the matter study are familiar with the havoc which an acute attack of fear or worry plays with the physical body. We know how these emotions derange digestion, interfere with the metabolic changes and with elimination of waste, and, in short, upset the whole system, with the result that in some cases the person is forced to take to his bed for a longer or shorter time depending upon the severity of the attack and the resistive power of the constitution. But there is an esoteric effect which is equally serious or more so that is usually not understood, and it may therefore be of considerable benefit to study the esoteric effect of poise and passion, anger and love, pessimism and optimism.
From the study of the Cosmo we learn that our desire body was generated in the Moon Period. If you wish to obtain a mental picture of the way things looked then, take an illustration of the fetus as shown in any book of anatomy. There are three principal parts: the placenta, which is filled with the maternal blood, the umbilical cord, which carries this vital stream, and the fetus, which is nourished from embryo to maturity thereby. Fancy now, in that far off time, the firmament as one immense placenta from which there depended billions of umbilical cords, each with its fetal appendage. Through the whole human family, then in the making, circulated the one universal essence of desire and emotion, generating in all the impulses to action which are now manifest in every phase of the world's work. These umbilical cords and fetal appendages were molded from the moist desire stuff by the emotions of the Lunar Angels, while the fiery desire currents which were endeavoring to stir the latent life in mankind, then in the making, were generated by the fiery martial Lucifer Spirits. The color of that first slow vibration which they set in motion in that emotional desire stuff was red.
And while that tincture of trouble (for that is really what this ever-flowing, eternal restlessness is which even now drives us on without pause or peace) was circulating within us, the planet on which we dwelt also circled about a sun, not our present light-giver but a past embodiment of the substance which composes our present solar universe, and we in turn circled the globe on which we dwelt, from light to darkness, from heat to cold. We were thus worked upon from within and without in an endeavor to stir the sleeping consciousness. And there was a response, for though none of the partially separated spirits dwelling in an individual fetal sac would have been able to feel these impacts, although they were very strong, the cumulative feelings of billions of such spirits were sensed as a sound in the universe, a cosmic cry—the first note in the harmony of the spheres—played upon a single string. It was, nevertheless, expressive in an adequate measure of the latent longings and aspirations of the incipient human race of those far bygone days.
This desire nature has since evolved; the fiery, martial sub-stratum of passion and the aqueous lunar basis of emotion have become capable of numerous combinations. As thought furrows the brain into convolutions and the face into lines, so have the passions, desires, and emotions marshaled the mobile desire stuff into curved lines and whorls, eddies, rapids, and whirlpools, resembling a mountain torrent at the time when it is at its greatest disturbance—it is seldom ever at even comparative rest. This desire stuff has, in successive periods of its evolution, become responsive to one after another of the seven planetary vibrations emanating from the Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. Each individual desire body has, during that time, been woven into a unique pattern, and as the shuttle of fate flies back and forth unceasingly upon the loom of destiny, this pattern is being enlarged upon, embellished, and beautified, though we may not perceive it. As the weaver always does his work on the reverse side of his tapestry, so are we also weaving without fully understanding the ultimate design or seeing the sublime beauty thereof, because it is yet on the side away from us, the hidden side of nature.
But in order that we may better understand, let us take up some of these tangled threads of passion and emotion to see what effect have on the pattern which God, the Master-Weaver, wishes us to make.
The ancient myths always shed a luminous light upon the problems of the soul, and we may profitably consider in this connection a certain part of the Masonic legend. The masons are a society of builders, "tektons" in Greek—the same society in fact to which Joseph and Jesus belonged, for the latter are called in the Greek bible, "tektons"—builders—not carpenters, as in the orthodox version. The masons under Solomon were the builders of that mystic temple designed by God, the Grand Archetekton or Master Builder, and built without sound of hammer, which Manson speaks about in that wonderful play, "The Servant in the House." He tells us there that "it is no dead pile of stone and timber, but it is a living thing. When you enter it you hear a sound, a sound as of a mighty anthem chanted, that is, if you have ears; and if you have eyes, you will presently see the temple itself, a mystery of looming shapes and shadows, leaping sheer from floor to dome. It is yet building and built upon; sometimes the work goes on in utter darkness, sometimes in blinding light." Every true mystic mason knows what this temple is and endeavors to build it. The ancient Masonic legend tells us that when Hiram Abiff, the master mason in charge of the construction of Solomon's temple, a building of God made without sound of hammer, was preparing to make his masterpiece, the "molten sea," he gathered materials from all over the earth and placed them in a fiery furnace, for he was a descendant of Cain, a Son of Fire, who in turn was a son of Lucifer, the spirit of fire. Hiram proposed to make an alloy of crystal clarity, capable of reflecting all the wisdom of the world. But, so runs the story, there were among the workmen certain traitors—spies from the Sons of Seth—who, through Adam and Eve, were descendants of the lunar god Jehovah, who had an affinity for water and who hated fire. These traitors poured water into the mold in which the molten sea, the Philosopher's Stone, was to be cast. Upon the meeting of the fire with the water there was a great explosion. Hiram Abiff, the master mason, being unable to blend the warring elements, saw with unspeakable sorrow the destructive eruption of his attempted masterpiece. While he was watching the battle of the spirits in the fire and water, Tubal-Cain, his ancestor, appeared and bade him jump into the seething mass. He was then conducted to the center of the earth where he met his first ancestor, Cain, who gave him a new Word and a new Hammer which would enable him, when he had become skilled in the use thereof, to blend the antagonistic elements and make from them the Philosopher's Stone, the highest possible human achievement.
There is in this symbolical story more wisdom than could be given in volumes concerning human soul growth. If the student will read between the lines and meditate upon these various symbolical expressions, he will gain much more than can ever be said, for true wisdom is always generated interiorly and the mission of books is only to give a clue.
Since this ancient time the lunar Angels have taken charge principally of the moist, aqueous vital body composed of the four ethers and concerned in the propagation and nourishment of the species, while the Lucifer Spirits are singularly active in the dry and fiery desire vehicles. The function of the vital body is to build and sustain the dense body, while that of the desire body involves destruction of the tissues. Thus, there is a constant war going on between the desire and vital bodies, and it is this war in heaven that causes our physical consciousness on earth. Through many lives we have worked in every age and clime, and from each life we have extracted a certain amount of experience, garnered and stored as vibratory power in the seed-atoms of our various vehicles. Thus, each of us is a builder, building the temple of the immortal spirit without sound of hammer; each one is a Hiram Abiff, gathering material for soul-growth and throwing it in the furnace of his life-experience, there to be worked upon by the fire of passion and desire. It is being slowly but surely melted, the dross is being purged in every purgatorial experience, and the quintessence of soul growth is being extracted through many lives. Every one of us is thus preparing for initiation,—preparing whether we know it or not—learning to blend the fiery passions with the softer, gentler emotions. The new hammer or gavel wherewith the master workman rules his subordinates is now a cross of sorrow, and the new word is self-control.
Let us now see how the desire body changes under the varying feelings, desires, passions, and emotions, so that we may learn to build wisely and well the mystic temple wherein we dwell. When we study one of the so-called physical sciences, such as anatomy or architecture, which deals with tangible things, our task is facilitated by the fact that we have words which describe the things whereof we treat, but even then the mental picture conceived by a word differs with each individual. When we speak of a "bridge," one may make a mental picture of a million-dollar iron structure, another may think of a plank across a streamlet. The difficulty which we experience in conveying accurate impressions of our meaning increases apace when we attempt to convey ideas concerning nature's intangible forces, such as electricity. We measure the strength of the current in volts, the volume in amperes, and the resistance of the conductors in ohms, but, as a matter of actual fact, such terms are only inventions to cover up our ignorance of the matter. We all know what a pound of coffee is, but the world's greatest scientist has no more accurate conception of what the volts, amperes, and ohms are of which he so learnedly discourses than the schoolboy who hears these terms for the first time.
What wonder then that super-physical subjects are described in vague and often misleading terms, for we have no words in any physical language which will accurately describe these subjects, and one is almost helpless and utterly at a loss for descriptive terms wherewith to express oneself regarding them. If it were possible to throw colored moving pictures of the desire body upon the screen and there show how this restless vehicle changes contour and color according to the emotions, even then it would not give an adequate understanding to any one who was not capable of seeing these things himself, for the vehicles of every single human being differ from the vehicles of all others in the way they respond to certain emotions. That which causes one to feel intense love, hate, anger, fear, or any other emotion may leave another entirely untouched.
The writer has a number of times watched crowds for the purpose of comparison in this respect, and has always found something startlingly new and different from what had hitherto been observed. On one occasion a demagogue was endeavoring to incite a labor union to strike; he was very much excited himself, and though the basic color of deep orange was perceivable, it was for the time being almost obliterated by a scarlet color of the brightest hue; the contour of his desire body was like the body of a porcupine with its quills sticking out. There was a strong element of opposition in the place, and as he talked one could clearly distinguish the two factions by the colors of their respective auras. One set of men showed the scarlet of anger, but in the other set this color was intermingled with a grey, the color of fear. It was also remarkable that, although the grey men were in the majority, the others carried the day, for each timid one believed himself alone or at least with very few supporters, and was therefore afraid to vote for or express his opinion. If one who was able to see this condition had been present and had gone to each one who manifested in his aura the signs of dissension, and had given him the assurance that he was one of a majority, the tide would have turned in the opposite direction. It is often so in human affairs, for at the present time the majority are unable to see beneath the surface of the physical body and thus to perceive the true state of the thoughts and feelings of others.
On another occasion a revival meeting was visited where many thousands were present to hear a speaker of national repute. At the beginning of the meeting it was evident from the state of the auras of the people that the great majority had come there with no other purpose than to have a good time and see some fun. The thoughts, feelings, and emotions connected with the ordinary life of each were plainly visible, but in a number a certain darkish blue color showed an attitude of worry; it seemed that they has had some disappointment in life and were very uneasy. When the speaker appeared, a curious phenomenon took place: desire bodies are usually in a state of restless motion, but at that moment it seemed as if the whole vast audience must have held its breath in an attitude of expectancy, for the varied color-play in the individual desire bodies ceased and the basic orange hue was plainly perceptible for an instant; presently each commenced his emotional activities as before, while the prelude was being played. Then commenced the singing of hymns, and this showed the value and effect of music, for as all united in singing identical words to the same tune, the same rhythmic vibrations which surged through all these desire bodies seemed to blend them and make them, for the time being, almost one. Quite a number were sitting in the scoffers' seat, so to speak, refusing to sing and unite with the others. To the spiritual sight they appeared as men of steel, clothed in an armor of that color, and from each one, without exception, went out a vibration which said so much plainer than mere words could ever have done, "Leave me alone, you shall not touch me." Something from within had drawn them there, but they were mortally afraid of giving way, and therefore their whole aura expressed this steel color of fear which is an armor of the soul against outside interference.
When the first song was ended, the unity of color and vibration lapsed almost immediately, each one taking anew his customary thought atmosphere; and had nothing more been done, each would have lapsed into his habitual inner life. But the evangelist, though not able to see this, knew from past experience that his audience was not yet ripe, and a succession of songs were therefore sung to the accompaniment of clapping hands beating drums, and gesticulations from the leader aided by a trained chorus. This brought the scattered souls again into a bond of harmony; gradually people were overwhelmed with religious fervor, and the unity necessary for the next effort was established. From the music, the leader's hand-clapping, and the stirring appeal of the songs, that vast audience had become as one, for the men of steel, the gray-tinted scoffers who thought themselves too wise to be fooled (when their emotion really was fear), were a negligible part in that vast congregation. All were then attuned as the many strings upon one great instrument, and the evangelist who appeared before them was a master artist at playing upon their emotions. He moved them from laughter to tears, from sorrow to shame; great waves of the corresponding colors seemed to go over the whole audience, as bewildering as they were magnificent. Then there were the customary calls to "stand up for Jesus"; the invitation to the "mourners' bench," etc., and each brought forth from all over the audience a certain emotional response which was plainly shown in colors, golden and blue. Then there were more songs, more clapping and gesticulations which, for the time, furthered the unity and gave this audience an experience resembling the feeling of universal brotherhood and the reality of the Fatherhood of God. The only ones upon whom the music had no effect were the men clad in the steel blue armor of fear. This color seems to be almost impervious to any other emotion; and even though the feelings experienced by the great majority were relatively impermanent, the people benefited in a measure by the revival, with the exception of these men of steel.
So far as the writer has been able to learn, the inner fear of yielding to emotion—fear being saturnine in effect and twin sister to worry—seems to require a shock that will take the person so affected out of his environment and set him down in a new place among new conditions before the old conditions can be overcome.
Worry is a condition where the desire currents do not sweep in long curved lines in any part of the desire body, but where the vehicle is full of eddies—nothing but eddies in extreme cases. The person so affected does not endeavor to take action in any line; he sees calamities where there are none, and instead of generating currents which lead to action that may prevent the thing he fears, each thought of worry causes an eddy in the desire body, and he does nothing in consequence. This condition of worry in the desire body may be likened to water which is about to congeal under a lowering temperature; fear which expresses itself as skepticism, cynicism, and pessimism may be likened to that same water when it has frozen, for the desire bodies of such people are almost motionless, and nothing one can say or do seems to have the power to alter the condition. They have, to use a common expression which fits the condition excellently, "drawn into a shell," and that saturnine shell must be broken before it is possible to get at the man and help him out of his pitiable state.
These saturnine emotions of fear and worry are usually caused by the sufferer's apprehension of economic or social difficulties. "Perhaps this investment which I have made may depreciate or become a total loss; I may lose my position and find myself starving upon the street; everything I undertake seems to go wrong; my neighbors are slandering me and trying to undermine my social position; my husband (or wife) does not care for me any more; my children are neglecting me;" and a thousand and one kindred suggestions present themselves to the mind. He should remember that every time one of these thought is indulged in, it helps to congeal the currents in the desire body and build a steel blue shell in which the person who habitually fosters fear and worry will some time find himself shut off from the love, sympathy, and help of all the world. Therefore we ought to strive to be cheerful, even under adverse circumstances, or we may find ourselves in a serious condition here and hereafter.
"It is easy enough to be pleasant
When life flows along like a song,
But the man worth while
Is the one who will smile
When everything goes dead wrong."
In the beginning of the Great War [WW I] the emotions of Europe ran riot in a most horrible manner, first among the so-called "living," and then among the killed—when they awoke. This awakening took a long time because of the large guns used—but more of that later. The whole atmosphere of the countries involved was seething with currents of anger and hate, like a cloud of dark crimson it hung around every human being and over the land. Then there were dark-tinted streaks like a funeral pall, which seem always to be generated in crises of sudden disaster when reason is at a standstill and despair grips the heart. This was doubtless caused by the fact that the peoples involved realized that a catastrophe of a magnitude which they were unable to comprehend was happening. The desire bodies of the majority whirled at high speed in long waves of rhythmic pulsation which said more plainly than words, "Just kill, kill, kill." When two or three or a crowd met and commenced to discuss the war, the rhythmic pulsations indicating the settled purpose to do and dare ceased, and the thoughts and feelings of excitement generated by the discussion or speech took shape as conical projections which rapidly grew to a height of about six or eight inches, then they burst and emitted a tongue of flame. Some people generated a number of these volcanic structures at one time, in others there were only one or two at the same time. When one of these bubbles had burst in one place, another appeared somewhere else on the desire body while the discussion lasted, and it was the flames from them that colored the cloud over the land scarlet. When a crowd disbanded or friends parted after such a discussion, the bubbling and eruptions grew smaller and less frequent, finally ceasing and giving place again to the long rhythmic pulsations first mentioned.
These conditions are now seldom if ever seen; the explosive anger at the enemy thus indicated is a thing of the past so far as the great majority are concerned. The basic orange color of the western peoples' aura is again visible, and both officers and men seem to have settled down to war as to a game; each is anxious to outdo and outwit the other. The war is now mainly a channel for their ingenuity; but a number of the lay-brothers of the Rosicrucian Order believe that the condition of anger will return in a modified form when active hostilities cease and peace negotiations commence. This form of emotion we may call abstract anger, and it differs widely from what is observed in the case of two persons who become angry with each other in private life, whether they start to fight physically or not. Seen from the hidden side of nature, there are hostilities before blows are struck. Jagged, dagger-like desire-forms project themselves from one to the other like spears until the fury which generated them has expended itself. In the patriotic anger there is no personal enemy, therefore the desire-forms are more blunt and explode without leaving the person who generated them.
The "steel man" so common in private life where worry over the thousand one things that never happen crystallizes an armor around the person who allows old Saturn to thus grip him, were conspicuous by their absence. The writer accounts for it on the hypothesis that the tension in their environment forced them to enlist and the shock broke the shell; then familiarity with danger bred contempt for it. It is certain that these people have benefited greatly by the war, for there is no state more hampering to soul-growth than constant fear and worry. It is also a remarkable fact that though the men engaged in war suffer awful privations, the mass of them are cultivating a tinge of soft sky-blue which stands for hope, optimism, and a dawning religious feeling, giving an altruistic touch to the character. It is an indication that that universal fellow-feeling which knows no distinctions of creed, color, or country is growing in the human heart.
In the beginning of the war the desire bodies of the combatants whirled at an awful rate, and it was noted that while people passing over from sickness, old age, or ordinary accidents regain consciousness in a short time, varying from a few minutes to a few days, those killed in war were in a great many cases unconscious for several weeks, and strange to say, those who were almost torn to pieces seemed to wake up much quicker than thousands that had only insignificant wounds. This puzzle was not solved for many months. Before we study the causes underlying this phenomenon, we must first record that when the people who had thus died in intense anger during the first part of the war awoke in the invisible world, they usually started to fight their enemies anew, and until the great educational work started by the Elder Brothers and their Invisible Helpers bore fruit, these people went about with maimed bodies and in great anguish because of their dear ones left behind. Now such occurrences are extremely rare and soon settled, for all have been taught that thought will create a new arm, limb, or face; the patriotic hatred is gone, and "enemies" able to speak each other's language often fraternize with benefit to both. The red cloud of hate is lifting, the black veil of despair is gone, there are no volcanic outbursts of passion in either the living or the dead, but so far as the writer is able to read the signs of the times in the aura of the nations, there is a settled purpose to play the game to the end. Even in homes bereaved of many members, this seems to hold good. There is an intense longing for the friends beyond but no hatred for the earthly foe. This longing is shared by the friends in the unseen and many are piercing the veil, for the intensity of their longing is awakening in the "dead" the power to manifest by attracting a quantity of ether and gas which often is taken from the vital body of a "sensitive" friend, as materializing spirits use the vital body of an entranced medium. Thus the eyes blinded by tears are often opened by a yearning heart so that loved ones now in the spirit world are met again face to face, heart to heart. This is nature's method of cultivating the sixth sense which will eventually enable all to know that man is an immortal spirit and continuity of life a fact in nature.
To understand the slowness wherewith those slain in the war regain consciousness in the unseen world, we must first undertake a more intimate study of the four ethers than has hitherto been given in "The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception."
The atoms of the chemical and life ethers gathered around the nuclear seed-atom located in the solar plexus are shaped like prisms. They are all located in such a manner that when the solar energy enters our body through the spleen, the refracted ray is red. This is the color of the creative aspect of the Trinity, namely Jehovah, the Holy Spirit, who rules Luna, the planet of fecundation. Therefore the vital fluid from the sun which enters the human body by way of the spleen becomes tinged with a pale rose color, often noted by seers when it courses along the nerves as electricity does in the wires of an electric system. Thus charged, the chemical and life ethers are the avenues of assimilation which preserve the individual, and of fecundation which perpetuates the race.
During life each prismatic vital atom penetrates a physical atom and vibrates it. To form a picture of this combination, imagine a pear-shaped wire basket having walls of spirally curved wire running obliquely from pole to pole. This is the physical atom; it is shaped nearly like our earth, and the prismatic vital atom is inserted from the top, which is widest and corresponds to the north pole of the earth. Thus the point of the prism penetrates the physical atom at the narrowest point, which corresponds to the south pole of our earth, and the whole resembles a top swinging, swaying, and vibrating. In this manner our body is made alive and capable of motion. (It is noteworthy that our earth is similarly permeated by a cosmic body of ether, and that those manifestations which we note as the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are etheric currents circling the earth from pole to equator as currents in the physical atoms do.)
The light and reflecting ethers are avenues of consciousness and memory. They are somewhat attenuated in the average individual and have not yet taken definite form; they interpenetrate the atom as air interpenetrates a sponge, and they form a slight auric atmosphere outside each atom.
At death a separation takes place; the seed atom is withdrawn from the apex of the heart along the saturnine pneumogastric nerve, through the ventricles and out of the skull (Golgotha); all the atoms of the vital body are liberated from the cross of the dense body by the same spiral motion, which unscrews each prismatic atom of ether from its physical envelope.
This process is attended with more or less violence according to the cause of death. An aged person whose vitality has been slowly ebbing may fall asleep and wake up on the other side of the veil without the slightest consciousness of how the change took place; a devout and religious person who has been prepared by prayer and meditation on the beyond would also be able to make an easy egress; people who freeze to death meet with what the writer believes to be the easiest of accidental deaths, drowning being next.
But when a person is young and healthy, especially if of an irreligious or atheistic turn of mind, the prismatic ether atom is so tightly entwined by the physical atom that a considerable wrench is required to separate the vital body. When the separation of the physical body from the higher vehicles has been accomplished and the person is dead, as we say, the light and reflecting ethers are separated from the prismatic atom. It is this stuff, as described in the Cosmo, which is molded into the pictures of the past life and etched into the desire body, which then begins to feel whatever there was of pain or pleasure in the life. The part of the vital body composed of the prismatic atoms of the chemical and life ethers then returns to the physical body, hovering above the grave and disintegrating synchronously with it.
Now comes the crux of our explanation. Ether is physical matter, and while people shot with small arms in a minor engagement may sometimes be seen walking away somewhat dazed but nevertheless conscious, the awful detonations of the big guns used so extensively have the effect of throwing the prismatic ether atoms topsy-turvy, and shattering (not scattering) the auric envelope of light and reflecting ethers which is the basis of sense-perception and memory. Until this resolves itself into its original relativity, the man remains in a stunned, comatose condition which often lasts for weeks. Under such conditions this fine etheric stuff does not lend itself to the formation of pictures of the past life—it is congealed to a certain extent.
When the Ego is on its way to rebirth through the Region of Concrete Thought, the Desire World, and the Etheric Region, it gathers a certain amount of material from each. The quality of this material is determined by the seed atom, on the principle that like attracts like. The quantity depends upon the amount of matter required by the archetype built by ourselves in the second heaven. From the quantity of prismatic ether atoms that are appropriated by a certain spirit, the Recording Angels and their agents build an etheric form which is then placed in the mother's womb and gradually clothed with physical matter which then forms the visible body of the new born child.
Only a small portion of the ether appropriated by a certain Ego is thus used, and the remainder of the child's vital body, or rather the material from which that vehicle will eventually be made, is thus outside the dense body. For that reason the vital body of a child protrudes much farther beyond the periphery of the dense body than does that of the adult. During the period of growth this store of ether atoms is drawn upon to vitalize the accretions within the body until, at the time when the adult age is reached, the vital body protrudes only from one to one and a half inches beyond the periphery of the dense body.
It has been determined by physical science that the atoms in our dense body are constantly changing so that all the material which composes our present vehicle at this moment will have disappeared in a few years, but it is common knowledge that scars and other blemishes perpetuate themselves from childhood to old age. The reason for this is that the prismatic ether atoms which compose our vital body remain unchanged from the cradle to the grave. They are always in the same relative position—that is to say, the prismatic ether atoms which vibrate the physical atoms in the toes or in the fingers do not get to the hands, legs, or any other part of the body, but remain in exactly the same place where they were placed in the beginning. A lesion of the physical atoms involves a similar impression on the prismatic ether atoms. The new physical matter molded over them continues to take on shape and texture similar to those which originally obtained.
The foregoing remarks apply only to the prismatic ether atoms which correspond to solids and liquids in the physical world, because they assume a certain definite shape which they preserve. But in addition each human being at this stage of evolution has a certain amount of the light and reflecting ethers, which are the vehicles of sense perception and memory, intermingled in his vital body. We may say that the light ether corresponds to the gases in our physical world; perhaps the best description that can be given of the reflecting ether is to call it hyper-etheric. It is a vacuous substance of a bluish color resembling in appearance the blue core of a gas flame. It appears transparent and seems to reveal everything that is within it, but nevertheless it hides all the secrets of nature and humanity. In it is found one record of the Memory of Nature. The light and reflecting ethers are of an exactly opposite nature to that of the stationary prismatic ether atoms. They are volatile and migratory. However much or little a man possesses of this material, it is an accretion, a fruitage, derived from his experiences in life. Inside the body it mingles with the blood stream and when it has grown by service and sacrifice in life's school so that it can no longer be contained within the body, it is seen on the outside as a soul body of gold and blue. Blue shows the highest type of spirituality,
therefore it is smallest in volume and may be compared to the blue core of the gas flame, while the golden hue forms the larger part and corresponds to the yellow light which surrounds the core in the gas ring. The blue color does not appear outside the dense body save in the very greatest of saints—only yellow is usually observable there. At death this part of the vital body is etched into the desire body with the life panorama which it contains. The quintessence of all our life experience is then eventually impressed upon the seed atom as conscience or virtue which urges us to avoid evil and to do good in a coming life. Thus the quality of the seed atom is altered from life to life. The quintessence of good extracted from the migratory part of the vital body in one life determines the quality of the prismatic stationary ether atoms in the next life. The highest in one life becomes the lowest in the next and thus we gradually climb the ladder of evolution towards divinity.
From the foregoing it will be evident that the vital body is a vehicle of habit; all parents know that during the first seven years of childhood when this vehicle is in course of gestation that children form one habit after another. Repetition is the keynote of the vital body and habits depend upon repetition. It is different with the desire body, the vehicle of feelings and emotions which are always changing from moment to moment; though it has been said that the ether which forms our soul body is in constant motion and mingles with the blood stream, that motion is relatively slow compared to the rapidity of the current of the desire body; we may say that the ether moves like a snail compared with light.
The points brought out by the foregoing may be summed up as follows:
Desire stuff moves with inconceivable rapidity comparable only with light.
The two higher ethers also travel with great speed though far slower than desire stuff.
The prismatic ether atoms composing the lower ethers are stationary but have a high rate of vibratory motion.
The dense atoms are as motionless as the crystal in the rock.
No matter what people say to us or about us, their words have no intrinsic power to hurt—it is our own mental attitude towards their utterances which determines the effect of their words upon us for good or ill. Paul, when facing persecution and slander, testified that "None of these things move me." All who hope to advance spiritually must cultivate equipoise, for without it the desire body will either run riot or congeal, according to the nature of the emotions generated by intercourse with others whether worry, anger, or fear. We know that the dense body is our vehicle of action, that the vital body gives it the power to act, that the desire body furnishes the incentive to action, and that the mind was given as a brake on impulse. We learn from the Cosmo, that thought-forms from within and without the body are being continually projected upon the desire body in an endeavor to arouse feeling which will lead to action, and that reason ought to rule the lower nature and leave the higher self scope for expression of its divine proclivities. We also know that habitual thought has power to mold even physical matter, for the nature of the sensualist is plainly discernible in his features which are as coarse and gross as the features of the spiritually minded are delicate and fine. The power of thought is still greater in its potency to mold the finer vestures. We have already seen how thoughts of fear and worry congeal the desire body of any one who indulges in that habit, and it is equally certain that by cultivating an optimistic frame of mind under all circumstances we can attune our desire bodies to any key we wish. After a time, that will become a habit. It must be confessed that it is difficult to hold the desire body down to any definite lines, but it can be done, and the attempt must be made by all who aspire to spiritual advancement.
Regarding the effect from the esoteric standpoint of this polarization, we may learn much from certain customs in so-called secret societies. As you know, such organizations always place at the door a guard who is instructed to deny admittance to anyone not supplied with the proper pass-word and signs, and that works very well so far as the people are concerned who function only in their physical body. But the so-called secrets of these organizations are not in any sense secrets to those who are able to enter their places of assembly in their vital bodies. It is otherwise in a true esoteric order such as, for instance, the Rosicrucians. No guard is on duty at the door of that Temple when the Mystic Midnight Mass is said each night of the week. The door is wide open to all who have learned to speak the open sesame. But that is not a spoken password; the initiate who desires to attend must know how to attune his soul body to the particular rate of vibration maintained on that night. Furthermore, this vibration differs on the various nights of the week so that those who have learned to attune themselves to the vibration maintained on Saturday night when the first degree meets are as effectually barred from entering the Temple with those who carry on the work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc., as any ordinary person.
The cosmic law under which this is done applies also to the control and effect of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Paul well said that we are the temple of the living God (our Higher Self). We have also created a subtle aura about us under the guardianship of the Divine Hierarchies reigning over the seven planets, Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus. The Universe, or great world, is mystically called the seven-stringed lyre of Apollo. Our individual organism or microcosm is a replica or image of God, and it behooves us to awaken in ourselves an echo of this music of the spheres. Most of us have learned to respond too much to the saturnine vibrations of sorrow, gloom, fear, and worry, which congeal our desire bodies, and it would be to the lasting benefit of all to try to cultivate the spiritual vibrations of the Sun, filling our lives with optimism and sunshine which will dispel the saturnine gloom and despondency and prevent such thoughts entering our aura in the future. The prime necessity of advancement is equipoise. All who aspire ought to adopt Paul's motto, "None of these things move me."
As there are many among the Rosicrucian students who perform the exercises given by the Elder Brothers for the purpose of furthering soul-growth, though they have not felt inclined to enter the Path, it is thought to be well to consider the esoteric effect of the emotions engendered by these exercises.
When in the exercise of retrospection the aspirant to the higher life reviews the happenings of the day in reverse order and meets an incident in which he hurt some one or failed to help another or in any other way did not live up to that which he holds as his ideal of conduct, he is taught to cultivate intense remorse for whatever he has done wrong for the purpose of eradicating the record from the seed-atom in the heart where it has been imprinted by the act, and where it will remain until it is wiped out by sufferings in purgatory unless previously expunged by artificial means such as this exercise.
In purgatory the cleansing process is accomplished by the centrifugal force of repulsion which tugs and tears the desire stuff, in which the picture is formed over its matrix of ether, out of the desire body. At that particular time the soul suffers as it made others suffer, because of a singular condition in the lower regions of the Desire World where purgatory is located. Some seers who are unable to contact the higher regions speak of the Desire World as illusory, and they are right so far as the lower regions are concerned, for there all things appear reversed as we see them in a glass. This peculiarity is not purposeless—nothing in God's kingdom is; all things serve a wise end. This reversal places the erring soul in the position of its victim, so that when a scene unrolls on the screen of its past life where it did a wrong to some one, the soul does not stand as a mere spectator and see the scene re-enacted, but it becomes, for the time being, the victim of the wrong and it feels the pain felt by that wronged one, for the centrifugal force of repulsion exerted to tear the picture from the desire body of the wrongdoer must at least equal the hate and anger of the victim which impressed the picture upon the seed-atom at the time of occurrence.
During retrospection the aspirant endeavors to imitate these conditions; he tries to visualize the scenes where he did something wrong, and the remorse he endeavors to feel must at least equal the resentment felt by whomever he wronged. It then has the same effect of expunging the record of the injury as does the centrifugal force of repulsion, which accomplishes the eradication of evil in purgatory for the purpose of extracting therefrom the quality of the soul which we know as conscience, and which acts as a deterrent in hours of temptation. Thus used, the emotion of remorse cleanses and purifies the desire body of weeds and tares, leaving the soil free and fostering the growth of manifold virtues that blossom into spiritual advancement and bring greater opportunities for service in the Master's vineyard.
But as the force latent in gunpowder and kindred explosive substances may be used to further greatest objects of civilization or to outdo the most savage acts of barbarism, so also, this emotion of remorse may be misused in such a manner that it becomes a detriment and a hindrance to the soul instead of a help. When we indulge in remorse daily and hourly, we are actually wasting a great power which might be used for the most noble ends of life, for the constant indulgence of regret affects the desire body in a manner similar to that which follows excessive bathing of the physical body, as described in the "Vice of Excessive Cleanliness," an article which appeared in our magazine, "Rays From The Rose Cross." It was there stated
that water has a great affinity for ether and absorbs it most greedily, several illustrations being given to demonstrate the fact; it was also stated that when we take a bath under normal conditions, it removes a great deal of poisonous miasmatic ether from our vital bodies, provided we stay in the water a reasonable length of time. After a bath the vital body becomes somewhat attenuated and consequently gives us a feeling of weakness, but if we are in our usual good health and have not stayed in the bath too long, the deficiency is soon made good by the stream of force which flows into the body through the spleen. When this influx of fresh ether has replaced the poisoned substance carried off in the water, we feel renewed vigor which we rightly attribute to the bath, though usually without realizing the full facts as here stated.
But when a person who is not in perfect health makes a habit of bathing every day, perhaps even twice or three times, an excess of ether is taken from the vital body. The supply entering by way of the spleen is also diminished on account of the loss of tone of the seed-atom located in the solar plexus and the attenuated condition of the vital body. Thus it is impossible for such people to recuperate between such oft repeated depletions, and as a consequence the health of the dense body suffers; they lose strength continually and are apt to become confirmed invalids.
"As above so below, and as below, so above," says the Hermetic aphorism, enunciating thereby the great law of analogy which is the master-key to all mysteries. When we use the centrifugal force of remorse to eradicate the acts of evil from our hearts during the evening exercise of retrospection, the effect is similar to the action of the water which removes the miasmatic poisoned ether from our vital bodies during the bath, and thus leaves room for an influx of pure health-promoting ether. After we have burned out the wrong-doings in the sacrificial fire of remorse, the poisonous substance thus eradicated leaves room for the influx of desire stuff which is morally healthier and better soil for noble deeds. The more thoroughly we are purged by this remorse, the greater the vacuum produced and the better the grade of new material we attract to our subtler vehicles.
But, on the other hand, if we indulge in regrets and remorse during every waking hour as some do, we are outdoing purgatory, for though the time there is spent in eradication of evil, the consciousness turns from each picture when it has been torn out by the force of repulsion. Here, because of the interlocking of the desire and vital bodies, we are enabled to revivify the picture in memory as oft as we please, and while the desire body is gradually dissolved in purgatory by the expurgation of the panorama of life, certain small amount is added while we are living in the physical world, to take the place of that which is ejected by remorse. Thus, remorse and regret when continually indulged in have the same effect on the desire body as excessive bathing has on the vital body. Both vehicles are depleted of strength by excessive cleansing, and for that reason it is as dangerous to the moral and spiritual health to indulge indiscriminately in feelings of regret and remorse as it is fatal to physical wellbeing to bathe too much. Discrimination should govern in both cases.
When we perform the exercise of retrospection, we should give ourselves over to the feelings of regret and remorse with our whole soul; we should endeavor to shed tears of fire that may burn into our very innermost being; we should make the cleansing process as thorough as possible, to the end that we may grow in grace thereby to the utmost. But having finished the exercise we should do the same as is done in purgatory—consider the incidents of the day closed and forget all about them, save in so far as they demand restitution of something, the making of an apology, or such subsequent acts to satisfy the demands of conscience. And having thus paid the debt, our attitude ought to be one of unfailing optimism. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." "If God be for us, who can be against us?" By that attitude we die daily to the old life and we are born each day to walk in the newness of the spiritual life, for our desire bodies are thus renewed and ready to serve a higher aim in life than the day before.
And while we are discussing regret and remorse as applied to the problem of soul-growth, with their effect on our subtle bodies, we may also profitably mention the effect of regret directed into other channels. There are people who live with regret as with a boon companion, who take it to bed with them at night and get up with it in the morning; they take it to the office, shop, or church, they sit with it at meals, they nurse it as the most precious thing in their possession, and they would sooner part with life itself than give up their regret for this, that, or the other thing.
As a vampire sucks the ether from the vital body of its victim and feeds upon it, so perpetual thoughts of regret and remorse concerning certain things become a desire-elemental which acts as a vampire and draws the very life from the poor soul who has shaped it, and by the attraction of like for like, it fosters continuance of this morbid habit of regret.
We are not helping the loved ones who have departed this life by our regrets which we love to fancy are evidences of our faithfulness, but we are hindering them. They have left the present sphere of experience and are going onwards to other realms where there are other lessons to be learned, and we are holding them back by our thoughts, for they feel us most acutely for some time after they have passed over, and we owe them a duty to think thoughts of cheer and love instead of selfish regret which hurts both us and them. Regret is subversive of all spiritual growth, for while the thought-elemental thus created hangs about us as a vampire we cannot climb the rugged path.
Loathsome as the vulture which feeds upon the noxious, decomposing carcasses of the dead are the vain regrets which live upon the morbid contemplation of the past and its mistakes. It is our duty to drive them out of our mental habitation as we would eject a vulture from our physical abode were it to seek entrance.
Instead, let us cultivate an attitude of optimism in all things, for all things work together for good—God is at the helm, nothing can go really wrong, and all will turn out right in God's good time.
The subject of prayer is well worth the attention and study of all who aspire spirituality, and we trust the following hints may help our students in their efforts in this direction.
There is only one force in the universe, namely, the Power of God, which He sent forth through space in the form of a Word; not a single word, but the creative fiat which by its sound-vibration marshaled the millions of chaotic atoms into the multitudinous shapes and forms from starfish to star and microbe to man, which constitute and inhabit the universe. As the syllables and sounds of this creative Word are being spoken, one after another through the ages, species are being created and the older ones evolved, all according to the thought and plan conceived in the Divine Mind before the dynamic force of creative energy was sent out into the abyss of space.
This, then, is the only source of power, and in it we really, truly, and literally live and move and have our being, just as surely as the fishes live in the water. We can no more escape or withdraw ourselves from God than the fish can live and swim on dry land. It was no mere poetic sentiment when the Psalmist said: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there. If I make my bed in the grave behold Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me."
God is Light, and not even the greatest of modern telescopes which reach many millions of miles into space have found the boundaries of light. But we know that unless we have eyes wherewith to perceive the light, and ears which register the vibrations of sound, we walk the earth in eternal darkness and silence; similarly, to perceive the Divine Light which alone can illuminate our spiritual darkness, and to hear the voice of the silence which alone can guide us, we must cultivate our spiritual eyes and ears; prayer, true scientific prayer, is one of the most powerful and efficacious methods of finding favor before the face of our Father, and receiving the immersion in spiritual light which alchemically transforms the sinner to the saint and places around him the golden wedding garment of Light, the luminous soul body.
But be not deceived, prayer alone will not do this. Unless our whole life, waking and sleeping, is a prayer for illumination and sanctification, our prayers will never penetrate to the Divine Presence and bring down upon us a baptism of His power. "Ora et labora"—pray and work—is an esoteric injunction which all aspirants must obey or they will meet with but scant success. In this connection an ancient legend of St. Francis of Assisi will bear repetition because of the light it sheds upon the life on one wholly dedicated to the service of God.
One day St. Francis stepped up to a young brother in the monastery with the invitation: "Come, brother, let us go down to the village and preach to the people." The young brother addressed responded with alacrity, overjoyed at the prospect of a walk with the holy father, for he knew what a source of spiritual upliftment it would be. And so they walked to the village, up and down its various streets and lanes, all the while conversing upon topics of absorbing spiritual interest, and finally turned their steps homeward towards the monastery. Then suddenly it dawned upon the young brother that they had been so absorbed in their own conversation that they had forgotten the object of their walk to the village. Diffidently he reminded St. Francis of the omission, and the latter responded: "Son, while we were walking the village streets the people were watching us, they overheard snatches of conversation and noted that we were talking of the love of God and His dear Son, our Saviour; they noted our kindly greetings and our words of cheer and comfort to the afflicted ones we met, and even our garb spoke to them the language and call of religion; so we have preached to them every moment of our sojourn among them to must better purpose than if we had harangued them for hours in the market place." St. Francis had no other thought but God and to do good in His name therefore he was well attuned to the divine vibration, and it is no wonder than when he went to his regular prayers he was a powerful magnet for the divine Life and Light which permeated his whole being.
We who are engaged in the so-called secular work of the world and forced to do things that seem sordid, often feel that we are hampered and hindered on that account, but if we "do all things as unto the Lord" and are "faithful over a few things," we shall find that in time opportunities will come of which we do not dream. As the magnetic needle temporarily deflected from the North by outside pressure instantly and eagerly returns to its natural position when the pressure is removed, so we must cultivate that yearning for our Father which will instantly turn our thoughts to Him when our work in the world is done for the day and we are free to follow our own bent. We must cultivate a feeling similar to that which ensouls young lovers when after an absence they fly into each others arms in an ecstasy of delight. This is an absolutely essential preparation for prayer, and if we fly to our Father in that manner, the Light of His presence and the sweetness of His voice will teach and cheer us beyond our fondest hopes.
The next point requiring consideration is the place of prayer; this is of very vital importance for a reason not generally known even among students of esotericism; it is this. Every prayer, spoken or unspoken, every song of praise, and every reading of parts of the scriptures which teach or exhort, if done by a properly prepared reader who loves and lives what he reads, brings down upon both the worshiper and the place of worship an outpouring of spirit. This in time an invisible church is built around the physical structure which in the case of a devout congregation becomes so beautiful that it transcends all imagination and defies description. Manson in the "Servant in the House" gives us only the faintest glimpse of what it is like when he tells the old Bishop:
"I am afraid you may not consider it an altogether substantial concern. It has to be seen in a certain way under certain conditions. Some people never see it at all. You must understand, this is no dead pile of stones and unmeaning timber, it is a living thing. When you enter it you hear sound, a sound as of some mighty poem chanted. Listen long enough and you will learn that it is made up of the beating of human hearts, of the nameless music of men's souls; that is, if you have ears. If you have eyes, you will presently see the church itself, a looming mystery of many shapes and shadows leaping sheer from floor to dome, the work of no ordinary builder. Its pillars go up like the brawny trunks of heroes; the sweet human flesh of men and women is molded about its bulwarks, strong impregnable. The faces of little children laugh out from every corner stone; the terrible spans and arches of it are the joined hands of comrades, and up in the heights and spaces are inscribed the numberless musings of all the dreamers in the world. It is yet building, building, and built upon. Sometimes the work goes forward in deep darkness—sometimes in blinding light—now beneath the burden of unutterable anguish, now to the tune of great laughter and heroic shoutings like the cry of thunder. Sometimes in the night time one may hear the tiny hammerings of comrades at work in the dome, the comrades that have climbed ahead."
But this invisible edifice is not merely lovelier than a fair palace in a poet's dream; it is as Manson says, a living thing, vibrant with divine power of immense aid to the worshiper, for it helps him in adjusting the tangled vibrations of the world which permeate his aura when he enters a true "House of God" and to get into the proper attitude of prayer. Then it helps him to lift himself in aspiration to the throne of divine grace, and to offer there his praise and adoration which call forth from the Father a new outpouring of the spirit in the loving response, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
Such a place of worship is essential to spiritual growth by scientific prayer, and those who are fortunate enough to have access to such a temple should always occupy the same place in it, for that becomes permeated with their individual vibrations and they fit into that environment more easily than anywhere else; consequently they get better results there.
But such places are scarce, for a real sanctuary is required in scientific prayer. No gossip or profane conversation may take place in or near it for that spoils the vibrations; voices must be hushed and the attitude reverent; each must bear in mind that he stands upon holy ground and act accordingly, Therefore no place open to the general public will answer.
Furthermore, the power of prayer increases enormously with each additional worshiper.—The increase may be compared to geometrical progression if the worshipers are properly attuned and trained in collective prayer; the very opposite may result if they are not.
Perhaps an illustration may make the principle clear. Suppose a number of musicians who have never played with others and who perhaps are not very proficient in the use of their instruments, were brought together and set to play in concert; it needs no very keen imaginations to realize that their first attempts would be marked by much discord, and were an amateur allowed to play with them, or even with a finished orchestra, no matter how earnest and how intense his desire, he would inevitably spoil their music. Similar scientific conditions govern collective prayer; to be efficacious participants must be equally well prepared as elucidated under a previous heading; they must be attuned under harmonious horoscopic influences. When a malefic in one nativity is on the ascendant of another, those two cannot profit by praying together; they may rule their stars and live in peace if they are developed souls, but they lack the basic harmony which is absolutely essential in collective prayer. Initiation removes this barrier but nothing else can.
It was made clear in Part I that there are certain esoteric reasons which make collective prayer inadvisable except under special conditions.
It was knowledge of these difficulties which prompted the Christ to warn his disciples not to say their prayers before men and to advise them that when they wanted to pray to enter into their closet. We cannot each have a large beautiful edifice for our devotions, nor do we require it; too often pomp and display are apt to turn our hearts from God. But most of us can set a small portion of our room aside for devotion, curtain it off or with a screen separate it from the rest of the apartment, or we can take a closet (literally) and make it into a sanctuary. The nature of the encircling walls matters not; it is the apartness and the invisible House of God which we build by our prayers, and the divine downpouring which we receive in response from our Father that are important. A picture of Christ and a Rose Cross may be hung upon the wall if desired, but are not essential. The All-Seeing Eye is preferred by some very successful esotericists of our acquaintance as a symbol of the Father. But we remember the words of Christ, "The Father and I are one;" so though we have no authentic picture of Christ, we prefer to use such as we have, for we know that thoughts will not go astray on account of lack of authenticity. Christ is the Lord of this era; later, of course, the Father takes charge, but now Christ is mediator for the masses.
We need scarcely say that no matter how large of small, the whole room or apartment of the successful aspirant is permeated by an atmosphere of holiness, for all the thoughts which he can legitimately have apart from the faithful performance of his worldly duties are of the heavenly Father, but the corner or closet set apart as a sanctuary soon becomes filled with superlatively spiritual vibrations; therefore any aspirant who contemplates following the scientific method of prayer should first seek to secure a permanent place of residence, for if he moves about from place to place he will suffer a distinct loss every time and have to begin to build anew. The invisible temple which he built and left disintegrates by degrees when worship ceases.
It is a mystic maxim that "all spiritual development begins with the vital body." This is next in density to our dense body, its key-note is repetition, and it is the vehicle of habits, hence somewhat difficult to change or influence, but once a change has been effected and a habit acquired by repetition, its performance becomes automatic to a certain extent. This characteristic is both good and bad in respect to prayer, for the impression registered in the ethers of this vehicle will impel the aspirant to faithful performance of his devotions at stated times, even though he may have lost interest in the exercise and his prayers are mere forms. If it were not for this habit forming tendency of the vital body, aspirants would wake up their danger as soon as the real love began to wane, and it would then be easier to retrieve the loss and keep on the Path. Therefore the aspirant should carefully examine himself from time to time to see if he still has wings and power wherewith swiftly and surely to lift himself to his Father in Heaven. The wings are two in number; love and aspiration are their names, and the irresistible power which propels them is intense earnestness. Without these and an intelligent understanding to direct the invocation, prayer is only a babble; properly performed it is the most powerful method of soul growth known.
The position of the body matters little in solitary prayer; that is best which is most conducive to concentration of purpose; but in collective praying it is the practice of accomplished esotericists to stand with bowed heads and hands folded in a peculiar manner. This makes a magnetic circuit which unites them spiritually from the very commencement of the exercises. In communities not so advanced, the singing of a hymn so standing has been found of great benefit, provided all take part.
Prayer is a word which has been so abused that it really does not describe the spiritual exercise to which we have reference. As already said when we go to our sanctuary we must go as the lover who hastens to his beloved, our spirit must fly ahead of our slow-moving body in eager anticipation of the delights in store for us, and we must forget all else in the thoughts of adoration which fill us on the way. This is literally true; the feeling required for success resembles nothing in the world so much as that which draws the lover to his beloved; it is even more ardent and intense. "As the hind panteth for the water brook, so thirsteth my soul after Thee," is an actual experience of the true lover of God. If we have not this spirit, it can be cultivated by prayer, and one of the most constant of the legitimate prayers for self should be, "O God, increase my love for Thee so that I may serve Thee better from day to day." "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, My strength and my Redeemer."
Invocations for temporal things are black magic; we have the promise "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." The Christ indicated the limit in The Lord's Prayer when He taught His disciples to say: "Give us this day our daily bread." Whether for ourselves or others we must beware of going father in scientific invocation. But even in praying for spiritual blessings we should beware lest a selfishness develop and destroy our soul growth. All the saints testify to the days of darkness when the divine Lover hides His face and the consequent depression. Then it depends upon the nature and the strength of our affection: Do we love God for Himself, or do we love Him for the delights we experience in the sweet communion with Him? If the latter, our affection is essentially as selfish as the feelings of the multitude which followed Him because He had fed them, and now as then it is necessary for Him to hide from us in such cases, a mark of His tender love and solicitude which should bring us to our knees in shame and remorse. Happy are we if we right the defect in our characters and learn the lesson of unfaltering faithfulness from the magnetic needle, which points to the pole without wavering despite rain or storm clouds that hide its beloved star.
It has been said that we must not pray for temporal things, and that we ought to be careful even in our prayers for spiritual gifts; it is therefore a legitimate question: What then shall be the burden of our invocation? And the answer is, generally, praise and adoration. We must get away from the idea that every time we approach our Father in Heaven we must ask for something. Would it not annoy us if our children were always asking for something from us? We cannot of course imagine our Father in Heaven being annoyed at our importunities, but neither can we expect Him to grant what would often do us harm. On the other hand, when we offer thanksgiving and praise we put ourselves in a favorable position to the law of attraction, a receptive state where we may receive a new downpouring of the Spirit of Love and Light, and which thus brings us nearer to our adored ideal.
Nor is it necessary that the audible or inaudible invocation should continue during the whole time of prayer. When upon the wings of Love and Aspiration, propelled by the intensity of our earnestness, we have soared to the Throne of our Father, there may come a time of sweet but silent communion more delightful than any other state or stage; it is analogous to the contentment of lovers who may sit for hours in unbroken silence, too full of love for utterance, a state which far transcends the stage where they depend upon speech for entertainment. So it is also in the final climax when the soul rests in God, all desires satisfied by that feeling of at-one-ment expressed in the words of Christ, "My Father and I are One." When that climax has been reached the soul has tasted the quintessence of joy, and no matter how sordid the world may seem or what dark fate it may have to face, the love of God which passeth all understanding is a panacea for all.
It should be said however, that that final climax is only attainable in all its fullness at rare intervals. It presupposes not only the intensity of purpose to soar to the divine, but a reserve fund to remain posed in that position, which most of us have not always at hand. It is a well known fact that nothing worth while comes without effort. What man had done, man can do, and if we start to cultivate the power of invocation along the scientific lines here laid down, we shall in time reap results of which we little dream.
And may our Father in Heaven bless our every effort.
It is just impossible to attain true and lasting success with living in harmony with the laws of life, as it is for a criminal to live at peace in the community whose laws he breaks. Just as he is eventually punished because of his predatory habits, and incarcerated and restrained, so also nature punishes, incarcerates, and restrains us when we break her laws. This restraint is called disease and is an enemy of happiness, for one, no matter what wealth he may have or what position he may occupy in the world, can be very happy when he is in ill health bodily. Thus it will be seen that one of the vital requirements for the man and woman who desires a full realization of happiness and success in life is health, including strength, for only in the measure that we are supplied with bubbling-over health can we feel sufficiently optimistic, cheerful and vigorous to attain the success which we are seeking.
The Bible tells us that death and disease came into the world through eating of the "tree of knowledge," and though from the materialist point of view this may sound silly, let us not dismiss the story without looking at it a little closer. We shall find that it is perfectly in harmony with scientific facts as shown in the world today. Consider first the meaning of the tree of knowledge as illustrated by the later remarks: "Adam knew his wife and she bore Abel;" "Adam knew his wife and she bore Seth;" and Mary's words to the angel, "How shall I conceive seeing I know not a man?" From these and many similar remarks it is evident that the tree of knowledge was a symbolical expression of the generative act. Mankind is thus, as the Bible says, conceived in sin and therefore subject to death, and from this there would seem no escape.
We would, however, do well to remember that evolution is a fact in nature; that man as he is today is the result of a long past, and that this present state is not the final attainment of a standard of perfection, but that there are greater heights ahead of us. We are in a state of ever becoming; there is no halting nor resting upon the path, which is as limitless as the age of the spirit. Moreover, as what we are today is the result of what we were yesterday, so also it depends upon how we use our faculties today whether we shall be one thing or another tomorrow. Let us then examine the past, so that by learning what we have been, we may gain an inkling of what we are to be.
According to the Bible, mankind was male-female before it was separated into two distinct sexes as man and woman. We still have with us hermaphrodites who have this, as we think today, abnormal formation to prove the truth of this Biblical assertion; and physiologically the opposite organ of either sex is latent in all. During the period when man was thus constituted fertilization must have occurred within himself; nor is this any stranger than that many plants are so fertilized today.
Let us now see from the Bible what was the effect of self-fertilization in the early days. There are two prime facts that stand out: One is that there were giants in the earth in those days; the other that the patriarchs lived for centuries; and these two characteristics, great growth and longevity, are possessed by many plants of today. The great size of trees and the length of their life are wonderful, the live centuries where man lives only a few score years. Then the question comes, what is the reason of the evanescence of human life, and what is the remedy? Let us first take up the question of the reason, and the remedy will later be apparent.
It is well know to horticulturists that plants are stunted in their growth when they bloom too prolifically. A rose may bloom to such an extent that it dies; therefore the wise gardener prunes the buds from the plants so that the strength may go partly into growth instead of blossom. Thus by keeping the seed within itself it attains the strength required for growth and longevity. This was the secret of the great size and long life of the earliest races, as it is the secret of the size and longevity of the plants today.
That the creative essence in the seed is a spiritual substance is evident when we compare the dauntlessness and impatience at restraint of the stallion or the bull, with the docility of the steer and the gelding. Moreover, we know that the confirmed libertine and the degenerate become sterile and emaciated. When these facts have sunk into our consciousness it will not be difficult to conceive of the truth of the Bible assertion that the fruit of the flesh, which brings us under the law of sin and death, is first and foremost fornication, whereas the fruit of the spirit which make for immortality, as shown in the same book, are said to be principally continence and chastity.
Consider also the child and how the creative force used within and for the child itself causes an enormous growth during the early years, but at the age of puberty the birth of passion commences to check growth; the vital force then produces seed in order to find growth and expression elsewhere, and thenceforth growth is stunted. If we continued to grow during life as we grow during childhood, we should be giants as were the divine hermaphrodites of long ago.
The spiritual force generated from the time of puberty and all through life may be used for three purposes, generation, degeneration, or regeneration. It depends upon ourselves which of the three methods we choose; but the choice that we make will have an important bearing upon our whole life, for the use of this force is not confined in its effect to the time or occasion upon which it is thus used. It overshadows every single moment of our existence, and determines our attitude in each and every single phase of life among our fellow men; how we meet the various trial of life; whether we are able to grasp our opportunities or let them slip by; whether we are healthy or sick; and whether we live our life according to a satisfactory purpose; all of this depends upon the way we use the vital force. That is the very spring of all our existence, the elixir of life.
The part of the creative force which is legitimately sacrificed upon the altar of fatherhood and motherhood is so small that it may be entirely neglected for the purpose of the present considerations. There is no reason whatever from a physical or spiritual standpoint why celibacy should be insisted upon in any religious order, neither is this at all in harmony with the Bible. The mere suppression of sexual attraction is not a virtue in itself; in fact it may be a very serious vice, for there is no question that many millions, fall into the most unspeakable vices on that account. Even if they abstain from the sexual act, their thoughts are of such a nature that they make themselves whited sepulchers, horrible within though outwardly seeming pure and white. Paul himself, though not in the condition mentioned, said: "It is better to marry than to burn;" and the natural expression is far to be preferred to such an inward state as above described.
While there are very few who will defend abuse of the generative function, many people who follow spiritual precepts in other things still have the feeling that frequent indulgence of the desire for sexual pleasure works no harm; some even have the idea that it is as necessary as the exercise of any other organic function. This is wrong for two reasons: First, each creative act requires a certain amount of force which burns up tissue that must be replenished by an extra amount of food. This strengthens and augments the Chemical Ether. Secondly as the propagative force works through the Life Ether, this constituent of the vital body by sending the creative force downwards for gratification of our desire for pleasure; and their interlocking grip upon the two higher ethers which form the soul-body becomes tighter and more powerful as time goes on. As the evolution of our soul-powers and the faculty of traveling in our finer vehicles depends upon the cleavage between the lower ethers and the soul-body, it is evident that we frustrate the object we have in view and retard development by indulgence of the lower nature.
If we turn again to the garden we may obtain a striking illustration of the result of following the apostle's advice to "keep the seed within," by considering the qualities of the seedless varieties of fruit. Seedless fruits are larger and better flavored than those which have seeds, because in them all the sap is used for the single purpose of making the fruit delicious and succulent. Similarly, if instead of wasting our substance we live chastely and send the creative force upward for regeneration, we thereby etherealize and refine our physical bodies at the same time that we strengthen our soul bodies. In this manner we may materially lengthen life and so increase our opportunities for soul growth and advancement upon the Path in a very marked degree. When we realize that success does not consist in the accumulation of wealth but in soul growth, it will be evident that continence is an important factor in the attainment of success in life.