Question: What is the origin of life?
Answer: When that question is asked a scientist, he will commence to tell us about protoplasm, protyle or something else of a like nature, but that is form. No matter how small, insignificant and simple that form may be, it is still a form, and from the esotericist's point of view, the question is poorly put, for the spirit, is, was and will always be. As Sir Edwin Arnold says in his beautiful poem, "The Song Celestial":
"Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams!
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit for ever;
Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems!
"Nay, but as when one layeth his worn-out robes away,
And, taking new ones, sayeth, 'These will I wear today!'
So putteth by the spirit lightly its garb of flesh,
And passeth to inherit a residence afresh."
It is Life that builds the Forms and uses them for a time in order that it may progress thereby. When their usefulness has ceased the life passes on, leaving the forms behind, and then they are dead. Thus the question should rather be "How did the dead originate?" for life is — it has neither origin nor termination.
Question: What is matter? Is it not unreal?
Answer: There are various theories of matter. If we ask the materialist he, of course, maintains that matter is the one reality; that all and everything is matter and that nothing can exist except that. The Christian Scientist is of the very opposite opinion. He holds that matter is nonexistent—a delusion; that everything that is, is Spirit, and so those two classes of people are the very antitheses of one another. But the truth is between.
When God desires to manifest, He emanates within Himself the thought forms of such a universe as he desires to create, and these archetypal ideas are spirit when first emanated in that central source. But under the influence of time and space, they slowly crystallize and become that which we know as matter. This is a similar process to that which we may observe in the case of a snail. The juices of its soft and flexible body gradually crystallize into the hard and flinty shell which is incapable of moving save as propelled by the snail. Thus, as the house of the snail is crystallized snail, so matter is crystallized Spirit. And as the house of the snail remains stationary when not moved by the snail, so matter is immobile save when moved by the spirit. But in the course of time the snail's house goes to decay. The matter of which it was formed is broken up into minute particles and becomes available for the building of other flexible forms — it may become the body of a snail again. So, also the crystallized spirit — matter — is re-etherealized and becomes spirit again. Matter evolves as well as spirit, for it becomes more ethereal, more flexible, and more amenable to the impacts of spirit when it is built into different forms time after time.
Thus we may say with the Christian Scientist that all is spirit, that which appears as matter being in reality spirit in a state of crystallization, and we may also agree with the materialist that all is matter, for spirit which has not yet crystallized into matter will eventually do so. It is a mistake to consider anything in God's Universe as unreal; both matter and spirit are real. They are the positive and negative poles of God.
Question: You said in a previous lecture that the Earth is the body of a Spirit which gives its life for the dwellers upon the surface. Why does it give flowers and fruit to some and earthquake and famine to others?
Answer: During the interval between death and a new birth, the discarnate spirits who have reached the Second Heaven where the archetypes of everything are, build their future environment in which they reap what they have sown. If they have been diligent in past lives, if they have tilled the soil and made two blades of grass to grow where there was only one, they will build for themselves a still more fertile land which will yield greater fruits for less labor. If they have spent their time thinking of Nirvana, a heavenly place of rest and indolence, and have loved more to enter into metaphysical discussion than to look after material things, they will continue to do so in the Second Heaven, and in consequence their land will be arid when they come back to earth life. They will then experience famine, flood and earthquake, so that they may realize the necessity of providing for material conditions. Thus they will in time learn their lesson and strive to conquer this world as we have done in the West, for, of course, the inquirer has reference to the people of the East who suffer from flood and famine. They are our younger brethren, behind us in evolution, and must follow in our footsteps. They must learn to forget, for a time, the spiritual worlds in order to attain the development which only the material world can give them. Thus, there is a deep purpose in the famine which is at present their lot and there is a purpose as deep in our prosperity. Their famine will eventually drive them into more material conditions, but we, having a land of plenty with all the good things of this world, where ingenious inventions make life easier on every hand, will eventually say to ourselves, when we have been satisfied with these material blessings, "What is the good of it all? Give us, rather, the spiritual things," and we will then enter a spiritual development much higher than that of the East.
Question: What is meant by the sentence "Man, know thyself?"
Answer: This sentence was found above the entrance to a Greek mystery temple as an indication of the fact that it is obligatory upon man to thoroughly understand the mystery of his own nature, which is much deeper than is apparent on the surface. This, on the principle of the hermetic axiom, "as above, so below." When he understands himself and knows himself, he will be able by analogy to know about God. For it is truly said that "Man was made in the image of God."
But to know himself it is not only necessary that he should understand that which he sees, the physical body, but also the invisible bodies which are the causes of his thoughts, feelings and emotions. This was the teaching given in the mystery temples.
There is still another and a far deeper meaning to that sentence. When we ask ourselves the causes of all the sorrow and the misery in the world, we must revert to the earliest epochs of the earth's existence to solve our problem. In the first two Epochs, the Polarian and the Hyperborean, man was a complete creative unit, capable of sending forth from himself the forces which generated a body for another being. But in the Lemurian Epoch, when it became necessary to build a brain and a larynx, the sex force was divided and one half retained in order to accomplish that object. Only the other half remained available for generation. Then man ceased to know himself, but "Adam knew his wife," and as a result she bore him children.
The spirit inherently feels its own divine creative nature and secretly rebels against the necessity of seeking the cooperation of another to generate. As a result, sorrow, trouble and pain have come into the world, and will exist so long as the present method of procreation makes it necessary for two to cooperate to perpetuate the species. And it was the glorious goal that is set before humanity in the future — the coalition of the two poles of the creative force which will again make man an individual Creator complete in himself — that was adumbrated in the mystery words, "Man, know thyself."
The Apostle John, in his First Epistle, the 3rd chapter, 8th verse, tells us the way of attainment where he says that "He that commiteth sin is of the devil...For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil....Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him."
Where the animal propensities are catered to and an abnormal use is made of the sex force, a man is apt to become an idiot, but the thoughts of a spiritual man are pure, chaste and full of wisdom.
At the present time, cooperation of the sexes is necessary to procreation of vehicles for Egos who are coming to rebirth, but the time will come when man will cease to create in that manner. He will know himself. Concentrated thought as the seed will remain within himself, but he will manifest it by means of the larynx as a Creative Word, a word that will form things in the Physical World. Then it will no longer be necessary for mankind to seek the cooperation of one another in providing new vehicles. This he was taught in the mystery schools, which are way stations upon the path of attainment, and therefore the saying "Man, know thyself" was inscribed upon the Delphian oracle.
Question: What is the Holy Grail?
Answer: The story of the Holy Grail is one of the myths used by the great leaders of humanity to convey to us spiritual truths in symbols which would at that time have been incomprehensible to our infant intellect.
The Grail story is found, variously told, in all the earlier races as far back as we can trace religious teaching, and libraries have been written about this wonderful mystic panacea for all ills. In medieval times many versions of this legend were recited by minstrels, minnesingers, troubadours or master-singers. Most beautiful, perhaps, was the simple version of Wolfram von Eschenbach, which was taken in hand by the master artist of the nineteenth century, Richard Wagner, in his famous music drama "Parsifal."
The story relates that on the night when our Savior ate the last supper with His disciples, He drank from a certain cup or chalice, and later on, when the lifeblood flowed from His wounded side, Joseph of Arimathea caught the life blood of our dying Savior in yon chalice. He also took the spear wherewith that wound had been inflicted. These relics he carried with him for many years, and such was the wonderful life giving power of the Savior's blood that it sustained him throughout all his privations, in prison, and on his wanderings. At last, the relics were taken up into heaven for a time in the care of Angels, but one night there appeared a mystic messenger sent from God to the holy Titurel with command that he build a castle high in the air, upon a mountain top, and there gather around himself a bank of knights, who must be chaste and pure. These Grail Knights were permitted to behold the sacred relics at stated times and thus they became inspired with desire and power to go into the world to do mighty spiritual deeds. In time Titurel gave the wardership of the Grail to his son Amfortas and in his reign as King of the Grail, a sad calamity befell the Grail Knights.
There lived in "a heathen vale" below the castle a black knight by the name of Klingsor who desired to become a Knight of the Grail. He was not chaste, so in order to meet the condition he mutilated himself in such a manner that it became impossible for him to gratify desire. But when he applied to the holy Titurel, the latter saw his heart and refused him admittance. Then Klingsor swore that if he might not serve the Grail, the Grail should serve him. He peopled the garden of his magic castle with illusory phantasmic flower maidens who waylaid the Knights of the Grail on their passage to and from the castle, seduced them and thus disqualified them for further service as Grail Knights.
Fearing that all the Knights of the Grail would become prisoners of Klingsor, Amfortas decided to fight the black magician. He took with him the holy spear to accomplish his object. But Klingsor evoked Kundry, who is a creature of two existences. At one time she is the faithful and willing servitor of the Grail, at another time the unwilling tool of Klingsor. When serving the Grail, she is humble, obedient and simply clad. Under the spell of Klingsor, she becomes beautiful in the extreme, a woman of seducing charms, and these she is forced to use as Klingsor bids her, for he has power over her by virtue of the fact that he is not susceptible to her charms on account of his act of mutilation.
Kundry meets Amfortas, who falls before her charms. While lying in her arms the spear falls from his hand and is snatched by the waiting Klingsor, who inflicts a wound that cannot heal, and for many years the King suffers tortures, particularly when he unveils the Holy Grail for the benefit of his knights. Then the spear wound commences to bleed anew, causing him the most excruciating pain.
Roughly speaking, the giving one of the several valid interpretations which appertain to the Grail mystery, as to other symbols, Kundry is the negative dense body which at one time is under the control of the higher nature symbolized by the Grail Knights, and another time ruled by the lower desire nature symbolized by Klingsor, which tempts the spirit to forsake its higher ideals, and causes suffering when temptation is yielded to. In Parsifal, the pure and guileless one, we see the man who overcomes and therefore succeeds to the wardership of the Grail.
On Good Friday morning, 1857, Richard Wagner sat at the Villa Wesendonck by the Zurich Sea, and as he looked about him the sun was shining, all nature was smiling and from the millions of seeds buried in the ground around him, innumerable plants and flowers were sprouting. The thought struck Wagner, "What is the connection between the death of the Savior at this time of the year and this manifold sprouting life," and in that thought he came very near to the key to the mystery of the Grail, for the Grail was a Mystery School, one of many which existed in the Middle Ages. The stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table are not fables, they are facts. There was such a Mystery School in Wales as late as the time of Queen Elizabeth. And these Mystery Schools exist to the very present day, though not as publicly known as they were in the more spiritual medieval times. The Mystery of King Arthur dealt more with the material and temporal side of life than the Mystery of the Grail, which was altogether pure and spiritual. And there the pupil was taught, not in words, but the feeling was given to him, a teaching from within, which we may express as follows:
You see all around you the various kingdoms in the world. There is man, animal, plant and mineral. The life which is in each of these kingdoms is the one universal life of God, which manifests through all these various forms. When the forms decay it becomes necessary to provide other forms in their places, hence the generative activity which serves this purpose. In the plant kingdom, which is beneath you, that activity is pure, chaste and immaculate. There is no passion connected with it in any respect.
In the kingdoms of the Gods, which are beyond you, it is also carried on as a process of regeneration which is pure and holy. But in the kingdoms which stand between the plant and the gods, conditions are the reverse of chaste. Man and animal are passionate. Man is, in fact, the inverted plant. The plant is unashamed and stretches its creative organ, the flower, towards the sun, a thing of beauty and delight, pure, chaste and passionless. Man turns his creative organ toward the earth; he hides it with shame because it is filled with passion. In time man is to become a god, he is to use his creative ability for the benefit of others and not for sense gratification. And so in time man must become plant-like on a higher scale. Therefore, you see this symbol: The pod of the plant which holds the seed is the Grail Cup, and the spear which brings that seed forth from the flower is the ray of the sun. You, also, must learn to take the solar force, which is the builder of all forms, and use it in your creative organ without passion, so that that which you create shall be immaculately conceived and not as now begotten in sin.
The juice of the plant flows through its green stem and leaves uncolored, pure and chaste. Your blood is red and filled with passion, but in the regeneration that blood must be cleansed by the spiritual force which will come to you from the spiritual sun, as the forces from the physical sun bring forth the juice of the plant. And having become thus regenerated, you will die as a man to be resurrected a God.
Question: What was the connection between the pyramid builders of Egypt and the pyramid builders of Central America? Which is the older civilization?
Answer: Not much has been written concerning the pyramids of Central America, but Piazzi Smith and Richard Proctor, both professional astronomers, have written considerable concerning the pyramids of Egypt, and have endeavored to find out what their use was. From the measurements of the pyramids, Piazzi Smith deduces the theory that they were built by divine architects, a theory which Professor Proctor ridicules, although he finds the measurements support the theories of Professor Smith, but he attributes it to coincidence. When the base of the pyramid measures as many hundreds of inches as there are days in a year; when the diagonals of the base show the same number of inches as there are years in the great sidereal world year, it merely happened so, in the estimation of Professor Proctor. These coincidences are so numerous, however, that to an unbiased mind they appear to be an embodiment of a definite design. Professor Proctor, being an unwilling witness for the theory that the Pyramid was designed for astrological purposes, gives augmented value to his testimony when he admits that of all the theories advanced concerning the use of the pyramids, the theory that they were built for astrological purposes, is the only one that can withstand the weight of the contrary evidence. Therefore, though he characterizes it as a wild theory, it is the only tenable one, according to evidence.
As a matter of fact, the pyramids were temples of initiation, built by the Hierophants of the lesser mysteries, and as initiation of candidates is founded upon the passage of the heavenly bodies, the stars, through the twelve signs of the zodiac, so naturally, these temples of initiation embodied all the cosmic measurements. Only the pyramid of Cheops among the Egyptian group was thus used. The others were simply imitations built at later times by some of the Pharaohs. The lesser mysteries have existed in different parts of the world and at various times. In India, in Egypt, in Greece, and also in Central America. Therefore, the connection between the pyramid builders of one part of the world and another is that they were all the Hierophants of the lesser mysteries and that their temples were used for purposes of initiations.
Question: What is the essential difference between the teachings of the Rosicrucian Philosophy and the Orthodox Church?
Answer: There are many, but perhaps the principal one is the teaching of orthodoxy that at each birth a newly created soul enters material existence fresh from the hand of God, that it lives here in a material body for a longer or shorter span of time and then passes out by death into the invisible beyond, there to remain for all eternity in a state of happiness or misery according to what it did while here in the body.
The Rosicrucian teaching is that each soul is an integral part of God, which is seeking to gain experience by repeated existences in gradually improving material bodies and that, therefore, it passes into and out of material existences many times; that each time it gathers a little more experience than it previously possessed and in time is nourished from nescience to omniscience — from impotence to omnipotence — by means of these experiences.
Our sense of justice revolts against a teaching which sends one soul into a home of culture and a noble family where it has the advantage of wealth, where moral teachings are implanted in the growing child, but sends another into the slums, its father a thief and the mother, perhaps, immoral, and where its teachings consist in lying, stealing, etc. If here only once, all should have the same chance if they are to be judged by the same laws, and we know that no two people have the same experiences in life. We know that where one meets many temptations, another lives comparatively untouched by the storms of life. Therefore, when one soul is placed in a moral environment and another in immoral surroundings, it is not right to send the one to a heaven of enjoyment and eternal bliss for doing the right he could not help doing, nor is it just to send the other to a hell for stealing and robbing when the environment and the conditions into which he was thrown were such that he could not help himself.
Therefore, the Rosicrucian teaching holds that we come into whatever place is best fitted for us by our previous experiences in former lives, and that we get just what we deserve in all cases; that all experiences which come to us are just what we need to give us the appropriate impetus for our next step in unfoldment.
Question: Kindly state the essentials wherein the Rosicrucian Philosophy differs from Theosophy.
Answer: We are not as much concerned in seeking out differences as in finding agreements. It may be said, however, that the Rosicrucian Philosophy is the Western teaching given to the Western people at this time for their advancement. If we take Theosophy as meaning Theo Sophia (Divine Wisdom), then, of course, the Rosicrucian Philosophy is only a part of that Divine Wisdom, like all other religious systems. But if we take theosophy to mean the philosophy promulgated by the Theosophical Society, or Societies, for there are several brands, then we may say that the Rosicrucian teaching is much more comprehensive and complete. Besides, in teaching their philosophy the Rosicrucians are diametrically opposed to the method of the Theosophical Society, which has for its objects:
First, The formation of a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood,
Second, The study of comparative religion, and
Third, The investigation of the unexplained laws in nature and the power latent in man.
The Brothers of the Rosy Cross contend that the majority of advanced people are in sympathy with the idea of Universal Brotherhood, and that we need not be theosophists to have that idea at heart. Countless other societies have altruistic ideas along the lines of brotherhood. Many scientists are studying comparative religion and doing it exceedingly well. It is not necessary to be a theosophist in order to follow that object, but it is necessary to be an esotericist in order to follow out the third object of the Theosophical Society, namely, the study of the unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man.
Therefore, the Rosicrucians recommend that all thoughts be centered upon living such a life and practicing such exercises as will develop the latent powers in each pupil so that he may see and know the invisible worlds whence come the causes we see manifested here. When this object is attained, and not till then, is he capable of investigating the unexplained laws of nature. He is then also in a much better position than the scientists or anyone else to study comparative religion, for he sees the central source from when all religions sprang, each being adapted to the people to whom given. He also sees how they fit into the grand scheme of evolution, and when he has become capable of reaching the consciousness of the inner worlds the unity of life is so apparent that he does not need to trouble himself about the first object of the Theosophical Society, the universality of the One Life which makes brotherhood a fact in nature, beyond necessity of statement.
To reach that last step, we must have the true view of the matter. We may preach to a stove that its duty is to heat and warm us, but unless we comply with the laws of its nature and put fuel into it, our preaching will be of no avail. On similar principle, unless we reach the step of exaltation where our hearts are filled with the divine love, we may preach and put forth teachings concerning Universal Brotherhood, but it will do no good. If we fill the stove with fuel, it will heat us, and if we fill our hearts with love they will radiate that quality without statement of objects such as the first one mentioned.
Therefore, the principal difference between the Theosophical Society and the Rosicrucian Fellowship is a complete reversion of method. For, whereas the Theosophical Society aims to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood by the study of comparative religion and only take up the development of the hidden side of man's nature last — and many even decry development of the hidden powers — the Rosicrucian teaching urges the pupil first of all to live the life, to concentrate all the powers of his being to so walk that he may be fitted for possession of the soul-powers absolutely essential to the investigations he contemplates.
Question: Is the White Lodge of the Theosophical Society the same as the Temple of the Rosicrucians?
Answer: No, the Theosophical Society is simply an exoteric organization for the dissemination of a certain philosophy, mostly derived from the Eastern Religions, while the Rosicrucian Fellowship aims to promulgate the teachings of the Western Mystery School, the Order of Rosicrucians, which is secret and not accessible to anyone except upon direct invitation.
As to the relation of the Order of Rosicrucians and kindred Mystery Order to the White Lodge, we may say that there are in different places of the earth a number of these schools of the lesser mysteries, each of them composed of twelve brethren, and also a thirteenth member. The latter is the link between the different schools, and all these heads or thirteenth members compose what is ordinarily known as the White Lodge, namely, a supreme conclave of the Eldest among our Brothers, who are now in full charge of human evolution and plan the steps we are to follow in order to advance.
Question: If one who believes in the teachings advanced by the Rosicrucians earnestly maintains that they are true, is he not in danger of becoming dogmatic and intolerant of the opinions of others? And what should be his attitude towards those who refuse to accept these teachings?
Answer: It is of utmost importance that we should recognize the fact that, at least in our present limited existence, we cannot possible arrive at truth in the ultimate. Therefore, that which seems to us "truth, and the whole truth" is most likely after all only a part of the truth. As we evolve and become capable of understanding more and more, our conceptions of life, the world, and God, change. Therefore, we ought at all times to have the open mind so that we may receive new truth, we should never forget the fact that there are still greater truths which we have not yet learned. Then we are open minded and cannot become creed bound or hide bound.
Some people grow so extremely enthusiastic when they have found something which appeals to them as truth, that they at once commence a veritable crusade to compel others to share it with them. That is a great mistake. If we go into a church and commence asking questions which raise doubts in the minds of the members and make them uneasy concerning their faith, we may easily cause a sad state of disturbance. If that which we have to give appeals to them and becomes an anchor to them, so that they may rest in the new and higher faith, well and good. But if it so happens that that which we have to give is beyond them, is unacceptable, we may lead them into an extremely unhappy frame of mind and they may turn to materialism, atheism or some other dreadful, skeptical attitude. Their life, in that case, will lie at our door. We should always make it a rule in the world to be very quiet about what we believe or do not believe, though never neglectful to say a little word where an opportunity is given, and if that word brings an inquiry we should answer it fearlessly. Thus we may gradually lead the inquirer on. He will not be thus led unless he is seeking, and when we find out that he desires the information, we should give him all he wants and give it freely. But we reiterate that it is a serious responsibility to thrust our opinion upon ears that are unwilling or not ready.
Question: How is it that not many who study the highest philosophy interest themselves in bettering industrial conditions, such as the abolition of wage slavery?
Answer: All esotericists recognize the crying needs of the day, and none long more ardently for the day of liberation, the day when brotherly love shall be a fact, when the nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, as prophesied by Isaiah, but they go about making these conditions in a different way. Socialistic Labor Unions and such like organizations are seeking to better conditions, but the esotericist maintains that their methods are inefficient, and frustrate lasting realization of their object, for there can be no doubt that it is men who make conditions and not conditions that make the men. If, therefore, we seek to better humanity and raise their standard of right and wrong, if we seek to elevate their ideals, then when men have become better, as a natural consequence, conditions will be better.
Under the present conditions, when labor unions, by strike or through the employer's fear of a strike, have succeeded in gaining a better condition, the employer at once commences to plot how he may checkmate them and frustrate their object. He bands together with other employers for mutual protection and these organizations are always at war with the labor unions. The better conditions which are obtained by one are continually changed by the other. When, however, the employer as well as the employed have been Christianized an have learned to do unto others as they would have others do unto them, there will be no necessity for labor unions, for the employers will look out for the welfare of their employees and anticipate their wants. This state of affairs, the esotericist believes, can be brought about by thinking about it, because all things and all conditions have first been thoughts in the minds of men. Therefore, he earnestly prays that the minds of men may be opened to the fact of universal brotherhood, that they may take into their hearts the love of God and become united in seeking to do the right instead of separately planning how to oppress and intimidate others.
Question: Can anyone study esotericism, live the higher life and be a millionaire?
Answer: Christ said to the rich young man, "Go, get rid of all thou hast," but the young man, being very much taken up with the good things of this life, went away sadly, and the Christ remarked concerning the difficulty besetting the rich man's entrance into heaven. He did not say that it is impossible, but he knew what a snare and a temptation there is in riches. Nevertheless, a man may be a millionaire and still striving to live the higher life. Riches are a clog and a fetter, but it would be absolutely wrong to infer that riches prevent esoteric development. All depends upon what vie a man takes of his riches. If he uses them for the purpose of self-aggrandizement and to oppress his fellowmen, of course there can be no spiritual growth, but where a man regards himself as the steward of his possessions, and where he aims to build factories having model conditions and model tenement houses, etc., where he works strenuously himself to see that his philanthropic ideas are being carried out, and that his fellowmen are receiving good conditions and every chance for self improvement, wealth is an enormous power for good. When a man works thus unselfishly for the welfare of others he will not have much chance to think of self-improvement, and his spiritual growth will be unconscious rather than obvious. Nevertheless, he will progress enormously, and his opportunities to do better and greater work will increase as the years pass by in this life and also in future lives. That was really the meaning of the parable of the talents. Those who used their talents were made rulers over a number of cities in order to give them adequate employment in the evolutionary scheme. On the other hand, if a man owns a factory and becomes so imbued with a desire for esoteric development that he selfishly sells out his factory and throws his workmen out of employment in order that he may develop his own powers and live the higher life, such a man is shirking his duty and will undoubtedly receive a rebuke at the hands of the Master, for he has buried his talent and in a new life he will find himself deprived of the opportunity which he has neglected.
Question: Do you believe in capital punishment? Is it not better and more merciful than imprisonment for life?
Answer: Among the savages might is right, the stronger always overpowers the weaker. We pride ourselves that in our civilization we have come to a higher stage, and that we practice altruism in all departments of our polity. Nevertheless, although we do not go out with a club and promiscuously murder our fancied adversaries, except in war, we do murder in a refined way by what we call law. There was a time when the thief was hanged by law. Nowadays we designate such punishment barbaric, but capital punishment is still a blot upon our civilization. Besides, we are much more refined in our cruelty than the people in older civilizations, for they hanged or beheaded the so-called criminal in short order, while we keep him incarcerated for years, subject him to the torture of long jury trials, set the day for his execution a long way ahead and allow him in the meantime to suffer death by anticipation during all the intervening time.
We profess that our object is not retaliation, but plead that it is necessary to safeguard society and to deter others from committing like crimes, but capital punishment promotes murder. When a man has homicidal tendencies, he should be properly restrained so that he may not hurt his fellowmen. To kill him, however, does not restrain him; death liberates him in the Desire World, and as the Desire World is all about us he is at perfect liberty to go among people and instill into them thoughts of hatred and vengeance against society. Therefore, murder is multiplied. Besides, homicidal mania is aided by the press. The glaring headlines which recite the ghastly minutiae of the crime incite others to go and at likewise. If the press would only be silent about murders and suicides we should have a great deal less crime in the land, and it is very gratifying to see that there are at least some newspapers, for instance a Christian Science publication, which refuses to print anything that is not good.
As to the part of the question which says, "Is death not better than imprisonment for life?" we may say "Perhaps, under the present conditions of prison regime, it is." But that branch of our institutions also calls for reform and we have much to do and undo in our treatment of those whom we call criminals. They are our brothers, just as much as the so-called respectable members of society who have not yet committed the unpardonable crime of being found out. It is true that we have made prison life somewhat better and less barbaric than it used to be. It is also true that we have probation and suspended sentences nowadays, but we are far from treating these weaker brothers properly yet. If we could understand thoroughly that they are our brothers and treat them as we would treat a weak brother who was the son of our own mother, we should be doing nearer right, for who amongst us if his own brother committed a wrong would send him to prison with scorn or call him "jail bird" when he had served his sentence, or ostracize him for life because of a weakness? When a person is sick with typhoid fever we do not get angry with him and send him to the hospital for a month; we send him there until cured, we take good care of him, and aim to aid him in recovering his health, and we rejoice with him when he is well. A criminal is weak and mentally sick. He should not be sent to prison for a term, but should be sent to an institution where he could be properly taught and helped to overcome his weakness. Not until we treat our weaker brothers with such loving care may we say that we have risen above the barbarian maxim of demanding an eye for an eye. How can we dare to pray "forgive us our transgressions as we forgive those who trespass against us," while we treat these poor brothers as we do even now?
Question: What is the viewpoint of the Rosicrucians on woman suffrage?
Answer: The spirit is neither male nor female, but manifests alternately as man and woman, so that looking at woman suffrage from the larger standpoint, it would be to the advantage of the men of the present day to grant women that which is really their right — a full and complete equality in every particular. The double social standard which obtains at the present time, where by a man may commit the social sin without being ostracized, should be done away with. Woman's work should be paid as much as man's work, and in every case the lines which are laid down so admirably in Edward Bellamy's novel, "Looking Backward," should be followed.
The advisability of this equitable social arrangement will be evident if we look at life from the viewpoint that this earth life is but one in many, and that we are born as men and women alternately; but there are other reasons why woman should be given the franchise. In man the dense body is positive and man's positive forces are therefore particularly focused upon the Chemical Region of the Physical World. He is most particularly interested in that which he can weigh, measure, analyze and work with in his daily life; his development is particularly along the material lines, shaping the earth and everything upon it to suit his fancy, but taking little or not interest in the spiritual side of things.
Woman, on the other hand, has the positive vital body and as a result is intuitively in touch with the spiritual vibrations of the universe. She is more idealistic and imaginative, taking a great interest in all the things which make for the moral upliftment of the race, and as it is only by the moral and the spiritual growth that humanity can advance at this time, she is really the prime factor in evolution. It would be of an enormous benefit to humanity if she were given an equal right with man in every particular. For not until then can we hope to see reforms brought about that will really unite humanity. We see that by analogy if we will look into the home, where woman is really the central pillar around which both husband and children cluster. According to her ability she makes the home what it is, she is the cementing influence and the peacemaker. The father may pass out by death or otherwise, the children may leave, while the mother remains, the home is there; but when the mother is taken away by death, the home is at once broken up.
Some have argued, "Yes, but when she is taken away by politics the home will be broken up just as much." But of that there need be no fear. During the transition stage while women have to fight for their rights, and, possibly, a short time afterward, until they have adjusted themselves, there may in some cases a neglect of the home, but in the places where it has already been tried no homes have been broken up and much good has been achieved, for women can always be counted upon to stand for any improvement which makes for morality. While laws are only makeshifts to bring humanity to a higher plane where each one will be a law unto himself, doing right without coercion, it is nevertheless necessary that such reforms should be brought about at the present time by legislation.
Question: If esotericists abstain from flesh eating because it requires a tragedy in its preparation, and they do not wish to be a party to taking life, either directly or by proxy, is it not also taking life when we eat eggs or fruit, vegetables, etc.?
Answer: The case mentioned by the inquirer is very different from taking life by killing an animal. In fact, while it is necessary to kill an animal in order to obtain its flesh, and we are, therefore, doing it harm, we are actually helping a tree when we take the fruit away from it, as will be readily seen when we understand the process of germination.
The process is the same with animals as with human beings, and in fact with all kingdoms. When an animal is to be born, the group spirit, helped by nature spirits and angels, fashions the vital body of the coming animal, which is then deposited in the womb of the mother and the seed atoms are deposited in the semen of the male; then gestation takes place and an animal is born. Without the presence of the seed atom and the matrix vital body no dense animal body can be formed. Similar conditions govern fecundation in the case of an egg, or of a plant seed. They are like the female ova — they are so many opportunities. If an egg is put into an incubator or under a hen, the group spirit sends for the requisite life, accepting the opportunity for embodiment. If a seed is dropped in the soil, that is also fertilized when the proper conditions have been made for its development, but not before. When an egg is crushed, cooked or in other ways disqualified for its primal designation, or where a seed is stored for years perhaps, there is no life, and consequently we do no wrong when we use these products for food. It is even beneficial to plants when the ripe fruits are removed, because then they cease to take sap from the tree unnecessarily.
Question: Is that terrible entity which Glyndon saw in Bulwer Lytton's "Zanoni" the same as Mr. Hyde in Robert l. Stevenson's story?
Answer: No. There is a similarity in certain respects, but in other points there is a very great difference. The dreadful entity seen by Glyndon is spoken of in esotericism as the "Dweller on the Threshold." When the neophyte enters into the Desire World consciously, having left his physical body behind in sleep, he must pass an entity such as that described by Glyndon. This is the embodiment of all the evil deeds of his past which, having not yet been expiated, await eradication in future lives. He must recognize and acknowledge that entity as part of himself. He must promise himself to liquidate, as soon as possible, all the debts represented by that terrible shape.
This entity is not even apparent to the ordinary man during the times between death and a new birth, though ever present. It is a demon, and is offset by another shape which represents all the good a man has done in the past, and may be called his guardian angel, but these twin forms, as said, are invisible to the ordinary man at all times, though ever potent in his life.
It sometimes happens, however, that an individual passes out at death with a desire nature so extremely strong that after he has expiated the deeds it contained in Purgatory, and has entered the Second Heaven, this shell holds together and lasts until the man is reborn. It is then drawn to him by magnetic attraction and he possesses, as it were, a double desire body. The desire body of the old life may then at times make itself felt and cause him to lead a double life, substantially as related by Robert Louis Stevenson, impelling him to do deeds which he loathes, because the suffering engendered in expurgating them is acting as conscience and causing him to repel the evil. Fortunately, however, such cases are extremely rare at this present date.
Question: If we amputate the arm of a man, saw off the limb of a tree and blast away a portion of a cliff, will the invisible counterpart of these different objects also be severed?
Answer: In the case of the arm which is amputated, the etheric counterpart will still remain with the vital body, although there is a certain magnetic tie between that and the physical arm which is buried. A case is on record of a man who, having had his arm amputated, complained bitterly of pains as if something were piercing the flesh of his arm. This pain continued for several weeks, when the arm was at last exhumed and it was found that in boxing a nail had been driven through the flesh in the place where the man felt pain. When the nail was removed the pain ceased. Persons who have had arms or limbs amputated sometimes complain of pain in the member for a few years after the operation. Then the pain ceases because the etheric arm has decayed synchronously with the limb in the grave.
The vital body of the plant is only composed of the two densest ethers — the Chemical Ether and the Life Ether — which enable the plant to grow and propagate, but it lacks the two higher ethers — the Light Ether and Reflecting Ether — hence it has no sensation or memory of what passes around it. Therefore, amputation of a limb will not be felt by the plant, and in the case of the cliff which is blasted, only the Chemical Ether is present, so that the crystals will have no feelings at all. Still, it would be wrong to infer that there is no feeling in either of these cases, for though the plants and the minerals have no individual means of feeling, they are enveloped and interpenetrated by the ethers and the Desire World of the planet, and the Planetary Spirit feels everything, on the same principle that our finger, having no individual desire body, cannot feel, but we, the indwelling spirits inhabiting the body, feel any hurt done to the finger.
Question: Do you know of a place, a home or retreat where one may go to live this beautiful, simple and harmless life you are advocating?
Answer: No, we do not know of any home, and if a home were founded for that purpose, we should feel very sorry for its inmates. If we have a high temper and go into the mountains to live as recluses where there are not people to rile our sensibilities, it is small credit to us that we do not become impatient with others. If we find it difficult to overcome our vices or faults in the city, and go into the wilds where those temptations do not exist, small is our credit for not yielding. We have been placed in cities and among our fellows in order that we should accustom and accommodate ourselves to them, and learn to keep our tempers despite any riling — learn to shun temptations where they exist. One may be in the mountains and his heart in the city, or he may immure himself in a monastery and yet be longing of the pleasures of the world. It is best to stay in the place where we are found and there develop the spiritual qualities that shall make us better men and women. There is work to be done in the world, and if we fly from the world, how shall we do it? We have a responsibility to our fellowmen. unless we discharge that responsibility we are shirking our duty, and fate will bring us back in such an environment that we cannot escape. Therefore, it is better to aim to learn all the lessons that are at our hands instead of running away from them.