Question: It is difficult for me to review the events of the day in reverse order when doing my evening exercises. Is this absolutely necessary, and if so, why? (Vol. I, #150)
Answer: In the evening exercise the pupil reviews and judges his or her life for that day. He or she is then doing the work ordinarily reserved to Purgatory and the First Heaven. There the life is lived backward from effects to causes in order that we may see how and why suffering results from our mistakes. Reviewing our daily life, in reverse order, from effects to causes, we note that our troubles and trials have all been caused by previous acts during the past day or some other day of our life.
It is our task to find that cause and to analyze the reason which leads up to every development, so that we may know in future how to take advantage of opportunities for soul growth and avoid evil. Thus if we follow up the day's experience in reverse order we profit by the experiences gained right away instead of waiting until we have passed out of this life and are forced to reap the fruits of our deeds in Purgatory and the First Heaven.
Question: What value are breathing exercises in developing body and mind? (Vol. I, #151)
Answer: The value of breathing exercises depends upon the knowledge of the person who gives them. Breathing exercises given in books and by so-called teachers, who advertise courses in psychic development, are exceedingly dangerous and many a person is in the insane asylum today on account of having attempted too use them, or, perhaps, sleeps under the sod in the grave of a consumptive.
Every human being is an individual and needs individual exercises. The appropriate exercises can only be given by a person who is clairvoyant and also able to watch the growth of certain etheric organs in the physical body of his pupil. He must also know what this growth should be in each individual case. Anyone who has the ability to thus give this individual exercise also knows how to check undesirable developments. But such a teacher does not advertise psychic developments for so much per lesson. Such exercises are never sold for money, but are always given for merit.
The reason is evident. One who has the faculty of clairvoyance at command has an enormous power; if misused it can work more harm than any earthly weapon. It could cause a panic in the markets of the world, bring about wars and enmities among people anywhere and everywhere, and thus the possessor would become a scourge to society unless he were also of such a mind that he would never use his faculty save for good. The powers behind evolution, the Elder Brothers of humanity who have developed these powers and are capable of teaching them, take exceeding good care that no one shall attain to this power until they have given proofs of unselfishness and have been bound by vows and restrictions. Therefore it may be said that no one should undertake breathing exercises unless prescribed by the proper teacher, and neither is it necessary to run about the world seeking such a teacher. The aspirant ought rather to strive to do good and use the faculties which he now possesses in the environment where he or she is, for that is the only proper stepping stone towards a higher power. When he has sufficiently fitted himself, the teacher will appear in his life and he will not for a moment be in doubt of the genuineness of the teaching that will then be given. In this respect we may quote a little poem that is exceedingly beautiful:
"Don't waste your time in longing For bright, impossible things; Don't sit supinely waiting For the sprouting of angel wings. Don't scorn to be a rushlight, Everyone can not be a star; But brighten some of the darkness By shining just where you are.
"There's need of the tiniest candle As well as the garish sun, And the humblest deed is ennobled When it is worthily done, You may never be called on to brighten Darkened regions afar, So fill day by day your mission By shining just where you are."
Question: What are comets? (Vol. I, #157)
Answer: Contemplating the wisdom of the Great Creative Hierarchies as compared with our own, we would naturally feel inclined to think that they are above mistakes; but upon second thought it appears reasonable that as they are yet evolving, though learning lessons far beyond us, they must at times make mistakes. They are active in the Macrocosm, the "Great World," the Body of God, as we are working in the Microcosm, the "Little World," composed of our different vehicles, and just as we make mistakes in handling our affairs and in learning the lessons we are learning, so also the Great Creative Hierarchies at times fail in their labors.
We know that when bringing a child to birth there may be a miscarriage. The fetus is then expelled from the system and at once commences to decay. There is a similar risk when a world is in the making, namely, that it crystallizes or sets before it has completed the period of gestation in the Desire World. Then it has not been properly molded, and may be likened to plaster of Paris mixed by a sculptor to form a beautiful statue, but set before it was molded — a shapeless, useless mass. When this happens in the making of the world, we have what is known as a comet, and the elliptic orbit which it travels is the path of a current in the Desire World. We have something similar to the comets in the appearance of the Ego before it enters the womb of the mother. Then that is also such a bell-shaped thing with a nucleus at the top and a great deal of material flowing behind it similar to the tail of the comet. And these bell shaped reincarnating Egos also traverse elliptic orbits around the Earth, until it is necessary for them to enter the womb of the future mother.
Question: Does the movement of a planet through space create a noise? (Vol. I, #158)
Answer: Pythagoras spoke of the harmony of the spheres, and he did not use that expression simply as a poetical allusion. There is such a harmony. We are told by John that in the beginning was the word...and without it was nothing made that was made. That was the creative fiat which first started the world into being. The familiar experiment of placing sand upon a glass plate and creating geometrical figures by bowing the edge with a violin bow, illustrates the creative ability of sound. And we hear of celestial music, for from the point of the Heaven World, everything is first created in terms of sound, which then molds concrete matter into the multitudinous forms which we see around us.
In the occultist's sphere of vision, the whole solar system is one vast musical instrument, spoken of in the Greek Mythology as "the seven-stringed lyre of Apollo, the radiant Sun God." As there are twelve semi-tones in the chromatic scale, so we have in the heavens, twelve signs of the zodiac, and as we have the seven white keys or whole tones on the keyboard of the piano, we have seven planets. The signs of the zodiac may be said to be the sounding- board of the cosmic harp and the seven planets are the strings; they emit different sounds as they pass through the various signs, and therefore they influence mankind in diverse manner. Should the harmony fail for one single moment, should there be the slightest discord in that heavenly band, this whole universe as such must crumble. For music can destroy as well as build. This has been well proven by great musicians. For instance, the grandson of the immortal Felix Mendelssohn has for several years been experimenting with the power of sound in that direction. He has come to the conclusion that once we find the keynote of a building, bridge, or other structure, we may raze that structure to the ground by sounding that note sufficiently loud and long. An illustration in point occurs to the writer (Max Heindel):
"A few years ago a band of musicians were rehearsing near an old ruin outside the city of Heidelberg, Germany. At one point in their exercises they came to an extremely high pitched and long continued note, and as they sounded it the massive wall of the nearby ruin tumbled to the ground with a tremendous crash. They had struck the keynote of that wall and it fell." In view of these facts, our supercilious smiles of bygone days when listening to the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho are no longer in place. The sound of the ram's horn undoubtedly struck the keynote of those walls which had been much sensitized by the rhythmic tramp of his army in preparation for this final climax. The rhythmic tramp of many feet will destroy any bridge, and therefore soldiers are instructed to break step when crossing a bridge. So that we may say in answer to the question that every planet gives out a certain keynote which is the sum total of all the noises upon it, blended and harmonized by the indwelling Planetary Spirit. That sound can be heard by the spirit ear. As Goethe says:
"The sun intones his ancient song Mid rival chant of brother spheres; His prescribed course he speeds along In thunderous way, throughout the years."
This, from the first part of Faust, the prologue in heaven. And also in the second part of Faust, spirits of air greet the rising sun with the words:
"Sound unto the spirit ear proclaims the new born day is here; Rocky gates are creaking, rattling, Phoebus' wheels are rolling, singing — What sound intense the light is bringing."
This article was adapted from "The Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers, Vol. I," by Max Heindel.