ON ASTRAL BODIES, OR DOPPELGANGERS
M.C. Great confusion exists in the minds of people
about the various kinds of apparitions, wraiths, ghosts or spirits.
Ought we not to explain once for all the meaning of these terms? You
say there are various kinds of "doubles"--what are they?
H.P.B. Our occult philosophy teaches us that there are three kinds
of "doubles," to use the word in its widest sense. (I) Man
has his "double" or shadow, properly so called, around
which the physical body of the ftus--the future man--is
built. The imagination of the mother, or an accident which affects
the child, will affect also the astral body. The astral and the physical
both exist before the mind is developed into action, and before the
Atma awakes. This occurs when the child is seven years old, and with
it comes the responsibility attaching to a conscious sentient being.
This "double" is born with man, dies with him and can never
separate itself far from the body during life, and though surviving
him, it disintegrates, pari passu, with the corpse. It is this
which is sometimes seen over the graves like a luminous figure of
the man that was, during certain atmospheric conditions. From its
physical aspect it is, during life, man's vital double, and
after death, only the gases given off from the decaying body. But,
as regards its origin and essence, it is something more. This "double"
is what we have agreed to call lingasarira, but which I would
propose to call, for greater convenience, "Protean" or "Plastic
M.C. Why Protean or Plastic?
H.P.B. Protean, because it can assume all forms; e.g. the
"shepherd magicians" whom popular rumor accuses, perhaps
not without some reason, of being "were-wolves," and "mediums
in cabinets," whose own "Plastic Bodies" play the part
of materialized grandmothers and "John Kings." Otherwise,
why the invariable custom of the "gear departed angels"
to come out but little further than arm's length from the medium,
whether entranced or not? Mind, I do not at all deny foreign influences
in this kind of phenomena. But I do affirm that foreign interference
is rare, and that the materialized form is always that of the medium's
"Astral" or Protean body.
M.C. But how is this astral body created?
H.P.B. It is not created; it grows, as I told you, with the man
and exists in the rudimentary condition even before the child is born.
M.C. And what about the second?
H.P.B. The second is the "Thought" body, or Dream body,
rather; known among Occultists as the Mayavi-rupa, or "Illusion-body."
During life this image is the vehicle both of thought and of the animal
passions and desires, drawing at one and the same time from the lowest
terrestrial manas (mind) and Kama, the element of desire. It is dual
in its potentiality, and after death forms what is called in the
East, Bhoot, or Kama-rupa, but which is better known
to theosophists as the "Spook."
M.C. And the third?
H.P.B. The third is the true Ego, called in the East by a
name meaning "causal body" but which in the trans-Himalayan
schools is always called the "Karmic body," which is the
same. For Karma or action is the cause which produces incessant rebirths
or "reincarnations." It is not the Monad, nor is
it Manas proper; but is, in a way, indissolubly connected with,
and a compound of the Monad and Manas in Devachan.
M.C. Then there are three doubles?
H.P.B. If you can call the Christian and other Trinities "three
Gods," then there are three doubles. But in truth there is only
one under three aspects or phases: the most material portion disappearing
with the body; the middle one, surviving both as an independent, but
temporary entity in the land of shadows; the third, immortal, throughout
the manvantara unless Nirvana puts an end to it before.
M.C. But shall not we be asked what difference there is between
the Mayavi and Kama rupa, or as you propose to call them the "I)ream
body" and the "Spook"?
H.P.B. Most likely, and we shall answer, in addition to what has
been said, that the "thought power" or aspect of the Mayavi
or "Illusion body," merges after death entirely into the
causal body or the conscious, thinking EGO. The
animal elements, or power of desire of the "Dream body,"
absorbing after death that which it has collected (through
its insatiable desire to live) during life; i.e., all
the astral vitality as well as all the impressions of its material
acts and thoughts while it lived in possession of the body, forms
the "Spook" or Kama rupa. Our Theosophists know well
enough that after death the higher Manas unites with the Monad
and passes into Devachan, while the dregs of the lower rnanas
or animal mind go to form this Spook. This has life in it, but
hardly any consciousness, except, as it were by proxy, when it is
drawn into the current of a medium.
M.C. Is it all that can be said upon the subject?
H.P.B. For the present this is enough metaphysics, I guess. Let
us hold to the "Double" in its earthly phase. What would
M.C. Every country in the world believes more or less in the "double"
or doppelganger. The simplest form of this is the appearance of a
man's phantom, the moment after his death, or at the instant of death,
to his dearest friend. Is this appearance the mayavi rupa?
H.P.B. It is; because produced by the thought of the dying man.
M.C. Is it unconscious?
H.P.B. It is unconscious to the extent that the dying man does not
generally do it knowingly; nor is he aware that he so appears. What
happens is this. If he thinks very intently at the moment of death
of the person he either is very anxious to see, or loves best, he
may appear to that person. The thought becomes objective; the double,
or shadow of a man, being nothing but the faithful reproduction of
him, like a reflection in a mirror, that which the man does, even
in thought, that the double repeats. This is why the phantoms are
often seen in such cases in the clothes they wear at the particular
moment, and the image reproduces even the expression on the dying
man's face. If the double of a man bathing were seen it would seem
to be immersed in water; so when a man who has been drowned appears
to his friend, the image will be seen to be dripping with water. The
cause for the apparition may be also reversed; i.e., the dying
man may or may not be thinking at all of the particular person his
image appears to, but it is that person who is sensitive. Or perhaps
his sympathy or his hatred for the individual whose wraith is thus
evoked is very intense physically or psychically; and in this case
the apparition is created by, and depends upon, the intensity of the
thought. What then happens is this. Let us call the dying man A, and
him who sees the double B. The latter, owing to love, hate, or fear,
has the image of A so deeply impressed on his psychic memory,
that actual magnetic attraction and repulsion are established between
the two, whether one knows of it and feels it, or not. When A dies,
the sixth sense or psychic spiritual intelligence of the inner
man in B becomes cognizant of the change in A, and forthwith apprises
the physical senses of the man, by projecting before his eye the form
of A, as it is at the instant of the great change. The same when the
dying man longs to see some one; his thought telegraphs to
his friend, consciously or unconsciously along the wire of sympathy,
and becomes objective. This is what the "Spookical" Research
Society would pompously, but none the less muddily, call telepathic
M.C. This applies to the simplest form of the appearance of the
double. What about cases in which the double does that which is contrary
to the feeling and wish of the man?
H.P.B. This is impossible. The "Double" cannot act, unless
the keynote of this action was struck in the brain of the man to whom
the "Double" belongs, be that man just dead, or alive, in
good or in bad health. If he paused on the thought a second, long
enough to give it form, before he passed on to other mental
pictures, this one second is as sufficient for the objectivizations
of his personality on the astral waves, as for your face to impress
itself on the sensitized plate of a photographic apparatus. Nothing
prevents your form, then, being seized upon by the surrounding Forces--as
a dry leaf fallen from a tree is taken up and carried away by the
wind--being made to caricature or distort your thought.
M.C. Supposing the double expresses in actual words a thought uncongenial
to the man, and expresses it--let us say to a friend far away, perhaps
on another continent? I have known instances of this occurring.
H.P.B. Because it then so happens that the created image is taken
up and used by a "Shell." Just as in seance-rooms when "images"
of the dead--which may perhaps be lingering unconsciously in the memory
or even the auras of those present--are seized upon by the Elemental
or Elemental Shadows and made objective to the audience, and even
caused to act at the bidding of the strongest of the many different
wills in the room. In your case, moreover, there must exist a connecting
link--a telegraph wire--between the two persons, a point of psychic
sympathy, and on this the thought travels instantly. Of course there
must be, in every case, some strong reason why that particular thought
takes that direction; it must be connected in some way with the other
person. Otherwise such apparitions would be of common and daily occurrence.
M.C. This seems very simple; why then does it only occur with exceptional
H.P.B. Because the plastic power of the imagination is much stronger
in some persons than in others. The mind is dual in its potentiality:
it is physical and metaphysical. The higher part of the mind is connected
with the spiritual soul or Buddhi, the lower with the animal soul,
the Kama principle. There are persons who never think with the higher
faculties of their mind at all; those who do so are the minority and
are thus, in a way, beyond, if not above, the average of human
kind. These will think even upon ordinary matters on that higher
plane. The idiosyncrasy of the person determines in which "principle"
of the mind the thinking is done, as also the faculties of a preceding
life, and sometimes the heredity of the physical. This is why it is
so very difficult for a materialist--the metaphysical portion of whose
brain is almost atrophied--to raise himself, or for one who is naturally
spiritually minded, to descend to the level of the matter-of-fact
vulgar thought. Optimism and pessimism depend on it also in a large
M.C. But the habit of thinking in the higher mind can be developed--else
there would be no hope for persons who wish to alter their lives and
raise themselves? And that this is possible must be true, or there
would be no hope for the world.
H.P.B. Certainly it can be developed, but only with great difficulty,
a firm determination, and through much self-sacrifice. But it is comparatively
easy for those who are born with the gift. Why is it that one person
sees poetry in a cabbage or a pig with her little ones, while another
will perceive in the loftiest things only their lowest and most material
aspect, will laugh at the "music of the spheres," and ridicule
the most sublime conceptions and philosophies? This difference depends
simply on the innate power of the mind to think on the higher or on
the lower plane, with the astral (in the sense given to the
word by St. Martin), or with the physical brain. Great intellectual
powers are often no proof of, but are impediments to spiritual and
right conceptions; witness most of the great men of science. We must
rather pity than blame them.
M.C. But how is it that the person who thinks on the higher plane
produces more perfect and more potential images and objective forms
by his thought?
H.P.B. Not necessarily that "person" alone, but all those
who are generally sensitive. The person who is endowed with this faculty
of thinking about even the most trifling things from the higher plane
of thought has, by virtue of that gift which he possesses, a plastic
power of formation, so to say, in his very imagination. Whatever such
a person may think about, his thought wi11 be so far more intense
than the thought of an ordinary person, that by this very intensity
it obtains the power of creation. Science has established the fact
that thought is an energy. This energy in its action disturbs the
atoms of the astral atmosphere around us. I already told you; the
rays of thought have the same potentiality for producing forms in
the astral atmosphere as the sun-rays have with regard to a lens.
Every thought so evolved with energy from the brain, creates nolens
volens a shape.
M.C. Is that shape absolutely unconscious?
H.P.B. Perfectly unconscious unless it is the creation of an adept,
who has a pre-conceived object in giving it consciousness, or rather
in sending along with it enough of his will and intelligence to cause
it to appear conscious. This ought to make us more cautious about
But the wide distinction that obtains between the adept in this
matter and the ordinary man must be borne in mind. The adept may at
his will use his Mayavi rupa, but the ordinary man does not,
except in very rare cases. It is called Mayavi rupa because
it is a form of illusion created for use in the particular instance,
and it has quite enough of the adept's mind in it to accomplish its
purpose. The ordinary man merely creates a thought-image, whose properties
and powers are at the time wholly unknown to him.
M.C. Then one may say that the form of an adept appearing at a distance
from his body, as for instance Ram Lal in Mr. Isaacs, is simply
H.P.B. Exactly. It is a walking thought.
M.C. In which case an adept can appear in several places almost
H.P.B. He can. Just as Apollonius of Tyana, who was seen in two
places at once, while his body was at Rome. But it must be understood
that not all of even the astral adept is present in
M.C. Then it is very necessary for a person of any amount of imagination
and psychic powers to attend to his thoughts?
H.P.B. Certainly, for each thought has a shape which borrows the
appearance of the man engaged in the action of which he thought. Otherwise
how can clairvoyants see in your aura your past and present?
What they see is a passing panorama of yourself represented in successive
actions by your thoughts. You asked me if we are punished for our
thoughts. Not for all, for some are still-born; but for others, those
which we call "silent" but potential thoughts--yes. Take
an extreme case, such as that of a person who is so wicked as to wish
the death of another. Unless the evil-wisher is a Dugpa, a
high adept in black magic, in which case Karma is delayed, such a
wish only comes back to roost.
M.C. But supposing the evil-wisher to have a very strong will, without
being a dugpa, could the death of the other be accomplished?
H.P.B. Only if the malicious person has the evil eye, which simply
means possessing enormous plastic power of imagination working involuntarily,
and thus turned unconsciously to bad uses. For what is the power of
the "evil eye"? Simply a great plastic power of thought,
so great as to produce a current impregnated with the potentiality
of every kind of misfortune and accident, which inoculates, or attaches
itself to any person who comes within it. A jettatore (one
with the evil eye) need not be even imaginative, or have evil intentions
or wishes. He may be simply a person who is naturally fond of witnessing
or reading about sensational scenes, such as murder, executions, accidents,
etc., etc. He may be not even thinking of any of these at the moment
his eye meets his future victim. But the currents have been produced
and exist in his visual ray ready to spring into activity the instant
they find suitable soil, like a seed fallen by the way and ready to
sprout at the first opportunity.
M.C. But how about the thoughts you call "silent"? Do
such wishes or thoughts come home to roost?
H.P.B. They do; just as a ball which fails to penetrate an object
rebounds upon the thrower. This happens even to some dugpas or
sorcerers who are not strong enough, or do not comply with the rules
--for even they have rules they have to abide by--but not with
those who are regular, fully developed "black magicians";
for such have the power to accomplish what they wish.
M.C. When you speak of rules it makes me want to wind up this talk
by asking you what everybody wants to know who takes any interest
in occultism. What is a principal or important suggestion for those
who have these powers and wish to control them rightly--in fact to
H.P.B. The first and most important step in occultism is to learn
how to adapt your thoughts and ideas to your plastic potency.
M.C. Why is this so important?
H.P.B. Because otherwise you are creating things by which you may
be making bad Karma. No one should go into occultism or even touch
it before he is perfectly acquainted with his own powers, and that
he knows how to commensurate it with his actions. And this he can
do only by deeply studying the philosophy of Occultism before
entering upon the practical training. Otherwise, as sure as
fate--HE WILL FALL INTO BLACK MAGIC.
Lucifer. December 1888