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DIALOGUE ON THE MYSTERIES OF THE AFTER LIFE

ON THE CONSTITUTION OF THE INNER MAN AND ITS DIVISION

From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.


  

Articles by HPB

M. Of course it is most difficult, and, as you say, "puzzling" to understand correctly and distinguish between the various aspects, called by us the "principles" of the real EGO. It is the more so as there exists a notable difference in the numbering of those principles by various Eastern schools, though at the bottom there is the same identical substratum of teaching in all of them.

X. Are you thinking of the Vedantins. They divide our seven "principles" into five only, I believe?

M. They do; but though I would not presume to dispute the point with a learned Vedantin, I may yet state as my private opinion that they have an obvious reason for it. With them it is only that compound spiritual aggregate which consists of various mental aspects that is called Man at all, the physical body being in their view something beneath contempt, and merely an illusion. Nor is the Vedanta the only philosophy to reckon in this manner. Lao-Tze in his Tao-te-King, mentions only five principles, because he, like the Vedantins, omits to include two principles, namely, the spirit (Atma) and the physical body, the latter of which, moreover, he calls "the cadaver." Then there is the Taraka Rajà Yogà School. Its teaching recognizes only three "principles" in fact; but then, in reality, their Sthulopadhi, or the physical body in its jagrata or waking conscious state, their Sukshmopadhi, the same body in svapna or the dreaming state, and their Karanopadhi or "causal body," or that which passes from one incarnation to another, are all dual in their aspects, and thus make six. Add to this Atma, the impersonal divine principle or the immortal element in Man, undistinguished from the Universal Spirit, and you have the same seven, again, as in the esoteric division.l [Footnote: 1. See "Secret Doctrine" for a clearer explanation. ]

X. Then it seems almost the same as the division made by mystic Christians: body, soul and spirit?

M. Just the same. We could easily make of the body the vehicle of the "vital Double"; of the latter the vehicle of Life or Prana; of Kamarupa or (animal) soul, the vehicle of the higher and the lower mind, and make of this six principles, crowning the whole with the one immortal spirit. In Occultism, every qualificative change in the state of our consciousness goes to man a new aspect, and if it prevails and becomes part of the living and acting EGO, it must be (and is) given a special name, to distinguish the man in that particular state from the man he is when he places himself in another state.

X. It is just that which is so difficult to understand.

M. It seems to me very easy, on the contrary, once that you have seized the main idea, i.e., that man acts on this, or another plane of consciousness, in strict accordance with his mental and spiritual condition. But such is the materialism of the age that the more we explain, the less people seem capable of understanding what we say. Divide the terrestrial being called man into three chief aspects, if you like; but, unless you make of him a pure animal, you cannot do less. Take his objective body; the feeling principle in him--which is only a little higher than the instinctual element in the animal--or the vital elementary soul; and that which places him so immeasurably beyond and higher than the animal--i.e., his reasoning soul or "spirit." Well, if we take these three groups or representative entities, and subdivide them, according to the occult teaching, what do we get?

First of all Spirit (in the sense of the Absolute, and therefore indivisible ALL) or Atma. As this can neither be located nor conditioned in philosophy, being simply that which IS, in Eternity, and as the ALL cannot be absent from even the tiniest geometrical or mathematical point of the universe of matter or substance, it ought not to be called, in truth, a "human" principle at all. Rather, and at best, it is that point in metaphysical Space which the human Monad and its vehicle man, occupy for the period of every life. Now that point is as imaginary as man himself, and in reality is an illusion, a maya; but then for ourselves as for other personal Egos, we are a reality during that fit of illusion called life, and we have to take ourselves into account--in our own fancy at any rate if no one else does. To make it more conceivable to the human intellect, when first attempting the study of Occultism, and to solve the ABC of the mystery of man, Occultism calls it the seventh principle, the synthesis of the six, and gives it for vehicle the Spiritual Soul, Buddhi. Now the latter conceals a mystery, which is never given to anyone with the exception of irrevocably pledged chelas, those at any rate, who can be safely trusted. Of course there would be less confusion, could it only be told; but, as this is directly concerned with the power of projecting one's double consciously and at will, and as this gift like the "ring of Gyges" might prove very fatal to men at large and to the possessor of that faculty in particular, it is carefully guarded. Alone the adepts, who have been tried and can never be found wanting, have the key of the mystery fully divulged to them . . . Let us avoid side issues, however, and hold to the "principles." This divine soul or Buddhi, then, is the Vehicle of the Spirit. In conjunction, these two are one, impersonal, and without any attributes (on this plane, of course), and make two spiritual "principles." If we pass on to the Human Soul (manas, the mens) everyone will agree that the intelligence of man is dual to say the least: e.g., the high-minded man can hardly become low-minded; the very intellectual and spiritual-minded man is separated by an abyss from the obtuse, dull and material, if not animal-minded man. Why then should not these men be represented by two "principles" or two aspects rather? Every man has these two principles in him, one more active than the other, and in rare cases, one of these is entirely stunted in its growth; so to say paralysed by the strength and predominance of the other aspect, during the life of man. These, then, are what we call the two principles or aspects of Manas, the higher and the lower; the former, the higher Manas, or the thinking, conscious EGO gravitating toward the Spiritual Soul (Buddhi); and the latter, or its instinctual principle attracted to Kama, the seat of animal desires and passions in man. Thus, we have four "principles" justified; the last three being (1) the "Double" which we have agreed to call Protean, or Plastic Soul; the vehicle of (2) the life principle; and (3) the physical body. Of course no Physiologist or Biologist will accept these principles, nor can he make head or tail of them. And this is why, perhaps, none of them understand to this day either the functions of the spleen, the physical vehicle of the Protean Double, or those of a certain organ on the right side of man, the seat of the above mentioned desires, nor yet does he know anything of the pineal gland, which he describes as a horny gland with a little sand in it, and which is the very key to the highest and divinest consciousness in man--his omniscient, spiritual and all embracing mind. This seemingly useless appendage is the pendulum which, once the clock-work of the inner man is wound up, carries the spiritual vision of the EGO to the highest planes of perception, where the horizon open before it becomes almost infinite. . . .

X. But the scientific materialists assert that after the death of man nothing remains; that the human body simply disintegrates into its component elements, and that what we call soul is merely a temporary self-consciousness produced as a by-product of organic action, which will evaporate like steam. Is not theirs a strange state of mind?

M. Not strange at all, that I see. If they say that self-consciousness ceases with the body, then in their case they simply utter an unconscious prophecy. For once that they are firmly convinced of what they assert, no conscious after-life is possible for them.

X. But if human self-consciousness survives death as a rule, why should there be exceptions?

M. In the fundamental laws of the spiritual world which are immutable, no exception is possible. But there are rules for those who see, and rules for those who prefer to remain blind.

X. Quite so, I understand. It is an aberration of a blind man, who denies the existence of the sun because he does not see it. But after death his spiritual eyes will certainly compel him to see?

M. They will not compel him, nor will he see anything. Having persistently denied an after-life during this life, he will be unable to sense it. His spiritual senses having been stunted, they cannot develop after death, and he will remain blind. By insisting that he must see it, you evidently mean one thing and I another. You speak of the spirit from the Spirit, or the flame from the Flame--of Atma in short--and you confuse it with the human soul--Manas. . . . You do not understand me, let me try to make it clear. The whole gist of your question is to know whether, in the case of a downright materialist, the complete loss of self-consciousness and self-perception after death is possible? Isn't it so? I say: It is possible. Because, believing firmly in our Esoteric Doctrine, which refers to the Post-mortem period, or the interval between two lives or births as merely a transitory state, I say:--Whether that interval between two acts of the illusionary drama of life lasts one year or a million, that post-mortem state may, without any breach of the fundamental law, prove to be just the same state as that of a man who is in a dead swoon.

X. But since you have just said that the fundamental laws of the after-death state admit of no exceptions, how can this be?

M. Nor do I say now that they admit of exceptions. But the spiritual law of continuity applies only to things which are truly real. To one who has read and understood Mundakya Upanishad and Vedanta-Sara all this becomes very clear. I will say more: it is sufficient to understand what we mean by Buddhi and the duality of Manas to have a very clear perception why the materialist may not have a self-conscious survival after death: because Manas, in its lower aspect, is the seat of the terrestrial mind, and, therefore, can give only that perception of the Universe which is based on the evidence of that mind, and not on our spiritual vision. It is said in our Esoteric school that between Buddhi and Manas, or Iswara and Pragna,2 [Footnote: 2. Iswara is the collective consciousness of the manifested deity, Brahmâ, i.e., the collective consciousness of the Host of Dhyan Chohans; and Pragna is their individual wisdom. ] there is in reality no more difference than between a forest and its trees, a lake and its waters, just as Mundakya teaches. One or hundreds of trees dead from loss of vitality, or uprooted, are yet incapable of preventing the forest from being still a forest. The destruction or post-mortem death of one personality dropped out of the long series, will not cause the smallest change in the Spiritual divine Ego, and it will ever remain the same EGO. Only, instead of experiencing Devachan it will have to immediately reincarnate.

X. But as I understand it, Ego-Buddhi represents in this simile the forest and the personal minds the trees. And if Buddhi is immortal, how can that which is similar to it, i.e., Manas-taijasi,3 [Footnote: 3. Taijasi means the radiant in consequence of the union with Buddhi of Manas, the human, illuminated by the radiance of the divine soul. Therefore Manas-taijasi may be described as radiant mind; the human reason lit by the light of the spirit; and Buddhi-Manas is the representation of the divine plus the human intellect and self-consciousness. ] lose entirely its consciousness till the day of its new incarnation? I cannot understand it.

M. You cannot, because you will mix up an abstract representation of the whole with its casual changes of form; and because you confuse Manas-taijasi, the Buddhi-lit human soul, with the latter, animalized. Remember that if it can be said of Buddhi that it is unconditionally immortal, the same cannot be said of Manas, still less of taijasi, which is an attribute. No post-mortem consciousness or Manas-Taijasi, can exist apart from Buddhi, the divine soul, because the first (Manas) is, in its lower aspect, a qualificative attribute of the terrestrial personality, and the second (taijasi) is identical with the first, and that it is the same Manas only with the light of Buddhi reflected on it. In its turn, Buddhi would remain only an impersonal spirit without this element which it borrows from the human soul, which conditions and makes of it, in this illusive Universe, as it were something separate from the universal soul for the whole period of the cycle of incarnation. Say rather that Buddhi-Manas can neither die nor lose its compound self-consciousness in Eternity, nor the recollection of its previous incarnations in which the two--i.e., the spiritual and the human soul, had been closely linked together. But it is not so in the case of a materialist, whose human soul not only receives nothing from the divine soul, but even refuses to recognize its existence. You can hardly apply this axiom to the attributes and qualifications of the human soul, for it would be like saying that because your divine soul is immortal, therefore the bloom on your cheek must also be immortal; whereas this bloom, like taijasi, or spiritual radiance, is simply a transitory phenomenon.

X. Do I understand you to say that we must not mix in our minds the noumenon with the phenomenon, the cause with its effect?

M. I do say so, and repeat that, limited to Manas or the human soul alone, the radiance of Taijasi itself becomes a mere question of time; because both immortality and consciousness after death become for the terrestrial personality of man simply conditioned attributes, as they depend entirely on conditions and beliefs created by the human soul itself during the life of its body. Karma acts incessantly; we reap in our after-life only the fruit of that which we have ourselves sown, or rather created, in our terrestrial existence.

X. But if my Ego can, after the destruction of my body, become plunged in a state of entire unconsciousness, then where can be the punishment for the sins of my past life?

M. Our philosophy teaches that Karmic punishment reaches the Ego only in the next incarnation. After death it receives only the reward for the unmerited sufferings endured during its just past existence. 4 [Footnote: 4. Some Theosophists have taken exception to this phrase, but the words are those of the Masters, and the meaning attached to the word "unmerited" is that given above. In the T.P.S. pamphlet No. 6, a phrase, criticised subsequently in Lucifer was used, which was intended to convey the same idea. In form however it was awkward and open to the criticism directed against it; but the essential idea was that men often suffer from the effects of the actions done by others, effects which thus do not strictly belong to their own Karma, but to that of other people--and for these sufferings they of course deserve compensation. If it is true to say that nothing that happens to us can be anything else than Karma--or the direct or indirect effect of a cause--it would be a great error to think that every evil or good which befalls us is due only to our personal Karma. (Vide further on.) ] The whole punishment after death, even for the materialist, consists therefore in the absence of any reward and the utter loss of the consciousness of one's bliss and rest. Karma--is the child of the terrestrial Ego, the fruit of the actions of the tree which is the objective personality visible to all, as much as the fruit of all the thoughts and even motives of the spiritual "I"; but Karma is also the tender mother, who heals the wounds inflicted by her during the preceding life, before she will begin to torture this Ego by inflicting upon him new ones. If it may be said that there is not a mental or physical suffering in the life of a mortal, which is not the fruit and consequence of some sin in this, or a preceding existence, on the other hand, since he does not preserve the slightest recollection of it in his actual life, and feels himself not deserving of such punishment, but believes sincerely he suffers for no guilt of his own, this alone is quite sufficient to entitle the human soul to the fullest consolation, rest and bliss in his post-mortem existence. Death comes to our spiritual selves ever as a deliverer and friend. For the materialist, who, notwithstanding his materialism, was not a bad man, the interval between the two lives will be like the unbroken and placid sleep of a child; either entirely dreamless, or with pictures of which he will have no definite perception. For the believer it will be a dream as vivid as life and full of realistic bliss and visions. As for the bad and cruel man, whether materialist or otherwise, he will be immediately reborn and suffer his hell on earth. To enter Avitchi is an exceptional and rare occurrence.

X. As far as I remember, the periodical incarnations of Sutratma 5  [Footnote: 5. Our immortal and reincarnating principle in conjunction with the Manasic recollections of the preceding lives is called Sutratma, which means literally the Thread-Soul; because like the pearls on a thread so is the long series of human lives strung together on that one thread. Manas must become taijasi, the radiant, before it can hang on the Sutratma as a pearl on its thread, and so have full and absolute perception of itself in the Eternity. As said before, too close association with the terrestrial mind of the human soul alone causes this radiance to be entirely lost. ] are likened in some Upanishad to the life of a mortal which oscillates periodically between sleep and waking. This does not seem to me very clear, and I will tell you why. For the man who awakes, another day commences, but that man is the same in soul and body as he was the day before; whereas at every new incarnation a full change takes place not only in his external envelope, sex and personality, but even in his mental and psychic capacities. Thus the simile does not seem to me quite correct. The man who arises from sleep remembers quite clearly what he has done yesterday, the day before, and even months and years ago. But none of us has the slightest recollection of a preceding life or any fact or event concerning it. . . . I may forget in the morning what I have dreamed during the night, still I know that I have slept and have the certainty that I lived during sleep; but what recollection have I of my past incarnation? How do you reconcile this?

M. Yet some people do recollect their past incarnations. This is what the Arhats call Samma-Sambuddha--or the knowledge of the whole series of one's past incarnations.

X. But we ordinary mortals who have not reached Samma-Sambuddha, how can we be expected to realize this simile?

M. By studying it and trying to understand more correctly the characteristics of the three states of sleep. Sleep is a general and immutable law for man as for beast, but there are different kinds of sleep and still more different dreams and visions.

X. Just so. But this takes us from our subject. Let us return to the materialist who, while not denying dreams, which he could hardly do, yet denies immortality in general and the survival of his own individuality especially.

M. And the materialist is right for once, at least; since for one who has no inner perception and faith, there is no immortality possible. In order to live in the world to come a conscious life, one has to believe first of all in that life during one's terrestrial existence. On these two aphorisms of the Secret Science all the philosophy about the post-mortem consciousness and the immortality of the soul is built. The Ego receives always according to its deserts. After the dissolution of the body, there commences for it either a period of full clear consciousness, a state of chaotic dreams, or an utterly dreamless sleep indistinguishable from annihilation; and these are the three states of consciousness. Our physiologists find the cause of dreams and visions in an unconscious preparation for them during the waking hours; why cannot the same be admitted for the post-mortem dreams? I repeat it, death is sleep. After death begins, before the spiritual eyes of the soul, a performance according to a programme learnt and very often composed unconsciously by ourselves; the practical carrying out of correct beliefs or of illusions which have been created by ourselves. A Methodist, will be Methodist, a Mussulman, a Mussulman, of course, just for a time--in a perfect fool's paradise of each man's creation and making These are the post-mortem fruits of the tree of life. Naturally, our belief or unbelief in the fact of conscious immortality is unable to influence the unconditioned reality of the fact itself, once that it exists; but the belief or unbelief in that immortality, as the continuation or annihilation of separate entities, cannot fail to give colour to that fact in its application to each of these entities. Now do you begin to understand it?

X. I think I do. The materialist, disbelieving in everything that cannot be proven to him by his five senses or by scientific reasoning, and rejecting every spiritual manifestation, accepts life as the only conscious existence. Therefore, according to their beliefs so will it be unto them. They will lose their personal Ego, and will plunge into a dreamless sleep until a new awakening. Is it so?

M. Almost so. Remember the universal esoteric teaching of the two kinds of conscious existence: the terrestrial and the spiritual. The latter must be considered real from the very fact that it is the region of the eternal, changeless, immortal cause of all; whereas the incarnating Ego dresses itself up in new garments entirely different from those of its previous incarnations, and in which all except its spiritual prototype is doomed to a change so radical as to leave no trace behind.

X. Stop! . . . Can the consciousness of my terrestrial Egos perish not only for a time, like the consciousness of the materialist, but in any case so entirely as to leave no trace behind?

M. According to the teaching, it must so perish and in its fulness, all except that principle which, having united itself with the Monad, has thereby become a purely spiritual and indestructible essence, one with it in the Eternity. But in the case of an out and out materialist, in whose personal "I" no Buddhi has ever reflected itself, how can the latter carry away into the infinitudes one particle of that terrestrial personality? Your spiritual "I" is immortal; but from your present Self it can carry away into after life but that which has become worthy of immortality, namely, the aroma alone of the flower that has been mown by death.

X. Well, and the flower, the terrestrial "I"?

M. The flower, as all past and future flowers which blossomed and died, and will blossom again on the mother bough, the Sutratma, all children of one root of Buddhi, will return to dust. Your present "I," as you yourself know, is not the body now sitting before me, nor yet is it what I would call Manas-Sutratma--but Sutratma Buddhi.

X. But this does not explain to me at all, why you call life after death immortal, infinite, and real, and the terrestrial life a simple phantom or illusion; since even that post-mortem life has limits, however much wider they may be than those of terrestrial life.

M. No doubt. The spiritual Ego of man moves in Eternity like a pendulum between the hours of life and death. But if these hours marking the periods of terrestrial and spiritual life are limited in their duration, and if the very number of such stages in Eternity between sleep and awakening, illusion and reality, has its beginning and its end, on the other hand the spiritual "Pilgrim" is eternal. Therefore are the hours of his post-mortem life--when, disembodied he stands face to face with truth and not the mirages of his transitory earthly existences during the period of that pilgrimage which we call "the cycle of rebirths"--the only reality in our conception. Such intervals, their limitation not withstanding, do not prevent the Ego, while ever perfecting itself, to be following undeviatingly, though gradually and slowly, the path to its last transformation, when that Ego having reached its goal becomes the divine ALL. These intervals and stages help towards this final result instead of hindering it; and without such limited intervals the divine Ego could never reach its ultimate goal. This Ego is the actor, and its numerous and various incarnations the parts it plays. Shall you call these parts with their costumes the individuality of the actor himself? Like that actor, the Ego is forced to play during the Cycle of Necessity up to the very threshold of Para-nirvana, many parts such as may be unpleasant to it. But as the bee collects its honey from every flower, leaving the rest as food for the earthly worms, so does our spiritual individuality, whether we call it Sutratma or Ego. It collects from every terrestrial personality into which Karma forces it to incarnate, the nectar alone of the spiritual qualities and self-consciousness, and uniting all these into one whole it emerges from its chrysalis as the glorified Dhyan Chohan. So much the worse for those terrestrial personalities from which it could collect nothing. Such personalities cannot assuredly outlive consciously their terrestrial existence.

X. Thus then it seems, that for the terrestrial personality, immortality is still conditional. Is then immortality itself not unconditional?

M. Not at all. But it cannot touch the non-existent. For all that which exists as SAT, ever aspiring to SAT, immortality and Eternity are absolute. Matter is the opposite pole of spirit and yet the two are one. The essence of all this, i.e., Spirit, Force and Matter, or the three in one, is as endless as it is beginningless; but the form acquired by this triple unity during its incarnations, the externality, is certainly only the illusion of our personal conceptions. Therefore do we call the after-life alone a reality, while relegating the terrestrial life, its terrestrial personality included, to the phantom realm of illusion.

X. But why in such a case not call sleep the reality, and waking the illusion, instead of the reverse?

M. Because we use an expression made to facilitate the grasping of the subject, and from the standpoint of terrestrial conceptions it is a very correct one.

X. Nevertheless, I cannot understand. If the life to come is based on justice and the merited retribution for all our terrestrial suffering, how, in the case of materialists many of whom are ideally honest and charitable men, should there remain of their personality nothing but the refuse of a faded flower!

M. No one ever said such a thing. No materialist, if a good man, however unbelieving, can die forever in the fulness of his spiritual individuality. What was said is, that the consciousness of one life can disappear either fully or partially; in the case of a thorough materialist, no vestige of that personality which disbelieved remains in the series of lives.

X. But is this not annihilation to the Ego?

M. Certainly not. One can sleep a dead sleep during a long railway journey, miss one or several stations without the slightest recollection or consciousness of it, awake at another station and continue the journey recollecting other halting places, till the end of that journey, when the goal is reached. Three kinds of sleep were mentioned to you: the dreamless, the chaotic, and the one so real, that to the sleeping man his dreams become full realities. If you believe in the latter why can't you believe in the former? According to what one has believed in and expected after death, such is the state one will have. He who expected no life to come will have an absolute blank amounting to annihilation in the interval between the two rebirths. This is just the carrying out of the programme we spoke of, and which is created by the materialist himself. But there are various kinds of materialists, as you say. A selfish wicked Egoist, one who never shed a tear for anyone but himself, thus adding entire indifference the whole world to his unbelief, must drop at the threshold of death his personality forever. This personality having no tendrils of sympathy for the world around, and hence nothing to hook on to the string of the Sutratma, every connection between the two is broken with last breath. There being no Devachan for such a materialists, the Sutratma will re-incarnate almost immediately. But those materialists who erred in nothing but their disbelief, will oversleep but one station. Moreover, the time will come when the ex-material perceive himself in the Eternity and perhaps repent that he lost even one day, or station, from the life eternal.

X. Still would it not be more correct to say that death is birth new Life or a return once more to the threshold of eternity?

M. You may if you like. Only remember that births differ, and that there are births of "still-born" beings, which are failures. More-over with your fixed Western ideas about material life, the words "living" and "being" are quite inapplicable to the pure subjective post-mortem existence. It is just because of such ideas--a few philosophers who are not read by the many and who lives are too confused to present a distinct picture of it--that all your conceptions of life and death have finally become so narrow. On the one hand, they have led to crass materialism, and on the to the still more material conception of the other life which ritualists have formulated in their Summer-land. There the souls of men eat, drink and marry, and live in a Paradise quite as sensual as that of Mohammed, but even less philosophical. Nor are average conceptions of the uneducated Christians any better, e still more material, if possible. What between truncated Angels, brass trumpets, golden harps, streets in paradisiacal cities with jewels, and hell-fires, it seems like a scene at a Christmas pantomime. It is because of these narrow conceptions that you such difficulty in understanding. And, it is also just because the life of the disembodied soul, while possessing all the vividness of reality, as in certain dreams, is devoid of every grossly objective form of terrestrial life, that the Eastern philosophers have compared it with visions during sleep.

H. P. Blavatsky

Lucifer, January, 1889

 

DIALOGUES BETWEEN THE TWO EDITORS

ON ASTRAL BODIES, OR DOPPELGANGERS

From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.


  

Articles by HPB

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 fœtus--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 Body."

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 portiondisappearing 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 hascollected (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 you know?

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 deeplyimpressed 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 impact.

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 persons?

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 measure.

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 aperson 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 our thoughts.

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 an image?

H.P.B. Exactly. It is a walking thought.

M.C. In which case an adept can appear in several places almost simultaneously .

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 each appearance.

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 anyinterest in occultism. What is a principal or important suggestion for those who have these powers and wish to control them rightly--in fact to enter occultism?

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 bydeeply 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

DOES VACCINATION PREVENT SMALLPOX?

From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I. 


  

Articles by HPB

THE November Journal of Science (London) contains an interesting review of Dr. Parkin's new work "Epidemiology, or the Remote Causes of Epidemic Diseases in the Animal and Vegetable Creation," which is well worth reading. Dr. Parkin's theory is that "there occur certain 'pestilential epochs,' during which the world is at frequent intervals devastated by epidemics which travel in a determinate direction from Central or Eastern Asia to the west of Europe and even to America; that during such epochs all diseases, even those not considered as communicable from one person to another, increase in frequency and violence; that these epochs are further marked by Epizoötics and by 'blights' or widespread diseases in the vegetable world, and are attended by a general intensification of earthquakes, storms, floods, droughts, fogs, seasons of abnormal heat or cold, and other convulsions of inorganic nature. Such an epoch is generally ushered in by the appearance of new diseases, or the reappearance of maladies that had become obsolete." The last great pestilential term, Dr. Parkin thinks, began about the seventh century, and the fatal wave or current rolled westward without check to the beginning of the eighteenth century. During this time a succession of epidemics raged, among them the fearful plague or Black Death. In 1803 an epidemic of yellow fever at Malaga carried off 36,000 persons. The plague visiting London in 1665 destroyed, between the months of June and December, 20,000 persons, or one-third of the then whole population. According to Sydenham it had invaded England every thirty or forty years. In 1770 it was at Marseilles, in 1771 and 1772 at Moscow, in 1815-16 in the Neapolitan dominions. But despite its frequent challenges to medical science the best authorities have confessed that of its treatment little is known (see Am. Cyclo. XIII, 369). Nor, in fact, is anything definite known as to the causes of epidemics in general. The author of the medical articles in the Cyclopedia just named prophetically (A.D. 1859) says: "The progressive sciences of meteorology and physical geography will probably soon throw additional light upon these difficult questions." Dr. Parkin's new work comes almost as a fulfilment of this prophecy. He seems to have conclusively disposed of two pet popular theories, that of the sanitary reformers that dirt is the primal cause of epidemics, and the notion that they are propagated by contagion. Such is also the opinion of the reviewer in the Journal of Science, who admits that the historical facts mentioned by Dr. Parkin "are decidedly opposed to both." As examples he cites the facts that "the cholera has been known to travel steadily for hundreds of miles in the teeth of a strong monsoon. It often works up a river, showing that it is not occasioned by infectious matter draining into the current." And he adds significantly, "alike in epidemics of plague, cholera, and yellow-fever, it has been found that classes of people who from occupation or habit were most exposed to the air suffered most, whilst those who kept themselves shut up escaped. How ill this agrees with the teachings of the sanitary reformers!"

But we have not referred to this subject merely to show the helplessness of Western scientists in face of one of these mysterious waves of death that flow around the globe at intervals. The immediate cause is the bearing they have upon the subject of compulsory vaccination in India. We have before us an interesting public document 1 [Footnote: 1. Proceedings of the Anjuman-i-Punjab, in connection with the proposed Vaccination Bill, etc. ] kindly sent us by the learned Dr. Leitner, President of the Government University College, Lahore. The opinion of the Anjuman upon the Bill making vaccination compulsory having been asked by the Punjab Government, that body after a sensible and temperate debate, advised against the adoption of the compulsory clause. The Hindu members especially, and Dr. Leitner himself, pointed out that if the ignorant Hindus should once learn that the vaccine lymph is obtained from ulcers on the teats of the cow, there would be a general protest, perhaps forcible resistance, to the enforcement of the Act. For, while certain products of the cow are regarded, upon the authority of Shastras, as holy, all others, including blood and its impurities are regarded as most impure and unholy. And any one who should knowingly permit either of them to enter his body in any manner, would lose caste. We are not aware what action was taken by the authorities in the premises, but if it is not too late perhaps those in charge of the subject will be interested in the following extract from the same article ("The Sanitary Millennium") in the Journal of Science:

Amongst the diseases which had become less frequent and less severe, but which have since resumed an epidemic and highly dangerous character, a prominent place is due to smallpox, especially as its alleged preventive, vaccination, has taken rank among the political questions of the day. We are told that if this disease no longer carries off its victims by tens of thousands, as in the dark ages, the change is due to vaccination. But there can be not a shadow of doubt that small-pox had begun to decline long before the discovery of Jenner was introduced into practice.

In 1722 Dr. Wagstaffe wrote that the mortality among children did not exceed 1 per cent of the cases. From 1796 to 1825 there was not a single epidemic of small-pox in England. Yet, according to a report published by the College of Physicians in 1807, only about 1½ per cent of the population were vaccinated. Now if we admit that the immunity gained by this operation is absolute and permanent, how is it possible that three vaccinated persons out of every 200 would protect the remaining 197? At the present time about 97 per cent of the population are supposed to be vaccinated. Yet so far from being able to protect the residual 3 per cent it is considered that they are imperilled by the obstinacy or neglect of this small minority. We have the lamentable fact that, whilst vaccination has become all but universal, small-pox has reappeared among us not in isolated cases but in epidemics succeeding each other at short intervals, and each more deadly than the foregoing. Thus in the epidemic of 1857-58-59 the deaths were 14,244: in that of 1863-64-65, 20,059, and in that 1870-71-72, 44,840. Thus in the first interval the deaths from this cause had increased 50 per cent, whilst the population had grown only 7 per cent. In the second interval the deaths from small-pox have risen by 120 per cent, but the population only 10 per cent. Another ugly fact is that the number of persons who have been vaccinated but who are subsequently attacked with small-pox is steadily on the increase. At the Highgate small-pox hospital from 1835 to 1851 the previously-vaccinated formed 53 per cent of the total small-pox cases admitted. In 1851-52 it rose to 66.7 per cent; in 1854-5-6 to 71.2 per cent; in 1859-60 to 72; in 1866 to 81.1 and in 1868 to 84 per cent. How are such facts to be reconciled with the orthodox theory that vaccination is a safeguard against small-pox'? What would be the conclusion formed by an unprejudiced statistician if these figures were laid before him? If a grows more common as b increases in number and general distribution no man in his senses will argue that b is a hindrance to a. The very opposite conclusion, that b is causally connected with a would seem more legitimate. How the credit of vaccination is to be saved is not apparent. We cannot cut the knot by supposing that modern medical practitioners are less careful and skilled in the performance of the operation or less scrupulous in the selection of vaccine lymph. There remains, then, merely the conclusion that small-pox, too, has had a period of cessation during the latter part of the past century and the first quarter of the present;--that the apparent success of vaccination was mainly due to its coincidence with this temporary lull, and that the disease is now rapidly regaining its old virulence and reassuming the pestilential proportions which it displayed in the days of our forefathers.

It is but fair to remark that our esteemed colleague, Dr. D.E. Dudley, President of the Bombay Theosophical Society, takes exception to the accuracy of the above statistics of mortality, and but for the exigencies of his rapidly growing practice would have added a note. Possibly he may find time to do so next month. Meanwhile let us hear from native medical practitioners, astrologers, and pandits what the Shastras have to say as to the cause of epidemics and other abnormal phenomena.

And here is another matter upon which Europe would like to be informed about by them. It is taken from Spiritual Notes (London).

According to Dr. Vincenzo Peset y Cervera the crystals of hæmoglobulin obtained from the blood of different animals have forms so distinct and characteristic that the origin of a sample of blood may thus be determined! All that is required is to mix the blood with a little bile, when crystals not exceeding 0.003 metre in size are formed in the mass. The shapes of the crystals are said to be as follows: Man, right rectangular prisms; horses, cubes; ox, rhombohedrons; sheep, rhombohedral tables; dog, rectangular prisms; rabbit, tetrahedrons; squirrel, hexagonal tables; mouse, octahedrons, &c. Commenting on these allegations the Journal of Science sagely suggests that "if they are confirmed they may serve for the solution of a most important question raised by Dr. Lionel Beale. If the theory of Evolution be true, the crystals obtained from animals which are nearly related should be either identical or such as are in form easily derived from each other. Should the hæmoglobulin crystals--e.g., of the horse and the ass, of the dog and the fox, of the rabbit and the hare, or of the rat and the mouse--belong respectively to different systems, it will supply a serious argument in favour of independent creation.

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, March, 1881

DO THE RISHIS EXIST?

From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. III.


  

Articles by HPB

FOLLOWING the example of the Parsi Gentleman whose letter you published in the Theosophist of January, 1882, I am induced to enquire if there are Hindu Mahatmas among the Himalayan BROTHERS. By the term Hindu, I mean a believer in Vedas and the Gods they describe. If there are none, will any Brother of the 1st Section1 [Footnote: 1.No chela need answer this. except the editor. A.H.T. ] enlighten the Hindu Community in general and the Hindu Theosophists in particular whether any Hindu Rishis of old still exist in flesh and blood? The adept Himalayan BROTHERS having explored the unseen universe must necessarily know the Rishis if they exist now. Tradition says that particularly the following seven are immortal, at least for the present kalpa.

Ashwathama, Bali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhisana, Kripa, Parasurama.
A HINDU THEOSOPHIST

Editor's Note:--In reply to the first question we are happy to inform our correspondent that there are Mahatmas among the Himalayan Brothers who are Hindus--i.e., born of Hindu and Brahmin parents and who recognize the esoteric meaning of the Vedas and the Upanishads. They agree with Krishna, Buddha, Vyasa, Suka, Goudapatha and Sankaracharya in considering that the Karma kanda of the Vedas is of no importance whatsoever so far as man's spiritual progress is concerned. Our questioner will do well to remember in this connection Krishna's celebrated advice to Arjuna. "The subject matter of the Vedas is related to the three Gunas; oh Arjuna, divest thyself of these gunas." Sankaracharya's uncompromising attitude towards Purwamimansa is too well known to require any special mention here.

Although the Himalayan Brothers admit the esoteric meaning of the Vedas and the Upanishads, they refuse to recognize as Gods, the powers and other spiritual entities mentioned in the Vedas. The language used in the Vedas is allegorical and this fact has been fully recognized by some of the greatest Indian Philosophers. Our correspondent will have to prove that the Vedas really "describe Gods" as they exist, before he can fairly ask us to declare whether our Masters believe in such gods. We very much doubt if our correspondent is really prepared to contend seriously, that Agni has four horns, three legs, two heads, five hands and seven tongues as he is stated to possess in the Vedas; or that Indra committed adultery with Goutama's wife. We beg to refer our learned correspondent to Kulluka Bhatta's explanation of the latter myth (and it is a mere myth in his opinion) and Patanjali's remarks on the profound esoteric significance of the four horns of Agni, in support of our assertion that the Vedas do not in reality describe any gods as our questioner has supposed.

In reply to the second question we are not prepared to say that "any Hindu Rishis of old still exist in flesh and blood" although we have our own reasons to believe that some of the great Hindu Adepts of ancient times have been and are reincarnating themselves occasionally in Tibet and Tartary; nor is it at all easy for us to understand how it can ever reasonably be expected that our Himalayan Brothers should discover Hindu Rishis "in flesh and blood" in their explorations in the "Unseen Universe," since "astral" bodies are not usually made up of those earthly materials.

The tradition alluded to by our correspondent is not literally true; then, what connection is there between the seven personages named and the Hindu Rishis? Though we are not called upon to give an explanation of the tradition in question from our own standpoint, we shall give a few hints which may enable our readers to ascertain its real significance from what is contained in Ramayana and Maha Charata.

Asvathama has gained an immortality of infamy.

Parasurama's cruelty made him immortal but he is not supposed to live in flesh and blood now; he is generally stated to have some sort of existence in fire though not necessarily in what a Christian would call "hell."

Bali is not an individual properly speaking. The principle denoted by the name will be known when the esoteric meaning of Thrivikrama Avatar is better comprehended.

Vyasa is immortal in his incarnations. Let our respected Brother count how many Vyasas there have been from first to last.

Hanuman was neither a human being nor a monkey: it is one of the powers of the 7th principle of man (Rama).

Vibhisana. Not a Rakshasa really but the personification of Satwaguna which is immortal.

Kripa's association with Aswathama will explain the nature of his immortality.

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, March, 1883

DR. BEARD CRITICIZED

From A Modern Panarion


  

Articles by HPB

As Dr. Beard has scorned (in his scientific grandeur) to answer the challenge sent to him by your humble servant in the number of The Daily Graphic for the 13th * [Footnote: * his appears to be a misprint, unless the challenge had been made on the 13th, and was only repeated in the letter of Oct. 27th. —EDS. ] of October last, and has preferred instructing the public in general rather than one "credulous fool" in particular, let her come from Circassia or Africa, I fully trust you will permit me to use your paper once more in order that by pointing out some very spicy peculiarities of this amazingly scientific exposure, the public might better judge at whose door the aforesaid elegant epithet could be most appropriately laid.

For a week or so an immense excitement, a thrill of sacrilegious fear, if I may be allowed this expression, ran through the psychologized frames of the Spiritualists of New York. It was rumoured in ominous whispers that G. Beard, M. D., the Tyndall of America, was coming out with his peremptory exposure of the Eddys' ghosts and—the Spiritualists trembled for their gods!

The dreaded day has come, the number of The Daily Graphic for November the 9th is before us. We have read it carefully, with respectful awe, for true science has always been an authority for us (weak-minded fool though we may be), and so we handled the dangerous exposure with a feeling somewhat akin to that of a fanatic Christian opening a volume of Büchner. We perused it to the last: we turned the page over and over again, vainly straining our eyes and brains to detect therein one word of scientific proof or a solitary atom of overwhelming evidence that would thrust into our Spiritualistic bosom the venomous fangs of doubt. But no, not a particle of reasonable explanation or of scientific evidence that what we have all seen, heard and felt at the Eddys' was but delusion. In our feminine modesty, still allowing the said article the benefit of the doubt, we disbelieved our own senses, and so devoted a whole day to the picking up of sundry bits of criticism from judges that we believe more competent than ourselves, and at last came collectively to the following conclusion:

The Daily Graphic has allowed Dr. Beard in its magnanimity nine columns of its precious pages to prove—what? Why, the following:

First, that he, Dr. Beard, according to his own modest assertions (see columns second and third) is more entitled to occupy the position of an actor intrusted with characters of simpletons (Molière's "Tartuffe" might fit him perhaps as naturally) than to undertake the difficult part of a Prof. Faraday vis-à-vis the Chittenden D. D. Home.

Secondly, that although the learned doctor was "overwhelmed already with professional labours" (a nice and cheap reclame, by the way) and scientific researches, he gave the latter another direction, and so went to the Eddys. That, arrived there, he played with Horatio Eddy, for the glory of science and the benefit of humanity, the difficult character of a "dishevelled simpleton," and was rewarded in his scientific research by finding on the said suspicious premises a professor of bumps "a poor harmless fool"! Galileo, of famous memory, when he detected the sun in its involuntary imposture chuckled certainly less over his triumph than does Dr. Beard over the discovery of this "poor fool" No. 1. Here we modestly suggest that perhaps the learned doctor had no need to go as far as Chittenden for that.

Further, the doctor, forgetting entirely the wise motto, Non bis in idem [Translation: No no one can be punished twice for same cause -BNet Eds.} , discovers and asserts throughout the length of his article that all the past, present and future generations of pilgrims to the "Eddy homestead" are collectively fools, and that every solitary member of this numerous body of Spiritualistic pilgrims is likewise "a weak-minded, credulous fool"! Query—the proof of it, if you please, Dr. Beard? Answer—Dr. Beard has said so, and Echo responds, Fool!

Truly miraculous are thy doings, indeed, O Mother Nature! The cow is black and its milk is white! But then, you see, those ill-bred, ignorant Eddy brothers have allowed their credulous guests to eat up all the "trout" caught by Dr. Beard and paid for by him seventy-five cents per pound as a penalty; and that fact alone might have turned him a little—how shall we say—sour, prejudiced? No, erroneous in his statement, will answer better.

For erroneous he is, not to say more. When, assuming an air of scientific authority, he affirms that the séance-room is generally so dark that one cannot recognize at three feet distance his own mother, he says what is not true. When he tells us further that he saw through a hole in one of the shawls and the space between them all the manœuvres of Horatio's arm, he risks finding himself contradicted by thousands who, weak-minded though they may be, are not blind for all that, neither are they confederates of the Eddys, but far more reliable witnesses in their simple-minded honesty than Dr. Beard is in his would-be scientific and unscrupulous testimony. The same when he says that no one is allowed to approach the spirits nearer than twelve feet distance, still less to touch them, except the "two simple-minded ignorant idiots" who generally sit on both ends of the platform. To my knowledge many other persons have sat there besides those two.

Dr. Beard ought to know this better than anyone else, as he has sat there himself. A sad story is in circulation, by the way, at the Eddys'. The records of the spiritual séances at Chittenden have devoted a whole page to the account of a terrible danger that threatened for a moment to deprive America of one of her brightest scientific stars. Dr. Beard, admitting a portion of the story himself, perverts the rest of it, as he does everything else in his article. The doctor admits that he had been badly struck by the guitar, and, not being able to bear the pain, "jumped up," and broke the circle. Now it clearly appears that the learned gentleman has neglected to add to the immense stock of his knowledge the first rudiments of "logic." He boasts of having completely blinded Horatio and others as to the real object of his visit. What should then Horatio pummel his head for? The spirits were never known before to be as rude as that. But Dr. B. does not believe in their existence and so lays the whole thing at Horatio's door. He forgets to state, though, that a whole shower of missiles were thrown at his head and that—"pale as a ghost," so says the tale-telling record—the poor scientist surpassed for a moment the "fleet-footed Achilles" himself in the celerity with which he took to his heels. How strange if Horatio, not suspecting him still, left him standing at two feet distance from the shawl! How very logical!

It becomes evident that the said neglected logic was keeping company at the time with old mother Truth at the bottom of her well, neither of them being wanted by Dr. Beard. I myself have sat upon the upper step of the platform for fourteen nights by the side of Mrs. Cleveland. I got up every time "Honto" approached me to within an inch of my face in order to see her the better. I have touched her hands repeatedly as other spirits have been touched, and even embraced her nearly every night.

Therefore, when I read Dr. Beard's preposterous and cool assertion that "a very low order of genius is required to obtain command of a few words in different languages and so to mutter them to credulous Spiritualists," I feel every right in the world to say in my turn that such a scientific exposure as Dr. Beard has come out with in his article does not require any genius at all; per contra, it requires a ridiculous faith on the part of the writer in his own infallibility, as well as a positive confidence in finding in all his readers what he elegantly terms "weak-minded fools." Every word of his statement, when it is not a most evident untruth, is a wicked and malicious insinuation built on the very equivocal authority of one witness against the evidence of thousands.

Says Dr. Beard, "I have proved that the life of the Eddys is one long lie, the details need no further discussion." The writer of the above lines forgets, by saying these imprudent words, that some people might think that "like attracts like." He went to Chittenden with deceit in his heart and falsehood on his lips, and so judging his neighbour by the character he assumed himself, he takes everyone for a knave when he does not put him down as a fool. Declaring so positively that he has proved it, the doctor forgets one trifling circumstance, namely, that he has proved nothing whatever.

Where are his boasted proofs? When we contradict him by saying that the séance-room is far from being as dark as he pretends it to be, and that the spirits themselves have repeatedly called out through Mrs. Eaton's voice for more light, we only say what we can prove before any jury. When Dr. Beard says that all the spirits are personated by W. Eddy, he advances what would prove to be a greater conundrum for solution than the apparition of spirits themselves. There he falls right away into the domain of Cagliostro: for if Dr. B. has seen five or six spirits in all, other persons, myself included, have seen one hundred and nineteen in less than a fortnight, nearly all of whom were differently dressed. Besides, the accusation of Dr. Beard implies the idea to the public that the artist of The Daily Graphic who made the sketches of so many of those apparitions, and who is not a "credulous Spiritualist" himself, is likewise a humbug, propagating to the world what he did not see, and so spreading at large the most preposterous and outrageous lie.

When the learned doctor will have explained to us how any man in his shirt-sleeves and a pair of tight pants for an attire can possibly conceal on his person (the cabinet having been previously found empty) a whole bundle of clothes, women's robes, hats, caps, head-gears, and entire suits of evening dress, white waistcoats and neckties included, then he will be entitled to more belief than he is at present. That would be a proof indeed, for, with all due respect to his scientific mind, Dr. Beard is not the first Œdipus that has thought of catching the Sphinx by its tail and so unriddling the mystery. We have known more than one "weak-minded fool," ourselves included, that has laboured under a similar delusion for more than one night, but all of us were finally obliged to repeat the words of the great Galileo, "E pur, se muove!" [Translation: And yet it moves. -BNet eds. ]  and give it up.

But Dr. Beard does not give it up. Preferring to keep a scornful silence as to any reasonable explanation, he hides the secret of the above mystery in the depths of his profoundly scientific mind. "His life is given to scientific researches," you see; "his physiological knowledge and neuro-physiological learning are immense," for he says so, and skilled as he is in combating fraud by still greater fraud (see column the eighth), spiritualistic humbug has no more mysteries for him. In five minutes the scientist had done more towards science than all the rest of the scientists put together have done in years of labour, and "would feel ashamed if he had not." (See same column.) In the overpowering modesty of his learning he takes no credit to himself for having done so, though he has discovered the astounding, novel fact of the "cold benumbing sensation." How Wallace, Crookes and Varley, the naturalist-anthropologist, the chemist and electrician, will blush with envy in their old country! America alone is able to produce on her fertile soil such quick and miraculous intellects. "Veni, Vidi, Vici!" was the motto of a great conqueror. Why should not Dr. Beard select for his crest the same? And then, not unlike the Alexanders and the Cæsars of antiquity (in the primitive simplicity of his manners), he abuses people so elegantly, calling them "fools" when he cannot find a better argument.

A far wiser mind than Dr. Beard (will he dispute the fact?) has suggested, centuries ago, that the tree was to be judged according to its fruits. Spiritualism, notwithstanding the desperate efforts of more scientific men than himself, has stood its ground without flinching for more than a quarter of a century. Where are the fruits of the tree of science that blossoms on the soil of Dr. Beard's mind? If we are to judge of them by his article, then verily the said tree needs more than usual care. As for the fruits, it would appear that they are as yet in the realms of "sweet delusive hope." But then, perhaps the doctor was afraid to crush his readers under the weight' of his learning (true merit has been in all times modest and unassuming), and that accounts for the learned doctor withholding from us any scientific proof of the fraud that he pretends to be exposing, except the above-mentioned fact of the "cold benumbing sensation." But how Horatio can keep his hand and arm ice cold under a warm shawl for half an hour at a time, in summer as well as in any other season, and that without having some ice concealed about his person, or how he can prevent it from thawing—all the above is a mystery that Dr. Beard doesn't reveal for the present. Maybe he will tell us something of it in his book that he advertises in the article. Well, we only hope that the former will be more satisfactory than the latter.

I will add but a few words before ending my debate with Dr. Beard for ever. All that he says about the lamp concealed in a bandbox, the strong confederates, etc., exists only in his imagination, for the mere sake of argument, we suppose. "False in one, false in all," says Dr. Beard in column the sixth. These words are a just verdict on his own article.

Here I will briefly state what I reluctantly withheld up to the present moment from the knowledge of all such as Dr. Beard. The fact was too sacred in my eyes to allow it to be trifled with in newspaper gossiping. But now, in order to settle the question at once, I deem it my duty as a Spiritualist to surrender it to the opinion of the public.

On the last night that I spent with the Eddys I was presented by Georgo Dix and Mayflower with a silver decoration, the upper part of a medal with which I was but too familiar. I quote the precise words of the spirit: "We bring you this decoration, for we think you will value it more highly than anything else. You will recognize it, for it is the badge of honour that was presented to your father by his Government for the campaign of 1828, between Russia and Turkey. We got it through the influence of your uncle, who appeared to you here this evening. We brought it from your father's grave at Stavropol. You will identify it by a certain sign known to yourself."

These words were spoken in the presence of forty witnesses. Col. Olcott will describe the fact and give the design of the decoration.

I have the said decoration in my possession. I know it as having belonged to my father. More, I have identified it by a portion that, through carelessness, I broke myself many years ago, and, to settle all doubt in relation to it, I possess the photograph of my father (a picture that has never been at the Eddys', and could never possibly have been seen by any of them) on which this medal is plainly visible.

Query for Dr. Beard: How could the Eddys know that my father was buried at Stavropol; that he was ever presented with such a medal, or that he had been present and in actual service at the time of the war of 1828?

Willing as we are to give every one his due, we feel compelled to say on behalf of Dr. Beard that he has not boasted of more than he can do, in advising the Eddys to take a few private lessons of him in the trickery of mediumship. The learned doctor must be expert in such trickeries. We are likewise ready to admit that in saying as he did that "his article would only confirm the more the Spiritualists in their belief" (and he ought to have added, "convince no one else"), Dr. Beard has proved himself to be a greater "prophetic medium" than any other in this country!

H. P. BLAVATSKY.

23, Irving Place, New York City,
November 10th, 1874.

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