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THEOSOPHY WORLD ----------------------------------- October, 2005
An Internet Magazine Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy
And its Practical Application in the Modern World
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(Please note that the materials presented in THEOSOPHY WORLD are
the intellectual property of their respective authors and may not
be reposted or otherwise republished without prior permission.)
"A Man is Born," by B.P. Wadia
"United Yet Independent," by H.T. Edge
"Was He Mad," Part II, by Charles E. Benham
"Starting to Heal," by Henry S. Olcott
"Gods, Heroes, and Men," by Anonymous
"Human Wife and Snake Goddess: A Bengali Myth,"
by Ramananda Chatterjee
"Some Objections to and Misconceptions of Reincarnation,"
by Leoline L. Wright
"Asking About Chelaship," by W.Q. Judge
"Time, Duration, and the Eternal Now," by G. de Purucker
> I am glad that you have such a faith in the Great Workers who
> are behind us. They ARE behind us, to my personal knowledge, and
> not behind me only, but behind all sincere workers. I know that
> their desire is that each should listen to the voice of his
> inner self and not depend too much on outside people, whether
> they be Masters, Eastern disciples or what not. By a dependence
> of that kind you become at last thoroughly independent, and then
> the unseen helpers are able to help all the more.
> -- W.Q. Judge, LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME, pages 112-13.
A MAN IS BORN
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 65-68.]
> Love thyself last. The Vastnesses above thee
> Are filled with Spirit-Forces; strong and pure
> And fervently these faithful friends shall love thee:
> Keep thou thy watch o'er others and endure.
In the Righteous War, which every Chela has to wage and win, the
probationer must not err by measuring only the strength of the
enemy -- his personal nature. He should recognize the strength
of his own godlike nature and the powerful allies of his own
Divine Ego. Not only is his own Eternal Self by his side, but
also as a Divine Ego, he is helped by the hosts of Friends of the
The first lesson in practical Occultism that the neophyte has to
learn is that he is indissolubly linked with the whole of nature,
that he is the Microcosmos, an exact replica of the Macrocosmos.
His Eternal Self is the Supreme Spirit of the universe, and every
power of that Supreme is possessed by him. His human Soul, the
Higher Mind, is an aspect of the Divine Mind-Soul, Mahat or Maha
Buddhi. Further, the constituents of his personality are derived
from the Spiritual Forces acting in Matter. This lesson of the
Occult Philosophy has to be learned and assimilated by the
neophyte. The first task is that of extricating his Manas from
Kama and establishing the Antahkaranic Center, looking towards or
inwards towards its parent and watcher, Manas, the Divine Ego.
The second lesson is to perceive that the powers in great Nature
are his helpers; Sages or Rishis, Gods or Devas, and Nature
Spirits or Devatas are ready to help. By knowledge and awakened
will, that Antahkaranic Being is able to command the Nature
Spirits or Elementals. The Esoteric Philosophy teaches that
there are four types of Elementals related to the four great
elements -- earth, water, air, and fire; next, that the Gods or
Devas presiding over these great elements are among the builders
of man -- the sevenfold being. By acquiring knowledge of the
science of Occultism under the guidance of its Professors and
Doctors, the neophyte learns how to conjure them and to invoke
their help for winning the war in which he is engaged.
Then there are the Sages and the Seers, the Mahatmas and the
Nirmanakayas, the Silent Directors of the probationer's Divine
and Eternal Self. These Living Mahatmas are Siddha-Purushas,
Perfected Beings who hold the powers of Life in Their own strong
hands. Their Philosophy-Science contains all the necessary
knowledge for living the life of the Warrior-Soul, the fortune's
Even theoretical knowledge of the major principles of the
Esoteric Philosophy purifies the lower man. As he ponders the
great teachings, assimilation takes place. This elevates him and
thus enables him to see the light of his Divine Ego and to hear
the voice of that Silent Speaker. However indirect and
short-lived this experience of seeing and hearing, it confirms
the neophyte in the firm position he has taken with the end in
view of being a helper of Nature on her path of Life and Light.
The neophyte must learn the truth that the army on his side is
made up of pure Intelligences of Sages, Gods, and Elementals;
further, that in the army on the other side (his lower nature),
there are also some pure forces, which are there captured by the
lower and dark aspect of Nature -- and that they help the
neophyte in their own peculiar manner. Thus in the Gita
allegory, Bhishma and Drona and Karna contributed each his own
share to the great victory of Arjuna. This aspect of the war --
the help to the true Warrior-Soul from both the light and the
dark sides of Nature -- is difficult to comprehend. But it is
well for the neophyte to know of it at least in theory, and to
strengthen his soul with the truth that in a real sense the WHOLE
of Nature is on his side as he wages the war against human
darkness and evil.
The Sun, the Moon, the Stars; air, fire, water, earth; gold and
silver; flowers and fruits; birds and beasts; slum-dwellers and
geniuses; saints and sages -- all befriend the Warrior-Soul, all
become his educators. As he transmutes his lower nature, he
brightens up the sub-human universe, becoming more and more a
channel of the super-human Intelligences and of the Most High.
In transmuting his personality, he has become a Personage, a Man
who has realized the truth that he is one with the indivisible
Unity is the Law; Rhythm, the Motion of Life. Man, in his
ignorance, does not recognize this fact. Man is a Spirit-being,
a Mind-being, a Body-being. He does not know this. But
Theosophy gives him this knowledge. In his illusion and
delusion, man fights man. Theosophical wisdom alone gives a
complete and satisfying exposition of the injunction of the
Oracle at Delphi -- "Man, know thyself."
Says LIGHT ON THE PATH, pages 12-13:
> Having obtained the use of the inner senses, having conquered the
> desires of the outer senses, haying conquered the desires of the
> individual soul, and having obtained knowledge, prepare now, Oh
> disciple, to enter upon the way in reality. The path is found;
> make yourself ready to tread it.
> Inquire of the earth, the air, and the water, of the secrets they
> hold for you. The development of your inner senses will enable
> you to do this.
> Inquire of the holy ones of the earth of the secrets they hold
> for you. The conquering of the desires of the outer senses will
> give you the right to do this.
> Inquire of the inmost, the one, of its final secret that it holds
> for you through the ages.
> The great and difficult victory, the conquering of the desires of
> the individual soul, is a work of ages; therefore expect not to
> obtain its reward until ages of experience have been accumulated.
UNITED YET INDEPENDENT
By H.T. Edge
[From THE PATH, May 1894, pages 33-35.]
In cooperative work, as in every other problem before students of
occultism, there are two extremes to be avoided and one right
course to be maintained; two evils opposed to one good; a pair of
opposites reconciled by a unity. In cooperative work, as in
other problems, many make the mistake of avoiding the more
obviously wrong extreme merely to fall into the other extreme
that is less obviously wrong. A body of workers should neither
repel one another nor lean on one another.
The former maxim is so obvious that no one fails to recognize its
truth and to strive to act in accordance with it; but many do so
and rush to the opposite pole of weak reliance on others.
Workers should cling to the cause, not to each other; for if they
cling to each other, the failure of an individual will be
disastrous for the whole; while, if each one clings to the cause,
each one must be torn away separately ere the whole fabric can be
The pillars of a temple do not lean up against one another,
neither do they counteract each other; each stands firmly on its
own base and is independent of the support of the others, yet all
unite in the common object of supporting the dome. We must be as
the pillars of a temple, helping one another, yet independent and
each on his own base. The destruction of one or two does not
seriously impair the building, for the others still stand firm.
In unity is strength, and though we must be united in a common
object, yet we must not lose the advantage arising from our
individual unity. A body of workers all mutually dependent
constitutes a single united center of force; but if, while
maintaining their unity of purpose, they retained their
independence of individual action, they would be more powerful,
for they would constitute a number of separate centers
synthesized by one great center -- a number of unities forming
one cardinal unity.
When many members of a body are self-reliant, their self-reliance
synthesizes itself into a great power and stability, and the
total force is much greater than it would be if they all leaned
up against one another. It is a law of nature that a number of
Logoi or individualities should constitute collectively a single
superior Logos or individuality. Our Egos, though each one acts
independently, all emanate from a single central Logos, of which
they are only parts, but whose quality of egoism each reflects.
Our bodily organs, though each has a separate function, all unite
to form the whole man. They do not thwart each other, nor absorb
one another's functions, nor combine to do the work of one.
We should be like the rays of the sun, which shoot in all
directions and yet are but fulfilling the separate details of a
single organized plan. It is upon this very diversity of course
that depends the successful carrying out of that plan. Were all
the rays to shoot in the same direction, the sun as a luminary
would be a failure. This illustration also serves to show us how
two people pursuing opposite courses can yet subserve a common
end; for to every ray there is another that shoots in the
precisely opposite direction.
Why should we try to persuade our friends over to our own views,
or grieve because they differ from us in details? Would we have
all workers do the same work, all climbers ascend the same path,
all occultists follow the same ray of truth? Light has many hues
and the sun has many planets; and though there is a maxim to the
effect that those not yet qualified to be suns may remain for the
present humble planets, no reason is given why we should all be
the same planet.
A general, in conducting a campaign, assigns to each division of
his army a particular portion of the work he wishes carried out;
a master-printer assigns to each operative his due share of the
work in hand, one setting the type, another reading the proofs,
and so on. Each subdivision does its own work without
interfering with the work of others. Through this simultaneous
carrying out of many dissimilar details, the whole plan, for
which all alike cooperate, is successfully accomplished.
Though most of us recognize this principle in matters of external
work, there are many who fail to carry its application into more
interior departments of our work; it applies equally well to
methods of thought and ways of looking at the questions that
affect our moral life. One student may, through the exigencies
of his own nature, be impressed most strongly by the value of
fiery energy, while another may pin his faith to the principle of
"power through repose": if these two should try to convert one
another, they would be merely wasting time and labor, and the
work of both would be hindered.
Each should do what is best for him, and leave the other to
follow what is best for him. We are all necessarily impressed
with different aspects of the great problem, and must therefore
all work on different tacks, but, while recognizing our own
method as the best so far as we ourselves are concerned, we must
frankly acknowledge the equal importance (to the general body) of
our brother's plan.
Many are the paradoxes that present themselves to the student of
occultism, and among them this is not the least important -- to
work in perfect harmony with our colleagues, and at the same time
to work as if upon our own individual effort depended the whole
enterprise. To realize this we must be united yet independent.
WAS HE MAD?
By Charles E. Benham
[From LUCIFER, December 15, 1888, pages 280-85.]
As he spoke, a heavy book that was lying on the table rose
without any apparent cause, turned itself about, stood on end,
leaped into the air, glided along backwards and forwards, and
after further mysterious evolutions proceeded, as if lifted by an
invisible hand, from the table to my lap, where it lay
All this time, the Professor sat almost motionless -- merely
exhibiting a slight twitching of the right hand and a convulsive,
strained expression of countenance as he watched the movements of
the volume. His calmness astounded me, for I never for a moment
attributed the uncanny manifestations to him, and expected them
to strike him with the same cold horror as I was experiencing.
For my own part, the unutterable sensation of dread that seized
me is beyond all words to express. Now that the absurd feeling
has passed away, I cannot recall my sensations, but I know that
my hair stood on end with fear, and I shook and trembled from
head to foot. My head whirled, and I fancied it must be all a
dream. Gradually, a dawning conviction came over me that the
Professor was responsible for this eerie piece of business and
that this was the secret with which he was going to entrust me.
"Good heavens," I cried. "What on earth is this uncanny power?
Is this a trick to frighten me, or have you been studying
The Professor was calm and unmoved.
"You can believe or disbelieve," he said. "You have seen with
your own eyes. If you believe, we will go further; if you
disbelieve, it would be no use to do so, and there must be an end
As he spoke, a fearful sensation of horror was creeping over me.
It is impossible, I feel sure, for the reader of this narrative
to enter into the feelings that take possession of one when in a
moment all one's ideas of the "Is-ness of things" are uprooted.
I fancied -- it was the only solution, however terrible -- that I
must have gone from my mind and that all around me was
imagination or fantasy. Yet surely not so -- there sat the
Professor, unmistakably real, and there lay the book motionless
in my lap.
"In the name of all that is good and true," I began, but I could
say no more. My head swam, my eyes closed. I felt myself
falling to the ground in a swoon. I remember no more until I
came once more to consciousness, and found the Professor standing
over me looking anxious and concerned. Gradually, as I "came to
myself," the recollection of what had happened unfolded itself.
"It is only as I feared," said the Professor, after I had become
"The sudden disclosing to the mind of laws that subvert our
previous notions of the operations of force, as manifested in the
environment, is a terrible shock, and is the secret of the terror
that inspires children and the vulgar at the apparition, whether
real or imaginary, of bogeys and phantoms. The eyes of the
intellect are dazzled, the brain is overpowered, and the senses
are intoxicated. You must rest your thinking faculties as far as
possible for a week or two, and you will then find yourself able
to return to our experiments, not only without discomfort or
without fright, but also even with keen interest; and now I will
leave you to follow out my advice in this respect. Goodnight,
old fellow. Go straight to bed, and think no more about what has
happened until I come and see you again."
With these words, he shook hands and said farewell. I was still
too overcome to reply, and could not even see him to the door. I
merely muttered a confused farewell, and crept off to bed with a
sick and despondent heart.
The next day, my miserable frame of mind had by no means left me.
To dismiss the events of the previous evening from my thoughts,
as the Professor had advised, was an utter impossibility. On the
contrary, these recollections dismissed all other ideas, and I
found myself unable to give attention to the ordinary affairs of
life. Everything seemed unreal; my surroundings appeared to be a
mere phantasmagoria, a projection of fantasies on my brain as
unsubstantial as the images projected by a magic lantern on a
screen to amuse children.
A horrid suspicion haunted me that I was going from my mind. I
felt no confidence, no reliance in any one of my senses. I think
that no one who has not been through a similar state can have any
idea how implicit, and how constant, is the trust that we all of
us place in the infallibility of natural effects that experience
has tested and never found to fail. When I walked, I ceased to
retain any faith in my muscles or organs, or in the earth as a
support. If I laid anything on the table, I felt constrained to
watch it for some seconds to make sure it would not bound off to
the ceiling or glide away to the ground.
As for the Professor, I felt towards him one passion only -- that
of inveterate hatred. Or was it fear? At any rate, it was an
indescribable antipathy. I would not go near him at any price; I
even took the precaution to keep the latch of my front door
fastened so that it could not be opened from the outside, for he
was in the habit of walking in unannounced. Even with this
precaution, I was far from feeling safe, for who could tell
whether he could not, with his hateful witchcraft of fourth
dimensions and spiritual hands, stand on the doorstep and calmly
undo the door on the inside.
So things went on for a week, when at length I found relief. It
was exactly as the Professor had said. My brain had been
overpowered and my senses dazed. Gradually my mind regained its
normal strength, and within a fortnight, I was able to think with
pleasure and even to theorize upon the singular phenomenon that
had caused me so much horror and wretchedness. I became deeply
interested in it, and so far from disliking the Professor, I
began to long for another visit and further experiments.
At my own request, he called. I told him all that had happened,
of my dejection, my uncanny feelings, and the revival of the sway
of reason in me. He seemed much pleased, and was especially
delighted when I went further and gave him the crude theories
that I had formed.
"I imagine," I said, "that we have a magnetic power that we only
lack the faculty to exercise. You appear to have discovered and
developed that faculty. Is not that so?"
"Hardly, I think," he replied. "I will first show you an
experiment, and will then as far as possible explain to you the
modus operandi, though you must bear in mind that I do not claim
to fully understand the matter myself, as I am new to it.
However, I will tell you all I can. Fetch down that case with
the stuffed bird up there on the wall."
It was a pet canary that had died a year before. I had had it
stuffed, for it was a favorite of mine, and I kept it over the
mantelshelf, perched on a twig just as it used to perch and sing
in its cage.
"I am going to take this bird out," said the Professor.
"All right," I said, not very pleased. "Do so if you wish,
though I have been at some pains to make the case thoroughly air
tight, so as to keep out insects."
The Professor smiled, and as he did so, to my intense
astonishment, I saw the bird in the case, which he was holding in
his hand, vibrate. And then the front of the bird disappeared as
far as the legs, leaving the remainder standing as though it had
been cut straight down with a keen knife.
"Watch it closely," said the Professor.
I did so. I looked at it as nearly as I could front ways, and
could see that it was not cut through, for the front appeared
yellow as though covered with feathers and not showing the cork
with which it was stuffed.
"Watch it still," said the Professor. As he spoke, the
disappearance progressed. In a second, all the body had gone,
and gradually the vanishing spread to the very tip of the tail.
The bird was gone.
The next thing I saw was that it was in the Professor's hand.
The case remained sealed, intact. My astonishment, as may be
supposed, knew no bounds. In another minute, the Professor had
replaced the bird on its perch, its reappearance being the exact
converse of its disappearance. First of all came the tail, and
at the same moment the tail vanished from the bird in the
Professor's hand, and the same process extended gradually along
the body. When only the head remained outside the case, a sudden
thought inspired me. In a moment, I grasped the head and
endeavored to snatch it away, in order to make perfectly certain
that no trick was being practiced.
It seemed to be riveted in the air. I pulled at it in vain. The
Professor tried to restrain me, but I was too quick for him. A
smart tug, and the headpiece of my poor canary was in my hand and
the resistance ceased. At the same moment, the body portion
inside the case fell from its perch. The two were severed.
I was intensely annoyed when I saw what had happened, for the
damage was beyond repair.
"Your own fault," said the Professor calmly.
I was bound to admit it was, and looked very foolish as I tried
to hide my concern by assuring him it was of no consequence.
"Well, now let me proceed to explain," he said. "Suppose you had
a plane surface bounded on all four sides by barriers. To a
person who did not know of a third dimension, who knew of length
and breadth, but could not imagine thickness because it did not
enter into his experience, to such a person, I say (of course a
merely hypothetical and impossible individual), it would seem
that it would not be in any way possible to remove that plane
surface without taking away the barriers, and yet you know well
enough it could be at once done by lifting the plane surface or
by lowering it. To any one gifted with a sense of the fourth
dimension, thickness itself is but as it were superficial. There
is an aperture still open to that closed case. It is what I call
the fourth dimension, or the spiritual aperture. The only reason
why you could not put your hand into that aperture is because you
cannot see it, and your senses do not direct you. Were the
requisite sense unveiled, as it is with me, you would be able
easily to do what I have done. Therefore it was that your clumsy
effort wrenched the head off the bird."
I understood very little of his explanation, though now the
meaning is slightly clearer, and I seem to have a dim conception
of the matter.
"But," I said, "Why do you not show this extraordinary power to
everyone? Why make such a secret of it?"
"Your memory is very defective," he replied. "What was your own
answer last time we met, when I asked you what you thought an
ordinary businessman would think about a fourth dimension?"
"Oh yes, I know," said I, "but that's quite a different matter.
People would ridicule the theory, but the facts they could not
"You are very, very wrong, if you really think that," said the
Professor. "Recollect the parable of Dives. Moses and the
Prophets give the theory; the resurrection is the fact. If they
will not hear the one, they will not believe the other."
"I cannot see how scientific men can deny facts that are brought
before them," said I.
"No more can I," said the Professor, "and yet they do. But I
will tell you what I will do, to set your mind at rest on the
point. I am going up to London tomorrow, and shall probably stay
a few weeks. I will get introductions to two or three of the
most eminent physicians and scientific men (which I can easily
manage through my friend, John Rook, the publisher), and you
shall just hear the result for yourself."
"Very good," I said. "And now let us have some further
"No," he said firmly. "We have had enough for you to digest
until my return. Too much food for the body gives gastric fever;
too much for the brain gives brain fever. On my return, I hope
to show you some still more astounding experiments, also to make
you acquainted with the rather unpleasant operation that I
performed on myself in order to lay open the spiritual faculty,
and perhaps, if you wish it, to do the same for you. And, as a
final idea for you to consider, let me tell you that only human
force -- that is, mental and spiritual activity -- operates in
the spiritual dimension, and that that aperture is only open or
accessible to man. Dust cannot get into your bird-case, but I
can force dust in. This is because gravitation is of no account
in the spiritual dimension, where spiritual -- that is human --
force alone operates."
Leaving me this idea to work out, he said farewell until the time
he should come back from town and perform further experiments for
A week after the Professor left for London, I went for a short
holiday, choosing the Scotch lakes for my tour. If there is one
thing I dislike when away on a holiday, it is to be worried with
a number of letters forwarded on to me on business and everyday
matters, which take all the pleasure from a trip away from home.
I therefore took the imprudent course of instructing my
housekeeper to forward me nothing that came by post, but to place
all letters on my study table that I might attend to them when I
returned. It was a delightful holiday to me. I forgot all cares
amid the mountain scenery of the highlands, and never gave a
thought to the Professor or to the fourth dimension as I reveled
in solitude by the lakes and streams of old Scotland.
On my return, I took up the little pile of letters that lay on
the table. After dismissing to the waste-paper basket several
circulars relating to gold mine and other schemes for drawing
money from sanguine investors, I took up an envelope on which I
at once recognized the handwriting of my friend, the Professor.
I tore open the seal hastily, and not without a feeling of regret
that this one communication had not been sent on to me,
especially as it was marked "immediate and important," on the
outside. But what was my dismay when I read its contents: "Come
at once to Engleford Asylum, where your unfortunate friend is to
be at once confined. I was fool enough to try the experiments,
as you suggested, before two scientific men. The result is a
certificate of my lunacy. Lose no time, or I shall verify the
certificate and 'twill be too late."
Within three hours, I was at Engleford and flying to the asylum.
It is a massive building of white brick, within a minute's walk
from the railway station. At the gate is a bell-handle. I
tugged it with remarkable energy, and a great bell clanged as
though it would wake the dead. The porter came. I asked to see
the superintendent on urgent business.
I was shown into a small office. The superintendent entered, and
suddenly it flashed upon me that after all I hardly knew what I
had come for. From the postmark, I judged the Professor had been
in the asylum about ten days.
"I have come," I said, rather bluntly, as the superintendent
motioned me to a chair, "to see you with regard to a rather
curious case," and giving him the Professor's name, I asked
whether it could be true that he had been sent to the asylum.
"Yes, poor fellow," said the superintendent. "His was a sad
case, a very sad case. He seemed almost like a sane man when he
entered, but his symptoms developed with remarkable rapidity, and
in three days had taken a very pitiable form of monomania, under
which he is, I fear, likely to remain all his days. He has a
fancy that he is a canary, and that someone has beheaded him."
I sank back in my chair. It was then too late. The shock had
been too much, and had unhinged his mind. I felt I could ask no
more. I could not wish to see him in his pitiable plight. I
merely expressed my thanks to the superintendent for the
information, told him how dear a friend of mine the Professor had
been and how shocked I was.
It was too late. The Professor was mad.
STARTING TO HEAL
By Henry S. Olcott
[From OLD DIARY LEAVES, II, pages 373-80.]
An incident occurred on August 29, at China Garden, a quarter of
Galle, which has become in Ceylon historic. After my lecture,
the subscription paper was laid out on a table and the people
came up in turn to subscribe. A man named Cornelis Appu was
introduced to me by Mr. Jayasakere, the Branch President, and he
subscribed the sum of half a rupee, apologizing for the pettiness
of the amount because of his having been totally paralyzed in one
arm and partially in one leg for eight years, and therefore
unable to earn his livelihood by his trade.
Now at Colombo, on my arrival from Bombay, the High Priest had
told me that the Roman Catholics had made their arrangements to
convert the house-well of a Catholic, near Kelanie, into a
healing-shrine, after the fashion of Lourdes. One man was
reported to have been miraculously cured already, but on
investigation, it proved a humbug. I told the High Priest that
this was a serious matter and he should attend to it. If the
hypnotic suggestion once got started, there would soon be real
cures and there might be a rush of ignorant Buddhists into
"What can I do," he said.
"Well, you must set to work, you or some other well-known monk,
and cure people in the name of Lord Buddha."
"But we can't do it; we know nothing about those things," he
"Nevertheless it must be done," I said.
When this half-paralyzed man of Galle was speaking of his
ailment, something seemed to say to me, "Here's your chance for
the holy well!"
I had known all about Mesmerism and Mesmeric Healing for thirty
years, though I had never practiced them, save to make a few
necessary experiments at the beginning. Now moved by a feeling
of sympathy (without which the healer has no healing power to
radically cure), I made some passes over his arm, and said I
hoped he might feel the better for it. He then left.
That evening, I was chatting with my Galle colleagues at my
quarters on the seashore, when the paralytic hobbled in and
excused his interruption by saying that he felt so much better
that he had come to thank me. This unexpected good news
encouraged me to go farther, so I treated his arm for a quarter
of an hour and bade him return in the morning. I should mention
here that nobody in Ceylon knew that I possessed or had ever
exercised the power of healing the sick, nor, I fancy, that
anybody had it, so the theory of hypnotic suggestion, or
collective hallucination, will scarcely hold in this case --
certainly not at this stage of it.
He came in the morning, eager to worship me as something
superhuman, so much better did he feel. I treated him again, and
the next day and the next; reaching the point on the fourth day
where he could whirl his bad arm around his head, open and shut
his hand, and clutch and handle objects as well as ever.
Within the next four days, he was able to sign his name with the
cured hand, to a statement of his case, for publication. This
was the first time in nine years that he had held a pen. I had
also been treating his side and leg, and in a day or two more he
could jump with both feet, hop on the paralyzed one, kick equally
high against the wall with both, and run freely.
Like a match to loose straw, the news spread throughout the town
and district. Cornelis brought a paralyzed friend, whom I cured;
then others came, by twos and threes first, then by dozens, and
within a week or so my house was besieged by sick persons from
dawn until late at night, all clamoring for the laying on of my
hands. They grew so importunate at last that I was at my wits'
end how to dispose of them. Of course, with the rapid growth of
confidence in myself, my magnetic power multiplied itself
enormously, and what I had needed days to accomplish with a
patient, at the commencement, could now be done within a half
A most disagreeable feature of the business was the selfish
inconsiderateness of the crowd. They would besiege me in my
bedroom before I was dressed, dog my every step, give me no time
for meals, and keep pressing me, no matter how tired and
exhausted I might be. I have worked at them steadily four or
five hours, until I felt I had nothing more in me. Then I left
them for a half hour while I bathed in the salt water of the
harbor, just back of the house where I felt currents of fresh
vitality entering and re-enforcing my body. Then I went back and
resumed the healing, until, by the middle of the afternoon, I had
had enough of it, and then had actually to drive the crowd out of
My rooms were on the upper storey -- one flight up -- and most of
the bad cases had to be carried up by friends and laid at my
feet. I have had them completely paralyzed, with their arms and
legs contracted so that the man or woman was more like the
gnarled root of a tree than anything else; and it happened
sometimes that, after one or two treatments of a half hour each,
I made those people straighten out their limbs and walk about.
One side of the broad verandah that ran around the whole house, I
christened "the cripples' race-course," for I used to mate two or
three of those whose cases had been worst, and compel them to run
against each other the length of that side. They and the crowd
of onlookers used to laugh at this joke, and wonder at the same
time, but I had a purpose in it, which was to impart to them the
same unflinching confidence in the effectiveness of the remedy
that I felt, so that their cures might be radical.
Quite recently, while in Ceylon, on my way to London, I met one
of my bad patients of those days, whom I had cured of complete
paralysis, and asked him to tell those present what I had done
for him. He said that he had been confined to his bed for months
in a perfectly helpless state with his arms and legs paralyzed
and useless. He had been carried upstairs to me. I had treated
him a half hour the first day, and fifteen or twenty minutes the
next. I had cured him so effectually that in the intervening
fourteen years he had had no return of his malady. Fancy the
pleasure it must have been to me to have relieved so much
suffering, and in many cases to have restored the invalids to all
the enjoyments of good health and all the activities of life.
I see that the first patient that Cornelis brought me, after he
was cured, had the thumb and fingers of his right hand clenched
with paralysis so that they were as stiff as wood. They had been
so for two and a half years. Within five minutes, the hand was
restored to its flexibility. The next day he returned with his
hand all right, but the toes of his right foot constricted. I
took him into my room and made him as good as new within a
quarter of an hour.
This sort of thing went on even at the country villages on my
routes through the Southern Province. I would reach my
stopping-place in my traveling-cart, and find patients waiting
for me on the verandahs, the lawn, and in all sorts of
conveyances -- carts, spring-wagons, handcarts, palanquins, and
chairs carried on bamboo poles. An old woman afflicted (how
much, indeed!) with a paralyzed tongue was cured; the bent elbow,
wrist, and fingers of a little boy were freed; a woman deformed
by inflammatory rheumatism was made whole. At Sandravela, a
beggar woman with a bent back, of eight years' standing, gave me
a quarter-rupee for the Fund. When I knew what she suffered
from, I cured her spine and made her walk erect.
Baddegama is a noted center of Missionary activity and -- so far
as I was concerned, and Buddhism generally -- of malevolence. It
was the view of this lovely landscape -- so it is said -- that
suggested to Bishop Heber the opening verse of his immortal
Missionary Hymn. There had been threats that the Missionaries
were going to attack me at my lecture there, and the Buddhists
naturally thronged to hear me. Several of our members came out
from Galle. Whom should I see there but Cornelis Appu, who HAD
WALKED THE WHOLE TWELVE MILES! There was no doubt, then, as to
his having been cured! The gentle Missionaries were conspicuous
by their absence, and I had the huge audience all to myself.
I was amused by a case that came under my hands at the little
hamlet of Agaliya. An old, wrinkled native woman of seventy-two
years of age had been kicked by a buffalo cow while milking, some
years before, had to walk with a staff, and could not stand
erect. She was a comical old creature, and laughed heartily when
I told her that I should soon make her dance. But after only ten
minutes of passes down her spine and limbs, she was almost as
good as new, and I seized her hand, threw away her staff, and
made her run with me over the lawn.
My next patient was a boy of seven years, whose hands could not
be closed, because of a constriction of the tendons of the backs.
I cured him in five minutes, and he went straight away to where
the breakfast was ready for the family, and fell to eating rice
with his right hand, now quite restored.
In due time, I got back to the Galle Headquarters, where a second
siege by the sick had to be undergone. I have noted down an
incident that shows the uncharitable and selfish spirit that
actuates some of the medical profession -- happily, not all --
with regard to the curing of patients by unpaid outsiders; for,
remember, I never took a farthing for all these cures.
A number of former patients of the Galle General Hospital, who
had been discharged as incurable, came to me and recovered their
health; and, naturally, went to shouting the news on the
housetops, so to say. The medical profession could not very well
remain blind or indifferent to such a thing, and one day my
doings with my patients were overlooked by one of the civil
surgeons of the district.
On that day, one hundred patients presented themselves and I
treated twenty-three; making, as I see it noted, some wonderful
cures. Dr. K. recognizing one of the men, brought him to me
with the remark that he had been pronounced incurable after every
treatment had failed, and he would like to see what I could make
of him. What I made was to enable the sick man to walk about
without a stick, for the first time in ten years.
The Doctor frankly and generously admitted the efficacy of the
mesmeric treatment and remained by me all day, helping me to
diagnose; and doing the duties of a hospital assistant. We were
mutually pleased with each other. At parting, it was agreed that
he should come the next day after breakfast, and help me in
whatever way he could. He, himself, was suffering from a stiff
ankle or something about his foot, I forget just what, which I
relieved. The next day, he neither came nor sent any word.
The mystery was explained by a note he wrote to the mutual friend
who had introduced him to me. It seems that on leaving me, full
of enthusiasm about what he had seen -- as any open-minded,
unspoilt young man would naturally be -- he went straight to the
Chief Medical Officer and reported. His superior coldly
listened, and, when he had finished, delivered himself of the
sentence of major and minor excommunication on me. I was a
charlatan, this pretended healing was a swindle, the patients had
been paid to lie, and the young doctor was forbidden to have
anything more to do with me or my money-tricks.
To clench the argument, he warned the other that, if he persisted
in disregarding his orders, he would run the risk of losing his
commission. And if he could find that I took any fee, he should
have me prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license! So
my quondam assistant and admirer, forgetful of his duty to
perfect himself in the healing art, of the paramount claims of
Truth to his loyalty, and of science to his professional
devotion, of all he had seen me do and its promise of what he
could, in time, himself do, not even remembering his relieved
foot, nor the claims of politeness upon those who make
appointments and are prevented from keeping them, did not come
the next day nor even send me one line of apology.
I felt sorry for him. All his future prospects in Government
service were at stake. At the same time, I am afraid I did not
respect him as much as I should if he had resolutely stood out
against this pitiful and revolting professional slavery; this
moral obliquity, which would rather that the whole of humanity
should go unhealed unless they were cured by orthodox doctors, in
an atmosphere of medical holiness and infallibility. The
acquisition of the power to relieve physical suffering by
mesmeric processes is so easy that, in ninety-nine cases out of
the hundred, it would be one's own fault if it were not
GODS, HEROES, AND MEN
[From THE ARYAN PATH, April 1937, pages 145-50.]
Are Gods, Saviors, Heroes, and other divine and semi-divine
beings no more than creatures of man's imagination? Are they, if
they actually exist, what those who believe in them have pictured
these supernal characters? Have they no being, no world, no field
of action other than as men?
Certainly all these classes and instances of supernatural
visitors have no standing in history, if by history we mean those
carefully preserved museum relics exhibited in the encyclopedias,
whose measurements correspond in all essentials to the dimensions
we ourselves possess. But Nature constantly exercises her
easements regardless of all our measures and bounds of what is
credible and what incredible. Even the authorities, theological
and scientific, which act as surveyors-general and regard as
trespass any overstepping of their maps and termini -- even these
very authorities are, or should be, subject to their own law of
The theologian rests his claims and sanctions in the last resort
upon the very sources in some far past, which now he would throw
out of court as without sufficient merit to justify a hearing.
And our science is in no more stable case. Not one of its
advances but has been a venture from the known into the unknown
-- and more. It ever trespasses not only upon the
thus-far-and-no-farther of theology, of popular opinion, of the
accredited facts and hearsay truths of history, but also against
its own deeds and dicta of yesterday and this morning.
History, we might recall to our profit, originally meant an
inquiry and investigation into fact and alleged facts, truth and
alleged truths -- not a mere obituary record of what once was but
now no longer exists. On such a basis as this latter, history is
the grossest of fictions, dealing with the greatest of imaginable
illusions. What have the living to do with the "dead and done
for?" Or with tomorrow? The life of sense and sensation has
naught of concern with past or future. There is neither religion
nor science among the kingdoms below man -- no yesterday, no
morrow to their consciousness. Are their inhabitants any the
less making history, repeating history, because "they know not
what they do?"
The past means something, the future portends something to all
men, however little we may be able to record the one in our
memory or read the other in our imagination. There is, there
must be, a better way, a wiser way, therefore a truer way, of
employing the powers we call memory, imagination, and thought
than in the mere shuffling and reshuffling of their so far
acquired products, as a miser his hoard, or in devoting them
merely to enlarging the sphere of animal existence.
Whatever we may conceive of Self and its limits of duration and
capacity, there occurs every day from earliest childhood to the
hour of death an unbroken sequence of the unexpected. All this
is in "the womb of Time," and we are able to read as little of it
as the fetus hidden within the womb of its earthly mother can
read of the larger life in which that mother shares. Surely, no
one has title to define the limits of the probable and improbable
of Self and its powers, whose whole use of his mind is contingent
upon the sanction of his physical senses, and whose whole
conception of Self is contingent upon the possession of an
When the immense historical categories of theology and
materialism, miscalled religion and science, are surveyed for
their own foundations and dimensions, a child can see their
fatuity as compared and contrasted with the views and conduct of
the divine Incarnations, or with the innate powers of man
himself. Whatever our religion or our science, they are but
developments, successive creations by the mind of man. Shall we
worship the watch, the mere timepiece, or consider the
watchmaker, the Being who conceives of endless Time itself, even
while tenant in and identified with a body of temporary duration
whose only existence to him lies in his senses or in his mind?
So observed, no one can avoid perceiving that even in the most
fantastic creations of an exuberant subjectivism there is ever
and always an element of the objective and real. It is to these
elements themselves that we should give attention, if we would
learn to recognize the features of Truth in the midst of the
habiliments in which she has been decked by time and tradition.
The imagination of the masses, disorderly and ill-regulated as it
may be and may have been, could never have conceived and
fabricated ex nihilo so many monstrous figures, such a wealth of
extraordinary tales, had it -- that mass-imagination -- not had
to serve it as a central nucleus those floating reminiscences,
obscure and vague, which unite the broken links of the chain of
time to form with them the mysterious dream foundation of our
collective consciousness -- that psychological hybrid named
This body was once a gelatinous, and before that a nebulous mass,
a whirl of atoms -- the creation out of surrounding material by a
single cell, fecundated by the impact of, to it, two alien and
unknown bodies of which that compound cell was nevertheless, but
the moment before, an integral part. So our earth, so our solar
system, so the Universe. Carrying the same analogy -- the same
HISTORY -- into the world metaphysical, the genesis of mental
existence begins with fecundation of the child consciousness by
the impact of the idea of Self, thence, the same process of
division, segmentation multiplication out of the enveloping mass
of psychological material until we have the normal race-mind.
Is all this, whether in the world of matter or the world of mind,
miracle or chance or the "fortuitous concurrence of atoms" as
Lucretius with Socratic irony suggested in his DE RERUM NATURA?
What, then, if Avatars and Heroes represent one pole in great
Nature -- the successive steps of CONSCIOUS descent from the
world of Spirit to that of Matter as we know it? What if the
corresponding and opposite pole were represented in the
UNCONSCIOUS successive steps of ascent from the world of inchoate
Matter to organized objective bodies? What if the electric
circuit were "closed" by the fusion of the two in Man himself,
the "connecting link" between them?
Is this cosmic process of union, of fecundation, of genesis,
antenatal and postnatal existence, any more mysterious, any more
irreligious or unscientific, any more incredible, than the
process by which the inorganic becomes the organic, the
protoplasmic cell the six-foot man? That process too, by which we
have become what we now are to both mind and sense -- that
process is as mysterious still as it ever was, as much a matter
of opinion and speculation, not knowledge in any vital meaning.
And so with death and disintegration, cosmically as well as
organically. Everywhere is manifest the tendency, not merely to
"run down," but to be born, to be re-assembled in the womb of
Nature, "with the process of the suns." THIS is transmigration,
"Communication between the living and the dead?"
It goes on all the time, before our eyes of sense objectively,
before the mind's eye subjectively. Is there no warrant, then,
that the same process of continuity and change goes on before the
eye of Soul or Self CONSCIOUSLY -- as well as unconsciously and
dream-consciously? What if the human Incarnation of Saviors and
Heroes, of Gods and Demigods, were deliberate, volitional,
knowing efforts to impregnate the mind of man with the divine
seed of CONSCIOUS immortality? That we die, the most of us, life
after life, with only a "dream foundation" for postmortem
existence, requires no evidence, for the majority of men are
their own witnesses to the fact. That we go through this
existence unfertilized by the heavenly pollen also requires no
demonstration. That we were not born viable as to our own
antecedent state and condition is equally of common negative
All this is paralleled physiologically. But that germination and
gestation do occur, despite the wastage of vital essence, is
likewise certain -- or there would be no organic world. Apply
the same parallelism psychologically, and, however little we
know, all that we do know leads straight to the provisional
inference that Demigods and Heroes are those who have received
the divine influx and have not been barren to it.
Such a CONCEPTION as this is possible to any man who has not
already debased himself utterly, and but comparatively few do
that in any given generation of men. Heroes are nearer to the
Gods, but closer to us than those Gods themselves. Herein
History joins her voice to that of Tradition and Inspiration and
all three speak in unison to the hunger of the heart, the
yearning of spiritual aspiration that is innate in every normal
man, the Element of the divine in all Humanity. He who holds to
this conception in his heart, as the mother holds the earthly
seed in the adytum of organic existence -- shall he not feel the
quickening of the Spirit within, "in the course of time?" Who
that studies History, who that observes Life, can fail to see
what one upon this path of discovery once happily called "the
Uplift of Heroes?"
The accessible records pertaining to the divine Incarnations are,
in the theological sense, to be found in the great Scriptures
that, so to say, form the title deeds under which authority is
claimed by creed and sect. Internal evidence in the texts of
each shows that the Scriptures accepted as canonical in the
various religions are, in fact, not original writings, nor
original impartations. Each contains its own evidences of
compilation, of repetition from earlier sources. Back of all the
great Scriptures must lie some common fountainhead, some
Wisdom-Religion, some higher Order of Being, from which all these
In the same way, all that we know of Heroes comes to us in the
great Epics. Each of these evidences internally that it is but a
re-assemblage from still more ancient sources. The great bards
have drawn from their unknown predecessors, as these latter from
widespread and incredibly old material in the form of myths and
legends, embodying either race-mind memories or imaginations.
The modern critics, even the friendly-disposed, see in all these
Epics what other critics see in the great Scriptures -- more or
less authentic recitals of the "lispings of infant humanity," as
Max Muller characterized the ancient Vedic records. The same
origins, then, are ascribed by the schools of scientific
investigators to both Scriptures and Epics -- the imagination of
Confronting these authorities, now as always so far as known, is
the simple and incontrovertible fact that all primitive tribes
are singularly devoid of creative imagination, but from
generation to generation most tenacious of their inherited
customs, habits, modes of thought and conduct. All this spells
unmistakably, not imagination, but MEMORY. Turning to the
theological authorities in every great religion, one finds the
same tenacity of received and inherited points of view. The
purely theological mind is utterly unimaginative, unquestioning,
bound to the past. This also is MEMORY.
Between the opposing schools of authoritative interpretation, the
world has profited little. Some other light has to be sought by
him who entertains the possibility that the great Scriptures and
the great Epics are not all shell and no kernel, that they are
not sterile as the sacred wheat in the mummy's hands, desiccated
or desecrated by the materialist and the theologian. In all this
great fund of literature, revealed and revealing, is constant
evidence of symbolic speech, as carefully planned as the poetic
measures of the great songs themselves.
This mental and moral as well as spiritual picture-language has
never yet been caught by any but the common people, the mystics
and the seers among them -- and these have as inevitably misread
the facts of other worlds as they do of this, not in their
sophistication but in their unwisdom. Equally with the evidences
of origins other than the attributed ones, are the evidences in
all the great classical writers as well as in Scriptures and
Epics alike, of the continuous existence of the Mystery Schools.
Therein were taught, scientifically and demonstrably, the great
truths concerning other worlds, other states of being, the
processes of ascent and descent governing the different orders of
Souls in their migrations and transmigrations.
The existence of these Mystery Schools has never been denied, but
what has been uniformly flouted by theologian and materialist
alike has been the idea that the teachers and disciples in these
Schools possessed any keys to Nature, past, present or future,
inaccessible to themselves. Thus, on the one hand, we find every
great Savior speaking undisguisedly of the Mysteries, and
unmistakably refusing to impart any other information regarding
them than by allegory, parable, and ethical injunction that the
most ordinary man could in part understand and in part apply. As
unmistakably, we find these great Messengers opposed by the
authorities of the times as would beyond doubt be the case today.
For the Way of the Cross is no Appian highroad along which
conquering legions march in ordered tread to fresh fields of
All that is known of these Schools in any real sense is precisely
-- nothing. Their "secrecy and silence" have never yet been
violated either from within or from without the sanctuary. Yet
not alone the great Messengers have spoken of them. Many of the
bards, many of the philosophers and historians of the West as of
the East, have been Initiates of these Schools. Countless
imitations have existed, in remote times as in the present, and
more often than not these have been mistaken for the genuine by
the learned as well as by the untutored. The genuine in
anything, if of value, inevitably excites imitation more than it
excites emulation -- and mankind at large, now as always, makes a
readier market for the vendor's wares. Far more are ready to
listen to a pope than to a Christ, to a politician than to a
Even the noblest of the purely human pursuits of ideals, that of
the Law, -- even jurisprudence -- recognizes this note in human
nature, and countenances it, as the jeweler countenances the
emerald -- despite the flaws. Thus it is an accepted maxim of
our Courts of Justice that "the Law, it would seem for the
purpose of sharpening men's wits, tolerates a certain amount of
lying in trade." That countenance is extended by human nature
even into Religion and Science -- where what are at best but the
speculations of the authorities are, by the public, taken as
unquestionable expositions. On all this, one of the Initiates of
a still existing School has written:
> Human nature in general is the same now as it was a million of
> years ago: prejudice based upon selfishness; a general
> unwillingness to give up an established order of things for new
> modes of life and thought; pride and stubborn resistance to Truth
> if it but upsets their previous notions of things -- such are the
> characteristics of your age. The world's prejudices have to be
> conquered step by step, not at a rush. The door is always opened
> to the right man who knocks.
In all Scriptures and Epics, and in all the mythical genealogies
as veiled in symbol and allegory, is the unvarying testimony
personifying antenatal and postnatal cosmic as well as human life
and processes. One and all, they portray the "War in Heaven"
that ended in two opposed conditions of the hitherto divine and
semi-divine Entities -- the "Fallen Angels" and those "Sons of
God" who did not fall but descended consciously into this
"whirlpool of Souls," the Kabalistic gilgoolem. This is the same
as the chyuta and achyuta of the ancient Aryan texts. This is
that vast "Cycle of Incarnation" in which are concerned Gods,
Demigods, and the Souls called men.
All the theologies "begin at the beginning," but have lost the
connecting links between Spirit and Matter. All the modern
sciences have begun at the bottom and traced the unconnected
evolution of the Kingdoms in matter from the inorganic to the
organic, from dust to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to
man. They too have missed the winding key that supplies the
invisible impulse that bridges the gaps between these Kingdoms.
Those missing links above and below are the secret of the
sanctuary -- in Nature as in the Mystery Schools. Something
shuts US off from antenatal as from postmortem perception -- from
Past and Future. The great lesson, the still unlearned lesson,
taught by myth as by avatar, by poet and philosopher as by seer
and Initiate -- is that these horizons are not impassable, from
below upwards as from above downwards, in full consciousness.
HUMAN WIFE AND SNAKE GODDESS: A BENGALI MYTH
By Ramananda Chatterjee
[From THE ARYAN PATH, October 1935, pages 629-34.]
The cult of the serpent is common to all religions. It takes
many forms -- worship of a single serpent or of a species, of a
serpent embodying a spirit or a deity, of a real or an imaginary
serpent as represented in an image, of a serpent associated with
a divinity (a principal god or one of many gods), or of a purely
There is a distinction between the worship of the animal itself
and its worship as the embodiment of a god or a spirit.
Sometimes a god shows himself as a serpent, or the reptile is the
symbol or attendant of a god and is often seen as the guardian of
a shrine or a temple.
While the cult of the serpent is to be found in some age or other
in all parts of the world, it is of special importance in India.
It is not more widely distributed or developed in so many varied
and interesting forms elsewhere. India is the only country in
the world where all the known species of living snakes exist.
Their abundant distribution and the serious loss of life caused
by them every year afford an adequate explanation of the fear
with which they are regarded and the respect and worship paid to
In Bengal, the worship of the goddess Manasa or Vishabari
("remover of venom") is very prominent. If it is neglected by
any family, some member is sure to die of snakebite. While
Manasa may be worshipped every day, the special day reserved in
Bengal for her worship is the last of Sraban, which came this
year on August 17 according to Bengali Almanac. Usually she is
worshipped by placing an earthen pot marked with vermilion under
a tree, with clay images or snakes arranged round it and a
trisula (or trident) driven into the ground. Sometimes a kind of
cactus named after her is taken as her emblem. Sometimes she is
believed to dwell in a pipal tree. In places where snakes
abound, a special shrine or a separate room is dedicated to the
goddess. On the day set apart, her image of clay is worshipped
-- principally by the Bagdis of Central and Western Bengal, as by
the Bauris and Mals of the same regions.
According to the statement of the Bagdis, Manasa is their
favorite deity. Her image is represented with four arms, with a
cobra in each hand, and crowned by a tiara of snakes. After the
worship, her image is taken in procession and finally consigned
to a river or a tank. In my native town Bankura, Western Bengal
during boyhood, my playmates and I enjoyed the songs about the
snake-goddess sung by her devotee. This occasion is enlivened by
tableaux vivant or by clay figures caricaturing or seriously
representing events of the year and persons connected with them,
carried on the shoulders of men or on bullock carts through the
In Bengal, the principal myth of the snake-goddess centers round
Behula, its heroine. There are many poetic versions of the
story. More than two dozen have been printed. As in other
countries of the world and in other parts of India, so in Bengal
there have been rivalries and conflicts of cults. The Manasa
myth is reminiscent of such a conflict between the cult of the
great god Shiva and that of the snake-goddess Manasa. The
following story tells how a friendly understanding was arrived at
between the two.
> Manasa, the Snake-goddess, wished to enjoy the devotion and
> worship of humanity. But the great god Shiva ordained that until
> Chand, the richest merchant of Champaknagar, worshipped her, she
> would never receive the recognition of humanity.
> Now Chand was a devotee of Shiva and had no reverence to spare
> for anyone else. He was prosperous and powerful, had a devoted
> wife, Sanaka by name, and a large family.
> Sanaka observed that some of her neighbors had attained great
> prosperity by worshipping Manasa, so she too arranged for a
> similar worship, but dared not take her husband into her
> confidence. Chand happened to hear of it, was enraged, and used
> his stout stick of hintal on the image of the goddess, scattering
> the offerings. The cry of the terrified Sanaka filled the house,
> but Chand paid no attention.
> The rage of the goddess knew no bounds. She determined to avenge
> the insult and to break the pride of the insolent merchant.
> She called forth her evil messengers, the venomous snakes, and
> dispatched them to destroy the sons of Chand. But Chand defeated
> her purpose repeatedly. He and his friend Dhanvantari knew a
> charm for bringing back the dead to life; no sooner did his six
> sons die of snakebite, than they were brought back to life.
> Manasa took away Chand's power of reviving the dead by a clever
> ruse and then killed Dhanvantari. Chand was helpless. One by
> one, his six sons were killed. The bereaved mother and the young
> widows implored the merchant to acknowledge the power of the
> irate goddess and make peace with her. But Chand only struck the
> earth with his stout hintal stick and vowed that he would never
> offer worship to the one-eyed one. (Manasa had only one eye; the
> other was blind.) He performed worship of Shiva on a magnificent
> scale, to show his contempt for Manasa and her vengeful
> But the lamentations of his wife and his widowed daughters became
> too much for him. He planned a voyage with his merchant vessels.
> He filled thirteen ships with rich merchandise and set sail for
> distant countries. He sailed many rivers and seas and touched at
> many ports. He amassed a large fortune before beginning his
> return voyage. The machination of Manasa produced a furious
> storm and the thirteen vessels went down with all their crew and
> cargo. Only Chand was left alive floating and drifting. Finding
> him in such an extremity, the vengeful Manasa made a large
> flowering lotus plant, sacred to her, float on the sea before his
> eyes. Chand was tempted to clutch at it, but remembering that
> the lotus was sacred to her, shrank back in abhorrence. Still
> Manasa would not allow him to die. If he died before worshipping
> her, she would not be recognized by men as a goddess, for thus
> Shiva had ordained. After a desperate struggle, he came to land.
> He was entirely destitute. On foot, he wandered, tattered and
> disheveled, and finally reached home.
> Another son had been born to him in the meantime, a very
> beautiful boy, Lakhindar. As he grew older, his bright face was
> a little solace to Sanaka's ravaged heart that still palpitated
> with fear. Chand had not made peace with the angry goddess and
> her ire might be directed against this boy the sole stay of her
> declining years. She implored her husband to propitiate the
> goddess but she met only stern refusals.
> Lakhindar was not only handsome but his manners charmed all. The
> time came when Sanaka desired a beautiful daughter-in-law. But
> Chand was afraid. Might not festivities rouse again the
> vengeance of the goddess?
> Unable to bear the importunity of his wife, Chand consulted an
> astrologer. His heart turned cold at what he heard. Lakhindar
> was destined to die of snakebite on the wedding night.
> Chand kept the dread secret to himself. He had not the heart to
> shatter poor Sanaka's dream of happiness. But he planned
> frustration of the coming revenge. Fate there was but there was
> also human prowess and sometimes it proved the stronger. He
> would so arrange that the wicked agents of Manasa should be
> unable to work her fell design. Thus determined, he sent his
> family priest Janardan to look for a bride.
> Janardan saw many girls, and finally chose Behula, the daughter
> of Sai, a rich merchant of Nichhaninagar. Behula had fine
> character and exquisite beauty. People took her for a celestial
> nymph. She was highly accomplished. Especially was she famous
> as a dancer.
> On hearing from Janardan, Chand started for Nichhaninagar
> carrying rich presents for the future bride.
> He was cordially received by Sai. He saw Behula and was amazed
> at her beauty. He tested her and found her to be a girl far
> above the ordinary. The match was settled, the wedding day
> fixed, and Chand returned to Champaknagar.
> Sanaka's joy knew no bounds. She began her preparations. Chand
> had his own to make. He ordered a house of iron to be built on
> the top of a hill. There should not be a single hole in the
> walls. Chand intended it for the newly married pair on the
> wedding night. Thus, he would cheat Manasa.
> The goddess began to feel anxious. It would never do to be
> defeated by the proud and insolent merchant. Unless Chand was
> brought to his knees, Manasa would never be revered as a goddess
> by humanity. So, now through threats and then promises of favor,
> she prevailed upon the builder to leave a very small hole in a
> wall, but to fill it with charcoal dust. The man first refused
> but eventually yielded through fear.
> The marriage of Lakhindar and Behula was solemnized with great
> pomp. They loved each other from the first, and it was a deep
> and immortal love.
> After the ceremony, Chand told Behula's father of the terrible
> secret. With tears in their eyes and a great fear in their
> hearts, the parents of Behula bade her farewell, as she started
> for her husband's home.
> The pair was led into the iron house. All doors were closed.
> Peacocks and mongooses were let loose on all sides, medicinal
> herbs were strewn all around, and snake charmers and exorcists
> were present in large numbers to watch the snakes. Chand himself
> kept guard with his staff of hintal.
> Manasa held a council of war in her celestial abode. She urged
> the snakes to kill Lakhindar, but they were afraid to face the
> dangers that lay on the way to the iron house. At last, Banka
> Raj, a venomous snake, volunteered.
> Behula was keeping watch by the side of her sleeping husband.
> She knew that fate had ordained her widowhood on this very night.
> But she was determined to fight against this great calamity with
> all the powers of her soul.
> The hours passed. Suddenly Behula started. A sense of impending
> calamity descended on her. She looked around. A snake entered
> the room. She was terror-stricken but did not give way. With a
> pair of gold pincers, she made Banka Raj her captive.
> Thrice did Manasa send her messengers of death, only to be thrice
> foiled by the watchful bride. Dawn was fast approaching. The
> bridegroom must be killed before sunrise. So Manasa worked a
> spell on poor Behula and the bride was overpowered by sleep.
> Then Kali, the deadly asp, entered the bridal chamber and stung
> Lakhindar on his little toe.
> He cried out, "I am stung, I am stung. Rise Behula, and see. I
> am dying. "
> Behula rose to find fate's decree fulfilled. Her husband was
> dying. His body was blue with the deadly venom. She clasped him
> in her arms and called him, again and yet again. After a few
> minutes, he expired. Behula wept and moaned but no sound could
> penetrate through the iron walls of the chamber. She remained
> alone with her beloved, a widow on her wedding night.
> Chand rushed up to the chamber with the first streak of dawn. A
> sound of moaning pierced his ears. He entered with trembling
> heart to find his son dead on his marriage bed.
> Chand disappeared. No one knew where.
> People who die of snakebite are not cremated. They are put into
> a river. As the relatives of Chand were preparing to take the
> body to the riverside, Behula requested them to build a raft and
> place the body on it, dressed in its wedding robes. They did.
> As they lowered the raft to the river, Behula mounted it, sitting
> with her dead husband's head on her lap. Nobody had ever seen
> the like before. Nobody had ever heard of the living
> accompanying the dead on the great journey. Everyone implored
> her to desist. Death was universal. Human beings had to submit.
> What use fighting against fate? Even Sanaka came to the water's
> edge and implored Behula to return. But the young wife was
> adamant. She and Lakhindar had become one through life and
> death; she must follow him. If the merciful gods granted her the
> life of her husband, then only would she return amongst them.
> The raft floated slowly downstream. People crowded both banks to
> see a living wife following her dead husband. The raft reached
> Nichhaninagar, her father's home. Her aged parents weeping ran
> to see her and to dissuade her from this mad venture. It was all
> in vain. She and Lakhindar must remain together in death or
> The raft left all familiar places and traveled to unknown coasts.
> Many dangers befell, many temptations assailed, but her courage
> and faith remained unshaken. The body began to decompose; only
> the bones were left; but to her, it was the same. Wherever she
> saw shrines of Manasa, she prayed for her dead husband's life.
> The gods rendered her help. Even Manasa began to relent.
> The river broadened. The raft reached the ocean. At last, it
> touched a strange shore. Behula had passed earth's boundary and
> come to the land of the gods. Here she saw a woman washing
> clothes. This was Neta, the washerwoman of the gods. She had a
> little child with her, who gave her much trouble. She killed the
> child in the presence of the horrified Behula and went on calmly
> with her work. In the evening, she sprinkled water over the
> child's body and it came to life.
> Behula knew her quest to be at an end. She had found one who
> could bring the dead to life again. She watched and waited for
> Neta the next day and fell at her feet. She implored her with
> tears in her eyes to restore her husband to life.
> Neta was a friend of Manasa. She knew Behula's story. She took
> pity on the poor girl, and led her to the court of Indra.
> Behula stood before the assembled gods and told her sad tale.
> The gods listened to her story, but instead of answering her
> prayers, they requested her to dance before them. What a strange
> request to make of a sorrow-stricken widow! What else could she
> do but carry out their behest? So Behula danced. It was
> wonderful to behold. Even the gods had not witnessed anything
> more pure or more exquisite. They wept. They asked Manasa to
> give back to Lakhindar his life.
> Manasa also told her tale. If Chand agreed to worship her, she
> was ready to give back everything.
> Behula promised that she would plead with her father-in-law. Not
> only Lakhindar but all his brothers also would come to life
> again. They returned to Champaknagar full of hope.
> Chand was finally persuaded to worship Manasa, partly by the
> importunities of his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law and partly
> through the behest of Shiva, who ordered him to cast off his
> pride and submit to the will of the gods.
> Thus, peace was made between the mortal and divine combatants.
> Behula's name rang through the country as the chaste and devoted
> wife of the race of mortals.
Rabindranath Tagore has called the story of Behula "the village
epic of Bengal, which has sprung from the heart of our people and
has lived in oral traditions and folklore, sung and performed by
the local operatic troupes of this province." Some fifty-seven
years ago, I witnessed as a boy a performance of the story of
Behula in Balarampur, my maternal uncle's village in Bankura. It
was held after nightfall by torchlight under the spreading
branches of a banyan tree. I was so charmed with the music and
by the dancing of the boy dressed as Behula that next day I went
to make friends with him! Everyone who has read this village epic
in all its details or seen it performed will agree with the poet,
"It gives us the picture of the ideal wife, her heroic sacrifice
and continues the atmosphere of home life in its humble majesty,
touching simple hearts with the beauty and depth of its
SOME OBJECTIONS TO AND MISCONCEPTIONS OF REINCARNATION
By Leoline L. Wright
From REINCARNATION: A LOST CHORD IN MODERN THOUGHT, pages 29-35
One of the commonest mistakes made by inquirers is the belief
that reincarnation means that a man can be reborn in the body of
an animal. Some Oriental religions teach that such animal
incarnation is a punishment for certain sins. This doctrine is a
distortion, which came about in the course of centuries, of an
original teaching to be explained later. Theosophy denies this
doctrine emphatically; all its teachings are a refutation of this
idea. "Once a man, always a man" is one of the great axioms of
the Archaic Science. This statement is based on the fact,
already referred to, that the Universe is a living organism. We
are a part of that great organism and the laws therefore that
govern our life spring from the nature of that organism. Thus by
understanding what happens in the physical world we can get an
idea of the corresponding processes in all other spheres or
planes within the boundaries of our own Universe.
Looking at man from this standpoint, we see that as the
circulations of the human being, arterial and nervous, make
growth possible, so do the universal circulations, vital and
spiritual, make evolution possible. In man, the life forces flow
along definite channels called veins, arteries, and nerves. In
the Universe, the evolutionary pulsations also pass along
definite channels and are called in Theosophy the Circulations of
the Cosmos. The relation of this fact to the permanence of the
Ego as a human being has been well expressed:
> MANAS the Thinker . . . does not return to baser forms; first,
> because he does not wish to, and second, because he cannot. For
> just as the blood in the body is prevented by valves from rushing
> back and engorging the heart, so in this greater system of
> universal circulation the door is shut behind the Thinker and
> prevents his retrocession. Reincarnation as a doctrine applying
> to the real man does not teach transmigration into the kingdoms
> of nature below the human.
> -- W.Q. Judge, THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY
This distortion of the law of Reincarnation referred to as "the
transmigration of the soul" is a misapplication of a fact
anciently known and now again brought forward by Theosophy -- the
transmigration of the life atoms. In our literature, it has been
often explained, as in the following passage:
> In the application of this word to the life atoms . . . it
> means, briefly, that the life atoms that in their aggregate
> compose man's lower principles, at and following the change that
> men call death, migrate or transmigrate or pass into other bodies
> to which these life atoms are psycho magnetically attracted, be
> these attractions high or low -- and they are usually low,
> because their own evolutionary development is as a rule far from
> being advanced.
> -- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 598
If a man has led a grossly animal existence, the life atoms of
which the cells of his body are composed will automatically
through attraction pass into those bodies or substances that will
afford the appropriate outlet for the kind of energy that has
been built into them. If the life of another has been high and
fine, the vibrations impressed upon the atoms will cause them to
be attracted only to clean, wholesome, finely organized
substances or organisms. When the period of rebirth comes again,
and the life atoms return by the action of psycho magnetic
attraction to the reincarnating entity to which they belong, they
bring with them a reinforcement -- through their transmigrations
-- of the bad or good influences educated into them during the
last life. Thus, it is easy to see how this teaching of the
transmigrations of the life atoms has, like so many of the occult
doctrines, been degraded by ignorance of priestcraft from its
original and true significance.
A good many object to reincarnation because they do not like the
idea of coming back to this earth. They feel that they have had
enough of the sorrows and difficulties of human life and do not
wish to return to it. And such an objection is just as natural
and understandable as a child's objection to being kept in
school. But not for nothing has the term 'Mother Nature' been a
universal one in all ages, for it springs from man's instinctive
knowledge that we are her children, that she is greater and wiser
than we are, and will hold us to her laws of evolution and
discipline whether we will or no. No man by merely taking
thought can add one cubit to his stature or change any of the
processes of life or death. It may be said that the truth of
reincarnation cannot be proved. But it is so grounded in
probabilities as founded on all the ways of Nature -- day and
night, life and death, sleeping and waking, summer and winter,
the phases of all planetary motion, and the very cycles of the
sun itself; it is so natural and instinctive a human belief,
being at the present time the conviction of a large majority of
the human race, and in olden times always universally accepted;
it makes such a strong appeal to man's heart and logic that
thousands upon hearing it for the first time have accepted it at
once as an inevitable conclusion from the facts of life.
Moreover, it is at the present time spreading rapidly among all
classes of thinking men; and it is seen to have such power to
reform and satisfy and inspire human nature, that it must, once
encountered, become a theory that can at least never again be
forgotten or ignored.
These things are but a part of the overwhelming 'presumptive
evidence' for reincarnation. To deny it, to say, "I do not want
to come back to earth," is hardly enough. There is a general
tendency in human nature to adopt the easiest way, to think that
because we find a certain course unpleasant and another one more
agreeable we must be allowed to please ourselves. And this in
spite of the fact that the very sorrows and difficulties we are
so tired of are there to convince us to the contrary. Man must
somewhere meet the consequences of his thoughts and actions, his
failures and moral victories. Why not here -- here on this
earth, where he can reap the harvest on the spot where the seed
Let us remember, however, that these teachings of Theosophy have
nothing to do with what is called fatalism. We are indeed held
in the grip of our present circumstances, because having
intertwined ourselves by former actions into these circumstances
we cannot escape them until by a reverse course of action we
effect our own liberation. But at any moment that anyone can see
and admit that he has this power, and then sets about using his
will, he begins to be a master of those circumstances and can use
them to bring about exactly contrary results to what they would
have produced if he had tamely submitted to them. Thus man,
using knowledge and free will, becomes increasingly master of
himself and therefore of his destiny. Theosophy is foremost
among all systems of thought in arousing us to this knowledge and
realization of our power, and so leading us into creative
progress and freedom.
Again, people sometimes say, "But if we are all reborn into
different bodies how shall I know my friends?" Theosophy answers
that no act of recognition is necessary. We and our present
family and friends are knitted together by love, by mutual
experience, and by congeniality. We shall not have to seek each
other out. Families will be reborn together in continuation of
the bonds they are united by now. We and our friends can no more
help being attracted and brought together than a magnet can help
selecting iron filings from surrounding soil. We cannot escape
our friends, or -- it must also be emphasized -- our enemies!
And there are not a few who object to the idea of being reborn as
an infant and having to learn all over again the merely physical
side of existence, as well as repeating in each life elementary
education and brain development. But as has been pointed out
before, this repetition of even physical experience is a habit of
Nature that has been essential to evolution.
We are assured that eventually, in the long course of evolution,
as the spiritual development of man proceeds, he will grow out of
the need for this form of repetition.
The whole point for us lies of course in the influence of
SPIRITUAL development. We are burdened by conditions of physical
weakness because in the past we have bound ourselves into slavery
to them, by living, thinking, and longing nearly altogether for
material and personal satisfactions. These, being self centered
or centripetal in action, create bonds that hinder the spiritual
progress of the Reincarnating Ego. So the need is to so
spiritualize and impersonalize ourselves that all limitations and
weaknesses will gradually dissolve away. The Ego will then be
free to control and develop its vehicles of self expression in
harmony with its own divine nature and purposes.
Objections to reincarnation spring as a rule from unfamiliarity
with the teaching and its innumerable close applications to the
problems and situations arising in life. And there are,
naturally, some who will not accept it because they do not wish
to believe it. But the great majority who encounter this
doctrine are almost sure, sooner or later, to join that growing
multitude of all kinds and classes of people -- not by any means
all of whom profess Theosophy -- to whom reincarnation is the
very foundation of human justice, happiness, and spiritual
ASKING ABOUT CHELASHIP
By W.Q. Judge
[From LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME, pages 40-43.]
There are so many questioners who ask about Chelaship that your
letter comes quite apropos to experiences of my own. You say
that these applicants must have some answer, and in that, I agree
with you. And whether they are ready or unready, we must be able
to tell them something. But generally, they are not ready, nor,
indeed, are they willing to take the first simple step that is
demanded. I will talk the matter over with you for your future
guidance in replying to such questions, perhaps also to clear up
my own mind.
The first question a man should ask himself (and by "man" we mean
postulants of either sex) is "When and how did I get a desire to
know about Chelaship and to become a Chela?" and secondly, "What
is a Chela, and what Chelaship?"
There are many sorts of Chelas. There are lay Chelas and
probationary ones; accepted Chelas and those who are trying to
fit themselves to be even lay Chelas. Any person can constitute
himself a lay Chela, feeling sure that in this life he may never
hear from his guide consciously. Then as to probationary Chelas,
there is an INVARIABLE rule that they go upon seven years' trial.
These "trials" do not refer to fixed and stated tests, but to all
the events of life and the bearing of the probationer in them.
There is no PLACE to which applicants can be referred where their
request could be made, because these matters do not relate to
places and to officials: this is an affair of the inner nature.
We BECOME Chelas; we obtain that position in reality because our
inner nature is to that extent opened that it can and will take
knowledge: we receive the guerdon at the hands of the Law.
In a certain sense, every sincere member of the Theosophical
Society is in the way of becoming a Chela, because the Masters do
some of Their work with and for humanity through this Society,
selected by Them as Their agent. And as ALL Their work and
aspiration are to the end of helping the race, no one of Their
Chelas can hope to remain (or become) such, if any selfish desire
for personal possessions of spiritual wealth constitutes the
motive for trying to be a Chela. Such a motive, in the case of
one already a Chela, acts instantly to throw him out of the
ranks, whether he is aware of his loss or not, and in the case of
one trying to become a Chela, it acts as a BAR. Nor does a real
Chela spread the fact that he is such. For this Lodge is not
like exoteric societies that depend upon favor or mere outward
appearances. It is a real thing with living Spirit-men at its
head, governed by laws that contain within themselves their own
executioners, and that do not require a tribunal, accusations,
verdicts, or any notice whatever.
As a general thing, a person of European or American birth has
extreme difficulty with which to contend. He has no heredity of
psychical development to call upon; no known assembly of Masters
or Their Chelas within reach. His racial difficulties prevent
him from easily seeing within himself; he is not introspective by
nature. But even he can do much if he purifies his motive, and
either naturally possesses or cultivates an ardent and
unshakeable faith and devotion -- a faith that keeps him a firm
believer in the existence of Masters even through years of
non-intercourse. They are generous and honest debtors and always
repay. How They repay, and when, is not for us to ask. Men may
say this requires as blind devotion as was ever asked by any
Church. It DOES, but it is a blind devotion to Masters who are
Truth itself; to Humanity and to you, to your own intuitions and
ideals. This devotion to an ideal is also founded upon another
thing, which is that a man is hardly ready to be a Chela unless
he is able to stand ALONE, uninfluenced by other men or events.
For HE MUST STAND ALONE, and he might as well know this at the
beginning as at the end.
There are also certain qualifications that he must possess.
These are to be found in MAN: FRAGMENTS OF FORGOTTEN HISTORY,
towards the close of the book, so we will not dwell upon them
The question of the general fitness of applicants being disposed
of, we come to the still more serious point of the relations of
Guru and Chela, or Master and Disciple. We want to know what it
really is to be a pupil of such a Teacher.
The relation of Guru and Chela is nothing if it is not a
spiritual one. Whatever is merely outward, or formal, as the
relation established by mere asking and acceptance, is not
spiritual, but formal, and is that which arises between TEACHER
and PUPIL. Yet even this latter is not in any way despicable,
because the teacher stands to his pupil, insofar as the relation
permits, in the same way as the Guru to his Chela. It is a
difference of degree; but this difference of degree is what
constitutes the distinction between the spiritual and the
material, for, passing along the different shadings from the
grossest materiality to as far as we can go, we find at last that
matter merges into spirit.
We now speak, of course, about what is commonly called MATTER,
while we well know that in truth the thing thus designated is not
really matter, but an enormous illusion that in itself has no
existence. The real matter, called Mulaprakriti by the Hindus,
is an invisible thing or substance of which our matter is a
representation. The real matter is what the Hermetists called
PRIMORDIAL earth; for us, it is an intangible phase of matter.
We can easily come to believe that what is usually called MATTER
is not really such, inasmuch as we find clairvoyants and nervous
people seeing through thick walls and closed doors. Were this
MATTER, then they could not see through it. But when an ordinary
clairvoyant comes face to face with PRIMORDIAL MATTER, he or she
cannot see beyond it, instead being met by a dead wall, denser
than any wall ever built by human hands.
So from earliest times, among all but modern western people, the
teacher was given great reverence by the pupil, and the latter
was taught from youth to look upon his preceptor as second only
to his father and mother in dignity. It was among these people a
great sin, harmful to his moral being, to be disrespectful to his
teacher even in thought. The reason for this lay then, and no
less today does also lie, in the fact that a long chain of
influence extends from the highest spiritual guide who may belong
to any man, down through vast numbers of spiritual chiefs, ending
at last in the mere teacher of our youth. Or, to restate it in
modern reversion of thought, a chain extends up from our teacher
or preceptors to the highest spiritual chief in whose ray or
descending line one may happen to be. And it makes no difference
whatever, in this occult relation, which neither pupil nor final
guide may be aware or admit that this is the case.
Thus it happens that the child who holds his teacher in
reverence, and diligently applies himself accordingly with faith,
does no violence to this intangible but mighty chain, and is
benefited accordingly, whether he knows it or not. Nor again
does it matter that a child has a teacher who evidently gives him
a bad system. This is his Karma, and by his reverent and
diligent attitude, he works it out, and transcends that erstwhile
This chain of influence is called the Guruparampara chain.
The Guru is the GUIDE or READJUSTER, and may not always combine
the function of teacher with it.
TIME, DURATION, AND THE ETERNAL NOW
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 232-35.]
The main thing to remember about Time is this: that it exists,
but IS NOT in the absolute sense. That which IS in the absolute
sense is Duration. What is the distinction between Time and
Duration? Time like all things in manifestation is relative and
is divisible. Time has past, has present, has future, and these
three are distinct each from the other twain. Duration has no
divisibility. It has no past, it has no future, and consequently
there is no distinctive time present. But there is what we in
our feeble language call an Eternal Now. Oh, how difficult it is
to describe this, and yet it is so simple to catch the thought.
For instance, the Romans lived, suffered, enjoyed, died, and
strutted their little ways upon the stage of life in their time,
as Shakespeare said. But they are now gone. That is ended. Yet
in Duration, those Romans are just as much alive now as they were
then, for all exists in an Eternal Now. Similarly with us of the
present; and we look to the future as something that is coming.
Time in our consciousness has an effect of distance, which it has
because our minds are relative. But in Duration, that future is
For instance, if my mind, if my thought, if my consciousness were
now at the present instant functioning in Duration, I would not
see things, such as the Romans of the past, dead, gone forever --
then ourselves here now, and something unknown to come in the
future. But functioning in Duration, all things would be present
in my consciousness with me now. What we call Past, what we call
the Future, and what we call the Present would be with me now,
and not only those things, but all the Now of infinite Space, and
endless, frontierless Duration.
Time exists most emphatically, it is an illusion, a Maya, which
merely means we find it very difficult to understand it and do
not understand it exactly as it should be understood; but that is
not time's fault, that is our fault. Our understanding is too
weak to grasp it as it is, as it exists. Therefore, we call it a
Maya to us. In English, we say an illusion. Yes, but illusion
does not mean something that does not exist. If it did not
exist, obviously it would not be an illusion. It means something
that deludes our understanding -- an illusion or a delusion to
Now you know Newton, as they now try to point out, had an idea
that Time was an absolute entity, like Space, and Matter; and
that Time as an absolute entity was in actual movement, flowing
was the word, flowing out from the past into the present into the
future. The scientific philosophers of today have rejected that
idea. They say it is all very well to look upon past, present,
and future, as easy, convenient ways of doing our daily tasks, of
understanding the life around us; but it is an unreal thing.
Time is not an absolute entity. You ask then, what is the
absolute entity? They will say it is the space-time continuum --
about which there is a lot of truth, for they have at last welded
together in one thing, Space and what we call Time; and both of
these are what we call Duration. Duration is Space, and all its
manifestations are Time -- in Time, of Time.
Many illustrations come readily to mind to show us how Time is
illusory to our understanding. When you are happy, time passes
quickly. When you are a child, time passes very quickly, or
terribly slowly, depending upon the mood of the child. As you
grow older, time just flows by, or drags, depending upon your
mood. Therefore, what is Time itself? Time is the functioning of
consciousness, in the present case our human consciousness, and
our human consciousness is an attribute of what we call the
space-time continuum of Cosmic Infinitude.
Now I wonder if you are much wiser after all this philosophical
discussion! I can tell you this though. There is a way of
becoming conscious of Duration per se -- when the consciousness
seems to be taken right out of Time. It is something you cannot
describe. You have to be it for the time being to understand it.
Y wonder how many of you have not had that experience, perhaps at
the instant between dreaming and waking, just before falling
asleep, or during a fainting-fit. You find that all the
attributes of Time suddenly have vanished, and you are conscious
only of utter immensity, utter reality, and timelessness, and
everything has vanished that is comprehensible to the brain-mind;
very understandable, however, by the intuition.
This raised to the nth degree, i.e., into the pure unadulterated
consciousness of the spirit within, where all wisdom and
knowledge and vision are, is what the Hindu yogis mean when they
talk about Sambuddhi Samadhi, or simply Samadhi sometimes. And
when the consciousness is fixed in the state that I have just
touched, the Buddhists call it Nirvana. Do you want to know why?
Nirvana means 'blown out.' Do you know why? Because of just what
I have described. All the lower attributes of the personal ego
have sunken into latency, have gone, or have been surmounted.
Your consciousness is for the time co-extensive with the
Universe. Therein there is no consciousness of the movements and
changes of things combined with the psychological interplay of
attributes, with these together producing division or sense of
time; the procession of events has passed out of the picture, for
the consciousness has risen above these events of manifestation,
and you are now in timeless Duration.
Consider a mere illustration of how illusory time is. Please
remember that such an illusion does not mean that it is
non-existent, for if it were non-existent, there would be no
argument about it. Consider how curiously time and its phenomena
seem to change in your dreams. It is a well-known fact of
psychology that in dreams, or even under the influence of some
drug, the events of a lifetime seem to be condensed within a few
moments; or contrariwise, what would in waking, feeling life take
but a few moments, can in these sub- or super-normal states be so
stretched out as to cover years. It is the same consciousness
that experiences these extraordinary visions, and thus 'Time' in
any of these states or in the normal Jagrat or waking-state seems
to the experiencing consciousness just as 'real' as any other of
its experiences in and with Time.
These facts lead the reflective mind almost instantly to see that
it is the experiencing consciousness that really is the
time-maker, weaving this making out of the stuff of timeless
Duration, which in a true sense is identical with the essence of
Consciousness itself. Many a drowning but later resuscitated man
has had all the events of his lifetime pass in a rapid panoramic
vision before his consciousness. The whole procession of events
that originally took years to experience now flashes before the
mind's eye in a few moments of clock-time, and yet the
experiencing consciousness is cognizant of no incongruity or
unconsciousness about all this.
Time, therefore, when compared with Duration, is something like
extension when compared with Space. Time is a phenomenon of
Duration, just as extension is a phenomenon of Space, and in both
cases, Duration and Space are realities or noumena, and Time and
extensions are the phenomena or illusions, in other words, the
Maya in each case.
Remember also that there are collective Mayas, such as we human
beings ordinarily experience as when all human beings on earth
have the same time-consciousness of day or night, or a group of
men and women will have the same consciousness of an hour for
instance passed in a theater, or on a picnic, or in a train, or a
week at sea.
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application