Monday, 30 March 2015

The Spiritual Meaning of Easter 2

There's actually some very intimate connections between William Stainton Moses and Theosophy, as can be ascertained from the Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett. A future post on this is on the drawing table. "The whole course of the typical life of the Pattern Man is emblematic of the progressive development of the life begun on earth, completed in heaven (so to use your terms), born of self-denial, and culminating in spiritual ascension. In the Christ life, as in a story, man may read the tale of the progress of spirit from incarnation to enfranchisement. Thirty years and more of angelic preparation fitted the Christ for His mission: three short years sufficed to discharge so much of it as man could bear. So man's spirit in its development progresses through the course covered by the Festivals of the Christian Church, from the birth of self-denial to the festival of the completed life. Born in self-denial, progressing through self-sacrifice, developed by perpetual struggles with the adversaries (the antagonistic principles which must be conquered in daily life, in self, and in the foes), it dies at length to the external, and rises on its Easter morn from the grave of matter, and lives henceforth, baptized by the outpoured spirit of Pentecost, a new and risen life, till it ascends to the place prepared for it by the tendency of its earth life.

This is spirit's progress, and it may be said to be a process of regeneration, shortly typified by crucifixion and resurrection. The old man dies, the new man rises from his grave. The old man, with his lusts, is crucified; the new man is raised up to live a spiritual and holy life. It is regeneration of spirit that is the culmination of bodily life, and the process is crucifixion of self, a daily death, as Paul was wont to say. In the life of spiritual progress there should be no stagnation, no paralysis. It should be a growth and a daily adaptation of knowledge; a mortification of the earthly and sensual, and a corresponding development of the spiritual and heavenly. In other words, it is a growth in grace and in knowledge of the Christ; the purest type of human life presented to your imitation. It is a clearing away of the material, and a development of the spiritual--a purging as by fire, the fire of a consuming zeal; of a lifelong struggle with self, and all that self includes; of an ever-widening grasp of Divine truth.

By no other means can spirit be purified. The furnace is one of self- sacrifice: the process the same for all. Only in some souls, wherein the Divine flame burns more brightly, the process is rapid and concentrated; while in duller natures the fires smoulder, and vast cycles of purgation are required. Blessed are they who can crush out the earthly, and welcome the fiery trial which shall purge away the dross. To such, progress is rapid and purification sure.

This, briefly, is the life of the progressive spirit--self-sacrifice, whereby self is crucified; self-denial, whereby the world is vanquished; and spiritual conflict, whereby the adversaries are beaten back. In it is no stagnation; even no rest; no finality. It is a daily death, out of which springs the risen life. It is a constant fight, out of which is won perpetual progress. It is the quenchless struggle of the light that is within to shine out more and more into the radiance of the perfect day. And thus only it is that what you call heaven is won."

Spirit Teachings, Section 30, William Stainton Moses

The Spiritual Meaning of Easter 1

This if from 1883- I think that since then, these views have become a little more prevalent - I suggest Alan Watts' Myth and Ritual in Christianity for a more recent corroboration. "Easter is to us the Festival of Resurrection, but not of the body. To us it symbolises not Resurrection of matter, but Resurrection from matter, the Resurrection of Spirit: and not this alone, but Resurrection of Spirit from material beliefs and surroundings: the emancipation of the soul from the earthly and material, even as the spirit rises from the dead body with which it has done for ever.

Christians keep festival in memory of the rescue of their Master, the Lord Jesus, from the grasp of death: and though they erroneously believe that the material body was revived, they do in ignorance celebrate the great spiritual truth that there is no death. The festival to us is one of joy over the partial recognition of a truth divinely seen by men: and of still greater rejoicing over the mighty work consummated on this day. It is not that death was vanquished, as you say, but that man began dimly to see a vision of eternal life.

You know that the three branches of the Church of Christ are agreed in celebrating certain festivals in memory of events in the life of Jesus. They who, outside the Church, have refused to keep fast and festival are not wise. They cut themselves off from a portion of the truth. But the Christian Church keeps in memory of its Head, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, and Whitsuntide. Those are the landmarks in the Christ life, and each represents an event in His life with a hidden spiritual significance.

The Christmas Festival of the Birth of the Spirit on the plane of Incarnation typifies Love and Self-denial. The exalted spirit tabernacles in flesh, abnegates Self, animated by Love. It is to us the Festival of Self-denial.

The Epiphany, the Festival of the manifestation of this new light to the world, it is to us the Festival of Spiritual Enlightenment: the shining of the True Light that lighteth everyone that is born into the world: not the carrying of it to men, but the uplifting of the Light so that they who can see may come to it.

The Fast of Lent typifies to us the struggles of Truth with darkness. It is the Wrestling with the Adversaries. The recurring season shadows forth a constantly recurring struggle. It is the Fast of Conflict: of wrestling with evil: of the endeavour to overcome the world.

Good Friday typifies to us the consummation of the struggle, the end that awaits all such conflicts in your world--Death: but Death in Life. It is the Festival of Triumphant Self-sacrifice: the realisation and consummation of the Christ life. It is to us no Fast, but a Festival of Triumphant Love.

Easter, the Festival of the Resurrection, typifies to us the perfected life, the risen life, the glorified life. It is the Festival of Spirit, conquering and to conquer: of the risen life, enfranchised and set free.

Whitsuntide, which Christendom associates with the baptism of the Spirit, is to us a Festival of great import. It typifies the outpouring of a large measure of spiritual truth on those who have accepted the Christ life. It is the Festival which is the complement of Good Friday. As human ignorance slays the truth that it cannot receive: so, as a consequence, from the higher realm of spirit comes a blessing on those who have embraced what the world has crucified. It is the Festival of the outpoured Spirit, of increased grace, of richer truth.

Ascension, lastly, is the Festival of the completed life, of the return of the Spirit to its home, of the final sundering from matter. It is the end as Christmas was the beginning: not of life but of earth life: not the end of existence but of that span consecrated by love and self-denial to mankind. It is the Festival of the completed work.

These are the spiritual ideas which underlie the Festivals of your Church. It is not because she has not fully grasped their meaning that she has not done well to celebrate them. And as the spirit who has charge of us and of our work has broken down for you the wall of dogmatism and has shed light on the superstitions of the Church, so it is permitted to us to show you that beneath all lies enshrined the germ of truth: and when man's error is removed, God's truth is more plainly seen."

Spirit Teachings, Section 30, William Stainton Moses

Friday, 27 March 2015

Reincarnation Basics 4

More from Geoffrey Barborka's Secret Doctrine Questions and Answers book - Question. Do we lose our identity when we die?
Answer. Here is a question which would be asked by a person attending a Theosophical lecture for the first time and the lecturer most likely referred to Reincarnation. To answer such an inquirer would not be easy simply because the answerer would have to inquire what was meant by "we." Is the physical body meant? Or is it the personality? The following passage covers the subject very well:

"The human soul (lower Manas) is the only and direct mediator between the personality and the divine Ego. That which goes to make up on this earth the personality (miscalled by us individuality) is the sum of all its mental, physical and spiritual characteristic traits, which, being impressed on the human soul, produces the man. Now, of all these characteristics it is the purified ideations alone which can be impressed on the higher immortal Ego. This is done by the "human soul" merging again, in its essence, into its parent source, commingling with its divine Ego during life, and reuniting itself entirely with it after the death of the physical man. Therefore unless Kama-Manas transmits to Buddhi-Manas such personal ideations, and such consciousness of its "I" as can be assimilated by the divine EGO, nothing of that "I" or personality can survive in the Eternal. Only that which is worthy of the immortal God within us, and identical in its nature with the divine quintessence, can survive; for in this case it is its own, the divine Ego's "shadows" or emanations which ascend to it and are indrawn by it into itself again, to become once more part of its own Essence. No noble thought, no grand aspiration, desire, or divine immortal love, can come into the brain of the man of clay and settle there, except as a direct emanation from the higher to, and through, the lower Ego; all the rest, intellectual as it may seem, proceeds from the "shadow," the lower mind, in its association and commingling with Kama, and passes away and disappears forever. But the mental and spiritual ideations of the personal "I" return to it, as parts of the Ego's essence, and can never fade out. Thus of the personality that was, only its spiritual experiences, the memory of all that is good and noble, with the consciousness of its "I" blended with that of all the other personal "I's" that preceded it - survive and become immortal. There is no distinct or separate immortality for the men of earth outside of the EGO which informed them. That Higher Ego is the sole Bearer of all its alter Egos on earth and their sole representative in the mental state called Devachan. As the last disembodied personality, however, has a right to its own special state of bliss, unalloyed and free from the memories of all others, it is the last life only which is fully realistically vivid. Devachan is often compared to the happiest days in a series of many thousands of other 'days' in the life of a person. The intensity of its happiness makes the man forget entirely all others, his past becomes obliterated. This is what we call the Devachanic State ... " (H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings XII, 626-7; S.D. V, 490-1 6-vol. ed.; III, 515 3rd ed.) - Vol. 53, No. 4

Question. Do we actually meet our loved ones in the "heaven world"?
Answer. Not in their physical bodies, just as we do not physically meet our loved ones in our dreams; although at times our loved ones appear to be more lovely and more "real" while dreaming than what we see in the physical world. Devachan is a state of consciousness, a blissful state, in which no sorrow enters to mar the picturization. There is a passage in The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett describing the after-death state:

"There are great varieties in the Devachan states ... as many varieties of bliss, as on earth there are shades of perception and of capability to appreciate such reward. It is an ideated paradise, in each case of the Ego's own making, and by him filled with the scenery, crowded with the incidents, and thronged with the people he would expect to find in such a sphere of compensative bliss." (p. 102; p. 100 3rd ed.)

"A mother from a savage tribe is not less happy than a mother from a regal palace, with her lost child in her arms; and although as actual Egos, children prematurely dying before the perfection of their septenary Entity do not find their way to Devachan, yet all the same the mother's loving fancy finds her children there, without once missing that her heart yearns for. Say - it is but a dream, but after all what is objective life itself but a panorama of vivid unrealities?" (p. 103; p. 100 3rd ed.) - Vol 54, No. 4

Part 5 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Reincarnation Basics 3

This is from Geoffrey Barborka's Secret Doctrine Questions and Answers book. I find Barborka's writings to be clear, concise and accurate, with an accessible pedagogical exposition, a recommended writer (Technical note: Devachan corresponds to the various 'heavens' in many religions. Kama Loka corresponds to the various 'purgatories'):

The After-Death States (part 1)
. Has anything been written about the significance of the dying man's last uppermost desire?

Answer. Although not finding anything in The Secret Doctrine to reply to this question, it is an important one to consider. As a reference to this was made in The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, the following passage is supplied. It is from Letter No. XXIII-B and was written in reply to Mr. Sinnett's comment - which was made in this manner:

"You say: - 'Remember we create ourselves, our Devachan, and our Avitchi and mostly during the latter days and even moments of our sentient lives.'" (p. 147; p. 143 3rd ed.) The response follows:

"It is a widely spread belief among all the Hindus that a person's future prenatal state and birth are moulded by the last desire he may have at the time of death. But this last desire, they say, necessarily hinges on to the shape which the person may have given to his desires, passions, etc., during his past life. It is for this very reason, viz. - that our last desire may not be unfavourable to our future progress - that we have to watch our actions and control our passions and desires throughout our whole earthly career." (p. 170; p. 167 3rd ed.) - Vol. 54, No. 3

Question. Is it possible to be aware on several planes at the moment of death? If so, under what circumstances?

Answer. Since "the moment of death" is specified, the answer is directed to that specific event alone. Inasmuch as what takes place at the moment of death is stated to be involuntary it would not be possible to be aware "on several planes" at the moment of death, implying by the word "aware" that one is able to direct one's consciousness on more than one plane. Here is a citation regarding the moment of death from The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett:

"The experience of dying men - by drowning and other accidents - brought back to life, has corroborated our doctrine in almost every case. Such thoughts are involuntary and we have no more control over them than we would over the eye's retina to prevent it perceiving that colour which affects it most. At the last moment, thewhole life is reflected in our memory and emerges from all the forgotten nooks and corners picture after picture, one event after the other. The dying brain dislodges memory with a strong supreme impulse, and memory restores faithfully every impression entrusted to it during the period of the brain's activity." (p.170; p.167 3rd ed.)

The proper manner of regarding the situation posed in the question is to consider it in connection with states of consciousness rather than planes because, after all, the physical body is stationed upon the seventh cosmic plane (regarded as the lowest plane) and cannot leave that plane. When the moment of death occurs, the consciousness of the individual is no longer functioning in the Jagrat state of consciousness - the ordinary every-day "waking state"; this has been transcended. For that matter so has the svapna - the dreaming state of consciousness. It is functioning in the Sushupti; therefore it is able to have the panoramic vision which was described in the quotation. - Vol. 49, No. 6

Question. What determines the entity's state of Devachan?

Answer. Just as the entity's stay in Kamaloka is determined by the life that is lived on Earth, so too the state of Devachan is also so determined. To quote The Mahatma Letters again:

"The Devachan State can be as little described or explained, by giving a however minute and graphic description of the state of one ego taken at random, as all the human lives collectively could be described by the 'Life of Napoleon' or that of any other man. There are millions of various states of happiness and misery, emotional states having their source in the physical as well as the spiritual faculties and senses, and only the latter surviving. An honest labourer will feel differently from an honest millionaire. Miss Nightingale's state will differ considerably from that of a young bride who dies before the consummation of what she regards as happiness. The two former love their families; the philanthropist - humanity; the girl centres the whole world in her future husband; the melomanic knows of no higher state of bliss and happiness than music - the most divine and spiritual of arts. The devachan merges from its highest into its lowest degree - by insensible gradations." (ibid., pp. 187-8; p 185 3rd ed.) - Vol. 57, No. 5

Part 4 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Reincarnation Basics 2

 A pithy, succint and rarely used quote from Blavatsky on the reincarnation process with a rather ethical emphasis:

KARMA, TANHA and SKANDHAS, are the almighty trinity in one, and the cause of our re-birth. The illustration of painting our own present likeness at death, and that likeness becoming the future personality is very poetical and graphic, but we claim it as an occult teaching. What H.R.H. means to infer, as we understand it, is this. At the solemn moment of death no man can fail to see himself under his true colours, and no self-deception is of any use to him any longer. Thence the following thing happens. As at the instant of drowning man sees marshalled past his mind's eye the whole of his life, with all its events, effects and causes, to the minutest details, so at the moment of death, he sees himself in all his moral nakedness, unadorned by either human flattery or self-adulation, and, as he is; hence, as he, or rather, as his astral double combined with his Kama principle—shall be. For the vices, defects and especially the passions of the preceding life become, through certain laws of affinity and transference, the germs of the future potentialities in the animal soul (Kama rupa), hence of its dependent, the astral double (linga śarira)––at a subsequent birth. It is the personality alone which changes; the real reincarnating principle, the EGO, remains always the same; and it is its KARMA that guides the idiosyncracies and prominent moral traits of the old “personality” that was (and that the EGO knew not how to control), to re-appear in the new man that will be. These traits and passions pursue and fasten on the yet plastic third and fourth principles of the child, and—unless the EGO struggles and conquers—they will develop with tenfold intensity and lead the adult man to his destruction. For it is they who are the tools and weapons of the Karmic LAW OF RETRIBUTION. Thus, the Prince says very truly that our good and bad actions “are the only tools with which we paint our likenesses at death,” for the new man is invariably the son and progeny of the old man that was.

Footnotes to “A Buddhist Prince's  View of the Universe and the Nature of Man” (Lucifer, Vol. III, No. 15, November, 1888, pp. 205-211 - CW 176-77)

Part 3

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Reincarnation Basics 1

The early Theosophical works give some distinctive and quite detailed information on the reincarnation question.Here's a short overview by H.P. Blavatsky:

''Let us try once more to explain our meaning. The reviewer speaks of the “Spiritual Individuality” or the Immortal Monad as it is called, i.e., the seventh and sixth Principles in the “Fragments.” In Isis we refer to the personality or the finite astral monad, a compound of imponderable elements composed of the fifth and fourth principles. The former as an emanation of the ONE absolute is indestructible; the latter as an elementary compound is finite and doomed sooner or later to destruction with the exception of the more spiritualized portions of the fifth principle (the Manas or mind) which are assimilated by the sixth principle when it follows the seventh to its “gestation state” to be reborn or not reborn, as the case may be, in the Arupa Loka (the Formless World). The seven principles, forming, so to say, a triad and a quaternary, or, as some have it a “Compound Trinity,” subdivided into a triad and two duads, may be better understood in the following groups of Principles:
7. Atma— “Pure Spirit.”
6. Buddhi— “Spiritual Soul or Intelligence.”
Spiritual Monad or “Individuality” — and its vehicle. Eternal and indestructible.
5. Manas— “Mind or Animal Soul.”
4. Kama-rupa— “Desire” or “Passion” Form.

Astral Monad—or the personal Ego and its vehicle.
Survives Group III. and is destroyed after a time, unless reincarnated, as said, under exceptional circumstances.
3. Linga-śarira— “Astral or Vital Body.”
2. Jiva— “Life Principle.”
1. Sthula-śarira— “Body.”
Compound Physical, or the “Earthly Ego.” The three die together invariably.
And now we ask,—where is the “discrepancy” or contradiction? Whether man was good, bad, or indifferent, Group II has to become either a “shell,” or be once or several times more reincarnated under “exceptional circumstances.” There is a mighty difference in our Occult doctrine between an impersonal Individuality, and an individual Personality. C. C. M. will not be reincarnated; nor will he in his next rebirth be C. C. M., but quite a new being, born of the thoughts and deeds of C. C. M.: his own creation, the child and fruit of his present life, the effect of the causes he is now producing. Shall we say then with the Spiritists that C. C. M., the man we know, will be reborn again? No; but that his divine Monad will be clothed thousands of times yet before the end of the Grand Cycle, in various human forms, every one of them a new personality. Like a mighty tree that clothes itself every spring with a new foliage, to see it wither and die towards autumn, so the eternal Monad prevails through the series of smaller cycles, ever the same, yet ever changing and putting on, at each birth, a new garment. The bud, that failed to open one year, will reappear in the next; the leaf that reached its maturity and died a natural death—can never be reborn on the same tree again.''

Blavatsky Collected Writings Volume 4 Page 182
[The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 11, August, 1882, pp. 288-289]