THE PRESENT GREAT NEED OF A METAPHYSICO-SPIRITUAL VOCABULARY
[The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 7, April, 1882, pp. 167-168]
In Light (of February 11) “C. C. M.,” in the article “Communicating Spirits,” says the following:
It will thus be seen (1) that only the first, or earth-bound class, and the third—[the third according to Böhme.—Ed.]—the perfected spirits, have power voluntarily to communicate with us and to interfere in human affairs, and this by reason of the body (though of very different sort) which serves as the medium of communication; and (2) that the “earth-bound” condition supposes the continuance of the “astral” body. This, according to occultist teaching, is in process of disintegration—the communication becoming more and more incoherent as that process advances. According to the recent teaching in The Theosophist, the Linga-Sarira is dissolved with the external body at the death of the latter. This is quite opposed to what we are told by Éliphas Lévi and many other authorities, and does not appear probable.
“C. C. M.” errs very seriously: (a) in accepting Böhme as an authority; (b) in taking no exception to his crude classification of souls—which makes him place the “perfected spirit” in the “third class”; (c) in rendering the term “heavenly Essentiality” by “divine embodiment”; (d) by terming the doctrine about the Linga-Sarira in The Theosophist “a recent teaching” and showing it “quite opposed to what we are told by Éliphas Lévi and many other authorities,” whereas, most of those “authorities” sin only in adopting a terminology, which, while sufficient for their generalisations, is utterly deficient as soon as they touch upon details; hence, sorely puzzling to the uninitiated reader.
With the permission of our friend “C. C. M.,” we will try to demonstrate wherein lie hidden his several mistakes.
We will not stop to prove Böhme the reverse of an authority: this is a question of personal opinion entirely depending upon the degree of faith that may be reposed in him by his admirers. But by noticing the (b) and (c) errors we will show in a few words how utterly unmetaphysical, hence illogical, from the occultist’s standpoint, is Böhme’s classification and definition of the “perfected spirit.” Had the Görlitz seer said “soul” instead, there would be more probability of making his various teachings agree than there seems to be now. The term “spirit” coupled with the idea of “embodiment” becomes as incorrect, and as great a fallacy as to represent the non-conditioned, or the Infinite “ALL” (the one Reality) by a limited and conditioned portion of a finite object, one of the evanescent mirages ever flickering and disappearing in our phenomenal world. The “perfected” or rather “Perfect Spirit”—since the Absolute, or limitless UNITY and perfection can neither be divided, nor can it be invested with attributes and degrees involving gradual perfectibility—can become the Unity or Spirit but after having lost every form and shape—(hence body), which would necessarily make of it a DUALITY. It can have no relation to, or concern with, any object of consciousness in our illusionary world, as this alone would involve dualism, which must exist wherever there is any relation at all. Hence—if under the name of “Perfected Spirit”—ABSOLUTE consciousness is meant, then the latter, incapable of either internal or external cognition, must necessarily be viewed as incapable also of a voluntary communication with us mortals. And, since we undertake to divide “souls” or “spiritual entities” into classes and degrees, how can we presume, whatever be our authority, to limit those so flippantly but to three classes? Surely, the careful study of the doctrine of the seven principles of living mortal man, as taught by the Arahat esotericism, each of which principles is subdivided in its turn into seven more, would serve at least one useful purpose, namely, to bring something like order into this infinite chaos and confusion of terms and things. As a proof of this, we now find our esteemed friend “C. C. M.” confusing the Sanskrit term “Linga-Sarira” with the Mayavi
or Kama-Rupa—the “astral soul,” and calling the doctrine of its dissolution with the body—a “recent teaching.” If he but turns to the back volumes of The Theosophist he will find in the November issue of 1879 (Art. “Yoga Vidya”) a correct definition of the term in that sentence which says (p. 44, col. 2) that the Linga-Sarira “. . . is the subtile, ethereal element of the ego of an organism [whether human or animal or vegetable]; inseparably united to . . . the latter; it never leaves it but at death.” And if so, how could the “astral body” of man, if we call it Linga-Sarira, leave him during his lifetime and appear as his double, as we know, is repeatedly the case with mediums and other peculiarly endowed persons? The answer is simple: that which appears, or the “double,” is called Mayavi-Rupa (illusionary form) when acting blindly; and—Kama-Rupa, “will” or “desire-form” when compelled into an objective shape by the conscious will and desire of its possessor. The Jivatma (vital principle) and Linga-Sarira (Sex-body)* are inner principles; while the Mayavi-Rupa is the outside “soul” so to say: one which envelops the physical body, as in a filmy ethereal casing. It is a perfect counterpart of the man and even of the clothing which he happens to wear.† And this principle is liable to become condensed into opacity, compelled to it, either by the law of intermagnetic action, or by the potentiality of Yoga-ballu or “adept-power.”
Thus, the “Linga-Sarira” is “dissolved with the external body at the death of the latter.” It dissolves slowly and gradually, its adhesion to the body becoming weaker, as the particles disintegrate. During the process of decay, it may, on sultry nights, be sometimes seen over the grave. Owing to the dry and electric atmosphere it manifests itself and stands as a bluish flame, often as a luminous pillar, of “odyle,” bearing a more or less vague resemblance to the
* In this esoteric sense linga means neither “phallus” as translated by some, nor “knowledge,” as done by others; but rather “male” or “sex.” Bâdarayana, calls it in his Darśana (system of philosophy) kritsita Śarira,—the “contemptible body,” as it is but the turba-stirring principle within man resulting in animal emanations.
† See in this connection The Soul of Things by Prof. Denton.
outward form of the body laid under the sod. Popular superstition, ignorant of the nature of these post-mortem gaseous emanations, mistakes them for the presence of the “suffering” soul, the personal spirit of the deceased, hovering over his body’s tomb. Yet, when the work of destruction has been completed, and nature has broken entirely the cohesion of corporeal particles, the Linga-Sarira is dispersed with the body of which it was but an emanation.
It is high time then, that we should think of making a “metaphysico-spiritual vocabulary.” If we adopt Eastern beliefs and accept their system of thought under whatever name—we must take care that they be not disfigured through our carelessness and misunderstanding of the real meaning of the terms. The sooner we do it, the better for the Spiritualists and ourselves; lest, as we see, it should lead our best friends—those who travel along a parallel, if not quite identical, path with us, and are pursuing the same and one knowledge—to a severe conflict of shadows. A battle, based upon a misconception of words elevated to the dignity of dogmas and an ignorance of synonyms for what is but one and the same thing, would be something to be extremely regretted. The more so as many of our enemies show themselves but too eager to convert such simple misconceptions of terms into irreconcilable heresies as to facts and axioms.