ISIS UNVEILED AND THE THEOSOPHIST ON REINCARNATION*
[The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 11, August, 1882, pp. 288-289]
In Light (July 8) C. C. M. quotes from The Theosophist (June, 1882) a sentence which appeared in the Editor’s Note at the foot of an article headed “Seeming Discrepancies.” Then, turning to the review of The Perfect Way in the same number, he quotes at length from “an authoritative teaching of the later period,” as he adds rather sarcastically. Then, again, a long paragraph from Isis. The three quotations and the remarks of our friend run thus:
. . . there never was, nor can there be, any radical discrepancy between the teachings in [Isis Unveiled] and those of this later period, as both proceed from one and the same source—the ADEPT BROTHERS. (Editor’s Note in “Seeming Discrepancies.”)
Having drawn the attention of his readers to the above assertion C. C. M. proceeds to show—as he thinks—its fallacy:
To begin with, reincarnation—if other worlds besides this are taken into account—is the regular routine of Nature. But reincarnation, in the next higher objective world, is one thing; reincarnation on this earth is another. Even that takes place over and over again till the highest condition of humanity, as known at present on this earth, is attained, but not afterwards, and here is the clue to the mystery. . . . But once let a man be as far perfected by successive reincarnations as the conditions of the present race will permit, and then his next
* [Consult The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, pp. 172-73, and The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, p. 26, from which it is evident that this article was dictated to H.P.B. by Master K.H.— Compiler.]
reincarnation will be among the early growths of the next higher world—where the earliest growths are far higher than the highest here. The ghastly mistake, that the modern reincarnationists make, is in supposing that there can be a return on this earth to lower bodily forms. Not, therefore, that man is reincarnated as man again and again upon this earth, for that is laid down as truth in the above cited passages in the most positive and explicit form. (Review of The Perfect Way in The Theosophist.)
And now for Isis:
“We will now present a few fragments of this mysterious doctrine of reincarnation—as distinct from metempsychosis—which we have from an authority. Reincarnation, i.e., the appearance of the same individual, or rather of his astral monad, twice on the same planet, is not a rule in nature; it is an exception, like the teratological phenomenon of a two-headed infant. It is preceded by a violation of the laws of harmony of nature, and happens only when the latter, seeking to restore its disturbed equilibrium, violently throws back into earth-life the astral monad which has been tossed out of the circle of necessity by crime or accident. Thus, in cases of abortion, of infants dying before a certain age, and of congenital and incurable idiocy, nature’s original design to produce a perfect human being, has been interrupted. Therefore, while the gross matter of each of these several entities is suffered to disperse itself at death, through the vast realm of being, the immortal spirit and astral monal of the individual—the latter having been set apart to animate a frame and the former to shed its divine light on the corporeal organization—must try a second time to carry out the purpose of the creative intelligence.
“If reason has been so far developed as to become active and discriminative, there is no reincarnation on this earth,* for the three parts of the triune man have been united together, and he is capable of running the race. But when the new being has not passed beyond the condition of monad, or when, as in the idiot, the trinity has not been completed, the immortal spark which illuminates it, has to reenter on the earthly plane, as it was frustrated in its first attempt. . . . Further, the same occult doctrine recognizes another possibility; albeit so rare and so vague that it is really useless to mention it. Even the modern Occidental occultists deny it, though it is universally accepted in Eastern countries.” This is the occasional return of the terribly depraved human Spirits which have fallen to the eighth sphere—it is unnecessary to quote the passage at length. Exclusive of that rare and doubtful possibility, then, Isis—I have quoted from Volume I, pp. 351-2—allows only three cases—abortion, very early death, and idiocy—in which reincarnation on this earth occurs.
I am a long-suffering student of the mysterious, more apt to accuse my own stupidity than to make “seeming discrepancies” an occasion for
* [Italics are not H.P.B.’s.—Comp.]
scoffing. But, after all, two and three will not make just four; black is not white, nor, in reference to plain and definite statements, is “Yes” equivalent to “No.” If there is one thing which I ardently desire to be taught, it is the truth about this same question of reincarnation. I hope I am not, as a dutiful Theosophist, expected to reconcile the statement of Isis with that of this authoritative Reviewer. But there is one consolation. The accomplished authoress of Isis cannot have totally forgotten the teaching on this subject therein contained. She, therefore, certainly did not dictate the statements of the Reviewer. If I may conjecture that Koot Hoomi stands close behind the latter, then assuredly Koot Hoomi is not, as has been maliciously suggested, an alias for Madame Blavatsky.
C. C. M.
We hope not—for Koot Hoomi’s sake. Mme B. would become too vain and too proud, could she but dream of such an honour. But how true the remark of the French classic: La critique est aisée, mais l’art est difficile—though we feel more inclined to hang our diminished head in sincere sorrow and exclaim: Et tu Brute!—than to quote old truisms. Only, where that (even) “seeming discrepancy” is to be found between the two passages except by those who are entirely ignorant of the occult doctrine—will be certainly a mystery to every Eastern Occultist who reads the above and who studies at the same school as the reviewer of The Perfect Way. Nevertheless the latter is chosen as the weapon to break our head with. It is sufficient to read No. I of the “Fragments of Occult Truth,” and ponder over the septenary constitution of man into which the triple human entity is divided by the occultists, to perceive that the “astral” monad is not the “Spiritual” monad and vice versa. That there is no discrepancy whatsoever between the two statements, may be easily shown, and we hope will be shown, by our friend the “reviewer.” The most that can be said of the passage quoted from Isis is, that it is incomplete, chaotic, vague perhaps—clumsy, as many more passages in that work, the first literary production of a foreigner, who even now can hardly boast of her knowledge of the English language. Therefore, in the face of the statement from the very correct and excellent review of The Perfect Way—we say again that “Reincarnation, i.e., the appearance of the same individual, or rather, of his astral monad
[or the personality as claimed by the modern Reincarnationists], twice on the same planet, is not a rule in nature” and that “it is an exception.” 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. While writing Isis, we were not permitted to enter into details; hence—the vague generalities. We are told to do so now—and we do as we are commanded.
And thus, it seems, after all, that “two and three” will “make just four,” if the “three” was only mistaken for that number. And, we have heard of cases when that, which was universally regarded and denounced as something very “black”—shockingly so—suddenly re-became “white,” as soon as an additional light was permitted to shine upon it. Well, the day may yet come when even the much misunderstood occultists will appear in such a light. Vaut mieux tard que jamais!
Meanwhile we will wait and see whether C. C. M. will quote again from our present answer—in Light.