THEORIES ABOUT REINCARNATION AND SPIRITS
[The Path, New York, Vol. I, No. 8, November, 1886, pp. 232-245]
Over and over again the abstruse and mooted question of Rebirth or Reincarnation has crept out during the first ten years of the Theosophical Society’s existence. It has been alleged on prima facie evidence, that a notable discrepancy was found between statements made in Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 351-52, and later teachings from the same pen and under the inspiration of the same master.*
In Isis, it was held,—reincarnation is denied. An occasional return only of “depraved spirits” is allowed. “Exclusive of that rare and doubtful possibility, then, Isis. . . . allows only three cases—abortion, very early death, and idiocy—in which re-incarnation on this earth occurs.” (“C.C.M.” in Light, July 8, 1882.)
The charge was answered then and there as every one who will turn to The Theosophist of August, 1882, can see for himself. Nevertheless, the answer either failed to satisfy some readers or passed unnoticed. Leaving aside the strangeness of the assertion that reincarnation—i.e., the serial and periodical rebirth of every individual monad from pralaya to pralaya † is denied in the face of the fact that the doctrine is part and parcel and one of the fundamental features of Hinduism and Buddhism, the charge amounted virtually to this: the writer of the present, a professed admirer and student of Hindu philosophy, and as professed a follower of Buddhism years before Isis was
* See charge and answer in The Theosophist, Vol. III, August, 1882, pp. 288-89.
[H.P.B.’s article entitled “Isis Unveiled and The Theosophist on Re-Incarnation,” published chronologically in the present series.—
† The cycle of existence during the manvantara—period before and after the beginning and completion of which every such “monad” is absorbed and reabsorbed in the ONE soul, anima mundi.
GEORGE R. S. MEAD
Reproduced from Col. H. S. Olcott’s Old Diary Leaves,
Vol. IV, p. 548.
written, by rejecting reincarnation must necessarily reject KARMA likewise! For the latter is the very corner-stone of Esoteric philosophy and Eastern religions; it is the grand and one pillar on which hangs the whole philosophy of rebirths, and once the latter is denied, the whole doctrine of Karma falls into meaningless verbiage.
Nevertheless, the opponents without stopping to think of the evident “discrepancy” between charge and fact, accused a Buddhist by profession of faith of denying reincarnation hence also by implication—Karma. Adverse to wrangling with one who was a friend and undesirous at the time to enter upon a defence of details and internal evidence—a loss of time indeed—the writer answered merely with a few sentences. But it now becomes necessary to well define the doctrine. Other critics have taken the same line, and by misunderstanding the passages to that effect in Isis they have reached the same rather extraordinary conclusions.
To put an end to such useless controversies, it is proposed to explain the doctrine more clearly.
Although, in view of the later more minute renderings of the esoteric doctrines, it is quite immaterial what may have been written in Isis—an encyclopedia of occult subjects in which each of these is hardly sketched—let it be known at once, that the writer maintains the correctness of every word given out upon the subject in my earlier volumes. What was said in The Theosophist of August, 1882, may now be repeated here. The passage quoted from it may be, and is, most likely “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.” Nevertheless it is quite correct so far as that collateral feature of reincarnation is therein concerned.
I will now give extracts from Isis and proceed to explain every passage criticised, wherein it was said that “a few fragments of this mysterious doctrine of
reincarnation as distinct from metempsychosis”—would be then presented. Sentences now explained are in italics.
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 had 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 monad 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. (Vol. I, p. 351.)
Here the “astral monad” or body of the deceased personality say of John or Thomas—is meant. It is that which, in the teachings of the Esoteric philosophy of Hinduism, is known under its name of bhoot; in the Greek philosophy is called the simulacrum or umbra, and in all other philosophies worthy of the name is said, as taught in the former, to disappear after a certain period more or less prolonged in Kama-loka—the Limbus of the Roman Catholics, or Hades of the Greeks.* It is “a violation of the laws of harmony of nature,” though it be so decreed by those of Karma—every time that the astral monad, or the simulacrum of the personality—of John or Thomas—instead of running down to the end of its natural period of time in a body—finds itself (a) violently thrown out of it by either early death or accident or (b) is compelled in consequence of its unfinished task to reappear (i.e., the same astral body wedded to the same immortal monad) on earth again, in order to complete the unfinished
* Hades has surely never been meant for Hell. It was always the abode of the sorrowing shadows or astral bodies of the dead personalities. Western readers should remember Kama-loka is not Karma-loka, for Kama means desire, and Karma does not.
task. Thus it “must try a second time to carry out the purpose of the creative intelligence” or law.
If reason has been so far developed as to become active and discriminative there is no * [immediate] 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 [on earth and therefore cannot be so after death], the immortal spark which illuminates it, has to re-enter on the earthly plane as it was frustrated in its first attempt. Otherwise, the mortal or astral, and the immortal or divine, souls, could not progress in unison and pass onward to the-sphere above [Devachan].† Spirit follows a line parallel with that of matter; and the spiritual evolution goes hand in hand with the physical. [Vol. I, pp. 351-52.]
The Occult Doctrine teaches that:—
(1) There is no immediate reincarnation on Earth for the Monad, as falsely taught by the Reincarnationist-Spiritists; nor is there any second incarnation at all for the “personal” or false Ego—the périsprit—save the exceptional cases mentioned. But that (a) there are re-births, or periodical reincarnations for the immortal Ego—(“Ego” during the cycle of re-births, and non-Ego, in Nirvana or Moksha when it becomes impersonal and absolute); for that Ego is the root of every new incarnation, the string on which are threaded, one after the other, the false personalities or illusive bodies called men, in which the Monad-Ego incarnates itself during the cycle of births; and (b) that such reincarnations take place not before 1,500, 2,000, and even 3,000 years of Devachanic life.
(2) That Manas—the seat of Jiv, that spark which runs the round of the cycle of births and rebirths with the Monad, from the beginning to the end of a Manvantara—is the real Ego. That (a) the Jiv follows the divine monad that gives it spiritual life and immortality into
* Had this word “immediate” been put at the time of publishing Isis between the two words “no” and “reincarnation” there would have been less room for dispute and controversy.
† “By sphere above,” of course “Devachan” was meant.
Devachan—that therefore, it can neither be reborn before its appointed period, nor reappear on Earth visibly or invisibly in the interim; and (b) that, unless the fruition, the spiritual aroma of the Manas—or all these highest aspirations and spiritual qualities and attributes that constitute the higher SELF of man become united to its monad, the latter becomes as Non-existent; since it is in esse “impersonal” and per se Ego-less, so to say, and gets its spiritual colouring or flavour of Ego-tism only from each Manas during incarnation and after it is disembodied, and separated from all its lower principles.
(3) That the remaining four principles, or rather the—21—as they are composed of the terrestrial portion of Manas, of its Vehicle Kama-Rupa and Linga Sarira—the body dissolving immediately, and prana or the life principle along with it—that these principles having belonged to the false personality are unfit for Devachan. The latter is the state of Bliss, the reward for all the undeserved miseries of life,* and that which prompted man to sin, namely his terrestrial passionate nature can have no room in it.
Therefore the [non]-reincarnating principles † are left behind in Kama-loka, firstly as a material residue, then later on as a reflection on the mirror of Astral light. Endowed with illusive action, to the day when having
* The reader must bear in mind that the esoteric teaching maintains that save in cases of wickedness when man’s nature attains the acme of Evil, and human terrestrial sin reaches Satanic universal character, so to say, as some Sorcerers do—there is no punishment for the majority of mankind after death. The law of retribution as Karma, waits man at the threshold of his new incarnation. Man is at best a wretched tool of evil, unceasingly forming new causes and circumstances. He is not always (if ever) responsible. Hence a period of rest and bliss in Devachan, with an utter temporary oblivion of all the miseries and sorrows of life. Avitchi is a spiritual state of the greatest misery and is only in store for those who have devoted consciously their lives to doing injury to others and have thus reached its highest spirituality of EVIL.
† [See H.P.B.’s own correction of this part of the sentence in “An Important Correction” immediately following this article.—Compiler.]
gradually faded out they disappear, what is it but the Greek Eidôlon and the simulacrum of the Greek and Latin poets and classics?
What reward or punishment can there be in that sphere of disembodied human entities for a fœtus or a human embryo which had not even time to breathe on this earth, still less an opportunity to exercise the divine faculties of the spirit? Or, for an irresponsible infant, whose senseless monad remaining dormant within the astral and physical casket, could as little prevent him from burning himself as another person to death? Or for one idiotic from birth, the number of whose cerebral circumvolutions is only from twenty to thirty percent of those of sane persons; and who therefore is irresponsible for either his disposition, acts, or the imperfections of his vagrant, half-developed intellect? (Isis, Vol. I, p. 352.)
These are then, the “exceptions” spoken of in Isis, and the doctrine is maintained now as it was then. Moreover, there is no “discrepancy” but only incompleteness—hence, misconceptions arising from later teachings. Then again, there are several important mistakes in Isis which, as the plates of the work had been stereotyped were not corrected in subsequent editions.
One of such is on page 346, and another in connection with it and as a sequence on page 347. [Volume I.]
The discrepancy between the first portion of the statement and the last, ought to have suggested the idea of an evident mistake. It is addressed to the spiritists, reincarnationists who take the more than ambiguous words of Apuleius as a passage that corroborates their claims for their “spirits” and reincarnation. Let the reader judge * whether Apuleius does not justify rather our assertions. We are charged with denying reincarnation and this is what we said there and then in Isis!
* Says Apuleius “The soul is born in this world upon leaving the soul of the world (anima mundi) in which her existence precedes the one we all know (on earth). Thus, the Gods who consider her proceedings in all the phases of various existences and as a whole, punish her sometimes for sins committed during an anterior life. She dies when she separates herself from a body in which she crossed this life as in a frail bark. And this is, if I mistake not, the secret meaning of the tumulary inscription, so simple for the initiate:
This philosophy teaches that nature never leaves her work unfinished; if baffled at the first attempt, she tries again. When she evolves a human embryo, the intention is that a man shall be perfected—physically, intellectually, and spiritually. His body is to grow, mature, wear out, and die; his mind unfold, ripen, and be harmoniously balanced; his divine spirit illuminate and blend easily with the inner man. No human being completes its grand cycle, or the “circle of necessity,” until all these are accomplished. As the laggards in a race struggle and plod in their first quarter while the victor darts past the goal, so, in the race of immortality, some souls outspeed all the rest and reach the end, while their myriad competitors are toiling under the load of matter, close to the starting-point. Some unfortunates fall out entirely, and lose all chance of the prize; some retrace their steps and begin again. [Ibid., Vol. I, pp. 345-46.]
Clear enough this, one should say. Nature baffled tries again. No one can pass out of this world (our earth), without becoming perfected “physically, morally and spiritually.” How can this be done, unless there is a series of rebirths required for the necessary perfection in each department—to evolute in the “circle of necessity,” can surely never be found in one human life; and yet
‘To the Gods manes who lived.’ But this kind of death does not annihilate the soul, it only transforms (one portion of) it into a lemure. ‘Lemures’ are the manes, or ghosts, which we know under the name lares. When they keep away and show us a beneficent protection, we honour in them the protecting divinities of the family hearth; but if their crimes sentence them to err, we call them larvae. They become a plague for the wicked, and the vain terror of the good.” (“Du Dieu de Socrate,” Apul. class., pp. 143-45.)
[Considerable uncertainty exists in connection with the above quotation. H.P.B. appears to quote from the edition of Désiré Nisard (1806-88), entitled: Pétrone, Apulée, Aulu-Gelle. Śuvres complètes, etc. (Paris: Firmin-Didot et Cie, Libraires, 1882), which contains both the Latin text and a French translation of these Classics. She seems to translate into English certain passages from Apuleius’ De Deo Socratis Liber (On the God of Socrates). However, careful checking has failed to detect such passages either in the Latin or the French texts. The pages indicated above contain approximately these teachings, from which H.P.B. most probably has deduced certain facts, summarizing their contents, and introducing a few ideas of her own. With slight variations, mostly of punctuation and of italics, the same passage is quoted by H.P.B. in her Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 345.—Compiler.]
this sentence is followed without any break by the following parenthetical statement: “This is what the Hindu dreads above all things—transmigration and reincarnation; only on other and inferior planets, never on this one”!!!
The last “sentence” is a fatal mistake and one to which the writer pleads “not guilty.” It is evidently the blunder of some “reader” who had no idea of Hindu philosophy and who was led into a subsequent mistake on the next page, wherein the unfortunate word “planet” is put for cycle. Isis was hardly, if ever, looked into after its publication by its writer, who had other work to do; otherwise there would have been an apology and a page pointing to the errata and the sentence made to run: “The Hindu dreads transmigration in other inferior forms, on this planet.” *
This would have dove-tailed with the preceding sentence, and would show a fact, as the Hindu exoteric views allow him to believe and fear the possibility of reincarnation—human and animal in turn by jumps, from man to beast and even a plant—and vice versa; whereas esoteric philosophy teaches that nature never proceeding backward in her evolutionary progress, once that man has evoluted from every kind of lower forms—the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms—into the human form, he can never become an animal except morally, hence—metaphorically. Human incarnation is a cyclic necessity, and law; and no Hindu dreads it—however much he may deplore the necessity. And this law and the periodical recurrence of man’s rebirth is shown on the same page (346) and in the same unbroken paragraph, where it is closed by saying that:
But there is a way to avoid it, and Buddha taught it in his doctrine of poverty, restriction of the senses, perfect indifference to
* [Substantially the same explanation was given by H.P.B. at a later date, namely, in Lucifer, Vol. III, No. 18, February, 1889, pp. 527-28,. in a footnote she appended to a letter from J. H. Mitalmier, entitled “The Dirge for the Dead.” It is to be found in its natural chronological sequence in the present series.—Compiler.]
the objects of this earthly vale of tears, freedom from passion, and frequent intercommunication with the Atma—soul-contemplation. The cause of reincarnation is ignorance of our senses, and the idea that there is any reality in the world, anything except abstract existence.* From the organs of sense comes the “hallucination” we call contact; “from contact, desire; from desire, sensation (which also is a deception of our body); from sensation, the cleaving to existing bodies; from this cleaving, reproduction; and from reproduction, disease, decay, and death.”
This ought to settle the question and show there must have been some carelessly unnoticed mistake and if this is not sufficient, there is something else to demonstrate it, for it is [said] further on:
Thus, like the revolutions of a wheel, there is a regular succession of death and birth, the moral cause of which is the cleaving to existing objects, while the instrumental cause is karma (the power which controls the universe, prompting it to activity), merit and demerit. “It is, therefore, the great desire of all beings who would be released from the sorrows of successive birth, to seek the destruction of the moral cause, the cleaving to existing objects, or evil desire.” They, in whom evil desire is entirely destroyed, are called Arhats. Freedom from evil desire insures the possession of a miraculous power. At his death, the Arhat is never reincarnated; he invariably attains Nirvana—a word, by the bye, falsely interpreted by the Christian scholars and skeptical commentators. Nirvana is the world of cause, in which all deceptive effects or delusions of our senses disappear. Nirvana is the highest attainable sphere. The pitris (the pre-Adamic spirits) are considered as reincarnated, by the Buddhistic philosopher, though in a degree far superior to that of the man of earth. Do they not die in their turn? Do not their astral bodies suffer and rejoice, and feel the same curse of illusionary feelings as when embodied? [Ibid, Vol. I, pp. 346-47.]
And just after this we are again made to say of Buddha and his Doctrine of “Merit and Demerit,” or Karma:
But, this former life believed in by the Buddhists, is not a life on this planet, for, more than any other people, the Buddhistical philosopher appreciated the great doctrine of cycles.
Correct “life on this planet” by “life in the same cycle,” and you will have the correct reading: for what would
* “The cause of reincarnation is ignorance”—therefore there is “reincarnation” once the writer explained the causes of it.
have appreciation of “the great doctrine of cycles” to do with Buddha’s philosophy, had the great sage believed but in one short life on this Earth and in the same cycle? But to return to the real theory of reincarnation as in the esoteric teaching and its unlucky rendering in Isis.
Thus, what was really meant therein, was that, the principle which does not reincarnate save the exceptions pointed out—is the false personality, the illusive human Entity defined and individualized during this short life of ours, under some specific form and name; but that which does and has to reincarnate nolens volens under the unflinching, stern rule of Karmic law—is the real EGO. This confusing of the real immortal Ego in man, with the false and ephemeral personalities it inhabits during its Manvantaric progress, lies at the root of every such misunderstanding. Now what is the one, and what is the other? The first group is—
1. The immortal Spirit—sexless, formless (arupa), an emanation from the One universal BREATH.
2. Its Vehicle—the divine Soul—called the “Immortal Ego,” the “Divine monad,” etc., etc., which by accretions from Manas in which burns the ever-existing Jiv—the undying spark—adds to itself at the close of each incarnation the essence of that individuality that was, the aroma of the culled flower that is no more.
What is the false personality? It is that bundle of desires, aspirations, affection and hatred, in short of action, manifested by a human being on this earth during one incarnation and under the form of one personality.*
* A proof how our theosophical teachings have taken root in every class of Society and even in English literature may be seen by reading Mr. Norman Pearson’s article “Before Birth” in The Nineteenth Century for September, 1886. Therein, theosophical ideas and teachings are speculated upon without acknowledgment or the smallest reference to theosophy, and among others, we see with regard to the author’s theories on the Ego, the following: “How much then of the individual personality is supposed to go to heaven or to hell?
Certainly it is not all this, which as a fact for us, the deluded, material, and materially thinking lot—is Mr. So and So, or Mrs. somebody else—that remains immortal, or is ever reborn.
All that bundle of Egotism, that apparent and evanescent “I,” disappears after death, as the costume of the part he played disappears from the actor’s body, after he leaves the theatre and goes to bed. That actor re-becomes at once the same “John Smith” or Gray, he was from his birth and is no longer the Othello or Hamlet that he had represented for a few hours. Nothing remains now of that “bundle” to go to the next incarnation, except the seed for future Karma that Manas may have united to its immortal group, to form with it—the disembodied Higher Self in “Devachan.” As to the four lower principles, that which becomes of them is found in most classics, from which we mean to quote at length for our defence. The doctrine of the périsprit, the “false personality,” or the remains of the deceased under their
Does the whole of the mental equipment, good and bad, noble qualities and unholy passions, follow the soul to its hereafter? Surely not. But if not, and something has to be stripped off, how and where are we to draw the line? If, on the other hand, the soul is something distinct from all our mental equipment except the sense of self, are we not confronted by the incomprehensible notion of a personality without any attributes?”
To this query the author answers as any true theosophist would: “. . . the difficulties of the question really spring from a misconception of the true nature of these attributes. The components of our mental equipment—appetites, aversions, feelings, tastes, and qualities generally—are not absolute but relative existences. . . . Hunger and thirst, for instance, are states of consciousness which arise in response to the stimuli of physical necessities . . . . They are not inherent and necessary elements of the soul. . . . . and will disappear or become modified, etc.” (pp. 356-57). In other words the theosophical doctrine is adopted. Atma and Buddhi having culled off the Manas the aroma of the personality or human soul—go into Devachan; while the lower principles, the astral simulacrum or false personality, void of its Divine monad or spirit, will remain in the Kamaloka—the “Summerland.”
astral form—fading out to disappear in time, is terribly distasteful to the spiritualists, who insist upon confusing the temporary with the immortal EGO.
Unfortunately for them and happily for us, it is not the modern Occultists who have invented the doctrine. They are on their defence. And they prove what they say, i.e., that no “personality” has ever yet been “reincarnated on the same planet” (our earth, this once there is no mistake) save in the three exceptional cases above cited. Adding to these a fourth case, which is the deliberate, conscious act of adeptship; and that such an astral body belongs neither to the body nor the soul, still less to the immortal spirit of man, the following is brought forward and proofs cited.
Before one brings out on the strength of undeniable manifestations, theories as to what produces them and claims at once on prima facie evidence that it is the spirits of the departed mortals that re-visit us, it behooves one to first study what antiquity has declared upon the subject. Ghosts and apparitions, materialized and semi-material “SPIRITS” have not originated with Allan Kardec, nor at Rochester. If those beings whose invariable habit it is to give themselves out for souls and the phantoms of the dead, choose to do so and succeed, it is only because the cautious philosophy of old is now replaced by an a priori conceit, and unproven assumptions. The first question is to be settled—“Have spirits any kind of substance to clothe themselves with?” Answer: That which is now called périsprit in France, and a “materialized Form” in England and America, was called in days of old peri-psyche, and peri-nous, hence was well known to the old Greeks. Have they a body whether gaseous, fluidic, ethereal, material or semi-material? No; we say this on the authority of the occult teachings the world over. For with the Hindus atma or spirit is Arupa (bodiless), and with the Greeks also. Even in the Roman Catholic Church the angels of Light as those of Darkness are absolutely incorporeal: “meri spiritus, omnes corporis expertes” and in the words of the “SECRET DOCTRINE,” primordial. Emanations of the
undifferentiated Principle, the Dhyan Chohans of the ONE (First) category or pure Spiritual Essence, are formed of the Spirit of the one Element; the second category of [or?] the second Emanation of the Soul of the Elements; the third have a “mind body” to which they are not subject, but that they can assume and govern as a body, subject to them, pliant to their will in form and substance. Parting from this (third) category, they (the spirits, angels, Devas or Dhyan Chohans) have BODIES, the first rupa group of which is composed of one element Ether; the second, of two—ether and fire; the third, of three—Ether, fire and water; the fourth, of four—Ether, air, fire and water. Then comes man, who, besides the four elements, has the fifth that predominates in him—Earth: therefore he suffers. Of the Angels, as said by St. Augustine and Peter Lombard, their bodies are made to act not to suffer. It is earth and water, humor et humus, that gives an aptitude for suffering and passivity, ad patientiam, and Ether and Fire for action. The spirits or human monads, belonging to the first, or undifferentiated essence, are thus incorporeal; but their third principle (or the human Fifth—Manas) can in conjunction with its vehicle become Kama rupa and Mayavi rupa—body of desire or “illusion body.” After death, the best, noblest, purest qualities of Manas or the human soul, ascending along with the divine Monad into Devachan, whence no one emerges from or returns, except at the time of reincarnation—what is that then which appears under the double mask of the spiritual Ego or soul of the departed individual? The Kama rupa element with the help of elementals. For we are taught that those spiritual beings that can assume a form at will and appear, i.e., make themselves objective and even tangible—are the angels alone (the Dhyan Chohans) and the nirmanakaya * of the adepts, whose spirits are clothed in
* Nirmanakaya is the name given to the astral forms (in their completeness) of adepts, who have progressed too high on the path of knowledge and absolute truth, to go into the state of Devachan; and have on the other hand, deliberately refused the bliss of nirvana, in order to help Humanity by invisibly guiding and helping on the
sublime matter. The astral bodies—the remnants and dregs of a mortal being which has been disembodied, when they do appear, are not the individuals they claim to be, but only their simulacra. And such was the belief of the whole of antiquity, from Homer to Swedenborg; from the third race down to our own day.
More than one devoted spiritualist has hitherto quoted Paul as corroborating his claim that spirits do and can appear. “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body,” etc., etc. (I Cor., xv, 44); but one has only to study closer the verses preceding and following the one quoted, to perceive that what St. Paul meant was quite different from the sense claimed for it. Surely there is a spiritual body, but it is not identical with the astral form contained in the “natural” man. The “spiritual” is formed only by our individuality unclothed and transformed after death; for the apostle takes care to explain in verses 51-53: “sed non omnes immutabimur.” “Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed . . . For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”
But this is no proof except for the Christians. Let us see what the old Egyptians and the Neo-platonists—both “theurgists” par excellence, thought on the subject: They divided man into three principal groups subdivided into principles as we do: pure immortal spirit; the “Spectral Soul” (a luminous phantom) and the gross material body. Apart from the latter which was considered as the terrestrial shell, these groups were divided into six principles: (1) Kha, “vital body”; (2) Khaba, “astral form,” or shadow; (3) Khou, “animal soul”; (4) Akh, “terrestrial intelligence”; (5) Sa, “the divine soul” (or Buddhi); and (6) Sah or mummy, the functions of which began after death. Osiris was the highest uncreated spirit, for
same path of progress elect men. But these astrals are not empty shells, but complete monads made up of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th principles. There is another order of nirmanakaya, however, of which much will be said in The Secret Doctrine.—H.P.B.
it was, in one sense, a generic name, every man becoming after his translation Osirified, i.e., absorbed into Osiris-Sun or into the glorious divine state. It was Khou, with the lower portions of Akh or Kama rupa with the additions of the dregs of Manas remaining all behind in the astral light of our atmosphere—that formed the counterparts of the terrible and so much dreaded bhoots of the Hindus (our “elementaries”). This is seen in the rendering made of the so-called “Harris Papyrus on Magic” (Papyrus magique Harris, translated by Chabas) who calls them Kouey or Khou, and explains that according to the hieroglyphics they were called Khou or the “revivified dead,” the “resurrected shadows.” *
When it was said of a person that he “had a Khou” it meant that he was possessed by a “Spirit.” There were two kinds of Khous—the justified ones—who after living for a short time a second life (nam onh) faded out, disappeared; and those Khous who were condemned to wandering without rest in darkness after dying for a second time—mut, em, nam—and who were called the H’ou metre (“second time dead”) which did not prevent them from clinging to a vicarious life after the manner of Vampires. How dreaded they were is explained in our Appendices on “Egyptian Magic” and “Chinese Spirits” (Secret Doctrine).† They were exorcised by Egyptian priests as
* Placing these parallel with the division in esoteric teaching we see that (1) Osiris is Atma; (2) Sa is Buddhi; (3) Akh is Manas; (4) Khou is Kama-rupa, the seat of terrestrial desires; (5) Khaba is Linga Sarira; (6) Kha is Pranatma (vital principle); (7) Sah is mummy or body.
† [This is a very interesting reference. It should be remembered that H.P.B. does not mean her completed work published in 1888 under the title of The Secret Doctrine, but merely the First Draft, a portion of which she sent to Adyar in 1885, for T. Subba Row to edit and comment upon. It appears, however, that the two Appendices she mentions here did not get incorporated into the final text of The Secret Doctrine.
The essay on “Chinese Spirits” was published in Lucifer (Vol. IX, No. 51, November, 1891, pp. 182-87) after H.P.B.’s passing, while
the evil spirit is exorcised by the Roman Catholic curé; or again the Chinese houen, identical with the Khou and the “Elementary,” as also with the lares or larvae—a word derived from the former by Festus, the grammarian; who explains that they were “the shadows of the dead who gave no rest in the house they were in either to the Masters or the servants.” These creatures when evoked during theurgic, and especially necromantic rites, were regarded, and are so regarded still, in China—as neither the Spirit, Soul nor anything belonging to the deceased personality they represented, but simply, as his reflection —simulacrum.
“The human soul,” says Apuleius, “is an immortal God” [Buddhi] which nevertheless has his beginning. When
her most valuable and scholarly essay on “Egyptian Magic” was incorporated by Annie Besant and G. R. S. Mead into the volume which they published under the title of “The Secret Doctrine, Volume III.” (pp. 241-57 therein.)
It is easy to show that H.P.B. never intended this essay to be a part of her planned Volume III. Writing an article for The Theosophist, while at Ostende, in July, 1886 (published in Vol. VIII, No. 85, October, 1886, pp. 1-8), on “Ancient Magic in Modern Science,” she closes it with the following paragraph:
“Some twenty years ago, archæology was enriched with a very curious Egyptian document giving the views of that ancient religion upon the subject of ghosts (manes) and magic in general. It is called the “Harris papyrus on Magic “ (Papyrus Magique). It is extremely curious in its bearing upon the esoteric teachings of Occult Theosophy, and is very suggestive. It is left for our next article—on MAGIC.”
The Papyrus referred to in this closing paragraph is precisely the main subject-matter of her essay on “Egyptian Magic,” as published in “The Secret Doctrine, Volume III.” This essay, however, was not published in The Theosophist, or in any other journal at the time. It is quite possible that in October, 1886, when H.P.B., still at Ostende, was writing for The Path her present essay on “Reincarnation and Spirits,” she had decided to use “Egyptian Magic” as one of the Appendices to The Secret Doctrine, instead of running it as an article in a magazine.
The important point is that “Egyptian Magic” was originally intended to be an article and was already written as early as October, 1886, and possibly several months earlier.—Compiler.]
death rids it [the Soul], from its earthly corporeal organism, it is called lemure. There are among the latter not a few which are beneficent, and which become the gods or demons of the family, i.e., its domestic gods: in which case they are called lares. But they are vilified and spoken of as larvae when, sentenced by fate to wander about, they spread around them evil and plagues (Inane terriculamentum bonis hominibus, ceterum noxium malis); or if their real nature is doubtful they are referred to as simply manes (Apuleius, Du Dieu de Socrate, pp. 142-143, edit. Nizard).* Listen to Iamblichus, Proclus, Porphyry Psellus and to dozens of other writers on these mystic subjects.
The Magi of Chaldea believed and taught that the celestial or divine soul would participate in the bliss of eternal light, while the animal or sensuous soul would, if good, rapidly dissolve, and if wicked, go on wandering about in the Earth’s sphere. In this case, “it [the soul] assumes at times the forms of various human phantoms and even those of animals.” The same was said of the Eidôlon of the Greeks, and of their Nephesh by the Rabbis (See Histoire et Traité des Sciences Occultes, Count de Résie,
* [This passage, just as the one previously quoted, is not an actual quotation, but rather a summary of certain ideas. In contradistinction to the passage quoted earlier, this one is much closer, however, to the Latin original text which runs as follows:
“Est et secundo significatu species daemonum, animus humanus emeritis stipendiis vitae corpori suo abjurans; hunc vetere latina lingua reperio Lemurem dictitatum. Ex hisce ergo Lemuribus, qui posterorum suorum curam sortitus, placato et quieto nomine domum possidet, Lar dicitur familiaris; qui vero ob adversa vitae merita, nullis bonis sedibus, incerta vagatione, ceu quodam exsilio, punitur, inane terriculamentum bonis hominibus, ceterum noxium malis, id genus plerique Larvae perhibent. Quum vero incertum est, quae cuique eorum sortitio evenerit, utrum Lar sit, an Larva; nomine Manem deum nuncupant; scilicet honoris gratia dei vocabulum additum est.”—Apuleius, De Deo Socratis, ed. of Nizard, pp. 142-48.
Vol. II, p. 598).* All the Illuminati of the middle ages tell us of our astral Soul, the reflection of the dead or his spectre. At Natal death (birth) the pure spirit remains attached to the intermediate and luminous body but as soon as its lower form (the physical body) is dead, the former ascends heavenward, and the latter descends into the nether worlds, or the Kama loka.
Homer shows us the body of Patroclus—the true image of the terrestrial body lying killed by Hector—rising in its spiritual form, and Lucretius shows old Ennius representing Homer himself, shedding bitter tears, amidst the shadows and the human simulacra on the shores of Acherusia “where live neither our bodies nor our souls, but only our images.”
etsi praeterea tamen esse Acherusia templa
Ennius aeternis exponit versibus edens,
quo neque permaneant animae neque corpora nostra,
sed quaedam simulacra modis pallentia miris;
unde sibi exortam semper florentis Homeri
commemorat speciem lacrimas effundere salsas
coepisse et rerum naturam expandere dictis.
[De Rerum Natura, Book I, 120-126]†
* [The original French text of this passage is as follows:
“Ils croyaient également que si l’âme céleste avait mal vécu dans son corps, l’une et l’autre demeuraient attachées à la matière terrestre, sans pouvoir aspirer à parvenir jamais au séjour de la lumière, et qu’elles revêtissaient souvent, pour ce montrer sur la terre, la forme de divers fantômes et des simulacres d’animaux. Il est facile de reconnaître, dans cette croyance orientale, l’eidôlon des Grecs er la nephesh des rabbins thalmudistes.”—Histoire et Traité des Sciences Occultes, ou examen des croyances populaires sur les êtres surnaturelles, la magie, etc. 2 vol. Paris, 1857. 8vo. (British Meseum, 8630. g. 81.). Vide Bio-Bibliogr. Index, s.v. RÉSIE.—Compiler.]
† [“And yet with all this Ennius sets forth that there are Acherusian realms, explaining it in immortal verses; therein neither our souls nor our bodies endure, but only certain wondrous and pallid simulacra (similitudes). From these realms the likeness of ever-living Homer arose before him and, shedding salt tears, began to unfold in words the nature of things.”—Compiler.]
Virgil called it imago, “image,” and in the Odyssey (Book XI) the author refers to it as the type, the model, and at the same time the copy of the body; since Telemachus will not recognize Ulysses and seeks to drive him off by saying—“No, thou art not my father; thou art a demon,—trying to seduce me!” (Odyssey, Book XVI, 194-95.) “Latins do not lack significant proper names to designate the varieties of their demons; and thus they called them in turn, lares, lemures, genii and manes.” Cicero, in translating Plato’s Timaeus, translates the word daimones by lares; and Festus the grammarian, explains that the inferior or lower gods were the souls of men, making a difference between the two as Homer did, and between anima bruta and anima divina (animal and divine souls). Plutarch (in proble. Rom.) * makes the lares preside and inhabit the (haunted) houses, and calls them cruel, exacting, inquisitive, etc., etc. Festus thinks that there are good and bad ones among the lares. For he calls them at one time praestites as they gave occasionally and watched over things carefully (direct apports), and at another—hostileos.† “However it may be,” says in his queer old French Le Loyer, “they are no better than our devils, who, if they do appear helping sometimes men, and presenting them with property, it is only to hurt them the better and the more later on. Lemures are also devils and larvae for they appear at night in various human and animal forms, but still more frequently with features that THEY borrow
* [This reference is quite uncertain. Most likely Plutarch’s Quaestiones Romanae (Roman Questions) are meant. In Section xli brief information is given regarding the lares, as guardians of the house, but in somewhat different terms than those employed by H.P.B.—Compiler.]
† Because they drove the enemies away.
[This reference and the preceding quote from Festus could not be verified owing to uncertainties connected with the writings of Festus. See Bio-Bibliogr. Index, s. v. FESTUS.—Comp.]
from dead men” (Livres des Spectres, I, chap. ii, pp. 15-16).*
After this little honour rendered to his Christian preconceptions, that see Satan everywhere, Le Loyer speaks like an Occultist, and a very erudite one too.
“It is quite certain that the genii and none other had mission to watch over every newly born man, and that they were called genii, as says Censorinus, because they had in their charge our race, and not only they presided over every mortal being but over whole generations and tribes, being the genii of the people.” †
* [The “queer old French” of Le Loyer from which H.P.B. translates runs as follows:
“. . . . Quoy qu’il en foit, fi eft-ce qu’ils n’eftoient autres que Diables, lefquels fi quelquefois ils femblent ayder aux hommes & leur apporter quelque bien, fi eft-ce que c’eft pour apres leur nuire d’auantaige tant interieurement en leur ame & confcience, qu’exterieurement en leurs corps & biens. Les Lemures font auffi Diables & Larues nuifantes qui apparoiffent de nuict en forme de diuerfes beftes, & le plus souuent en figure d’hommes morts.”
H.P.B. quotes from a very rare work of Pierre Le Loyer, sieur de la Brosse (1550-1634), entitled IIII Livres des Spectres ov Apparitions et Visions d’Esprits, Anges et Demons fe monf trans fenfiblement aux hommes. Angers, 1586. 4to. (British Museum, 719. f. 6.).—Compiler.]
† [This passage is from pages 16-17: “Car il eft bien certain que les Genies, & non autres, auoient cefte charge de garder.châque homme qui venoit au monde & fe nommoient Genies ainfi que dict Cenforin, parce qu’ils auoient foin de noftre generation, ou qu’ils aftoient nez auecques nous, ou bien qu’ils nous receuoient & gardoient apres que nous eftions engendrez. Et non feulement les Genies prefidoient à châque perfonne particuliere, ains il y auoit des Genies des peuples. . . . . . .”
Le Loyer refers to Censorinus’ De die natali, iii, wherein this Roman writer of the third century A.D. says:
“Genius quid sit? et unde dicatur? Genius est deus, cujus in tutela, ut quisque natus est, vivit. Hic, sive quod, ut genamur, curat, sive quod una genitur nobiscum; sive etiam, quod nos genitos suscipit ac tuetur; certe a genendo Genius adpellatur. Eundem esse Genium et Larem, multi veteres memoriae prodiderunt: in queis etiam Granius Flaccus in libro, quem ad Caesarem de Indigitamentis scriptum
The idea of guardian angels of men, races, localities, cities, and nations, was taken by the Roman Catholics from the pre-Christian occultists and pagans. Symmachus (Epistol., lib. X) writes: “As souls are given to those who are born, so genii are distributed to the nations. Every city had its protecting genius, to whom the people sacrificed.”* There is more than one inscription found that reads: Genio civitatis—“to the genius of the city.”
Only the ancient profane never seemed sure any more than the modern whether an apparition was the eidôlon of a relative or the genius of the locality. Aeneas while celebrating the anniversary of the name of his father Anchises, seeing a serpent crawling on his tomb knew not whether that was the genius of his father or the genius of
reliquit. Hunc in nos maximam, quia immo omnem habere potestatem creditum est. . . . . ”
“What is the Genius and whence its name? The Genius is a god under whose protection every one of us is placed from birth. This god—either because he presides over our birth, or because he is born with us, or again because he takes us under his guardianship as soon as we are engendered—is termed Genius from the word (genere) which means to engender. The Genius and the Lar are one and the same god, according to many ancient authors. This is also the opinion of Granius Flaccus, in his work On the Sacred Books of the Pontifs, which he addressed to Caesar. It is said that our Genius has over us a very great, and possibly even a complete power. . . .”
Censorinus adds: “The Genius is such a faithful and vigilant guardian for each one of us, that he does not leave us for a single instant; he received us as we came forth from the womb of our mother, and he will accompany us to the very last day of our existence.”
* [This passage is from Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, scholar, statesman and orator of the Fourth Century, not from Pope Symmachus, as believed by some. The Latin text is: “. . . . varios custodes urbibus cultus mens divina distribuit; ut animae nascentibus, ita populis fatalis genii dividuntur, accedit utilitas, quae maxima homini deos adserit. . . . .” (Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Ed. by Otto Seeck. Ser. I, Auct. Antiq., Vol. 6, Part 1, pp. 281-82. Berlin: Weidemann, 1883).—Compiler.]
the place (Virgil, Aeneid, V, 84-96). The manes * were numbered and divided between good and bad; those that were sinister, and that Virgil calls numina larva, were appeased by sacrifices that they should commit no mischief, such as sending bad dreams to those who despised them, etc.
Tibullus shows [this] by his line:
ne tibi neglecti mittant mala somnia manes.
(Eleg., II, vi, 37) †
“Pagans thought that the lower Souls were transformed after death into diabolical aerial spirit” (Le Loyer, op. cit.., p. 22) ‡
The term Eteroprosopos when divided into its several component words will yield a whole sentence, “an other than I under the features of my person.”
* From manus, “good,” an antiphrasis, as Festus explains.
† [The complete passage from this poem of Tibullus (Elegiae II, vi, 36-40) is as follows:
illius ut verbis, sis mihi lento veto,
ne tibi neglecti mittant mala somnia manes,
maestaque sopitae stet soror ante torum,
qualis ab excelsa praeceps delapsa fenestra
venit ad infernos sanguinolenta lacus.
J. P. Postgate (Loeb Classical Library) translates this in the following manner:
“In her name I bid thee, be not cold to me, lest the slightest spirit send thee evil dreams and in thy slumber thy mournful sister stand before thy bed, such as she was, when from the high casement she fell headlong down and passed blood-spattered to the lakes below.”
‡ [“ . . . . que les Payens croioiet que les ames fe tranfformoient en Efprits aeriens and Diaboliques . . . .”—Comp.]
It is to this terrestrial principle, the eidôlon, the larva, the bhoot—call it by whatever name—that reincarnation was refused in Isis.*
The doctrines of Theosophy are simply the faithful echoes of Antiquity. Man is a Unity only at his origin and at his end. All the Spirits, all the Souls, gods and demons emanate from and have for their root-principle the SOUL OF THE UNIVERSE says Porphyry (De Sacrifice).† Not a philosopher of any notoriety who did not believe (1) in reincarnation (metempsychosis), (2) in the plurality of principles in man, or that man had two Souls of separate and quite different natures; one perishable, the Astral Soul, the other incorruptible and immortal; and (3) that the former was not the man whom it represented—“neither his spirit nor his body, but his reflection, at best.” This was taught by Brahmans, Buddhists, Hebrews, Greeks, Egyptians, and Chaldeans; by the post-diluvian heirs of the pre-diluvian Wisdom, by Pythagoras and Socrates, Clemens Alexandrinus, Synesius, and Origen, the oldest Greek poets as much as the Gnostics, whom Gibbon shows as the most refined, learned and enlightened men of all ages (See The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. xv). But the rabble was the same in every age: superstitious, self-opinionated, materializing every most spiritual and noble idealistic conception and dragging it down to its own low level, and––ever adverse to philosophy.
* [On] page 12, Vol. I, of Isis Unveiled belief in reincarnation is asserted from the very beginning, as forming part and parcel of universal beliefs. “Metempsychosis” (or transmigration of souls) and reincarnation being after all the same thing.
† [Porphyry’s text entitled De sacrificio et magia appears to be a mediaeval condensation of Book II of his De abstinentia carnis (On Abstinence from Animal Food). This condensed version in its Latin form is appended to Iamblichus’ De mysteriis Egyptiorum, etc., Venice, 1497, and London, 1552, 1570, 1577. Thomas Taylor has translated the complete text of De abstinentia in his Select Works of Porphyry, London, 1823, wherein occurs, in Book II, 37, a passage somewhat similar to what H. P. B. mentions in the text above.—Compiler.]
Pa ge 199
But all this does not interfere with that fact, that our “fifth Race” man, analyzed esoterically as a septenary creature, was ever exoterically recognized as mundane, sub-mundane, terrestrial and supra-mundane, Ovid graphically describing him as—
Bis duo sunt hominis; manes, caro, spintus, umbra
Quatuor ista loca bis duo suscipiunt.
Terra tegit carnem, tumulum circumvolat umbra,
Orcus habet manes, spiritus astra petit.*
* [In her essay on “Chinese Spirits,” immediately following the present article, H. P. B. quotes these verses again, attributing them to a “Latin poet.” They are also quoted, in a somewhat incomplete form, in Isis Unveiled, I, 362, where they are attributed to Lucretius who is supposed to portray old Ennius as saying these words. The two last lines only occur again in Isis Unveiled, I, 37, where they are attributed to Ovid again.
In spite of an exhaustive search having been made, no such verses have been found either in Lucretius or in Ovid.—Compiler.]