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Title: Reincarnation and the Law of Karma - A Study of the Old-New World-Doctrine of Rebirth, and Spiritual Cause and Effect
Author: Atkinson, William Walker, 1862-1932
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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KARMA***


REINCARNATION AND THE LAW OF KARMA

A Study of
the Old-New World-Doctrine of
Rebirth, and Spiritual
Cause and Effect

by

WILLIAM WALKER ATKINSON



Published and Sold by
Yogi Publication Society
Masonic Temple, Chicago, Ill.

London Agents
L.N. Fowler & Co., 7 Imperial Arcade, Ludgate Circus. E.C.

(Reincarnation and the Law of Karma)

Copyright, 1908, by
Yogi Publication Society
All Rights Reserved

NOTICE.--This book is protected by Copyright and
simultaneous publication in Great Britain, France, Germany,
Russia and other countries. All foreign rights reserved.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                       PAGE

CHAPTER I. THE EARLY RACES                                7

What is Reincarnation?--Transmigration of
Souls--The Something That Persists After
Death--The Soul Not a Fresh Creation, but a
Traveler on a Long Journey.

CHAPTER II. THE EGYPTIANS, CHALDEANS, DRUIDS, ETC.       20

The Egyptian Idea of the Soul--Forty Centuries of
Occult History--The Inner Teachings of Egypt--The
Ancient Chinese Teachings and Doctrine--The
Ancient Druids and Their Teachings.

CHAPTER III. THE ROMANS AND GREEKS                       35

The Reasons of Rome's Backwardness in Spiritual
Knowledge--Why the Greeks were
Advanced--Pythagoras; Orpheus; Plato--The Various
Grecian Teachings Regarding the Soul and Its
Future Life--Plato's Wonderful Teachings and
Philosophy.

CHAPTER IV. THE JEWS, ESSENES, AND EARLY CHRISTIANS      49

The Inner Teachings of the Jewish Priests--The
Jewish Rabbins and Their Secret Doctrines--The
Kaballah, the Zahar, Nichema; Ronach; and
Nephesh--A Mysterious Brotherhood--The Christian
Inner Doctrine--The Mysteries of Jesus.

CHAPTER V. THE HINDUS                                    64

India the Mother of Reincarnation, Past and
Present--The Aryan Teachings--The History of the
Belief Among the Hindus--Fundamental Hindu
Philosophy.

CHAPTER VI. THE MODERN WEST                              95

Reincarnation in the Modern Western World--The
Revival of Interest and Its Cause--Theosophical
Society--Madame Blavatsky--The Western School of
Yogi Philosophy: Its Fundamental Teachings--The
Spiritists, and Their Doctrine--The Teachings of
the "Elect Few" in Their Secret Societies--Is
Earth a Hell?--Christian Reincarnationists and
Their Beliefs.

CHAPTER VII. BETWEEN AND BEYOND INCARNATIONS            117

How Long Between Incarnations?--Necessity for
Mental and Spiritual Digestion and
Assimilation--The Advanced Teachings--Earth-bound
Souls--Advanced Souls and Their Rest Period--Where
Does the Soul Dwell Between Incarnations?--What
Happens at Death--The Great Astral World and Its
Planes and Sub-planes--Where the Soul Goes After
Death and What It Does There--Rebirth and Its
Laws--What is the Final State of the Soul?--The
Message of the Illumined.

CHAPTER VIII. THE JUSTICE OF REINCARNATION              134

The Contrasting Theories of the Soul and Its
Future Life--Doctrine of Reincarnation the Only
Philosophical Theory that Reconciles Facts with
Theory--The Law of Karma Automatic and Enforces
Itself--Every One Their Own Judge and the Executor
of Their Own Destiny--The Opinions of the World's
Great Thinkers.

CHAPTER IX. THE ARGUMENT FOR REINCARNATION              151

Natural Laws Universal--If the Soul is Immortal,
it Must Have Always Been So--A Mortal Thing Cannot
be Made Immortal Any More Than Nothing Can be Made
Something--Future Life Implies Past Life--Varient
Experiences Necessary for the Soul's
Education--Advancement Necessary to Enjoyment of
the Soul's Higher States of Being--The True
Teaching.

CHAPTER X. THE PROOFS OF REINCARNATION                  169

Actual Proofs of Personal Conscious Experience
Demanded by Science--Such Proofs Possible and Have
Occurred to Many of the Race--The Remembrance of
the Details of Past Existence Common to the
Race--Interesting Cases Given on Good
Authority--Messages from the Past.

CHAPTER XI. ARGUMENTS AGAINST REINCARNATION             192

Why Reincarnation is Opposed by Some--The Answers
to the Objections--The Proof of the Existence of
the Soul--Is Reincarnation Un-Christian and
Derived from Pagan and Heathen Sources?

CHAPTER XII. THE LAW OF KARMA                           222

What Karma Means--Does Karma Punish or is it but
the Workings of a Natural Law?--The Various Kinds
of Karma--The Advanced Mystical Doctrine--The End
is Absolute Good--There is No Devil but Fear and
Unfaith.



CHAPTER I.

THE EARLY RACES.


By "Reincarnation" we mean the repeated incarnation, or embodiment in
flesh, of the soul or immaterial part of man's nature. The term
"Metempsychosis" is frequently employed in the same sense, the
definition of the latter term being: "The passage of the soul, as an
immortal essence, at the death of the body, into another living body."
The term "Transmigration of Souls" is sometimes employed, the term being
used in the sense of "passing from one body into another." But the term
"Transmigration" is often used in connection with the belief of certain
undeveloped races who held that the soul of men sometimes passed into
the bodies of the lower animals, as a punishment for their sins
committed during the human life. But this belief is held in disrepute
by the adherents of Reincarnation or Metempsychosis, and has no
connection with their philosophy or beliefs, the ideas having sprung
from an entirely different source, and having nothing in common.

There are many forms of belief--many degrees of doctrine--regarding
Reincarnation, as we shall see as we proceed, but there is a fundamental
and basic principle underlying all of the various shades of opinion, and
divisions of the schools. This fundamental belief may be expressed as
the doctrine that there is in man an immaterial Something (called the
soul, spirit, inner self, or many other names) which does not perish at
the death or disintegration of the body, but which persists as an
entity, and after a shorter or longer interval of rest reincarnates, or
is re-born, into a new body--that of an unborn infant--from whence it
proceeds to live a new life in the body, more or less unconscious of its
past existences, but containing within itself the "essence" or results
of its past lives, which experiences go to make up its new "character,"
or "personality." It is usually held that the rebirth is governed by the
law of attraction, under one name or another, and which law operates in
accordance with strict justice, in the direction of attracting the
reincarnating soul to a body, and conditions, in accordance with the
tendencies of the past life, the parents also attracting to them a soul
bound to them by some ties in the past, the law being universal,
uniform, and equitable to all concerned in the matter. This is a general
statement of the doctrine as it is generally held by the most
intelligent of its adherents.

E. D. Walker, a well-known English writer on the subject, gives the
following beautiful idea of the general teachings: "Reincarnation
teaches that the soul enters this life, not as a fresh creation, but
after a long course of previous existences on this earth and elsewhere,
in which it acquired its present inhering peculiarities, and that it is
on the way to future transformations which the soul is now shaping. It
claims that infancy brings to earth, not a blank scroll for the
beginning of an earthly record, nor a mere cohesion of atomic forces
into a brief personality, soon to dissolve again into the elements, but
that it is inscribed with ancestral histories, some like the present
scene, most of them unlike it and stretching back into the remotest
past. These inscriptions are generally undecipherable, save as revealed
in their moulding influence upon the new career; but like the invisible
photographic images made by the sun of all it sees, when they are
properly developed in the laboratory of consciousness they will be
distinctly displayed. The current phase of life will also be stored away
in the secret vaults of memory, for its unconscious effects upon the
ensuing lives. All the qualities we now possess, in body, mind and soul,
result from our use of ancient opportunities. We are indeed 'the heir of
all the ages,' and are alone responsible for our inheritances. For these
conditions accrue from distant causes engendered by our older selves,
and the future flows by the divine law of cause and effect from the
gathered momentum of our past impetuses. There is no favoritism in the
universe, but all have the same everlasting facilities for growth. Those
who are now elevated in worldly station may be sunk in humble
surroundings in the future. Only the inner traits of the soul are
permanent companions. The wealthy sluggard may be the beggar of the next
life; and the industrious worker of the present is sowing the seeds of
future greatness. Suffering bravely endured now will produce a treasure
of patience and fortitude in another life; hardships will give rise to
strength; self-denial must develop the will; tastes cultivated in this
existence will somehow bear fruit in coming ones; and acquired energies
will assert themselves whenever they can by the Law of Parsimony upon
which the principles of physics are based. Vice versa, the unconscious
habits, the uncontrollable impulses, the peculiar tendencies, the
favorite pursuits, and the soul-stirring friendships of the present
descend from far-reaching previous activities."

The doctrine of Reincarnation--Metempsychosis--Rebirth--has always been
held as truth by a large portion of the human race. Following the
invariable law of cyclic changes--the swing of the pendulum of
thought--at times it has apparently died out in parts of the world, only
to be again succeeded by a new birth and interest among the descendants
of the same people. It is a light impossible to extinguish, and although
its flickering flame may seem to die out for a moment, the shifting of
the mental winds again allows it to rekindle from the hidden spark, and
lo! again it bursts into new life and vigor. The reawakened interest in
the subject in the Western world, of which all keen observers have taken
note, is but another instance of the operation of the Cyclic Law. It
begins to look as if the occultists are right when they predict that
before the dawn of another century the Western world will once more have
embraced the doctrines of Rebirth--the old, discarded truth, once so
dear to the race, will again be settled in popular favor, and again move
toward the position of "orthodox" teaching, perhaps to be again
crystallized by reason of its "orthodoxy" and again to lose favor and
fade away, as the pendulum swings backward to the other extreme of
thought.

But the teaching of Reincarnation never has passed away altogether from
the race--in some parts of the world the lamp has been kept burning
brightly--nay, more, at no time in human history has there been a period
in which the majority of the race has not accepted the doctrine of
Rebirth, in some of its various forms. It was so one thousand years
ago--two thousand--five thousand--and it is so to-day. In this Twentieth
Century nearly if not quite two-thirds of the race hold firmly to the
teaching, and the multitudes of Hindus and other Eastern peoples cling
to it tenaciously. And, even outside of these people, there are to be
found traces of the doctrine among other races in the East, and West. So
Reincarnation is not a "forgotten truth," or "discarded doctrine," but
one fully alive and vigorous, and one which is destined to play a very
important part in the history of Western thought during the Twentieth
Century.

It is interesting to trace the history of the doctrine among the ancient
peoples--away back into the dim recesses of the past. It is difficult to
ascribe to any particular time, or any particular race, the credit of
having "originated" Reincarnation. In spite of the decided opinions, and
the differing theories of the various writers on this subject, who would
give Egypt, or India, or the lost Atlantis, as the birthplace of the
doctrine, we feel that such ideas are but attempts to attribute a
universal intuitive belief to some favored part of the race. We do not
believe that the doctrine of Reincarnation ever "originated" anywhere,
as a new and distinct doctrine. We believe that it sprang into existence
whenever and wherever man arrived at a stage of intellectual development
sufficient to enable him to form a mental conception of a Something that
lived after Death. No matter from what source this belief in a "ghost"
originated, it must be admitted that it is found among all peoples, and
is apparently an universal idea. And, running along with it in the
primitive peoples, we find that there is, and always has been, an idea,
more or less vague and indistinct, that somehow, someway, sometime, this
"ghost" of the person returns to earthly existence and takes upon itself
a new fleshly garment--a new body. Here, then, is where the idea of
Reincarnation begins--everywhere, at a certain stage of human mental
development. It runs parallel with the "ghost" idea, and seems bound up
with that conception in nearly every case. When man evolves a little
further, he begins to reason that if the "ghost" is immortal, and
survives the death of the body, and returns to take upon itself a new
body, then it must have lived before the last birth, and therefore must
have a long chain of lives behind it. This is the second step. The third
step is when man begins to reason that the next life is dependent upon
something done or left undone in the present life. And upon these three
fundamental ideas the doctrine of Reincarnation has been built. The
occultists claim that in addition to this universal idea, which is more
or less intuitive, the race has received more or less instruction, from
time to time, from certain advanced souls which have passed on to higher
planes of existence, and who are now called the Masters, Adepts,
Teachers, Race Guides, etc., etc. But whatever may be the explanation,
it remains a truth that man seems to have worked out for himself, in all
times and in all places, first, an idea of a "ghost" which persists
after the body dies; and second, that this "ghost" has lived before in
other bodies, and will return again to take on a new body. There are
various ideas regarding "heavens" and "hells," but underlying them all
there persists this idea of re-birth in some of its phases.

Soldi, the archaeologist, has published an interesting series of works,
dealing with the beliefs of primitive peoples, who have passed from the
scene of human action. He shows by the fragments of carving and
sculpture which have survived them that there was an universal idea
among them of the "ghost" which lived after the body died; and a
corresponding idea that some day this "ghost" would return to the scene
of its former activities. This belief sometimes took the form of a
return into the former body, which idea led to the preservation of the
body by processes of mummifying, etc., but as a rule this belief
developed into the more advanced one of a re-birth in a new body.

The earlier travelers in Africa have reported that here and there they
found evidences and traces of what was to them "a strange belief" in the
future return of the soul to a new body on earth. The early explorers of
America found similar traditions and beliefs among the Red Indians,
survivals of which exist even unto this day. It is related of a number
of savage tribes, in different parts of the world, that they place the
bodies of their dead children by the roadside, in order that their souls
may be given a good chance to find new bodies by reason of the
approaching of many traveling pregnant women who pass along the road. A
number of these primitive people hold to the idea of a complex soul,
composed of several parts, in which they resemble the Egyptians,
Hindus, Chinese, and in fact all mystical and occult philosophies. The
Figi Islanders are said to believe in a black soul and a white soul, the
former of which remains with the buried body and disintegrates with it,
while the white soul leaves the body and wanders as a "ghost," and
afterward, tiring of the wandering, returns to life in a new body. The
natives of Greenland are said to believe in an astral body, which leaves
the body during sleep, but which perishes as the body disintegrates
after death; and a second soul which leaves the body only at death, and
which persists until it is reborn at a later time. In fact, the student
finds that nearly all of the primitives races, and those semi-civilized,
show traces of a belief in a complex soul, and a trace of doctrine of
Reincarnation in some form. The human mind seems to work along the same
lines, among the different races--unless one holds to the theory that
all sprang from the same root-race, and that the various beliefs are
survivals of some ancient fundamental doctrine--the facts are not
disturbed in either case.

In the last mentioned connection, we might mention that the traditions
concerning Ancient Atlantis--the lost continent--all hold to the effect
that her people believed strongly in Reincarnation, and to the ideas of
the complex soul. As the survivors of Atlantis are believed to have been
the ancestors of the Egyptians on the one hand, and of the Ancient
Peruvians on the other--the two branches of survivors having maintained
their original doctrines as modified by different environments--we might
find here an explanation of the prevalence of the doctrine on both sides
of the ocean. We mention this merely in passing, and as of general
interest in the line of our subject.



CHAPTER II.

THE EGYPTIANS, CHALDEANS, DRUIDS, ETC.


After considering the existence of the doctrines of Reincarnation among
the primitive peoples, and its traditional existence among the vanished
peoples of the past, we find ourselves irresistibly borne toward that
ancient land of mystery--the home of the mystics and occultists of the
past--the land of Isis--the home of the builders of the Pyramids--the
people of the Sphinx. Whether these people were the direct descendants
of the people of destroyed Atlantis, the home of the Ancient Wisdom--or
whether they were a new people who had rediscovered the old
doctrines--the fact remains that when tracing back any old occult or
mystic doctrine we find ourselves gradually led toward the land of the
Sphinx as the source of that hidden truth. The Sphinx is a fit emblem of
that wonderful race--its sealed lips seem to invite the ultimate
questions, and one feels that there may be a whispered answer wafted
from those tightly closed lips toward the ear that is prepared to hear
and receive it. And so, in our search for the origin of Reincarnation,
we find ourselves once more confronting the Egyptian Sphinx as we have
done so often before in our search after Truth.

Notwithstanding its obvious prehistoric origin, many have claimed that
Metempsychosis has its birthplace in old Egypt, on the banks of the
Nile. India disputes this claim, holding that the Ganges, not the Nile,
gave birth to the doctrine. Be that as it may, we shall treat the
Egyptian conception at this place, among the ancient lands holding the
doctrine, for in India it is not a thing of the past, but a doctrine
which has its full flower at the present time, and which flower is
sending forth its subtle odor to all parts of the civilized world. And
so we shall defer our consideration of India's teachings until we reach
the present stage of the history of Reincarnation. Herodotus, many
centuries ago, said of the Egyptians that: "The Egyptians are the first
who propounded the theory that the human soul is imperishable, and that
where the body of any one dies it enters into some other body that may
be ready to receive it; and that when it has gone the round of all
created forms on land, in water, and in air, then it once more enters
the human body born for it; and that this cycle of existence for the
soul takes place in three thousand years."

The doctrine of Reincarnation is discernible though hidden away amidst
the mass of esoteric doctrine back of the exoteric teachings of the
Egyptians, which latter were expounded to the common people, while the
truth was reserved for the few who were ready for it. The inner circles
of the Egyptian mystics believed in and understood the inner truths of
Reincarnation, and although they guarded the esoteric teachings
carefully, still fragments fell from the table and were greedily taken
up by the masses, as we may see by an examination of the scraps of
historical records which have been preserved, graven in the stone, and
imprinted on the bricks. Not only did these people accept the doctrine
of Reincarnation, but Egypt was really the home of the highest occult
teachings. The doctrines and teachings regarding several "sheaths" or
"bodies" of man, which are taught by occultists of all times and races,
are believed to have been fully taught in their original purity on the
banks of the Nile, and in the shadow of the Pyramids--yes, even before
the days of the Pyramids. Their forty centuries of history saw many
modifications of the philosophical and religious beliefs, but the
fundamental doctrine of Reincarnation was held to during the entire
period of history in Ancient Egypt, and was not discarded until the
decadent descendants of the once mighty race were overwhelmed by
stronger races, whose religions and beliefs superseded the vestiges of
the Ancient Doctrine. The Egyptians held that there was "Ka," the divine
spirit in man; "Ab," the intellect or will; "Hati," the vitality; "Tet,"
the astral body; "Sahu," the etheric double; and "Xa," the physical body
(some authorities forming a slightly different arrangement), which
correspond to the various "bodies of man" as recognized by occultists
to-day.

The Ancient Chaldeans also taught the doctrine of Rebirth. The body of
Persian and Chaldean mystics and occultists, known as "the Magi," who
were masters of the Hidden Wisdom, held to the doctrine of Reincarnation
as one of their fundamental truths. In fact, they managed to educate the
masses of their people to a much higher point than the masses of the
Egyptians, and, escaping the idolatrous tendencies of the Egyptian
populace, they manifested a very high degree of pure philosophical,
occult, and religious knowledge. The Magi taught that the soul was a
complex being, and that certain portions of it perished, while certain
other parts survived and passed on through a series of earth and
"other-world" existences, until finally it attained such a degree of
purity that it was relieved of the necessity for further incarnation,
and thenceforth dwelt in the region of ineffable bliss--the region of
light eternal. The teaching also held that just before entering into
the state of bliss, the soul was able to review its previous
incarnations, seeing distinctly the connection between them, and thus
gaining a store of the wisdom of experience, which would aid it in its
future work as a helper of future races which would appear on the face
of the earth. The Magi taught that as all living things--nay, all things
having existence, organic or inorganic--were but varying manifestations
of the One Life and Being, therefore the highest knowledge implied a
feeling of conscious brotherhood and relationship toward and with all.

Even among the Chinese there was an esoteric teaching concerning
Reincarnation, beneath the outer teaching of ages past. It may be
discerned in the teachings of the early philosophers and seers of the
race, notably in the work of Lao-Tze, the great Chinese sage and
teacher. Lao-Tze, whose great work, the "Tao-Teh-King," is a classic,
taught Reincarnation to his inner circle of students and adherents, at
least so many authorities claim. He taught that there existed a
fundamental principle called "Tao," which is held to have been identical
with the "primordial reason," a manifestation of which was the "Teh," or
the creative activity of the universe. From the union and action of the
"Tao" and the "Teh" proceeded the universe, including the human soul,
which he taught was composed of several parts, among them being the
"huen," or spiritual principle; and the "phi," or semi-material vital
principle, which together animate the body. Lao-Tze said: "To be
ignorant that the true self is immortal, is to remain in a grievous
state of error, and to experience many calamities by reason thereof.
Know ye, that there is a part of man which is subtle and spiritual, and
which is the heaven-bound portion of himself; that which has to do with
flesh, bones, and body, belongs to the earth; earthly to earth--heavenly
to heaven. Such is the Law." Some have held that Lao-Tze taught the
immediate return of the "huen" to the "tao" after death, but from the
writings of his early followers it may be seen that he really taught
that the "huen" persisted in individual existence, throughout repeated
incarnations, returning to the "tao" only when it had completed its
round of experience-life. For instance, in the Si Haei, it is said that:
"The vital essence is dispersed after death together with the body,
bones and flesh; but the soul, or knowing principle of the self, is
preserved and does not perish. There is no immediate absorption of the
individuality into the Tao, for individuality persists, and manifests
itself according to the Law." And Chuang-Tze said: "Death is but the
commencement of a new life." It was also taught by the early Taoists,
that the deeds, good and evil, of the present life would bear fruit in
future existences; in addition to the orthodox heavens and hells, in
which the Chinese believed, and of which they had a great variety
adapted to the requirements of the various grades of saints and sinners,
the minute details of which places being described with that attention
to minor details and particulars peculiar to the Chinese mind. The
teachings of a later date, that the soul of the ancestor abided in the
hall of the ancestors, etc., were a corruption of the ancient teaching.
Other Chinese teachers taught that the soul consists of three parts, the
first being the "kuei," which had its seat in the belly, and which
perished with the body; the second being the "ling," which had its seat
in the heart or chest, and which persisted for some time after death,
but which eventually disintegrated; and the third, or "huen," which had
its seat in the brain, and which survived the disintegration of its
companions, and then passed on to other existences.

As strange as it may appear to many readers unfamiliar with the subject,
the ancient Druids, particularly those dwelling in ancient Gaul, were
familiar with the doctrine of Reincarnation, and believed in its tenets.
These people, generally regarded as ancient barbarians, really possessed
a philosophy of a high order, which merged into a mystic form of
religion. Many of the Romans, upon their conquest of Gallia, were
surprised at the degree and character of the philosophical knowledge
possessed by the Druids, and many of them have left written records of
the same, notably in the case of Aristotle, Cæsar, Lucan, and Valerius
Maximus. The Christian teachers who succeeded them also bore witness to
these facts, as may be seen by reference to the works of St. Clement,
St. Cyril, and other of the early Christian Fathers. These ancient
"barbarians" entertained some of the highest spiritual conceptions of
life and immortality--the mind and the soul. Reynaud has written of
them, basing his statements upon a careful study of the ancient beliefs
of this race: "If Judea represents in the world, with a tenacity of its
own the idea of a personal and absolute God; if Greece and Rome
represent the idea of society, Gaul represents, just as particularly,
the idea of immortality. Nothing characterized it better, as all the
ancients admit. That mysterious folk was looked upon as the privileged
possessor of the secrets of death, and its unwavering instinctive faith
in the persistence of life never ceased to be a cause of astonishment,
and sometimes of fear, in the eyes of the heathen." The Gauls possessed
an occult philosophy, and a mystic religion, which were destroyed by the
influences of the Roman Conquest.

The philosophy of the Druids bore a remarkable resemblance to the Inner
Doctrine of the Egyptians, and their successors, the Grecian Mystics.
Traces of Hermeticism and Pythagoreanism are clearly discernible,
although the connecting link that bound them together has been lost to
history. Legends among the Druids connected their order with the ancient
Aryan creeds and teachings, and there seems to have been a very close
connection between these priests and those of Ancient Greece, for there
are tales of offerings being sent to the temples of Greece from the
priests of Gaul. And it is also related that on the island of Delphos
there was once a Druidic tomb in the shape of a monument, believed to
have been erected over the remains of Druid priestesses. Herodotus and
others speak of a secret alliance between the priests of Greece and
those of the Druids. Some of the ancient legends hold that Pythagoras
was the instructor of the Druidic priests, and that Pythagoras himself
was in close communication with the Brahmins of India, and the
Hermetists of Egypt. Other legends have it that the Druids received
their first instruction from Zamolais, who had been a slave and student
of Pythagoras. At any rate, the correspondence between the two schools
of philosophy is remarkable.

Much of the Druidic teachings has been lost, and it is difficult to
piece together the fragments. But enough is known to indicate the above
mentioned relationship to the Pythagorean school, and of the firm hold
of the doctrine of Reincarnation upon the Druids. The preserved
fragments show that the Druids taught that there was in man an
immaterial, spiritual part, called "Awen," which proceeded from an
Universal Spiritual Principle of Life. They taught that this "Awen" had
animated the lower forms of life, mineral, vegetable and animal, before
incarnating as man. In those conditions it was entangled and imprisoned
in the state of "abysmal circling," called "Anufu," from which it
finally escaped and entered into the "circle of freedom," called
"Abred," or human incarnation and beyond. This state of "Abred" includes
life in the various human races on this and other planets, until finally
there is a further liberation of the "Awen," which then passes on to the
"Circle of Bliss," or "Gwynfid," where it abides for æons in a state of
ecstatic being. But, beyond even this transcendent state, there is
another, which is called the "Circle of the Infinite," or "Ceugant,"
which is identical with the "Union with God" of the Persians and Greek
Mystics, or the "Nirvana" of the Hindus. Rather an advanced form of
philosophy for "barbarians," is it not? Particularly when contrasted
with the crude mythology of the Roman conquerors!

The Gauls were so advanced in the practical phases of occultism that
they gave every condemned criminal a respite of five years, after
sentence of death, before execution, in order that he might prepare
himself for a future state by meditation, instruction and other
preparation; and also to prevent ushering an unprepared and guilty soul
into the plane of the departed--the advantages of which plan is apparent
to every student of occultism who accepts the teaching regarding the
astral planes.

The reader will understand, of course, that the degree of advancement in
spiritual and philosophical matters evidenced by the Gauls was due not
to the fact that these people were generally so far advanced beyond
their neighbors, but rather to the fact that they had been instructed by
the Druid priests among them. Tradition has it that the original Druidic
priests came to Gaul and other countries from some far-off land,
probably from Egypt or Greece. We have spoken of the connection between
their teachings and that of the Pythagoreans, and there was undoubtedly
a strong bond of relationship between these priests and the occultists
of other lands. The Druidic priests were well versed in astronomy and
astrology, and the planets had an important part in the teachings. A
portion of their ritual is said to have correspondences with the early
Jewish rites and worship. Their favorite symbol--the mistletoe--was used
as indicating re-birth, the mistletoe being the new life springing forth
from the old one, typified by the oak. The Druids traveled into Ancient
Britain and Ireland, and many traces of their religious rites may still
be found there, not only in the shape of the stone places-of-worship,
but also in many curious local customs among the peasantry. Many a bit
of English folk-lore--many an odd Irish fancy concerning fairies and the
like; symbols of good-luck; banshees and "the little-folk"--came
honestly to these people from the days of the Druids. And from the same
source came the many whispered tales among both races regarding the
birth of children who seemed to have remembrances of former lives on
earth, which memory faded away as they grew older. Among these people
there is always an undercurrent of mystic ideas about souls "coming
back" in some mysterious way not fully understood. It is the inheritance
from the Druids.



CHAPTER III.

THE ROMANS AND GREEKS.


One unfamiliar with the subject would naturally expect to find the
Ancient Romans well advanced along the lines of philosophy, religion,
and spiritual speculation, judging from the all-powerful influence
exerted by them over the affairs of the whole known world. Particularly
when one considers the relationship with and connection of Rome with
ancient Greece, it would seem that the two peoples must have had much in
common in the world of thought. But such is not the case. Although the
exoteric religions of the Romans resembled that of the Greeks, from whom
it was borrowed or inherited, there was little or no original thought
along metaphysics, religion or philosophy among the Romans. This was
probably due to the fact that the whole tendency of Rome was toward
material advancement and attainment, little or no attention being given
to matters concerning the soul, future life, etc. Some few of the
philosophers of Rome advanced theories regarding the future state, but
beyond a vague sort of ancestor worship the masses of the people took
but little interest in the subject. Cicero, it is true, uttered words
which indicate a belief in immortality, when he said in "Scipio's
Dream": "Know that it is not thou, but thy body alone, which is mortal.
The individual in his entirety resides in the soul, and not in the
outward form. Learn, then, that thou art a god; thou, the immortal
intelligence which gives movements to a perishable body, just as the
eternal God animates an incorruptible body." Pliny the younger left
writings which seem to indicate his belief in the reality of phantoms,
and Ovid has written verses which would indicate his recognition of a
part of man which survived the death of the body. But, on the whole,
Roman philosophy treated immortality as a thing perchance existing, but
not proven, and to be viewed rather as a poetical expression of a
longing, rather than as an established, or at least a well grounded,
principle of philosophical thought. But Lucretius and others of his time
and country protested against the folly of belief in the survival of the
soul held by the other nations. He said that: "The fear of eternal life
should be banished from the universe; it disturbs the peace of mankind,
for it prevents the enjoyment of any security or pleasure." And Virgil
praised and commended the philosophical attitude which was able to see
the real cause of things, and was therefore able to reject the unworthy
fear of a world beyond and all fears arising from such belief. But even
many of the Roman philosophers, while denying immortality, believed in
supernatural powers and beings, and were very superstitious and
childlike in many respects, so that their philosophy of non-survival was
evidently rather the result of temperament and pursuit of material
things than a height of philosophical reasoning or metaphysical thought.

And so, the Romans stand apart from the majority of the ancient
peoples, in so far as the belief in Reincarnation is concerned. While
there were individual mystics and occultists among them, it still
remains a fact that the majority of the people held no such belief, and
in fact the masses had no clearly defined ideas regarding the survival
of the soul. It is a strange exception to the general rule, and one that
has occasioned much comment and attention among thinkers along these
lines. There was a vague form of ancestor worship among the Romans, but
even this was along the lines of collective survival of the ancestors,
and was free from the ordinary metaphysical speculations and religious
dogmas. Roughly stated, the Roman belief may be expressed by an idea of
a less material, or more subtle, part of man which escaped
disintegration after death, and which in some mysterious way passed on
to combine with the ancestral soul which composed the collective
ancestral deity of the family, the peace and pleasure of which were held
as sacred duties on the part of the descendants, sacrifices and
offerings being made toward this end. Nevertheless, here and there,
among the Romans, were eminent thinkers who seemingly held a vague,
tentative belief in some form of Reincarnation, as, for instance, Ovid,
who says: "Nothing perishes, although everything changes here on earth;
the souls come and go unendingly in visible forms; the animals which
have acquired goodness will take upon them human form"; and Virgil says:
"After death, the souls come to the Elysian fields, or to Tartarus, and
there meet with the reward or punishment of their deeds during life.
Later, on drinking of the waters of Lethe, which takes away all memory
of the past, they return to earth." But it must be admitted that Rome
was deficient in spiritual insight and beliefs, on the whole, her
material successes having diverted her attention from the problems which
had so engrossed the mind of her neighbor Greece, and her older sisters
Persia, Chaldea, and Egypt.

Among the Greeks, on the contrary, we find a marked degree of interest
and speculation regarding the immortality of the soul, and much
interest in the doctrines of Metempsychosis or Reincarnation. Although
the great masses of the Grecian people were satisfied with their popular
mythology and not disposed to question further, or to indulge in keen
speculation on metaphysical subjects, still the intellectual portion of
the race were most active in their search after truth, and their schools
of philosophy, with their many followers and adherents, have left an
indelible mark upon the thought of man unto this day. Next to the
Hindus, the Greeks were the great philosophers of the human race. And
the occultists and mystics among them were equal to those of Persia,
India, Chaldea or Egypt. While the various theories regarding the soul
were as the sands of the sea, so many were the teachers, schools and
divisions of thought among these people--still the doctrine of
Reincarnation played a very important part in their philosophy. The
prevailing idea was that the worthy souls pass on to a state of bliss,
without rebirth, while the less worthy pass the waters of the river of
Lethe, quaffing of its waters of forgetfulness, and thus having the
recollection of their earth-life, and of the period of punishment that
they had undergone by reason of the same, obliterated and cleansed from
their memories, when they pass on to re-birth. One of the old Orphic
hymns reads as follows: "The wise love light and not darkness. When you
travel the journey of Life, remember, always, the end of the journey.
When souls return to the light, after their sojourn on earth, they wear
upon their more subtle bodies, like searing, hideous scars, the marks of
their earthly sins--these must be obliterated, and they go back to earth
to be cleansed. But the pure, virtuous and strong proceed direct to the
Sun of Dionysus." The teachings of the Egyptians left a deep impression
upon the Grecian mind, and not only the common form of belief, but also
the esoteric doctrines, were passed along to the newer people by the
elder.

Pythagoras was the great occult teacher of Greece, and his school and
that of his followers accepted and taught the great doctrine of
Reincarnation. Much of his teaching was reserved for the initiates of
the mystic orders founded by himself and his followers, but still much
of the doctrine was made public. Both Orpheus and Pythagoras, although
several centuries separated them, were students at the fount of
knowledge in Egypt, having traveled to that country in order to be
initiated in the mystic orders of the ancient land, and returning they
taught anew the old doctrine of Rebirth. The Pythagorean teaching
resembles that of the Hindus and Egyptians, in so far as is concerned
the nature of man--his several bodies or sheaths--and the survival of
the higher part of his nature, while the lower part perishes. It was
taught that after death this higher part of the soul passed on to a
region of bliss, where it received knowledge and felt the beneficent
influence of developed and advanced souls, thus becoming equipped for a
new life, with incentives toward higher things. But, not having as yet
reached the stage of development which will entitle it to dwell in the
blissful regions for all eternity, it sooner or later reaches the limit
of its term of probation, and then passes down toward another
incarnation on earth--another step on the Path of Attainment.

The teaching was, further, that the conditions, circumstances and
environments of the new earth-life were determined by the actions,
thoughts, and mental tendencies of the former life, and by the degree of
development which the several previous earth-lives had manifested. In
this respect the teaching agrees materially with the universal doctrine
regarding Reincarnation and Karma. Pythagoras taught that the doctrine
of Reincarnation accounted for the inequality observable in the lives of
men on earth, giving a logical reason for the same, and establishing the
fact of universal and ultimate justice, accountable for on no other
grounds. He taught that although the material world was subject to the
laws of destiny and fatality, yet there was another and higher state of
being in which the soul would rise above the laws of the lower world.
This higher state, he taught, had laws of its own, as yet unknown to
man, which tended to work out the imperfect laws of the material world,
establishing harmony, justice, and equality, to supply the apparent
deficiencies manifested in the earth life.

Following Pythagoras, Plato, the great Grecian philosopher, taught the
old-new doctrine of Rebirth. He taught that the souls of the dead must
return to earth, where, in new lives, they must wear out the old earth
deeds, receiving benefits for the worthy ones, and penalties for the
unworthy ones, the soul profiting by these repeated experiences, and
rising step by step toward the divine. Plato taught that the
reincarnated soul has flashes of remembrance of its former lives, and
also instincts and intuitions gained by former experiences. He classed
innate ideas among these inherited experiences of former lives. It has
been well said that "everything can be found in Plato," and therefore
one who seeks for the ancient Grecian ideas concerning Reincarnation,
and the problems of the soul, may find that which he seeks in the
writings of the old sage and philosopher. Plato was the past master of
the inner teachings concerning the soul, and all who have followed him
have drawn freely from his great store of wisdom. His influence on the
early Christian church was enormous, and in many forms it continues even
unto this day. Many of the early Christian fathers taught that Plato was
really one of the many forerunners of Christ, who had prepared the pagan
world for the coming of the Master.

In "Phaedo," Plato describes the soul, and explains its immortality. He
teaches that man has a material body which is subject to constant
change, and subject to death and disintegration; and also an immaterial
soul, unchangeable and indestructible, and akin to the divine. At death
this soul was severed from its physical companion, and rose, purified,
to the higher regions, where it rendered an account of itself, and had
its future allotted to it. If it was found sufficiently untainted and
unsullied by the mire of material life, it was considered fit to be
admitted to the State of Bliss, which was described as Union with the
Supreme Being, which latter is described as Spirit, eternal and
omniscient. The base and very guilty souls undergo a period of
punishment, or purgation, to the end that they may be purged and
purified of the guilt, before being allowed to make another trial for
perfection. The souls which were not sufficiently pure for the State of
Bliss, nor yet so impure that they need the purging process, were
returned to earth-life, there to take up new bodies, and endeavor to
work out their salvation anew, to the end that they might in the future
attain the Blissful State. Plato taught that in the Rebirth, the soul
was generally unconscious of its previous lives, although it may have
flashes of recollection. Besides this it has a form of intuition, and
innate ideas, which was believed to be the result of the experiences
gained in the past lives, and which knowledge had been stored up so as
to benefit the soul in its reincarnated existence.

Plato taught that the immaterial part of man--the soul--was a complex
thing, being composed of a number of differing, though related,
elements. Highest in the hierarchy of the soul elements he placed the
Spirit, which, he taught, comprised consciousness, intelligence, will,
choice between good and evil, etc., and which was absolutely
indestructible and immortal, and which had its seat in the head. Then
came two other parts of the soul, which survived the dissolution of the
body, but which were only comparatively immortal, that is, they were
subject to later dissolution and disintegration. Of these semi-material
elements, one was the seat of the affections, passions, etc., and was
located in the heart; while the other, which was the seat of the sensual
and lower desires, passions, etc., was located in the liver. These two
mentioned lower elements were regarded as not possessed of reason, but
still having certain powers of sensation, perception, and will.

The Neo-Platonists, who followed Plato, and who adapted his teachings to
their many conflicting ideas, held firmly to the doctrine of
Reincarnation. The writings of Plotinus, Porphyry, and the other
Mystics, had much to say on this subject, and the teaching was much
refined under their influence. The Jewish philosophers were affected by
the influence of the Platonic thought, and the school of the Essenes,
which held firmly to the idea of Rebirth, was a source from which
Christianity received much of its early influence.



CHAPTER IV.

THE JEWS, ESSENES AND EARLY CHRISTIANS.


The early Jewish people had an Inner Teaching which embraced certain
ideas concerning Reincarnation, although the masses of the people knew
nothing of the doctrine which was reserved for the inner circles of the
few. There is much dispute concerning the early beliefs of the Jewish
people regarding the immortality of the soul. The best authorities seem
to agree that the early beliefs were very crude and indefinite,
consisting principally of a general belief that after death the souls
are gathered up together in a dark place, called Sheol, where they dwell
in an unconscious sleep. It will be noted that the earlier books in the
Old Testament have very little to say on this subject. Gradually,
however, there may be noticed a dawning belief in certain states of the
departed souls, and in this the Jews were undoubtedly influenced by the
conceptions of the people of other lands with whom they came in contact.
The sojourn in Egypt must have exerted an important influence on them,
particularly the educated thinkers of the race, of which, however, there
were but few, owing to the condition in which they were kept as bondsmen
of the Egyptians. Moses, however, owing to his education and training
among the Egyptian priests, must have been fully initiated in the
Mysteries of that land, and the Jewish legends would indicate that he
formed an Inner Circle of the priesthood of his people, after they
escaped from Egypt, and doubtless instructed them fully in the occult
doctrines, which, however, were too advanced and complicated for
preaching to the mass of ignorant people of which the Jewish race of
that time was composed. The lamp of learning among the Jews of that time
was kept alight but by very few priests among them. There has always
been much talk, and legend, concerning this Inner Teaching among the
Jews. The Jewish Rabbis have had so much to say regarding it, and some
of the Early Fathers of the Christian Church were of the opinion that
such Secret Doctrine existed.

Scholars have noted that in important passages in the Jewish Bible,
three distinct terms are used in referring to the immaterial part, or
"soul," of man. These terms are "Nichema," "Rouach," and "Nephesh,"
respectively, and have been translated as "soul," "spirit" or "breath,"
in several senses of these terms. Many good authorities have held that
these three terms did not apply to one conception, but that on the
contrary they referred to three distinct elements of the soul, akin to
the conceptions of the Egyptians and other early peoples, who held to
the trinity of the soul, as we have shown a little further back. Some
Hebrew scholars hold that "Nichema" is the Ego, or Intelligent Spirit;
"Rouach," the lower vehicle of the Ego; and "Nephesh," the Vital Force,
Vitality, or Life.

Students of the Kaballah, or Secret Writings of the Jews, find therein
many references to the complex nature of the soul, and its future
states, as well as undoubted teachings regarding Reincarnation, or
Future Existence in the Body. The Kaballah was the book of the Jewish
Mysteries, and was largely symbolical, so that to those unacquainted
with the symbols employed, it read as if lacking sense or meaning. But
those having the key, were able to read therefrom many bits of hidden
doctrine. The Kaballah is said to be veiled in seven coverings--that is,
its symbology is sevenfold, so that none but those having the inner keys
may know the full truth contained therein, although even the first key
will unlock many doors. The Zohar, another Secret Book of the Jews,
although of much later origin than the Kaballah, also contains much of
the Inner Teachings concerning the destiny of the soul. This book
plainly recognizes and states the three-fold nature of the soul, above
mentioned, and treats the Nichema, Rouach and Nephesh as distinct
elements thereof. It also teaches that when the soul leaves the body it
goes through a long and tedious purifying process, whereby the effect
of its vices is worn off by means of a series of transmigrations and
reincarnations, wherein it develops several perfections, etc. This idea
of attaining perfection through repeated rebirths, instead of the
rebirths being in the nature of punishment as taught by Plato, is also
taught in the Kaballah, showing the agreement of the Jewish mind on this
detail of the doctrine. The essence of the Kaballic teaching on this
subject is that the souls undergo repeated rebirth, after long intervals
of rest and purification, in entire forgetfulness of their previous
existences, and for the purpose of advancement, unfoldment,
purification, development, and attainment. The Zohar follows up this
teaching strictly, although with amplifications. The following quotation
from the Zohar is interesting, inasmuch as it shows the teaching on the
subject in a few words. It reads as follows: "All souls are subject to
the trials of transmigration; and men do not know which are the ways of
the Most High in their regard. They do not know how many
transformations and mysterious trials they must undergo; how many souls
and spirits come to this world without returning to the palace of the
divine king. The souls must re-enter the absolute substance whence they
have emerged. But to accomplish this end they must develop all the
perfections; the germ of which is planted in them; and if they have not
fulfilled this condition during one life, they must commence another, a
third, and so on, until they have acquired the condition which fits them
for reunion with God."

The mystic sect which sprung up among the Jewish people during the
century preceding the birth of Christ, and which was in the height of
its influence at the time of the Birth--the sect, cult, or order of The
Essenes--was an important influence in the direction of spreading the
truths of Reincarnation among the Jewish people. This order combined the
earlier Egyptian Mysteries with the Mystic Doctrine of Pythagoras and
the philosophy of Plato. It was closely connected with the Jewish
Therapeutæ of Egypt, and was the leading mystic order of the time.
Josephus, the eminent Jewish historian, writing of the Essenes, says:
"The opinion obtains among them that bodies indeed are corrupted, and
the matter of them not permanent, but that souls continue exempt from
death forever; and that emanating from the most subtle ether they are
unfolded in bodies as prisons to which they are drawn by some natural
spell. But when loosed from the bonds of flesh, as if released from a
long captivity, they rejoice and are borne upward." In the New
International Encyclopedia (vol. vii, page 217) will be found an
instructive article on "Essenes," in which it is stated that among the
Essenes there was a certain "view entertained regarding the origin,
present state, and future destiny of the soul, which was held to be
pre-existent, being entrapped in the body as a prison," etc. And in the
same article the following statement occurs: "It is an interesting
question as to how much Christianity owes to Essenism. It would seem
that there was room for definite contact between John the Baptist and
this Brotherhood. His time of preparation was spent in the wilderness
near the Dead Sea; his preaching of righteousness toward God, and
justice toward one's fellow men, was in agreement with Essenism; while
his insistence upon Baptism was in accordance with the Essenic emphasis
on lustrations." In this very conservative statement is shown the
intimate connection between the Essenes and Early Christianity, through
John the Baptist. Some hold that Jesus had a still closer relationship
to the Essenes and allied mystic orders, but we shall not insist upon
this point, as it lies outside of the ordinary channels of historical
information. There is no doubt, however, that the Essenes, who had such
a strong influence on the early Christian Church, were closely allied to
other mystic organizations with whom they agreed in fundamental
doctrines, notably that of Reincarnation. And so we have brought the
story down to the early Christian Church, at which point we will
continue it. We have left the phase of the subject which pertains to
India for separate consideration, for in India the doctrine has had its
principal home in all ages, and the subject in that phase requires
special treatment.

That there was an Inner Doctrine in the early Christian Church seems to
be well established, and that a part of that doctrine consisted in a
teaching of Pre-existence of the Soul and some form of Rebirth or
Reincarnation seems quite reasonable to those who have made a study of
the subject. There is a constant reference to the "Mysteries" and "Inner
Teachings" throughout the Epistles, particularly those of Paul, and the
writings of the Early Christian Fathers are filled with references to
the Secret Doctrines. In the earlier centuries of the Christian Era
frequent references are found to have been made to "The Mysteries of
Jesus," and that there was an Inner Circle of advanced Christians
devoted to mysticism and little known doctrines there can be no doubt.
Celsus attacked the early church, alleging that it was a secret
organization which taught the Truth to the select few, while it passed
on to the multitude only the crumbs of half-truth, and popular teachings
veiling the Truth. Origen, a pupil of St. Clement, answered Celsus,
stating that while it was true that there were Inner Teachings in the
Christian Church, that were not revealed to the populace, still the
Church in following that practice was but adhering to the established
custom of all philosophies and religions, which gave the esoteric truths
only to those who were ready to receive them, at the same time giving to
the general mass of followers the exoteric or outer teachings, which
were all they could understand or assimilate. Among other things, in
this reply, Origen says: "That there should be certain doctrines, not
made known to the multitude, which are divulged after the exoteric ones
have been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also
of philosophic systems in which certain truths are exoteric and others
esoteric. Some of the followers of Pythagoras were content with his
'ipse dixit,' while others were taught in secret those doctrines which
were not deemed fit to be communicated to profane and insufficiently
prepared ears. Moreover, all the mysteries that are celebrated
everywhere through Greece and barbarous countries, although held in
secret, have no discredit thrown upon them, so that it is in vain he
endeavors to calumniate the secret doctrines of Christianity, seeing
that he does not correctly understand its nature." In this quotation it
will be noticed that not only does Origen positively admit the existence
of the Inner Teachings, but that he also mentions Pythagoras and his
school, and also the other Mysteries of Greece, showing his acquaintance
with them, and his comparison of them with the Christian Mysteries,
which latter he would not have been likely to have done were their
teachings repugnant to, and at utter variance with, those of his own
church. In the same writing Origen says: "But on these subjects much,
and that of a mystical kind, might be said, in keeping with which is the
following: 'It is good to keep close to the secret of a king,' in order
that the entrance of souls into bodies may not be thrown before the
common understanding." Scores of like quotations might be cited.

The writings of the Early Fathers of the Christian Church are filled
with many allusions to the current inner doctrine of the pre-existence
and rebirth of souls. Origen in particular has written at great length
regarding these things. John the Baptist was generally accepted as the
reincarnation of Elias, even by the populace, who regarded it as a
miraculous occurrence, while the elect regarded it as merely another
instance of rebirth under the law. The Gnostics, a mystic order and
school in the early church, taught Reincarnation plainly and openly,
bringing upon themselves much persecution at the hands of the more
conservative. Others held to some form of the teaching, the disputes
among them being principally regarding points of doctrine and detail,
the main teachings being admitted. Origen taught that souls had fallen
from a high estate and were working their way back toward their lost
estate and glory, by means of repeated incarnations. Justin Martyr
speaks of the soul inhabiting successive bodies, with loss of memory of
past lives. For several centuries the early Church held within its bosom
many earnest advocates of Reincarnation, and the teaching was recognized
as vital even by those who combatted it.

Lactinus, at the end of the third century, held that the idea of the
soul's immortality implied its pre-existence. St. Augustine, in his
"Confessions," makes use of these remarkable words: "Did I not live in
another body before entering my mother's womb?" Which expression is all
the more remarkable because Augustine opposed Origen in many points of
doctrine, and because it was written as late as A. D. 415. The various
Church Councils, however, frowned upon these outcroppings of the
doctrine of Reincarnation, and the influence of those who rose to power
in the church was directed against the "heresy." At several councils
were the teachings rebuked, and condemned, until finally in A. D. 538,
Justinian had a law passed which declared that: "Whoever shall support
the mythical presentation of the pre-existence of the soul and the
consequently wonderful opinion of its return, let him be Anathema."
Speaking of the Jewish Kaballists, an authority states: "Like Origen and
other church Fathers, the Kaballists used as their main argument in
favor of the doctrine of metempsychosis, the justice of God."

But the doctrine of Reincarnation among Christian races did not die at
the orders and commands of the Christian Church Councils. Smouldering
under the blanket of opposition and persecution, it kept alive until
once more it could lift its flame toward Heaven. And even during its
suppression the careful student may see little flickers of the
flame--little wreathings of smoke--escaping here and there. Veiled in
mystic phrasing, and trimmed with poetic figure, many allusions may be
seen among the writings of the centuries. And during the past two
hundred years the revival in the subject has been constant, until at the
close of the Nineteenth Century, and the beginning of the Twentieth
Century, we once more find the doctrine openly preached and taught to
thousands of eager listeners and secretly held even by many orthodox
Christians.



CHAPTER V.

THE HINDUS.


While Reincarnation has been believed and taught in nearly every nation,
and among all races, in former or present times, still we are justified
in considering India as the natural Mother of the doctrine, inasmuch as
it has found an especially favorable spiritual and mental environment in
that land and among its people, the date of its birth there being lost
in the cloudiness of ancient history, but the tree of the teaching being
still in full flower and still bearing an abundance of fruit. As the
Hindus proudly claim, while the present dominant race was still in the
savage, cave-dwelling, stone-age stage of existence--and while even the
ancient Jewish people were beginning to place the foundation stones of
their religion, of which the present Christian religion is but an
offshoot--the great Hindu religious teachers and philosophers had long
since firmly established their philosophies and religions with the
doctrine of Reincarnation and its accompanying teachings, which had been
accepted as Truth by the great Aryan race in India. And, throughout
forty centuries, or more, this race has held steadfastly to the original
doctrine, until now the West is looking again to it for light on the
great problems of human life and existence, and now, in the Twentieth
Century, many careful thinkers consider that in the study and
understanding of the great fundamental thoughts of the Vedas and the
Upanishads, the West will find the only possible antidote to the virus
of Materialism that is poisoning the veins of Western spiritual
understanding.

The idea of reincarnation is to be found in nearly all of the
philosophies and religions of the race, at least in some period in their
history--among all peoples and races--yet, in India do we find the
doctrine in the fullest flower, not only in the past but in the present.
From the earliest ages of the race in India, Reincarnation in some of
its various forms has been the accepted doctrine, and today it is
accepted by the entire Hindu people, with their many divisions and
sub-races, with the exception of the Hindu Mohammedans. The teeming
millions of India live and die in the full belief in Reincarnation, and
to them it is accepted without a question as the only rational doctrine
concerning the past, present and future of the soul. Nowhere on this
planet is there to be found such an adherence to the idea of "soul"
life--the thinking Hindu always regarding himself as a soul occupying a
body, rather than as a body "having a soul," as so many of the Western
people seem to regard themselves. And, to the Hindus, the present life
is truly regarded as but one step on the stairway of life, and not as
the only material life preceding an eternity of spiritual existence. To
the Hindu mind, Eternity is here with us Now--we are in eternity as much
this moment as we ever shall be--and the present life is but one of a
number of fleeting moments in the eternal life.

The early Hindus did not possess the complicated forms of religion now
existing among them, with their various creeds, ceremonials, rituals,
cults, schools, and denominations. On the contrary, their original form
of religion was an advanced form of what some have called
"Nature-Worship," but which was rather more than that which the Western
mind usually means by the term. Their "Nature" was rather a "Spirit of
Nature," or One Life, of which all existing forms are but varying
manifestations. Even in this early stage of their religious development
they held to a belief in reincarnation of the soul, from one form to
another. While to them everything was but a manifestation of One Life,
still the soul was a differentiated unit, emanated from the One Life,
and destined to work its way back to Unity and Oneness with the Divine
Life through many and varied incarnations, until finally it would be
again merged with the One. From this early beginning arose the many and
varied forms of religious philosophy known to the India of today; but
clinging to all these modern forms is to be found the fundamental basis
idea of reincarnation and final absorption with the One.

Brahmanism came first, starting from the simple and working to the
complex, a great priesthood gradually arising and surrounding the
original simple religious philosophy with ceremonial, ritual and
theological and metaphysical abstractions and speculation. Then arose
Buddhism, which, in a measure, was a return to the primitive idea, but
which in turn developed a new priesthood and religious organization. But
the fundamental doctrine of Reincarnation permeated them all, and may be
regarded as the great common centre of the Hindu religious thought and
philosophy.

The Hindu religious books are filled with references to the doctrine of
Reincarnation. The Laws of Manu, one of the oldest existing pieces of
Sanscrit writing, contains many mentions of it, and the Upanishads and
Vedas contain countless reference to it. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna
says to Arjuna: "Know thou, O Prince of Pandu, that there never was a
time when I, nor thou, nor any of these princes of earth was not; nor
shall there ever come a time, hereafter, when any of us shall cease to
be. As the soul, wearing this material body, experienceth the stages of
infancy, youth, manhood, and old age, even so shall it, in due time,
pass on to another body, and in other incarnations shall it again live,
and move and play its part. * * * These bodies, which act as enveloping
coverings for the souls occupying them, are but finite things--things of
the moment--and not the Real Man at all. They perish as all finite
things perish--let them perish. He who in his ignorance thinketh: 'I
slay' or 'I am slain,' babbleth like an infant lacking knowledge. Of a
truth none can slay--none can be slain. Take unto thy inner mind this
truth, O Prince! Verily, the Real Man--the Spirit of Man--is neither
born, nor doth it die. Unborn, undying, ancient, perpetual and eternal,
it hath endured, and will endure forever. The body may die; be slain; be
destroyed completely--but he that hath occupied it remaineth unharmed.
* * * As a man throweth away his old garments, replacing them with new
and brighter ones, even so the Dweller of the body, having quitted its
old mortal frame, entereth into others which are new and freshly
prepared for it. * * * Many have been my births and rebirths, O
Prince--and many also have been thine own. But between us lies this
difference--I am conscious of all my many lives, but thou lackest
remembrance of thine."

In the Mahabarata is said: "Even as when he casteth off an old garment,
man clothes himself in new raiment, even so the soul, casting off the
wornout body, takes on a new body, avoids the fatal paths leading to
hell, works for its salvation, and proceeds toward heaven."

The Brhadaranyakopanishad, one of the old Hindu writings, contains the
following: "As the caterpillar, getting to the end of the straw, takes
itself away after finding a resting place in advance, so the soul
leaving this body, and finding another place in advance, takes himself
off from his original abode. As the goldsmith taking little by little
of the gold expands it into a new form, so, indeed, does this soul,
leaving this body, make a new and happy abode for himself."

But to attempt to quote passages relating to incarnation from the Hindu
books, would be akin to compiling a library of many volumes. The sacred
writings of the East are filled with references to Reincarnation, and if
the latter were eliminated it would be "like the play of Hamlet with
Hamlet omitted."

We cannot enter into a description of the various schools of Hindu
religious thought and philosophy in this work, for to do so would be to
expand this little volume in several of larger size, so extended is the
subject. But underlying the many divisions and subdivisions of Hindu
thought may be found the fundamental idea of an original emanation from,
or manifestation of, One Divine Being, Power and Energy, into countless
differentiated units, atoms, or egos, which units, embodying in matter,
are unconscious of the spiritual nature, and take on a consciousness
corresponding with the form in which they are embodied. Then follows a
series of embodiments, or incarnations, from lower to higher, in which
occurs an evolution or "unfoldment" of the nature of the soul, in which
it rises to higher and higher planes of being, until finally, after æons
of time, it enters in Union with the Divine Nirvana and
Para-Nirvana--the state of Eternal Bliss.

The great difference between the Hindu thought and the Grecian is that
while the Greeks considered repeated life with joy as a means of greater
and greater expression of life, the Hindus, on the contrary, regard life
as but a period of travail and sorrow, the only light to be perceived
being the expectation and hope of eventually emerging from the region of
materiality, and illusion, and regaining true existence in the Spirit.
The Hindus nearly all agree that this material life is occasioned by
"avidya" or ignorance on the part of the soul of its own real nature and
being, whereby it fails to recognize that this material life is "maya"
or illusion. They hold that Wisdom consists in the soul recognizing its
real nature, and perceiving the illusion of material life and things,
and striving to liberate itself from the bondage of materiality and
ignorance.

The principal differences among the various Hindu schools of religion
and philosophical thought arise from their differing views regarding the
nature and constitution of the soul on the one hand, and the means of
attaining liberation and freedom from material embodiment on the other.
The doctrine of "Karma" of spiritual cause and effect, which we shall
consider in another chapter, also runs along with all the varying Hindu
conceptions, doctrines, and theories.

Without considering the matter of differences of opinion between the
various schools, concerning the nature and constitution of the soul, we
may say that all the schools practically agree that the constitution of
Man is a complex thing, comprising a number of sheaths, bodies,
coverings, or elements, from the grosser to the more spiritual, the
various sheaths being discarded as the soul advances on its way toward
perfection. There are disputes between the various schools regarding
terminology and the precise arrangement of these "principles," but the
following classification will answer for the purpose of giving a general
idea of the Hindu views on the subject, subject always to the
conflicting claims of the various schools. The classification is as
follows, passing from lower to higher:

1. Physical or material body, or Rupa. 2. Vitality of Vital Force, or
Prana-Jiva. 3. Astral Body, Etheric Double, or Linga Sharira. 4. Animal
Soul, or Kama Rupa. 5. Human Soul, or Manas. 6. Spiritual Soul, or
Buddhi. 7. Divine Spirit, or Atma.

From the beginning, the tendency of the Hindu mind was in the direction
of resolving the universe of forms, shapes, and change, back into some
One Underlying Principle, from which all the phenomenal world
emerged--some One Infinite Energy, from which all else emerged,
emanated, or evolved. And the early Hindu mind busied itself actively
with the solution of the problem of this One Being manifesting a
Becoming into Many. Just as is the Western world of today actively
engaged in solving many material problems, so was ancient India active
in solving many spiritual problems--just as the modern West is straining
every energy toward discovering the "How," so was ancient India
straining every effort to discovering the "Why." And from that struggle
of the mind of India there arose countless schools of religious and
philosophical thought, many of which have passed away, but many of which
persist today. The problem of the relationship of the human soul to the
One Being, and the secondary problem of the life, present and future, of
the individual soul, is a most vital one to all thinking Hindus today as
in the forty centuries or more of its philosophical history. To the
Hindu mind, all material research is of minor importance, the important
Truth being to discover that "which when once known, all else is
understood." But, as we have said, in spite of the numerous religions,
schools, and phases of teaching, among the Hindus, the one fundamental
conception of Reincarnation is never lost sight of, nor is it ever
doubted in any of the forms of the philosophies or religions.

Ignoring the subdivisions of Hindu philosophical thought, we may say
that the Hindu philosophies may be divided into a few general classes,
several of which we shall now hastily consider, that you may get a
glimpse at the variety of Hindu speculative philosophy in its relation
to the soul and its destiny. You will, of course, understand that we can
do no more than mention the leading features of each class, as a careful
consideration would require volumes for each particular school.

We will first consider the philosophy of Kanada, generally known as the
Vaisheshika Teaching, which inclines toward an Atomic Theory, akin to
that formulated by the old Greek philosopher Democritus. According to
this teaching the substance of the universe is composed of an infinite
number of atoms, which are eternal, and which were not created by God,
but which are co-eternal with Him. These atoms, combining and forming
shapes, forms, etc., are the basis of the material universe. It is held,
however, that the power or energy whereby these atoms combine and thus
form matter, comes from God. This teaching holds that God is a Personal
Being, possessing Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence. It is also
held that there are two substances, or principles, higher, that the
material energies or substance, namely, Manas, or Mind, and Atman, or
Spirit. Manas or Mind is held to be something like a Mind-Stuff, from
which all individual minds are built up--and which Mind-Stuff is held to
be eternal. Atman, or Spirit, is held to be an eternal principle, from
which the Selves or Souls are differentiated. The Atman, or Spirit, or
Self, is regarded as much higher than Mind, which is its tool and
instrument of expression. This philosophy teaches that through
progression, by Reincarnation, the soul advances from lower to higher
states, on its road to freedom and perfection.

Another great school of Hindu philosophy is the philosophy of Kapila,
generally known as the Sankhya system. This teaching opposes the Atomic
Theory of the Vaisheshika system, and holds that the atoms are not
indestructible nor eternal, but may be resolved back into a primal
substance called Prakriti. Prakriti is held to be an universal, eternal
energy or ethereal substance, something similar to certain Western
scientific conceptions of an Universal Ether. From this eternal,
universal energy, Kapila held that all the universe has been
evolved--all material forms or manifestations of energy being but
manifestations of Prakriti. But, the Sankhya system is not
materialistic, as might be supposed at first glance, for side by side
with Prakriti it offers the principle of Purusha, or Soul, or Spirit, of
which all individual souls are atomic units--the Principle of Purusha
being an Unity of Units, and not an Undivided One. The Purusha--that is,
its units or Individual Souls--is regarded as eternal and immortal.
Prakriti is devoid of mind, but is possessed of active vital energy,
and is capable of producing forms and material manifestations by reason
of its inherent energy, and laws, and thus produces what the Hindus call
"Maya," or material illusion, which they hold to be devoid of reality,
inasmuch as the forms are constantly changing and have no permanence.
This philosophy holds that Prakriti, by means of the glamour of its
manifestations of Maya, entices the individual souls, or Purushas, which
when once in the centre of attraction of the Maya are drawn into the
vortex of material existence, losing a knowledge of their real nature.
But the souls never lose entirely the glimmer of the Light of the
Spirit, and, consequently, soon begin to feel that they have made a
mistake, and consequently begin to strive to escape the bondage of
Prakriti and its Maya--but such escape is possible only through a
gradual rising up from the depths of Maya, step by step, cycle by cycle,
by a series of purification and cleansing of themselves, just as a fly
cleanses itself of the sticky substance into which it has fallen. This
escape is accomplished by Spiritual Unfoldment or Evolution, by means of
Reincarnation--this Evolution not being a "growth," but rather an
"unfoldment" or "unwrapping" of the soul from its confining sheaths, one
by one.

Another great school of Hindu philosophy is the philosophy of Patanjali,
generally known as the Yoga Philosophy, but which differs from the Yogi
Philosophy of the West, which is eclectic in nature. The Yoga Philosophy
of Patanjali bears some resemblance to the Sankhya school of Kapila,
inasmuch as it recognizes the teachings regarding Prakriti, from which
universal energy the material universe has been evolved; and inasmuch as
it also recognizes the countless individual Purushas, or souls, which
are eternal and immortal, and which are entrapped in the Maya of
Prakriti. But it then takes a position widely divergent from the Sankhya
school, inasmuch as Patanjali's Yoga school holds that there also exists
a Supreme Purusha, Spirit, Soul--or God--who is without form; infinite;
eternal; and above all attributes and qualities common to man. In this
respect, Patanjali differs from Kapila, and inclines rather toward
agreement with Kanada, of the first mentioned school of the Vaisheshika
system. All three philosophers, however, seem to generally agree in the
main upon the Mind Principle, which they hold to be beneath Soul or
Spirit, and to be in the nature of Mind-Stuff, which is of a
semi-material nature--Kapila and Patanjali even going so far as to hold
that it is a manifestation of Prakriti or the Universal Energy, rather
than a distinct principle. They hold that the Purusha, or Spirit, not
the Mind, is the Real Self, and the source of consciousness and the real
intelligence. The practical teachings of the school of Patanjali is a
system by which the Purusha may escape from and overcome the Prakriti,
and thus gain emancipation, freedom, and a return to its natural and
original purity and power. This school, of course, teaches
Reincarnation, and Progression through Rebirth, in accordance with the
principles mentioned above.

Another great school of Hindu philosophy is that known as the Vedanta
Philosophy, which many consider the most advanced of all the Hindu
systems, and which is rapidly growing in popularity among the educated
Hindus, and also among many very intelligent students of philosophical
thought in the Western world. Its followers claim that the Vedanta
Philosophy has reached the very highest point of philosophical thought,
speculation and analysis possible to the human mind of today, and many
Western students have claimed that it contains the highest conceptions
found in any and all of the great World Philosophies. Be this as it may,
it certainly contains much that is the most subtle, refined and keen in
the field of philosophical speculative thought of the world, and while,
as some claim, it may lack the "appeal to the religious emotions" that
some other forms of thought possess, still it proves very attractive to
those in whom intellectual development and effort have superseded the
"emotional" side of philosophy or religion.

The Vedanta System holds that the Ultimate Reality, or Actual Being, of
the universe--the One Absolute Energy or Substance from which all the
universe proceeds--is THAT which may be called The Absolute, which is
eternal, infinite, indivisible, beyond attributes and qualities, and
which is the source of intelligence. The Absolute is held to be One, not
Many--Unique and Alone. It is identical with the Sanscrit "Brahman," and
is held to be THAT which has been called "The Unknowable"; the "Father";
the "Over-Soul"; the "Thing-in-Itself"--in short, it is THAT which men
mean, and have always meant, when they wished to express the ABSOLUTE
REALITY. The Vedantists hold that this Absolute Brahman is the essence
of "Sat," or Absolute Existence; "Chit," or Absolute Intelligence; and
"Ananda," or Absolute Bliss. Without attempting to enter into an
analysis, or close exposition, of the Vedanta Philosophy, or so far as
concerns the soul, and its destiny, we may say that it holds that there
do not exist the countless eternal, immortal souls or Purushas of the
Sankhya philosophy, but instead that the individual souls are but the
countless "images or reflections" of the Absolute Being, or Brahman, and
have their existence only by reason of the Real Existence of the One
Only Being. Consequently, the Spirit within the soul of Man, and which
is "the soul of his soul," is Divine. The Vedantists admit the existence
of a "Logos," or Ishwara, the Lord of the Universe, who is, however, but
a manifestation of Brahman--a Great Soul, as it were, and who presides
over the evolution of Universes from the Prakriti, and who plays the
part of the Demiurge of the old Grecian and Gnostic philosophies. The
Vedantists admit the existence (relative) of Prakriti, or Universal
Energy, but hold that it is not eternal, or real-in-itself, but is
practically identical with Maya, and may be regarded as a form of the
Creative Energy of the Absolute, Brahman. This Maya (which while
strictly speaking is illusion inasmuch as it has no real existence or
eternal quality) is the source of time, space, and causation, and of
the phenomenal universe, with its countless forms, shapes, and
appearances. The Vedantists teach that the Evolution of the Soul is
accomplished by its escaping the folds of Maya, or Materiality, one by
one, by means of Rebirths, until it manifests more and more of its
Divine Nature; and thus it goes on, and on, from higher to still higher,
until at last it enters into the Divine Being and attains Union with
God, and is "One with the Father."

Another great Hindu philosophy is the philosophy of Gautama, the Buddha,
which is generally known as the Buddhistic Philosophy, or as Buddhism.
It is difficult to give a clear idea of Buddhism in a concise form, for
there are so many schools, sects, and divisions among this general
school of philosophy, differing upon the minor points and details of
doctrine, that it requires a lengthy consideration in order to clear
away the disputed points. Speaking generally, however, it may be said
that the Buddhists start with the idea or conception of an Unknowable
Reality, back of and under all forms and activity of the phenomenal
universe. Buddha refused to discuss the nature of this Reality,
practically holding it to be Unknowable, and in the nature of an
Absolute Nothing, rather than an Absolute Something in the sense of
"Thingness" as we understand the term; that is to say, it is a No-Thing,
rather than a Thing--consequently it is beyond thought, understanding,
or even imagination--all that can be said is that it IS. Buddha refused
to discuss or teach of the manner in which this Unknowable came to
manifest upon the Relative Plane, for he held that Man's proper study
was of the World of Things, and how to escape therefrom. In a vague way,
however, Buddhism holds that in some way this Unknowable, or a part
thereof, becomes entangled in Maya or Illusion, through Avidya or
Ignorance, Law, Necessity, or perhaps something in the nature of a
Mistake. And arising from this mistaken activity, all the pain and
sorrow of the universe arises, for the Buddhist holds that the Universe
is a "world of woe," from which the soul is trying to escape. Buddhism
holds that the soul Reincarnates often, because of its desires and
attractions, which if nursed and encouraged will lead it into lives
without number. Consequently, to the Buddhist, Wisdom consists in
acquiring a knowledge of the true state of affairs, just mentioned, and
then upon that knowledge building up a new life in which desire and
attraction for the material world shall be eliminated, to the end that
the soul having "killed out desire" for material things--having cut off
the dead branch of Illusion--is enabled to escape from Karma, and
eventually be released from Rebirth, thence passing back into the great
ocean of the Unknowable, or Nirvana, and ceasing to Be, so far as the
phenomenal world is concerned, although of course it will exist in the
Unknowable, which is Eternal. Many Western readers imagine the
Buddhistic Nirvana to be an utter annihilation of existence and being,
but the Hindu mind is far more subtle, and sees a vast difference
between utter annihilation on the one hand, and extinction of
personality on the other. That which appears Nothingness to the Western
Mind, is seen as No-Thingness to the Oriental conception, and is
considered more of a resumption of an original Real Existence, rather
than an ending thereof.

There is a great difference between the two great schools of Buddhism,
the Northern and Southern, respectively, regarding the nature of the
soul. The Northern school considers the soul as an entity,
differentiated from the Unknowable in some mysterious way not explained
by Buddha, and yet different from the individual Purusha of the Sankhya
school, before mentioned. On the contrary, the Southern school does not
regard the soul as a differentiated or distinct entity, but rather as a
centre of phenomenal activity saturated or charged with the results of
its deeds, and that therefore the Karma, or the Essence of Deeds, may be
considered as the soul itself, rather than as something pertaining to
it. The Northern school holds that the soul, accompanied by its Karma,
reincarnates along the same lines as those taught by all the other
Hindu schools of Reincarnation and Karma. But the Southern school, on
the contrary, holds that it is not the soul-entity that re-incarnates
(for there is no such entity), but that instead it is the Karma, or
Essence of Deeds, that reincarnates from life to life, according to its
attractions, desires, and merits or demerits. In the last mentioned view
of the case, the rebirth is compared to the lighting of one lamp from
the flame of another, rather than in the transferring of the oil from
one lamp to another. But, really, these distinctions are quite
metaphysical, and when refined by analysis become hair-splitting. It is
said that the two schools of Buddhism are growing nearer together, and
their differences reconciled. The orthodox Hindus claim that Buddhism is
on the decline in India, being largely supplanted by the various forms
of the Vedanta. On the other hand, Buddhism has spread to China, Japan
and other countries, where it has taken on new forms, and has grown into
a religion of ritualism, creeds, and ceremonialism, with an
accompanying loss of the original philosophy and a corresponding
increase of detail of teaching, doctrine and disciple and general
"churchiness," including a belief in several thousand different kind of
hells. But even in the degenerated forms, Buddhism still holds to
Reincarnation as a fundamental doctrine.

In this consideration of the philosophies of India, we do not consider
it necessary to go into an explanation of the various forms of
religions, or church divisions, among the Hindus. In India, Religion is
an important matter, and there seems to be some form of religion adapted
to each one of that country's teeming millions. From the grossest form
of religious superstition, and crudest form of ceremony and worship, up
to the most refined idealism and beautiful symbolisms, runs the gamut of
the Hindu Religions. Many people are unable to conceive of an abstract,
ideal Universal Being, such as the Brahman of the Hindu Philosophy, and
consequently that Being has been personified as an Anthropomorphic
Deity, and human attributes bestowed upon him to suit the popular fancy.
In India, as in all other countries, the priesthood have given the
people that which they asked for, and the result is that many forms of
churchly ceremonialism, and forms of worship, maintain which are
abhorrent and repulsive to Western ideas. But we of the West are not
entirely free from this fault, as one may see if he examines some of the
religious conceptions and ceremonies common among ignorant people in
remote parts of our land. Certain conceptions, of an anthropomorphic
Deity held by some of the more ignorant people of the Western world are
but little advanced beyond the idea of the Devil; and the belief in a
horned, cloven-hoofed, spiked-tail, red-colored, satyr-like, leering
Devil, with his Hell of Eternal Fire and Brimstone, is not so uncommon
as many imagine. It has not been so long since we were taught that "one
of the chief pleasures of God and his angels, and the saved souls, will
be the witnessing of the tortures of the damned in Hell, from the walls
of Heaven." And the ceremonies of an old-time Southern negro
camp-meeting were not specially elevating or ideal.

Among the various forms of the religions of India we find some of the
before mentioned forms of philosophy believed and taught among the
educated people--often an eclectic policy of choosing and selecting
being observed, a most liberal policy being observed, the liberty of
choice and selection being freely accorded. But, there is always the
belief in Reincarnation and Karma, no matter what the form of worship,
or the name of the religion. There are two things that the Hindu mind
always accepts as fundamental truth, needing no proof--axiomic, in fact.
And these two are (1) The belief in a Soul that survives the death of
the body--the Hindu mind seeming unable to differentiate between the
consciousness of "I Am," and "I always Have Been, and always Shall
Be"--the knowledge of the present existence being accepted as a proof of
past and future existence; and (2) the doctrine of Reincarnation and
Karma, which are accepted as fundamental and axiomic truths beyond the
need of proof, and beyond doubt--as a writer has said: "The idea of
Reincarnation has become so firmly fixed and rooted in the Hindu mind as
a part of belief that it amounts to the dignity and force of a moral
conviction." No matter what may be the theories regarding the nature of
the universe--the character of the soul--or the conception concerning
Deity or the Supreme Being--you will always find the differing sects,
schools, and individuals accepting Reincarnation and Karma as they
accept the fact that they themselves are existent, or that twice one
makes two. Hindu Philosophy cannot be divorced from Reincarnation. To
the Hindu the only escape from the doctrine of Reincarnation seems to be
along the road of the Materialism of the West. From the above statement
we may except the Hindu Mohammedans and the native Hindu Christians,
partially, although careful observers say that even these do not escape
entirely the current belief of their country, and secretly entertain a
"mental reservation" in their heterodox creeds. So, you see, we are
justified in considering India as the Mother Land of Reincarnation at
the present time.



CHAPTER VI.

THE MODERN WEST.


In the modern thought of the Western world, we find Reincarnation
attracting much attention. The Western philosophies for the past hundred
years have been approaching the subject with a new degree of attention
and consideration, and during the past twenty years there has been a
marvellous awakening of Western public interest in the doctrine. At the
present time the American and European magazines contain poems and
stories based upon Reincarnation, and many novels have been written
around it, and plays even have been based upon the general doctrine, and
have received marked attention on the part of the public. The idea seems
to have caught the public fancy, and the people are eager to know more
of it.

This present revival of attention has been brought about largely by the
renewed interest on the part of the Western world toward the general
subject of occultism, mysticism, comparative religion, oriental
philosophy, etc., in their many phases and forms. The World's Parliament
of Religions, held at the World's Fair in Chicago, in 1893, did much to
attract the attention of the American public to the subject of the
Oriental Philosophies in which Reincarnation plays such a prominent
part. But, perhaps, the prime factor in this reawakened Western interest
in the subject is the work and teachings of the Theosophical Society,
founded by Madame Blavatsky some thirty years ago, and which has since
been continued by her followers and several successors. But, whatever
may be the cause, the idea of Reincarnation seems destined to play an
important part in the religious and philosophical thought of the West
for some time to come. Signs of it appear on every side--the subject
cannot be ignored by the modern student of religion and philosophy.
Whether accepted or not, it must be recognized and examined.

But the forms of the doctrine, or theory, regarding Reincarnation, vary
almost as much in the Modern West as in the various Eastern countries at
present, and in the past. We find all phases of the subject attracting
attention and drawing followers to its support. Here we find the
influence of the Hindu thought, principally through the medium or
channel of Theosophy, or of the Yogi Philosophy--and there we find the
influence of the Grecian or Egyptian philosophical conceptions
manifesting principally through the medium of a number of occult orders
and organizations, whose work is performed quietly and with little
recognition on the part of the general public, the policy being to
attract the "elect few" rather than the curious crowd--and again we find
quite a number of persons in America and Europe, believing in
Reincarnation because they are attracted by the philosophy of the
Neo-Platonists, or the Gnostics of the Early Christian Church, and
favoring Reincarnation as a proper part of the Christian Religion, and
who while remaining in the bosom of the Church interpret the teachings
by the light of the doctrine of Rebirth, as did many of the early
Christians, as we have seen.

The Theosophical conception and interpretation appeals to a great number
of the Western Reincarnationists, by reason of its wide circulation and
dissemination, as well as by the fact that it has formulated a detailed
theory and doctrine, and besides claims the benefit of authoritative
instruction on the doctrine from Adepts and Masters who have passed to a
higher plane of existence. We think it proper to give in some little
detail an account of the general teachings of Theosophy on this point,
the reader being referred to the general Theosophical literature for
more extended information regarding this special teaching.

Theosophy teaches that the human soul is a composite entity, consisting
of several principles, sheaths of vehicles, similar to those mentioned
by us in our account of Hindu Reincarnation. The Theosophical books
state these principles as follows: (1) The Body, or Rupa; (2) Vitality,
or Prana-Jiva; (3) Astral Body, or Linga-Sharira; (4) Animal Soul, or
Kama-Rupa; (5) Human Soul, Manas; (6) Spiritual Soul, or Buddhi; and (7)
Spirit, or Atma. Of these seven principles, the last or higher Three,
namely, the Atma, Buddhi, and Manas, compose the higher Trinity of the
Soul--the part of man which persists; while the lower Four principles,
namely, Rupa, Prana-Jiva, Linga-Sharira, and Kama-Rupa, respectively,
are the lower principles, which perish after the passing out of the
higher principles at death. At Death the higher principles, or Triad,
lives on, while the lower principles of Quarternary dissolve and
separate from each other and finally disintegrate, along the lines of a
process resembling chemical action.

Theosophy teaches that there is a great stream of Egos, or Monads, which
originally emanated from a Source of Being, and which are pursuing a
spiral journey around a chain of seven globes, including the earth,
called the Planetary Chain. The Life Wave of Monads reaches Globe A,
and goes through a series of evolutionary life on it, and then passes on
to Globe B, and so on until Globe G is reached, when after a continued
life there the Life Wave returns to Globe A, but not in a circle, but
rather in a spiral, that is, on a higher plane of activity, and the
round begins once more. There are seven Races to be lived through on
each globe, many incarnations in each--each Race having seven sub-races,
and each sub-race having seven branches. The progress of the Life Wave
is illustrated by the symbol of a seven-coil spiral, sweeping with a
wider curve at each coil, each coil, however, being divided into a minor
seven-coil spiral, and so on. It is taught that the human soul is now on
its fourth great round-visit to the Earth, and is in about the middle of
the fifth Race of that round. The total number of incarnations necessary
for each round is quite large, and the teaching is that none can escape
them except by special merit and development. Between each incarnation
there is a period of rest in the Heaven World, or Devachan, where the
soul reaps the experiences of the past life, and prepares for the next
step. The period of rest varies with the degree of attainment gained by
the soul, the higher the degree the longer the rest. The average time
between incarnations is estimated at about fifteen hundred years.
Devachan is thus a kind of temporary Heaven, from whence the soul must
again pass in time for a rebirth, according to its merits or demerits.
Thus, accordingly, each soul has lived in a variety of bodies, even
during the present round--having successively incarnated as a savage, a
barbarian, a semi-civilized man, a native of India, Egypt, Chaldea,
Rome, Greece, and many other lands, in different ages, filling all kinds
of positions and places in life, tasting of poverty and riches, of
pleasure and pain--all ever leading toward higher things. The doctrine
enunciated by Theosophy is complicated and intricate, and we can do no
more than to barely mention the same at this place.

Another Western form of the Oriental Teachings, known as the "Yogi
Philosophy," numbers quite a large number of earnest students in this
country and in Europe, and has a large circle of influence, although it
has never crystallized into an organization, the work being done quietly
and the teachings spread by the sale of popular books on the subject
issued at nominal prices. It is based on the Inner Teachings of the
Hindu Philosophy and is Eclectic in nature, deriving its inspiration
from the several great teachers, philosophies and schools, rather than
implicitly following any one of them. Briefly stated this Western school
of Yogi Philosophy teaches that the Universe is an emanation from, or
mental creation of, the Absolute whose Creative Will flows out in an
outpouring of mental energy, descending from a condition above Mind,
downward through Mind, Physical Energy, and Matter, in a grand
Involution or "infolding" of the divine energy into material forms and
states. This Involution is followed by an Evolution, or unfoldment, the
material forms advancing in the scale of evolution, accompanied by a
corresponding Spiritual Evolution, or Unfoldment of the Individual
Centres or Units of Being, created or emanated as above stated. The
course of Evolution, or rather, that phase of it with which the present
human race on earth is concerned, has now reached a point about midway
in the scale of Spiritual Evolution, and the future will lead the race
on, and on, to higher and still higher planes and states of being, on
this earth and on other spheres, until it reaches a point
incomprehensible to the mind of man of today, and then still on and on,
until finally the souls will pass into the plane of the Absolute, there
to exist in a state impossible of present comprehension, and
transcending not only the understanding but also the imagination of the
mind of man as we know him.

The Yogi Philosophy teaches that the soul will reincarnate on earth
until it is fitted to pass on to higher planes of being, and that many
people are now entering into a stage which will terminate the
unconscious reincarnation, and which enables them to incarnate
consciously in the future without loss of memory. It teaches that
instead of a retributive Karma, there is a Law of Spiritual Cause and
Effect, operating largely along the lines of Desire and what has been
called the "Law of Attraction," by which "like attracts like," in
persons, environments, conditions, etc. As we have stated, the Yogi
Philosophy follows closely the lines of certain phases of the Hindu
philosophies from which it is derived, it being, however, rather an
"eclectic" system rather than an exact reproduction of that branch of
philosophy favored by certain schools of Hindus and known by a similar
name, as mentioned in our chapter on "The Hindus"--that is to say,
instead of accepting the teachings of any particular Hindu school in
their entirety, the Western school of the Yogi Philosophy has adopted
the policy of "Eclecticism," that is, a system following the policy of
selection, choosing from several sources or systems, rather than a blind
following of some particular school, cult or teacher.

The Yogi Philosophy teaches that man is a seven-fold entity, consisting
of the following principles, or divisions: 1. The Physical Body. 2. The
Astral Body. 3. Prana, or Vital Force. 4. The Instinctive Mind. 5. The
Intellect. 6. The Spiritual Mind. 7. Spirit. Of these, the first four
principles belong to the lower part of the being, while the latter three
are the higher principles which persist and Reincarnate. Man, however,
is gradually evolving on to the plane of the Spiritual Mind, and will in
time pass beyond the plane of Intellect, which he will then class along
with Instinct as a lower form of mentality, he then using his Intuition
habitually and ordinarily, just as the intelligent man now uses his
Intellect, and the ignorant man his Instinct-Intellect, and the animal
its Instinct alone. In many points the Yogi Philosophy resembles the
Vedanta, and in others it agrees with Theosophy, although it departs
from the latter in some of the details of doctrine regarding the process
of Reincarnation, and particularly in its conception of the meaning and
operation of the Law of Karma.

There are many persons in the West who hold firmly to Reincarnation, to
whom the Hindu conceptions, even in the Western form of their
presentation, do not appeal, and who naturally incline toward the Greek
conception and form of the doctrine. A large number of these people are
generally classed among the "Spiritualists," although strictly speaking
they do not fit into that classification, for they hold that the
so-called "Spirit World" is not a place of permanent abode, but rather a
resting place between incarnations. These people prefer the name
"Spiritists," for they hold that man is essentially a spiritual
being--that the Spirit is the Real Man--and that that which we call Man
is but a temporary stage in the development and evolution of the
individual Spirit. The Spiritists hold that the individual Spirit
emanated from the Great Spirit of the Universe (called by one name or
another) at some distant period in the past, and has risen to its
present state of Man, through and by a series of repeated incarnations,
first in the form of the lowly forms of life, and then through the
higher forms of animal life, until now it has reached the stage of human
life, from whence it will pass on, and on, to higher and still higher
planes--to forms and states as much higher than the human state than man
is above the earthworm. The Spiritists hold that man will reincarnate in
earthly human bodies, only until the Spirit learns its lessons and
develops sufficiently to pass on to the next plane higher. They hold
that the planets and the countless fixed stars or suns, are but stages
of abode for the evolving Spirit, and that beyond the Universe as we
know it there are millions of others--in fact, that the number of
Universes is infinite. The keynote of this doctrine may be stated as
"Eternal Progression" toward the Divine Spirit. The Spirits do not
insist upon any particular theory regarding the constitution of the
soul--some of them speak merely of "soul and body," while others hold to
the seven-fold being--the general idea being that this is unimportant,
as the essential Spirit is after all the Real Self, and it matters
little about the number or names of its temporary garments or vehicles
of expression.

Still another class of Reincarnationists in the Western World incline
rather more toward the Grecian and Egyptian forms of the doctrine, than
the Hindu--the ideas of the Neo-Platonists which had such a powerful
effect upon the early Christian Church, or rather among the "elect few"
among the early Fathers of the Church, seeming to have sprung into
renewed activity among this class. These people, as we have said in the
beginning of this chapter, are rather inclined to group themselves into
small organizations or secret orders, rather than to form popular cults.
They follow the examples of the ancients in this respect, preferring the
"few elect" to the curious general public who merely wish to "taste or
nibble" at the Truth. Many of these organizations are not known to the
public, as they studiously avoid publicity or advertisement, and trust
to the Law of Attraction to "bring their own to them--and them to their
own." The teachings of this class vary in interpretation, and as many of
them maintain secrecy by pledges or oaths, it is not possible to give
their teachings in detail.

But, generally speaking, they base their doctrines on the general
principle that Man's present condition is due to the "Descent of
Spirit," in the nature of "The Fall of Man," occurring some time in the
far distant past. They hold that Man was originally "Spirit Pure and
Free," from which blissful state he was enticed by the glamour of
Material Life, and he accordingly fell from his higher state, lower and
lower until he was sunken deep into the mire of Matter. From this lowly
state he then began to work up, or evolve, having in the dim recesses of
his soul a glimmer of remembrance of his former state, which dim light
is constantly urging him on and on, toward his former estate, in spite
of his frequent stumbling into the mire in his attempts to rise above
it. This teaching holds to a theory and doctrine very similar to that of
the "Spiritists" just mentioned, except that while the latter, in common
with the majority of Reincarnationists, hold that the evolution of the
Soul is in the direction of advancement and greater expression, similar
to the growth of a child, these "secret order" people hold forcibly and
earnestly to the idea that the evolution is merely a "Returning of the
Prodigal" to his "Father's Mansion"--the parable of the Prodigal Son,
and that of the Expulsion from Eden, being held as veiled allegories of
their teaching.

In the above view, the present state of existence--this Earthly Life--is
one of a series of Hells, in the great Hell of Matter, from which Man is
creeping up slowly but surely. According to this idea, the Earth is but
midway in the scale, there being depths of Materiality almost impossible
of belief, and on the other hand, heights of heavenly bliss equally
incapable of understanding. This is about all that we can say regarding
this form of the doctrine, without violating certain confidences that
have been reposed in us. We fear that we have said too much as it is,
but inasmuch as one would have to be able to "read between the lines" to
understand fully, we trust that those who have favored us with these
confidences will pardon us.

There is still another class of believers in Reincarnation, of which
even the general public is not fully aware, for this class does not have
much to say regarding its beliefs. I allude to those in the ranks of the
orthodox Christian Church, who have outgrown the ordinary doctrines, and
who, while adhering firmly to the fundamental Christian Doctrines, and
while clinging closely to the Teachings of Jesus the Christ, still find
in the idea of Rebirth a doctrine that appeals to their souls and minds
as closer to their "highest conceptions of immortality" than the
ordinary teachings of "the resurrection of the body," or the vague
doctrines that are taking its place. These Christian Reincarnationists
find nothing in the doctrine of Reincarnation antagonistic to their
Faith, and nothing in their Faith antagonistic to the doctrine of
Reincarnation. They do not use the term Reincarnation usually, but
prefer the term "Rebirth" as more closely expressing their thought;
besides which the former term has a suggestion of "pagan and heathen"
origin which is distasteful to them. These people are inclined toward
Rebirth for the reason that it "gives the soul Another Chance to Redeem
Itself"--other chances to perfect itself to enter the Heavenly Realms.
They do not hold to an idea of endless reincarnation, or even of
continued earthly incarnation for all, their idea being that the soul
that is prepared to enter heaven passes on there at once, having learned
enough and earned enough merit in the few lives it has lived on
earth--while the unprepared, undeveloped, and unfit, are bound to come
back and back again until they have attained Perfection sufficient to
enable them to advance to the Heaven World.

A large number of the Christian Reincarnationists, if I may call them by
that name, hold that Heaven is a place or state of Eternal Progression,
rather than a fixed state or place--that there is no standing still in
Heaven or Earth--that "In my Father's House are Many Mansions." To the
majority, this idea of Progression in the Higher Planes seems to be a
natural accompaniment to the Spiritual Progression that leads to the
Higher Planes, or Heaven. At any rate, the two ideas seem always to have
run together in the human mind when the general subject has been under
consideration, whether in past time or present; whether among Christians
or "pagans and heathen." There seems to be an intuitive recognition of
the connection of the two ideas. And on the other hand, there seems to
be a close connection between the several views of "special creation" of
the soul before both--the single earth-life--and the eternity of reward
or punishment in a state or place lacking progression or change. Human
thought on the subject seems to divide itself into two distinct and
opposing groups.

There are quite a number of Christian preachers, and members of orthodox
churches, who are taking an earnest interest in this doctrine of
Rebirth, and Eternal Progression here and hereafter. It is being
considered by many whose church associates do not suspect them of being
other than strictly orthodox in their views. Some day there will be a
"breaking out" of this idea in the churches, when the believers in the
doctrine grow in numbers and influence. It will not surprise careful
observers to see the Church once more accepting the doctrine of Rebirth
and reinstating the doctrine of Pre-existence--returning to two of its
original truths, long since discarded by order of the Councils. Prof.
Bowen has said: "It seems to me that a firm and well-grounded faith in
the doctrine of Christian Metempsychosis might help to regenerate the
world. For it would be a faith not hedged round with many of the
difficulties and objections which beset other forms of doctrine, and it
offers distinct and pungent motives for trying to lead a more Christian
life, and for loving and helping our brother-man." And as James Freeman
Clarke has said: "It would be curious if we should find science and
philosophy taking up again the old theory of metempsychosis, remodelling
it to suit our present modes of religious and scientific thought, and
launching it again on the wide ocean of human belief. But stranger
things have happened in the history of human opinion."

So, as we have said, there is a great variety of shades of belief in the
Western world regarding Reincarnation today, and the student will have
no difficulty in finding just the shade of opinion best suited to his
taste, temperament and training or experience. Vary as they do in
detail, and theory, there is still the same fundamental and basic truth
of the One Source--the One Life--and Reincarnation, reaching ever toward
perfection and divinity. It seems impossible to disguise the doctrine so
as to change its basic qualities--it will always show its original
shape. And, so it is with the varying opinions of the Western thought
regarding it--the various cults advocating some form of its
doctrine--the original doctrine may be learned and understood in spite
of the fanciful dressings bestowed upon it. "The Truth is One--Men call
it by many names."

It may be of interest to Western readers to mention that some of the
teachers of Occultism and Reincarnation hold that the present revival
of interest on the subject in the Western world is due to the fact that
in Europe and America, more particularly the latter, there is occurring
a reincarnating of the souls of many persons who lived from fifteen
hundred to two thousand years ago, and who were then believers in the
doctrine. According to this view, those who are now attracted toward the
Hindu forms of the doctrine formerly lived as natives of India; those
who favor the Grecian idea, lived in Ancient Greece; others favor the
Egyptian idea, from similar reasons; while the revival of Neo-Platonism,
Gnosticism and general Mysticism, among the present-day Christians is
accounted for by the fact that the early Christians are now
reincarnating in the Western world, having been reborn as Christians
according to the Law of Karmic Attraction. In this manner the advocates
of the doctrine offer the present revival as another proof of their
teachings.



CHAPTER VII.

BETWEEN AND BEYOND INCARNATIONS.


One of the first questions usually asked by students of the subject of
Reincarnation is: "Where does the soul dwell between incarnations; does
it incarnate immediately after death; and what is its final abode or
state?" This question, or questions, have been asked from the beginning,
and probably will be asked so long as the human mind dwells upon the
subject. And many are the answers that have been given to the
questioners by the teachers and "authorities" upon the subject. Let us
consider some of the leading and more "authoritative" answers.

In the first place, let us consider that phase of the question which
asks: "Does the soul incarnate immediately after death?" Some of the
earlier Reincarnationists believed and taught that the soul
reincarnated shortly after death, the short period between incarnations
being used by the soul in adjusting itself, striking a balance of
character, and preparing for a new birth. Others held that there was a
period of waiting and rest between incarnations, in which the soul
'mentally digested' the experiences of the last life just completed, and
then considered and meditated over the mistakes it had made, and
determined to rectify the mistakes in the next life--it being held that
when the soul was relieved of the necessities of material existence, it
could think more clearly of the moral nature of its acts, and would be
able to realize the spiritual side of itself more distinctly, in
addition to having the benefit of the spiritual perspective occasioned
by its distance from the active scenes of life, and thus being able to
better gauge the respective "worth-whileness" of the things of material
life.

At the present time, the most advanced students of the subject hold that
the average period of rest between incarnations is about fifteen hundred
years, the less advanced souls hastening back to earth in a very short
time, the more advanced preferring a long period of rest, meditation and
preparation for a new life. It is held that the soul of a gross,
material, animal-like person will incarnate very shortly after death,
the period of rest and meditation being very short, for the reason that
there is very little about which such a soul could meditate, as all of
its attractions and desires are connected with material life. Many souls
are so "earth-bound" that they rush back at once into material
embodiment if the conditions for rebirth are favorable, and they are
generally favorable for there seems to be always an abundant supply of
new bodies suitable for such souls in the families of people of the same
character and nature, which afford congenial opportunities for such a
soul to reincarnate. Other souls which have progressed a little further
along the path of attainment, have cultivated the higher part of
themselves somewhat, and enjoy to a greater extent the period of
meditation and spiritual life afforded them. And so, as the scale
advances--as the attraction for material life grows less, the period of
purely spiritual existence between incarnations grows longer, and it is
said that the souls of persons who are highly developed spiritually
sometimes dwell in the state of rest for ten thousand years or more,
unless they voluntarily return sooner in order to take part in the work
of uplifting the world. It must be remembered, in this connection, that
the best teaching is to the effect that the advanced souls are rapidly
unfolding into the state in which they are enabled to preserve
consciousness in future births, instead of losing it as is the usual
case, and thus they take a conscious part in the selection of the
conditions for rebirth, which is wisely denied persons of a more
material nature and less spiritual development.

The next phase of the question: "Where does the soul dwell between
incarnations?" is one still more difficult of answer, owing to the
various shades of opinion on the subject. Still there is a fundamental
agreement between the different schools, and we shall try to give you
the essence or cream of the thought on the subject. In the first place,
all occultists set aside any idea of there being a "place" in which the
souls dwell--the existence of "states" or "planes of existence" being
deemed sufficient for the purpose. It is held that there are many planes
of existence in any and every portion of space, which planes
interpenetrate each other, so that entities dwelling on one plane
usually are not conscious of the presence of those on another plane.
Thus, an inhabitant of a high plane of being, in which the vibrations of
substance are much higher than that which we occupy, would be able to
pass through our material world without the slightest knowledge of its
existence, just as the "X rays" pass through the most solid object, or
as light passes through the air. It is held that there are many planes
of existence much higher than the one we occupy, and upon which the
disembodied souls dwell. There are many details regarding these planes,
taught by the different schools of occultism, or spiritualism, but we
have neither the time nor space to consider them at length, and must
content ourselves with mentioning but a few leading or typical beliefs
or teachings on the subject.

The Theosophists teach that just when the soul leaves the body, there
occurs a process of psychic photography in which the past life, in all
of its details, is indelibly imprinted on the inner substance of the
soul, thus preserving a record independent of the brain, the latter
being left behind in the physical body. Then the Astral Body, or Etheric
Double, detaches itself from the body, from which the Vital Force, or
Prana-Jiva also departs at the same time, the Astral Body enfolding also
the four other principles, and together the Five Surviving Principles
pass on to the plane of Kama Loka, or the Astral Plane of Desire. Kama
Loka is that part of the Astral Plane nearest to the material plane, and
is very closely connected with the latter. If the soul is filled with
hot and earnest desire for earth life, it may proceed no further, but
may hasten back to material embodiment, as we said a moment ago. But if
the soul has higher aspirations, and has developed the higher part of
itself, it presses on further, in which case the Astral Body, and the
Animal Soul which is the seat of the passions and grosser desires,
disintegrate, and thus release the Triad, or three-fold higher nature of
the soul, namely the higher human soul, the spiritual soul, and the
spirit--or as some term them, the intellect, the spiritual mind, and the
spirit. The Triad then passes on to what is known as the plane of
Devachan, where it rests divested of the lower parts of its nature, and
in a state of bliss and in a condition in which it may make great
progress by reason of meditation, reflection, etc. Kama Loka has been
compared to the Purgatory of the Catholics, which it resembles in more
ways than one, according to the Theosophists. Devachan is sometimes
called the Heaven World by Theosophists, the word meaning "the state or
plane of the gods."

Theosophy teaches that the Soul Triad dwells in Devachan "for a period
proportionate to the merit of the being," and from whence in the proper
time "the being is drawn down again to be reborn in the world of
mortals." The Law of Karma which rules the earth-life of man, and which
regulates the details of his rebirth, is said to operate on the
Devachnic Plane as well, thus deciding the time of his abode on that
plane, and the time when the soul shall proceed to rebirth. The state of
existence in Devachan is described at length in the Theosophical
writings, but is too complex for full consideration here. Briefly
stated, it may be said that it is taught that the life on Devachan is in
the nature of a Dream of the Best that is In Us--that is, a condition in
which the highest that is in us is given a chance for expression and
growth, and development. The state of the soul in Devachan is said to be
one of Bliss, the degree depending upon the degree of spiritual
development of the soul, as the Bliss is of an entirely spiritual
nature. It may be compared to a state of people listening to some
beautiful music--the greater the musical development of the person, the
greater will be his degree of enjoyment. It is also taught that just as
the soul leaves Devachan to be reincarnated, it is given a glimpse of
its past lives, and its present character, that it may realize the
Karmic relations between the cause and effect, to the end that its new
life may be improved upon--then it sinks into a state of unconsciousness
and passes on to rebirth.

The Western school of the Yogi Philosophy gives an idea of the state
between incarnations, somewhat eclectic in its origin, agreeing with the
Theosophical teaching in some respects, and differing from it in others.
Let us take a hasty glance at it. In the first place it does not use the
terms "Kama Loca" and "Devachan" respectively, but instead treats the
whole series of planes as the great "Astral World" containing many
planes, divisions, and subdivisions--many sub-planes, and divisions of
the same. The teaching is that the soul passes out of the body, leaving
behind its physical form, together with its Prana or Vital Energy, and
taking with it the Astral Body, the Instructive Mind, and the higher
principles. The "last vision" of the past life, in which the events of
that life are impressed upon the soul just as it leaves the body, is
held to be a fact--the soul sees the past life as a whole, and in all of
its minutest details at the moment of death, and it is urged that the
dying person should be left undisturbed in his last moments for this
reason, and that the soul may become calm and peaceful when starting on
its journey. On one of the Astral Planes the soul gradually discards its
Astral Body and its Instinctive Mind, but retains its higher vehicles or
sheaths. But it is taught that this discarding of the lower sheaths
occurs after the soul has passed into a "soul-slumber" on a sub-plane of
the Astral World, from which it awakens to find itself clothed only in
its higher mental and spiritual garments of being, and free from the
grosser coverings and burdens. The teachings say: "When the soul has
cast off the confining sheaths, and has reached the state for which it
is prepared, it passes to the plane in the Astral World for which it is
fitted, and to which it is drawn by the Law of Attraction. The planes of
the Astral World interpenetrate, and souls dwelling on one plane are not
conscious of those dwelling on another, nor can they pass from one plane
to another, with this exception--that those dwelling on a higher plane
are able to see (if they so desire) the planes below them in the order
of development, and are also able to visit these lower planes if they so
desire. But those on the lower planes are not able to either see or
visit the planes above them--not that there is a 'watchman at the gate'
to prevent them, but for the same reason that a fish is not able to pass
from the water to the plane of air above that water." The same teachings
tell us that the souls on the higher planes often visit friends and
relatives on the lower, so that there is always the opportunity for
loved ones, relatives and friends meeting in this way; and also many
souls on the higher planes pass to the lower planes in order to instruct
and advise those dwelling on the latter, the result that in some cases
there may be a progression from a lower to a higher plane of the Astral
World by promotion earned by this instruction. Regarding Rebirth, from
the Astral World, the teachings say:

"But sooner or later, the souls feel a desire to gain new experiences,
and to manifest in earth-life some of the advancement which has come to
them since 'death,' and for these reasons, and from the attraction of
desires which have been smoldering there, not lived out or cast off, or,
possibly influenced by the fact that some loved soul, on a lower plane,
is ready to incarnate and wishing to be incarnated at the same time in
order to be with it (which is also a desire) the souls fall into the
current sweeping toward rebirth, and the selection of proper parents and
advantageous circumstances and surrounding, and in consequence again
fall into a soul-slumber, gradually, and so when their time comes they
'die' to the plane upon which they have been existing and are 'born'
into a new physical life and body. A soul does not fully awaken from its
sleep immediately at birth, but exists in a dream-like state during the
days of infancy, its gradual awakening being evidenced by the growing
intelligence of the babe, the brain of the child keeping pace with the
demands made upon it. In some cases the awakening is premature, and we
see cases of prodigies, child-genius, etc., but such cases are more or
less abnormal, and unhealthy. Occasionally the dreaming soul in the
child half-wakes, and startles us by some profound observation, or
mature remark or conduct."

The third phase of the question: "What is the final state or abode of
the soul?" is one that reaches to the very center or heart of
philosophical and religious thought and teaching. Each philosophy and
religion has its own explanation, or interpretation of the Truth, and it
is not for us to attempt to select one teaching from the many in this
work. The reader will find many references to these various explanations
and teachings as he reads the several chapters of this book, and he may
use his own discrimination and judgment in selecting that which appeals
to him the most strongly. But he will notice that there is a fundamental
agreement between all of the teachings and beliefs--the principle that
the movement of the soul is ever upward and onward, and that there is no
standing still in spiritual development and unfoldment. Whether the
end--if end there be--is the reaching of a state of Bliss in the
presence of the Divine One--or whether the weary soul finds rest "in the
Bosom of the Father," by what has been called "Union with God"--the
vital point for the evolving soul is that there is "a better day
coming"--a haven of rest around the turn of the road. And whatever may
be the details of the Truth, the fact remains that whatever state awaits
the soul finally, it must be Good, and in accordance with Divine Wisdom
and Ultimate Justice and Universal Love.

The majority of occultists look forward to an end in the sense of being
absorbed in the Divine Being, not in the sense of annihilation, but in
the sense of reaching a consciousness "of the Whole in the Whole"--this
is the true meaning of "Nirvana." But whether this be true, or whether
there is a place of final rest in the highest spiritual realms other
than in the sense of absorption in the Divine, or whether there is a
state of Eternal Progression from plane to plane, from realm to realm,
on and on forever Godward, and more and more God-like--the End must be
Good, and there is nothing to Fear, for "the Power that rules Here,
rules There, and Everywhere. And remember this, ye seekers after
ultimate truths--the highest authorities inform us that even the few
stages or planes just ahead of us in the journey are so far beyond our
present powers of conception, that they are practically unknowable to
us--this being so, it will be seen that states very much nearer to us
than the End must be utterly beyond the powers not only of our
understanding but also of our imagination, even when strained to its
utmost. This being so, why should we attempt to speculate about The End?
Instead, why not say with Newman:

   "I do not ask to see the distant scene.
   One step enough for me--
   Lead Thou me on!"

It is said that when Thoreau was dying, a friend leaned over and taking
him by the hand, said: "Henry, you are so near to the border now, can
you see anything on the other side?" And the dying Thoreau replied: "One
world at a time, Parker!" And this seems to be the great lesson of
Life--One Plane at a Time! But though the Veil of Isis is impossible of
being lifted entirely, still there is a Something that enables one to
see at least dimly the features of the Goddess behind the veil. And that
Something is that Intelligent Faith that "knows," although it is unable
to explain even to itself. And the voice of that Something Within
informs him who has that Faith: All Is Well, Brother! For beyond planes,
and states, and universes, and time, and space, and name, and form, and
Things--there must be THAT which transcends them all, and from which
they all proceed. Though we may not know what THAT is--the fact that It
must exist--that It IS, is a sufficient guarantee that the LAW is in
constant operation on all planes, from the lowest to the highest, and
that THE COSMOS IS GOVERNED BY LAW! And this being so, not even an atom
may be destroyed, nor misplaced, nor suffer Injustice; and all will
attain the End rightly, and know the "Sat-chit-ananda" of the
Hindus--the Being-Wisdom-Bliss Absolute that all philosophies and
religions agree upon is the Final State of the Blessed. And to the
occultist All are Blessed, even to the last soul in the scale of life.
And over all the tumult and strife of Life there is always that
Something--THAT--silently brooding, and watching, and waiting--the Life,
Light, and Love of the All. Such is the message of the Illumined of all
ages, races, and lands. Is it not worthy of our attention and
consideration?



CHAPTER VIII.

THE JUSTICE OF REINCARNATION.


There are three views entertained by men who believe in the existence of
the soul--there are many shades of belief and opinion on the subject,
but they may be divided into three classes. These three views,
respectively, are as follows: (1) That the soul is specially created by
the Supreme Power at the time of conception, or birth, and that its
position on earth, its circumstances, its degree of intelligence, etc.,
are fixed arbitrarily by that power, for some inscrutable reason of its
own; (2) That the soul was pre-existent, that is, that it existed before
conception and birth, in some higher state not understood by us, from
whence it was thrust into human form and birth, its position on earth,
its circumstances, its degree of intelligence, etc., being determined by
causes unknown to us; (3) That the soul is one of countless others
which emanated from the Source of Being at some period in the past, and
which souls were equal in power, intelligence, opportunity, etc., and
which worked its way up by spiritual evolution from lowly forms of
expression and life to its present state, from whence it is destined to
move on and on, to higher and still higher forms and states of
existence, until in the end, after millions of æons of existence in the
highest planes of expressed life it will again return to the Source of
Being from which it emanated, and becomes "one with the Father," not in
a state of annihilated consciousness, but in a condition of universal
consciousness with All. This view holds that the present condition of
each soul is due to its own progress, development, advancement,
unfoldment, or the lack of the same--the soul being its own Fate and
Destiny--the enforcer of the Law upon itself, under the Law of Karma.

Considering the first named view, namely that the soul is newly created,
and that its condition has been arbitrarily fixed by the Divine Power,
the student free from prejudice or fear finds it difficult to escape the
conclusion that under this plan of creation there is lacking a
manifestation of Divine Justice. Even admitting the inability of the
finite mind to fully grasp infinite principles, man is still forced to
the realization of the manifest inequality and injustice of the relative
positions of human beings on earth, providing that the same is thrust
arbitrarily upon them; and it would seem that no amount of future reward
could possibly equalize or explain these conditions. Unless there be
"something back of it all," it would certainly seem that Injustice was
manifested. Of course, many argue that the idea of Justice has nothing
to do with the universal processes, but all who think of a Divine Being,
filled with Love, and Justice, are compelled to think that such
qualities must manifest themselves in the creations of such a Being.
And, if there be nothing "back of it all," then the candid observer must
confess that the scheme of Justice manifested is most faulty according
even to the human imperfect idea of Justice.

As Figuier, a French writer said about forty years ago: "If there are a
few men well organized, of good constitution and robust health, how many
are infirm, idiotic, deaf-mute, blind from birth, maimed, foolish and
insane? My brother is handsome and well-shaped: I am ugly, weakly,
rickety, and a hunchback. Yet we are sons of the same mother. Some are
born into opulence, others into the most dreadful want. Why am I not a
prince and a great lord, instead of a poor pilgrim on the earth,
ungrateful and rebellious? Why was I born in Europe and at Paris,
whereby civilization and art life is rendered supportable and easy,
instead of seeing the light under the burning skies of the tropics,
where, dressed out in a beastly muzzle, a skin black and oily, and locks
of wool, I should have been exposed to the double torments of a deadly
climate and a barbarous society? Why is not a wretched African negro in
my place in Paris, in conditions of comfort? We have, either of us,
done nothing to entitle us to our assigned places: we have invited
neither this favor nor that disgrace. Why is the unequal distribution of
the terrible evils that fall upon some men, and spare others? How have
those deserved the partiality of fortune, who live in happy lands, while
many of their brethren suffer and weep in other parts of the world?"

Figuier continues: "Some men are endowed with all benefits of mind;
others, on the contrary, are devoid of intelligence, penetration and
memory. They stumble at every step in their rough life-paths. Their
limited intelligence and their imperfect faculties expose them to all
possible mortifications and disasters. They can succeed in nothing, and
Fate seems to have chosen them for the constant objects of its most
deadly blows. There are beings who, from the moment of their birth to
the hour of their death, utter only cries of suffering and despair. What
crime have they committed? Why are they here on earth? They have not
petitioned to be here; and if they could, they would have begged that
this fatal cup might be taken from their lips. They are here in spite of
themselves, against their will. God would be unjust and wicked if he
imposed so miserable an existence upon beings who have done nothing to
incur it, and have not asked for it. But God is not unjust or wicked:
the opposite qualities belong to his perfect essence. Therefore the
presence of man on such or such parts of the earth, and the unequal
distribution of evil on our globe, must remain unexplained. If you know
a doctrine, a philosophy, or a religion that solves these difficulties,
I will destroy this book, and confess myself vanquished."

The orthodox theology answers Figuier's question by the argument that
"in our finite understanding, we cannot pretend to understand God's
plans, purposes and designs, nor to criticize his form of justice." It
holds that we must look beyond that mortal life for the evidence of
God's love, and not attempt to judge it according to what we see here on
earth of men's miseries and inequalities. It holds that the suffering
and misery come to us as an inheritance from Adam, and as a result of
the sins of our first parents; but that if we are "good" it will all be
evened up and recompensed in the next world. Of course the extremists
who hold to Predestination have held that some were happy and some
miserable, simply because God in the exercise of His will had elected
and predestined them to those conditions, but it would scarcely be fair
to quote this as the position of current theology, because the tendency
of modern theological thought is away from that conception. We mention
it merely as showing what some have thought of the subject. Others have
sought refuge in the idea that we suffer for the sins of our parents,
according to the old doctrine that "the sins of the parents shall be
visited upon the children," but even this is not in accordance with
man's highest idea of justice and love.

Passing on to the second view, namely that the soul was pre-existent,
that is, existed in some higher state not understood by us, from whence
it was thrust into human form, etc., we note that the questions as to
the cause of inequality, misery, etc., considered a moment ago, are
still actively with us--this view does not straighten out the question
at all. For whether the soul was pre-existent in a higher state, or
whether it was freshly created, the fact remains that as souls they must
be equal in the sense of being made by the same process, and from the
same material, and that up to the point of their embodiment they had not
sinned or merited any reward or punishment, nor had they earned anything
one way or another. And yet, according to the theory, these equally
innocent and inexperienced souls are born, some being thrust into the
bodies of children to be born in environments conducive to advancement,
development, etc., and gifted with natural advantages, while others are
thrust into bodies of children to be born into the most wretched
environments and surroundings, and devoid of many natural
advantages--not to speak of the crippled, deformed, and pain-ridden ones
in all walks of life. There is no more explanation of the problem in
this view than there was in the first mentioned one.

Passing on to the third view, namely, that the soul is one of countless
others which emanated from the Source of Being æons ago, equal in power,
opportunities, etc., and which individual soul has worked its way up to
its present position through many rebirths and lives, in which it has
gained many experiences and lessons, which determine its present
condition, and which in turn will profit by the experiences and lessons
of the present life by which the next stage of its life will be
determined--we find what many have considered to be the only logical and
possible explanation of the problem of life's inequalities, providing
there is an "answer" at all, and that there is any such thing as a
"soul," and a loving, just God. Figuier, the French writer, from whom we
quoted that remarkable passage breathing the pessimism of the old view
of life, a few moments ago, admitted that in rebirth was to be found a
just explanation of the matter. He says: "If, on the contrary, we admit
the plurality of human existences and reincarnation--that is, the
passage of the same soul through several bodies--all this is made
wonderfully clear. Our presence on such or such a part of the earth is
no longer the effect of a caprice of Fate, or the result of chance; it
is merely a station in the long journey that we make through the world.
Before our birth, we have already lived, and this life is the sequel and
result of previous ones. We have a soul that we must purify, improve and
ennoble during our stay upon earth; or having already completed an
imperfect and wicked life, we are compelled to begin a new one, and thus
strive to rise to the level of those who have passed on to higher
planes."

The advocates of Reincarnation point out that the idea of Justice is
fully carried out in that view of life, inasmuch as what we are is
determined by what we have been; and what we shall be is determined by
what we are now; and that we are constantly urged on by the pressure of
the unfolding spirit, and attracted upward by the Divine One. Under this
conception there is no such thing as Chance--all is according to Law.
As an ancient Grecian philosopher once said: "Without the doctrine of
metempsychosis, it is not possible to justify the ways of God," and many
other philosophers and theologians have followed him in this thought. If
we enjoy, we have earned it; if we suffer, we have earned it; in both
cases through our own endeavors and efforts, and not by "chance," nor by
reason of the merits or demerits of our forefathers, nor because of
"predestination" nor "election" to that fate. If this be true, then one
is given the understanding to stoically bear the pains and miseries of
this life without cursing Fate or imputing injustice to the Divine. And
likewise he is given an incentive toward making the best of his
opportunities now, in order to pass on to higher and more satisfactory
conditions in future lives. Reincarnationists claim that rewards and
punishments are properly awarded only on the plane in which the deed,
good or bad, was committed, "else their nature is changed, their effects
impaired, and their collateral bearings lost." A writer on the subject
has pointed out this fact in the following words: "Physical outrage has
to be checked by the infliction of physical pain, and not merely by the
arousing of internal regret. Honest lives find appropriate consequence
in visible honor. But one career is too short for the precise balancing
of accounts, and many are needed that every good or evil done in each
may be requited on the earth where it took place." In reference to this
mention of rewards and penalties, we would say that very many advanced
Reincarnationists do not regard the conditions of life as "rewards and
punishments," but, on the contrary, look upon them as forming part of
the Lessons in the Kindergarten of Life, to be learned and profited by
in future lives. We shall speak of this further in our consideration of
the question of "Karma"--the difference is vital, and should be closely
observed in considering the subject.

Before we pass from the consideration of the question of Justice, as
exemplified by Reincarnation, we would call your attention to the
difference in the views of life and its rewards and punishments held by
the orthodox theologians and the Reincarnationists, respectively. On the
one hand, the orthodox theologians hold that for the deeds, good or
evil, performed by a man during his short lifetime of a few years, and
then performed under conditions arbitrarily imposed upon him at birth by
his Creator, man is rewarded or punished by an eternity of happiness or
misery--heaven or hell. Perhaps the man has lived but one or two years
of reasonable understanding--or full three-score and ten--and has
violated certain moral, ethical or even religious laws, perhaps only to
the extent of refusing to believe something that his reason absolutely
refused to accept--for this he is doomed to an everlasting sojourn in a
place of pain, misery or punishment, or a state equivalent thereto. Or,
on the other hand, he has done the things that he ought to have done,
and left undone the things that he ought not to have done--even though
this doing and not-doing was made very easy for him by reason of his
environment and surroundings--and to crown his beautiful life he had
accepted the orthodox creeds and beliefs of his fathers, as a matter of
course--then this man is rewarded by an eternity of bliss, happiness and
joy--without end. Try to think of what ETERNITY means--think of the æons
upon æons of time, on and on, and on, forever--and the poor sinner is
suffering exquisite torture all that time, and in all time to come,
without limit, respite, without mercy! And all the same time, the "good"
man is enjoying his blissful state, without limit, or end, or satiety!
And the time of probation, during which the two worked out their future
fate, was as a grain of sand as compared with the countless universes in
space in all eternity--a relation which reduces the span of man's
lifetime to almost absolutely NOTHING, mathematically considered. Think
of this--is this Justice?

And on the other hand, from the point of view of the Reincarnationist,
is not the measure of cause and effect more equitably adjusted, even if
we regard it as a matter of "reward and punishment"--a crude view by
the way--when we see that every infraction of the law is followed by a
corresponding effect, and an adherence to the law by a proportionate
effect. Does not the "punishment fit the crime" better in this case--the
rewards also. And looking at it from a reasonable point of view, devoid
from theological bias, which plan seems to be the best exemplification
of Justice and Natural Law, not to speak of the higher Divine Justice
and Cosmic Law? Of course, we are not urging these ideas as "proofs" of
Reincarnation, for strictly speaking "proof" must lie outside of
speculation of "what ought to be"--proof belongs to the region of "what
is" and "facts in experience." But, nevertheless, while one is
considering the matter, it should be viewed from every possible aspect,
in order to see "how it works out."

It is also urged along the lines of the Justice of Reincarnation, as
opposed to the injustice of the contrary doctrine, that there are many
cases of little infants who have only a few days, or minutes, of this
life, before they pass out of the body in death. According to the
anti-reincarnation doctrine, these little souls have been freshly
created, and placed into physical bodies, and then without having had to
taste of the experiences of life, are ushered into the higher planes,
there to pass an eternal existence--while other souls have to live out
their long lives of earth in order to reach the same higher states, and
then, according to the prevailing doctrine, even then they may have
earned eternal punishment instead of eternal bliss. According to this
idea the happiest fate would be for all to die as infants (providing we
were baptized, some good souls would add), and the death of an infant
should be the occasion for the greatest rejoicing on the part of those
who love it. But in spite of the doctrine, human nature does not so act.
According to the doctrine of Reincarnation, the little babe's soul was
but pursuing the same path as the rest of the race--it had its past, as
well as its future, according to Law and Justice. While, if the ordinary
view be correct, no one would begrudge the infant its happy fate, still
one would have good cause for complaint as the Inequality and Injustice
of others having to live out long lives of pain, discomfort and misery,
for no cause, instead of being at once translated into a higher life as
was the infant. If the ordinary view be true, then why the need of
earth-life at all--why not create a soul and then place it in the
heavenly realms at once; if it is possible and proper in some cases, why
not in all; if the experience is not indispensable, then why impose it
on certain souls, when all are freshly created and equal in merit and
deserts? If earthly life has any virtue, then the infant's soul is
robbed of its right. If earthly life has no virtue, the adult souls are
forced to live a useless existence on earth, running the risk of
damnation if they fail, while the infant souls escape this. Is this
equality of opportunity and experience, or Justice? There would seem to
be something wrong with either the facts, or the theory. Test the
problem with the doctrine of Reincarnation, and see how it works out!



CHAPTER IX.

THE ARGUMENT FOR REINCARNATION.


In addition to the consideration of Justice, there are many other
advantages claimed by the advocates of Reincarnation which are worthy of
the careful consideration of students of the problem of the soul. We
shall give to each of these principal points a brief consideration in
this chapter, that you may acquaint yourself with the several points of
the argument.

It is argued that the principle of analogy renders it more reasonable to
believe that the present life of the soul is but one link in a great
chain of existences, which chain stretches far back into the past on one
side, and far out into the future on the other, than to suppose that it
has been specially created for this petty term of a few years of earth
life, and then projected for weal or woe into an eternity of spiritual
existence. It is argued that the principle of Evolution on the Physical
Plane points to an analogy of Evolution of the Spiritual Plane. It is
reasoned that just as birth on the next plane of life follows death on
the present one, so analogy would indicate that a death on past planes
preceded birth on this, and so on. It is argued that every form of life
that we know of has arisen from lower forms, which in turn arose from
still lower forms, and so on; and that following the same analogy the
soul has risen from lower to higher, and will mount on to still higher
forms and planes. It is argued that "special creation" is unknown in the
universe, and that it is far more reasonable to apply the principle of
evolution to the soul than to consider it as an exception and violation
of the universal law.

It is also claimed by some thinkers that the idea of future-existence
presupposes past-existence, for everything that is "begun" must "end"
some time, and therefore if we are to suppose that the soul is to
continue its existence in the future, we must think of it as having an
existence in the past--being eternal at both ends of the earth-life, as
it were. Opponents of the idea of immortality are fond of arguing that
there was no more reason for supposing that a soul would continue to
exist after the death of the body, than there was for supposing that it
had existed previously. A well-known man once was asked the question:
"What becomes of a man's soul after death?" when he evaded the question
by answering: "It goes back to where it came from." And to many this
idea has seemed sufficient to make them doubt the idea of immortality.
The ancient Greek philosophers felt it logically necessary for them to
assert the eternal pre-existence of the soul in order to justify their
claim of future existence for it. They argued that if the soul is
immortal, it must have always existed, for an immortal thing could not
have been created--if it was not immortal by nature, it could never be
made so, and if it was immortal by nature, then it had always existed.
The argument usually employed is this: A thing is either mortal or
immortal, one or the other; if it is mortal it has been born and must
die; if it is immortal, it cannot have been born, neither can it die;
mortality means subject to life and death--immortality means immunity
from both. The Greeks devoted much time and care to this argument, and
attached great importance to it. They reasoned that nothing that
possessed Reality could have emerged from nothingness, nor could it pass
into nothingness. If it were Real it was Eternal; if it was not Eternal
it was not Real, and would pass away even as it was born. They also
claimed that the sense of immortality possessed by the Ego, was an
indication of its having experienced life in the past, as well as
anticipating life in the future--there is a sense of "oldness" pervading
every thought of the soul regarding its own nature. It is claimed as an
illogical assumption to hold that back of the present there extends an
eternity of non-existence for the soul, while ahead of it there extends
an eternity of being--it is held that it is far more logical to regard
the present life as merely a single point in an eternity of existence.

It is argued, further, that Reincarnation fits in with the known
scientific principle of conservation of energy--that is, that no energy
is ever created or is lost, but that all energy is but a form of the
universal energy, which flows on from form to form, from manifestation
to manifestation, ever the same, and yet manifesting in myriad
forms--never born, never dying, but always moving on, and on, and on to
new manifestations. Therefore it is thought that it is reasonable to
suppose that the soul follows the same law of re-embodiment, rising
higher and higher, throughout time, until finally it re-enters the
Universal Spirit from which it emerged, and in which it will continue to
exist, as it existed before it emerged for the cycle of manifestation.
It is also argued that Reincarnation brings Life within the Law of Cause
and Effect, just as is everything else in the universe. The law of
re-birth, according to the causes generated during past lives, would
bring the existence of the soul within and in harmony with natural
laws, instead of without and contrary to them.

It is further argued that the feeling of "original sin" of which so many
people assert a consciousness, may be explained better by the theory of
Reincarnation than by any theological doctrine. The orthodox doctrine is
that "original sin" was something inherited from Adam by reason of our
forefather's transgression, but this jars upon the thought of today, as
well it might, for what has the "soul" to do with Adam--it did not
descend from him, or from aught else but the Source of Being--there is
no line of descent for souls, though there may be for bodies. What has
Adam to do with your soul, if it came fresh from the mint of the Maker,
pure and unsullied--how could his sin taint your new soul? Theology here
asserts either arrant nonsense, or else grave injustice. But if for
"Adam" we substitute our past existences and the thoughts and deeds
thereof, we may understand that feeling of conscious recognition of past
wrong-doing and remorse, which so many testify to, though they be
reasonably free from the same in the present life. The butterfly dimly
remembers its worm state, and although it now soars, it feels the slime
of the mud in which it once crawled.

It is also argued that in one life the soul would fail to acquire the
varied experience which is necessary to form a well rounded mentality of
understanding. Dwarfed by its limited experience in the narrow sphere
occupied by many human beings, it would be far from acquiring the
knowledge which would seem to be necessary for a developed and advanced
soul. Besides this there would be as great an inequality on the part of
souls after death, as there is before death--some would pass into the
future state as ignorant beings, while others would possess a full
nature of understanding. As a leading authority has said: "A perfected
man must have experienced every type of earthly relation and duty, every
phase of desire, affection and passion, every form of temptation and
every variety of conflict. No one life can possibly furnish the
material for more than a minute section of such experience." Along this
same line it is urged that the soul's development must come largely from
contact and relationship with other souls, in a variety of phases and
forms. It must experience pain and happiness, love, pity, failure,
success--it must know the discipline of sympathy, toleration, patience,
energy, fortitude, foresight, gratitude, pity, benevolence, and love in
all of its phases. This, it is urged, is possible only through repeated
incarnations, as the span of one life is too small and its limit too
narrow to embrace but a small fraction of the necessary experiences of
the soul on its journey toward development and attainment. One must feel
the sorrows and joys of all forms of life before "understanding" may
come. Narrowness, lack of tolerance, prejudice, and similar forms of
undeveloped consciousness must be wiped out by the broad understanding
and sympathy that come only from experience.

It is argued that only by repeated incarnations the soul is able to
realize the futility of the search for happiness and satisfaction in
material things. One, while dissatisfied and disappointed at his own
condition, is apt to imagine that in some other earthly condition he
would find satisfaction and happiness now denied him, and dying carries
with him the subsconcious desire to enjoy those conditions, which desire
attracts him back to earth-life in search of those conditions. So long
as the soul desires anything that earth can offer, it is earth-bound and
drawn back into the vortex. But after repeated incarnations the soul
learns well its lesson that only in itself may be found happiness--and
that only when it learns its real nature, source, and destiny--and then
it passes on to higher planes. As an authority says: "In time, the soul
sees that a spiritual being cannot be nourished on inferior food, and
that any joy short of union with the Divine must be illusionary."

It is also argued that but few people, as we see them in earth-life,
have realized the existence of a higher part of their being, and still
fewer have asserted the supremacy of the higher, and subordinated the
lower part of the self to that higher. Were they to pass on to a final
state of being after death, they would carry with them all of their
lower propensities and attributes, and would be utterly incapable of
manifesting the spiritual part of their nature which alone would be
satisfied and happy in the spiritual realms. Therefore, it needs
repeated lives in order to evolve from the lower conditions and to
develop and unfold the higher.

Touching upon the question of unextinguished desire, mentioned a moment
ago, the following quotation from a writer on the subject, gives clearly
and briefly the Reincarnationist argument regarding this point. The
writer says: "Desire for other forms of earthly experience can only be
extinguished by undergoing them. It is obvious that any one of us, if
now translated to the unseen world, would feel regret that he had not
tasted existence in some other situation or surroundings. He would wish
to have known what it was to possess wealth and rank, or beauty, or to
live in a different race or climate, or to see more of the world and
society. No spiritual ascent could progress while earthly longings were
dragging back the soul, and so it frees itself from them by successively
securing them and dropping them. When the round of such knowledge has
been traversed, regret for ignorance has died out." This idea of
"Living-Out and Out-Living" is urged by a number of writers and thinkers
on the subject. J. Wm. Lloyd says, in his "Dawn Thought," on this
subject: "You rise and overcome simply by the natural process of living
fully and thus outliving, as a child its milk-teeth, a serpent his
slough. Living and Outliving, that expresses it. Until you have learned
the one lesson fully you are never ready for a new one." The same
writer, in the same book, also says: "By sin, shame, joy, virtue and
sorrow, action and reaction, attraction and repulsion, the soul, like a
barbed arrow, ever goes on. It cannot go back, or return through the
valves of its coming. But this must not be understood to be fulfilled in
one and every earth-visit. It is true only of the whole circle-voyage
of the soul. In one earth-trip, one 'life,' as we say, it may be that
there would nothing be but a standing still or a turning back, nothing
but sin. But the whole course of all is on." But there is the danger of
a misunderstanding of this doctrine, and some have misinterpreted it,
and read it to advise a plunging into all kinds of sinful experience in
order to "live-out and out-live," which idea is wrong, and cannot be
entertained by any true student of the subjects, however much it may be
used by those who wish to avail themselves of an excuse for material
dissipation. Mabel Collins, in her notes to "Light on the Path," says on
this subject: "Seek it by testing all experience, and remember that,
when I say this, I do not say, 'Yield to the seduction of sense, in
order to know it.' Before you have become an occultist, you may do this,
but not afterwards. When you have chosen and entered the path, you
cannot yield to these seductions without shame. Yet you can experience
them without horror; can weigh, observe and test them, and wait with
the patience of confidence for the hour when they shall affect you no
longer. But do not condemn a man that yields; stretch out your hand to
him as a brother pilgrim whose feet have become heavy with mire.
Remember, O disciple! that great though the gulf may be between the good
man and the sinner, it is greater between the good man and the man who
has attained knowledge; it is immeasurable between the good man and the
one on the threshold of divinity. Therefore, be wary, lest too soon you
fancy yourself a thing apart from the mass." And again, the same writer
says: "Before you can attain knowledge you must have passed through all
places, foul and clean alike. Therefore, remember that the soiled
garment you shrink from touching may have been yours yesterday, may be
yours tomorrow. And if you turn with horror from it when it is flung
upon your shoulders, it will cling the more closely to you. The
self-righteous man makes for himself a bed of mire. Abstain because it
is right to abstain, not that yourself shall be kept clean."

It is also argued that Reincarnation is necessary in order to give the
evolving races a chance to perfect themselves--that is, not through
their physical descendants, which would not affect the souls of those
living in the bodies of the races to-day, but by perfection and growth
of the souls themselves. It is pointed out that to usher a savage or
barbarian to the spiritual planes after death, no matter how true to his
duty and "his lights" the soul had been, would be to work an absurd
translation. Such a soul would not be fitted for the higher spiritual
planes, and would be most unhappy and miserable there. It will be seen
that Reincarnationists make quite a distinction between "goodness" and
"advancement"--while they recognize and urge the former, they regard it
as only one side of the question, the other being "spiritual growth and
unfoldment." It will be seen that Reincarnation provides for a Spiritual
Evolution with all of its advantages, as well as a material evolution
such as science holds to be correct.

Concluding this chapter, let us quote once more from the authority on
the subject before mentioned, who writes anonymously in the pamphlet
from which the quotation is taken. He says: "Nature does nothing by
leaps. She does not, in this case, introduce into a region of spirit and
spiritual life a being who has known little else than matter and
material life, with small comprehension even of that. To do so would be
analogous to transferring suddenly a ploughboy into a company of
metaphysicians. The pursuit of any topic implies some preliminary
acquaintance with its nature, aims, and mental requirements; and the
more elevated the topic, the more copious the preparation for it. It is
inevitable that a being who has before him an eternity of progress
through zones of knowledge and spiritual experience ever nearing the
Central Sun, should be fitted for it through long acquisition of the
faculties which alone can deal with it. Their delicacy, their vigor,
their penetrativeness, their unlikeness to those called for on the
material plane, show the contrast of the earth-life to the spirit-life.
And they show, too, the inconceivability of a sudden transition from one
to the other, of a policy unknown in any other department of Nature's
workings, of a break in the law of uplifting through Evolution. A man,
before he can become a 'god,' must first become a perfect man; and he
can become a perfect man neither in seventy years of life on earth, nor
in any number of years of life from which human conditions are absent.
* * * Re-birth and re-life must go on till their purposes are
accomplished. If, indeed, we were mere victims of an evolutionary law,
helpless atoms on which the machinery of Nature pitilessly played, the
prospect of a succession of incarnations, no one of which gave
satisfaction, might drive us to mad despair. But we have thrust on us no
such cheerless exposition. We are shown that Reincarnations are the law
for man, because they are the conditions of his progress, which is also
a law, but he may mould them and better them and lessen them. He cannot
rid himself of the machinery, but neither should wish to. Endowed with
the power to guide it for the best, prompted with the motive to use that
power, he may harmonize both his aspirations and his efforts with the
system that expressed the infinite wisdom of the supreme, and through
the journey from the temporal to the eternal tread the way with steady
feet, braced with the consciousness that he is one of an innumerable
multitude, and with the certainty that he and they alike, if they so
will it, may attain finally to that sphere where birth and death are but
memories of the past."

In this chapter we have given you a number of the arguments favorable to
the doctrine of Reincarnation, from a number of sources. Some of these
arguments do not specially appeal to us, personally, for the reason that
they are rather more theological than scientific, but we have included
them that the argument may appear as generally presented, and because we
feel that in a work of this kind we must not omit an argument which is
used by many of the best authorities, simply because it may not appeal
to our particular temperament or habit of thought. To some, the
theological argument may appeal more strongly than would the scientific,
and it very properly is given here. The proper way to present any
subject is to give it in its many aspects, and as it may appear from
varied viewpoints.



CHAPTER X.

THE PROOFS OF REINCARNATION.


To many minds the "proof" of a doctrine is its reasonableness and its
adaptability as an answer to existing problems. And, accordingly, to
such, the many arguments advanced in favor of the doctrine, of which we
have given a few in the preceding chapters, together with the almost
universal acceptance of the fundamental ideas on the part of the race,
in at least some period of its development, would be considered as a
very good "proof" of the doctrine, at least so far as it might be
considered as the "most available working theory" of the soul's
existence, past and future, and as better meeting the requirements of a
doctrine or theory than any other idea advanced by metaphysical,
theological, or philosophical thinkers.

But to the scientific mind, or the minds of those who demand something
in the nature of actual experience of facts, no amount of reasonable
abstract theorizing and speculation is acceptable even in the way of a
"working hypothesis," unless based upon some tangible "facts" or
knowledge gained through human experience. While people possessing such
minds will usually admit freely that the doctrine of Reincarnation is
more logical than the opposing theories, and that it fits better the
requirements of the case, still they will maintain that all theories
regarding the soul must be based upon premises that cannot be
established by actual experience in human consciousness. They hold that
in absence of proof in experience--actual "facts"--these premises are
not established, and that all structures of reasoning based upon them
must partake of their insecurity. These people are like the slangy "man
from Missouri" who "wants to be shown"--nay, more, they are like the
companion of the above man--the Man from Texas, who not only says:
"You've got to show me," but who also demands that the thing be "placed
in my hand." And, after all, one has no right to criticize these
people--they are but manifesting the scientific spirit of the age which
demands facts as a basis for theories, rather than theories that need
facts to prove them. And, unless Reincarnation is able to satisfy the
demands of this class of thinkers, the advocates of the doctrine need
not complain if the scientific mind dismisses the doctrine as "not
proven."

After all, the best proof along the above mentioned lines--in fact,
about the only possible strict proof--is the fragmentary recollections
of former lives, which many people possess at times--these recollections
often flashing across the mind, bringing with it a conviction that the
place or thing "has been experienced before." Nearly every person has
had glimpses of something that appeared to be a recollection from the
past life of the individual. We see places that we have never known, and
they seem perfectly familiar; we meet strangers, and we are convinced
that we have known them in the past; we read an old book and feel that
we have seen it before, often so much so that we can anticipate the
story or argument of the writer; we hear some strange philosophical
doctrine, and we recognize it as an old friend. Many people have had
this experience in the matter of Occultism--in the very matter of the
doctrine of Reincarnation itself--when they first heard it, although it
struck them as strange and unusual, yet they felt an inner conviction
that it was an old story to them--that they "had heard it all before."
These experiences are by far too common to be dismissed as mere fancy or
coincidence. Nearly every living person has had some experience along
this line.

A recent writer along the lines of Oriental Philosophy has said
regarding this common experience of the race: "Many people have had
'peculiar experiences' that are accountable only upon the hypothesis of
Metempsychosis. Who has not experienced the consciousness of having felt
the thing before--having thought it some time in the dim past? Who has
not witnessed new scenes that appear old, very old? Who has not met
persons for the first time, whose presence awakened memories of a past
lying far back in the misty ages of long ago? Who has not been seized at
times with the consciousness of a mighty 'oldness' of soul? Who has not
heard music, often entirely new compositions, which somehow awakened
memories of similar strains, scenes, places, faces, voices, lands,
associations, and events, sounding dimly on the strings of memory as the
breezes of the harmony floats over them? Who has not gazed at some old
painting, or piece of statuary, with the sense of having seen it all
before? Who has not lived through events which brought with them a
certainty of being merely a repetition of some shadowy occurrences away
back in lives lived long ago? Who has not felt the influence of the
mountain, the sea, the desert, coming to them when they are far from
such scenes--coming so vividly as to cause the actual scene of the
present to fade into comparative unreality? Who has not had these
experiences?"

We have been informed by Hindus well advanced in the occult theory and
practice that it is quite a common thing for people of their country to
awaken to an almost complete recollection of their former lives; in some
cases they have related details of former lives that have been fully
verified by investigation in parts of the land very remote from their
present residence. In one case, a Hindu sage related to us an instance
where a poor Hindu, who had worked steadily in the village in which he
had been born, without leaving it, ever since his childhood days. This
man one day cried out that he had awakened to a recollection of having
been a man of such and such a village, in a province hundreds of miles
from his home. Some wealthy people became interested in the matter, and
after having taken down his statements in writing, and after careful
examination and questioning, they took him to the town in question. Upon
entering the village the man seemed dazed, and cried out: "Everything is
changed--it is the same and yet not the same!" Finally, however, he
began to recognize some of the old landmarks of the place, and to call
the places and roads by their names. Then, coming to a familiar corner,
he cried: "Down there is my old home," and, rushing down the road for
several hundred yards, he finally stopped before the ruins of an old
cottage, and burst into tears, saying that the roof of his home had
fallen in, and the walls were crumbling to pieces. Inquiry among the
oldest men of the place brought to light the fact that when these aged
men were boys, the house had been occupied by an old man, bearing the
same name first mentioned by the Hindu as having been his own in his
previous life. Other facts about the former location of places in the
village were verified by the old men. Finally, while walking around the
ruins, the man said: "There should be a pot of silver buried there--I
hid it there when I lived here." The people rapidly uncovered the ground
indicated, and brought to light an old pot containing a few pieces of
silver coin of a date corresponding to the lifetime of the former
occupant of the house. Our informant told us that he had personal
knowledge of a number of similar cases, none of which, however, were
quite as complete in detail as the one mentioned. He also informed us
that he himself, and a number of his acquaintances who had attained
certain degrees of occult unfoldment, were fully aware of their past
lives for several incarnations back.

Another instance came under our personal observation, in which an
American who had never been to India, when taken into a room in which a
Hindu priest who was visiting America had erected a shrine or altar
before which he performed his religious services, readily recognized the
arrangement of the details of worship, ritual, ceremony, etc., and was
conscious of having seen, or at least dreamed of seeing, a similar
shrine at some time in the past, and as having had some connection with
the same. The Hindu priest, upon hearing the American's remarks, stated
that his knowledge of the details of the shrine, as then expressed,
indicated a knowledge possible only to one who had served at a Hindu
altar in some capacity.

We know of another case in which an acquaintance, a prominent attorney
in the West, told us that when undergoing his initiation in the Masonic
order he had a full recollection of having undergone the same before,
and he actually anticipated each successive step. This knowledge,
however, ceased after he had passed beyond the first three degrees which
took him to the place where he was a full Master Mason, the higher
degrees being entirely new to him, and having been apparently not
experienced before. This man was not a believer in any doctrine of
Reincarnation, and related the incident merely as "one of those things
that no man can explain."

We know of another case, in which a student of Hindu Philosophy and
Oriental Occultism found that he could anticipate each step of the
teaching and doctrine, and each bit of knowledge gained by him seemed
merely a recollection of something known long since. So true was this
that he was able to supply the "missing links" of the teaching, where
he had not access to the proper sources of information at the time, and
in each case he afterward found that he had stated the same correctly.
And this included many points of the Inner Teachings not generally
taught to the general public, but reserved for the few. Subsequent
contact with native Hindu teachers brought to light the fact that he had
already unraveled many tangled skeins of doctrine deemed possible only
to the "elect."

Many of these recollections of the past come as if they were memories of
something experienced in dreams, but sometimes after the loose end of
the thought is firmly grasped and mentally drawn out, other bits of
recollection will follow. Sir Walter Scott wrote in his diary in 1828:
"I was strangely haunted by what I would call the sense of
pre-existence, viz., a confused idea that nothing that passed was said
for the first time; that the same topics had been discussed, and the
same persons had stated the same opinions on them." William Home, an
English writer, was instantly converted from materialism to a belief in
a spiritual existence by an incident that occurred to him in a part of
London utterly strange to him. He entered a waiting room, and to his
surprise everything seemed familiar to him. As he says: "I seemed to
recognize every object. I said to myself, what is this? I have never
been here before, and yet I have seen all this, and if so, there is a
very peculiar knot in that shutter." He then crossed the room, and
opened the shutter, and after examination he saw the identical peculiar
knot that he had felt sure was there. Pythagoras is said to have
distinctly remembered a number of his previous incarnations, and at one
time pointed out a shield in a Grecian temple as having been carried by
him in a previous incarnation at the siege of Troy. A well-known ancient
Hindu sage is said to have transcribed a lost sacred book of doctrine
from memory of its study in a previous life. Children often talk
strangely of former lives, which ideas, however, are generally
frightened out of them by reproof on the part of parents, and often
punishment for untruthfulness and romancing. As they grow older these
memories fade away.

People traveling in strange places often experience emotion when viewing
some particular scene, and memory seems to painfully struggle to bring
into the field of consciousness the former connection between the scene
and the individual. Many persons have testified to these occurrences,
many of them being matter-of-fact, unimaginative people, who had never
even heard of the doctrine of Reincarnation. Charles Dickens, in one of
his books of foreign travel, tells of a bridge in Italy which produced a
peculiar effect upon him. He says: "If I had been murdered there in some
former life, I could not have seemed to remember the place more
thoroughly, or with more emphatic chilling of the blood; and the real
remembrance of it acquired in that minute is so strengthened by the
imaginary recollection that I hardly think I could forget it." Another
recorded instance is that of a person entering a foreign library for the
first time. Passing to the department of ancient books, he said that he
had a dim idea that a certain rare book was to be found on such a shelf,
in such a corner, describing at the same time certain peculiarities of
the volume. A search failed to discover the volume in the stated place,
but investigation showed that it was in another place in the library,
and an old assistant stated that a generation back it had been moved
from its former place (as stated by the visitor), where it had been
previously located for very many years. An examination of the volume
showed a perfect correspondence in every detail with the description of
the strange visitor.

And so the story proceeds. Reference to the many works written on the
subject of the future life of the soul will supply many more instances
of the glimpses of recollection of past incarnations. But why spread
these instances over more pages? The experience of other people, while
of scientific interest and value as affording a basis for a theory or
doctrine, will never supply the experience that the close and rigid
investigator demands. Only his own experiences will satisfy him--and
perhaps not even those, for he may consider them delusions. These
experiences of others have their principal value as corroborative proofs
of one's own experiences, and thus serve to prove that the individual
experience was not abnormal, unusual, or a delusion. To those who have
not had these glimpses of recollection, the only proof that can be
offered is the usual arguments in favor of the doctrine, and the account
of the experiences of others--this may satisfy, and may not. But to
those who have had these glimpses--particularly in a marked
degree--there will come a feeling of certainty and conviction that in
some cases is as real as the certainty and conviction of the present
existence, and which will be proof against all argument to the contrary.
To such people the knowledge of previous existences is as much a matter
of consciousness as the fact of the existence of last year--yesterday--a
moment ago--or even the present moment, which slips away while we
attempt to consider it. And those who have this consciousness of past
lives, even though the details may be vague, intuitively accept the
teachings regarding the future lives of the soul. The soul that
recognizes its "oldness" also feels its certainty of survival--not as a
mere matter of faith, but as an item of consciousness, the boundaries of
time being transcended.

But there are other arguments advanced in favor of Reincarnation, which
its advocates consider so strong as to entitle them to be classed as
"proofs." Among these may be mentioned the difference in tastes,
talents, predispositions, etc., noticeable among children and adults,
and which can scarcely be attributed to heredity. This same idea carries
one to the consideration of the question of "youthful genius,"
"prodigies," etc.

It is a part of this argument to assume that if all souls were freshly
created, by the same Creator, and from the same material, they would
resemble each other very closely, and in fact would be practically
identical. And, it is urged, the fact that every child is different in
tastes, temperament, qualities, nature, etc., independent of heredity
and environment, then it must follow that the difference must be sought
for further back. Children of the same parents differ very materially in
nature, disposition, etc.; in fact, strangers are often more alike than
children of the same parents, born within a few years of each other, and
reared in the same environment. Those having much experience with young
babies know that each infant has its own nature and disposition, and in
which it differs from every other infant, although they may be classed
into groups, of course. The infant a few hours born shows a gentleness,
or a lack of it--a yielding or a struggle, a disposition to adjust
itself, or a stubbornness, etc. And as the child grows, these traits
show more plainly, and the nature of the individual asserts itself,
subject, of course, to a moulding and shaping, but always asserting its
original character in some way.

Not only in the matter of disposition but in the matter of tastes,
tendencies, moral inclinations, etc., do the children differ. Some like
this, and dislike that, and the reverse; some are attracted toward this
and repelled by that, and the reverse; some are kind while others are
cruel; some manifest an innate sense of refinement, while others show
coarseness and lack of delicate feeling. This among children of the same
family, remember. And, when the child enters school, we find this one
takes to mathematics as the duck does to water, while its brother
loathes the subject; the anti-arithmetic child may excel in history or
geography, or else grammar, which is the despair of others. Some are at
once attracted to music, and others to drawing, while both of these
branches are most distasteful to others. And it will be noticed that in
the studies to which the child is attracted, it seems to learn almost
without effort, as if it were merely re-learning some favorite study,
momentarily forgotten. And in the case of the disliked study, every step
is attended with toil. In some cases the child seems to learn every
branch with the minimum effort, and with practically no effort; while in
other cases the child has to plod wearily over every branch, as if
breaking entirely new ground. And this continues into after life, when
the adult finds this thing or that thing into which he naturally fits as
if it were made for him, the knowledge concerning it coming to him like
the lesson of yesterday.

We know of a case in which a man had proved a failure in everything he
had undertaken up to the age of forty, when his father-in-law, in
disgust, placed him at the head of an enterprise which he had had to
"take over" for a bad debt. The "failure" immediately took the keenest
interest in the work, and in a month knew more about it than many men
who had been in the concern for years. His mind found itself perfectly
at home, and he made improvement after improvement rapidly, and with
uniform success. He had found his work, and in a few years stepped to
the front rank in the country in that particular line of business.
"Blessed is he that hath found his work." Reincarnationists would hold
that that man had found his work in a line similar in its mental
demands with that of his former life or lives--not necessarily identical
in details, but similar in its mental requirement. Instances of this
thing are to be seen all around us. Heredity does not seem to account
for it--nor does environment answer the requirements. Some other factor
is there--is it Reincarnation?

Allied to this phenomena is that of "youthful genius"--in fact, genius
of any age, for that matter, for genius itself seems to be out of the
category of the ordinary cause of heredity and environment, and to have
its roots in some deeper, richer soil. It is a well-known fact that now
and then a child is born which at a very early age shows an acquaintance
with certain arts, or other branches of mental work, which is usually
looked for only from those of advanced years, and after years of
training. In many cases these children are born of parents and
grandparents deficient in the particular branches of knowledge evidenced
by the child. Babes scarcely able to sit on the piano stool, or to hold
the violin, have begun to play in a way that certainly indicated
previous knowledge and technique, often composing original productions
in an amazing manner. Other young children have begun to draw and design
without any instruction whatever. Others have shown wonderful
mathematical ability, there being several cases on record where such
children have performed feats in mathematics impossible to advanced
adults teaching the same lines. What are the cause of these phenomena?
Is it Reincarnation?

As Figuier said, years ago: "We hear it said every day that one child
has a mathematical, another a musical, another an artistic turn. In
others we notice savage, violent, even criminal instincts. After the
first years of life these dispositions break out. When these natural
aptitudes are pushed beyond the usual limit, we find famous examples
that history has cherished, and that we love to recall. There is Pascal,
mastering at the age of twelve years the greater part of Plane Geometry
without any instruction, and not a figment of Calculus, drawing on the
floor of his chamber all the figures in the first book of Euclid,
estimating accurately the mathematical relations of them all--that is,
reconstructing for himself a part of descriptive Geometry; the herdsman
Mangia Melo, manipulating figures, when five years old, as rapidly as a
calculating machine; Mozart, executing a sonata on the pianoforte with
four-years-old fingers, and composing an opera at the age of eight;
Theresa Milanollo, playing the violin at four years, with such eminent
skill that Baillot said she must have played it before she was born;
Rembrandt, drawing with masterly power before he could read." The same
authority says, in reference to the fact that some of these prodigies do
not become famous in their after years, and that their genius often
seems to flicker out, leaving them as ordinary children: "That is easily
understood. They come on earth with remarkable powers acquired in an
anterior existence, but they have done nothing to develop their
aptitudes; they have remained all their lives at the very point where
they were at the moment of their birth. The real man of genius is he
who cultivates and improves incessantly the great natural aptitudes that
he brought into the world."

There is an interesting field for study, thought and investigation,
along the lines of the early development of traits, tendencies, and
thought in young children. Here evidently will be found the answer to
many problems that have perplexed the race. It is true that heredity and
environment plays an important part, but nevertheless, there seems to be
another element working in the case, which science must have to reckon
with in making up its final conclusions. Is that "something" connected
with the "soul" rather than the mind of the child? Is that "something"
that which men call Metempsychosis--Re-Birth--Reincarnation?

Along the same lines, or thought, lie the great questions of instinctive
Like and Dislike--Loves and Hates--that we find among people meeting as
strangers. From whence come those strange, unaccountable attractions and
repulsions that many feel when meeting certain strangers, who could
never have occasioned such feelings in the present life, and which
heredity does not account for? Is it merely an absurd, irrational, fancy
or feeling; is it the result of natures inharmonious and discordant; is
it remnants of inherited ancestral feelings toward similar individuals
hated, loved or feared; is it a telepathic sensing of certain elements
in the other; or is it a manifestation of the feelings experienced in a
past existence? Is this phenomena to be included in the Proofs of
Reincarnation? Many people think that in Reincarnation the only answer
may be found.



CHAPTER XI.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST REINCARNATION


The honest consideration of any subject necessitates the examination of
"the other side of the case," as well as the affirmative side. We have
given much space to the presentation and consideration of the arguments
advanced by those convinced of the truth of Reincarnation, and before
closing our work we think it well to give at least a little glimpse of
"the other side" as it is presented by the opponents of the doctrine,
together with the reply to the same usually made by the
Reincarnationists.

The first adverse argument usually presented is that the advocates of
Reincarnation have not established the existence of a "soul" which may
reincarnate; nor have they proven its nature, if it does exist. The
natural reply to this is that the doctrine of Reincarnation is not
called upon to establish the proof of the existence of a "soul," as the
idea of existence of the soul practically is universal, and, therefore,
"axiomic"--that is, it is a truth that may be considered as an "axiom,"
or self-evident truth, worthy of being assumed as a principle, necessary
to thought on the subject, a proposition which it is necessary to take
for granted, an established principle of thought on the subject.
Strictly speaking, perhaps the fact of the existence of the soul is
incapable of material proof, except to those who accept the fact of
proven "spirit return," either in the shape of unmistakable
manifestation of the disincarnate soul by materialization, or by equally
unmistakable manifestation in the shape of communications of some sort
from such discarnate soul. Science does not admit that there are any
real "proofs" of the existence of a "soul" which persists after the
death of the body--but all religious, and at least the older
philosophical thought, generally agrees that the existence of such a
soul is a self-evident fact, needing no proofs. Many regard the
statement of Descartes: "I think, therefore I am," as a logical proof
of the existence of an immaterial soul, and others hold that the
self-consciousness of every human being is sufficient proof that the
Ego, or "I," is a something immaterial, ruling the material body which
it inhabits. And so the Reincarnationists claim that this demand upon
them for proof of the existence of the soul is not a fair one, because
such discussion belongs to the more general field of thought; that they
are justified in starting with the idea that the soul does exist, as an
axiomic truth; and that their real task is to establish, not that the
soul exists, but that it reincarnates after the death of the body. As
Figuier says, "The difficulty is not to prove that there is a spiritual
principle in us that resists death, for to question the existence of
this principle we must doubt thought. The true problem is to ascertain
if the spiritual and immortal principle within us is going to live again
after death, in ourselves or somebody else. The question is, Will the
immortal soul be born again in the same individual, physically
transformed--into the same person?" As to the other objection, that the
Reincarnationists have not proven the nature of the soul, to which many
of the advocates of the doctrine feel it necessary to reply at great
length and with much subtle reasoning, we feel that the objection is not
well taken. So far as Reincarnation is concerned, if it be taken as an
axiom that the soul really exists, that is sufficient as a beginning for
the argument in favor of the doctrine, and the proof or disproof of any
special theory regarding the nature of the soul is outside of the main
question, so we shall not consider it here. It is possible to think of
the soul as a reincarnating entity, whether it be a monad, duad, triad,
or septenary being.

The second objection usually made is that Reincarnation cannot be true,
else we would remember the incidents of our past lives, clearly and
distinctly, the fact that the majority of persons have no such
recollection, being held to be a disproof of the doctrine. The reply to
this objection is (1) that it is not true that people do not remember
the events of their past lives, the instances quoted by us, and similar
ones happening to others, together with the fact that nearly every one
remembers something of the past, showing that the objection is not
correctly stated. And (2) that the fact that we have but a very cloudy
and imperfect recollection is not an objection at all, for have we a
clear recollection of the events of our infancy and childhood in this
life? Have we a clear recollection of the events of twenty years ago,
outside of a few scattered instances, of which the majority are only
recalled when some associated fact is mentioned? Are not the great
majority of the events of our present life completely forgotten? How
many can recall the events of the youthful life? Old companions and
friends are completely forgotten or only recalled after much thought and
assistance in the way of suggested associations. Then again, do we not
witness a complete forgetfulness in cases of very old people who relapse
into a state of "second childhood," and who then live entirely in the
present, the past having vanished for them. There are cases of people
having grown old, and while retaining their reasoning faculties, were as
children, so far as the past was concerned. A well-known writer, when in
this state, was wont to read the books that he had written, enjoying
them very much and not dreaming that he was their author. Professor
Knight says of this matter: "Memory of the details of the past is
absolutely impossible."

"The power of the conservative faculty, though relatively great, is
extremely limited. We forget the larger portion of experience soon after
we have passed through it, and we should be able to recall the
particulars of our past years, filling all the missing links of
consciousness since we entered on the present life, before we were in a
position to remember our ante-natal experience. Birth must necessarily
be preceded by crossing the river of oblivion, while the capacity for
fresh acquisition survives, and the garnered wealth of old experience
determines the amount and characters of the new." Loss of memory is not
loss of being--or even loss of individuality or character.

In this connection, we must mention the various instances of Double
Personality, or Lost Personality, noted in the recent books on
Psychology. There are a number of well authenticated cases in which
people, from severe mental strain, overwork, etc., have lost the thread
of Personality and forgotten even their own names and who have taken up
life anew under new circumstances, which they would continue until
something would occur to bring about a restoration of memory, when the
past in all of its details would come back in a flash. The annals of the
English Society for Psychical Research contain quite a number of such
cases, which are recognized as typical. Now, would one be justified in
asserting that such a person, while living in the secondary personality
and consequently in entire ignorance of his past life, had really
experienced no previous life? The same "I" was there--the same Ego--and
yet, the personality was entirely different! Is it not perfectly fair
and reasonable to consider these cases as similar to the absence of
memory in cases of Reincarnation?

Let the reader lay down this book, and then endeavor to remember what
happened in his twelfth year. He will not remember more than one or two,
or a half dozen, events in that year--perhaps not one, in the absence of
a diary, or perhaps even with the aid of one. The majority of the
happenings of the three hundred and sixty-five days of that year are as
a blank--as if they never had happened, so far as the memory is
concerned. And yet, the same "I," or Ego, persists, and the person's
character has certainly been affected and influenced by the experiences
and lessons of that year. Perhaps in that year, the person may have
acquired certain knowledge that he uses in his everyday life. And so, in
this case, as with Reincarnation, the "essence" of the experiences are
preserved, while the details are forgotten. For that is the
Reincarnationist contention. As a matter of fact, advanced occultists,
and other Reincarnationists, claim that nothing is really forgotten, but
that every event is stored away in some of the recesses of the mind,
below the level of consciousness--which idea agrees with that of modern
psychologists. And Reincarnationists claim that when man unfolds
sufficiently on some higher plane, he will have a full recollection of
his past experiences in all of his incarnations. Some Reincarnationists
claim that as the soul passes from the body all the events of that
particular life pass rapidly before its mind, in review, before the
waters of Lethe, or oblivion, causes forgetfulness.

Closely allied to the last mentioned argument against Reincarnation is
the one that as the memory of the past life is absent, or nearly so, the
new personality is practically a new soul, instead of the old one
reincarnated, and that it is unreasonable and unjust to have it enjoy or
suffer by reasons of its experiences and acts in the previous life. We
think that the answers to the last mentioned objection are answers to
this one also. The "I," Ego, or Individuality, being the same, it
matters not if the details of the old Personality be forgotten. You are
the same "I" that lived fifty years ago in the same body--or even ten
years ago--and you are enjoying certain things, or suffering from
certain things, done or left undone at the previous time, although you
have forgotten the incidents. The impress of the thing is on your
Character, and you are today largely what you are by reason of what you
have been in past years, though those years are forgotten by you. This
you will readily admit, and yet the argument of the Reincarnationists is
merely an extension of the same idea. As Figuier says: "The soul, in
spite of its journeys, in the midst of its incarnations and divers
metamorphoses remains always identical with itself; only at each
metempsychosis, each metamorphosis of the external being, improving and
purifying itself, growing in power and intellectual grasp."

Another argument against Reincarnation is that it is not necessary, for
the reason that Heredity accounts for all of the facts claimed as
corroborative of Reincarnation. Answering this the advocates of the
doctrine insist that Heredity does not account for all the facts,
inasmuch as children are born with marked talents and genius, while
none of their family for generations back have displayed any such
tendencies. They also claim that if Heredity were the only factor in the
case, there would be no advance in the races, as the children would be
precisely like their ancestors, no variety or improvement being
possible. But it must be remembered that Reincarnationists do not deny
certain effects of Heredity, particularly along physical lines, and to
an extent along mental lines, in the way of perpetuating "tendencies,"
which, however, are and may be overcome by the individuality of the
child. Moreover, the doctrine holds that one of the laws of Rebirth is
that the reincarnating soul is attracted to parents harmonious to
itself, and likely to afford the environments and association desirable
to the soul. So in this way the characteristics likely to be transmitted
to the offspring are those which are sought for and desired by the
reincarnating soul. The law of Rebirth is held to be as exact and
certain as the laws of mathematics or chemistry, the parents, as well
as the child, forming the combination which brings forth the rebirth.
Rebirth is held to be above the mere wish of the reincarnating soul--it
is in accordance with an invariable natural law, which has Justice and
Advancement as its basis.

Another argument against Reincarnation is that it holds that human souls
are reborn as animals, in some cases. This objection we shall not
discuss, for the reason that the advanced ideas of Reincarnation
expressly forbid any such interpretation, and distinctly deny its
legitimate place in the doctrine. Among some of the primitive people
this idea of transmigration in the bodies of animals has been held, but
never among advanced occultists, or the leaders in philosophical thought
favoring Reincarnation. Reincarnation teaches the Evolution of the soul
from lowly forms to higher, but never the Devolution or going back into
animal forms. A study of the doctrine of Reincarnation will dispel this
erroneous idea from the mind of an intelligent person.

Another favorite argument is that it is repulsive to the mind and soul
of the average person. Analysis of this objection will show that what is
repugnant to the person is usually the fear that he will be born again
without a memory of the present, which seems like a loss of the self. A
moment's consideration will show that this objection is ill founded. No
one objects to the idea of living in the same body for, say, ten years
or twenty years more, in health. But at the end of that ten or twenty
years he will be practically a different person, by reason of the new
experiences he has undergone. Persons change very much in twenty years,
and yet they are the same individuals--the same "I" is there with them.
And at the end of the twenty years they will have forgotten the majority
of the events of the present year, but they do not object to that. When
one realizes that the Individual, or "I," is the Real Self instead of
the Personality, or the "John Smith, grocer, aged 36," part of
them--then will they cease to fear the loss of the personality of the
day or year. They will know that the "I" is the "Self"--the same
yesterday, today and tomorrow. Be the doctrine of Reincarnation true or
false, the fact remains that so long as YOU exist, it will be the same
"I" in you that you will know that "I am." It will always be "I
AM--HERE--NOW," with you, be it this moment, or a hundred years, or a
million years hence. YOU can never be SOMEONE ELSE, no matter what form
you wear, nor by what name you are known, nor what personality you may
be acting through, nor in what place you may have your abode, nor on
what plane of existence you may be. You will always be YOURSELF--and, as
we have just said, it will always be "I AM--HERE--NOW" with You. The
body, and even the Personality, are things akin to garments which you
wear and take off without affecting your Real Self.

Then we must note another objection often made by people in discussing
Reincarnation. They say, "But I do not WANT to come back!" To this the
Reincarnationists answer that, if one has reached a stage in which he
really has no desire for anything that the earth can offer him, then
such a soul will not likely have to reincarnate again on earth, for it
has passed beyond the need of earthly experiences, and has worn out its
earth Karma. But they hold that but few people really have reached this
stage. What one really means is that he does not want any more of
Earth--life similar to that which he has been undergoing. But if he
thought that he could have certain things--riches, position, fame,
beauty, influence, and the rest of it, he would be perfectly willing to
"come back." Or else he might be so bound by links of Karma, acting by
reason of Love or Hate, Attachment or Repulsion, or by duties
unperformed, or moral debts unpaid, that he might be brought back to
work out the old problems until he had solved them. But even this is
explained by those Reincarnationists who hold to the idea of Desire as
the great motive power of Karma, and who hold that if one has risen
above all earthly desire or dislike, that soul is freed from the
attraction of earth-life, and is prepared to go on higher at once, or
else wait in realms of bliss until the race is ready to pass on,
according to the various theories held by the various advocates of the
doctrine. A little self-examination will show one whether he is free
from all desire to "come back," or not. But, after all, if there is
Ultimate Justice in the plan, working ever and ever for our good and
advancements, as the Reincarnationists claim--then it must follow that
each of us is in just the best place for his own good at the present
moment, and will always be in a like advantageous position and
condition. And if that be so, then there is no cause for complaint or
objection on our part, and our sole concern should be in the words of
the Persian sage, to "So live, that that which must come and will come,
may come well," living on one day at a time, doing the best you know
how, living always in the belief that "it is well with us now and
evermore," and that "the Power which has us in charge Here will have us
in charge There." There is a good philosophy for Living and Dying. And,
this being true, though you may have to "come back," you will not have
to "go back," or fall behind in the Scale of Advancement or Spiritual
Evolution--for it must always be Onward and Upward on the Ladder of
Life! Such is the Law!

Another objection very often urged against the doctrine of Reincarnation
is that "it is un-Christian, and derived from pagan and heathen sources,
and is not in accord with the highest conceptions of the immortality of
the soul." Answering this objection, it may be said that, insofar as
Reincarnation is not a generally accepted doctrine in the orthodox
Christian Churches of today, it may be said to be non-Christian (rather
than un-Christian), but when it is seen that Pre-existence and Rebirth
was held as Truth by many of the Early Fathers of the Church, and that
the doctrine was finally condemned by the dominant majority in Church
Councils only by means of the most severe methods and the exercise of
the most arbitrary authority, it may be seen that in the opinion of many
of the most eminent early authorities there was nothing "un-Christian"
about it, but that it was a proper doctrine of the Church. The doctrine
was simply "voted down," just as were many important doctrines revered
by some of the great minds of the early church, in some cases the
decision being made by a majority of one vote. And, again, there have
been many bright minds in the Christian Church who persisted in the
belief that the doctrine was far more consistent with the Inner
Teachings of Christianity than the prevailing conception, and based upon
quite as good authority.

So far as the charge that it is "derived from pagan and heathen sources"
is concerned, it must be answered that certainly the doctrine was
accepted by the "pagan and heathen" world centuries before the dawn of
Christianity, but, for that matter, so was the doctrine regarding the
soul's future generally accepted by orthodox Christianity--in fact,
nearly every doctrine or theory regarding the survival of the soul was
"derived from pagan and heathen sources." The "pagan and heathen" mind
had thought long and earnestly upon this great problem, and the field of
thought had been pretty well covered before the advent of Christianity.
In fact, Christianity added no new doctrine--invented no new theory--and
is far from being clear and explicit in its teachings on the subject,
the result being that the early Christians were divided among themselves
on the matter, different sects and schools favoring different doctrines,
each and all of which had been "derived from pagan and heathen sources."
If all the doctrines regarding the immortality of the soul are to be
judged by the test of their having been, or not been, "derived from
pagan and heathen sources," then the entire body of doctrine and thought
on the subject must be thrown out of the Christian mind, which must then
endeavor to create or invent an entirely new doctrine which has never
been thought of by a "pagan or heathen"--a very difficult task, by the
way, considering the activity of the pagan and heathen mind in that
respect. It must be remembered that there is no authoritative teaching
on this subject--none coming direct from Jesus. The Christian Doctrines
on the subject come from the Theologians, and represent simply the views
of the "majority" of some Church Council--or of the most powerful
faction.

While the objection that Reincarnation "is not in accord with the
highest conceptions of the immortality of the soul" is one that must
depend almost entirely upon the personal bias or opinion of the
individual as to what constitutes "the highest conceptions," still a
comparison of the conceptions is not out of the way at this place. Do
you know what was the doctrine favored by the dominant majority in the
Church Councils, and for which Pre-Existence and Re-Birth finally was
discarded? Do you know the dogma of the Church and the belief of masses
of the orthodox Christians of the early centuries? Well, it was this:
That at the death of the body, the person passes into a state of "coma,"
or unconsciousness, in which state he rests today, awaiting the sound of
the trumpet of the great Day of Judgment, when the dead shall be raised
and the righteous given eternal life IN THEIR FORMER BODIES, while the
wicked in their bodies may pass into eternal torment. That is the
doctrine. You doubt it? Then look over the authorities and examine even
the current creeds of today, many of which state practically the same
thing. This belief passed into one of the Christian Creed, in the words:
"I believe in the Resurrection of the Body."

The great masses of Christians today, in general thought on the subject,
speak as if the accepted doctrine of the Church was that the soul passed
to Judgment, and then eternal soul life in Heaven or Hell immediately
after the death of the body, thus ignoring the dogmas of the Church
Councils regarding the future Day of Judgment and the Resurrection of
the Body at that time. A little questioning of the religious teachers,
and a little examination of religious history, and the creeds and
doctrines of their respective churches, would astonish many good church
members who have been fondly thinking of their beloved ones, who have
passed on, as even now dwelling in Heaven as blessed angels. They would
be astonished to find that the "angels" of the churches are not the
souls of the good people who have been judged and awarded heavenly joys,
but, rather, a body of supernatural beings who never inhabited the
flesh; and that instead of their loved ones now enjoying the heavenly
realms, the dogmas hold that they are now in a state of "coma" or
unconsciousness, awaiting the great Day of Judgment, when their bodies
will be resurrected and life everlasting given them. Those who are
interested in the matter, and who may doubt the above statement, are
invited to examine the records for themselves. The doctrine of the
Resurrection of the Body, which is of undoubted "pagan and heathen"
origin, was a favorite theological dogma of the Church in the first
thousand years of its existence, and for many centuries after, and it
still occupies a most important place in the church doctrines today,
although it is not so often publicly preached or taught.

David Kay says: "The great distinguishing doctrine of Christianity is
not the Immortality of the Soul, but the Resurrection of the Body. That
the soul of man is immortal was a common belief among the Ancients, from
whom it found its way at an early period into the Christian Church, but
the most influential of the early Fathers were strenuously opposed to
it, holding that the human soul was not essentially immortal, but only,
like the body, capable of immortality." Vinet says: "The union of the
soul and body appears to me essential and indissoluble. Man without a
body is, in my opinion, man no longer; and God has thought and willed
him embodied, and not otherwise. According to passages in the
Scriptures, we can not doubt that the body, or a body, is essential to
human personality and to the very idea of man."

John Milton said: "That the spirit of man should be separate from the
body, so as to have a perfect and intelligent existence independent of
it, is nowhere said in Scripture, and the doctrine is evidently at
variance both with nature and reason." Masson, commenting on Milton's
conception, says: "Milton's conception is that at the last gasp of
breath the whole man dies, soul and body together, and that not until
the Resurrection, when the body is revived, does the soul live again,
does the man or woman live again, in any sense or way, whether for
happiness or misery.... Are the souls of the millions on millions of
human beings who have died since Adam, are those souls ready either with
God and the angels in Heaven, or down in the diabolic world waiting to
be rejoined to their bodies on the Resurrection Day? They are not, says
Milton; but soul and bodies together, he says, are dead alike, sleeping
alike, defunct alike, till that day comes." And many Christian
theologians have held firmly to this doctrine, as may be seen by
reference to any standard encyclopedia, or work on theology. Coleridge
said: "Some of the most influential of the early Christian writers were
materialists, not as holding the soul to be the mere result of bodily
organization, but as holding the soul itself to be material--corporeal.
It appears that in those days the vulgar held the soul to be
incorporeal, according to the views of Plato and others, but that the
orthodox Christian divines looked upon this as an impious, unscriptural
opinion." Dr. R. S. Candlish said: "You live again in the body--in the
very body, as to all essential properties, and to all practical intents
and purposes in which you live now. I am to live not a ghost, a spectre,
a spirit, I am to live then, as I live now, in the body." Dr. Arnold
says: "I think that the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection meets the
materialists so far as this--that it does imply that a body or an
organization of some sort is necessary to the full development of man's
nature."

Rev. R. J. Campbell, the eminent English clergyman, in his recent work
entitled, "The New Theology," says, speaking of the popular evangelical
views: "But they are even more chaotic on the subject of death and
whatever follows death. It does not seem to be generally recognized that
Christian thought has never been really clear concerning the
Resurrection, especially in relation to future judgment. One view has
been that the deceased saint lies sleeping in the grave until the
archangel's trumpet shall sound and bid all mankind awake for the great
assize. Anyone who reads the New Testament without prejudice will see
that this was Paul's earlier view, although later on he changed it for
another. There is a good deal of our current, every-day religious
phaseology which presumes it still--'Father, in thy gracious keeping,
leave we now thy servant sleeping.' But alongside this view, another
which is a flagrant contradiction of it has come down to us, namely,
that immediately after death the soul goes straight to Heaven or Hell,
as the case may be, without waiting for the archangel's trumpet and the
grand assize. On the whole, this is the dominant theory of the situation
in the Protestant circles, and is much less reasonable than the Catholic
doctrine of purgatory, however much the latter may have been abused. But
under this view, what is the exact significance of the Judgment Day and
the Physical Resurrection? One might think they might be accounted
superfluous. What is the good of tormenting a soul in Hell for ages, and
then whirling it back to the body in order to rise again and receive a
solemn public condemnation? Better leave it in the Inferno and save
trouble, especially as the solemn trial is meaningless, seeing that a
part of the sentence has already been undergone and that there is no
hope that any portion of it will ever be remitted. Truly the tender
mercies with which the theologians have credited the Almighty are cruel
indeed!"

But, by the irony of progress, the orthodox churches are gradually
coming around to the one much-despised Platonic conception of the
naturally Immortal Immaterial Soul--the "pagan and heathen" idea, so
much at variance with the opposing doctrine of the Resurrection of the
Body, which doctrine really did not teach the "immortality of the soul"
at all. As Prof. Nathaniel Schmidt says, in an article in a standard
encyclopedia: "The doctrine of the natural immortality of the human
soul became so important a part of Christian thought that the
resurrection naturally lost its vital significance, and it has
practically held no place in the great systems of philosophy elaborated
by the Christian thinkers of modern times." But still, the letter of the
old doctrine persists on the books of the church and in its creeds,
although opposed to the enlightened spirit now manifesting in the
churches which is moving more and more toward the "pagan and heathen"
conception of a naturally Immaterial and Immortal Soul, rather than in a
Resurrection of the Body and an eternal life therein.

It is scarcely worth while here to contrast the two doctrines--the
Immortal Immaterial Soul on the one hand, and the Immortal Body on the
other. The latter conception is so primitively crude, and so foreign to
modern thought, that it scarcely needs an argument against it. The
thought of the necessity of the soul for a material body--the same old
material body that it once cast off like a worn out garment--a body
perhaps worn by disease, crippled by "accident" or "the slipping of the
hand of the Potter"--a body similar to those we see around us every
day--the Immortal Soul needing such a garment in order to exist! Better
accept plain Materialism, and say that there is no soul and that the
body perishes and all else with it, than such a gross doctrine which is
simply a materialistic Immortality. So far as this doctrine being "the
highest conception of the Immortality of the Soul," as contrasted with
the "pagan and heathen" doctrine of Reincarnation--it is not a
"conception of the Immortality of the Soul" at all, but a flat
contradiction of it. It is a doctrine of the "Immortality of the Body,"
which bears plain marks of a very lowly "pagan and heathen" origin. And
as to the "later" Christian conception, it may be seen that there is
nothing in the idea of Re-birth which is inconsistent therewith--in
fact, the two ideas naturally blend into each other.

In the above discussion our whole intent has been to answer the argument
against Reincarnation which charges that the latter is "derived from
pagan and heathen sources, and is not in accord with the highest
conceptions of the immortality of the soul." And in order to do this we
have found it necessary to examine the opposing theological dogmas as we
find them, and to show that they do not come up to the claims of being
"the highest conception," etc. We think that the strongest point against
the dogmas may be found in the claims of their advocates. That the
Church is now growing away from them only proves their unfitness as "the
highest conception." And Reincarnationists hold that as the Church grows
in favor of the Immaterial Immortal Soul, so will it find itself
inclining toward the companion-doctrine of Pre-existence and Re-birth,
in some of its varied forms, probably that of the Early Fathers of the
Church, such as Origen and his followers--that the Church will again
claim its own.



CHAPTER XII.

THE LAW OF KARMA.


"Karma" is a term in general use among the Hindus, and the Western
believers in Reincarnation, the meaning of which is susceptible of
various shades of definition and interpretation. It is most important to
all students of the subject of Reincarnation, for it is the companion
doctrine--the twin-truth--to the doctrine of Metempsychosis. Strictly
speaking, "Karma" is the Law of Cause and Effect as applied to the life
of the soul--the law whereby it reaps the results of its own sowing, or
suffers the reaction from its own action. To the majority of
Reincarnationists, however, it has a larger meaning, and is used in the
sense of the Law of Justice, or the Law of Reward and Punishment,
operating along the lines of personal experience, personal life, and
personal character.

Many authorities hold that the original idea of Karma was that of a
great natural law operating along exact lines, as do the laws of
mathematics and chemistry, bringing forth the exact effect from every
cause, and being, above all, questions of good or evil, reward or
punishment, morality or immorality, etc., and acting as a great natural
force above all such questions of human conduct. To those who still
adhere to this conception, Karma is like the Law of Gravitation, which
operates without regard to persons, morals or questions of good and
evil, just as does any other great natural law. In this view the only
"right" or "wrong" would be the effect of an action--that is, whether it
was conducive to one's welfare and that of the race, or the reverse. In
this view, if a child places its hand on a hot stove, the action is
"wrong," because it brings pain and unhappiness, although the act is
neither moral or immoral. And another action is "right" because it
brings happiness, well-being and satisfaction, present and future,
although the act was neither moral nor immoral. In this view there can
be neither reward nor punishment, in the common acceptation of the term,
although in another sense there is a reward for such "right" doing, and
a punishment for such "wrong" doing, as the child with the burnt hand
may testify to.

In this sense of the term, some of the older schools of Reincarnation
accepted Karma as determining the Re-Birth, along the lines of Desire
and Attraction, holding that the souls' character would attract it to
re-birth along the lines of its strongest desires, and in such
environment as would give it the greatest opportunity to work out those
desires into action, taking the pains and pleasures of experience
arising from such action, and thus moulding a new, or fuller character,
which would create new Karma, which would determine the future birth,
etc., and so on, and on. Those holding to this view believed that in
this way the soul would learn its lesson, with many a crack over the
knuckles, and with the pain of many an experience that would tend to
turn it into the road most conducive to spiritual happiness and
well-being; and lead it away from the road of material desires and
pleasures, because the repeated experiences had shown that no true
spiritual well-being was to be obtained therefrom. In other words, the
soul, in its spiritual childhood, was just like a little child in the
physical world, learning by experience that some things worked for its
"good" and others for "bad." This view naturally carried with it the
idea that true ethics would show that whatever tended toward the
advancement of the soul was "good," and whatever retarded its
advancement was "bad," in spite of any arbitrary standard of right or
wrong erected by man during the ages, and which standard has constantly
changed from time to time, is changing now, and always will change.

But the Hindu mind, especially, soon enlarged upon this original idea of
Karma, and the priests of India soon had the idea of Karma working as a
great rewarder of "good," and a great punisher of "evil." Corresponding
to the rewards and punishments in the future life, as taught by
Christian preachers, the Hindu priests held over the sinner the terrors
of Karma; and the rewards promised the good people from the same source
served to spur on the worshiper to actions in accordance with the ethics
of the particular church preaching the doctrine. It was taught that the
man's future state, in the next incarnation, and perhaps for many
others, depended upon his state of "goodness," in accordance with the
laws of the church and priestly teaching--surely as powerful an argument
and as terrifying a threat as the orthodox "bribe of heaven, and threat
of hell" of the Western world. The effect of this teaching is seen among
the masses of the but slightly educated Hindu classes of today, who are
very desirous of acquiring "merit" by performing some "good" deed, such
as bestowing alms upon the wandering religious mendicant; making
contributions to the temples, etc., as well as performing the acts of
ordinary good will toward men; and who are as equally anxious to avoid
acquiring "demerit" from the lack of proper observances, and the
performance of improper actions. While the general effect of this may be
in the direction of holding the ignorant masses in the ethical road most
conducive to the public weal, it also has a tendency to foster
credulity, superstition and imposition, just as do similar teachings in
any land, time, under the cover of any religion. There is a strong
family resemblance between these teachings among all the religions, and
there are many men who hold that this "crack of the theological whip" is
most necessary for the keeping of the masses of the people in the strait
road of morality, they being held incapable of the practice of "doing
good for good's sake, and avoiding evil because it is evil." We shall
not discuss this question--decide it for yourself.

One of the strongest applications of the above mentioned form of the
doctrine in India is the teaching that the caste of the man in his next
incarnation will be determined by his degree of "good conduct" in the
present life--and that his present caste has been determined by his
conduct in his previous lives. No one who has not studied the
importance of "caste" in India can begin to understand how powerful a
lever this teaching is upon the people of India. From the exalted
Brahman caste, the priestly caste--down to the Sudra caste of unskilled
laborers, or even still further down to the Pariahs or outcasts, the
caste lines are strongly marked; the higher caste person deeming it the
greatest disgrace to be touched by one of an inferior caste, or to eat
food prepared by a lower-caste person, and so on in every act of daily
life. The only comparison possible to the American mind is the attitude
of the old-time Southerner toward the lowest class of negroes, and even
in this case the prejudice does not extend so far as in the case of the
Hindus, for the Southerner will eat food cooked by a negro servant, and
will permit the latter to shave him, act as his valet, etc., something
at which the high-caste Hindu would be horrified on the part of one
below him in caste. This being understood, it is easy to see how careful
a high-caste Hindu would be to avoid performing actions which might rob
him of his caste in his next life, and how powerful an incentive it is
to a low-caste Hindu to strive for birth in a higher caste after many
incarnations. To people holding such a view, birth in a low caste is the
mark of crime and evil action performed in a previous life, and the
low-born is accordingly felt to be worthy of no respect. We understand,
from Hindu acquaintances, that this idea is gradually being dispelled in
India, and an era of common human brotherhood and common interest is
beginning to manifest itself.

In the Western world, the Reincarnationists, without doubt, have been
greatly affected by the prevailing orthodox Hindu conception of Karma,
rather than by the Grecian and general occult conception. Although there
are many who regard Karma as rather a moulder of character, and
consequently a prime factor in the re-birth, rather than as a dispenser
of rewards and punishments--still, there are many who, discarding the
orthodox Devil of their former faith, have found a worthy substitute
for him in their conception of Karma, and manifest the same terror and
fear of the new devil as of the old one--and his name may be summed up
as FEAR, in both cases.

Theosophists have discussed the matter of Karma very thoroughly, and
their leading authorities have written much about it, its various
interpretations showing in the shades of opinion among the writers.
Generally speaking, however, it may be said that they have bridged over
the chasm between the "natural law" idea and that of "the moral law,"
with its rewards and punishments, by an interpretation which places one
foot on each conception, holding that there is truth in each. Of course,
justice requires the reference of that student to the Theosophical
writings themselves, for a detailed understanding of their views, but we
feel that a brief summary of their general interpretation would be in
order at this place.

One of their leading authorities states that the Law of Karma is
automatic in action, and that there is no possible escape from it. He
likewise holds that Absolute Justice is manifested in its operations,
the idea of mercy or wrath being absent from it; and that, consequently,
every debt must be paid in full, to the last penny, and that there is no
vicarious atonement or exceptions made in answer to supplications to a
higher source. But he particularly states that this action of the law
must not be confused with ordinary reward and punishment for "good deed
or bad," but that the law acts just as does any other law of Nature,
just as if we put our hand in the fire we shall be burned as a natural
consequence, and not as a punishment. In his statement of this view he
says: "We hold that sorrow and suffering flow from sin just precisely in
that way, under the direct working of natural law. It may be said,
perhaps, that, obviously, the good man does not always reap his reward
of good results, nor does the wicked man always suffer. Not always
immediately; not always within our ken; but assuredly, eventually and
inexorably." The writer then goes on to define his conception of Good
and Evil. He says: "We shall see more clearly that this must be so if
we define exactly what we mean by good and evil. Our religious brothers
would tell us that that was good which was in accordance with God's
will, and that that was evil which was in opposition to it. The
scientific man would say that that was good which helped evolution, and
whatever hindered it was evil. Those two men are in reality saying
exactly the same thing; for God's will for man is evolution, and when
that is clearly realized all conflict between religion and science is at
once ended. Anything, therefore, which is against evolution of humanity
as a whole is against the Divine will. We see at once that when a man
struggles to gain anything for himself at the expense of others he is
distinctly doing evil, and it is evil because it is against the interest
of the whole. Therefore the only true gain is that which is a gain for
the race as a whole, and the man who gains something without cost or
wrong to anyone is raising the whole race somewhat in the process. He is
moving in the direction of evolution, while the other man is moving
against it."

The same writer then gives the list of the three kinds of Karma,
according to the Hindu teachings, namely: "1. There is the Samchita, or
'piled up' Karma--the whole mass that still remains behind the man not
yet worked out--the entire unpaid balance of the debit and credit
account; 2. There is the Prarabdha, or 'beginning' Karma--the amount
apportioned to the man at the commencement of each life--his destiny for
that life, as it were; 3. There is the Kriomana Karma, that which we are
now, by our actions in this present life, making for the future." He
further states: "That second type, the Prarabdha Karma, is the only
destiny which can be said to exist for man. That is what an astrologer
might foretell for us--that we have apportioned to us so much good or
evil fortune--so much the result of the good and evil actions of our
past lives which will react on us in this. But we should remember always
that this result of previous action can never compel us to action in
the present. It may put us under conditions in which it will be
difficult to avoid an act, but it can never compel us to commit it. The
man of ordinary development would probably yield to the circumstances
and commit the act; but he may assert his free will, rise superior to
the circumstances, and gain a victory and a step in evolution. So with a
good action, no man is forced into that either, but an opportunity is
given to him. If he takes it certain results will follow--not
necessarily a happy or a wealthy life next time, but certainly a life of
wider opportunity. That seems to be one of the things that are quite
certain--that the man who has done well in this life has always the
opportunity of doing still better in the next. This is nature's reward
for good work--the opportunity to do more work. Of course, wealth is a
great opportunity, so the reward often comes in that form, but the
essence of the reward is the opportunity and not the pleasure which may
be supposed to accompany the wealth." Another Theosophical writer says
further on the subject of Karma: "Just as all these phases of Karma
have sway over the individual man, so they similarly operate upon races,
nations and families. Each race has its karma as a whole. If it be good,
that race goes forward; if bad, it goes out--annihilated as a
race--though the souls concerned take up their karma in other races and
bodies. Nations cannot escape their national karma, and any nation that
has acted in a wicked manner must suffer some day, be it soon or late."
The same writer sums up the idea of individual unhappiness in any life,
as follows: "(a) It is punishment for evil done in past lives; or (b) it
is discipline taken up by the Ego for the purpose of eliminating defects
or acquiring fortitude and sympathy. When defects are eliminated it is
like removing the obstruction in an irrigating canal which then lets the
water flow on. Happiness is explained in the same way--the result of
prior lives of goodness."

The general idea of a number of writers on the subject of Karma is that
"as ye sow, so shall ye reap," brought down to a wonderful detail of
arrangement, and effect flowing from causes. This conception, carried to
its logical conclusion, would insist that every single bit of pain and
unhappiness in this life is the result of some bad deed done either in
the present life or in the past, and every bit of happiness, joy or
pleasure, the result of some good action performed either in the present
or past life. This conception of Karma affords us the most intricate,
complex and detailed idea of reward for good, and punishment for evil
(even when called "the operation of natural law") possible to the mind
of man. In its entirety, and carried to its last refinement of
interpretation and analysis, it has a tendency to bewilder and terrify,
for the chance of escape from its entangling machinery seems so slight.
But still, the same authorities inform us that every soul will surmount
these obstacles, and everyone will Attain--so there is no need to be
frightened, even if you accept the interpretation of doctrine in its
completeness.

But there are some thinkers who carry this idea of retributive Karma to
such an extreme that they hold that every instance of physical pain,
disease, deformity, poverty, ill fortune, etc., that we see among
people, is the inevitable result of some moral wrong or crime committed
by that person in some past life, and that therefore every instance of
poverty, want or physical suffering is the just result of some moral
offense. Some of the extremists have gone so far as to hesitate at
relieving poverty, physical pain and suffering in others, lest by so
doing they might possibly be "interfering with Karma"--as if any great
Law could be "interfered with." While we, generally, have refrained from
insisting upon our personal preference of interpretation in this work,
we cannot refrain from so doing in this instance. We consider that such
an interpretation of the Law of Karma is forced and unnatural, and
results from the seeming natural tendency of the human mind to build up
devils for itself--and hells of one kind or another. Robbed of their
Devil, many people would attribute to their God certain devilish
qualities, in order that they may not be robbed of the satisfaction of
smugly thinking of the "just punishment" of others. And, if they have
also discarded the idea of a Personal God, their demand for a Devil
causes them to attribute certain devilish qualities to Natural Law. They
are bound to find their Devil somewhere--the primitive demand for the
Vengeful Spirit must manifest itself in one form or another.

These people confound the action of Cause and Effect on the Material and
Physical Plane, with Cause and Effect on the Spiritual Plane, whereas
all true occultists teach that the Cause operating on one plane
manifests effects upon the same plane. In this connection, we would call
your attention to the instance in the New Testament (John IX., 2), in
which Jesus was asked regarding the cause of the affliction of the man
who was BORN BLIND. "And his disciples asked him, saying, 'Master, who
did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?'" The
question being asked in order that Jesus might determine between the two
prevailing theories: (1) That the blindness was caused according to the
operation of the law of Moses, which held that the sins of the parents
were visited on the children unto the third and fourth generation; or
(2) that it was caused according to the Law of Karma, along the lines of
reincarnation, and because of some sin which the man had committed in
some past incarnation (for no other interpretation of the passage is
possible, and it shows the prevalence of the idea of Reincarnation among
the people of that time). But Jesus promptly brushed away these two
crude, primitive conceptions and interpretations, and in the light of
his superior spiritual knowledge answered: "Neither hath this man
sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be manifest in
him," the explanation of the term "the works of God" being that Jesus
meant thereby the operation of the Laws of Nature imposed by
God--something above punishment for "sins," and which operated according
to invariable physical laws and which affected the just and the unjust
alike, just as do any natural laws. It is now known that many infants
are rendered blind by negligence of certain precautions at birth--this
may have been a case of that kind. We consider any attempt to attribute
physical infirmities to "sin" unconnected with the physical trouble to
be a reversion to primitive theological dogmas, and smacking strongly of
the "devil idea" of theology, of which we have spoken. And Poverty
results from economic conditions, and not as punishment for "Sin." Nor
is Wealth the reward of Virtue--far from it.

But before leaving this phase of the subject we would like to say that
many careful thinkers have been able to discern certain spiritual
benefits that have arisen from physical suffering, or poverty, and that
the sufferers often manifest a high degree of spiritual development and
growth, seemingly by reason of their pain. Not only this, but the divine
faculties of pity, help, and true sympathy, are brought out in others,
by reason thereof. We think that this view of the matter is far more
along the lines of true spirituality than that of want and disease as
"the punishment of sins committed in past lives." Even the human idea
of Justice revolts at this kind of "punishment," and, in fact, the
highest human justice and human law eliminates the idea of "punishment"
altogether, so far as reprisal or revenge is concerned, the penalty
being regarded merely as a deterrent of others, and a warning to the
criminal against further infractions of the law, and as a reformatory
agent--this at least is the theory of Human Law--no matter how
imperfectly it works out in practice--and we cannot think of Divine Law
being less just and equitable, less merciful and loving. The "eye for
eye, tooth for tooth" conception of human justice has been out-lived by
the race in its evolution.

After considering the above mentioned extreme ideas of "punishments,"
through the Law of Karma, we ask you to consider the following lines
written by a writer having great insight, and published in a leading
magazine several years ago. The idea of "The Kindergarten of God"
therein expressed, we think, is far nearer in accordance with the
highest Occult Teachings, than the other idea of "Divine Wrath" and
punishment for sin, along the lines of a misinterpretation of the Law of
Karma, worthy of the worshipers of some ancient Devil-God. Read this
little quotation carefully, and then determine which of the two views
seems to fit in better with your highest spiritual conceptions:

"A boy went to school. He was very little. All that he knew he had drawn
in with his mother's milk. His teacher (who was God) placed him in the
lowest class, and gave him these lessons to learn: Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt do no hurt to any living thing. Thou shalt not steal. So the
man did not kill; but he was cruel, and he stole. At the end of the day
(when his beard was gray--when the night was come), his teacher (who was
God) said: Thou hast learned not to kill. But the other lessons thou
hast not learned. Come back tomorrow.

"On the morrow he came back, a little boy. And his teacher (who was God)
put him in a class a little higher, and gave him these lessons to learn:
Thou shalt do no hurt to any living thing. Thou shalt not steal. Thou
shalt not cheat. So the man did no hurt to any living thing; but he
stole and he cheated. And at the end of the day (when his beard was
gray--when the night was come), his teacher (who was God) said: Thou
hast learned to be merciful. But the other lessons thou hast not
learned. Come back tomorrow.

"Again, on the morrow, he came back, a little boy. And his teacher (who
was God) put him in a class yet a little higher, and gave him these
lessons to learn: Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not cheat. Thou shalt
not covet. So the man did not steal; but he cheated, and he coveted. And
at the end of the day (when his beard was gray--when the night was
come), his teacher (who was God) said: Thou hast learned not to steal.
But the other lessons thou hast not learned. Come back, my child,
tomorrow.

"This is what I have read in the faces of men and women, in the book of
the world, and in the scroll of the heavens, which is writ with
stars."--_Berry Benson, in The Century Magazine, May, 1894._

But there is still another view of Karma held by some Western thinkers,
who received it from the Greek mystics and occultists, who in turn are
thought to have received it from ancient Egypt. These people hold that
the Law of Karma has naught to do with Man's theories of ethics, or
religious dogmas or creeds, but has as the basis of its operations only
Universal and Cosmic Principles of Action, applicable to the atom as
well as Man--to the beings above Man as well. And that these universal
principles of action have to do with the evolution of all things in
Nature, according to well established laws. And that the evolving soul
is continually striving to find the path along the lines of evolution,
being urged to by the unfolding spirit within it--and that that "path"
is always along the lines of least spiritual friction, and therefore
along the lines of the least ultimate spiritual pain. And that,
accordingly, Spiritual Pain is an indication to the evolving thing that
it is on the wrong path, and that it must find a better way
onward--which message it heeds by reason of the pain, and accordingly
seeks out for itself a better way, and one that will bring less
spiritual pain and greater ultimate spiritual satisfaction.

This teaching holds that all material things are a source of more or
less pain to the growing and evolving soul, which tends to urge it along
the line of the least spiritual resistence--the least spiritual
friction. It may be that the soul does not recognize the direction of
the urge, and insist in tasting this material pleasure (so-thought) and
then that--only to find that neither satisfy--that both are Dead Sea
Fruit--that both have the thorn attached to the flower--that all bring
pain, satiety and disgust--the consequence being that the tired and
wearied soul, when rested by the Lethal slumber, and then re-born has a
horror and distaste for the things which disgusted it in its previous
life, and is therefore urged toward opposite things. If the soul has not
been satiated--has not yet been pricked by the hidden thorn--it wishes
to go on further in the dream of material pleasure, and so it does,
until it learns its lesson. Finally, perceiving the folly and
worthlessness of materiality, it emerges from its cocoon and, spreading
out its newly found wings, takes its flight for higher planes of action
and being--and so on, and on, and on, forever.

Under this view people are not punished "for" their sins, but "by"
them--and "Sin" is seen to be merely a "mistake," not a crime. And Pain
arises not as a punishment for something done wrongly, but as a warning
sign of "hands off"; and consequently Pain is something by which we may
mount to higher things--to Something Better--and not a punishment. And
this idea holds, also, that on the physical plane physical law governs,
and physical effects follow physical causes; likewise on the mental
plane; likewise on the Spiritual Plane. And, therefore, it is absurd to
suppose that one suffers physical pain as a punishment for some moral
offense committed on another plane. On the contrary, however, this idea
holds that from the physical pain which was occasioned by the operation
of physical law alone one may develop higher spiritual states by reason
of a better understanding of the nature of pain in oneself and others.
And this idea refuses to recognize material pleasures or profits as a
reward for spiritual or moral actions.

On the whole this last mentioned conception of Karma refuses to use the
terms "reward and punishment," or even to entertain those ideas, but
instead sees in everything the working out of a great Cosmic Plan
whereby everything rises from lower to higher, and still higher. To it
Karma is but one phase of the great LAW operating in all planes and
forms of Life and the Universe. To it the idea that "THE UNIVERSE IS
GOVERNED BY LAW" is an axiom. And while to it ULTIMATE JUSTICE is also
axiomic, it sees not in the operation of penalties and reward--merits
and demerits--the proof of that Ultimate Justice; it looks for it and
finds it in the conception and realizing that ALL WORKS FOR GOOD--that
Everything is tending upward--that everything is justified and just,
because the END is ABSOLUTE GOOD, and that every tiny working of the
great cosmic machinery is turning in the right direction and to that
end. Consequently, each of us is just where he should be at the present
time--and our condition is exactly the very best to bring us to that
Divine Consummation and End. And to such thinkers, indeed, there is no
Devil but Fear and Unfaith, and all other devils are illusions, whether
they be called Beelzebub, Mortal-Mind, or Karma, if they produce Fear
and Unfaith in the All-Good. And such thinkers feel that the way to live
according to the Higher Light, and without fear of a Malevolent Karma,
is to feel one's relationship with the Universal Good, and then to "Live
One Day at a time--Doing the Best you Know How--and Be Kind"--knowing
that in the All-Good you live and move and have your being, and that
outside of that All-Good you cannot stray, for there is no
outside--knowing that THAT which brought you Here will be with you
There--that Death is but a phase of Life--and above all that THERE IS
NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF--and that ALL IS WELL with God; with the
Universe; and with YOU!

FINIS.



ADVERTISEMENT


THE HINDU-YOGI

Science of Breath

A Complete Manual of the Oriental Philosophy of Physical, Mental,
Psychic, and Spiritual Development by the Intelligent Control of the
Breath.

By YOGI RAMACHARAKA


Synopsis:--Chapter I. The Hindu Yogis--Something About Their Teachings.
Chapter II. "Breath is Life"--Teachings of the Orient and Occident
Compared. Chapter III. The Exoteric Theory of Breath. Chapter IV. The
Esoteric Theory of Breath--Prana. Chapter V. The Nervous System--Yogi
Teachings Concerning the Solar Plexus--The Solar Plexus a Store-House of
Prana. Chapter VI. How to Breathe--Oriental Methods. Chapter VII. Four
Methods of Respiration as Classified by the Yogis--The Yogi Complete
Breath. Chapter VIII. How to Acquire the Yogi Complete Breath. Chapter
IX. Physiological Effect of the Complete Breath. Chapter X. Yogi
Lore--The Yogi Cleansing Breath--The Yogi Nerve Vitalizing Breath--The
Yogi Vocal Breath. Chapter XI. Seven Yogi Developing Exercises. Chapter
XII. Chapter XIII. Vibration and Yogi Rhythmic Breathing--How to
Ascertain the Heart Beat Unit Used by the Yogis as the Basis of Rhythmic
Breathing. Chapter XIV. Phenomena of Psychic Breathing--Directions for
Yogi Psychic Breathing--Prana Distributing--Inhibiting
Pain--Self-Healing--Healing Others--Distant Healing. Chapter XV. More
Phenomena of Yogi Psychic Breathing--Thought Projection--Forming an
Aura--Recharging Yourself--Recharging Others--Charging Water--Acquiring
Mental Qualities--Controlling the Emotions--Transmutation of
Reproductive Energy--Brain Stimulating--The Grand Yogi Psychic Breath.
Chapter XVI. Yogi Spiritual Breathing--Soul Consciousness--How
Unfolded--The Universal Consciousness--How the Yogi Attain This
Consciousness--General Directions.

75 Pages.

Price, Paper $0.53 Postpaid; Cloth $0.75 Postpaid.

  I received the copy of "Science Breath" promptly and I am
  very much pleased with it. The simple, clear, logical manner
  in which it is written will certainly be appreciated and
  will enhance its usefulness. Please send me another
  copy.--H. W. A., Pittsburg, Pa.



The Hindu-Yogi System of
Practical Water Cure

By YOGI RAMACHARAKA

Chapter I. The Hindu-Yogi Water Cure--An Important Branch of Hatha
Yoga--The Underlying Principle--Prana in the Water--How slow Water Loses
Prana--How Water May be Pranaized. Chapter II. Nature's Great
Remedy--Water the Basis of Life--The Important Part Played by Water in
the Psychological Mechanism of the System--What Water Does, and Why.
Chapter III. Water Drinking--Why Man Needs Water--How Much Water He
Needs--What He Suffers from Neglecting the Normal Amount of Fluids--An
Important Secret--Surprising Facts. Chapter IV. The Stomach and
Intestines--A Plain, Practical, Scientific Description of the Organs of
Assimilation and Elimination--Something that Everyone Should Know to be
Healthy. Chapter V. The Obstructed Sewer--A Scientific Statement
Regarding the Great Sewer of the System, Which When Clogged, Obstructed
and Choked with Waste-Matter, Causes Disease and Weakness. Chapter VI.
The Internal Bath--The Scientific Method of Keeping Clean the Great
Sewer of the System--A Simple Method of Internal Cleanliness, and
Resulting Health. Chapter VII. The Skin--A Plain Scientific Description
of the Skin, and the Part it Plays in Health and Disease--Something that
Everyone Should Know, but Few Realize. Chapter VIII. Scientific
Bathing--Scientific Methods of Bathing--The Cleansing Bath--The
Non-Drying Bath--The Hot Bath--The Cold Bath--Hardening Baths--Private
Information. Chapter X. Pack Treatments--The Wet Sheet Pack, and How to
Apply It--The Half Pack--The Sweat Pack--Endosmose and
Exosmose--Hydropathy in a Nut Shell. Chapter X. Other Valuable
Methods--Fomentations, or Hot Steam Applications--Water Bandages and
Compresses--Hot Water Compresses, and Cold Water Bandages--Special
Applications--Sexual Vitality Treatments--Special Applications, etc.

This book has just been published, although Yogi Ramacharaka wrote it
some time ago.



THE KYBALION

A STUDY OF

The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient
Egypt and Greece

BY THREE INITIATES

"The lips of Wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding."

This new book is bound to attract the earnest attention of all students
of the Secret Doctrines of the East. Perhaps the better way to describe
this work is to give you the following words from its authors:

"From old Egypt have come the fundamental esoteric and occult teachings
which have so strongly influenced the philosophies of all races, nations
and peoples, for several thousand years. Egypt, the home of the Pyramids
and the Sphinx, was the birthplace of the Hidden Wisdom and Mystic
Teachings. From her Secret Doctrine all nations have borrowed. India,
Persia, Chaldea, Medea, China, Japan, Assyria, ancient Greece and Rome,
and other ancient countries partook liberally at the feast of knowledge
which the Hierophants and Masters of the Land of Isis so freely provided
for those who came prepared to partake of the great store of Mystic and
Occult Lore which the master-minds of that ancient land had gathered
together. In ancient Egypt dwelt the great adepts and Masters who have
never been surpassed, and who seldom have been equaled during the
centuries that have taken their processional flight since the days of
the Great Hermes. In Egypt was located the Great Lodge of Lodges of the
Mystics. At the doors of her Temples entered the Neophytes who
afterward, as Hierophants, Adepts, and Masters, traveled to the four
corners of the earth, carrying with them the precious knowledge which
they were ready, anxious, and willing to pass on to those who were ready
to receive the same. All students of the Occult recognize the debt that
they owe to these venerable Masters of that ancient land."


THE KYBALION

The Hermetic Teachings are to be found in all lands, among all
religions, but never identified with any particular country, nor with
any particular religious sect. This because of the warning of the
ancient teachers against allowing the Secret Doctrine to become
crystallized into a creed. The wisdom of this caution is apparent to all
students of history. The ancient occultism of India and Persia a
degenerated, and was largely lost, owing to the fact that the teachers
became priests, and so mixed theology with the philosophy, the result
being that much of the occultism of India and Persia has been lost
amidst the mass of religious superstition, cults, creeds and "gods." So
it was with Ancient Greece and Rome. So it was with the Hermetic
Teachings of the Gnostics and Early Christians, which were lost at the
time of Constantine, whose iron hand smothered philosophy with the
blanket of theology.


THE HERMETIC PHILOSOPHY

"But there were always a few faithful souls who kept alive the flame,
tending it carefully, and not allowing its light to become extinguished.
And thanks to these staunch hearts, and fearless minds, we have the
truth still with us. But it is not found in books, to any great extent.
It has been passed along from Master to Student; from Initiative to
Heirophant; from lip to ear. When it was written down at all, its
meaning was veiled in terms of alchemy and astrology, so that only those
possessing the key could read it aright. This was made necessary in
order to avoid the persecutions of the theologians of the Middle Ages,
who fought the Secret Doctrine with fire and sword; stake, gibbet and
cross. Even to this day there will be found but few reliable books on
the Hermetic Philosophy. Although there are countless references to it
in many books written on various phases of Occultism. And yet, the
Hermetic Philosophy is the only Master Key which will open all the doors
of the Occult Teachings!


ABOUT THE BOOK

"In this book we invite you to examine into the Hermetic Teachings as
set forth in THE KYBALION. We therein give you many of the maxims and
precepts of THE KYBALION, accompanied by explanations and illustrations
which we deem likely to render the teachings more easily comprehended by
the modern student, particularly as the original text is purposely
veiled in obscure terms. The trust that the many students to whom we now
offer this little work will derive as much benefit from the study of its
pages as have the many who have gone on before, treading the same Path
to Mastery throughout the centuries that have passed since the times of
HERMES TRISMEGISTUS--the Master of Masters--the Great-great. According
to the Teachings, this book will attract the attention of such as are
prepared to receive its Teaching. And, likewise, when the pupil is ready
to receive the truth, then will this book come to him, or her, and not
before. Such is The Law. The Hermetic Principle of Cause and Effect, in
its aspect of The Law of Attraction, will bring lips and ear
together--pupil and book in company. 'The Principles of Truth are Seven;
he who knows these, understandingly, possesses the Magic Key before
whose touch all the Doors of the Temple fly open.'--The Kybalion.

THE THREE INITIATES."

Bound in Blue Silk Cloth, Lettered in Gold, 223 Pages.

Price $1.08 Postpaid.



Yoga Lessons

FOR DEVELOPING SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS

By SWAMIE A. P. MUKERJI OF INDIA

Associate Editor Kalpaka Magazine Price $1.20 net.

Yoga is a subject which has enthralled the attention of the world from
time out of mind. No one has hitherto done justice to such a grand
system, though there have been, now and then, innumerable attempts.

The present author, my esteemed friend, Swamie Mukerji, a Yogi who comes
out of a successive generation of Yogis, is able and proper instrument
to handle the subject. He, in these lessons, prepares the layman for an
understanding of the Yoga and through a series of wise and masterful
sayings, impresses on the mind of the reader the necessity for rising
above materialism, nay, solves the very problem "What am I?"

Every line is pregnant with mature thoughts and rivets on his attention,
and makes him think, think, think.

This is not a work for which an introduction, briefly setting forth the
contents, could be written. I can but ask you to read, digest and
improve.

DR. T. R. SANJIVI, Ph. D., President
The Latent Light Culture
Tennevelley, India.



BOOKS PUBLISHED AND FOR SALE

BY

THE YOGI PUBLICATION SOCIETY

Chicago, Illinois


                                                        Price,
                                                      Postpaid.

Fourteen Lessons in Yogi Philosophy, and Oriental
  Occultism. By Ramacharaka. Bound in green silk
  cloth                                                 $1.10

Advanced Course in Yogi Philosophy, and Oriental
  Occultism. By Ramacharaka. Bound in brown silk
  cloth                                                  1.10

Raja Yoga. By Ramacharaka. Bound in brown silk
  cloth                                                  1.10

Gnana Yoga. By Ramacharaka. Bound in blue silk cloth     1.10

Psychic Healing. By Ramacharaka. Bound in maroon silk
  cloth                                                  1.10

Hatha Yoga. By Ramacharaka. Bound in yellow silk cloth   1.10

Science of Breath. By Ramacharaka. Bound in paper, 53c;
  cloth                                                   .75

Light on the Path and Illumined Way. By M. C. Cloth       .44

A Treatise on the Light on the Path. By M. C. Paper       .10

A Visit to a Gnani. By Edward Carpenter. Paper            .28

Jesus: The Last Great Initiate. By Edouard Schure.
  Silk cloth                                              .80

Krishna and Orpheus. By Edouard Schure. Silk cloth        .80

Bhavagad Gita. By Ramacharaka                             .80

The Spirit of the Upanishads                              .55

Mystery of Being                                          .50

Karma. Occult Novel. By A. P. Sinnett. Cloth              .60

Practical Mind Reading. By W. W. Atkinson. Cloth          .50

Practical Psychomancy and Crystal Gazing. By W.
  W. Atkinson. Cloth                                      .50

Mental Influence. By W. W. Atkinson. Cloth                .50

Mystic Christianity. By Ramacharaka. Pamphlet Edition,
  $1.12; ready in book form, Sept 1, '08                 1.10

Kybalion. By Three Initiates. Cloth                      1.08

Inner Consciousness. By W. W. Atkinson                    .50

Secret of Success. By W. W. Atkinson                      .50

The Philosophies and Religions of India, by Ramacharaka.
  Cloth                                                  1.12


COMPLETE CATALOG ON APPLICATION.

We will be pleased to send descriptive circulars to anyone that you
think would be interested.



Transcriber's Notes:

"Bhavagad Gita" in the list of books published by The Yogi Publication
Society is a misprint for "Bhagavad Gita."

"Ronach" in the Table of Contents, Chapter IV, is a misprint for
"Roauch."





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