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Title: Echoes From The Orient - A Broad Outline of Theosophical Doctrines
Author: Judge, Wiliam Q.
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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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1890,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.

[Illustration: Logo]

Point Loma, California








Echoes from the Orient was written by Mr. Judge sixteen years ago (1890)
as a series of papers for a well known periodical. The author wrote
under the name of "_Occultus_," as it was intended that his personality
should be hidden until the series was completed. The value of these
papers as a popular presentation of Theosophical teaching was at once
seen and led to their publication in book form. As Mr. Judge wrote in
his "Antecedent Words" to the earlier edition:

"The restrictions upon the treatment of the subject growing out of the
popular character of the paper in which they were published precluded
the detail and elaboration that would have been possible in a
philosophical or religious periodical. No pretense is made that the
subject of Theosophy as understood in the Orient has been exhaustively
treated, for, believing that millions of years have been devoted by the
sages who are the guardians of Theosophical truth to its investigation,
I think no one writer could do more than to repeat some of the echoes
reaching his ears."

The reader should remember that the scope and influence of the
Theosophical Movement have since that time (1890) greatly expanded, the
nearly every country in the world.

Point Loma, California, 1906



What appears to the Western mind to be a very strange superstition
prevails in India about wonderful persons who are said to be of immense
age, and who keep themselves secluded in places not accessible to the
ordinary traveler. So long has this been current in India that the name
applied to these beings is well known in the Sanskrit language:
"Mahâtma," a compound of two words, _maha_, great, and _âtma_, soul. The
belief in the existence of such persons is not confined to the ignorant,
but is shared by the educated of all castes. The lower classes look upon
the Mahâtmas as a sort of gods, and think most of their wonderful powers
and great age. The pundits, or learned class, and educated Hindus in
general, have a different view; they say that Mahâtmas are men or souls
with unlimited knowledge of natural laws and of man's history and
development. They claim also that the Mahâtmas--or Rishees, as they
sometimes call them--have preserved the knowledge of all natural laws
for ages, not only by tradition among their disciples, but also by
actual records and in libraries existing somewhere in the many
underground temples and passages in India. Some believers assert that
there are also stores of books and records in secluded parts all over
that part of Thibet which is not known to Europeans, access to them
being possible only for the Mahâtmas and Adepts.

The credence given to such a universal theory grows out of an old Indian
doctrine that man is a spiritual being--a soul, in other words--and
that this soul takes on different bodies from life to life on earth in
order at last to arrive at such perfect knowledge, through repeated
experience, as to enable one to assume a body fit to be the
dwelling-place of a Mahâtma or perfected soul. Then, they say, that
particular soul becomes a spiritual helper to mankind. The perfected men
are said to know the truth about the genesis of worlds and systems, as
well as the development of man upon this and other planets.

Were such doctrines held only in India, it would be natural to pass the
subject by with this brief mention. But when it is found that a large
body of people in America and Europe hold the same beliefs, it is
interesting to note such an un-Western development of thought. The
Theosophical Society was founded in New York in 1875, with the avowed
object of forming a nucleus for a Universal Brotherhood, and its
founders state that they believe the Indian Mahâtmas directed them to
establish such a society. Since its foundation it has gained members in
all countries, including people of wealth as well as those in moderate
circumstances, and the highly cultured also. Within its ranks there
flourish beliefs in the Mahâtmas of India and in Reïncarnation and its
twin doctrine, Karma. This last holds that no power, human or divine,
can save one from the consequences of acts performed, and that in this
life we are experiencing the results due to us for all acts and thoughts
which were ours in the preceding incarnation.

This has brought out a large body of literature in books and magazines
published in the United States, England, India, and elsewhere.
Newspapers are published in the interest of the new-old cult in the
vernacular of Hindûstan and also in old Ceylon. Even Japan has its
periodicals devoted to the same end, and to ignore so wide-spread a
movement would bespeak ignorance of the factors at work in our
development. When such an eminent authority as the great French savant,
Emile Burnouf, says that the Theosophical movement must be counted as
one of the three great religious influences in the world to-day, there
is no need of an excuse for presenting its features in detail to readers
imbued with the civilization of the West.


In my former paper I merely hinted at the two principal doctrines
promulgated by the Theosophical Society; it is well now to notice the
fact that the Society itself was organized amid a shout of laughter,
which at intervals ever since has been repeated. Very soon after it
launched forth it found a new member in a Bavarian gentleman, Baron
Henry Louis de Palm, who not long thereafter died and obligingly left
his body to be cremated.

The funeral was held at Masonic Hall, New York city, and attracted
widespread attention from both press and public. It was Theosophical in
its character, and while conducted with befitting dignity in view of the
solemnity of the occasion, was along distinctly original lines. All this
of course, drew forth satire from the press, but served the purpose of
gaining some attention for the young Society. Its history since then has
been remarkable, and it is safe to say that no other similar body in
this century has drawn to itself so much consideration, stirred up such
a thinking among people on mystical subjects, and grown so rapidly amid
the loudest derision and against the fiercest opposition, within the
short space of fifteen years.

While the press has been sneering and enemies have been plotting, the
workers in the Society have established centers all over the world, and
are to-day engaged persistently in sending out Theosophical literature
into every nook and corner of the United States. A glance at the
Theosophical map shows a line of Branches of the Society dotting a strip
of this country which reaches from the city of New York to the Pacific
Coast; at either end this belt spreads out to take in Boston and New
Orleans in the East and San Francisco and San Diego in the West; while
near the middle of the continent there is another accumulation of
centers. This is claimed to be strictly and mystically Theosophical,
because at each end of the magic line of effort and at its central point
there is an accumulation of nucleï. It is a fact that the branches of
the Society in America are rapidly running up into the first hundred.
For some little time there existed in Washington a Branch of the Society
called the Gnostic, but it never engaged in any active work. After it
had been once incontinently dissolved by its president, who thereafter
withdrew, leaving the presidency in the hands of another, the governing
body of the American Theosophists formally dischartered the Gnostic, and
its members joined other Branches. There is, however, to-day a
Washington Branch named boldly after the much lauded and belittled Mme.
H. P. Blavatsky, while the Theosophical map shows an accumulation of
influences in Washington that point to an additional Branch, and inquiry
in official quarters discloses the fact that the matter is already

The Theosophical map of which I have spoken is a curiosity, an anomaly
in the nineteenth century. Few of the members are allowed to see it; but
those who are say that it is a register of the actual state, day by day,
of the whole United States Section--a sort of weather map, with areas of
pressure and Theosophical humidity in all directions. Where a Branch is
well founded and in good condition, the spot or sensitive surface shows
clearness and fixity. In certain places which are in a formative
condition there is another appearance symptomatic of a vortex that may
soon bring forth a Branch; while, wherever the principle of
disintegration has crept into an existing organization, there the
formerly bright and fixed spots grow cloudy. By means of this map, those
who are managing the real growth of the movement can tell how it is
going and aid it intelligently. Of course all this sounds ridiculous in
our age; but, whether true or false, there are many Theosophists who
believe it. A similar arrangement would be desirable in other branches
of our civilization.

The grand theories of the Theosophists regarding evolution, human races,
religions and general civilization, as well as the future state of man
and the various planets he inhabits, should engage our more serious
attention; and of these I propose to speak at another time.


The first Echo from the burnished and mysterious East which reverberated
from these pages sounded the note of Universal Brotherhood. Among the
men of this day such an idea is generally accepted as vague and utopian,
but one which it will do no harm to subscribe to; they therefore quickly
assent, and as quickly nullify the profession by action in the opposite
direction. For the civilization of to-day, and especially of the United
States, is an attempt to accentuate and glorify the individual. The
oft-repeated declaration that any born citizen may aspire to occupy the
highest office in the gift of the nation is proof of this, and the
Mahâtmas who guard the truth through the ages while nations are
decaying, assert that the reaction is sure to come in a relapse into the
worst forms of anarchy. The only way to prevent such a relapse is for
men to really practice the Universal Brotherhood they are willing to
accept with the tongue. These exalted beings further say that all men
are--as a scientific and dynamic fact--united, whether they admit it or
not; and that each nation suffers, on the moral as well as the physical
plane, from the faults of all other nations, and receives benefit from
the others also even against its will. This is due to the existence of
an imponderable, tenuous medium which interpenetrates the entire globe,
and in which all the acts and thoughts of every man are felt and
impressed, to be afterward reflected again. Hence, say the Adepts, the
thoughts or the doctrines and beliefs of men are of the higher
importance, because those that prevail among people of a low character
are just as much and as easily reflected upon the earth as are the
thoughts and beliefs of persons occupying a higher plane of culture.

This is a most important tenet, if true; for, with the aid of the
discoveries just now admitted by science respecting hypnotism, we are at
once able to see that an enormous hypnotizing machine is about. As this
tenuous medium--called by the men of the East "Akàsa" and by the
mediæval philosophers the "Astral Light"--is entirely beyond our
control, we are at the mercy of the pictures made in it and reflected
upon us.

If to this we add the wonderfully interesting doctrine of Reïncarnation,
remembering also that the images made in the Astral Light persist for
centuries, it is at once seen that upon returning again to earth-life we
are affected for good or evil by the conduct, the doctrine and the
aspirations of preceding nations and men. Returning here now, for
instance, we are moved, without our knowledge, by the impressions made
in the Astral Light at the time when the Indians, the Spaniards and the
harsh Puritans lived upon the earth. The words of the immortal

     The evil that men do lives after them;
     The good is oft interrèd with their bones,

receive a striking exemplification under this doctrine. For, as the evil
thoughts and deeds are the more material and therefore more firmly
impacted into the Astral Light, while the good, being spiritual, easily
fade out, we are in effect at the mercy of the evil done. And the Adepts
assert that Shakspere was, unconsciously to himself, inspired by one of
their own number. I shall refer again to this branch of the subject. The
scheme of evolution put forth by these beings and their disciples is so
broad, deep and far-reaching as to stagger the ordinary mind. It takes
in with ease periods of years running up into trillions and
quadrillions. It claims that man has been on earth for millions of years
more than science yet is willing to admit. It is not bound by the narrow
scheme of biblical chronologists, nor startled by the magnificent age of
civilizations which disappeared long ago. The keepers of this doctrine
say that they and their predecessors lived in those older times, and
have preserved not only the memory of them, but also complete records.
These records, moreover, are not merely on perishable paper and palm
leaf, but on imperishable stone. They point to such remains as the
statues twenty-seven feet high found on Easter Island; to rows of
gigantic statues in Asia, that by their varying heights show the gradual
diminution of human stature, which kept pace with other degenerations;
and, to crown all, they say that they possess to-day in the East the
immense and well guarded collections of records of all sorts. Not only
are these records said to relate to the physical history of man, but
also to his astral and spiritual evolution.

Before closing this paper, I can only indicate one of their basic
doctrines in the scheme of evolution. That is, that the evolution of the
inner, astral form of man came first in order, and continued for an
immense number of years before his physical structure was built up
around it. This, with other portions of the doctrine, is vital and will
aid much in an understanding of the complex questions presented to us
by the history of the human race, both that which is known and that
which is still resting on conjecture.


The records to which in my last paper I referred, as having been kept by
the Adepts and now in the possession of their present representatives
and successors--Adepts also--relate not only to the birth of planets in
this solar system, but also to the evolution and development of man,
through the various kingdoms of nature, until he reaches the most
perfect condition which can be imagined. The evolution of the human
being includes not only the genesis of his mortal frame, but, as well,
the history of the inner man, whom they are accustomed to call the real

This, then, brings us to a very interesting claim put forward for the
Wisdom Religion, that it pretends to throw light not only upon man's
emotions and mental faculties, but also upon his pre-natal and
post-mortem states, both of which are of the highest interest and
importance. Such questions as, "Where have I come from?" and, "What
shall be my condition after death?" trouble and confuse the minds of all
men, ignorant or cultured. Priests and thinkers have, from time to time,
formulated theories, more or less absurd, as to those pre-natal and
post-mortem states, while the Science of to-day laughs in derision at
the idea of making any inquiry into the matter whatever. Theologians
have offered explanations, all of which relate only to what they suppose
will happen to us after death, leaving entirely out of view and wholly
unanswered the natural question, "What were we before we were born
here?" And, taking them on their own ground, they are in a most
illogical position, because, having once postulated immortality for the
soul--the real man--they cannot deny immortality in either direction.
If man is immortal, that immortality could never have had a beginning,
or else it would have an end. Hence their only escape from the dilemma
is to declare that each soul is a special creation. But this doctrine of
a special creation for each soul born upon the earth, is not dwelt upon
or expounded by the priests, inasmuch as it is deemed better to keep it
discreetly in the background.

The Wisdom Religion, on the other hand, remains logical from beginning
to end. It declares that man is a spiritual being, and allows of no
break in the chain of anything once declared immortal. The Ego of each
man is immortal; "always was existent, always will be, and never can be
nonexistent;" appearing now and again, and reäppearing, clothed in
bodies on each occasion different, it only appears to be mortal; it
always remains the substratum and support for the personality acting
upon the stage of life. And in those appearances as mortal, the
questions mooted above--as to the pre-natal and post-mortem states--are
of vital interest, because knowledge or ignorance concerning them alters
man's thought and action while an actor on the stage, and it is
necessary for him to know in order that he may so live as to aid in the
grand upward sweep of the evolutionary wave.

Now the Adepts have for ages pursued scientific experimentation and
investigation upon those lines. Seers themselves of the highest order,
they have recorded not only their own actual experiences beyond the veil
of matter, on both sides, but have collected, compared, analyzed and
preserved the records of experiences of the same sort by hundreds of
thousands of lesser seers, their own disciples; and this process has
been going on from time immemorial. Let Science laugh as it may, the
Adepts are the only true scientists, for they take into account every
factor in the question, whereas Science is limited by brain-power, by
circumstance, by imperfection of instruments, and by a total inability
to perceive anything deeper than the mere phenomena presented by matter.
The records of the visions and experiences of the greater and lesser
seers, through the ages, are extant to-day. Of their mass, nothing has
been accepted except that which has been checked and verified by
millions of independent observations; and therefore the Adepts stand in
the position of those who possess actual experimental knowledge of what
precedes the birth of the Ego in a human form, and what succeeds when
the "mortal coil" is cast away.

This recording of experiences still goes on; for the infinity of the
changes of Nature in its evolution permits of no stoppage, no "last
word," no final declaration. As the earth sweeps around the sun, it not
only passes through new places in its orbit, but, dragged as it is by
the sun through his greater orbit, involving millions of millions of
years, it must in that larger circle enter upon new fields in space and
unprecedented conditions. Hence the Adepts go farther yet and state
that, as the phenomena presented by matter to-day are different from
those presented a million years ago, so matter will in another million
of years show different phenomena still. Indeed, if we could translate
our sight to that time, far back in the past of our globe, we could see
conditions and phenomena of the material world so different from those
now surrounding us that it would be almost impossible to believe we had
ever been in such a state as that then prevailing. And the changes
toward the conditions that will prevail at a point equally remote in
advance of us, in time, and which will be not less than those that have
occurred, are in progress now. Nothing in the material world endures
absolutely unchanged in itself or its conditions, even for the smallest
conceivable portion of time. All that _is_, is forever in process of
_becoming_ something else. This is not mere transcendentalism, but is
an old established doctrine called, in the East, "the doctrine of the
constant, eternal change of atoms from one state into another."


The ancient doctrine of the constant, eternal change of every atom from
state to state, is founded upon, or rather grows out of, another which
postulates that there is no such thing as dead matter. At every
conceivable point in the universe there are lives; nowhere can be found
a spot that is dead; and each life is forever hastening onward to higher
evolution. To admit this, we must of course grant that matter is never
perceived by the eye or through any instrument. It is but the phenomena
of matter that we recognize with the senses, and hence, say the sages,
the thing denominated "matter" by us is an illusion. Even the protoplasm
of the schools is not the original matter; it is simply another of the
phenomena. This first original matter is called by Paracelsus and others
primordial matter, the nearest approach to which in the Eastern school
is found in the Sanskrit word _mulaprakriti_. This is the root of
matter, invisible, not to be weighed, or measured, or tested with any
instrument of human invention. And yet it is the only real matter
underlying all the phenomena to which we erroneously give its name. But
even it is not dead, but full of the lives first referred to.

Now, bearing this in mind, we consider the vast solar system, yet vast
only when not compared with the still greater aggregation of stars and
planets around it. The great sidereal year covered by the sun in going
through the twelve signs of the zodiac includes over 25,000 mortal years
of 365 days each. While this immense circuit is being traversed, the sun
drags the whole solar system with him around his own tremendous orbit,
and we may imagine--for there are no observations on the point--that,
while the 25,000 years of travel around the zodiac have been passing,
the solar system as a whole has advanced along the sun's own orbit only
a little distance. But after millions of years shall have been consumed
in these progresses, the sun must bring his train of planets to stellar
space where they have never been before; here other conditions and
combinations of matter may very well obtain--conditions and states of
which our scientists have never heard, of which there never has been
recorded one single phenomenon; and the difference between planetary
conditions then and now will be so great that no resemblance shall be

This is a branch of cyclic law with which the Eastern sages are
perfectly familiar. They have inquired into it, recorded their
observations, and preserved them. Having watched the uncountable lives
during cycles upon cycles past, and seen their behavior under different
conditions in other stellar spaces long ago left behind, they have some
basis upon which to draw conclusions as to what will be the state of
things in ages yet to come.

This brings us to an interesting theory offered by Theosophy respecting
life itself as exhibited by man, his death and sleep. It relates also to
what is generally called "fatigue." The most usual explanation for the
phenomenon of sleep is that the body becomes tired and more or less
depleted of its vitality and then seeks repose. This, says Theosophy, is
just the opposite of the truth, for, instead of having suffered a loss
of vitality, the body, at the conclusion of the day, has more life in it
than when it waked. During the waking state the life-waves rush into the
body with greater intensity every hour, and, we being unable to resist
them any longer than the period usually observed, they overpower us and
we fall asleep. While sleeping, the life waves adjust themselves to the
molecules of the body; and when the equilibrium is complete we again
wake to continue the contest with life. If this periodical adjustment
did not occur, the life current would destroy us. Any derangement of the
body that tends to inhibit this adjustment is a cause of sleeplessness,
and perhaps death. Finally, death of the body is due to the inequality
of the contest with the life force; it at last overcomes us, and we are
compelled to sink into the grave. Disease, the common property of the
human race, only reduces the power of the body to adjust and resist.
Children, say the Adepts, sleep more than adults, and need earlier
repose, because the bodily machine, being young and tender, is easily
overcome by life and made to sleep.

Of course, in so short an article, I cannot elaborate this theory; but,
although not probably acceptable now to Science, it will be one day
accepted as true. As it is beginning to be thought that electricity is
all-pervading, so, perhaps, ere long it will be agreed that life is
universal even in what we are used to calling dead matter.

As, however, it is plain to any observant mind that there seems to be
more or less intelligence in the operations of this life energy, we
naturally approach another interesting Theosophical doctrine as to the
beings and hierarchies directing this energy.


While studying these ancient ideas, we may as well prepare ourselves to
have them clash with many long-accepted views. But since Science has
very little save conjecture to offer when it attempts to solve the great
problems of genesis and cosmo-genesis, and, in the act of denying old
dogmas, almost always starts with a hypothesis, the Theosophist may feel
safe. In important matters, such as the heat of the sun or the history
of the moon there is no agreement between scientists or astronomers.
Newton, Pouillet, Zöllner, Secchi, Fizeau, Waterston, Rosetti, and
others all differ about the sun, the divergence between their estimates
of its heat being as high as 8,998,600 degrees.

If we find the Adepts stating that the moon is not a mass thrown off
from the earth in cooling, but, on the contrary, is the progenitor of
this globe, we need not fear the jeers of a Science that is as uncertain
and unsafe in many things as it is positive.

Had I to deal only with those learned men of the schools who abide by
the last utterance from the mouths of the leaders of Science, I should
never attempt the task of speaking of the beings and hierarchies who
guide the lives of which I wrote in my last. My pen would drop from a
hand paralyzed by negations. But the spiritual beliefs of the common
people will still be in vogue when the learned materialist has passed
away. The great Immanuel Kant said: "I confess I am much disposed to
assert the existence of immaterial natures in the world, and to place my
own soul in the class of these beings. It will hereafter, I know not
where nor when, yet be proved that the human soul stands, even in this
life, in indissoluble connection with all immaterial natures in the
spirit world, that it reciprocally acts upon these, and receives
impressions from them." And the greater number of men think so also.

That there are hierarchies ruling in the universe is not a new idea. It
can be easily found to-day in the Christian Church. The early fathers
taught it, St. Paul spoke of it, and the Roman Catholic Church has it
clearly now in the Book of Ritual of the Spirits of the Stars. The four
archangels who guard the four cardinal points represent the groups of
rulers in the ancient system, or the heads of each group. In that system
the rulers are named Dhyan Chôhans. Although the Theosophical philosophy
does not postulate a personal God, whether extra- or intra-cosmic, it
cannot admit that Nature is left unaided in her work, but asserts that
the Dhyan Chôhans aid her, and are constantly occupied in directing the
all-pervading life in its evolutionary movement. Mme. Blavatsky,
speaking on this subject in her _Secret Doctrine_, quotes from the old
_Book of Dzyan_ thus:

"An army of the Sons of Light stands at each angle, the Lipika in the
middle wheel."

The four angles are the four quarters, and the "middle wheel" is the
center of space; and that center is everywhere, because as space is
illimitable, the center of it must be wherever the cognizing
consciousness is. And the same author, using the _Disciple's Catechism_,

"What is it that ever is? Space, the Anupadaka. What is it that ever
was? The germ in the Root. What is it that is ever coming and going? The
great Breath. Then there are three eternals? No, the three are one. That
which ever is is one; that which ever was is one; that which is ever
being and becoming is also one; and this is space."

In this parentless and eternal space is the wheel in the center where
the Lipika are, of whom I cannot speak; at the four angles are the Dhyan
Chôhans, and doing their will among men on this earth are the
Adepts--the Mahâtmas. The harmony of the spheres is the voice of the
Law, and that voice is obeyed alike by the Dhyan Chôhan and the
Mahâtma--on their part with willingness, because they are the law; on
the part of men and creatures because they are bound by the adamantine
chains of the law which they do not understand.

When I said that nothing could be spoken about the Lipika, I meant that,
because of their mysterious nature and incomprehensible powers, it is
not possible to know enough to say anything with either sense or
certainty. But of the Dhyan Chôhans and the Adepts we may know
something, and are often given, as it were, tangible proof of their
existence. For the Adepts are living men, using bodies similar to ours;
they are scattered all over the earth in all nations; they know each
other, but not according to mere forms and Masonic signs of recognition,
unless we call natural, physical, and astral signs Masonic. They have
times when they meet together and are presided over by some among their
number who are more advanced in knowledge and power than the rest; and
these higher Adepts again have their communications, at which that One
who presides is the highest; from these latter begins the communication
with the Dhyan Chôhans. All in their several degrees do that work which
pertains to their degree, and although only to the Highest can be
ascribed any governance or guidance of nature and mankind, yet the very
least occupies an important place in the whole scheme. Freemasons and
the numerous mock-Rosicrucians of the day will probably not unanimously
accept this view, inasmuch as these Adepts have not submitted to their
ritual; but that there has always been a widespread--and, if you please,
a sometimes sneaking--belief in such beings and orders, is not difficult
to discern or prove.


An old argument for the existence of an extra-cosmic--a personal--God,
is this very intelligence that appears to pervade nature, from which the
conclusion is drawn that there is a being who is the intelligent
director. But Theosophy does not admit any such God, for he is neither
necessary nor possible. There are too many evidences of implacability in
the operations of nature for us to be able for very long to cherish the
notion of a personal God. We see that storms will rage and overwhelm
good and bad together; that earthquakes have no respect for age, sex or
rank, and that wherever a natural law has to act it will do so
regardless of human pain or despair.

The Wisdom Religion in postulating hierarchies such as those I have
previously referred to, does not thereby outline a personal God. The
difference between the personal God--say Jehovah for one--and the Lipika
with the hosts of the Dhyan Chôhans, is very great. Law and order, good
sense, decency and progress are all subservient to Jehovah, sometimes
disappearing altogether under his beneficent sway; while in the Wisdom
Religion the Dhyan Chôhans can only follow the immutable laws eternally
traced in the Universal Mind, and this they do intelligently, because
they are in fact men become gods. As these eternal laws are
far-reaching, and as Nature herself is blind, the hierarchies--the hosts
at the angles--have to guide the evolutionary progress of matter.

In order to grasp the doctrine better, let us take one period of
manifestation such as that we are now in. This began millions of
millions of years ago, succeeding a vast period of darkness or
hibernation. It is called Chaos in the Christian scheme. And preceding
that period of sleep there were eternally other periods of activity or
manifestation. Now, in those prior periods of energy and action the same
evolutionary progress went on, from and out of which came great
beings--men perfected and become what to us are gods, who had aided in
countless evolutions in the eternal past. These became Dhyan Chôhans and
took part in all succeeding evolutions. Such is the great goal for a
human soul to strive after. Before it the paltry and impossible rewards
of the Christian heaven turn to dross.

The mistake must not be made of confining these great evolutionary
periods and the beings spoken of, to our miserable earth. We are only in
the chain. There are other systems, other spaces where energy,
knowledge and power are exercised. In the mysterious Milky-Way there are
spots vast in size and incomprehensibly distant, where there is room for
many such systems as ours; and even while we now watch the assemblage of
stars, there is some spot among them where the vast night of death is
spreading remorselessly over a once fair system.

Now these beings, under the sway of the law as they are, seem perhaps to
be sometimes implacable. Occasions are met where to mortal judgment it
would seem to be wise or just to save a city from destruction, or a
nation from decay, or a race from total extinction. But if such a fate
is the natural result of actions performed or a necessary step in the
cyclic sweep, it cannot be averted. As one of the Masters of this noble
science has written:

"We never pretended to be able to draw nations in the mass to this or
that crisis in spite of the _general drift of the world's cosmic
relations_. The cycles must run their rounds. Periods of mental and
moral light and darkness succeed each other as day does night. The major
and minor yugas must be accomplished _according to the established order
of things_. And we, borne along on the mighty tide, can only modify and
direct some of its minor currents. If we had the powers of the imaginary
personal God, and the immutable laws were but toys to play with, then,
indeed, might we have created conditions that would have turned this
earth into an Arcadia for lofty souls."

And so in individual cases--even among those who are in direct relations
with some Adept--the law cannot be infringed. Karma demands that such
and such a thing should happen to the individual, and the greatest God
or the smallest Adept cannot lift a finger to prevent it. A nation may
have heaped up against its account as a nation a vast amount of bad
Karma. Its fate is sure, and although it may have noble units in it,
great souls even who are Adepts themselves, nothing can save it, and it
will "go out like a torch dipped in water."

Such was the end of ancient Egypt, of whose former glory no man of this
day knows aught. Although to us she appears in the historical sky as a
full-risen sun, she yet had her period of growth, when mighty Adepts sat
upon the throne and guided the people. She gradually reached a high
point of power and then her people grew material; the Adepts retired;
pretended Adepts took their place, and gradually her glory waned until
at last the light of Egypt became darkness. The same story was repeated
in Chaldea and Assyria and also upon the surface of our own America.
Here a great, a glorious civilization once flourished, only to disappear
as the others did; and that a grand development of civilization is
beginning here again is one of the operations of the just and perfect
law of Karma to the eye of the Theosophist, but one of the mysterious
workings of an irresponsible providence to those who believe in a
personal God who giveth the land of other men to the good Christian. The
development of the American nation has a mysterious but potent
connection with the wonderful past of the Atlanteans, and is one of
those great stories outlined in the book of fate by the Lipika to whom I
referred last week.


Among the Adepts the rise and fall of nations and civilizations are
subjects which are studied under the great cyclic movements. They hold
that there is an indissoluble connection between man and every event
that takes place on this globe, not only the ordinary changes in
politics and social life, but all the happenings in the mineral,
vegetable and animal kingdoms. The changes in the seasons are for and
through man; the great upheavals of continents, the movements of immense
glaciers, the terrific eruptions of volcanoes, or the sudden
overflowings of great rivers, are all for and through man, whether he be
conscious of it or present or absent. And they tell of great changes in
the inclination of the axis of the earth, past and to come, all due to

This doctrine is incomprehensible to the Western nineteenth century, for
it is hidden from observation, opposed to tradition and contradicted by
education. But the Theosophist who has passed beyond the elementary
stages knows that it is true nevertheless. "What," says the worshipper
of Science, "has man got to do with the Charleston earthquake, or with
the showers of cosmic dust that invade our atmosphere? Nothing."

But the Adept, standing on the immeasurable height where centuries lie
under his glance, sees the great cycles and the lesser ones rolling
onward, influenced by man and working out their changes for his
punishment, reward, experience and development.

It is not necessary now to try to make it clear how the thoughts and
deeds of men effect any changes in material things; that I will lay down
for the present as a dogma, if you please, to be made clear later on.

The great subject of cycles has been touched upon, and brings us close
to a most fascinating statement made by the Theosophical Adepts. It is
this, that the cycles in their movement are bringing up to the surface
now, in the United States and America generally, not only a great glory
of civilization which was forgotten eleven thousand or more years ago,
but also the very men, the monads--the egos, as they call them--who were
concerned so many ages since in developing and bringing it to its final
lustre. In fact, we of the nineteenth century, hearing of new
discoveries and inventions every day, and dreaming of great advances in
all arts and sciences, are the same individuals who inhabited bodies
among the powerful and brilliant as well as wicked, Atlanteans, whose
name is forever set immortal in the Atlantic Ocean. The Europeans are
also Atlantean monads; but the flower, so to speak, of this revival or
resurrection, is and is to be on the American continent. I will not say
the United States, for mayhap, when the sun of our power has risen
again, there may be no United States for it to rise upon.

Of course, in order to be able to accept in any degree this theory, it
is essential that one should believe in the twin Theosophical doctrines
of Karma and Reïncarnation. To me it seems quite plain. I can almost see
the Atlanteans in these citizens of America, sleepy, and not well aware
who they are, but yet full of the Atlantean ideas, which are only
prevented from full and clear expression by the inherited bodily and
mental environment which cramps and binds the mighty man within. This
again is Nemesis-Karma that punishes us by means of these galling
limitations, penning up our power and for the time frustrating our
ambition. It is because, when we were in Atlantean bodies, we did
wickedly, not the mere sordid wicked things of this day, but high deeds
of evil such as by St. Paul were attributed to unknown spiritual beings
in high places. We degraded spiritual things and turned mighty powers
over nature to base uses; we did _in excelsis_ that which is hinted at
now in the glorification of wealth, of material goods, of the individual
over the spiritual and above the great Man--Humanity. This has now its
compensation in our present inability to attain what we want or to
remove from among us the grinding-stones of poverty. We are, as yet,
only preparers, much as we may exalt our plainly crude American

Herein lies the very gist of the cycle's meaning. It is a preparatory
cycle with much of necessary destruction in it; for, before
construction, we must have some disintegration. We are preparing here in
America a new race which will exhibit the perfection of the glories
that I said were being slowly brought to the surface from the long
forgotten past. This is why the Americas are seen to be in a perpetual
ferment. It is the seething and bubbling of the older races in the
refining-pot, and the slow coming up of the material for the new race.
Here, and nowhere else, are to be found men and women of every race
living together, being governed together, attacking nature and the
problems of life together, and bringing forth children who combine, each
one, two races. This process will go on until in the course of many
generations there will be produced on the American continents an
entirely new race; new bodies; new orders of intellect; new powers of
the mind; curious and unheard-of psychic powers, as well as
extraordinary physical ones; with new senses and extensions of present
senses now unforeseen. When this new sort of body and mind are
generated--then other monads, or our own again, will animate them and
paint upon the screen of time the pictures of 100,000 years ago.


In dealing with these doctrines one is compelled now and then to greatly
extend the scope and meaning of many English words. The word "race" is
one of these. In the Theosophical scheme, as given out by the sages of
the East, seven great races are spoken of. Each one of these includes
all the different so-called races of our modern ethnology. Hence the
necessity for having seven great root-races, sub-races, family races,
and countless offshoot races. The root-race sends off sub-races, and
these divide into family groups; all, however, being included in the
great root-race then undergoing development.

The appearance of these great root-races is always just when the world's
development permits. When the globe was forming, the first root-race was
more or less ethereal and had no such body as we now inhabit. The
cosmic environment became more dense and the second race appeared, soon
after which the first wholly disappeared. Then the third came on the
scene, after an immense lapse of time, during which the second had been
developing the bodies needed for the third. At the coming of the fourth
root-race it is said that the present human form was evolved, although
gigantic and in some respects different from our own. It is from this
point--the fourth race--that the Theosophical system begins to speak of
man as such.

The old book quoted by Mme. Blavatsky has it in this wise:

"Thus two by two on the seven zones the third race gave birth to the
fourth;" and,

"The first race on every zone was moon-colored; the second, yellow, like
gold; the third, red; the fourth, brown, which became black with sin."

Topinard, in his _Anthropology_, gives support to this, as he says that
there are three fundamental colors in the human organism--red, yellow
and black. The brown race, which became black with sin, refers to the
Atlantean sorcerer race of which I spoke in my last; its awfully evil
practices, both mental and physical, having produced a change in the
color of the skin.

The evolution of these seven great races covers many millions of years,
and it must not be forgotten that when the new race is fully evolved the
preceding race disappears, as the monads in it have been gradually
reïncarnated in the bodies of the new race. The present root-race to
which we belong, no matter what the sub-race or family we may be in, is
the fifth. It became a separate, distinct and completely-defined race
about one million years ago, and has yet many more years to serve before
the sixth will be ushered in. This fifth race includes also all the
nations in Europe, as they together form a family race and are not to
be divided off from each other.

Now, the process of forming the foundation, or great spinal column, for
that race which is to usher in the sixth, and which I said is now going
on in the Americas, is a slow process for us. Obliged as we are by our
inability to judge or to count except by relativity, the gradual coming
together of nations and the fusion of their offspring over and over
again so as to bring forth something new in the human line, is so
gradual as to seem almost without progress. But this change and
evolution go on nevertheless, and a very careful observer can see
evidences of it. One fact deserves attention. It is the inventive
faculty displayed by Americans. This is not accorded much force by our
scientists, but the Occultist sees in it an evidence that the brains of
these inventors are more open to influences and pictures from the astral
world than are the brains of the older nations. Reports have been
brought to me by competent persons of children, boys and girls, who were
born with most abnormal faculties of speech, or memory or otherwise, and
some such cases I have seen myself. All of these occur in America, and
many of them in the West. There is more nervousness here than in the
older nations. This is accounted for by the hurry and rush of our
civilization; but such an explanation really explains nothing, because
the question yet remains, "Why is there such hurry and push and change
in the United States?" Such ordinary arguments go in a circle, since
they leave out of sight the fundamental reason, so familiar to the
Theosophist, that it is human evolution going on right before our eyes
in accordance with cyclic laws.

The Theosophical Adepts believe in evolution, but not that sort which
claims an ape as our ancestor. Their great and comprehensive system is
quite able to account for rudimentary muscles and traces of organs
found complete only in the animal kingdom without having to call a
pithecoid ape our father, for they show the gradual process of building
the temple for the use of the divine Ego, proceeding ceaselessly, and in
silence, through ages upon ages, winding in and out among all the forms
in nature in every kingdom, from the mineral up to the highest. This is
the real explanation of the old Jewish, Masonic and archaic saying that
the temple of the Lord is not made with hands and that no sound of
building is heard in it.


It is well now to say, more definitely than I have as yet, a few words
of the two classes of beings, one of which has been much spoken of in
Theosophical literature, and also by those on the outside who write of
the subject either in seriousness or in ridicule. These two classes of
exalted personages are the Mahâtmas and Nirmânakâyas.

In respect to the Mahâtmas, a great many wrong notions have currency,
not only with the public, but as well with Theosophists in all parts of
the world.

In the early days of the Theosophical Society the name Mahâtma was not
in use here, but the title then was "Brothers." This referred to the
fact that they were a band of men who belonged to a brotherhood in the
East. The most wonderful powers and, at times, the most extraordinary
motives were attributed to them by those who believed in their

They could pass to all parts of the world in the twinkling of an eye.
Across the great distance that India is from here they could precipitate
letters to their friends and disciples in New York. Many thought that if
this were done it was only for amusement; others looked at it in the
light of a test for the faithful, while still others often supposed
Mahâtmas acted thus for pure love of exercising their power. The
Spiritualists, some of whom believed that Mme. Blavatsky really did the
wonderful things told of her, said that she was only a medium, pure and
simple, and that her Brothers were familiar spooks of séance rooms.
Meanwhile the press in general laughed, and Mme. Blavatsky and her
Theosophical friends went on doing their work and never gave up their
belief in the Brothers, who after a few years came to be called
Mahâtmas. Indiscriminately with Mahâtma the word Adept has been used to
describe the same beings, so that we have these two titles made use of
without accuracy and in a misleading fashion.

The word Adept signifies proficiency, and is not uncommon, so that, when
using it, some description is necessary if it is to be applied to the
Brothers. For that reason I used Theosophical Adepts in a previous
paper. A Mahâtma is not only an Adept, but much more. The etymology of
it will make the matter clearer, the word being strictly Sanskrit, from
_mahâ_, great, and _âtmâ_, soul--hence Great Soul. This does not mean a
noble-hearted man merely, but a perfected being, one who has attained to
the state often described by mystics and held by scientific men to be an
impossibility, when time and space are no obstacles to sight, to action,
to knowledge or to consciousness. Hence they are said to be able to
perform the extraordinary feats related by various persons, and also to
possess information of a decidedly practical character concerning the
laws of nature, including that mystery for science--the meaning,
operation and constitution of life itself--and concerning the genesis of
this planet as well as the races upon it. These large claims have given
rise to the chief complaint brought forward against the Theosophical
Adepts by those writers outside of the Society who have taken the
subject up--that they remain, if they exist at all, in a state of cold
and selfish quietude, seeing the misery and hearing the groans of the
world, yet refusing to hold out a helping hand except to a favored few;
possessing knowledge of scientific principles, or of medicinal
preparations, and yet keeping it back from learned men or wealthy
capitalists who desire to advance commerce while they turn an honest
penny. Although, for one, I firmly believe, upon evidence given me, in
all that is claimed for these Adepts, I declare groundless the complaint
advanced, knowing it to be due to a want of knowledge of those who are

Adepts and Mahâtmas are not a miraculous growth, nor the selfish
successors of some who, accidentally stumbling upon great truths,
transmitted them to adherents under patent rights. They are human beings
trained, developed, cultivated through not only a life but long series
of lives, always under evolutionary laws and quite in accord with what
we see among men of the world or of science. Just as a Tyndall is
greater than a savage, though still a man, so is the Mahâtma, not
ceasing to be human, still greater than a Tyndall. The Mahâtma-Adept is
a natural growth, and not produced by any miracle; the process by which
he so becomes may be to us an unfamiliar one, but it is in the strict
order of nature.

Some years ago a well-known Anglo-Indian, writing to the Theosophical
Adepts, queried if they had ever made any mark upon the web of history,
doubting that they had. The reply was that he had no bar at which to
arraign them, and that they had written many an important line upon the
page of human life, not only as reigning in visible shape, but down to
the very latest dates when, as for many a long century before, they did
their work behind the scenes. To be more explicit, these wonderful _men_
have swayed the destiny of nations and are shaping events to-day.
Pillars of peace and makers of war such as Bismarck, or saviors of
nations such as Washington, Lincoln and Grant, owe their elevation,
their singular power, and their astonishing grasp upon the right men
for their purposes, not to trained intellect or long preparation in the
schools of their day, but to these very unseen Adepts, who crave no
honors, seek no publicity and claim no acknowledgment. Each one of these
great human leaders whom I have mentioned had in his obscure years what
he called premonitions of future greatness, or connection with stirring
events in his native land.

Lincoln always felt that in some way he was to be an instrument for some
great work, and the stray utterances of Bismarck point to silent hours,
never openly referred to, when he felt an impulse pushing him to
whatever of good he may have done. A long array of instances could be
brought forward to show that the Adepts have made "an ineffaceable mark
upon diverse eras." Even during the great uprising in India that
threatened the English rule there, they saw long in advance the
influence England and India would have in the affairs of the world
through the very psychic and metaphysical changes of to-day, and often
hastened to communicate, by their own occult and wonderful methods, the
news of successes for English arms to districts and peoples in the
interior who might have risen under the stimulus of imaginary reports of
English disasters. At other times, vague fears were spread instantly
over large masses of the Hindûs, so that England at last remained
master, even though many a patriotic native desired another result. But
the Adepts do not work for the praise of men, for the ephemeral
influence of a day, but for the future races and man's best and highest


For an exhaustive disquisition upon Adepts, Mahâtmas and Nirmânakâyas,
more than a volume would be needed. The development illustrated by them
is so strange to modern minds and so extraordinary in these days of
general mediocrity, that the average reader fails to grasp with ease the
views advanced in a condensed article; and nearly everything one would
say about Adepts--to say nothing of the Nirmânakâyas--requiring full
explanation of recondite laws and abstruse questions, is liable to be
misunderstood, even if volumes should be written upon them. The
development, conditions, powers, and function of these beings carry with
them the whole scheme of evolution; for, as said by the mystics, the
Mahâtma is the efflorescence of an age. The Adepts may be dimly
understood to-day, the Nirmânakâyas have as yet been only passingly
mentioned, and the Mahâtmas are misconceived by believers and deniers

But one law governing them is easy to state and ought not to be
difficult for the understanding. They do not, will not, and must not
interfere with Karma; that is, however apparently deserving of help an
individual may be, they will not extend it in the manner desired if his
Karma does not permit it; and they would not step into the field of
human thought for the purpose of bewildering humanity by an exercise of
power which on all sides would be looked upon as miraculous. Some have
said that if the Theosophical Adepts were to perform a few of their
feats before the eyes of Europe, an immense following for them would at
once arise; but such would not be the result. Instead of it there would
be dogmatism and idolatry worse than have ever been, with a reaction of
an injurious nature impossible to counteract.

Hypnotism--though by another name--has long been known to them. The
hypnotic condition has often aided the schemes of priests and churches.
To compel recognition of true doctrine is not the way of these sages,
for compulsion is hypnotism. To feed a multitude with only five loaves
would be easy for them; but as they never act upon sentiment but
continually under the great cosmic laws, they do not advance with
present material aid for the poor in their hands. But, by using their
natural powers, they every day influence the world, not only among the
rich and poor of Europe and America, but in every other land, so that
what does come about in our lives is better than it would have been had
they not had part therein.

The other class referred to--Nirmânakâyas--constantly engage in this
work deemed by them greater than earthly enterprises: the betterment of
the soul of man, and any other good that they can accomplish through
human agents. Around them the long-disputed question of Nirvâna
revolves, for all that they have not been distinctly considered in it.
For, if Max Müller's view of Nirvâna, that it is annihilation, be
correct, than a Nirmânakâya is an impossibility. Paradoxically speaking,
they are in and out of that state at one and the same time. They are
owners of Nirvâna who refuse to accept it in order that they may help
the suffering orphan, Humanity. They have followed the injunction of the
_Book of the Golden Precepts_: "Step out from sunlight into shade, to
make more room for others."

A greater part is taken in the history of nations by the Nirmânakâyas
than anyone supposes. Some of them have under their care certain men in
every nation who from their birth are destined to be great factors in
the future. These they guide and guard until the appointed time. And
such protégés but seldom know that such influence is about them,
especially in the nineteenth century. Acknowledgment and appreciation of
such great assistance are not required by the Nirmânakâyas, who work
behind the veil and prepare the material for a definite end. At the same
time, too, one Nirmânakâya may have many different men--or women--whom
he directs. As Patanjali puts it, "In all these bodies one mind is the
moving cause."

Strange, too, as it may seem, often such men as Napoleon Buonaparte are
from time to time helped by them. Such a being as Napoleon could not
come upon the scene fortuitously. His birth and strange powers must be
in the order of nature. The far-reaching consequences going with a
nature like his, unmeasurable by us, must in the eastern Theosophical
philosophy be watched and provided for. If he was a wicked man, so much
the worse for him; but that could never deter a Nirmânakâya from turning
him to his uses. That might be by swerving him, perchance, from a path
that would have plunged the world into depths of woe and been made to
bring about results in after years which Napoleon never dreamed of. The
fear of what the world might think of encouraging a monster at a certain
point never can deter a sage who sees the end that is best. And in the
life of Napoleon there are many things going to show at times an
influence more powerful than he could grapple. His foolhardy march to
Moscow was perhaps engineered by these silent campaigners, and also his
sudden and disastrous retreat. What he could have done had he remained
in France, no present historian is competent to say. The oft-doubted
story of the red letter from the Red Man just when Napoleon was in a
hesitating mood, may have been an encouragement at a particular
juncture. "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad." Nor will
the defeat at Waterloo be ever understood until the Nirmânakâyas give
their records up.

As a change in the thought of a people who have been tending to gross
atheism is one always desired by the Sages of the Wisdom Religion, it
may be supposed that the wave of spiritualistic phenomena resulting now
quite clearly in a tendency back to a universal acknowledgment of the
soul, has been aided by the Nirmânakâyas. They are in it and of it; they
push on the progress of a psychic deluge over great masses of people.
The result is seen in the literature, the religion and the drama of
to-day. Slowly but surely the tide creeps up and covers the once dry
shore of Materialism, and, though priests may howl, demanding "the
suppression of Theosophy with a firm hand," and a venal press may try to
help them, they have neither the power nor the knowledge to produce one
backward ripple, for the Master hand is guided by omniscient
intelligence propelled by a gigantic force, and--_works behind the


There have been so many secret societies during the Christian era, by
whom claims were made to knowledge of nature's secret laws, that a
natural question arises: "In what do the Theosophic Eastern Sages differ
from the many Rosicrucians and others so often heard of?" The old
bookshelves of Germany are full of publications upon Rosicrucianism, or
by pretended and genuine members of that order, and to-day it is not
uncommon to find those who have temerity enough to dub themselves

The difference is that which exists between reality and illusion,
between mere ritualism and the signs printed by nature upon all things
and beings passing forever up the road to higher states of existence.
The Rosicrucian and Masonic fraternities known to history rely upon
outward signs and tokens to indicate the status in the order of their
members, who, without such guarantees, are only uninitiated outsiders.

But the Sages we speak of, and their disciples, carry with them the
indelible mark and speak the well-known words that show they are beings
developed under laws, and not merely persons who, having undergone a
childish ordeal, are possessed of a diploma. The Adepts may be called
rugged oaks that have no disguise, while the undeveloped man dabbling in
Masonic words and formulas is only a donkey wearing a lion's skin.

There are many Adepts living in the world, all of whom know each other.
They have means of communication unknown to modern civilization, by
using which they can transmit to and receive from each other messages at
any moment and from immense distances, without using any mechanical
means. We might say that there is a Society of Adepts, provided that we
never attach to the word "society" the meaning ordinarily conveyed by
it. It is a society which has no place of meeting, which exacts no dues,
which has no constitution or by-laws other than the eternal laws of
nature; there are no police or spies attached to it and no complaints
are made or received in it, for the reason that any offender is punished
by the operation of law entirely beyond his control--his mastery over
the law being lost upon his infringing it.

Under the protection and assistance and guidance of this Society of
Adepts are the disciples of each one of its members. These disciples are
divided into different degrees, corresponding to the various stages of
development; the least developed disciples are assisted by those who are
in advance of them, and the latter in a similar manner by others, until
the grade of disciple is reached where direct intercourse with the
Adepts is possible. At the same time, each Adept keeps a supervisory eye
upon all his disciples. Through the agency of the disciples of Adepts
many effects are brought about in human thought and affairs, for from
the higher grades are often sent those who, without disclosing their
connection with mysticism, influence individuals who are known to be
main factors in events about to occur.

It is claimed that the Theosophical Society receives assistance in its
growth and the spreading of its influence from the Adepts and their
accepted disciples. The history of the Society would seem to prove this,
for unless there were some hidden but powerful force operating for its
advantage it would have long ago sunk into obscurity, destroyed by the
storm of ridicule and abuse to which it has been subjected. Promises
were made, in the early history of the Society, that assistance would at
all times be rendered, and prophecies were hinted that it would be made
the target for vilification and the object of opposition. Both
prophecies have been fulfilled to the letter.

In just the same way as a polished diamond shows the work which gives it
value and brilliancy, so the man who has gone through probation and
teaching under the Adepts carries upon his person the ineffaceable
marks. To the ordinary eye untrained in this department, no such
indications are visible; but those who can see describe them as being
quite prominent and wholly beyond the control of the bearer. For this
reason that one who has progressed, say, three steps along the way, will
have three marks, and it is useless to pretend that his rank is a step
higher, for, if it were, then the fourth mark would be there, since it
grows with the being's development. Now, as these signatures cannot be
imitated or forged, the whole inner fraternity has no need for
concealment or signs. No one can commit a fraud upon or extract from
them the secrets of higher degrees by having obtained signs and
pass-words out of a book or in return for the payment of fees, and none
can procure the conferring of any advancement until the whole nature of
the man exactly corresponds to the desired point of development.

In two ways the difference between the Adept fraternity and the worldly
secret societies can be seen--in their treatment of nations and of
their own direct special disciples. Nothing is forced or depends upon
favor. Everything is arranged in accordance with the best interests of a
nation, having in view the cyclic influences at any time prevailing, and
never before the proper time. When they desire to destroy the chains
forged by dogmatism, they do not make the error of suddenly appearing
before the astonished eyes of the people; for they know well that such a
course would only alter the dogmatic belief in one set of ideas to a
senseless and equally dogmatic adherence to the Adepts as gods, or else
create in the minds of many the surety that the devil was present.


The training of the disciple by the teachers of the school to which the
Theosophical Adepts belong is peculiar to itself, and not in accord with
prevailing modern educational ideas. In one respect it is a
specialization of the pilgrimage to a sacred place so common in India,
and the enshrined object of the journey is the soul itself, for with
them the existence of soul is one of the first principles.

In the East the life of man is held to be a pilgrimage, not only from
the cradle to the grave, but also through that vast period of time,
embracing millions upon millions of years, stretching from the beginning
to the end of a Manvantara, or period of evolution, and as he is held to
be a spiritual being, the continuity of his existence is unbroken.
Nations and civilizations rise, grow old, decline and disappear; but the
being lives on, spectator of all the innumerable changes of environment.
Starting from the great All, radiating like a spark from the central
fire, he gathers experience in all ages, under all rulers, civilizations
and customs, ever engaged in a pilgrimage to the shrine from which he
came. He is now the ruler and now the slave; to-day at the pinnacle of
wealth and power, to-morrow at the bottom of the ladder, perhaps in
abject misery, but ever the same being. To symbolize this, the whole of
India is dotted with sacred shrines, to which pilgrimages are made, and
it is the wish of all men in that so-called benighted land to make such
a journey at least once before death, for the religious duties of life
are not fully performed without visiting such sacred places.

One great reason for this, given by those who understand the inner
significance of it, is that the places of pilgrimage are centers of
spiritual force from which radiate elevating influences not perceptible
to the pig-sticking, wine-drinking traveller. It is asserted by many,
indeed, that at most of the famous places of pilgrimage there is an
Adept of the same order to which the Theosophical Adepts are said to
belong, who is ready always to give some meed of spiritual insight and
assistance to those of pure heart who may go there. He, of course, does
not reveal himself to the knowledge of the people, because it is quite
unnecessary, and might create the necessity for his going elsewhere.
Superstitions have arisen from the doctrine of pilgrimages, but, as that
is quite likely to come about in this age, it is no reason why places of
pilgrimage should be abolished, since, if the spiritual centers were
withdrawn, good men who are free from superstition would not receive the
benefits they now may have. The Adepts founded these places in order to
keep alive in the minds of the people the soul idea which modern Science
and education would soon turn into agnosticism, were they to prevail

But the disciple of the Adept knows that the place of pilgrimage
symbolizes his own nature, shows him how he is to start on the
scientific investigation of it and how to proceed, by what roads and in
which direction. He is supposed to concentrate into a few lives the
experience and practice which it takes ordinary men countless
incarnations to acquire. His first steps, as well as his last, are on
difficult, often dangerous places; the road, indeed, "winds up hill all
the way," and upon entering it he leaves behind the hope for reward so
common in all undertakings. Nothing is gained by favor, but all depends
upon his actual merit. As the end to be reached is self-dependence with
perfect calmness and clearness, he is from the beginning made to stand
alone, and this is for most of us a difficult thing which frequently
brings on a kind of despair. Men like companionship, and cannot with
ease contemplate the possibility of being left altogether to themselves.
So, instead of being constantly in the company of a lodge of
fellow-apprentices, as is the case in the usual worldly secret society,
he is forced to see that, as he entered the world alone, he must learn
to live there in the same way, leaving it as he came, solely in his own
company. But this produces no selfishness, because, being accompanied by
constant meditation upon the unseen, the knowledge is acquired that the
loneliness felt is only in respect to the lower, personal, worldly self.

Another rule that this disciple must follow is that no boasting may be
indulged in on any occasion, and this gives us the formula that, given a
man who speaks of his powers as an Adept or boasts of his progress on
the spiritual planes, we can be always sure he is neither Adept nor
disciple. There have been those in the Theosophical Society who gave out
to the world that they were either Adepts in fact or very near it, and
possessed of great powers. Under our formula it follows that they were
mere boasters, with nothing behind their silly pretensions but vanity
and a fair knowledge of the weakness as well as the gullibility of human
nature; upon the latter they play for either their profit or pleasure.
But, hiding themselves under an exterior which does not attract
attention, there are many of the real disciples in the world. They are
studying themselves and other human hearts. They have no diplomas, but
there resides in them a consciousness of constant help and a clear
knowledge of the true Lodge which meets in real secrecy and is never
found mentioned in any directory. Their whole life is a persistent
pursuit of the fast-moving soul which, although appearing to stand
still, can distance the lightning; and their death is only another step
forward to greater knowledge through better physical bodies in new


Looking back into the past the nineteenth-century historian finds his
sight speedily striking a mist and at last plunging into inky darkness.
Bound down in fact by the influence of a ridiculous dogmatism which
allows only some six thousand years for man's life on earth, he is
unwilling to accept the old chronologies of the Egyptians or Hindûs,
and, while permitting the assumption of vast periods for geological
changes, he is staggered by a few millions of years more or less when
they are added to the length of time during which humanity has peopled
the globe. The student of Theosophy, however, sees no reason why he
should doubt the statement made by his teachers on this subject. He
knows that the periods of evolution are endless. These are called
Manvantaras, because they are between two Manus, or, two men.

These periods may be called waves whose succession has no cessation.
Each grand period, including within it all the minor evolutions, covers
311,040,000,000,000 human years; under a single Manu the human years
come and go, 306,720,000 in number, and the lesser yugas--or ages--more
immediately concerning us, comprise of solar years 4,320,000. During
these solar revolutions the human races sweep round and round this
planet. Cave-dwellers, lake-dwellers and those of a neolithic or any
other age appear and disappear over and over again, and in each of those
we who now read, write and think of them were ourselves the very Egos
whose past we are trying to trace.

But, going deep into geological strata, the doubt of man's existence
contemporaneously with the plesiosaurus arises because no fossil _genus
homo_ is discovered in the same stratum. It is here that the theories of
the Theosophist come in and furnish the key. Those hold that before man
developed any physical body he clothed himself with an astral form; and
this is why H. P. Blavatsky writes in her _Secret Doctrine_: "it teaches
the birth of the _astral_ before the _physical_ body, the former being
the model for the latter." At the time of the huge antediluvian animals
they absorbed in their enormous bodies so much of the total quantity of
gross matter available for frames of sentient beings that the astral man
remained without a corporeal frame, as yet unclothed "with coats of
skin." For this reason he could exist in the same place with those huge
birds and reptiles without fear. Their massive proportions inspired him
with no terror, and by their consumption of food there was no lessening
of his sustenance. And, therefore, being of such a composition that he
left no impression upon mud or plastic rock, the death of one astral
body after another left no fossil and no mark to be unearthed by us in
company with the very beasts and birds which were his contemporaries.

Man was all this time acquiring the power to clothe himself with a dense
frame. He threw off astral bodies one after another, in the ceaseless
pursuit, each effort giving him a little more density. Then he began to
cast a shadow, as it were, and the vast, unwieldy animal world--and
others as well--felt more and more the draughts made upon it by the
coming man. As he thickened they grew smaller, and his remains could not
be deposited in any stratum until such time as he had grown to
sufficient hardness. But our modern anthropologists have not yet
discovered when that was. They are ready enough to make definite
statements, but, learned as they are, there are surprises awaiting them
not so far off.

While, therefore, our explorers are finding, now and then, the remains
of animals and birds and reptiles in strata which show an age far
greater than any assigned to the human race, they never come upon human
skeletons. How could man leave any trace at a stage when he could not
press himself into the clay or be caught by soft lava or masses of
volcanic dust? I do not mean, however, to say that the period of the
plesiosaurus is the period of the man of astral body devoid of a
material one. The question of exact period may well be left for a more
detailed account; this is only to point to the law and to the
explanation for the non-appearance of man's remains in very early
geologic strata. But the Theosophic Adepts insist that there are still
in the earth bony remains of man, which carry his first appearance in a
dense body many millions of years farther back than have yet been
admitted, and these remains will be discovered by us before much time
shall have rolled away.

One of the first results of these discoveries will be to completely
upset the theory as to the succession of ages, as I may call it, which
is given and accepted at the present time, and also the estimation of
the various civilizations that have passed from the earth and left no
trace except in the inner constitution of ourselves--for it is held that
_we are those very persons_, now in different bodies, who so long ago
lived and loved and died upon the planet. We began to make Karma then
and have been under its influence ever since, and it seems fitting that
that great doctrine should be taken up at another time for a more
careful examination.


The Oriental doctrine of reward and punishment of the human Ego is very
different from the theological scheme accepted throughout Christendom,
since the Brahmins and Buddhists fix the place of punishment and
compensation upon this earth of ours, while the Christian removes the
"bar of God" to the hereafter. We may not profitably stop to argue upon
logic with the latter; it will be sufficient to quote to them the words
of Jesus, St. Matthew, and the Psalmist. "With what measure ye mete, it
shall be measured unto you again," said Jesus; and Matthew declares that
for every word, act, and thought we shall have to answer, while David,
the royal poet, sang that those who serve the Lord should never eat
beggar's bread. We all know well that the first two declarations do away
with the vicarious atonement; and as for the Jewish singer's notion, it
is negatived every day in any city of either hemisphere.

Among the Ceylonese Buddhists the name of the doctrine is Kamma; with
the Hindûs it is Karma. Viewed in its religious light, it "is the good
and bad deeds of sentient beings, by the infallible influence or
efficacy of which those beings are met with due rewards or punishment,
according as they deserve, in any state of being."[A] When a being dies,
he emits, as it were, a mass of force or energy, which goes to make up
the new personality when he shall be reïncarnated. In this energy is
found the summation of the life just given up, and by means of it the
Ego is forced to assume that sort of body among those appropriate
circumstances which together are the means for carrying out the decrees
of Karma.

Hence hell is not a mythical place or condition after death in some
unknown region specially set apart by the Almighty for the punishment of
his children, but is in very truth our own globe, for it is on the
earth, in earth-lives experienced in human bodies, that we are punished
for bad deeds previously done, and meet with happiness and pleasure as
rewards for old merit.

When one sees, as is so common, a good man suffering much in his life,
the question naturally arises, "Has Karma anything to do with it, and is
it just that such a person should be so afflicted?" For those who
believe in Karma it is quite just, because this man in a previous life
must have done such acts as deserve punishment now. And, similarly, the
wicked man who is free from suffering, happy and prosperous, is so
because in a previous existence he had been badly treated by his fellows
or had experienced much suffering. And the perfect justice of Karma is
well illustrated in his case because, although now favored by fortune,
he, being wicked, is generating causes which, when he shall be reborn,
will operate then to punish him for his evil-doing now.

Some may suppose that the Ego should be punished after death, but such a
conclusion is not logical. For _evil deeds committed here on the
objective plane could not with any scientific or moral propriety be
punished on a plane which is purely subjective_. And such is the reason
why so many minds, both of the young and old, have rejected and rebelled
against the doctrine of a hellfire in which they would be eternally
punished for commission of sin on earth. Even when unable to formulate
the reason in metaphysical terms, they instinctively knew that it would
be impossible to remove the scene of compensation from the very place
where the sin and confusion had been done and created. When the
disciples of Jesus asked him if the man who was born blind was thus
brought into the world for some sin he had committed they had in mind
this doctrine of Karma, just as all the Hindûs and Buddhists have when
they see some of their fellows crippled or deformed or deprived of

The theory above hinted at of the person at death throwing out from
himself the new personality, so to speak, ready to await the time when
the Ego should return to earth seeking a new body, is a general law that
operates in a great many other instances besides the birth or death of a
being. It is that which is used by the Theosophists to explain the
relations between the moon and the earth. For, as the moon is held by
them to be the planet on which we lived before reaching the earth and
before there was any such earth whatever; and that, when our so-called
satellite came to die, all the energy contained in it was thrown out
into space, where in a single vortex it remained until the time came for
that energy to be again supplied with a body--this earth--so the same
law prevails with men, the single units in the vast aggregate which is
known among advanced Theosophists as the great Manu. Men being, as to
their material envelope, derived from the moon, must follow the law of
their origin, and therefore the Buddhist priest says, as quoted: "At the
death of a being nothing goes out from him to the other world for his
rebirth; but by the efficacy--or, to use a more figurative expression,
by the ray--of influence which Kamma emits, a new being is produced in
the other world very identical with the one who died away," for in this
"new being" is held all the life of the deceased. The term "being," as
applied to it may be taken by us with some qualification. It is more
properly a mass of energy devoid of conscience and crowded with desires
of the person from whom it emanated; and its special province is to
await the return of the individuality and form for that the new body in
which it shall suffer or enjoy. Each man is therefore his own creator
under the great Cosmic laws that control all creations. A better term in
place of "creation" is "evolution," for we, from life to life, are
engaged in evolving out of the material provided in this _Manvantara_
new bodies at every turn of the wheel of rebirth. The instruments we use
in this work are desire and will. Desire causes the will to fix itself
on objective life; in that plane it produces force and out of that comes
matter in its objective form.


[A] The Rev. T. P. Terunnanse, High-Priest at Dodanduwa, Ceylon.


Very many Western people say that this Oriental doctrine of Karma is
difficult to understand, being fit only for educated and thoughtful
persons. But in India, Ceylon and Burmah, not to mention other Asiatic
countries, the whole mass of the people accept and seem to understand
it. The reason for this lies probably in the fact that they also firmly
believe in Reïncarnation, which may be said to be the twin doctrine to
Karma. Indeed, the one cannot be properly considered without keeping the
other in view, for Karma--whether as punishment or reward--could have no
actual or just operation upon the Ego unless the means for its operation
were furnished by Reïncarnation.

Our deserts are meted out to us while we are associating in life with
each other, and not while we are alone, nor in separateness. If being
raised to power in a nation or becoming possessed of wealth is called a
reward, it would lose all value were there no people to govern and no
associated human beings with and upon whom we could spend our wealth and
who might aid us in satisfying our manifold desires. And so the law of
Reïncarnation drags us into life again and again, bringing with us
uncounted times the various Egos whom we have known in prior births.
This is in order that the Karma--or causes--generated in company with
those Egos may be worked out, for to take us off separately into an
unknown hell, there to receive some sort of punishment, or into an
impossible serio-comic heaven to meet our reward, would be as impossible
as unjust. Hence, no just-hanged murderer absolved by priest or praising
Jesus can escape. He, together with his victim, must return to this
earth, each to aid the other in adjusting the disturbed harmony, during
which process each makes due compensation. With this doctrine we restore
justice to her seat in the governance of men, for without it the legal
killing of the murderer after condemnation is only a half remedy, since
no provision is made by the State for the being hurled out of the body
nor for the dependants he may have left behind, and, still further,
nothing is done for those who in the family of the murderer survive him.

But the Theosophical sages of all ages push the doctrine of Karma beyond
a mere operation upon incarnated men. They view all worlds as being
bound together and swayed by Karma. As the old Hindû book, the
_Bhagavad-Gîtâ_, says, "all worlds up to that of Brahmâ are subject to
Karma." Hence it acts on all planes. So viewing it, they say that this
world as it is now conditioned is the actual result of what it came to
be at the beginning of the _pralaya_ or grand death which took place
billions upon billions of years ago. That is, the world evolves just as
man does. It is born, it grows old, it dies, and it is reïncarnated.
This goes on many times, and during those incarnations it suffers and
enjoys in its own way for its previous evolutions. For it the reward is
a greater advance along the line of evolution, and the punishment is a
degraded state. Of course, as I said in a former article, these states
have man for their object and cause, for he is the crown of all
evolution. And, coming down from the high consideration of great cosmic
spaces and phenomena, the Theosophist is taught to apply these laws of
Karma and Reïncarnation to every atom in the body in _especial_ and
apart from the total Karma. Since we are made up of a mass of lives, our
thoughts and acts affect those atoms or lives and impress them with a
Karma of their own. As the Oriental thinkers say, "not a moment passes
without some beings coming to life in us, acquiring Karma, dying, and
being reïncarnated."

The principal divisions of Karma are three in number. One sort is that
now operating in the present life and body, bringing about all the
circumstances and changes of life. Of this we see illustrations every
day, with now and then strange climaxes which throw upon the doctrine
the brightest light. One such is immortalized in India by a building
erected by the favored son of fortune, as we would say, and thus it came
about. A Rajah had a very strange dream, so affecting that he called
upon his soothsayers for interpretation. They said that their horoscopes
showed he was required next day to give an immense sum of money to the
first person he should see after awaking, their intention being to
present themselves at an early hour. Next day the King arose unusually
early, stepped to his window, threw it open, and there before him was a
chandalah sweeping up the dirt. To him he gave a fortune, and thus in a
moment raised him to affluence from abject poverty. The chandalah then
built a huge building to commemorate his sudden release from the
grinding chains of poverty.

Another class of Karma is that which is held over and not now in
operation because the man does not furnish the appropriate means for
bringing it into action. This may be likened to vapor held in
suspension in the atmosphere and not visible to the eye, but which will
fall as rain upon the earth the moment conditions are ripe.

The last chief class is that Karma which we are making now, and which
will be felt by us in future births. Its appropriate symbol is the arrow
shot forward in the air by the archer.


The spirit is not affected by Karma at any time or under any
circumstances, and so the Theosophical Adepts would not use the terms
"cultivation of the Spirit." The Spirit in man, called by them
_Ishwara_, is immutable, eternal and indivisible--the fundamental basis
of all. Hence they say that the body and all objects are impermanent and
thus deluding to the soul whenever they are mistaken for reality. They
are only real on and for this plane and during the time when the
consciousness takes them up here for cognition. They are therefore
relatively real and not so in an absolute sense. This can easily be
proved from dreams. In the dream state we lose all knowledge of the
objects which while awake we thought real and proceed to suffer and
enjoy in that new state. In this we find the consciousness applying
itself to objects partaking of course of the nature of the experiences
of the waking condition, but at the same time producing the sensations
of pleasure and pain while they last. Let us imagine a person's body
plunged in a lethargy extending over twenty years and the mind
undergoing a pleasant or unpleasant dream, and we have a life just of
that sort, altogether different from the life of one awake. For the
consciousness of this dreamer the reality of objects known during the
waking state is destroyed. But as material existence is a necessary evil
and the one in which alone emancipation or salvation can be obtained, it
is of the greatest importance and hence Karma which governs it and
through whose decrees emancipation may be reached must be well
understood and then be accepted and obeyed.

Karma will operate to produce a deformed or deficient body, to give in a
good body a bad disposition or _vicè versâ_; it will cause diseases,
hurts or annoyances, or bring about pleasures and favorable situations
for the material frame. So we sometimes find with a deformed or
disagreeable body a most enlightened and noble mind. In this case the
physical Karma is bad and the mental good.

This leads us to the sort of Karma that works upon the mental plane. At
the same time that an unfavorable Karmic cause is showing forth in the
physical structure another and better sort is working out in the mind
and disposition or has eventuated in conferring a mind well balanced,
calm, cheerful, deep, and brilliant. Hence we discover a purely physical
as compared with an entirely mental Karma. Purely physical would be that
resulting, say from a removal from the ground of fruit peel which might
otherwise cause some unknown person to fall and be hurt. Purely mental
might be due to a life spent in calm, philosophical thought and the

There is in one of the Hindû books a strange sentence respecting this
part of the subject, reading: "Perfection of body or superhuman powers
are produced by birth or by herbs or by incantations, penances, or

Among mental afflictions esteemed as worse than any bodily hurt or loss
is that Karma from a preceding life which results in obscurity of such a
character that there is a loss of all power to conceive of the reality
of Spirit or the existence of soul--that is, materialism.

The last field of operation for this law may be said to be the psychical
nature. Of this in America we have numerous examples in mediums,
clairvoyants, clairaudients, mind-readers, hysteriacs, and all sorts of
abnormal sensitives. There could be no clairvoyant according to the
Oriental scheme if the person so afflicted, using as I think the proper
term, had not devoted much of previous lives to a one-sided development
of the psychical nature resulting now in powers which make the possessor
an abnormality in society.

A very strange belief of the Hindûs is that one which allows the
possibility of a change of state by a mortal of such a character that
the once man becomes a _Deva_ or lesser god. They divide nature into
several departments, in each of which are conscious powers or entities
called _Devas_, to put it roughly. Yet this is not so far apart from the
ideas of some of our best scientific men who have said there is no
reason why in each ray of the spectrum there may not be beings to us
unseen. Many centuries ago the Hindû thinker admitted this, and pushing
further on declared that a man might through a certain sort of Karma
become one of these beings, with corresponding enjoyment and freedom
from care, but with the certainty, however, of eventually changing back
again to begin the weary round of birth over again.

What might be called the doctrine of the nullification of Karma is an
application in this department of the well-known law in physics which
causes an equilibrium when two equal forces oppose each other. A man may
have in his Karmic account a very unpleasant cause and at the same time
a cause of opposite character. If these come together for expression at
the same time they may so counteract each other as that neither will be
apparent and the equilibrium is the equivalent of both. In this way it
is easy to understand the Biblical verse: "Charity covereth a multitude
of sins," as referring to the palliative effect of charitable deeds as
opposed to deeds of wickedness, and giving a reason for the mediæval
knight devoting some of the years of his life to almsgiving.

In the _Bhagavad-Gîtâ_, a book revered by all in India, the highest
place is given to what is called _Karma-Yôga_ or the Religion of the
Performance of Works and Duty, and there it is said: "He who, unattached
to the fruits of his actions, performs such actions as must be done, is
both renouncer and devotee; not he who kindles no sacrificial fires and
performs no ceremonies. He who remains inert, restraining the organs of
action, and pondering with his heart on objects of sense, is called a
false pietist of bewildered soul. But he who, restraining his senses by
his heart and being free from interest in acting, undertakes active
devotion through the organs of action, is praiseworthy."


That the doctrine of Karma is unjust, unsympathetic, and fatalistic has
been claimed by those who oppose it, but such conclusions are not borne
out by experience among those races who believe in it, nor will the
objections stand a close examination. The Hindûs and Buddhists
thoroughly believe in Karma, convinced that no one but themselves
punishes or rewards in this or any life, yet we do not find them cold or
unsympathetic. Indeed, in the relations of life it is well known that
the Hindû is as loving and tender as his American brother, and there are
as many instances of heroic self-sacrifice in their history as in ours.
Some go further than this and say that the belief in Karma and
Reïncarnation has made the Hindû more gentle in his treatment of men and
animals than are the Europeans, and more spiritual in his daily life.
Going deeper into their history, the belief in Karma is found side by
side with material works of great magnitude, and whose remains to this
day challenge our wonder, admiration, and respect; it is doubtful
whether we could ever show such triumphs over nature as can be seen at
any time in the rock-cut temples of Hindustan. So it would appear that
this doctrine of ours is not likely to produce bad or enervating effects
upon the people who accept it.

"But," says an objector, "it is fatalism. If Karma is Karma, if I am to
be punished in such and such a manner, then it will come about so
whether I will or not, and hence I must, like the Turk, say 'Kismet,'
and do nothing." Now, although the Mohammedan doctrine of Kismet has
been abused as fatalism, pure and simple, it was not so held by the
Prophet nor by his greatest disciples, for they taught that it was law
and not fate. And neither is Karma amenable to this objection. In the
minds of those who, having vaguely apprehended Karma as applying to one
life only, do not give the doctrine its true majestic, endless sweep,
fatalism is the verdict. When, on the other hand, each man is seen as
the fashioner of the fate for his next fleeting earth personality, there
can be no fatality in it, because in his own hand is the decree. He set
in motion the causes which will inevitably have certain results. Just as
easily he could have made different causes and thus brought about
different results.

That there are a repellant coldness and want of tenderness in a doctrine
which thus deals out inflexible justice and compels us to forever lose
our friends and beloved relatives, once death has closed the door, is
the feeling of a few who make sentiment their rule in life. But while
sentiment and our own wishes are not the guiding laws of nature, there
is no reason even on the sentimental ground for this objection; it is
due to a partial knowledge of the doctrine which, when fully known, is
found to be as full of opportunity for the exercise of what is dear to
the heart as any other theory of life. The same law that throws us into
life to suffer or enjoy, as may be deserved, decrees that the friends
and the relatives who are like unto each other must incarnate together,
until by reason of differentiation of character they cannot under any
law of attraction remain in company. Not unless and until they become
different do they separate from each other. And who would wish to be
eternally tied to the side of uncongenial relatives or acquaintances
merely because there was an accident of birth!

For our aid also this law works well and ceaselessly. "Those whom you
help will help you in other lives," is the declaration. In ages past
perhaps we knew those who long since have passed up to greater heights.
The very moment in the long series of incarnations we come near to where
they are pursuing their pilgrimage, they at once extend assistance,
whether that be on the material or moral planes. And it makes no
difference whether one or the other is aware of who is assisting or who
is being assisted. Inflexible law guides the current and brings about
the result. Thus the members of the whole human family reciprocally act
on one another, forced into it by a law which is as kind as it is great,
which turns the contempt we bore in the past into present honor and
opportunity to help our fellows.

There is no favoritism possible in nature; no man has any privilege or
gift which he has not deserved, either as a reward or a compensation.
Looking at the present life spread before our limited vision, we may see
perhaps no cause why there should be any such reward to an unworthy man,
but Karma never errs and will surely repay. And it not only rewards, but
to it solely belong those compensations which we with revenge attempt to
mete out. It is with this in view that the holy writ of the Christians
says, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay," for so surely as one hurts
another so is the certainty of Karma striking the offender;--but let
the injured one beware that he does not desire the other punished, for
by Karma will he be punished also. So from all this web of life and
ceaselessly revolving wheel, Karma furnishes the escape and the means of
escape, and by reïncarnation we are given the time for escape.


In the Egyptian _Book of the Dead_, chapter x describes the place where,
after death, disembodied souls remain in different degrees of
perfection. Some are shown as taking wheat three cubits high, while
others are only permitted to glean it--"he gleaned the fields of
Aanroo." Thus some enjoy the perfection of spiritual bliss, while others
attain only to minor degrees in that place or state where divine justice
is meted out to the soul.

Devachan is the land of reward; the domain of spiritual effects. The
word spiritual here refers to disembodiment; it must only be used as
relative to our material existence. The Christian demonstrates this fact
by the material _entourage_ of his heaven. In the _Secret Doctrine_, H.
P. Blavatsky says: "Death itself is unable to deliver man from it
[Karma], since death is simply the door through which he passes to
another life on earth, after a little rest on its threshold--Devachan."
Devachan, then, is the threshold of life. In the Hindû system it is
etymologically the place of the gods, Indra's heaven. Indra is the
regent of heaven, who gives to those who can reach his realm
long-enduring gifts of happiness and dominion. The _Bhavagad-Gîtâ_ says:
"After enjoying felicity for innumerable years in the regions of Indra,
he is born again upon this earth."

For the purpose of this article, we assume that the entire man, minus
the body, goes into Devachan. This, however, is not so. The
_post-mortem_ division of our sevenfold constitution given by Theosophy
is exact. It exhibits the basis of life, death and reïncarnation. It
shows the composite being, man, in analogy with that other composite
being, nature. Both are a unity in diversity. Man, suspended in nature,
like her, divides and reünites. This sevenfold division will be treated
in a future article.

Devachan, being a state of prolonged subjective happiness after the
death of the body, is plainly the heaven of the Christian, but with a
difference. It is a heaven made scientifically possible. Heaven itself
must accord with the divine laws projected into nature. As sleep is a
release from the body, during which we have dreams, so death is a
complete separation and release, after which in Devachan we dream until,
on being again incarnated in a new body on earth, we come once more into
what we call waking existence. Even the human soul would weary of the
ceaseless round of rebirths, if some place or state were not provided in
which rest could be obtained; in which germinating aspirations,
restricted by earth-life, could have their full development. No energy
can be annihilated, least of all a psychic energy; these must somewhere
find an outlet. It is found in Devachan; this realization is the rest of
the soul. Its deepest desires, its highest needs are there enjoyed.
There every hope blooms out in full and glorious flower. To prolong this
blissful state, Hindû books give many incantations and provide
innumerable ceremonies and sacrifices, all of them having for end and
aim a long stay in Devachan. The Christian does precisely the same. He
longs for heaven, prays that he may go there, and offers up to his God
such propitiatory rites and acts as seem best to him, the only
difference being that he does not do it half so scientifically as the
Hindû. The Hindû is also more vivid in his conception of this heaven
than the Christian is. He postulates many places or conditions adapted
to the energic and qualitative differences between souls. Kama-loka and
other states are where concrete desires, restricted by life in the body,
have full expression, while in Tribûvana the abstract and benevolent
thinkers absorb the joys of lofty thought. The orthodox heaven has no
such proviso. It also ignores the fact that a settled monotony of
celestial existence would exhaust the soul--would be stagnation, not
growth. Devachanic life is development of aspiration, passing through
the various stages of gestation, birth, cumulative growth, downward
momentum and departure to another condition, all rooted in joy. There is
nothing in the mere fact of death to mould a soul anew. It is a group of
psychic energies, and heaven must have something in common with these,
or why should it gravitate there? Souls differ as men do. In Devachan
each one receives that degree of bliss which it can assimilate; its own
development determines its reward. The Christian places all the snuffy
old saints as high as other holy souls, sinking genius to the level of
the mediocre mass, while the Hindû gives infinite variety of occupation
and existence suited to grave and gay, the soul of genius or of poetry.
No one sits in undesired seats, nor sings psalms he never liked, nor
lives in a city which might pall upon him if he were forever compelled
to walk its pearly streets. The laws of cause and effect forbid that
Devachan should be monotonous. Results are proportionate to antecedent
energies. The soul oscillates between Devachan and earth-life, finding
in each conditions suited to its continuous development, until, through
effort, it reaches a perfection in which it ceases to be the subject of
the laws of action and reäction, becoming instead their conscious

Devachan is a dream, but only in the sense in which objective life can
be called such. Both last until Karma is satisfied in one direction, and
begins to work in the other. The Devachanee has no idea of space or
time except such as he makes for himself. He creates his own world. He
is with all he ever loved, not in bodily companionship, but in one to
him real, close and blissful. When a man dies, the brain dies last. Life
is still busy there after death has been announced. The soul marshals up
all past events, grasps the sum total, the average tendency stands out,
the ruling hope is seen. Their final aroma forms the keynote of
Devachanic existence. The lukewarm man goes neither to heaven nor hell.
Nature spews him out of her mouth. Positive conditions, objective or
subjective, are only reached through positive impulsion. Devachanic
distribution is governed by the ruling motive of the soul. The hater
may, by reäction, become the lover, but the indifferent have no
propulsion, no growth.


It is quite evident to the unprejudiced inquirer that Christian priests
for some reason or other studiously ignore the composite nature of man,
although their great authority, St. Paul, clearly refers to it. He spoke
of body, soul, and spirit, they only preach of body and soul; he
declared we had a spiritual body, they remain misty as to the soul's
body and cling to an absurd resurrection of the material casket. It
became the duty of Theosophists to draw the attention of the modern mind
once more to the Oriental division of man's constitution, for through
that alone can an understanding of his state before and after death be
attained. The division laid down by St. Paul is threefold, the Hindû one
is of a sevenfold character. St. Paul's is meant for those who require
broad outlines, but do not care to inquire into details. Spirit, soul,
and body, however, include the whole seven divisions, the latter being a
more complete analysis; and it is suspected by many deep thinkers that
Paul knew the complete system but kept it back for good reasons of his

An analysis of body discloses more than mere molecular structure, for it
shows a force or life or power that keeps it together and active
throughout its natural period. Some writers on Theosophical subjects,
dealing more or less accurately with the Eastern system, have called
this _Prâna_ or _Jîva_; others, however, call it _Prâna_ alone, which
seems more appropriate, because the human aspect of the life force is
dependent upon _Prâna_, or _breath_.

The _spirit_ of St. Paul may be taken for our purposes to be the
Sanskrit _Âtmâ_. Spirit is universal, indivisible, and common to all. In
other words, there are not many spirits, one for each man, but solely
one spirit which shines upon all men alike, finding as many
souls--roughly speaking--as there are beings in the world. In man the
spirit has a more complete instrument or assemblage of tools with which
to work. This spiritual identity is the basis of the philosophy; upon it
the whole structure rests; to individualize spirit, assigning to each
human being his own spirit, particular to him and separate from the
spirit of any other man, is to throw to the ground the whole Theosophic
philosophy, will nullify its ethics and defeat its object.

Starting then with _Âtmâ_--spirit--as including the whole, being its
basis and support, we find the Hindû offering the theory of sheaths or
covers of the soul or inner man. These sheaths are necessary the moment
evolution begins and visible objects appear, so that the aim of the soul
may be attained in conjunction with nature. In this way, through a
process which would be out of place here, a classification is arrived at
by means of which the phenomena of life and consciousness may be

The six vehicles used by the spirit and by means of which the Ego gains
experience are:

_Body_, as a gross vehicle.

_Vitality_, or _Prâna_.

_Astral Body_, or _Linga Sharîra_.

_Animal Soul_, or _Kâma Rûpa_.

_Human Soul_, or _Manas_.

_Spiritual Soul_, or _Buddhi_.

The _Linga Sharîra_ is needed as a more subtle body than the corporeal
frame, because the latter is in fact only stupid, inert matter. _Kâma
Rûpa_ is the body, or collection, of desires and passions; _Manas_ may
be properly called the mind, and _Buddhi_ is the highest intellection
beyond brain or mind. It is that which discriminates.

At the death of the body, _Prâna_ flies back to the reservoir of force;
the astral body dissipates after a longer period and often returns with
_Kâma Rûpa_ when aided by certain other forces to séance-rooms, where it
masquerades as the deceased, a continual lie and ever-present snare. The
human and the spiritual soul go into the state spoken of before as
_Devachan_ or heaven, where the stay is prolonged or short according to
the energies appropriate to that state generated during earth-life. When
these begin to exhaust themselves the Ego is gradually drawn back to
earth-life, where through human generation it takes up a new body, with
another astral body, vitality, and animal soul.

This is the "wheel of rebirth," from which no man can escape unless he
conforms to true ethics and acquires true knowledge and consciousness
while living in a body. It was to stop this ceaselessly revolving wheel
that Buddha declared his perfect law, and it is the aim of the true
Theosophist to turn his great and brilliant "Wheel of the Law" for the
healing of the nations.


High in the esteem of the Hindû stands the serpent, both as a symbol and
a creature. Moving in a wavy line, he figures the vast revolution of the
Sun through eternal space carrying the rapidly whirling Earth in her
lesser orbit; periodically casting his skin, he presents a visible
illustration of renewal of life or reïncarnation; coiling to strike, he
shows the working of the law of Karma-Nemesis which, with a basis in our
actions, deals an unerring blow. As a symbol with tail in mouth, forming
a circle, he represents eternity, the circle of necessity, all-devouring
Time. For the older Initiates he spoke to them also of the astral light
which is at once devilish and divine.

Probably in the whole field of Theosophic study there is nothing so
interesting as the astral light. Among the Hindûs it is known as Akâsa,
which can also be translated as æther. Through a knowledge of its
properties they say that all the wonderful phenomena of the Oriental
Yogis are accomplished. It is also claimed that clairvoyance,
clairaudience, mediumship, and seership as known to the Western world
are possible only through its means. It is the register of our deeds and
thoughts, the great picture gallery of the earth, where the seer can
always gaze upon any event that has ever happened, as well as those to
come. Swimming in it as in a sea are beings of various orders and also
the astral remains of deceased men and women. The Rosicrucians and other
European mystics called these beings Sylphs, Salamanders, Gnomes,
Undines, Elementals; the Hindû calls them Gandharbhas or celestial
musicians, Yakshas, Rakshâsas and many more. The "spooks" of the
dead--mistaken by Spiritualists for the individuals who are no
more--float in this Akâsic substance, and for centuries have been known
to the mystical Hindû as Bhûta, another name for devil, or Pisâcha, a
most horrible devil; neither of them any more than the cast-off
soul-body nearest earth, devoid of conscience and only powerful for

But the term "astral light," while not new, is purely of Occidental
origin. Porphyry spoke of it when referring to the celestial or
soul-body, which he says is immortal, luminous, and "star-like;"
Paracelsus called it the "sidereal light;" later it grew to be known as
astral. It was said to be the same as the _anima mundi_ or soul of the
world. Modern scientific investigators approach it when they speak of
"luminiferous ether" and "radiant matter." The great astronomer, Camille
Flammarion, who was a member of the Theosophical Society during his
life, speaks of the astral light in his novel _Uranie_ and says: "The
light emanating from all these suns that people immensity, the light
reflected through space by all these worlds lighted by these suns,
_photographs_ throughout the boundless heaven the centuries, the days,
the moments as they pass.... From this it results that the histories of
all the worlds are travelling through space without dispersing
altogether, and that all the events of the past are present and live
evermore in the bosom of the infinite."

Like all unfamiliar or occult things the astral light is difficult to
define, and especially so from the very fact that it is called "light."
It is not the light as we know it, and neither is it darkness. Perhaps
it was said to be a light because when clairvoyants saw by means of it,
the distant objects seemed to be illuminated. But as equally well
distant sounds can be heard in it, heavy bodies levitated by it, odors
carried thousands of miles through it, thoughts read in it, and all the
various phenomena by mediums brought about under its action, there has
been a use of the term "light" which while unavoidable is none the less

A definition to be accurate must include all the functions and powers
of this light, but as those are not fully known even to the mystic, and
wholly _terra incognita_ for the scientist, we must be content with a
partial analysis. It is a substance easily imagined as imponderable
ether which, emanating from the stars, envelopes the earth and permeates
every atom of the globe and each molecule upon it. Obeying the laws of
attraction and repulsion, it vibrates to and fro, making itself now
positive and now negative. This gives it a circular motion which is
symbolized by the serpent. It is the great final agent, or prime mover,
cosmically speaking, which not only makes the plant grow but also keeps
up the diastole and systole of the human heart.

Very like the action of the sensitive photographic plate is this light.
It takes, as Flammarion says, the pictures of every moment and holds
them in its grasp. For this reason the Egyptians knew it as the
Recorder; it is the Recording Angel of the Christian, and in one aspect
it is Yâma, the judge of the dead in the Hindû pantheon, for it is by
the pictures we impress therein that we are judged by Karma.

As an enormous screen or reflector the astral light hangs over the earth
and becomes a powerful universal hypnotizer of human beings. The
pictures of all acts good and bad done by our ancestors as by ourselves,
being ever present to our inner selves, we constantly are impressed by
them by way of suggestion and go then and do likewise. Upon this the
great French priest-mystic, Éliphas Lévi, says: "We are often astonished
when in society at being assailed by evil thoughts and suggestions that
we would not have imagined possible, and we are not aware that we owe
them solely to the presence of some morbid neighbor; this fact is of
great importance, since it relates to the manifestation of
conscience--one of the most terrible and incontestable secrets of the
magic art.... So diseased souls have a bad breath, and vitiate the
moral atmosphere; that is to say, they mingle impure reflections with
the astral light which penetrates them, and thus establish deleterious

There is also a useful function of this light. As it preserves the
pictures of all past events and things, and as there is nothing new
under the sun, the appliances, the ideas, the philosophy, the arts and
sciences of long buried civilizations are continually being projected in
pictures out of the astral into the brains of living men. This gives a
meaning not only to the oft-recurring "coïncidence" of two or more
inventors or scientists hitting upon the same ideas or inventions at
about the same time and independently of each other, but also to other
events and curious happenings.

Some self-styled scientists have spoken learnedly of telepathy, and
other phenomena, but give no sufficient reason in nature for
thought-transference or apparitions or clairvoyance or the hundred and
one varieties of occurrences of an occult character noticed from day to
day among all conditions of men. It is well to admit that thought may be
transferred without speech directly from one brain to another, but how
can the transference be effected without a medium? That medium is the
astral light. The moment the thought takes shape in the brain it is
pictured in this light, and from there is taken out again by any other
brain sensitive enough to receive it intact.

Knowing the strange properties of the astral plane and the actual fate
of the sheaths of the soul spoken of in another article, the
Theosophical Adepts of all times gave no credit to pretended returning
of the dead. Éliphas Lévi learned this well and said: "The astral light
combining with ethereal fluids forms the astral phantom of which
Paracelsus speaks. This astral body being freed at death, attracts to
itself and preserves for a long time, by the sympathy of likeness, the
reflection of the past life; if a powerfully sympathetic will draws it
into the proper current it manifests itself in the form of an
apparition." But with a sensitive, abnormally constituted person
present--a medium, in other words, and all of that class are nervously
unbalanced--the strong will is not needed, for the astral light and the
living medium's astral body recall these soulless phantoms, and out of
the same reservoir take their speech, their tones, their idiosyncrasies
of character, which the deluded devotees of this debasing practice are
cheated into imagining as the returned self of dead friend or relative.

Yet all I have referred to here are only instances of a few of the
various properties of the astral light. So far as concerns our world it
may be said that astral light is everywhere, interpenetrating all
things; to have a photographic power by which it grasps pictures of
thoughts, deeds, events, tones, sounds, colors, and all things;
reflective in the sense that it reflects itself into the minds of men;
repellant from its positive side and attractive from the negative;
capable of assuming extreme density when drawn in around the body by
powerful will or by abnormal bodily states, so that no physical force
can penetrate it. This phase of its action explains some facts
officially recorded during the witchcraft excitement in Salem. It was
there found that although stones and other flying objects came toward
the possessed one they always fell as it were from the force of gravity
_just at the person's feet_. The Hindû Yogi gives evidence of a use of
this condensation of the astral light when he allows arrows and other
projectiles to be thrown at him, all of them falling at his feet no
matter how great their momentum, and the records of genuine
Spiritualistic phenomena in the United States furnish similar

The astral light is a powerful factor, unrecognized by science, in the
phenomenon of hypnotism. Its action will explain many of the problems
raised by Binet, Charcot and others, and especially that class in which
two or more distinct personalities seem to be assumed by the subject,
who can remember in each only those things and peculiarities of
expression which belong to that particular stratum of their experience.
These strange things are due to the currents in the astral light. In
each current will be found a definite series of reflections, and they
are taken up by the inner man, who reports them through speech and
action on this plane as if they were his own. By the use of these
currents too, but unconsciously, the clairvoyants and clairaudients seem
to read in the hidden pages of life.

This light can therefore be impressed with evil or good pictures, and
these are reflected into the subconscious mind of every human being. If
you fill the astral light with bad pictures, just such as the present
century is adept at creating, it will be our devil and destroyer, but if
by the example of even a few good men and women a new and purer sort of
events are limned upon this eternal canvas, it will become our Divine

_There is no Religion Higher than Truth_


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This BROTHERHOOD is a part of a great and universal movement which has
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This Organization declares that Brotherhood is a fact in Nature. Its
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Its subsidiary purpose is to study ancient and modern religions,
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Blavatsky at New York, 1875, continued after her death under the
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Founded in 1897 by Katherine Tingley


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