PART I = What is Reincarnation ? Does anything reincarnate?
Feb 14, 2002 04:04 PM
PART I on REINCARNATION
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Since reincarnation is inquired into, let me offer a few notes
extracted from the OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY on the subject, so that we
may see if they are reasonable and useful
As an Introduction we give some details about the Mind (soul) or
"Manas." Here are some considerations:
What is it?
Where does it come from? Who brought it?
What should we do with our mind?
Does it Reincarnate? Is there an end to reincarnation?
REINCARNATION AND MANAS
The mystery about reincarnation -- as to whether it is a fact or
not, revolves around our understanding of the nature and the
powers of the Mind (Manas).
Ordinarily the Mind is thought to be immaterial, or to be merely
the name for brain-action, in evolving thought. Thinking is
still a process wholly unknown other than by inference. Yet it i
also held that if there is no brain, there can be no mind. A good
deal of attention has been paid to cataloging some mental
functions and attributes, but the terms in our language are
absent to describe metaphysical and spiritual facts about man.
The reaction against religion in the West, prevented science
from taking anything but a materialistic view of man and nature.
THE HIGHER MAN
Theosophy states the fifth principle is Manas, translated Mind.
Other names may have been given to it, but it is the Knower, The
Perceiver, The Thinker. The sixth principle is Buddhi, or
spiritual discernment; the seventh is Atma, or Spirit -- the ray
from the Absolute Being. English as a language, may suffice to
describe in part what Manas is, but not Buddhi, or Atma, and will
leave many things relating to Manas undescribed.
THE LOWER MAN
The course of evolution developed the four lower principles
(Desire, Life-energy, Astral and Physical bodies) and produced at
last, the form of man with a brain of better and deeper capacity
than that of any other animal.
This man in form was not man in mind, and needed the fifth
principle, the thinking, perceiving one, to differentiate him
from the animal kingdom and to confer the power of becoming
Self-Conscious. The Monad (Atma-Buddhi) was imprisoned in these
forms, for without the presence of the Monad evolution could not
THE LIGHTING-UP OF THE MIND
Going back for a moment to the time when mankind was devoid of
mind, the question arises, "who gave the mind, where did it come
from, and what is it?" It is the link between the Spirit of God
above and the personal below. It was given to the mindless
Monads by others who had gone through this process ages upon ages
before in other worlds, and it therefore came from older
evolutionary periods which had been carried out and completed
long before the solar system began. This is the strange theory
which must be stated if we are to tell the truth about Theosophy;
and this is only handing on what others have said before.
The manner in which this Light Of Mind was given to the Mindless
Men can be understood from the illustration of one candle
lighting many. Given one lighted candle and numerous unlighted
ones, it follows that from one light the others may also be set
aflame. So in the case of Manas. It is the candle of flame.
The mindless men having four elementary principles of Body,
Astral Body, Life and Desire, are the unlighted candles that
cannot light themselves.
MIND IS A GIFT FROM OUR ELDER BROTHERS -- THE WISE
The "Sons of Wisdom," who are the Elder Brothers of the family of
men on any globe, have the Mind-light. It was derived by them
from others -- their "Elders," who reach back, and yet farther
back, in endless procession with no beginning or end. They set
fire to the combined lower principles and the Monad, thus
lighting up Manas in the new men. And from there began the
preparing of another great race for final initiation.
This lighting up of the fire of Manas is symbolized in all great
religions and Freemasonry. In the East a priest appears holding a
candle lighted at the altar, and thousands of others come to him
in a procession, to light their candles from this one.
MANAS THE IMMORTAL THINKER REINCARNATES
Manas, or the Thinker, is the reincarnating being. It is the
immortal who carries the results and values of all the different
lives lived on earth or elsewhere.
MIND BECOMES DUAL IN THE PHYSICAL MAN
Its nature becomes dual as soon as it is attached to a body. For
the human Brain is a superior organism, and Manas uses it to
reason from premises to conclusions. This also differentiates man
from animal, for the animal acts from automatic, the so-called
instinctual impulses. Whereas the man, can use Reason. This is
the lower aspect of the Thinker or Manas, and not, as some have
supposed, the highest and best gift belonging to man.
Its other, and in Theosophy higher, aspect, is the intuitional,
which knows, and does not depend on reason. It is Manas allied to
Buddhi -- spiritual discrimination and Wisdom. The lower, and
purely intellectual, is nearest to the principle of Desire, and
is thus distinguished from its other side which has affinity for
the spiritual principles (Buddhi and Atma, above. If the Thinker,
becomes wholly intellectual, the entire nature begins to trend
downward; for intellect alone is cold, heartless, selfish,
because it is not lighted up by the two other principles of
universality and immortality: Buddhi and Atma.
MANAS-MIND STORES ALL THOUGHTS
In Manas the thoughts of all lives are stored. That is to say: in
any one life, the sum total of thoughts underlying all the acts
of the life-time will be of one character in general, but may be
placed in one or more classes. That is, the business man of today
is a single type; his entire life thoughts represent but one
single thread of thought. The artist is another. The man who has
engaged in business, but also thought much upon fame and power
which he never attained, is still another.
The great mass of self-sacrificing, courageous, and strong, poor
people who have but little time to think, constitute another
distinct class. In all these, the total quantity of life thoughts
makes up the stream or thread of a "life's meditation" -- "that
upon which the heart was set" -- and those are stored in immortal
Manas. All those will be brought out again at any time in
whatever life the brain and bodily environments are similar to
those used in engendering that class of thoughts.
PERCEPTION BY THE MIND
It is Manas which sees the objects presented to it by the bodily
organs and the actual organs (which are seated in the Astral
body) within. When the open eye receives a picture on the retina,
the whole scene is turned into vibrations in the optic nerves
which disappear into the brain, and there Manas is enabled to
perceive them as idea. And so with every other organ or sense. If
the connection between Manas and the brain be broken,
intelligence will not be manifested unless Manas has by training
found out how to project the astral body out and away from the
physical, and thereby keep up communication with fellow men.
OUR ORGANS OF PERCEPTION ARE TOOLS FOR THE MIND
That the organs and senses do not cognize objects, hypnotism,
mesmerism, and spiritualism have now proved. For, as we see in
mesmeric and hypnotic experiments, the object seen or felt, and
from which, all the effects of solid objects may be sensed, is
often only an idea existing in the operator's brain. In hypnotism
there are many experiments, all of which go to show that so
called matter is not per se solid or dense; that sight does not
always depend on the eye and rays of light proceeding from an
object; that the intangible for one normal brain and organs, may
be perfectly tangible for another; and that physical effects in
the body may be produced solely from an idea.
The well-known experiments of producing a blister by a simple
piece of paper, or preventing a real blistering plaster from
making a blister, by force of the idea conveyed to a subject,
either that there was to be or not to be a blister, conclusively
prove the power of effecting an impulse on matter by the use of
that which is called Mind (Manas). But all these phenomena are
the exhibition of the powers of Lower Manas acting in the astral
Body and the fourth principle -- Desire, using the physical body
as the field for the exhibition of the forces.
In the same way Manas, using the astral body, has only to impress
an idea upon the other person to make the latter see the idea and
translate it into a visible body from which the usual effects of
density and weight seem to follow.
LOWER MANAS AND ITS POWERS
It is this Lower Manas which retains all the impressions of a
life-time and sometimes strangely exhibits them in trances or
dreams, delirium, induced states, here and there in normal
conditions, and very often at the time of physical death. But it
is so occupied with the brain, with memory and with sensation,
that it usually presents but few recollections out of the mass of
events that years have brought before it.
It interferes with the action of Higher Manas because just at the
present point of evolution, Desire and all corresponding powers,
faculties, and senses are the most highly developed, thus
obscuring, as it were, the white light of the spiritual side of
Manas. It (Lower Manas) is tinted by each object presented to
it, whether it be a thought-object or a material one. That is to
say, Lower Manas operating through the brain is at once altered
into the shape and other characteristics of any object, mental or
otherwise. This causes it to have four peculiarities.
* First, to naturally fly off and away from a selected point,
object, or subject;
* Second, to fly to some pleasant idea;
* Third, to fly to an unpleasant idea;
* Fourth, to remain passive and considering nothing.
The first is due to memory and the natural motion of Manas; the
second and third are due to memory alone; the fourth signifies
sleep when not abnormal. And when abnormal is trending toward
HIGHER MANAS AND ITS WORK
These mental characteristics all belonging to Lower Manas. It is
these which the Higher Manas, aided by Buddhi and Atma, has to
fight and conquer. Higher Manas, if able to act, becomes what we
sometimes call Genius. If completely master, then one may become
a god. But memory continually presents pictures to Lower Manas,
and the result is that the Higher is obscured. Sometimes,
however, along the pathway of life we do see here and there men
who are geniuses or great seers and prophets. In these the Higher
powers of Manas are active, and the person is illuminated. Such
were the great Sages of the past, men like Buddha, Jesus,
Confucius, Zoroaster, and others. Poets, too, such as Tennyson,
Longfellow, and others, are men in whom Higher Manas now and then
sheds a bright ray on the man below, to be soon obscured,
however, by the effect of dogmatic religious education which has
given memory certain pictures that always prevent Manas from
gaining full activity.
In this higher Trinity, we have the God above each one; this is
Atma, (the 7th principle) and may be called the Higher Self.
Next, (the sixth) is the spiritual part of the soul called
Buddhi; when thoroughly united with Manas (the fifth) this may be
called the Divine Ego, or the Spiritual Soul.
THE REINCARNATING SELF IS AN IMMORTAL
The inner Ego (Manas), who reincarnates, taking on body after
body, storing up the impressions of life after life, gaining
experience and adding it to the Divine Ego, suffering and
enjoying through an immense period of years, is the fifth
principle -- Manas -- not united to Buddhi.
This is the permanent individuality which gives to every man the
feeling of being himself and not some other; that which through
all the changes of the days and nights from youth to the end of
life makes us feel one identity through all the period; it bridge
s the gap made by sleep; in like manner it bridges the gap made
by the sleep of death. It is this, and not our brain, that lifts
us above the animal.
The depth and variety of the brain convolutions in man are caused
by the presence of Manas, and are not the cause of mind. And when
we either wholly, or now and then, become consciously united with
Buddhi, the Spiritual Soul, we "behold God," as it were. This is
what the ancients all desired to see, but what the moderns do not
believe in, the latter preferring rather to throw away their own
right to be great in nature, and to worship an imaginary god,
made up solely of their own fancies, and not very different from
weak human nature.
DUTY AND WORK OF THE REINCARNATING MIND-MANAS
This permanent individuality in our present race has therefore
been through every sort of experience, for Theosophy insists on
its permanence and in the necessity for its continuing to take
part in evolution. It has a duty to perform, consisting in
raising up to a higher state all the matter concerned in the
chain of globes to which the earth belongs.
We have all lived and taken part in civilization after
civilization, race after race, on earth, and will so continue
throughout all the Rounds and Races until the seventh is
complete. At the same time it should be remembered that the
matter of this globe, connected with it, has also been through
every kind of form, with possibly some exceptions in very low
planes of mineral formation.
But in general all the matter visible, or held in space still
unprecipitated, has been molded at one time or another into forms
of all varieties, many of these being such as we now have no idea
of. The processes of evolution, therefore, in some departments,
now go forward with greater rapidity than in former ages because
both Manas and matter have acquired facility of action.
Especially is this so in regard to man, who is the farthest ahead
of all things or beings in this evolution. He is now incarnated
and projected into life more quickly than in earlier periods when
it consumed many years to obtain a "coat of skin." This coming
into life over and over again cannot be avoided by the ordinary
man because Lower Manas is still bound by Desire, which is the
preponderating principle at the present period. Being so very
influenced by Desire, Manas is continually deluded while in the
body, and being thus deluded is unable to prevent the action upon
it of the forces set up in the life time.
These forces are generated by Manas, that is, by the thinking of
a whole life time. Each thought makes a physical as well as
mental link with the Desire in which it is rooted. All life is
filled with such thoughts, and when the period of rest after
death is ended, Manas is bound by innumerable electrical magnetic
threads to earth by reason of the thoughts of the last life, and
therefore by desire, for it was desire that caused so many
thoughts and ignorance of the true nature of things. This is
called by the Hindu philosophies "maya." (illusion).
An understanding of this doctrine of man being really a thinker
and made of thought, will make clear all the rest in relation to
incarnation and reincarnation.
The body of the inner man is made of thought, and this being so
it must follow that if the thoughts have more affinity for
earth-life than for life elsewhere a return to life here is
At the present day Manas is not fully active in the race, as
Desire still is uppermost. In the next cycle of the human period
Manas will be fully active and developed in the entire race.
Hence the people of the earth have not yet come to the point of
making a conscious choice as to the path they will take; but when
in the cycle referred to, Manas is active, all will then be
compelled to consciously make the choice to right or left, the
one leading to complete and conscious union with Atma, the other
to the annihilation of those beings who prefer that path of an
The COMPLEXITY OF NATURE IS FOCUSED IN MAN
How man has come to be the complex being that he is and why, are
questions that neither Science nor Religion makes conclusive
This immortal thinker having such vast powers and possibilities,
all his because of his intimate connection with every secret part
of Nature from which he has been built up, stands at the top of
an immense and silent evolution.
He asks why Nature exists, what the drama of life has for its
aim, how that aim may be attained. But Science and Religion both
fail to give a reasonable reply. Science does not pretend to be
able to give the solution, saying that the examination of things
as they are (as Nature has arranged them), is enough of a task.
Religion offers an explanation both illogical and unmeaning and
acceptable but to the bigot, as it requires us to consider the
whole of Nature as a mystery and to seek for the meaning and
purpose of life, with all its sorrow, in the whimsical and
fanciful pleasure of a God who cannot be found out. The educated
and enquiring mind knows that dogmatic religion can only give an
answer invented by man while it pretends to be from God.
WHY DOES MAN AND THE UNIVERSE EXIST AT ALL ?
What then is the universe for, and for what final purpose is man
the immortal thinker here in evolution? It is all for the
experience and emancipation of the soul, for the purpose of
raising the entire mass of manifested matter up to the stature,
nature, and dignity of conscious god-hood. The great aim is to
reach self-consciousness; not through a race or a tribe or some
favored nation, but by and through the perfecting, after
transformation, of the whole mass of matter as well as what we
now call soul.
Nothing is or is to be left out. The aim for present man is his
initiation into complete knowledge, and for the other kingdoms
below him that they may be raised up gradually from stage to
stage to be in time initiated also.
This is evolution carried to its highest power; it is a
magnificent prospect; it makes of man a god, and gives to every
part of nature the possibility of being one day the same; there
is strength and nobility in it, for by this no man is dwarfed and
belittled, for no one is so originally sinful that he cannot rise
above all sin.
Treated from the materialistic position of Science, evolution
takes in but half of life; while the religious conception of it
is a mixture of nonsense and fear. Present religions keep the
element of fear, and at the same time imagine that an Almighty
being can think of no other earth but this and has to govern this
one very imperfectly. But the old theosophical view makes the
universe a vast, complete, and perfect whole.
EVOLUTION A DUAL PROCESS
Now the moment we postulate a double evolution, physical and
spiritual, we have at the same time to admit that it can only be
carried on by reincarnation.
This is, in fact, demonstrated by science. It is shown that the
matter of the earth and of all things physical upon it was at one
time either gaseous or molten; that it cooled; that it altered;
that from its alterations and evolutions at last were produced
all the great variety of things and beings.
This, on the physical plane, is transformation or change from one
form to another.
The total mass of matter is about the same as in the beginning
of this globe, with a very minute allowance for some star dust.
Hence it must have been changed over and over again, and thus
been physically reformed and re-embodied. Of course, to be
strictly accurate, we cannot use the word reincarnation, because
"incarnate" refers to flesh. Let us say "re-embodied," and then
we see that both for matter and for man there has been a constant
change of form and this is, broadly speaking, "reincarnation."
MATTER MADE OF IMMORTAL EVOLVING MONADS
As to the whole mass of matter, the doctrine is that it will all
be raised to man's estate when man has gone further on himself.
There is no residuum left after man's final salvation which in a
mysterious way is to be disposed of or done away with in some
remote dust-heap of nature. The true doctrine allows for nothing
like that, and at the same time is not afraid to give the true
disposition of what would seem to be a residuum. It is all worked
up into other states, for as the philosophy declares there is no
inorganic matter whatever but that every atom is alive and has
the germ of self-consciousness, it must follow that one day it
will all have been changed.
Thus what is now called human flesh is so much matter that one
day was wholly mineral, later on vegetable, and now refined into
human atoms. At a point of time very far from now the present
vegetable matter will have been raised to the animal stage and
what we now use as our organic or fleshy matter will have changed
by transformation through evolution into self-conscious thinkers,
and so on up the whole scale until the time shall come when what
is now known as mineral matter will have passed on to the human
stage and out into that of thinker.
Then at the coming on of another great period of evolution the
mineral matter of that time will be some which is now passing
through its lower transformations on other planets and in other
systems of worlds. This is perhaps a "fanciful" scheme for the
men of the present day, who are so accustomed to being called
bad, sinful, weak, and utterly foolish from their birth that they
fear to believe the truth about themselves, but for the disciples
of the ancient theosophists it is not impossible or fanciful, but
is logical and vast. And no doubt it will one day be admitted by
everyone when the mind of the western race has broken away from
As to reincarnation and metempsychosis we say that they are first
to be applied to the whole cosmos and not alone to man. But as
man is the most interesting object to himself, we will consider
in detail its application to him.
END OF PART I
These have been extracts from The OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY W Q Judge
PART II is to follow
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