RE: [bn-study] Re: Theos-World re Leonardo's "Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy"
Nov 25, 2004 02:09 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
Nov 25 2004
While not exactly an answer to your comments, the following may prove
MEMORY IN THE DYING
H. P. Blavatsky
WE find in a very old letter from a MASTER, written years ago to a member of
the Theosophical Society, the following suggestive lines on the mental state
of a dying man:
"At the last moment, the whole life is reflected in our memory and emerges
from all the forgotten nooks and corners, picture after picture, one event
after the other. The dying brain dislodges memory with a strong, supreme
impulse; and memory restores faithfully every impression that has been
entrusted to it during the period of the brain's activity. That impression
and thought which was the strongest, naturally becomes the most vivid, and
survives, so to say, all the rest, which now vanish and disappear for ever,
but to reappear in Devachan. No man dies insane or unconscious, as some
physiologists assert. Even a madman or one in a fit of delirium tremens will
have his instant of perfect lucidity at the moment of death, though unable
to say so to those present. The man may often appear dead. Yet from the last
pulsation, and between the last throbbing of his heart and the moment when
the last spark of animal heat leaves the body, the brain thinks and the EGO
lives, in these few brief seconds, his whole life over again. Speak in
whispers, ye who assist at a death-bed and find yourselves in the solemn
presence of Death. Especially have ye to keep quiet just after Death has
laid her clammy hand upon the body. Speak in whispers I say, lest you
disturb the quiet ripple of thought and hinder the busy work of the Past
casting its reflection upon the veil of the Future. . . ."
The above statement has been more than once strenuously opposed by
materialists; Biology and (Scientific) Psychology, it was urged, were both
against the idea, and while the latter had no well demonstrated data to go
upon in such a hypothesis, the former dismissed the idea as an empty
"superstition." Meanwhile, even biology is bound to progress, and this is
what we learn of its latest achievements. Dr. Ferré has communicated quite
recently to the Biological Society of Paris a very curious note on the
mental state of the dying, which corroborates marvellously the above lines.
For, it is to the special phenomenon of life-reminiscences, and that sudden
re-emerging on the blank walls of memory, from all its long neglected and
forgotten "nooks and corners," of "picture after picture" that Dr. Ferré
draws the special attention of biologists.
We need notice but two among the numerous instances given by this Scientist
in his Rapport, to show how scientifically correct are the teachings we
receive from our Eastern Masters.
The first instance is that of a moribund consumptive whose disease was
developed in consequence of a spinal affection. Already consciousness had
left the man, when, recalled to life by two successive injections of a
gramme of ether, the patient slightly lifted his head and began talking
rapidly in Flemish, a language no one around him, nor yet himself,
understood. Offered a pencil and a piece of white cardboard, he wrote with
great rapidity several lines in that language--very correctly, as was
ascertained later on--fell back, and died. When translated--the writing was
found to refer to a very prosaic affair. He had suddenly recollected, he
wrote, that he owed a certain man a sum of fifteen francs since 1868--hence
more than twenty years--and desired it to be paid.
But why write his last wish in Flemish? The defunct was a native of Antwerp,
but had left his country in childhood, without ever knowing the language,
and having passed all his life in Paris, could speak and write only in
French. Evidently his returning consciousness, that last flash of memory
that displayed before him, as in a retrospective panorama, all his life,
even to the trifling fact of his having borrowed twenty years back a few
francs from a friend, did not emanate from his physical brain alone, but
rather from his spiritual memory, that of the Higher Ego (Manas or the
re-incarnating individuality). The fact of his speaking and writing Flemish,
a language that he had heard at a time of life when he could not yet speak
himself, is an additional proof. The EGO is almost omniscient in its
immortal nature. For indeed matter is nothing more than "the last degree and
as the shadow of existence," as Ravaisson, member of the French Institute,
But to our second case.
Another patient, dying of pulmonary consumption and likewise reanimated by
an injection of ether, turned his head towards his wife and rapidly said to
her: "You cannot find that pin now; all the floor has been renewed since
then." This was in reference to the loss of a scarf pin eighteen years
before, a fact so trifling that it had almost been forgotten, but which had
not failed to be revived in the last thought of the dying man, who having
expressed what he saw in words, suddenly stopped and breathed his last. Thus
any one of the thousand little daily events, and accidents of a long life
would seem capable of being recalled to the flickering consciousness, at the
supreme moment of dissolution. A long life, perhaps, lived over again in the
space of one short second!
A third case may be noticed, which corroborates still more strongly that
assertion of Occultism which traces all such remembrances to the
thought-power of the individual, instead of to that of the personal (lower)
Ego. A young girl, who had been a sleepwalker up to her twenty-second year,
performed during her hours of somnambulic sleep the most varied functions of
domestic life, of which she had no remembrance upon awakening.
Among other psychic impulses that manifested themselves only during her
sleep, was a secretive tendency quite alien to her waking state. During the
latter she was open and frank to a degree, and very careless of her personal
property; but in the somnambulic state she would take articles belonging to
herself or within her reach and hide them away with ingenious cunning. This
habit being known to her friends and relatives, and two nurses, having been
in attendance to watch her actions during her night rambles for years,
nothing disappeared but what could be easily restored to its usual place.
But on one sultry night, the nurse falling asleep, the young girl got up and
went to her father's study. The latter, a notary of fame, had been working
till a late hour that night. It was during a momentary absence from his room
that the somnambule entered, and deliberately possessed herself of a will
left open upon the desk, as also of a sum of several thousand pounds in
bonds and notes. These she proceeded to hide in the hollow of two dummy
pillars set up in the library to match the solid ones, and stealing from the
room before her father's return, she regained her chamber and bed without
awakening the nurse who was still asleep in the armchair.
The result was, that, as the nurse stoutly denied that her young mistress
had left the room, suspicion was diverted from the real culprit and the
money could not be recovered. The loss of the will involved a law-suit which
almost beggared her father and entirely ruined his reputation, and the
family were reduced to great straits. About nine years later the young girl
who, during the previous seven years had not been somnambulic, fell into a
consumption of which she ultimately died. Upon her death-bed. the veil which
had hung before her physical memory was raised; her divine insight awakened;
the pictures of her life came streaming back before her inner eye; and among
others she saw the scene of her somnambulic robbery. Suddenly arousing
herself from the lethargy in which she had lain for several hours, her face
showed signs of some terrible emotion working within, and she cried out "Ah!
what have I done? . . . It was I who took the will and the money . . . Go
search the dummy pillars in the library, I have . . ." She never finished
her sentence for her very emotion killed her. But the search was made and
the will and money found within the oaken pillars as she had said. What
makes the case more strange is, that these pillars were so high, that even
by standing upon a chair and with plenty of time at her disposal instead of
only a few moments, the somnambulist could not have reached up and dropped
the objects into the hollow columns. It is to be noted, however, that
ecstatics and convulsionists (Vide the Convulsionnaires de St. Médard et de
Morizine) seem to possess an abnormal facility for climbing blank walls and
leaping even to the tops of trees.
Taking the facts as stated, would they not induce one to believe that the
somnambulic personage possesses an intelligence and memory of its own apart
from the physical memory of the waking lower Self; and that it is the former
which remembers in articulo mortis, the body and physical senses in the
latter case ceasing to function, and the intelligence gradually making its
final escape through the avenue of psychic, and last of all of spiritual
And why not? Even materialistic science begins now to concede to psychology
more than one fact that would have vainly begged of it recognition twenty
years ago. "The real existence" Ravaisson tells us, "the life of which every
other life is but an imperfect outline, a faint sketch, is that of the
Soul." That which the public in general calls "soul," we speak of as the
"To be, is to live, and to live is to will and think," says the French
Scientist.1 But, if indeed the physical brain is of only a limited area, the
field for the containment of rapid flashes of unlimited and infinite
thought, neither will nor thought can be said to be generated within it,
even according to materialistic Science, the impassable chasm between matter
and mind having been confessed both by Tyndall and many others.
The fact is that the human brain is simply the canal between two planes--the
psycho-spiritual and the material--through which every abstract and
metaphysical idea filters from the Manasic down to the lower human
Therefore, the ideas about the infinite and the absolute are not, nor can
they be, within our brain capacities. They can be faithfully mirrored only
by our Spiritual consciousness, thence to be more or less faintly projected
on to the tables of our perceptions on this plane. Thus while the records of
even important events are often obliterated from our memory, not the most
trifling action of our lives can disappear from the "Soul's" memory, because
it is no MEMORY for it, but an ever present reality on the plane which lies
outside our conceptions of space and time. "Man is the measure of all
things," said Aristotle; and surely he did not mean by man, the form of
flesh, bones and muscles!
Of all the deep thinkers Edgard Quinet, the author of "Creation," expressed
this idea the best. Speaking of man, full of feelings and thoughts of which
he has either no consciousness at all, or which he feels only as dim and
hazy impressions, he shows that man realizes quite a small portion only of
his moral being. "The thoughts we think, but are unable to define and
formulate, once repelled, seek refuge in the very root of our being." . . .
When chased by the persistent efforts of our will "they retreat before it,
still further, still deeper into--who knows what--fibres, but wherein they
remain to reign and impress us unbidden and unknown to ourselves. . . ."
Yes; they become as imperceptible and as unreachable as the vibrations of
sound and colour when these surpass the normal range. Unseen and eluding
grasp, they yet work, and thus lay the foundations of our future actions and
thoughts, and obtain mastery over us, though we may never think of them and
are often ignorant of their very being and presence. Nowhere does Quinet,
the great student of Nature, seem more right in his observations than when
speaking of the mysteries with which we are all surrounded: "The mysteries
of neither earth nor heaven but those present in the marrow of our bones, in
our-brain cells, our nerves and fibres. No need," he adds, "in order to
search for the unknown, to lose ourselves in the realm of the stars, when
here, near us and in us, rests the unreachable. As our world is mostly
formed of imperceptible beings which are the real constructors of its
continents, so likewise is man."
Verily so; since man is a bundle of obscure, and to himself unconscious
perceptions, of indefinite feelings and misunderstood emotions, of
ever-forgotten memories and knowledge that becomes on the surface of his
plane--ignorance. Yet, while physical memory in a healthy living man is
often obscured, one fact crowding out another weaker one, at the moment of
the great change that man calls death--that which we call "memory" seems to
return to us in all its vigour and freshness.
May this not be due as just said, simply to the fact that, for a few seconds
at least, our two memories (or rather the two states, the highest and the
lowest state, of consciousness) blend together, thus forming one, and that
the dying being finds himself on a plane wherein there is neither past nor
future, but all is one present? Memory, as we all know, is strongest with
regard to its early associations, then when the future man is only a child,
and more of a soul than of a body; and if memory is a part of our Soul,
then, as Thackeray has somewhere said, it must be of necessity eternal.
Scientists deny this; we, Theosophists, affirm that it is so. They have for
what they hold but negative proofs; we have, to support us, innumerable
facts of the kind just instanced, in the three cases described by us. The
links of the chain of cause and effect with relation to mind are, and must
ever remain a terra-incognita to the materialist. For if they have already
acquired a deep conviction that as Pope says—
Lulled in the countless chambers of the brain
Our thoughts are link'd by many a hidden chain. . . .
--and that they are still unable to discover these chains, how can they hope
to unravel the mysteries of the higher, Spiritual, Mind!
H. P. B.
Lucifer, October, 1889
1 Rapport sur la Philosophie en France au XIXme. Siècle.
From: Mauri [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2004 9:20 PM
Subject: [bn-study] Re: Theos-World re Leonardo's "Synthesis of Science,
Religion and Philosophy"
W.Dallas TenBroeck wrote, in part:
>Nov 23 2004
>Imagination has been called the
How about karmic tendencies,
interpretive tendencies, intuitive
tendencies as they might be seen to play
a keyish role in imagination,
speculating, thinking, Theosophizing,
etc ... By which I think I'm trying to
say that there might be some students of
Theosophy who might suspect (or "know,"
possibly ...) that all mental/spiritual
activities might be seen as having an
essentially karmic/myavic aspect, so ...
Anyway, in the meanwhile ... not that
some "meanwhiles" might not take a few
years or a few billion years (apparently
...), at least in exoteric terms, but ...
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