The ordinary man of civilized races remains longer in the mental world than in the physical and astral; indeed, the more a man evolves the longer becomes his mental, life and the shorter his life in the astral world. But the action of this law is limited by that other law of which we spoke, the law of cause and effect. For each of these vices there is a contrary virtue; if we find one of them rearing its head within us, let us immediately determine deliberately to develop within ourselves the contrary virtue. The life animating the matter of which such bodies are built is upon the outward arc of evolution, moving downwards or outwards into matter, so that progress for it means to descend into denser forms of matter, and to learn to express itself Page 66 through them. As the ego unfolds his latent possibilities through the long course of his evolution, the higher matter is gradually brought into action, but it is only in the perfected man whom we call the Adept that it is developed to its fullest extent. We speak of all these forms as finer or grosser relatively to one another, but all of them are almost infinitely finer than any with which we are acquainted in the physical world. Naturally, beginners in the study cannot yet know for themselves, so they are asked to read the results of the various observations and to deal with them as probable hypotheses—provisionally to accept and act upon them, until they can prove them for themselves.
For this final outpouring is not like the others, a mighty outrush affecting thousands or millions simultaneously; it comes to each one individually as that one is ready to receive it. This does not convey a definite complete idea, as does the thought-form, but it tends to produce a thought of the same character as itself. Of that Monad the ego is a partial expression, formed in order that he may enter evolution, and may return to the Monad with joy, bringing his sheaves with him in the shape of qualities developed by garnered experience. It applies to everything the scientific method of oft-repeated, painstaking observation, and then tabulates the results and makes deductions from them. I believe that it is more constructive to address these issues with self-exploration than self-repression. If I have a glass of water standing upon a table, the glass and the table, being of physical matter in the solid state, are interpenetrated by astral matter of the lowest subdivision. It explores Qabbalah, Sibyls, Fairies, Poltergeists; phenomena such as intuition and karma; objects useful in the attempt to cross the divide, including tarot cards, flower reading, and runes; and related practices such as Shamanism, transfiguration, meditation, and mesmerism.
If, for example, it be devotion, the whole of his astral body is flushed with, blue, and while the emotion remains at its strongest the normal colours do little more than modify the blue, or appear faintly through a veil of it; but presently the vehemence of the sentiment dies away, and the normal colours re-assert themselves. He is then also conscious in the astral world side by side with the dead man, and they can communicate in every respect as freely as they could during physical life. They appear usually as shallow vortices, for they are the points at which the force from the higher bodies enters the lower. These little groupings of bubbles so formed are the atoms of the second of the interpenetrating worlds. It proceeded to combine those elements into organisms which it then ensouled, and in this way it built up the seven kingdoms of nature. After another vast period of similar length, it is found that the downward pressure has caused this Page 30 process to repeat itself; once more the life has identified itself with its forms, and has taken up its residence upon the lower mental levels, so that it is capable of ensouling bodies in the astral world.
If in the vegetable kingdom a certain group-soul has ensouled forest trees, when it passes on into the animal kingdom it will omit all the lower stages--that is, it will never inhabit insects or reptiles, but will begin at once at the level of the lower mammalia. He lives through what we call his life, gaining certain qualities as the result of its experiences; and at its end, when the physical body is worn out, he reverses the process of descent and lays aside one by one the temporary vehicles which he has assumed. It asserts that man has no need to trust to blind faith, because he has within him latent powers which, when aroused, enable him to see and examine for himself, and it proceeds to prove its case by showing how those powers may be awakened. Later on in the course of our evolution a point will be reached at which it is no longer possible for those undeveloped souls to advance side by side with the others, so that it will be necessary that a division should be made. Next he draws round himself a veil of astral matter, which we call his astral body; and that is the instrument of his passions and emotions, and also in conjunction with the lower part of his mental body Page 43 the instrument of all such thought as is tinged by selfishness and personal feeling. He has already lived through many such days, and has many more of them yet before him.
It is possible for him to unfold his percipience in all these worlds, and it is by means of such developed consciousness that we observe all these facts which I am now describing. It deals with the present by describing what man really is, as seen by means of developed faculties. From each of these great root-races there are many offshoots which we call sub-races—such, for example, as the Roman races or the Teutonic; and each of the sub-races in turn divides itself into branch-races, such as the French and the Italians, the English and the Germans. In order to make matter for the next lower subdivision, a certain number of the bricks atoms would first be gathered together and cemented into small blocks of say four bricks each, five bricks each, six bricks or seven bricks; and then these blocks so made would be used as building stones. Sinnett began his1881 book, The Occult World, the first popular exposition of Theosophy, published thirty years ago.
The animal if kindly treated develops devoted affection for his human friend, and also unfolds his intellectual powers in trying to understand that friend and to anticipate his wishes. Not only must the candidate have cast aside all ordinary weaknesses but he must have acquired strong positive qualities before he can offer himself to Them with any hope that he will be accepted. Theosophy has much to tell us of the past history of man--of how in the course of evolution he has come to be what he now is. The mental body is as yet so imperfectly developed in ordinary men that there are many in whom a great number of special departments are not yet in activity, and any attempt at thought belonging to those departments has to travel round through some inappropriate channel which happens to be fully open. After death, if he has allowed the rearrangement to be made as from ignorance, all ordinary persons do his condition in this respect will be different.
Its tendency is always to reproduce its own rate of vibration in the mental body upon which it fastens itself, and so to arouse in it a like thought. Men whose tastes and pursuits are similar drift naturally together there just as they do here; and many realms of Nature, which during our physical life are concealed by the dense veil of matter, now lie open for the detailed study of those who care to examine them. Under Them in turn come vast hosts or orders of spiritual beings, whom we call angels or devas. In addition to this, the emotions and the thoughts of the man act constantly upon those of the animal, and tend to raise him to a higher level both emotionally and intellectually. Such a wart appears to us down here as a prejudice; and until it is absorbed and free circulation restored, it is impossible for the man to think truly or to see clearly with regard to that particular department of his mind, as the congestion checks the free passage of undulations both outward and inward. This image floats in the upper part of that body, usually in front of the face of the man and at about the level of the eyes.
The personality wears three bodies or vehicles, the mental, the astral and the physical. No detailed list has yet been made of the animals, plants or minerals from this point of view; but it is certain that the life which is found ensouling a mineral of a particular type will never vivify a mineral of any other type than its own, though within that type it may vary. A Textbook of Theosophy offers a comprehensive introduction to theosophical thought and practice; it's perfect for beginners just getting acquainted with this school of thought or long-time adherents seeking new insights. They can best be arranged in four main divisions: unselfish pursuit of spiritual knowledge; high philosophy or scientific thought; literary or artistic ability exercised for unselfish purposes; and service for the sake of service. The evolution of which we have been speaking is that of the Ego himself, of what might be called the soul of man; but at the same time there has been also an evolution to the body.
The man who has studied these matters declines absolutely to yield to the pressure during life or to permit the rearrangement after death, and consequently he retains his power of seeing the astral world as a whole, and not merely the cruder and baser part of it. On the contrary, he observes that to do this is one of the commonest mistakes made by the uninstructed. When the lunar chain came to its end the humanity upon it stood at various levels. First acts the great law of evolution, and its tendency is to press the man into that position in which he can most easily develop the qualities which he most needs. The man who wishes intelligently to co-operate with the Divine Will must lay aside all thought of the advantage or pleasure of the personal self, and must devote himself exclusively to carrying out that Will by working for the welfare and happiness of others. As each tumbler is dipped into the bucket it takes out from it a tumblerful of water the separate soul. The first feeling of which the dead man is usually conscious is one of the most wonderful and delightful freedom.