The Key to Theosophy
The Key to Theosophy
The Distinction Between
Soul and Spirit
Q. Do you really teach, as you are accused of doing by some Spiritualists and French Spiritists, the annihilation of every personality?
A. We do not. But as this question of the duality-the individuality of the Divine Ego, and the personality of the human animal-involves that of the possibility of the real immortal Ego appearing in Seance rooms as a "materialized spirit," which we deny as already explained, our opponents have started the nonsensical charge.
Q. You have just spoken of psuche running towards its entire annihilation if it attaches itself to Anoia. What did Plato, and do you mean by this?
A. The entire annihilation of the personal consciousness, as an exceptional and rare case, I think. The general and almost invariable rule is the merging of the personal into the individual or immortal consciousness of the Ego, a transformation or a divine transfiguration, and the entire annihilation only of
the lower quaternary. Would you expect the man of flesh, or the temporary personality,his shadow, the "astral," his animal instincts and even physical life, to survive with the "spiritual Ego" and become everlasting, eternal? Naturally all this ceases to exist, either at, or soon after corporeal death. It becomes in time entirely disintegrated and disappears from view, being
annihilated as a whole.
Q. Then you also reject resurrection in the flesh?
A. Most decidedly we do! Why should we, who believe in the archaic esoteric philosophy of the Ancients, accept the unphilosophical speculations of the later Christian theology, borrowed from the Egyptian and Greek exoteric Systems of the Gnostics?
Q. The Egyptians revered Nature-Spirits, and deified even onions: your Hindus are idolaters,to this day; the Zoroastrians worshiped, and do still worship, the Sun; and the best Greek philosophers were either dreamers or materialists-witness Plato and Democritus. How can you compare!
A. It may be so in your modern Christian and even Scientific catechism; it is not so for unbiased minds. The Egyptians revered the "One-Only-One," as Nout; and it is from this word that Anaxagoras got his denomination Nous, or as he calls it, nous autokrates , "the Mind or Spirit Self-potent", the archetes
kinedeos , the leading motor, or primum-mobile of all. With him the Nous was God, and the logos was man, his emanation. The Nous is the spirit (whether in Kosmos or in man), and the logos, whether Universe or astral body, the emanation of the former, the physical body being merely the animal. Our external powers perceive phenomena; our Nous alone is able to recognize their noumena.
It is the logos alone, or the noumenon, that survives, because it is immortal in its very nature and essence, and the logos in man is the Eternal Ego, that which reincarnates and lasts forever. But how can the evanescent or external shadow, the temporary clothing of that divine Emanation which returns to the source
whence it proceeded, be that which is raised in incorruptibility?
Q. Still you can hardly escape the charge of having invented a new division of man's spiritual and psychic constituents; for no philosopher speaks of them, though you believe that Plato does.
A. And I support the view. Besides Plato, there is Pythagoras, who also followed the same idea.Says Plutarch:
Plato and Pythagoras distribute the soul into two parts, the rational (noetic) and irrational (agnoia); that part of the soul of man which is rational is eternal; for though it be not God, yet it is the product of an eternal deity, but that part of the soul which is divested of reason (agnoia) dies.
The modern term Agnostic comes from Agnosis,a cognate word. We wonder why Mr. Huxley, the author of the word, should have connected his great intellect with "the soul divested of reason" which dies? Is it the exaggerated humility of the modern materialist?
Pythagoras described the Soul as a self-moving Unit (monad) composed of three elements, the Nous(Spirit), the phren (mind), and the thumos (life, breath or the Nephesh of the Cabalists) which three correspond to our " Atma-buddhi,"
(higher Spirit-Soul), to Manas(the Ego), and to Kamarupa in conjunction with the lower reflection of Manas. That which the Ancient Greek philosophers termed Soul, in general, we call Spirit, or Spiritual Soul, Buddhi, as the vehicle of Atma (the Agathon,or Plato's Supreme Deity). The fact that Pythagoras and others state that phren and thumos are shared by us with the brutes, proves that in this case the lower Manasic reflection (instinct) and Kamarupa (animal living passions) are meant. And as Socrates and Plato accepted the clue and followed
it, if to these five, namely, Agathon (Deity or Atma),Psuche (Soul in its collective sense), Nous (Spirit or Mind), Phren (physical mind), and Thumos (Kamarupa or passions) we add the eidolon of the Mysteries, the shadowyform or the human double, and the physical body,it will be easy to demonstrate that the ideas of both Pythagoras and Plato were identical with ours. Even the Egyptians held to the Septenary division. In its exit, they taught, the Soul (Ego) had to pass through its seven chambers, or principles, those it left behind, and those it took along with itself. The only difference is that, ever bearing in mind the penalty of revealing Mystery-doctrines, which was death, they gave out the
teaching in a broad outline, while we elaborate it and explain it in its details. But though we do give out to the world as much as is lawful, even in our doctrine more than one important detail is withheld, which those who study the esoteric philosophy and are pledged to silence, are alone entitled to know.
The Greek Teachings
Q. We have magnificent Greek and Latin, Sanskrit and Hebrew scholars. How is it that we find nothing in their translations that would afford us a clue to what you say?
A. Because your translators, their great learning notwithstanding, have made of the philosophers, the Greeks especially, misty instead of mystic writers. Take as an instance Plutarch, and read what he says of "the principles" of man. That
which he describes was accepted literally and attributed to metaphysical superstition and ignorance. Let me give you an illustration in point. Says Plutarch:
Man is compound; and they are mistaken who think him to be compounded of two parts only. For they imagine that the understanding (brain intellect) is a part of the soul (the upper Triad), but they err in this no less than those who make
the soul to be a part of the body, i.e., those who make of the Triad part of the corruptible mortal quaternary.For the understanding (nous) as far exceeds the soul, as the soul is better and diviner than the body. Now this composition of the soul ( psuche) with the understanding (nous) makes reason; and with the body (or thumos, the animal soul) passion; of which the one is the beginning or principle of pleasure and pain, and the other of virtue and vice. Of these three parts conjoined and compacted together, the earth has given the body, the moon the soul, and the sun the understanding to the generation of man.
This last sentence is purely allegorical, and will be comprehended only by those who are versed in the esoteric science of correspondences and know which planet is related to every principle. Plutarch divides the latter into three groups,
and makes of the body a compound of physical frame, astral shadow, and breath, or the triple lower part, which "from earth was taken and to earth returns"; of the middle principle and the instinctual soul, the second part, derived from and through and ever influenced by the moon; and only of the higher part or the Spiritual Soul, with the tmic and Manasic elements in it does he make a direct emanation of the Sun, who stands here for Agathon the Supreme Deity.
This is proven by what he says further as follows:
Now of the deaths we die, the one makes man two of three and the other one of (out of) two. The former is in the region and jurisdiction of Demeter, whence the name given to the Mysteries, telein , resembled that given to death, teleutan. The Athenians also heretofore called the deceased sacred to Demeter.
As for the other death, it is in the moon or region of Persephone.
Here you have our doctrine, which shows man a septenary during life; a quintile just after death, in Kamaloka; and a threefold Ego, Spirit-Soul, and consciousness inDevachan. This separation, first in "the Meadows of Hades," as Plutarch calls the Kamaloka, then in Devachan, was part and parcel of the
performances during the sacred Mysteries, when the candidates for initiation enacted the whole drama of death, and the resurrection as a glorified spirit, by which name we mean Consciousness. This is what Plutarch means when he says:
And as with the one, the terrestrial, so with the other celestial Hermes doth dwell. This suddenly and with violence plucks the soul from the body; but Prospina mildly and in a long time disjoins the understanding from the soul.(Proserpina, or Persephone, stands here for postmortem Karma, which is said to
regulate the separation of the lower from the higher principles: the Soul, as Nephesh, the breath of animal life, which remains for a time in Kamaloka, from the higher compound Ego, which goes into the state of Devachan, or bliss.)
For this reason she is called Monogenes, only begotten, or rather begetting one alone; for the better part of man becomes alone when it is separated by her.Now both the one and the other happens thus according to nature. It is ordained by Fate (Fatum or Karma) that every soul, whether with or without understanding (mind), when gone out of the body, should wander for a time, though not all for the same, in the region lying between the earth and moon (Kamaloka).
For those that have been unjust and dissolute suffer then the punishment due to their offenses; but the good and virtuous are there detained till they are purified, and have, by expiation, purged out of them all the infections they might have
contracted from the contagion of the body, as if from foul health, living in the mildest part of the air, called the Meadows of Hades, where they must remain for a certain prefixed and appointed time. And then, as if they were returning from a wandering pilgrimage or long exile into their country, they have a taste of joy, such as they principally receive who are initiated into Sacred Mysteries, mixed with trouble, admiration, and each one's proper and peculiar hope.
This is Nirvanic bliss, and no Theosophist could describe in plainer though esoteric language the mental joys of Devachan, where every man has his paradise around him, erected by his consciousness. But you must beware of the general error into which too many even of our Theosophists fall. Do not imagine that because man is called septenary, then quintuple and a triad, he is a compound of seven, five, or three entities;or, as well expressed by a Theosophical writer, of skins to be peeled off like the skins of an onion. The principles, as already said, save the body, the life, and the astral eidolon,all of which disperse at
death, are simply aspects andstates of consciousness. There is but one real man, enduring through the cycle of life and immortal in essence, if not in form, and this is Manas, the Mind-man or embodied Consciousness. The objection made by the materialists, who deny the possibility of mind and consciousness acting without matter is worthless in our case. We do not deny the soundness of their argument; but we simply ask our opponents,
Are you acquainted with all the states of matter,you who knew hitherto but of three? And how do you know whether that which we refer to as absolute consciousness or Deity forever invisible and unknowable, be not that which, though it eludes forever our human finite conception, is still universal Spirit-matter or matter-Spirit in its absolute infinitude?
It is then one of the lowest, and in its manvantaric manifestations fractioned-aspects of this Spirit-matter, which is the conscious Ego that creates its own paradise, a fool's paradise, it may be, still a state of bliss.
Q. But what is Devachan?
A. The "land of gods" literally; a condition, a state of mental bliss. Philosophically a mental condition analogous to, but far more vivid and real than, the most vivid dream. It is the state after death of most mortals.
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