ON THE CONSTITUTION OF THE INNER MAN AND ITS DIVISION
M. Of course it is most difficult,
and, as you say, "puzzling" to understand correctly and
distinguish between the various aspects, called by us the
"principles" of the real EGO. It is
the more so as there exists a notable difference in the numbering
of those principles by various Eastern schools, though at the bottom
there is the same identical substratum of teaching in all of them.
X. Are you thinking of the Vedantins. They divide
our seven "principles" into five only, I believe?
M. They do; but though I would not presume to dispute
the point with a learned Vedantin, I may yet state as my private
opinion that they have an obvious reason for it. With them it is
only that compound spiritual aggregate which consists of various
mental aspects that is called Man at all, the physical body
being in their view something beneath contempt, and merely an illusion. Nor is the Vedanta the only philosophy to reckon in this manner.
Lao-Tze in his Tao-te-King, mentions only five principles,
because he, like the Vedantins, omits to include two principles,
namely, the spirit (Atma) and the physical body, the latter of which,
moreover, he calls "the cadaver." Then there is the Taraka
Rajà Yogà School. Its teaching recognizes only
three "principles" in fact; but then, in reality, their Sthulopadhi, or the physical body in its jagrata or
waking conscious state, their Sukshmopadhi, the same body
in svapna or the dreaming state, and their Karanopadhi or "causal body," or that which passes from one incarnation
to another, are all dual in their aspects, and thus make six. Add to this Atma, the impersonal divine principle
or the immortal element in Man, undistinguished from the Universal
Spirit, and you have the same seven, again, as in the esoteric division.l
X. Then it seems almost the same as the division
made by mystic Christians: body, soul and spirit?
M. Just the same. We could easily make of the body
the vehicle of the "vital Double"; of the latter the vehicle
of Life or Prana; of Kamarupa or (animal) soul, the
vehicle of the higher and the lower mind, and make
of this six principles, crowning the whole with the one immortal
spirit. In Occultism, every qualificative change in the state of
our consciousness goes to man a new aspect, and if it prevails and
becomes part of the living and acting EGO, it
must be (and is) given a special name, to distinguish the man in
that particular state from the man he is when he places himself
in another state.
X. It is just that which is so difficult to understand.
M. It seems to me very easy, on the contrary, once
that you have seized the main idea, i.e., that man acts on
this, or another plane of consciousness, in strict accordance with
his mental and spiritual condition. But such is the materialism
of the age that the more we explain, the less people seem capable
of understanding what we say. Divide the terrestrial being called
man into three chief aspects, if you like; but, unless you make
of him a pure animal, you cannot do less. Take his objective body; the feeling principle in him--which is only a little higher
than the instinctual element in the animal--or the vital
elementary soul; and that which places him so immeasurably beyond
and higher than the animal--i.e., his reasoning soul
or "spirit." Well, if we take these three groups or representative
entities, and subdivide them, according to the occult teaching,
what do we get?
First of all Spirit (in the sense of the Absolute,
and therefore indivisible ALL) or Atma. As this
can neither be located nor conditioned in philosophy, being simply
that which IS, in Eternity, and as the ALL cannot be absent from even the tiniest geometrical or mathematical
point of the universe of matter or substance, it ought not to be
called, in truth, a "human" principle at all. Rather,
and at best, it is that point in metaphysical Space which the human
Monad and its vehicle man, occupy for the period of every life.
Now that point is as imaginary as man himself, and in reality is
an illusion, a maya; but then for ourselves as for other
personal Egos, we are a reality during that fit of illusion called
life, and we have to take ourselves into account--in our own fancy
at any rate if no one else does. To make it more conceivable to
the human intellect, when first attempting the study of Occultism,
and to solve the ABC of the mystery of man, Occultism calls it the seventh principle, the synthesis of the six, and gives it
for vehicle the Spiritual Soul, Buddhi. Now the latter
conceals a mystery, which is never given to anyone with the exception
of irrevocably pledged chelas, those at any rate, who can
be safely trusted. Of course there would be less confusion, could
it only be told; but, as this is directly concerned with the power
of projecting one's double consciously and at will, and as this
gift like the "ring of Gyges" might prove very fatal to
men at large and to the possessor of that faculty in particular,
it is carefully guarded. Alone the adepts, who have been tried and
can never be found wanting, have the key of the mystery fully divulged
to them . . . Let us avoid side issues, however, and hold to the
"principles." This divine soul or Buddhi, then, is the
Vehicle of the Spirit. In conjunction, these two are one, impersonal,
and without any attributes (on this plane, of course), and make
two spiritual "principles." If we pass on to the Human
Soul (manas, the mens) everyone will agree
that the intelligence of man is dual to say the least: e.g.,
the high-minded man can hardly become low-minded; the very intellectual
and spiritual-minded man is separated by an abyss from the obtuse,
dull and material, if not animal-minded man. Why then should not
these men be represented by two "principles" or two aspects
rather? Every man has these two principles in him, one more active
than the other, and in rare cases, one of these is entirely stunted
in its growth; so to say paralysed by the strength and predominance
of the other aspect, during the life of man. These, then,
are what we call the two principles or aspects of Manas, the
higher and the lower; the former, the higher Manas, or the thinking,
conscious EGO gravitating toward the Spiritual
Soul (Buddhi); and the latter, or its instinctual principle attracted
to Kama, the seat of animal desires and passions in man.
Thus, we have four "principles" justified; the
last three being (1) the "Double" which we have agreed
to call Protean, or Plastic Soul; the vehicle of (2) the life principle; and (3) the physical body. Of course no Physiologist or Biologist
will accept these principles, nor can he make head or tail of them.
And this is why, perhaps, none of them understand to this day either
the functions of the spleen, the physical vehicle of the Protean
Double, or those of a certain organ on the right side of man, the
seat of the above mentioned desires, nor yet does he know anything
of the pineal gland, which he describes as a horny gland with a
little sand in it, and which is the very key to the highest and
divinest consciousness in man--his omniscient, spiritual and all
embracing mind. This seemingly useless appendage is the pendulum
which, once the clock-work of the inner man is wound up,
carries the spiritual vision of the EGO to the
highest planes of perception, where the horizon open before it becomes
almost infinite. . . .
X. But the scientific materialists assert that after
the death of man nothing remains; that the human body simply disintegrates
into its component elements, and that what we call soul is merely
a temporary self-consciousness produced as a by-product of organic
action, which will evaporate like steam. Is not theirs a strange
state of mind?
M. Not strange at all, that I see. If they say that
self-consciousness ceases with the body, then in their case
they simply utter an unconscious prophecy. For once that they are
firmly convinced of what they assert, no conscious after-life is
possible for them.
X. But if human self-consciousness survives death
as a rule, why should there be exceptions?
M. In the fundamental laws of the spiritual world
which are immutable, no exception is possible. But there are rules
for those who see, and rules for those who prefer to remain blind.
X. Quite so, I understand. It is an aberration of
a blind man, who denies the existence of the sun because he does
not see it. But after death his spiritual eyes will certainly compel
him to see?
M. They will not compel him, nor will he see anything.
Having persistently denied an after-life during this life, he will
be unable to sense it. His spiritual senses having been stunted,
they cannot develop after death, and he will remain blind. By insisting
that he must see it, you evidently mean one thing and I another.
You speak of the spirit from the Spirit, or the flame from the Flame--of
Atma in short--and you confuse it with the human soul--Manas. .
. . You do not understand me, let me try to make it clear. The whole
gist of your question is to know whether, in the case of a downright
materialist, the complete loss of self-consciousness and self-perception
after death is possible? Isn't it so? I say: It is possible. Because,
believing firmly in our Esoteric Doctrine, which refers to the Post-mortem period, or the interval between two lives or births as merely
a transitory state, I say:--Whether that interval between two acts
of the illusionary drama of life lasts one year or a million, that post-mortem state may, without any breach of the fundamental
law, prove to be just the same state as that of a man who is in
a dead swoon.
X. But since you have just said that the fundamental
laws of the after-death state admit of no exceptions, how can this
M. Nor do I say now that they admit of exceptions.
But the spiritual law of continuity applies only to things which
are truly real. To one who has read and understood Mundakya Upanishad
and Vedanta-Sara all this becomes very clear. I will say more: it
is sufficient to understand what we mean by Buddhi and the duality
of Manas to have a very clear perception why the materialist may
not have a self-conscious survival after death: because Manas, in
its lower aspect, is the seat of the terrestrial mind, and, therefore, can give only that perception of the Universe
which is based on the evidence of that mind, and not on our spiritual
vision. It is said in our Esoteric school that between Buddhi and
Manas, or Iswara and Pragna,2 there
is in reality no more difference than between a forest and its
trees, a lake and its waters, just as Mundakya teaches. One
or hundreds of trees dead from loss of vitality, or uprooted, are
yet incapable of preventing the forest from being still a forest.
The destruction or post-mortem death of one personality dropped
out of the long series, will not cause the smallest change in the
Spiritual divine Ego, and it will ever remain the same EGO.
Only, instead of experiencing Devachan it will have to immediately
X. But as I understand it,
Ego-Buddhi represents in this simile the forest and the personal
minds the trees. And if Buddhi is immortal, how can that which is
similar to it, i.e., Manas-taijasi,3 lose entirely its consciousness till the day of its new incarnation?
I cannot understand it.
M. You cannot, because you will mix up an abstract
representation of the whole with its casual changes of form; and
because you confuse Manas-taijasi, the Buddhi-lit human soul, with the latter, animalized. Remember that if it
can be said of Buddhi that it is unconditionally immortal, the same
cannot be said of Manas, still less of taijasi, which is an attribute.
No post-mortem consciousness or Manas-Taijasi, can exist
apart from Buddhi, the divine soul, because the first (Manas)
is, in its lower aspect, a qualificative attribute of the
terrestrial personality, and the second (taijasi) is identical
with the first, and that it is the same Manas only with the light
of Buddhi reflected on it. In its turn, Buddhi would remain only
an impersonal spirit without this element which it borrows from
the human soul, which conditions and makes of it, in this illusive
Universe, as it were something separate from the universal
soul for the whole period of the cycle of incarnation. Say rather
that Buddhi-Manas can neither die nor lose its compound self-consciousness
in Eternity, nor the recollection of its previous incarnations in
which the two--i.e., the spiritual and the human soul, had
been closely linked together. But it is not so in the case of a
materialist, whose human soul not only receives nothing from the
divine soul, but even refuses to recognize its existence. You can
hardly apply this axiom to the attributes and qualifications of
the human soul, for it would be like saying that because your divine
soul is immortal, therefore the bloom on your cheek must also be
immortal; whereas this bloom, like taijasi, or spiritual radiance,
is simply a transitory phenomenon.
X. Do I understand you to say that we must not mix
in our minds the noumenon with the phenomenon, the cause with its
M. I do say so, and repeat that, limited to Manas
or the human soul alone, the radiance of Taijasi itself becomes
a mere question of time; because both immortality and consciousness
after death become for the terrestrial personality of man simply
conditioned attributes, as they depend entirely on conditions and
beliefs created by the human soul itself during the life of its
body. Karma acts incessantly; we reap in our after-life only
the fruit of that which we have ourselves sown, or rather created,
in our terrestrial existence.
X. But if my Ego can, after the destruction of my
body, become plunged in a state of entire unconsciousness, then
where can be the punishment for the sins of my past life?
M. Our philosophy teaches that
Karmic punishment reaches the Ego only in the next incarnation.
After death it receives only the reward for the unmerited sufferings
endured during its just past existence.4 The whole punishment after death, even for the materialist, consists
therefore in the absence of any reward and the utter loss of the
consciousness of one's bliss and rest. Karma--is the child of the
terrestrial Ego, the fruit of the actions of the tree which is the
objective personality visible to all, as much as the fruit of all
the thoughts and even motives of the spiritual "I"; but
Karma is also the tender mother, who heals the wounds inflicted
by her during the preceding life, before she will begin to torture
this Ego by inflicting upon him new ones. If it may be said that
there is not a mental or physical suffering in the life of a mortal,
which is not the fruit and consequence of some sin in this, or a
preceding existence, on the other hand, since he does not preserve
the slightest recollection of it in his actual life, and feels himself
not deserving of such punishment, but believes sincerely he suffers
for no guilt of his own, this alone is quite sufficient to entitle
the human soul to the fullest consolation, rest and bliss in his post-mortem existence. Death comes to our spiritual selves
ever as a deliverer and friend. For the materialist, who, notwithstanding
his materialism, was not a bad man, the interval between the two
lives will be like the unbroken and placid sleep of a child; either
entirely dreamless, or with pictures of which he will have no definite
perception. For the believer it will be a dream as vivid as life
and full of realistic bliss and visions. As for the bad and cruel
man, whether materialist or otherwise, he will be immediately reborn
and suffer his hell on earth. To enter Avitchi is an
exceptional and rare occurrence.
X. As far as I remember, the
periodical incarnations of Sutratma5 are likened in some Upanishad to the life of a mortal which oscillates
periodically between sleep and waking. This does not seem to me
very clear, and I will tell you why. For the man who awakes, another
day commences, but that man is the same in soul and body as he was
the day before; whereas at every new incarnation a full change takes
place not only in his external envelope, sex and personality, but
even in his mental and psychic capacities. Thus the simile does
not seem to me quite correct. The man who arises from sleep remembers
quite clearly what he has done yesterday, the day before, and even
months and years ago. But none of us has the slightest recollection
of a preceding life or any fact or event concerning it. . . . I
may forget in the morning what I have dreamed during the night,
still I know that I have slept and have the certainty that I lived
during sleep; but what recollection have I of my past incarnation?
How do you reconcile this?
M. Yet some people do recollect their past incarnations.
This is what the Arhats call Samma-Sambuddha--or the knowledge of
the whole series of one's past incarnations.
X. But we ordinary mortals who have not reached Samma-Sambuddha,
how can we be expected to realize this simile?
M. By studying it and trying to understand more correctly
the characteristics of the three states of sleep. Sleep is a general
and immutable law for man as for beast, but there are different
kinds of sleep and still more different dreams and visions.
X. Just so. But this takes us from our subject. Let
us return to the materialist who, while not denying dreams, which
he could hardly do, yet denies immortality in general and the survival
of his own individuality especially.
M. And the materialist is right for once, at least;
since for one who has no inner perception and faith, there is no
immortality possible. In order to live in the world to come a conscious
life, one has to believe first of all in that life during one's
terrestrial existence. On these two aphorisms of the Secret Science
all the philosophy about the post-mortem consciousness and
the immortality of the soul is built. The Ego receives always according
to its deserts. After the dissolution of the body, there commences
for it either a period of full clear consciousness, a state of chaotic
dreams, or an utterly dreamless sleep indistinguishable from annihilation;
and these are the three states of consciousness. Our physiologists
find the cause of dreams and visions in an unconscious preparation
for them during the waking hours; why cannot the same be admitted
for the post-mortem dreams? I repeat it, death is sleep. After death begins, before the spiritual eyes of the soul, a
performance according to a programme learnt and very often composed
unconsciously by ourselves; the practical carrying out of correct beliefs or of illusions which have been created by ourselves.
A Methodist, will be Methodist, a Mussulman, a Mussulman, of course,
just for a time--in a perfect fool's paradise of each man's creation
and making These are the post-mortem fruits of the tree of
life. Naturally, our belief or unbelief in the fact of conscious
immortality is unable to influence the unconditioned reality of
the fact itself, once that it exists; but the belief or unbelief
in that immortality, as the continuation or annihilation of separate
entities, cannot fail to give colour to that fact in its application
to each of these entities. Now do you begin to understand it?
X. I think I do. The materialist, disbelieving in
everything that cannot be proven to him by his five senses or by
scientific reasoning, and rejecting every spiritual manifestation,
accepts life as the only conscious existence. Therefore, according
to their beliefs so will it be unto them. They will lose their personal
Ego, and will plunge into a dreamless sleep until a new awakening.
Is it so?
M. Almost so. Remember the universal esoteric teaching
of the two kinds of conscious existence: the terrestrial and the
spiritual. The latter must be considered real from the very fact
that it is the region of the eternal, changeless, immortal cause
of all; whereas the incarnating Ego dresses itself up in new garments
entirely different from those of its previous incarnations, and
in which all except its spiritual prototype is doomed to a change
so radical as to leave no trace behind.
X. Stop! . . . Can the consciousness of my terrestrial Egos perish not only for a time, like the consciousness of
the materialist, but in any case so entirely as to leave no trace
M. According to the teaching, it must so perish and
in its fulness, all except that principle which, having united itself
with the Monad, has thereby become a purely spiritual and indestructible
essence, one with it in the Eternity. But in the case of an out
and out materialist, in whose personal "I" no Buddhi has
ever reflected itself, how can the latter carry away into the infinitudes
one particle of that terrestrial personality? Your spiritual "I"
is immortal; but from your present Self it can carry away into after
life but that which has become worthy of immortality, namely, the
aroma alone of the flower that has been mown by death.
X. Well, and the flower, the terrestrial "I"?
M. The flower, as all past and future flowers which
blossomed and died, and will blossom again on the mother bough,
the Sutratma, all children of one root of Buddhi, will return
to dust. Your present "I," as you yourself know, is not
the body now sitting before me, nor yet is it what I would call
Manas-Sutratma--but Sutratma Buddhi.
X. But this does not explain to me at all, why you
call life after death immortal, infinite, and real, and the terrestrial
life a simple phantom or illusion; since even that post-mortem life has limits, however much wider they may be than those of
M. No doubt. The spiritual Ego of man moves in Eternity
like a pendulum between the hours of life and death. But if these
hours marking the periods of terrestrial and spiritual life are
limited in their duration, and if the very number of such stages
in Eternity between sleep and awakening, illusion and reality, has
its beginning and its end, on the other hand the spiritual "Pilgrim"
is eternal. Therefore are the hours of his post-mortem life--when,
disembodied he stands face to face with truth and not the mirages
of his transitory earthly existences during the period of that pilgrimage
which we call "the cycle of rebirths"--the only reality
in our conception. Such intervals, their limitation not withstanding,
do not prevent the Ego, while ever perfecting itself, to be following
undeviatingly, though gradually and slowly, the path to its last
transformation, when that Ego having reached its goal becomes the
divine ALL. These intervals and stages help
towards this final result instead of hindering it; and without such
limited intervals the divine Ego could never reach its ultimate
goal. This Ego is the actor, and its numerous and various incarnations
the parts it plays. Shall you call these parts with their costumes
the individuality of the actor himself? Like that actor, the Ego
is forced to play during the Cycle of Necessity up to the very threshold
of Para-nirvana, many parts such as may be unpleasant to
it. But as the bee collects its honey from every flower, leaving
the rest as food for the earthly worms, so does our spiritual individuality,
whether we call it Sutratma or Ego. It collects from every terrestrial
personality into which Karma forces it to incarnate, the nectar
alone of the spiritual qualities and self-consciousness, and uniting
all these into one whole it emerges from its chrysalis as the glorified
Dhyan Chohan. So much the worse for those terrestrial personalities
from which it could collect nothing. Such personalities cannot assuredly
outlive consciously their terrestrial existence.
X. Thus then it seems, that for the terrestrial personality,
immortality is still conditional. Is then immortality itself not unconditional?
M. Not at all. But it cannot touch the non-existent. For all that which exists as SAT, ever aspiring
to SAT, immortality and Eternity are absolute.
Matter is the opposite pole of spirit and yet the two are one. The
essence of all this, i.e., Spirit, Force and Matter, or the
three in one, is as endless as it is beginningless; but the form
acquired by this triple unity during its incarnations, the externality,
is certainly only the illusion of our personal conceptions. Therefore
do we call the after-life alone a reality, while relegating the
terrestrial life, its terrestrial personality included, to the phantom
realm of illusion.
X. But why in such a case not call sleep the reality,
and waking the illusion, instead of the reverse?
M. Because we use an expression made to facilitate
the grasping of the subject, and from the standpoint of terrestrial
conceptions it is a very correct one.
X. Nevertheless, I cannot understand. If the life
to come is based on justice and the merited retribution for all
our terrestrial suffering, how, in the case of materialists many
of whom are ideally honest and charitable men, should there remain
of their personality nothing but the refuse of a faded flower!
M. No one ever said such a thing. No materialist,
if a good man, however unbelieving, can die forever in the fulness
of his spiritual individuality. What was said is, that the consciousness
of one life can disappear either fully or partially; in the case
of a thorough materialist, no vestige of that personality which
disbelieved remains in the series of lives.
X. But is this not annihilation to the Ego?
M. Certainly not. One can sleep a dead sleep during
a long railway journey, miss one or several stations without the
slightest recollection or consciousness of it, awake at another
station and continue the journey recollecting other halting places,
till the end of that journey, when the goal is reached. Three kinds
of sleep were mentioned to you: the dreamless, the chaotic, and
the one so real, that to the sleeping man his dreams become full
realities. If you believe in the latter why can't you believe in
the former? According to what one has believed in and expected after
death, such is the state one will have. He who expected no life
to come will have an absolute blank amounting to annihilation in
the interval between the two rebirths. This is just the carrying
out of the programme we spoke of, and which is created by the materialist
himself. But there are various kinds of materialists, as you say.
A selfish wicked Egoist, one who never shed a tear for anyone but
himself, thus adding entire indifference the whole world to his
unbelief, must drop at the threshold of death his personality forever.
This personality having no tendrils of sympathy for the world around,
and hence nothing to hook on to the string of the Sutratma, every
connection between the two is broken with last breath. There being
no Devachan for such a materialists, the Sutratma will re-incarnate
almost immediately. But those materialists who erred in nothing
but their disbelief, will oversleep but one station. Moreover, the
time will come when the ex-material perceive himself in the Eternity
and perhaps repent that he lost even one day, or station, from the
X. Still would it not be more correct to say that
death is birth new Life or a return once more to the threshold of
M. You may if you like. Only remember that births
differ, and that there are births of "still-born" beings,
which are failures. More-over with your fixed Western ideas
about material life, the words "living" and "being"
are quite inapplicable to the pure subjective post-mortem existence.
It is just because of such ideas--a few philosophers who are not
read by the many and who lives are too confused to present a distinct
picture of it--that all your conceptions of life and death have
finally become so narrow. On the one hand, they have led to crass
materialism, and on the to the still more material conception of
the other life which ritualists have formulated in their Summer-land.
There the souls of men eat, drink and marry, and live in a Paradise
quite as sensual as that of Mohammed, but even less philosophical.
Nor are average conceptions of the uneducated Christians any better,
e still more material, if possible. What between truncated Angels,
brass trumpets, golden harps, streets in paradisiacal cities with
jewels, and hell-fires, it seems like a scene at a Christmas pantomime.
It is because of these narrow conceptions that you such difficulty
in understanding. And, it is also just because the life of the disembodied
soul, while possessing all the vividness of reality, as in certain
dreams, is devoid of every grossly objective form of terrestrial
life, that the Eastern philosophers have compared it with visions
Lucifer, January, 1889
Doctrine" for a clearer explanation.
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2 Iswara is
the collective consciousness of the manifested deity, Brahmâ, i.e., the collective consciousness of the Host of Dhyan Chohans;
and Pragna is their individual wisdom.
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3 Taijasi means
the radiant in consequence of the union with Buddhi of Manas, the
human, illuminated by the radiance of the divine soul. Therefore
Manas-taijasi may be described as radiant mind; the human reason
lit by the light of the spirit; and Buddhi-Manas is the representation
of the divine plus the human intellect and self-consciousness.
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4 Some Theosophists
have taken exception to this phrase, but the words are those of
the Masters, and the meaning attached to the word "unmerited"
is that given above. In the T.P.S. pamphlet No. 6, a phrase, criticised
subsequently in Lucifer was used, which was intended to convey
the same idea. In form however it was awkward and open to the criticism
directed against it; but the essential idea was that men often suffer
from the effects of the actions done by others, effects which thus
do not strictly belong to their own Karma, but to that of other
people--and for these sufferings they of course deserve compensation.
If it is true to say that nothing that happens to us can be anything
else than Karma--or the direct or indirect effect of a cause--it
would be a great error to think that every evil or good which befalls
us is due only to our personal Karma. (Vide further on.)
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5 Our immortal and
reincarnating principle in conjunction with the Manasic recollections
of the preceding lives is called Sutratma, which means literally
the Thread-Soul; because like the pearls on a thread so is the long
series of human lives strung together on that one thread. Manas
must become taijasi, the radiant, before it can hang on the
Sutratma as a pearl on its thread, and so have full and absolute
perception of itself in the Eternity. As said before, too close
association with the terrestrial mind of the human soul alone causes
this radiance to be entirely lost.
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