THEOSOPHY, Vol. 76, No. 10, August, 1988
(Pages 293-297; Size: 15K)
KARMA AND REINCARNATION(1)
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WE distinguish between the simple fact of self-consciousness, the simple feeling that "I am I," and the complex thought that "I am Mr. Smith," or "Mrs. Brown." Believing as we do in a series of births for the same Ego, or reincarnation, this distinction is the fundamental pivot of the whole idea. ... "Mr. Smith" really means a long series of daily experiences strung together by the thread of memory, and forming what Mr. Smith calls "himself." But none of these "experiences" are really the "I" or the Ego, nor do they give "Mr. Smith" the feeling that he is himself, for he forgets the greater part of his daily experiences, and they produce the feeling of Egoity in him only while they last. We Theosophists, therefore, distinguish between this bundle of "experiences," which we call the false (because so finite and evanescent) personality, and that element in man to which the feeling of "I am I" is due. It is this "I am I" which we call the true individuality; and we say that this "Ego" or individuality plays, like an actor, many parts on the stage of life.
Is it this Ego then which is our God? Not at all: "A God" is not the universal deity, but only a spark from the one ocean of Divine Fire. Our God within us, or "our Father in Secret" is what we call the "HIGHER SELF," Atma. Our incarnating Ego was a God in its origin, as were all the primeval emanations of the One Unknown Principle. But since its "fall into Matter," having to incarnate throughout the cycle, in succession, from first to last, it is no longer a free and happy god, but a poor pilgrim on his way to regain that which he has lost. I can answer you more fully by repeating what is said of the INNER MAN in Isis Unveiled (Vol. II, 593.):--From the remotest antiquity mankind as a whole have always been convinced of the existence of a personal spiritual entity within the personal physical man. This inner entity was more or less divine, according to its proximity to the crown. The closer the union the more serene man's destiny, the less dangerous the external conditions. This belief is neither bigotry nor superstition, only an ever-present, instinctive feeling of the proximity of another spiritual and invisible world, which though it be subjective to the senses of the outward man, is perfectly objective to the inner ego. Furthermore, they believed that there are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions. They rejected fatalism, for fatalism implies a blind course of some still blinder power. But they believed in destiny or Karma, which from birth to death every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided by that presence termed by some the guardian angel, or our more intimate astral inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the man of flesh or the personality. Both these lead on Man, but one of them must prevail; and from the very beginning of the invisible affray the stern and implacable law of compensation and retribution steps in and takes its course, following faithfully the fluctuating of the conflict. When the last strand is woven, and man is seemingly enwrapped in the network of his own doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this self-made destiny. It then either fixes him like the inert shell against the immovable rock, or like a feather carries him away in a whirlwind raised by his own actions.Such is the destiny of the MAN -- the true Ego, not the Automaton, the shell that goes by that name. Now some of our Theosophists have got into the habit of using the words "Self" and "Ego" as synonymous ... whereas this term ["Self"] ought never to be applied except to the One universal Self. This "Higher Self" (ATMA) ... can never be "objective" under any circumstances, even to the highest spiritual perception. Far Atman or the "Higher Self" is really Brahma, the ABSOLUTE, and indistinguishable from it. ... For even Buddhi, the "Spiritual Soul," is not the SELF, but the vehicle only of SELF. All the other "Selves" --such as the "Individual" self and "personal" self -- ought never to be spoken or written of without their qualifying and characteristic adjectives.
To avoid henceforth such misapprehensions,--
|THE HIGHER SELF is||Atma, the inseparable ray of the Universal and ONE
SELF. It is the God above, more than within,
us. Happy the man who succeeds in saturating his inner Ego with
|THE SPIRITUAL divine EGO is||the Spiritual soul or Buddhi, in close union with Manas,
mind-principle, without which it is no EGO at all,
but only the Atmic Vehicle.
|THE INNER, or HIGHER "EGO" is||Manas, the "Fifth" Principle, so called, independently of Buddhi. The
Mind-Principle is only the Spiritual Ego when merged into one with
Buddhi, -- no materialist being supposed to have in him such an
Ego, however great his intellectual capacities. It is the permanent Individuality
the "Reincarnating Ego."
|THE LOWER, or PERSONAL "Ego" is||the physical man in conjunction with his lower Self, i.e.,
instincts, passions, desires, etc. It is called the "false personality,"
and consists of the lower Manas combined with Kama-rupa, and operating
through the Physical body and its phantom or "double."
The remaining "Principle" "Pranâ," or "Life," is, strictly speaking, the radiating force or Energy of Atma -- as the Universal Life and the ONE SELF, -- ITS lower or rather (in its effects) more physical, because manifesting, aspect. Prana or Life permeates the whole being of the objective Universe; and is called a "principle" only because it is an indispensable factor and the deus ex machinâ of the living man.
It is this Ego which -- having originally incarnated in the senseless human form animated by, but unconscious (since it had no consciousness) of, the presence in itself of the dual monad -- made of that human-like form a real man. It is that Ego, that "Causal Body," which overshadows every personality Karma forces it to incarnate into; and this Ego which is held responsible for all the sins committed through, and in, every new body or personality -- the evanescent masks which hide the true Individual through the long series of rebirths.
Why should this Ego receive punishment as the result of deeds which it has forgotten? It has not forgotten them; it knows and remembers its misdeeds as well as you remember what you have done yesterday. Is it because the memory of that bundle of physical compounds called "body" does not recollect what its predecessor (the personality that was) did, that [we] imagine that the real Ego has forgotten them? As well say it is unjust that the new boots on the feet of a boy, who is flogged for stealing apples, should be punished for that which they know nothing of.
Reincarnation means that this Ego will be furnished with a new body, a new brain, and a new memory. Therefore it would be as absurd to expect this memory to remember that which it has never recorded as it would be idle to examine under a microscope a shirt never worn by a murderer, and seek on it for the stains of blood which are to be found only on the clothes he wore.
But if [the Ego] is punished in this life for the misdeeds committed in the previous one, then it ... ought to be rewarded also, whether here, or when disincarnated. And so it is. ... Crimes and sins committed on a plane of objectivity and in a world of matter, cannot receive punishment in a world of pure subjectivity. We believe in no hell or paradise as localities; in no objective hell-fires and worms that never die, nor in any Jerusalems with streets paved with sapphires and diamonds. What we believe in is a post-mortem state or mental condition, such as we are in during a vivid dream.
The same unerringly wise and just rather than merciful Law, which inflicts upon the incarnated Ego the Karmic punishment for every sin committed during the preceding life on Earth, provides for the disembodied Entity a long lease of mental rest, i.e., the entire oblivion of every sad event, aye, to the smallest painful thought, that took place in its last life as a personality, leaving in the soul-memory but the reminiscence of that which was bliss, or led to happiness. During every Devachanic period the Ego, omniscient as it is per se, clothes itself, so to say, with the reflection of the "personality" that was. ... The ideal efflorescence of all the abstract, therefore undying eternal qualities or attributes, such as love and mercy, the love of the good, the true and the beautiful, that ever spoke in the heart of the living "personality," clung after death to the Ego, and therefore followed it to Devachan. For the time being, then, the Ego becomes the ideal reflection of the human being it was when last on earth. ... To the ordinary mortal, his bliss is complete. It is an absolute oblivion of all that gave it pain or sorrow in the past incarnation, and even oblivion of the fact that such things as pain and sorrow exist at all. The Devachanee lives its intermediate cycle between two incarnations surrounded by everything it had aspired to in vain, and in the companionship of everyone it loved on earth. It has reached the fulfillment of all its soul-yearnings. An thus it lives throughout long centuries an existence of unalloyed happiness, which is the reward for its sufferings in earth-life.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE MAGIC OF IMAGINATION
Magic is a power which teaches the true nature of the inner man as well as the organization of his outward body. The superficial reasoner can comprehend nothing but what he can perceive by his senses; but the inner man has perceptive faculties transcending those of his external form. ... A knowledge of spiritual things cannot be obtained by merely reasoning logically from external appearances existing on the physical plane, but it may be acquired by obtaining more spirituality, and making one's self capable to feel and to see the things of the spirit.
No place is too far for the imagination to go, and the imagination of one man may impress that of another, wherever it reaches. Imagination is the beginning of the corpus of a form, and it guides the process of its growth. The Will is a dissolving power, which enables the body to become impregnated by the "tincture" of the imagination. He who wants to know how a man can unite his power of imagination with the power of the imagination of Heaven (within), must know by what process this is done. A man comes into possession of creative power by uniting his own mind with the Universal Mind, and he who succeeds in doing so will be in possession of the highest possible wisdom. The lower realm of Nature will be subject to him, and the powers of Heaven will aid him, because Heaven is the servant of wisdom.
KARMA AND REINCARNATION
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