THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 1, November, 1931
(Pages 10-15; Size: 18K)
(Number 9 of a 10-part series)
STUDIES IN REINCARNATION
CYCLES, NATIONAL AND INDIVIDUAL
THE human reincarnation is merely one of the aspects of a universal law of dissipation and of reaggregation under affinitive ties. In the man, bodies of matter -- mental, astral, physical -- are periodically driven apart by the forces generated through contiguity, and as often brought together by the slow drift which gets into operation as soon as the disintegrative powers are relaxed. But with most of the man's principles, reincarnation is only partial at any one time. The matters of his mind, of his emotional nature, of his astral or pattern body, of his physical body, tend to recoalesce in the same unity which they once had. But much of them on each plane has been seized by other beings, become embedded in other kingdoms, and has to wait its time to come back to him. So that the nature at birth may overlap the one he had in last incarnation, may show some of its traits and some others it did not then have, or may show those traits in a different order of proportional strength.
So vast is the mass of substance on all planes that is peculiarly the man's own, that he may even be born with a character having no resemblance to that of last time; some long delayed affinities catch up with him and make his congeries of Lives. But in general it may be said that the thought-tendencies exhibit a considerable continuity from life to life; so also with emotions, vitality, and even physical appearance, in descending degree. For these masses of matter, physical and metaphysical, tend to travel in coherence, and will do so unless interfered with. The only total coherence is in Atma-Buddhi-Manas, the reincarnating Ego, which is a permanent Self because an aggregation of substance which has been purified, made so homogeneous that it is subject to alteration only by addition. It is in fact the very substance that lies behind the apparent abstraction called "knowledge." Its knowledge is of the nature of knowing that we can move a limb; not alterable, not heterogenous, not subject to reason, to doubt, or to uncertainty. All true knowledge when once acquired becomes of this nature and adds to the inner self, though often vanishing from the more exterior planes. For the present we are concerned with the substances, or modes of motion -- on superior planes they are identical -- which partake of heterogeneity and therefore come and go and are changeable.
Every studious person has seen for himself the coming and going of mental epidemics or contagions; he does not have to be a Theosophist to do that. Few have attempted to catalogue them in any complete historical analysis; they have wondered over the fact and let it go at that. No more is the average man, except in a vague way, aware of the constant psycho-physiological cycles in his own nature. He talks of "moods;" in a larger way of "changes of luck," the latter often in relation to a seven-year period which has been observed and proven by any number of ordinary people. He is aware that physically he feels better at one time than he does at another. Vaguely he wonders over the fact that quite often he can lay the changes to no particular visible action of his own; but seldom does anyone lay out for himself a calendar of his cycles of thought, will, feeling, and vitality. He would be both surprised and illuminated if he did!
However, a true time-relation exists only insofar as the life of the man is regular. An internal cycle is the rise and working out of certain relationships; under a general condition of the man they will work out in a given time which will hold whenever the same conditions obtain. But any marked alteration in collateral circumstances will alter the diameter of the time-circle. As a homely illustration, a man leading a regular life will digest a meal in a definite time. But let him become worried, angry, disheartened, during or after the meal, and the digesting process will be delayed until the effect wears off. Moreover, it will be changed in part from a cycle of nutrition to one of poisoning. And if the whole truth were known, it would be found that such an alteration of the nature of the minor cycle coincided with a much greater cycle; in other words there will be a term of months or years when such minor upsets will be frequent, followed by one where they will not. It would be found that there is a relation between these tendencies and certain natural cycles, such as those of the moon, of sunspots, and the like. There are very definite yearly cycles of mental and spiritual power and of physical vitality, as also of elation and depression. But with those cycles not definitely related to cosmic visible operations, the measure is not so much one of time as of the working off of an effect. Thus it is said that a certain course may be run in "seven minutes, seven days, seven years, or seven incarnations." But the effort and change gone through will be the same in all cases. Most human beings will find regular cycles of elation and depression in themselves, but they will last for a year in one where they will for an hour in some one else; and will be thrown out of all time-reckoning by good fortune or disaster.
All these cycles are traceable to one of two causes -- the recurrent transmission of modes of motion, mental, moral, physical, to the being; or to the actual reincarnation in him of matter appertaining to those various planes; matter which leaves him, serves time elsewhere, and is drawn back on some current of influx -- or is replaced by other matter of a similar nature. All such substances, being alive, and in fact forming the substratum of his conscious operations, carry with them their own feel and influence.
When one considers the limitless field of knowledge appertaining to the flux and reflux through humanity of ties of feeling and thought on all planes; the infinity of invisible transmitting magnetic ties which unite all beings indissolubly, the mind reels. One appreciates the statement of a Mahatma that even He "had to study simpler things for fifteen years before studying cycles." .... But there is no reason why, by taking thought now, we cannot shorten our own "fifteen years" when the time comes; that is, if we study from the spiritual point of view and without an eye to self-interest.
"History repeats itself" is a popular recognition of the reincarnation of ideas in the body politic of the race. Were those who glibly use the phrase, to study scientifically and earnestly how and where it repeats itself, they would be wiser as to many things. Great ideas sweep the world and work mighty changes; new generations grow up, complacently accepting the new order as natural; abuses, the wormings of the clever and unscrupulous, sap the foundations until a people which has descended unaware into misery, awakes at the call of some clarion voice, and again is a cycle of destruction and regeneration; then the old cycle repeats. This is true of philosophy, or religion; of art, science, and nation; and many an individual finds it recapitulated in small within himself. Sometimes the Idea seems subject to as full a reincarnation out of invisible space as does the body of man; but in fact neither returns without a prior handhold in manifestation, left from older times. Though the thought has seemingly vanished from the world, perhaps buried under mounds of neglect, ignorance, persecution, and prohibition, it lives on in the hearts of a few. Nor could man reincarnate without some of his family plasm left on earth. The notion of human rights had survived right down the ages; long before the French Revolution burst into open sight, the ranks of the aristocracy themselves had become honey-combed by it -- as the result of the presence of Preservers working with knowledge and direction. There is nothing in the open politics and religion of those days to explain the cry of "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" on one side of the Atlantic, and the American Constitution on the other. In point of fact a few men had transmitted a Charge silently down the centuries, themselves being the hidden germ plasm from which when the season of reincarnation arrived, would grow the physical body of the new incarnation. In retrospect and with fuller understanding, their physical presences and identity can now be traced through history, albeit many of them worked unconscious of the great ends they served. So even now is it with the once Republic of the United States, which has long ceased to exist save in name. Yet in it there live men upon whose hearts the Constitution is engraved in letters of fire which one day will set ablaze the corruptions of the decades, bringing back to the continent the Ideal in a new and better incarnation.
The striking similarity, almost the identity, of the French and Russian revolutions has been apparent to some from the first. The type-pattern is unmistakable. A moron potentate, the flower of his times, coldly and narrowly selfish, unfeeling, unimaginative, veneered with a surface amiability; mated with an ambitious, narrow-minded woman of strong will, and parent to a brood of royal non-entities; a discontented, worried, feeble aristocracy, confronted with a people to whom they have brought unendurable misery more by sheer stupidity and irresponsibility than by active oppression; such is the picture. Then follows the conventional course of events. A monarchy falling with the passive consent of a disaffected aristocracy; a period of confusion, with various mediocre men finding themselves in places of sudden power through no will of their own, by the collapse of every power around them; a feeble and confused effort to hold that power, to organize and consolidate for a few months. Then -- the deluge. A people embittered by the wrongs of ages, led by strong-willed, courageous men whose personal grievances have made them into hate incarnate, rise howling and smother the things of the past in a river of blood. Then an oligarchy of rulers born of the people, gradually sobering under responsibility, chastened by the sufferings around them and burdened by unanticipated problems, at war with selfish neighbors, drifts steadily toward conservatism through the coming years. The populace sorts itself out under a social law of specific gravity, the ancient elements of human nature manifest in new men, arranging themselves in wonted order and hierarchy. And so on.
The elements invariably appear, though not always reaching their full growth. In Germany, for instance, the revolution has never reached the émeute stage, because up to the war there had been no great physical misery, no generation of ancient grudges. The people still had something left to be lost in a universal destruction, therefore refrained. However, the German revolution is not yet complete. It may end peacefully or it may not.
Now under Karmic law it must be that the same persons reincarnate again and again in similar cycles by mental and moral affinity. H. P. Blavatsky calls attention to the constant recurrence of historical types across long periods. But they recur quickly sometimes. The average human reincarnation period being 1500 years, many must wait long centuries and cycles for periods affiliate with their own natures. But great masses of the passional, the spiritually ignorant, the materialistic, having little Devachanic residue, are back almost immediately. Nor is the karmic relationship between nations to be overlooked. In the 18th Century it was America which set fire to France. In the 20th we cannot overlook the powerful catalytic effect being exerted upon American conditions by Russia. It is not without significance that the Russian population increases three and a half millions per year, the most rapid increase in her history, or that of any other nation, while others have slackened or stopped their increase. These people are flooding in from somewhere and from some potent Karmic cause.
St. Germain, the secret moving power behind the French Revolution, which afterward got out of hand, "may," says H.P.B., "be recognized by some at the next Terreur." Has that Terreur been and gone? Or does it still lie in the womb of a cataclysmic future? But the cycles are spiral. The French Revolution fell far back from its first rosy dreams, yet France has never been as sad as she was before. Russia never again will be as miserable as before her own revolution; America is still beyond compare with other nations in certain important social aspects. What she will be after the next great change, whether that be peaceful or violent, slow or sudden, is not revealed but is variously guessed by many. Judge remarked that when the future is foreseen, unconscious efforts are made to alter it, and this creates Karmic confusion. Therefore it is well. The duty of the hour is the true guide to a proper future.
What is the lesson? The man who acts by blind desire and self-interest will forever be the helpless victim of the recurrent tides in his own nature and in the world's nature, constricted helplessly indeed in "the ringing grooves of change." But the man is not the cycle. If we do not like the cycle the road of escape from it and for others is for us to do our whole duty uncomplainingly therein. By either repulsion or attraction we hold ourselves upon that particular felloe of the wheel ceaselessly turning. That we are here is sign enough that our powers are not high enough to be of use in better cycles; that they would be wasted in lower ones. Always are we in a right place. It is Karma; it is the eternal fitness of things; and above all it is Duty consciously undertaken in the long ago, consciously renewed at the threshold of birth. When our duty is done by the mass of egos to which we find ourselves presently attached we will be born in higher company. When our duty is done to the minds and bodies we now have, we will be possessed of better.
There are ever times when one or other of the many forces in our own nature or in Society are uppermost over the rest. This is the true basis of the superstition of "horary astrology," in whose vagaries there is no longer truth. The secret of the use of that fact is that every principle in us, being as near immanent Spirit as any other, has its proper time of use, its necessary time of rest and assimilation. Full understanding and right use of this, coupled with the elimination from our natures of false cycles, is the product of self-knowledge, product of work and compassion.
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:
CAUSE AND EFFECT
Modern exact Science, as soon as it began to grow out of its teens, perceived the great, and, to it, hitherto esoteric axiom, that nothing -- whether in the spiritual, psychic, or physical realm of being -- could come into existence out of nothing. There is no cause in the manifested universe without its adequate effects, whether in space or time; nor can there be an effect without its primal cause, which itself owes its existence to a still higher one -- the final and absolute cause having to remain to man for ever an incomprehensible CAUSELESS CAUSE. But even this is no solution, and must be viewed, if at all, from the highest philosophical and metaphysical standpoints, otherwise the problem had better be left unapproached. It is an abstraction, on the verge of which human reason -- however trained to metaphysical subtleties -- trembles, threatening to collapse. --S.D., I, p. 569.
STUDIES IN REINCARNATION
CYCLE OF THE REINCARNATING EGOS
(Part 10 of a 10-part series)
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