THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 6, April, 1931
(Pages 255-257; Size: 10K)
(Number 2 of a 10-part series)
STUDIES IN REINCARNATION
MEMORY AND JUSTICE
TO some men, the lack of memory of past lives presents a problem to be solved, but no bar to the truth of reincarnation. In them, the sense of Self has become depersonalized to that degree which precludes the idea of memory or non-memory being an issue in the matter of cosmic justice. But others at once raise across their own path the barrier of "Why don't I remember?" and "Why should I suffer from crimes I don't remember?" Not infrequently the objector is one who has accepted long since the doctrine of materialism; that is to say, the teaching that a man may suffer limitlessly, not merely from what he does not remember, but in fact from what he has never done. Or he may be a religionist content with thinking it just that man -- created by a God -- should suffer from sins derivable only from that God.
Now to the first objection -- which is scientific -- it is sufficient to point out that did existence through a given space of time depend upon memory of its events, all men would be in and out of existence every few seconds.
To the second objection, which is theological, based upon a constricted conception of Self and of Justice, it could be said that the "object" of Karmic action is corrective and not punitive; but this while true in a sense, is apt to get both student and instructor deep into the mire of anthropomorphic conceptions of causation. The only real solution is for the seeker after knowledge to move into new fields of the Soul, completely recasting his understanding of Life, Nature, Duty, Justice, and Self. Above all, Self.
Now in point of fact, "Nature" has no concern whatever that "Justice" shall be done, in our sense of "doing justice." The highest possible conceptions of Justice -- even those in the minds of Mahatmas and Dhyan-Chohans -- are conceptions dependent upon the limitations of being-hood. Nature herself merely tends toward, on the one hand, utter quiescence; and on the other, toward absolutely harmonious action, which is frictionless, or merely the opposite pole of quiescence. Neither one of these is the result of intent on Nature's part. The Law, is neither "just" nor "unjust" in the sense the terms imply, referring to ideas held by beings who make them the basis of their own actions and of Nature's reactions. The existence of a strife-full being in space constitutes in itself a disturbance which Nature unceasingly, in her tendency toward equilibrium, strives to blot out; and in this she inevitably will succeed. Whether the disturbance cease by relapse into the quiescence of eternal unconsciousness or by self-purgation of all but purely harmonious action, which is Nirvana, is the concern of the being, not of Nature. What seed is sown, and harvest reaped, is the concern of the Sower, not of the Seed or of the field. They neither think nor plan. Whatever paths of learning there are, must therefore be paths carved for themselves by beings possessed of self-consciousness. Nature lies before them as potential object of study; but she of her own purpose is no teacher. Whatever conceptions there are of justice, are those erected by the individual in his own mind, based upon his correct, incorrect, or mixed understanding of the tendency of Nature to restore equilibrium after any action good or bad. Good and bad are all one to Nature.
Nature operates over minutes, years, centuries, to restore disturbed equilibrium in and through the sundry qualities, lives, principles, materials, constituting individual man. It is obvious that if, as Theosophy teaches, pain inflicted brings pain, well-being conferred brings well-being, that fact in itself can confer knowledge or salvation upon the sufferer or enjoyer only insofar as he is aware of the chain of cause and effect. It is an unformulated appreciation of this fact which generates the second great objection. Learning or not-learning within the limits of the chain of causation between birth and death is obviously for the choice of the individual. The materials for Dhyan-Chohanic wisdom are all enclosed within that narrow space. But the daily spectacle of men going from birth to death without profiting by experience, or profiting only in counterfeit coin, is proof enough that if there be hope for the mass of men, it must depend upon a buried inner remembrance and perception carried from life to life and acting as an unconscious meliorative influence upon character. Is there in reality such an influence, and if so, how does it work?
It is the commonest of psychological facts that from the conscious mind of man there radiate a multitude of dark tunnels into unknown regions of causative impulse; and that from these tunnels emerge urgings varying from the divine to the demoniacal. The self-observant man may, if he will, discard the inexplicable "explanations" of these influences woven too often of shallow-brained sophistries, as given in popular psychology. He may see in them potential roads to the heart of the undying Self. If he will seriously undertake self-study and self-discipline as inculcated by Theosophy, he will discover a new multitude of these hidden entrances in the fane of the Past. Moreover he will learn that if there exists in him a hidden urge toward the ever-better, it is shadowed by something much otherwise; that if in him there is a growing accumulation of spiritual wisdom, also there are stubborn habitudes of another order. Man's own timelessness, his own infinite capacity for divine learning, dawn upon him gradually in inverse ratio as he seeks out, comprehends, and expunges from his nature these elements of ancient ill which obscure the memory by their kaleidoscope changefulness. Then the Past, Present and Future lie before him, not as a series of laboriously retained events, but as a landscape seen in full by a faculty limited now in most men to the simple perception of "I am." Such a power in the very nature of things can appertain only to one devoid of thought for self, who has become simply an active and perceptive center of consciousness in Universal Life. The slightest trace of self-interest means a centering of attention on the transitory, when the whole field of universal vision is lost. The essence of that power is timelessness, by which the future is seen coëxistent with past and present.
The man who will adopt Theosophy as his rule of life will find that power develop in himself by which he will acquire Knowledge of its substance and prepare himself for its full bearing. While without any physical, psychic, or mental powers of an order beyond other men, he will develop the gift of "prophecy," that is to say, an understanding of events yet to come. By the same token he will develop the gift of "memory" in himself, that is to say, an understanding of effects no longer present. As he develops the spiritual ability -- above all the spiritual courage --to see uncolored his own causative chains running from his known past through his present into the potencies of the future, he matures the strength of soul which is a preliminary necessary to Adept vision.
What we segregate as memory, imagination and thought become to the Adept one limitless Power, as past, present, and future becomes one limitless Time. Men see themselves as segregated in time, space and matter, and events as discontinuous, where the Mahatma sees them simultaneously. The Mahatma sees them as they are.
STUDIES IN REINCARNATION
(Part 3 of a 10-part series)
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