Marvelous as it may have appeared, all that we have so far discussed (with the exception of certain isolated instances), has had to do with what we might now call the "lesser beyond." We have seen that the worlds, both outer and inner, of manifest existence are worlds of appearances, the mere apparatus of existence through which life, the dynamic element of reality, expresses itself.
Even in the realm of soul, Kama-Manas, the realm of feeling and thought as we ordinarily know it, there is conditioning and transiency. Life expresses itself in various ways, in various modes of consciousness, in numberless forms of infinite variety, visible and invisible. That from which all stems, both the activity and the vehicle, is Spirit itself.
In attempting to discuss the realm of Spirit, we are in the difficult position of trying to think about or perceive something which is itself of the nature of the perceiver and not the perceived. Not only that but we are, in the end, confronted with the difficulty of considering the inconsiderable, the Absolute, "beyond the range and reach of thought. "
In a manifest Universe the "Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE" of our first original fundamental proposition, shows forth as manifest Deity with its dual face of Motion and Space. These constitute the root of the dichotomies which, as we have seen before, pass down through, and are recognizable at all levels and in all departments of Nature, as Spirit and Substance, force and form, energy and matter, positive and negative, active and passive, male and female, subjective and objective, waking and sleeping, life and death. These are the poles, so to speak, of existence, and between them flow the currents of activity that we call life and, at high level, it is this interplay between Spirit and Substance that gives rise to consciousness; Operating in its various modes in all the kingdoms of nature, from absolute consciousness - which is, in any terms we know of, virtual unconsciousness
- this Spirit-Life super-consciousness passes through all its various modes down to what we know as waking consciousness.
Recapitulating something of what we have said earlier, we see if we can accept the occult idea of evolution - that there is a gradual unfoldment of faculty, including awareness, through all degrees of natural development, both up to and above our present human stage, where subjective faculties far transcend ours.
Looking at some of the implications of this continuous evolutionary process of unfoldment of faculty, we see, first, the Ego gaining experience of life through its periodical personalities. With respect to, and for these personalities the Ego is virtually an omniscient divinity. Perhaps it is not too difficult to accept this, intellectually, as a feasible idea, but it is quite another matter to realize that each of us is essentially such an entity, a dim reflection only, of whose radiant light shines into our normal consciousness. A few of us can sense something of this enormous possibility but, at our present stage of development, most of us cannot.
We are told that the hallmark of spiritual illumination in the personality is the spontaneous practice of virtue and altruism in all their varieties. If these are genuine, and because of the obvious strength and benign wisdom of the person who significantly exemplifies them in life, that person towers above his or her fellows. This distinguishing greatness will show even in the individual's unassumed authoritative attitude toward his fellows. The Christian gospel story illustrates this in the person of Jesus, in whom we sense, unquestionably, a model worthy of our imitation. There are others, still great but of lesser stature, who inspire us; such are the Schweitzers and Nightingales and many others, who act as examples to us in their particular ways.
In Occultism, and from what we can learn of them, all the high Initiates, the Masters of the Wisdom, typify our ideal of human attainment and of wisdom and compassion in action. They are men made perfect, as Jesus besought his followers to be. They represent the highest of spiritual achievement of which man is capable.
It could now be asked, but what is the difference between us ordinary mortals and these Masters when the teaching says that we ourselves in essence are also divine beings? The answer is that the Master of Wisdom has so trained and purified his personal vehicle, through many lives of effort, that it can perfectly respond to, and transmit, the life impulses from the spiritual realm of being through the mental and psychic ones to the physical. At each level
the Initiate can operate self-determinedly, although he must always work within the framework of natural law. He can, however, be an independent cause, through his sovereign will, and can demonstrate his mastery over the forces (elementals) of nature, and can work what would seem to us miracles.
Finally, there is the matter of these powers of the Adept. They stem, essentially, from the highest realms of the "Great Beyond" .
A little story about one of these Masters, to illustrate this, is both amusing and informative in a number of ways. It tells of his receipt, at a monastery in Tibet, of an important letter from an English correspondent.
When I received intimation of its arrival, I was just crossing the large inner courtyard of the monastery; bent upon listening to the voice of Lama Tondhub Gyatcho, I had no time to read the contents. So after mechanically opening the thick packet, I merely glanced at it, and put it, as I thought, into the traveling bag I wear across the shoulder. In reality though, it had dropped on the ground; and since I had broken the envelope and emptied its contents, the latter were scattered in their fall. There was no-one near me at the time, and my attention being wholly absorbed with the conversation, I had already reached the staircase leading to the library door, when I heard the voice of a young gyloong calling out from a window, and expostulating with someone at a distance. Turning round I understood the situation at a glance; otherwise your letter would have never been read by me for I saw a venerable old goat in the act of making a morning meal of it. The creature had already devoured part of C.C.M.'s letter, and was thoughtfully preparing to have a bite at yours, more delicate and easy for chewing with his old teeth than the tough envelope and paper of your correspondent's epistle. To rescue what remained of it took me but a short instant, disgust and opposition of the animal notwithstanding - but there remained mighty little of it! The envelope with your crest on [it] had nearly disappeared, the contents of the letters made illegible - in short I was perplexed at the sight of the disaster. Now you know why I felt embarrassed: I had no right to
restore it, the letters coming from the "Eclectic" and connected directly with the hapless "Pelings" on all sides. What could I do to restore the missing parts! I had already resolved to humbly crave permission from the Chohan to be allowed an exceptional privilege in this dire necessity, when I saw his holy face before me, with his eye twinkling in quite an unusual manner, and heard his voice: "Why break the rule? I will do it myself." These simple words Kam mi ts'har - "I'll do it," contain a world of hope for me. He has restored the missing parts and done it quite neatly too, as you see, and even transformed a crumpled broken envelope, very much damaged, into a new one - crest and all. Now I know what great power had to be used for such a restoration, and this leads me to hope for a relaxation of severity one of these days. Hence I thanked the goat heartily; and since he does not belong to the ostracised Peling race, to show my gratitude, I strengthened what remained of teeth in his mouth, and set the dilapidated remains firmly in their sockets, so that he may chew food harder than English letters for several years to come. (M.L.. 320/21, 2nded; 315/16, 3rded.)
This story illustrates that there are grades of Initiates; the Chohan in this case being senior to the writer of the letter. Even so the writer was able, in his turn, to refix the goat's old teeth, and his comments imply that he could, himself, have restored the damaged letters. The rule referred to is that no Initiate can use his powers for his own benefit. This is further illustrated in the crucifixion story of Jesus, wherein he was taunted to get himself down from the cross. Whether or not this is a historical fact does not matter. It illustrates the point. He did not use his powers, which no doubt such an Initiate would have possessed, to save himself.
He knows, too, that any such demonstration of power upsets the karmic balance and must be compensated for. He therefore uses his powers very sparingly. Similarly, his powers and his wisdom and knowledge of nature's ways are far outside the accepted norm becoming, perhaps, unbelievable and even unacceptable to most of us. We fear them and therefore the Initiate must keep himself beyond our notice.
It is said that in the last quarter of every century an attempt is made to illuminate and spiritualise mankind. Many so-called prophets, teachers, masters, or gurus may come and declare themselves. How are we to know the true ones? First, we are told that a genuine Master of Wisdom, if one should come, would - for those who recognize it - bear the stamp of his greatness; and further, that he would never parade nor advertise his powers, nor would he demand nor accept payment in any wise.
To revert to our theme of the Great Beyond we have seen that the Absolute, Eternal, Boundless PRINCIPLE is the causeless Cause of Cosmos. This means that everything, manifest or unmanifest, derives from that ONE. There is an essential Unity underlying all existence. The "Absolutes" of existence, Law, Space as ultimate Substance (homogeneous and undifferentiated), Motion, are in fact this One. They are eternals. Each is inherent in the other. They are not separate "things." The basic dualities of nature stemming from this One endure throughout the life of Cosmos. All differentiation, all modification, however, change with time. These are the temporary conditions of an extant Universe. Although they are at the root of all existent things and beings, they themselves are essentially of the One. Everything to which they give rise is not therefore a wholly discrete, separate thing. Everything is, in this deep sense, an aspect only of the One. It is to that ONE that everything returns at the close of every great cycle of universal activity. This is the culmination of a vast period of Cosmic activity. It enters its period of rest. It is the Nirvanic condition where all conscious entities are withdrawn into a state of bliss.
Individual men can however anticipate this periodic Universal rest and independently achieve Nirvana. But only after many lives of effort do they move up from our state of limited, conditioned, separate, personal consciousness to this terminal sublime state which has sometimes been described as annihilation or extinction of the one attaining it. What might now appear to us indeed as total loss, is in reality total gain. A Nirvanee becomes merged again into the WHOLE. This, in the final analysis, is the ultimate ground in which we have our being. It is the "sea" or "atmosphere" of Spirit in which, always, are all things, even our circumscribed personal units of being; we cannot escape it, but how little do we know it!
Lest this Nirvanic state should look and feel very remote, a matter only of abstruse, intellectual significance, cold and utterly
impersonal, let us never forget that the One, the Universal Soul, is also the source and home of all souls and all sentiency.
The whole gamut of feeling, throughout its entire range from the first stirrings of pleasure and pain to our highest aspirational yearnings and sacrificial love, is its progeny. We do not need here even to name these higher feelings. They are the very stuff of the life of a properly mature person and their mere mention tends powerfully to arouse them: serenity, devotion, joy, gentleness, strength, are examples. A significant part of the value of the special occasions, as in church or temple, or in meditation, when we give our minds to these things, is that they raise the level of our consciousness, at least for a time.
We all know of the positive feelings of joy and affection, elation, happiness, fulfillment, achievement, acquisition. We all know too of deprivation, loss, sadness, failure, lack of appreciation, fear, jealousy, envy, anger. Feelings such as these - especially the negative ones which are so conducive to suffering - can be bitter teachers. But what, we often ask, does experience, and indeed all suffering, teach? It teaches, for example, the transience of existence through the pain of severed attachment: it teaches of the ultimate aridity of ambition for its own sake, whether or not fulfilled. We learn that however it is lived, life is poignant. We learn above all that our real life, our life of significant feeling, not just physical sensation, is enriching to our total nature. It is in feeling of this kind that life has meaning for us.
Feeling and thought arise in the inner areas of our being. They are activities of our psyche, our mortal soul, operating at the kama-manasic levels of the Astral Light. It is in the Astral Light that psychic phenomena, some of which reflect into the physical world as physical phenomena, are produced by the elemental powers. People with the necessary developed psychic faculties can perceive what is going on on these planes. We are now, however, distinguishing between the psychic and the spiritual.
We saw earlier that, although in different dimensions of space and time, psychic entities and phenomena are in the earth's atmosphere, so to speak, within its second principle; spiritual beings and their activities are, on the other hand, not in space or time, at least not in any sense that we can conceive of. To add to our difficulties in understanding the nature of the truly spiritual realms, they are said to be formless. Truly spiritual entities, such as our Egos, have no form. Relative to our normal experience, they and
their activities must be entirely subjective. This does not mean there are not realms of spiritual objectivity real to spiritual beings operating at those levels, but all such operations, if we could apprehend them at all, would be purely subjective to us here. We could only sense them as thoughts or feelings which would seem to arise from within ourselves. For example, there is the realm of direct perception, universal knowledge, of Buddhi illuminating Manas, which we know only through flashes of the highest intuition. In these we feel we have apprehended some fact or principle in nature for a certainty, beyond all question, above all argument. It is in these moments of spiritual insight that we cognise the true nature of Cosmos and its inner workings. We do this by identity; by moving up in consciousness until we are it. This is an appreciation, a realization, of Unity in very fact and truth.
Our being aware at spiritual levels, involves two important points. One is the nature of the main plane of Buddhi. Much has been written about this. It is, as said, the vehicle of Spirit. It is a passive principle, giving being to Spirit in the innermost realms. Through it, Spirit pervades all Cosmos and everything in it. Buddhi is therefore modified or affected by everything that happens in the Universe. Insofar as it registers this, it knows it. Now the higher sub-principles of Manas are associated with Buddhi as Buddhi-Manas (as opposed to Kama-Manas in the realms of personality). It is in Manas that consciousness as we know it arises. It is in Manas, at the buddhic subplane level, that the knowing faculty has its seat, and to the extent that this is developed and operating, it endows its possessor with a degree of "omniscience." We have seen how complex is the whole structure of being and consciousness. We have just said that Manas-buddhi must confer only a degree of "omniscience" because there must be other degrees and modes of knowing on the manasic subplane of Buddhi, for example. It is in Buddhi itself, or in any of its subplane combinations, that knowing by identity arises. The author has himself had some slight experience of this, and he was once told a remarkable story by an ordinary housewife who also had a glimpse of this transcendent illumination. She said she had been vouchsafed a vision of the "machinery of the Universe," to use her expression, wherein she saw why everything is as it is, and much else. She said she knew this for a certainty by being it.
Buddhi and Akasa, by definition, must be closely identified, the one being a derivative of the other.
Akasa contains a record of everything that has happened in Cosmos and it becomes perceivable at two levels, one at the psychic level where, as the Astral Light, its contents are perceivable by the psychic clairvoyant. The other is Akasa proper, at the Spiritual, Egoic level, where the contents are available, as the books say, only to "the opened eye of dangma" (a Seer, one who has attained full wisdom).
This gives us a clue as to how these inner realms are cognised. We become aware of those parts of the nature of Cosmos of which the reflection is in effective operation in ourselves. To expand on the wonders of this state of being is not the function of this book. Interested readers are referred to such works as the Bhagavad Gita where something of these states of consciousness, those of the mystic, are described and something is said on how to achieve them. It seems however that we also become possessed of specific objective knowledge at these lofty levels of consciousness.
Here are some extracts from letters from H. P. Blavatsky to her relatives, describing something of her state of awareness as her spiritual faculties were beginning to function at these high levels, and describing at least one aspect of Egoic Consciousness.
When I wrote Isis I wrote it so easily that it was actually no labour, but a real pleasure. Why should I be praised for it? Whenever I am told to write, I sit down and obey, and then I can write easily upon almost anything - metaphysics, psychology, philosophy, ancient religions, zoology, natural sciences, or what not. I never put myself the question: "Can I write on this subject?" or "Am I equal to the task?" but I simply sit down and write. Why? Because somebody who knows all dictates to me. ... My Master and occasionally others whom I knew in my travels years ago. ... Please do not imagine that I have lost my senses. I have hinted to you before now about Them ... and I tell you candidly that, whenever I write upon a subject I know little or nothing of, I address myself to Them, and one of Them inspires me, i.e., He allows me simply to copy what I write from manuscripts, and even printed matter that passes before my eyes in the air, during which process I have never been unconscious one single instant. ... It is that knowledge of His protection and faith in His
power, that have enabled me to become mentally and spiritually so strong ... and even He (the Master) is not always required; for, during His absence on some other occupation, He awakens in me His substitute in knowledge. ... At such times it is no more I who write, but my inner Ego, my luminous self who thinks and writes for me. (Neff, p. 278)
In another letter to her sister HPB writes:
Well, Vera, whether you believe me or not, something miraculous is happening to me. You cannot imagine in what a charmed world of pictures and visions I live. I am writing Isis. not writing, rather copying out and drawing what she personally shows to me. Upon my word, sometimes it seems to me that the ancient Goddess of Beauty in person leads me through all the countries of past centuries which I have to describe. I sit with my eyes open, and to all appearances see and hear everything real and actual around me, and yet at the same time I see and hear that which I write. I feel short of breath; I am afraid to make the slightest movement, for fear the spell might be broken. Slowly, century after century, image after image float out of the distance and pass before me, as if in magic panorama; and meanwhile I put them together in my mind, fitting in epochs and dates, and know for sure that there can be no mistake. Races and nations, countries and cities which have for long disappeared in the darkness of the prehistoric past, emerge and then vanish, giving place to others, and then I am told the consecutive dates.
Hoary antiquity makes way for historical periods; myths are explained to me with events and people who have really existed; and every event which is at all remarkable, every newly turned page of this many coloured book of life impresses itself on my brain with photographic exactitude. My own reckonings and calculations appear to me later on as separate coloured pieces of different shapes in the game which we called casse-tete (puzzles). I gather them together and try to match them one after the other, and assuredly it is not I who do it all, but my ego, the highest principle which
lives in me. And even this with the help of my Guru and Teacher who helps me in everything. If I happen to forget something, I have just to address him, or another of the same kind, in my thought and what I have forgotten rises once more before my eyes - sometimes whole tables of numbers passing before me, long inventories of events. They remember everything. They know everything. Without Them, from whence could I gather my knowledge? (Neff. pp. 278-9)
As she says herself she not only could, but did, get this from her Higher Self.
We have now done a review of the field of the "Great Beyond" from a number of angles and to finish we perhaps could not do better than to reiterate what was said by H. P. Blavatsky in a French magazine in 1889 concerning the advent of a new cycle and the part played by Occultism in the search for truth.
... we wish to point to new intellectual horizons, to outline unexplored routes leading to the amelioration of humanity; to offer a word of consolation to all the disinherited of the earth, whether suffering from starvation of soul or from lack of physical necessities. We invite all great-hearted individuals who desire to respond to this appeal to join with us in this humanitarian work. ... We are face to face with all the glorious possibilities of the future. This is again the hour of the great cyclic return of the rising tide of mystical thought in Europe. On every side we are surrounded by the ocean of universal science - the science of life eternal bearing on its waves the forgotten and submerged treasures of vanished generations, treasures still unknown to the modern civilized races. The strong current which rises from the watery abyss, from the depths where lie the prehistoric learning and arts swallowed up with the antediluvian Giants - demigods, though but mere outlines of mortal men - that current strikes us in the face . and murmurs: "That which has been still exists; that which has been forgotten, buried for aeons in the depths of the Jurassic strata, may reappear to view once more. Prepare yourselves."
Happy are those who can interpret the language of the elements. But where are they bound for whom the word element has no other meaning than that given to it by physics or materialistic chemistry? Will it be towards well-known shores that the surge of the great waters will bear them, when they have lost their footing in the deluge which is approaching? Will it be towards the peaks of a new Ararat that they will find themselves carried, towards the heights of light and sunshine, where there is a ledge on which to place the feet in safety, or perchance is it to a fathomless abyss that will swallow them as soon as they try to struggle against the irresistible billows of an unknown element?
We must prepare and study truth under every aspect, endeavouring to ignore nothing, if we do not wish to fall into the abyss of the unknown when the hour shall strike. It is useless to leave it to chance and await the intellectual and psychic crisis which is preparing, with indifference, if not with crass disbelief, saying that at the worst the rising tide will carry us naturally towards the shore; for it is very likely that the tidal wave will cast up nothing but a corpse. The strife will be terrible in any case between brutal materialism and blind fanaticism on the one hand, and philosophy and mysticism on the other - mysticism, that veil of more or less translucency which hides the eternal Truth.
But it is not materialism which will gain the upper hand. Every fanatic whose ideas isolate him from the universal axiom, "There is no religion higher than Truth," will see himself by that very fact rejected, like an unworthy stone from the new Archway called Humanity. Tossed by the waves, driven by the winds, reeling in that element which is so terrible because unknown, he will soon find himself engulfed. ...
Yes, it must be so, and it cannot be otherwise, when the artificial and chilly flame of modern materialism is extinguished for lack of fuel. Those who cannot become used to the idea of a spiritual Ego, a living soul and an eternal Spirit within their material shell (which owes its illusory existence to those principles); those for whom
the great hope of an existence beyond the grave is a vexation, merely the symbol of an unknown quantity, or else the subject of a belief sui generis, the result of theological and mediumistic hallucinations - these will do well to prepare for the worst disappointment the future could possibly have in store for them. For from the depths of the dark, muddy waters of materiality which, on every side, hide from them the horizons of the great Beyond, a mystic force is rising. ... At most it is but the first gentle rustling, but it is a superhuman rustling - "supernatural" only for the superstitious and the ignorant. The spirit of truth is passing now over the face of the dark waters, and in parting them, is compelling them to disgorge their spiritual treasures. This spirit is a force that can neither be hindered nor stopped. Those who recognise it and feel that this is the supreme moment of their salvation will be uplifted by it and carried beyond the illusions of the great astral serpent. The joy they will experience will be so poignant and intense, that if they were not mentally isolated from their bodies of flesh, the beatitude would pierce them like sharp steel. It is not pleasure that they will experience, but a bliss which is a foretaste of the knowledge of the gods, the knowledge of good and evil, and of the fruits of the tree of life. (C. W. XI, p. 130 et seq)
Let this be the last word in this attempt to bring something of the Great Beyond to the notice of all who are seeking some light in the desperate darkness of our time, when all values are in the melting pot. Our old authorities have been discarded. We are aimless, lacking the basic certainties to give us the confidence to go forward into the future knowing our proper goals and how we can achieve them.
We have tried here, in what we have given on this theme, to provide a background of feasibility, if not of actual knowledge, sufficient in itself to fill the tragic gap in human affairs left by the slow but now almost total abandonment of a personal Father-God, in his heaven, the undisputed omnipotent Creator and Governor of his universe, with a particular interest in his special creation, humankind.
We are now on our own but this does not mean to say that there
are not universal absolutes, in which we can justifiably have much more faith than in any Deity created by the mind of man.
The Great Beyond is the hinterland of existence, the vast, potent realms of Spirit and all its derivatives, reflecting through into our visible, tangible world of Nature, with its prolific life and multitudes of lives. It is this last wherein lies the significance of all we have written. It is in the private inner world of feeling and thought within each of us. Herein lie our hopes and despairs, our gladness and sadness, our resolution or feebleness of purpose, our follies and wisdom, our pleasures and our pains, our sympathy and our love. It is these, our inner responses to life, that give it its meaning for us. They are born from what we are, not what we have. Have we not seen that we are far more wonderful than we could ever have imagined? Could we not try to act accordingly and might not then something of the truly Great Beyond become the Here and Now for many, if not all of us, instead of for the very, very few.
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