How to Get Through It
Lentil burgers, a thousand press ups before breakfast and
the daily 25 mile run may put it off for a while but death
seems to get most of us in the end. We are pleased to
present for your consideration, a definitive work on the
subject by a Student of Katherine Tingley entitled
“Man After Death”
1847 – 1929
Founder & President of the
Point Loma Theosophical Society 1896 -1929
She and her students produced a series of informative
Theosophical works in the early years of the 20th century
Man After Death
A Student of
The Place of Death
While, as we must all agree, the purpose of man's evolution is to lead him to the complete knowledge of the universe in its height and depth, and to the enjoyment of its glory, this cannot be done until he becomes one with the higher self, the divine soul behind our separated human personalities, that divine soul which is the Christos, the true Vine of which we are the branches. To attain this godlike state we have to break down the wall of selfishness dividing one from the other; we have to identify our personal interests with those of the whole, and consciously to feel the unity of the human race -- that brotherhood which is a fact in nature, and which is not a sentiment or a fanciful conceit of idle dreamers.
The theosophical teachings about man after death are the simplest and most rational intimations that could be looked for on a subject of such profound obscurity to the ordinary human mind. Above all, they are not speculations as to what may be, like the poems of Dante or Milton.
They are the results of the observations of millenniums by those advanced helpers of the race who have pierced the veil and who have been able to enter consciously into many states of which we can hardly imagine the existence. Though these teachers have not given out nearly all the knowledge in their possession, many teachings belonging to the regions of the higher Mysteries being reserved as they cannot be revealed yet in our present state of evolution, enough is plainly set forth to satisfy reasonable inquirers who have got away from the misleading prejudices and limitations of orthodox bigotry or materialistic science.
For convenience, because the English language has not developed the suitable terms, we shall use the few Eastern words which H. P. Blavatsky adopted to save time in endlessly long explanatory sentences. The words may be found in Sanskrit or other Oriental languages, but the meanings attached to them by H. P. Blavatsky are not always precisely the same nowadays in the original languages from which they were taken. The special uses of the few terms used will become quite clear as we proceed. Every science requires a certain number of words of technical meaning and it would be curious if theosophy, the science of life, were an exception.
As a necessary introduction to the teaching of what takes place after the last breath is drawn we must have a fair idea of what man really is. In another Manual the complex nature of the human principles has been described at length.
For our present purpose the following convenient arrangement of the principles or subdivisions of our nature as published by H. P. Blavatsky is sufficient, but
we may notice in passing that several other slightly modified classifications were used by her as well.
The various Eastern schools of psychology differ as to the best arrangement, for the principles can be grouped in different divisions.
What we call the physical body -- i.e., the illusory appearance produced by the passing of material molecules through the ideal astral matrix -- being so mutable can be safely ignored. Strictly speaking, it is not a principle at all. The Egyptian and ancient Greek classifications are still other modifications, but H. P. Blavatsky decided that the following order was the most suitable for her pupils.
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 it!
THE SPIRITUAL divine "ego" is the spiritual soul or buddhi, in close union with manas, the mind principle, without which the former 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 or the "reincarnating ego."
THE LOWER or PERSONAL "ego" is the physical man in conjunction with his lower self -- i.e., animal 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, PRANA 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 machina of the living man. -- adapted from The Key to Theosophy, pp. 172-3
We must never fall into the vulgar error of thinking of these principles as entirely separate things, like the coats of an onion; during waking life our consciousness is playing through the whole set of principles, atma excepted, as it really stands above everything else. The human consciousness cannot be defined intelligibly; at best we can say it is the feeling of 'I-am-I' and no other. The seven principles somewhat resemble the seven prismatic colors which appear to be one, white, when united, but when separated are found to have individual characteristics.
Force and matter are admittedly indestructible, and conscious intelligence makes them coherent and orderly in their manifestation; otherwise chaos would ensue. The power of feeling inherent in us penetrates the different principles; but in our present state the mental self-consciousness is what makes us human, though unfortunately with the rarest exceptions this is merely the lower intellection and not the higher mind or the complete manas.
When humanity is fully self-conscious on every plane of existence it will stand forth as the divine man it is destined to become.
After death the higher manas withdraws into itself its 'shadow,' the higher aroma of the lower manas, which has been prominent during life, and which we erroneously think is our real self; it is this dual manasic principle, therefore, that we have to watch, chiefly, in its postmortem experiences.
To get an adequate idea of the conditions after death we must realize that the center of feeling giving us the sense of I-am-I, our individual consciousness, is able to identify itself with each of the different aspects or planes of nature.
These identifications are usually, though inexactly, called changes of consciousness. It is a matter of common recognition that a person is in an entirely different state when concentrated upon the solution of some difficult mathematical problem from the one he is in while enjoying a Christmas dinner or listening to worthy music; the intuitive consciousness which directs right action as in a flash, heedless of the slow process of reasoning, is different again; and then there are the little-understood states of dreaming and dreamless sleep. Theosophy being essentially based upon the study of consciousness, follows the individual perception through these states of consciousness and many others not yet recognized by science, until the personal limitations melt away into the whole, and "the dewdrop slips into the shining sea." Throughout all the ramifications of this marvelous journey let us never forget that it is the conditions that change, not the perceiving, conscious center.
There are many planes or conditions in nature's marvelous storehouse, and the vehicles or sheaths that the soul has created in order that it may understand these planes by plunging into them, are limitations.
As we get away from the physical world and the brain-cells of physiology, the vehicles of consciousness are found to be of more subtle matter than the terrestrial, more ethereal, in harmony with the new conditions. A helpful method is to consider them as possessing higher speed and different qualities of vibration, and consequently, unfamiliar properties and energies.
The list of principles previously given leads to an important point in connection with consciousness after death. To understand this we must dwell upon the strange fact that a center of self-consciousness can apparently emanate or put out an automatic consciousness resembling the light thrown by a lamp on a wall. It lights up a dimmer sensibility latent in the atoms of the associated substance. So, after death, the astral man or ethereal double of the body, though intrinsically mindless, has an automatic memory, an induced or reflected intelligence from its association with the lower manas, which persists for a while, but must not be mistaken for that of the real ego.
There are other separate persistences of consciousness after death which will be referred to later on, but the principle is the same.
The full consciousness neither disappears into annihilation at death, nor does it exist in the same conditions as during life but passes on to higher and inner states of being, leaving behind it sundry vehicles or emanations which have a reflected life and sensibility of their own, lasting for various periods according to the energy put into that part of the nature during life, and derived from their contact with the real ego.
To get even a dim appreciation of the release of the higher manas by death, the student is urged to dwell on this possibly novel conception to him of the temporary persistences of partial reflections and survivals of the lower passions of the human being now undergoing the process of purification.
Perhaps this important point can be grasped more clearly if we watch the automatic department of our minds which intelligently, even if vaguely, answers questions, counts figures, and does other simple mental acts while 'we' are profoundly absorbed in reverie. It is quite common to read a page without having the slightest recollection of a word, because the connection between the real center of perception and the automatic consciousness has been temporarily separated. Some businessmen, again, devise their most important enterprises while the lower mentality is automatically occupied with a game of cards.
The same part of our nature has the power to shut the doors of memory against the higher man, and prevent their being opened for a while. Many instances of dual consciousness in daily life will occur to the reader, without referring to the merely physical consciousness of the body, which we all know can be absolutely disregarded for a while, as in the case of soldiers not feeling their wounds in the excitement of battle.
From the knowledge that consciousness can be in more than one state at the same time, paradoxical though it seems, it is but a short step to see that a continuation of a lower order of intelligence in a subtle body, after the breaking down of the bond uniting the whole, is not by any means an extraordinary idea.
The instinctive intelligence, reflex action, or what you will, in a decapitated turtle or conger-eel, which will bite, if irritated, for hours after being cut up; or the automatic memory in a heart which keeps it beating for a long time after removal from the body, are illustrations of similar persistence; and the semi-animal sensibility of the venus' fly-trap or the sensitive-plant is closely allied. The appreciation of the complex groups of semi-conscious subordinate 'men' combining with the real man to form a human being, is of similar nature to the comprehension of a solid geometrical figure from the study of its component faces laid out on a flat plane. Like the geometrical figure which at last combines in the mind, as a solid, the unity of the principles has to be felt by the inner perception.
Observe carefully that these semi-intelligent emanations -- passions and desires -- have bodily form to manifest in, however tenuous and ethereal it may be and however temporary. This point will be further dealt with later, but it is necessary to refer to it now for fear of misunderstanding.
The normal consciousness, composed of all the aspects of mental and emotional consciousness, added to the lower sensations of the physical cells and the organs of the body, we call our personal self, and it is this that is greatly modified by death, which weeds out the impermanent and intensifies the self-consciousness of the inner or higher ego.
Change is necessary for progress in the present condition of things. The feeling of selfhood is partially induced from the element of change in the surroundings.
Though we have obviously to advance beyond this attitude of mind, which exists because of our incomplete development, yet at this moment each perceives his own existence by the relationship of himself to what is not himself; and that relationship, to be felt, requires friction or change. Although, philosophically speaking, behind all stands the Spectator, the Watcher, the atma-buddhi, yet from the standpoint of the lower mind, absolute changelessness of conditions would be equivalent to nonexistence. We only feel the presence of still water by a difference of temperature; when the temperature becomes the same as that of the finger the water is not felt. We should lose all knowledge of our existence if there were no changes of consciousness. Absolute consciousness would be the same as non-existence to us as individual human beings, for the same reason that absolute light without the slightest shade or variety of color would be the same in effect as pure darkness, from want of contrast -- or otherwise, from lack of change. 'Death,' therefore, is a necessary part of life for us at present, for it gives the greatest possible change of conditions, and ushers in a new order of existence for a while.
Carrying further the idea of change, the alternation of life and death -- cyclic manifestation and repose -- is a fundamental law of the universe; but what is withdrawal and dissolution from one aspect is the opening into keener life when regarded from the other pole of being. So the death of the body allows the soul to be born into a larger life, to seek spiritual refreshment until the inevitable periodic law draws it back into reincarnation again on earth -- to be, like Adam, "clothed in skin," in order to gain a further share of experience in the material world.
Earthly existence is, from the higher aspect, death, not only allegorically or mystically, but actually; for the higher ego, when entangled with the brain-mind, temporarily loses its celestial knowledge, and is only able to re-enter the higher spiritual states, in the case of the normal man, during dreamless sleep. Sleep is indeed the twin brother of death, and in greater measure than modern thinkers suppose.
It must not be thought that man has to undergo rebirths on earth forever, although a large number of such experiences are necessary under cyclic law.
After material conditions and temptations have been mastered, other regions open out and physical incarnation, being unnecessary, is left behind.
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