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Jan 04, 2006 05:56 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck

1/4/2006 5:25 AM

Dear Friends:

This is one of the most interesting articles HPB wrote:


H. P. Blavatsky

OVER and over again the abstruse and mooted question of Rebirth or
Reincarnation has crept out during the first ten years of the Theosophical
Society's existence. It has been alleged on prima facie evidence, that a
notable discrepancy was found between statements made in Isis Unveiled, Vol.
I, 351-2, and later teachings from the same pen and under the inspiration of
the same master. 1 

In Isis, it was held, reincarnation is denied. An occasional return, only of
"depraved spirits" is allowed. "Exclusive of that rare and doubtful
possibility, Isis allows only three cases--abortion, very early death, and
idiocy--in which reincarnation on this earth occurs." ("C.C.M." in Light,

The charge was answered then and there as every one who will turn to the
Theosophist of August, 1882, can see for himself. Nevertheless, the answer
either failed to satisfy some readers or passed unnoticed. Leaving aside the
strangeness of the assertion that reincarnation--i.e., the serial and
periodical rebirth of every individual monad from pralaya to pralaya [2] is
denied in the face of the fact that the doctrine is part and parcel and one
of the fundamental features of Hinduism and Buddhism, the charge amounted
virtually to this: the writer of the present, a professed admirer and
student of Hindu philosophy, and as professed a follower of Buddhism years
before Isis was written, by rejecting reincarnation must necessarily reject
KARMA likewise! For the latter is the very cornerstone of Esoteric
philosophy and Eastern religions; it is the grand and one pillar on which
hangs the whole philosophy of rebirths, and once the latter is denied, the
whole doctrine of Karma falls into meaningless verbiage. 

Nevertheless, the opponents without stopping to think of the evident
"discrepancy" between charge and fact, accused a Buddhist by profession of
faith of denying reincarnation hence also by implication--Karma. Adverse to
wrangling with one who was a friend, and undesirous at the time to enter
upon a defence of details and internal evidence--a loss of time indeed--the
writer answered merely with a few sentences. But it now becomes necessary to
well define the doctrine. Other critics have taken the same line, and by
misunderstanding the passages to that effect in Isis they have reached the
same rather extraordinary conclusions. 

To put an end to such useless controversies, it is proposed to explain the
doctrine more clearly. 
Although, in view of the later more minute renderings of the esoteric
doctrines, it is quite immaterial what may have been written in Isis--an
encyclopedia of occult subjects in which each of these is hardly
sketched--let it be known at once, that the writer maintains the correctness
of every word given out upon the subject in my earlier volumes. What was
said in the Theosophist of August, 1882, may now be repeated here. The
passage quoted from it may be, and is, most likely "incomplete, chaotic,
vague, perhaps clumsy, as are many more passages in that work, the first
literary production of a foreigner who even now can hardly boast of her
knowledge of the English language." Nevertheless it is quite correct so far
as that collateral feature of reincarnation is therein concerned. 

I will now give extracts from Isis and proceed to explain every passage
criticized, wherein it was said that "a few fragments of this mysterious
doctrine of reincarnation as distinct from metempsychosis"--would be then
presented. Sentences now explained are in italics. 
Reincarnation i.e., the appearance of the same individual, or rather of his
astral monad, twice on the same planet is not a rule in nature, it is an
exception, like the teratological phenomenon of a two-headed infant. It is
preceded by a violation of the laws of harmony of nature, and happens only
when the latter seeking to restore its disturbed equilibrium, violently
throws back into earth-life the astral monad which had been tossed out of
the circle of necessity by crime or accident. Thus in cases of abortion, of
infants dying before a certain age, and of congenital and incurable idiocy,
nature's original design to produce a perfect human being, has been
interrupted. Therefore, while the gross matter of each of these several
entities is suffered to disperse itself at death, through the vast realm of
being, the immortal spirit and astral monad of the individual--the latter
having been set apart to animate a frame and the former to shed its divine
light on the corporeal organization--must try a second time to carry out the
purpose of the creative intelligence. (Isis I, 351.) 

Here the "astral monad" or body of the deceased personality--say of John or
Thomas--is meant. It is that which, in the teachings of the Esoteric
philosophy of Hinduism, is known under its name of bhoot; in the Greek
philosophy is called the simulacrum or umbra, and in all other philosophies
worthy of the name is said, as taught in the former, to disappear after a
certain period more or less prolonged in Kama-loka--the Limbus of the Roman
Catholics, or Hades of the Greeks. [3] 

It is "a violation of the laws of harmony of nature," though it be so
decreed by those of Karma--every time that the astral monad, or the
simulacrum of the personality--of John or Thomas--instead of running down to
the end of its natural period of time in a body--finds itself (a) violently
thrown out of it by whether early death or accident; or (b) is compelled in
consequence of its unfinished task to re-appear (i.e., the same astral body
wedded to the same immortal monad) on earth again, in order to complete the
unfinished task. Thus "it must try a second time to carry out the purpose of
creative intelligence" or law. 

If reason has been so far developed as to become active and discriminative
there is no [4] (immediate) reincarnation on the earth, for the three parts
of the triune man have been united together, and he is capable of running
the race. But when the new being has not passed beyond the condition of
Monad, or when, as in the idiot, the trinity has not been completed on earth
and therefore cannot be so after death, the immortal spark which illuminates
it has to re-enter on the earthly plane as it was frustrated in its first
attempt. Otherwise, the mortal or astral, and the immortal or divine souls,
could not progress in unison and pass onward to the sphere above [5]
(Devachan). Spirit follows a line parallel with that of matter; and the
spiritual evolution goes hand in hand with the physical. 

The Occult Doctrine teaches that: 

taught by the Reincarnationist Spiritists; nor is there any second
incarnation at all for the "personal" or false Ego--the perisprit--save the
exceptional cases mentioned. But that (a) there are rebirths, or periodical
reincarnations for the immortal Ego--("Ego" during the cycle of re-births,
and non-Ego, in Nirvana or Moksha when it becomes impersonal and absolute);
for that Ego is the root of every new incarnation, the string on which are
threaded, one after the other, the false personalities or illusive bodies
called men, in which the Monad-Ego incarnates itself during the cycle of
births; and (b) that such reincarnations take place not before 1,500, 2,000
and even 3,000 years of Devachanic life. 

(2) That MANAS--THE SEAT OF JIV, that spark which runs the round of the
cycle of birth and rebirths with the Monad from the beginning to the end of
a Manvantara--IS THE REAL EGO. That 

(a) the Jiv follows the divine monad that gives it spiritual life and
immortality into Devachan--that therefore, it can neither be reborn before
its appointed period, nor reappear on Earth visibly or invisibly in the
interim; and 

(b) that, unless the fruition, the spiritual aroma of the Manas, or all
these highest aspirations and spiritual qualities and attributes that
constitute the higher SELF of man become united to its monad, the latter
becomes as Non existent; since it is in esse "impersonal" and per se
Ego-less, so to say, and gets its spiritual colouring or flavour of Ego-tism
only from each Manas during incarnation and after it is disembodied, and
separated from all its lower principles. 

(3) That the remaining four principles, or rather the 2½--as they are
composed of the terrestrial portion of Manas, of its Vehicle Kama-Rupa and
Lingha Sarira--the body dissolving immediately, and prana or the life
principle along with it--that these principles having belonged to the false
personality are unfit for Devachan. The latter is the state of Bliss, the
reward for all the undeserved miseries of life, [6] and that which prompted
man to sin, namely his terrestrial passionate nature, can have no room in

Therefore the reincarnating* principles are left behind in Kama-loka,
firstly as a material residue, then later on as a reflection on the mirror
of Astral light. Endowed with illusive action, to the day when having
gradually faded out they disappear, what is it but the Greek Eidolon and the
simulacrum of the Greek and Latin poets and classics? 

What reward or punishment can there be in that sphere of disembodied human
entities for a fœtus or a human embryo which had not even time to breatheon
this earth, still less an opportunity to exercise the divine faculties of
its spirit? Or, for an irresponsible infant, whose senseless monad remaining
dormant within the astral and physical casket, could as little prevent him
from burning himself as any other person to death? Or again for one idiotic
from birth, the number of whose cerebral circumvolutions is only from twenty
to thirty per cent of those of sane persons, and who therefore is
irresponsible for either his disposition, acts, or for the imperfections of
his vagrant, half developed intellect. (Isis I, 352.) 

These are, then, the "exceptions" spoken of in Isis, and the doctrine is
maintained now as it was then. Moreover, there is no "discrepancy" but only
incompleteness--hence, misconceptions arising from later teachings. Then
again, there are several important mistakes in Isis which, as the plates of
the work had been stereotyped, were not corrected in subsequent editions. 

One of such is on page 346, and another in connection with it and as a
sequence on page 347. 
The discrepancy between the first portion of the statement and the last,
ought to have suggested the idea of an evident mistake. It is addressed to
the spiritists, reincarnationists who take the more than ambiguous words of
Apuleius as a passage that corroborates their claims for their "spirits" and
reincarnation. Let the reader judge [7] whether Apuleius does not justify
rather our assertions. We are charged with denying reincarnation and this is
what we said there and then in Isis! 

The philosophy teaches that nature never leaves her work unfinished; if
baffled at the first attempt, she tries again. When she evolves a human
embryo the intention is that a man shall be perfected--physically,
intellectually, and spiritually. His body is to grow, mature, wear out, and
die; his mind unfold, ripen, and be harmoniously balanced; his divine spirit
illuminate and blend easily with the inner man. No human being completes its
grand cycle, or the "circle of necessity," until all these are accomplished.
As the laggards in a race struggle and plod in their first quarter while the
victor darts past the goal, SO, IN THE RACE OF IMMORTALITY, SOME SOULS
unfortunates fall out entirely and lose all chance of the prize; some
retrace their steps and begin again. 

Clear enough this, one should say. NATURE BAFFLED TRIES AGAIN. NO ONE CAN

How can this be done, unless there is a series of rebirths required for the
necessary perfection in each department--to evolute in the "circle of
necessity," can surely never be found in one human life? and yet this
sentence is followed without any break by the following parenthetical
statement: "This is what the Hindu dreads above all things--transmigration
and reincarnation; only on other and inferior planets, never on this one!!!"

The last "sentence" is a fatal mistake and one to which the writer pleads
"not guilty." It is evidently the blunder of some "reader" who had no idea
of Hindu philosophy and who was led into a subsequent mistake on the next
page, wherein the unfortunate word "planet" is put for cycle. 

Isis [Unveiled] was hardly, if ever, looked into after its publication by
its writer, who had other work to do; otherwise there would have been an
apology and a page pointing to the errata and the sentence made to run: "The
Hindu dreads transmigration in other inferior forms, on this planet." 

This would have dove-tailed with the preceding sentence, and would show a
fact, as the Hindu exoteric views allow him to believe and fear the
possibility of reincarnation--human and animal in turn by jumps, from man to
beast and even a plant--and vice versa; 

whereas ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY TEACHES that nature never proceeding backward in
her evolutionary progress, once that man has evoluted from every kind of
lower forms--the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms--into the human
form, he can never become an animal except morally, hence--metaphorically. 

Human incarnation is a cyclic necessity, and law; and no Hindu dreads
it--however much he may deplore the necessity. And this law and the
periodical recurrence of man's rebirth is shown on the same page (346) and
in the same unbroken paragraph, where it is closed by saying that: 

But there is a way to avoid it. 

Buddha taught it in his doctrine of poverty, restriction of the senses,
perfect indifference to the objects of this earthly vale of tears, freedom
from passion, and frequent intercommunication with the

The cause of reincarnation [8] is ignorance of our senses, and the idea that
there is any reality in the world, anything except abstract existence. From
the organs of sense comes the "hallucination" we call contact; "from
contact, desire; from desire, sensation (which also is a deception of our
body); from sensation, the cleaving to existing bodies from this cleaving,
reproduction; and from reproduction, disease, decay and death." 

This ought to settle the question and show there must have been some
carelessly unnoticed mistake, and if this is not sufficient, there is
something else to demonstrate it, for it is further on: 

Thus, like the revolutions of a wheel, there is a regular succession of
death and birth, the moral cause of which is the cleaving to existing
objects, while the instrumental cause is Karma (the power which controls the
universe, prompting it to activity), merit and demerit. It is therefore the
greatest desire of all beings who would be released from the sorrows of
successive birth, to seek the destruction of the moral cause, the cleaving
to existing objects, or evil desire. 

from evil desire insures the possession of a miraculous power. At his death
the Arhat is never reincarnated; he invariably attains nirvana--a word, by
the by, falsely interpreted by the Christian scholar and skeptical


The pitris (the pre-Adamic spirits) are considered as reincarnated by the
Buddhistic philosopher, though in a degree far superior to that of the man
of earth. Do they not die in their turn? Do not their astral bodies suffer
and rejoice, and feel the same curse of illusionary feelings as when

And just after this we are again made to say of Buddha and his: Doctrine of
"Merit and Demerit," or Karma: 

But this former life believed in by the Buddhists, is not a life on this
planet for, more than any other people, the Buddhistical philosopher
appreciated the great doctrine of cycles. 

Correct "life on this planet" by "life in the same cycle," and you will have
the correct reading: for what would have appreciation of "the great doctrine
of cycles" to do with Buddha's philosophy, had the great sage believed but
in one short life on this Earth and in the same cycle. But to return to the
real theory of reincarnation as in the esoteric teaching and its unlucky
rendering in Isis. 

Thus, what was really meant therein, was that, the principle which does not
reincarnate--save the exceptions pointed out--is the false personality, the
illusive human Entity defined and individualized during this short life of
ours, under some specific form and name; but THAT WHICH DOES AND HAS TO

This confusing of the real immortal Ego in man, with the false and ephemeral
personalities it inhabits during its Manvantaric progress, lies at the root
of every such misunderstanding. Now what is the one, and what is the other?
The first group is-- 

1. The immortal Spirit--sexless, formless (arupa), an emanation from the One
universal BREATH. 

2. Its Vehicle--the divine Soul--called the "Immortal Ego," the "Divine
monad," etc., etc., which by accretions from Manas in which burns the ever
existing Jiv--the undying spark--adds to itself at the close of each
incarnation the essence of that individuality that was, the aroma of the
culled flower that is no more. 

What is the false personality? It is that bundle of desires, aspirations,
affection and hatred, in short of action, manifested by a human being on
this earth during one incarnation and under the form of one personality. [9]
Certainly it is not all this, which as a fact for us, the deluded, material,
and materially thinking lot--is Mr. So and So, or Mrs. somebody else--that
remains immortal, or is ever reborn. 

All that bundle of Egotism, that apparent and evanescent "I" disappears
after death, as the costume of the part he played disappears from the
actor's body, after he leaves the theatre and goes to bed. That actor
re-becomes at once the same "John Smith" or Gray, he was from his birth and
is no longer the Othello or Hamlet that he had represented for a few hours.
Nothing remains now of that "bundle" to go to the next incarnation, except
the seed for future Karma that Manas may have united to its immortal group,
to form with it--the disembodied Higher Self in "Devachan." 

As to the four lower principles, that which becomes of them is found in most
classics, from which we mean to quote at length for our defense. The
doctrine of the perisprit, the "false personality," or the remains of the
deceased under their astral form--fading out to disappear in time, is
terribly distasteful to the spiritualists, who insist upon confusing the
temporary with the immortal EGO. 

Unfortunately for them and happily for us, it is not the modern Occultists
who have invented the doctrine. They are on their defense. And they prove
what they say, i.e., that no "personality" has ever yet been "reincarnated"
"on the same planet" (our earth, this once there is no mistake) save in the
three exceptional cases above cited. Adding to these a fourth case, which is
the deliberate, conscious act of adeptship; and that such an astral body
belongs neither to the body nor the soul still less to the immortal spirit
of man, the following is brought forward and proofs cited. 

Before one brings out on the strength of undeniable manifestations, theories
as to what produces them and claims at once on prima facie evidence that it
is the spirits of the departed mortals that revisit us, it behooves one to
first study what antiquity has declared upon the subject. 

Ghosts and apparitions, materialized and semi-material "SPIRITS" have not
originated with Allan Kardec, nor at Rochester. If those beings whose
invariable habit it is to give themselves out for souls and the phantoms of
the dead, choose to do so and succeed, it is only because the cautious
philosophy of old is now replaced by an a priori conceit, and unproven

The first question is to be settled--

"Have spirits any kind of substance to clothe themselves with?" Answer: That
which is now called perisprit in France, and a "materialized Form" in
England and America, was called in days of old peri-psyche, and peri-nous,
hence was well known to the old Greeks. Have they a body whether gaseous,
fluidic, etherial, material or semi-material? No; we say this on the
authority of the occult teachings the world over. For with the Hindus atma
or spirit is Arupa, bodiless, and with the Greeks also. 

Even in the Roman Catholic Church the angels of Light as those of Darkness
are absolutely incorporeal: "meri spiritus, omnes corporis expertes," and in
the words of The Secret Doctrine, primordial. 

Emanations of the undifferentiated Principle, the Dhyan Chohans of the ONE
(First) category or pure Spiritual Essence, are formed of the Spirit of the
one Element; the second category, of the second Emanation of the Soul of the
Elements; the third have a "mind body" to which they are not subject, but
that they can assume and govern as a body, subject to them, pliant to their
will in form and substance. 

Parting from this (third) category, they (the spirits, angels, Devas or
Dhyan Chohans) have BODIES, the first rupa group of which is composed of one
element Ether; the second, of two--ether and fire; the third, of
three--Ether, fire and water; the fourth, of four--Ether, air, fire and

Then comes man, who, besides the four elements, has the fifth that
predominates in him--Earth: therefore he suffers. 

Of the Angels, as said by St. Augustine and Peter Lombard, "their bodies are
made to act, not to suffer. It is earth and water, humor et humus, that
gives an aptitude for suffering and passivity, ad patientiam, and Ether and
Fire for action." 

The spirits or human monads, belonging to the first, or undifferentiated
essence, are thus incorporeal; but their third principle (or the human
Fifth--Manas) can in conjunction with its vehicle become Kama rupa and
Mayavi rupa--body of desire or "illusion body." 

After death, the best, noblest, purest qualities of Manas or the human soul
ascending along with the divine Monad into Devachan whence no one emerges
from or returns, except at the time of reincarnation--what is that then
which appears under the double mask of the spiritual Ego or soul of the
departed individual? 

The Kama rupa element with the help of elementals. For we are taught that
those spiritual beings that can assume a form at will and appear, i.e., make
themselves objective and even tangible--are the angels alone (the Dhyan
Chohans) and the nirmanakaya [10] of the adepts, whose spirits are clothed
in sublime matter. 

The astral bodies--the remnants and dregs of a mortal being which has been
disembodied, when they do appear, are not the individuals they claim to be,
but only their simulachres. And such was the belief of the whole of
antiquity, from Homer to Swedenborg; from the third race down to our own

More than one devoted spiritualist has hitherto quoted Paul as corroborating
his claim that spirits do and can appear. "There is a natural and there is a
spiritual body," etc., etc., (I Cor. xv: 44); but one has only to study
closer the verses preceding and following the one quoted, to perceive that
what St. Paul meant was quite different from the sense claimed for it. 

Surely there is a spiritual body, but it is not identical with the astral
form contained in the "natural" man. The "spiritual" is formed only by our
individuality unclothed and transformed after death; for the apostle takes
care to explain in Verses 51 and 52, "Immut abimur sed non omnes." Behold, I
tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed. This
corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on

But this is no proof except for the Christians. 

Let us see what the old Egyptians and the Neo-Platonists--both "theurgists"
par excellence, thought on the subject: They divided man into three
principal groups subdivided into principles as we do: pure immortal spirit;
the "Spectral Soul" (a luminous phantom) and the gross material body. 

Apart from the latter, which was considered as the terrestrial shell, these
groups were divided into six principles; 

(1) Kha "vital body"; 
(2) Khaba "astral form," or shadow; 
(3) Khou "animal soul"; 
(4) Akh "terrestrial intelligence"; 
(5) Sa "the divine soul" (or Buddhi); and 
(6) Sah or mummy, the functions of which began after death. 

Osiris was the highest uncreated spirit, for it was, in one sense, a generic
name, every man becoming after his translation Osirified, i.e., absorbed
into Osiris-Sun or into the glorious divine state. 

It was Khou, with the lower portions of Akh or Kama rupa with the addition
of the dregs of Manas remaining all behind in the astral light of our
atmosphere--that formed the counterparts of the terrible and so much dreaded
bhoots of the Hindus (our "elementaries"). This is seen in the rendering
made of the so-called "Harris Papyrus on magic" (papyrus magique, translated
by Chabas) who calls them Kouey or Khou, and explains that according to the
hieroglyphics they were called Khou or the "revivified dead," the
"resurrected shadows." [11]
When it was said of a person that he "had a Khou" it meant that he was
possessed by a "Spirit." There were two kinds of Khous--the justified
ones--who after living for a short time a second life (nam onh) faded out,
disappeared; and those Khous who were condemned to wandering without rest in
darkness after dying for a second time--mut, em, nam--and who were called
the H'ou--métre ("second time dead") which did not prevent them from
clinging to a vicarious life after the manner of Vampires. How dreaded they
were is explained in our Appendices on Egyptian Magic and "Chinese Spirits"
(Secret Doctrine). 

They were exorcised by Egyptian priests as the evil spirit is exorcised by
the Roman Catholic curé; or again the Chinese houen, identical with the Khou
and the "ELEMENTARY," as also with the lares or larvæ--a word derived from
the former by Festus, the grammarian; who explains that they were "the
shadows of the dead who gave no rest in the house they were in either to the
Masters or the servants." 

These creatures when evoked during theurgic, and especially necromantic
rites, were regarded, and are so regarded still, in China--as neither the
Spirit, Soul nor anything belonging to the deceased personality they
represented, but simply, as his reflection--simulacrum. 


Further references on these subjects will be found in the SECRET DOCTRINE

Best wishes,


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