QUESTIONS ABOUT REINCARNATION PART i
Jan 19, 2006 05:10 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
On REINCARNATION [ Part I ]
While the word “reincarnation” is in very general use these days, having
filtered into the public mind from Theosophic teachings, there still exists
a lamentable ignorance in regard to its scope and meaning.
A very common idea is that the “personality” reincarnates, but there could
hardly be a more unphilosophical, illogical and obviously incorrect one.
Some spiritualists, dogmatic Christians, and even minds of a materialistic
bent have adopted the word and given it their own peculiar applications, so
that when one of these says “I believe in reincarnation”, little or no
knowledge of “What reincarnates” is most likely to be found.
The world therefore needs students who learn correctly and apply their
knowledge, so that ‘in time by their numbers and knowledge, the true
understanding may filter through to those less learned. We are students, it
is true, but from the very first we can and should be teachers to those who
know still less than we do; we can tell what we know, but we should be very
careful that we are so well informed that we will not convey false
Reincarnation, and Karma; are the two doctrines the world most needs and we
should devote ourselves to a full understanding of them for the sake of
others, as well as our own understanding and progress.
Q. If the law of reincarnation is just, why is it that the Jewish race has
been so persecuted ?
A. In considering any question of experience we have first of all to take
into account the Law of Karma—action and re-action, or sowing and reaping;
this on the face of it cannot be anything else but exact justice.
Reincarnation is the result of karmic action, and also offers the
opportunity to set better causes in motion. If selfishness rules in any one
life, evil causes are set in motion the results of which must be adjusted
either in that life or a following one.
The tendency of selfishness is to increase with each incarnation, and if a
people or individuals continue in that course, they will continually injure
others and bring about their own re-actions at the hands of those injured.
So if we find any people particularly marked out for persecution, we may be
sure that as egos in other times they had been the offenders and are reaping
what they sowed.
Q. What was it that began evolution?
A. The course of Being is an ever-becoming. Ever-becoming is endless,
therefore beginningless. This solar system and its planets of course had a
beginning and will have an ending, but every manifestation is but a further
becoming of that which had been.
Periods of Manifestation and Non-Manifestation succeed each other in
Infinite Space, to which neither beginning nor ending can be applied (see
the Second Fundamental Proposition of the Secret Doctrine). The ancient way
of stating any beginning is, “the Desire first arose in It”: IT referring to
Spirit, which is the cause and sustainer of all that was, is, or shall be.
There is a beginning to the first glimmerings of external consciousness,
which ever tends to widen its range of perception and manifestation until it
encompasses and becomes at one with All; Potential Spirit having become
The ending of the process results in a new beginning based upon the totality
of intelligence attained. Whatever begins in time ends in time. Time is clue
to perceptions of Consciousness; as the Secret Doctrine says, “Time is an
illusion produced by the procession of events before our consciousness”;
beginnings and endings pertain to that “illusion”, and not to the
beginningless and endless Spirit which is the Perceiver.
As the Gita says, “The Spirit in the body is called Maheswara, the great
Lord, the Spectator, the admonisher, the sustainer, the enjoyer, and also
the Paramatma, the highest soul”; itself without beginning or ending, it
makes beginnings and endings in manifestations, which as manifestations are
beginningless and endless in their turn.
Q. What does it mean, “And as all the matter which the human Ego gatheredto
it retains the stamp or photographic impression of the human being, the
matter transmigrates to the lower level when given an animal impress by the
A. Mr. Judge had been explaining how the erroneous idea of the
transmigration of souls to the animal kingdom had arisen. The substance
which composes our astral and physical bodies is the embodiment of
innumerable small “lives”; while we use these “lives” as points of contact
with the astral and physical world, we at the same time impress them with
our feelings, whether these be low or high, and when the “lives” departfrom
our bodies to be replaced by others, as is continually being done, the
impress we have given them will carry them to whatever kingdom the impress
is related to. According to the impress we give these “lives” we advance or
Q. If there is an inharmonious condition of the lives in the body, do they
attack proportionately every life within that body, or only certain organs?
A. Any inharmony in the body disturbs the whole. There is not only
obstruction, but a vitiation of the bodily processes in a progressive way if
the cause of the diseased condition is not found, and causal and remedial
measures are not adopted.
Q. It has been found in post-mortem examinations that every tissue in the
body is affected.
A. That would naturally follow because of the circulatory system. The blood
is representative of and carries with it an essence from all the organs; any
unhealthy organ distributes vitiation throughout the body.
Q. The lives of the lower kingdoms go back to their own kingdoms on the
dissolution of the body. Would that not be retrogression? What is the Karma
of those lives?
A. It would be a mistake to suppose that the lives which compose our bodies
go back to their respective kingdoms only on the dissolution of the body;
there is a constant coming and going during our lifetime, through the food
and in other ways. The “lives” are not the same when they go as when they
come; they may remain on the human plane or may go to lower kingdoms
according to the impress given them by the human being.
It is the impress given them that determines their destination; the Karma is
that of the human being who gave the impress and impulse; the
retrogression—if it may be so called—is due to the human being.
The “lives” having no sense of responsibility nor volition are not
karmically responsible; their nature is action, but action under impulsion;
their degree of consciousness is not changed, but their modes of action may
be. Retrogression applies to consciousness, not to form; for example, a
being in human form may ascend to divine heights or descend below the brute
Q. Does Man use the same material or lives over and over again ?
A. He uses the same kind of lives, those that are of the same nature as his
tendencies. “Lives” that he has used and impressed may be in other forms of
the human kingdom, or in lower kingdoms as the case may be. There is a
constant interchange going on, like attracting like.
Q. Then Man really can change the nature of the lives which compose his
A. If he could not, he would be at the mercy of his body—subject to its
condition. We know that good habits can be acquired through thought and
effort in those directions; similarly with bad habits; these changes are due
to the impress given the lives in our body by Thought, Feeling and Effort.
But the body is the least of our troubles.
Were our thoughts based upon the Eternal Verities, our efforts would be for
true understanding and right purpose; the bodily conditions would follow in
due course. If our thoughts are concerned with the body, the possibilities
are very limited, because of the limitation of thought to the bodily plane.
Q. The chapter speaks of the “personality”; will we have the same
personality again ?
A. The word “Personality” comes from the Latin word “Persona”—a mask, by
means of which we conceal or express our inward feelings. It is the inner
ideas, and feelings, the general character—that is meant by the word
“personality”: the latter is in a constant state of change, whether that be
great or small. The “way we used to think and feel” is not “as we feel now
The personality in the next life will he made up of tendencies engendered in
past lives with the addition of those of the present one, subject to the
conditions into which those tendencies have brought us; those conditions may
include change in sex, condition and environment. The feeling of “identity”
that all have is not due to the body or its environment, but to the Egoic
nature of each.
Q. Why do they condemn reincarnation in the Christian churches?
A. Because they have followed the lead of the Church Fathers who
anathematized the doctrine in the early centuries of the Christian Era.
There is evidence throughout the Old and New Testament that Reincarnation
was a doctrine generally accepted; the Jews were constantly expecting “the
return” of their prophets, that is, the re-embodiment or reincarnation of
one who had occupied a body before.
In the New Testament there are a number of allusions to it such as that when
the disciples asked where is the prophet Elias who was expected to come
before Jesus, and Jesus replied that Elias had been with them, but they knew
him not, and the disciples knew “that he spake of John the Baptist”.
Q. The Gita says there is no existence for what does not exist, nor is there
any non-existence for what exists. Everything must have existed at all times
A. Whatever is has become what it is; whatever is to be will also be a
“becoming.” Evolution is the process of becoming, an unfolding from within
outwards; having “unfolded” there is no non-existence for it, but an
extension of unfoldment. The great Ocean of Life contains infinite
possibilities of existence, but itself is not ex-istent, for the word means
to emerge, to stand forth, to stand out (ex-sistere). The Ocean of Life is
the source and sustainer of all existences; that which has emerged exists;
that which has not emerged has no existence.
Q. There being the One Life and the One Law, it would appear that all would
start at the same time?
A. We are confronted by the fact of the kingdoms of beings below Man and
that of Man himself; the present state of these kingdoms shows that there
was a difference in the beginnings of them as beings— or existences. Whatwe
need to do is to study and apply the philosophy of life as it is given to
us, so that we may know why things are as they are and what the real purpose
of existence is. Law rules in all this, not sentiment.
Q. If Consciousness—the Perceiver, never changes, what is it that evolves?
A. The Perceiver has the power to perceive and to increase his range of
perceptions. His power to perceive is not changed by reason of any
perceptions gained; he can always continue to increase his field of
perceptions. As his perceptions increase in range, he evolves a better
instrument through which to give and receive impressions. An ever-increasing
Intelligence and a betterment of form constitute the evolution.
Q. But if the Perceiver never changes, what is the link that binds him to
A. His knowledge of them; he cannot unknown what he knows. Upon the basis of
his acquired knowledge further knowledge can be acquired. The universe is
evolved, ruled and sustained by Intelligence.
Q. What is the Will!
A. Will is the energy of Consciousness expressed in action, on any plane of
manifestation. There are many aspects of the Will, from the ordinary one
which is “the will to live” and is expressed in the automatic physical
action, such as the heart-beat, digestion, etc.; that of the actions
following on ordinary thought, desires and wants; that which is developed by
various forms of practice; to the highest phase, that of the Spiritual Will.
This phase is developed by true unselfishness, a sincere and full desire to
be guided, ruled and assisted by the Higher Self, and to do that which, and
suffer or enjoy whatever, the Higher Self has in store for one by way of
discipline or experience.
Q. Mr. Judge says that the entrance to incarnation is through food. What is
meant by that?
A. A hint is given in the chapter in regard to the actual physical processes
which have to be undergone by the Ego in passing from the un-embodied to the
embodied state. It is clear that our bodies are formed from and sustained by
food from conception to the death of the body.
This food is drawn from the physical kingdoms of nature and is transmuted
into the various elements that go to make up and sustain the body and its
Reproduction is going on all the time in the blood, cells, organs and finer
constituents of the body, and is necessarily influenced and characterized by
the ideas and feelings of the conscious entity inhabiting the body. It is
not difficult to conceive of a transmutation of all these reproductions into
one synthetic condition, such as will provide a point of contact for the
astral body of the reincarnating entity, and a means for the gradual
concretion of the physical body, organs and processes before birth.
Q. The chapter says that Atma-Buddhi Manas is not yet fully incarnated in
this race. What does this mean?
A. The statement is that the Divine Triad, containing as it does the
knowledge gained through all past lives, has not reached the point where
this knowledge is available on this plane. Atma-Buddhi-Manas is the Triad.
The entering wedge, so to speak, which makes the connection between the
Inner Man and the physical world, is Manas, the Thinker and Mind.
The long course of evolution necessary to transmute the physical elements
into a responsive tenement for the indwelling Ego has so centered the
attention of the Ego upon the body and its surroundings—the external
physical world—that while using a body in its periodic incarnations, it is
bound by its previous thoughts and actions under the law of Karma, reaping
what had been sown in previous lives, and sowing similar seeds for the
This only permits of Manasic operation on the physical plane, because the
ideas held are based upon that plane and relate to it, thus leaving the vast
store of past and inner experiences unavailable.
This is the condition of Humanity as a whole; yet there never has been a
time when a gaining of full knowledge and control was impossible to the
individual. It is because of this incompleteness of incarnation that we find
so many psychological mysteries among human beings.
Personal psychological experiences are usually taken to be communications
from higher beings, the nature of the supposed being varying with the
personal ideas held; whereas, with few exceptions, such experiences are due
to imperfect conceptions of the nature and powers of the Inner Man.
Experiments in hypnotism have shown several so-called “personalities”
speaking through one person, and each of them different in character from
the others and the person experimented upon.
The explanation may be found in the fact that in many cases the abnormal
condition which hypnosis produces permits fugitive and unrelated experiences
of past existences to be perceived, and adopted as present actualities. As
the present cycle moves on, more and more of these and other psychological
“mysteries” will become evident; these will al ways remain mysteries to
present-day Western Psychology, but the Ancient Wisdom of the East solves
Q. What is it that prevents our psychologists, scientists and religious
teachers from knowing these things?
A. Ignorance and pride. Ignorance of the real nature of Man and the purpose
of existence, and pride in their own personal predilections and pursuits.
Centuries of materialistic conceptions of religion, science, and life in
general, have served to close the intellects of men to any true perceptions
of the nature of the very intelligence they are using in these pursuits.
Beliefs take the place of knowledge, and theories the place of under
standing, because both belief and theory proceed from the basis of
terrestrial existence instead of the spiritual real and permanent source of
Q. On page 71 is stated, that as we progress in this life, so also must we
progress on leaving it, and s would be unfair to compel the others to await
our arrival in order that we may recognize them. It seems there is progress
after death, more so in fact than during life in the body ?
A. The context on that page shows that the Teacher is replying to objections
of those who expect to recognize their friends who have gone before by their
physical appearance and general characteristics, an expectation which is
really based upon a stoppage of progress.
It is also known that the Real Man who passes from existence in a body into
other states and returns again from time to time, is really blending his
experiences of any one state with his experiences in other states and
consequently is making progress after death much more rapidly than bodily
conditions could possibly permit. The degree and kind of progress made
depends upon the nature of his thinking during life, and may be small or
great in one direction or another.
Technically speaking, Lower-Manas is the reservoir of the life thoughts and
feelings. Those that are assimilable with Higher Manas are absorbed and
become an addition to Higher Manas; while those that are of the nature of
earth, earthy, remain as tendencies to be met, and either intensified or
transmuted during the succeeding incarnation. The progress referred to is
that of the Higher Ego; the personality and earth-life is the field wherein
the Ego works; after death, the harvest being garnered, the wheat is
separated from the chaff.
Q. Then there would be no sowing during the after-death states ?
A. The harvest was sown during the earth life last past; during the life
time there was a reaping all the time of causes sown in a previous life, and
during the life being lived; at death, the sum total of all the thoughts,
feelings, desires and tendencies held during life remain as the basis or
cause for the subjective kama-lokic and devachanic states; the effects of
these are then worked out subjectively, these “effects” of the earth-life
becoming then the “cause” of the “effects” experienced subjectivelyin the
after-death states. Sowing and reaping in the field of objective existence
provides the “seed” for the subjective after-death states, karma operating
continuously in all states.
Q. Then different individuals would have different after-death states, and
have each one his own period between incarnations ?
A. It could not he otherwise; for just as each one’s personal existence in a
body differs from every other— is peculiarly his very own in fact—so the
after-death states differ in exact accord with the life as lived in a body.
Some live their lives with much of good and little of evil; others with much
of evil and little of good, each one bringing about his own proportion of
these; it is the proportion in each case which determines the period between
We must remember in considering these matters that time and space are not
the same subjectively as they are with us in bodies; our days and nights,
months, years and duration of physical existence are governed by the
revolutions of our planet, but in the case of removal from such conceptions
of time, ideas of that and of space differ greatly on the subjective plane
When we are happy, time passes without notice; when we are miserable, time
drags; in both cases the hours of our mortal time may be the same, but the
sense of the procession of events before our consciousness will make the
hours seem fast or slow according to the state we are in. If we are able
while in bodies to realize such a conception of time while there is
everything about us to remind us of terrestrial time, we should be able to
comprehend some thing of a state where such reminders are entirely absent.
Q. Will a person in his next reincarnation express what he has assimilated ?
A. No one can express what he has not assimilated; that is, —has made a
basis for action. But the question should be amended so as to read
“Individual” instead of “Person”.
The “personality” is in any one life but a temporary aspect and action of
the Individuality, and differs in each life, in the environment and in such
changes as have been brought about in previous existences—in character,
disposition and understanding; these may produce in the next incarnation a
change of social relation, mental capacity, nature of body, physical
environment, and even of sex.
The personality does not re-incarnate; the Individuality at each re-birth
projects a new personality, the qualities and tendencies of which are drawn
from the sum-total of all past lives—not only the last one. All the past
experience is within and behind each personality and can be reached and
realized, yet may remain entirely latent or partially so, according to a
more or less intensive conception of personality as a thing in itself and of
physical existence as the only reality.
Q. If the physical life and experience controls the after-death states, it
would seem as though the higher planes were controlled by life on the
physical plane ?
A. They would be so controlled, if the after-death states could be called
“higher planes”, but as the after- death states of Kama-Loka and Devachan
are the effects of the life last lived, and are both personal in experience,
they cannot properly be called higher planes. Kama—Loka and Devachan
represent respectively the “low” and the “high” subjective states of the
life last lived as a person. The higher planes of being pertain to the triad
of Atma-Buddhi-Manas, the real Individuality, who, as the immortal being,
possesses all the knowledge gained through all past experiences.
Q. In the case of a nation that engages in war, thus encouraging the lower
instincts, would it not draw into incarnation lower egos ?
A. In the case of each ego in a body, the results will depend upon the
motive which actuated him in engaging in war or in any other direction.
A nation is composed of individual units, the nature of the action in any
given case depending upon the ruling motive of the individual.
If the motives of the units engaged in war were for justice and freedom,
regardless of the necessary war-like acts, then when the objects were
obtained and peace resumed, those units would still be actuated by the same
motives and would draw egos of like nature.
The condition of war may equally provide greater opportunities for
self-sacrificing righteous action, and for selfish license and debasement;
which it shall be depends upon the nature and choice of the unit. A nation
has no existence apart from the units which compose it. A selfish peace will
result in greater perversions than any number of wars waged for righteous
purposes; selfishness lies at the root of all sin, sorrow and suffering.
Q. What difference does it make what kind of a family an ego is drawn into;
it might as well have its experience in one way as well as another?
A. The question implies a denial of individual karma, and in fact karma of
any sort; it leaves out of consideration the fact of the needs of the Soul
by way of discipline and experience. The entrance into birth of an ego,
together with the conditions connected with that birth, are pre-determined
by the individual merit or demerit of previous lives. The ego cannot enter
birth until such conditions as meet its needs are present. Law rules in all
such matters, or nothing could be predicted as a resultant of any course of
thought and action.
Q. The ego might in some cases have a very long time to wait, might he not?
A. Time with the ego is not what it is with our limitation of conceptions;
he is self-conscious and active on higher planes, and “time” as we knowit
does not affect him as ego; it is only when the culmination of conditions
which he while in the body helped to produce is consummated, that he is
unavoidably drawn back to rebirth. Rebirth is due to our un-remedied
defects, not to our virtues.
Q. Is there any place in nature in which there is a ruling law of Heredity?
A. Heredity prevails on all planes of being; we inherit the resultants of
our activities on all planes. Vie may know our earthly pedigree, hut who of
us has ever traced all the links of heredity, astral, psychic and spiritual
which go to make us what we in reality are? The Secret Doctrine speaks of
three general lines of heredity, the Spiritual, the Intellectual, and the
Physical, and says that these three are intermixed and interblended at every
Q. The trend of the Gita is in the direction of freedom from rebirth. Is not
a righteous and happy existence in a body the chief end of Man?
A. That would imply that the whole trend of evolution was toward a material
existence, whereas all the facts point in the direction that the Real Man is
in essence Spiritual, and has in the immensity of his past accumulated vast
stores of knowledge, by means of which He has contacted and is working with,
what is generally called Matter, but which in reality is the intelligence
and embodiment of entities of a much lower kind.
His object is not to seek and make permanent a perfect physical embodiment
for Himself, but by his contact and use of these lower lives to gradually
give them the impulse toward self-consciousness, which alone can arouse to
action the latent spirituality in all these lower intelligences. The word
Spirituality does not mean a hazy, indefinite condition, as many regard it,
but “an intimate knowledge of the ultimate essence of every thing in
The Real Man—the Triad of Atma Buddhi-Manas---- therefore descended into
“matter”—to use such a misunderstood term—in order to contact, understand it
as the embodiment and expression of the innumerable intelligences of which
it is composed, and give these lives impulse and direction towards
That He has failed to carry out—as He might have done—the initial
self-sacrificing purpose, is due to the illusions pertaining to sentient
existence, in which He has become involved by setting up causes which
inevitably under karma keep him fluctuating between Birth, Death, Kama-Loka
and Devachan in a continuing series.
The freedom from rebirth of which the Gita speaks, is obtained by setting up
causes born from an understanding of Man’s real nature and mission, and
action on the basis of that understanding while in a body. Once the chain of
lower causation is broken by Him, He is free to choose, and more over has
brought into play on all planes the sum-total of his knowledge.
>From then on, His field is the whole of Nature, visible and invisible; He
will then live a conscious existence in Spirit, not in Matter, and can,
while occupying bodies of temporary duration, maintain and use His spiritual
self-consciousness, knowledge and power on that plane of existence, without
detriment or hindrance. Such are the results of “freedom from rebirth”;
instead of loss, as so many imagine, it means immeasurable gain; the goal is
worthy of all effort.
Part II REINCARNATION QUESTIONS ANSWERED -- to follow
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