DO WE REMEMBER ?
Apr 09, 2006 04:48 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
4/9/2006 3:56:16 AM
Do we remember past incarnations ?
REMEMBERING THE EXPERIENCES OF THE EGO
TO many it seems puzzling that we do not remember the experiences of the
Higher Self in sleep.
But as long as we ask "Why does not the lower self [Kama-Manas, the embodied
mind] remember these experiences," we shall never have an answer. There is a
contradiction in the question, because the lower self, never having had the
experiences it is required to remember, could not at any time recollect
When sleep comes on, the engine and instrument of the lower personality is
stopped, and can do nothing but what may be called automatic acts. The brain
is not in use, and hence no consciousness exists for it until the waking
moment returns. The ego, when thus released from the physical chains, from
its hard daily task of living with and working through the bodily organs,
proceeds to enjoy the experiences of the plane of existence which is
peculiarly its own.
On that plane it uses a method and processes of thought, and perceives the
ideas appropriate to it through organs different from those of the body.
All that it sees and hears (if we may use those terms) appears reversed from
our plane. The language, so to say, is a foreign one even to the inner
language used when awake.
So, upon reassuming life in the body, all that it has to tell its lower
companion must be spoken in a strange tongue, and for the body that is an
obstruction to comprehension. We hear the words, but only now and then
obtain flashes of their meaning. It is something like the English-speaking
person who knows a few foreign words entering a foreign town and there being
only able to grasp those few terms as he hears them among the multitude of
other words and sentences which he does not understand.
What we have to do, then, is to learn the language of the Ego, so that we
shall not fail to make a proper translation to ourselves. For at all times
the language of the plane through which the Ego nightly floats is a foreign
one to the brain we use, and has to be always translated for use by the
brain. If the interpretation is incorrect, the experience of the Ego will
never be made complete to the lower man.
But it may be asked if there is an actual language for the Ego, having its
sound and corresponding signs. Evidently not; for, if there were, there
would have been made a record of it during all those countless years that
sincere students have been studying themselves. It is not a language in the
It is more nearly described as a communication of ideas and experience by
means of pictures.
So with it a sound may be pictured as a color or a figure, and an odor as a
vibrating line; an historical event may be not only shown as a picture, but
also as a light or a shadow, or as a sickening smell or delightful incense;
the vast mineral world may not only exhibit its planes and angles and
colors, but also its vibrations and lights.
Or, again, the ego may have reduced its perceptions of size and distance for
its own purposes, and, having the mental capacity for the time of the ant,
it may report to the bodily organs a small hole as an abyss, or the grass of
the field as a gigantic forest. These are adduced by way of example, and are
not to be taken as hard and fast lines of description.
Upon awakening, a great hindrance is found in our own daily life and terms
of speech and thought to the right translation of these experiences, and THE
ONLY WAY IN WHICH WE CAN USE THEM WITH FULL BENEFIT IS BY MAKING OURSELVES
POROUS, SO TO SPEAK, TO THE INFLUENCES FROM THE HIGHER SELF, AND BY LIVING
AND THINKING IN SUCH A MANNER AS WILL BE MOST LIKELY TO BRING ABOUT THE AIM
OF THE SOUL.
This leads us unerringly to virtue and knowledge, for the vices and the
passions eternally becloud our perception of the meaning of what the Ego
tries to tell us.
It is for this reason that the sages inculcate virtue. Is it not plain that,
if the vicious could accomplish the translation of the Ego's language, they
would have done it long ago, and is it not known to us all that only among
the virtuous can the Sages be found?
Eusebio Urban PATH, June, 1890
REMEMBERING PAST LIVES .DOC
REMEMBERING PAST LIVES [ e v ]
TALE OF THE BANANA PEEL
(This is a very, very old story. The original is in an ancient Hindu
collection of tales called the Hitopadesa.)
A laughing child running after a butterfly saw a banana peel lying in the
path. He kicked it aside and ran on. Soon, a bent and blind old man came
that way. He would have slipped and fallen into the ditch but for the
impulsive act of the good-natured little boy. For this unconscious deed, the
Karma of his next life saved the boy from being struck by a great tumbling
stone on that very path.
The life and the “lives” that make up every thing never really die. They
only change forms in their way as we do in ours. So, once again, the banana
peel is found lying in a path. Wandering wearily and hungrily along, a beg
gar saw the peel and picked it up, hoping to find a morsel of food. But no;
it was only a peel; so he threw it away, saying to himself, “This is my
Karma.” Then along came a fat merchant, whose unfaithful servant the beggar
had been in a former life. Not watching the path, the merchant would have
had a bad fall, but for the beggar’s care to throw aside the banana peel.
This action, and the beggar’s acceptance of his own lot, made him a
respected master of caravans in his next incarnation.
Again the picture changes, this time showing a desert warrior mounted on a
dromedary, a “flying camel,” as the Arabs say. All day he had been pursuing
a fleeing enemy. Now, at last, he was gaining in the chase, even though his
hungry dromedary was stumbling from exhaustion. Seeing the banana peel in
the track, the warrior bethought him of his faithful mount. He stopped that
it might eat this delicious tidbit — delicious, that is, for a camel!
Meanwhile, the enemy escaped; but in the next life, for his kindness this
warrior was reborn as a beneficent teacher of gods, men, and beasts.
Next, a “true believer,” a Sudra or servant, walking humbly, as befits all
men, whatever their caste, stepped on the banana peel. “Ah,” he thought,
“but for my good Karma, I might have fallen. Perchance another would not be
so blessed.” So he tossed the peel into a little stream to feed the fishes
in the river below. For his humbleness and for his brotherhood, this Sudra
was reborn as a Hotri, or Family Priest.
Then a proud Brahmin—one noble in name—came upon the banana peel in his
path. He communed with himself, saying, “Every man reaps in the future the
fruits of all his acts. If, therefore, I take this peel from the pathway, I
shall have done a deed of merit, and be re warded by Karma in my next life.”
So mused the Brahmin, and he carefully removed the peel. For this crafty
thought of self, the proud Brahmin was born in a lower caste in his next
Finally, the same lives which have been through all these
changes—”transmigrations”—are once more in the form of a discarded banana
peel. Along comes a true Yogi, one who has risen above all rules of caste
and custom. In him, Soul, and Mind, and Body have each found their rightful
sphere of Karma. As he walks, the Yogi is meditating in his heart gentle
service to all that lives. In his mind, he is pondering the words that he
will say at the next village. In his body, all the senses are alert in their
sentinel duties. His eyes catch sight of the banana peel. His arm reaches,
his fingers grasp the peel, putting it to one side, and the senses then
resume their watchfulness, without troubling either the mind or the heart of
the Yogi. Thenceforth, all that are touched by the Yogi, in this or any
future life, will be blessed by the contact, and themselves be led to find
and follow the path of service.
THE TURN OF THE WHEEL
He was the son of a ruler in Rajpootana. His father governed a district,
including several villages as well as his own small town, with justice and
wisdom, so that all were prosperous and happy. The ruler was called a Rajah;
he lived in a building made of stone, built on a hill that commanded the
town. The son was born after the Rajah had been for many years childless,
and was the only child to whom the father’s honors and power could descend.
He was named Rama after the great Avatar. From the time he was born and
until he could speak, a strange look was always to be seen in his baby eyes;
a look that gazed at you without flinching, as if he had some design on you;
and yet at times it seemed to show that he was laughing at himself, sorry,
too; melancholy at times.
Rama grew up and delighted his father with his goodness and strength of
mind. The strange glance of his eye as a baby remained with him, so that
while every one loved him, they all felt also a singular respect that was
sometimes awe. His studies were completed, and he began to take part in the
administration of the affairs of the old and now feeble rajah.
Rama felt a great need of being alone. Every day he retired to his room,
unattended, and on the fourteenth of each month spent the entire day alone.
He felt a weight upon his heart which did not come from this life. He had
had no sorrow, had lost no bright possession; his ambitions were all
fulfilled. He longed to know what was before him yet to learn. This was why
he spent his time in self- searching and meditation. So, he came to find
that his higher self spoke one language, and the personal self another. He
came to see that the personal self weighted him down with the chains of
ignorance, and that his must be a search, not for possessions, but for
knowledge, no matter where the search should take him. Then, one day, a
vision passed before him of the poverty and the riches that might be his, of
huts and buildings of stone, as he went on his way to enlightenment. But
after this, he was no longer troubled, no longer sorrowful; his mind was at
His old father died, and he carried on the government for many years,
scattering blessings in every direction, until a rival rajah came and
demanded all his possessions, showing a claim to them through a forgotten
branch of the family. Instead of rejecting the claim, which was just,
instead of slaying the rival as he could have done, Rama resigned all,
retired to the forest, and died, after a few years of austerity.
The wheel of time rolled on and Rama was reborn in a town governed by the
Rajah who had once in a former life demanded Rama’s possessions. But now
Rama was poor, unknown, an outcaste, a chandalah who swept up garbage and
hoped that Karma might help him. He knew not that he was Rama; he only swept
the garbage near the Rajah’s palace.
A solemn audience was held by the Rajah with all the priests and the
soothsayers present. Troubled by a dream of the night before, the
superstitious ruler called them in to interpret, to state causes learnedly,
to prescribe scriptural palliative measures. He had dreamed that while
walking in his garden, hearing from his treasurer an account of his
increasing wealth, a huge stone building seemed suddenly to grow up before
him. As he stopped amazed, it toppled over and seemed to bury him and his
wealth. Three times repeated, this filled him with fear.
The astrologers retired and consulted their books. The remedy was plain, one
suggested. “Let the King give up a vast sum of money to morrow to the first
person he sees after waking up.” This decision was accepted, and the pro
poser of it intended to be on hand early so as to claim the money. The Rajah
agreed to the direction of the stars, and retired for the night, full of his
resolution to give immense gifts next day.
No horrid dreams disturbed his sleep. The winking stars moved over the vault
of heaven, and of all the hosts the moon seemed to smile upon the city as if
she heard and knew all. The cold early morning, dark with promise of dawn,
saw the chandalah, — once Rama— sweeping up the garbage near the palace
where inside the Rajah was just awaking. The last star in heaven seemed to
halt as if anxious that Rama should come in his sweeping to the side of the
palace from which the Rajah’s window opened. Slowly the Rajah’s waking
senses returned, and as they came a hideous memory of his dream flashed on
him. Starting up from the mat on which he lay, he rose and seemed to think.
“What was I to do? Yes, give gifts. But it is not yet day. Still the oracle
said ‘immediately on awakening’.”
As he hesitated, the poor garbage sweeper outside came more nearly in front
of his window. The setting star almost seemed to throw a beam through the
wall that struck and pushed him to the window. Flinging open the shutter to
get breath, he looked down, and there before him was the poor chandalah with
waistcloth and no turban, sweating with exertion, hastening on with the task
that when finished would leave the great Rajah’s grounds clean and ready for
“Thank the gods,” said the Rajah, “it is fate; a just decision; to the poor
and the pious should gifts be given.”
At an early hour he gathered his ministers and priests together and said— “I
give gifts to the devas through the poor; I redeem my vow. Call the
chandalah who early this morning swept the ground.”
Rama was called and thought it was for prison or death. But the Rajah amazed
him with a gift of many thousands of rupees, and as the chandalah, now rich,
passed out, he thought he smelt a strange familiar odor and saw a dazzling
form flash by. “This,” thought he, “is a deva.”
The money made Rama rich. He established himself and invited Brahmins to
teach others; he distributed alms, and one day he caused a huge building of
stone to be built with broken stone chains on its sides to represent how
fate ruptured his chains. And later on a wise seer, a Brahmin of many
austerities, looking into his life, told him briefly,
“Next life thou art free. Thy name is Rama.”
[ An explanation:
Here in this body we store flesh and blood and tissue, made out of the food
we eat. This is our physical body. We have a body of breath of life, too,
don’t we, all through our physical body? It is called Prana.
We have a finer body within to which our nerves belong, where we store the
desire and taste for food. This is our sensation body, and also our pattern
body which causes us to keep the same “look,” no matter how we change our
looks. It is called the astral body.
And there are other bodies, too, each of which is a storehouse of its kind.
Our mind is a kind of body, mixed with our desires, our Kama nature, but
this is our lower mind. So, of course, the Ego has a body made of very fine
substance indeed, which it always keeps as a storehouse for true Thought and
true Feeling—whether in this body, or in countless others. This is called
Manas, and because it is the roadway by which the Soul’s knowledge (Buddhi)
comes to us in our earthly body, we call it the spiritual body.
We all have just such a body right now, though we can’t see it with these
eyes, just as some boys and girls can not see the fiery lives in the air.
When we go to sleep at night it is in this finer body we really live.
When we sleep, this physical body is dead, so far as anything happening
around us is concerned. But, of course, the Ego comes back into it again
after sleeping, whereas, when we die, we no longer can come back to it, but
must seek another new body. We are very wise people, all of us, when we are
sound asleep, be cause we see and know all the things we ever knew in all
our former bodies on earth. Some times even, we know it here, and then we
call it Intuition (Buddhi).
When we leave our bodies at death, we just live in that finer body we were
speaking of, which the Ego always keeps. We rest, and get ready to come back
to earth again. Some people wait longer than others do; some wait thousands
of years; and some perhaps wait only a very few years.
We call this waiting-place between death and birth again, Devachan. (Deva—
god; chan—place.) Only, you see, it isn’t a “place” you go to by train or
airplane. If I were to say, “Charley is in a tantrum,” you would not go
looking for Charley in any place, for you would know that it was Charley’s
condition, or state of mind, I spoke of. So, “Helen is in a state of great
excitement,” might mean she was upstairs, or out in the Street; because the
place didn’t have anything to do with the condition she was in. It was the
condition that was the “place,” really.
“Devachan” may be in any place, for it is really a state, or condition, of
great happiness, while we are alive; and when we are no longer in the body,
it is a state of freedom from all earthly cares and tasks,—just the
vacation-time between school- terms on earth.
We come to earth to learn. But there is so much to learn on any earth that
is even more than eighteen millions of years old! Some Egos stay in their
bodies only ten minutes, ten months, ten years. What could they learn in
that short time? Even if one lived to be a hundred and fifty years old, he
could learn very little of this old earth.
Think how many peoples, nations, savage tribes are on the earth today—how
many languages are spoken—how differently they all live! But to know all of
them he could know would be only a small part of what a man has before him
to know. He would also have to know where all these people came from, how
the earth was formed in which they live; he would have to look back even to
continents before this present one rose out of the sea. He would have to
know about all the stars in the heavens; know how to create wonderful books,
pictures, statues, music, and more things than we can even name. We have
very little time to learn in one life.
We spend so much time in sleeping and eating, you know, and we waste so much
time by not knowing what are the right things to learn! What do you think is
the most important thing? So we learn only a few lessons in one life; a few
new lessons in the next, and we go on learning until we have learned all.
Another reason for coming back to this earth is, we have left unsettled
debts of Karma, and we have to come back to pay them. Do you remember seeing
the farmers plow and plant the barley in the fields after the rains began?
Where did you expect them to harvest their barley crop? In the fields where
they sowed the seed, of course; not in fields in some other country across
the ocean! We get in debt here on this earth, and we come back here to pay
it, to the very ones we owed.
Nor must we think it is debts only to persons that we owe. We owe a debt to
the mineral kingdom, to the vegetable kingdom—our younger brothers, all.
They all have furnished us with food, or clothing, or service of some kind.
Think of the precious metals and gems under the earth; of the mineral salts
in our vegetables; of how certain herbs heal diseases; of how the silk-worm
gives us beautiful silks; how numberless are the services of cow and sheep
and horse and elephant! We come back to help all those kingdoms, too, for
have we not learned that it is the same life in them that is in us all?
Everything reincarnates. The life that is in the seed expands into a plant
that blooms, and fruits, and goes to seed again; again the seed takes up a
new life-cycle. The tiny cells in our bodies break down and the “soul” of
them, or the nucleus, reincarnates somewhere else in our bodies. The life
that is in the wood is released by fire to the form of gas; the water, from
freezing, reincarnates as ice; or from boiling, takes the form of steam and
gas. The larva becomes a worm, then a cocoon, and at last becomes a
Do animals reincarnate? Of course, animals reincarnate, too. But even though
a dog dreams, it is not the way we dream, and so dogs can not have a
Devachan, of course. The dog-”mind” is not a thought-mind, or an
imagining-mind. No matter how devoted a dog may be to its master, it could
not in the master’s absence picture what the master looks like. It feels
something gone; that is, its astral nature is its “mind,” and we can see,
that kind of a mind must be very vague, and not able to hold long any kind
of a memory. So, the “astral” dog very soon goes to pieces in the astral
world, just as the physical dog does in this one. The dog “lives” become
used by other dogs. Per haps that is why some particular dog appeals to
us—it may have some “lives” we knew be fore. Wild animals have a better kind
of Karma, really, as their “lives” reincarnate in higher forms, while the
dog “lives” stay long in dog forms.
The dog doesn’t have the same kind of Karma we have. Why? It doesn’t know it
is a dog; it doesn’t choose to do what it does, but acts according to its
nature. So the dog isn’t responsible as we are, though a kind of soul is
there, or we could not teach and train it. The Karma of cruelty to animals
is suffered by human beings far more than by the animals!
Only when a being is able to say “I am I” and “I choose to do right or
wrong”—can he feel the full effect of Karma. Only then can Karma follow him
from one life to another.
We know that all beings live under Karma, or law, of some kind, for rain and
snow and wind and flood are Karma which affects men and animals both. Yet it
is easy to see how much more a storm may affect a man than it can affect an
animal. The man may choose to go out in it, or stay in when he promised to
go out—and from his choice, his whole life may be altered. To an animal,
which acts according to its nature, the storm is always a signal to seek
shelter; its life is just the same next day as it was the day before. But
WE—the Choosers—the Thinkers, go on next day and next life, always more full
of knowledge, and whether it is right or wrong knowledge. == e,v.]
THE KNOT-HOLE WAS THERE
“Why, I don’t see how ever I can have lived before in other bodies! I don’t
remember anything about it!” Well, it wouldn’t be so strange if we didn’t
remember, when the brains we are remembering through came new with these
present bodies, and when we have crammed them so full with the things of
this life! Indeed, we don’t re member half our days in these bodies!
Certainly, not one of us remembers the day we were born—but we must have
Let us not be too sure people don’t remember, or even that we don’t
remember. Many, many children have been known to remember, on sight, places
they have lived in, in other lives, and even grown-up people, in visiting
places they never saw before in this life, have recognized them by some
It is told of one American gentleman, on his first visit to London, that
while waiting in a lawyer’s office to keep an appointment, he began to have
a sense of familiarity of the room steal over him. The feeling grew very
strong, till finally he said to himself: “Well, if I ever have been here
before, there is a certain knot-hole in the panel of that door over
there—and if so, it is under that calendar hanging there!” He walked over to
the door and lifted the calendar. The knot-hole was there, as he knew it
Very young children, especially between three and six, “remember” words of a
language once they knew. In one family, the parents were worried because
their little girl was not learning to talk at the age of two years. She was
constantly “jabbering,” but not a word could they understand. Then, one day,
a soldier who had been in France came to visit them. He began to pay
attention to the little girl, and in amazement he said to the parents,
“Don’t worry about the little one’s not talking. She is talking very good
Have you ever noticed how some boys and girls seem never to have to learn
some particular thing? For instance, one boy knows how to use tools without
being taught; one girl doesn’t need to learn how to sew, or to read; one boy
can sing from the time he can speak, while most of us are years in learning
how; some girls love to write poetry, or can imitate the ways of speech and
manners of others, but more people never can do it well in this life,
however long and hard they try—even with taking lessons. Well, all these
facilities, or talents, are in evidence now be cause there was a skill in
these things in other lives; or even a love for them, without much skill, —
because it is the feeling, again, of love to do these things, that lives,
and goes on from life to life. Perhaps you have noticed that sometimes, too,
people grow lazy with these talents, and they lose them. They must love them
enough to make them always more beautiful by working for them, as a service
to all, if they would keep them.
HE TOOK THE GATES
The following undoubtedly true story was written by a commercial
photographer of Minneapolis. She is the elder sister of little Anne, and up
to the time of the incident, neither she nor any of the family believed in,
or knew anything of, the doctrine of re-birth. The article appeared in the
American Magazine of July, 1915.
“Anne, my little half-sister, younger by fifteen years, was a queer little
mite from the beginning. She did not even look like any member of the family
we ever heard of, for she was dark almost to swarthiness, while the rest of
us were all fair, showing our Scotch Irish ancestry unmistakably.
“As soon as she could talk in connected sentences, she would tell herself
fairy stories, and just for the fun of the thing I would take down her
murmurings with my pencil in my old diary. She was my especial charge — my
mother being a very busy woman—and I was very proud of her. These weavings
of fancy were never of the usual type that children’s fairy tales take; for,
in addition to the childish imagination, there were bits of knowledge in
them that a baby could not possibly have absorbed in any sort of way.
“Another remarkable thing about her was that everything she did she seemed
to do through habit, and, in fact, such was her insistence, although she was
never able to ex plain what she meant by it. If you could have seen the
roystering air with which she would life her mug of milk when she was only
three and gulp it down at one quaffing, you would have shaken with laughter.
This particularly embarrassed my mother and she reproved Anne repeatedly.
The baby was a good little soul, and would seem to try to obey, and then in
an absent-minded moment would bring on another occasion for mortification.
‘I can’t help it, mother,’ she would say over and over again, tears in her
baby voice, ‘I’ve always done it that way!’
“So many were the small incidents of her ‘habits’ of speech and thought and
her tricks of manner and memory that finally we ceased to think anything
about them, and she herself was quite unconscious that she was in any way
different from other children.
“One day when she was four years old she became very indignant with Father
about some matter and, as she sat curled up on the floor in front of us,
announced her intention of going away forever.
“‘Back to heaven where you came from?’ inquired Father with mock
seriousness. She shook her head.
“‘I didn’t come from heaven to you,’ she asserted with that calm conviction
to which we were quite accustomed now. ‘I went to the moon first, but—you
know about the moon, don’t you? It used to have people on it, but it got so
hard that we had to go.’
“This promised to be a fairy tale, so I got my pencil and diary.
“‘So,’ my father led her on, ‘you came from the moon to us, did you?’
“‘Oh, no,’ she told him in casual fashion. ‘I have been here lots of
times—sometimes I was a man and sometimes I was a woman!’
“She was so serene in her announcement that my father laughed heartily,
which enraged the child, for she particularly disliked being ridiculed in
“‘I was! I was!’ she maintained indignantly. ‘Once I went to Canada when I
was a man! I ‘member my name, even.’
“‘Oh, pooh-pooh,’ he scoffed, ‘little United States girls can’t be men in
Canada! What was your name that you ‘member so well?’
“She considered a minute. ‘It was Lishus Faber,’ she ventured, then repeated
it with greater assurance, ‘that was it—Lishus Faber.’ She ran the sounds
together so that this was all I could make of it—and the name so stands in
my diary today; ‘Lishus Faber.’
“‘And what did you do for a living, Lishus Faber, in those early days?’ My
father then treated her with the mock solemnity befitting her assurance and
quieting her nervous little body.
‘I was a soldier’—she granted the information triumphantly—’and I took the
“That was all that is recorded there. Over and over again, I remember, we
tried to get her to explain what she meant by the odd phrase, but she only
repeated her words and grew indignant with us for not understanding. Her
imagination stopped at explanations. We were living in a cultured community,
but al though I repeated the story to inquire about the phrase—as one does
tell stories of beloved children, you know—no one could do more than
conjecture its meaning.
“Some one encouraged my really going further with the matter, and for a year
I studied all the histories of Canada I could lay my hands on for a battle
in which somebody ‘took the gates.’ All to no purpose. Finally I was
directed by a librarian to a ‘documentary’ history, I suppose it is—a funny
old volume with the ‘s’ like f’s, you know. This was over a year afterward,
when I had quite lost hope of running my phrase to earth. It was a quaint
old book, interestingly picturesque in many of its tales, but I found one
bit that put all others out of my mind. It was a brief account of the taking
of a little walled city by a small company of soldiers, a distinguished feat
of some sort, yet of no general importance. A young lieutenant with his
small band—the phrase leaped to my eyes—’took the gates.’ And the name of
the young lieutenant was ‘Aloysius Le Fêbre.’”
A GREEK LESSON
I stopped short; I flung down the book. “It is a lie,” I cried bitterly, “a
cruel, hateful lie,”
I almost shouted, — and the whole class stared at me in amazement.
A strange outburst was that for the dingy, drowsy Greek-room of the little
New England college. I was as much surprised as any; I stood confused at
myself. For then it was that I remembered.
The passage which I was translating seemed innocent enough—to all the rest.
We were reading at sight — the professor’s particular hobby; and he was
exploiting upon us the Twelfth Oration of Lysias. .
But I had been paying scant attention to what they were reading. Greek was
easy to me always, and the halting drone with which they turned the sweet
Attic into their class-room jargon wearied my ears. And my thoughts had
drifted far away into I know not what regions of day-dreams, under a bright
sky buttressed on purple hills, when I heard the incisive voice of the
“Leonard, you may read now, beginning with the seventy-eighth section.” It
cut through the mists of cloud land like the flash of a searchlight.
I started to my feet, found the place and began:
“‘And although he has been the author of all these and still other disasters
and disgraces, both old and new, both small and great, some dare to profess
themselves his friends; al though it was not for the people that Theramenes
died, but because of his own villainy—’Then I choked and stopped. Tears swam
in my eyes, and a hot flash scalded my cheeks. For in that instant first I
understood; and in that instant it seemed to me that they all understood.
But the professor, rather mortified at my unwonted hesitation, began to
“Go on, Leonard, — go on, it is not so hard
— ‘and no less justly would he have died under the democracy, which he twice
enslaved’ — why, Leonard!”.
“It is a lie,” I burst forth. “A cruel, hateful lie.” Those words which he
uttered so calmly had stung me like the lashes of a scourge, — so malignant,
so artful, so utterly unjust. And the whole world had read them—this had
been believed for centuries, with none to contradict!
“To say it when a man was dead !“ I went on. “And Lysias! for Lysias to say
it!” I had quite forgotten the class; I saw only the foppish, waspish little
orator, declaiming before the people with studied passion and hot
indignation well memorized. But the people had never accepted it They knew
me better. . .
“They would not listen to such as Lysias; they would make an uproar and rise
from the benches. How dared that alien
accuse the best blood of Athens!” Yet I could scarcely have told you why I
My classmates were too much astonished to laugh. The professor laid down his
book; mine I flung on the floor. My blood was boiling; my soul a tumult.
“What does this mean, Leonard?” I heard the voice; I could not clearly see
“I will not read it—I will not read another line,” I cried. .
For the past had opened like a darkness lightning-cleft; all in one moment I
felt the injustices of ages; the shame of an aeon of scorn—and they asked me
to read against my self the lying record. I would die again sooner than read
it. I could not realize that they did not comprehend.
It was not often that Professor Lalor was at a loss for words, but there was
a long pause before he spoke.
“Young man,” he said slowly, “I always like my students to manifest a living
interest in what they read, and this trait I have especially commended in
you heretofore. But there is measure, Leonard, in all things, as the Greeks
themselves have taught us; and this exceeds— this certainly exceeds. One
would fancy you contemporary authority.” . .
Again I had choked, but anger gave me back my speech.
“Lysias an authority!” I exclaimed. “Lysias !“
My sight had cleared. The class sat quiet, startled out of their laughter;
the professor looked pained and puzzled.
“There is a degree of truth in what you seem to imply,” he said. “It may be
conceded that Lysias was somewhat lacking in the judicial quality. And as to
Theramenes, Aristotle has expressed a very different estimate of him. Yet
“He was no better than a sycophant,” I broke in.
“Go to your room, Leonard. You forget yourself.” But the truth was, I had
After that they nicknamed me Theramenes: I was nicknamed after myself, and
I hold that when a person dies
His soul returns again to earth;
Arrayed in some new flesh-disguise
Another mother gives him birth.
With sturdier limbs and brighter brain
The old soul takes the roads again.
* * * *
And I shall know, in angry words,
In gibes, and mocks, and many a tear,
A carrion flock of homing-birds,
The gibes and scorns I uttered here.
The brave word that I failed to speak
Will brand me dastard on the cheek.
And as I wander on the roads
I shall be helped and healed and blessed;
Dear words shall cheer and be as goads
To urge to heights before unguessed.
My road shall be the road I made;
All that I gave shall be repaid.
So shall I fight, so shall I tread,
In this long war beneath the stars;
So shall a glory wreathe my head,
So shall I faint and show the scars,
Until this case, this clogging mould,
Be smithied all to kingly gold.
(From John Masefield’s “A Creed”)
DO WE REMEMBER?
Mozart composed minuets before he was four years old. Beethoven gave
successful concerts before he was eight, and published com positions when he
was ten. Chopin played in public before he was nine. Mendelssohn was already
famous at twelve, while Brahms ex cited attention from babyhood. Richard
Strauss was a successful composer at six, while Samuel Wesley was an
organist at three and composed an oratorio at eight.
* * * *
Ruth Slenczynski—a child of eight years— was acclaimed in New York City in
1933 for her piano recital of Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Chopin. She
came simple and smiling upon the stage, but when she sat down to play, her
appearance was that of a mature woman in a child’s body. One was forced to
realize that only the Soul present could so command the nature and body.
* * * *
“Blind Tom” was a negro born in slavery on a Georgia plantation in 1849. Not
only was he born blind but he was so nearly a congenital idiot that it was
almost impossible to teach him to talk or to perform the simplest tasks.
By the time he was ten years old he had been drilled into “tending door”—his
sole accomplishment. In those days the kitchen was in a separate cabin
immediately back of the mansion-house dining room. Slaves would run back and
forth between kitchen and dining room at meal time and it was Blind Tom’s
task to open the swinging door for them. One day a young lady guest played
some highly technical numbers just before lunch. After lunch eon the company
scattered for various amusements. It happened that the young lady re turned
to the deserted dining room for some forgotten article and was astonished to
hear the piano resounding with the music she had played an hour or two
before. Peeping into the music room she beheld Blind Tom, oblivious to all
but the magic sounds his flying fingers were conjuring from the instrument.
Within a year Mr. Bethune, Tom’s “owner,” was exhibiting him to large
audiences in New York City — to his own profit and to the world’s
* * * *
Christian Heinrich Heinecken was born in Denmark in 1721. At ten months of
age he could converse as freely and intelligently as an adult. By the time
he was a year old he knew the Pentateuch practically by heart—knew it not
only in a memorial sense, but understood it as well as his elders who read
and told the Old Testament stories to him. By the end of his second year he
was as well versed in sacred history as those who taught him, had decided
opinions on the many moot theological questions of the time, and could hold
his own in discussion with the numerous learned divinity men who sought him
out for the sake of what they could learn from him. At three years of age he
was as much of a marvel in geography and in world history as the greatest
travelers and university professors. He was by this time proficient in
German as well as Danish, and could talk well in French and Latin. His
parents’ home became a kind of place of pilgrimage to which men and women of
standing and repute from many distant places came with reverence and respect
to meet and consult with this phenomenal babe. The child died at a little
over four years of age.
* * * *
Horace Greeley, the famous American newspaper editor, was the third child of
parents who wrestled for a meager existence on a stony hillside Vermont
farm. Horace was weak, sickly, and from the first uninterested in the things
that attract and amuse babies. That he learned to read before he could talk
in other than “baby language” is told by more than one biographer. His own
mother related that she observed before he was two years old how he seemed
fascinated to see his father reading from a paper. Overburdened with family
duties, it occurred to her to give him an old newspaper to play with while
she was absent from the room. Coming into the house one day she started
toward the door of the room in which she had left Horace. Astonished to hear
a voice speaking as an adult might, and thinking some visitor must have
entered during her absence, she paused by the door and looked in. Horace was
reading aloud from the sheet before him! No one had ever taught him even his
A B C’s.
* * * *
William Henry West Betty was born in England in 1791. He appeared on the
stage at the age of eleven in adult parts, and at twelve he was playing
Shakesperian roles in London to overcrowded houses. It is of record that the
English Parliament actually adjourned on one occasion so that its members
might attend a performance in which this precocious youngster played the
role of Hamlet.
* * * *
Elmer J. Schoneberger, Jr., born at Los Angeles in 1929, at six months of
age could con verse plainly; at a year old he had learned the alphabet; at
three, he was able to talk with ease and understanding on such subjects as
“electricity, engineering, economics, history, aviation and sports.”
* * * *
My sister was born and married abroad. On arrival in England she and her
husband set off to visit at an old manor house in Wiltshire.
On entering the lodge gates, my sister turned to her husband and said, “Why,
this is my old home,” and to his surprise, she pointed out landmarks on the
The experience was related at dinner, and the host, somewhat incredulous,
playfully said, “Perhaps you will discover the Priest’s Hole 1” It was
mentioned in the history of the place that one existed in Tudor times, but
it had never been discovered.
After dinner the guests adjourned to the gallery to see some old pictures,
and it was noticed my sister was missing. They found her in a room nearby,
counting the panels on the wall, and looking somewhat dreamy. Suddenly she
exclaimed, “This is the one,” and asked her husband to press a leaf in the
carving very hard as she could not manage it.
He did so, the panel moved stiffly, and a tiny room was revealed, dusty with
age, and empty save for a broken piece of pottery and a pallet, which had
evidently been used for a bed.
* * * *
The first year of little Jackie’s life we called him our little Chinaman,
because his features—particularly his eyes—were Chinese. After his first
year, he began to lose that Oriental look. But he was always different from
the other children—silent, he preferred to play alone, and would play for
hours with one object.
As he grew older, it was noticed that Jackie was the one who did things. If
he started a thing, he always finished it. Often we would hear the others
say, “Jackie can fix it!” And always Jackie fixed it.
It was when he was five years old that I made the boys each a pair of navy
blue pants. Immediately, Jim tried his on.
When I asked Jackie if he wanted to put his on, he said, No—he would put
them in his drawer until I got his shirt made.
“But Jackie,” I said, “I just made you some shirts.”
“I know,” he answered, “but they are not the right kind.”
“What is the right kind?”
“The right kind is long, like this,” he said, and he measured with his
little hand down to his knees.
“But boys don’t wear shirts like that!”
“I know. But they don’t wear the right kind of shirts. I want you to make
mine black with lots of pretty colors on it.”
“Daddy,” said I, “doesn’t wear that kind of shirt.”
“No, Daddy doesn’t wear the right kind of shirt, nor Ned Lane, either.” (Ned
Lane is a friend of his father.)
I asked Jackie if he would wear this long black shirt with the pretty colors
to school, and he said yes, he would; because it was the right kind of
And then we say, we don’t “remember.”
* * * *
When children come to visit me, they love to dress up in my clothes, and
“play lady.” One day, Betty May had spent an unusually long time in my room,
and finally came out in a long dress, with a scarf wound round her head.
She said, “Look, Grannie! This is the way we dressed when we were Indians.”
“Oh, were you an Indian?” I queried innocently.
She looked at me with surprise in her eyes, and said, “Of course. And you
too, Grannie. Don’t you remember? What is the name of that country where we
lived when we were Indians?”
I asked if it were India, maybe, but she said, no, that wasn’t the right
Then I asked, “Were the babies Indians, too?”
Quickly she answered, “Oh, no. Not Jackie. Jackie was another kind of man.
Jackie looked like this” — and she drew herself up very straight and folded
her arms across her chest.
“How about Jim and Sue? Were they Indians ?“
She looked very serious for a minute, and then said, “I don’t remember,
Then someone came in, and we were never able to pick up the thread again,
until several weeks later when she told me,
“Mother doesn’t know all the things we know, Grannie.”
“Why doesn’t she, dear?” I said.
“Because, she hasn’t been to our country.”
“But how do you know, Betty May?” I asked.
The only answer I could get was, “You know, Grannie.”
And then we say, we don’t “remember.”
* * * *
When Baby Carla was six weeks old, she saw her Uncle Hal for the first time.
A twinkle came in her eyes, she smiled, and put out her tongue at him! Ever
after, that was her sign of welcome to him, though sometimes she ex tended
the greeting to others especially favored. Between her and Uncle Hal there
seemed to be always some inner secret bond of delight and companionship, so
that just as soon as she began to say “Mama” and “Papa,” she also began to
use a name for Uncle Hal. “Pak-kar,” she called him. Her parents were
mystified. What strange freak made that word, like nothing anyone had ever
heard before? There was no variation in it at any time. It was always clear
and distinct—unmistakable. Before the little one had reached the age of two,
however, Uncle Hal died suddenly. Carla appeared to know nothing about it,
except that several times in the next few weeks, and very contrary to her
usual sunny awakening from sleep, she woke crying, as if her heart were
broken. When her mother soothed her and asked her why she cried, she said,
“Pak-kar’s gone !“ She never again greeted anyone with little tongue thrust
Two years after this, while Carla’s mother was reading one of Breasted’s
histories, she came to a chapter in which was discussed the similar roots of
words in old languages. Across the page sprang into her view this line,
giving the ancient forms of our word, father: Greek Latin Teutonic Sanscrit
Tibetan pater pater vater pitar pakkar
It was four years later when Carla’s father brought home from the library a
book of travel on Tibet, in which was illustrated the Tibetan greeting,
first used by Carla at the age of six weeks!
* * * *
Little Robert was the sunniest, happiest, most lovable little four-year-old
boy anyone ever knew! Not only was he cherished by all those in his family,
including aunts and uncles and cousins, but friends — even strangers — found
him “different” from other little ones, and with a strange power to lighten
their hearts. But, one day a terrible disease struck him swiftly, and he
Little Robert’s parents knew about reincarnation, and their sorrow was more
bearable because they had also heard that when a child dies under the age of
seven years, the same Ego might reincarnate again in the same family. Two
years later, a little brother was born to them, so closely resembling little
Robert that they could not help giving the babe the same name. As he grew,
old familiar ways were recognized, and the two babes seemed blended in this
one. They began to speak of the first little Robert as “the other one.”
Meantime, some of the families of cousins had moved far away, and had never
seen the second Robert. One day, when he was three years old, one of these
girl cousins came to the house on a surprise-visit. She entered the room
where the little fellow was playing on the floor with his blocks, and stood
quietly for a moment. Robert looked up at her, smiled radiantly, flung out
his arms and called, “Ong !“ This was the name the first Robert had given
her—a name which had never been used by anyone, save him!
From: Cass Silva
Sent: Saturday, April 08, 2006 7:16 PM
Cass- My mother was on the brink for many months prior to her passing
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