THE UNIVERSE IN A NUT-SHELL H - P - B
Apr 09, 2006 06:00 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
Some very interesting definitions are fund in these
THE UNIVERSE IN A NUT-SHELL
H. P. Blavatsky
4 Absolute consciousness
THE article on dreams alluded to in the following letter is reprinted with
the desired explanatory notes for the information of our readers:----
TO THE EDITOR.
The accompanying extract is from an article in a recent issue of Chamber's
Journal. I hope you will reprint the same and kindly give full explanations
upon the following subjects:--
(l) Are dreams always real? If so, what produces them; if not real, yet may
they not have in themselves some deep significance?
(2) Tell us something about our antenatal state of existence and the
transmigration of soul?
(3) Give us anything that is worth knowing about Psychology as suggested by
Your most fraternally and obediently,
JEHANGIR CURSETJI TARACHAND, F.T.S.
Bombay, November l0, l881
THEOSOPHIST Editor's Answer.
To put our correspondent's request more exactly, he desires the Theosophist
to call into the limits of a column or two the facts embraced within the
whole range of all the sublunar mysteries with "full explanations." These
(1) The complete philosophy of dreams, as deduced from their physiological,
biological, psychological and occult aspects.
(2) The Buddhist Jatakas (re-births and migrations of our Lord Sakya-Muni)
with a philosophical essay upon the transmigrations of the 387,000 Buddhas
who "turned the wheel of faith," during the successive revelations to the
world of the 125,000 other Buddhas, the Saints, who can "overlook and
unravel the thousand fold knotted threads of the moral chain of causation,"
throwing in a treatise upon the Nidhanas, the chain of twelve causes with a
complete list of their two millions of results, and copious appendices by
some Arahats, "who have attained the stream which floats into Nirvana."
(3) The compounded reveries of the world-famous psychologists; from the
Egyptian Hermes, and his Book of the Dead; Plato's definition of the Soul,
in Timĉus; and so on, down to the Drawing Room Nocturnal Chats with a
Disembodied Soul, by Rev. Adramelech Romeo Tiberius Toughskin from
Such is the modest task proposed. Suppose we first give the article which
has provoked so great a thirst for philosophical information, and then try
to do what we can. It is a curious case--if not altogether a literary
DREAM-LAND AND SOMNAMBULISM.
"The writer of this article has a brother-in-law who has felt some of his
dreams to be of a remarkable and significant character; and his experience
shows that there is a strange and inexplicable connection between such
dreams and the state of somnambulism. Before giving in detail some instances
of somnambulism as exhibited by him and also by his daughter, I will give an
account of one of his dreams, which has been four times repeated in its
striking and salient points at uncertain periods, during the past thirty
years. He was in his active youth a practical agriculturist, but now lives
retired. All his life he has been spare of flesh, active, cheerful, very
companionable, and not in any sense what is called a bookworm. His dream was
as follows: He found himself alone, standing in front of a monument of very
solid masonry, looking vacantly at the north side of it, when to his
astonishment, the middle stones on the level of his sight gradually opened
and slid down one on another, until an opening was made large enough to
uphold a man.
All of a sudden, a little man, dressed in black, with a large bald head,
appeared inside the opening, seemingly fixed there by reason of his feet and
legs being buried in the masonry. The expression of his face was mild and
intelligent. They looked at each other for what seemed a long time without
either of them attempting to speak, and all the while my brother's
astonishment increased. At length, as the dreamer expressed himself, 'The
little man in black with the bald head and serene countenance' said: 'Don't
you know me? I am the man whom you murdered in an ante-natal state of
existence; and I am waiting until you come, and shall wait without sleeping.
There is no evidence of the foul deed in your state of human existence, so
you need not trouble yourself in your mortal life--shut me again in
"The dreamer began, as he thought, to put the stones in their original
position, remarking as he expressed himself--to the little man:--'This is
all a dream of yours, for there is no ante-natal state of existence.' The
little man who seemed to grow less and less, said: 'Cover me over and
begone.' At this the dreamer awoke.
"Years passed away, and the dream was forgotten in the common
acceptation of the term, when behold! without any previous thought of the
matter, he dreamed that he was standing in the sunshine, facing an ancient
garden-wall that belonged to a large unoccupied mansion, when the stones in
front of it began to fall out with a gently sliding motion, and soon
revealed the self-same mysterious person, and everything pertaining to him,
including his verbal utterances as on the first occasion, though an
uncertain number of years had passed. The same identical dream has since
occurred twice at irregular periods; but there was no change in the facial
appearance of the little man in black."
Editor's Note.--We do not feel competent to pronounce upon the merits or
demerits of this particular dream. The interpretation of it may be safely
left with the Daniels of physiology who, like W. A. Hammond, M. D., of New
York, explain dreams and somnambulism as due to an exalted condition of the
spinal cord. It may have been a meaningless, chance-dream, brought about by
a concatenation of thoughts which occupy mechanically the mind during sleep
That dim twilight of the mind,
When Reason's beam, half hid behind
The clouds of sense, obscurely gilds
Each shadowy shape that fancy builds.
--when our mental operations go on independently of our conscious volition.
Our physical senses are the agents by means of which the astral spirit or
"conscious something" within, is brought by contact with the external world
to a knowledge of actual existence; while the spiritual senses of the astral
man are the media, the telegraphic wires by means of which he communicates
with his higher principles, and obtains therefrom the faculties of clear
perception of, and vision into, the realms of the invisible world.1
The Buddhist philosopher holds that by the practice of the dhyanas one may
reach "the enlightened condition of mind which exhibits itself by immediate
recognition of sacred truth, so that on opening the Scriptures (or any books
whatsoever?) their true meaning at once flashes into the heart." [Beal's
Catena, &c., p. 255.] If the first time, however, the above dream was
meaningless, the three following times it may have recurred by the suddenly
awakening of that portion of the brain to which it was due--as in dreaming,
or in somnambulism, the brain
is asleep only in parts, and called into action through the agency of the
external senses, owing to some peculiar cause: a word pronounced, a thought,
or picture lingering dormant in one of the cells of memory, and awakened by
a sudden noise, the fall of a stone, suggesting instantaneously to this
half-dreamy fancy of the sleeper walls of masonry, and so on.
When one is suddenly startled in his sleep without becoming fully awake, he
does not begin and terminate his dream with the simple noise which partially
awoke him, but often experiences in his dream, a long train of events
concentrated within the brief space of time the sound occupies, and to be
attributed solely to that sound. Generally dreams are induced by the waking
associations which precede them. Some of them produce such an impression
that the slightest idea in the direction of any subject associated with a
particular dream may bring its recurrence years after.
Tartini, the famous Italian violinist, composed his "Devil's Sonata" under
the inspiration of a dream. During his sleep he thought the Devil appeared
to him and challenged him to a trial of skill upon his own private violin,
brought by him from the infernal regions, which challenge Tartini accepted.
When he awoke, the melody of the "Devil's Sonata" was so vividly impressed
upon his mind that he there and then noted it down; but when arriving
towards the finale all further recollection of it was suddenly obliterated,
and he lay aside the incomplete piece of music. Two years later, he dreamt
the very same thing and tried in his dream to make himself recollect the
finale upon awakening. The dream was repeated owing to a blind
street-musician fiddling on his instrument under the artist's window.
Coleridge composed in a like manner his poem "Kublai Khan," in a dream,
which, on awakening, he found so vividly impressed upon his mind that he
wrote down the famous lines which are still preserved. The dream was due to
the poet falling asleep in his chair while reading in Purcha's "Pilgrimage"
the following words: "Here, the Khan Kublai commanded a palace to be built .
. . enclosed within a wall."
The popular belief that among the vast number of meaningless dreams there
are some in which presages are frequently given of coming events is shared
by many well-informed persons, but not at all by science. Yet there are
numberless instances of well-attested dreams which were verified by
subsequent events, and which, therefore, may be termed prophetic.
The Greek and Latin classics teem with records of remarkable dreams, some of
which have become historical.
Faith in the spiritual nature of dreaming was as widely disseminated among
the pagan philosophers as among the Christian fathers of the church, nor is
belief in soothsaying and interpretations of dreams (oneiromancy ) limited
to the heathen nations of Asia, since the Bible is full of them. This is
what Eliphas Lévi, the great modern Kabalist, says of such divinations,
visions and prophetic dreams.
"Somnambulism, premonitions and second sights are but a disposition, whether
accidental or habitual, to dream, awake, or during a voluntary,
self-induced, or yet natural sleep, i.e., to perceive (and guess by
intuition) the analogical reflections of the Astral Light. . . .
The paraphernalia and instruments of divinations are simply means for
(magnetic) communications between the divinator and him who consults him:
they serve to fix and concentrate two wills (bent in the same direction)
upon the same sign or object; the queer, complicated, moving figures helping
to collect the reflections of the Astral fluid. Thus one is enabled, at
times to see in the grounds of a coffee cup, or in the clouds, in the white
of an egg, &c., &c., fantastic forms having their existence, but in the
translucid (or the seer's imagination). Vision-seeing in the water is
produced by the fatigue of the dazzled optic nerve, which ends by ceding its
functions to the translucid, and calling forth a cerebral illusion, which
makes to seem as real images the simple reflections of the astral light.
Thus the fittest persons for this kind of divination are those of a nervous
temperament whose sight is meek [weak?] and imagination vivid, children
being the best of all adapted for it. But let no one misinterpret the nature
of the function attributed by us to imagination in the art of divination. We
see through our imagination doubtless, and that is the natural aspect of the
miracle; but we see actual and true things, and it is in this that lies the
marvel of the natural phenomenon. We appeal for corroboration of what we say
to the testimony of all the adepts. . . ."
And now we give room to a second letter which relates to us a dream verified
by undeniable events.
ARE DREAMS BUT IDLE VISIONS?
A few months ago, one Babu Jugut Chunder Chatterjee, a Sub
Deputy Collector of Morshedabad, in Bengal, was stationed pro tem on duty at
Kandi--a sub-division of the Morshedabad District. He had left his wife and
children at Berhampore, the head-quarters of the District and was staying at
Kandi with Babu Soorji Coomar Basakh (Sub-Deputy Collector of the
Sub-Division), at the residence of that gentleman.
Having received orders to do some work at a place some ten miles off from
Kandi, in the interior, Babu Jugut Chunder made arrangements accordingly to
start the next day. During that night he dreams, seeing his wife attacked
with cholera, at Berhampore, and suffering intensely. This troubles his
mind. He relates the dream to Babu Soorji Coomar in the morning, and both
treating the subject as a meaningless dream, proceed without giving it
another thought to their respective business.
After breakfast Babu Jugut Chunder retires to take before starting a short
rest. In his sleep he dreams the same dream. He sees his wife suffering from
the dire disease acutely, witnesses the same scene, and awakes with a start.
He now becomes anxious, and arising, relates again dream No. 2, to Babu
Soorji, who knows not what to say. It is then decided, that as Babu Jugut
Chunder has to start for the place he is ordered to, his friend, Babu Soorji
Coomar will forward to him without delay any letters or news he may receive
to his address from Berhampore, and having made special arrangements for
this purpose, Babu Jugut Chunder departs.
Hardly a few hours after he had left, arrives a messenger from Berhampore
with a letter for Babu Jugut. His friend remembering the mood in which he
had left Kandi and fearing bad news, opens the letter and finds it a
corroboration of the twice-repeated dream. Babu Jugut's wife was attacked
with cholera at Berhampore, on the very night her husband had dreamt of it
and was still suffering from it. Having received the news sent on with a
special messenger, Babu Jugut returned at once to Berhampore, where
immediate assistance being given, the patient eventually recovered.
The above was narrated to me at the house of Babu Lal Cori Mukerjee, at
Berhampore, and in his presence, by Babus Jugut Chunder and Soorji Coomar
themselves, who had come there on a friendly visit, the story of the dream
being thus corroborated by the testimony of one who had been there, to hear
of it, at a time when none of them ever thought it would be realized.
The above incident may, I believe, be regarded as a fair instance
of the presence of the ever-watchful astral soul of man with a mind
independent of that of his own physical brain. I would, however, feel
greatly obliged by your kindly giving us an explanation of the phenomenon.
Babu Lal Cori Mukerji is a subscriber to the Theosophist and, therefore,
this is sure to meet his eye. If he remembers the dates or sees any
circumstance omitted or erroneously stated herein, the writer will feel
greatly obliged by his furnishing additional details and correcting, if
necessary, any error, I may have made after his consulting with the party
As far as I can recollect the occurrence took place this year 1881.
NAVIN K. SARMAN BANERJEE, F.T.S.
Editor's Note.--"Dreams are interludes which fancy makes," Dryden tells us;
perhaps to show that even a poet will make occasionally his muse subservient
to sciolistic prejudice.
The instance as above given is one of a series of what may be regarded as
exceptional cases in dream life, the generality of dreams, being indeed, but
"interludes which fancy makes." And, it is the policy of materialistic,
matter-of-fact science to superbly ignore such exceptions, on the ground,
perchance, that the exception confirms the rule,--we rather think, to avoid
the embarrassing task of explaining such exceptions. Indeed, if one single
instance stubbornly refuses classification with "strange co-incidences"--so
much in favor with sceptics--then, prophetic, or verified dreams would
demand an entire remodeling of physiology.
As in regard to phrenology, the recognition and acceptance by science of
prophetic dreams--(hence the recognition of the claims of Theosophy and
Spiritualism)--would, it is contended, "carry with it a new educational,
social, political, and theological science." Result: Science will never
recognise either dreams, spiritualism, or occultism.
Human nature is an abyss, which physiology and human science in general, has
sounded less than some who have never heard the word physiology pronounced.
Never are the high censors of the Royal Society more perplexed than when
brought face to face with that insolvable mystery--man's inner nature. The
key to it is--man's dual being. It is that key that they refuse to use, well
aware that if once the door of the adytum be flung open, they will be forced
to drop one by one their cherished theories and final conclusions--more than
once proved to have been no better than hobbies, false as everything built
upon, and starting from false or incomplete
premises. If we must remain satisfied with the half explanations of
physiology as regards meaningless dreams, how account, in such case for the
numerous facts of verified dreams?
To say that man is a dual being; that in man--to use the words of
Paul--"There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body"--and that,
therefore, he must, of necessity, have a double set of senses--is tantamount
in the opinion of the educated sceptic, to uttering an unpardonable, most
unscientific fallacy. Yet it has to be uttered--science notwithstanding.
DUALITY OF MAN
Man is undeniably endowed with a double set: with natural or physical
senses--these to be safely left to physiology to deal with; and, with
sub-natural or spiritual senses belonging entirely to the province of
psychological science. The Latin word "sub," let it be well understood, is
used here in a sense diametrically opposite to that given to it--in
chemistry, for instance. In our case it is not a preposition, but a prefix
as in "sub-tonic" or "sub-bass" in music. Indeed, as the aggregate sound of
nature is shown to be a single, definite tone, a keynote vibrating from and
through eternity; having an undeniable existence per se yet possessing an
appreciable pitch but for "the acutely fine ear"3--so the definite harmony
or disharmony of man's external nature is seen by the observant to depend
wholly on the character of the keynote struck for the outer by inner man.
It is the spiritual EGO or SELF that serves as the fundamental base,
determining the tone of the whole life of man--that most capricious,
uncertain and variable of all instruments, and which more than any other
needs constant tuning; it is its voice alone, which like the sub-bass of an
organ underlies the melody of his whole life--whether its tones are sweet or
harsh, harmonious or wild, legato or pizzicato.
Therefore, we say, man, in addition to the physical, has also a spiritual
brain. If the former is wholly dependent for the degree of its receptivity
on its own physical structure and development, it is, on the other hand,
entirely subordinate to the latter, inasmuch as it is the spiritual Ego
alone, and accordingly as it leans more towards its two highest principles,4
or towards its physical shell that can impress more or less vividly the
outer brain with the perception of things purely spiritual or immaterial.
Hence it depends on the
acuteness of the mental feelings of the inner Ego, on the degree of
spirituality of its faculties, to transfer the impression of the scenes its
semi-spiritual brain perceives, the words it hears and what it feels, to the
sleeping physical brain of the outer man. The stronger the spirituality of
the faculties of the latter, the easier it will be for the Ego to awake the
sleeping hemispheres, arouse into activity the sensory ganglia and the
cerebellum, and to impress the former--always in full inactivity and rest
during the deep sleep of man with the vivid picture of the subject so
In a sensual, unspiritual man, in one, whose mode of life and animal
proclivities and passions have entirely disconnected his fifth principle or
animal, astral Ego from its higher "Spiritual Soul"; as also in him whose
hard, physical labour has so worn out the material body as to render him
temporarily insensible to the voice and touch of his Astral Soul--during
sleep the brains of both these men remain in a complete state of anĉmia or
full inactivity. Such persons rarely, if ever, will have any dreams at all,
least of all "visions that come to pass."
In the former, as the waking time approaches, and his sleep becomes lighter,
the mental changes beginning to take place, they will constitute dreams in
which intelligence will play no part; his half-awakened brain suggesting but
pictures which are only the hazy grotesque reproductions of his wild habits
in life; while in the latter--unless strongly preoccupied with some
exceptional thought--his ever present instinct of active habits will not
permit him to remain in that state of semi-sleep during which consciousness
beginning to return we see dreams of various kinds, but will arouse him, at
once, and without any interlude to full wakefulness.
CORRECT INSPIRATION -- ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS
On the other hand, the more spiritual a man, the more active his fancy, and
the greater probability of his receiving in vision the correct impressions
conveyed to him by his all-seeing, his ever-wakeful Ego. The spiritual
senses of the latter, unimpeded as they are by the interference of the
physical senses, are in direct intimacy with his highest spiritual
principle; and the latter though per se quasi-unconscious part of the
utterly unconscious, because utterly immaterial Absolute--yet having in
itself inherent capabilities of Omniscience, Omnipresence
and Omnipotence which as soon as the pure essence comes in contact with pure
sublimated and (to us) imponderable matter--imparts these attributes in a
degree to the as pure Astral Ego. Hence highly spiritual persons, will see
visions and dreams during sleep and even in their hours of wakefulness:
these are the sensitives, the natural-born seers, now loosely termed
"spiritual mediums," there being no distinction made between a subjective
seer, a neurypnological subject, and even an adept--one who has made himself
independent of his physiological idiosyncracies and has entirely subjected
the outer to the inner man. Those less spiritually endowed, will see such
dreams but at rare intervals, the accuracy of the latter depending on the
intensity of their feeling in regard to the perceived object.
Had Babu Jugut Chunder's case been more seriously gone into, we would have
learned that for one or several reasons, either he or his wife was intensely
attached to the other; or that the question of her life or death was of the
greatest importance to either one or both of them. "One soul sends a message
to another soul"--is an old saying. Hence, premonitions, dreams, and
visions. At all events, and in this dream at least, there were no
"disembodied" spirits at work, the warning being solely due to either one or
the other, or both of the two living and incarnated Egos.
Thus, in this question of verified dreams, as in so many others, Science
stands before an unsolved problem, the insolvable nature of which has been
created by her own materialistic stubbornness, and her time-cherished
For, either man is a dual being, with an inner Ego6 in him, this Ego "the
real" man, distinct from, and independent of the outer man proportionally to
the prevalency or weakness of the material body; an Ego the scope of whose
senses stretches far beyond the limit granted to the physical senses of man;
an Ego which survives the decay of its external covering--at least for a
time, even when an evil course of life has made him fail to achieve a
perfect union with its spiritual higher Self, i.e., to blend its
individuality with it, (the personality gradually fading out in each case);
or--the testimony of millions of men embracing several thousands of years;
the evidence furnished in our own century by hundreds of the most educated
men--often by the greatest lights of science--all this evidence, we say,
goes to naught.
With the exception of a handful of scientific authorities, surrounded by an
eager crowd of sceptics and sciolists, who having never seen anything,
claim, therefore, the right of denying everything--the world stands
condemned as a gigantic Lunatic Asylum! It has, however, a special
department in it. It is reserved for those, who, having proved the soundness
of their mind, must, of necessity be regarded as IMPOSTORS and LIARS. . . .
Has then the phenomenon of dreams been so thoroughly studied by
materialistic science, that she has nothing more to learn, since she speaks
in such authoritative tones upon the subject? Not in the least. The
phenomena of sensation and volition, of intellect and instinct, are, of
course, all manifested through the channels of the nervous centers the most
important of which is the brain.
Of the peculiar substance through which these actions take place--a
substance the two forms of which are the vesicular and the fibrous, the
latter is held to be simply the propagator of the impressions sent to or
from the vesicular matter. Yet while this physiological office is
distinguished, or divided by Science into three kinds--the motor, sensitive
and connecting--the mysterious agency of intellect remains as mysterious and
as perplexing to the great physiologists as it was in the days of
The scientific suggestion that there may be a fourth series associated with
the operations of thought has not helped towards solving the problem; it has
failed to shed even the slightest ray of light on the unfathomable mystery.
Nor will they ever fathom it unless our men of Science accept the hypothesis
of DUAL MAN.
THEOSOPHIST. January. 1882
1 See Editor's Note, on the letter that follows this one "Are Dreams but
2 Rituel de la Haute Magie. Vol. I, p. 356-7.
3 This tone is held by the specialists to be the middle F of the piano.--Ed.
4 The sixth principle, or spiritual soul, and the seventh--its purely
spiritual principle, the "Spirit" or Parabrahm, the emanation from the
unconscious ABSOLUTE (See "Fragments of Occult Truth." October number
5 To this teaching every kind of exception will be taken to the Theists and
various objections raised by the Spiritualists. It is evident, that we
cannot be expected to give within the narrow limits of a short article a
full explanation of this highly abstruse and esoteric doctrine.
To say that ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS is Unconscious of its consciousness,
hence to the limited intellect of man must be "ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS,"
seems like speaking of a square triangle. We hope to develop the proposition
more fully in one of the forthcoming numbers of "Fragments of Occult Truth"
of which we may publish a series. We will then prove, perhaps, to the
satisfaction of the non-prejudiced that the Absolute, or the Unconditioned,
and (especially) the unrelated is a mere fanciful abstraction, a fiction,
unless we view it from the standpoint and in the light of the more educated
To do so, we will have to regard the "Absolute" mercy as the aggregate of
all intelligences, the totality of all existences, incapable of manifesting
itself but through the interrelationship of its parts, as It is absolutely
incognizable and non-existent outside its phenomena, and depends entirely on
its ever-correlating Forces, dependent in their turn on the ONE Great Law.
6 Whether with one solitary Ego, or Soul, as the Spiritualists affirm, or
with several--i.e., composed of seven principles, as Eastern esoteric[ism]
teaches, is not the question at issue for the present. Let us first prove by
bringing our joint experience to bear, that there is in man something beyond
Buchner's Force and Matter.--Ed.
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