RE: Subject: Re: Skandhas
Aug 20, 2006 05:11 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
8/20/2006 4:44 PM
Your comments are of course interesting .
I would say that HPB's definitions made on behalf of the Masters of wisdom represent THEOSOPHY
The definitions you quote from various sources are translations of ancient texts, but do not represent the actual words and intentions of the original speakers / writers. I say this because they have passed through many minds -- some sympathetic and others not.
So literalism cannot but ad more confusion.
If you wish to study THEOSOPHY then use the definitions of HPB.
Is this being doctrinaire and fundamentalist? It is not so intended, but is intended to keep the comparisons on a single and not diverse tracks.
Can you show that THEOSOPHY is wrong ? I mean within the context of its presentation?
HPB shows time and again in her writings a consistency between THEOSOPHY and all the ancient systems, which the Masters teach are the source of them all in antiquity
Let me offer again:
ABOUT THE SKANDHAS
SKANDHA or Skhanda (Sk.). Lit., “bundles”, or groups of attributes; everything finite, inapplicable to the eternal and the absolute. There are five—esoterically, seven—attributes in every human living being, which are known as the Pancha Shandhas. These are
(1) form, rûpa;
2) perception, vidâna;
(3) consciousness, sanjnâ;
(4) action, sanskâra;
(5) knowledge, vidyâna.
These unite at the birth of man and constitute his personality. After the maturity of these Skandhas, they begin to separate and weaken,
and this is followed by jarâmarana, or decrepitude and death. Glos 301-2
SAMSKÂRA (Sk.). Lit., from Sam and Krî, to improve, refine, impress. In Hindu philosophy the term is used to denote the impressions left upon the mind by individual actions or external circumstances, and capable of being developed on any future favourable occasion—even in a future birth. The Samskâra denotes, therefore, the germs of propensities and impulses from previous births to be developed in this, or the coming janmâs or reincarnations. In Tibet, Samskâra is called Doodyed, and in China is defined as, or at least connected with, action or Karma. It is, strictly speaking, a metaphysical term, which in exoteric philosophies is variously defined; e.g., in Nepaul as illusion, in Tibet as notion, and in Ceylon as discrimination. The true meaning is as given above, and as such is connected with Karma and its working.” Glos 287-8
KARMA (Sk.). Physically, action: metaphysically, the LAW OF RETRIBUTION, the Law of cause and effect or Ethical Causation.
Nemesis, only in one sense, that of bad Karma. It is the eleventh Nidana in the concatenation of causes and effects in orthodox Buddhism ; yet it is the power that controls all things, the resultant of moral action, the metaphysical Samskâra, or the moral effect of an act committed for the attainment of something which gratifies a personal desire.
There is the Karma of merit and the Karma of demerit. Karma neither punishes nor rewards, it is simply the one Universal LAW which guides unerringly, and, so to say, blindly, all other laws productive of certain effects along the grooves of their respective causations.
When Buddhism teaches that “Karma is that moral kernel (of any being) which alone survives death and continues in transmigration ‘ or reincarnation, it simply means that there remains nought after each Personality but the causes produced by it ; causes which are undying, i.e., which cannot be eliminated from the Universe until replaced by their legitimate effects, and wiped out by them, so to speak, and such causes—unless compensated during the life of the person who produced them with adequate effects, will follow the reincarnated Ego, and reach it in its subsequent reincarnation until a harmony between effects and causes is fully reestablished.
No “personality”—a mere bundle of material atoms and of instinctual and mental characteristics—can of course continue, as such, in the world of pure Spirit. Only that which is IMMORTAL in its very nature and divine in its essence, namely, the Ego, can exist for ever. And as it is that Ego which chooses the personality it will inform, after each Devachan, and which receives through these personalities the effects of the Karmic causes produced, it is therefore the Ego, that self which is the “moral kernel” referred to and embodied karma, “which alone survives death.” Glos. 173-4
PERSONALITY. In Occultism—which divides man into seven principles, considering him under the three aspects of the divine, the thinking or the rational, and the animal man—the lower quaternary or the purely astrophysical being; while by Individuality is meant the Higher Triad, considered as a Unity. Thus the Personality embraces all the characteristics and memories of one physical life, while the Individuality is the imperishable Ego which re-incarnates and clothes itself in one personality after another.” Glos 252
PRINCIPLES. The Elements or original essences, the basic differentiations upon and of which all things are built up. We use the term to denote the seven individual and fundamental aspects of the One Universal Reality in Kosmos and in man. Hence also the seven aspects in the manifestation in the human being—divine, spiritual, psychic, astral, physiological and simply physical.” Glos 262-3
INDIVIDUALITY. One of the names given in Theosophy and Occultism to the Human Higher EGO. We make a distinction between the immortal and divine Ego, and the mortal human Ego which perishes.
The latter, or “personality” (personal Ego) survives the dead body only for a time in the Kama Loka; the Individuality prevails forever.” Glos 154-5
“ENQUIRER. What are these propositions? [Key 153 – 163]
"l. That there is a life coincident with, and independent of the physical life of the body."
"2. That, as a necessary corollary, this life extends beyond the life of the body" (we say it extends throughout Devachan).
"3. That there is communication between the denizens of that state of existence and those of the world in which we now live."
All depend, you see, on the minor and secondary aspects of these fundamental propositions.
Everything depends on the views we take of Spirit and Soul, or Individuality and Personality. Spiritualists confuse the two "into one"; we separate them, and say that, with the exceptions above enumerated, no Spirit will revisit the earth, though the animal Soul may. But let us return once more to our direct subject, the SKANDHAS.
ENQUIRER. I begin to understand better now. It is the Spirit, so to say, of those Skandhas which are the most ennobling, which, attaching themselves to the incarnating Ego, survive, and are added to the stock of its angelic experiences. And it is the attributes connected with the material Skandhas, with selfish and personal motives, which, disappearing from the field of action between two incarnations, reappear at the subsequent incarnation as Karmic results to be atoned for; and therefore the Spirit will not leave Devachan. Is it so?
THEOSOPHIST. Very nearly so. If you add to this that the law of retribution, or Karma, rewarding the highest and most spiritual in Devachan, never fails to reward them again on earth by giving them a further development, and furnishing the Ego with a body fitted for it, then you will be quite correct.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE SKANDHAS.
ENQUIRER. What becomes of the other, THE LOWER SKANDHAS OF THE PERSONALITY, after the death of the body? Are they quite destroyed?
THEOSOPHIST. They are and yet they are not -- a fresh metaphysical and occult mystery for you. They are destroyed as the working stock in hand of the personality; they remain as Karmic effects, as germs, hanging in the atmosphere of the terrestrial plane, ready to come to life, as so many avenging fiends, to attach themselves to the new personality of the Ego when it reincarnates.
ENQUIRER. This really passes my comprehension, and is very difficult to understand.
THEOSOPHIST. Not once that you have assimilated all the details. For then you will see that for logic, consistency, profound philosophy, divine mercy and equity, this doctrine of Reincarnation has not its equal on earth. It is a belief in a perpetual progress for each incarnating Ego, or divine soul, in an evolution from the outward into the inward, from the material to the Spiritual, arriving at the end of each stage at absolute unity with the divine Principle. From strength to strength, from the beauty and perfection of one plane to the greater beauty and perfection of another, with accessions of new glory, of fresh knowledge and power in each cycle, such is the destiny of every Ego, which thus becomes its own Saviour in each world and incarnation.
ENQUIRER. But Christianity teaches the same. It also preaches progression.
THEOSOPHIST. Yes, only with the addition of something else. It tells us of the impossibility of attaining Salvation without the aid of a miraculous Saviour, and therefore dooms to perdition all those who will not accept the dogma. This is just the difference between Christian theology and Theosophy. The former enforces belief in the Descent of the Spiritual Ego into the Lower Self; the latter inculcates the necessity of endeavouring to elevate oneself to the Christos, or Buddhi state.
ENQUIRER. By teaching the annihilation of consciousness in case of failure, however, don't you think that it amounts to the annihilation of Self, in the opinion of the non-metaphysical?
THEOSOPHIST. From the standpoint of those who believe in the resurrection of the body literally, and insist that every bone, every artery and atom of flesh will be raised bodily on the Judgment Day― of course it does. If you still insist that it is the perishable form and finite qualities that make up immortal man, then we shall hardly understand each other. And if you do not understand that, by limiting the existence of every Ego to one life on earth, you make of Deity an ever-drunken Indra of the Puranic dead letter, a cruel Moloch, a god who makes an inextricable mess on Earth, and yet claims thanks for it, then the sooner we drop the conversation the better.
ENQUIRER. But let us return, now that the subject of the Skandhas is disposed of, to the question of the consciousness which survives death. This is the point which interests most people. Do we possess more knowledge in Devachan than we do in Earth life?
THEOSOPHIST. In one sense, we can acquire more knowledge; that is, we can develop further any faculty which we loved and strove after during life, provided it is concerned with abstract and ideal things, such as music, painting, poetry, etc., since Devachan is merely an idealized and subjective continuation of earth-life.
ENQUIRER. But if in Devachan the Spirit is free from matter, why should it not possess all knowledge?
THEOSOPHIST. Because, as I told you, the Ego is, so to say, wedded to the memory of its last incarnation. Thus, if you think over what I have said, and string all the facts together, you will realize that the Devachanic state is not one of omniscience, but a transcendental continuation of the personal life just terminated. It is the rest of the soul from the toils of life.
ENQUIRER. But the scientific materialists assert that after the death of man nothing remains; that the human body simply disintegrates into its component elements; and that what we call soul is merely a temporary self-consciousness produced as a bye-product of organic action, which will evaporate like steam. Is not theirs a strange state of mind?
THEOSOPHIST. Not strange at all, that I see. If they say that self-consciousness ceases with the body, then in their case they simply utter an unconscious prophecy, for once they are firmly convinced of what they assert, no conscious after-life is possible for them. For there are exceptions to every rule.
ON POST-MORTEM AND POST-NATAL CONSCIOUSNESS.*
ENQUIRER. But if human self-consciousness survives death as a rule, why should there be exceptions?
THEOSOPHIST. In the fundamental principles of the spiritual world no exception is possible. But there are rules for those who see, and rules for those who prefer to remain blind.
ENQUIRER. Quite so, I understand. This is but an aberration of the blind man, who denies the existence of the sun because he does not see it. But after death his spiritual eyes will certainly compel him to see. Is this what you mean?
THEOSOPHIST. He will not be compelled, nor will he see anything. Having persistently denied during life the continuance of existence after death, he will be unable to see it, because his spiritual capacity having been stunted in life, it cannot develop after death, and he will remain blind. By insisting that he must see it, you evidently mean one thing and I another. You speak of the spirit from the spirit, or the flame from the flame -- of Atma, in short ―and you confuse it with the human soul ―Manas. . . . You do not understand me; let me try to make it clear. The whole gist of your question is to know whether, in the case of a downright materialist, the complete loss of self-consciousness and self-perception after death is possible? Isn't it so? I answer, It is possible. Because, believing firmly in our Esoteric Doctrine, which refers to the post-mortem period, or the interval between two lives or births, as merely a transitory state, I say, whether that interval between two acts of the illusionary drama of life lasts one year or a million, that post-mortem state may, without any breach of the fundamental law, prove to be just the same state as that of a man who is in a dead faint.
ENQUIRER. But since you have just said that the fundamental laws of the after death state admit of no exceptions, how can this be?
THEOSOPHIST. Nor do I say that it does admit of an exception. But the spiritual law of continuity applies only to things which are truly real. To one who has read and understood Mundakya Upanishad and Vedanta-Sara all this becomes very clear. I will say more: it is sufficient to understand what we mean by Buddhi and the duality of Manas to gain a clear perception why the materialist may fail to have a self-conscious survival after death. Since Manas, in its lower aspect, is the seat of the terrestrial mind, it can, therefore, give only that perception of the Universe which is based on the evidence of that mind; it cannot give spiritual vision. It is said in the Eastern school, that between Buddhi and Manas (the Ego), or Iswara and Pragna* there is in reality no more difference than between a forest and its trees, a lake and its waters, as the Mundakya teaches. One or hundreds of trees dead from loss of vitality, or uprooted, are yet incapable of preventing the forest from being still a forest.
ENQUIRER. But, as I understand it, Buddhi represents in this simile the forest, and Manas-taijasi ╫ the trees. And if Buddha is immortal, how can that which is similar to it, i. e., Manas-taijasi, entirely lose its consciousness till the day of its new incarnation? I cannot understand it.
THEOSOPHIST. You cannot, because you will mix up an abstract representation of the whole with its casual changes of form. Remember that if it can be said of Buddhi-Manas that it is unconditionally immortal, the same cannot be said of the lower Manas, still less of Taijasi, which is merely an attribute. Neither of these, neither Manas nor Taijasi, can exist apart from Buddhi, the divine soul, because the first (Manas) is, in its lower aspect, a qualificative attribute of the terrestrial personality, and the second (Taijasi) is identical with the first, because it is the same Manas only with the light of Buddhi reflected on it. In its turn, Buddhi would remain only an impersonal spirit with-
------------------------------------- FOOTNOTE ------------------------------------
* Iswara is the collective consciousness of the manifested deity, Brahma, i. e., the collective consciousness of the Host of Dhyan Chohans (vide SECRET DOCTRINE); and Pragna is their individual wisdom.
╫ Taijasi means the radiant in consequence of its union with Buddhi; i. e., Manas, the human soul, illuminated by the radiance of the divine soul. Therefore, Manas-taijasi may be described as radiant mind; the human reason lit by the light of the spirit; and Buddhi-Manas is the revelation of the divine plus human intellect and self-consciousness.
out this element which it borrows from the human soul, which conditions and makes of it, in this illusive Universe, as it were something separate from the universal soul for the whole period of the cycle of incarnation. Say rather that Buddhi-Manas can neither die nor lose its compound self-consciousness in Eternity, nor the recollection of its previous incarnations in which the two― i.e., the spiritual and the human soul -- had been closely linked together. But it is not so in the case of a materialist, whose human soul not only receives nothing from the divine soul, but even refuses to recognise its existence. You can hardly apply this axiom to the attributes and qualifications of the human soul, for it would be like saying that because your divine soul is immortal, therefore the bloom on your cheek must also be immortal; whereas this bloom, like Taijasi, is simply a transitory phenomenon.
ENQUIRER. Do I understand you to say that we must not mix in our minds the noumenon with the phenomenon, the cause with its effect?
THEOSOPHIST. I do say so, and repeat that, limited to Manas or the human soul alone, the radiance of Taijasi itself becomes a mere question of time; because both immortality and consciousness after death become, for the terrestrial personality of man, simply conditioned attributes, as they depend entirely on conditions and beliefs created by the human soul itself during the life of its body. Karma acts incessantly: we reap in our after-life only the fruit of that which we have ourselves sown in this.
ENQUIRER. But if my Ego can, after the destruction of my body, become plunged in a state of entire unconsciousness, then where can be the punishment for the sins of my past life?
THEOSOPHIST. Our philosophy teaches that Karmic punishment reaches the Ego only in its next incarnation. After death it receives only the reward for the unmerited sufferings endured during its past incarnation.*The whole punishment after death, even for the materialist, consists, therefore, in the absence of any reward, and the utter loss of the consciousness of one's bliss and rest. Karma is the child of the terrestrial Ego, the fruit of the actions of the tree which is the objective personality visible to all, as much as the fruit of all the thoughts and even motives of the spiritual "I"; but Karma is also the tender mother, who heals the wounds inflicted by her during the preceding life, before she will begin to torture this Ego by inflicting upon him new ones. If it may be said that there is not a mental or physical suffering in the life of a mortal which is not the direct fruit and consequence of some sin in a preceding existence; on the other hand, since he does not preserve the slightest recollection of it in his actual life, and feels himself not deserving of such punishment, and therefore thinks he suffers for no guilt of his own, this alone is sufficient to entitle the human soul to the fullest consolation, rest, and bliss in his post-mortem existence. Death comes to our spiritual selves ever as a deliverer and friend. For the materialist, who, not-
------------------------------- FOOTNOTE ---------------------------------------------
* Some Theosophists have taken exception to this phrase, but the words are those of Master, and the meaning attached to the word "unmerited" is that given above. In the T. P. S. pamphlet No. 6, a phrase, criticised subsequently in LUCIFER, was used which was intended to convey the same idea. In form, however, it was awkward and open to the criticism directed against it; but the essential idea was that men often suffer from the effects of the actions done by others, effects which thus do not strictly belong to their own Karma -- and for these sufferings they of course deserve compensation.
withstanding his materialism, was not a bad man, the interval between the two lives will be like the unbroken and placid sleep of a child, either entirely dreamless, or filled with pictures of which he will have no definite perception; while for the average mortal it will be a dream as vivid as life, and full of realistic bliss and visions.
ENQUIRER. Then the personal man must always go on suffering blindly the Karmic penalties which the Ego has incurred?
THEOSOPHIST. Not quite so. At the solemn moment of death every man, even when death is sudden, sees the whole of his past life marshalled before him, in its minutest details. For one short instant the personal becomes one with the individual and all-knowing Ego. But this instant is enough to show to him the whole chain of causes which have been at work during his life. He sees and now understands himself as he is, unadorned by flattery or self-deception. He reads his life, remaining as a spectator looking down into the arena he is quitting; he feels and knows the justice of all the suffering that has overtaken him.
ENQUIRER. Does this happen to everyone?
THEOSOPHIST. Without any exception. Very good and holy men see, we are taught, not only the life they are leaving, but even several preceding lives in which were produced the causes that made them what they were in the life just closing. They recognise the law of Karma in all its majesty and justice.
ENQUIRER. Is there anything corresponding to this before re-birth?
THEOSOPHIST. There is. As the man at the moment of death has a retrospective insight into the life he has led, so, at the moment he is reborn on to earth, the Ego, awaking from the state of Devachan, has a prospective vision of the life which awaits him, and realizes all the causes that have led to it. He realizes them and sees futurity, because it is between Devachan and re-birth that the Ego regains his full manasic consciousness, and rebecomes for a short time the god he was, before, in compliance with Karmic law, he first descended into matter and incarnated in the first man of flesh. The "golden thread" sees all its "pearls" and misses not one of them. “ Key 153-163
MORAL LAW of COMPENSATION
THE MORAL LAW OF COMPENSATION
BY AN EX-ASIATIC *
For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field; and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. - Job, Chap. V, v. 23, Christian Bible.
As a western Theosophist, I would like to present to my Indian brethren a few thoughts upon what I conceive to be the operation of the Law of Compensation in part, or, to put it more clearly, upon the operation of one branch of this law.
It seems undeniable that this law is the most powerful, and the one having the most numerous and complicated ramifications of all the laws with which we have to deal. This it is that makes so difficult for a human spirit, the upward progress after which we all are striving, and it is often forced upon me that it is this law which perpetuates the world, with its delusions, its sadness, its illusions, and that if we could but understand it so as to avoid its operation, the nirvana for the whole human family would be an accomplished fact.
In a former number a respected brother from Ceylon, speaking with authority, showed us how to answer the question so often asked: "Why do we see a good man eating the bread of poverty, and the wicked dwelling in riches, and why so often is a good man cast down from prosperity to despair, and a wicked man after a period of sorrow and hardship made to experience for the balance of his life nothing but success and prosperity?" He replied that our acts in any one period of existence were like the arrow shot from the bow, acting upon us in the next life and producing our rewards and punishments. So that to accept his explanation - as we must - it is, of course, necessary to believe in reincarnation. As far as he went, he was very satisfactory, but he did not go into the subject as thoroughly as his great knowledge would permit. It is to be hoped that he will favor us with further essays upon the same subject.
I have not yet seen anywhere stated the rationale of the operation of this law - how and why it acts in any particular case.
To say that the reviling of a righteous man will condemn one to a life of a beggar in the next existence is definite enough in statement, but it is put forward without a reason, and unless we accept these teachings blindly we cannot believe such consequences would follow. To appeal to our minds, there should be a reason given, which shall be at once plain and reasonable. There must be some law for this particular case; otherwise, the statement cannot be true. There must occur, from the force of the revilement, the infraction of some natural regulation, the production of some discord in the spiritual world which has for a consequence the punishment by beggary in the succedent existence of the reviler. The only other reason possible of statement is, that it is so ordered. But such a reason is not a reason at all because no Theosophist will believe that any punishment, save that which man himself inflicts, is ordered. As this world is a world produced by law, moved by law, and governed by the natural operation of laws which need no one to operate them, but which invariably and unerringly operate themselves, it must follow that any punishment suffered in this way is not suffered through any order, but is suffered because the natural law operates itself. And further, we are compelled to accept this view, because to believe that it was ordered, would infer the existence of some particular person, mind, will, or intelligence to order it, which for one instant no one will believe, who knows that this world was produced, and is governed, by the operation of number, weight and measure, with harmony over and above all.
So then we should know in what manner the law operates, which condemns the reviler of a righteous man to beggary in his next existence. That knowledge once gained, we may be able to find for ourselves the manner and power of placating, as it were, this terrible monster of compensation by performing some particular acts which shall in some way be a restoration of the harmony which we have broken, if perchance we have unconsciously or inadvertently committed the sin.
WQJ ART I P. 129
Let us now imagine a boy born of wealthy parents, but not given proper intelligence. He is, in fact, called an idiot. But instead of being a mild idiot, he possesses great malice which manifests itself in his tormenting insects and animals at every opportunity. He lives to be, say, nineteen and has spent his years in the malicious, although idiotic, torment of unintelligent, defenseless animal life. He has thus hindered many a spirit in its upward march and has beyond doubt inflicted pain and caused a moral discord. This fact of his idiocy is not a restoration of the discord. Every animal that he tortured had its own particular elemental spirit, and so had every flower that he broke in pieces. What did they know of his idiocy, and what did they feel after the torture but revenge? And had they a knowledge of his idiocy, being unreasoning beings, they could not see in it any excuse for his acts. He dies at nineteen, and after the lapse of years is reborn in another nation - perchance another age - into a body possessing more than average intelligence. He is no longer an idiot, but a sensible active man who now has a chance to regenerate the spirit given to every man, without the chains of idiocy about it. What is to be the result of the evil deeds of his previous existence? Are they to go unpunished? I think not. But how are they to be punished; and if the compensation comes, in what manner does the law operate upon him? To me there seems to be but one way, that is through the discord produced in the spirits of those unthinking beings which he had tortured during those nineteen years. But how? In this way. In the agony of their torture these beings turned their eyes upon their torturer, and dying, his spiritual picture through the excess of their pain, together with that pain and the desire for revenge, were photographed, so to speak, upon their spirits - for in no other way could they have a memory of him - and when he became a disembodied spirit they clung to him until he was reincarnated when they were still with him like barnacles on a ship. They can now only see through his eyes, and their revenge consists in precipitating themselves down his glance on any matter he may engage in, thus attaching themselves to it for the purpose of dragging it down to disaster.
This leads to the query of what is meant by these elementals precipitating themselves down his glance. The ancients taught that the astral light - Akasa - is projected from the eyes, the thumbs and the palms of the hands. Now as the elementals exist in the astral light, they will be able to see only through those avenues of human organism which are used by the astral light in traveling from the person. The eyes are the most convenient. So when this person directs his glance on any thing or person, the astral light goes out in that glance and through it those elementals see that which he looks upon. And so also, if he should magnetize a person, the elementals will project themselves from his hands and eyes upon the subject magnetized and do it injury.
Well then, our reincarnated idiot engages in a business which requires his constant surveillance. The elementals go with him and throwing themselves upon everything he directs, cause him continued disaster.
But one by one they are caught up again out of the orbit of necessity into the orbit of probation in this world, and at last all are gone, whereupon he finds success in all he does and has his chance again to reap eternal life. He finds the realization of the words of Job quoted at the head of this article: he is in "league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field are at peace with him." These words were penned ages ago by those ancient Egyptians who knew all things. Having walked in the secret paths of wisdom which no fowl knoweth and vulture's eye hath not seen, they discovered those hidden laws, one within the other like the wheels of Ezekiel, which govern the universe. There is no other reasonable explanation of the passage quoted than the theory faintly outlined in the foregoing poor illustration. And I only offer it as a possible solution or answer to the question as to what is the rationale of the operation of the Moral Law of Compensation in that particular case, of which I go so far as to say that I think I know a living illustration. But it will not furnish an answer for the case of the punishment for reviling a righteous man.
I would earnestly ask the learned friends of the Editor of THE THEOSOPHIST to give the explanation, and also hint to us how in this existence we may act so as to mitigate the horrors of our punishment and come as near as may be to a league with the stones and the beasts of the field.
W. Q. Judge Theosophist, October, 1881
Concerning "Skandhas" (Samskaras ?).
I have only one problem and wonder if there is an answer for it.
The SECRET DOCTRINE (Vol. 1, p. 289) indicates that:--
"...there is not one finger's breadth of void Space in the whole Boundless (Universe)..."
Do the "life-atoms," the "skandhas," and the "Monads" represent co-existent or interdependent aspects of that which "fills" the otherwise seeming "void" of SPACE ?
Or, are all three designations merely qualitative differences ? ( By this, I mean that the eternal and imperishable Monad (as a center of force) receives different "names" according to the functions which it performs at one time or another ? )
Then, on p. 631, Vol. 1 of the same book (SD) I read (in summary) that esoteric philosophy teaches an objective Idealism -- which apparently consists of a tremendous multitude of Monads in the various stages that are described on the next page (632) as:
1. conscious spiritual Egos,
2. Elementals, and,
A fourth category is also mentioned there:
4 "countless spiritual Forces--Monadless, for they are pure incorporealities, except under certain laws when they assume
a form--not necessarily human." [ This latter designation and category is a puzzle to me -- or could this be another description of the nature of the "Monadic-Essence ? ]
On p. 671-2 of Vol. 2, SD one may read: "...Occultism teaches that –
1) the life-atoms of our (Prana) life-principle are never entirely lost when a man dies...the atoms best impregnated with the life-principle (an independent, eternal, conscious factor) are partially...drawn once more together and become the animating principle of the new body in every new incarnation of the Monads. ...
2) as the indivisible Soul is ever the same, so are the atoms of the lower principles (body, its astral, or life double, etc.) drawn as they are by affinity and Karmic law always to the same individuality in a series of various bodies, etc...."
I wonder if the "skandhas" are not "elementals" to which our thoughts and feelings attach themselves ?
Are they then part of one or another (perhaps the 2nd category ?) of the "monadic hosts ?" or, of the "countless spiritual forces-- Monadless..." There is a statement made that every thought and feeling that we generate is attached to an "elemental." [ WQJ Articles I 410 ]
As I understand Theosophical doctrines we carry (as the imperishable Ego-Soul, or technically: Atma-Buddhi-Manas) a complete record of all that we thought, felt or did during the last life into what is called "Kama-loka."
There, in Kama-Loka, a kind of second death occurs in an automatic way, as the moral quality of the 'impressions' born by the "skandhas" is sifted, weighed and only those that are of a noble quality (aspirations, idealisms, "good motives," spiritual desires) are taken into the state named "Devachan," or "Sukhavati." The rest are left in the astral corpse, now Soulless or Monadless, to slowly drift away, separating into individual components that are presently dispersed into the surroundings according to their natural affinities. [ I notice that the KEY TO THEOSOPHY has covered this process in great detail.]
Now the Monad with its army of attendant "noble and spiritual" skandhas (those which carry the memory of its better moments in the last life) 'ascends' into the state called Devachan (Land of the Gods) or Sukhavati, and there it is said to engage in an active meditation on those impressions for a period that is determined by their quantity and quality. [Hence the interval between incarnations is dependent on the time it takes for the assimilation of these memories/impressions. Such an interval is said to be about 1,000 to 1,500 years for the average person.]
When these are finally assimilated into its permanent memory, so as to become a part of its "character," Karma asserts its attractive nature, and the Monad (our INDIVIDUALITY) is drawn back to earth-life and incarnation again. [ In THEOSOPHICAL ARTICLES & NOTES there are three important articles on Devachan which explains this in detail pp. 17-34. ]
Simultaneously, as this physical and personal focus is made available in a new family, the more material "skandhas" -- those that were dispersed after the "Second Death" -- are
also re-attracted to the mother, and help to form the necessary "personal" sheaths such as the astral, physical bodies, and the personal Prana and "seed" for the Kama-manas
intelligence (a combination of Kama and Manas, or desire/passion and Mind) of the incarnating Ego. Thus, constituting an environment that leads to the birth of a new
baby form, for the continued development of the imperishable and eternal "Pilgrim" -- the MONAD that we are at core, and which we call our "spiritual" HIGHER-SELF.
So it seems to me that even the "Skandhas" are made up of Monads that are at some lower stage of development and experience than the "human" Monad is, and, so to say,
constitute its "attendants."
Does this sound reasonable ?
RETURN OF SKANDHAS
Q.: Does the Ego enter the body at or before birth?
W.Q.J.—The Ego does not enter the body at any time. The body is a grossly material instrument which is overshadowed or informed by ‘the Ego. We are accustomed to saying that our souls are caught in our bodies because the ancients so spoke. But when they used that phrase there was an additional explanation current about body, and it was believed that the latter was more than merely physical, visible carcass. The body and its entanglements extend much further ‘than is visible to our eyes. In fact, what we see of our bodies is only the hard or visible part; each person carries around at the same time the more intangible parts of body, which, however, are very powerful in their action. Visible body is the material nucleus, and the rest is the less material fringe or emanation. So when ‘the ancients spoke of the soul entangled in body, they included in the word “body” the above enlarged meaning. At ‘the time of conception the astral body— or model form— is made and the potentiality of an Ego being enmeshed by the person is created; the connection of the Ego with the body— by means of the principle Manas— is made, in general, at seven years of age, and from then on the Ego is involved or entangled in body. But before such material entanglement it was first caught and involved in the passions and desires— or in the principle kama— which is always the efficient or producing cause for the embodiment of the Ego. This kama is known to form a part of the skandhas or aggregates, of which material body is one.
I cannot see the force of the objection to reincarnation that it conflicts with the power of the mother to influence the child. It does not, for she gives it the body with all the tendencies thereof, and she gives it milk, ‘thus increasing those tendencies. She certainly cannot directly touch ‘the Ego, and it is fortunate she cannot, because ‘then she might actually thwart its development. It is the karma of the past that brings ‘the child to that mother, and that
karma may be to have a good or a bad birth, to be influenced for benefit or for injury by the mother.
FORUM ANSWERS 47-8
KARMA AND SKANDHAS
Q.: I often read the assertion that we come back to earth with our former friends and companions, and that this is a reason for having only agreeable relations with all we meet, because other wise they might retaliate and harm us. Do all people who are on earth at one time come back together?
W.Q.J.—In answering this question every department of Occultism as well as all fundamental theosophical doctrines has to be kept in view: how, then, clearly and succinctly reply in these short papers? To the Adepts we must turn, because science and records are dumb, with the question about the number of times the Monads now in human bodies have reincarnated and since when have new Monads ceased arriving into the human state? For if there is a definite number to the Monads, and if Monads in our human stage have ceased coming in or arriving at that stage some ages since, then the question is not so easily disposed of. Quoting the Adepts, H.P.B. writes in The Secret Doctrine— just as anyone might expect from the use of reason— that the number of Monads is definite in this system of worlds, and, secondly, that the door to the human kingdom has been closed for many thousands of years, that is, at the middle of the Fourth round. Hence the reincarnating human Egos have all met now over and over again With the certainty with every century of all meeting each other more and still more times. There is no escape. The door being closed and the human Egos having been numbered since the middle of the Fourth round, they meet with increasing frequency because no new acquaintances can come forward from either lower kingdoms or other spheres. This therefore establishes the probability of en- countering at almost every turn Egos whom we have been with before in lives on earth.
Time has no effect per se; the Karma will not act until the time comes when the Egos connected with it meet in life; until then it is inactive. For this reason the man you abused 10,000 years ago will react upon you when you and he meet, and this meeting will happen, for action and reaction will draw you into reincarnation together. Nor can I understand why the Editor assumes the likelihood of enmities not being carried over, while he thinks likes and affections are. There seems no difference to me between these two— likes and dislikes— as to the carrying over. It is true he used his words in respect to “coming back together”; but any person whom we meet, intimately or casually, in family or out of it, has “come back” to reincarnation with us. And from my knowledge of human nature the conclusion is forced on me that enmity has the stronger hold on man, and the presumption is enormous when we observe such an enmity as that described—exceptionally strong— that its roots lie in another life.
There is no safe ground in calculations about Devachan and rebirth based upon the times when people die after or before one another, because each rebirth has power to so immensely alter the forces that A. who died 200 years before B., a friend of two lives back, may emerge into rebirth exactly with B. in time, because of the effects and causes produced and generated by B. in the intervening lives. And so on indefinitely. They may swing off again and be separated for many, many lives. If it were all an iron-bound rule and dependent on man’s free will and mental
action, it would be easy to calculate. But as it depends on his mental action, and as each rebirth throws the Ego into the line of probability of meeting one who will alter his course of thought, no one can safely say when they will meet again any Ego they have ever met before.
Every inimical and uncharitable though it makes for disunion, and every opposite one for harmony. The skandhas are full of all the impressions we received; those skandhas wait and are ours again when we emerge from Devachan. If we meet those Egos who are related to our good or evil, charitable or uncharitable thoughts, the force acts at once— not before— and unless the man we injured, condemned, or filled with anger meets us in next life or the one after, or whenever, we have to await his return with us (and that does not mean in family, it means wherever he can act on us) before we can tell whether he will repay in kind. If he has not become a saint meanwhile, he will at once be the cause of our hurt for hurt received, or of benefit for benefit. These laws act through us with automatic regularity until we know them and bring up counteractions. And the value of it all is, that we know if we treat all men now with unfailing charity and love we are wiping off old scores clean and making no new sorrows; but if we will condemn, punish, resent, in short, consider ourselves Karmic agents without knowing the meaning of that term, we are sowing dragons’ teeth, we only are planting cause for future sorrow.
Q.: On page 175, Vol. 1, of The Secret Doctrine there are the words from the mineral monad up to the time when that monad blossoms forth by evolution into the divine monad,” while on page 178 it is said that “It would be very misleading to imagine a monad as a separate entity trailing its slow way in a distinct path through the lower kingdoms, and, after an incalculable series of transformations, flowering into a human being.” These passages seem a flat contradiction.
W.Q.J.—The passages quoted are not a contradiction. In reading this book, just as in reading any serious book, all the passages must be taken together and construed together and not separately. Now H.P.B. definitely explains that in using the terms “mineral monad, vegetable monad, animal monad,” and so on, the same monad is always meant, the qualifying word simply designating the particular kingdom in which the monad is at work. And if you will reflect a moment, the word “monad” precludes any other construction — since monad means one. The very quotation at page 178 which you give agrees with what I say, because she is there stating that it would be misleading to suppose that a monad is a separate entity which makes its way through the lower kingdoms and then instantly becomes a human being. No such thing as this is a fact, nor is it stated, although if you read these pages hurriedly or carelessly you may think that the statement is made. For when the monad reaches the human stage it is the same monad which was once in the mineral stage, meaning that the monad is necessary to each kingdom, and what we call the human monad is simply the unchangeable monad now functioning in bodies called human which are of a higher capacity for experience and cognition than the bodies of the lower kingdoms. A mineral is as much a body as a human body is. And as Dr. Arch Keightley says today, the second passage you quote explains the first, and in many parts of the Secret Doctrine it is shown that the monad manifested in any department of nature has to be designated by some name which indicates the particular kingdom in which it is manifesting; but this does not alter its character. All men are “men,” but we are in the habit of saying “Englishmen,” “Chinamen,” “Fiji men,” “African men.” Are these all human beings or are they not? The particular qualifying title given to each simply designates the variety of man, and the particular qualifying title given to the monad simply designates the particular department of nature in which the monad is incarnating and at work. I think these will show you the necessity for very careful reading and thinking while you read on subjects such as these, since they are new to our thought.”
FORUM ANSWERS pp. 60-2
Q.: Do the physical atoms reincarnate? Personally, I think they do, and I think that an article by H.P.B. in “Five Years of Theosophy” entitled “The Transmigration of the Life—atom” furnishes authority for the belief. It would seem that the law of reincarnation acts upon every plane, and that the Ego carries the same atoms through its evolution. But I have found so few to agree with me that I desire the opinion of other Theosophists.
W.Q.J.—The analysis and explanation by the Editor of the word “reincarnation” are undoubtedly correct. The word is often loosely used, indeed— sometimes quite unavoidably, because the English has as yet no word to express the recombination of the same atoms on the physical plane. And it is quite possible to imagine a certain number of atoms— this word being also loosely used— being combined in one mass, going out of it and recombining once more. For instance, a mass of quicksilver may be volatilized by heat and thrown into the invisible state and being kept in the limits of a receiver may be recombined into quicksilver again. While they are vaporized who can say that they are quicksilver, inasmuch as that is the name for a definite thing? Similarly with a mass of water changed into steam and vapor and back to water and then to ice. So, while the Editor is right as to the proper use of the term “reincarnation,” the real question put is not solved.
It relates to the greater combinations, permutations, and probabilities of the cosmos, upon which mere argument sheds no light unless it proceeds from the actual facts in respect to atoms or molecules and their method, power, and time of combination. The Adepts know about this, but have only given hints, as we are not yet ready to know. Now first, there must be a definite amount of matter in use in our solar system; and second, it is definitely stated— and is metaphysically necessary— that there is a definite number of Egos using that quantity of matter. To me there seems to be no improbability and no materialism in supposing that a time may come when any one Ego shall recombine into a body in which it incarnates the exact atoms it once before used, which of course have also been used by other Egos. But when such a cycle of recombination is, I do not know. The Egyptians made it 3000 and 5000 years. It is an idea not of any great use at present, but very interesting, and I find it illustrating for me the idea of universal brotherhood. For if we have all, as Egos, used over and over again the atoms physical which all other Egos have used, we lose all individual property in the atoms and each is common owner of all. I believe, but am unable to prove, that we use over again the atoms we once used in a body, but how many times the great wheel of the solar system allows this permutation and recombination to happen is beyond me and my generation.
FORUM ANSWERS 65-6
From: zakk [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Saturday, August 19, 2006 9:56 PM
To: Theosophy Study List
Subject: Re: Subject: Re: Skandhas
>From the correspondence and understanding of the Dhyani
Buddhas as you have presented it, the difference of skandhas
from material given by HPB and Tibetan Buddhism are two
different turnings of the wheel. HPB presents it as it involves the
human condition and planes of experience and Tibetan Buddhism
presents it on a second turning of the wheel. This second
turning of the wheel concerns the universal perception and is
not personally based. It involves the universal mind
perceiving and not the individual human mind. The material
presented by HPB is regarded as understandings that would
pertain to the human mind perception versus the universal,
so to speak. It is why the skandhas are presented as attributes
in the manner they are. Tibetan Buddhism, from what you have
stated, utilizes the universal perception and how it is applied
and engaged in on an individual basis. Neither is seen as
incorrect or correct, but different understandings as per
different perceptions. There is the third turning of the wheel that
as of yet has not been mentioned.
>The Dhyani Buddhas as taught in Buddhism are not the same as those taught
by HPB. She has them as entirely different things for some reason.>
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