A Textbook of Theosophy
by C.W. Leadbeater
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Chapter I. What Theosophy Is II. From the Absolute to Man III. The Formation of a Solar System IV. The Evolution of Life V. The Constitution of Man VI. After Death VII. Reincarnation VIII. The Purpose of Life IX. The Planetary Chains X. The Result of Theosophical Study


Chapter I


"There is a school of philosophy still in existence of which modern culture has lost sight." In these words Mr. A.P. Sinnett began his book, The Occult World, the first popular exposition of Theosophy, published thirty years ago. [Namely in 1881.] During the years that have passed since then, many thousands have learned wisdom in that school, yet to the majority its teachings are still unknown, and they can give only the vaguest of replies to the query, "What is Theosophy?"

Two books already exist which answer that question: Mr. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism and Dr. Besant's The Ancient Wisdom. I have no thought of entering into competition with those standard works; what I desire is to present a statement, as clear and simple as I can make it, which may be regarded as introductory to them.

We often speak of Theosophy as not in itself a religion, but the truth which lies behind all religions alike. That is so; yet, from another point of view, we may surely say that it is at once a philosophy, a religion and a science. It is a philosophy, because it puts plainly before us an explanation of the scheme of evolution of both the souls and the bodies contained in our solar system. It is a religion in so far as, having shown us the course of ordinary evolution, it also puts before us and advises a method of shortening that course, so that by conscious effort we may progress more directly towards the goal. It is a science, because it treats both these subjects as matters not of theological belief but of direct knowledge obtainable by study and investigation. It asserts that man has no need to trust to blind faith, because he has within him latent powers which, when aroused, enable him to see and examine for himself, and it proceeds to prove its case by showing how those powers may be awakened. It is itself a result of the awakening of such powers by men, for the teachings which it puts before us are founded upon direct observations made in the past, and rendered possible only by such development.

As a philosophy, it explains to us that the solar system is a carefully-ordered mechanism, a manifestation of a magnificent life, of which man is but a small part. Nevertheless, it takes up that small part which immediately concerns us, and treats it exhaustively under three heads—present, past and future.

It deals with the present by describing what man really is, as seen by means of developed faculties. It is customary to speak of man as having a soul. Theosophy, as the result of direct investigation, reverses that dictum, and states that man is a soul, and has a body—in fact several bodies, which are his vehicles and instruments in various worlds. These worlds are not separate in space; they are simultaneously present with us, here and now, and can be examined; they are the divisions of the material side of Nature—different degrees of density in the aggregation of matter, as will presently be explained in detail. Man has an existence in several of these, but is normally conscious only of the lowest, though sometimes in dreams and trances he has glimpses of some of the others. What is called death is the laying aside of the vehicle belonging to this lowest world, but the soul or real man in a higher world is no more changed or affected by this than the physical man is changed or affected when he removes his overcoat. All this is a matter, not of speculation, but of observation and experiment.

Theosophy has much to tell us of the past history of man—of how in the course of evolution he has come to be what he now is. This also is a matter of observation, because of the fact that there exists an indelible record of all that has taken place—a sort of memory of Nature—by examining which the scenes of earlier evolution may be made to pass before the eyes of the investigator as though they were happening at this moment. By thus studying the past we learn that man is divine in origin and that he has a long evolution behind him—a double evolution, that of the life or soul within, and that of the outer form. We learn, too, that the life of man as a soul is of, what to us seems, enormous length, and that what we have been in the habit of calling his life is in reality only one day of his real existence. He has already lived through many such days, and has many more of them yet before him; and if we wish to understand the real life and its object, we must consider it in relation not only to this one day of it, which begins with birth and ends with death, but also to the days which have gone before and those which are yet to come.

Of those that are yet to come there is also much to be said, and on this subject, too, a great deal of definite information is available. Such information is obtainable, first, from men who have already passed much further along the road of evolution than we, and have consequently direct experience of it; and, secondly, from inferences drawn from the obvious direction of the steps which we see to have been previously taken. The goal of this particular cycle is in sight, though still far above us but it would seem that, even when that has been attained, an infinity of progress still lies before everyone who is willing to undertake it.

One of the most striking advantages of Theosophy is that the light which it brings to us at once solves many of our problems, clears away many difficulties, accounts for the apparent injustices of life, and in all directions brings order out of seeming chaos. Thus, while some of its teaching is based upon the observation of forces whose direct working is somewhat beyond the ken of the ordinary man of the world, if the latter will accept it as a hypothesis he will very soon come to see that it must be a correct one, because it, and it alone, furnishes a coherent and reasonable explanation of the drama of life which is being played before him.

The existence of Perfected Men, and the possibility of coming into touch with Them and being taught by Them, are prominent among the great new truths which Theosophy brings to the western world. Another of them is the stupendous fact that the world is not drifting blindly into anarchy, but that its progress is under the control of a perfectly organized Hierarchy, so that final failure even for the tiniest of its units is of all impossibilities the most impossible. A glimpse of the working of that Hierarchy inevitably engenders the desire to co-operate with it, to serve under it, in however humble a capacity, and some time in the far-distant future to be worthy to join the outer fringes of its ranks.

This brings us to that aspect of Theosophy which we have called religious. Those who come to know and to understand these things are dissatisfied with the slow aeons of evolution; they yearn to become more immediately useful, and so they demand and obtain knowledge of the shorter but steeper Path. There is no possibility of escaping the amount of work that has to be done. It is like carrying a load up a mountain; whether one carries it straight up a steep path or more gradually by a road of gentle slope, precisely the same number of foot-pounds must be exerted. Therefore to do the same work in a small fraction of the time means determined effort. It can be done, however, for it has been done; and those who have done it agree that it far more than repays the trouble. The limitations of the various vehicles are thereby gradually transcended, and the liberated man becomes an intelligent co-worker in the mighty plan for the evolution of all beings.

In its capacity as a religion, too, Theosophy gives its followers a rule of life, based not on alleged commands delivered at some remote period of the past, but on plain common sense as indicated by observed facts. The attitude of the student of Theosophy towards the rules which it prescribes resembles rather that which we adopt to hygienic regulations than obedience to religious commandments. We may say, if we wish, that this thing or that is in accordance with the divine Will, for the divine Will is expressed in what we know as the laws of Nature. Because that Will wisely ordereth all things, to infringe its laws means to disturb the smooth working of the scheme, to hold back for a moment that fragment or tiny part of evolution, and consequently to bring discomfort upon ourselves and others. It is for that reason that the wise man avoids infringing them—not to escape the imaginary wrath of some offended deity.

But if from a certain point of view we may think of Theosophy as a religion, we must note two great points of difference between it and what is ordinarily called religion in the West. First, it neither demands belief from its followers, nor does it even speak of belief in the sense in which that word is usually employed. The student of occult science either knows a thing or suspends his judgment about it; there is no place in his scheme for blind faith. Naturally, beginners in the study cannot yet know for themselves, so they are asked to read the results of the various observations and to deal with them as probable hypotheses—provisionally to accept and act upon them, until such time as they can prove them for themselves.

Secondly, Theosophy never endeavours to convert any man from whatever religion he already holds. On the contrary, it explains his religion to him, and enables him to see in it deeper meanings than he has ever known before. It teaches him to understand it and live it better than he did, and in many cases it gives back to him, on a higher and more intelligent level, the faith in it which he had previously all but lost.

Theosophy has its aspects as a science also; it is in very truth a science of life, a science of the soul. It applies to everything the scientific method of oft-repeated, painstaking observation, and then tabulates the results and makes deductions from them. In this way it has investigated the various planes of Nature, the conditions of man's consciousness during life and after what is commonly called death. It cannot be too often repeated that its statements on all these matters are not vague guesses or tenets of faith, but are based upon direct and oft-repeated observation of what happens. Its investigators have dealt also to a certain extent with subjects more in the range of ordinary science, as may be seen by those who read the book on Occult Chemistry.

Thus we see that Theosophy combines within itself some of the characteristics of philosophy, religion and science. What, it might be asked, is its gospel for this weary world? What are the main points which emerge from its investigations? What are the great facts which it has to lay before humanity?

They have been well summed up under three main heads.

"There are three truths which are absolute, and which cannot be lost, but yet may remain silent for lack of speech.

"The soul of man is immortal and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and splendour has no limit.

"The principle which gives life dwells in us and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard or seen or smelt, but is perceived by the man who desires perception.

"Each man is his own absolute lawgiver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself, the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.

"These truths, which are as great as is life itself, are as simple as the simplest mind of man."

Put shortly, and in the language of the man of the street, this means that God is good, that man is immortal, and that as we sow so we must reap. There is a definite scheme of things; it is under intelligent direction and works under immutable laws. Man has his place in this scheme and is living under these laws. If he understands them and co-operates with them, he will advance rapidly and will be happy; if he does not understand them—if, wittingly or unwittingly, he breaks them, he will delay his progress and be miserable. These are not theories, but proved facts. Let him who doubts read on, and he will see.

Chapter II


Of the Absolute, the Infinite, the All-embracing, we can at our present stage know nothing, except that It is; we can say nothing that is not a limitation, and therefore inaccurate.

In It are innumerable universes; in each universe countless solar systems. Each solar system is the expression of a mighty Being, whom we call the LOGOS, the Word of God, the Solar Deity. He is to it all that men mean by God. He permeates it; there is nothing in it which is not He; it is the manifestation of Him in such matter as we can see. Yet He exists above it and outside it, living a stupendous life of His own among His Peers. As is said in an Eastern Scripture: "Having permeated this whole universe with one fragment of Myself I remain."

Of that higher life of His we can know nothing. But of the fragment of His life which energises His system we may know something in the lower levels of its manifestation. We may not see Him, but we may see His power at work. No one who is clairvoyant can be atheistic; the evidence is too tremendous.

Out of Himself He has called this mighty system into being. We who are in it are evolving fragments of His life, Sparks of His divine Fire; from Him we all have come; into Him we shall all return.

Many have asked why He has done this; why He has emanated from Himself all this system; why He has sent us forth to face the storms of life. We cannot know, nor is the question practical; suffice it that we are here, and we must do our best. Yet many philosophers have speculated on this point and many suggestions have been made. The most beautiful that I know is that of a Gnostic philosopher:

"God is Love, but Love itself cannot be perfect unless it has those upon whom it can be lavished and by whom it can be returned. Therefore He put forth of Himself into matter, and He limited His glory, in order that through this natural and slow process of evolution we might come into being; and we in turn according to His Will are to develop until we reach even His own level, and then the very love of God itself will become more perfect, because it will then be lavished on those, His own children, who will fully understand and return it, and so His great scheme will be realized and His Will, be done."

At what stupendous elevation His consciousness abides we know not, nor can we know its true nature as it shows itself there. But when He puts Himself down into such conditions as are within our reach, His manifestation is ever threefold, and so all religions have imaged Him as a Trinity. Three, yet fundamentally One; Three Persons (for person means a mask) yet one God, showing Himself in those Three Aspects. Three to us, looking at Them from below, because Their functions are different; one to Him, because He knows Them to be but facets of Himself.

All Three of these Aspects are concerned in the evolution of the solar system; all Three are also concerned in the evolution of man. This evolution is His Will; the method of it is His plan.

Next below this Solar Deity, yet also in some mysterious manner part of Him, come His seven Ministers sometimes called the Planetary Spirits. Using an analogy drawn from the physiology of our own body, Their relation to Him is like that of the ganglia or the nerve centres to the brain. All evolution which comes forth from Him comes through one or other of Them.

Under Them in turn come vast hosts or orders of spiritual beings, whom we call angels or devas. We do not yet know all the functions which they fulfil in different parts of this wonderful scheme, but we find some of them intimately connected with the building of the system and the unfolding of life within it.

Here in our world there is a great Official who represents the Solar Deity and is in absolute control of all the evolution that takes place upon this planet. We may image Him as the true KING of this world and under Him are ministers in charge of different departments. One of these departments is concerned with the evolution of the different races of humanity so that for each great race there is a Head who founds it, differentiates it from all others, and watches over its development. Another department is that of religion and education, and it is from this that all the greatest teachers of history have come—that all religions have been sent forth. The great Official at the head of this department either comes Himself or sends one of His pupils to found a new religion when He decides that one is needed.

Therefore all religions, at the time of their first presentation to the world, have contained a definite statement of the Truth, and in its fundamentals this Truth has been always the same. The presentations of it have varied because of differences in the races to whom it was offered. The conditions of civilization and the degree of evolution obtained by various races have made it desirable to present this one Truth in divers forms. But the inner Truth is always the same, and the source from which it comes is the same, even though the external phases may appear to be different and even contradictory. It is foolish for men to wrangle over the question of the superiority of one teacher or one form of teaching to another, for the teacher is always one sent by the Great Brotherhood of Adepts, and in all its important points, in its ethical and moral principles, the teaching has always been the same.

There is in the world a body or Truth which lies at the back of all these religions, and represents the facts of nature as far as they are at present known to man. In the outer world, because of their ignorance of this, people are always disputing and arguing about whether there is a God; whether man survives death; whether definite progress is possible for him, and what is his relation to the universe. These questions are ever present in the mind of man as soon as intelligence is awakened. They are not unanswerable, as is frequently supposed; the answers to them are within the reach of anyone who will make proper efforts to find them. The truth is obtainable, and the conditions of its attainment are possible of achievement by anyone who will make the effort.

In the earlier stages of the development of humanity the great Officials of the Hierarchy are provided from outside, from other and more highly evolved parts of the system, but as soon as men can be trained to the necessary level of power and wisdom these offices are held by them. In order to be fit to hold such an office a man must raise himself to a very high level, and must become what is called an Adept—a being of goodness, power and wisdom so great that He towers above the rest of humanity, for He has already attained the summit of ordinary human evolution; He has achieved that which the plan of the Deity marked out for Him to achieve during this age or dispensation. But His evolution later on continues beyond that level—continues to divinity.

A large number of men have attained the Adept level—men not of one nation, but of all the leading nations of the world—rare souls who with indomitable courage have stormed the fortresses of nature, and captured her innermost secrets, and so have truly earned the right to be called Adepts. Among Them there are many degrees and many lines of activity; but always some of Them remain within touch of our earth as members of this Hierarchy which has in charge the administration of the affairs of our world and of the spiritual evolution of our humanity.

This august body is often called the Great White Brotherhood, but its members are not a community all living together. Each of Them, to a large extent, draws Himself apart from the world, and They are in constant communication with one another and with Their Head; but Their knowledge of higher forces is so great that this is achieved without any necessity for meeting in the physical world. In many cases They continue to live each in His own country, and Their power remains unsuspected among those who live near Them. Any man who will may attract Their attention, but he can do it only by showing himself worthy of Their notice. None need fear that his efforts will pass unnoticed; such oversight is impossible, for the man who is devoting himself to service such as this, stands out from the rest of humanity like a great flame in a dark night. A few of these great Adepts, who are thus working for the good of the world, are willing to take as apprentices those who have resolved to devote themselves utterly to the service of mankind; such Adepts are called Masters.

One of these apprentices was Helena Petrovna Blavatsky—a great soul who was sent out to offer knowledge to the world. With Colonel Henry Steel Olcott she founded The Theosophical Society for the spread of this knowledge which she had to give. Among those who came into contact with her in those early days was Mr. A.P. Sinnett, the editor of The Pioneer, and his keen intellect at once grasped the magnitude and the importance of the teaching which she put before him. Although Madame Blavatsky herself had previously written Isis Unveiled, it had attracted but little attention, and it was Mr. Sinnett who first made the teaching really available for western readers in his two books, The Occult World and Esoteric Buddhism.

It was through these works that I myself first came to know their author, and afterwards Madame Blavatsky herself; from both of them I learned much. When I asked Madame Blavatsky how one could learn still more, how one could make definite progress along the Path which she pointed out to us, she told me of the possibility that other students might be accepted as apprentices by the great Masters, even as she herself had been accepted, and that the only way to gain such acceptance was to show oneself worthy of it by earnest and altruistic work. She told me that to reach that goal a man must be absolutely one-pointed in his determination; that no one who tried to serve both God and Mammon could ever hope to succeed. One of these Masters Himself had said: "In order to succeed, a pupil must leave his own world and come into ours."

This means that he must cease to be one of the majority who live for wealth and power, and must join the tiny minority who care nothing for such things, but live only in order to devote themselves selflessly to the good of the world. She warned us clearly that the way was difficult to tread, that we should be misunderstood and reviled by those who still lived in the world, and that we had nothing to look forward to but the hardest of hard work; and though the result was sure, no one could foretell how long it would take to arrive at it. Some of us accepted these conditions joyfully, and we have never for a moment regretted the decision.

After some years of work I had the privilege of coming into contact with these great Masters of the Wisdom; from Them I learnt many things—among others, how to verify for myself at first hand most of the teachings which They had given. So that, in this matter, I write of what I know, and what I have seen for myself. Certain points are mentioned in the teaching, for the verification of which powers are required far beyond anything which I have gained so far. Of them, I can say only that they are consistent with what I do know, and in many cases are necessary as hypotheses to account for what I have seen. They came to me, along with the rest of the Theosophical system, upon the authority of these mighty Teachers. Since then I have learnt to examine for myself by far the greater part of what I was told, and I have found the information given to me to be correct in every particular; therefore I am justified in assuming the probability that that other part, which as yet I cannot verify, will also prove to be correct when I arrive at its level.

To attain the honour of being accepted as an apprentice of one of the Masters of the Wisdom is the object set before himself by every earnest Theosophical student. But it means a determined effort. There have always been men who were willing to make the necessary effort, and therefore there have always been men who knew. The knowledge is so transcendent that when a man grasps it fully he becomes more than man and he passes beyond our ken.

But there are stages in the acquirement of this knowledge, and we may learn much if we will, from those who themselves are still in process of learning; for all human beings stand on one or other of the rungs of the ladder of evolution. The primitive stand at its foot; we who are civilized beings have already climbed part of the way. But though we can look back and see rungs of the ladder below us which we have already passed, we may also look up and see many rungs above us to which we have not yet attained. Just as men are standing even now on each of the rungs below us, so that we can see the stages by which man has mounted, so also are there men standing on each of the rungs above us, so that from studying them we may see how man shall mount in the future. Precisely because we see men on every step of this ladder, which leads up to a glory which as yet we have no words to express, we know that the ascent to that glory is possible for us. Those who stand high above us, so high that They seem to us as gods in Their marvellous knowledge and power, tell us that They stood not long since where we are standing now, and They indicate to us clearly the steps which lie between, which we also must tread if we would be as They.

Chapter III


The beginning of the universe (if ever it had a beginning) is beyond our ken. At the earliest point of history that we can reach, the two great opposites of spirit and matter, of life and form, are already in full activity. We find that the ordinary conception of matter needs a revision, for what are commonly called force and matter are in reality only two varieties of Spirit at different stages in evolution and the real matter or basis of everything lies in the background unperceived. A French scientist has recently said: "There is no matter; there are nothing but holes in the aether." This also agrees with the celebrated theory of Professor Osborne Reynolds. Occult investigation shows this to be the correct view, and in that way explains what Oriental sacred books mean when they say that matter is an illusion.

The ultimate root-matter as seen at our level is what scientists call the aether of space. [This has been described in Occult Chemistry under the name of koilon.] To every physical sense the space occupied by it appears empty, yet in reality this aether is far denser than anything of which we can conceive. Its density is defined by Professor Reynolds as being ten thousand times greater than that of water, and its mean pressure as seven hundred and fifty thousand tons to the square inch.

This substance is perceptible only to highly developed clairvoyant power. We must assume a time (though we have no direct knowledge on this point) when this substance filled all space. We must also suppose that some great Being (not the Deity of a solar system, but some Being almost infinitely higher than that) changed this condition of rest by pouring out His spirit or force into a certain section of this matter, a section of the size of a whole universe. This effect of the introduction of this force is as that of the blowing of a mighty breath; it has formed within this aether an incalculable number of tiny spherical bubbles, [The bubbles are spoken of in The Secret Doctrine as the holes which Fohat digs in space.] and these bubbles are the ultimate atoms of which what we call matter is composed. They are not the atoms of the chemist, nor even the ultimate atoms of the physical world. They stand at a far higher level, and what are usually called atoms are composed of vast aggregations of these bubbles, as will be seen later.

When the Solar Deity begins to make His system, He finds ready to His hand this material—this infinite mass of tiny bubbles which can be built up into various kinds of matter as we know it. He commences by defining the limit of His field of activity, a vast sphere whose circumference is far larger than the orbit of the outermost of His future planets. Within the limit of that sphere He sets up a kind of gigantic vortex—a motion which sweeps together all the bubbles into a vast central mass, the material of the nebula that is to be.

Into this vast revolving sphere He sends forth successive impulses of force, gathering together the bubbles into ever more and more complex aggregations, and producing in this way seven gigantic interpenetrating worlds of matter of different degrees of density, all concentric and all occupying the same space.

Acting through His Third Aspect He sends forth into this stupendous sphere the first of these impulses. It sets up all through the sphere a vast number of tiny vortices, each of which draws into itself forty-nine bubbles, and arranges them in a certain shape. These little groupings of bubbles so formed are the atoms of the second of the interpenetrating worlds. The whole number of the bubbles is not used in this way, sufficient being left in the dissociated state to act as atoms for the first and highest of these worlds. In due time comes the second impulse, which seizes upon nearly all these forty-nine bubble-atoms (leaving only enough to provide atoms for the second world), draws them back into itself and then, throwing them out again, sets up among them vortices, each of which holds within itself 2,401 bubbles (49^2). These form the atoms of the third world. Again after a time comes a third impulse, which in the same way seizes upon nearly all these 2,401 bubble-atoms, draws them back again into their original form, and again throws them outward once more as the atoms of the fourth world—each atom containing this time 49^{3} bubbles. This process is repeated until the sixth of these successive impulses has built the atom of the seventh or the lowest world—that atom containing 49^{6} of the original bubbles.

This atom of the seventh world is the ultimate atom of the physical world—not any of the atoms of which chemists speak, but that ultimate out of which all their atoms are made. We have at this stage arrived at that condition of affairs in which the vast whirling sphere contains within itself seven types of matter, all one in essence, because all built of the same kind of bubbles, but differing in their degree of density. All these types are freely intermingled, so that specimens of each type would be found in a small portion of the sphere taken at random in any part of it, with, however, a general tendency of the heavier atoms to gravitate more and more towards the centre.

The seventh impulse sent out from the Third Aspect of the Deity does not, as before, draw back the physical atoms which were last made into the original dissociated bubbles, but draws them together into certain aggregations, thus making a number of different kinds of what may be called proto-elements, and these again are joined together into the various forms which are known to science as chemical elements. The making of these extends over a long period of ages, and they are made in a certain definite order by the interaction of several forces, as is correctly indicated in Sir William Crookes's paper, The Genesis of the Elements. Indeed the process of their making is not even now concluded; uranium is the latest and heaviest element so far as we know, but others still more complicated may perhaps be produced in the future.

As ages rolled on the condensation increased, and presently the stage of a vast glowing nebula was reached. As it cooled, still rapidly rotating, it flattened into a huge disc and gradually broke up into rings surrounding a central body—an arrangement not unlike that which Saturn exhibits at the present day, though on a far larger scale. As the time drew near when the planets would be required for the purposes of evolution, the Deity sets up somewhere in the thickness of each ring a subsidiary vortex into which a great deal of the matter of the ring was by degrees collected. The collisions of the gathered fragments caused a revival of the heat, and the resulting planet was for a long time a mass of glowing gas. Little by little it cooled once more, until it became fit to be the theatre of life such as ours. Thus were all the planets formed.

Almost all the matter of those interpenetrating worlds was by this time concentrated into the newly formed planets. Each of them was and is composed of all those different kinds of matter. The earth upon which we are now living is not merely a great ball of physical matter, built of the atoms of that lowest world, but has also attached to it an abundant supply of matter of the sixth, the fifth, the fourth and other worlds. It is well known to all students of science that particles of matter never actually touch one another, even in the hardest of substances. The spaces between them are always far greater in proportion than their own size—enormously greater. So there is ample room for all the other kinds of atoms of all those other worlds, not only to lie between the atoms of the denser matter, but to move quite freely among them and around them. Consequently, this globe upon which we live is not one world, but seven interpenetrating worlds, all occupying the same space, except that the finer types of matter extend further from the centre than does the denser matter.

We have given names to these interpenetrating worlds for convenience in speaking of them. No name is needed for the first, as man is not yet in direct connection with it; but when it is necessary to mention it, it may be called the divine world. The second is described as the monadic, because in it exist those Sparks of the divine Life which we call the human Monads; but neither of these can be touched by the highest clairvoyant investigations at present possible for us. The third sphere, whose atoms contain 2,401 bubbles, is called the spiritual world, because in it functions the highest Spirit in man as now constituted. The fourth is the intuitional world, [Previously called in Theosophical literature the buddhic plane.] because from it come the highest intuitions. The fifth is the mental world, because from its matter is built the mind of man. The sixth is called the emotional or astral world, because the emotions of man cause undulations in its matter. (The name astral was given to it by mediaeval alchemists, because its matter is starry or shining as compared to that of the denser world.) The seventh world, composed of the type of matter which we see all around us, is called the physical.

The matter of which all these interpenetrating worlds are built is essentially the same matter, but differently arranged and of different degrees of density. Therefore the rates at which these various types of matter normally vibrate differ also. They may be considered as a vast gamut of undulations consisting of many octaves. The physical matter uses a certain number of the lowest of these octaves, the astral matter another group of octaves just above that, the mental matter a still further group, and so on.

Not only has each of these worlds its own type of matter; it has also its own set of aggregations of that matter—its own substances. In each world we arrange these substances in seven classes according to the rate at which their molecules vibrate. Usually, but not invariably, the slower oscillation involves also a larger molecule—a molecule, that is, built up by a special arrangement of the smaller molecules of the next higher subdivision. The application of heat increases the size of the molecules and also quickens and amplifies their undulation, so that they cover more ground, and the object, as a whole expands, until the point is reached where the aggregation of molecules breaks up, and the latter passes from one condition to that next above it. In the matter of the physical world the seven subdivisions are represented by seven degrees of density of matter, to which, beginning from below upwards, we give the names solid, liquid, gaseous, etheric, superetheric, subatomic and atomic.

The atomic subdivision is one in which all forms are built by the compression into certain shapes of the physical atoms, without any previous collection of these atoms into blocks or molecules. Typifying the physical ultimate atom for the moment by a brick, any form in the atomic subdivision would be made by gathering together some of the bricks, and building them into a certain shape. In order to make matter for the next lower subdivision, a certain number of the bricks (atoms) would first be gathered together and cemented into small blocks of say four bricks each, five bricks each, six bricks or seven bricks; and then these blocks so made would be used as building stones. For the next subdivision several of the blocks of the second subdivision cemented together in certain shapes would form building-stones, and so on to the lowest.

To transfer any substance from the solid condition to the liquid (that is to say, to melt it) is to increase the vibration of its compound molecules until at last they are shaken apart into the simpler molecules of which they were built. This process can in all cases be repeated again and again until finally any and every physical substance can be reduced to the ultimate atoms of the physical world.

Each of these worlds has its inhabitants, whose senses are normally capable of responding to the undulations of their own world only. A man living (as we are all doing) in the physical world sees, hears, feels, by vibrations connected with the physical matter around him. He is equally surrounded by the astral and mental and other worlds which are interpenetrating his own denser world, but of them he is normally unconscious, because his senses cannot respond to the oscillations of their matter, just as our physical eyes cannot see by the vibrations of ultra-violet light, although scientific experiments show that they exist, and there are other consciousnesses with differently-formed organs who can see by them. A being living in the astral world might be occupying the very same space as a being living in the physical world, yet each would be entirely unconscious of the other and would in no way impede the free movement of the other. The same is true of all other worlds. We are at this moment surrounded by these worlds of finer matter, as close to us as the world we see, and their inhabitants are passing through us and about us, but we are entirely unconscious of them.

Since our evolution is centred at present upon this globe which we call the earth, it is in connection with it only that we shall be speaking of these higher worlds, so in future when I use the term "astral world" I shall mean by it the astral part of our own globe only, and not (as heretofore) the astral part of the whole solar system. This astral part of our own world is also a globe, but of astral matter. It occupies the same place as the globe which we see, but its matter (being so much lighter) extends out into space on all sides of us further than does the atmosphere of the earth—a great deal further. It stretches to a little less than the mean distance of the moon, so that though the two physical globes, the earth and the moon, are nearly 240,000 miles apart, the astral globes of these two bodies touch one another when the moon is in perigee, but not when she is in apogee. I shall apply the term "mental world" to the still larger globe of mental matter in the midst of which our physical earth exists. When we come to the still higher globes we have spheres large enough to touch the corresponding spheres of other planets in the system, though their matter also is just as much about us here on the surface of the solid earth as that of the others. All these globes of finer matter are a part of us, and are all revolving round the sun with their visible part. The student will do well to accustom himself to think of our earth as the whole of this mass of interpenetrating worlds—not only the comparatively small physical ball in the centre of it.

Chapter IV


All the impulses of life which I have described as building the interpenetrating worlds come forth from the Third Aspect of the Deity. Hence in the Christian scheme that Aspect is called "the Giver of Life", the Spirit who brooded over the face of the waters of space. In Theosophical literature these impulses are usually taken as a whole, and called the First Outpouring.

When the worlds had been prepared to this extent, and most of the chemical elements already existed, the Second Outpouring of life took place, and this came from the Second Aspect of the Deity. It brought with it the power of combination. In all the worlds it found existing what may be thought of as elements corresponding to those worlds. It proceeded to combine those elements into organisms which it then ensouled, and in this way it built up the seven kingdoms of Nature. Theosophy recognizes seven kingdoms, because it regards man as separate from the animal kingdom and it takes into account several stages of evolution which are unseen by the physical eye, and gives to them the mediaeval name of "elemental kingdoms".

The divine Life pours itself into matter from above, and its whole course may be thought of in two stages—the gradual assumption of grosser and grosser matter, and then the gradual casting off again of the vehicles which have been assumed. The earliest level upon which its vehicles can be scientifically observed is the mental—the fifth counting from the finer to the grosser, the first on which there are separated globes. In practical study it is found convenient to divide this mental world into two parts, which we call the higher and the lower according to the degree of density of their matter. The higher consists of the three finer subdivisions of mental matter; the lower part of the other four.

When the outpouring reaches the higher mental world it draws together the ethereal elements there, combines them into what at that level correspond to substances and of these substances builds forms which it inhabits. We call this the first elemental kingdom.

After a long period of evolution through different forms at that level, the wave of life, which is all the time pressing steadily downwards, learns to identify itself so fully with those forms that, instead of occupying them and withdrawing from them periodically, it is able to hold them permanently and make them part of itself, so that now from that level it can proceed to the temporary occupation of forms at a still lower level. When it reaches this stage we call it the second elemental kingdom, the ensouling life of which resides upon the higher mental levels, while the vehicles through which it manifests are on the lower.

After another vast period of similar length, it is found that the downward pressure has caused this process to repeat itself; once more the life has identified itself with its forms, and has taken up its residence upon the lower mental levels, so that it is capable of ensouling bodies in the astral world. At this stage we call it the third elemental kingdom.

We speak of all these forms as finer or grosser relatively to one another, but all of them are almost infinitely finer than any with which we are acquainted in the physical world. Each of these three is a kingdom of Nature, as varied in the manifestations of its different forms of life as is the animal or vegetable kingdom which we know. After a long period spent in ensouling the forms of the third of these elemental kingdoms it identifies itself with them in turn, and so is able to ensoul the etheric part of the mineral kingdom, and becomes the life which vivifies that—for there is a life in the mineral kingdom just as much as in the vegetable or the animal, although it is in conditions where it cannot manifest so freely. In the course of the mineral evolution the downward pressure causes it to identify itself in the same way with the etheric matter of the physical world, and from that to ensoul the denser matter of such minerals as are perceptible to our senses.

In the mineral kingdom we include not only what are usually called minerals, but also liquids, gases and many etheric substances the existence of which is unknown to western science. All the matter of which we know anything is living matter, and the life which it contains is always evolving. When it has reached the central point of the mineral stage the downward pressure ceases, and is replaced by an upward tendency; the outbreathing has ceased and the indrawing has begun.

When mineral evolution is completed, the life has withdrawn itself again into the astral world, but bearing with it all the results obtained through its experiences in the physical. At this stage it ensouls vegetable forms, and begins to show itself much more clearly as what we commonly call life—plant-life of all kinds; and at a yet later stage of its development it leaves the vegetable kingdom and ensouls the animal kingdom. The attainment of this level is the sign that it has withdrawn itself still further, and is now working from the lower mental world. In order to work in physical matter from that mental world it must operate through the intervening astral matter; and that astral matter is now no longer part of the garment of the group-soul as a whole, but is the individual astral body of the animal concerned, as will be later explained.

In each of these kingdoms it not only passes a period of time which is to our ideas almost incredibly long, but it also goes through a definite course of evolution, beginning from the lower manifestations of that kingdom and ending with the highest. In the vegetable kingdom, for example, the life-force might commence its career by occupying grasses or mosses and end it by ensouling magnificent forest trees. In the animal kingdom it might commence with mosquitoes or with animalculae, and might end with the finest specimens of the mammalia.

The whole process is one of steady evolution from lower forms to higher, from the simpler to the more complex. But what is evolving is not primarily the form, but the life within it. The forms also evolve and grow better as time passes; but this is in order that they may be appropriate vehicles for more and more advanced waves of life. When the life has reached the highest level possible in the animal kingdom, it may then pass on into the human kingdom, under conditions which will presently be explained.

The outpouring leaves one kingdom and passes to another, so that if we had to deal with only one wave of this outpouring we could have in existence only one kingdom at a time. But the Deity sends out a constant succession of these waves, so that at any given time we find a number of them simultaneously in operation. We ourselves represent one such wave; but we find evolving alongside us another wave which ensouls the animal kingdom—a wave which came out from the Deity one stage later than we did. We find also the vegetable kingdom, which represents a third wave, and the mineral kingdom, which represents a fourth; and occultists know of the existence all round us of three elemental kingdoms, which represent the fifth, sixth and seventh waves. All these, however, are successive ripples of the same great outpouring from the Second Aspect of the Deity.

We have here, then, a scheme of evolution in which the divine Life involves itself more and more deeply in matter, in order that through that matter it may receive vibrations which could not otherwise affect it—impacts from without, which by degrees arouse within it rates of undulation corresponding to their own, so that it learns to respond to them. Later on it learns of itself to generate these rates of undulation, and so becomes a being possessed of spiritual powers.

We may presume that when this outpouring of life originally came forth from the Deity, at some level altogether beyond our power of cognition, it may perhaps have been homogeneous; but when it first comes within practical cognizance, when it is itself in the intuitional world, but is ensouling bodies made of the matter of the higher mental world, it is already not one huge world-soul but many souls. Let us suppose a homogeneous outpouring, which may be considered as one vast soul, at one end of the scale; at the other, when humanity is reached, we find that one vast soul broken up into millions of the comparatively little souls of individual men. At any stage between these two extremes we find an intermediate condition, the immense world-soul already subdivided, but not to the utmost limit of possible subdivision.

Each man is a soul, but not each animal or each plant. Man, as a soul, can manifest through only one body at a time in the physical world, whereas one animal soul manifests simultaneously through a number of animal bodies, one plant soul through a number of separate plants. A lion, for example, is not a permanently separate entity in the same way as a man is. When the man dies—that is, when he as a soul lays aside his physical body—he remains himself exactly as he was before, an entity separate from all other entities. When the lion dies, that which has been the separate soul of him is poured back into the mass from which it came—a mass which is at the same time providing the souls for many other lions. To such a mass we give the name of "group-soul".

To such a group-soul is attached a considerable number of lion bodies—let us say a hundred. Each of those bodies while it lives has its hundredth part of the group-soul attached to it, and for the time being this is apparently quite separate, so that the lion is as much an individual during his physical life as the man; but he is not a permanent individual. When he dies the soul of him flows back into the group-soul to which it belongs, and that identical lion-soul cannot be separated again from the group.

A useful analogy may help comprehension. Imagine the group-soul to be represented by the water in a bucket, and the hundred lion bodies by a hundred tumblers. As each tumbler is dipped into the bucket it takes out from it a tumblerful of water (the separate soul). That water for the time being takes the shape of the vehicle which it fills, and is temporarily separate from the water which remains in the bucket, and from the water in the other tumblers.

Now put into each of the hundred tumblers some kind of colouring matter or some kind of flavouring. That will represent the qualities developed by its experiences in the separate soul of the lion during its lifetime. Pour back the water from the tumbler into the bucket; that represents the death of the lion. The colouring matter or the flavouring will be distributed through the whole of the water in the bucket, but will be a much fainter colouring, a much less pronounced flavour when thus distributed than it was when confined in one tumbler. The qualities developed by the experience of one lion attached to that group-soul are therefore shared by the entire group-soul, but in a much lower degree.

We may take out another tumblerful of water from that bucket, but we can never again get exactly the same tumblerful after it has once been mingled with the rest. Every tumblerful taken from that bucket in the future will contain some traces of the colouring or flavouring put into each tumbler whose contents have been returned to the bucket. Just so the qualities developed by the experience of a single lion will become the common property of all lions who are in the future to be born from that group-soul, though in a lesser degree than that in which they existed in the individual lion who developed them.

That is the explanation of inherited instincts; that is why the duckling which has been hatched by a hen takes to the water instantly without needing to be shown how to swim; why the chicken just out of its shell will cower at the shadow of a hawk; why a bird which has been artificially hatched, and has never seen a nest, nevertheless knows how to make one, and makes it according to the traditions of its kind.

Lower down in the scale of animal life enormous numbers of bodies are attached to a single group-soul—countless millions, for example, in the case of some of the smaller insects; but as we rise in the animal kingdom the number of bodies attached to a single group-soul becomes smaller and smaller, and therefore the differences between individuals become greater.

Thus the group-souls gradually break up. Returning to the symbol of the bucket, as tumbler after tumbler of water is withdrawn from it, tinted with some sort of colouring matter and returned to it, the whole bucketful of water gradually becomes richer in colour. Suppose that by imperceptible degrees a kind of vertical film forms itself across the centre of the bucket, and gradually solidifies itself into a division, so that we have now a right half and a left half to the bucket, and each tumblerful of water which is taken out is returned always to the same section from which it came.

Then presently a difference will be set up, and the liquid in one half of the bucket will no longer be the same as that in the other. We have then practically two buckets, and when this stage is reached in a group-soul it splits into two, as a cell separates by fission. In this way, as the experience grows ever richer, the group-souls grow smaller but more numerous, until at the highest point we arrive at man with his single individual soul, which no longer returns into a group, but remains always separate.

One of the life-waves is vivifying the whole of a kingdom; but not every group-soul in that life-wave will pass through the whole of that kingdom from the bottom to the top. If in the vegetable kingdom a certain group-soul has ensouled forest trees, when it passes on into the animal kingdom it will omit all the lower stages—that is, it will never inhabit insects or reptiles, but will begin at once at the level of the lower mammalia. The insects and reptiles will be vivified by group-souls which have for some reason left the vegetable kingdom at a much lower level than the forest tree. In the same way the group-soul which has reached the highest levels of the animal kingdom will not individualize into primitive savages, but into men of somewhat higher type, the primitive savages being recruited from group-souls which have left the animal kingdom at a lower level.

Group-souls at any level or at all levels arrange themselves into seven great types, according to the Minister of the Deity through whom their life has poured forth. These types are clearly distinguishable in all the kingdoms, and the successive forms taken by any one of them form a connected series, so that animals, vegetables, minerals and the varieties of the elemental creatures may all be arranged into seven great groups, and the life coming along one of those lines will not diverge into any of the others.

No detailed list has yet been made of the animals, plants or minerals from this point of view; but it is certain that the life which is found ensouling a mineral of a particular type will never vivify a mineral of any other type than its own, though within that type it may vary. When it passes on to the vegetable and animal kingdoms it will inhabit vegetables and animals of that type and of no other; and when it eventually reaches humanity it will individualize into men of that type and of no other.

The method of individualization is the raising of the soul of a particular animal to a level so much higher than that attained by its group-soul that it can no longer return to the latter. This cannot be done with any animal, but only with those whose brain is developed to a certain level, and the method usually adopted to acquire such mental development is to bring the animal into close contact with man. Individualization, therefore, is possible only for domestic animals, and only for certain kinds even of those. At the head of each of the seven types stands one kind of domestic animal—the dog for one, the cat for another, the elephant for a third, the monkey for a fourth, and so on. The wild animals can all be arranged on seven lines leading up to the domestic animals; for example, the fox and the wolf are obviously on the same line with the dog, while the lion, the tiger and the leopard equally obviously lead up to the domestic cat; so that the group-soul animating a hundred lions mentioned some time ago might at a later stage of its evolution have divided into, let us say, five group-souls each animating twenty cats.

The life-wave spends a long period of time in each kingdom; we are now only a little past the middle of such an aeon, and consequently the conditions are not favourable for the achievement of that individualization which normally comes only at the end of a period. Rare instances of such attainment may occasionally be observed on the part of some animal much in advance of the average. Close association with man is necessary to produce this result. The animal if kindly treated develops devoted affection for his human friend, and also unfolds his intellectual powers in trying to understand that friend and to anticipate his wishes. In addition to this, the emotions and the thoughts of the man act constantly upon those of the animal, and tend to raise him to a higher level both emotionally and intellectually. Under favourable circumstances this development may proceed so far as to raise the animal altogether out of touch with the group to which he belongs, so that his fragment of a group-soul becomes capable of responding to the outpouring which comes from the First Aspect of the Deity.

For this final outpouring is not like the others, a mighty outrush affecting thousands or millions simultaneously; it comes to each one individually as that one is ready to receive it. This outpouring has already descended as far as the intuitional world; but it comes no farther than that until this upward leap is made by the soul of the animal from below; but when that happens this Third Outpouring leaps down to meet it, and in the higher mental world is formed an ego, a permanent individuality—permanent, that is, until, far later in his evolution, the man transcends it and reaches back to the divine unity from which he came. To make this ego, the fragment of the group-soul (which has hitherto played the part always of ensouling force) becomes in its turn a vehicle, and is itself ensouled by that divine Spark which has fallen into it from on high. That Spark may be said to have been hovering in the monadic world over the group-soul through the whole of its previous evolution, unable to effect a junction with it until its corresponding fragment in the group-soul had developed sufficiently to permit it. It is this breaking away from the rest of the group-soul and developing a separate ego which marks the distinction between the highest animal and the lowest man.

Chapter V


Man is therefore in essence a Spark of the divine Fire, belonging to the monadic world.[1] To that Spark, dwelling all the time in that world, we give the name "Monad". For the purposes of human evolution the Monad manifests itself in lower worlds. When it descends one stage and enters the spiritual world, it shows itself there as the triple Spirit having itself three aspects (just as in worlds infinitely higher the Deity has His three Aspects). Of those three one remains always in that world, and we call that the Spirit in man. The second aspect manifests itself in the intuitional world, and we speak of it as the Intuition in man. The third shows itself in the higher mental world, and we call it the Intelligence in man. These three aspects taken together constitute the ego which ensouls the fragment from the group-soul. Thus man as we know him, though in reality a Monad residing in the monadic world, shows himself as an ego in the higher mental world, manifesting these three aspects of himself (Spirit, Intuition and Intelligence) through that vehicle of higher mental matter which we name the causal body.

Footnote 1: The President has now decided upon a set of names for the planes, so for the future these will be used instead of those previously employed. A table of them is given below for reference.

NEW NAMES OLD NAMES 1. Divine World Adi Plane 2. Monadic World Anupadaka Plane 3. Spiritual World Atmic or Nirvanic Plane 4. Intuitional World Buddhic Plane 5. Mental World Mental Plane 6. Emotional or Astral World Astral Plane 7. Physical World Physical Plane

These will supersede the names given in Vol. II of The Inner Life.

This ego is the man during the human stage of evolution; he is the nearest correspondence, in fact, to the ordinary unscientific conception of the soul. He lives unchanged (except for his growth) from the moment of individualization until humanity is transcended and merged into divinity. He is in no way affected by what we call birth and death; what we commonly consider as his life is only a day in his life. The body which we can see, the body which is born and dies, is a garment which he puts on for the purposes of a certain part of his evolution.

Nor is it the only body which he assumes. Before he, the ego in the higher mental world, can take a vehicle belonging to the physical world, he must make a connection with it through the lower mental and astral worlds. When he wishes to descend he draws around himself a veil of the matter of the lower mental world, which we call his mental body. This is the instrument by means of which he thinks all his concrete thoughts—abstract thought being a power of the ego himself in the higher mental world.

Next he draws round himself a veil of astral matter, which we call his astral body; and that is the instrument of his passions and emotions, and also (in conjunction with the lower part of his mental body) the instrument of all such thought as is tinged by selfishness and personal feeling. Only after having assumed these intermediate vehicles can he come into touch with a baby physical body, and be born into the world which we know. He lives through what we call his life, gaining certain qualities as the result of its experiences; and at its end, when the physical body is worn out, he reverses the process of descent and lays aside one by one the temporary vehicles which he has assumed. The first to go is the physical body, and when that is dropped, his life is centred in the astral world and he lives in his astral body.

The length of his stay in that world depends upon the amount of passion and emotion which he has developed within himself in his physical life. If there is much of these, the astral body is strongly vitalized, and will persist for a long time; if there is but little, the astral body has less vitality, and he will soon be able to cast that vehicle aside in turn. When that is done he finds himself living in his mental body. The strength of that depends upon the nature of the thoughts to which he has habituated himself, and usually his stay at this level is a long one. At last it comes to an end, and he casts aside the mental body in turn, and is once more the ego in his own world.

Owing to lack of development, he is as yet but partially conscious in that world; the vibrations of its matter are too rapid to make any impression upon him, just as the ultra-violet rays are too rapid to make any impression upon our eyes. After a rest there, he feels the desire to descend to a level where the undulations are perceptible to him, in order that he may feel himself to be fully alive; so he repeats the process of descent into denser matter, and assumes once more a mental, an astral and a physical body. As his previous bodies have all disintegrated, each in its tarn, these new vehicles are entirely distinct from them, and thus it happens that in his physical life he has no recollection whatever of other similar lives which have preceded it.

When functioning in this physical world he remembers by means of his mental body; but since that is a new one, assumed only for this birth, it naturally cannot contain the memory of previous births in which it had no part. The man himself, the ego, does remember them all when in his own world, and occasionally some partial recollection of them or influence from them filters through into his lower vehicles. He does not usually, in his physical life, remember the experiences of earlier lives, but he does manifest in physical life the qualities which those experiences have developed in him. Each man is therefore exactly what he has made himself during those past lives; if he has in them developed good qualities in himself, he possesses the good qualities now; if he neglected to train himself, and consequently left himself weak and of evil disposition, he finds himself precisely in that condition now. The qualities, good or evil, with which he is born are those which he has made for himself.

This development of the ego is the object of the whole process of materialization; he assumes those veils of matter precisely because through them he is able to receive vibrations to which he can respond, so that his latent faculties may thereby be unfolded. Though man descends from on high into these lower worlds, it is only through that descent that a full cognizance of the higher worlds is developed in him. Full consciousness in any given world involves the power to perceive and respond to all the undulations of that world: therefore the ordinary man has not yet perfect consciousness at any level—not even in this physical world which he thinks he knows. It is possible for him to unfold his percipience in all these worlds, and it is by means of such developed consciousness that we observe all these facts which I am now describing.

The causal body is the permanent vehicle of the ego in the higher mental world. It consists of matter of the first, second and third subdivisions of that world. In ordinary people it is not yet fully active, only that matter which belongs to the third subdivision being vivified. As the ego unfolds his latent possibilities through the long course of his evolution, the higher matter is gradually brought into action, but it is only in the perfected man whom we call the Adept that it is developed to its fullest extent. Such matter can be discerned by clairvoyant sight, but only by a seer who knows how to use the sight of the ego.

It is difficult to describe a causal body fully, because the senses belonging to its world are altogether different from and higher than ours at this level. Such memory of the appearance of a causal body as it is possible for a clairvoyant to bring into his physical brain represents it as ovoid, and as surrounding the physical body of the man, extending to a distance of about eighteen inches from the normal surface of that body. In the case of primitive man it resembles a bubble, and gives the impression of being empty. It is in reality filled with higher mental matter, but as this is not yet brought into activity it remains colourless and transparent. As advancement continues it is gradually stirred into alertness by vibrations which reach it from the lower bodies. This comes but slowly, because the activities of man in the earlier stages of his evolution are not of a character to obtain expression in matter so fine as that of the higher mental body; but when a man reaches the stage where he is capable either of abstract thought or of unselfish emotion the matter of the causal body is aroused into response.

When these rates of undulation are awakened within him they show themselves in his causal body as colours, so that instead of being a mere transparent bubble it gradually becomes a sphere filled with matter of the most lovely and delicate hues—an object beautiful beyond all conception. It is found by experience that these colours are significant. The vibration which denotes the power of unselfish affection shows itself as a pale rose-colour; that which indicates high intellectual power is yellow; that which expresses sympathy is green, while blue betokens devotional feeling, and a luminous lilac-blue typifies the higher spirituality. The same scheme of colour-significance applies to the bodies which are built of denser matter, but as we approach the physical world the hues are in every case by comparison grosser—not only less delicate but also less living.

In the course of evolution in the lower worlds man often introduces into his vehicles qualities which are undesirable and entirely inappropriate for his life as an ego—such, for example, as pride, irritability, sensuality. These, like the rest, are reducible to vibrations, but they are in all cases vibrations of the lower subdivisions of their respective worlds, and therefore they cannot reproduce themselves in the causal body, which is built exclusively of the matter of the three higher subdivisions of its world. For each section of the astral body acts strongly upon the corresponding section of the mental body, but only upon the corresponding section; it cannot influence any other part. So the causal body can be affected only by the three higher portions of the astral body; and the oscillations of those represent only good qualities.

The practical effect of this is that the man can build into the ego (that is, into his true self) nothing but good qualities; the evil qualities which he develops are in their nature transitory and must be thrown aside as he advances, because he has no longer within him matter which can express them. The difference between the causal bodies of the savage and the saint is that the first is empty and colourless, while the second is full of brilliant, coruscating tints. As the man passes beyond even saint-hood and becomes a great spiritual power, his causal body increases in size, because it has so much more to express, and it also begins to pour out from itself in all directions powerful rays of living light. In one who has attained Adeptship this body is of enormous dimensions.

The mental body is built of matter of the four lower subdivisions of the mental world, and expresses the concrete thoughts of the man. Here also we find the same colour-scheme as in the causal body. The hues are somewhat less delicate, and we notice one or two additions. For example, a thought of pride shows itself as orange, while irritability is manifested by a brilliant scarlet. We may see here sometimes the bright brown of avarice, the grey-brown of selfishness, and the grey-green of deceit. Here also we perceive the possibility of a mixture of colours; the affection, the intellect, the devotion may be tinged by selfishness, and in that case their distinctive colours are mingled with the brown of selfishness, and so we have an impure and muddy appearance. Although its particles are always in intensely rapid motion among themselves, this body has at the same time a kind of loose organization.

The size and shape of the mental body are determined by those of the causal vehicle. There are in it certain striations which divide it more or less irregularly into segments, each of these corresponding to a certain department of the physical brain, so that every type of thought should function through its duly assigned portion. The mental body is as yet so imperfectly developed in ordinary men that there are many in whom a great number of special departments are not yet in activity, and any attempt at thought belonging to those departments has to travel round through some inappropriate channel which happens to be fully open. The result is that thought on those subjects is for those people clumsy and uncomprehending. This is why some people have a head for mathematics and others are unable to add correctly—why some people instinctively understand, appreciate and enjoy music, while others do not know one tune from another.

All the matter of the mental body should be circulating freely, but sometimes a man allows his thought upon a certain subject to set and solidify, and then the circulation is impeded, and there is a congestion which presently hardens into a kind of wart on the mental body. Such a wart appears to us down here as a prejudice; and until it is absorbed and free circulation restored, it is impossible for the man to think truly or to see clearly with regard to that particular department of his mind, as the congestion checks the free passage of undulations both outward and inward.

When a man uses any part of his mental body it not only vibrates for the time more rapidly, but it also temporarily swells out and increases in size. If there is prolonged thought upon a subject this increase becomes permanent, and it is thus open to any man to increase the size of his mental body either along desirable or undesirable lines.

Good thoughts produce vibrations of the finer matter of the body, which by its specific gravity tends to float in the upper part of the ovoid; whereas bad thoughts, such as selfishness and avarice, are always oscillations of the grosser matter, which tends to gravitate towards the lower part of the ovoid. Consequently the ordinary man, who yields himself not infrequently to selfish thoughts of various kinds, usually expands the lower part of his mental body, and presents roughly the appearance of an egg with its larger end downwards. The man who has repressed those lower thoughts, and devoted himself to higher ones, tends to expand the upper part of his mental body, and therefore presents the appearance of an egg standing on its smaller end. From a study of the colours and striations of a man's mental body the clairvoyant can perceive his character and the progress he has made in his present life. From similar features of the causal body he can see what progress the ego has made since its original formation, when the man left the animal kingdom.

When a man thinks of any concrete object—a book, a house, a landscape—he builds a tiny image of the object in the matter of his mental body. This image floats in the upper part of that body, usually in front of the face of the man and at about the level of the eyes. It remains there as long as the man is contemplating the object, and usually for a little time afterwards, the length of time depending upon the intensity and the clearness of the thought. This form is quite objective, and can be seen by another person, if that other has developed the sight of his own mental body. If a man thinks of another, he creates a tiny portrait in just the same way. If his thought is merely contemplative and involves no feeling (such as affection or dislike) or desire (such as a wish to see the person) the thought does not usually perceptibly affect the man of whom he thinks.

If coupled with the thought of the person there is a feeling, as for example of affection, another phenomenon occurs besides the forming of the image. The thought of affection takes a definite form, which it builds out of the matter of the thinker's mental body. Because of the emotion involved, it draws round it also matter of his astral body, and thus we have an astromental form which leaps out of the body in which it has been generated, and moves through space towards the object of the feeling of affection. If the thought is sufficiently strong, distance makes absolutely no difference to it; but the thought of an ordinary person is usually weak and diffused, and is therefore not effective outside a limited area.

When this thought-form reaches its object it discharges itself into his astral and mental bodies, communicating to them its own rate of vibration. Putting this in another way, a thought of love sent from one person to another involves the actual transference of a certain amount both of force and of matter from the sender to the recipient, and its effect upon the recipient is to arouse the feeling of affection in him, and slightly but permanently to increase his power of loving. But such a thought also strengthens the power of affection in the thinker, and therefore it does good simultaneously to both.

Every thought builds a form; if the thought be directed to another person it travels to him; if it be distinctly selfish it remains in the immediate neighbourhood of the thinker; if it belongs to neither of these categories it floats for awhile in space and then slowly disintegrates. Every man therefore is leaving behind him wherever he goes a trail of thought forms; as we go along the street we are walking all the time amidst a sea of other men's thoughts. If a man leaves his mind blank for a time, these residual thoughts of others drift through it, making in most cases but little impression upon him. Sometimes one arrives which attracts his attention, so that his mind seizes upon it and makes it its own, strengthens it by the addition of its force, and then casts it out again to affect somebody else. A man therefore, is not responsible for a thought which floats into his mind, because it may be not his, but someone else's; but he is responsible if he takes it up, dwells upon it and then sends it out strengthened.

Self-centred thought of any kind hangs about the thinker, and most men surround their mental bodies with a shell of such thoughts. Such a shell obscures the mental vision and facilitates the formation of prejudice.

Each thought-form is a temporary entity. It resembles a charged battery, awaiting an opportunity to discharge itself. Its tendency is always to reproduce its own rate of vibration in the mental body upon which it fastens itself, and so to arouse in it a like thought. If the person at whom it is aimed happens to be busy or already engaged in some definite train of thought, the particles of his mental body are already swinging at a certain determinate rate, and cannot for the moment be affected from without. In that case the thought-form bides its time, hanging about its object until he is sufficiently at rest to permit its entrance; then it discharges itself upon him, and in the act ceases to exist.

The self-centred thought behaves in exactly the same way with regard to its generator, and discharges itself upon him when opportunity offers. If it be an evil thought, he generally regards it as the suggestion of a tempting demon, whereas in truth he tempts himself. Usually each definite thought creates a new thought-form; but if a thought-form of the same nature is already hovering round the thinker, under certain circumstances a new thought on the same subject, instead of creating a new form, coalesces with and strengthens, the old one, so that by long brooding over the same subject a man may sometimes create a thought-form of tremendous power. If the thought be a wicked one, such a thought-form may become a veritable evil influence, lasting perhaps for many years, and having for a time all the appearance and powers of a real living entity.

All these which have been described are the ordinary unpremeditated thoughts of man. A man can make a thought-form intentionally, and aim it at another with the object of helping him. This is one of the lines of activity adopted by those who desire to serve humanity. A steady stream of powerful thought directed intelligently upon another person may be of the greatest assistance to him. A strong thought-form may be a real guardian angel, and protect its object from impurity, from irritability or from fear.

An interesting branch of the subject is the study of the various shapes and colours taken by thought-forms of different kinds. The colours indicate the nature of the thought, and are in agreement with those which we have already described as existing in the bodies. The shapes are of infinite variety, but are often in some way typical of the kind of thought which they express.

Every thought of definite character, such as a thought of affection or hatred, of devotion or suspicion, of anger or fear, of pride or jealousy, not only creates a form but also radiates an undulation. The fact that, each one of these thoughts is expressed by a certain colour indicates that the thought expresses itself as an oscillation of the matter of a certain part of the mental body. This rate of oscillation communicates itself to the surrounding mental matter precisely in the same way as the vibration of a bell communicates itself to the surrounding air.

This radiation travels out in all directions, and whenever it impinges upon another mental body in a passive or receptive condition it communicates to it something of its own vibration. This does not convey a definite complete idea, as does the thought-form, but it tends to produce a thought of the same character as itself. For example, if the thought be devotional its undulations will excite devotion, but the object of the worship may be different in the case of each person upon whose mental body they impinge. The thought-form, on the other hand, can reach only one person, but will convey to that person (if receptive) not only a general devotional feeling, but also a precise image of the Being for whom the adoration was originally felt.

Any person who habitually thinks pure, good and strong thoughts is utilizing for that purpose the higher part of his mental body—a part which is not used at all by the ordinary man, and is entirely undeveloped in him. Such an one is therefore a power for good in the world, and is being of great use to all those of his neighbours who are capable of any sort of response. For the vibration which he sends out tends to arouse a new and higher part of their mental bodies, and consequently to open before them altogether new fields of thought.

It may not be exactly the same thought as that sent out, but it is of the same nature. The undulations generated by a man thinking of Theosophy do not necessarily communicate Theosophical ideas to all those around him; but they do awaken in them more liberal and higher thought than that to which they have before been accustomed. On the other hand, the thought-forms generated under such circumstances, though more limited in their action than the radiation, are also more precise; they can affect only those who are to some extent open to them, but to them they will convey definite Theosophical ideas.

The colours of the astral body bear the same meaning as those of the higher vehicles, but are several octaves of colours below them, and much more nearly approaching to such hues as we see in the physical world. It is the vehicle of passion and emotion, and consequently it may exhibit additional colours, expressing man's less desirable feelings, which cannot show themselves at higher levels; for example, a lurid brownish-red indicates the presence of sensuality, while black clouds show malice and hatred. A curious livid grey betokens the presence of fear, and a much darker grey, usually arranged in heavy rings around the ovoid, indicates a condition of depression. Irritability is shown by the presence of a number of small scarlet flecks in the astral body, each representing a small angry impulse. Jealousy is shown by a peculiar brownish-green, generally studded with the same scarlet flecks. The astral body is in size and shape like those just described, and in the ordinary man its outline is usually clearly marked; but in the case of primitive man it is often exceedingly irregular, and resembles a rolling cloud composed of all the more unpleasant colours.

When the astral body is comparatively quiet (it is never actually at rest) the colours which are to be seen in it indicate those emotions to which the man is most in the habit of yielding himself. When the man experiences a rush of any particular feeling, the rate of vibration which expresses that feeling dominates for a time the entire astral body. If, for example, it be devotion, the whole of his astral body is flushed with, blue, and while the emotion remains at its strongest the normal colours do little more than modify the blue, or appear faintly through a veil of it; but presently the vehemence of the sentiment dies away, and the normal colours re-assert themselves. But because of that spasm of emotion the part of the astral body which is normally blue has been increased in size. Thus a man who frequently feels high devotion soon comes to have a large area of the blue permanently existing in his astral body.

When the rush of devotional feeling comes over him, it is usually accompanied by thoughts of devotion. Although primarily formed in the mental body, these draw round themselves a large amount of astral matter as well, so that their action is in both worlds. In both worlds also is the radiation which was previously described, so that the devotional man is a centre of devotion, and will influence other people to share both his thoughts and his feelings. The same is true in the case of affection, anger, depression—and, indeed, of all other feelings.

The flood of emotion does not itself greatly affect the mental body, although for a time it may render it almost impossible for any activity from that mental body to come through into the physical brain. That is not because that body itself is affected, but because the astral body, which acts as a bridge between it and the physical brain, is vibrating so entirely at one rate as to be incapable of conveying any undulation which is not in harmony with that.

The permanent colours of the astral body react upon, the mental. They produce in it their correspondences, several octaves higher, in the same manner as a musical note produces overtones. The mental body in its turn reacts upon the causal in the same way, and thus all the good qualities expressed in the lower vehicles by degrees establish themselves permanently in the ego. The evil qualities cannot do so, as the rates of vibrations which express them are impossible for the higher mental matter of which the causal body is constructed.

So far, we have described vehicles which are the expression of the ego in their respective worlds—vehicles, which he provides for himself; in the physical world we come to a vehicle which is provided for him by Nature under laws which will be later explained—which though also in some sense an expression of him, is by no means a perfect manifestation. In ordinary life we see only a small part of this physical body—only that which is built of the solid and liquid subdivisions of physical matter. The body contains matter of all the seven subdivisions, and all of them play their part in its life and are of equal importance, to it.

We usually speak of the invisible part of the physical body as the etheric double; "double" because it exactly reproduces the size and shape of the part of the body that we can see, and "etheric" because it is built—of that finer kind of matter by the vibrations of which light is conveyed to the retina of the eye. (This must not be confused with the true aether of space—that of which matter is the negation.) This invisible part of the physical body is of great importance to us, since it is the vehicle through which flow the streams of vitality which keep the body alive, and without it, as a bridge to convey undulations of thought and feeling from the astral to the visible denser physical matter, the ego could make no use of the cells of his brain.

The life of a physical body is one of perpetual change and in order that it shall live, it needs constantly to be supplied from three distinct sources. It must have food for its digestion, air for its breathing, and vitality for its absorption. This vitality is essentially a force, but when clothed in matter it appears to us as a definite element, which exists in all the worlds of which we have spoken. At the moment we are concerned with that manifestation of it which we find in the highest subdivision of the physical world. Just as the blood circulates through the veins, so does the vitality circulate along the nerves; and precisely as any abnormality in the flow of the blood at once affects the physical body, so does the slightest irregularity in the absorption or flow of the vitality affect this higher part of the physical body.

Vitality is a force which comes originally from the sun. When an ultimate physical atom is charged with it, it draws round itself six other atoms, and makes itself into an etheric element. The original force of vitality is then subdivided into seven, each of the atoms carrying a separate charge. The element thus made is absorbed into the human body through the etheric part of the spleen. It is there split up into its component parts, which at once low to the various parts of the body assigned to them. The spleen is one of the seven force centres in the etheric part of the physical body. In each of our vehicles seven such centres should be in activity, and when they are thus active they are visible to clairvoyant sight. They appear usually as shallow vortices, for they are the points at which the force from the higher bodies enters the lower. In the physical body these centres are: (1) at the base of the spine, (2) at the solar plexus, (3) at the spleen, (4) over the heart, (5) at the throat, (6) between the eyebrows, and (7) at the top of the head. There are other dormant centres, but their awakening is undesirable.

The shape of all the higher bodies as seen by the clairvoyant is ovoid, but the matter composing them is not equally distributed throughout the egg. In the midst of this ovoid is the physical body. The physical body strongly attracts astral matter, and in its turn the astral matter strongly attracts mental matter. Therefore by far the greater part of the matter of the astral body is gathered within the physical frame; and the same is true of the mental vehicle. If we see the astral body of a man in its own world, apart from the physical body we shall still perceive the astral matter aggregated in exactly the shape of the physical, although, as the matter is more fluidic in its nature, what we see is a body built of dense mist, in the midst of an ovoid of much finer mist. The same is true for the mental body. Therefore, if in the astral or the mental world we should meet an acquaintance, we should recognise him by his appearance just as instantly as in the physical world.

This, then, is the true constitution of man. In the first place he is a Monad, a Spark of the Divine. Of that Monad the ego is a partial expression, formed in order that he may enter evolution, and may return to the Monad with joy, bringing his sheaves with him in the shape of qualities developed by garnered experience. The ego in his turn puts down part of himself for the same purpose into lower worlds, and we call that part a personality, because the Latin word persona means a mask, and this personality is the mask which the ego puts upon himself when he manifests in worlds lower than his own. Just as the ego is a small part and an imperfect expression of the Monad, so is the personality a small part and an imperfect expression of the ego; so that what we usually think of as the man is only in truth a fragment of a fragment.

The personality wears three bodies or vehicles, the mental, the astral and the physical. While the man is what we call alive and awake on the physical earth he is limited by his physical body, for he uses the astral and mental bodies only as bridges to connect himself with his lowest vehicle. One of the limitations of the physical body is that it quickly becomes fatigued and needs periodical rest. Each night the man leaves it to sleep, and withdraws into his astral vehicle, which does not become fatigued, and therefore needs no sleep. During this sleep of the physical body the man is free to move about in the astral world; but the extent to which he does this depends upon his development. The primitive savage usually does not move more than a few miles away from his sleeping physical form—often not as much as that; and he has only the vaguest consciousness.

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