Passages From The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception by Max Heindel
Any great law of nature must necessarily be in harmony with all her other laws. Therefore it may be very helpful to the inquirer to examine these theories in their relation to what are admitted by all parties to be "known laws of nature," as observed in that part of our universe with which we are more familiar. To this end we will first state the three theories:
The Materialistic Theory holds that life is a journey from the womb to the tomb; that mind is the result of certain correlations of matter; than man is the highest intelligence in the Cosmos; and, that his intelligence perishes when the body disintegrates at death.
The Theory of Theology asserts that at each birth a newly-created soul enters the arena of life fresh from the hand of God, passing from an invisible state through the gate of birth into visible existence; that at the end of one short span of life in the material world it passes out through the gate of death into the invisible beyond, whence it returns no more; that its happiness or misery there is determined for all eternity by its actions during the infinitesimal period intervening between birth and death.
The Theory of Rebirth teaches that each soul is an integral part of God, enfolding all divine possibilities as the seed enfolds the plant; that by means of repeated existences in an earthly body of gradually improving quality, the latent possibilities are slowly developed into dynamic powers; that none are lost by this process, but that all mankind will ultimately attain the goal of perfection and re-union with God.
The first of these theories is monistic. It seeks to explain all facts of existence as processes within the material world. The two other theories agree in being dualistic, that is, they ascribe some of the facts and phases of existence to a super-physical, invisible state, but they differ widely on other points.
Bringing the materialistic theory into comparison with the known laws of the universe, we find that the continuity of force is as well established as the continuity of matter and both are beyond the need of elucidation. We also know that matter and force are inseparable in the Physical World. This is contrary to the materialistic theory, which holds that mind perishes at death. When nothing can be destroyed, mind must be included. Moreover we know that mind is superior to matter, for it molds the fact, so that it becomes a reflection or mirror of the mind. We have discovered that the particles of our bodies are constantly changing; that at least once in seven years there is a change in every atom of matter composing them. If the materialistic theory were true, the consciousness ought also to undergo an entire change, with no memory of that which preceded, so that at no time could man remember any event more than seven years. We know that is not the case. We remember the events of our childhood. Many of the most trivial incidents though forgotten in ordinary consciousness, have been distinctly recalled in a swift vision of the whole life by drowning persons, who have related the experience after resuscitation. Similar experiences in states of trance are also common. Materialism is unable to account for these phases of sub- and super-consciousness. It ignores them. At the present stage of scientific investigation, where leading scientists have established beyond a doubt the existence of these phenomena, the policy of ignoring them is a serious defect in a theory claiming to solve the greatest problem of life--Life itself.
We may therefore safely pass from the materialistic theory as being inadequate to solve the mystery of life and death and turn to a consideration of the next theory.
One of the greatest objections to the orthodox theological doctrine, as it is expounded, is its entire and confessed inadequacy. Of the myriads of souls which have been created and have inhabited this Globe since the beginning of existence, even if that beginning dates back no further than six thousand years, the insignificant number of only "one hundred and forty and four thousand" are to be saved! The rest are to be tortured forever and ever! The devil gets the best of it all the time. One cannot help saying with Buddha, "If God permits such misery to exist He cannot be good, and if He is powerless to prevent it, He cannot be God."
Nothing in nature is analogous to such a method of creation in order that destruction may follow. It is represented that God desires ALL should be saved and is averse to the destruction of any, having for their salvation "given His only Son," and yet this "glorious plan of salvation" fails to save!
If a trans-Atlantic liner with two thousand souls on board sent a wireless message that she was sinking just off Sandy Hook, would it be regarded as a "glorious plan of salvation" if a fast motor-boat capable of rescuing only two or three people, were sent to her aid? Certainly not! It would more likely be denounced as a "plan of destruction" if adequate means were not provided for the saving of at least the majority of those in danger.
But the theologians' plan of salvation is vastly worse than this, because two or three of two thousand is an immensely greater proportion than the orthodox theological plan of saving only 144,000 out of all the myriads of souls created. We may safely reject this theory also, as being untrue, because unreasonable. If God were all-wise He would have evolved a more efficacious plan. So He has, and the above is only the theory of the theologian. The teaching of the Bible is very different, as will appear later.
We turn now to consider the doctrine of Rebirth, which postulates a slow process of development, carried on with unwavering persistence through repeated embodiments in forms of increasing efficiency whereby all are, in time, brought to a height of spiritual splendor at present inconceivable to us. There is nothing unreasonable nor difficult to accept in such a theory. As we look about us we find everywhere in nature this striving for perfection in a slow, persistent manner. We find no sudden process of creation or destruction, such as the theologian postulates, but we do find "Evolution."
Evolution is "the history of the progression of the Spirit in Time." Everywhere, as we see about us the varied phenomena in the universe, we realize that the path of evolution is a spiral. Each loop of the spiral is a cycle. Each cycle merges into the next, as the loops of the spiral are continuous, each cycle being the improved product of those preceding it and the creator of those more developed states which succeed it.
A straight line is but the extension of a point. It occupies but one dimension in space. The theory of the materialist and that of the theologian would be analogous to this line. The materialist makes the line of life start at birth, and to be consistent, the death hour must terminate it. The theologian commences his line with the creation of the soul just previous to birth. After death the soul lives on, its fate irretrievably determined by the deeds of a few short years. There is no coming back to correct mistakes. The line runs straight on, implying a modicum of experience and no elevation for the soul after death.
Natural progression does not follow a straight line such as these two theories imply; nor even a circular path, for that would imply a never-ending round of the same experiences and the use of only two dimensions in space. All things move in progressive cycles and in order to take full advantages of all the opportunities for advancement offered by our three-dimensional universe, it is necessary that the evolving life should take the three-dimensional path--the spiral--which goes ever onward and upward.
Whether we look at the modest little plant in our garden, or go to the redwood district of California and examine one of the giant Sequoias with its thirty-foot diameter, it is always the same--every branch, twig or leaf will be found growing in either a single or a double spiral, or in opposite pairs, each balancing either, analogous to ebb and flow, day and night, life and death and other alternating activities in nature.
Examine the vaulted arch of the sky and observe the fiery nebulae or the path of the Solar-Systems--everywhere the spiral meets the eye. In the spring the Earth discards its white blanket and emerges from its period of rest its winter sleep. All activities are exerted to bring forth new life everywhere. Time passes. The corn and the grape are ripened and harvested. Again the busy summer fades into the silence and inactivity of the winter. Again the snowy coverlet enwraps the Earth. But her sleep is not forever; she will wake again to the song of the new spring, which will mark for her a little further progress along the pathway of time.
So with the Sun. He rises in the morning of each day, but each morning he is further along on his journey through the year.
Everywhere the spiral--Onward, Upward, Forever!
Is it possible that this law, so universal in all other realms, should be inoperative in the life of man? Shall the earth wake each year from its winter sleep; shall the tree and the flower live again and man die? It cannot be! The same law that wakes the life in the plant to new growth will wake the human being to new experience, to further progress toward the goal of perfection. Therefore the theory of Rebirth, which teaches repeated embodiment in gradually improving vehicles, is in perfect accord with evolution and the phenomena of nature, which the other two theories are not.
Regarding life from an ethical viewpoint, we find that the law of Rebirth coupled with the companion law of Consequence, is the only theory that will satisfy a sense of justice, in harmony with the facts of life as we see them about us.
It is not easy for the logical mind to understand how a "just and loving" God can require the same virtues from the milliards whom He has been "pleased to place in differing circumstances" according to no apparent rule nor system, but willy-nilly, according to His own capricious mood. One lives in luxury; the other on "kicks and crusts." One has a moral education and an atmosphere of high ideals; the other is placed in squalid surroundings and taught to lie and steal and that the more he does of both, the more of a success he is. It is just to require the same of both? Is it right to reward one for living a good life when he was placed in an environment that made it extremely difficult for him to go astray, or to punish the other, who was handicapped to such an extent that he never had an idea of what constitutes true morality? Surely not! Is it not more logical to think that we may have misinterpreted the Bible than to impute to God such a monstrous plan and method of procedure?
It is useless to say that we must not inquire into the mysteries of God; that they are past our finding out. The inequalities of life can be satisfactorily explained by the twin laws of Rebirth and Consequence and made to harmonize with the conception of a just and loving God, as taught by Christ Himself.
Moreover, by means of these twin laws a way to emancipation from present undesirable position or environment is shown, together with the means of attaining to any degree of development, no matter how imperfect we may be now.
What we are, what we have, all our good qualities are the result of our own actions in the past. What we lack in physical, moral, or mental excellence may yet be ours in the future.
Exactly as we cannot do otherwise than take up our lives each morning where we laid them down the preceding night, so by our work in previous lives have we made the conditions under which we now live and labor, and are at present creating the conditions of our future lives. Instead of bemoaning the lack of this or that faculty which we covet, we must set to work to acquire it.
If one child plays beautifully on a musical instrument, with hardly an effort at learning, while another, despite persistent effort, is a poor player in comparison, it merely shows that one expended the effort in a previous life and is easily regaining a former proficiency, while the efforts of the other have been started only in the present life, and in consequence we see the uphill work. But, if the latter persist, he may, even in the present life, become superior to the former unless the former constantly improves.
That we do not remember the effort made in acquiring a faculty by hard work is immaterial, it does not alter the fact that the faculty remains with us.
Genius is the hall-mark of the advanced soul, which by hard work in many previous lives has developed itself in some way beyond the normal achievements of the race. It reveals a glimpse of the degree of attainment which will be the common possession of the coming Race. It cannot be accounted for by heredity, which applies only in part to the dense body and not to qualities of the soul. If genius could be accounted for by heredity, why is there not a long line of mechanical ancestry previous to Thomas Edison, each more capable than his predecessor? Why does not genius propagate itself? Why is not Siegfried the son, greater than Richard Wagner, the father?
In cases where the expression of genius depends upon the possession of specially constructed organs, requiring ages of development, the Ego naturally is reborn in a family the Egos of which have, for generations, labored to build a similar organism. That is why twenty-nine musicians of more or less genius were born in the Bach family during a period of two hundred and fifty years. That genius is an expression of the soul and not of the body is shown by the fact that it did not gradually improve and reach efflorescence in the person of John Sebastian Bach, but that the proficiency which reached its highest expression in him towered high above ancestors and descendants alike.
The body is simply an instrument, the work it yields being dependent upon the Ego which guides it, as the quality of the melody is dependent upon the musician's skill, aided by the timbre of the instrument. A good musician cannot fully express himself on a poor instrument, and even upon the same instrument, all musicians do not and cannot play alike. Because an Ego seeks rebirth as the son of a great musician it does not necessarily follow that he must be a still greater genius, as would be the case if the physical heredity were a fact and genius were not a soul-quality.
The "Law of Attraction" accounts in quite as satisfactory a manner for the facts we ascribe to heredity. We know that people of like tastes will seek another. If we know that a friend is in a certain city, but are ignorant of his address, we will naturally be governed by the law of association in our efforts to find him. If he is a musician, he will most likely be found where musicians are wont to assemble; if he is a student inquiry will be made at public libraries, reading-rooms and book stores, or if he is a sporting man we would seek him at race tracks, pool-rooms or saloons. It is not probable that the musician or the student would frequent the latter places and it is safe to say that our search for the sporting man would not be successful if we sought him in a library or at a classical concert.
Similarly, the Ego ordinarily gravitates to the most congenial associations. It is constrained to do so by one of the twin forces of the Desire World--the force of Attraction.
The objection may be urged that there are people of entirely opposite tastes, or bitter enemies even, in the same family, and if the law of Association governed why should they be attracted thereto?
The explanation of such cases is that during the Ego's earth lives many relations have been established with various people. These relations were pleasant or otherwise, involving on one hand obligations which were not liquidated at the time; or on the other involving the infliction of an injury and a feeling of very strong hate between the injured and his enemy. The law of Consequence requires an exact adjustment of the score. Death does not "pay it all" any more than moving to another city will liquidate a monetary debt. The time comes when the two enemies will meet again. The old hate has brought them together in the same family, because it is the purpose of God that all shall love one another; therefore hate must be transformed into love and though, perchance, they may spend many lives "fighting it out," they will at some time learn the lesson and become friends and mutual benefactors instead of enemies. In such cases the Interest these people had in one another set in action the force of Attraction, and that brought them together. Had they simply been mutually Indifferent they could not have become associated.
Thus do the twin laws of Rebirth and Consequence solve, in a rational manner, all the problems incident to human life as man steadily advances toward the next stage in evolution--the Superman. The trend of humanity's progress is onward and upward forever, says this theory--not as some people think who have confounded the doctrine of Rebirth with the foolish teaching of some Indian tribes who believe that man is reborn in animals or plants. That would be retrogression. No authority for this doctrine of retrogression can be found in nature or in the sacred books of any religion. In one (and one only) of the religious writings of India is it touched upon. In the Kathopanishad (chapter. v, verse 9) it is stated that "Some men, according to their deeds, go into the womb and others into the 'sthanu.'" "Sthanu" is a Sanskrit word, which means "motionless," but it also means "a pillar," and has been interpreted to mean that some men, because of their sins, go back to the motionless plant kingdom.
Spirits incarnate only to gain experience; to conquer the world; to overcome the lower self and attain self-mastery. When we realize this we shall understand that there comes a time when there is no further need for incarnation because the lessons have all been learned. The teaching of the Kathopanishad indicates that instead of remaining tied to the wheel of birth and death, man will at some time go into the motionless state of "Nirvana."
In the Book of Revelation we find these worlds: "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall go no more out," referring to entire liberation from concrete existence. Nowhere is there any authority for the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. A man who has evolved so far as to have an individual, separate soul cannot turn back in his progress and enter the vehicle of animal or plant, which are under a group-spirit. The individual spirit is a higher evolution than the group-spirit and the lesser cannot obtain the greater.
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