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Searchable Full Text of A Textbook of Theosophy by C W Leadbeater


A Textbook of Theosophy


C W Leadbeater

The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar

1912, 1914, 1918, 1925,1937




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The Secret Doctrine by H P Blavatsky


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      1 What Theosophy Is

      2 From the Absolute to Man

      3 The Formation of a Solar System

      4 The Evolution of Life

      5 The Constitution of Man

      6 After Death

      7 Reincarnation

      8 The Purpose of Life

      9 The Planetary Chains

      10The Result of Theosophical Study


 ---------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales---------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL



(Page 1 ) “ There is a school of philosophy still in existence of which modern

culture has lost sight.” In these words Mr. A. P. Sinnett began his1881 book,

The Occult World, the first popular exposition of Theosophy, published thirty

years ago. 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


Two books already exist which answer that question: Mr. Sinnett’s Esoteric

Buddhism and Mrs. 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, because it puts plainly before

us an explanation of the scheme (Page 2) 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 (Page 3) 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 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 (Page 4 ) 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


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

seem 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 (Page 5) 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 (Page 6) 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



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 hypothesis – provisionally to accept and act upon them, until such time

as they can prove for themselves.

Secondly, Theosophy never endeavours to convert (Page 7) 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 aspect 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 recently issued book on Occult


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 (Page 8) 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. (Page


---------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales----------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL



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 Eastern Scripture:

“Having permeated this whole universe with one fragment of Myself, I remain”.

Of this higher life of His we can know nothing. But of the fragment of His life


which energizes 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 as done this; why He (Page 10) 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


“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 (Page 11) 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 centers of the brain. All evolution which comes

forth from Him comes through one or other of Them.

Under Them in turn come vast hosts or order of spiritual beings, whom we call

angels or devas. We do not yet know all the functions which They fulfill 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 (Page 12) 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 who it was offered. The condition

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 of 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. (Page 13)

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 what 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 (Page 14 ) 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 on apprentices those who have resolved to devote themselves

utterly to the services 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 some forty years ago [1875]. With

Colonel Henry Steele 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 (Page 15) 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 has 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 majority 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 (Page 16) 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 only say 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 learned 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 (Page 17) 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. (Page 18)

Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales----------
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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 is

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 (Page 19) times

greater than that of water, and it means 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. The effect of

the introduction of this force is at 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


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 (Page 20) 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 – (Page 21) 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 lowest world – that atom containing 49 6 of the original


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 center.

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 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’ paper on The Genesis

of the Elements. Indeed the process of their making it is not even (Page 22) 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 roll 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 set 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 (Page 23) 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 center than does the denser


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 of 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 (Page 24) 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, super-etheric, subatomic and atomic.(Page 25)

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 be first 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


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 (Page 26) unconscious, because his senses cannot respond to

the oscillations of their matter, just as our physical eyes cannot see by the

vibrations of ultraviolet 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 the 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 centered 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 (Page 27) 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 center of it. (Page 28)

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All the impulses of life which I have described as building the interpenetrating

worlds came 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 (Page 29 ) – 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 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 the 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


After another vast period of similar length, it is found that the downward

pressure has caused this (Page 30 ) 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 in 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 (Page 31) 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 the

mosquitoes or with animalculae, and might end with the finest specimens of the

mammals. (Page 32)

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 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 (Page 33) – 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 (Page 34) 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 soul-lion

cannot be separated 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 coloring matter or some

kind of flavoring. 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 coloring matter or the flavoring will be distributed (Page 35) through the

whole of the water in the bucket, but will be a much fainter coloring, a much

less pronounced flavor 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


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 coloring or flavoring 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 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 (Page 36) 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

coloring matter and returned to it, the whole bucketful of water gradually

becomes richer in color. Suppose that by imperceptible degrees a kind of

vertical film forms itself across the center 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 half 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 (Page 37) the lower stages – that is, it will never inhabit insects or

reptiles, but will begin at once at the level of the lower mammals. 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 savage 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 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.(Page 38)

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 (Page

39) 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 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


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

(Page 40) 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. (Page 41)

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Man is therefore in essence a Spark of the divine Fire, belonging to the monadic

world. (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) To that Spark, dwelling all the time in that

world, we give the name “Monad”. For the purpose of human evolution 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 (Page 42)

       New Names Old Names


      1Divine World Âdi Plane

      2Monadic World Anupâdaka

      3Spiritual World Âtmic or Nirvânic Plane

      4Intuitional World Buddhic Plane

      5Mental World Mental Plane

      6Emotional or Astral World Astral Plane

      7Physical World Physical Plane

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


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 casual body.

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) (Page 43) 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

centered 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 had habituated himself, and usually his stay at this

level is a long one. At last it comes to an end, 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 ultraviolet 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 (Page 44) 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 turn, 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 (Page 45) 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

(Page 46) 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 colorless 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 colors, 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 colors are significant. The vibration which denotes the power of unselfish

affection shows itself as a pale rose-color; 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 color 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.(Page 47)

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 casual 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

casual 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 colorless, while the second is full of brilliant coruscating

tints. As the man passes beyond even sainthood 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


The mental body is built of matter of the four lower (Page 48) subdivisions of

the mental world, and expresses the concrete thoughts of the man. Here also we

find the same color scheme as in the casual 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 grey-green of deceit. Here also we perceive the possibility of

a mixture of colors; the affection, the intellect, the devotion may be tinged by

selfishness, and in that case their distinctive colors 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. (Page 49) 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 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 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 to various kinds, usually (Page 50) 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 colors 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 desires

(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 (Page 51) 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 astro-mental

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 (Page 52) him wherever he goes a trail of thought-forms; as we go

along the street we are walking all the same amidst a sea of other men’s

thoughts. If a man leaves his mind blank for a time, these residual thoughts of

others drifts 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-centered 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; (Page 53) then it discharges itself upon him, and in the act ceases to


The self-centered 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


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

colors taken by thought-forms (Page 54) of different kinds. The colors 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 color 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 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.(Page 55)

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 colors of the astral body bear the same meaning as those of the higher

vehicles, but are several octaves of color 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 colors,

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 (Page 56) 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 colors.

When the astral body is comparatively quiet (it is never actually at rest) the

colors 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 colors 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 colors reassert 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 blue permanently existing in his astral body.(Page 57)

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 devotional man is a center 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 colors of the astral body reacts 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 vibration which express them are

impossible for the higher mental matter of which the causal body is

constructed.(Page 58)

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 explained later – 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 keeps 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, (Page 59) and vitality

for its absorption. This vitality is essentially a force, but when clothed in

matter it appears to us 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 flow to the

various parts of the body assigned to them. The spleen is one of the seven

force-centers in the etheric part of the physical body. In each of our vehicles

seven such centers 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 centers 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, (Page 60

) (6) between the eyebrows, and (7) at the top of the head. There are other

dormant centers, 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 recognize 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 (Page 61) 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 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.

The educated man is generally able to travel in his astral vehicle wherever he

will, and has much more consciousness in the astral world, though he has not

often the faculty of bringing into his waking life any memory of what he has

seen and done while his physical body was asleep. Sometimes he does remember

some incident which he has seen, some experience (Page 62) which he has had, and

then he calls it a vivid dream. More often his recollections are hopelessly

entangled with vague memories of waking life, and with impressions made from

without upon the etheric part of his brain. Thus we arrive at the confused and

often absurd dreams of ordinary life. The developed man becomes as fully

conscious and active in the astral world as in the physical, and brings through

into the latter full remembrance of what he has been doing in the former – that

is, he has a continuous life without any loss of consciousness throughout the

whole twenty-four hours, and thus throughout the whole of his physical life, and

even through death itself.(Page 63)

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Death is the laying aside of the physical body; but it makes no more difference

to the ego than does the laying aside of an overcoat to the physical man. Having

put off his physical body, the ego continues to live in his astral body until

the force has become exhausted which has been generated by such emotions and

passions as he has allowed himself to feel during earth life. When that has

happened, the second death takes place; the astral body also falls away from

him, and he finds himself living in the mental body and in the lower mental

world. In that condition he remains until the thought forces generated during

his physical and astral lives have worn themselves out; then he drops the third

vehicle in its turn and remains once more an ego in his own world, inhabiting

his causal body.

There is, then, no such thing as death as it is ordinarily understood. There is

only a succession of stages in a continuous life – stages lived in the three

worlds one after another. The apportionment of time between these three worlds

varies much as man advances. The primitive man lives almost exclusively in the

physical world, spending only a few years in the astral at the end of each of

his physical lives. As he develops, the astral life becomes longer, and as

intellect (Page 64) unfolds in him, and he becomes able to think, he begins to

spend a little time in the mental world as well. The ordinary man of civilized

races remains longer in the mental world than in the physical and astral;

indeed, the more a man evolves the longer becomes his mental life and the

shorter his life in the astral world.

The astral life is the result of all feelings which have in them the element of

self. If they have been directly selfish, they bring him into conditions of

great unpleasantness in the astral world; if, though tinged with thoughts of

self, they have been good and kindly they bring him a comparatively pleasant

though still limited astral life. Such of his thoughts and feelings as have been

entirely unselfish produce their result in his life in the mental world;

therefore that life in the mental world cannot be other than blissful. The

astral life, which the man has made for himself either miserable or

comparatively joyous, corresponds to what Christians call purgatory; the lower

mental life, which is always entirely happy, is what is called heaven.

Man makes for himself his own purgatory and heaven, and these are not planes,

but states of consciousness. Hell does not exist; it is only a figment of the

theological imagination; but a man who lives foolishly may make for himself a

very unpleasant and long-enduring purgatory. Neither purgatory nor heaven can

ever be eternal, for a finite cause cannot produce an infinite result. The


variations in individual cases are so wide that to give actual figures is

somewhat misleading. If we take the average man of (Page 65) what is called the

lower middle class, the typical specimen of which would be a small shopkeeper or

shop-assistant, his average life in the astral world would be perhaps about

forty years, and the life in the mental world about two hundred. The man of

spirituality and culture, on the other hand, may have perhaps twenty years of

life in the astral world and a thousand in the heaven life. One who is specially

developed may reduce the astral life to a few days or hours and spend fifteen

hundred years in heaven.

Not only does the length of these periods vary greatly, but the conditions in

both worlds also differ widely. The matter of which all these bodies are built

is not dead matter but living, and that fact has to be taken into consideration.

The physical body is built up of cells, each of which is a tiny separate life

animated by the Second Outpouring, which comes forth from the Second Aspect of

the Deity. These cells are of varying kinds and fulfill various functions, and

all these facts must be taken into account if the man wishes to understand the

work of his physical body and to live a healthy life in it.

The same thing applies to the astral and mental bodies. In the cell life which

permeates them there is as yet nothing in the way of intelligence, but there is

a strong instinct always pressing in the direction of what is for its

development. The life animating the matter of which such bodies are built is

upon the outward arc of evolution, moving downwards or outwards into matter, so

that progress for it means to descend into denser forms of matter, and to learn

to express itself (Page 66) through them. Unfoldment for the man is just the

opposite of this; he has already sunk deeply into matter and is now rising out

of that towards his source. There is consequently a constant conflict of

interests between the man within and the life inhabiting the matter of his

vehicles, inasmuch as its tendency is downward, while his is upward.

The matter of the astral body (or rather the life animating its molecules)

desires for its evolution such undulations as it can get, of as many different

kinds as possible, and as coarse as possible. The next step in its evolution

will be to ensoul physical matter and become used to its still slower

oscillations; and as a step on the way to that, it desires the grossest of the

astral vibrations. It has not the intelligence definitely to plan for these; but

its instinct helps it to discover how most easily to procure them.

The molecules of the astral body are constantly changing, as are those of the

physical body, but nevertheless the life in the mass of those astral molecules

has a sense, though a very vague sense, of itself as a whole – as a kind of

temporary entity. It does not know that it is part of a man’s astral body; it is

quite capable of understanding what a man is; but it realizes in a blind way

that under its present conditions it receives many more waves, and much stronger

ones, than it would receive if floating at large in the atmosphere. It would

then only occasionally catch, as from a distance, the radiation of man’s

passions and emotions; now it is in the very heart of them, it can miss none,

and it gets them at their strongest. Therefore it (Page 67) feels itself in a

good position, and it makes an effort to retain that position. It finds itself

in contact with something finer than itself – the matter of the man’s mental

body; and it comes to feel that if it can contrive to involve that finer

something in its own undulations, they will be greatly intensified and


Since astral matter is the vehicle of desire and mental matter is the vehicle of

thought, this instinct, when translated into our language, means that if the

astral body can induce us to think that we want what it wants, it is much more

likely to get it. Thus it exercises a slow steady pressure upon the man – a kind

of hunger on its side, but for him a temptation to what is coarse and

undesirable. If he be a passionate man there is a gentle but ceaseless pressure

in the direction of irritability; if he be a sensual man, an equally steady

pressure in the direction of impurity.

A man who does not understand this usually makes one of two mistakes with regard

to it: either he supposes it to be the prompting of his own nature, and

therefore regards that nature as inherently evil; or he thinks of the pressure

as coming from outside – as temptation of an imaginary devil. The truth lies

between the two. The pressure is natural, not to the man but to the vehicle

which he is using; its desire is natural and right for it, but harmful to the

man, and therefore it is necessary that he should resist it. If he does so

resist, if he declines to yield himself to the feelings suggested to him, the

particles within him which need those vibrations become apathetic for lack of

nourishment, and eventually atrophy and fall out (Page 68) from his astral body,

and are replaced by other particles, whose natural wave rate is more nearly in

accordance with that which the man habitually permits within his astral body.

This gives the reason for what are called promptings of the lower nature during

life. If the man yields himself to them, such promptings grow stronger and

stronger until at least he feels as though he could not resist them, and

identifies himself with them – which is exactly what this curious half-life in

the particles of the astral body wants him to do.

At the death of the physical body this vague astral consciousness is alarmed. It

realizes that its existence as a separated mass is menaced, and it takes

instinctive steps to defend itself and to maintain its position as long as

possible. The matter of the astral body is far more fluidic than that of the

physical, and this consciousness seizes upon its particles and disposes them so

as to resist encroachment. It puts the grossest and densest upon the outside as

a kind of shell, and arranges the others in concentric layers, so that the body

as a whole may become as resistant to friction as its constitution permits, and

may therefore retain its shape as long as possible.

For the man this produces various unpleasant effects. The physiology of the

astral body is quite different from that of the physical; the latter acquires

its information from without by means of certain organs which are specialized as

the instruments of its senses, but the astral body has no separated senses in

our meaning of the word. That which for the astral body (Page 69) corresponds to

sight is the power of its molecules to respond to impacts from without, which

come to them by means of similar molecules. For example, a man has within his

astral body matter belonging to all the subdivisions of the astral world, and it

is because of that that he is capable of “seeing” objects built of the matter of

any of these subdivisions.

Supposing an astral object to be made of the matter of the second and third

subdivisions mixed, a man living in the astral world could perceive that object

only if on the surface of his astral body there were particles belonging to the

second and third subdivisions of that world which were capable of receiving and

recording the vibrations which that object set up. A man who from the

arrangement of his body by the vague consciousness of which we have spoken, had

on the outside of that vehicle only the denser matter of the lowest subdivision,

could no more be conscious of the object which we have mentioned than we are

ourselves conscious in the physical body of the gases which move about us in the

atmosphere or of objects built exclusively of etheric matter.

During physical life the matter of the man’s astral body is in constant motion,

and its particles pass among one another much as do those of boiling water.

Consequently at any given moment it is practically certain that particles of all

varieties will be represented on the surface of his astral body, and that

therefore when he is using his astral body during sleep he will be able to “see”

by its means any astral object which approaches him.(Page 70)

After death, if he has allowed the rearrangement to be made (as from ignorance,

all ordinary persons do) his condition in this respect will be different. Having

on the surface of his astral body only the lowest and grossest particles, he can

receive impressions only from corresponding particles outside; so that instead

of seeing the whole of the astral world about him, he will see only one-seventh

of it, and that the densest and most impure. The vibrations of this heavier

matter are the expressions only of objectionable feelings and emotions, and of

the least refined class of astral entities. Therefore it emerges that a man in

this condition can see only the undesirable inhabitants of the astral world, and

can feel only its most unpleasant and vulgar influences.

He is surrounded by other men, whose astral bodies are probably of quite

ordinary character; but since he can see and feel only what is lowest and

coarsest in them, they appear to him to be monsters of vice with no redeeming

features. Even his friends seem not at all what they used to be, because he is

now incapable of appreciating any of their better qualities. Under these

circumstances it is little wonder that he considers the astral world a hell; yet

the fault is in no way with the astral world, but with himself – first, for

allowing himself so much of that ruder type of matter, and secondly, for letting

that vague astral consciousness dominate him and dispose it in that particular


The man who has studied these matters declines absolutely to yield to the

pressure during life or to permit the rearrangement after death, and

consequently he retains his power of seeing the astral world as a (Page 71)

whole, and not merely the cruder and baser part of it.

The astral world has many points in common with the physical; just like the

physical, it presents different appearances to different people, and even to the

same person at different periods of his career. It is the home of emotion and of

lower thoughts; and emotions are much stronger in that world than in this. When

a person is awake we cannot see that larger part of his emotion at all; its

strength goes in setting in motion the gross physical matter of the brain. So if

we see a man show affection here, what we can see is not the whole of his

affection, but only such part of it as is left after all this other work has

been done. Emotions therefore bulk far more largely in the astral life than in

the physical. They in no way exclude higher thought if they are controlled, so

in the astral world as in the physical a man may devote himself to study and to

helping his fellows, or he may waste his time and drift about aimlessly.

The astral world extends nearly to the mean distance of the orbit of the moon;

but though the whole of this realm is open to any of its inhabitants who have

not permitted the redistribution of their matter, the great majority remain much

nearer to the surface of the earth. The matter of the different subdivisions of

that world interpenetrates with perfect freedom, but there is on the whole a

general tendency for the denser matter to settle towards the center. The

conditions are much like  those which obtain in a bucket of water which contains

in suspension a number of kinds of matter of different degrees of density. Since

the water is kept in perpetual motion, the different kinds of matter (Page 72)

are diffused through it; but in spite of that, the densest matter is found in

greatest quantity nearest to the bottom. So that though we must not at all think

of the various subdivisions of the astral world as lying above one another as do

the coats of an onion, it is nevertheless true that the average arrangement of

the matter of those subdivisions partakes somewhat of that general character.

Astral matter interpenetrates physical matter precisely as though it were not

there, but each subdivision of physical matter has a strong attraction for

astral matter of the corresponding subdivision. Hence it arises that every

physical body has its astral counterpart. If I have a glass of water standing

upon a table, the glass and the table, being of physical matter in the solid

state, are interpenetrated by astral matter of the lowest subdivision. The water

in the glass, being liquid, is interpenetrated by astral matter of the sixth

subdivision; whereas the air surrounding both, being  physical matter in the

gaseous condition, is entirely interpenetrated by astral gaseous matter – that

is, astral matter of the fifth subdivision.

But just as air, water, glass and table are alike interpenetrated all the time

by the finer physical matter which we have called etheric, so are all the astral

counterparts interpenetrated by the finer astral matter of the higher

subdivisions which correspond to the etheric. But even the astral solid is less

dense than the finest of the physical ethers.

The man who finds himself in the astral world after (Page 73) death, if he has

not submitted to the rearrangement of the matter of his body, will notice but

little difference from physical life. He can float about in any direction at

will, but in actual fact he usually stays in the neighbourhood to which he is

accustomed. He is still able to perceive his house, his room, his furniture, his

relations, his friends. The living, when ignorant of the higher worlds, suppose

themselves to have “lost” those who have laid aside their physical bodies; but

the dead are never for a moment under the impression that they have lost the


Functioning as they are in the astral body, the dead can no longer see the

physical bodies of those whom they have left behind; but they do see their

astral bodies, and as those are exactly the same in outline as the physical,

they are perfectly aware of the presence of their friends. They see each one

surrounded by a faint ovoid of luminous mist, and if they happen to be

observant, they may notice various other small changes in the surroundings; but

it is at least quite clear to them that they have not gone away to some distant

heaven or hell, but still remain in touch with the world which they know,

although they see it at a somewhat different angle.

The dead man has the astral body of his living friends obviously before him, so

he cannot think of him as lost; but while the friend is awake, the dead man will

not be able to make any impression upon him, for the consciousness of the friend

is then in the physical world, and his astral body is being used only as a

bridge. The dead man cannot therefore communicate (Page 74) with his friend, nor

can he read his friend’s higher thoughts; but he will see by the change in color

in the astral body any emotion which that friend may feel, and with a little

practice and observation he may easily learn to read all those thoughts of his

friend which have in them anything of self or of desire.

When the friend falls asleep the whole position is changed. He is then also

conscious in the astral world side by side with the dead man, and they can

communicate in every respect as freely as they could during physical life. The

emotions felt by the living react strongly upon the dead who love them. If the

former give way to grief, the latter cannot but suffer severely.

The conditions of life after death are almost infinite in their variety, but

they can be calculated without difficulty by any one who will take the trouble

to understand the astral world and to consider the character of the person

concerned. That character is not in the slightest degree changed by death; the

man’s thoughts, emotions and desires are exactly the same as before. He is in

every way the same man, minus his physical body, and his happiness or misery

depends upon the extent to which this loss of the physical body affects him.

If his longings have been such as need a physical body for their gratification,

he is likely to suffer considerably. Such a craving manifests itself as a

vibration in the astral body, and while we are still in this world most of its

strength is employed in setting in motion the heavy physical particles. Desire

is therefore (Page 75) a far greater force in the astral life than in the

physical, and if the man has not been in the habit of controlling it, and if in

this new life it cannot be satisfied, it may cause him great and long-continued


Take as an illustration the extreme case of a drunkard or a sensualist. Here we

have a lust which has been strong enough during physical life to overpower

reason, common-sense and all the feelings of decency and of family affection.

After death the man finds himself in the astral world feeling the appetite

perhaps a hundred times more strongly, yet absolutely unable to satisfy it

because he has lost the physical body. Such a life is a very real hell – the

only hell there is; yet no one is punishing him; he is reaping the perfectly

natural result of his own action. Gradually as time passes this force of desire

wears out, but only at the cost of terrible suffering for the man, because to

him every day seems as a thousand years. He has no measure of time such as we

have in the physical world. He can measure it only by his sensations. From a

distortion of this fact has come the blasphemous idea of eternal damnation.

Many other cases less extreme than this will readily suggest themselves, in

which a hankering which cannot be fulfilled may prove itself a torture. A more

ordinary case is that of a man who has no particular vices, such as drink or

sensuality, but yet has been attached entirely to things of the physical world,

and has lived a life devoted to business or to aimless social functions. For him

the astral world is a place of (Page 76) weariness; the only things for which he

craves are no longer possible for him, for in the astral world there is no

business to be done, and, though he may have as much companionship as he wishes,

society is now for him a very different matter, because all the pretences upon

which it is usually based in this world are no longer possible.

These cases, however, are only the few, and for most people the state after

death is much happier than life upon earth. The first feeling of which the dead

man is usually conscious is one of the most wonderful and delightful freedom. He

has absolutely nothing to worry about, and no duties rest upon him, except those

which he chooses to impose upon himself. For all but a very small minority,

physical life is spent in doing what the man would much rather not do; but he

has to do it in order to support himself or his wife and family. In the astral

world no support is necessary; food is no longer needed, shelter is not

required, since he is entirely unaffected by heat or cold; and each man by the


mere exercise of his thought clothes himself as he wishes. For the first time

since early childhood the man is entirely free to spend the whole of his time in

doing exactly just what he likes.

His capacity for every kind of enjoyment is greatly enhanced, if only that

enjoyment does not need a physical body for expression. If he loves the beauties

of Nature, it is now within his power to travel with great rapidity and without

fatigue over the whole world, to contemplate all its loveliest spots, and to

explore its most secret recesses. If he delights in art, (Page 77) all the

world’s masterpieces are at his disposal. If he loves music, he can go where he

will to hear it, and it will now mean much more to him than it has ever meant

before; for though he can no longer hear the physical sounds, he can receive the

whole effect of the music into himself in far fuller measure than in this lower

world. If he is a student of science, he not only can visit the great scientific

men of the world, and catch from them such thoughts and ideas as may be within

his comprehension, but also he can undertake the researches of his own into the

science of this higher world, seeing much more of what he is doing than has ever

before been possible to him. Best of all, he whose great delight in this world

has been to help his fellow men will still find ample scope for his

philanthropic efforts.

Men are no longer hungry, cold, or suffering from disease in this astral world;

but there are vast numbers who, being ignorant, desire knowledge – who, being

still in the grip of desire for earthly things, need the explanation which will

turn their thought to higher levels – who have entangled themselves in a web of

their own imaginings, and can be set free only by one who understands these new

surroundings and can help them distinguish the facts of the world from their own

ignorant misrepresentation of them. All these can be helped by the man of

intelligence and of kindly heart. Many men arrive in the astral world in utter

ignorance of its conditions, not realizing at first that they are dead, and when

they do realize it fearing the fate that may be in store for them, because of

false (Page 78) and wicked theological teaching. All of these need the cheer and

comfort which can only be given to them by a man of common sense who possesses

some knowledge of the facts of nature.

There is thus no lack of the most profitable occupation for any man whose

interests during his physical life have been rational; nor is there any lack of

companionship. Men whose tastes and pursuits are similar drift naturally

together there just as they do here; and many realms of Nature, which during our

physical life are concealed by the dense veil of matter, now lie open for the

detailed study of those who care to examine them.

To a large extent people make their own surroundings. We have already referred

to the seven subdivisions of this astral world. Numbering these from the highest

and least material downwards, we find that they fall naturally into three

classes – division one, two and three forming one such class, and four, five and

six another; while the seventh and lowest of all stands alone. As I have said,

although they all interpenetrate, their substance has a general tendency to

arrange itself according to its specific gravity, so that most of the matter

belonging to the higher subdivisions is found at a greater elevation above the

surface of the earth than the bulk of the matter of the lower portions.

Hence, although any person inhabiting the astral world can move into any part of

it, his natural tendency is to float at the level which corresponds with the

specific gravity of the heaviest matter in his astral (Page 79) body. The man

who has not permitted the rearrangement of the matter of his astral body after

death is entirely free of the whole astral world; but the majority, who do

permit it, are not equally free – not because there is anything to prevent them

from rising to the highest level or sinking to the lowest, but because they are

able to sense clearly only a certain part of that world.

I have described something of the fate of a man who is on the lowest level, shut

in by a strong shell of coarse matter. Because of the extreme comparative

density of that matter he is conscious of less outside of his own subdivision

than a man at any other level. The general specific gravity of his own astral

body tends to make him float below the surface of the earth. The physical matter

of the earth is absolutely non-existent to his astral senses, and his natural

attraction is to that least delicate form of astral matter which is the

counterpart of that solid earth. A man who has confined himself to that lowest

subdivision will therefore usually find himself floating in darkness and cut off

to a great extent from others of the dead, whose lives have been such as to keep

them on a higher level.

Divisions four, and six of the astral world (to which most people are attracted)

have for their background the astral counterpart of the physical world in which

we live, and all its familiar accessories. Life in the sixth subdivision is

simply like our ordinary life on this earth minus the physical body and its

necessities while as it ascends through the fifth and (Page 80) fourth divisions

it becomes less and less material and is more and more withdrawn from our lower

world and its interests.

The first, second and third sections, though occupying the same space, yet give

the impression of being much further removed from the physical, and

correspondingly less material. Men who inhabit these levels lose sight of the

earth and its belongings; they are usually deeply self-absorbed, and to a large

extent create their own surroundings, though these are sufficiently objective to

be perceptible to other men of their level, and also to clairvoyant vision.

This region is the summerland of which we hear in spiritualistic circles – the

world in which, by the exercise of their thought, the dead call into temporary

existence their houses and schools and cities. These surroundings, though

fanciful from our point of view, are to the dead as real as houses, temples or

churches built of stone are to us, and many people live very contentedly there

for a number of years in the midst of all these thought creations.

Some of the scenery thus produced is very beautiful; it includes lovely lakes,

magnificent mountains, pleasant gardens, decidedly superior to anything in the

physical world; though on the other hand it also contains much which to the

trained clairvoyant (who has learned to see things as they are) appears

ridiculous – as, for example, the endeavors of the unlearned to make a thought

form of some of the curious symbolic descriptions contained in their various

scriptures. An ignorant peasant’s thought image of a beast full of (Page 81)

eyes within, or of a sea of glass mingled with fire, is naturally often

grotesque, although to its maker it is perfectly satisfactory. This astral world

is full of thought-created figures and landscapes. Men of all religions image

here their deities and their respective conceptions of paradise, and enjoy

themselves greatly among these dream forms until they pass into the mental world

and come into touch with something nearer to reality.

Every one after death – any ordinary person, that is, in whose case the

rearrangement of the matter of the astral body has been made – has to pass

through all these subdivisions in turn. It does not follow that every one is

conscious in all of them. The ordinary decent person has in his astral body but

little of the matter of its lowest portion – by no means enough to construct a

heavy shell. The redistribution puts on the outside of the body its densest

matter; in the ordinary man this is usually matter of the sixth subdivision,

mixed with a little of the seventh, and so he finds himself viewing the

counterpart of the physical world.

The ego is steadily withdrawing into himself, and as he withdraws he leaves

behind him level after level of this astral matter. So the length of the man’s

detention in any section of the astral world is precisely in proportion to the

amount of its matter which is found in his astral body, and that in turn depends

upon the life he has lived, the desires he has indulged, and the class of matter

which by so doing he has attracted towards him and built into himself. Finding

(Page 82) himself then in the sixth section, still hovering about the places and

persons with which he was most closely connected while on earth, the average man

as time passes on finds the earthly surroundings gradually growing dimmer and

becoming of less and less importance to him, and he tends more and more to mould

his entourage into agreement with the more persistent of his thoughts. By the

time that he reaches the third level he finds that this characteristic has

entirely superseded the vision of the realities of the astral world.


The second subdivision is a shade less material than the third, for if the

latter is the summerland of the spiritualists, the former is the material heaven

of the more ignorant orthodox; while the first or highest level appears to be

the special home of those who during life have devoted themselves to

materialistic but intellectual pursuits, following them not for the sake of

benefiting their fellow men, but either from motives of selfish ambition or

simply for the sake of intellectual exercise. All these people are perfectly

happy. Later on they will reach a stage when they can appreciate something much

higher, and when that stage comes they will find the higher ready for them.

In this astral life people of the same nation and of the same interests tend to

keep together, precisely as they do here. The religious people, for example, who

imagine for themselves a material heaven, do not at all interfere with men of

other faiths whose ideas of celestial joy are different. There is nothing to

prevent a Christian from drifting into the heaven of the Hindu (Page 83) or the

Mohammedan, but he is little likely to do so, because his interests and

attractions are all in the heaven of his own faith, along with friends who have

shared that faith with him. This is by no means the true heaven described by any

of the religions, but only a gross and material misrepresentation of it; the

real thing will be found when we come to consider the mental world.

The dead man who has not permitted the rearrangement of the matter of his astral

body is free of the entire world, and can wander all over it at will, seeing the

whole of whatever he examines, instead of only a part of it as the others do. He

does not find it inconveniently crowded, for the astral world is much larger

than the surface of the physical earth, while its population is somewhat

smaller, because the average life of humanity in the astral world is shorter

than the average of the physical.

Not only the dead, however, are the inhabitants of this astral world, but always

about one third of the living as well, who have temporarily left their physical

bodies behind them in sleep. The astral world has also a great number of

non-human inhabitants, some of them far below the level of man, and some

considerably above him. The nature spirits form an enormous kingdom, some of

whose members exist in the astral world, and make a large part of its

population. This vast kingdom exists in the physical world also, for many of its

orders wear etheric bodies, and are only just beyond the range of ordinary

physical sight. Indeed, circumstances not infrequently occur under (Page 84)

which they can be seen, and in many lonely mountain districts these appearances

are traditional among the peasants, by whom they are commonly spoken of as

fairies, good people, pixies or brownies.

They are protéan, but usually prefer to wear a miniature human form. Since they

are not yet individualized, they may be thought of almost as etheric and astral

animals; yet many of them are intellectually quite equal to average humanity.

They have their nations and types just as we have, and they are often grouped

into four great classes, and called the spirits of earth, water, fire and air.


Only the members of the last of these four divisions normally reside in the

astral world, but their numbers as so prodigious that they are everywhere

present in it.

Another great kingdom has its representatives here – the kingdom of the angels

(called in India the devas). This is a body of beings who stand far higher in

evolution than man, and only the lowest fringe of their hosts touches the astral

world – a fringe whose constituent members are perhaps at about the level of

development of what we should call a distinctly good man.

We are neither the only nor even the principal inhabitants of our solar system;

there are other lines of evolution running parallel with our own which do not

pass through humanity at all, though they must all pass through a level

corresponding to that of humanity. On one of these other lines of evolution are

the nature spirits above described, and at a higher level of that line comes

this great kingdom of the angels.(Page 85 ) At our present level of evolution

they come into obvious contact with us only very rarely, but as we develop we

shall be likely to see more of them - especially as the cyclic progress of the

world is now bringing it more and more under the influence of the Seventh Ray.

This Seventh Ray has ceremonial for one of its characteristics, and it is

through ceremonial such as that of the Church or of Free-masonry that we come

most easily into touch with the angelic kingdom.

When all the man’s lower emotions have worn themselves out – all emotions, I

mean, which have in them any thought of self – his life in the astral world is

over, and the ego passes on into the mental world. This is not in any sense a

movement in space; it is simply that the steady process of withdrawal has now

passed beyond even the finest kind of astral matter; so that the man’s

consciousness is focused in the mental world. His astral body has not entirely

disintegrated, though it is in process of doing so, and he leaves behind him an

astral corpse, just as at a previous stage of the withdrawal he left behind him

a physical corpse. There is a certain difference between the two which should be

noticed, because of the consequences which ensue from it.

When the man leaves his physical body his separation from it should be complete,

and generally is so; but this is not the case with the much finer matter of the

astral body. In the course of his physical life the ordinary man usually

entangles himself so much in astral matter (which, from another point of view,

means that he identifies himself so closely with his lower desires) that the

indrawing force of the ego cannot entirely separate him from it again.

Consequently, when he finally breaks away from the astral body and transfers his

activities to the mental, he loses a little of himself, he leaves some of

himself behind imprisoned in the matter of the astral body. Page 86)

( This gives a certain remnant of vitality to the astral corpse, so that it

still moves freely in the astral world, and may easily be mistaken by the

ignorant for the man himself – the more so as such fragmentary consciousness as

still remains to it is part of the man, and therefore it naturally regards

itself and speaks of itself as the man. It retains his memories but is only a

partial and unsatisfactory representation of him. Sometimes in spiritualistic

séances one comes into contact with an entity of this description, and wonders

how it is that one’s friend has deteriorated so much since his death. To this

fragmentary entity we give the name “shade”.

At a later stage even this fragment of consciousness dies out of the astral

body, but does not return to the ego to whom it originally belonged. Even then

the astral corpse still remains, but when it is quite without any trace of its

former life we call it a “shell”. Of itself a shell cannot communicate at a

séance, or take any action of any sort; but such shells are frequently seized

upon by sportive nature spirits and used as temporary habitations. A shell so

occupied can communicate at a séance and masquerade as its original owner, since

some of his characteristics and certain portions of his memory can be evoked by

the nature spirit from his astral corpse.

When a man falls asleep, he withdraws in his astral body, leaving the whole of

the physical vehicle behind him. When he dies, he draws out with him the etheric

part of the physical body, and consequently has usually at least a moment of

unconsciousness (Page 87) while he is freeing himself from it. The etheric

double is not a vehicle, and cannot be used as such; so when the man is

surrounded by it, he is for the moment able to function neither in the physical

world nor the astral. Some men succeed in shaking themselves free of this

etheric envelope in a few minutes; other rest within it for hours, days or even


Nor is it certain that, when the man is free from this, he will at once become

conscious of the astral world. For there is in him a good deal of the lowest

kind of astral matter, so that a shell of this may be made around him. But he

may be quite unable to use that matter. If he had lived a reasonably decent life

he is little in the habit of employing it or responding to its vibrations, and

he cannot instantly acquire this habit. For that reason, he may remain

unconscious until that matter gradually wears away, and some matter which he is

in the habit of using comes on the surface. Such an occlusion, however, is

scarcely ever complete, for even in the most carefully made shell some particles

of the finer matter occasionally find their way to the surface and give him

fleeting glimpses of his surroundings.

There are some men who cling so desperately to their physical vehicles that they


will not relax their hold upon the etheric double, but strive with all their

might to retain it. They may be successful in doing so for a considerable time,

but only at the cost of great discomfort to themselves. They are shut out from

both worlds, to find themselves surrounded by a dense grey mist, through which

they see very (Page 88) dimly the things of the physical world, but with all the

color gone from them. It is a terrible struggle to them to maintain their

position in this miserable condition, and yet they will not relax their hold

upon the etheric double, feeling that that is at least some sort of link with

the only world that they know. Thus they drift about in a condition of

loneliness and misery until from sheer fatigue their hold fails them, and they

slip into the comparative happiness of astral life. Sometimes in their

desperation they grasp blindly at other bodies, and try to enter into them, and

occasionally they are successful in such an attempt. They may seize upon a baby

body, ousting the feeble personality for whom it was intended, or sometimes they

grasp even the body of an animal. All this trouble arises entirely from

ignorance, and it can never happen to anyone who understands the laws of life

and death.

When the astral life is over, the man dies to that world in turn, and awakens in

the mental world. With him it is not at all what it is to the trained

clairvoyant, who ranges through it and lives amidst the surroundings which he

finds there, precisely as he would in the physical or astral worlds. The

ordinary man has all through his life been encompassing himself with a mass of

thought-forms. Some which are transitory, to which he pays little attention,

have fallen away from his long ago, but those which represent the main interests

of his life are always with him, and grow ever stronger and stronger. If some of

these have been selfish, their force pours down into astral matter, and he has

exhausted (Page 89) them during his life in the astral world. But those which

are entirely unselfish belong purely to his mental body, and so when he finds

himself in the mental world it is through these special thoughts that he is able

to appreciate it.

His mental body is by no means fully developed; only those parts of it are

really in action to their fullest extent which he has used in this altruistic

manner. When he awakens again after the second death his first sense is one of

indescribable bliss and vitality – a feeling of such utter joy in living that he

needs for the time nothing but just to live. Such bliss is of the essence of

life in all the higher worlds of the system. Even astral life has possibilities

of happiness far greater than anything that we can know in the dense body; but

the heaven life in the mental world is out of all proportions more blissful than

the astral. In each higher world the same experience is repeated. Merely to live

in any one them seems the uttermost conceivable bliss; and yet, when the next

one is reached, it is seen that it far surpasses the last.

Just as the bliss increases, so does the wisdom and the breadth of view. A man

fusses about in the physical world and thinks himself so busy and so wise; but

when he touches even the astral, he realizes at once that he has been all the

time only a caterpillar crawling about and seeing nothing but his own leaf,

whereas now he has spread his wings like the butterfly and flown away into the

sunshine of a wider world. Yet, impossible as it may seem, the same experience

is repeated when he passes into the (Page 90) mental world, for this life is in

turn so much fuller and wider and more intense than the astral that once more no

comparison is possible. And yet beyond all these there is still another life,

that of the intuitional world, unto which even this is but as moonlight unto


The man’s position in the mental world differs widely from that in the astral.

There he was using a body to which he was thoroughly accustomed, a body which he

had been in the habit of employing every night during sleep. Here he finds

himself living in a vehicle which he has never used before – a vehicle

furthermore which is very far from being fully developed – a vehicle which shuts

him out to a great extent from the world about him, instead of enabling him to

see it. The lower part of his nature burnt itself away during his purgatorial

life, and now there remains to him only his higher and more refined thoughts,

the noble and unselfish aspirations which he poured out during earth life. These

cluster round him, and make a sort of shell about him, through the medium of

which he is able to respond to certain types of vibrations in this refined


These thoughts which surround him are the powers by which he draws upon the

wealth of the heaven-world, and he finds it to be a storehouse of infinite

extent, upon which he is able to draw just according to the power of those

thoughts and aspirations; for in this world is existing the infinite fullness of

the Divine Mind, open in all its limitless affluence to every soul, just in

proportion as that soul has qualified itself to receive. A man who has already

completed (Page 91) his human evolution, who has fully realized and unfolded the

divinity whose germ is within him, finds the whole of this glory within his

reach; but since none of us has yet done that, since we are only gradually

rising toward that splendid consummation, it follows that none of us as yet can

grasp that entirety.

But each draws from it and cognizes so much of it as he has by previous effort

prepared himself to take. Different individuals bring different capacities; they

tell us in the East that each man brings his own cup, and some of the cups are

large and some are small, but small or large every cup is filled to its utmost

capacity; the sea of bliss holds far more than enough for all.

A man can look out upon this glory and beauty only through the windows which he

himself has made. Every one of these thought-forms is such a window, through

which response may come to him from the forces without. If during his earth life

he has chiefly regarded physical things, then he has made for himself but few

windows through which this higher glory can shine in upon him. Yet every man who

is above the lowest savage must have had some touch of pure unselfish feeling,

even if it were but once in all his life, and that will be a window for him now.

The ordinary man is not capable of any great activity in this mental world; his

condition is chiefly receptive, and his vision of anything outside his own shell

of thought is of the most limited character. He is surrounded by living forces,

mighty angelic inhabitants of this glorious world, and many of their (Page 92)

orders are very sensitive to certain aspirations of man and readily respond to

them. But a man can take advantage of these only in so far as he has already

prepared himself to profit by them, for his thoughts and aspirations are only

along certain lines, and he cannot suddenly form new lines. There are many

directions which the higher thought may take – some of them personal and some

impersonal. Among the latter are art, music and philosophy; and a man whose

interest lay along any one of these lines finds both measureless enjoyment and

unlimited instruction waiting for him – that is, the amount of enjoyment and

instruction is limited only by his power of perception.

We find a large number of people whose only higher thoughts are those connected

with affection and devotion. If a man loves another deeply or if he feels strong

devotion to a personal deity, he makes a strong mental image of that friend or

the deity, and the object of his feeling is often present in his mind.

Inevitably he takes that mental image into the heaven world with him, because it

is to that level of matter that it naturally belongs.

Take first the feeling of affection. The love which forms and retains such an

image is very powerful force – a force which is strong enough to reach and to

act upon the ego of his friend in the higher part of the mental world. It is

that ego that is the real man whom he loves – not the physical body which is so

partial a representation of him. The ego of the friend, feeling this vibration,

at once and eagerly responds to it, and pours himself into the thought (Page 93)

form which has been made for him; so that the man’s friend is truly present with

him more vividly than ever before. To this result it makes no difference

whatever whether the friend is what we call living or dead; the appeal is made

not to the fragment of the friend which is sometimes imprisoned in a physical

body, but to the man himself on his own true level; and he always responds. A

man who has a hundred friends can simultaneously and fully respond to the

affection of every one of them, for no number of representations on a lower

level can exhaust the infinity of the ego.

Thus every man in his heaven life has around him all the friends for whose

company he wishes, and they are for him always at their best, because he himself

makes for them in the thought-form through which they manifest to him. In our

limited physical world we are so accustomed to thinking of our friend as only

the limited manifestation which we know in the physical world, that it is at

first difficult for us to realize the grandeur of the conception; when we can

realize it, we shall see how much nearer we are in truth to our friends in the


heaven life than we ever were on earth. The same is true in the case of

devotion. The man in the heaven world is two great stages nearer to the object

of his devotion than he was during physical life, and so his experiences are of

a far more transcendent character.

In this mental world, as in the astral, there are seven subdivisions. The first,

second and third are the habitat of the ego in his causal body, so the mental

body contains matter of the remaining four only, (Page 94) and it is in those

sections that his heaven life is passed. Man does not, however, pass from one to

the other of these, as in the case in the astral world, for there is nothing in

this life corresponding to the rearrangement. Rather is the man drawn to the

level which best corresponds to the degree of his development, and on that level

he spends the whole of his life in the mental body. Each man makes his own

conditions, so that the number of varieties is infinite.

Speaking broadly, we may say that the dominant characteristic observed in the

lowest portion is unselfish family affection. Unselfish it must be, or it would

find no place here; all selfish tinges, if there were any, worked out their

results in the astral world. The dominant characteristic of the sixth level may

be said to be anthropomorphical religious devotion; whilst that of the fifth

section is devotion expressing itself in active work of some sort. All these –

the fifth, sixth and seventh subdivisions – are concerned with the working out

of devotion to personalities (either to one’s family and friends or to a

personal deity) rather than the wider devotion to humanity for its own sake,

which finds its expression in the next section. The activities of this fourth

stage are varied. They can best be arranged in four main divisions: unselfish

pursuit of spiritual knowledge; high philosophy or scientific thought; literary

or artistic ability exercised for unselfish purposes; and service for the sake

of service.

Even to this glorious heaven life there comes an (Page 95) end, and then the

mental body in its turn drops away as the others have done, and the man’s life

in his causal body begins. Here the man needs no windows, for this is his true

home and all his walls have fallen away. The majority of men have as yet but

very little consciousness at such a height as this; they rest dreamily

unobservant and scarcely awake, but such vision as they have is true, however

limited it may be by their lack of development. Still, every time they return,

these limitations will be smaller, and they themselves will be greater; so that

this truest life will be wider and fuller for them.

As this improvement continues, this casual life grows longer and longer,

assuming an ever larger proportion as compared to the existence at lower levels.

And as he grows, the man becomes capable not only of receiving but also of

giving. Then indeed is his triumph approaching, for he is learning the lesson of

the Christ, learning the crowning glory of sacrifice, the supreme delight of

pouring out all his life for the helping of his fellow-men, the devotion of the

self to the all, of celestial strength to human service, of all those splendid

heavenly forces to the aid of the struggling sons of earth. That is part of the

life that lies before us; these are some of the steps which even we who are

still so near the bottom of the golden ladder may see rising above us, so that

we may report them to those who have not seen as yet, in order that they too may

open their eyes to the unimaginable splendor which surrounds them here and now

in this dull daily life. This is a part of the (Page 96) gospel of Theosophy –

the certainty of this sublime future for all. It is certain because it is here

already; because to inherit it we have only to fit ourselves for it.    (Page


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This life of the ego in his own world, which is so glorious and so fully

satisfying for the developed man, plays but a very small part in the life of the

ordinary person, for in his case the ego has not yet reached a sufficient stage

of development to be awake in his causal body. In obedience to the law of nature

he has withdrawn into it, but in doing so he has lost the sensation of vivid

life, and restless desire to feel this once more pushes him in the direction of

another descent into matter.

This is the scheme of evolution appointed for man at the present stage – that he

shall develop by descending into grosser matter, and then ascend to carry back

into himself the result of the experiences so obtained. His real life,

therefore, covers millions of years, and what we are in the habit of calling a

life is only one day of this greater existence. Indeed, it is in reality only a

small part of one day; for a life of seventy years in the physical world is

often succeeded by a period of twenty times that length spent in higher spheres.

Every one of us has a long line of these physical lives behind him, and the

ordinary man has a fairly long line still in front of him. Each of such lives is

a day at school. The ego puts upon himself his garment of flesh and goes forth

into the school of (Page 98) the physical world to learn certain lessons. He

learns them, or does not learn them, or partially learns them, as the case may

be, during his school day of earth life; then he lays aside the vesture of the

flesh and returns home to his own level for rest and refreshment. In the morning

of each new life he takes up again his lesson at the point where he left it the

night before. Some lessons he may be able to learn in one day, while others may

take him many days.

If he is an apt pupil and learns quickly what is needed, if he obtains an

intelligent grasp of the rules of the school, and takes the trouble to adapt his

conduct to them, his school life is comparatively short, and when it is over he

goes forth fully equipped into the real life of the higher worlds for which all

this is only a preparation. Other egos are duller boys who do not learn so

quickly; some of them do not understand the rules of the school, and through

that ignorance are constantly breaking them; others are wayward, and even when

they see the rules they cannot at once bring themselves to act in harmony with

them. All of these have a longer school life, and by their own actions they

delay their entry upon the real life of the higher worlds.

For this is a school in which no pupil ever fails; every one must go on to the

end. He has no choice as to that; but the length of time which he will take in

qualifying himself for the higher examinations is left entirely to his own

discretion. The wise pupil, seeing that school life is not a thing in itself,

but (Page 99) only a preparation for a more glorious and far wider life,

endeavors to comprehend as fully as possible the rules of his school, and shapes

his life in accordance with them as closely as he can, so that no time may be

lost in the learning of whatever lessons are necessary. He co-operates

intelligently with the Teachers, and sets himself to do the maximum of work

which is possible for him, in order that as soon as he can he may come of age

and enter into his kingdom as a glorified ego.

Theosophy explains to us the laws under which this school life must be lived,

and in that way gives a great advantage to its students. The first great law is

that of evolution. Every man has to become a perfect man, to unfold to the

fullest degree the divine possibilities which lie latent within him, for that

unfoldment is the object of the entire scheme so far as he is concerned. This

law of evolution steadily presses him onward to higher and higher achievements.

The wise man tries to anticipate its demands – to run ahead of the necessary

curriculum, for in that way he not only avoids all collision with it, but he

obtains the maximum of assistance from its action. The man who lags behind in

the race of life finds its steady pressure constantly constraining him – a

pressure which, if resisted, rapidly becomes painful. Thus the laggard on the

path of evolution has always the sense of being hunted and driven by fate, while

the man who intelligently co-operates is left perfectly free to choose the

direction in which he shall move, so long as it is onward and upward. (Page 100)

The second great law under which this evolution is taking place is the law of

cause and effect. There can be no effect without its cause, and every cause must

produce its effect. They are in fact not two but one, for the effect is really

part of the cause, and he who sets one in motion  sets the other also. There is

in Nature no such idea as that of reward or punishment, but only of cause and

effect. Any one can see this in connection with mechanics or chemistry; the

clairvoyant sees it equally clearly with regard to the problems of evolution.

The same law obtains in the higher as in the lower worlds; there, as here, the

angle of reflection is always equal to the angle of incidence. It is a law of

mechanics that action and reaction are equal and opposite. In the almost

infinitely finer matter of the higher worlds the reaction is by no means always

instantaneous; it may sometimes be spread over long periods of time, but it

returns inevitably and exactly.

Just as certain in its working as the mechanical law in the physical world is

the higher law, according to which the man who sends out a good thought or does

a good action receives good in return, while the man who sends out an evil

thought or does an evil action receives evil in return with equal accuracy –

once more, not in the least as a reward or punishment administered by some

external will, but simply as the definite and mechanical result of his own


activity. Man has learnt to appreciate a mechanical result in the physical

world, because the reaction is usually almost immediate and can be seen by him.

(Page101) He does not invariably understand the reaction in the higher worlds

because that takes a wider sweep, and often returns not in this physical life,

but in some future one.

The action of this law affords the explanation of a number of the problems of

ordinary life. It accounts for the different destinies imposed upon people, and

also for the differences in the people themselves. If one man is clever in a

certain direction and another is stupid, it is because in a previous life the

clever man has devoted much effort to practice in that particular direction,

while the stupid man is trying it for the first time. The genius and the

precocious child are examples not of the favoritism of some deity but of the

result produced by previous lives of application. All the varied circumstances

which surround us are the result of our own actions in the past, precisely as

are the qualities of which we find ourselves in possession. We are what we have

made ourselves, and our circumstances are such as we have deserved.

There is, however, a certain adjustment or apportionment of these effects.

Though the law is a natural law and mechanical in its operation, there are

nevertheless certain great Angels who are concerned with its administration.

They cannot change by one feather weight the amount of the result which follows

upon any given thought or act, but they can within certain limits expedite or

delay its action, and decide what form it shall take.

If this were not done there would be at least a (Page 102) possibility that in

his earlier stages the man might blunder so seriously that the results of his

blundering might be more than he could bear. The plan of the Deity is to give

man a limited amount of freewill; if he uses that small amount well, he earns

the right to a little more next time; if he used it badly, suffering comes upon

him as the result of such evil use, and he finds himself restrained by the

result of his previous actions. As the man learns how to use his free will, more

and more of it is entrusted to him, so that he can acquire for himself

practically unbounded freedom in the direction of good, but his power to do

wrong is strictly restricted. He can progress as rapidly as he will, but he

cannot wreck his life in his ignorance. In the earlier stages of the savage life

of primitive man it is natural that there should be on the whole more of evil

than of good, and if the entire result of his actions came at once upon a man as

yet so little developed, it might well crush the newly evolved powers which are

still so feeble.

Besides this, the effects of his actions are varied in character. While some of

them produce immediate results, others need much more time for their action, and

so it comes to pass that as the man develops he has above him a hovering cloud

of undischarged results, some of them good, some of them bad. Out of this mass

(which we may regard for the purposes of analogy much as though it were a debt

owing to the powers of nature) a certain amount falls due in each of his

successive births; and that amount, so (Page 103) assigned, may be thought of as

the man’s destiny for that particular life.

All that it means is that a certain amount of joy and a certain amount of

suffering are due to him, and will unavoidably happen to him; how he will meet

this destiny and what use he will make of it, that is left entirely to his own

option. It is a certain amount of force which has to work itself out. Nothing

can prevent the action of that force, but its action may always be modified by

the application of a new force in another direction, just as is the case in

mechanics. The result of past evil is like any other debt; it may be paid in one

large check upon the bank of life – by some one supreme catastrophe; or it may

be paid in a number of smaller notes, in minor troubles and worries; in some

cases it may even be paid in the small change of a vast number of petty

annoyances. But one thing is quite certain – that, in some form or other, paid

it will have to be.

The conditions of our present life, then, are absolutely the result of our own

action in the past; and the other side of that statement is that our actions in

this life are building up conditions for the next one. A man who finds himself

limited either in powers or in outer circumstances may not always be able to

make himself or his conditions all that he would wish in this life; but he can

certainly secure for the next one whatever he chooses.

Man’s every action ends not with himself, but invariably affects others around

him. In some cases this effect may be comparatively trivial, while in (Page 104)

others it may be of the most serious character. The trivial results, whether

good or bad are simply small debits or credits in our account with Nature; but

the greater effects, whether good or bad, make a personal account which is to be

settled with the individual concerned.

A man who gives a meal to a hungry beggar, or cheers him by a kindly word, will

receive the result of his good action as part of a kind of general fund of

Nature’s benefits; but one who by some good action changes the whole current of

another man’s life will assuredly have to meet that same man again in a future

life, in order that he who has been benefited may have the opportunity of

repaying the kindness that has been done to him. One who causes annoyance to

another will suffer proportionately for it somewhere, somehow, in the future,

though he may never meet again the man whom he has troubled; but one who does

serious harm to another, one who wrecks his life or retards his evolution, must

certainly meet his victim again at some later point in the course of their

lives, so that he may have the opportunity, by kindly and self-sacrificing

service, of counterbalancing the wrong which he has done. In short, large debts

must be paid personally, but small ones go into the general fund.

These then are the principal factors which determine the next birth of the man.

First acts the great law of evolution, and its tendency is to press the man into


that position in which he can most easily develop the qualities which he most

needs. For the purposes of the general scheme, humanity is divided (Page 105)

into great races, called root-races, which rule and occupy the world

successively. The great Aryan or Indo-Caucasian race, which at the present

moment includes the most advanced ofEearth’s inhabitants, is one of these. That

which came before it in the order of evolution was the Mongolian race, usually

called in Theosophical books Atlantean, because the continent from which it

ruled the world lay where now roll the waters of the Atlantic ocean. Before that

came the Negroid race, some of whose descendants still exist, though by this

time much mingled with offshoots of later races. From each of these great

root-races there are many offshoots which we call sub-races – such, for example,

as the Romance races or the Teutonic; and each of these sub-races in turn

divides itself into branch races, such as the French and the Italians, the

English and the Germans.

These arrangements are made in order that for each ego there may be a wide

choice of varying conditions and surroundings. Each race is especially adapted

to develop within its people one or other of the qualities which are needed in

the course of evolution. In every nation there exist an almost infinite number

of diverse conditions, riches and poverty, a wide field of opportunities or a

total lack of them, facilities for development or conditions under which

development is difficult or well-nigh impossible. Amidst all these infinite

possibilities the pressure of the law of evolution tends to guide the man to

precisely those which best suit his needs at the stage at which he happens to


But the action of this law is limited by that other (Page 106) law of which we

spoke, the law of cause and effect. The man’s actions in the past may not have

been such as to deserve (if we may put it so) the best possible opportunities;

he may have set in motion in his past certain forces the inevitable result of

which will be to produce limitations; and these limitations may operate to

prevent his receiving that best possible of opportunities, and so as the result

of his own actions in the past he may have to put up with the second-best. So we

may say that the action of the law of evolution, which if left to itself would

do the very best possible for every man, is restrained by the man’s own previous


An important feature in that limitation – one which may act most powerfully for

good or for evil – is the influence of the group of egos with which the man has

made definite links in the past – those with whom he has formed strong ties of

love or hate, of helping or of injury – those souls whom he must meet again

because of connections made with them in days of long ago. His relation with

them is a factor which must be taken into consideration before it can be

determined where and how he shall be reborn.

The will of the Deity is man’s evolution. The effort of that nature which is an

expression of the Deity is to give the man whatever is most suitable for that

evolution; but this is conditioned by the man’s deserts in the past and by the

links which he has already formed. It may be assumed that a man descending into

incarnation could learn the lessons necessary for that life in any one of a

hundred positions. (Page 107) From half of these or more than half he may be

debarred by the consequences of some of his many and varied actions in the past.

Among the few possibilities which remain open to him, the choice of one

possibility in particular may be determined by the presence in that family or in

that neighborhood of other egos upon whom he has a claim for services rendered,

or to whom he in his turn owes a debt of love.(Page 108)

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To fulfill our duty in the divine scheme we must try to understand not only that

scheme as a whole, but the special part that man is intended to play in it. The

divine outbreathing reaches its deepest immersion in matter in the mineral

kingdom, but it reaches its ultimate point of differentiation not at the lowest

level of materiality, but at the entrance into the human kingdom on the upward

arc of evolution. We have thus to realize three stages in the course of this


(a)    The downward arc in which the tendency is toward differentiation and also

toward greater materiality. In this stage spirit is involving itself in matter,

in order that it may learn to receive impressions through it.

(b)    The earlier part of the upward arc, in which the tendency is still toward

greater differentiation, but at the same time toward spiritualization and escape

from materiality. In this stage the spirit is learning to dominate matter and to

see it as an expression of itself.

(c)    The later part of the upward arc, when differentiation has been finally

accomplished, and the tendency is toward unity as well as toward greater

spirituality. In this stage the spirit, having learnt (Page109) perfectly how to

receive impressions through matter and how to express itself through it, and

having awakened its dormant powers, learns to use these powers rightly in the

service of the Deity.

The object of the whole previous evolution has been to produce the ego as a

manifestation of the Monad. Then the ego in its turn evolves by putting itself

down into a succession of personalities. Men who do not understand this look

upon the personality as the self, and consequently live for it alone, and try to

regulate their lives for what appears to be its temporary advantage. The man who

understands realizes that the only important thing is the life of the ego, and

that its progress is the object for which the temporary personality must be

used. Therefore when he has to decide between two possible courses he thinks

not, as the ordinary man might: “Which will bring the greater pleasure and

profit to me as a personality?” but “Which will bring greater progress to me as

an ego?” Experience soon teaches him that nothing can ever be really good for

him, or for any one, which is not good for all, and so presently he learns to

forget himself altogether, and to ask only what will be best for humanity as a


Clearly then at this stage of evolution whatever tends to unity, whatever tends

to spirituality, is in accord with the plan of the Deity for us, and is

therefore right for us, while whatever tends to separateness or to materiality

is certainly equally wrong for us. There are thoughts and emotions which tend to

unity, such as love, sympathy, reverence, benevolence; (Page 110) there are

others which tend to disunion, such as hatred, jealousy, envy, pride, cruelty,

fear. Obviously the former group are for us the right, the latter group are for

us the wrong.

In all these thoughts and feelings which are clearly wrong, we recognize one

dominant note, the thought of self; while in all those which are clearly right

we recognize that the thought is turned toward others, and that the personal

self is forgotten. Wherefore we see that selfishness is the one great wrong, and

that perfect unselfishness is the crown of all virtue. This gives us at once a

rule of life. The man who wishes intelligently to co-operate with the Divine

Will must lay aside all thought of the advantage or pleasure of the personal

self, and must devote himself exclusively to carrying out that Will by working

for the welfare and happiness of others.

This is a high ideal, and difficult of attainment, because there lies behind us

such a long history of selfishness. Most of us are as yet far from the purely

altruistic attitude; how are we to go to work to attain it, lacking as we do the

necessary intensity in so many of the good qualities, and possessing so many

which are undesirable?

Here comes into operation the great law of cause and effect to which I have

already referred. Just as we can confidently appeal to the laws of nature in the

physical world, so may we also appeal to these laws of the higher world. If we

find evil qualities within us, they have grown up by slow degrees through

ignorance and through self-indulgence. Now (Page 111) that the ignorance is

dispelled by knowledge, now that in consequence we recognize the quality as an

evil, the method of getting rid of it lies obviously before us.

For each of these vices there is a contrary virtue; if we find one of them

rearing its head within us, let us immediately determine deliberately to develop

within ourselves the contrary virtue. If a man realizes that in the past he has

been selfish, that means that he has set up within himself the habit of thinking

of himself first and pleasing himself, of consulting his own convenience or his

pleasure without due thought of the effect upon others; let him set to work

purposefully to form the exactly opposite habit, to make a practice before doing

anything of thinking how it will affect all those around him; let him set

himself habitually to please others, even though it be at the cost of trouble or

privation for himself. This also in time will become a habit, and by developing

it he will have killed out the other.

If a man finds himself full of suspicion, ready always to assign evil motives to

the actions of those about him, let him set himself steadily to cultivate trust

in his fellows, to give them credit always for the highest possible motives. It

may be said that a man who does this will lay himself open to be deceived, and

that in many cases his confidence will be misplaced. That is a small matter; it

is far better for him that he should sometimes be deceived as a result of his

trust in his fellows than that he should save himself from such deception by

maintaining a (Page 112) constant attitude of suspicion. Besides, confidence

begets faithfulness. A man who is trusted will generally prove himself worthy of

the trust, whereas a man who is suspected is likely presently to justify that


If a man finds in himself the tendency toward avarice, let him go out of his way

to be especially generous; if he finds himself irritable, let him definitely

train himself in calmness; if he finds himself devoured by curiosity, let him

deliberately refuse again and again to gratify that curiosity; if he is liable

to fits of depression, let him persistently cultivate cheerfulness, even under

the most adverse circumstances.

In every case the existence of an evil quality in the personality means a lack

of the corresponding good quality in the ego. The shortest way to get rid of

that evil and to prevent its reappearance is to fill the gap in the ego, and the

good quality which is thus developed will show itself as an integral part of the

man’s character through all his future lives. An ego cannot be evil, but he can

be imperfect. The qualities which he develops cannot be other than good

qualities, and when they are well defined they show themselves in each of all

his numerous personalities, and consequently those personalities can never be

guilty of the vices opposite to these qualities; but where there is a gap in the

ego, where there is a quality undeveloped, there is nothing inherent in the

personality to check the growth of the opposite vice; and since others in the

world about him already possess (Page 113) that vice, and man is an imitative

animal, it is quite probable that it will speedily manifest itself in him. This

vice, however, belongs to the vehicles only and not to the man inside. In these

vehicles its repetition may set up a momentum which is hard to conquer; but if

the ego bestirs himself to create in himself the opposite virtue, the vice is

cut off at its root, and can no longer exist – neither in this life nor in all

the lives that are to come.

A man who is trying to evolve these qualities in himself will find certain

obstacles in his way – obstacles which he must learn to surmount. One of these

is the critical spirit of the age – the disposition to find fault with a thing,

to belittle everything, to look for faults in everything, and in everyone. The

exact opposite of this is what is needed for progress. He who wishes to move

rapidly along the path of evolution must learn to see good in everything – to

see the latent Deity in everything and in every one. Only so can he help those

other people – only so can he get the best out of those other things.

Another obstacle is the lack of perseverance. We tend in these days to be

impatient; if we try any plan we expect immediate results from it, and if we do

not get them, we give up that plan and try something else. That is not the way

to make progress in occultism. The effort which we are making is to compress

into one or two lives the evolution which would naturally take perhaps a hundred

lives. That is not the sort of undertaking in which immediate results are to be

expected. We attempt to uproot an (Page114) evil habit, and we find it hard

work; why? Because we have indulged in that practice for, perhaps, twenty

thousand years; one cannot shake off the custom of twenty thousand years in a

day or two. We have allowed that habit to gain an enormous momentum, and before

we can set up a force in the opposite direction we have to overcome that


momentum. That cannot be done in a moment, but it is absolutely certain that it

will be done eventually, if we persevere, because the momentum, however strong

it may be, is a finite quality, whereas the power that we can bring to bear

against it is the infinite power of the human will, which can make renewed

efforts day after day, year after year, even life after life if necessary.

Another great difficulty in our way is the lack of clearness in our thought.

People in the West are little used to clear thought with regard to religious

matters. Everything is vague and nebulous. For occult development vagueness and

nebulosity will not do. Our conceptions must be clear cut and our thought images

definite. Other necessary characteristics are calmness and cheerfulness; these

are rare in modern life, but are absolute essentials for the work which we are

here undertaking.

The process of building a character is as scientific as that of developing one’s

muscles. Many a man, finding himself with certain muscles flabby and powerless

takes that as his natural condition, and regards their weakness as a kind of

destiny imposed upon him; but anyone who understands a little of the human body

is aware that by continued exercise (Page 115) those muscles can be brought into

a state of health and the whole body eventually put in order. In exactly the

same way, many a man finds himself possessed of a bad tamper or a tendency to

avarice or suspicion or self-indulgence, and when in consequence of any of these

vices he commits some great mistake or does some great harm he offers it as an

excuse that he is a hasty-tempered man, or that he possesses this or that

quality by nature – implying that therefore he cannot help it.

In this case just as in the other the remedy is in his own hands. Regular

exercise of the right kind will develop a certain muscle, and regular mental

exercise of the right kind will develop a missing quality in a man’s character.

The ordinary man does not realize that he can do this, and even if he sees that

he can do it, he does not see why he should, for it means much effort and much

self-repression. He knows of no adequate motive for undertaking a task so

laborious and painful.

The motive is supplied by the knowledge of the truth. One who gains an

intelligent comprehension of the direction of evolution feels it not only his

interest but his privilege and his delight to co-operate with it. One who wills

the end wills also the means; in order to be able to do good work for the world

he must develop within himself the necessary strength and the necessary

qualities. Therefore he who wishes to reform the world must first of all reform

himself. He must learn to give up altogether the attitude of insisting upon

rights, and must devote himself utterly (Page 116) to the most earnest

performance of his duties. He must learn to regard every connection with his

fellowman as an opportunity to help that fellowman, or in some way to do him


One who studies these subjects intelligently cannot but realize the tremendous

power of thought, and the necessity for its efficient control. All action

springs from thought, for even when it is done (as we say) without thought, it

is the instinctive expression of the thoughts, desires and feelings which the

man has allowed to grow luxuriantly within himself in earlier days.

The wise man, therefore, will watch his thought with the greatest of care, for

in it he possesses a powerful instrument, for the right use of which he is

responsible. It is his duty to govern his thought, lest it should be allowed to

run riot and to do evil to himself and to others; it is his duty also to develop

his thought power, because by means of it a vast amount of actual and active

good can be done. Thus controlling his thought and his action, thus eliminating

from himself all evil and unfolding in himself all good qualities, the man

presently raises himself far above the level of his fellows, and stands out

conspicuously among them as one who is working on the side of good as against

evil, of evolution as against stagnation.

The members of the great Hierarchy in whose hands is the evolution of the world

are watching always for such men in order that They may train them to help in

the greater work. Such a man inevitably attracts Their attention and They begin

to (Page 117) use him as an instrument in Their work. If he proves himself a

good and efficient instrument, presently They will offer him definite training

as an apprentice, that by helping Them in the world-business which They have to

do he may some day become even as They are, and join the might Brotherhood to

which They belong.

But for an honor so great as this mere ordinary goodness will not suffice. True,

a man must be good first of all, or it would be hopeless to think of using him,

but in addition to being good he must be wise and strong. What is needed is not

merely a good man, but a great spiritual power. Not only must the candidate have

cast aside all ordinary weaknesses but he must have acquired strong positive

qualities before he can offer himself to Them with any hope that he will be

accepted. He must live no longer as a blundering and selfish personality, but as

an intelligent ego who comprehends the part which he has to play in the great

scheme of the universe. He must have forgotten himself utterly; he must have

resigned all thought of worldly profit or pleasure or advancement; he must be

willing to sacrifice everything, and himself first of all, for the sake of the

work that has to be done. He may be in the world, but he must not be of the

world. He must be careless utterly of its opinion. For the sake of helping man

he must make himself something more than man. Radiant, rejoicing, strong, he

must live but for the sake of others and to be an expression of the love of God

in the world. A high ideal, yet not too high; possible, because there are men

who have achieved it.(Page 118)

When a man has succeeded in unfolding his latent possibilities so far that he

attracts the attention of the Masters of the Wisdom, one of Them will probably

receive him as an apprentice upon probation. The period of probation is usually

seven years, but may be either shortened or lengthened at the discretion of the

Master. At the end of that time, if his work has been satisfactory, he becomes

what is commonly called the accepted pupil. This brings him into close relations

with his Master, so that the vibrations of the latter constantly play upon him,

and he gradually learns to look at everything as the Master looks at it. After

yet another interval, if he proves himself entirely worthy, he may be drawn into

a still closer relationship, when he is called the son of the Master.

These three stages mark his relationship to his own Master only, not to the

Brotherhood as a whole. The Brotherhood admits a man to its ranks only when he

has fitted himself to pass the first of the great Initiations.

This entry into the Brotherhood of Those who rule the world may be thought of as

the third of the great critical points in man’s evolution. The first of these is

when he becomes man – when he individualizes out of the animal kingdom and

obtains a causal body. The second is what is called by the Christian

“conversion”, and by the Hindu “the acquirement of discrimination”, and by the

Buddhist “the opening of the doors of the mind”. That is the point at which he

realizes the great facts of life, and turns away from the pursuit of selfish

ends in order to move intentionally (Page 119) along with the great current of

evolution in obedience to the divine Will. The third point is the most important

of all, for the Initiation which admits him to the ranks of the Brotherhood also

insures him against the possibility of failure to fulfill the divine purpose in

the time appointed for it. Hence those who have reached this point are called in

the Christian system the “elect”, the “saved” or the “safe,” and in the Buddhist

scheme “those who have entered on the stream.”For those who have reached this

point have made themselves absolutely certain of reaching a further point also –

that of Adeptship, at which they pass into a type of evolution which is

definitely superhuman.

The man who has become an Adept has fulfilled the divine Will so far as this

chain of worlds is concerned. He has reached, even already the midmost point of

the aeon of evolution, the stage prescribed for man’s attainment at the end of

it. Therefore he is at liberty to spend the remainder of that time either in

helping his fellow-men or in even more splendid work in connection with other

and higher evolutions. He who has not yet been initiated is still in danger of

being left behind by our present wave of evolution, and dropping into the next

one – the “aeonian condemnation” of which the Christ spoke, which has been

mistranslated “eternal damnation”. It is from this fate of possible aeonian

failure – that is, failure for this age, or dispensation, or life-wave – that

the man who attains Initiation is “safe”.  He has “entered upon the stream"

which now must bear him on to Adeptship in this present (Page 120) age, though

it is still possible for him by his actions to hasten or delay his progress

along the Path which he is treading.

That first Initiation corresponds to the matriculation which admits a man to a

University, and the attainment of Adeptship to the taking of a degree at the end

of the course. Continuing the simile, there are three intermediate examinations,

which are usually spoken of as the second, third and fourth Initiations,

Adeptship being the fifth. A general idea of the line of this higher evolution

may be obtained by studying the list of what are called in Buddhist books “the

fetters” which must be cast off – the qualities of which a man must rid himself

as he treads this Path. These are: the delusion of separateness; doubt or

uncertainty; superstition; attachment to enjoyment; the possibility of hatred;

desire for life, either in this or the higher worlds; pride; agitation or

irritability; and ignorance. The man who reaches the Adept level has exhausted

all the possibilities of moral development, and so the future evolution which

still lies before him can only mean still wider knowledge and still more

wonderful spiritual powers. (Page 121)

---------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales----------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL



The scheme of evolution of which our Earth forms a part is not the only one in

our solar system, for ten separate chains of globes exist in that system which

are all of them theatres of somewhat similar progress. Each of these schemes of

evolution is taking place upon a chain of globes, and in the course of each

scheme its chain of globes goes through seven incarnations. The plan, alike of

each scheme as a whole and of the successive incarnations of its chain of

globes, is to dip step by step more deeply into matter, and then to rise step by

step out of it again.

Each chain consists of seven globes, and both globes and chains observe the rule

of descending into matter and then rising out of it again. In order to make this

comprehensible let us take as an example the chain to which our Earth belongs.

At the present time it is in its fourth or most material incarnation, and

therefore three of its globes belong to the physical world, two to the astral

world and two to the lower part of the mental world. The wave of Divine Life

passes in succession from globe to globe of this chain, beginning with one of

the highest, descending gradually to the lowest and then climbing again to the

same level as that at which it began.

Let us for convenience of reference label the seven (Page 122) globes by the

earlier letters of the alphabet, and number the incarnations in order. Thus, as

this is the fourth incarnation of our chain, the first globe in this incarnation

will be 4A, the second 4B, the third 4C, the fourth (which is our Earth) 4D, and

so on.

These globes are not all composed of physical matter. 4A contains no matter

lower than that of the mental world; it has its counterpart in all the worlds

higher than that, but nothing below it. 4B exists in the astral world; but 4C is

a physical globe, visible to our telescope, and is in fact the planet which we

know as Mars. Globe 4D is our own Earth, on which the life-wave of the chain is

at present in action. Globe 4E is the planet which we call Mercury – also in the

physical world. Globe 4F is in the astral world, corresponding on the ascending

arc to globe 4B in the descent; while globe 4G corresponds to globe 4A in having

its lowest manifestation in the lower part of the mental world. Thus it will be

seen that we have a scheme of globes starting in the lower mental world, dipping

through the astral into the physical and then rising into the lower mental

through the astral again.

Just as the succession of the globes in a chain constitutes a descent into

matter and an ascent from it again, so do the successive incarnations of a

chain. We have described the condition of affairs in the fourth incarnation;

looking back at the third, we find that that commences not on the lower level of

the mental world but on the higher. Globes 3A and 3G, then, are both of higher

mental matter, while globes (Page123) 3B and 3F are at the lower mental level.

Globes 3C and 3E belong to the astral world, and only globe 3D is visible in the

physical world. Although this third incarnation of our chain is long past, the

corpse of this physical globe 3D is still visible to us in the shape of that

dead planet the Moon, whence that third incarnation is usually called the lunar


The fifth incarnation of our chain, which still lies very far in the future,

will correspond to the third. In that, globes 5A and 5G will be built of higher

mental matter, globes 5B and 5F of lower mental matter, globes 5C and 5E of

astral matter, and only globe 5D will be in the physical world. This planet 5D

is of course not yet in existence.

The other incarnations of the chain follow the same general rule of gradually

decreasing materiality; 2A, 2G, 6A and 6G are all in the intuitional world; 2B,

2F, 6B and 6F are all in the higher part of the mental world; 2C, 2E, 6C and 6E

are in the lower part of the mental world; 2D and 6D are in the astral world. In

the same way 1A, 1G, 7A and 7G belong to the spiritual world; 1B, 1F, 7B and 7F

are in the intuitional world; 1C, 1E, 7C and 7E are in the higher part of the

mental world; 1D and 7D are in the lower part of the mental world.

Thus it will be seen that not only does the life-wave in passing through one

chain of globes dip down into matter and rise out of it again, but the chain

itself in its successive incarnations does exactly the same thing.

There are ten schemes of evolution at present existing in our solar system, but

only seven of them (Page 124) are at the stage where they have planets in the

physical world. These are: (1) that of an unrecognized planet Vulcan, very near

the sun, about which we have very little definite information. It was seen by

the astronomer Hersche, but is now said to have disappeared. We at first

understood that it was in its third incarnation; but it is now regarded as

possible that it has recently passed from its fifth to its sixth chain, which

would account for its alleged disappearance; (2) that of Venus, which is in its

fifth incarnation, and also therefore has only one visible globe; (3) that of

the Earth, Mars and Mercury, which has three visible planets because it is in

its fourth incarnation; (4) that of Jupiter, (5) that of Saturn, (6) that of

Uranus, all in their third incarnations; and (7) that of Neptune and the two

unnamed planets beyond his orbit, which is in its fourth incarnation, and

therefore has three physical planets as we have.

In each incarnation of a chain (commonly called a chain-period) the wave of

Divine Life moves seven times round the chain of seven planets, and each such

movement is spoken of as a round. The time that the life-wave stays upon each

planet, is known as a world-period, and in the course of a world-period there

are seven great root-races. As has been previously explained, these are

subdivided into sub-races, and those again into branch races. For convenience of

reference we may state this in tabular form: (Page 125)


      7Branch-Races1- Sub-Race






      7Chain-Periods1-Scheme of Evolution

      10Schemes of EvolutionOur System Evolution


It is clear that the fourth root-race of the fourth globe of the fourth round of

a fourth chain-period would be the central point of a whole scheme of evolution,

and we find ourselves at the present moment only a little past the point. The

Aryan race, to which we belong, is the fifth root-race of the fourth globe, so

that the actual middle point fell in the time of the last great root-race, the

Atlantean. Consequently the human race as a whole is very little more than

halfway through its evolution, and those few souls who are already nearing

Adeptship, which is the end and crown of this evolution, are very far in advance

of their fellows.

How do they come to be so far in advance? Partly and in some cases because they

have worked harder, but usually because they are older egos – because they were

individualized out of the animal kingdom at an earlier date, and so have had

more time for the human part of their evolution.

Any given wave of life sent forth from the Deity usually spends a chain-period

in each of the great kingdoms of nature. That which in our first chain was

ensouling the first elemental kingdom must have ensouled in the second of those

kingdoms in the second chain, the third of them in the Moon-chain, and is now in

the mineral kingdom in the fourth chain. In the future fifth chain it will

ensoul the vegetable kingdom, in the sixth the animal, and in the seventh it

will attain humanity.

From this it follows that we ourselves represented the mineral kingdom on the

first chain, the vegetable on the second, and the animal on the lunar chain.

(Page 126) There some of us attained our individualization, and so we were


enabled to enter this Earth-chain as men. Others who were a little more backward

did not succeed in attaining it, and so had to be born into this chain as

animals for a while before they could reach humanity.

Not all of mankind, however, entered this chain together. When the lunar chain

came to its end the humanity upon it stood at various levels. Not Adeptship, but

what is now for us the fourth step on the Path, was the goal appointed for that

chain. Those who had attained it (commonly called in theosophical literature the

Lords of the Moon) had, as is usual, seven choices before them as to the way in

which they would serve. Only one of those choices brought them, or rather a few

of them, over into this Earth-chain, to act as guides and teachers to the

earlier races. A considerable proportion – a vast proportion, indeed – of the

Moon-men had not attained that level, and consequently had to appear in this

Earth-chain as humanity. Besides this, a great mass of the animal kingdom of the

Moon-chain was surging up to the level of individualization, and some of its

members had already reached it, while many others had not. These latter needed

further animal incarnations upon the Earth-chain, and for the moment may be put


There were many classes even among humanity, and the manner in which these

distributed themselves over the Earth-chain needs some explanation. It is the

general rule that those who have attained the highest possible in any chain, on

any globe, in (Page 127) any root-race, are not born into the beginning of the

next chain, globe or race, respectively. The earlier stages are always for the

backward entities, and only when they have already passed through a good deal of

evolution and are beginning to approach the level of those others who had done

better, do the latter descend into incarnation and join them once more. That is

to say, almost the earlier half of any period of evolution, whether it be a

race, a globe or a chain, seems to be devoted to bringing the backward people up

to nearly the level of those who have got on better; then these latter also

(who, in the meantime, have been resting in great enjoyment in the mental world)

descend into incarnation along with the others, and they press on together until

the end of the period.

Thus the first of the egos from the Moon who entered the Earth-chain were by no

means the most advanced. Indeed they may be described as the least advanced of

those who had succeeded in attaining humanity – the animal-men. Coming as they

did into a chain of new globes, freshly aggregated, they had to establish the

forms in all the different kingdoms of Nature. This needs to be done at the

beginning of the first round in a new chain, but never after that; for though

the life-wave is centered only upon one of the seven globes of a chain at any

given time, yet life has not entirely departed from the other globes. At the

present moment, for example, the life-wave of our chain is centered in this

Earth, but on the other two physical globes of our chain, Mars and Mercury, life

still exists. There is still a (Page128) population, human, animal and

vegetable, and consequently when the life-wave goes round again to either of

those planets there will be no necessity for the creation of new forms. The old

types are already there, and all that will happen  will be a sudden marvellous

fecundity, so that the various kingdoms will quickly increase and multiply, and

make a rapidly increasing population instead of a stationary one.

It was, then, the animal-men, the lowest class of human beings of the

Moon-chain, who established the forms in the first round of the Earth-chain.

Pressing closely after them were the highest of the lunar animal kingdom, who

were soon ready to occupy the forms which had just been made. In the second

journey round the seven globes of the Earth-chain, the animal-men who had been

the most backward of the lunar humanity were leaders of this terrene humanity,

the highest of the moon-animals making its less developed grades. The same thing

went on in the third round of the Earth-chain, more and more of the lunar

animals attaining individualization and joining the human ranks, until in the

middle of that round on this very globe D which we call the Earth, a higher

class of human beings – the Second Order of moon-men – descended into

incarnation and at once took the lead.

When we come to the fourth, our present round, we find the First Order of the

moon-men pouring in upon us – all the highest and the best of the lunar humanity

who had only just fallen short of success. (Page 129) Some of those who had

already, even on the Moon, entered upon the Path soon attained its end, became

Adepts and passed away from the Earth. Some few others who had not been quite so

far advanced have attained Adeptship only comparatively recently – that is,

within the last few thousand years, and these are the Adepts of the present day.

We, who find ourselves in the higher races of humanity now, were several stages

behind Them, but the opportunity lies before us of following in Their steps if

we will.

The evolution of which we have been speaking is that of the ego himself, of what

might be called the soul of man; but at the same time there has been also an

evolution of the body. The forms built in the first round were very different

from any of which we know anything now. Properly speaking, those which were made

on our physical earth can scarcely be called forms at all, for they were

constructed of etheric matter only, and resembled vague, drifting and almost

shapeless clouds. In the second round they were definitely physical, but still

shapeless and light enough to float about in currents of wind.

Only in the third round did they begin to bear any kind of resemblance to man as

we know him today. The very methods of reproduction of those primitive forms

differed from those of humanity today, and far more resembled those which we now

find only in very much lower types of life. Man in those early days was

androgynous, and a definite separation into the sexes took place only about the

middle of (Page 130) the third round. From that time onward until now the shape

of man has been steadily evolving along definitely human lines, becoming smaller

and more compact than it was, learning to stand upright instead of stooping and

crawling, and generally differentiating itself from the animal forms out of

which it had been evolved.

One curious break in the regularity of this evolution deserves mention. On this

globe, in this fourth round, there was a departure from the straightforward

scheme of evolution. This being the middle globe of a middle round, the midmost

point of evolution upon it marked the last movement at which it was possible for

members of what had been the lunar animal kingdom to attain individualization.

Consequently a sort of strong effort was made – a special scheme was arranged to

give a final chance to as many as possible. The conditions of the first and

second rounds were specially reproduced in place of the first and second races –

conditions of which in the earlier rounds these backward egos had not been able

fully to take advantage. Now, with the additional evolution which they had

undergone during the third round, some of them were able to take such advantage,

and so they rushed in at the very last moment before the door was shut, and

became just human. Naturally they will not reach any high level of human

development, but at least when they try again in some future chain it will be

some advantage to them to have had even this slight experience of human life.

Our terrestrial evolution received a most valuable (Page 131) stimulus from the

assistance given to us by our sister globe, Venus. Venus is at present in the

fifth incarnation of its chain, and in the seventh round of that incarnation, so

that its inhabitants are a whole chain and a half in front of us in evolution.

Since, therefore, its people are so much more developed than ours, it was

thought desirable that certain Adepts from the Venus evolution should be

transferred to our Earth in order to assist in the specially busy time just

before the closing of the door, in the middle of the fourth root-race.

These august Beings have been called the Lords of the Flame and the Children of

the Fire-mist, and They have produced a wonderful effect upon our evolution. The

intellect of which we are so proud is almost entirely due to Their presence, for

in the natural course of events the next round, the fifth, should be that of

intellectual advancement, and in this our present fourth round we should be

devoting ourselves chiefly to the cultivation of the emotions. We are therefore

in reality a long way in advance of the program marked out for us; and such

advance is entirely due to the assistance given by these great Lords of the

Flame. Most of Them stayed with us only through that critical period of our

history; a few still remain to hold the highest offices of the Great White

Brotherhood until the time when men of our own evolution shall have risen to

such a height as to be capable of relieving their august Visitors.

The evolution lying before us in both of the life (Page 132) and of the form;

for in future rounds, while the egos will be steadily growing in power, wisdom

and love, the physical forms also will be more beautiful and more perfect than

they have ever yet been. We have in this world at the present time men at widely

differing stages of evolution, and it is clear that there are vast hosts of

savages who are far behind the great civilized races of the world – so far

behind that it is quite impossible that they can overtake them. Later on in the

course of our evolution a point will be reached at which it is no longer

possible for those undeveloped souls to advance side by side with the others, so

that it will be necessary that a division should be made.

The proceeding is exactly analogous to the sorting out by a schoolmaster of the

boys in his class. During the school year he has to prepare his boys for a

certain examination, and by perhaps the middle of that school year he knows

quite well which of them will pass it. If he should have in his class some who

are hopelessly behind the rest, he might reasonably say to them when the middle

period was reached:

“It is quite useless for you to continue with your fellows, for the more

difficult lessons which I shall now have to give will be entirely unintelligible

to you. It is impossible that you can learn enough in the time to pass the

examination, so that the effort would only be a useless strain for you, and

meantime you would be a hindrance to the rest of the class. It is therefore far

better for you to give up striving after the impossible, and to take up again

(Page 133) the work of the lower class which you did not do perfectly, and then

to offer yourselves for this examination along with next year’s class, for what

is now impossible for you will then be easy”.

This is in effect exactly what is said at a certain stage in our future

evolution, to the most backward egos. They drop out of this year’s class and

come along with the next one. This is the “aeonian condemnation” to which

reference was made a little while ago. It is computed that about two fifths of

humanity will drop out of the class in this way, leaving the remaining three

fifths to go on with far greater rapidity to the glorious destinies which lie

before them. (Page 134)

---------Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales----------
206 Newport Road, Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24-1DL



“Members of the Theosophical Society study these truths and Theosophists

endeavor to live them”. What manner of men then is the true Theosophist in

consequence of his knowledge? What is the result in his daily life of all this


Finding that there is a Supreme Power who is directing the course of evolution,

and that He is all-wise and all-loving, the Theosophist sees that everything

which exists within this scheme must be intended to further its progress. He

realizes that the scripture which tells us that all things are working together

for good, is not indulging in a flight of poetic fancy or voicing a pious hope,

but stating a scientific fact. The final attainment of unspeakable glory is an

absolute certainty for every son of man, whatever may be his present condition;

but that is by no means all. Here and at this present moment he is on his way

toward the glory; and all the circumstances surrounding him are intended to help

and not to hinder him, if only they are rightly understood. It is sadly true

that in the world there is much of evil and of sorrow and of suffering; yet from

the higher point of view the Theosophist sees that, terrible though this be, it

is only temporary and superficial, and is all being utilized as a factor in the

progress.(Page 135)

When in the days of his ignorance he looked at it from its own level it was

almost impossible to see this; while he looked from beneath at the under side of

life, with his eyes fixed all the time upon some apparent evil, he could never

gain a true grasp of its meaning. Now he raises himself above it to the higher

levels of thought and consciousness, and looks down upon it with the eye of the

spirit and understands it in its entirety, so he can see that in very truth all

is well – not that all will be well at some remote period, but that even now at

this moment, in the midst of incessant striving and apparent evil, the mighty

current of evolution is still flowing, and so all is well because all is moving

on in perfect order toward the final goal.

Raising his consciousness thus above the storm and stress of worldly life, he

recognizes what used to seem to be evil, and notes how it is apparently pressing

backwards against the great stream of progress; but he also sees that the onward

sweep of the divine law of evolution bears the same relation to this superficial

evil as does the tremendous torrent of Niagara to the fleckings of foam upon its

surface. So while he sympathizes deeply with all who suffer, he yet realizes

what will be the end of that suffering, and so for him despair or hopelessness

is impossible. He applies this consideration to his own sorrows and troubles, as

well as to those of the world, and therefore one great result of his Theosophy

is a perfect serenity – even more than that, a perpetual cheerfulness and joy.

For him there is an utter absence of worry, because (Page 136) in truth there is

nothing left to worry about, since he knows that all must be well. His higher

Science makes him a confirmed optimist, for it shows him that whatever of evil

there may be in any person or in any movement, it is of necessity temporary,

because it is opposed to the resistless stream of evolution; whereas whatever is

good in any person or in any movement must necessarily be persistent and useful,

because it has behind it the omnipotence of that current, and therefore it must

abide and it must prevail.

Yet it must not for a moment be supposed that because he is so fully assured of

the final triumph of good he remains careless or unmoved by the evils which

exist in the world around him. He knows that it is his duty to combat these to

the utmost of his power, because in doing this he is working upon the side of

the great evolutionary force, and is bringing nearer the time of its ultimate

victory. None will be more active than he in labouring for the good, even though

he is absolutely free from the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness which so

often oppresses those who are striving to help their fellowmen.

Another most valuable result of his theosophical study is the absence of fear.

Many people are constantly anxious or worried about something or other; they are

fearing lest this or that should happen to them, lest this or that combination

may fail, and so all the while they are in a condition of unrest; and most

serious of all for many is the fear of death. For the Theosophist the whole of

this feeling is entirely (Page 137) swept away. He realizes that great truth of

reincarnation. He knows that he has often before laid aside physical bodies, and

so he sees that death is no more than sleep – that just as sleep comes in

between our days of work and gives us rest and refreshment, so between these

days of labor here on earth, which we call lives, there comes a long night of

astral and heavenly life to give us rest and refreshment and to help us on our


To the Theosophist death is simply the laying aside for a time of this robe of

flesh. He knows that it is his duty to preserve the bodily vesture as long as

possible, and gain through it all the experience he can; but when the time comes

for him to lay it down he will do so thankfully, because he knows that the next

stage will be a much pleasanter one than this. Thus he will have no fear of

death, although he realizes that he must live his life to the appointed end,

because he is here for the purpose of progress, and that progress is the one

truly momentous matter. His whole conception of life is different; the object is

not to earn so much money, not to obtain such and such a position; the one

important thing is to carry out the Divine Plan. He knows that for this he is

here, and that everything else must give way to it.

Utterly free also is he from any religious fears or worries or troubles. All

such things are swept aside for him, because he sees clearly that progress

toward the highest is the Divine Will for us, that we cannot escape from that

progress, and that whatever comes in our way and whatever happens to us is (Page

138) meant to help us along that line; that we ourselves are absolutely the only

people who can delay our advance. No longer does he trouble and fear about

himself. He simply goes on and does the duty which comes nearest in the best way

that he can, confident that if he does this all will be well for him without his

perpetual worrying. He is satisfied quietly to do his work and to try to help

his fellows in the race, knowing that the great divine Power behind will press

him onward slowly and steadily, and do for him all that can be done, so long as

his face is set steadfastly in the right direction, so long as he does all he

reasonably can.

Since he knows that we are all part of one great evolution and all literally the

children of one father, he sees that the universal brotherhood of humanity is no

mere poetical conception, but a definite fact; not a dream of something which is

to be in the dim distance of Utopia, but a condition existing here and now. The

certainty of this all-embracing fraternity gives him a wider outlook upon life

and a broad impersonal point of view from which to regard everything. He

realizes that the true interests of all are in fact identical, and that no man

can ever make real gain for himself at the cost of loss or suffering to some one

else. This is not to him an article of religious belief, but a scientific fact

proved to him by his study. He sees that since humanity is literally a whole,

nothing which injures one man can ever be really for the good of any other, for

the harm done influences not only the doer but also those who are about

him.(Page 139)

He knows that the only true advantage for him is that benefit which he shares

with all. He sees that any advance which he is able to make in the way of

spiritual progress or development is something secured not for himself alone but

for others. If he gains knowledge or self-control, he assuredly acquires much

for himself, yet he takes nothing away from any one else, but on the contrary he

helps and strengthen others. Cognizant as he is of the absolute spiritual unity

of humanity, he knows that, even in this lower world, no true profit can be made

by one man which is not made in the name of and for the sake of humanity; that

one man’s progress must be a lifting of the burden of all others; that one man’s

advance in spiritual things means a very slight yet not imperceptible advance to

humanity as a whole; that every one who bears suffering and sorrow nobly in his

struggle toward the light is lifting a little of the heavy load of the sorrow

and suffering of his brothers as well.

Because he recognizes this brotherhood not merely as a hope cherished by

despairing men, but as a definite fact following in scientific series from all

other facts; because he sees this as an absolute certainty, his attitude towards

all those around him changes radically. It becomes a posture ever of

helpfulness, ever of the deepest sympathy, for he sees that nothing which

clashes with their higher interests can be the right thing for him to do, or can

be good for him in any way.

It naturally follows that he becomes filled with the widest possible tolerance

and charity. He cannot but (Page 140) be always tolerant, because his philosophy

shows him that it matters little what man believes, so long as he is a good man

and true. Charitable also he must be, because his wider knowledge enables him to

make allowances for many things which the ordinary man does not understand. The

standard of the Theosophist as to right and wrong is always higher than that of

the less instructed man, yet he is far gentler than the latter in his feeling

towards the sinner, because he comprehends more of human nature. He realizes how

the sin appeared to the sinner at the moment of its commission, and so he makes

more allowance than is ever made by the man who is ignorant of all this.

He goes further than tolerance, charity, sympathy; he feels positive love

towards mankind, and that leads him to adopt a position  of watchful

helpfulness. He feels that every contact with others is for him an opportunity,

and the additional knowledge which his study has brought to him enables him to

give advice or help in almost any case which comes before him. Not that he is

perpetually thrusting his opinions upon other people. On the contrary, he

observes that to do this is one of the commonest mistakes made by the

uninstructed. He knows that argument is foolish waste of energy, and therefore

he declines to argue. If anyone desires from him explanation or advice he is

more than willing to give it, yet he has no sort of wish to convert anyone else

to his own way of thinking.

In every relation of life this idea of helpfulness comes into play, not only

with regard to his fellowmen (Page 141) but also in connection with the vast

animal kingdom which surrounds him. Units of this kingdom are often brought into

close relation with man, and this is for him an opportunity of doing something

for them. The Theosophist recognizes that these are also his brothers, even

though they may be younger brothers, and that he owes a fraternal duty to them

also – so to act and so to think that his relation with them shall be always for

their good and never for their harm.

Pre-eminently and above all, this Theosophy is to him a doctrine of common

sense. It puts before him, as far as he can at present know them, the facts

about God and man and the relations between them; then he proceeds to take these

facts into account and to act in relation to them with ordinary reason and

common sense. He regulates his life according to the laws of evolution which it

has taught him, and this gives him a totally different standpoint, and a

touchstone by which to try everything – his own thoughts and feelings, and his

own actions first of all, and then those things which come before him in the

world outside himself.

Always he applies this criterion: Is the thing right or wrong, does it help

evolution or does it hinder it? If a thought or a feeling arises within himself,

he sees at once by this test whether it is one he ought to encourage. If it be

for the greatest good of the greatest number then all is well; if it may hinder

or cause harm to any being in its progress, then it is evil and to be avoided.

Exactly the same reason holds good if he is called upon to decide (Page 142)

with regard to anything outside himself. If from that point of view a thing be a

good thing, then he can consciously support it; if not, then it is not for him.

For him the question of personal interest does not come into the case at all. He

thinks simply of the good of evolution as a whole. This gives him a definite

foothold and clear criterion, and removes from him altogether the pain of

indecision and hesitation. The Will of the Deity is man’s evolution; whatever

therefore helps on that evolution must be good; whatever stands in the way of it

and delays it, that thing must be wrong, even though it may have on its side all

the weight of public opinion and immemorial tradition.

Knowing that the true man is the ego and not the body, he sees that it is the

life of the ego only which is really of moment, and that everything connected

with the body must unhesitatingly be subordinated to those higher interests. He

recognizes that this earth life is given to him for the purpose of progress, and

that that progress is the one important thing. The real purpose of his life is

the unfoldment of his powers as an ego, the development of his character. He

knows that there must be evolvement not only of the physical body but also of

the mental nature, of the mind, and of the spiritual perceptions. He sees that

nothing short of absolute perfection is expected of him in connection with this

development; that all power with regard to it is in his own hands; that he has

everlasting time before him in which to attain (Page 143) this perfection, but

the sooner it is gained the happier and more useful will he be.

He recognizes his life as nothing but a day at school, and his physical body as

a temporary vesture assumed for the purpose of learning through it. He knows at

once that this purpose of learning lessons is the only one of any real

importance, and that the man who allows himself to be diverted from that purpose

by any consideration whatever is acting with inconceivable stupidity. To him the

life devoted exclusively to physical objects, to the acquisition of wealth or

fame, appears the merest child’s play – a senseless sacrifice of all that is

really worth having for the sake of a few moment’s gratification of the lower

part of his nature. He “sets his affection on things above and not on things of

the earth”, not only because he sees this to be the right course of action, but

because he realizes so clearly the valuelessness of these things of earth. He

always tries to take the higher point of view, for he knows that the lower is

utterly unreliable – that the lower desires and feelings gather round him like a

dense fog, and make it impossible for him to see anything clearly from that


Whenever he finds a struggle going on within him he remembers that he himself is

the higher, and that this which is the lower is not the real self, but merely an

uncontrolled part of one of its vehicles. He knows that though he may fall a

thousand times on the way toward his goal, his reason for trying to reach it

remains just as strong after the thousandth fall (Page 144) as it was in the

beginning, so that it would not only be useless but unwise and wrong to give way

to despondency and hopelessness.

He begins his journey upon the road of progress at once – not only because he

knows that it is far easier for him now than it will be if he leaves the effort

until later, but chiefly because if he makes the endeavor now and succeeds in

achieving some progress, if he rises thereby to some higher level, he is in a

position to hold out a helping hand to those who have not yet reached even that

step on the ladder which he has gained. In that way he takes part, however

humble it may be, in the great divine work of evolution.

He knows that he has arrived at his present position only by a slow process of

growth, and so he does not expect instantaneous attainments of perfection. He

sees how inevitable is the great law of cause and effect, and that when he once

grasps the working of that law he can use it intelligently, in regard to mental

and moral development, just as in the physical world we can employ for our own

assistance those laws of nature the action of which we have learnt to


Understanding what death is, he knows that there can be no need to fear it or to

mourn over it, whether it comes to himself or to those whom he loves. It has

come to them all often before, so there is nothing unfamiliar about it. He sees

death simply as a promotion from a life which is more than half physical to one

which is wholly superior, so for himself he unfeignedly welcomes it; and even

when it comes (Page 145) to those whom he loves, he recognizes at once the

advantage for them, even though he cannot but feel a pang of regret that he

should be temporarily separated from them so far as the physical world is

concerned. But he knows that the so-called dead are near him still, and that he

has only to cast off for a time his physical body in sleep in order to stand

side by side with them as before.

He sees clearly that the world is one, and that the same divine laws rule the

whole of it, whether it be visible or invisible to physical sight. So he has no

feeling of nervousness or strangeness in passing from one part of it to another,

and no feeling of uncertainty as to what he will find on the other side of the

veil. He knows that in that higher life there opens before him a splendid vista

of opportunities both for acquiring fresh knowledge and for doing useful work;

that life away from this dense body has a vividness and a brilliancy to which

all earthly enjoyment is as nothing; and so through his clear knowledge and calm

confidence the power of the endless life shines out upon all those around him.

Doubt as to his future is for him impossible, for just as by looking back on the

savage he realizes that which he was in the past, so by looking to the greatest

and wisest of mankind he knows what he will be in the future. He sees an

unbroken chain of development, a ladder of perfection rising steadily before

him, yet with human beings upon every step of it, so that he knows that those

steps are possible for him to climb. It is just because of the unchangeableness

of the great law of cause and effect that (Page 146) he finds himself able to

climb that ladder, because, since the law works always in the same way, he can

depend upon it and he can use it, just as he uses the laws of Nature in the

physical worlds. His knowledge of this law brings to him a sense of perspective,

and shows him that if something comes to him, it comes because he has deserved

it as a consequence of action which he has committed, of words which he has

spoken, of thought to which he has given harbor in previous days or in earlier

lives. He comprehends that all affliction is of the nature of the payment of a

debt, and therefore when he has to meet with the troubles of life he takes them

and uses them as a lesson, because he understands why they have come and is glad

of the opportunity which they give him to pay off something of his obligations.

Again, and yet another way, does he take them as an opportunity, for he sees

that there is another side to them if he meets them in the right way. He spends

no time in bearing prospective burdens. When trouble comes to him he does not

aggravate it by foolish repining but sets himself to endure so much of it as is

inevitable, with patience and fortitude. Not that he submits himself to it as a

fatalist might, for he takes adverse circumstances as an incentive to such

development as may enable him to transcend them, and thus out of long-past evil

he brings forth a seed of future growth. For in the very act of paying the

outstanding debt he develops qualities of courage and resolution that will stand

him in good stead through all the ages that are to come.

He is distinguishable from the rest of the world (Page 147) by his perennial

cheerfulness, his undaunted courage under difficulties, and his ready sympathy

and helpfulness; yet he is at the same time emphatically a man who takes life

seriously, who recognizes that there is much for everyone to do in the world,

and that there is no time to waste. He knows with utter certainty that he not

only makes his own destiny but also gravely affects that of others around him,

and thus he perceives how weighty a responsibility attends the use of his power.

He knows that thoughts are things and that it is easily possible to do great

harm or great good by their means. He knows that no man liveth to himself, for

his every thought acts upon others as well; that the vibrations which he sends

forth from his mind and from his mental nature are reproducing themselves in the

minds and the mental natures of other men, so that he is a source either of

mental health or of mental ill to all with whom he comes in contact.

This at once imposes upon him a far higher code of social ethics than that which

is known to the outer world, for he knows that he must control not only his acts

and his words, but also his thoughts, since they may produce effects more

serious and more far-reaching than their outward expression in the physical

world. He knows that even when a man is not in the least thinking of others, he

yet inevitably affects them for good or evil. In addition to this unconscious

action of his thought upon others he also employs it consciously for good. He

sets currents in motion to carry mental help and comfort to many a (Page 148)

friend, and in this way he finds a whole new world of usefulness opening before


He ranges himself ever on the side of the higher rather than the lower thought,

the nobler rather than the baser. He deliberately takes the optimistic rather

than the pessimistic view of everything, the helpful rather than the cynical,

because he knows that to be fundamentally the true view. By looking continually

for the good in everything that he may endeavour to strengthen it, by striving

always to help and never to hinder, he becomes ever of greater use to his

fellow-men, and is thus in his small way a co-worker with the splendid scheme of

evolution. He forgets himself utterly and lives but for the sake of others,

realizing himself as a part of that scheme; he also realizes the God within him,

and learns to become ever a truer expression of Him, and thus in fulfilling

God’s will he is not only blessed himself, but becomes a blessing to all.





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