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Eastern School of Theosophy (18)

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(Echoes of the Orient p. 443-452)

Eastern School of Theosophy

Suggestions and Aids


Subsidiary Papers 443

yet found out how to distinguish duty pure and simple from personal desires. But the essence of the practice, so far as it is possible, lies precisely in that regulation. That is, the personal self must be mortified, and it must begin with our relations to and with each other. As a real and valuable branch of Occultism this is not thought much of by the general mass, but it is essential. We see a great deal about getting rid of the personal self, but this method, which will lead to reducing the lower self to its proper subjection to the Higher, is not followed. It will be easy to know when to do thus and when to refrain by always looking to see if what you are going to do is for purely your own sake and pleasure, or because it is a duty owed to others, either from natural law or from agreement. Let me illustrate:

You dislike to be interrupted. You have decided to sit down and write or read Theosophy or on some other useful subject. A person comes who perchance happens to be a bore in the ordinary sense, or who is not agreeable personally to you. First, you do not wish to have your fixed object laid aside, and, second, you dislike being bored. Both these are solely personal. In this case — unless of course some pressing duty to others requires you to go on — you should at once mortify the personal self by dropping the reading, writing, or whatever it is, and attend to the wants of the other person. Judgment of course must be used. But there will be every day and in all places opportunity after opportunity to pursue this practice. It is the giving up of yourself, and that is the only way through which a true White Adept is ever a possibility.

Little by little, then, especially if the Voice of Conscience is attended to, the “spiritual will” develops and works. Its mode of action is that, asleep or awake, near or far, your true desires arising from the impulse of the Higher Self will be accomplished. For this phase of the will flyeth like light, cuts obstacles like a sharp sword. This is one of the occult meanings of the words of the Christian Scriptures, “Not my will but thine be done” [Luke 22:42].


The Rosicrucians have imitators. The real ones are, in fact, those servants of the Masters who are working for the race, in their various ways and places, unknown and unheralded. The imitators are well meaning and sincere, but they are only copies or imitations. The real “Rosicrucian” does not tell about it. Hence books and people who give a real history are (a) either designedly or (b) undesignedly keeping up the old tradition, in a skeptical age, that mysticism is not a figment; or 444 Echoes of the Orient (c) they are only book-learned ones, and that sort of Rosicrucianism, being merely theoretical — and not complete — leads not to the real fountain, nor to practical realization. There are also those who advertise to teach magic, Yoga, soul-culture, and the like. Not necessarily all charlatans — they are misguided, when not deliberate frauds — for the truths of the spirit, the real magic, actual soul-culture, are not taught for a fee. I am sorry to say I know of many F.T.S. who have paid fees to some of these charlatans.

Definite numbers of persons are at work in the Occident, teaching and helping those to whom they are sent, and they do it for nothing, and in a way which cannot be found out by those not entitled to know. I am now dealing in facts, for I know of and have met those persons, and they are not merely of Indian or other Eastern nations, there are as many of European as any other birth. This was of course well known to H.P.B., who often spoke of it. In fact, in more than one instance she advised or prevented members from going to India to learn Occultism, saying that they might be misled, and that there was plenty of teaching in the West. Whether to others she mentioned particular instances or such teachers in the West I know not, but she did so to me. We are therefore “surrounded by a cloud of witnesses” [Heb 12:1], and it behooves us to think and act virtuously, sincerely, and as if we appreciated the privilege that is ours of being watched and helped by that great Initiate of all, whose single will keeps this whole movement in being, against assaults from without and dissensions within.


There is some confusion asserted against H.P.B.∴ and others as to teachings on this subject. It is said in derision that thirteen or fourteen astral bodies can be counted out of Theosophical expositions. Quite truly not even our own students are yet able to thoroughly understand all about the subject, but they can know sufficient to be undismayed by the ridicule.

The Astral Body is a term which must someday be given up. But it stands, for the present, for the whole of the ethereal inner person. Just as seven rules in the whole scheme, so in this there are seven great divisions of this form, or seven various functions, powers, or uses. The Māyāvi-Rūpa has confused some. It means “illusionary form,” and is not the Astral Body proper that gives shape to the physical. It is used by the trained person, who takes whatever form he pleases, no matter what, and transfers to it his powers and faculties, leaving a part of his astral to animate and work the physical. As this rūpa can be

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used by but few, there is no particular profit in pursuing the subject.

Astral Body proper, so to say, as known roughly and generally in the public classification of vehicles, is that portion, power, or division of the inner man which gives him his shape and remains with him always. In this, in most persons, all the other powers and functions of the Astral Body are bound up and retained. There is, then, another layer or function or phase which acts in still another man. Thus the whole series can be followed, and will be later on in these papers. Though the general rule is that a new astral body is formed for each new physical body, there are exceptions. That is, there are beings born, with a new body of course, but who have the old astral body of the preceding life or lives. While such are not common, they are sufficiently numerous to be met with. This branch of the subject is related to the “mystery of the Moon” spoken of in Secret Doctrine, and from now on to the end of this paragraph what is said here is to be kept secret, as it can easily be since it is unlikely anyone will hit upon it. The Moon is said to be the corpse of the energy or Self of this Earth, the latter being the reincarnation of the Cosmic entity once a living planet — now the Moon. You will remember H.P.B.∴ wrote in Secret Doctrine that the fact of other planets having more than one moon is not explained by modern astronomers. The body of our last birth is as the moon to the earth. Sometimes the astral body of a prior birth wherein a proper life was not led — and being a part of that old body — remains coherent in space and attaches itself to the newly-formed body and new astral body of a succeeding birth. Not particularizing vicious or gross lives, there are certain practices pursued by a class of uninformed medium-hunters which will tend to induce in other lives the annoyance and detriment of “having more than one moon,” to continue the correspondence. And dealings with the dead come closely up to this line. For a séance may attract to it a dying-out astral which, if left to itself, would soon be extinguished. But coming into the sphere of the séance and of those there, a new desire for life is aroused, and it may be continued long enough to keep the astral coherent until the former owner returns to rebirth, and then inevitably following the law of attraction, it will seek the new personality and plague it. This carries on its face its own comment.

The seven phases of the astral body may be best understood by analogy. There are seven different manifestations of matter, four of which are classified by science, viz., solid, liquid, gaseous, radiant, and another which is known indirectly as etheric. Each of these manifestations or states has its own functions and its own laws, and yet each state contains, so to say, all the others and may be made to pass from

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one to the other, that is, as far as the four lower states are concerned. All these, moreover, are states or manifestations of matter on the lowest plane. Each definite state has its own seven divisions. Similarly, astral matter — sometimes called astral light — has its seven states or divisions which may change from one to another, each state containing potentially all the others Man’s astral body, being composed of astral matter, may take on seven different forms, or function in seven different ways, and thus we may understand how our critics say that seven or more astral bodies are spoken of in our literature. Two or more of these states or functions may coexist or be used to a greater or less extent at the same time; i.e., the Liṅga-Śarīra proper may be functioning unconsciously in the body while the Māyāvi-Rūpa is in another place. Also the Māyāvi-Rūpa may, unknown to the brain mind, visit other places while with the brain we are functioning consciously on this plane or at this place. This occurs, among other ways, in what is commonly known as a “brown study.” The Liṅga-Śarīra is the portion or power of the astral body connected especially with the physical form; it is the mold of the physical and hence can never entirely leave the physical, for if it deserted the latter absolutely, dissolution would ensue. According as the mind and soul of the person function habitually on a high or a low plane, so will the physical body and the Liṅga-Śarīra take on the characteristics and exercise the functions belonging to the other states of matter, and become transformed in the case of the higher use by the radiant power of the principle of fire (see “Elixir of Life,” pp. 29-32 in Five Years of Theosophy).1 It is owing to this that the bodies of all the Masters and Sages appear to be radiant, for with them the radiant principle of fire is dominant and clarified by union with the Self. One of the objects of evolution is the purification of the astral body by right thought and act, so that it may react upon the physical one, thus refining it and gradually altering it to a finer state. It is of such matter — ours, only more rare — that the bodies of high adepts in and out of our sphere are composed. The factor for transforming our matter from state to state, from solid to liquid to gaseous, is heat, and so too there is a factor which will transform astral matter from state to state. This factor is a subtle part of the principle of spiritual fire. This is one of the fires spoken of by the alchemists and referred to by those who have written about the Rosicrucians and Fire Philosophers. The various confusing things detailed in those writings are no more nor less than the different divisions of our nature ranging from the lower and visible to the highest

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and invisible. Labored recapitulations of them are useless and only a burden to the mind, no matter how mysteriously worded they may be. The heat of spiritual aspiration which acts at once and definitely on the inner bodies of the soul is what the members of this School ought to think of. H.P.B.∴, speaking for the Masters, and the Masters themselves have said that as we proceed with high aspiration followed by right act as far as possible joined to right thought, ray after ray of those that join the upper to the lower part of our nature breaks off and is superseded by a ray directly from the higher, the spiritual sun of each one, until at last the whole set of rays joining us to the lower is merged or transformed into the higher, thus uniting us with the Self. Many members have looked too much for specific directions and descriptions of the fire to be used, or of how it is to be used, or for some means of seeing it in operation; or do not accept it as an actuality unless they can know and perceive with the brain each step of the evolutionary process. But all this is not needed, and indeed, for the student cannot be had. The very instant a high aspiration is entertained, that instant the spiritual fire begins to work, and if the aspiration is made permanent by action inside and outside, then, the heat being constantly thus applied to the heavy lead-like material of the lower nature, the melting and refining process goes on silently but surely, adding power to the inner body which acts again on the outer body, and giving to all a strength and consistency which will lead to the gradual acquirement of true wisdom. This is what is meant by the alchemical and Rosicrucian saying or theory that lead or base metal may be turned into gold by the use of the “red powder.” The opposite saying is also true, that by the use of the black powder the precious metal may be turned into lead. All the planes are interrelated and correspond with each other throughout. Thus pure thinking and living are necessary. Those who live grossly will of course for ever have base metal. But those who think, live, and act carelessly are untrue to their high duty just as much in their own degree. It is not only pandering to mere appetites and passions that keeps us down. Just as much is there a hindrance in the everyday continually falling under the sway of purely personal ideas and desires, both small and great. The small added together make up the sum of life, and from day to day intervene to prevent progress. While the soul plane is in itself strong, it is not able to overcome unless we who function on this one permit the soul to act, and follow its leading. The lower act and thought react against the higher, through the inner body, and thus the astral body becomes the enemy of the mental and the lower. This was given out by the Masters to us as long ago as 1875, when they said that very often the inner astral man had become

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the demon who was an enemy to the real man, causing thus a warfare in which the brain and lower Manas are now for, and now against, the higher nature. This power of the astral is due to the fact that its life and function are, so to say, automatic. It preserves the pictures of ideas and acts and things. In sleep it brings on dreams which may in waking state react into waking act. Hence it must be plain that we have to as much as possible keep in the light of the higher nature while we are awake, so that in time the old impressions may be wiped out and the inner person brought exactly into line with the best thought of our waking hours. This is why charity, generosity, high morality, kindness, truthfulness, and all the virtues inculcated by ethics, are of vastly more importance than learning and study without them. Much study will lead to book knowledge, but unless the waking man follows to the best of his ability the ethical precepts he will lose most of his work by death. At death he leaves the brain that learned, that pored over books and knew by heart all the formulae of kabbalism, alchemy, and what not, but he saves only so much of real character as he made during life. If he studied all that time for the sake of knowing, then most of it is lost, and next time he has to begin with the small or large quantity of true character that he made. This may be toward the white or dark side, and strong or weak one way or the other. If, as is the rule with the general run of men, he returns to birth without the old astral body, then he has what seeds he planted in Manas. Should he bring back the former astral, then he has that with all its tendencies added to the mind-seeds of thought. Now as the rule in general is that we return as Ātma-Buddhi-Manas, without the next lower — the essence or flavor of desires being always caught back by Manas — it is quite plain that but little of the painful studies of the former life is left, and that we come as the summation of our whole life’s thoughts. For Manas does not hold the thoughts always in detail, that being the function of the brain used in each separate life. So if one’s life could be summed up — as might be with many we know — in the word selfish, then that will be all that the new person has of character, even though it makes a strong one.

Therefore those who, on the one hand, decry attention to what bearing Theosophy has on ethics, calling for difficult studies in philosophy only, and, on the other hand, who will not study or gain an acquaintance with the true philosophy of nature and man, are both wrong. The middle course should be pursued, by attending to right philosophy so as to inform the brain and mind, and by also studying and fully practicing ethics and all the virtues. And as the world today is in need of the latter more than the former, that branch should not be left to mere mention as a thing taken for granted. Those who will not Subsidiary Papers 449 study ethics and steadily try to practice all the virtues and kindnesses recommended from the beginning of time, may know that a few short years will bring them to a halt, when their account will be closed and their vain life ended. These considerations of the theme of the astral body lead us directly to the subject of :


Upon this I can give you words of explanation directly from the Master and delivered to me some years ago by one of his Chelas. I had asked in relation to the Nirmāṇakāyas, and the following are some of the sentences in reply:

This is a general name applied, among other matters, to the astral bodies of deceased Adepts who refuse Nirvana and prefer doing good to the world by remaining present and alive in the astral body in the sphere of the earth. They differ from the astral shades of ordinary mortals in so far that the Māyāvi-Rūpa remains whole, and with the exception of the physical body they have all the other principles. It does not require a high Adept always for thus remaining a Nirmāṇakāya. From two to three percent of real Faquirs and Yogis remain Nirmāṇakāyas after death, refusing Devachan by a simple act of the will. These incarnate in bodies that suit them, sometimes incarnating entirely, sometimes but partially. Some Western Adepts have remained thus with the earth as Nirmāṇakāyas. In dealing with this I will use further explanations taken from other instructions, as those are not in a form to be quoted here. The sentences do not clash with the teaching that Nirmāṇakāyas may be bad, but the general rule is to use the term for the good, as the dark ones are in fact given another special appellation. There are two things to choose from, and more than one grade of Adept that may become Nirmāṇakāya. The high Adepts become thus upon refusing Nirvana; the lower, upon not going into Devachan. And the subsequent work of each is shown to be different, just as Nirvana is different from Devachan. Hence those who thus become, by refusing Devachan, are lower in power than the other class.

The higher have doubtless in former lives many times refused Devachan.

Their development is so high that they do not incarnate in our forms, because those would not be able to sustain the weight or power of the indwelling personage. They therefore wait until the race has developed the physical form to a greater perfection of matter,

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when in future centuries these high beings will again incarnate, as then the available bodies will be useful and not detrimental. Were they to incarnate visibly now, all their power would have to be used in keeping the body, such as the race now furnishes, from being dissolved, and that would be a waste. But they remain in the sphere of the earth and its races, doing good to the world by taking an unseen but very powerful part in the affairs of the world. This will go among other things to further explain the sentences you will find in one of the letters from the Masters published by Mr. Sinnett in The Occult World [pp. 134-5, 6th ed.], wherein he is asked if anyone knows what part they have played in history, and if anyone is able to prove that many of the great characters of the world’s life were not the puppets of these beings who pulled the strings of destiny from behind the scenes. Such is the fact; it is one of the ways of working of the Lodge which has to use the people of the world as they are, and must proceed under law of nature, for the very highest Adept cannot violate reason or law, and cannot at a blow turn men into angels. But it must not be inferred that these beings are engaged with affairs of great scope to such an extent as to not concern themselves with ordinary people. This would be contrary to brotherhood. Affairs are due to the units, and may not be dealt with alone. And the very humblest person may be important; indeed the humblest as well as the greatest is not exempt from their care. The second class (refusers of Devachan) incarnate in bodies of this race, meaning the entire human family. It is also pointed out in the sentence, “These incarnate in bodies that suit them,” that they select the incarnation, and the next few words show that there are cases where the incarnation is not entire. In this the working principle of the Nirmāṇakāya is assimilated with the astral body and mind of the person who has been selected, and then that person, whatever the name borne, is destined to do some work for the benefit of the race and partakes at times wholly of the power of the assimilated Nirmāṇakāya. There is, then, the curious fact presented of two astral bodies working with the same person. The person selected has, however, the greater part in the conscious use of the body. This is a hint quite broad to thinking students as to one more “mystery” of the “metaphysical moon” of the human being. Desertion of the person selected may also take place if he or she indulges in a low or gross life or violates the laws of brotherhood, and in such a case the person goes on in the ordinary way and the Nirmāṇakāya selects some other person with whom to work as before. In the first case (of full incarnation by the Nirmāṇakāya) he selects either a conception, if it is found to be suitable, or takes up with a body which is being deserted by the Ego through natural causes

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or after an agreement made on other planes. But all these details are matters concerning the work of the great Brotherhood, and cannot be explained further at present.

The last sentence quoted is very important also. It points to two things. First, that some Western Adepts have remained as described, and, second, that there exists what may be called “Western Occultism.” This, together with the history of the T.S. and of H.P.B.∴, ought at one blow to clear away much of the débris that has accumulated in the minds of many on the subject of Eastern Occultism until it has sometimes amounted almost to a craze. The East is not the only place for Occultism. The work of the Lodge for this century began in the West with the very extremes of Western peoples, Russian and American. If there have been Western Adepts, who went so far as to become Nirmāṇakāyas, there must exist a Western Occultism peculiarly suitable to the West, or growing out of the West, just as H.P.B.∴ grew from the West herself. That is, it must be necessary to bring out for the West that kind of teaching which for it is proper. That teaching will be a combination of Oriental and Occidental methods, for the core of it all is the same. So in the early days when H.P.B. had her pupils, and later, she did not, and the Masters did not, put those on a course of pure Indian practices. She never then advised that one who was not a vegetarian naturally should hurt his health by becoming one, or told us to go to the Eastern forests looking for Yogis. Rather the contrary, for after she went to India, her letters read to the effect that those who were not in the forest by Karma had better stay where they were, and look for the tests and initiations in the very trials and tribulations of a Western nineteenth-century life, from which so many wanted to flee. Then if we remember the assertion, made on the Master’s authority, that in the West is to be formed the new race, we can see that those who are in that quarter belong there, since real Occultism has no one country and must not be colored to suit the views of any one race or religion. The difference, then, is only in method and in respect to the scheme of life in general prevailing in the West. During the dark ages in Europe there was the same Western Occultism, it being the real science applied to life as then lived by men. Consequently it then led men up through the lower forms of Christianity prevalent at the period, and made its mark in many ways, then and later.

Among those marks is to be noted the work of the person whose writings are said to be those of Shakespeare. In his plays the whole range of human life, especially for the West, was touched upon — good, bad, and indifferent — and from those many a student has since then spread the right lesson among the people. And now in the same

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Western region — including of course America — the work of the Lodge goes on under the same auspices. The Theosophical Society was selected as one great outer agency, seeing that the changed times permitted an enlargement of means. We are therefore not only helped by the Masters to whom H.P.B. introduced us, but also by many others, Nirmāṇakāyas, who have chosen to render assistance. Great encouragement should be found in this, and a conviction of its truth will lead to more help being rendered in individual cases.


Some years ago the Master K.H.∴ wrote the following for an American Theosophist who permits its use here, taken from the original:

The best and most important teacher is one’s own Seventh Principle centered in the Sixth. The more unselfishly one works for his fellow men and divests himself of the illusionary sense of personal isolation, the more he is free from Māyā and the nearer he approaches Divinity. K.H.

William Q. Judge

  1. [Reeves & Turner, London, 1885.] []
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