THEOSOPHY, Vol. 37, No. 11, September, 1949
(Pages 507-510; Size: 12K)
(Number 3 of a 3-part article)


(From a Chela's Diary)

By G____ M____ F.T.S.


BUT there is another portion of the Great Secret to which we must allude, and which is now, for the first in a long series of ages, allowed to be given out to the world, as the hour for it is now come.

The educated reader need not be reminded again that one of the great discoveries which have immortalised the name of Darwin is the law that an organism has always a tendency to repeat, at an analogous period in its life, the action of its progenitors, the more surely and completely in proportion to their proximity in the scale of life. One result of this is, that, in general, organised beings usually die at a period (on an average) the same as that of their progenitors. It is true that there is a great difference between the actual ages at which individuals of any species die. Disease, accidents and famine are the main agents in causing this. But there is, in each species, a well-known limit within which the Race-life lies, and none are known to survive beyond it. This applies to the human species as well as any other. Now, supposing that every possible sanitary condition had been complied with, and every accident and disease avoided by a man of ordinary frame, in some particular case there would still, as is known to medical men, come a time when the particles of the body would feel the hereditary tendency to do that which leads inevitably to dissolution, and would obey it. It must be obvious to any reflecting man that, if by any procedure this critical climacteric could be once thoroughly passed over, the subsequent danger of "death" would be proportionally less as the years progressed. Now this, which no ordinary and unprepared mind and body can do, is possible sometimes for the will and the frame of one who has been specially prepared. There are fewer of the grosser particles present to feel the hereditary bias -- there is the assistance of the reinforced "interior men" (whose normal duration is always greater even in natural death) to the visible outer shell, and there is the drilled and indomitable Will to direct and wield the whole.(9)

From that time forward, the course of the aspirant is clearer. He has conquered "The Dweller of the Threshold" -- the hereditary enemy of his race, and, though still exposed to ever-new dangers in his progress towards Nirvana, he is flushed with victory, and with new confidence and new powers to second it, can press onward to perfection.

For, it must be remembered that nature everywhere acts by Law, and that the process of purification we have been describing in the visible material body, also takes place in those which are interior, and not visible to the Scientists, by modifications of the same process. All is on the change, and the metamorphoses of the more ethereal bodies imitate, though in successively multiplied duration, the career of the grosser, gaining an increasingly wider range of relations with the surrounding kosmos, till in Nirvana the most rarefied Individuality is merged at last into the Infinite Totality.

From the above description of the process, it will be inferred why it is that "Adepts" are so seldom seen in ordinary life; for, pari passu, with the etherealisation of their bodies, and the development of their power, grows an increasing distaste, and a so-to-speak "contempt" for the things of our ordinary mundane existence. Like the fugitive who successively casts away in his flight those articles which incommode his progress, beginning with the heaviest, so the aspirant eluding "death" abandons all on which the latter can take hold. In the progress to Negation everything got rid of is a help. As we said before, the Adept does not become "immortal," as the word is ordinarily understood. By or about the time when the death-limit of his race is passed, he is actually dead, in the ordinary sense; that is to say, he has relieved himself of all or nearly all such material particles as would have necessitated in disruption the agony of dying. He has been dying gradually during the whole period of his Initiation. The catastrophe cannot happen twice over. He has only spread over a number of years the mild process of dissolution which others endure from a brief moment to a few hours. The highest Adept is, in fact, dead to, and absolutely unconscious of the World; he is oblivious of its pleasures, careless of its miseries -- in so far as sentimentalism goes, for the stern sense of Duty never leaves him blind to its very existence. For the new ethereal senses opening to wider spheres are to ours much in the relation of ours to the Infinitely Little. New desires and enjoyments, new dangers and new hindrances arise, with new sensations and new perceptions; and far away down in the mist -- both literally and metaphorically -- is our dirty little earth left below by those who have virtually "gone to join the gods."

And from this account, too, it will be perceptible how foolish it is for people to ask the Theosophists to "procure for them communication with the highest Adepts." It is with the utmost difficulty that one or two can be induced, even by the throes of a world, to injure their own progress by meddling with mundane affairs. The ordinary reader will say -- "This is not god-like This is the acme of selfishness," ... But let him realise that a very high Adept, undertaking to reform the world, would necessarily have to once more submit to Incarnation. And is the result of all that have gone before in that line sufficiently encouraging to prompt a renewal of the attempt?

A deep consideration of all that we have written will also give the Theosophists an idea of what they demand when they ask to be put in the way of gaining practically "higher powers." Well, there, as plainly as words can put it, is the Path...... Can they tread it?

Nor must it be disguised that what to the ordinary mortal are expected dangers, temptations and enemies, also beset the way of the neophyte. And that for no fanciful cause, but the simple reason that he is, in fact, acquiring new senses, has yet no practice in their use, and has never before seen the things he sees. A man born blind suddenly endowed with vision would not at once master the meaning of perspective, but would, like a baby, imagine, in one case, the moon to be within his reach and, in the other, grasp a live coal with most reckless confidence.

And what, it may be asked, is to recompense this abnegation of all the pleasures of life, this cold surrender of all mundane interests, this stretching forward to an unknown goal which seems ever more unattainable? For, unlike some of the anthropomorphic creeds, Occultism offers to its votaries no eternally permanent heaven of material pleasure, to be gained at once by one quick dash through the grave. As has, in fact, often been the case, many would be prepared willingly to die now for the sake of the paradise hereafter. But Occultism gives no such prospect of cheaply and immediately gained infinitude of pleasure, wisdom and existence. It only promises extensions of these, stretching in successive arches obscured by successive veils, in unimaginable succession up the long vista which leads to Nirvana. And this too, qualified by the necessity that new powers entail new responsibilities, and that the capacity of increased pleasure entails the capacity of increased sensibility to pain. To this, the only answer that can be given is two-fold: (firstly) the consciousness of Power is itself the most exquisite of pleasures, and is unceasingly gratified in the progress onwards with new means for its exercise; and (secondly) as has been already said -- this is the only road by which there is the faintest scientific likelihood that "death" can be avoided, perpetual memory secured, infinite wisdom attained, and hence an immense helping of mankind made possible, once that the adept has safely crossed the turning point. Physical and metaphysical logic requires and endorses the fact that only by gradual absorption into infinity can the part become acquainted with the Whole, and that that which is now something can only feel, know, and enjoy everything when lost in Absolute Totality in the vortex of that Unalterable Circle wherein our knowledge becomes ignorance, and the Everything itself is identified with the Nothing.

[Note: Here is the link to HPB's article that the Editors pointed to in the first footnote found below, entitled: "IS THE DESIRE TO 'LIVE' SELFISH?", which immediately followed the concluding article (that you just finished reading above) in the same issue of THEOSOPHY magazine. --Compiler.]

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(Compiler's note: There will be others.)

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(8) NOTE.--This concluding installment of "The 'Elixir of Life'" is reprinted from The Theosophist, April, 1882. That the emphasis on the conquest of "death" is somewhat misleading, as are also the statements on the removal of the Adepts from the world, is evident from an article -- presumably by H. P. Blavatsky -- which was published in The Theosophist, July 1884. (See p. 511.) Other extensions of the points raised will be republished in a subsequent issue. --Editors THEOSOPHY. [Note: A link to the article referred to, on "page 511" of the same issue, by the Editors, which is entitled "Is the Desire to 'Live' Selfish?", has been placed at the end of this article. --Compiler.]
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(9) In this connection we may as well show what modern science, and especially physiology, have to say as to the power of human will. "The force of will is a potent element in determining longevity. This single point must be granted without argument, that of two men every way alike and similarly circumstanced, the one who has the greater courage and grit will be longer-lived. One does not need to practise medicine long to learn that men die who might just as well live if they resolved to live, and that myriads who are invalids could become strong if they had the native or acquired will to vow they would do so. Those who have no other quality favourable to life, whose bodily organs are nearly all diseased, to whom each day is a day of pain, who are beset by life-shortening influences, yet do live by will alone." --Dr. George M. Beard.
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