THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 11, September, 1931
(Pages 505-509; Size: 16K)
(Number 7 of a 10-part series)

STUDIES IN REINCARNATION

VII

PROPENSITY OR SKANDHIC MEMORY

FROM the voluminous stream of human experience we draw this time, almost at random, a new set of examples to add to many gone before. Examples, that is to say, of human powers which, while thought is confined to materialistic views excluding reincarnation, must stand as uncaused results.

The late electrical genius, Steinmetz -- dubbed "Proteus" by his colleagues because of the ever-shifting versatility of his powers -- was born of a deformed father, himself being deformed. His parents were harmless, ignorant Germans of an undistinguished stock. The biological Inquisition of eugenics would have lopped him from the race in the bud. Yet this strange mind in an uncapacious body ranged at will the whole field of human intellectuality.

But the most striking cases of genius, from the point of view of reincarnation, are those of precocity. Jack Hoyle, of Seattle, at the age of two, was able to read, write, and spell, using a vocabulary of five hundred words.(1) Ruggiero Ricci, of San Francisco, was a fine violinist at eight; developing the power four years earlier than Yehudi Menuhin, always considered a wonder of precocity.(2) William Walter Nash at four, was able to point out on a map the countries of the world and name the products of each.(3) In ancient days, Ibn Sina, called the "Prince of Physicians" in Arabia, wrote an enormous encyclopedia at ten.(4) Then we have Beverly Blake, making a debut in the violin at nine, and being likewise a mathematical genius, an astronomical student, and an Egyptologist. Her mother remarks that the musical tendency may have been inherited from herself, but that this unwonted development thereof can only be explained by reincarnation.(5) Shura Cherkassky, an accomplished pianist, composed at five, conducted a symphony orchestra when a little older, and made his American debut at ten.(6)

We close the list with two instances of a peculiar nature. One is that of Jacynth Parsons,(7) and the other Marie Glashan Skotnicki, of Warsaw.(8) The former showed an unusual aptitude for drawing from three years on; but between seven and fourteen, experienced an astonishing development of capacity. The latter as a little child began to talk to herself in a tongue unintelligible to parents and relatives, afterwards discovered to be pure Gaelic. That she had never had contact with a speaker of Gaelic was certain; but it so happens that her great-grandfather was born and raised on the Isle of Lewis, where unusually pure Gaelic is spoken. The dispatch remarks dryly, however, that "as he died before she was born, scientists see little hope of explaining her behavior."

The Theosophist will recognize in many such instances that sort of genius associated with "spirituality;" particularly many of them being concerned with music, the most divine of arts when properly applied; he may be inclined to see in them Egoic memory, the power of the soul, as distinguished from Skandhic memory or the continuing propensities of the lower self. In fact, however, the one plays upon and interlocks with the other.

Beginning with fundamentals, note that Theosophy teaches Universal Life; also, that life is no function, but is basic substance. Not only is all visible matter immortal life made manifest, but even seemingly empty space is transparent and luminiferous life. What are the qualities of Life? The power to experience sensation; the power to receive and retain impressions arriving therethrough; the tendency to ex-press, to throw off, to repeat an impression once received. Upon clear apprehension of this hangs understanding of all Karma and all evolution. Now what is a "human being?" He is a colony of lives of every degree in the Universe, interlocked, jointly operative, mutually affective. He is not only physical body, but Prana, or Vitality; Linga Sharira, astral or "pattern" body; Kama, or passional propensity; Kama Manas or animal mind; Buddhi-Manas or spiritual mind; Buddhi, the basis or "upadhi" in which inheres the power of Spirit. Finally, the incognizable, limitless and indescribable Spirit or Consciousness, Atma, inhering in all the other constituents, furnishing them with cohesion, lending to them all the consciousness they have or can have. It is the basis or connection for mutuality of experience and action, and this mutuality lends to the whole congeries the sense of "individuality" -- even though most of it is sound asleep, leaving itself to be represented by the rest. Hence the "subconscious" and other expressions of scientific nescience.

Now with the sole full exception of Atma, and the quasi-exception of Buddhi-Manas, all these principles are like the physical body -- molecular or rather cellular in composition, fairly permanent as to form, constantly altering as to substance. The real physical body of man during an incarnation consists, not of some one hundred and fifty pounds of matter enclosed in a neatly delimited form, but of some thirty or forty tons of material distributed in earth, air, fire and water in all parts of the globe's surface where he has been or is to be. His real body through the Manvantara consists of the entire physical planet. The reader will note that in thus introducing the time element, we imply that the true form of man has as solid an extension in time as in space. We do this advisedly; no effect arises without a cause, no connection without a previous connection, and so every man at entry into birth finds himself bound by subtle threads -- call them "magnetic" if you will -- to every particle of matter which he is to touch during that life; and so for the whole Manvantara. None of these can he escape, they are as much himself as those he presently sees, feels, and dominates in his own body -- so-called.

As it is with the physical matter which he owns, so with all his invisible principles. Through his life, every motion of thought, will, and feeling sends a multicolored impression or "vibration" through all the particles, on all planes, of which he is master; even though for the time being they form part of another's body and soul. The impression received, is retained latent or dormant in all these lives unto the time when they will be revivified, in this life or another, by some associative impression.

By all-disintegrating death, the man is divided into separated principles according to the qualities of thought and feeling dominating the sundry grades of matter in him. If, as is taught, the most spiritual part of himself reaches its own state -- one of unalloyed bliss and purity -- for a long period of rest and sweet dream, while the "evil" in him painfully disintegrates on its own planes, it is through no fiat of a personal god working out a supposed scheme of justice. It is because "evil" propensity is attuned to a form of matter which can be held in coadunition with his thinking and spiritual principles only by the cohesive power of the "will to live," and that temporarily. When complete separation takes place, there is no more friction in the man; the higher part of his impacted memory of thought and experience lives on unhindered by the drag of retrograde impulse; the lower pursues, while it lives, its propensity for coarse and brutal sensation unannoyed by reproaches of conscience; for that which was conscience is now merged with the Devachanic character or stamina of the man, surviving in another form of matter entirely.

The "will to live" however, is relaxed but temporarily; not voluntarily, but through the exhaustion of its cohesive power. This, recuperating through the long Devachanic stretch, causes the Ego to put forth again blind feelers toward the world of matter and passion. And doing so, it begins to pick up the dormant, but undying magnetic ties with those of its possessions which have remained in other states. What states? States fitting to the impressions which he has made upon these lives in former times, and which impressions have become their character. As to locus -- they may be presently in the minds and bodies of other men or of animals; or in the mineral or vegetable kingdoms. What is certain is that he will repossess them, revivify his ties with them, as time and circumstance permit. And his new character -- hence his fate -- will be determined, on the one side by that same time and circumstance, results of his own causing; and on the other, by the characters he has impressed on those lives and which they in turn will re-impress on him. They are picked up again, on the physical plane first through the bodies of his new parents who now own them for the time being, and later on by the process, not usually considered "occult," of eating. On the vital plane, his selection will be determined by his mode of living; on the passional, by the control or lack thereof of his feelings; on the mental, by his way of thought. Many of them, returned at last, may have escaped his grasp for aeons past.

But in all cases sufficient are gathered together so that the man represents in large part either what he has been or has aspired to be. His memories are not formal; for the definite configurations which their containers had in past times have been forever ruptured by death. But the individual particles retain their own impressions, and vibrate again to the measures they have known, whether good or evil. Upon their sustaining power is reared a new set of definite memories and habits. Propensity, talent, or genius, therefore, is the Karmic return of a very powerful line of thought and action impressed upon the now reassembled vehicles, conditioned by the circumstances of one's new birth -- which in turn are very largely created by those same impressions. Genius in evil, such as exhibited in the monsters de Sade and Gilles de Rais, is the outcome of a series of lives such as impressed the lower vehicles, the Skandhas, with such viciousness that the light of the higher was utterly shut off, leaving highly intellectual animals without a ray of spirit -- true degenerates, in short. Genius in art or literature results from the gathering of old, firmly impressed Skandhas once more under the dominion of a powerful Egoic desire. Genius in well-doing, such as that of a Buddha or Christ, results from lives in which self-sacrifice was the dominating passion.

How shall we explain such cases -- they are not few -- as the memory of a definite language by little Marie Skotnicki? It cannot be ordinary Skandhic memory, formless tendency, such as we have discussed. It cannot be Egoic memory; for that is possessed only by the Adept; and when possessed, all lives are equally clear and well remembered -- to say nothing of the past being one with the future in that state. Memory in reality is the ability to see those pictures in the Akashic records with which one's past is connected. It is not resident in the matter of the vehicles -- physical or metaphysical -- through which those pictures are seen. They merely possess a particular aptitude as lenses. Now if it were to happen that a certain mass of skandhas maintained coherence through the death-states to an unusual degree -- reincarnation of the astral body being the extreme case -- they might so far reconstitute the original assemblage as to permit seeing once more the old pictures. Reincarnation in the same family would greatly assist this. In the case of an astral reincarnation of an adept, complete and under conscious control, these powers would remain intact. In other cases, brief vistas of the past, like snatches of a landscape through storm, or else some coherent but very limited line of memory, might be had. When we are bereft of coherent skandhic memory, even such as entails ordinary talent, it is due to the diversity of previous effort, the mixed good and ill of our thoughts and actions, the dissipation and frittering of spiritual and intellectual powers at the whim of every wind of desire that blows; above all to our will-less drifting which blurs all unified trend of character; and even blunts the sense of individuality, smothers self-consciousness, in many of the world's denizens of today. The true adept has both the skandhic memory of his pasts, and the supernal spiritual memory in which Past, Present and Future form one whole. He obtained it as we must obtain it, we now being as he once was.


Next article:
STUDIES IN REINCARNATION
VIII
RACIAL CYCLES
(Part 8 of a 10-part series)

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EIGHT (8) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:

(1) Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1930.
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(2) Literary Digest, November 9, 1929.
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(3) New York Evening Journal, May 20, 1929.
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(4) Los Angeles Examiner, November 1, 1929.
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(5) New York Telegram, March 21, 1930.
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(6) Washington Post, December 15, 1927.
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(7) Los Angeles Examiner, September 9, 1928.
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(8) Washington Herald, March 30, 1930.
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