THEOSOPHY, Vol. 21, No. 2, December, 1932
(Pages 69-70; Size: 7K)

YOUTH-COMPANIONS' FORUM

[Article number (26) in this Q&A Department]

DO we have to go through all experience ourselves -- low as well as high? We can't rise unless we fall.

(a) There are two ways of looking at life, the personal and the impersonal. According to his point of view, then, one's experiences will be regarded as good and evil, low and high, or, as a sequence of events to be observed dispassionately and learned from. No experience has any moral value in itself; it is our attitude which gives it this coloring. The high and low of anything is purely relative. As to the statement: "We can't rise unless we fall," it is open to question. The pearl diver rises from the bottom of the ocean, yet he has wilfully chosen to go down, not fallen, and this for a specific purpose. Just so has man chosen to incarnate in matter to win the pearl of Self-consciousness. This is gained through experience and the field of action where all causes are initiated and effects felt is the mind. One of the powers of the mind is "identification" -- the ability to enter into the consciousness of another being or class of beings and know all that they know. This may be termed learning by impersonal observation. The personal point of view does not inhibit the power of identification but it causes us to forget who and what we are, and the identification becomes a reality to us. Then it is that experience seems "high" or "low," because our original purpose of this "identification" process or incarnation has become obscured.

(b) No one can learn anything for us, the learning is to be done by ourselves. If that is true, the only way for us to learn is through experience; therefore, in order to know all, we have to pass through every experience, low as well as high. Is not that the very reason we undertook Life's Journey? The trouble with us is, that we do not pay close attention to our experiences and regard many of them as a matter of course and unimportant. We do not have to climb on a funeral pyre and get our body burned to ashes in order to learn that fire is hot and burns! We could learn to know the quality of fire by taking note of our contact with fire; but most of us do not take heed unless it is forcibly brought to our attention. We are half asleep most of the time; if we were wide awake, we could learn everything in far less time than it takes us now. In this particular life we can learn from observation and example, because we have gone through those experiences over and over again; so that when we observe, the memory comes back and we see. But we have to go through an experience first before we are able to remember anything about it. We learn by comparison, by contacting the pairs of opposites.

Do physical defects carry over from one life to the next? Is there any evidence to be offered in either case?

The continuation or elimination of defects, mental, moral or physical, may be accounted for under the law which states that when the lesson is learned the necessity ceases. How could it be otherwise? If through past actions a man has made it necessary to undergo physical defects in order to learn that all phases of life must be regarded as parts of the Universal Whole, must it not be that until he reaches such a recognition the defects will continue, perhaps intensified? As to evidence, we may regard the physical imperfections sustained by every human being, except the Masters, as defects, more or less pronounced. These have been inherited from past lives and are certainly karmic defects carried over when regarded in that light. Their final elimination will come only when we have achieved the constitutional immunity to all imperfections and disease which is the result of a completely harmonious life, physical and otherwise.

Why is the astral body more visible after death than while the real man is occupying it?

There is no reason to believe that, for the seer, this assumption would be true. To him, the astral form of a living man is quite visible. Mr. Judge, in Letters That Have Helped Me, says that in the case of a clairvoyant or untrained seer the physical body is no more an obstruction to the vision than would be a pane of glass. But, for the average man, the astral body is not visible because of its being so entangled in the physical, except in moments of great emotional stress, or in anger, when one is said to be "beside himself." Perhaps we "see" the astral body more often than we are aware of!

When one is born insane, can he learn anything in that birth?

Have you ever been confronted with a duty, recognized it as such and neglected its performance? And then, at a later day, desired to correct this past sin of omission and found yourself as impotent as Prometheus, lashed to the rock? Such, perhaps, is the lesson learned by the soul who finds himself in a body which he is powerless to control. It may be that the soul who is chained to a senseless body in one birth, will, in the next life, greet his fresh opportunities with a fervor unknown to him in the past, full of the joy of being able to do his duty.


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