THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 11, September, 1931
(Pages 510-512; Size: 10K)


[Article number (11) in this Q&A Department]

A BOY musician whom I know has so idealized Mozart that he refuses to play anything but Mozart's compositions, and he plays them perfectly. Could he be Mozart reincarnated?

Mozart, we must remember, was a creative genius and not an interpretative artist; so it is logical to suppose that Mozart on returning to earth-life again would resume his composing or use his creative power along other lines. The exclusive playing of his own compositions would indicate retrogression rather than progression for Mozart. But the boy so enwrapped with Mozart's music is, evidently, developing the art of interpreting music, and Mozart's music represents the ideal to him, perhaps because of some connection with that master in another life.

Would the elimination of earthly desires cause us to incarnate upon another planet?

The aim of life is to learn what our true nature is, and to act in accordance with that nature self-consciously. This lesson we have to learn right here on this earth; that is why we are here. But desire in itself is a universal principle, and can be used by the spirit's guidance for the benefit of the soul. It is this principle of desire which is the impetus behind evolution; it is used by the spirit to gain experience in nature, and it is the force which urges the devoted man in the pursuit of spiritual knowledge. Only when we lose sight of our goal, and through ignorance corrupt this principle, do we become its slave. Beings are, no doubt, on the other planets for the same reason we are here. They have their own particular planetary desires which cause trouble in their gaining of self-knowledge. But we have our natural place on this earth which we can not leave until the seven races of men concerned here have reached their final stage of development. Also, why should we wish to get away? The Great Ones have scorned to do so. They choose to remain in the world so as to be the better able to help their younger brothers. Shall we then strive for a knowledge that will enable us to "get away," or for that which will enable us to remain with those who need help?

Why is it that sometimes you remember your dreams clearly, and again you do not?

Our memory of dreams is just like our memory of anything else -- it depends upon our state of mind. If a man, blinded by anger or some other emotion, walks down a long hall filled with strange and interesting objects, how much of what he saw will he remember? If he walked quietly, thinking only to learn and see what is to be seen, he will remember a great deal. When we sleep, it is as if we go on a journey: the soul goes from waking to dreaming and finally to the deep-sleep state and back again. If we liken each of the states on the other side of waking consciousness to rooms through which we pass, we see at once that the way we go into these states governs the memories we bring back. Another thing to be remembered is that as we go from one state to another, we ordinarily leave behind the memory of that state and see with eyes appropriate to the new land we have entered. When we come back again from the highest state, which is one of knowledge, we leave the knowledge behind, but something often remains in a sort of "reflection," mixed with the pictures we left in the dreaming world. If our mind has been disturbed in going to sleep, then our dreams will be chaotic, and not able to truly reflect our divine experiences on that higher plane of deep sleep, in understandable symbols. So the thing for us to remember most of all is that the instrument that remembers, the mind, must be kept calm and clear of disturbances as a pool of water; this done, its reflections will be equally clear.

People living in the same house often grow to look like one another. What is the cause of this?

It seems probable that people living together have like karmic ties which bind them together, and would have similar likes, dislikes, ideas; perhaps they have similar tastes in the matter of dress, color, and food. Thus, they would attract the same type of elementals which might lead to the similarity in appearance. We are all making constant interchange of these "lives." How much more must this be done with people living in the same house!

If the Self knows, why does it have to go through all this journey of evolution?

There are three aspects of the power to know. To know; to know that you know; and to know the Knower. Let us take examples -- a blade of grass "knows" how to grow as a blade of grass should; the Spirit vivifying the blade is omniscience itself, but it is not conscious of its omniscience because its vehicle, the blade, does not provide the means for self-consciousness. While the blade of grass "knows," it knows nothing of knowledge or of its own existence. Now let us take a human being. The Spirit in man knows all, as does the Spirit in the blade of grass; man, further, is consciously aware that he knows certain things, but, functioning almost exclusively in the mind, he remains ignorant of what it is within his being that knows. This is because mind is finite and cannot comprehend the infiniteness of Spirit which is the Knower. So we see that mind, while it is the means for gaining knowledge, may be an obstruction to self-knowledge. The Mahatma, the perfected man who has accomplished Yoga or union with the Supreme Spirit, has therefore been able to throw off the finite limitations of the thinking principle and know the Knower. This is the supreme goal of evolution. And so the Self, though it is the potentiality of all-knowingness, has to go through this journey of evolution, first, to know the not-self, or phenomenal world; second, to know that it is a being, ever evolving upward under the rule of law; and finally, to know that it is the Self.

It is the history of all nations to decline and die out after they have reached their apex of development. Why should it be said that India will once again reach her highest glory?

Before coming to any conclusion, it is necessary to know what are the causes of decline, and to see whether they are the same in all cases. The only ancient civilization I know anything about is the Roman, and that may be taken as an example of our western civilization. Many fix the cause of its decline to Barbarian invasions, to internal weakness and corruption, to the replacement of Romans by Barbarians in the army, the exhaustion of the soil, the increase of slavery, or to the sum total of these causes. Yet none of these causes are in themselves fundamental; a progressive energy would have combatted them. The fact is that the Romans had lost their spirit. Their ideal, that of vast territory and wealth, had been too short-sighted. Their ideal attained, they wasted themselves in pleasure and impractical intellectual pursuits. Now, the basis of the Indian civilization was not a material one. Of course, one must not consider the empire of the Moguls or even that of the Buddhist emperors, as ideal. Hindu literature points to a golden age still further back, and it is these same Hindus who have that dim recollection of a past glory; it is their literature which contains the mightiest of philosophies; even the poor illiterate workman on the river-boat can discuss metaphysics that would baffle many western scholars. The seed is there. All that is necessary, and the work is vast, is the removal of the great clog of superstition -- the softening of their mental powers -- by the practical study of their ancient ethics. There is no reason why this cannot be done if there is earnest work along the right path.

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(October 1931)
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