The Scott Memorial,
an outstanding introductory work on
Theosophy by a Student of Katherine Tingley entitled “Elementary Theosophy”
1847 – 1929
Founder & President of the
Point Loma Theosophical Society 1896 -1929
She and her students produced a series of informative
Theosophical works in the early years of the 20th century
A Student of Katherine Tingley
In a preceding chapter we have considered incarnation. It now remains to say little of re-incarnation. Is one life enough to learn all that there is to do and to learn on earth? Are we perfect characters?
Have we made life on earth all it might be, learned to live in harmony with each other, developed all the faculties possible to us, learned all about the life of the matter of which the planet is composed? If not, does it not seem likely that the causes which brought us here once may bring us again, and again, until we have done these ? Law and inclination will work together and supplement each other.
For those who die hating, there is the law that they shall return in order to learn to love. Those who die loving, will wish to return to those they love. Would one who loves all humanity and pities it in its pains and struggles onward, willingly leave it for ever while he knew there was help he could render?
What right have we earned to some other heaven while we have not made this life the heaven it might be? Nearly all of us have done injuries and given pain at some time. If we consider that, should we not wish to come again to pour at least as much good into the stream of human life as we poured evil; to meet those that we once pained, and by loving deed take away the pain -- even if time should have covered it over and hidden the wound? Sudden unexplained impulses to do kind actions to people we have never met (in this life) before, may sometimes be unconscious desire to pay some debt of old unkindness.
We are not without other suggestions of previous life. Some people we seem to recognize at once, liking or disliking, as we say by instinct. May it not be the mere resuming of an old like or dislike? In that sense it is a real memory of a past life, though all details are forgotten. We have many more of such memories, memories that in such cases are forces, not details.
We are born with marked characters, tastes, aptitudes, powers, in this or that direction. Where did we get them? Where did the infant Mozart learn music? Is it heredity? But how when these things have no counterpart in the parents? They are surely a species of memory.
Clearer memory we have not because we have not the old brain. The brain, the first fact-storer, is new. The soul, the real and final fact-storer, has its memory overlaid by the throng of impressions and sensations that life and the living body bring. At death we have often heard -- and Theosophy teaches -- that every detail of the closing or closed life comes up from the brain before the gaze of the departing soul. It registers in its own memory all that are of value to it and they become eternal. But at its birth it does not fill the new brain with them. The tablets of the brain are wanted for other things. It merely brings into the brain and body the general effect, some general memories, as we have noted.
When we have grown stronger in life, when birth does not bring bewilderment, when we shall have learned not to be the prey of the body but its strong and quiet master, then we shall have also learned to bring back to our own attention, at need, whatever clear memories of the past will be useful. But so far, the presence of such detailed memories would be confusing and painful, diverting our attention from more important work.
Whatever we acquired in the past life, of unselfishness, of will, of power of concentration, of power of thought and observation, of power of self-control, that we bring undiminished for use in this life; and it is enough. Anything more, if in part useful, would have its usefulness outweighed by its painfulness and confusion. We should be tempted to dwell with bygone memories instead of present duties.
It will be natural to say: Have I then to be an infant and an old man again and again, with childish faculties and pleasure in the one case, and fading faculties and second childishness in the other?
Are we entitled to promotion to another lesson till we have learned well the one in hand? We have not yet learned to be an infant properly, or an old man or woman properly. These are lessons of life still unlearned.
The soul of each of us has yet to learn, at and after birth, to stand apart from the infant body in which it will incarnate; and, while watching and protecting and guiding and developing that, to keep up its own work and self-conscious being. For the soul has work of its own.
As the infant body and mind pass to childhood and manhood, the soul will consciously blend itself more and more; until at last, still holding itself as a soul, it will have wholly incarnated. But at present it cannot do that in the case of ordinary humanity. As it detaches itself from its own world, from its Father in Secret, it loses itself in the body. With most of us it remains almost lost till death again frees it, without ever having recognized itself as a soul.
But when we have learned infancy, we shall find one of our joys in overshadowing and training the young life with which in due course we shall blend our soul-life to make the perfect man; and in helping the vivid little lives that make up the infant body, to move a step onward in their progress. Those that enter and compose the body later are less plastic.
And so with old age. We have not learned it. There should be no loss of faculty; the mind should become deeper and wiser with the gathering years.
Certainly faculties whose use applies mainly to the earlier years and the life-work of middle age, will be voluntarily left in disuse to make way for others, just as when a man becomes the head of a business he spends no more time in, say, book-keeping or typewriting. He attends to higher matters. Life should of course be spiritual all through, but old age should be specially so.
Genius and wisdom should go on ripening to the very end. (Genius belongs of course to the spiritual nature, and the word spiritual is here throughout used in a sense much wider than the ordinary. It applies to all of man's highest faculties.) A clearer vision of truth is possible to old age than to the years when physical activities run high.
At last comes a moment when the body as a whole is worn out; the lives that compose it have to return to nature to be re-energized. Without disease, without failure of any special organ in advance of any of the rest, the body should be laid aside. Death in that ideal form will be without pain, perfectly peaceful, rapid, and not attended by any break in the consciousness of the soul.
And in due course the soul will begin once more to give its attention to birth. No more than death, will birth mean any break in the thread of consciousness.
Gradually the soul will pour all its acquired wisdom and thought-stores into the new brain and proceed with it growth and work absolutely unhindered.
But this ideal program, which we have to realize and which will mean such rapid growth, is not achieved yet. We have much to learn. Nevertheless now, if we give our bodies right exercise daily, and if we keep a spiritual ideal of conduct and thought always in view, we need fear neither old age nor death. The one will not mean second childhood nor the other any wrench of pain.
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