Lecture delivered at the Hermetic Brotherhood Hall, San Francisco, on December 26, 1902
We have been told that Mental Healers are setting up causes for themselves which will result in terrible diseases in the incarnation. Is that true?
No. Mental Healers are doing something which need not necessarily result in terrible diseases in a future incarnation. There is nothing in Mental Healing of itself which should result in terrible diseases. Here are people doing all sorts of worldly work; should such work result in terrible disease? No. Mental Healers like ordinary people are doing a doctoring work. If a usual Doctor’s work be productive of such disastrous results in future incarnation, then also will the work of the Mental Healers be productive of such results. If Doctors do not bring such Karma upon themselves, then Mental Healers do not. Rama was asked why he did not practise Mental Healing. The answer was that in Rama’s eyes physical life was not important enough to deserve any serious attention. Christ did not make a profession of his healing powers. When he cured anybody or when anybody was cured through him, he said, “It is thy faith which hath healed thee and not I.”If Rama should do such work, what would the result be? Everybody will come to Rama for loaves and fishes. Some would come and say “Heal my son, do this work and that”; others would say “I want to be restored to a high position in society.”All this brings in a mercantile spirit and commercialism. Mental Healing followed as a profession keeps us off from realizing real freedom.
Can the soul manifest itself fully while in the physical body?
Ans. -Here the word ‘soul’ ought to be explained a little. Here we have a basin of water and in the water the sun is reflected. Now pour the water from one basin into another; you will find that the sun is reflected in the water in the second basin just as it was reflected in the first vessel. Transfer the water from the second vessel to the third vessel and the sun is reflected just the same there. Similarly, your external body, your gross body, may be compared to a vase or clay basin. The water contained in the vase bears a remarkable comparison to your subtle body consisting chiefly of your desires, emotions, and mind. After death the subtle body is transferred from one basin of a gross body to another. According to some, this transmigrating, subtle body is the soul; but not so according to Vedanta. According to Vedanta the real Self or refulgent Atman is like the sun reflected alike in the subtle body when in the first basin of a gross body as when in the second. Now, the true Soul, the real Self, is always manifesting itself fully under all circumstances. The real glorious Atman is incapable of any change or development. It is always perfect. If you understand by the word Soul the subtle body, it usually takes many births, lives or transmigrations to attain the final state whore further transmigration stops. But even in this life if you are really in right earnest about your salvation, you can realize perfect liberation and undergo no further transmigration.
What is death? Death means the breaking of the gross vessel of the body. When death comes, the water from one gross body or basin is conveyed to another vase, so to say. The subtle body has reincarnated and got another gross body, and in this second basin or vase the true Self, the God, is reflected just the same as it was in the first basin of the body. This basin of the body in its turn lasts, say, for a period of three score years and ten, and it breaks; the fluid that is in that basin, the Sukshma Sarira, is transferred to the third clay basin or body. This is transmigration. The true Atman is like the sun reflected alike in the subtle body, and in all the different basins of gross bodies. The real Self is thus beyond all transmigration. All transmigration concerns only the subtle body and not the sun or the true Atman. Now the point must he made still more clear.
You know that the sun shines perfectly all the time, but the image of the sun reflected upon the water is not always perfect or constant. When the water is in a solid state, the sun shining upon the snow and the ice is not reflected in it. Also, when the water is converted into a gaseous state we see that the image of the sun is not reflected. Thus out of the three states of water, viz., solid, liquid, and gaseous, when the water is in the solid state there is reflected no image of the sun: when the water is in the liquid state then is the image of the sun reflected; but when the water is in the third or gaseous state we again see no reflection of the image of the sun. With changes in the state of the water changes in the image of the Sun take place. These clay vessels or gross bodies are the vegetable form, the animal form, and the form of man. There is a time when the subtle body is of a very gross nature like the solid state. When in that state, the image of the sun is not reflected, although the sun shines overhead all the same. Plants and the lower animals develop and advance, but in them there is no thought of “I am doing this,” there is not the least glimpse of “Agent idea,” in other words, no trace of the image of the real Self. All the progress or advancement in them as in the whole range of Nature, is being brought about by the sun. But in them the sun is not reflected; just as the sun collects and melts the snows on the tops or peaks of the Himalayas but is not reflected by them.
Vegetables and the lower animals are being developed and raised, being advanced and evolved through the agency and virtue of the sun, the Atman; but in them there is no appropriation of the real agency and power of the sun, the Atman to the apparent little body. In them there is no Prometheus-like stealing of fire from heaven; no self-aggrandising thought of personality -”I do this and I do that.”
The fluid of the subtle body by passing through these lower kinds of basins, by and by reaches the beautiful vessel called man, the fluid in the liquid state, the transparent state, and here comes in a wonderful reflection of the Supreme Agent, the Sun, or the Self. Here although the real worker, as before, is the sun, the Self alone, there flashes the reflection or image of the real Self in the subtle body in the form of egoism or responsible Agent-idea. This thought of “I do this and I do that,” is absent in the vegetables and lower animals. In man the idea of the false self appears. “I am the agent, I am the doer” that is the apparent, the false self, the image of the sun reflected in the fluid. This ego, this apparent self is false and unreal. The real agent and the real worker, God, does everything. He is the responsible master; and this responsibility w taken up and embosomed by the refined subtle body, through ignorance. This putting on of this Agent-idea constitutes the false, illusory, little self. This false ego is unreal in the same way as the image in the liquid is unreal. Opticians prove mathematically that the reflection in the mirror or water is merely virtual or illusory. So is this responsible selfish ego, merely virtual or illusory. The evolution in the fluid or subtle body takes place through the sun. The subtle body imbibes and absorbs more and more of the light and heat of the son, Self, or God and thus changes its physical condition from the grosser to the finer. When the ordinary man absorbs or takes in more and more of the light or knowledge of the Self or Atman, the subtle body undergoes an evolution, his Sukshma Sarira becomes in time gaseous, so to say, and being gaseous, although still confined in the vessel of the gross body, it does not reflect the image of the sun. The false Self, the image, has become one with the sun. Here again as in the case of the vegetables and lower animals, we find no idea of responsibility; no thought of “I am doing this,” no exacting demand like “Be grateful unto me,” all such spirit vanishes. Here the unreal self, the image of the real Self, is no longer seen; the copyrighting, mercantile spirit is abolished; the appropriating, selfish ego is got rid of.
Gases in general cannot be poured from one vessel into another. Solids and liquids can be transferred from one vessel to another, but gas gets diffused into the air when the vessel which holds it is broken. Thus, the object of all Hindus is to reach that most refined state where they will not be subject to further the world is moved of itself. Here is a wonderful, marvellous reformer. He need not open his lips but the world is elevated.
Archimedes said, “I will move the world if I get a stand-point”. He failed to find the fixed standpoint or fulcrum to move the world. Vedanta says that the fixed point is within you. That is the Atman. Get hold of that and you move the whole world.
A few words as to the false self. Here is the image of the Sun in the fluid in the vessel Science proves and Optics shows that this image is unreal; all light is outside and the image in the fluid is simply the light reflected back. The image is our own inference, a mere trick of the senses; there is no such thing in the water or glass. The image is a delusion and nothing else. Now, this visual image is affected by the movements of the water or fluid, it is disturbed just in proportion as the fluid or water is disturbed.
Who makes the hair grow or the blood flow? Is it this false, little, copyrighting, self-asserting ego? Not at all; it is not this little, the so-called responsible ego that makes the brain think. Get rid of this illusory self. Realize your true Self. You are the Master of the Universe; you are the Light of lights, the Holy of holies.
We see that while in a deep sleepy state, the subtle body falls back as it were to the solid state for a time. The blood flows, the food is digested, but there is no idea of “I am digesting.” In a dreamy state the subtle body gives up the solid state and becomes liquid; the sun begins to be reflected and you begin again to say “I desire that, I do this.”That selfish, responsible, desiring self, that image, is again with you. If this selfish personality were real, it would last forever. Why did it not abide in the deep sleepy state? Why did it not last? The very fact that it did not remain in the deep sleepy state, proves that this credit-seeking ego of yours is a delusion. Rise above it. Ye are the Sun of suns, the perfect Bliss, the Reality, that ye are; nothing else.
With people at large the difficulty lies in the fact that they recognize themselves as this false ego, this false image; they cannot give it up. This is the cause of all the disturbance.
Water flows. There are ripples and waves and breakers, but all these are due to the action of the sun and not in the least to the image of the sun in the water, but in the waters the image of the sun is agitated and disturbed, just in proportion to the amount of disturbance in the water. Just so the Sukshma Sarira or the subtle body is like the water; through the power of the true Atman it must be disturbed; it must have ripples, and yet the false self (the image) gets disturbed as if it were the cause of all that agitation in the waters. The reflection in the waters means identifying with the mind, body, etc. If the body is sick, you say “O, I am undone, I am sick,” just because you identify yourself with the body pr the mind. Vedanta says give up this false identification and you will be alright. Anything wrong with the body or the mind should not disturb you. It is only this false sentimentalism due to this false self which causes all your suffering.
Can the Soul manifest itself fully while in the physical body?
The answer will depend upon what meaning you give to the word Soul. What is meant by Soul? Is mind the Soul? Berkeley, Mill, Hamilton, Reid, all of them identify the mind with the Soul. In this sense the Soul’s progress is indefinite. If by the word Soul is meant what we have called the image of Reality in man, the question is inapplicable. If by the word Soul is meant the true Atman there is no room of possibility for any change or progress. But usually the word Soul is with most people a mere chimera, a mere name, with no definite significance. These people may form their own theories about the matter.