Reincarnation and the Law of Karma - A Study of the Old-New World-Doctrine of Rebirth, and Spiritual Cause and Effect
by William Walker Atkinson
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And so the story proceeds. Reference to the many works written on the subject of the future life of the soul will supply many more instances of the glimpses of recollection of past incarnations. But why spread these instances over more pages? The experience of other people, while of scientific interest and value as affording a basis for a theory or doctrine, will never supply the experience that the close and rigid investigator demands. Only his own experiences will satisfy him—and perhaps not even those, for he may consider them delusions. These experiences of others have their principal value as corroborative proofs of one's own experiences, and thus serve to prove that the individual experience was not abnormal, unusual, or a delusion. To those who have not had these glimpses of recollection, the only proof that can be offered is the usual arguments in favor of the doctrine, and the account of the experiences of others—this may satisfy, and may not. But to those who have had these glimpses—particularly in a marked degree—there will come a feeling of certainty and conviction that in some cases is as real as the certainty and conviction of the present existence, and which will be proof against all argument to the contrary. To such people the knowledge of previous existences is as much a matter of consciousness as the fact of the existence of last year—yesterday—a moment ago—or even the present moment, which slips away while we attempt to consider it. And those who have this consciousness of past lives, even though the details may be vague, intuitively accept the teachings regarding the future lives of the soul. The soul that recognizes its "oldness" also feels its certainty of survival—not as a mere matter of faith, but as an item of consciousness, the boundaries of time being transcended.

But there are other arguments advanced in favor of Reincarnation, which its advocates consider so strong as to entitle them to be classed as "proofs." Among these may be mentioned the difference in tastes, talents, predispositions, etc., noticeable among children and adults, and which can scarcely be attributed to heredity. This same idea carries one to the consideration of the question of "youthful genius," "prodigies," etc.

It is a part of this argument to assume that if all souls were freshly created, by the same Creator, and from the same material, they would resemble each other very closely, and in fact would be practically identical. And, it is urged, the fact that every child is different in tastes, temperament, qualities, nature, etc., independent of heredity and environment, then it must follow that the difference must be sought for further back. Children of the same parents differ very materially in nature, disposition, etc.; in fact, strangers are often more alike than children of the same parents, born within a few years of each other, and reared in the same environment. Those having much experience with young babies know that each infant has its own nature and disposition, and in which it differs from every other infant, although they may be classed into groups, of course. The infant a few hours born shows a gentleness, or a lack of it—a yielding or a struggle, a disposition to adjust itself, or a stubbornness, etc. And as the child grows, these traits show more plainly, and the nature of the individual asserts itself, subject, of course, to a moulding and shaping, but always asserting its original character in some way.

Not only in the matter of disposition but in the matter of tastes, tendencies, moral inclinations, etc., do the children differ. Some like this, and dislike that, and the reverse; some are attracted toward this and repelled by that, and the reverse; some are kind while others are cruel; some manifest an innate sense of refinement, while others show coarseness and lack of delicate feeling. This among children of the same family, remember. And, when the child enters school, we find this one takes to mathematics as the duck does to water, while its brother loathes the subject; the anti-arithmetic child may excel in history or geography, or else grammar, which is the despair of others. Some are at once attracted to music, and others to drawing, while both of these branches are most distasteful to others. And it will be noticed that in the studies to which the child is attracted, it seems to learn almost without effort, as if it were merely re-learning some favorite study, momentarily forgotten. And in the case of the disliked study, every step is attended with toil. In some cases the child seems to learn every branch with the minimum effort, and with practically no effort; while in other cases the child has to plod wearily over every branch, as if breaking entirely new ground. And this continues into after life, when the adult finds this thing or that thing into which he naturally fits as if it were made for him, the knowledge concerning it coming to him like the lesson of yesterday.

We know of a case in which a man had proved a failure in everything he had undertaken up to the age of forty, when his father-in-law, in disgust, placed him at the head of an enterprise which he had had to "take over" for a bad debt. The "failure" immediately took the keenest interest in the work, and in a month knew more about it than many men who had been in the concern for years. His mind found itself perfectly at home, and he made improvement after improvement rapidly, and with uniform success. He had found his work, and in a few years stepped to the front rank in the country in that particular line of business. "Blessed is he that hath found his work." Reincarnationists would hold that that man had found his work in a line similar in its mental demands with that of his former life or lives—not necessarily identical in details, but similar in its mental requirement. Instances of this thing are to be seen all around us. Heredity does not seem to account for it—nor does environment answer the requirements. Some other factor is there—is it Reincarnation?

Allied to this phenomena is that of "youthful genius"—in fact, genius of any age, for that matter, for genius itself seems to be out of the category of the ordinary cause of heredity and environment, and to have its roots in some deeper, richer soil. It is a well-known fact that now and then a child is born which at a very early age shows an acquaintance with certain arts, or other branches of mental work, which is usually looked for only from those of advanced years, and after years of training. In many cases these children are born of parents and grandparents deficient in the particular branches of knowledge evidenced by the child. Babes scarcely able to sit on the piano stool, or to hold the violin, have begun to play in a way that certainly indicated previous knowledge and technique, often composing original productions in an amazing manner. Other young children have begun to draw and design without any instruction whatever. Others have shown wonderful mathematical ability, there being several cases on record where such children have performed feats in mathematics impossible to advanced adults teaching the same lines. What are the cause of these phenomena? Is it Reincarnation?

As Figuier said, years ago: "We hear it said every day that one child has a mathematical, another a musical, another an artistic turn. In others we notice savage, violent, even criminal instincts. After the first years of life these dispositions break out. When these natural aptitudes are pushed beyond the usual limit, we find famous examples that history has cherished, and that we love to recall. There is Pascal, mastering at the age of twelve years the greater part of Plane Geometry without any instruction, and not a figment of Calculus, drawing on the floor of his chamber all the figures in the first book of Euclid, estimating accurately the mathematical relations of them all—that is, reconstructing for himself a part of descriptive Geometry; the herdsman Mangia Melo, manipulating figures, when five years old, as rapidly as a calculating machine; Mozart, executing a sonata on the pianoforte with four-years-old fingers, and composing an opera at the age of eight; Theresa Milanollo, playing the violin at four years, with such eminent skill that Baillot said she must have played it before she was born; Rembrandt, drawing with masterly power before he could read." The same authority says, in reference to the fact that some of these prodigies do not become famous in their after years, and that their genius often seems to flicker out, leaving them as ordinary children: "That is easily understood. They come on earth with remarkable powers acquired in an anterior existence, but they have done nothing to develop their aptitudes; they have remained all their lives at the very point where they were at the moment of their birth. The real man of genius is he who cultivates and improves incessantly the great natural aptitudes that he brought into the world."

There is an interesting field for study, thought and investigation, along the lines of the early development of traits, tendencies, and thought in young children. Here evidently will be found the answer to many problems that have perplexed the race. It is true that heredity and environment plays an important part, but nevertheless, there seems to be another element working in the case, which science must have to reckon with in making up its final conclusions. Is that "something" connected with the "soul" rather than the mind of the child? Is that "something" that which men call Metempsychosis—Re-Birth—Reincarnation?

Along the same lines, or thought, lie the great questions of instinctive Like and Dislike—Loves and Hates—that we find among people meeting as strangers. From whence come those strange, unaccountable attractions and repulsions that many feel when meeting certain strangers, who could never have occasioned such feelings in the present life, and which heredity does not account for? Is it merely an absurd, irrational, fancy or feeling; is it the result of natures inharmonious and discordant; is it remnants of inherited ancestral feelings toward similar individuals hated, loved or feared; is it a telepathic sensing of certain elements in the other; or is it a manifestation of the feelings experienced in a past existence? Is this phenomena to be included in the Proofs of Reincarnation? Many people think that in Reincarnation the only answer may be found.



The honest consideration of any subject necessitates the examination of "the other side of the case," as well as the affirmative side. We have given much space to the presentation and consideration of the arguments advanced by those convinced of the truth of Reincarnation, and before closing our work we think it well to give at least a little glimpse of "the other side" as it is presented by the opponents of the doctrine, together with the reply to the same usually made by the Reincarnationists.

The first adverse argument usually presented is that the advocates of Reincarnation have not established the existence of a "soul" which may reincarnate; nor have they proven its nature, if it does exist. The natural reply to this is that the doctrine of Reincarnation is not called upon to establish the proof of the existence of a "soul," as the idea of existence of the soul practically is universal, and, therefore, "axiomic"—that is, it is a truth that may be considered as an "axiom," or self-evident truth, worthy of being assumed as a principle, necessary to thought on the subject, a proposition which it is necessary to take for granted, an established principle of thought on the subject. Strictly speaking, perhaps the fact of the existence of the soul is incapable of material proof, except to those who accept the fact of proven "spirit return," either in the shape of unmistakable manifestation of the disincarnate soul by materialization, or by equally unmistakable manifestation in the shape of communications of some sort from such discarnate soul. Science does not admit that there are any real "proofs" of the existence of a "soul" which persists after the death of the body—but all religious, and at least the older philosophical thought, generally agrees that the existence of such a soul is a self-evident fact, needing no proofs. Many regard the statement of Descartes: "I think, therefore I am," as a logical proof of the existence of an immaterial soul, and others hold that the self-consciousness of every human being is sufficient proof that the Ego, or "I," is a something immaterial, ruling the material body which it inhabits. And so the Reincarnationists claim that this demand upon them for proof of the existence of the soul is not a fair one, because such discussion belongs to the more general field of thought; that they are justified in starting with the idea that the soul does exist, as an axiomic truth; and that their real task is to establish, not that the soul exists, but that it reincarnates after the death of the body. As Figuier says, "The difficulty is not to prove that there is a spiritual principle in us that resists death, for to question the existence of this principle we must doubt thought. The true problem is to ascertain if the spiritual and immortal principle within us is going to live again after death, in ourselves or somebody else. The question is, Will the immortal soul be born again in the same individual, physically transformed—into the same person?" As to the other objection, that the Reincarnationists have not proven the nature of the soul, to which many of the advocates of the doctrine feel it necessary to reply at great length and with much subtle reasoning, we feel that the objection is not well taken. So far as Reincarnation is concerned, if it be taken as an axiom that the soul really exists, that is sufficient as a beginning for the argument in favor of the doctrine, and the proof or disproof of any special theory regarding the nature of the soul is outside of the main question, so we shall not consider it here. It is possible to think of the soul as a reincarnating entity, whether it be a monad, duad, triad, or septenary being.

The second objection usually made is that Reincarnation cannot be true, else we would remember the incidents of our past lives, clearly and distinctly, the fact that the majority of persons have no such recollection, being held to be a disproof of the doctrine. The reply to this objection is (1) that it is not true that people do not remember the events of their past lives, the instances quoted by us, and similar ones happening to others, together with the fact that nearly every one remembers something of the past, showing that the objection is not correctly stated. And (2) that the fact that we have but a very cloudy and imperfect recollection is not an objection at all, for have we a clear recollection of the events of our infancy and childhood in this life? Have we a clear recollection of the events of twenty years ago, outside of a few scattered instances, of which the majority are only recalled when some associated fact is mentioned? Are not the great majority of the events of our present life completely forgotten? How many can recall the events of the youthful life? Old companions and friends are completely forgotten or only recalled after much thought and assistance in the way of suggested associations. Then again, do we not witness a complete forgetfulness in cases of very old people who relapse into a state of "second childhood," and who then live entirely in the present, the past having vanished for them. There are cases of people having grown old, and while retaining their reasoning faculties, were as children, so far as the past was concerned. A well-known writer, when in this state, was wont to read the books that he had written, enjoying them very much and not dreaming that he was their author. Professor Knight says of this matter: "Memory of the details of the past is absolutely impossible."

"The power of the conservative faculty, though relatively great, is extremely limited. We forget the larger portion of experience soon after we have passed through it, and we should be able to recall the particulars of our past years, filling all the missing links of consciousness since we entered on the present life, before we were in a position to remember our ante-natal experience. Birth must necessarily be preceded by crossing the river of oblivion, while the capacity for fresh acquisition survives, and the garnered wealth of old experience determines the amount and characters of the new." Loss of memory is not loss of being—or even loss of individuality or character.

In this connection, we must mention the various instances of Double Personality, or Lost Personality, noted in the recent books on Psychology. There are a number of well authenticated cases in which people, from severe mental strain, overwork, etc., have lost the thread of Personality and forgotten even their own names and who have taken up life anew under new circumstances, which they would continue until something would occur to bring about a restoration of memory, when the past in all of its details would come back in a flash. The annals of the English Society for Psychical Research contain quite a number of such cases, which are recognized as typical. Now, would one be justified in asserting that such a person, while living in the secondary personality and consequently in entire ignorance of his past life, had really experienced no previous life? The same "I" was there—the same Ego—and yet, the personality was entirely different! Is it not perfectly fair and reasonable to consider these cases as similar to the absence of memory in cases of Reincarnation?

Let the reader lay down this book, and then endeavor to remember what happened in his twelfth year. He will not remember more than one or two, or a half dozen, events in that year—perhaps not one, in the absence of a diary, or perhaps even with the aid of one. The majority of the happenings of the three hundred and sixty-five days of that year are as a blank—as if they never had happened, so far as the memory is concerned. And yet, the same "I," or Ego, persists, and the person's character has certainly been affected and influenced by the experiences and lessons of that year. Perhaps in that year, the person may have acquired certain knowledge that he uses in his everyday life. And so, in this case, as with Reincarnation, the "essence" of the experiences are preserved, while the details are forgotten. For that is the Reincarnationist contention. As a matter of fact, advanced occultists, and other Reincarnationists, claim that nothing is really forgotten, but that every event is stored away in some of the recesses of the mind, below the level of consciousness—which idea agrees with that of modern psychologists. And Reincarnationists claim that when man unfolds sufficiently on some higher plane, he will have a full recollection of his past experiences in all of his incarnations. Some Reincarnationists claim that as the soul passes from the body all the events of that particular life pass rapidly before its mind, in review, before the waters of Lethe, or oblivion, causes forgetfulness.

Closely allied to the last mentioned argument against Reincarnation is the one that as the memory of the past life is absent, or nearly so, the new personality is practically a new soul, instead of the old one reincarnated, and that it is unreasonable and unjust to have it enjoy or suffer by reasons of its experiences and acts in the previous life. We think that the answers to the last mentioned objection are answers to this one also. The "I," Ego, or Individuality, being the same, it matters not if the details of the old Personality be forgotten. You are the same "I" that lived fifty years ago in the same body—or even ten years ago—and you are enjoying certain things, or suffering from certain things, done or left undone at the previous time, although you have forgotten the incidents. The impress of the thing is on your Character, and you are today largely what you are by reason of what you have been in past years, though those years are forgotten by you. This you will readily admit, and yet the argument of the Reincarnationists is merely an extension of the same idea. As Figuier says: "The soul, in spite of its journeys, in the midst of its incarnations and divers metamorphoses remains always identical with itself; only at each metempsychosis, each metamorphosis of the external being, improving and purifying itself, growing in power and intellectual grasp."

Another argument against Reincarnation is that it is not necessary, for the reason that Heredity accounts for all of the facts claimed as corroborative of Reincarnation. Answering this the advocates of the doctrine insist that Heredity does not account for all the facts, inasmuch as children are born with marked talents and genius, while none of their family for generations back have displayed any such tendencies. They also claim that if Heredity were the only factor in the case, there would be no advance in the races, as the children would be precisely like their ancestors, no variety or improvement being possible. But it must be remembered that Reincarnationists do not deny certain effects of Heredity, particularly along physical lines, and to an extent along mental lines, in the way of perpetuating "tendencies," which, however, are and may be overcome by the individuality of the child. Moreover, the doctrine holds that one of the laws of Rebirth is that the reincarnating soul is attracted to parents harmonious to itself, and likely to afford the environments and association desirable to the soul. So in this way the characteristics likely to be transmitted to the offspring are those which are sought for and desired by the reincarnating soul. The law of Rebirth is held to be as exact and certain as the laws of mathematics or chemistry, the parents, as well as the child, forming the combination which brings forth the rebirth. Rebirth is held to be above the mere wish of the reincarnating soul—it is in accordance with an invariable natural law, which has Justice and Advancement as its basis.

Another argument against Reincarnation is that it holds that human souls are reborn as animals, in some cases. This objection we shall not discuss, for the reason that the advanced ideas of Reincarnation expressly forbid any such interpretation, and distinctly deny its legitimate place in the doctrine. Among some of the primitive people this idea of transmigration in the bodies of animals has been held, but never among advanced occultists, or the leaders in philosophical thought favoring Reincarnation. Reincarnation teaches the Evolution of the soul from lowly forms to higher, but never the Devolution or going back into animal forms. A study of the doctrine of Reincarnation will dispel this erroneous idea from the mind of an intelligent person.

Another favorite argument is that it is repulsive to the mind and soul of the average person. Analysis of this objection will show that what is repugnant to the person is usually the fear that he will be born again without a memory of the present, which seems like a loss of the self. A moment's consideration will show that this objection is ill founded. No one objects to the idea of living in the same body for, say, ten years or twenty years more, in health. But at the end of that ten or twenty years he will be practically a different person, by reason of the new experiences he has undergone. Persons change very much in twenty years, and yet they are the same individuals—the same "I" is there with them. And at the end of the twenty years they will have forgotten the majority of the events of the present year, but they do not object to that. When one realizes that the Individual, or "I," is the Real Self instead of the Personality, or the "John Smith, grocer, aged 36," part of them—then will they cease to fear the loss of the personality of the day or year. They will know that the "I" is the "Self"—the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Be the doctrine of Reincarnation true or false, the fact remains that so long as YOU exist, it will be the same "I" in you that you will know that "I am." It will always be "I AM—HERE—NOW," with you, be it this moment, or a hundred years, or a million years hence. YOU can never be SOMEONE ELSE, no matter what form you wear, nor by what name you are known, nor what personality you may be acting through, nor in what place you may have your abode, nor on what plane of existence you may be. You will always be YOURSELF—and, as we have just said, it will always be "I AM—HERE—NOW" with You. The body, and even the Personality, are things akin to garments which you wear and take off without affecting your Real Self.

Then we must note another objection often made by people in discussing Reincarnation. They say, "But I do not WANT to come back!" To this the Reincarnationists answer that, if one has reached a stage in which he really has no desire for anything that the earth can offer him, then such a soul will not likely have to reincarnate again on earth, for it has passed beyond the need of earthly experiences, and has worn out its earth Karma. But they hold that but few people really have reached this stage. What one really means is that he does not want any more of Earth—life similar to that which he has been undergoing. But if he thought that he could have certain things—riches, position, fame, beauty, influence, and the rest of it, he would be perfectly willing to "come back." Or else he might be so bound by links of Karma, acting by reason of Love or Hate, Attachment or Repulsion, or by duties unperformed, or moral debts unpaid, that he might be brought back to work out the old problems until he had solved them. But even this is explained by those Reincarnationists who hold to the idea of Desire as the great motive power of Karma, and who hold that if one has risen above all earthly desire or dislike, that soul is freed from the attraction of earth-life, and is prepared to go on higher at once, or else wait in realms of bliss until the race is ready to pass on, according to the various theories held by the various advocates of the doctrine. A little self-examination will show one whether he is free from all desire to "come back," or not. But, after all, if there is Ultimate Justice in the plan, working ever and ever for our good and advancements, as the Reincarnationists claim—then it must follow that each of us is in just the best place for his own good at the present moment, and will always be in a like advantageous position and condition. And if that be so, then there is no cause for complaint or objection on our part, and our sole concern should be in the words of the Persian sage, to "So live, that that which must come and will come, may come well," living on one day at a time, doing the best you know how, living always in the belief that "it is well with us now and evermore," and that "the Power which has us in charge Here will have us in charge There." There is a good philosophy for Living and Dying. And, this being true, though you may have to "come back," you will not have to "go back," or fall behind in the Scale of Advancement or Spiritual Evolution—for it must always be Onward and Upward on the Ladder of Life! Such is the Law!

Another objection very often urged against the doctrine of Reincarnation is that "it is un-Christian, and derived from pagan and heathen sources, and is not in accord with the highest conceptions of the immortality of the soul." Answering this objection, it may be said that, insofar as Reincarnation is not a generally accepted doctrine in the orthodox Christian Churches of today, it may be said to be non-Christian (rather than un-Christian), but when it is seen that Pre-existence and Rebirth was held as Truth by many of the Early Fathers of the Church, and that the doctrine was finally condemned by the dominant majority in Church Councils only by means of the most severe methods and the exercise of the most arbitrary authority, it may be seen that in the opinion of many of the most eminent early authorities there was nothing "un-Christian" about it, but that it was a proper doctrine of the Church. The doctrine was simply "voted down," just as were many important doctrines revered by some of the great minds of the early church, in some cases the decision being made by a majority of one vote. And, again, there have been many bright minds in the Christian Church who persisted in the belief that the doctrine was far more consistent with the Inner Teachings of Christianity than the prevailing conception, and based upon quite as good authority.

So far as the charge that it is "derived from pagan and heathen sources" is concerned, it must be answered that certainly the doctrine was accepted by the "pagan and heathen" world centuries before the dawn of Christianity, but, for that matter, so was the doctrine regarding the soul's future generally accepted by orthodox Christianity—in fact, nearly every doctrine or theory regarding the survival of the soul was "derived from pagan and heathen sources." The "pagan and heathen" mind had thought long and earnestly upon this great problem, and the field of thought had been pretty well covered before the advent of Christianity. In fact, Christianity added no new doctrine—invented no new theory—and is far from being clear and explicit in its teachings on the subject, the result being that the early Christians were divided among themselves on the matter, different sects and schools favoring different doctrines, each and all of which had been "derived from pagan and heathen sources." If all the doctrines regarding the immortality of the soul are to be judged by the test of their having been, or not been, "derived from pagan and heathen sources," then the entire body of doctrine and thought on the subject must be thrown out of the Christian mind, which must then endeavor to create or invent an entirely new doctrine which has never been thought of by a "pagan or heathen"—a very difficult task, by the way, considering the activity of the pagan and heathen mind in that respect. It must be remembered that there is no authoritative teaching on this subject—none coming direct from Jesus. The Christian Doctrines on the subject come from the Theologians, and represent simply the views of the "majority" of some Church Council—or of the most powerful faction.

While the objection that Reincarnation "is not in accord with the highest conceptions of the immortality of the soul" is one that must depend almost entirely upon the personal bias or opinion of the individual as to what constitutes "the highest conceptions," still a comparison of the conceptions is not out of the way at this place. Do you know what was the doctrine favored by the dominant majority in the Church Councils, and for which Pre-Existence and Re-Birth finally was discarded? Do you know the dogma of the Church and the belief of masses of the orthodox Christians of the early centuries? Well, it was this: That at the death of the body, the person passes into a state of "coma," or unconsciousness, in which state he rests today, awaiting the sound of the trumpet of the great Day of Judgment, when the dead shall be raised and the righteous given eternal life IN THEIR FORMER BODIES, while the wicked in their bodies may pass into eternal torment. That is the doctrine. You doubt it? Then look over the authorities and examine even the current creeds of today, many of which state practically the same thing. This belief passed into one of the Christian Creed, in the words: "I believe in the Resurrection of the Body."

The great masses of Christians today, in general thought on the subject, speak as if the accepted doctrine of the Church was that the soul passed to Judgment, and then eternal soul life in Heaven or Hell immediately after the death of the body, thus ignoring the dogmas of the Church Councils regarding the future Day of Judgment and the Resurrection of the Body at that time. A little questioning of the religious teachers, and a little examination of religious history, and the creeds and doctrines of their respective churches, would astonish many good church members who have been fondly thinking of their beloved ones, who have passed on, as even now dwelling in Heaven as blessed angels. They would be astonished to find that the "angels" of the churches are not the souls of the good people who have been judged and awarded heavenly joys, but, rather, a body of supernatural beings who never inhabited the flesh; and that instead of their loved ones now enjoying the heavenly realms, the dogmas hold that they are now in a state of "coma" or unconsciousness, awaiting the great Day of Judgment, when their bodies will be resurrected and life everlasting given them. Those who are interested in the matter, and who may doubt the above statement, are invited to examine the records for themselves. The doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body, which is of undoubted "pagan and heathen" origin, was a favorite theological dogma of the Church in the first thousand years of its existence, and for many centuries after, and it still occupies a most important place in the church doctrines today, although it is not so often publicly preached or taught.

David Kay says: "The great distinguishing doctrine of Christianity is not the Immortality of the Soul, but the Resurrection of the Body. That the soul of man is immortal was a common belief among the Ancients, from whom it found its way at an early period into the Christian Church, but the most influential of the early Fathers were strenuously opposed to it, holding that the human soul was not essentially immortal, but only, like the body, capable of immortality." Vinet says: "The union of the soul and body appears to me essential and indissoluble. Man without a body is, in my opinion, man no longer; and God has thought and willed him embodied, and not otherwise. According to passages in the Scriptures, we can not doubt that the body, or a body, is essential to human personality and to the very idea of man."

John Milton said: "That the spirit of man should be separate from the body, so as to have a perfect and intelligent existence independent of it, is nowhere said in Scripture, and the doctrine is evidently at variance both with nature and reason." Masson, commenting on Milton's conception, says: "Milton's conception is that at the last gasp of breath the whole man dies, soul and body together, and that not until the Resurrection, when the body is revived, does the soul live again, does the man or woman live again, in any sense or way, whether for happiness or misery.... Are the souls of the millions on millions of human beings who have died since Adam, are those souls ready either with God and the angels in Heaven, or down in the diabolic world waiting to be rejoined to their bodies on the Resurrection Day? They are not, says Milton; but soul and bodies together, he says, are dead alike, sleeping alike, defunct alike, till that day comes." And many Christian theologians have held firmly to this doctrine, as may be seen by reference to any standard encyclopedia, or work on theology. Coleridge said: "Some of the most influential of the early Christian writers were materialists, not as holding the soul to be the mere result of bodily organization, but as holding the soul itself to be material—corporeal. It appears that in those days the vulgar held the soul to be incorporeal, according to the views of Plato and others, but that the orthodox Christian divines looked upon this as an impious, unscriptural opinion." Dr. R. S. Candlish said: "You live again in the body—in the very body, as to all essential properties, and to all practical intents and purposes in which you live now. I am to live not a ghost, a spectre, a spirit, I am to live then, as I live now, in the body." Dr. Arnold says: "I think that the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection meets the materialists so far as this—that it does imply that a body or an organization of some sort is necessary to the full development of man's nature."

Rev. R. J. Campbell, the eminent English clergyman, in his recent work entitled, "The New Theology," says, speaking of the popular evangelical views: "But they are even more chaotic on the subject of death and whatever follows death. It does not seem to be generally recognized that Christian thought has never been really clear concerning the Resurrection, especially in relation to future judgment. One view has been that the deceased saint lies sleeping in the grave until the archangel's trumpet shall sound and bid all mankind awake for the great assize. Anyone who reads the New Testament without prejudice will see that this was Paul's earlier view, although later on he changed it for another. There is a good deal of our current, every-day religious phaseology which presumes it still—'Father, in thy gracious keeping, leave we now thy servant sleeping.' But alongside this view, another which is a flagrant contradiction of it has come down to us, namely, that immediately after death the soul goes straight to Heaven or Hell, as the case may be, without waiting for the archangel's trumpet and the grand assize. On the whole, this is the dominant theory of the situation in the Protestant circles, and is much less reasonable than the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, however much the latter may have been abused. But under this view, what is the exact significance of the Judgment Day and the Physical Resurrection? One might think they might be accounted superfluous. What is the good of tormenting a soul in Hell for ages, and then whirling it back to the body in order to rise again and receive a solemn public condemnation? Better leave it in the Inferno and save trouble, especially as the solemn trial is meaningless, seeing that a part of the sentence has already been undergone and that there is no hope that any portion of it will ever be remitted. Truly the tender mercies with which the theologians have credited the Almighty are cruel indeed!"

But, by the irony of progress, the orthodox churches are gradually coming around to the one much-despised Platonic conception of the naturally Immortal Immaterial Soul—the "pagan and heathen" idea, so much at variance with the opposing doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body, which doctrine really did not teach the "immortality of the soul" at all. As Prof. Nathaniel Schmidt says, in an article in a standard encyclopedia: "The doctrine of the natural immortality of the human soul became so important a part of Christian thought that the resurrection naturally lost its vital significance, and it has practically held no place in the great systems of philosophy elaborated by the Christian thinkers of modern times." But still, the letter of the old doctrine persists on the books of the church and in its creeds, although opposed to the enlightened spirit now manifesting in the churches which is moving more and more toward the "pagan and heathen" conception of a naturally Immaterial and Immortal Soul, rather than in a Resurrection of the Body and an eternal life therein.

It is scarcely worth while here to contrast the two doctrines—the Immortal Immaterial Soul on the one hand, and the Immortal Body on the other. The latter conception is so primitively crude, and so foreign to modern thought, that it scarcely needs an argument against it. The thought of the necessity of the soul for a material body—the same old material body that it once cast off like a worn out garment—a body perhaps worn by disease, crippled by "accident" or "the slipping of the hand of the Potter"—a body similar to those we see around us every day—the Immortal Soul needing such a garment in order to exist! Better accept plain Materialism, and say that there is no soul and that the body perishes and all else with it, than such a gross doctrine which is simply a materialistic Immortality. So far as this doctrine being "the highest conception of the Immortality of the Soul," as contrasted with the "pagan and heathen" doctrine of Reincarnation—it is not a "conception of the Immortality of the Soul" at all, but a flat contradiction of it. It is a doctrine of the "Immortality of the Body," which bears plain marks of a very lowly "pagan and heathen" origin. And as to the "later" Christian conception, it may be seen that there is nothing in the idea of Re-birth which is inconsistent therewith—in fact, the two ideas naturally blend into each other.

In the above discussion our whole intent has been to answer the argument against Reincarnation which charges that the latter is "derived from pagan and heathen sources, and is not in accord with the highest conceptions of the immortality of the soul." And in order to do this we have found it necessary to examine the opposing theological dogmas as we find them, and to show that they do not come up to the claims of being "the highest conception," etc. We think that the strongest point against the dogmas may be found in the claims of their advocates. That the Church is now growing away from them only proves their unfitness as "the highest conception." And Reincarnationists hold that as the Church grows in favor of the Immaterial Immortal Soul, so will it find itself inclining toward the companion-doctrine of Pre-existence and Re-birth, in some of its varied forms, probably that of the Early Fathers of the Church, such as Origen and his followers—that the Church will again claim its own.



"Karma" is a term in general use among the Hindus, and the Western believers in Reincarnation, the meaning of which is susceptible of various shades of definition and interpretation. It is most important to all students of the subject of Reincarnation, for it is the companion doctrine—the twin-truth—to the doctrine of Metempsychosis. Strictly speaking, "Karma" is the Law of Cause and Effect as applied to the life of the soul—the law whereby it reaps the results of its own sowing, or suffers the reaction from its own action. To the majority of Reincarnationists, however, it has a larger meaning, and is used in the sense of the Law of Justice, or the Law of Reward and Punishment, operating along the lines of personal experience, personal life, and personal character.

Many authorities hold that the original idea of Karma was that of a great natural law operating along exact lines, as do the laws of mathematics and chemistry, bringing forth the exact effect from every cause, and being, above all, questions of good or evil, reward or punishment, morality or immorality, etc., and acting as a great natural force above all such questions of human conduct. To those who still adhere to this conception, Karma is like the Law of Gravitation, which operates without regard to persons, morals or questions of good and evil, just as does any other great natural law. In this view the only "right" or "wrong" would be the effect of an action—that is, whether it was conducive to one's welfare and that of the race, or the reverse. In this view, if a child places its hand on a hot stove, the action is "wrong," because it brings pain and unhappiness, although the act is neither moral or immoral. And another action is "right" because it brings happiness, well-being and satisfaction, present and future, although the act was neither moral nor immoral. In this view there can be neither reward nor punishment, in the common acceptation of the term, although in another sense there is a reward for such "right" doing, and a punishment for such "wrong" doing, as the child with the burnt hand may testify to.

In this sense of the term, some of the older schools of Reincarnation accepted Karma as determining the Re-Birth, along the lines of Desire and Attraction, holding that the souls' character would attract it to re-birth along the lines of its strongest desires, and in such environment as would give it the greatest opportunity to work out those desires into action, taking the pains and pleasures of experience arising from such action, and thus moulding a new, or fuller character, which would create new Karma, which would determine the future birth, etc., and so on, and on. Those holding to this view believed that in this way the soul would learn its lesson, with many a crack over the knuckles, and with the pain of many an experience that would tend to turn it into the road most conducive to spiritual happiness and well-being; and lead it away from the road of material desires and pleasures, because the repeated experiences had shown that no true spiritual well-being was to be obtained therefrom. In other words, the soul, in its spiritual childhood, was just like a little child in the physical world, learning by experience that some things worked for its "good" and others for "bad." This view naturally carried with it the idea that true ethics would show that whatever tended toward the advancement of the soul was "good," and whatever retarded its advancement was "bad," in spite of any arbitrary standard of right or wrong erected by man during the ages, and which standard has constantly changed from time to time, is changing now, and always will change.

But the Hindu mind, especially, soon enlarged upon this original idea of Karma, and the priests of India soon had the idea of Karma working as a great rewarder of "good," and a great punisher of "evil." Corresponding to the rewards and punishments in the future life, as taught by Christian preachers, the Hindu priests held over the sinner the terrors of Karma; and the rewards promised the good people from the same source served to spur on the worshiper to actions in accordance with the ethics of the particular church preaching the doctrine. It was taught that the man's future state, in the next incarnation, and perhaps for many others, depended upon his state of "goodness," in accordance with the laws of the church and priestly teaching—surely as powerful an argument and as terrifying a threat as the orthodox "bribe of heaven, and threat of hell" of the Western world. The effect of this teaching is seen among the masses of the but slightly educated Hindu classes of today, who are very desirous of acquiring "merit" by performing some "good" deed, such as bestowing alms upon the wandering religious mendicant; making contributions to the temples, etc., as well as performing the acts of ordinary good will toward men; and who are as equally anxious to avoid acquiring "demerit" from the lack of proper observances, and the performance of improper actions. While the general effect of this may be in the direction of holding the ignorant masses in the ethical road most conducive to the public weal, it also has a tendency to foster credulity, superstition and imposition, just as do similar teachings in any land, time, under the cover of any religion. There is a strong family resemblance between these teachings among all the religions, and there are many men who hold that this "crack of the theological whip" is most necessary for the keeping of the masses of the people in the strait road of morality, they being held incapable of the practice of "doing good for good's sake, and avoiding evil because it is evil." We shall not discuss this question—decide it for yourself.

One of the strongest applications of the above mentioned form of the doctrine in India is the teaching that the caste of the man in his next incarnation will be determined by his degree of "good conduct" in the present life—and that his present caste has been determined by his conduct in his previous lives. No one who has not studied the importance of "caste" in India can begin to understand how powerful a lever this teaching is upon the people of India. From the exalted Brahman caste, the priestly caste—down to the Sudra caste of unskilled laborers, or even still further down to the Pariahs or outcasts, the caste lines are strongly marked; the higher caste person deeming it the greatest disgrace to be touched by one of an inferior caste, or to eat food prepared by a lower-caste person, and so on in every act of daily life. The only comparison possible to the American mind is the attitude of the old-time Southerner toward the lowest class of negroes, and even in this case the prejudice does not extend so far as in the case of the Hindus, for the Southerner will eat food cooked by a negro servant, and will permit the latter to shave him, act as his valet, etc., something at which the high-caste Hindu would be horrified on the part of one below him in caste. This being understood, it is easy to see how careful a high-caste Hindu would be to avoid performing actions which might rob him of his caste in his next life, and how powerful an incentive it is to a low-caste Hindu to strive for birth in a higher caste after many incarnations. To people holding such a view, birth in a low caste is the mark of crime and evil action performed in a previous life, and the low-born is accordingly felt to be worthy of no respect. We understand, from Hindu acquaintances, that this idea is gradually being dispelled in India, and an era of common human brotherhood and common interest is beginning to manifest itself.

In the Western world, the Reincarnationists, without doubt, have been greatly affected by the prevailing orthodox Hindu conception of Karma, rather than by the Grecian and general occult conception. Although there are many who regard Karma as rather a moulder of character, and consequently a prime factor in the re-birth, rather than as a dispenser of rewards and punishments—still, there are many who, discarding the orthodox Devil of their former faith, have found a worthy substitute for him in their conception of Karma, and manifest the same terror and fear of the new devil as of the old one—and his name may be summed up as FEAR, in both cases.

Theosophists have discussed the matter of Karma very thoroughly, and their leading authorities have written much about it, its various interpretations showing in the shades of opinion among the writers. Generally speaking, however, it may be said that they have bridged over the chasm between the "natural law" idea and that of "the moral law," with its rewards and punishments, by an interpretation which places one foot on each conception, holding that there is truth in each. Of course, justice requires the reference of that student to the Theosophical writings themselves, for a detailed understanding of their views, but we feel that a brief summary of their general interpretation would be in order at this place.

One of their leading authorities states that the Law of Karma is automatic in action, and that there is no possible escape from it. He likewise holds that Absolute Justice is manifested in its operations, the idea of mercy or wrath being absent from it; and that, consequently, every debt must be paid in full, to the last penny, and that there is no vicarious atonement or exceptions made in answer to supplications to a higher source. But he particularly states that this action of the law must not be confused with ordinary reward and punishment for "good deed or bad," but that the law acts just as does any other law of Nature, just as if we put our hand in the fire we shall be burned as a natural consequence, and not as a punishment. In his statement of this view he says: "We hold that sorrow and suffering flow from sin just precisely in that way, under the direct working of natural law. It may be said, perhaps, that, obviously, the good man does not always reap his reward of good results, nor does the wicked man always suffer. Not always immediately; not always within our ken; but assuredly, eventually and inexorably." The writer then goes on to define his conception of Good and Evil. He says: "We shall see more clearly that this must be so if we define exactly what we mean by good and evil. Our religious brothers would tell us that that was good which was in accordance with God's will, and that that was evil which was in opposition to it. The scientific man would say that that was good which helped evolution, and whatever hindered it was evil. Those two men are in reality saying exactly the same thing; for God's will for man is evolution, and when that is clearly realized all conflict between religion and science is at once ended. Anything, therefore, which is against evolution of humanity as a whole is against the Divine will. We see at once that when a man struggles to gain anything for himself at the expense of others he is distinctly doing evil, and it is evil because it is against the interest of the whole. Therefore the only true gain is that which is a gain for the race as a whole, and the man who gains something without cost or wrong to anyone is raising the whole race somewhat in the process. He is moving in the direction of evolution, while the other man is moving against it."

The same writer then gives the list of the three kinds of Karma, according to the Hindu teachings, namely: "1. There is the Samchita, or 'piled up' Karma—the whole mass that still remains behind the man not yet worked out—the entire unpaid balance of the debit and credit account; 2. There is the Prarabdha, or 'beginning' Karma—the amount apportioned to the man at the commencement of each life—his destiny for that life, as it were; 3. There is the Kriomana Karma, that which we are now, by our actions in this present life, making for the future." He further states: "That second type, the Prarabdha Karma, is the only destiny which can be said to exist for man. That is what an astrologer might foretell for us—that we have apportioned to us so much good or evil fortune—so much the result of the good and evil actions of our past lives which will react on us in this. But we should remember always that this result of previous action can never compel us to action in the present. It may put us under conditions in which it will be difficult to avoid an act, but it can never compel us to commit it. The man of ordinary development would probably yield to the circumstances and commit the act; but he may assert his free will, rise superior to the circumstances, and gain a victory and a step in evolution. So with a good action, no man is forced into that either, but an opportunity is given to him. If he takes it certain results will follow—not necessarily a happy or a wealthy life next time, but certainly a life of wider opportunity. That seems to be one of the things that are quite certain—that the man who has done well in this life has always the opportunity of doing still better in the next. This is nature's reward for good work—the opportunity to do more work. Of course, wealth is a great opportunity, so the reward often comes in that form, but the essence of the reward is the opportunity and not the pleasure which may be supposed to accompany the wealth." Another Theosophical writer says further on the subject of Karma: "Just as all these phases of Karma have sway over the individual man, so they similarly operate upon races, nations and families. Each race has its karma as a whole. If it be good, that race goes forward; if bad, it goes out—annihilated as a race—though the souls concerned take up their karma in other races and bodies. Nations cannot escape their national karma, and any nation that has acted in a wicked manner must suffer some day, be it soon or late." The same writer sums up the idea of individual unhappiness in any life, as follows: "(a) It is punishment for evil done in past lives; or (b) it is discipline taken up by the Ego for the purpose of eliminating defects or acquiring fortitude and sympathy. When defects are eliminated it is like removing the obstruction in an irrigating canal which then lets the water flow on. Happiness is explained in the same way—the result of prior lives of goodness."

The general idea of a number of writers on the subject of Karma is that "as ye sow, so shall ye reap," brought down to a wonderful detail of arrangement, and effect flowing from causes. This conception, carried to its logical conclusion, would insist that every single bit of pain and unhappiness in this life is the result of some bad deed done either in the present life or in the past, and every bit of happiness, joy or pleasure, the result of some good action performed either in the present or past life. This conception of Karma affords us the most intricate, complex and detailed idea of reward for good, and punishment for evil (even when called "the operation of natural law") possible to the mind of man. In its entirety, and carried to its last refinement of interpretation and analysis, it has a tendency to bewilder and terrify, for the chance of escape from its entangling machinery seems so slight. But still, the same authorities inform us that every soul will surmount these obstacles, and everyone will Attain—so there is no need to be frightened, even if you accept the interpretation of doctrine in its completeness.

But there are some thinkers who carry this idea of retributive Karma to such an extreme that they hold that every instance of physical pain, disease, deformity, poverty, ill fortune, etc., that we see among people, is the inevitable result of some moral wrong or crime committed by that person in some past life, and that therefore every instance of poverty, want or physical suffering is the just result of some moral offense. Some of the extremists have gone so far as to hesitate at relieving poverty, physical pain and suffering in others, lest by so doing they might possibly be "interfering with Karma"—as if any great Law could be "interfered with." While we, generally, have refrained from insisting upon our personal preference of interpretation in this work, we cannot refrain from so doing in this instance. We consider that such an interpretation of the Law of Karma is forced and unnatural, and results from the seeming natural tendency of the human mind to build up devils for itself—and hells of one kind or another. Robbed of their Devil, many people would attribute to their God certain devilish qualities, in order that they may not be robbed of the satisfaction of smugly thinking of the "just punishment" of others. And, if they have also discarded the idea of a Personal God, their demand for a Devil causes them to attribute certain devilish qualities to Natural Law. They are bound to find their Devil somewhere—the primitive demand for the Vengeful Spirit must manifest itself in one form or another.

These people confound the action of Cause and Effect on the Material and Physical Plane, with Cause and Effect on the Spiritual Plane, whereas all true occultists teach that the Cause operating on one plane manifests effects upon the same plane. In this connection, we would call your attention to the instance in the New Testament (John IX., 2), in which Jesus was asked regarding the cause of the affliction of the man who was BORN BLIND. "And his disciples asked him, saying, 'Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?'" The question being asked in order that Jesus might determine between the two prevailing theories: (1) That the blindness was caused according to the operation of the law of Moses, which held that the sins of the parents were visited on the children unto the third and fourth generation; or (2) that it was caused according to the Law of Karma, along the lines of reincarnation, and because of some sin which the man had committed in some past incarnation (for no other interpretation of the passage is possible, and it shows the prevalence of the idea of Reincarnation among the people of that time). But Jesus promptly brushed away these two crude, primitive conceptions and interpretations, and in the light of his superior spiritual knowledge answered: "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be manifest in him," the explanation of the term "the works of God" being that Jesus meant thereby the operation of the Laws of Nature imposed by God—something above punishment for "sins," and which operated according to invariable physical laws and which affected the just and the unjust alike, just as do any natural laws. It is now known that many infants are rendered blind by negligence of certain precautions at birth—this may have been a case of that kind. We consider any attempt to attribute physical infirmities to "sin" unconnected with the physical trouble to be a reversion to primitive theological dogmas, and smacking strongly of the "devil idea" of theology, of which we have spoken. And Poverty results from economic conditions, and not as punishment for "Sin." Nor is Wealth the reward of Virtue—far from it.

But before leaving this phase of the subject we would like to say that many careful thinkers have been able to discern certain spiritual benefits that have arisen from physical suffering, or poverty, and that the sufferers often manifest a high degree of spiritual development and growth, seemingly by reason of their pain. Not only this, but the divine faculties of pity, help, and true sympathy, are brought out in others, by reason thereof. We think that this view of the matter is far more along the lines of true spirituality than that of want and disease as "the punishment of sins committed in past lives." Even the human idea of Justice revolts at this kind of "punishment," and, in fact, the highest human justice and human law eliminates the idea of "punishment" altogether, so far as reprisal or revenge is concerned, the penalty being regarded merely as a deterrent of others, and a warning to the criminal against further infractions of the law, and as a reformatory agent—this at least is the theory of Human Law—no matter how imperfectly it works out in practice—and we cannot think of Divine Law being less just and equitable, less merciful and loving. The "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" conception of human justice has been out-lived by the race in its evolution.

After considering the above mentioned extreme ideas of "punishments," through the Law of Karma, we ask you to consider the following lines written by a writer having great insight, and published in a leading magazine several years ago. The idea of "The Kindergarten of God" therein expressed, we think, is far nearer in accordance with the highest Occult Teachings, than the other idea of "Divine Wrath" and punishment for sin, along the lines of a misinterpretation of the Law of Karma, worthy of the worshipers of some ancient Devil-God. Read this little quotation carefully, and then determine which of the two views seems to fit in better with your highest spiritual conceptions:

"A boy went to school. He was very little. All that he knew he had drawn in with his mother's milk. His teacher (who was God) placed him in the lowest class, and gave him these lessons to learn: Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt do no hurt to any living thing. Thou shalt not steal. So the man did not kill; but he was cruel, and he stole. At the end of the day (when his beard was gray—when the night was come), his teacher (who was God) said: Thou hast learned not to kill. But the other lessons thou hast not learned. Come back tomorrow.

"On the morrow he came back, a little boy. And his teacher (who was God) put him in a class a little higher, and gave him these lessons to learn: Thou shalt do no hurt to any living thing. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not cheat. So the man did no hurt to any living thing; but he stole and he cheated. And at the end of the day (when his beard was gray—when the night was come), his teacher (who was God) said: Thou hast learned to be merciful. But the other lessons thou hast not learned. Come back tomorrow.

"Again, on the morrow, he came back, a little boy. And his teacher (who was God) put him in a class yet a little higher, and gave him these lessons to learn: Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not cheat. Thou shalt not covet. So the man did not steal; but he cheated, and he coveted. And at the end of the day (when his beard was gray—when the night was come), his teacher (who was God) said: Thou hast learned not to steal. But the other lessons thou hast not learned. Come back, my child, tomorrow.

"This is what I have read in the faces of men and women, in the book of the world, and in the scroll of the heavens, which is writ with stars."—Berry Benson, in The Century Magazine, May, 1894.

But there is still another view of Karma held by some Western thinkers, who received it from the Greek mystics and occultists, who in turn are thought to have received it from ancient Egypt. These people hold that the Law of Karma has naught to do with Man's theories of ethics, or religious dogmas or creeds, but has as the basis of its operations only Universal and Cosmic Principles of Action, applicable to the atom as well as Man—to the beings above Man as well. And that these universal principles of action have to do with the evolution of all things in Nature, according to well established laws. And that the evolving soul is continually striving to find the path along the lines of evolution, being urged to by the unfolding spirit within it—and that that "path" is always along the lines of least spiritual friction, and therefore along the lines of the least ultimate spiritual pain. And that, accordingly, Spiritual Pain is an indication to the evolving thing that it is on the wrong path, and that it must find a better way onward—which message it heeds by reason of the pain, and accordingly seeks out for itself a better way, and one that will bring less spiritual pain and greater ultimate spiritual satisfaction.

This teaching holds that all material things are a source of more or less pain to the growing and evolving soul, which tends to urge it along the line of the least spiritual resistence—the least spiritual friction. It may be that the soul does not recognize the direction of the urge, and insist in tasting this material pleasure (so-thought) and then that—only to find that neither satisfy—that both are Dead Sea Fruit—that both have the thorn attached to the flower—that all bring pain, satiety and disgust—the consequence being that the tired and wearied soul, when rested by the Lethal slumber, and then re-born has a horror and distaste for the things which disgusted it in its previous life, and is therefore urged toward opposite things. If the soul has not been satiated—has not yet been pricked by the hidden thorn—it wishes to go on further in the dream of material pleasure, and so it does, until it learns its lesson. Finally, perceiving the folly and worthlessness of materiality, it emerges from its cocoon and, spreading out its newly found wings, takes its flight for higher planes of action and being—and so on, and on, and on, forever.

Under this view people are not punished "for" their sins, but "by" them—and "Sin" is seen to be merely a "mistake," not a crime. And Pain arises not as a punishment for something done wrongly, but as a warning sign of "hands off"; and consequently Pain is something by which we may mount to higher things—to Something Better—and not a punishment. And this idea holds, also, that on the physical plane physical law governs, and physical effects follow physical causes; likewise on the mental plane; likewise on the Spiritual Plane. And, therefore, it is absurd to suppose that one suffers physical pain as a punishment for some moral offense committed on another plane. On the contrary, however, this idea holds that from the physical pain which was occasioned by the operation of physical law alone one may develop higher spiritual states by reason of a better understanding of the nature of pain in oneself and others. And this idea refuses to recognize material pleasures or profits as a reward for spiritual or moral actions.

On the whole this last mentioned conception of Karma refuses to use the terms "reward and punishment," or even to entertain those ideas, but instead sees in everything the working out of a great Cosmic Plan whereby everything rises from lower to higher, and still higher. To it Karma is but one phase of the great LAW operating in all planes and forms of Life and the Universe. To it the idea that "THE UNIVERSE IS GOVERNED BY LAW" is an axiom. And while to it ULTIMATE JUSTICE is also axiomic, it sees not in the operation of penalties and reward—merits and demerits—the proof of that Ultimate Justice; it looks for it and finds it in the conception and realizing that ALL WORKS FOR GOOD—that Everything is tending upward—that everything is justified and just, because the END is ABSOLUTE GOOD, and that every tiny working of the great cosmic machinery is turning in the right direction and to that end. Consequently, each of us is just where he should be at the present time—and our condition is exactly the very best to bring us to that Divine Consummation and End. And to such thinkers, indeed, there is no Devil but Fear and Unfaith, and all other devils are illusions, whether they be called Beelzebub, Mortal-Mind, or Karma, if they produce Fear and Unfaith in the All-Good. And such thinkers feel that the way to live according to the Higher Light, and without fear of a Malevolent Karma, is to feel one's relationship with the Universal Good, and then to "Live One Day at a time—Doing the Best you Know How—and Be Kind"—knowing that in the All-Good you live and move and have your being, and that outside of that All-Good you cannot stray, for there is no outside—knowing that THAT which brought you Here will be with you There—that Death is but a phase of Life—and above all that THERE IS NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF—and that ALL IS WELL with God; with the Universe; and with YOU!




Science of Breath

A Complete Manual of the Oriental Philosophy of Physical, Mental, Psychic, and Spiritual Development by the Intelligent Control of the Breath.


Synopsis:—Chapter I. The Hindu Yogis—Something About Their Teachings. Chapter II. "Breath is Life"—Teachings of the Orient and Occident Compared. Chapter III. The Exoteric Theory of Breath. Chapter IV. The Esoteric Theory of Breath—Prana. Chapter V. The Nervous System—Yogi Teachings Concerning the Solar Plexus—The Solar Plexus a Store-House of Prana. Chapter VI. How to Breathe—Oriental Methods. Chapter VII. Four Methods of Respiration as Classified by the Yogis—The Yogi Complete Breath. Chapter VIII. How to Acquire the Yogi Complete Breath. Chapter IX. Physiological Effect of the Complete Breath. Chapter X. Yogi Lore—The Yogi Cleansing Breath—The Yogi Nerve Vitalizing Breath—The Yogi Vocal Breath. Chapter XI. Seven Yogi Developing Exercises. Chapter XII. Chapter XIII. Vibration and Yogi Rhythmic Breathing—How to Ascertain the Heart Beat Unit Used by the Yogis as the Basis of Rhythmic Breathing. Chapter XIV. Phenomena of Psychic Breathing—Directions for Yogi Psychic Breathing—Prana Distributing—Inhibiting Pain—Self-Healing—Healing Others—Distant Healing. Chapter XV. More Phenomena of Yogi Psychic Breathing—Thought Projection—Forming an Aura—Recharging Yourself—Recharging Others—Charging Water—Acquiring Mental Qualities—Controlling the Emotions—Transmutation of Reproductive Energy—Brain Stimulating—The Grand Yogi Psychic Breath. Chapter XVI. Yogi Spiritual Breathing—Soul Consciousness—How Unfolded—The Universal Consciousness—How the Yogi Attain This Consciousness—General Directions.

75 Pages.

Price, Paper $0.53 Postpaid; Cloth $0.75 Postpaid.

I received the copy of "Science Breath" promptly and I am very much pleased with it. The simple, clear, logical manner in which it is written will certainly be appreciated and will enhance its usefulness. Please send me another copy.—H. W. A., Pittsburg, Pa.

The Hindu-Yogi System of Practical Water Cure


Chapter I. The Hindu-Yogi Water Cure—An Important Branch of Hatha Yoga—The Underlying Principle—Prana in the Water—How slow Water Loses Prana—How Water May be Pranaized. Chapter II. Nature's Great Remedy—Water the Basis of Life—The Important Part Played by Water in the Psychological Mechanism of the System—What Water Does, and Why. Chapter III. Water Drinking—Why Man Needs Water—How Much Water He Needs—What He Suffers from Neglecting the Normal Amount of Fluids—An Important Secret—Surprising Facts. Chapter IV. The Stomach and Intestines—A Plain, Practical, Scientific Description of the Organs of Assimilation and Elimination—Something that Everyone Should Know to be Healthy. Chapter V. The Obstructed Sewer—A Scientific Statement Regarding the Great Sewer of the System, Which When Clogged, Obstructed and Choked with Waste-Matter, Causes Disease and Weakness. Chapter VI. The Internal Bath—The Scientific Method of Keeping Clean the Great Sewer of the System—A Simple Method of Internal Cleanliness, and Resulting Health. Chapter VII. The Skin—A Plain Scientific Description of the Skin, and the Part it Plays in Health and Disease—Something that Everyone Should Know, but Few Realize. Chapter VIII. Scientific Bathing—Scientific Methods of Bathing—The Cleansing Bath—The Non-Drying Bath—The Hot Bath—The Cold Bath—Hardening Baths—Private Information. Chapter X. Pack Treatments—The Wet Sheet Pack, and How to Apply It—The Half Pack—The Sweat Pack—Endosmose and Exosmose—Hydropathy in a Nut Shell. Chapter X. Other Valuable Methods—Fomentations, or Hot Steam Applications—Water Bandages and Compresses—Hot Water Compresses, and Cold Water Bandages—Special Applications—Sexual Vitality Treatments—Special Applications, etc.

This book has just been published, although Yogi Ramacharaka wrote it some time ago.



The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece


"The lips of Wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding."

This new book is bound to attract the earnest attention of all students of the Secret Doctrines of the East. Perhaps the better way to describe this work is to give you the following words from its authors:

"From old Egypt have come the fundamental esoteric and occult teachings which have so strongly influenced the philosophies of all races, nations and peoples, for several thousand years. Egypt, the home of the Pyramids and the Sphinx, was the birthplace of the Hidden Wisdom and Mystic Teachings. From her Secret Doctrine all nations have borrowed. India, Persia, Chaldea, Medea, China, Japan, Assyria, ancient Greece and Rome, and other ancient countries partook liberally at the feast of knowledge which the Hierophants and Masters of the Land of Isis so freely provided for those who came prepared to partake of the great store of Mystic and Occult Lore which the master-minds of that ancient land had gathered together. In ancient Egypt dwelt the great adepts and Masters who have never been surpassed, and who seldom have been equaled during the centuries that have taken their processional flight since the days of the Great Hermes. In Egypt was located the Great Lodge of Lodges of the Mystics. At the doors of her Temples entered the Neophytes who afterward, as Hierophants, Adepts, and Masters, traveled to the four corners of the earth, carrying with them the precious knowledge which they were ready, anxious, and willing to pass on to those who were ready to receive the same. All students of the Occult recognize the debt that they owe to these venerable Masters of that ancient land."


The Hermetic Teachings are to be found in all lands, among all religions, but never identified with any particular country, nor with any particular religious sect. This because of the warning of the ancient teachers against allowing the Secret Doctrine to become crystallized into a creed. The wisdom of this caution is apparent to all students of history. The ancient occultism of India and Persia a degenerated, and was largely lost, owing to the fact that the teachers became priests, and so mixed theology with the philosophy, the result being that much of the occultism of India and Persia has been lost amidst the mass of religious superstition, cults, creeds and "gods." So it was with Ancient Greece and Rome. So it was with the Hermetic Teachings of the Gnostics and Early Christians, which were lost at the time of Constantine, whose iron hand smothered philosophy with the blanket of theology.


"But there were always a few faithful souls who kept alive the flame, tending it carefully, and not allowing its light to become extinguished. And thanks to these staunch hearts, and fearless minds, we have the truth still with us. But it is not found in books, to any great extent. It has been passed along from Master to Student; from Initiative to Heirophant; from lip to ear. When it was written down at all, its meaning was veiled in terms of alchemy and astrology, so that only those possessing the key could read it aright. This was made necessary in order to avoid the persecutions of the theologians of the Middle Ages, who fought the Secret Doctrine with fire and sword; stake, gibbet and cross. Even to this day there will be found but few reliable books on the Hermetic Philosophy. Although there are countless references to it in many books written on various phases of Occultism. And yet, the Hermetic Philosophy is the only Master Key which will open all the doors of the Occult Teachings!


"In this book we invite you to examine into the Hermetic Teachings as set forth in THE KYBALION. We therein give you many of the maxims and precepts of THE KYBALION, accompanied by explanations and illustrations which we deem likely to render the teachings more easily comprehended by the modern student, particularly as the original text is purposely veiled in obscure terms. The trust that the many students to whom we now offer this little work will derive as much benefit from the study of its pages as have the many who have gone on before, treading the same Path to Mastery throughout the centuries that have passed since the times of HERMES TRISMEGISTUS—the Master of Masters—the Great-great. According to the Teachings, this book will attract the attention of such as are prepared to receive its Teaching. And, likewise, when the pupil is ready to receive the truth, then will this book come to him, or her, and not before. Such is The Law. The Hermetic Principle of Cause and Effect, in its aspect of The Law of Attraction, will bring lips and ear together—pupil and book in company. 'The Principles of Truth are Seven; he who knows these, understandingly, possesses the Magic Key before whose touch all the Doors of the Temple fly open.'—The Kybalion.


Bound in Blue Silk Cloth, Lettered in Gold, 223 Pages.

Price $1.08 Postpaid.

Yoga Lessons



Associate Editor Kalpaka Magazine Price $1.20 net.

Yoga is a subject which has enthralled the attention of the world from time out of mind. No one has hitherto done justice to such a grand system, though there have been, now and then, innumerable attempts.

The present author, my esteemed friend, Swamie Mukerji, a Yogi who comes out of a successive generation of Yogis, is able and proper instrument to handle the subject. He, in these lessons, prepares the layman for an understanding of the Yoga and through a series of wise and masterful sayings, impresses on the mind of the reader the necessity for rising above materialism, nay, solves the very problem "What am I?"

Every line is pregnant with mature thoughts and rivets on his attention, and makes him think, think, think.

This is not a work for which an introduction, briefly setting forth the contents, could be written. I can but ask you to read, digest and improve.

DR. T. R. SANJIVI, Ph. D., President The Latent Light Culture Tennevelley, India.




Chicago, Illinois

Price, Postpaid.

Fourteen Lessons in Yogi Philosophy, and Oriental Occultism. By Ramacharaka. Bound in green silk cloth $1.10

Advanced Course in Yogi Philosophy, and Oriental Occultism. By Ramacharaka. Bound in brown silk cloth 1.10

Raja Yoga. By Ramacharaka. Bound in brown silk cloth 1.10

Gnana Yoga. By Ramacharaka. Bound in blue silk cloth 1.10

Psychic Healing. By Ramacharaka. Bound in maroon silk cloth 1.10

Hatha Yoga. By Ramacharaka. Bound in yellow silk cloth 1.10

Science of Breath. By Ramacharaka. Bound in paper, 53c; cloth .75

Light on the Path and Illumined Way. By M. C. Cloth .44

A Treatise on the Light on the Path. By M. C. Paper .10

A Visit to a Gnani. By Edward Carpenter. Paper .28

Jesus: The Last Great Initiate. By Edouard Schure. Silk cloth .80

Krishna and Orpheus. By Edouard Schure. Silk cloth .80

Bhavagad Gita. By Ramacharaka .80

The Spirit of the Upanishads .55

Mystery of Being .50

Karma. Occult Novel. By A. P. Sinnett. Cloth .60

Practical Mind Reading. By W. W. Atkinson. Cloth .50

Practical Psychomancy and Crystal Gazing. By W. W. Atkinson. Cloth .50

Mental Influence. By W. W. Atkinson. Cloth .50

Mystic Christianity. By Ramacharaka. Pamphlet Edition, $1.12; ready in book form, Sept 1, '08 1.10

Kybalion. By Three Initiates. Cloth 1.08

Inner Consciousness. By W. W. Atkinson .50

Secret of Success. By W. W. Atkinson .50

The Philosophies and Religions of India, by Ramacharaka. Cloth 1.12


We will be pleased to send descriptive circulars to anyone that you think would be interested.

Transcriber's Notes:

"Bhavagad Gita" in the list of books published by The Yogi Publication Society is a misprint for "Bhagavad Gita."

"Ronach" in the Table of Contents, Chapter IV, is a misprint for "Roauch."


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