It is one of the saddest features of earth-life that we find ourselves unable to express to the fullest the creative impulse, the artistic urge, the striving of the genius within us to unfold itself. After passing a certain place in the scale of life, the evolving soul finds within itself the ever present urge of the something within which is striving to express and unfold itself into objective manifestation. It may be the craving to express in art, music, literature, invention; or it may be the insistent desire to be at work remodeling the affairs of the world nearer to the soul’s desire. In all of such cases, it is really the creative impulse at work, striving to “make things” in objective form, in accordance with the pattern or model within the soul. And toward such expression, head, heart and hand is eager to work.
But, alas, very few are able to realize in earth-life one tithe of what the soul dreams.
The artistic instinct is ever hungering for perfect expression, and yet it is given but the crumbs that fall from the table. The soul is ever thirsting for progress and achievement, and yet it is given but the few drops that trickle from the fountain. If this one life were all—if these longings, cravings, desires, and hunger and thirst of the soul, depended only upon the possibilities of
The Life Beyond Death
the one earth-life—then indeed would the moaning cry of the pessimists be justified, and the wail of the discouraged be justified. For, in fact, these impulses and cravings are but as the urge of the seed striving to break through its sheaths, that it may put forth stem, branch, blossom and fruit. And the seed can scarce expect to reach the blossom and fruit while it is in the earth.
But, as the advanced occultist knows full well, these seed-desires are but the promise of the future blossom and fruit. The very fact of their existence is a proof of the possibility—nay, the certainty—of their fulfillment. So far from being a cause of discouragement, they should be regarded as a prophecy of future achievement and realization. It has been well said that “in every aspiration there dwells the certainty of its own fulfillment.” These words seem like mockery to many, and, indeed, they would be mockery were the possibility of realization confined to the one particular earth-life in which they are manifested. But, to the soul which has advanced on the Path of Attainment sufficiently high that it may look back and down upon the planes of life beneath it, it is seen that these strivings of genius to express itself are but the “labor-pains of the soul,” which must precede the future birth of the fruit of genius.
On the Astral Plane these seeds of genius put forth stem and branch, and are prepared for the blossom and fruit of the incarnations ahead of it. In the highly concentrated state of the mind, in certain phases of the Astral life, the talents and genius of the individual grow and develop very rapidly, and the next incarnation finds the individual ready and prepared to manifest the power which he has generated during his sojourn on the Astral. The soul may be said to receive and store up energy while on the Astral, which will enable it to manifest heretofore undreamed of powers in the next earth-life.
A familiar example is that of the boy who is learning to skate, and who finds that he makes little progress during the
afternoon. He goes to sleep that night, and forgets all about the art of skating, but when he returns to the task the next day, lo! he finds that he has made wonderful progress. The majority of us have had similar experiences regarding our little tasks in life. We find that something happens to us when we are asleep.
The secret of the above-mentioned phenomena is that, during the sleep of the boy, his sub-conscious or instinctive mind rehearses the task until it has accomplished much in the direction of mastering it, and the next day it puts into practice that which it has learned during the night—but the conscious mind is not aware of the process of learning. There are depths of the mind which take up these tasks of ours, and which while we are asleep and our objective conscious faculties are resting, straighten out the troublesome kinks of performance, and practice the tasks to be performed the coming day.
In the same way, the super-conscious (not the sub-conscious) faculties of the mind of the soul practice and become proficient in the tasks of the next earth-life, as indicated by the urge of desire and the pangs of achievement seeking birth. But, with this difference, the soul is fully conscious of the workings of the super-conscious faculties, and, in fact, experiences the greatest joy in the work of development and achievement. The heaven-world of those souls which are possessed of the desire to “do things”—to create, to perform, to make—is indeed a realm of bliss. For there the soul finds itself able to manifest the things which were beyond it during the earth-life, and to express itself in a measure almost beyond the fondest dreams and hopes of the soul on earth.
And this expression and manifestation is performed from the very love of the performance—from the joy of work, the ecstasy of creative achievement—rather than from the hope of reward. On the Astral Plane, alone, can the soul find the conditions which are pictured in Kipling’s lines:
“And only the Master shall praise us,
The Life Beyond Death
And only the Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money,
And no one shall work for fame;
But each for the joy of the working,
And each in his separate star.
Shall draw the Thing as he sees it For the Cod of Things as They are.”
The same thing is true of the seeker after knowledge—the man to whom the exercise of the intellect is the greatest joy. Such a one finds the Books of Knowledge opened for many pages beyond those at which he was compelled to pause in earth-life. The philosopher, the scientist, the metaphysician, the naturalist—these find full exercise for their faculties on the Astral Plane. The library of the Cosmos—the laboratories of the universe—are at their disposal, and they are made welcome there. They find their heart’s desire fulfilled in the opportunities afforded them on the Astral Plane. And, they go back to earth-life, when their time comes for reincarnation, with stimulated intellect and increased reasoning power. What they have thus learned appears in the next life as “intuition.”
It is a fact well known to the advanced occultist that great inventors, like Edison—great philosophers like Hegel, or Herbert Spencer—great scientists like Darwin or Huxley—who seemingly manifest intuitive knowledge of their subjects, are but manifesting on the material plane that which they have already acquired on the Astral as the fruition of desires and attempts made in previous incarnations. It is the common experience of such geniuses, as related in their memoirs, that the majority of their greatest discoveries have come to them suddenly as if from a clear sky. But it is a rule of Nature that there is no blossom or fruit without the preceding seed—and this is true on the mental as well as on the physical plane. There is always a “cause” for the “effect,” in these cases.
The struggling genius—nay, more, the one who feels that he or she could be a genius if that which is within could only be expressed—these souls will have their chance in the Astral, and if the seed be well planted in the rich soil, of the soul, then in the next incarnation will the blossom and fruit appear. We may carry this idea with us, a little more clearly, perhaps, if we will make the following comparison:
I. The earth-life is like the phase of the crawling-caterpillar, which feels within itself a something which it cannot express, and which it scarcely understands;
II. The astral-life is like the phase of the chrysalis, in which the future gorgeous butterfly is being formed, and in which the colored wings already exist in Astral form;
III. The reincarnated earth-life is like the phase of the butterfly, in which the ideal felt in the first stage and mentally experienced in the second stage becomes fully manifest and active.
The Law of Karma performs much of its work on the Astral Plane, for there the sole material is plastic and non-resistant, the coarse sheaths of the body being absent. And this law is exact and unfailing in its operations—it always brings the seed to fruition, and each seed brings forth only its own appropriate fruit:
“Karma—all that total of a soul Which is the thing it did, the thoughts it had, The ‘self’ it wove with woof of viewless time Crossed on the warp invisible of acts.
Before beginning, and without an end.
As space eternal and as surety sure.
Is fixed a Power divine which moves to good. Only its laws endure.
That which ye sow, ye reap. See yonder fields The sesamum was sesamum, the corn
Was corn. The silence and the darkness knew;
So is a man’s fate born.
He cometh, reaper of the things he sowed, Sesamum, corn, so much cast in past birth;
And so much weed and poison stuff, which mar Him and the aching earth.
If he labor rightly, rooting these.
And planting wholesome seedlings where they grew. Fruitful and fair and clean the ground shall be.
And rich the harvest due.”