Those who imagine that the Yogi Philosophy teaches
that before the soul there is an endless chain of earthly
re-births, or series of reincarnations, have failed to grasp the real spirit of the teaching. When it is remembered that the earth is but one of a countless number of preparatory worlds, having its beginning in time and its ending in time, the folly of such a doctrine becomes apparent. The earth is but one of the many schools, which have been from time to time formed in the Cosmos, and which, at the best, are but mere lower grade abodes. The soul of man will persist aeons after this earth, and millions of others like it, will have vanished into the ether of space from which it originally emerged. To assign to earth-life any such importance in the Cosmic order is contrary to the teachings of the wise.
Moreover, it is a false teaching which holds that even in the present era and phase of the soul’s existence the soul can progress no further than earthly incarnation. Even though the majority of the race must undergo many earthly incarnations before freedom and liberation is found, still it is equally true that when a soul reaches the stage of spiritual development in which the ties of earth-life no longer bind it, then it is impossible
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that such a soul can be held to the round of earthly incarnation for even a moment of time.
There are many souls which are now on the Astral Plane, undergoing the final stages of the casting off of the earthly bonds. And there are many souls now in earth-life which will never again return to earth, but which, after their next sojourn on the Astral Plane, will rise to the higher planes of existence, leaving the earth and all earthly things behind forever. Moreover, there are to-day, on earth, thousands of souls which are well on the way to freedom, and which will have but one more earth-life to undergo—and that one life will be passed in an exalted state of understanding and wisdom. At the present time we are nearing the end of a cycle in which a very great number of souls are preparing for their upward flight, and many who read these lines may be well advanced in that cyclic movement.
It would be the veriest folly for human pen to attempt to picture the nature of the existence on the higher spheres— even those spheres only one grade higher than the earth. For there are no words which would convey the meaning—no mental concepts which would embody the idea. Nay, more, the majority of the race have not even the mental machinery which would enable them to even think of the nature of such a life. The average human mind cannot begin to think even of the middle planes of the Astral, and the concept of the higher Astral is far beyond them. What then must be their position regarding the thought of realms of being to which even the highest Astral planes are but as dung-hills compared with the world’s greatest palaces? Enough to know that there exists an infinite scale of being, composed of realm after realm, ever rising higher and higher and higher—and that the soul is destined to move on and on and on toward the Infinite.
Escape from the round of earthly reincarnation is possible when the soul learns the truth regarding its own nature and its relation to the Whole. When it perceives the illusory nature of the phenomenal universe, and realizes that the spiritual world
is the only real one, then do the ties of the material life begin to slip away, and the soul begins to struggle from its confining bonds. This liberation is the great end aimed at in the Yogi Philosophy. This is the reason, end, and aim, of Yoga. Some attain it by faithful works; others by love of the divine and of the divine fragment in their fellow human beings; others by the use of the intellect and the attainment of wisdom; others by development of the intuitive faculties; but all these are but different roads leading to the same end. When the nature of earthly things is realized, they lose their hold upon the human soul. Desire then dies away, and the soul is liberated and attains spiritual freedom. Loosened from the attraction of earth, the soul takes higher flights, and soars to the higher regions of being.
The philosophies of the Orient are filled with this idea. Under various guises it appears. To the initiated occultist the sacred teachings of the world—of all religions—are seen to have their esoteric side. And the spirit of the esoteric teaching is always Liberation. As we write these words, our eyes fall upon a book lying on our table—a little story of the East, told by a Western writer. This writer has caught the spirit of the East and expresses it well. Listen to his words, and see how true they are to the spirit of the teaching:
“The object of the Sage, according to the old Hindoo doctrine, is to become absolute master of himself (jitama ), to render himself completely superior, or rather indifferent to the ‘attachment’ of all mundane clogs. The ordinary mortal is a prisoner, tied, bound in bondage, or attached (sakta), to and by the objects of delusion and sense. Whoever aims at emancipation must first, by a long and strenuous course of penance and austerity, sever these attachments, till even though he still remains among them, they run off him like water from a duck; and he goes on living, according to the classic formula, like a wheel that continues to revolve when the original impetus has ceased; or like a branch that goes on swaying after the departure of the bird. He is awake, as opposed to those who
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still remain blinded by illusion; he is free, as contrasted with the bound.”
The above writer, however, has erred when he speaks of the “long and strenuous course of penance and austerity,” necessary to sever the material attachments. The best authorities frown upon these ascetic practices and austerities, and do not encourage them. The true practice is that of the attainment of wisdom, and the opening of the heart to the inflow of the Divine Wisdom which comes in the form of Intuition. It needs but to perceive the real nature of material things in order to lose desire for them; therefore Knowledge is the great Liberator. It is true that great unselfish love (Bhakti Yoga) will cause the scales to fall from the eyes of the soul; it is likewise true that faithful works and duty performed without hope of reward (Karma Yoga), will cause the eyes to see clearly; but the greatest of all Yoga is Gnani Yoga, the Way of Wisdom.
To those who yearn for release, we recommend a careful study of the Yogi Philosophy, or any of the other great forms of the Wisdom-Religion, and the careful following of the Life of the Spirit which is common to all religions, rightly understood.
We think that the best little guide on The Path in the English language, is that little manual “Light on the Path,” which is founded on occult axioms current even in ancient Atlantis. In this valuable little manual are to be found “The Rules which are written on the Walls of the Hall of Learning,” by the “Rulers of the Golden Gate.” As a writer has said: “What Parsifal is to lovers of music, that ‘Light on the Path’ is to aspiring souls—a never-ending source of inspiration and wonder.” The following axioms, taken from its pages, give the keynote, when rightly understood—the balance of the manual is but an explanation of the axioms:
I. Kill out ambition.
II. Kill out desire of life.
III. Kill out desire of comfort.
IV. Kill out all sense of separateness.
V. Kill out desire for sensation.
VI. Kill out the hunger for growth.
VII. Desire only that which is within you.
VIII. Desire only that which is beyond you.
IX. Desire only that which is unattainable.
X. Desire power ardently.
XI. Desire peace fervently.
XII. Desire possessions above all.
XIII. Seek out the way.
XIV. Seek the way by retreating within.
XV. Seek the way by advancing boldly without.
XVI. Stand aside in the coming battle; and though thou fightest, be not thou the warrior.
XVII. Look for the warrior, and let him fight in thee.
XVIII. Take his orders for battle, and obey him.
XIX. Listen to the song of life.
XX. Store in your memory the melody you hear.
XXL Learn from it the lesson of harmony.
XXII. Regard earnestly all the life that surrounds you.
XXIII. Learn to look intelligently into the hearts of men.
XIX. Regard most earnestly your own heart.
XX. Inquire of the earth, the air, and the water, of the secrets they hold for you.
XXL Inquire of the holy ones of the earth, of the secrets they hold for you.
XXII. Inquire of the inmost, the one, of its final secret, which it holds for you throughout the ages.
XXIII. Hold fast to that which has neither substance nor existence.
XXVI. Listen only to the voice which is soundless.
XXV. Look only on that which is invisible alike to the inner and the outer sense.”
These axioms have seven several and distinct meanings, superimposed one upon the other, and which are uncovered
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only by the unveiling of the eyes of the soul as it unfolds. Blessed is he who is able to comprehend even the first set of meanings, for he is on The Way.
The commentor upon these axioms, in the little manual, gives the following valuable advice to those who seek out the Way of Liberation and Peace:
“Seek in the heart the source of evil, and expunge it. It lives fruitfully in the heart of the devoted disciple, as well as in the heart of the man of desire. Only the strong can kill it out. The weak must wait for its growth, its fruition, its death. And it is a plant that lives and increases throughout the ages. It flowers when the man has accumulated unto himself innumerable existences. He who will enter upon the path of power must tear this thing out of his heart. And then the heart will bleed, and the whole life of the man seem to be utterly dissolved. This ordeal must be endured: it may come at the first step of the perilous ladder which leads to the path of life: it may not come until the last. But, O disciple, remember that it has to be endured, and fasten the energies of your soul upon the task. Live neither in the present nor the future, but in the eternal. This giant weed cannot flower there: this blot upon existence is wiped out by the very atmosphere of eternal thought.”
The same commentor utters the following additional advice:
“Look for the flower to bloom in the silence that follows the storm; not till then. It shall grow, it will shoot up, it will make branches and leaves and form buds, while the storm continues, while the battle lasts. But not till the harassed spirit. And in the deep silence, and melted-not until it is held by the divine fragment which has created it, as a mere subject for grave experiment and experience—not until the whole nature has yielded, and become subject unto its higher self, can the bloom open. Then will come a calm such as comes in a tropical country after a heavy rain, when Nature works so swiftly that one may see her action. Such a calm will come to the mysterious even will occur which will the whole personality
of the man is dissolved prove that the way has been found. Call it by what name you will; it is a voice that speaks where there is none to speak; it is a messenger that comes,—a messenger without form of substance,—or it is the flower of the soul that has opened. It cannot be described by any metaphor. But it can be felt after, looked for, and desired, even amid the raging of the storm. The silence may last a moment of time, or it may last a thousand years, but it will end. Yet you will carry its strength with you. Again and again the battle must be fought and won. It is only for an interval that nature can be still.”
In conclusion, let us again quote from the writer of the words above quoted—words also inspired by a higher source of authority and wisdom:
“There are three truths which are absolute, and which cannot be lost, but yet may remain silent for lack of speech: (I) The soul of man is immortal, and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and splendor have no limit. (II) The principle which gives life dwells in us, and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard or seen or felt, but is perceived by the man who desires perception. (Ill) Each man is his own absolute law-giver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself, thedecreer of his life, his reward, his punishment. These truths, which are as great as is life itself, are as simple as the simplest mind of man. Feed the hungry with them.”
And now, friend and reader, we leave you once more. We trust that what we have said will prove to be as the seeds of future trees of knowledge within you. For this is the most that the teacher may hope to do—to plant seeds. We trust that we have at least brought you to the doors of the perception of the truth that there is no Death—that what we call Death is but “the other side” of Life, and one with it. May your own spiritual eyes become opened, that you may perceive these truths for
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yourself, and through your own experience. And now, once more, good student, we say to thee:
Peace Be Unto Thee!
Ramacharaka, Yogi [William Walker Atkinson]. The Life Beyond Death. Chicago, IL: The Yogi Publication Society, 1909.