The Law and the Word by Thomas Troward , at sacred-texts.com
I THINK most of my readers will agree with me, that the greatest of all the promises is that of the overcoming of death, for, as the greater includes the less, the power which can do that can do anything else. We think that there are only two things that are certain in this world--death and taxes, and no doubt, under the ordinary past conditions, this is quite true; but the question is: are they really inherent in the essential nature of things; or are they not the outcome of our past limited, and often inverted modes of Thought? The teaching of the Bible is that they are the latter. On the subject of taxes the Master says: "Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's" (Matth. xxii, 21), but on another occasion he said that the children of the King were not liable to taxation (Matth. xvii, 26). However we may leave the "taxes" alone for the present, with the remark that their resemblance to
death consists in both being, under present conditions, regarded as compulsory. Under other conditions, however, we can well imagine "taxes" disappearing in a unity of thought which would merge them in co-operation and voluntary contribution; and it appears to me quite possible for death to disappear in like manner.
In whatever way we may interpret the story of Eden, whether literally, or if, like some of the Fathers of the church such as Origen, we take it as an allegory, the result is the same--that Death is not in the essence of man's creation, but supervened as the consequence of an inverted mode of thinking. The Creative Spirit thought one way, and Eve thought another; and since the Thought of the Creating Spirit is the origin of Life, this difference of opinion naturally resulted in death. Then, from this starting-point, all the rest of the Bible is devoted to getting rid of this difference of opinion between us and the Spirit of Life, and showing us that the Spirit's opinion is truer than ours, and so leading us to adopt it as our own. The whole thing turns on the obvious proposition, that if you invert the cause you also invert the effect. It is the principle that
division is the inversion of multiplication, so that if 2 × 2 = 4 then you cannot escape from the consequence that 4/2 = 2. The question then is, which of the two opinions is the more reasonable--that death is essentially inherent in the nature of things, or that it is not?
Probably ninety-nine out of a hundred readers will say, the whole experience of mankind from the earliest ages proves that Death is, the unchangeable Law of the Universe, and there have been no exceptions. I am not quite sure that I should altogether agree with them on this last point; but putting that aside, let us consider whether it really is the essential Law of the Universe. To say that this is proved by the past experience of the race, is what logicians call a petitio principii--it is assuming the whole point at issue. It is the same argument which our grandfathers would have used against aerial navigation--no one had ever travelled in the air, and that proved that no one ever could. My father, who was a junior officer in India when the first railway was run in England, used to tell a story of one of his senior officers, who, on being asked what he thought of the rapidity of the new mode of
travelling, said he thought it was "all a damned lie," which opinion appeared to him to settle the whole question. But I hope that none of my readers will hold the same opinion regarding the overcoming of death, even though they might express it in more polite language. At any rate it may be worth while to examine the theoretical possibility of the idea.
To begin with, it involves a self-contradiction to say that the energy of any force can stop the working of that force. If a force stops working, it is for one of two reasons, either that the supply of it is exhausted, or that it is overcome by an opposite and neutralizing force. But we have seen that the Originating Cause of all things can only be an inexhaustible Power of Life, and therefore the hypothesis of it becoming exhausted is eliminated; and similarly, since all the forces of the Universe proceed from this Source, it is impossible for any of them to have a nature diametrically opposite to that of the source from which they flow. So the alternative must be eliminated also. Accordingly, the outflow, undifferentiated, of Life and Energy from the Eternal Substantive of Spirit, is never stopped by its own current in any of its differentiated
streams; it is impossible for a current to be stopped by its own flow, whether it be a current of electricity, steam, water, or anything else. What then does stop the flow of any sort of current? It is the Resistance or inertia of the channel through which it flows; so that we come back to the formula of Ohm's Law, C = E/R as a general proposition applicable to any conceivable sort of energy.
The neutralizing power then, is not that of the flowing of any sort of energy, but the rigidity, or inertia of the medium through which the energy has to make its way; thus bringing us back to rouah and hoshech, the expansive and compressive principles of the opening verses of Genesis. It is the broad scientific generalization of the opposition between Ertia, or Energy, and Inertia, or Absence of Energy; and since, for the reasons just given, Ertia cannot go against itself, the only thing that can stop it is Inertia.
Now the components of the human body are simply various chemical elements--so much carbon, so much hydrogen, etc., as any textbook on the subject will tell you; and although, of course, every sort of substance is the abode
of ceaseless atomic energy, we all recognize that merely atomic energy is not that of the powers of thought, will, and perception, which make us organized mentalities instead of a mere aggregation of the various substances exposed to view in a biological museum, as constituting the human body--you might take all these substances in their proper proportions, and shake them up together, but you would not make an intelligent man of them. We are therefore safe in saying that the physiological body represents the principle of inertia in us, while the something that thinks in us represents the principle of ertia.
The balance of power between the Life Principle in us and the Death Principle, is then, necessarily, a question of the balance between these two, the spirit and the flesh, or ertia and inertia.
Why then does the balance preponderate to the life-side for a certain length of time, and then go over to the opposite side?
Now this brings us to the distinction which the old writers drew, between the "Vital Soul" of any living thing and the Spirit. Their conception of the "Vital Soul" was very much the same as I have set forth in the chapter on
[paragraph continues] "The Soul of the Subject." It is the individual's particular share of the Cosmic Soul or Anima Mundi, whether it be an individual tree, or an individual person; and the ordinary maximum length of time, during which the Vital Soul will be able to overcome the inertia of its physical vehicle, depends upon the particular class to which the individual be- longs. What the ordinary maximum is in regard to any species it' a matter of experience, and it is in this way that we have fixed the usual limit of human life at three-score years and ten.
Now it is here that we shall begin to profit by some knowledge about the invisible part of ourselves. The actual molecules of our body, as I have just said, are only so much dead matter. This inert material is pulled about in various directions by strings which we call muscles, according to the movements we wish our bodies to make, and these muscles are set in motion by the vibrations of the nerves. 1 But what is it that occasions these vibrations of the nerves? Here we begin to pass beyond the limits of official Science, though not beyond
the limits of recognizable Law. We have to recognize the existence of an etheric body acting as an intermediary between intention, desire, or (in the case of human beings) thought of the soul and the physical vibrations of the nerves. This is why, in an earlier chapter, I have drawn attention to our power of sending out etheric vibrations beyond the limits of the physical body, as in the case of De Rocha's experiments. Such experiments show that there is in us something not composed of dense matter, which is able to convey vibrations to dense matter; and it is this something which we speak of as the etheric body.
But if we wish to trace the links by which our thought operates upon the physical body, we find ourselves compelled to postulate yet another intermediary, what I have spoken of as the "Vital Soul"--a vehicle which does not consciously think, but in which what we may call race-consciousness becomes centred in the individual. This race-consciousness is none other than the ever-present "will-to-live" which is the basis of physical evolution--that automatically acting principle--which causes plants to turn towards the sun, animals to seek their groper food, and both animals and men
to try instantly to escape from immediate danger. It is what we call instinct which does not reason. I may give a laughable experience of my own to illustrate the fact that conscious reason is not the method of this faculty. Once when on leave from India I was walking along a street in London in the heat of a summer's day and suddenly noticed just at my feet a long dark thing apparently wriggling across the white glare of the pavement. "Snake!" I exclaimed, and jumped aside for all I was worth, and the next moment was laughing at myself for not recollecting that cobras were not common objects in the London streets. But it looked just like one, and of course turned out to be nothing but a piece of rag. Well, instinct did its duty even if it did make a fool of me; but there is certainly no conscious reasoning in the matter, only the automatic action of inherent Law--"Self-preservation is the first law of Nature."
This Vital Soul, then, is the seat of all those instincts which go towards the preservation of the individual's physical body, and towards the propagation of the race; and it is on this account that our theosophical friends call it the "Desire Body" or, to use the Indian term
[paragraph continues] "Kama rupa." It acts with conscious intention, but not with conscious reasoning. It is thus distinguished on the one hand from the etheric body, which is a mere vehicle for finer vibrations than can take place in the denser matter of the physical body, but which has no intention; and on the other from the mind which acts by conscious reasoning, and it thus forms an intermediary between the two.
The importance of recognizing the place of this higher intermediary in the ascending scale of living principle is, that for all practical purposes the animal world does not rise higher than this in the scale. It is true that in particular instances we find the first dawning of the mental faculty in an animal, but it is only very faint; so this does not affect the broad general principle. The point to be noted is that up to this stage human beings are built on the same lines as animals, and what distinguishes us, is the addition in ourselves of a higher factor,--that of the reasoning mind exercising the power of conscious thought.
Now it is the direction of this thought that influences the three lower factors. The sequence, going upwards, is as follows:--movement is communicated to the physical body by
the etheric body; and movement is communicated to the etheric body by the Vital Soul; then, in proportion as the purely instinctive action of the Vital Soul is controlled by the conscious thought, so its action upon the two lowest principles is modified.
Here, then, is the crucial point. In what direction is the conscious thought going to modify the action of the three principles that are below it? If it takes the soul of mere racial desire and the physical body as its standard of thought, then it naturally follows that it cannot raise it any higher. It has descended to their level and so cannot pour any stream of life into it, on the simple principle that no current can ever flow from a lower to a higher level, whether the difference in level be that of actual elevation, as in the case of water, or different in potential, as in the case of electricity. On the other hand if the conscious mind recognizes that itself proceeds from some higher source, it looks to receive life from that source, and its thought is modified accordingly, and in turn re-acts correspondingly upon the lower principles.
If this is clear to the student, he will now see how it is that by limiting our conception
of life to the current ideas entertained by the race, we impress these ideas on our three lower principles. It is true that these three principles are not capable of reasoning themselves, but the highest of them, the Vital Soul, has its action modified by the reasoning principle above it, and so communicates to the two lowest principles corresponding waves of vibration. And in this connection we must remember the distinction between the two systems of nerves; the voluntary system connected with the brain and forming the medium of all voluntary action, and the involuntary, or sympathetic system connected with the solar plexus and controlling all the automatic actions of the body, and thus being the agent of that continual renewal of the physical organism which is always going on, and keeps in existence for a life time a body which begins to disintegrate immediately the soul has left it. 1 Now it is through this inner Builder of the Body that our Thought re-acts upon our physical organism. The response is purely automatic, for the simple reason that there is no original thinking power in the three lower principles; the action is that of the Law as directed by Thought or Word.
In this way then, it appears to me, the Personal in us acts upon the Impersonal in us; and if we assume, as I think we may, that this action takes place by means of etheric waves, we have, on general scientific principles, a clue to what we read in the Bible about the transmutation of the body. The theory of the constitution of the atom shows us that its nature is determined by the number of its particles and their rate of revolution, and that a change in the rate of revolution results in the throwing off of some of the particles. Then the number of particles being altered, there results a change in the distribution of the positive and negative charges within the sphere of the atom, since they must always exactly balance one another; and this change in the distribution of the positive and negative charges must instantly result in a corresponding change in the geometrical configuration of particles constituting the atom.
That the particles automatically arrange themselves into groups of different geometrical form within the sphere of the atom, has been demonstrated both mathematically and experimentally by Professor J. J. Thompson, 1
these geometrical forms resulting of course from the balance of attraction and repulsion between the positive and negative charges of the particles.
That the transmutation of one substance into another is not a mere dream of the mediæval alchemists is now already shown by Modern Science. Under suitable conditions an atom of Radium breaks down into atoms of another sort known as Radium Emanations, and these again break down into yet another sort of atoms to which the name of Radium Emanations X has been given, while Radium Emanation also gives rise to the atom of Helium (N. K. 124). Thorium also behaves in the same manner, transmuting into atoms called Thorium X, which again change into atoms of another sort to which the name of Thorium Emanations has been given and these in turn transmute into atoms of yet another kind, known as Thorium Emanations X. The same is the case also with Uranium which, however, so far as is yet known, undergoes only one transmutation into what is known as Uranium X.
The transmutation of one sort of atom into another is therefore not a mere visionary
fancy, but an established fact; and although our laboratory experiments in this direction may not as yet have gone very far, they have gone far enough to show that a Law of Transmutation does exist in Nature. Then, since the difference between one sort of atom and another results from the difference and arrangement of their particles, and the difference in the number and arrangement of the particles results from the difference in the speed of their rotation, and this again results from the difference in the energy or rate of vibration of the particles, we come back to different rates of etheric vibrations as the commencement of the whole series of changes; and as is proved by the facts of wireless telephoning, different rates of etheric vibrations can be set in motion by the varying sounds of the human voice, even on the physical plane. May it not be then, that by the same law, vibrations of other wave-lengths, yet unknown to science, will be set in motion by the unspoken word of our thought?
The substance known as Polonium, even by its near approach to an electric bell, causes it to ring, and if etheric waves can thus be started by an inanimate substance, why should we suppose
that our thought has less power, especially when metaphysically we cannot avoid the conclusion that the whole creation must have its origin in the Divine Thought?
From such considerations as these, I think we may reasonably infer that if the mind be illuminated by a range of thought coming from a higher mind, there is no limit to the power which may thus be exercised over the material world, and that therefore St. Paul's statement regarding the transmutation of the present physical body, is one which should be included in the circle of our ideas, as being within the scope of the Laws of the Universe when their action is specialized by the power of the Word (I Cor. xv); and similarly with regard to other statements to the same effect contained in the Bible. What is wanted is the realization of a greater Word than that which we form from the current experience of the race. The race has formed its Word on the basis of the lower principles of our being, and if we are to advance beyond this, the Law of the subject clearly indicates that it can only be by adopting a more fundamental Word, or Idea, than that which we have hitherto thought to include the entire range of possibilities. The
[paragraph continues] Law of our further Evolution demands a Word not formed from past experiences, but based upon the eternal principle of the All-Originating Life itself. And this is in strict accord with scientific method. If we had always allowed ourselves to be ruled by past experiences we should still be primitive savages; and it is only by the gradual perception of underlying principles, that we have attained the degree of civilization we have reached to-day; so what the Bible puts before us is simply the application to the life in ourselves of the maxim that "Principle is not limited by Precedent."
Now the Bible Promises serve to put us on the track of this Principle: they suggest lines of enquiry. And the enquiry leads to the conclusion that the two ultimate factors are the Law and the Word. What we have missed hitherto is the conception of the limitless possibilities of the Law, and the limitless power of the Word. On one occasion the Master said to the Jews "Ye know not the Scriptures neither the power of God" (Matth. xxii, 29) and the same is the case with ourselves. The true "Scripture" is the "scriptura rerum" or the Law indelibly written in the nature of things, and the written Scriptures are true only because
they contain the statement of the Principle of the Law. Therefore until we see the Principle of the Law we "know not the Scriptures." On the other hand, until we see the Principle of the operation of the Word through the Law, we do not know "the Power of God"; and it is only as we come to perceive the interaction of the Law and the Word that we see the beginning of the way that leads to Life and Liberty.
But although it is evident from the text just quoted, as well as from other intimations in his Epistles, that St. Paul fully grasped the principle of the transmutation of the body, he himself tells us that he has not yet realized it in practice. He says he has not yet "attained to the resurrection from the dead," but is still pressing on towards its attainment (Ph. iii, 12). And it is to be remarked that he is not here speaking of a general "resurrection of the dead," but, as the word exanastasis in the original Greek indicates, of a special resurrection from among the dead; this indicates an individual achievement, not merely something common to the whole race. From this and other passages it is evident that by "the dead" it means those whose conception of Life is limited
to the four lower principles, thus unifying the mind with the three principles which are below it; and the same idea is expressed in a variety of ways all through the Bible. This therefore shows that he is quite aware that knowledge of a principle does not enable us then and there to attain the completeness of the application, and if this be the case with St. Paul, we cannot be surprised to find it the same with ourselves. But on the other hand knowledge of the principle is the first step towards getting it to work.
Well, St. Paul is dead and buried, and so I suppose will most of us be in a few years; so the question confronts us, what becomes of us then?
As Milton puts it in "Il Penseroso "we want
[paragraph continues] Yes, this is a question of deep personal interest to us; but as I cannot speak from experience, I will restrict myself to seeing whether we can form any sort of general hypothesis on
the basis of the principles we have recognized. What then is likely to survive? The physical body is of course disintegrated by the chemistry of Nature. The etheric body probably continues to retain its form longer, because it is a condensation of etheric particles wrought together by the etheric waves sent out by the Vital Soul, and is therefore not subject to the laws of chemical affinity. The Vital Soul, being the race-principle of life in the individual,
that principle which automatically seeks to preserve the individual from disintegration,--probably survives longer still, until, ceasing to receive any reflex vibrations from the body, it grows gradually weaker in its sense of individual guardianship, and so is eventually absorbed into the group-soul or generic essence of the class to which it belongs. This is probably what happens in the case of animals for want of any higher vivifying principle, and would be the same with us were it not for the fact of having such a higher principle. In our case I should imagine that the influx of etheric waves, received from the thought action of the mind, would have the effect of continuing to impress the Vital Soul with a sense of individuality, in terms of its own plane,
which would prevent it from being absorbed into the group-soul so long as the vital current from the mind continued to reach it. But eventually that current would cease to reach it, and in some cases, because the individual mind that governed it would gradually realize that its connection with the physical plane had ceased, and in others, because through a higher illumination the mind had, of its own volition, turned its thought in another direction. In either case, on the ceasing of the influx of that vitalizing current, the Vital Soul of the human being would likewise be absorbed into the Cosmic Soul, or Anima Mundi.
How long the processes of the disintegration of the etheric body, and absorption of the vital soul may take, is a question on which I can offer no opinion beyond saying that certain psychic phenomena suggest that in some cases they may take a long period of time. But for the reasons I have now given, it appears to me that the permanently surviving factor is the thinking mind which is our real self, and is positively our centre of consciousness after the physical body has been put off.
By the facts of the case its consciousness is no longer affected by vibrations received from
the physical body; and therefore, to the extent to which our idea of life has been centred in that body, we shall feel its loss. If our motto has been "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die" we shall feel very dead indeed--a living death, a consciousness of being cut off from all that constituted our enjoyment of life--a thirst for the satisfaction of our customary ideas, which we have no power to quench; and, in proportion as our habitual mode of thought is raised above that lowest level, so will our sense of loss be less. Then, by the same Law, if our habitual mode of thought is turned towards pure, beautiful, and helpful ideals, we shall feel no loss at all, for we shall carry our own ideals with us, and, I hope, see them more clearly by reason of their disentanglement from mundane considerations. In what precise way we may then be able to work out our ideals I will not now stop to discuss. What we want first is a reasonable theory, based upon the principle of that universal Law which is only varied in its actions by the conditions under which it works; so, instead of speculating as to precise details, we may generalize the question of how we can work out the good ideals which we carry over with us, and put it this
way:--Our ideas are embodied in thoughts; thoughts start trains of etheric waves, which waves induce reciprocal action whenever they meet with a receiver capable of vibrating synchronously with them, and so eventually the thought becomes a fact, and our helpful and beautiful ideal becomes a work of powers whether in this world or in any other.
Now it is to the forming of such ideals that the Bible, from first to last is trying to lead us. From first to last it is working upon one uniform principle, that the Thought is the Word, that the Word sets in motion the Law, and that when the Law is set in motion it acts with mathematical precision. The Bible is a handbook of instruction for the use of our Creative Power of Thought, and this is the sequence which it follows--one definite method, so fundamental in its nature, that it applies equally to the making of a packing-case or the making of a solar system.
Now we have formed a generalized conception, based on this universal method, of the sort of consciousness we are likely to have when we pass out of the physical body. Then our thought naturally passes on to the question what will happen after this?
It is here that some theory of the reconstitution of the physical body appears to me to hold a most important place in the order of our evolution. Let us try to trace it out on the general lines of the Creative Power of Thought indicated above, the keynote to which is that the Law is specialized by the Word, and cannot of itself bring out the infinite possibilities contained in it without such specializing, just as in all scientific development of ordinary life. The clue to the whole question is, that our place in the Universal Order is to develop the infinite resources of the Original Life and Substance into actual facts. "Nature unaided fails." The Personal Factor must co-operate with the Impersonal, alike for setting up an electric bell, or for the furtherance of cosmic evolution; and the reason it is so is, because it could not possibly be otherwise.
If now we start by recognizing this as our necessary place in the Progressive Order of the Universe, I think it will help us to form a reasonable theory as to the reconstruction of the body. First of all, why have we any physical body at all? As a matter of fact we have one, and no amount of transcendental philosophizing
will alter the fact, and so we may conclude that there is some reason for it. We have seen the truth of the maxim "Omne vivum ex vivo," and therefore that all particular forms of life are differentiations of the one Basic Life. This means a localizing of the Life-Principle in individual centres. The formation of a centre implies condensation; for where there is no condensation the Energy, whether electricity or Life, is simply dispersed and achieving no purpose. Therefore distinctness from the undifferentiated Original Life is a necessity of the case. Consequently the higher the degree of Consciousness of .Individuality, the greater must be the Consciousness of Distinctness of Personality.
We say of a "wobbly" sort of person: "That fellow is no use, you can't depend on him." We say of a person whose ideas, intentions, and methods are subject to continual variations under all sorts of outside influences, whether of opinions or circumstances, that he has "no backbone," meaning that he is in want of individuality. He has no real thought of his own, and so has no Word of Power by which to co-operate with the Law; therefore, to the extent to which this is the case with any
of us, we are of no use in furthering the enfoldment of Evolution, whether in ourselves or anywhere else.
Now we talk a lot about Evolution or the unfolding, but we seem often not to realize that there must be something to unfold; and that therefore In-volution, or the concentration of the Life-principle, must be a condition precedent to its E-volution. This process of Involution must therefore be a process of gradually increasing concentration of the Life-principle, by association with denser and denser modes of the Universal Substance. Then, on the principle of Vibration, the less dense the substance in which the Life is immersed, the more it must be subject to being stirred by vibratory currents other than those produced by the conscious action of the Ego, or inherent Life, of the individuality that is being formed.
But "the Sum of the Vibrations in anything determines the mode, power, and direction of its action"; therefore, the less the Ego be concentrated through association with a dense vehicle, the more "wobbly" it must be, and consequently the less able to take any effective part in the further work of Creation. But in proportion as the Ego builds up an Individual
[paragraph continues] Will, the more it gets out of the "wobbly" state--or, to refer once more to the idea of etheric waves--it becomes able to select what vibrations it will receive, and what vibrations it will send out.
The involution of the Ego into the physical body, such as we at present know it, is there-force a necessity of the case, if any effective Individuality is to be brought into existence, and the work of Creation carried on instead of being cut short, not for want of material, but for want of workmen capable of using the tools of the builders' craft--the Law as "Strength" and the Word as "Beauty."
The Descending Arc of the Circle of Being is therefore that of the Involution of Spirit into denser and denser modes of Substance,--a process called in technical language by the Greek name "Eleusin," and the process continues until a point is reached where Spirit and Substance are in equal balance, which is where we are now. Then comes the tug of war. Which of the two is to predominate? They are the Expansive and Constrictive primal elements, the "rouah" and "hoshech" of the Hebrew Genesis.
If the Constrictive element be allowed to go
further than giving necessary form to the Expansive element, it imprisons the latter. The condensation becomes too dense for the Ego to receive or send forth vibrations according to its free will, and so the Individuality becomes lost. If the condensation process be not carried far enough, no Individuality can be built up, and if it be carried too far, no Individuality can emerge; so in both cases we get the same result that there is no one to speak the Word of Power without which "Nature unaided fails."
Thus we are now exactly at the bottom of the Circle of Being. We have completed the Descending Arc and reached the point where the realization of the Distinctness of Conscious Individuality enables us to choose our own line, whether that of progressing through the stages of the Ascending Arc of Being, or of falling out from the living Circle of Progression, at least for a period, into what is sometimes mystically spoken of as "the Moon," or (in descending order) the "Eighth Sphere," and which is called in Scripture "The Outer Darkness,"--the rigidity which stops the action of Life.
Therefore it is with regard to this stage of
our career that the Bible lays so much stress on the conflict between the Spirit and the Flesh--it is a fact in the course of our evolution, and the purpose of the Bible is to teach us how to move forward along the Ascending Arc of the Circle of Being, so as to build up individualities which will be able to use the tools of Intelligence and Will in the great work of Evolution, both Personal and Cosmic.
Now what is shown diagrammatically as the Ascending Arc of the Circle of Life is the Return from its lowest point, or the Full Consciousness of Personal Distinctness, gained through the Material Body, back to its highest point or the Originating Life itself. This is the truth embodied in the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a Cosmic truth, and this return journey is technically called by the Greek name "Anaktorion." It is the Rising-again, that is from matter to Spirit, and is the Resurrection Principle.
But what is accomplished by the journey of the Ego round the Circle of Life?
A New Centre of Intelligence and volition is established; from this the Creative Word of Power can be spoken--a Complete Man has been brought into existence, who can take a
free and intelligent part in the further work of Creation, by his understanding of the interaction between the Law and the Word. The "Volume of the Sacred Law" lies open before us, and the Vibratory Power of the Word to give effect to it is the "Blazing Star" that illuminates its contents, and so we become fellow-workers with the Great Architect of the Universe.
For these reasons it appears to me that our self-recognition in a physical body is a necessary step in our growth. But why should the reconstruction of a physical body be either necessary or desirable? The answer is as follows:
Obviously self-recognition is the necessary basis for all use of those powers of selection and volition by which the Impersonal Law is to be specialized so as to bring to light its limitless potentialities; and self-recognition means the recognition of our personal Distinctness from our environment. Therefore it must always mean the possessing of a body as a vehicle, by means of which to act upon that environment, and to receive the corresponding reaction from it. In other words it must always be a body constituted in terms of the
plane upon which we are functioning. But it does not follow that we should always be tied down to one plane.
On the contrary, the very conception of the power of the Word to specialize the action of the Law, implies the power of functioning on any plane we choose; but always subject to the Law, that if we want to act on any particular plane in propria persona, and not merely by influencing some other agent, we can only do so by assuming a body in terms of the nature of that plane. Therefore, if we want to act on the physical plane, we must put on a physical body. But when we have fully grasped the Power of the Word we cannot be tied to a body. We shall no longer regard it as composed of so many chemical elements, but we shall see beyond them into the real primary etheric substance of which they are composed, and so by our volition shall be able to put the physical body on or off at pleasure,--that at least is a quite logical deduction from what we have learnt in the preceding pages.
Seen in this light the "Resurrection Body" is not the old body resuscitated, but a new body, just as real and tangible as the old one, only not subject to any of its disabilities,--no
longer a limitation, but the ever ready instrument for any work we may desire to do upon the physical plane.
But perhaps you will say, "Why should we want to have anything more to do with the physical plane? surely we have had enough of it already!" Yes; in its old sense of limitation; but not in the new sense of a world of glorious possibilities, a new field for our creative activities; not the least of which is the helping of those who are still in those lower stages which we have already passed through.
I think if we realize the position of the Fully Risen Man, we shall see that he is not likely to turn his back upon the Earth as a rotten, old thing. Therefore a new physical body is a necessary part of his equipment.
If, then, we take it as a general principle, that for self-recognition upon any plane a body in terms of that plane is a necessity, this will throw some light on the Bible narrative of our Lord's appearances after his Resurrection. It is noteworthy that he himself lays stress on the body as an integral part of the individuality. When the disciples thought they had seen an apparition he said: "Handle me and see that it is I myself, and not a spirit, for a spirit hath
not flesh and bones as ye see I have" (Luke xxiv, 39). This very clearly states that the spirit without a corresponding body is not the complete "I myself"; yet from the same narrative we gather that the solid body in which he appeared is able to pass through closed doors, and to be disintegrated and re-integrated at will. Now on the electronic theory of the constitution of matter which I have spoken of in the earlier part of this book, there is nothing impossible in this; on the contrary it is! only the known Law of synchronous vibration carried into those further ranges of wavelengths which, though not yet produced by laboratory experiment, are unavoidably recognized by the mathematicians.
In this way then the Resurrection of the Body appears to me to be the legitimate termination of our present stage of existence. What further developments may follow, who shall say? for we must remember that the end of one series is always the commencement of another--that is the doctrine of the Octave. But this is far enough to look forward in all conscience. As to when the completion of our present stage of evolution will be attained, it is impossible even to hazard a guess; but that
the individual attainment of such a Resurrection is not dependent on any particular date in the world's history, is clearly the teaching of Scripture. When Martha said to Jesus that she knew her brother would rise again "at the last day," he ignored the question of "the last day," and said "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (St. John xi, 25); and similarly St. Paul puts it forward as a thing to be attained (Ph. iii, 15). It is not a resurrection of the dead but from among the dead that St. Paul is aiming at--not an "anastasis ton nekron," but an "anastasis ek ton nekron."
Doubtless there are other passages of Scripture which speak of a general resurrection, which to some will be a resurrection to condemnation (St. John v, 29), a resurrection to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan. xii, 2). This is a subject upon which I will not attempt to enter--I have a great many things to learn, and this is one of them; but if the Bible statements regarding resurrection are to be taken as a whole, these passages cannot be passed over without notice. On the other hand the Bible statements regarding individual resurrection are there also, and the general principle on which they are based becomes clear
when we see the fundamental relation between the Law and the Word. Only we must remember that the Word that can thus set in motion the Law of Life, and make it triumph over the Law of Death, cannot be spoken by the limited personality which only knows itself as John Smith or Mary Jones. We must attain a larger personality than that, before we can speak the Word. And this larger personality is not just John Smith or Mary Jones magnified; that is the mistake we are all so apt to fall into. Mere magnification will not do it. A square will continue to be a square however large you make it; it will never become a circle. But on the other hand, there is such a thing as stating the area of a circle in the form of a square; and when we learn to regard our square as not existing on its own account, but as an expression of the circle in another form, our attention will be directed to the circle first, as the generating figure, and then to the square as a particular mode of expressing the same area. If we look at it in this way we shall never mistake the square for the circle, but we shall see that as the circle grows, the corresponding square will grow with it. It is this dependence of the square on the circle that
makes all the difference, and makes it a living, growing square. For the true circle represents Infinitude. It is not bounded by a limiting circumference as in the merely symbolic geometrical figure, but is rather represented by the impulse which generates an ever widening circle of electro-magnetic waves; and when we realize this, our square becomes a living thing. The "Word" that we speak with this recognition is no longer ours, but His who sent us--the expression, on the plane of individuality, of the Thought that sent us into existence and so it is the "Word of Life." This is the true Resurrection of the Individual.
138:1 See Chapters on "Body, Soul, and Spirit" in my "Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science."
143:1 See "Edinburgh Lectures."
144:1 "New Knowledge."