CONSCIOUSNESS is not so much a thing as a condition. Now, if thou wouldst have a clear conception of that condition by means of analogy, take as an illustration the image of an incandescent globe,--a ball of fire, fluid and igneous throughout its whole mass. 2 Divide this globe in thought into several successive zones, each containing its precedent. Thou wilt find that the central interior zone only contains the radiant point, or heart of the fiery mass, and that each successive zone constitutes a circumferential halo more or less intense, according to its nearness to the radiant point, but secondary and derived only and not in itself a source of luminous radiation.
It is thus with the macrocosm and thus also with the human kingdom. In the latter the soul is the interior zone, and it alone contains the radiant point. By this one indivisible effulgence, the successive zones are illuminated in unbroken continuity; but the source of this effulgence is not in them. I call this effulgence consciousness, and this radiant point the spiritual ego or divine spark. Now, for all things there is one law. God is nothing that man is not. Man, therefore, is one. But within this unity is plurality. God being one, is yet three; for in one personality are three persons. And not only three; for God is beyond number, being all that is. So that in this divine unity are many comprehended personalities. This is because spirit is in its very essence consciousness, and wherever spirit is there is consciousness. Yet all spirit is one. Wherefore consciousness is one. And as spirit is manifold, so consciousness is manifold. And spirit, like light, is diffusive. Were it otherwise there could be no universe, but only one point spreading no rays, and instead, thick darkness and unconsciousness throughout eternity. But this is absurd
and against reason; because it is the very nature of light to be radiant; and radiance is itself light; so that wherever light is there is radiance or shining; and God is the Shining One, or radiant point of the universe. God is the supreme consciousness, and the divine radiance is also consciousness. And man's interior ego is conscient only because the radiant point in it is divine. But this consciousness emits consciousness, and transmits it, first to the anima bruta, and last to the physical body. But the more concentrated the consciousness, the brighter and more effulgent the central spark. It is erroneous to think of consciousness as non-diffusive, precisely as it would be to think of light as non-radiant. But it is true that consciousness hath a centre of diffusion, as light hath a radiant point.
Now, if from the midst of this imagined globe of fire thou take the central incandescent spark, the whole globe does not immediately become dark, but the effulgence lingers in each zone according to its degree of nearness to the centre of the sphere. It is thus also when dissolution occurs in the process of death. Everything is conscious according to its proper degree. In somnambulism either the anima bruta and the physical body are conscious while the consciousness of the soul is suspended; or the reverse occurs, according to the kind of somnolence induced. But that part which remains conscious is capable of reflection, of thought, of memory, and even of intelligent invention and acumen, according to its kind and its endowments. Consciousness is, therefore, diffusive and, in a certain sense, divisible. He best comprehends this truth who is nearest and most like to God; and such an one is the poet.
Thou knowest that in the end, when Nirvâna is attained, the soul shall gather up all that it hath left within the astral of holy memories and worthy experience, and to this end the Ruach rises in the astral sphere, by the gradual decay and loss of its more material affinities, until these have so disintegrated and perished, that its substance is thereby lightened and purified. But continual commerce and intercourse with earth add, as it were, fresh fuel to its earthly affinities, keeping these alive and hindering its recall to its spiritual ego. Thus, therefore, the spiritual ego itself is detained from perfect absorption into the divine, and union therewith. For the Ruach shall not all die, if there be in it anything worthy of recall. The astral sphere is its purging chamber. For Saturn, who is Time, is the trier of all things; he devoureth all the dross; only that escapeth which in its nature is
ethereal and destined to reign. And this death of the Ruach is gradual and natural. It is a process of elimination and disintegration, often--as men measure time-extending over many decades, or even centuries. And those Ruachs which appertain to wicked and evil persons, having strong wills, inclined earthwards,--these persist longest and manifest most frequently and vividly, because they rise not, but, being destined to perish utterly, are not withdrawn from immediate contact with the earth. They are all dross; there is in them no redeemable element. But the Ruach of the righteous complaineth if thou disturb his evolution. "Why callest thou me? disturb me not. The memories of my earth-life are chains about my neck; the desire of the past detaineth me. Suffer me to rise towards my rest, and hinder me not with evocations. But let thy love go after me and encompass me; so shalt thou rise with me through sphere after sphere."
For the good man upon earth can love nothing less than the divine. Wherefore that which he loveth in his friend is the divine, that is, the true and radiant self. And if he love it as differentiated from God, it is only on account of its separate tincture. For in the perfect light there are innumerable tinctures. And according to its celestial affinity, one soul loveth this or that splendour more than the rest. And when the righteous friend of the good man dieth, the love of the living man goeth after the true soul of the dead; and the strength and divinity of this love helpeth the purgation of the astral soul, the psychic ghost. It is to this astral soul, which ever remaineth near the living friend, an indication of the way it must also go,--a light shining upon the upward path that leads from the astral to the celestial and everlasting. For love, being divine, is towards the divine. "Love exalteth, love purifieth, love uplifteth."
There is but one God; and in God are comprehended all thrones, and dominions, and powers, and principalities, and archangels, and cherubim in the celestial world. And through these are all the worlds begotten in time and space, each with its astral sphere. Now, all these, both terrene and heavenly, are conscient entities, yet all subsist in one consciousness, which is one God. Because all things are of spirit, and God is spirit, and spirit is consciousness. The material of the physical brain is constituted of countless cells and innumerable connecting fibres, and each cell hath its own consciousness, according to its degree. Yet the resultant of all these concordant functions is one perception and one consciousness. p. 116 There is also a consciousness of the nerves, and another of the blood, and another of the tissues. There is a consciousness of the eye, and another of the ear, and another of the touch. There is a consciousness appropriate, and appertaining specially and distinctively, to every bodily organ. And all these work night and day within the body, each according to its kind and its order. Yet the intellect of the man knoweth nothing thereof. Interrogate one of these living organs, and it will answer thee after its kind. If man, then, can so little dominate and direct the divers parts of his own physical body, why should he find it strange that his ethereal self be likewise similarly multiple? The anima bruta is as an organ of the spiritual man; and though it be part of him, its acts, its functions, and its consciousness are not identical with those of the spiritual soul. Consciousness is divisible, therefore, and diffusible in man, as in God; in the planet, as in the universe; and one law is throughout all.
113:1 Paris, January 15, 1883. Received in sleep (Story of Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, p. l00).
113:2 The idea is of a globe self-luminous and heated from within. E. M.