Hierosophy and Theosophy
Theosophist, July, 1883
Article selections from “Hierosophy and Theosophy”, by William Oxley | Notes by H.P.B.
In dealing with what appears to be the difference between Hierosophic and Theosophic teachings, as to Rebirth, or Reincarnation, we should have to deal with what Theosophy terms the “Seventh principle” in man, but which I have termed the “Master atom.” . . . The question now comes—Is that “seventh principle” an entity, i.e., is it a differentiated atom of life? To which I reply—In appearance—yes. In reality—no. The term “atom of life” has an application only permissible on the plane of human thought and consciousness. It is relative, not absolute. If we must go back far enough, or deep enough, I urge that there is but one Life and one Substance; and that all which is, is but the phenomenon of differentiation, which is ceaseless, changing, and eternal.1
1. This is good, orthodox occultism as it now stands. Only with our correspondent’s permission, we are obliged to remind him that according to the Occult doctrine the term “Master Atom” is not applicable to the 7th principle, though it can be very properly used in reference to the 6th, the vehicle of spirit, or spiritual soul. The views of the occultists upon spirit and soul may be said to adopt the middle ground between the theories of Boscovich and Helmholtz, on the intimate nature of matter. The 7th principle, or rather its essence, belongs to the seventh state of matter, i.e., a state which may be viewed in our mundane conceptions as pure spirit; while the nature of the sixth principle is not a center of force like its spirit, a center in which the idea of all substance disappears altogether, but a fluidic or rather ethereal “atom.” The former is undifferentiated, the latter—differentiated matter, though in its highest and purest state, One—the life that animates the atom, the other the vehicle that contains it.
Precisely at the points where this phenomenal differentiation comes in, there the “atom of life” appears; and we hold, that this specific atom, once differentiated, and entering upon its cyclic round, after having attained a specific consciousness of its own on the mundane, or physical plane, can never re-enter the same plane again; as the purpose is accomplished for which it was so differentiated. But, this “master atom” in order to make itself visible, or cognizable, on the various planes in its descent, attracts to itself other atoms, which form its envelope, or clothing, and these atoms, by virtue of contact—temporary as it is—impregnated with the life quality of the master atom, and according to the development in the scale of consciousness, consciousness while ascending, unconsciousness while descending—so, conditions are supplied for phenomenal expressions on the infinite variety of Being.2
2. This is heterodox. If by “Master atom” the divine “human monad” is meant, then it remains unconscious or rather irresponsible whether “descending” or “ascending” the circle of spheres for 3 1/2 rounds, after which, so long as it is united to personalities it remains both conscious and responsible.
I think all this, and much more, is clearly shown in the series of Fragmentary Truths, given from time to time by the Mahatmas, who, with a wisdom that cannot be gainsaid, impart so much as can be appreciated and no more. My late visit to Egypt brought me into contact with the ancient Egyptian doctrine of metempsychosis, which seemed to teach, that the soul, or vivifying principle, after leaving the body, was re-incarnated in lower and even animal forms, and that it must pass through every variety of organized life forms, until at the end of three thousand years it would return and be re-united with the physical body, which was so carefully preserved and mummified under this idea. Time has proved the fallacy of the doctrine, as so many mummies, now in existence, are considerably older than the 3,000 years, and the so-called soul has not returned to claim its physical body. We must therefore seek for another solution to an ancient doctrine which, undoubtedly, had an underlying tone of truth.3
3. Mr. Oxley will permit us to correct him. He looks at the objective terrestrial and empty shell—the “mummy”—and forgets that there may be hidden under the crude allegory a great scientific and occult truth. We are taught that for 3,000 years at least the “mummy,” notwithstanding all the chemical preparations, goes on throwing off to the last invisible atoms, which from the hour of death re-entering the various vortices of being, go indeed “through every variety of organized life forms.” But it is not the soul, the 5th, least of all the 6th principle, but the life atoms of the jiva, the 2nd principle. At the end of 3,000 years, sometimes more, and sometimes less, after endless transmigrations all these atoms are once more drawn together, and are made to form the new outer clothing or the body of the same monad (the real soul) which had already been clothed with two or three thousands of years before. Even in the worst case, that of the annihilation of the conscious personal principle, the monad or individual soul is ever the same as are also the atoms of the lower principles which regenerated and renewed in this ever flowing river of being are magnetically drawn together owing to their affinity, and are once more reincarnated together. Such was the true occult theory of the Egyptians.
I notice the Editor’s note in March number of The Theosophist, in reply to the query raised by a correspondent X in reference to the retrogression of the “spiritual survival” after physical death. . . . The real question involved is this: “Does the life principle that escapes from the human body at death, maintain the consciousness of its individuality,—not personality: and if so, does that conscious individuality advance to higher, or more interior, states of being? To which we reply in the affirmative.4
4. We are sorry to reply in the negative. That which maintains the consciousness of its individuality is the 6th principle in conjunction with the 7th and a portion of the 5th and its vehicle the 4th—the triad thus constituting the conscious monad. Life atoms or “life principle” (the Jiv) that escapes at death has no consciousness in its disintegrated condition, nor has this any bearing upon the “grand purposes of creation.”