The Cosmic Picture Gallery
We are directed by our Guru in the philosophy of tatwas to look into vacant space toward the sky, when the sky is perfectly clear, and fix your attention there with the utmost possible strength.
We are told that after sufficient practice we shall see there a variety of pictures – the most beautiful landscapes, the most gorgeous palaces of the world, and men, women and children in all the varying aspects of life. How is such a thing possible? What do we learn by this practical lesson in the science of attention?
I think I have described with sufficient explicitness in the essays, the ocean of prana with the sun for its center, and have given a hint sufficiently suggestive of the nature of the macrocosmic mental and psychic atmospheres. It is of the essential nature of these atmospheres that every point therein forms a center of action and reaction for the whole ocean. From what has already been said, it will be plain that each of these atmospheres has a limit of its own. The terrestrial atmosphere extends only to a few miles, and the external boundary line of this sphere must, it will be readily understood, give it the appearance of an orange, just like that of the earth. The case is the same with the solar prana, and the higher atmospheres. To begin with the terrestrial Prana, which has the measured limits of our atmosphere. Every little atom of our earth, and the most perfect organisms, as well as the most imperfect, makes a center of action and reaction for the tatwic currents of terrestrial Prana. The prana has the capability of being thrown into the shape of every organism or, to use a different language, the rays of prana as they fall upon every organism are returned from that organism according to the well-known laws of reflection. These rays, as is again well known, carry within themselves our pictures. Bearing these within them, they go up to the limit of the terrestrial prana noted above. It will be easy to conceive that within the imaginary sphere that surrounds our terrestrial prana, we now have a magnified picture of our central organism. Not one organism only, but all the smallest points, the most imperfect beginnings of organized life, as well as the most perfect organisms – all are pictured in this imaginary sphere. It is a magnificent picture-gallery; all that is seen or heard, touched, tasted or smelled on the face of the earth has a glorious and magnified picture there. At the limit of this terrestrial prana, the picture-forming tatwic rays exercise a double function.
Firstly they throw the sympathetic tatwic chords of the solar prana into similar motion. That is to say, these pictures are now consigned to the solar prana, from whence in due course they reach step by step to the universal intelligence itself.
Secondly, these rays react upon themselves, and turning back from the limiting sphere, are again reflected back to the center.
It is these pictures that the attentive mind sees in its noonday gaze into vacancy, and it is these pictures, seen in this mysterious way, that give us the finest food for our imagination and intellect, and supply us with a far-reaching clue to the nature and working of the laws that govern the life of the macrocosm and the microcosm. For these pictures tell us that the smallest of our actions, on whatever plane of our existence, actions that may be so insignificant to us as to pass unnoticed even by ourselves, are destined to receive an everlasting record, as the effect of the past and the cause of the future. These pictures again tell us of the existence of the five universal tatwas that play so important a part in the universe. It is these pictures that lead us to the discovery of the manifold constitution of man and the universe, and of those powers of the mind that have not yet received recognition at the hands of the official science of the day.
That these truths have found place in the Upanishad may be seen from the following quotation from the Ishopnishat, mantra 4:
“The Atma does not move: is one: is faster than the mind: the senses reach it not: as it is the foremost in motion. It goes beyond the others in rapid motion while itself at rest, in it the Recorder preserves the actions.”
In the above quotation it is the word Matarishwa that I translate “Recorder”. Ordinarily the word is translated as air, and so far as I know, the word has never been understood clearly in the sense of the “Recorder”. My view, therefore, may be further explained with advantage.
The word is a compound of the words matari and swah. The word matari is the locative case of matri which ordinarily means mother, but which is rendered here as space, as the substratum of distance, from the root ma, to measure. The second word of the compound means the breather, coming as it does from the root Swas, to breathe. Hence the compound means “he who breathes in space”. In explaining this word the commentator Sankaracharya goes on to say:
“The word ‘Matarishwa’, which has been derived as above, means the Vayu [the mover] which carries in it all the manifestations of prana, which is action itself, that which is the substratum of all the groups of causes and effects, and in which all the causes and effects are held like beads in a thread, that which is given the name of sutra [the thread] inasmuch as it holds in itself the whole of the world.”
It is further said that the “actions” in the above quotation which this matarishwa holds in itself are all the movements of the individualized prana, as well as the actions of heating, lighting, ruining, etc., of the macrocosmic powers known as Agni, etc.
Now such a thing can by no means be the atmospheric air. It is evidently that phase of prana which acts as carrying the pictures of all actions, all motions from every point of space to every other point and to the limits of the surya mandala. This phase of prana is nothing more or less than the Recorder. It holds in itself forever and ever all the causes and effects, the antecedents and consequents of this world of ours.
It is action itself. This means that all action is a change of phase of prana.
It is said in the above quotation that this Recorder lives in the atma. Inasmuch as the atma exists, this Power always performs its function. The prana draws its life itself from the atma, and accordingly we find a similarity between the dualities of the two. It is said of the atma in the above extract that it does not move, and yet it moves faster than the mind. These appear to be contradictory qualities at first sigh, and it is such qualities that make the ordinary God of commonplace theologians the absurd being he always looks to be. Let us, however, apply these qualities to prana, and once understood on this plane, they will be quite as clearly understood on the highest plane, the atma. It has been said more than once that from every point of the ocean of prana the tatwic rays fly in every direction, to every point within the surya mandala. Thus the ocean of prana is in eternal motion. For all this, however, does one point of this ocean ever change its place? Of course not. Thus while every point keeps its place, every point at the same time goes and shows itself in every other point.
It is the same simple way that the all-pervading atma is in eternal motion and yet always at rest.
The case is similar with all the planes of life; all our actions, all our thoughts, all our aspirations, receive an everlasting record in the books of Matarishwa.
I must now notice these pictures in a little more detail. The science of photography tells us that under certain conditions the visual pictures can be caught on the plane of the sensitive film. But how can we account for the reading of letters at a distance of 40 miles or more? Such phenomena are a matter of personal experience to me. Very recently, while sitting abstracted, or it may be in a kind of dream, about 4 o’clock in the morning, I read a postcard written by a friend to a friend about me, the very same night, at a distance of almost 30 miles. One more thing must be noticed here, I think. Almost half the card spoke about me, and the rest referred to other matters that might have a passing interest for me, but could not be engrossing. Now this rest of the card did not come before my eyes very clearly, and I felt that with all my effort I could not even keep my eye upon those lines or a sufficiently long time to understand them, but was irresistibly drawn towards the paragraph that spoke of me, and which I could read very clearly. Four days after this, the addressee showed it to me; it was exactly the same, sentence by sentence (so far as I could remember), as I had seen before. I mention this phenomenon in particular, as in it the various prerequisites for the production of these phenomena are clearly defined. We learn from an analysis of this incident the following facts:
- When he was writing, the writer of the card meant that I should read the card, and especially the paragraph that concerned me.
- I was very anxious to know the news about me that the card contained.
- In the frame of mind mentioned above my friend wrote the card. What happened? The picture of his thoughts on the card, both on the physical and the mental plane, flew in every direction along the tatwic rays of the macrocosmic prana and mind. A picture was immediately made on the macrocosmic spheres, and from thence it bent its rays towards the destination of the postcard. No doubt all minds in the earth received a shock of this current of thought at the same time. But my mind alone was sensitive to the card and the news it contained. It was, therefore, on my mind alone that any impression was made. The rays were, as it were, refracted into my mind, and the result described above followed.
It follows from this illustration that in order to receive the pictorial rays of the prana we must have a mind in a state of sympathy, and not of antipathy; that is to say, a mind free from all action or intense feeling for the time being is the fittest receptacle for the pictorial representations of the cosmos, and so for a correct knowledge of the past and the future. And if we have an intense desire to know the thing, so much the better for us. It is in this way that the divine occultist reads the records of the past in the book of nature, and it is on this road that the beginner of this science must walk according to the direction of our Guru.
It must be understood that everything in every aspect that has been or is being n our planet has a legible record in the book of nature, and the tatwic rays of the prana and the mind are constantly bringing the outlines of these pictures back to us. It is to a great extent due to this that the past never leaves us, but always lives within us, although many of its most magnificent monuments have been forever effaced from the face of our planet for the ordinary gaze. These returning rays are always inclined toward the center that originally gave them birth. In the case of the mineral surroundings of terrestrial phenomena these centers are preserved intact for ages upon ages, and it is quite possible for any sensitive mind, at any time, to turn these rays towards itself by coming into contact with any material remains of historic phenomena. A stone unearthed at Pompeii is pictured as part of the great event that destroyed the city, and the rays of that picture naturally are inclined towards that piece of stone. If Mrs. Denton puts the stone to her forehead, a sympathetic and receptive condition is the only pre-requisite for the transference of the whole picture to her mind. This sympathetic state of mind may be natural to a person, or it may be acquired. It may be mentioned that what we are in the habit of calling natural powers are really acquired, but they have been acquired in previous incarnations. Shiva says:
“There are some to whom the tatwas become known, when the mind is purified by habituation, either by the acquired velocity of other births or by the kindness of the Guru.”
It seems that two pieces of granite, the same to all intents and purposes externally, may have an entirely different tatwic color, for the color of a thing depends to a very great extent upon its tatwic surrounding. It is this occult color that constitutes the real soul of things, although the reader must by this time know that the Sanskrit word prana is more appropriate.
It is no myth to say that the practiced yogi might bring the picture of any part of the world, past or present, before his mind’s eye with a single effort of his will. And not only visual pictures, as our illustration might lead the reader to think. The preservation and formation of visual pictures is only the work of the luminiferous ether, the taijas tatwa. The other tatwas perform their functions as well. The akasa or soniferous ether preserves all the sounds that have ever been heard or are being heard on earth, and similarly the remaining three other preserve the records of the remaining sensations. We see, therefore, that combining all these pictures, a yogi in contemplation might have before his mind’s eye any man at any distance whatsoever and might hear his voice also. Glyndon, in Italy, seeing and hearing the conversation of Viola and Zanoni in their distant home, is therefore not merely a dream of the poet; it is a scientific reality. The only thing necessary is to have a sympathetic mind. The phenomena of mental telepathy, psychometry, clairvoyance and clairaudience, are all phases of this tatwic action. Once understood, it is all a very simple affair. It may be useful in this place to offer some reflections as to how these pictorial representations of a man’s present go to shape his future. I shall first attempt to show how complete the record is. At the outset I may remind the reader of what I have said about the tatwic color of everything. It is this that gives individuality even to a piece of stone.
This pictorial whole is only the cosmic counterpart of the individual prana maya kosha (the coil of life). It is possible that anyone who may not have thoroughly understood the manner of the storing up of tatwic energy in the individual prana may more easily comprehend the phenomena in its cosmic counterpart. In fact, the macrocosmic and microcosmic phenomena are both links of the same chain, and both will conduce to the thorough understanding of the whole. Suppose a man stands on a mountain, with the finest prospect of nature stretched out before his eyes. As he stands there contemplating this wealth of beauty, his picture in this posture is at once made in the ecliptic. Not only is his external; appearance pictured, but the hue of is life receives the fullest representation. If the agni tatwa prevails in him at that moment, if there is the light of satisfaction in his face, if the look in his eyes is calm, collected and pleasant, if he is so much absorbed in the gaze as to forget everything else, tatwas separate or in composite will do their duty, and all the satisfaction, calmness, pleasure, attention or inattention will be represented to the finest degree in the sphere of the ecliptic. If he walks or runs, comes down or jumps up or forward, the tatwic rays of prana picture the generating and the generated colors with the utmost faithfulness in the same retentive sphere.
A man stands with a weapon in his hand, with the look of cruelty in his eye, with the glow of inhumanity in his veins, his victim, man or animal, helpless or struggling before him. The whole phenomenon is instantly recorded. There stands the murderer and the victim in their truest possible colors, there is the solitary room or the jungle, the dirty shed or the filthy slaughterhouse; all are there as surely and certainly as they are in the eye of the murderer r the victim himself.
Let us again change the scene. We have a liar before us. He tells a lie, and thereby injures some brother man. No sooner is the word uttered than the akasa sets to work with all possible activity. There we have the most faithful representation. The liar is there from the reflection that the thought if the injured person throws into the individual prana; there is the injured man also. The words are there with all the energy of the contemplated wrong. And if that contemplated wrong is completed, there is also the change for the worse that his mendacity has produced in the victim. There is nothing of the surroundings, the antecedent and the consequent postures – the causes and effects – that is not represented there.
The scene changes, and we come to a thief. Let the night be as dark as it may, let the thief be a circumspect and wary as he can; our picture is there with all its colors well defined, though perhaps not so prominent. The time, the house, the wall, the sleeping and injured inmates, the stolen property, the subsequent day, the sorrowful householders, with all the antecedent and consequent postures, are pictured. And this is not only for the murderer, the thief, or the liar, but for the adulterer, the forger, the villain who thinks his crime is hidden from every human eye. Their deeds, like all deeds that have ever been done, are vividly, clearly, exactly recorded in nature’s picture gallery. Instances might be multiplied, but it is unnecessary. What has been said is sufficient to explain the principle, and the application is useful and not very difficult. But now we must bring our pictures back from our gallery.
We have seen that time and space and all the possible factors of a phenomenon receive an accurate representation there, and these tatwic rays are united to the time that saw them leaving their record on the plane of our pictorial region. When, in the course of ages, the same Time throws its shade again upon the earth, the pictorial rays, stored up long since, energize man-producing matter, and shape it according to their own potential energy, which now begins to become active. It will be readily conceded that the sun dives life to the earth – to men as well as to vegetables and minerals. Solar life takes human shape in the womb of the mother, and this is only an infusion of some one set of our pictorial rays into the sympathetic life that already shows itself on our planet. These rays thus produce for themselves a gross human body in the womb of the mother, and then having the now somewhat different and differing maternal body, start on their terrestrial journey. As time advances, the pictorial representation changes it tatwic postures, and with it the gross body does the same.
In the case of the rebirth of the man we saw gazing on the mountains, the calm, watchful, contented attitude of the mind that he cultivated then has its influence upon the organism now, and once more the man enjoys the beauty of nature and so is pleased and happy.
But now take the case of the cruel murderer. He is by nature cruel, and he still yearns to murder and destroy, and he could not be restrained from his horrible practices; but the picture of the ebbing life of his victim is now part and parcel of his constitution, the pain, the terror, and the feeling of despair and helplessness are there in all their strength. Occasionally he feels as if the blood of life were leaving his very veins. There is no apparent cause, and yet he suffers pain; he is subject to unaccountable fits of terror, despair and helplessness. His life is miserable; slowly but surely it wanes away.
Let the curtain fall on this stage. The incarnated thief now comes on the stage. His friends leave him one by one or he is driven away from them. The picture of the lonely house must assert its power over him. He is doomed to a lonely house. The picture of somebody coming into the house through some unfrequented part and stealing some of his property, makes its appearance with the fullest strength. The man is doomed to eternal cowardice. He draws towards himself the same grief and heart-rending that he caused to others long ago. This posture of heart-rending grief has its influence upon him in the ordinary way, and it creates its surrounding under the same influence.
These illustrations are sufficient to explain the law according to which these cosmic pictures govern our future lives. Whatever other sins may be committed under the innumerable circumstance of life, their tatwic effects can be traced easily through the pictorial representations of the cosmos.
It is not difficult to understand that the picture of each individual organism upon the face of the earth is pictured in prana, and it is these pictures, in my opinion, that correspond to the ideas of Plato on the highest plane of existence. A very interesting question arises at this point. Are these pictures of eternal existence, or do they only come into existence after formations have taken place on the terrestrial plane? Ex nihilo nihil fit is a well-known doctrine of philosophy, and I hold with Vyasa that the representations (what we now call pictures) of all objects in their generic, specific, and individual capacities have been existing forever in the universal mind. Swara, or what may be called the Breath of God, the Breath of Life, is nothing more or less than abstract intelligence, as has been explained, or intelligent motion, if such an expression is better understood. Our book says:
“In the swara are pictured, or represented, the Vedas and the Sastras, in the swara the highest Gandharvas, and in the swara all the three worlds; the swara is atma itself.”
It is not necessary to enter more thoroughly into a discussion of this problem; the suggestion is sufficient. It might be said, however, that all formation in progress on the face of our planet is the assuming by everything under the influence of solar ideas of the shape of these ideas. The process is quite similar to the process of wet earth taking impressions of anything that is pressed upon it. The idea of anything is its soul.
Human souls (prana maya kosha) exist in this sphere just like the souls of other things, and are affected in that home of theirs by terrestrial experience in the manner mentioned above.
In the course of ages, these ideas make their appearance in the physical plane again and again, according to the laws hinted at previously.
I have also said that these pictures have their counterparts in the mental and the higher atmospheres. Now it might be said that just as these solar pictures recur again and again, there are times at which these mental pictures also recur. The ordinary deaths known to us are terrestrial deaths. This means to say that the influence of the solar pictures is withdrawn for some time from the earth. After some time, the duration depending upon the colors of the picture, they throw their influence again upon the earth, and we have terrestrial rebirth. We may die any number of terrestrial deaths, and yet our solar life might not be extinct.
But men of the present manwantara might die solar deaths under certain circumstances. Then they pass out of the influence of the sun and are born again only in the region of the second Manu. Men who now die solar deaths will remain in the state of bliss all through the present manwantara. Their rebirth might also be delayed for more than one manwantara. All these pictures remain in the bosom of Manu during the manwantarapralaya. In the same way, men might undergo higher deaths, and pass their time in a state of even higher and more enduring bliss. The mental coil may be broken, too, just as the gross, the terrestrial, and the solar might be, and then the blessed soul remains in bliss and unborn until the dawn of the second day of Brahma. Higher still and longer still is the state that follows Brahmic death. Then the spirit is at rest for the remaining Kalpa and the Mahapralaya that follows. After this it will be easy to understand the meaning of the Hindu doctrine, that during the night of Brahma the human soul and the whole of the universe is hidden in the bosom of Brahma like the tree in the seed.