The Rosicrucians hold as a very important part of the teaching the occult doctrine of Metempsychosis, Reincarnation, or Transmigration of Souls, the essence of which doctrine is the survival of the individual soul after it passes from the physical body in death, and its reembodiment in a physical body by rebirth after a sojourn in the resting place of the souls. The doctrine of Metempsychosis is one of the oldest of the human race. Traces of the teaching are found in the records of practically every one of the ancient races in all parts of the globe. In one form or another it has existed in the esoteric circles to be found at the heart of each of the world’s great religions, including Christianity. It has always been a cardinal doctrine in the religions of the Orient, and during the past twenty-five years has attained a wonderful revival of popularity among the thinkers of the Occident.
The Rosicrucians’ teachings hold that the Evolution of Man has been accomplished not alone by the general evolutionary trend of the race by which it moves forward from generation to generation, but also by the advance and ascent caused by the improvement in the reincarnating individual soul, each step of rebirth tending upward and onward. As a writer has said: “The teachings hold that Evolution is caused by the soul striving, struggling, and pressing forward toward fuller and still fuller expression, using Matter as a material, and yet always struggling to free itself from the confining and retarding influence of the latter.
The struggle results in an unfoldment, causing sheath after sheath of the confining material bonds to be thrown off and discarded, as the spirit moulds matter to serve its higher purposes. Evolution is but the process of birth of the imprisoned spirit, unfolding and extricating itself from the web of matter in which it has been involved and infolded. And the pains and struggles are but incidents of the spiritual parturition.” The Rosicrucians have no special, distinctive theories concerning Metempsychosis, but, on the contrary, accept the general teaching of the ancient occultists concerning reembodiment of the soul.
They regard re-birth as just as natural as birth, and consider that the race has at its disposal a vast volume of actual experiences of individuals which conclusively proves the truth of the doctrine. In fact, the Rosicrucian teachers make no attempt to argue the question with the student; but, rather, present the teaching as it comes to them, backed up by the wealth of authority on the part of the ancient schools, and fortified by the innumerable personal recollections on the part of individuals in most cases the student himself has an intuition of the truth of the doctrine, in the first place, and often has a greater or less degree of recollection of his former lives on earth. Metempsychosis has always been the accepted belief of many of the most intelligent members of the ace. It is found to have been the inner doctrine of the ancient Egyptians, and was held in the highest regard by the great thinkers of the ancient Western world, such as Pythagoras, Empedocles, Plato, Virgil, and Ovid. Plato ‘s teachings were filled with the doctrine.
The Hindu philosophies are based upon it. The Persian Magi held implicitly to it. The ancient Druids, and the Priests of Gaul taught it. Traces of the doctrine are found in the records of the ancient races of the Aztecs, the Peruvians, and other old peoples of the New World. The Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece, the Roman Mysteries of the Temple, the Inner Doctrines of the Kabbala of the Hebrews, all were based upon the doctrine of Metempsychosis. The early Christian Fathers, the Gnostics and Manicheans and other early Christian sects, believed in it. The great philosophers, ancient and modern, treated it with respect if indeed they did not fully accept it in many cases.
The following quotations from modern authorities give an idea of the importance attached to the doctrine by modern thinkers: Hedge says: “Of all the theories respecting the origin of the soul, Metempsychosis seems to me the most plausible and therefore the one most likely to throw light on the question of the life to come.” James Freeman Clarke says: “It would be curious if we would find science and philosophy taking up again the old theory of metempsychosis, remodeling it to suit our present modes of religious and scientific thought, and launching it again on the wide ocean of human belief. But stranger things have happened in the history of human opinions.” Professor Knight says: “If we could legitimately determine any question of belief by the number of its adherents, the decision would be in favor of metempsychosis rather than to any other. I think it is quite as likely to be revived and to come to the front as any rival theory.”
Professor Bowen says: “It seems to me, a firm and well-grounded faith in the doctrine of Christian metempsychosis might help to regenerate the world. For it would be a faith not hedged around with many of the difficulties and objections which beset other forms of doctrines, and it offers distinct and pungent motives for trying to lead a more Christian life, and for loving and helping our brother man. The doctrine of Metempsychosis may almost claim to be a natural or innate belief in the human mind, if we may judge from its wide diffusion among the nations of the earth, and its prevalence throughout the historical ages.” E. D. Walker says: “When Christianity first swept over Europe, the inner thought of its leaders was deeply tinctured with this truth. The Church tried effectually to eradicate it, but in various sects it kept sprouting forth beyond the time of Erigina and Bonaventura, its mediaeval advocates. Every great intuitional soul, as Paracelsus, Boehme, and Swedenborg, has adhered to it. The Italian luminaries, Giordano Bruno and Campanella, embraced it. The best of German philosophy is enriched by it.
In Schopenhauer, Lessing, and Fichte the younger, it is earnestly advocated. The anthropological systems of Kant and Schelling furnish points of contact with it. The younger Helmont adduces in two hundred problems all the arguments which may be urged in favor of the return of souls into human bodies, according to Jewish ideas. Of English thinkers, the Cambridge Platonists defended it with much learning and acuteness, most conspicuously Henry More; and in Cudsworth and Hume it ranks as the most rational theory of immortality. Glanvil devotes a curious treatise to it. It captivated the minds of Fourier and Leroux. Andre Pezzani’s book on the Plurality of the Soul’s Lives works out the system on the Roman Catholic idea of expiation.” But, better than all the opinions and shades of belief found among the great writers and teachers concerning this important subject, is the inner conviction of all souls which have reached a certain stage of spiritual enfoldment the conviction that “I have lived before.”
Such a conviction and intuitive belief based upon the reawakening of dim memories, is worth more to an individual than tons of printed opinions on the subject. A writer has said on this point: “Who has not experienced the consciousness of having felt the thing before of having thought it at some time in the dim past? Who has not witnessed new scenes that appear old, very old? Who has not met persons for the first time, whose presence has awakened memories of a past lying far back in the misty ages of long ago? Who has not been seized at times with the consciousness of a mighty ‘oldness’ of soul? Who has not heard music, often entirely new compositions, which somehow awakened memories of similar strains, scenes, places, faces, voices, lands, associations and events, sounding dimly on the strings of memory as the breezes of the harmony float over them? Who has not gazed at some old painting, or piece of statuary, with the sense of having seen it all before? Who has not lived through events which brought with them a certainty of their being merely a repetition of some shadowy occurrences away back in lives lived long ago? Who has not felt the influence of the mountain, the sea, the desert, coming to them when they are far away from such scenes coming so vividly as to cause the actual scene of the present to fade into comparative unreality? Who has not had these experiences P”
Sir Walter Scott once made the following observation in his diary: “I cannot, I am sure, tell if it is worth marking down, that yesterday, at dinner time, I was strangely haunted by what I would call the sense of preexistence, viz.: a confused idea that nothing that passed was said for the first time; that the same topics had been discussed and the same persons had stated the same opinions on them. The sensation was so strong as to resemble what is called a mirage in the desert, and a calenture on board ship. Why is it that some scenes awaken thoughts which belong as it were to dreams of early and shadowy recollections, such as the old Brahmins would have ascribed to a state of previous existence? How often do we find ourselves in society which we have never before met, and yet feel impressed with a mysterious and ill-defined consciousness that neither the scene nor the speakers nor the subject are entirely new; nay, feel as if we could anticipate that part of the conversation which has not yet taken place.”
Bulwer says: “There is a strange kind of inner and spiritual memory which so often recalls to us places and persons we have never seen before, and which Platonists would resolve to be the unquenched consciousness of a former life. How strange is it that at times a feeling comes over us as we gaze upon certain places, which associates the scene either with some dim remembered and dreamlike images of the Past, or with a prophetic and fearful omen of the Future. Everyone has known a similar strange and indistinct feeling at certain times and places, and with a similar inability to trace the cause.”
Poe says: “We walk about, amid the destinies of our world existence, accompanied by dim but ever present memories of a Destiny more vast very distant in the by-gone time and infinitely awful. We live out a youth peculiarly haunted by such dreams, yet never mistaking them for dreams. As memories we know them. During our youth the distinctness is too clear to deceive us even for a moment; but the doubt of manhood dispels them as illusions.” Charles Dickens once wrote: “In the foreground was a group of silent peasant girls, leaning upon the parapet of the little bridge, looking now up at the sky, now down at the water; in the distance a deep dell; the shadow of an approaching night on everything. If I had been murdered there in some former life I could not have seemed to remember the place more thoroughly, or with more emphatic chilling of the blood; and the real remembrance of it acquired in that minute is so strengthened by the imaginary recollection that I hardly think I could forget it.” If evidence of the truth of Metempsychosis other than personal intuition and glimpses of memory of past lives were needed, we would find such evidence in the phenomena of the infant prodigies, and cases of childhood genius, instance of which abound on all sides.
Children at a very early age manifest evidences of a deep knowledge of mathematics, music, art, etc., even in cases where the explanation of heredity fails to fit the case. The case of Mozart gives us a typical case of this kind. The child, Mozart, at the age of four was able not only to perform difficult pieces of music on the piano, but also to compose original works of merit. Not only did he manifest he highest faculty of sound and note, but also an instinctive ability to compose and arrange music, which ability was far superior to that of many men who had devoted years of their life to the study and practice of music. The laws of harmony, the science of commingling tones, was to this wonderful child not the work of years, but a faculty born in him. Another marked case is that of Zerah Colburn, the mathematical prodigy, whose feats attracted the attention of the scientific world during the last century.
In this case, the child under eight years of age, without any previous knowledge of even the common rules of arithmetic, or even of the use and powers of the Arabic numerals, solved a great variety of arithmetical problems by a simple operation of the mind, and without the use of any visible symbols or contrivances. He could answer readily a question involving the statement of the exact number of minutes or seconds in any given period of time. He could also state with equal facility the exact product of the multiplication of any number containing two, three, or four figures by another number consisting of a like number of figures. He could state almost instantly all the factors composing a number of six or seven places of figures. He could likewise determine instantly questions concerning the extraction of the square and cube roots of any number proposed, and likewise whether it was a prime number incapable of division by any other number, for which there is no known general rule among mathematicians.
Asked such questions in the midst of his ordinary childish play, he would answer them almost instantly and then proceed with his play. This child once undertook and completely succeeded in raising the number 8 progressively up to the sixteenth power in naming the result, 281,474,976,710,656 he was absolutely correct in every figure. He could raise any given number progressively up to the 10th power, with so much speed that the person putting down the figures on paper would frequently request him to manifest less speed. He gave instantly the square root of 106,929, and the cube root of 268,336,125.
He could give the prime factors of very large numbers, and could detect large prime numbers instantly. Once asked how many minutes there were in forty-eight years, and before the question could be written down he answered “25,228,800”, adding “and the number of seconds in such period is 1,513,728,000.” The child, when questioned concerning his ability to give such answers, and to solve such difficult problems, was unable to give such information. He could say that he did not know how the answer came into his mind, but it was evident from watching him that some actual process was under way in his mind, and that there was no question of mere trick of memory in his feats. Moreover, it is important to note that he was totally ignorant of even the common rules of arithmetic, and could not “figure” on slate or paper even the simplest sum in addition or multiplication. It is interesting to note the sequel to this case, i.e., the fact that when a few years later the child was sent to the common schools and was there instructed in the art of written arithmetic, his power began to vanish, and eventually it left him altogether, and he became no more than any other child of his age.
It seemed as if some door of his soul had been closed, while before it had stood ajar. The Rosicrucians teach that the human soul is on the path of progress, learning the lessons of life and experience, life after life, and storing away the essence of these impressions which go to form the basis of the “character” of the individual when he is reborn. The rebirth, or the conditions thereof, are not forced upon the individual soul, according to the Rosicrucian teachings, but, on the contrary the individual soul is attracted toward rebirth by reason of the presence of certain desires in its character or rather, by reason of the essence of its desires. It is reborn into certain environments solely because it has within itself certain unsatisfied desires which could be satisfied only in just those environments.
The operation of the Law of Attraction is justly regular here as in the attraction of the atoms of matter. Each soul contains within itself the attracting force of certain sets of desires, and this force attracts to the soul certain conditions and experiences and also attracts such experiences and conditions to the soul. There is no element of punishment, or of injustice, in the operation of this law, for it gives to each soul just what the soul requires to meet its indwelling unsatisfied desires, or else the conditions and experiences which will serve to burn out of the soul certain desires which are holding it back in its progress, the destruction of which will make possible future advancement. The Rosicrucians teach that the individuals of any sub-race who have outstripped their fellows in spiritual unfoldment, are still bound by race ties to their brothers left behind that is, up to a certain point. In many cases such individuals are compelled until the great body of the sub-race moves up to the position of the individual.
But such individuals are not compelled to undergo a needless repetition of births and rebirths during this waiting period, but, instead, they spend the period on some exalted plane on which they come in contact with advanced souls and higher beings who act as their teachers. In some cases these advanced individuals consent to return to earth-life as great teachers, in order to aid in the general progress of the sub-race. The teaching is that among us today many of such advanced and self-sacrificing souls are dwelling, aiding in the general uplift. The Rosicrucian teachings concerning the value of experiences in each earth-life are well illustrated by the following quotation from a leading writer, who says: “Many object to the doctrine of Re-Birth on the ground that the experiences of each life, not being remembered, must be useless and without value. This is an erroneous view of the subject, for while such experiences may not be fully remembered, yet they are not lost to us at all, but really form a part of the material of which our minds are composed.
They exist in essence in the form of feelings, characteristics, inclinations, likes and dislikes, affinities, attractions, repulsions, etc., and are in this form just as much in evidence in our lives as are the experiences of yesterday which are well remembered. Look back over the years of your present life, and try to recall the experiences of one year ago, five years ago, ten years, twenty years, thirty years, and as much further back as you care to go. You will find that you can remember but few of the events of your life. The experiences of most of the days in which you have lived have been almost completely forgotten. Though these experiences may have seemed very vivid and real to you when they occurred, still they have faded into nothingness now, and they are to all intents and purposes lost to you. But they are not lost!
Remember, you are what you are today by reason of these very experiences which you now fail to remember they exist in your character and have helped to mould and shape it. The apparently forgotten pains, pleasures, sorrows, and happinesses are active factors in the formation and maintenance of your character of today. This trial strengthened you along certain lines; that one changed your point of view and made you see things with a broader vision. This grief caused you to feel the pain of others; that disappointment spurred you on to new endeavors. And each and every one of them left a permanent mark upon your personality upon your character.
All men and women are what they are by reason of what they have gone through have lived out and outlived. And though these happenings, scenes, circumstances, occurrences, experiences, have faded from the memory, their effects are indelibly imprinted upon the fabric of the character, and the individual of today is different from what he would have been had the happenings or experience not entered into his life. “And this same rule applies to the characteristics brought over from past incarnations. You have not the memory of the experiences, but you have the fruit in the shape of characteristics, tastes, inclinations, etc. You have a tendency toward certain things, and a distaste for others. Certain things attract you, while other things repel you. All of these things are the result of your experiences in former incarnations.
Your very tastes and inclination toward the study of the occult which are now causing you to read these lines, they are your legacy from some former life in which some seed-thoughts of esoteric teaching were dropped into your thought by some teacher or friend, and then aroused your interest and attracted your attention. You learned some little about the subject then perhaps much and developed a desire for more knowledge along these lines, which, manifesting in your present life has again brought you in contact with similar reachings. The same inclination will lead to further advancement along these lines in this life, and still greater opportunities in future incarnations. Nearly everyone who reads these lines will feel that much of the occult teaching now being received is but a re-learning’ of something previously known, although many of the things now taught have never been heard before in this life.
You pick up a book and read something, and know at once that it is so, because in some vague way you have the consciousness of having studied and worked out the problem in some past life. All this is in accordance with the Law of Attraction which has caused you to attract that toward you for which you have an affinity, and which also causes others to be attracted to you. In the same way, and from the same cause, are the many reunions in this life of persons who have been related to each other in previous lives. The old loves, the old hates, work out in the new lives. We are bound to those whom we have loved, and also to those whom we have injured. The story must be worked out to the last chapter, although an increasing knowledge of the ‘why and wherefore’ of such things may relieve one of many entangling attachments and relationships of this kind.”
The Life After Death
The body of the Rosicrucian teachings includes very close and detailed instruction concerning the life of the soul between incarnations, the phenomena of the Astral World, and similar subjects, which would require many large books to record. In the present chapter we shall attempt to present to the student a general idea of the teachings concerning such subjects, without going into details which cannot be presented at the present time in the space at our command. The moment of “death” arriving for the person, the soul sloughs off the ordinary physical body, and clad in the garments of the Elemental Soul it leaves the scene of the physical body. At first, however, the separation is not complete, for the Elemental Soul is still attached to the physical body by a thin slender thread or cord, which finally breaks and allows the soul to proceed on its way.
The garments of the Elemental Soul are of course, in a sense, “physical” just as truly as were the garments of the visible body which were just cast off by the soul. In these new garments, however, the person is invisible to the ordinary sight of men, and except in the case of clairvoyants its presence cannot be detected. The disembodied soul passes then on to what occultists know as the Astral Plane, which however is not a place in any sense of the word, but is rather “a state or condition of being” having nothing to do with space limitations. The Astral Plane manifests its phenomena by means of a higher rate of vibrations than those concerned in the phenomena of the Earth Plane. Different planes of being may occupy the same space at the same time without interfering one with the other. Reaching the vibrations of the Astral Plane, the Newly disembodied soul falls into a deep sleep, or state of coma, resembling the condition of the unborn child for several months before its birth.
This condition is necessary in order to prepare the soul for its life on the new plane. The soul which has left the earth scene with calmness and peaceful mental attitude soon drops into a dreamless slumber; but those whose minds have been filled with strong desires connected with earth life often experience what are called “astral dreams” in which they revisit the scenes of earth life, and if possible may indulge in more or less distorted and dreamy communications through “mediums” and others. The strong desires and grief on the part of those left behind on the earth scenes, also, sometimes act to set up a “rapport” condition, and thus disturb the sleeping soul and interfere with its needed preparatory rest. In this slumber state the disembodied soul is fully protected from the influence or presence of other beings, and is as secure as is the child in its mother’s womb. Some souls require a long period of soul sleep on the Astral Plane before awakening into new activities, while others require only a comparatively short time.
The general rule is that the higher the spiritual development of the soul, the longer is its period of soul sleep. The period of soul-sleep bears a close relation to the period of the sojourn of the soul on the Astral Plane the less developed souls rushing speedily to rebirth while the more developed ones spend a much longer time on the Astral Plane between births. In the soul sleep a strange process occurs, namely, the preparation for the sloughing off of the lower sheaths of the soul, leaving it free to enter the life on the Astral Plane clad only in the garments of its highest stage of spiritual attainment reached by it. Each soul awakens on the Astral Plane prepared to dwell on the plane of its highest and best, leaving the rest behind it.
It awakens on the plane in which the highest and best in itself is given a chance to develop and expand, and to make progress, for the soul may, and does, make great progress in these between-births sojourns on the Astral Plane. On the Astral Plane there are countless subplanes, and divisions thereof, all of which are more or less independent of each other. The distinctions between the planes are altogether the result of differences on the rate of vibrations, and do not represent distances in space. Each sub-plane or division thereof is inhabited by souls exactly fitted to dwell upon it, by reason of their respective degree of spiritual enfoldment. The great law of attraction operates in producing this result, and each soul “feels perfectly at home” on the plane in which it finds itself. The law works with unerring accuracy, and makes no mistakes. By certain fixed natural laws each soul is restricted to the realms of its own sub-plane or division of the Astral Plane, except that it may, if it desires, visit the planes beneath its own but it cannot visit those higher than its own.
The law of vibrations acts as the astral policemen in these matters. Disembodied souls may thus communicate with and have converse and association with each other, but only by the higher soul visiting the lower, and never the reverse. The “scenery” and environment of the various sub-planes of the Astral Plane correspond with the ideas and beliefs of the souls occupying them. The Indian may find his “happy hunting ground” much more truly than some people would have us think. The thoughts and ideals of the soul is reflected upon the receptive substance of the Astral Plane, and each soul, in a certain sense, is the creator of its own environment and world by its thought forms it builds itself a congenial world. The soul makes progress during its sojourn on the Astral Plane, and prepares itself for a better and happier environment upon rebirth.
During that sojourn it assimilates and digests the experiences of its last earth life, and learns the true lessons of such experiences, and these are reflected in the new character which it is forming. Past mistakes are seen, and the true meaning of many puzzling experiences are perceived. The soul thus “takes stock” of itself and is better prepared to meet the conditions of its next earth life. On the Astral Plane the soul also receives the aid and assistance of some of the great spiritual teachers of the race, whose chosen occupation is to administer to the wants of the pained and suffering souls who are striving to find the way out of their troubles and mistakes. Not only do these teachers administer to the strictly spiritual wants of the souls seeking their help, but in many cases the soul is given the advantage of great assistance in chosen occupations, such as art, science, music, invention, etc., from advanced congenial souls ready and willing to help strugglers on the path.
Many an artist, musician, writer, or inventory has come into rebirth greatly benefited and improved by reason of contact with such helpers of the Astral Plane. Finally, after the longer or short period of sojourn of the soul upon the Astral Plane the duration of which depends upon the degree of spiritual development of the soul there comes to it the first dawn of a new state or condition, known to occultists as “the second soul-sleep,” or slumber, in which the soul is prepared for its new birth on earth which is coming to it.
A writer has well described this state as follows: “The second soul-sleep is preceded by a transition state of gradually declining activity and consciousness, and a corresponding desire for rest on the part of the soul. The natural processes of the Astral Plane nearing their close, the soul begins to experience a feeling of lassitude and weariness, and instinctively longs for rest and repose. It finds that it has lived out the greater part of its desires, ambitions, and ideals, and in many cases has also outlived them. There comes to it a wistful feeling of having fulfilled the purpose of its destiny, and a premonition of the coming of some newer phase of existence.
The soul does not feel pain at the approach of the second soul-sleep, but, on the contrary, experiences satisfaction and happiness at the coming of something which promises rest and recuperation. Like the weary traveller who has climbed the mountain paths, and has delighted in the experiences of the journey, the soul feels that it has well earned a restful repose, and, like that traveller, it looks forward to the same with longing and desire.” The same writer says: “The soul may have passed by a few years, or perhaps a hundred or a thousand years, of earth-time, on the Astral Plane, according to its degree of development and unfoldment. But, be its stay short or long, the feeling of weariness reaches it at last, and, like many aged persons in earth-life, it feels that ‘my work is over let me pass on.’ So sooner or later the soul feels a desire to gain new experience, and to manifest in a new life some of the advancement which has come to it by reason of its unfoldment on the Astral Plane.
And, from these reasons, and also from the attraction of the desires which have been smouldering there, not lived out or cast off; or, possibly influenced by the fact that some loved soul, on a lower plane, is ready to reincarnate, and wishing to be with that soul (which is also a form of desire) the soul falls into a current sweeping toward rebirth and the selection of proper parents and advantageous environment. In consequence whereof it again falls into a state of soul-slumber, gradually, and so when its time comes it ‘dies’ on the Astral Plane, as it did before on the material plane, and passes forward toward rebirth on earth.” There is another fact concerned with the awakening of the soul at rebirth, however, which is seldom mentioned by writers upon the subject, and which is consequently not known to many persons familiar with the other facts concerning rebirth.
This fact is as follows: Strictly speaking, the soul continues in a condition of partial slumber even after it has been re-born in earth life. It does not fully awaken at once in the body of the new-born child in which it has been reincarnated, but on the contrary it awakens only gradually during the early childhood and youth of the child. A writer, speaking of the above important fact concerning rebirth, says: “A soul does not fully awaken from its second soul-slumber immediately upon rebirth, but exists in a dream-like state during the days of infancy, its gradual awakening being evidenced by the growing intelligence of the babe, the brain of the child keeping pace with the demands made upon it. In some cases, however, the awakening is premature, and we see cases of prodigies, child-geniuses, etc., but such cases are more or less abnormal and unhealthy. Occasionally, the dreaming soul in the child half awakes, and startles its elders by some profound observation or mature remark or conduct.
The rare instances of precocious children and infant genius are illustrations of cases in which the awakening has been more than ordinarily rapid. On the other hand, cases are known where the soul does not awaken as rapidly as the average, and the result is that the person does not show signs of full intellectual activity until nearly middle-aged. Cases are known where men seem to ‘wake up’ when they are forty years of age, or even older, and then take on freshened activity and energy, surprising those who had known them before.” Here we ask the student to carefully consider another point concerning the need of and consequences of the second soul-slumber. Just as in the first soul-slumber the soul underwent a period of spiritual digestion and assimilation of the experiences of its earth-life, so in the second soul-slumber it undergoes a period of digestion and assimilation of its experiences on the Astral Plane.
In both of these periods of spiritual digestion and assimilation the soul converts the substance of the experience into the solid flesh, bone, and blood of its “character.” It has outlived many things during its sojourn on the Astral Plane, and has left many undesirable qualities behind it. In moving on toward rebirth during the second soul-slumber each soul goes to where it belongs, by reason of what it is. There is no favoritism shown, nor any injustice done it. The soul is not forced to reincarnate against its desires in fact, it reincarnates because of its unsatisfied desires. It is carried into the current of rebirth because its tastes and desires have created bonds of attractions between it and the things of earth.
These desires and tastes can be satisfied only through another experience of earth-life, amidst environment and conditions best suited to allow it to manifest those desires and tastes. It hungers to satisfy its desires and longings, and it moves in the direction in which such satisfaction is possible. Desire is always the great motive power of the soul in determining the conditions of rebirth, and the very fact of rebirth itself. A writer on the subject has well said: “The soul, preserving its desire for material things the things of flesh and material life and not being able to divorce itself from these things, will naturally fall into the current of rebirth which will lead it toward conditions in which these desires will flourish and become manifest.
It is only when the soul, by means of many earth-lives, begins to see the worthlessness and illusory nature of earthly desires, and it begins to become attracted by the things of the life of its higher nature, and, escaping the flowing currents of earthly rebirth, it rises above them and is carried to higher spheres. The average person, after years of earthly experience, is apt to say that he or she has no more desire for earth life, and that his or her only desire is to leave the same behind forever. These persons are perfectly sincere in their statements and beliefs, but a glance into their inmost souls would reveal an entirely different state of affairs. They are not, as a rule, really tired of earth life, but are merely tired of the particular kind of earth life which they have experienced during that incarnation.
They have discovered the illusory nature of a certain set of earthly experiences, and feel disgusted at the same. But they are still full of another set of experiences on earth. They have failed to find happiness or satisfaction in their own experience, but they will admit, if they are honest with themselves, that if they could have had things ‘just so and so,’ instead of ‘ thus and so,’ they would have found happiness and satisfaction. The ‘if’ may have been satisfied love, wealth, fame, gratified ambition, success of various kinds, etc., but be it what it may, the ‘if’ is nearly always there. And that IF is really the seed of their remaining desires. And the longing for that IF is really the motive for rebirth. Very few persons would care to live over their earth life in the same way.
But, like old Omar, they would be perfectly willing to remake the world according to their heart’s desire, and then live the earth life. It is really not the earth life at all which is distasteful to them, but merely the particular experiences of earth life which are disdained. Give to the average man and woman youth, health, wealth, talent and love, and they will be very willing to begin the round of earth life afresh. It is only the absence of, or failure in, these or similar things, which causes them to feel that life is a failure, and a thing to be joyfully left behind. The soul, in its sojourn upon the Astral Plane, is rested, refreshed and reinvigorated. It has forgotten the weariness of life which it had experienced during the previous incarnation. It is again young, hopeful, vigorous, and ambitious.
It feels within itself the call to action the urge of unfulfilled desires, aspirations, and ambitions and it readily falls into the currents which lead it to the scene of action in which these desires, are manifested.” The same writer also says: “Another point which should be cleared up is that regarding the character of the desires which serve as the motive power for rebirth. It is not meant that these desires are necessarily low or unworthy desires or longings. On the contrary, they may be of the highest character, and might be more properly styled aspirations, ambitions, or high aims, but the principle of desire is in them all. Desires, high and low, are the seeds of action. And the impulse toward action is always the distinguishing feature of desire. Desire always wants to have things, or to do things, or to be things.
Love, even of the most unselfish kind, is a form of desire; so is aspiration of the noblest kind. A desire to benefit others is as much a desire as its opposite. In fact, many unselfish souls are drawn back into rebirth simply by the insistent aspiration to accomplish some great work for the race, or to serve others, or to fulfill some duty inspired by love. But, high or low, if these desires are connected in any way with the things of earth, they are rebirth motives and rudders. But in conclusion, let us say that no soul which does not in its inmost soul desire to be reborn on earth will ever be so reborn. Such a soul is attracted toward other spheres, where the attractions of earth exist not. In that case, the law of attraction carries the soul away from earth, not toward it.
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. 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.”