Q. What becomes of the other, the lower Skandhas of the personality, after the death of the body? Are they quite destroyed?
A. They are and yet they are not-a fresh metaphysical and occult mystery for you. They are destroyed as the working stock in hand of the personality; they remain as Karmic effects, as germs, hanging in the atmosphere of the terrestrial plane, ready to come to life, as so many avenging fiends, to attach themselves to the new personality of the Ego when it reincarnates.
Q. This really passes my comprehension, and is very difficult to understand.
A. Not once that you have assimilated all the details. For then you will see that for logic, consistency, profound philosophy, divine mercy and equity, this doctrine of Reincarnation has not its equal on earth. It is a belief in a perpetual progress for each incarnating Ego, or divine soul, in an evolution from the outward into the inward, from the material to the Spiritual, arriving at the end of each stage at absolute unity with the divine Principle. From strength to strength, from the beauty and perfection of one plane to the greater beauty and perfection of another, with accessions of new glory, of fresh knowledge and power in each cycle, such is the destiny of every Ego, which thus becomes its own Savior in each world and incarnation.
Q. But Christianity teaches the same. It also preaches progression.
A. Yes, only with the addition of something else. It tells us of the impossibility of attaining Salvation without the aid of a miraculous Savior, and therefore dooms to perdition all those who will not accept the dogma. This is just the difference between Christian theology and Theosophy. The former enforces belief in the Descent of the Spiritual Ego into the Lower Self; the latter inculcates the necessity of endeavoring to elevate oneself to the Christos, or Buddhi state.
Q. By teaching the annihilation of consciousness in case of failure, however, don't you think that it amounts to the annihilation of Self, a in the opinion of the non-metaphysical?
A. From the standpoint of those who believe in the resurrection of the body literally, and insist that every bone, every artery and atom of flesh will be raised bodily on the Judgment Day-of course it does. If you still insist that it is the perishable form and finite qualities that make up immortal man, then we shall hardly understand each other. And if you do not understand that, by limiting the existence of every Ego to one life on earth, you make of Deity an ever-drunken Indra of the Pur ic dead letter, a cruel Moloch, a god who makes an inextricable mess on Earth, and yet claims thanks for it, then the sooner we drop the conversation the better.
Q. But let us return, now that the subject of the Skandhas is disposed of, to the question of the consciousness which survives death. This is the point which interests most people. Do we possess more knowledge in Devachan than we do in earthlife?
A. In one sense, we can acquire more knowledge; that is, we can develop further any faculty which we loved and strove after during life, provided it is concerned with abstract and ideal things, such as music, painting, poetry, etc., since Devachan is merely an idealized and subjective continuation of earth-life.
Q. But if in Devachan the Spirit is free from matter, why should it not possess all knowledge?
A. Because, as I told you, the Ego is, so to say, wedded to the memory of its last incarnation. Thus, if you think over what I have said, and string all the facts together, you will realize that the Devachanic state is not one of omniscience, but a transcendental continuation of the personal life just terminated. It is the rest of the soul from the toils of life.
Q. But the scientific materialists assert that after the death of man nothing remains; that the human body simply disintegrates into its component elements; and that what we call soul is merely a temporary self-consciousness produced as a byproduct of organic action, which will evaporate like steam. Is not theirs a strange state of mind?
A. Not strange at all, that I see. If they say that self-consciousness ceases with the body, then in their case they simply utter an unconscious prophecy, for once they are firmly convinced of what they assert, no conscious after-life is possible for them. For there are exceptions to every rule.