being in more-than-one body at a time
Nov 10, 1993 07:54 AM
The idea of group souls is one of perhaps a few dozen in which the
teachings of Theosophy in the Adyar T.S. have changed from the original
Theosophy. These changes were not made in the ULT or Point Loma
branches of the theosophical family tree, though they were picked up
and elaborated upon by many New Age teachers and movements in this
century. Someone finding themselves most at home in the study of
Besant and Leadbeater would consider them, perhaps, improvements.
Someone from a Point Loma background would consider them mistaken.
I don't think that an idea that anyone may hold is so blindingly
apparent that everyone would be converted, merely by hearing it told.
The deeper truths cannot be plainly told. The Mahatmans have said that
their Teachings, if simply told to Sinnett, would sound like insane
A point of philosophy is different than a factual historic event.
Blavatsky did smoke, and there have been written the reasons why in
certain cases smoking was necessary. Some people want to deny that
she smoked, because that was inconsistent with their view of how she
should be. They may have the mistaken impression that simple physical
piety, like not smoking, being vegetarian, etc., is a necessary
prerequisite to spiritual progress, and her smoking is inconsistent
with that view. There is a lot of historic information about a number
of people in the Movement, and not just about Leadbeater and the
Adyar Society, but about people in all the different groups, that their
followers would rather not know, and would likely deny if they heard it.
Speaking from the Point Loma standpoint, what I say may not always
be agreed with, and I won't agree with everything said from the
Besant/Leadbeater teachings. It is okay for us to disagree. We have to
remember that the others are expressing what they've been taught and
have been trying to observe about them in life. And because the ideas
are so inter-connected, we cannot change a single idea of the other's
without altering or affecting all the other theosophical ideas.
When we discuss group souls, what the term means and what is involved
with such an idea, there are two things that we can do. The first is to
find some interpretation that gives a sufficient "twist" to the idea
that it might be workable in describing things in life. The second is
to analyse it from a philosophical standpoint and see what it really
says and how that fits in, or fails to be consistent with the
For any idea, it is not enough to say that it is "self-evident", that
it is a "simple truth". The self-evident do not need to be pointed out.
It may come to mind as the best explanation for someone of what he sees
in life, in certainly did so for Besant, Leadbeater, Jinarajadasa, and
others that followed them, but is not so to me, or to the theosophical
writers that I've studied.
Let's briefly considering the quote from "The Mahatma Letters". The
Buddha is spoken of as becoming a Planetary Spriit upon reaching
Nirvana. This allowed his spirit to roam space in full consciousness.
"... the divine Self had so completely disfranchised itself from matter
that it could create at will an inner substitute for itself". He could
leave the human form for days, perhaps years.
This form was the mayavi rupa, the mind-created form, the carrier of
consciousness for a being manifesting on a plane apart from having a
physical form on it. Otherwise known as the nirmanakaya, it is the
way that one's consciousness can become manifested on a plane, apart
from the process of obtaining a physical body through the normal
process of birth for that plane or globe.
The entering of Nirvana by the Buddha is a complex subject. The human
part of the Buddha, who would be considered a Sixth Rounder human,
stayed in active existence, when his higher part, the overshadowing
divinity, passed on. The Buddha still had a physical body, but had
attained liberation from needing to be born into one, something that
even the Mahatmas had not completely attained. During the remaining
20 of the Buddha's 100 years of life, he was active in his physical
body. The power to travel to other worlds, to exist in the mayavi
rupa, was one what could allow him to function apart from the idle
physical form for perhaps years, but that does not mean that he did so.
Having a cooperative effort, an association of beings in life, however
close-knit the group, we do not have any less an individual
consciousness to the participants. There may be a cooperation, an
harmonizing, a synchronizing with the actions of others, but no loss
One can at times raise his consciousness to the sambhogakaya, the
consciouss of non-separation, the experience of life where subject and
object are merged and there is no awareness of being apart from the
activity one is participating in. One is still an individual being,
but has risen his awareness to a level where such distinctions don't
When a single-celled creature divides into two, there is not one being,
now in two bodies. When a mother gives birth to a child, the body has
organized into two forms, each with a life of their own. There is not
one Monad animating both. When a fertilized human egg cell spilts,
creating what will become identical twins, if both are to live, another
person has to be willing to be born, the one person does not now have
We draw the contents of our seven principles of consciousness from
surrounding life. We take physical elements to make up and feed our
bodies. At the mental level, we take in ideas and thoughts and nourish
our minds. For animals, the taking of ideas is not self-conscious, it
is preprogrammed, in a way, and is by a process that we'd call instinct.
Because a particular animal Monad is born as an ant for a period of
time does not mean that it will always be born as an ant. Perhaps it
may be reborn later as a spider or some other insect. Being born into
a particular class of animal creatures, the Monad partakes of the
characteristic nature of the class, its archetypes, in the same manner
as we, as human personalities, partake of the nature of the culture
or society that we are born into.
There is not, I would say, a single being looking out through 10,000
eyes as a multitude of ants, doing thousands of things at the same time
and being fully aware of each and every action at the same time. Each
ant is the living expression of an individual being, but partakes of
the influences of the nature of anthood and of the particular anthill
that he is born in.
With an anthill, there is the pattern of consciousness that represents
the ground rules of living, the pattern of expressing and fulfilling
life, that the individual ants all share in. But they are individuals,
and have been so, even before they started the long downward
evolutionary journey ages ago, entering the first Elemental Kingdom
and beginning the evolutionary descent into matter.
When we speak of a great being teaching or ministering to a many
people at the same time, it is not through his self-consciously being
aware of acting in the many places at once. It is rather a projecting
of a ray of consciousness, an influence, to the many people, without
being specifically aware of an one particular person, but rather a
projecting of an influence that is felt by those people who by their
natures and relationship to him are able to attune themselves to it.
There are additional issues involving a number of theosophical
teachings that we could get into, in spending more time on this
discussion. They include (1) the composite nature of man, of how
he (and other beings) are composed of a host of Monads, (2) the
relationship of an informing life to the hierarchy that it creates,
and (3) the eternal existence of the Monad and the ultimate purpose
in life. The ideas are all interrelated.
The important thing to avoid the crystalization of the mind, the
locking in of fixed thoughts, the hanging on to specific words that
express ideas, and instead to move on to a living process of study
of the teachings where they start to reveal themselves. We need to
be ready to continually reexamine and explore ideas that we take for
granted. When someone raises a question with us, we need to see
anew how the idea relates to the other great teachings and to our
experience and understanding of life.
The opportunity to reexplore ideas that we've taken for granted should
be appreciated. It is one of the many forms of training that we have,
that we can use to deepen our understanding. We may not change any
particular position, but we're better for the experience.
In our future discussions on "theos-l", there may be a number of times
when we'll review our ideas and try to give our best, most-clear
expression to them. This is a valuable experience. What we have is not
a debate platform with a "winner" and a "loser", but rather a forum for
the free exchange of ideas.
A subject like "group souls" can be pursued as long as any of us,
pro or con, feel we can even-better expression why and how we understand
it a particular way. There are no winners nor losers, and it is
obvious from the start, for almost anything that one of us might say,
that some will say "I agree" and others "I disagree".
Given the different theosophical schools that we represent, we'll
see many different topics for discussion, and they will be interesting
to follow, because of the stimulation resulting from the diversity of
views. Say something, take a position, and others will comment, and
we'll have a lively discussion. That's one of valuable aspects of
Eldon Tucker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application