THE SERPENT OF ETERNITY
I WANT to
talk to you to-night about eternity. Until I came out, I never had a grasp on
that problem. I thought only in terms of months and years and centuries; now I
see the full sweep of the circle. The comings out and the goings into matter are
no more than the systole and the diastole of the ego-heart; and, speaking from
the standpoint of eternity, they are relatively as brief. To you a lifetime is a
long time. It used to seem so to me, but it does not seem so now.
People are always saying, “If I had my life to live over, I would do
so and so.” Now, no man has any particular life to live over, any more than the
heart can go back and beat over again the beat of the second previous; but every
man has his next life to prepare for. Suppose you have made a botch of your
existence. Most men have, viewed from the standpoint of their highest ideal; but
every man who can think must have assimilated some experience which he can carry
over with him. He may not, on coming out into the sunlight of another life on
earth, be able to remember the details of his former experience, though some men
can recall them by a sufficient training and a fixed will; but the tendencies of
any given life, the unexplained impulses and desires, are in nearly all cases
You should get away from the mental habit of
regarding your present life as the only one, get rid of the idea that the life
you expect to lead on this side, after your death, is to be an endless existence
in one state. You could no more endure such an endless existence in the subtle
matter of the inner world than you could endure to live forever in the gross
matter in which you are now encased. You would weary of it. You could not
Do get this idea of rhythm into your brain. All beings are subject
to the law of rhythm, even the gods,—though in a greater way than ourselves,
with longer periods of flux and reflux.
I did not want to leave the earth, I fought against it until the
last; but now I see that my coming out was inevitable because of the conditions.
Had I begun earlier I might have provisioned my craft for a longer cruise; but
when the coal and water had run out I had to make port.
It is possible to provision even a small
life-craft for a longer voyage than the allotted three-score years and ten; but
one must economise the coal and not waste the water. There are some who will
understand that water is the fluid of life.
Many persons resent the idea that the life after death is not
eternal, a never-ending progression in spiritual realms; though few who so
object have much of an idea what they mean when they talk of spiritual realms.
Life everlasting is possible to all souls—yes; but it is not
possible to go on forever in one direction. Evolution is a curve. Eternity is a
circle, a serpent that swallows its own tail. Until you are willing to go in
and out of dense matter, you will never learn to transcend matter. There are
those who can stay in or out at will, and, relatively speaking, as long as they
choose; but they are never those who shrink from either form of life.
I used to shrink from what I called death. There are those on this
side who shrink from what they call death. Do you know what they call
death? It is rebirth into the world. Yes, even so.
There are many here who are as ignorant of
rhythm as most people are on your side. I have met men and women who did not
even know that they would go back to the earth again, who talked of the “great
change” as the men of earth talk of dying, and of all that lay beyond as
“unproved and unprovable.” It would be tragic if it were not so absurd.
When I knew that I had to die I determined to carry with me memory,
philosophy, and reason.
Now I want to say something that will perhaps surprise you. There is
a man who wrote a book called The Law of Psychic Phenomena, and in that
book he said certain things of those two parts of the mind which he called the
subjective and the objective. He said that the subjective mind was incapable of
inductive reasoning, that the subjective mind would accept any premise given it
by the objective mind, and would reason from that premise with matchless logic;
but that it could not go behind the premise, that it could not reason backwards.
Now, remember that in this form of matter where I am men are living
principally a subjective life, as men on earth live principally an objective
life. These people here, being in the subjective, reason from the premises
already given them during their objective or earth existence. That is why most
of those who last lived in the so-called Western lands, where the idea of rhythm
or rebirth is unpopular, came out here with the fixed idea that they would not
go back into earth life. Hence most of them still reason from that premise.
Do you not understand that what you believe you
are going to be out here is largely determinative of what you will be. Those who
do not believe in rebirth cannot forever escape the rhythm of rebirth; but they
hold to their belief until the tide of rhythm sweeps them along with it and
forces them into gross matter again, into which they go quite unprepared,
carrying with them almost no memory of their life out here. They carried out
here the memory of the earth life because they expected so to carry it.
Many Orientals who have always believed in rebirth remember their
former lives, because they expected to remember them.
Yes, when I realised that I had to leave the earth I laid a spell
upon myself. I determined to remember through both the going out and the
subsequent coming in. Of course I cannot swear now to remember everything when I
come into heavy matter again; but I am determined to do so if possible; and I
shall succeed to some extent if I do not get the wrong mother. I intend to take
great care on that point, and to choose a mother who is familiar with the idea
of rebirth. If possible, I want to choose a mother who actually knew me in my
last life as ——, and who, if I shall announce in childhood that I am that same
—— whom she knew when a young girl, will not chide me and drive me back into
myself with her doubts.
I believe that many children carry over into
earth life memories of their lives out here, but that those memories are
afterwards lost by reason of the suggestion constantly given to children that
they are newly created, “fresh from the hand of God,” etc., etc.
Eternity is indeed long, and there are more things on earth and
heaven than are dreamed of in the philosophy of the average teacher of children.
If you could only get hold of the idea of immortal life and
cling to it! If you could realise yourself as being without beginning and
without end, then you might commence to do things worthwhile. It is a wonderful
consciousness that consciousness of eternity. Small troubles seem indeed small
to him who thinks of himself in the terms of a million years. You may make the
figure a billion, or whatever you like, but the idea is the same. No man can
grasp the idea of a million years, or a million dollars, or a million of
anything; the figure is merely a symbol for a great quantity, whether it be
years or gold pieces. The idea cannot be fixed; there will always be something
that escapes. No millionaire knows exactly what he is worth at any given time;
for there is always interest to be counted, and the value is a shifting one. It
is so with immortality. Do not think of yourself as having lived a million
years, or a trillion years, but as truly immortal, without beginning or end. The
man who knows himself to be rich is richer than the man who says that he has a
certain amount of money, be the amount large or small. So rest in the
consciousness of eternity and work in the consciousness of eternity.
That is all for to-night.