The absolute in its manifested or unmanifested condition is intelligence and the different manifestations of this intelligence may be called light, life and love. It is the dense form of the intelligence which is light. As the sun is the source of the moon, of the planets, of the stars, of fire, of the flame, of the glow - of every aspect of light - so the supreme Spirit is the source of all aspects of manifestation.
The sun is the centralizing of the all-pervading radiance. In other words the all-pervading radiance has gathered itself together in order to centralize in one spot, and this has become the source of the creation, the whole physical manifestation. So the omniscient Spirit by centralizing in one spot has become the source of the whole seen and unseen manifestation. It is therefore that in all ages the wise have worshipped the sun as the symbol of God, although the sun is only the outward symbol of God.
A minute study of the formation of the sun and its influence in all .things of life illuminates us so as to understand the divine Spirit. Heat, gaslight, electric light, coal fire, wood fire, the burning candle, the flame rising from an oil-lamp, all these different manifestations of light have their source in the sun; it is the sun which is showing itself in all these different forms. Often we separate the sun from all other aspects of light. So it is with the supreme Spirit which is manifested in all forms, in all things and beings, in the seen and the unseen worlds, and yet stands remote as the sun stands remote from all other forms of light. The Qur'an says, "God is the light of heaven and of earth", and in reality all forms, however dense they may be, are a certain degree of radiance belonging to that Spirit which is all light. All the different colours are different degrees of that light.
The supreme Spirit, the source of all things, has two audible and visible. In its audible aspect the Spirit is the Word, as the Bible says, or sound, as the Hindus say it Nada. In its physical aspect the supreme Spirit is the in its finer aspect the light of intelligence, and in its 'dense aspect the radiance of all objects. The manifestation is the phenomenon of light playing in three directions. This is really the meaning of Trinity. One direction is the light that sees, the other is the light that is seen, and the third is the light that shows all things. More plainly speaking: the eyes which see and the object that is seen and the light that enables the eyes to see the object - all three are different plays of one and the same light. In the Hadith it is said, "I have made your light and by your light I create the universe". In other words, the all-pervading Spirit says to the centralized aspect of Himself, "I made you first, and of you I have made the whole universe". In this is the key to the whole creation.
The process of manifestation is like the projecting of rays out of the sun. Why does the sun shoot out its rays? Because it is its nature. And to the question, "Why does the supreme Spirit manifest?", I will give the same answer: "Because it is its nature". No sooner has the all-pervading light centralized in one spot and formed the sun, than -the rays begin to shoot out. In the same way, the moment the omniscient light centralized itself in one spot, it began to shoot out its rays. These numberless rays shot out are the various souls - the souls of the good and the wicked both coming from the same source.
As these rays go forward the first plane they strike is termed the angelic plane; the second plane they strike is termed the plane of the genius and the third plane is called the physical plane. Now rises the question, "Have these rays left the supreme Spirit in order to come to the angelic plane, have they left the angelic plane in order to come to the plane of the genius and have they left the plane of the genius in order to come to the physical plane?" No, they have passed through, but while passing through they have received all that is to be received from there, learned all that is to be learned there, gathered all there was to be gathered on their way - and they still are in those planes. They do not know it, they are only conscious of that plane in which the ray has opened its eyes. In other words, we are sitting in this room, we see what is before our eyes, but we do not see what is behind our back. Thus every soul has behind its back the angelic plane and the plane of the genius, but before its eyes there is this physical plane. Therefore the soul is only conscious of the physical plane and unconscious of the planes from which it has turned its eyes.
The souls who have opened their eyes fully to the angelic plane and became interested in that plane have remained there, and the inhabitants of that plane. may be called angels. The souls who did not open their eyes fully there only passed through it, and if they became interested in the plane of the genius they remained there. The ancient people called them jinn or genii. The souls who went still further towards manifestation and reached the physical plane, the ultimate call of their destiny, opened their eyes there and became interested in the physical plane. Among all living beings human beings are the most widely awake.
A person who has left America for Europe and has gone from Europe to the Orient has brought something from America with him to Europe and has taken something from Europe to the Orient. So every soul who has come on earth has brought with him something of the angelic plane and something of the plane of the genius, and he shows in his life on the physical plane that which he has brought from these two planes of existence. Innocence, love of beauty, deep sympathy, love of song, a tendency to solitude, love of harmony, all these belong to the angelic plane. Inventive genius, intellectuality, reasoning, law, justice, love of poetry, of science, all these belong to the planes of the genius. It is therefore that, without knowing this, people say of those who show any of these qualities, "Here is an angelic person", or "Here is a genius".
Now coming to the subject of gravitation: gravitation known to science is the material gravitation. All that belongs to the dense earth is attracted to the dense earth - but it is the same theory to say that all that is attracted to the spirit belongs to the spirit. Therefore man is pulled from both sides. Man is pulled more so than any other creature, for he is closer to the spirit. On one side the earth demands his body, on the other side the spirit asks for his soul. If man gives in to the attraction of the earth then the body drags the soul towards the earth. If man gives himself to the attraction of the spirit then the spirit drags the body to the spirit. In this way man is subject to the law of gravitation from both sides, from the earth and from the heavens.
As to the subject of perfect assimilation, I have just explained how the soul passing through the different planes has borrowed from each of them things that belong to that plane: qualities, tendencies, ideas, thoughts, feelings; impressions, flesh, skin, bone and blood. That which the soul has borrowed he must give back when it has done its work; it was borrowed for a certain time and for a certain purpose. When the purpose is fulfilled, when the time is finished, then every plane asks for that which the soul has borrowed from it, and one cannot help but give it back to that plane. It is this process which is called assimilation. Since man is born greedy and selfish he has taken all things willingly, enthusiastically -he gives them back grudgingly and calls it death.
Assimilation therefore is to give back the physical matter which one has used on this physical plane - to give it back to the earth. It becomes assimilated by the earth and the soul becomes free of that burden which it once carried. It begins to experience a greater liberty and a greater ease, for going beyond is only releasing the soul of limitation and of a great captivity.
Life in the world of the genius is longer compared with life on the physical plane. It is this life which may be called the life in the hereafter. But there comes a time when all that was borrowed from the plane of the genius has to be given back to that plane too, for it did not belong to the soul. It is according to the same theory that our body will not have what does not belong to it; it will throw it out or, if the body cannot throw it out, it will be thrown out of life. So no one can carry the substance of another plane beyond. Each substance has its own plane and must be returned to that plane. This is the only way the soul can be freed from that plane in order to rise above it.
When the soul soars higher it must also give up the angelic qualities. They will be assimilated in the angelic plane before the soul can dissolve into the great Ocean, the supreme Spirit: that dissolving which is called merging into the real Self. One most important thing is to be learned from this process: every soul coming from the source towards manifestation gives what it brings from the source to the, souls who meet it - the souls returning from the manifestation to the source - and receives from these souls certain impressions to which it is attracted. It is this exchange which is the cause of the various conditions of life in which a man is born on coming on earth. One is intelligent, another is simple, one is born in a rich family, another in a poor family, one is healthy, another weak, one will have a great purpose, another does not know what he must do. It is all determined. By what? A soul coming from the source has collected impressions on its way from souls returning to the source?7
For instance a business man was going to Jerusalem in order to lead a retired life. He met someone in Europe who, coming from the East, was going to the United States, and he said to him, "For forty years I have been in business in the United States. If you are going there to do some business I can tell you of my experience. I have a business established there, I can give you my heritage, I can give you all help if you continue that business. I will give you letters of introduction to help you to find sympathetic surroundings". Another man, also coming from the East, met someone who never had luck and who said to him, "Are you going to the United States? I have been there for sixty years without one friend, with nothing but ill luck". This disappointed the man. He came there and found the same ill luck of the person he had met, while the first one came in the midst of friends; all was prepared for him, he had only to continue the thing he was sent for.
Now we come to the final question: what must be the purpose of the whole creation? Is there anything to be gained by it? Yes, what is to be gained by it is the realization gained by the experience of life. What does divine experience mean? It means the soul's experience when this experience has led it to that height where it is no longer only an individual soul, but where it is conscious of all planes of existence, of the source and of its limitation both. When all the inspiration and power latent in man are within his reach, then that realization is called perfection and it is that perfection of which Jesus Christ has spoken in the Bible, where it is said, "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect".
Question: Are not those planes rather mental conditions than places?
Answer: Yes, they are. But what we call a place also is a mental condition. Because it has a rigid physical appearance we think of it as a place, but really speaking it is a mental condition. Therefore those who have understood this have called it an illusion.
Question: Is one direction better than another?
Answer: One thing leads to another. As in life one success brings many times more success and one failure brings more failures, so the interest in one direction leads to a deeper interest in the same direction. People say that nothing succeeds like success and that it is money that can make a person rich. That law always is the same; if a person has knowledge then he is directed to greater knowledge. In the same way if a thief goes to a large city he will be the first to find thieves. Another person who is perhaps ten years in a large city will not find one thief, but I would not be surprised if the first man the other person met was a thief. Like attracts like, every impression gathers with that same impression. If a person goes towards happiness, success, riches, knowledge, wisdom, he goes deeper and deeper into it because it interests him. It is the same with all wickedness when a person is attracted to it. A little inclination towards wickedness, towards evil, leads him more and more towards it. Whether he loves it or not he gets accustomed to it and goes on in the same direction.
Question: Does cremation free the soul more than decomposition?
Answer: No, the condition of the body has nothing to do with the freeing of the soul. Only, cremation can shock the soul more than burying in the earth; since the body is made of clay it belongs to the earth.
If a person says that a body belongs to water too – water is in the depth of the earth; it belongs to earth just the same.