[In this section we seek to answer frequently asked questions, at U.L.T. meetings or during private conversations and discussions with people who seek the answers in the light of Theosophy. Answers given in this section are by no means final. Only a line of thought is being offered by applying general principles of Theosophy.]
Question: In case of accidents and suicides, the person dies before his time. He remains in Kamaloka (astral region) as an entity (with all six principles) minus the physical body. Is it wrong to try communicating with such beings by their loved ones? If so, why?
Answer: Theosophy advises against communication with the dead. It is almost never the real person whom we contact but the "shells," which comprise the lower mind, passions and desires, and astral body. What goes under the name of "spiritualism" today, has been well known for centuries in India, as "bhuta worship," i.e., an attempt to communicate with the devil or astral remnants of the deceased person. The "shells" are like the clothes of the man and not the real spirit. The astral substance absorbs, sponge-like, all scenes, pictures and impressions of all thoughts, retains the same, and throws them off whenever the conditions permit. It works like a gramophone record. The shell possesses automatic memory and consciousness and can become visible under certain conditions. It need not be the shell of the dear departed one, but the imagination of the sitters and the medium is very potent during the séance, which gives shape and form to the shell.
In case of natural death, the higher triad (Atma-Buddhi-Manas) or the spiritual man, almost immediately escapes to Devachan or Swarga. Normally, the communication takes place with the shells. There are only two exceptions, where the communication is with the "spirit" of the dead: (1) A few minutes after or shortly before the physical death; or (2) sometimes a very pure sensitive/medium is able to hold communication with the Ego—the spiritual entity—in Devachan.
In case of unnatural deaths, for instance, suicides, accidents, violent deaths, what remains in the earth's atmosphere is not the "shell" but "spirit," because it is the entity made up of all the principles, minus the physical body. This entity remains in the earth's atmosphere till the normal life term is over. Thus, suicides and victims of accidents, sometimes though rarely, can communicate with us through mediums, and that which communicates is the real entity of the once living man. During this period of waiting, before going to Devachan, the less they are disturbed the better it is for them. Every attempt to communicate with the dead drags them back into the world of the living and tempts them to assuage their thirst for life. Those who met with accidental death, but were good and pure during life, are not likely to get disturbed, as they remain outside the regions of this earth-life and its attractions. Such entities remain in a dreamless sleep or plunged in a slumber full of golden visions. Though normally such shells are not drawn to the séance rooms, the possibility is always there. Tired of waiting and thirsting for life, amusements, and vanity, they may be drawn to the séance room—like an idle young man, tempted to visit the pub—and may come out untainted.
In case of the suicides, although the lower principles are not wholly cut off from the higher principles (sixth and seventh), they are, nevertheless, separated from their higher principles by a gulf. The higher principles remain passive and negative in case of suicides, whereas in the case of accidental deaths the higher and the lower principles actually attract each other.
However, such communications are disastrous for both the departed entity as well as those on earth. It is said that further disaster may overtake the shells of suicides and victims of accidental death when their Karma is such that they are attracted to mediums. Assisted by the medium, they develop a fierce thirst for life, which in turn produces a new set of skandhas—tendencies and passions far worse than those belonging to the body they last lost at death. When they thus live an artificial life, they overload their Karma and in case of the suicides it is said that they lose their monad forever.
At the séance rooms, much vampirizing goes on. During spirit materializations, the astral form is made of the astral matter sucked out of the sitters who may be present. Also, a temporary, dense and objective form is made by drawing the loose physical atoms from the bodies of those present (W.Q.J. Series No. 21, p. 37). The séance room atmosphere is described as diffused with moral poison which affects the minds of all those who are present.
There is a solace in the fact that every night we communicate with our dear departed ones, in deep sleep state, but we are not always able to bring back the memory. "There is hardly a human being whose Ego does not hold free intercourse, during the sleep of his body, with those whom it loved and lost," writes H.P.B. Many a time we fall asleep full of anguish but rise refreshed in the morning, full of conviction that the loved one still lives, although in another world. Due to materiality and non-receptivity of the physical brain, we are able to bring back only dim, dream-like remembrance of such experiences.
Question: Are the Yugas fixed in their length and sequence? Can they be changed by the actions of human beings?
Answer: The Sanskrit equivalent of "cycle" are Kalpa, Yuga and Manvantara, of which Yuga is the nearest, as it is of lesser duration than the others. The Bhagavad-Gita refers to Brahma's Day and Night. At the approach of Brahma's Day all manifested objects come forth from the non-developed principle and at the approach of Brahma's night they are absorbed in the original principle. This refers to the great cycle, which includes all cycles of every kind. What determines different cycles? It is said that at the first moment of the solidification of our earth, "the mass of matter involved attained a certain and definite rate of vibration, which will hold through all variations in any part of it until its hour for dissolution comes." We are also told that "cycles are the clock of Karma." Cycles are not different from Law and Karma, but only the way of marking the time of cause and effect, of action and reaction. Karma is like the mainspring that makes all the wheels go round. There are many little and big wheels inside the clock. Cycles are like the hands that point the hour on the face, as they travel round it. Thus, we may say that the sequence and the length of the Yugas are determined by the Karma of the people experiencing them. The four yugas are: Krita or Satya (golden); Treta (silver); Dvapara (Bronze); and Kali (Iron). Kali Yuga is 432,000 years in length, according to old Indian calculation, and its first five thousand years have come to an end. However, the course of evolution for every race is divided into four yugas, in its own way. These yugas do not affect the entire mankind at one and the same time. In The Secret Doctrine, we are told that the fourth subrace was in Kali Yuga when destroyed. Each race, as well as subrace, goes through all the four yugas from the Golden to the Black. Thus, at one and the same time races may be in one of the four yugas. Some might be in the Golden Age and others in the Black. Kali Yuga is marked by darkness—darkness of ignorance. Mr. Judge observes that there is great thirst for riches and material betterment, while the spiritual life is ignored. If spiritual light were prevalent, the rich and the poor would still be there, but the poor would know how to accept their lot and the rich would find out ways and means to improve the conditions of the poor.
Goethe said that the Golden Age is passed and only the good have the power to bring it back. We may not be able to bring back the Golden Age for the entire race, but we can do so for ourselves. Mr. Judge describes the difficulty of overcoming the influence of the age, thus:
The astral light, which keeps the record of the thoughts, feelings and actions of the ages past, acts as a hypnotizing agent so that we find ourselves acting blindly under the suggestion cast upon us by these past impressions. However, we are told that we cannot do much against Kali Yuga, but we can do much in it, as Kali Yuga is the shortest of the four Yugas with the rate of vibrations (cause and effect) being four times faster than in other yugas. Thus: