Dialog with H P B
- Friday, February 08, 2002
H P B and Mabel Collins were co-editors of the first issues of
LUCIFER in London (1877). They exchanged thoughts on various
aspects of theosophical philosophy related to states after death,
and also to the Astral Body and the "Mayavi Rupa" used by the
Adepts. As some of these matters arose in the past few weeks, I
though it would be useful to reproduce these for us.
========= QUOTE ===============
From DIALOGUES BETWEEN THE TWO EDITORS
by H. P. Blavatsky
M C. Great confusion exists in the minds of people about the
various kinds of apparitions, wraiths, ghosts or spirits. Ought
we not to explain once for all the meaning of these terms? You
say there are various kinds of "doubles"--what are they?
H.P.B. Our occult philosophy teaches us that there are three
kinds of "doubles," to use the word in its widest sense. (I) Man
has his "double" or shadow, properly so called, around which the
physical body of the fœtus--the future man--is built. The
imagination of the mother, or an accident which affects the
child, will affect also the astral body.
The astral and the physical both exist before the mind is
developed into action, and before the Atma awakes. This occurs
when the child is seven years old, and with it comes the
responsibility attaching to a conscious sentient being.
This "double" is born with man, dies with him and can never
separate itself far from the body during life, and though
surviving him, it disintegrates, pari passu, with the corpse. It
is this which is sometimes seen over the graves like a luminous
figure of the man that was, during certain atmospheric
conditions. From its physical aspect it is, during life, man's
vital double, and after death, only the gases given off from the
But, as regards its origin and essence, it is something more.
This "double" is what we have agreed to call linga sarira, but
which I would propose to call, for greater convenience, "Protean"
or "Plastic Body."
M. C. Why Protean or Plastic?
H.P.B. Protean, because it can assume all forms; e.g. the
"shepherd magicians" whom popular rumor accuses, perhaps not
without some reason, of being "were-wolves," and "mediums in
cabinets," whose own "Plastic Bodies" play the part of
materialized grandmothers and "John Kings." Otherwise, why the
invariable custom of the "gear departed angels" to come out but
little further than arm's length from the medium, whether
entranced or not? Mind, I do not at all deny foreign influences
in this kind of phenomena.
But I do affirm that foreign interference is rare, and that the
materialized form is always that of the medium's "Astral" or
M. C. But how is this astral body created?
H.P.B. It is not created; it grows, as I told you, with the man
and exists in the rudimentary condition even before the child is
M. C. And what about the second?
H.P.B. The second is the "Thought" body, or Dream body, rather;
known among Occultists as the Mayavi-rupa, or "Illusion-body."
During life this image is the vehicle both of thought and of the
animal passions and desires, drawing at one and the same time
from the lowest terrestrial manas (mind) and Kama, the element of
It is dual in its potentiality, and after death forms what is
called in the East, Bhoot, or Kama-rupa, but which is better
known to theosophists as the "Spook."
M. C. And the third?
H.P.B. The third is the true Ego, called in the East by a name
meaning "causal body" but which in the trans-Himalayan schools is
always called the "Karmic body," which is the same. For Karma or
action is the cause which produces incessant rebirths or
It is not the Monad, nor is it Manas proper; but is, in a way,
indissolubly connected with, and a compound of the Monad and
Manas in Devachan.
M. C. Then there are three doubles?
H.P.B. If you can call the Christian and other Trinities "three
Gods," then there are three doubles. But in truth there is only
one under three aspects or phases: the most material portion
disappearing with the body; the middle one, surviving both as an
independent, but temporary entity in the land of shadows; the
third, immortal, throughout the manvantara unless Nirvana puts an
end to it before.
M. C. But shall not we be asked what difference there is between
the Mayavi and Kama rupa, or as you propose to call them the
"I)ream body" and the "Spook"?
H.P.B. Most likely, and we shall answer, in addition to what has
been said, that the "thought power" or aspect of the Mayavi or
"Illusion body," merges after death entirely into the causal body
or the conscious, thinking EGO.
The animal elements, or power of desire of the "Dream body,"
absorbing after death that which it has collected (through its
insatiable desire to live) during life; i.e., all the astral
vitality as well as all the impressions of its material acts and
thoughts while it lived in possession of the body, forms the
"Spook" or Kama rupa.
Our Theosophists know well enough that after death the higher
Manas unites with the Monad and passes into Devachan, while the
dregs of the lower manas or animal mind go to form this Spook.
This has life in it, but hardly any consciousness, except, as it
were by proxy, when it is drawn into the current of a medium.
M. C. Is it all that can be said upon the subject?
H.P.B. For the present this is enough metaphysics, I guess. Let
us hold to the "Double" in its earthly phase. What would you
M. C. Every country in the world believes more or less in the
"double" or doppelganger. The simplest form of this is the
appearance of a man's phantom, the moment after his death, or at
the instant of death, to his dearest friend. Is this appearance
the mayavi rupa?
H.P.B. It is; because produced by the thought of the dying man.
M. C. Is it unconscious?
H.P.B. It is unconscious to the extent that the dying man does
not generally do it knowingly; nor is he aware that he so
appears. What happens is this. If he thinks very intently at the
moment of death of the person he either is very anxious to see,
or loves best, he may appear to that person.
The thought becomes objective; the double, or shadow of a man,
being nothing but the faithful reproduction of him, like a
reflection in a mirror, that which the man does, even in thought,
that the double repeats. This is why the phantoms are often seen
in such cases in the clothes they wear at the particular moment,
and the image reproduces even the expression on the dying man's
face. If the double of a man bathing were seen it would seem to
be immersed in water; so when a man who has been drowned appears
to his friend, the image will be seen to be dripping with water.
The cause for the apparition may be also reversed; i.e., the
dying man may or may not be thinking at all of the particular
person his image appears to, but it is that person who is
sensitive. Or perhaps his sympathy or his hatred for the
individual whose wraith is thus evoked is very intense physically
or psychically; and in this case the apparition is created by,
and depends upon, the intensity of the thought. What then happens
is this. Let us call the dying man A, and him who sees the double
B. The latter, owing to love, hate, or fear, has the image of A
so deeply impressed on his psychic memory, that actual magnetic
attraction and repulsion are established between the two, whether
one knows of it and feels it, or not. When A dies, the sixth
sense or psychic spiritual intelligence of the inner man in B
becomes cognizant of the change in A, and forthwith apprises the
physical senses of the man, by projecting before his eye the form
of A, as it is at the instant of the great change. The same when
the dying man longs to see some one; his thought telegraphs to
his friend, consciously or unconsciously along the wire of
sympathy, and becomes objective. This is what the "Spookical"
[Psychical] Research Society would pompously, but none the less
muddily, call telepathic impact.
M. C. This applies to the simplest form of the appearance of the
double. What about cases in which the double does that which is
contrary to the feeling and wish of the man?
H.P.B. This is impossible. The "Double" cannot act, unless the
keynote of this action was struck in the brain of the man to whom
the "Double" belongs, be that man just dead, or alive, in good or
in bad health. If he paused on the thought a second, long enough
to give it form, before he passed on to other mental pictures,
this one second is as sufficient for the objectivizations of his
personality on the astral waves, as for your face to impress
itself on the sensitized plate of a photographic apparatus.
Nothing prevents your form, then, being seized upon by the
surrounding Forces--as a dry leaf fallen from a tree is taken up
and carried away by the wind--being made to caricature or distort
M. C. Supposing the double expresses in actual words a thought
uncongenial to the man, and expresses it--let us say to a friend
far away, perhaps on another continent? I have known instances of
H.P.B. Because it then so happens that the created image is
taken up and used by a "Shell." Just as in seance-rooms when
"images" of the dead--which may perhaps be lingering
unconsciously in the memory or even the auras of those
present--are seized upon by the Elemental or Elemental Shadows
and made objective to the audience, and even caused to act at the
bidding of the strongest of the many different wills in the room.
In your case, moreover, there must exist a connecting link--a
telegraph wire--between the two persons, a point of psychic
sympathy, and on this the thought travels instantly.
Of course there must be, in every case, some strong reason why
that particular thought takes that direction; it must be
connected in some way with the other person. Otherwise such
apparitions would be of common and daily occurrence.
M. C. This seems very simple; why then does it only occur with
H.P.B. Because the plastic power of the imagination is much
stronger in some persons than in others. The mind is dual in its
potentiality: it is physical and metaphysical. The higher part of
the mind is connected with the spiritual soul or Buddhi, the
lower with the animal soul, the Kama principle.
There are persons who never think with the higher faculties of
their mind at all; those who do so are the minority and are thus,
in a way, beyond, if not above, the average of human kind. These
will think even upon ordinary matters on that higher plane.
The idiosyncrasy of the person determines in which "principle" of
the mind the thinking is done, as also the faculties of a
preceding life, and sometimes the heredity of the physical. This
is why it is so very difficult for a materialist--the
metaphysical portion of whose brain is almost atrophied--to raise
himself, or for one who is naturally spiritually minded, to
descend to the level of the matter-of-fact vulgar thought.
Optimism and pessimism depend on it also in a large measure.
M. C. But the habit of thinking in the higher mind can be
developed--else there would be no hope for persons who wish to
alter their lives and raise themselves? And that this is
possible must be true, or there would be no hope for the world.
H.P.B. Certainly it can be developed, but only with great
difficulty, a firm determination, and through much
self-sacrifice. But it is comparatively easy for those who are
born with the gift. Why is it that one person sees poetry in a
cabbage or a pig with her little ones, while another will
perceive in the loftiest things only their lowest and most
material aspect, will laugh at the "music of the spheres," and
ridicule the most sublime conceptions and philosophies?
This difference depends simply on the innate power of the mind to
think on the higher or on the lower plane, with the astral (in
the sense given to the word by St. Martin), or with the physical
brain. Great intellectual powers are often no proof of, but are
impediments to spiritual and right conceptions; witness most of
the great men of science. We must rather pity than blame them.
M. C. But how is it that the person who thinks on the higher
plane produces more perfect and more potential images and
objective forms by his thought?
H.P.B. Not necessarily that "person" alone, but all those who
are generally sensitive. The person who is endowed with this
faculty of thinking about even the most trifling things from the
higher plane of thought has, by virtue of that gift which he
possesses, a plastic power of formation, so to say, in his very
Whatever such a person may think about, his thought will be so
far more intense than the thought of an ordinary person, that by
this very intensity it obtains the power of creation.
Science has established the fact that thought is an energy. This
energy in its action disturbs the atoms of the astral atmosphere
around us. I already told you; the rays of thought have the same
potentiality for producing forms in the astral atmosphere as the
sun-rays have with regard to a lens. Every thought so evolved
with energy from the brain, creates nolens volens a shape.
M. C. Is that shape absolutely unconscious?
H.P.B. Perfectly unconscious unless it is the creation of an
adept, who has a pre-conceived object in giving it consciousness,
or rather in sending along with it enough of his will and
intelligence to cause it to appear conscious. This ought to make
us more cautious about our thoughts.
But the wide distinction that obtains between the adept in this
matter and the ordinary man must be borne in mind. The adept may
at his will use his Mayavi rupa, but the ordinary man does not,
except in very rare cases. It is called Mayavi rupa because it is
a form of illusion created for use in the particular instance,
and it has quite enough of the adept's mind in it to accomplish
its purpose. The ordinary man merely creates a thought-image,
whose properties and powers are at the time wholly unknown to
M. C. Then one may say that the form of an adept appearing at a
distance from his body, as for instance Ram Lal in Mr. Isaacs, is
simply an image?
H.P.B. Exactly. It is a walking thought.
M. C. In which case an adept can appear in several places almost
H.P.B. He can. Just as Apollonius of Tyana, who was seen in two
places at once, while his body was at Rome. But it must be
understood that not all of even the astral adept is present in
each appearance. [H P B wrote an article titled: APOLLONIUS
TYANEUS and SIMON MAGUS -- published in Theosophist for June
1881; BLAVATSKY: Collected Works (TPH) Vol. III, p. 174; U L T
H P B Articles, III 161 -- in which this is described in
M. C. Then it is very necessary for a person of any amount of
imagination and psychic powers to attend to his thoughts?
H.P.B. Certainly, for each thought has a shape which borrows the
appearance of the man engaged in the action of which he thought.
Otherwise how can clairvoyants see in your aura your past and
present? What they see is a passing panorama of yourself
represented in successive actions by your thoughts.
You asked me if we are punished for our thoughts. Not for all,
for some are still-born; but for others, those which we call
"silent" but potential thoughts--yes. Take an extreme case, such
as that of a person who is so wicked as to wish the death of
another. Unless the evil-wisher is a Dugpa, a high adept in black
magic, in which case Karma is delayed, such a wish only comes
back to roost.
M. C. But supposing the evil-wisher to have a very strong will,
without being a dugpa, could the death of the other be
H.P.B. Only if the malicious person has the evil eye, which
simply means possessing enormous plastic power of imagination
working involuntarily, and thus turned unconsciously to bad uses.
For what is the power of the "evil eye"? Simply a great plastic
power of thought, so great as to produce a current impregnated
with the potentiality of every kind of misfortune and accident,
which inoculates, or attaches itself to any person who comes
A jettatore (one with the evil eye) need not be even imaginative,
or have evil intentions or wishes. He may be simply a person who
is naturally fond of witnessing or reading about sensational
scenes, such as murder, executions, accidents, etc., etc. He may
be not even thinking of any of these at the moment his eye meets
his future victim. But the currents have been produced and exist
in his visual ray ready to spring into activity the instant they
find suitable soil, like a seed fallen by the way and ready to
sprout at the first opportunity.
M. C. But how about the thoughts you call "silent"? Do such
wishes or thoughts come home to roost?
H.P.B. They do; just as a ball which fails to penetrate an
object rebounds upon the thrower. This happens even to some
dugpas or sorcerers who are not strong enough, or do not comply
with the rules -- for even they have rules they have to abide
by -- but not with those who are regular, fully developed "black
magicians," for such have the power to accomplish what they wish.
M. C. When you speak of rules it makes me want to wind up this
talk by asking you what everybody wants to know who takes any
interest in occultism.
What is a principal or important suggestion for those who have
these powers and wish to control them rightly--in fact to enter
H.P.B. The first and most important step in occultism is to
learn how to adapt your thoughts and ideas to your plastic
M. C. Why is this so important?
H.P.B. Because otherwise you are creating things by which you
may be making bad Karma.
No one should go into occultism or even touch it before he is
perfectly acquainted with his own powers, and that he knows how
to commensurate it with his actions. And this he can do only by
deeply studying the philosophy of Occultism before entering upon
the practical training. Otherwise, as sure as fate--HE WILL FALL
INTO BLACK MAGIC. " --- H P B
From DIALOGUES BETWEEN THE TWO EDITORS --- H P B
Lucifer. December 1888
D T B