The Word Foundation


Harold W. Percival



Section 16

Why it is fortunate that the human does not remember previous existences. The training of the doer. A human thinks of himself as a body with a name. To be conscious of and as. The false “I” and its illusions.

From the causes and the nature of memory it becomes at once apparent why past lives are not remembered by the re-existing portion of the doer, and why it is that such memories are not necessary for the education of the doer.

The reason why people do not remember the events of their past lives is that the records that the senses made of these events on the breath-form, are destroyed before the doer portion returns to life.

By doer-memory alone, that is, without the aid of sense-memory, the human cannot remember the events of past lives. Doer-memories are not concerned with events, but only with the states which these events produced, that is, with the feelings, desires, mental activities, faith, conscience or illumination. The human does not know how these states come, but he recognizes them when they do come. They are memories of these states in past lives of the doer portion. The doer is frequently reproducing its own states of former lives, but because the means for sense-memory have been wiped out, the human has nothing by which he can identify the states with the events that caused them. The states caused by the impressions of the former life, the doer portion may have, but the state is the result, not the memory, of the event in the former life.

There are instances of persons remembering something of a past life. They do not remember the whole life as they do a great part of the present, but see only a figure, a street, a gate, a room, a valley. The scenes do not follow one another consecutively, though there is sometimes a connection between several scenes.

Beside the flashing up of such unarticulated scenes, there are sometimes memories of events in which persons are in action. Then more appears than mere pictures. The events bring not only the sight of changing scenes and actions, but with them may come the hearing of sounds and the feeling of pleasure, fear or hate. These scenes or events must produce some feeling and desire, and the doer must identify itself as having some relation to the persons, places or events in them, for them to be classed as memories. Many persons have some such flashes, but even if these cause a feeling, they are not usually related by the doer to itself and so are not felt as memories. The people who believe these flashes to be memories, are such as are responsive to impressions and have a tendency to clairvoyant perceptions. They have such memories also when cycling thoughts cause doer states to be quickened into life as memories and some passing event is identified.

The manner in which these three classes of memories of scenes and events are brought about differs. Similar or associated events can evoke them because, although the old breath-form became inert, the impression was still on the aia and preserved in the psychic atmosphere of the doer and was transferred to the new breath-form. Then from that impression can be worked a sense-memory of a scene or event which caused the impression. When there is such a memory it is at once distinguished as something which is foreign to the present life and yet is intimate. Thoughts cycling in the mental atmosphere stir it up and may cause the recurrence of doer states as memories.

In the third class which is quite different, the doer experiences something which has no connection with nor finds corroboration in any event of the present life. The doer, stirred by a thought related to an occurrence in a former life, compels one or more of the senses to reproduce the event from the doer state and the thought. The senses manufacture from the feeling and from the thought a new event similar to the other. This new event is felt to be a memory and is identified with that which took place in the past and of which it is a counterpart.

Many persons claim to remember past lives, even if they have only momentary glimpses, without completeness and orientation. Still greater is the number of those who see nothing, but may persuade themselves that their fabrications are memories of past lives.

It is fortunate for the doer that the memories of the events of its past lives in human bodies are not with it in the present existence, for the education of the doer could not be accomplished if the human being could remember. If the doer did remember these events, it would be conscious of what it had done in the former personality. To be so conscious would be due to a continuance of the memories of the environments and conditions and of what the personality then did and suffered. It would necessitate access to the marks on the breath-form, which are dissipated when the personality is broken up after death. Many persons fear that they may lose that personality; they will surely lose it, but there is no more reason to fear or regret that loss, than there is reason to fear the loss of a worn-out suit of clothes. What makes the human conscious that he is the same personality during any one life, is due partly to the record of the acts and events engraved upon the breath-form, and partly to the feeling of the unbroken identity of the I-ness of the knower of the Triune Self. Both these factors are necessary to give the human being a sense of being one and the same throughout life; the presence of I-ness which is felt by the human, enables him to connect the memories with the name of the body and to identify them from the symbols on the breath-form. When these symbols are lost, the feeling of the presence of I-ness is not strong enough to make one conscious of one-and-the-sameness.

A person remembering past lives would carry too great a burden of past events to have any freedom of action. He would be ashamed of his meanness, foolishness, hypocrisy, licentiousness, cruelty and crimes. He would be humiliated by the positions or situations in which he had found himself, or he might be carried away with egotism because of the characters as which he has figured, and might be filled with arrogance and puffed up with pride. He might be dominated by greed to acquire again the riches and power once possessed. The memory of comfort and distinction which once had been his might make present hardships quite unbearable. He might be blasted by despair at the vainness of his efforts to overcome destiny. Worst of all, future destiny would be revealed to him by some of the memories. He would be unable to do the duties of the present moment, which is as much as he should be concerned with. He might try to run away from destiny or rush into it instead of meeting it as he should. He could not pass through temptations which are tests necessary for the development of the doer. Knowing the outcome beforehand he would not be tempted, and so would fail to get the training and tempering of character and the strength which overcoming the temptation can give. In any case memory is not necessary for the education of the doer.

The education of the doer is a progress towards the state where it becomes a free and perfected doer. This development of the doer proceeds under the Light of the Intelligence and is attained by means of repeated re-existences of the portions of the doer in human bodies. The doer learns something as the result of each existence of its various portions. Life on the common ground and experiences from the senses are the means used for the training. The education goes on, not in the senses but in the doer itself, as it learns through its embodied portions from experiences. The education goes on without sense-memory, though the experiences are interlinked with sense-memories. Therefore, it is not necessary that one should bring into the present life memories of the events of past lives.

Doer-memory, however, is necessary for the education. Doer-memories are states of feeling-and-desire, of mental attitudes and abilities and of I-ness and selfness. These states exist apart from any objects that might bring them into play, and they represent the results of experiences through objects. These doer-memories continue from past lives and they exist even in the present life apart from the experiences of which they are the result. One remembers the multiplication table without the memory of how it was learned. One has the capacity to read and yet does not remember the processes by which he acquired it. Some can use foreign languages, but do not remember how they learned them, especially if they did so during childhood. What they remember is a doer-memory, which appears as an ability. There is a gap between the repetition of the sound seven times three are twenty-one which the boy had made with the body-mind, and the understanding by the man that seven times three make twenty-one. The repetition of the arithmetical formula made sense-memory, but the present ability to command the information contained in it, is doer-memory. The sense-memory of the repetitions is gone, but the doer-memory remains as the ability to use the results without the aid of the sense-memory. So it is with the knowledge of foreign tongues or with economic and ethical beliefs, as that one cannot benefit others without advancing himself or harm others without a disadvantage to himself or that a gentleman has self-control, integrity, honor, manners, and consideration for the rights of others. Such abilities and convictions are present, but the details from which they resulted in the past or the present life are not remembered. The education of the doer is furthered by such learning, which is retained as a doer-memory. Just as the doer-memory of incidents in the present life remains when the sense-memory of these events can no longer be recalled, so can it be available to that doer portion when it next exists.

The character with which a person is born and the traits brought out in the course of life, his endowments, abilities and tendencies are doer-memories. On them he builds with doer-memories of sense impressions.

The development of a doer portion is determined by its ability to do the right thing at the right time, regardless of memory of what has gone before. There are twelve doer portions which re-exist, each in its turn. The portion which re-exists was the next in turn and is guided by its ruling thought, which brings back doer-memories as feelings, as desires and as mental attitudes. This portion of the doer is embodied by attaching itself to its stations and organs as they mature and as the human being grows up. At first little, then more and in old age usually less, of the selected portion is connected with the body. Development of the organs and outside influences affect the functioning of the embodied portion of the doer. Hence the outlook upon life changes. A child, a schoolboy, a married person, a business man, and an old man or woman, all take different views of things. Notwithstanding the limitations as to the varying amount and functioning of the embodied portion of the doer, the education of the doer is carried on by the Light of the Intelligence.

The embodied portion of the doer is drugged by the body and intoxicated by the senses. While this condition exists there is no full communication between the portion in the body and the eleven portions that are not in the body, but there is nevertheless a relation. What the embodied portion does or suffers affects of course the portions not embodied. The body as a whole is improved or retarded by what is done through the body by its embodied portion.

Though only one portion of a doer is in the station and organs, yet at times of passion or excitement, or at times of fear or hope, or of egotism or illumination, there is a surcharge. This comes from the non-existing portions. When there is a tension, more of the doer can be contained in the body than in the normal state, and in disease or enfeeblement less is present.

The embodied portion is the only means by which the doer comes into relation with the common ground. This in itself might explain why the progress of doers is slow; but more telling is the fact that the interiorizations which come through that small portion in the body do not go far. They do not usually go beyond gross feeling-and-desire, because all that human beings usually care for is what they want and whether things are pleasant or unpleasant. Therefore no mental results are attained beyond skill in procuring the things they want. Because the interiorizations do not produce mental results of learning, humanity has been slumming for millions of years. Nevertheless, training is accomplished by the Light of the Intelligence.

There are indications of the interrelation of the embodied portion of the doer with the thinker and knower. The most familiar is the voice of conscience as it warns against or forbids desires. Other instances are that at times in critical conditions, as of trial, disaster or revolution, one may feel an influx of light or power, rise above his ordinary condition and become a captain of the crowd of which he was but one; that at times while reading a book, something in a scene or event mentioned may cause one to identify himself with a similar scene or event, though he has never been connected with anything of the kind in the present life; that in silent moments one may become conscious as a being totally different from that of the human being of feelings and desires as which he usually exists; that at times one may become conscious of things that have nothing to do with the senses; that on rare occasions one is illuminated, the present disappears without leaving any sensation, ecstasy or exaltation and there is a calm, serene, comprehensive and conscious feeling beyond the senses; and that in rare cases one may be conscious of an identity, which is beyond his feeling of identity and is before and beyond time.

Because of these interrelations the experiences kept as doer-memories by the non-existing portions are made by the Light of the Intelligence to educate the embodied portion gradually and so train the doer. As the human advances, more of the doer can come in, until in a perfect body all twelve portions of the doer can, in turn, come in. Then the doer is conscious as the entire doer part of the Triune Self.

The training goes on not only without a memory of the events of past lives and although different portions of the doer re-exist in its successive human beings, but even though the human has a false identity and does not know who he is.

The human has a name in the world and thinks of himself as the being having that name. He is conscious of a continuity of himself as a being having that name; he is conscious that his personality persists, at least, from birth till death. Usually not much of an examination is made to find out who this being is or how he is composed and of what. He is composed first, of a radiant-airy-fluid-solid physical body; second, of the four senses which maintain this fourfold body and connect it with and relate it to nature; third, of the breath-form which exists in the involuntary nervous system, gives form to the astral body, coordinates and operates the four systems and the movements of the physical body and is the link between nature and the doer. These three altogether make up the personality. And fourth, there is the re-existing portion of the doer. In addition there is present Light of the Intelligence which the doer receives and which it sends out into and reclaims from nature. Only the solid part of the physical body is visible; to that the name is attached and with that the human is identified and identifies himself.

No distinction is made between the invisible parts. They are held to belong to the visible, as these are the only parts perceptible. Erroneous and inaccurate notions obtain concerning the invisible. So the breath-form is mistakenly called the subconscious mind or the subconscious self; the astral body is spoken of as the soul, or its functions are mistaken for those of the breath-form; the four senses are not looked upon as separate beings, but are called functions of organs; feeling, an aspect of the doer itself, is called a fifth sense; and gross ignorance exists concerning the “mind.”

The human is conscious, he is conscious that he is conscious and so he is conscious of having an identity, the one that is related to the body to which the name is attached and which the human speaks of as himself. But that identity, while some sort of an identity, is not the real one. It is a fact that he is conscious of something he calls “I,” but his understanding of it and his feeling of it are self-deceptions, and if he looks for it he does not find it at once. Each physical cell is a conscious unit, it is conscious as its functions; each unit of astral, of airy, of fluid and of solid matter making up the fourfold body, is conscious in the same way, that is, conscious as its function; each sense is conscious as its function. The embodied portion of the doer which is intelligent-matter and no longer nature-matter, is conscious in a different way. It is conscious of its functions, but it is also conscious that it is conscious. No nature unit can be so conscious.

The embodied portion of the doer is conscious of itself as feeling, that it feels, and is conscious of the impressions of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and being in contact. It is conscious that it desires to feel these impressions. It is conscious that this feeling and desiring is pleasant or unpleasant. The impressions made upon feeling-and-desire are translated by thinking into descriptive terms usable by feeling or desire. Without the thinking there could be no appreciation of things, aside from their grossest impressions.

Events affect the doer when the sense transmits to feeling the impressions received through the sense organ. These impressions are taken by desire and are transferred to rightness. From there they are translated into descriptive terms, such as bright, broad, noisy, rhythmic, bitter, fragrant, hot, soft; and neglect, quarrel, delicacy, affection, kindness, sympathy, play. Not only impressions brought in by the senses but also reactions of the doer to phenomena of nature and to human actions are separated, arranged, classed and described by thinking. Feeling and desire simply get impressions and react to them. This can be seen in the effect which a bunch of cornstalks or a red cloth has upon a bull. The reactions in a human would be just as unintelligent if he did not think. Emotions of love and anger would be as crude and wild and without sentiment as in the case of an animal. The psychic refinements of preference, sentiment, passion, luxuriousness, fear, suffering or grief are due to the service which the mind renders to the doer.

The doer is susceptible to all these because it can think, but this does not give it a perception of one-and-the-same-ness, permanence, endlessness. Yet the doer, while not conscious as this continuity, has a vague feeling that there is this continuity somewhere, and desires to be it. That the embodied portion of the doer and the contacting portion of the thinker are both conscious of themselves, conscious of identity, is due to the presence of the knower, which gives them this feeling and understanding of continuity and one-and-the-same-ness in their essence.

The thinker is conscious as this continuity. The thinker and the knower are as one. The doer is not in communication with the thinker, or with the knower; it cannot distinguish itself from nature or from the senses, as what it is. When it tries to think of itself as a continuity and one-and-the-same-ness, it has a feeling of identity and desires to have or to be this identity. It gets no further than this feeling and this desire, which come through the feeling-mind and the desire-mind. Their thinking does not reach the knower, but because they are connected with the thinker, they communicate the presence of identity to feeling-and-desire. Because of the presence of identity the doer thinks about it and attaches that to the desired feeling of continuity of the personality having the name. This feeling is a false “I.” Thus the thinking with the body-mind deludes the human, to satisfy the desire with the thought and the feeling of identity as the personality.

The contacting portion of the knower is conscious as I-ness and as selfness and is conscious of the embodied portion of the doer. I-ness, as the identity, extends without limit through time; it has no beginning and no end. It is an unbroken continuity. Selfness is that aspect of the knower which knows it is knowledge, and knows not merely of the continuity and sequence of events through time, but all things as they are and at once. It knows the sum of the memories of its doer as its psychic part and of its thinker as its mental part. It knows not only what it as a Triune Self has done, but what all other Triune Selves have done, and has part in the sum of knowledge which is common to all Triune Selves. As I-ness and selfness, the knower knows itself in endlessness. The knower is the real “I” and the real Self.

The human is conscious of his feeling-and-desire; he is conscious of his mental activity and that he can in a way use it at will for thinking, but he is not conscious of any of the things that the knower is conscious as or knows. However, the knower is the source of identity in the human. The doer and the thinker have aspects of the knower, because the Triune Self is One. The presence of I-ness produces in the thinker an intimacy with and an appreciation of I-ness; and in the doer it produces a reflection, a feeling of I-ness and a desire for Self-knowledge. This causes the fabrication of the false “I” by the body-mind. So the human thinks himself to be “I” and feels himself to be “I.”

Therefore he says “I see,” “I hear,” “I move,” “I feel pleasure,” and feels himself as an “I” that does this. This “I” is attached to the body with its name. The human is ignorant of how he comes to this conception of “I.” The thought is erroneous and is furnished by the body-mind under the lure of the senses and the pressure of desire. When the human says “I feel,” “I think,” the “I” is again a false “I,” furnished by the thought to satisfy the feeling which wants to be “I”-ness; and this illusion is strengthened by links of memory, the memories of acts and events, conditions and places.

The test of what this “I” of the human being is, is found in what he is conscious as. He is conscious usually as feelings and desires, not even as a mind, and certainly not as reason or rightness.

The false “I” is the feeling, feeling the presence of the real “I” of the knower. The doer feeling itself as the “I” is under an illusion, and it is unconscious that the illusion is due to a thought created by thinking to satisfy the craving of desire itself to have identity as “I.” When the human thinks, he is conscious of the thinking, but not as thinking. He is at times conscious of the presence of the real “I,” but not as the real “I.” So he feels that he has an identity, that he is the same human being he was a week or a year ago. But he does not locate this identity, which remains a mystery to him, because he does not communicate with the knower.

The false “I” is real, but only as feeling-and-desire and as the ability to think; it is not real as I-ness. Because real things are back of the illusion, these real things, which are the embodied portion of the doer and its psychic atmosphere with its doer-memories, can be reached; and so the human can be trained even through the false “I.” Whatever happens to the false “I” affects some reality behind it. Pleasure, disease, intoxication, injury and comfort of the human go beyond the illusion of the false “I” and reach the non-embodied portions of the doer. The effect they produce there lasts longer than the earth life and longer than the lines on the breath-form and the sense-memories that these make. The effect is experience. The experiences which come through the existing portion of the doer help to produce the character of the psychic atmosphere and the qualities of the doer, and their record in the noetic atmosphere is the knowledge which speaks as conscience.

Continued pressure, troubles, hardships, pain and discomfort which are experienced through physical destiny, train the doer along moral lines away from indifference, selfishness, hatred, bigotry and malice, toward patience, sympathy and goodwill. Doer-memories of these states come from the psychic atmosphere as feelings and desires to the human. Feelings of or desires for generosity, patience, sympathy and goodwill that come over a man are doer-memories of states through which the re-existing portion of the doer has passed in the lives of its former personalities. This is one branch of the training of the doer and relates to a man’s attitude towards others.

There is another branch, which relates to his attitude towards himself. This attitude also is the result of doer-memories in the psychic atmosphere. So there will come, because of the doer-memories that have accumulated, a time when there is a feeling in the human that he is not what he feels himself to be, and this starts the desire to be shown what he really is and what is that identity or “I” which he feels. Gradually, thinking, always at the service of feeling-and-desire, will make it clear that the identity is quite different from feeling-and-desire; that feeling-and-desire may be conscious of I-ness but not as I-ness, that the identity is with and in I-ness of the Triune Self and not with feeling-and-desire.

In the meantime the general training of the doer can go on, because the events affecting the human being and its false “I” affect the indwelling portion of the doer and then the non-embodied portions and also its psychic and mental atmospheres.

The run of human beings do not make an effort to find out who and what they are. They do not even think that their personalities are not the entities they believe them to be. Yet the education of the doers goes on. It goes on though they do not know of it any more than they know of the involuntary processes which maintain their bodies, digest their food and circulate their blood. The education goes on whether they wish it or not. The doer-memories, without the events that caused them, are preserved. In the run of human beings the learning is small, very small, still they learn a little.

The doer in each human without knowing its predecessors inherits from them the sum of the memories of their experiences and makes its way through life with this inheritance. The continuity relates to doer-memories, not to whether its human beings are conscious of or as each other.