Reprinted by Blavatsky Study Center

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Skandhas or "Permanent Atoms"?


"...Karma is the guiding power, and Trishna (in Pali Tanha) the thirst or desire to sentiently live - the proximate force or energy, the resultant of human (or animal) action, which, out of the old Skandhas produce the new group that form the new being and control the nature of birth itself... The 'old being' is the sole   parent - father and mother at once - of the 'new being.' It is the former who is the creator and fashioner, of the latter, in reality; and far more so in plain truth, than any father in flesh. And once that YOU have well mastered the meaning of Skandhas you will see what I mean.

"It is the group of Skandhas, that form and constitue the physical and mental individuality we call man (or any being). This group consists (in the exoteric teaching) of five Skandhas, namely: Rupa - the material properties or attributes; Vedana - sensations; Sanna - abstract ideas; Sankhara - tendencies both physical and mental; and Vinnana - mental powers, an amplification of the fourth meaning the mental, physical and moral predispositions. We add to them two more, the nature and names of which you may learn hereafter. Suffice for the present to let you know that they are connected with, and productive of Sakkayaditthi, the 'heresy or delusion of individuality' and of Attavada, 'the doctrine of Self,' both of which (in the case of the fifth principle the soul) lead to the maya of heresy and belief in the efficacy of vain rites and ceremonies; in prayers and intercession... Skandhas... are ever and ceaselessly at work in preparing the abstract mould, the 'privation' of the future new being." (Mahatma Letters, pp. 110-120, #16)

"Enq. What becomes of the other, the lower Skandhas of the personality, after the death of the body? Are they quite destroyed?

"Theo. They are and yet they are not - a fresh metaphysical and occult mystery for you. They are destroyed as the working stock in hand of the personality; they remain as karmic effects, as germs, hanging in the atmosphere of the terrestrial plane, ready to come to life, as so many avenging fiends, to attach themselves to the new personality of the Ego when it reincarnates." (Key to Theosophy, p-154)


"A physical impact of any kind will cause vibrations corresponding to its own in the physical body it contacts ... whether local or general, they will reach the permanent physical atom . . . All the results of physical experiences remain stored up in this permanent atom, as powers of vibrating ... The physical body disintegrates at death; its particles scatter, all carrying with them the result of the experience through which they have passed ... But the physical permanent atom remains ...  

"The permanent astral atom bears exactly the same relation to the astral body as that borne by the physical permanent atom to the physical body. At the end of the life in Kama-loka-purgatory - the golden life-web withdraws from the astral body, leaving it to disintegrate, as its physical comrade had previously done, and enwraps the astral permanent atom for its long sleep. A similar relation is borne to the mental body by the permanent mental particle during physical astral and mental life" (Annie Besant, A Study in  Consciousness, pp. 60, 65) [27]

"A questioner sometimes asks: How can these permanent atoms be stored up within the causal body, without losing their physical, astra1, and mental natures, since the causal body exists on a higher plane, where the physical, as physical, cannot be? Such a querent is forgetting, for a moment, that all the planes are interpenetrating ... The triad forms a minute particle within the causal body; each constituent part of it belongs to its own plane, but as the planes have meeting points everywhere, no difficulty arises in the necessary juxtaposition." (Annie Besant, A Study in Consciousness, p. 66) [28]