We may use such phrases as intellectual counters, but for no ordinary mind—dominated by its physical brain and brain-born intellect—can they have a living signification. All that words can convey is that Nirvana is a sublime state of conscious rest in omniscience. It would be ludicrous, after all that has gone before, to turn to the various discussions which have been carried on by students of exoteric Buddhism as to whether Nirvana does or does not mean annihilation. Worldly similes fall short of indicating the feeling with which the graduates of Esoteric Science regard such a question. Does the last penalty of the law mean the highest honour of the peerage? Is a wooden spoon the emblem of the most illustrious pre-eminence in learning? Such questions as these but faintly symbolise the extravagance of the question whether Nirvana is held by Buddhism to be equivalent to annihilation.
So we learn from the Secret Doctrine that the Nirvani returns to cosmic activity in a new cycle of manifestation, and that
The thread of radiance which is imperishable and dissolves only in Nirvana, re-emerges from it in its integrity on the day when the Great Law calls all things back into action.
We are now in position to discriminate between the various kinds of communication possible between those whom we foolishly divide into “dead” and “living,” as though the body were the man, or the man could die. “Communications between the embodied and the disembodied” would be a more satisfactory phrase.
First, let us put aside as unsuitable the word Spirit: Spirit does not communicate with Spirit in any way conceivable by us. That highest principle is not yet manifest in the flesh; it remains the hidden fount of all, the eternal Energy, one of the poles of Being in manifestation. The word is loosely used to denote lofty Intelligences, who live and move beyond all conditions of matter imaginable by us, but pure Spirit is at present as inconceivable by us as pure matter. And as in dealing with possible “communications” we have average human beings as recipients, we may as well exclude the word Spirit as much as possible, and so get rid of ambiguity. But in quotations the word often occurs, in deference to the habit of the day, and it then denotes the Ego.
Taking the stages through which the living man passes after “Death”, or the shaking off of the body, we can readily classify the communications that may be received, or the appearances that may be seen:
I. While the Soul has shaken off only the dense body, and remains still clothed in the etheric double. This is a brief period only, but during it the disembodied Soul may show itself, clad in this ethereal garment.