Franz Hartmann MD Magic, White and Black

The Science of Finite and Infinite Life

(1888) 4th edition

Franz Hartmann, MD

Triangle inscribed in a square

Chapter IV - Life

"I never was not, nor shall I hereafter cease to be." -- Bhagawat Gita

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One Life

The universe of forms may be compared to a kaleidoscope in which the various forms of the original energy manifest themselves in an endless variety, appearing, disappearing, and re-appearing again. As in a kaleidoscope the pieces of variously-coloured glass do not change their substance, but only change their positions, and, through the delusive reflections of mirrors at each turn of the instrument, are made to appear in new constellations and figures, so the One Life manifesting itself appears in an infinite number of forms unconscious or conscious, blind or intelligent, voluntary or involuntary, from the atom, whose auras and ethers rush through a common vortex,* up to the blazing suns whose photospheres extend over millions of miles, and from the microscopic Amoeba, up to perfect Man, whose intelligence conquers the gods.

* Babbitt: "Principles of Light and Colour." [1878]

Forms are materialised thoughts. If you can control thought you can control life and call into existence a form; but few persons are able to hold on to one thought even for one minute of time, because their minds are wavering and their will is divided.

If a form comes into existence on the physical plane, its growth is simply a process by which something that already exists in thought becomes visible and material. This something is the character of the form, and as each character is individual and a whole, it becomes expressed in all parts of the form. A human being -- for instance -- will not have the body of a man, and the head of an animal, but its human character will be expressed in all its parts, and as the character constituting humanity is expressed in all human individuals, so is the character of an individual expressed in all its parts.

This is a truth upon which the doctrines of Astrology, Phrenology, Chiromancy, Physiognomy, &c., are based, which are necessarily true, because Nature is a Unity. An animal, a plant, or a man, is a unity, and is therefore expressed in all the parts of the forms. It can be scientifically demonstrated that each component part of an organism is a microcosm, in which are represented the principles composing that organism. We may by examining a part of a leaf know that it comes from a plant, and by looking at an animal substance see that it came from an animal, or by testing even the most minute part of a mineral or metal know that it belongs to the mineral kingdom. Likewise we may read a man's character in his hands or face or feet or in any other part of his body, if we have acquired the art how to read it correctly.

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Upon this law is based the science of Psychometry* By this science we may obtain a true history of past events. By psychometrically examining a stone taken from a house we may obtain correct information in regard to the former or present inhabitants of that house, or a fossil may give us a true description of antediluvian scenery and of the mode of life of prehistoric animals or men. By the psychometrical examination of a letter we may obtain information about the person who wrote the letter and also of the place in which the letter was written.**

* Prof. W. Denton: "Soul of Things." J. K. Buchanan: "Manual of Psychometry."

** By submitting a letter which I had received in an occult manner from a "Master" in Tibet, to a German peasant woman, for the purpose of having it examined psychometrically, I received a correct description of a certain temple in Tibet, and of certain persons with whom I afterwards became acquainted. -- H.

If this art were universally known and practised, criminals could be detected by examining psychometrically a piece of the wall, the floor, or the furniture of the room in which a murder or robbery was committed; it would make an end to convicting of innocent persons on circumstantial evidence, or to letting the guilty escape for want of proof; for the psychometer would, by the superior powers of his perception with the spiritual eye, see the murderer or robber or counterfeiter as plain as if he had seen them with his external eyes while the deed was committed.

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Each form is the external expression of a certain character which it represents, and as such it has certain peculiar attributes, which distinguish it from other forms. A change of its character is followed by a gradual change of the form. An individual who becomes degraded in morals will, in the course of time, show his degradation in his external appearance; persons of a different appearance and different characters may, in the course of time, as their characters harmonise, resemble each other to a certain extent in appearance. Forms of life, belonging to the same class and species, resemble each other, and each nationality has certain characteristics expressed in the individuals belonging to it.

A full-blooded Irishman will not easily be mistaken for a full-blooded Spaniard, although the two may be dressed alike, but, if they emigrate, they or their children will in time lose the national character which they possessed. Change of character changes the form; but a change of form does not necessarily change the character. A man may lose a leg and become a cripple, and still his character may remain the same as before; a child may grow into a man, and still his character remain that of a child unless modified by education.

These facts are incontrovertible proofs that the character of a being is more essential than his external form. If the character of an individual were to depend on his inherited form, children born of the same parents and educated under the same circumstances would always manifest the same moral characteristics, but it is well known that the characters of such children often differ widely from each other, and possess characteristics which their parents do not possess.

If, as it frequently happens, children show the same or similar talents and intellectual capacities as their parents, such a fact is by no means a proof that the parents of the child's physical body are also the parents or producers of its intellectual germ; but it may be taken as an additional evidence of the truth of the doctrine of reincarnation, because the spiritual monad of the child would be naturally attracted, in its efforts to reincarnate, to the bodies of parents, whose mental and intellectual constitution would correspond nearest to its own talents and inclinations, developed during a previous earthly life.

"Character" means "individuality." It is that which distinguishes one individual from another. That which represents the true character of something is its individual being, and not its corporeal form, and this individuality exists after the corporeal body, which was the expression of its qualities which has been dissolved. This individuality, called the "soul," is not seen with our physical eyes, neither during the life of the form nor after its death. The life of the body may depart; but the life of the individuality is independent from that of the form or personality.

The individuality may belong either to a class as a whole, or to separate isolated beings. In the lower kingdoms no differentiation of character or soul exists; there is only a differentiation of form; they have one common soul; but in intelligent beings a distinct individuality belongs to each form; each self-conscious being has its own individual soul as soon as it has attained an individual character, and its individuality is independent of the existence of its personality. Forms perish; but the individuality remains unchanged after their death.

Seen from this standpoint, "death" is life, because, during the time that death lasts, that which is essential does not change; life is death, because only during life in the form the character is changed, and old tendencies and inclinations die and are replaced by others. Our passions and vices may die while we live; if they survive us they will be born again.

The character of an oak exists before the acorn begins to grow, but the growing germ attracts from earth and air such elements as it needs to produce an oak; the soul of a child exists as such before the physical form of the child is born into the world, and during its life in the form it may attract from the spiritual atmosphere the elements to which its aspirations and tendencies reach.

Each seed will grow best in the soil that is best adapted to its constitution, each human monad existing in the subjective state will be attracted at the time of its incarnation to parents whose qualities furnish the best soil for its own tendencies and inclinations, and whose moral and mental attributes correspond to its own.

The physical parents cannot be the progenitors of the spiritual germ of the child; that germ is the product of a previous spiritual evolution, through which it has passed in connection with former objective lives. In the present existence of a being the character of the being that will be its successor is prepared. Therefore every man may be truly said to be his own father; for he is the incarnated result of the personality which he evolved in his last life upon the planet, and the next personality which he will represent in his next visit upon this globe, is evolved by him during his present life.

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Spiritual Development

The development of a plant reaches its climax in the development of the seed; the development of the animal body reaches its climax in the capacity to reproduce its form, but the intellectual and spiritual development of a man goes on long after he has acquired the power of reproduction, and it may not have reached its climax when the physical form is on the downward path, and ceases to live. The condition of the physical body undoubtedly furnish facilities for the development of character in the same sense as a good soil will furnish facilities for the growth of a tree; but the best soil cannot transform a thistle into a rose-bush, and the son of a good and intellectual man may be a villain or a dunce.

As the primordial essence proceeds to manifest itself in forms, it descends from the universal condition to general, special, and finally individual states. As it ascends again to the formless, the scale is reversed, and the individual units expand, to mingle again with the whole.

Life on the lowest planes manifests itself in an undifferentiated condition; air has no strictly defined shape; one drop of water in the ocean shares an existence common to all other drops; one piece of clay is essentially the same as another. In the vegetable and animal kingdom the universal principle of life manifests itself in individual forms; still there is little difference between individual plants, trees, animals, and men belonging to the same species, and the peculiar attributes which distinguish one individual form from another cease to exist when the form disappears.

That which essentially distinguishes one individual from another is independent of form. Distinctions of form disappear after the forms have dissolved; distinctions of character remain. Those attributes which raise their possessors eminently above the common level begin at a state where external appearances cease to be of great consequence. Socrates was deformed [1] and yet a great genius; the size of Napoleon's body was not at all in proportion with the greatness of his intellect. Spirituality rises above the grave of the form, and the influence of great minds often grows stronger after the bodies that served them have turned to dust. Strong minds exert a power far beyond their physical form while they live; that power remains what it is when they die. They do not die when the form disappears.

[1. According to Plato's Symposium, Socrates was not good looking, but he was not said to be deformed. ]

All characters may become reincarnated or reim-bodied after they have left the form, but if an individual has no specific character of its own the common character belonging to its species or class will be all that, after leaving the old body, can enter the new. If an individual has developed a specific character of its own, that distinguishes it from its fellows, that individual character will individually survive the dissolution of its form, because the law that applies to the whole, or to the class, will also apply to the part.

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A drop of water mixed in a body of water will become dispersed in the mass, it may be evaporated and condensed again, but it will never again be the same drop; but if a drop of some ethereal oil is mixed with the water, and the whole is evaporated in a retort, it will, after being condensed, form again the same individual drop in the mass. A character may lose its individuality during life and sink to the common level, but if it has established a distinction from others, its individuality will survive the death of the form. To build up a character an individual form is required; to build up an individual form a character must exist.

If we wish to produce a form we must first decide upon its character. A sculptor who would aimlessly cut a stone, without making up his mind as to what form he desired to produce, would not accomplish anything great. The form is a temple of learning for the character, in which the latter gains experience by passing through the struggles of life. The harder the struggle the faster may the character of the individual become developed; an easy life may increase the size of the form, but leave the character weak; a hard struggle may weaken the form, but strengthens the spirit.

If we wish to make a new form out of old clay, we must first of all determine what that form shall be which we are about to create. The clay is passive, we may mould it into a thing of beauty or make it to represent something vile. If we wish to change our character for the better during our life, we must first of all learn to know a higher purpose of life, and reach up for a higher ideal, to be realised within our own self. After this nothing else needs to be done but to keep away everything that will prevent this ideal to realise itself in us.

If we only protect it in its work, it will accomplish that work alone and without our active co-operation. We need not run after, catch, invent, create or manufacture our ideal, we only need to let that which already exists become a reality in us. We cannot even grow a cabbage; we can only prepare the conditions under which a cabbage can grow. We cannot grow an ideal in us; the ideal grows itself, if we furnish the soil, and that soil is our life.

If our soul is to expand its consciousness beyond the narrow limits of this world and realise the glory of an universal existence, then must we let a high and universal ideal realise itself in us. Dreaming and talking of some ideal is to no purpose, we must let it nourish itself by our life. Wisdom and Power, Love and Truth, Justice and Knowledge, are no objects for dreaming or for scientific research; they must become our life and nourish us by our living in harmony with these universal principles, otherwise we cannot rise above the limitation of form, which is the cause of the delusion of separation and personality.

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From the illusion of separatedness caused by the realisation of form arises this delusion of self. From this delusion arise innumerable others. From the sense of self arises the love of self, the desire for continuance of personality, greed, avarice, envy, jealousy, fear, doubt and sorrow, pain and death, and the whole range of sufferings which render life miserable and afford no permanent happiness. If a person is miserable and can find no happiness in himself, the surest and quickest way for him to be contented is to forget his own personality.

A person living in a continual state of isolation of the heart, cares for nothing but for his own personality. He passes away his life in dreaming of that which he does not possess, and thus he loses his spiritual substance and power, becoming himself like a vapoury dream.

Isolation on the physical plane produces starvation. He who is not nourished by the spirit of universal love starves his soul. An organism upon a low scale of existence, a stone, endures isolation; a scrub pine may live in a place where no higher plant can exist. An idiot may live alone in a cave and not trouble himself, because he has no spiritual aspirations requiring nourishment; but one who desires to attain life and strength in the spirit, must be nourished by that spirit, whose name is universal spiritual love.

As on the physical plane, so on the astral plane, isolation produces starvation. A desire locked up in the heart feeds on the life of him who harbours it; stored up anger seeks for some object upon which to spend itself; passions are never contented, they always clamour for more. The forces of the astral plane are conscious, even if not intelligent; they refuse to be "killed out," they cry for life, and follow the currents of life's attractions. The astral soul of a drunkard will be attracted to drunkards; the astral spook of the lewd seek enjoyment in a brothel through the organs of another; the ghost of the miser is hovering over his buried treasures until the force which put him there is exhausted. There are spooks, ghosts, vampires incubi, succubi, and elementals of various kinds, all thirsting for life.

An isolated desire does not die, but grows into a passion; passions grow stronger at one's expense by being imprisoned. Accumulated energy cannot be annihilated, it must be transferred to other forms, or be transformed into other modes of motion; it cannot remain for ever inactive.

It is useless to attempt to resist a passion which one cannot control. If its accumulating energy is not led into other channels it will grow until it becomes stronger than reason. To control it, it should be led into another and higher channel. Thus a love for something vulgar may be changed by turning it into a love for something high, and vice may be turned into virtue by changing its aim. Passion is blind, it goes where it is led to, and requires reason to guide it. Love for a form disappears with the death of the form, or soon after; love of character remains even after the form in which that character was embodied ceased to exist.

The ancients said that Nature suffers no vacuum. We cannot destroy or annihilate a passion. If one passion is driven away another will take its place. We should therefore not attempt to destroy the low, but displace the low by the high; vice by virtue, and superstition by knowledge.

There are some persons who live in perfect isolation on the intellectual plane. They are such whose thoughts are entirely absorbed by intellectual speculation, having no time or inclination to attend to the claims of their character. They feed their brains while their hearts are made to starve. They live in dreams and scientific illusions, in the smoke of the speculations arising from their vapoury brains. They are like misers, filling the mind with what they believe to be immortal treasures, consisting of collections of theories, dogmas, hypotheses, suppositions, inferences, and sophistry, while they have no room for the development of spirituality or the divine knowledge of self.

This class is constituted of the very learned, the great dogmatists, rationalists, material philosophers, and "sceptical" scientists of our age, with overgrown brains and petrified hearts. They argue about immortality or deny its existence, instead of seeking to attain it; they sometimes become criminals for the sake of gratifying their scientific curiosity. Their astral corpses will continue to exist for a while after the death of the body, until their life is exhausted, and having attained no spirituality during terrestrial life, they will, after their borrowed treasures have departed, be spiritual idiots.

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No Isolation in God

There exists no isolation on the spiritual plane, nor can we speak of isolation in God; for if God is self-existent, self-conscious, self-knowing, and self-sufficient, his self, his existence, his knowledge encloses the All with all of his creatures. Well may he who has gained the knowledge of his own divine self be satisfied to live in a tomb; for what other company should be desired by one who enjoys the presence of God; what comfort should be given to one who lives in divine peace; what could be offered to one who possesses the All?

Life itself never perishes; only the forms perish, if life ceases to manifest itself in them.

Life is universally present in nature, it is contained in every particle of matter, and only when the last particle of life has departed the form ceases to exist. Life in a stone does not appear to exist, and yet without life there would be no cohesion of its atoms. If the life-principle were extracted from a mineral its form would be annihilated.

A seed taken from the tomb of an Egyptian mummy began to germinate and grow after it was planted in the earth, having kept its life-principle during a sleep of many centuries. If the activity of animal life could be correspondingly arrested, an animal or a man might prolong individual existence to an indefinite period. Stones may live from the beginning of a Manvantara unto its end; some forms reach a very old age, but if the life-impulse is once given it is difficult to arrest it without destroying the form.*

* If the life of a person could be suspended by arresting its activity for some years (as has been actually done in the well-known instances of buried fakirs), we might preserve all our great statesmen and politicians for ages, and wake them up only on occasions when their advice would be required.

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Love, Will and Life

Life may be transferred from one form upon another, and the power by which it may be transferred is the power of Love, because Love, Will and Life are essentially the same power, or different aspects of one, in the same sense as heat and life are modifications of motion. The power of hate may kill, and the power of love has been known to call the apparently dead back to life. Spiritual Love is Life, a spiritual power more powerful than all the drugs of the Pharmacopoeia. A person may actually give his life to another and die himself, so that another may live. This transfer can be made and sick persons restored to health, by the power of love.

The fountain of this universal love is also the source of the life of all things; it is divine self-consciousness, the power by which God recognises himself in everything; in other words, it is divine wisdom, the Light.** It is everywhere present, and manifests itself in every form capable to correspond to its living vibrations. It cannot be found by vivisection nor by means of the microscope, telescope, or chemical analysis, and modern science knows nothing about it. Nevertheless it is a principle or power, in and through which we all live and have our being, and if it were withdrawn from us for one moment, we would be immediately annihilated.

** "In him was the life, and the life was the light of all men." -- St John i. 4.

"He is the light in all luminous things. He is the Knower, the Knowledge, and the object of Knowledge." -- Bhagavad Gita xiii. 17.

To be blind to the universal presence of this Light is to be blind to the fact that grasses and trees, men and animals, live and grow, and that every form strives to be initiated into a higher degree according to the law of evolution. The building of the "Temple of Solomon" goes on unceasingly. Invisibly act the elements of nature, the master builders of the universe, and no sound of a hammer is heard.

Life inhabits a form, and when the form is decayed it gathers the elements and builds itself a new house. A rock, exposed to the action of wind and rain, begins to decay on its surface the elements gather again and appear in a new form. Minute plants and mosses grow on the surface, living and dying and being reborn, until the soil accumulates and higher forms come into existence. Centuries may pass away before this part of the work is completed; but finally grasses will grow, and the life that was formally dormant in a rock now manifests itself in forms capable to enter the animal kingdom.

A worm eats a plant, and the life of the plant becomes active and conscious in a worm; a bird eats the worm, and the life that was chained to a form crawling in darkness and filth, now partakes of the joys of an inhabitant of the air. At each step on the ladder of progression life acquires new means to manifest its activity, and the death of its previous form enables it to step into a higher one.

But a time arrives in the process of its evolution when its activity becomes so high and its sphere so expanded, that no physical organism, no form of which we can conceive, will be able to serve as an instrument in which its attributes could find an appropriate expression. Then will the mortal frame be too insignificant to serve the immortal genius, and the freed Eagle will arise from the form.

Forms are nothing but symbols of life, and the higher the life expresses itself the higher will be the form. An acorn is an insignificant thing compared with the oak, but it has a character, and through the magic action of life it may develop into an oak. The germ of its individual life is incarnated in the acorn, and forms the point of attraction for the universal principle of life. Its character is already formed, and if it grows it can become nothing else but an oak.

Buried in the earth it grows and develops from a lower into a higher state through the influence of the highest, because the principle of life is present in it. But however great its potency for growth may be, still it cannot germinate without the life-giving influence of the universal fountain of life reaching it through the power of the sun, and the sun could not make it grow unless the same principle of life were contained within the germ.

The rays of the sun penetrate from their airy regions to the earth; their light cannot enter the solid earth, which protects the tender seed of a plant from the fiery rays, whose activity would destroy its inherent vitality. But the seed is touched by the heat that radiates into the earth, and a special mode of life manifests itself in the seed. The seed begins to sprout, and the germ struggles towards the source of the life-giving influence, and strives towards the light.

The roots have no desire for light, they only crave for nutriment, which they find in the dark caverns of matter. They penetrate deeper into the earth, and may even absorb the activity of the higher parts of the plant. But if these parts belong to a species whose character it is to grow towards the light, its nobler portions will enter its sphere, and ultimately bear flowers and fruits.

The soul of man being buried in matter, feels the life-giving influence of the supreme spiritual sun, while at the same time it is attracted by matter. If man's whole attention is attracted to the claims of his body, if all his aspirations and desires are directed to satisfy the desires of his "self," he will himself remain a thing of earth, incapable to become conscious of the existence of Light. But if he strives for Light and opens his soul to its divine influence, he will enter its sphere and become conscious of its existence.

The true Elixir of Life can only be found at the eternal fountain of life. It springs from the seventh principle, manifesting itself as spiritual power in the sixth and shedding its light down into the fifth, illuminating the mind. In the fifth it is manifest as the intellectual power in man, radiating down into the fourth it creates desires, by calling forth instincts in the lower triad, and thereby enabling the forms to draw the elements which they need from the storehouse of nature. It for ever calls men to life by the voice of truth, whose echo is the power of intuition crying in the wilderness of our hearts, baptising the souls with the water of truth, and pointing out to them the true path to the realisation of their own immortality.

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