Ouspensky – On one occasion, at one of these meetings, someone asked about the possibility of reincarnation, and whether it was possible to believe in cases of communication with the dead.
“Many things are possible,” said G. “But it is necessary to understand that man’s being, both in life and after death, if it does exist after death, may be very different in quality. The ‘man-machine’ with whom everything depends upon external influences, with whom everything happens, who is now one, the next moment another, and the next moment a third, has no future of any kind; he is buried and that is all. Dust returns to dust. This applies to him.
In order to be able to speak of any kind of future life there must be a certain crystallization, a certain fusion of man’s inner qualities, a certain independence of external influences. If there is anything in a man able to resist external influences, then this very thing itself may also be able to resist the death of the physical body. But think for yourselves what there is to withstand physical death in a man who faints or forgets everything when he cuts his finger? If there is anything in a man, it may survive; if there is nothing, then there is nothing to survive.
But even if something survives, its future can be very varied. In certain cases of fuller crystallization what people call ‘reincarnation’ may be possible after death, and, in other cases, what people call ‘existence on the other side.’ In both cases it is the continuation of life in the ‘astral body,’ or with the help of the ‘astral body.’ You know what the expression ‘astral body’ means. But the systems with which you are acquainted and which use this expression state that all men have an ‘astral body.’ This is quite wrong.
What may be called the ‘astral body’ is obtained by means of fusion, that is, by means of terribly hard inner work and struggle. Man is not born with it. And only very few men acquire an ‘astral body.’ If it is formed it may continue to live after the death of the physical body, and it may be born again in another physical body. This is ‘reincarnation.’ If it is not re-born, then, in the course of time, it also dies; it is not immortal but it can live long after the death of the physical body.
“Fusion, inner unity, is obtained by means of ‘friction,’ by the struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in man. If a man lives without inner struggle, if everything happens in him without opposition, if he goes wherever he is drawn or wherever the wind blows, he will remain such as he is. But if a struggle begins in him, and particularly if there is a definite line in this struggle, then, gradually, permanent traits begin to form themselves, he begins to ‘crystallize.’ But crystallization is possible on a right foundation and it is possible on a wrong foundation. ‘Friction,’ the struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ can easily take place on a wrong foundation. For instance, a fanatical belief in some or other idea, or the ‘fear of sin,’ can evoke a terribly intense struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ and a man may crystallize on these foundations. But this would be a wrong, incomplete crystallization. Such a man will not possess the possibility of further development. In order to make further development possible he must be melted down again, and this can be accomplished only through terrible suffering.
“Crystallization is possible on any foundation. Take for example a brigand, a really good, genuine brigand. I knew such brigands in the Caucasus. He will stand with a rifle behind a stone by the roadside for eight hours without stirring. Could you do this? All the time, mind you, a struggle is going on in him. He is thirsty and hot, and flies are biting him; but he stands still. Another is a monk; he is afraid of the devil; all night long he beats his head on the floor and prays. Thus crystallization is achieved. In such ways people can generate in themselves an enormous inner strength; they can endure torture; they can get what they want. This means that there is now in them something solid, something permanent. Such people can become immortal. But what is the good of it? A man of this kind becomes an ‘immortal thing,’ although a certain amount of consciousness is sometimes preserved in him. But even this, it must be remembered, occurs very rarely.”
I recollect that the talks which followed that evening struck me by the fact that many people heard something entirely different to what G. said; others only paid attention to G.’s secondary and nonessential remarks and remembered only these. The fundamental principles in what G. said escaped most of them. Only very few asked questions on the essential things he said. One of these questions has remained in my memory.
“In what way can one evoke the struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in oneself?” someone asked.
“Sacrifice is necessary,” said G. “If nothing is sacrificed nothing is obtained. And it is necessary to sacrifice something precious at the moment, to sacrifice for a long time and to sacrifice a great deal. But still, not forever. This must be understood because often it is not understood. Sacrifice is necessary only while the process of crystallization is going on. When crystallization is achieved, renunciations, privations, and sacrifices are no longer necessary. Then a man may have everything he wants. There are no longer any laws for him, he is a law unto himself.”
Source – from Ouspensky Book “In Search of Miraculous”