Conversations on Occultism
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Sage.- You ought to clearly fix in your mind and fully comprehend a few facts and the laws relating to them. As the elemental world is wholly different from the one visible to you, the laws governing them and their actions cannot as yet be completely defined in terms now used either by scientific or metaphysical schools. For that reason, only a partial description is possible. Some of those facts I will give you, it being well understood that I am not including all classes of elemental beings in my remarks.
First, then, Elementals have no form.
Student.- You mean, I suppose, that they have no limited form or body as ours, having a surface upon which sensation appears to be located.
Sage.- Not only so, but also that they have not even a shadowy, vague, astral form such as is commonly ascribed to ghosts. They have no distinct personal form in which to reveal themselves.
Student.- How am I to understand that, in view of the instances given by Bulwer Lytton and others of appearances of elementals in certain forms?
Sage.- The shape given to or assumed by any elemental is always subjective in its origin. It is produced by the person who sees, and who, in order to be more sensible of the elemental's presence, has unconsciously given it a form. Or it may be due to a collective impression on many individuals, resulting in the assumption of a definite shape which is the result of the combined impressions.
Student.- Is this how we may accept as true the story of Luther's seeing the devil?
Sage.- Yes. Luther from his youth had imagined a personal devil, the head of the fraternity of wicked ones, who had a certain specific form. This instantly clothed the elementals that Luther evoked, either through intense enthusiasm or from disease, with the old image reared and solidified in his mind; and he called it the Devil.
Student.- That reminds me of a friend who told me that in his youth he saw the conventional devil, walk out of the fire place and pass across the room, and that ever since he believed that the devil had an objective existence.
Sage.- In the same way also you can understand the extraordinary occurrences at Salem in the United States, when hysterical and mediumistic women and children saw the devil and also various imps of different shapes. Some of these gave the victims information. They were all elementals, and took their illusionary forms from the imaginations and the memory of the poor people who were afflicted.
Student.- But there are cases where a certain form always appears. Such as a small, curiously dressed woman who had never existed in the imagination of those seeing her; and other regularly recurring appearances. How were those produced, since the persons had never had such a picture before them?
Sage.- These pictures are found in the aura of the person, and are due to pre-natal impressions. Each child emerges into life the possessor of pictures floating about and clinging to it, derived from the mother; and thus you can go back an enormous distance in time for these pictures, all through the long line of your descent. It is a part of the action of the same law which causes effects upon a child's body through influences acting on the mother during gestation. (1)
Student.- In order, then, to know the cause of any such appearance, one must be able to look back, not only into the person's present life, but also into the ancestor's past?
Sage.- Precisely. And for that reason an occultist is not hasty in giving his opinion on these particular facts. He can only state the general law, for a life might be wasted in needless investigation of an unimportant past. You can see that there would be no justification for going over a whole lifetime's small affairs in order to tell a person at what time or juncture an image was projected before his mind. Thousands of such impressions are made every year. That they are not developed into memory does not prove their non-existence. Like the unseen picture upon the photographer's sensitive plate, they lie awaiting the hour of development.
Student.- In what way should I figure to myself the essence of an elemental and its real mode of existence?
Sage.- You should think of them as centers of energy only, that act always in accordance with the laws of the plane of nature to which they belong.
Student.- Is it not just as if we were to say that gunpowder is an elemental and will invariably explode when lighten? That is, that the elementals knew no rules of either wrong or right, but surely act when the incitement to their natural action is present? They are thus, I suppose, said to be implacable.
Sage.- Yes; they are like the lightning which flashes or destroys as the varying circumstances compel. It has no regard for man, or love, or beauty, or goodness, but may as quickly kill the innocent, or burn the property of the good as of the wicked man.
Student.- What next?
Sage.- That the elementals live in and through all objects, as well as beyond the earth's atmosphere.
Student.- Do you mean that a certain class of elementals, for instance, exist in this mountain, and float unobstructed through men, earth, rocks and trees?
Sage.- Yes, and not only that, but at the same time, penetrating that class of elementals, there may be another class which float not only through rocks, trees, and men, but also through the first of the classes referred to.
Student.- Do they perceive these objects obstructive for us, through which they thus float?
Sage.- No, generally they do not. In exceptional cases they do, and even then never with the same sort of cognition that we have. For them the objects have no existence. A large block of stone or iron offers for them no limits or density. It may, however, make an impression on them by way of change of colour or sound, but not by way of density or obstruction.
Student.- Is it not something like this, that a current of electricity passes through a hard piece of copper wire, while it will not pass through an unresisting space of air?
Sage.- That serves to show that the thing which is dense to one form of energy may be open to another. Continuing your illustration, we see that man can pass through air but is stopped by metal. So that "hardness" for us is not "hardness" for electricity. Similarly, that which may stop an elemental is not a body that we call hard, but something which for us is intangible and invisible, but presents to them an adamantine front.
Student.- I thank you for your instruction.
Sage.- Strive to deserve further
(1) See Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1, pp. 390 et seq. , 397-400
Sage.- It is a branch of knowledge which shows the universe in the form of an egg. The cell of science is a little copy of the egg of the universe. The laws which govern the whole govern also every part of it. As man is a little copy of the universe - is the microcosm - he is governed by the same laws which rule the greater. Occultism teaches therefore of the secret laws and forces of the universe and man, those forces playing in the outer world and known in part only by the men of the day who admit no invisible real nature behind which is the model of the visible.
Student.- What does Occultism teach in regard to man, broadly speaking?
Sage.- That he is the highest product of evolution, and hence has in him a centre or focus corresponding to each centre of force or power in the universe. He therefore has as many centres or foci of force, power, and knowledge as there are such in the greater world about and within.
Student.- Do you mean to include also the ordinary run of men, or is it exceptions you refer to?
Sage.- I include every human being, and that will reach from the lowest to the very highest, both those we know and those beyond us who are suspected as being in existence. Although we are accustomed to confine the term "human" to this earth, it is not correct to confine that sort of being to this plane or globe, because other planets have beings the same as ours in essential power and nature and possibility.
Student.- Please explain a little more particularly what you mean by our having centres or foci in us.
Sage.- Electricity is a most powerful force not fully known to modern science, yet used very much. The nervous, physical, and mental systems of man acting together are able to produce the same force exactly, and in a finer as well as subtler way and to as great a degree as the most powerful dynamo, so that the force might be used to kill, to alter, to move, or otherwise change any object or condition. This is the "vril" described by Bulwer Lytton in his Coming Race.
Nature exhibits to our eyes the power of drawing into one place with fixed limits any amount of material so as to produce the smallest natural object or the very largest. Out of the air she takes what is already there, and by compressing it into the limits of tree or animal form makes it visible to our material eyes. This is the power of condensing into what may be known as the ideal limits, that is, into the limits of the form which is ideal. Man has this same power, and can, when he knows the laws and the proper centres of force in himself, do precisely what Nature does. He can thus make visible and material what was before ideal and invisible by filling the ideal form with the matter condensed from the air. In his case the only difference from Nature is that he does quickly what she brings about slowly.
Among natural phenomena there is no present illustration of telepathy good for our use. Among the birds and the beasts, however, there is a telepathy instinctually performed. But telepathy, as it is now called, is the communicating of thought or idea from mind to mind. This is a natural power, and being well-understood may be used by one mind to convey to another, no matter how far away or what be the intervening obstacle, any idea or thought. In natural things we can take for that the vibration of the chord which can cause all other chords of the same length to vibrate similarly. This is a branch of Occultism, a part of which is known to the modern investigator. But it is also one of the most useful and one of the greatest powers we have. To make it of service many things have to combine. While it is used every day in common life in the average way - for men are each moment telepathically communicating with each other - to do it in perfection, that is, against obstacle and distance, is perfection of occult art. Yet it will be known one day even to the common world.
Student.- Is there any object had in view by Nature which man should also hold before him?
Sage.- Nature ever works to turn the inorganic or the lifeless or the non-intelligent and non-conscious into the organic, the intelligent, the conscious; and this should be the aim of man also. In her great movements Nature seems to cause destruction, but that is only for the purpose of construction. The rocks are dissolved into earth, elements combine to bring on change, but there is the ever onward march of progress in evolution. Nature is not destructive of either thing or time, she is constructive. Man should be the same. And as a free moral agent he should work to that end, and not to producing gratification merely nor waste in any department.
Student.- Is Occultism of truth or of falsehood; is it selfish or unselfish; or is part one and part the other?
Sage.- Occultism is colorless, and only when used by man for the one side or the other is it good or bad. Bad Occultism, or that which is used for selfish ends, is not false, for it is the same as that which is for good ends. Nature is two-sided, negative and positive, good and bad, light and dark, hot and cold, spirit and matter. The Black magician is as powerful in the matter of phenomena as the White, but in the end all the trend of Nature will go to destroy the black and save the white. But what you should understand is that the false man and the true can both be occultists. The words of the Christian teacher Jesus will give the rule for judgment: "By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?" Occultism is the general, all-inclusive term, the differentiating terms are White and Black; the same forces are used by both, and similar laws, for there are no special laws in this universe for any special set of workers in Nature's secrets. But the path of the untruthful and the wicked, while seemingly easy at first, is hard at last, for the black workers are the friends of no one, they are each against the other as soon as interest demands, and that may be any time. It is said that final annihilation of the personal soul awaits those who deal in the destructive side of Nature's hall of experience.
Student.- Where should I look for the help I need in the right life, the right study?
Sage.- Within you is the light that lighteth every man who cometh here. The light of the Higher Self and of the Mahâtma are not different from each other. Unless you find your Self, how can you understand Nature?
Sage.- Seeing in the astral light is not done through Manas, but through the senses, and hence has to do entirely with sense-perception removed to a plane different from this, but more illusionary. The final perceiver or judge of perception is in Manas, in the Self; and therefore the final tribunal is clouded by the astral perception if one is not so far trained or initiated as to know the difference and able to tell the true from the false. Another result is a tendency to dwell on this subtle sense-perception, which at last will cause an atrophy of Manas for the time being. This makes the confusion all the greater, and will delay any possible initiation all the more or forever. Further, such seeing is in the line of phenomena, and adds to the confusion of the Self which is only beginning to understand this life; by attempting the astral another element of disorder is added by more phenomena due to another plane, thus mixing both sorts up. The Ego must find its basis and not be swept off hither and thither. The constant reversion of images and ideas in the astral light, and the pranks of the elementals there, unknown to us as such and only seen in effects, still again add to the confusion. To sum it up, the real danger from which all others flow or follow is in the confusion of the Ego by introducing strange things to it before the time.
Student.- How is one to know when he gets real occult information from the Self within?
Sage.- Intuition must be developed and the matter judged from the true philosophical basis, for if it is contrary to true general rules it is wrong. It has to be known from a deep and profound analysis by which we find out what is from egotism alone and what is not; if it is due to egotism, then it is not from the Spirit and is untrue. The power to know does not come from book-study nor from mere philosophy, but mostly from the actual practice of altruism in deed, word, and thought; for that practice purifies the covers of the soul and permits that light to shine down into the brainmind. As the brain-mind is the receiver in the waking state, it has to be purified from sense-perception, and the truest way to do this is by combining philosophy with the highest outward and inward virtue.
Student.- Tell me some ways by which intuition is to be developed.
Sage.- First of all by giving it exercise, and second by not using it for purely personal ends. Exercise means that it must be followed through mistakes and bruises until from sincere attempts at use it comes to its own strength. This does not mean that we can do wrong and leave the results, but that after establishing conscience on a right basis by following the golden rule, we give play to the intuition and add to its strength. Inevitably in this at first we will make errors, but soon if we are sincere it will grow brighter and make no mistake. We should add the study of the works of those who in the past have trodden this path and found out what is the real and what is not. They say the Self is the only reality. The brain must be given larger views of life, as by the study of the doctrine of reincarnation, since that gives a limitless field to the possibilities in store. We must not only be unselfish, but must do all the duties that Karma has given us, and thus intuition will point out the road of duty and the true path of life.
Student.- Are there any Adepts in America or Europe?
Sage.- Yes, there are and always have been. But they have for the present kept themselves hidden from the public gaze. The real ones have a wide work to do in many departments of life and in preparing certain persons who have a future work to do. Though their influence is wide they are not suspected, and that is the way they want to work for the present. There are some also who are at work with certain individuals in some of the aboriginal tribes in America, as among those are Egos who are to do still more work in another incarnation, and they must be prepared for it now. Nothing is omitted by these Adepts. In Europe it is the same way, each sphere of work being governed by the time and the place.
Student.- What is the meaning of the five-pointed star?
Sage.- It is the symbol of the human being who is not an Adept, but is now on the plane of the animal nature as to his life-thoughts and development inside. Hence it is the symbol of the race [H.P.B means present day humanity, also see explanations]. Upside down it means death or symbolizes that. It also means, when upside down, the other or dark side. It is at the same time the cross endowed with the power of mind, that is, man.
Student.- Is there a four-pointed star symbol?
Sage.- Yes. That is the symbol of the next kingdom below man, and pertains to the animals. The right kind of clairvoyant can see both the five- and the four-pointed star. It is all produced by the intersections of the lines or currents of the astral light emanating from the person or being. The four-pointed one means that the being having but it has not as yet developed Manas.
Student.- Has the mere figure or a five-pointed star any power in itself?
Sage.- It has some, but very little. You see it is used by all sorts of people for trademarks and the like, and for the purposes of organizations, yet no result follows. It must be actually used by the mind to be of any force or value. If so used, it carries with it the whole power of the person to whom it may belong.
Student.- Why is the sword so much spoken of in practical Occultism by certain writers?
Sage.- Many indeed of these writers merely repeat what they have read. But there is a reason, just as in warfare the sword has more use for damage than a club. The astral light corresponds to water. If you try to strike in or under water with a club, it will be found that there is but little result, but a sharp knife will cut almost as well under water as out of it. The friction is less. So in the astral light a sword used on that plane has more power to cut than a club has, and an elemental for that reason will be more easily damaged by a sword than by a club or a stone. But all this relates to things that are of no right value to the true student, and are indulged in only by those who work in dark magic or foolishly by those who do not quite know what they do. It is certain that he who uses the sword or the club will be at last hurt by it. And the lesson to be drawn is that we must seek for the true Self that knows all Occultism and all truth, and has in itself the protecting shield from all dangers. That is what the ancient Sages sought and found, and that is what should be striven after by us.