reprinted from The Theosophist September 1926
The Physical Ailments of Occultists
by Alice Warren Hamaker
Most people who try to practise occultism seem to be disturbed by some form of ill health that merely gets worse and worse, instead of better, and we are told that the practice of occultism ought to make the disciple stronger in body, health, and character. He ought to be able to work longer and harder as he proceeds, and his energies should increase as he undertakes more and more. In actual fact, that does not seem to happen, and the question is why not?
In each of men's finer bodies are seven centres, or Chakras, which are to those bodies what our senses are to our physical bodies, that is, the avenues of perception. These avenues have to be kept clear and actively working in order that those finer bodies can function properly. The physical body is an excrescence, or crust, and not really a true vehicle of the person. It is a sort of extra covering, necessitated by some degeneration of the human ancestors. The real seventh body is the etheric body, which is said to use the physical body as a hand does the glove it wears on certain occasions.
The etheric body has the seven centres in the right place, and actually corresponding with the other finer bodies as far as position is concerned, but the physical body, being an animal product has the seven senses (avenues of perception). Hence, when a person begins to develop the avenues in other bodies than the physical, it is not the avenues of the senses that are disturbed, but other parts of the body. Such bodily derangements should be signals to guide the disciple to his mistakes.
Headaches - Three of the Chakras are situated in the head, forming the upper triangle. One is high up near the top, one in front behind the nose and eyes, and the other half "way down the back of the skull. The last one must not be mistaken for the organs of the sixth and seventh senses of the body, not yet active or functioning, but liable to become sensitive under the practice of occultism. The senses of the physical body are another thing to the Chakras.
Headaches are common with occultists, and no wonder with three Chakras situated in the head, and therefore headaches are a sign they are doing something inadequately or overmuch. Many headaches are said to be caused by digestive disorders, but often the same digestive disorders will occur without the headache, so the headache has another cause.
The three Chakras in the head correspond to the three upper triangle, or three highest aspect of man, his will, his wisdom, and his love, so the headaches must be traced to mistakes in those aspects of his life.
As an occultist he should be preparing to realise his divine will by gradually assuming to regulate his own life and life forces. He must ask himself the question : "Am I doing so?" If he is drifting with the force of circumstances as they come, he is not. No matter how feeble his body, how busy with duties and responsibilities, or how straightened in circumstances, he should make a regular plan for something to accomplish, even if it may take twenty five thousand years to bring the plan to a success, and start immediately to realise that an occultist may well plan to accomplish something several lives hence, and start studying and practising now. As he studies or practises steadily, all kinds of opportunities will present themselves for experience, and that without the usual karmic distress, for he is not paying off bad karma, but progressing along the line of good karma.
Too many occultists forget they live in eternity, and not in this one short life exclusively. The Ego lives in immortality, and puts down a finger, as it were, to the short life on earth, and all but that finger remains in eternity during incarnation. To live as though that were really the case, and the absolute truth, will so change a man's inner nature, that the pressure in the head, caused by disturbances in the Chakras situated there, will be relieved, and the headaches disappear.
As regards the next highest aspect of man, he must ask himself whether he is doing anything to increase his wisdom, other than meeting his karmic obligations. Does he study merely to know, or to understand? Does he do anything merely because he ought, or because he might know something from doing it? Does he merely go through life, or live it to understand life? A man reads what is written, and his intelligence shows him what is written before him? The writer thought of twenty things to each idea he wrote, for the mind is quicker than the pen or typewriter. Does the reader think of ten things as he reads one idea? Every action a man is called upon to do has a direct connection with the universal evolution, or Dharma. Does a man, as he performs the action, try to get a glimpse of the Dharma of mankind, or the world, with which this action is connected?
Such questions can be continued indefinitely, but an occultist should be doing something of this sort for there will having a guide, and will have to learn his own wisdom, instead of being taught it by a teacher.
The third aspect of the higher man is love, and a man must ask himself what he is doing towards that point when he will love all men, and be the same to all men, as St. Paul wished he were. A great deal of training towards that desirable condition can be attained by "sticking" to someone in some endeavour, "through thick and thin". No on can do anything except by making hundreds of mistakes, so in sticking to one person in any effort, a man is bound to see hundreds of mistakes made, and many times that person will go right ahead, in spite of the mistakes, and regain the ground lost and gain more.
To remain with a group of people, such as a lodge, in the same way through all kinds of ups and downs, and innumerable mistakes, will produce a greater experience, and is one every occultist ought to be able to carry out. The aspirant for the path is going to be called upon to make greater sacrifices for love of his fellow human beings, than that.
To many occultists the jarring or clash in lodges and among groups of people, produces headaches, instead of causing them to disappear. There may be several reasons for this, but the headaches is a signal for the occultist to set something right. It may be he is too conscious of the clashes, and is not thereby increasing his powers to love by understanding. Instead of endeavouring to see how the jars can be smoothed over, and unity attained, he may be analysing the differences, and seeing how far they are apart. Or it may that, of the three highest aspect of man, he may be ignoring the other two to the exclusive development of one, and thus trying to take "the Kingdom of God by violence". We can, of course, force the Masters to give us Initiation, by extreme virtue on one line but we are cautioned that it is a dangerous thing to do.
Neuralgia, and Sight Troubles - As this is the Fifth Race, most men have keen intellects, and bring them to bear on everything that comes before their notice. This has increased the frontal lobe of the brain enormously, and enlarged the outermost, or human brain, and our skulls increase in size and in sensitiveness. One of the Chakras in the head is situated somewhere near the eyes and the frontal lobe, and is apt to be pressed upon by the tremendous activity of the physical body in that neighbourhood. It is probable, therefore, that the neuralgic headaches and disturbances in the keenness of sight, are due to overmuch thinking, and too little feeling, or understanding.
To overcome this, it is evident that such people need to do less thinking, and try to understand more, in order to gain in wisdom, and not merely in intelligence. There is probably too much intelligence, and too little of the heart activity. One of the Chakras is situated near the cardiac, or heart, and there are many people of the fifth race that realise the feelings of the heart too little. The heart doctrine is preached in the churches, and left behind when the worshipper leaves the church, so little is it taken to heart and put into practice.
The occultist suffering from pressure in the neighbourhood of the frontal lobe of the head, needs a change of venue in life. He needs to let himself go, and weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice, and not merely try to see what he can do for them. A man can help by sympathy very often as much as he can help by doing something for another, when the other person can just as well do it himself. A problem may always require thought, but it also requires to be felt before it can be understood.
Throat and Lung Troubles - Tuberculosis is common with those who indulge in Hatha Yoga practices without the help of a Guru, and many an aspirant has ended the same way without the use of Hatha Yoga. The throat, tonsils, larynx, thorax and thyroid are often the source of disease with occultists. It is true diseases are karmic debts from the past, and it is a good thing to be done with them, but as one of the Chakras is situated in this neighbourhood, it is as well to avoid having the disease appear there.
This is the highest of the three lower Chakras, and connects with the sympathetic system. The three in the head belong to the cerebro-spinal, and that in the cardiac or heart is the balance between the two systems. The two systems of the finer bodies are the two sides of the disc, corresponding to spirit and matter, life and death, light and darkness, or the two sides of the coin. All things are as the interlaced triangles with a point in the centre, which point would represent the Chakras at the cardiac; the triangle pointing upwards, the cerebro- spinal system and the three Chakras in the head; and the triangle pointing downwards, the sympathetic system, and the remaining three Chakras in the torso.
The use of the sympathetic system does not necessarily mean mediumism. Mediumism is caused by the exclusive use of that system, and a more or less ignoring of the cerebrospinal. There is no need to ignore the sympathetic system, any more than there is any need to use it exclusively, and many a bodily disorder can be traced to the fact it is ignored.
How does this Chakras manifest itself? We are aware of it by that lump that comes in the throat at certain emotions, or by the impossibility to utter a word or make a sound at other excessive emotions. Here we have our clue for analysis. All emotions should pass through the emotional body quite naturally and cause no distress, so distress in the neighbourhood of the throat is an indication that certain emotions are not passing through naturally. The occultist must find out what these are. He must make a note of what causes that lump to appear, or why he is suddenly speecheless when he has something to say quickly.. He can trace his own emotional shortcomings, and concentrate on their elimination by any method he can learn. It depends so much on what they are, as to how to effect the elimination, but the effort sincerely made will relieve the pressure from the Chakra in the neighbourhood of the throat, and the consequent throat troubles.
Stomach troubles - There is a Chakra that appears to act through the solar plexus, which is near enough to the stomach to affect it and the digestive tract. As the other bodies, than the physical, are not confined to the three dimensions of the physical, we are not able to set forth the position of the downward pointing triangle of the sympathetic system, in terms of three dimensions. This mystery must be solved with more dimensions. What seems to be a triangle placed wrong with a three dimensional aspect, may not be so in a four, five, or six dimensional aspect.
This Chakra makes itself known physically when the emotion of fear overwhelms the man. All know that sinking feeling near the stomach at such periods. Akin to that there is the emotion of horror, that appears to "turn" the stomach, and makes a man feel ill. This part of the body must therefore be the outlet of these excrescences of the emotional body that it must throw out as fast as possible, or the man will die of fear or horror.
All psycho-analysts know of those innumerable little fears that haunt a man till he ends in his grave. They are not big enough to make themselves felt, and the nervous system becomes numb to their action. Not so the Chakra that deals with such matters. It does not become numb to their action, but it is overworked in the effort to rid the emotional body of this excrescence, and the slow, steady pressure on the solar plexus and stomach will break down the tissues .
The occultist with poor digestion should find out his subconscious fears in some way, and get rid of them, and again it depends on what they are, how he shall do that. A diagnosis by psycho- analysis is quite legitimate, provided there is no suggestion practised, for suggestion is black magic. Any other method will do provided there is no hysteria produced, for that is akin to hypnosis, and therefore black magic.
Kidney and Intestinal Troubles - There is a Chakra in the lower abdomen, which appears to affect many parts in that region, variously given as the liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines and sex organs. The difference may be in the fact that there are several finer bodies, and each may affect the physical body in a different internal organ through this same Chakra, for each of the finer bodies has seven Chakras, more or less situated in the same direction. Perhaps the Chakra is somewhere, which in some way affects these particular organs.
It is difficult to say what causes these diseases, but they are terribly prevalent. There seem to be so few people who are not troubled with disease or illness in one of the above organs, and it appears to be true that a change in character, such as in induced by Christian Science, special pilgrimages and prayers, or various "conversions", does cause some of these diseases to disappear. Evidently, therefore, this Chakra has to do with those needed improvements in character that are being urged on mankind, and more particularly on aspirants. What are they?
Mankind is being urged in every way to be less selfish, and to think more of his neighbour than of himself. His first instinct is to see how each matter will affect his own affairs first, and as an afterthought to see how it will affect others. This must be changed.
Man is urged to be more serene, dand to indulge inless anger, jealousy, envy, hatred and vengeance than he does now. People are so easily irritated, that others are afraid to speak the truth. How does the occultist think he is going to learn the truth about his outer self, except from other people?
Man is urged to be less sensuous. For many generations men and women have indulged in excessive sexual gratification till the bodily energies were being sapped away, and now an orgy of sec has been let loose, which is not worse, but no better. Sensual gratification is the order of the day yet, and it seems as if sexual spontaneity as nature intended is far off. No wonder celibacy is asked of the occultist to counterbalance those who will not listen, and strengthen the energies of the finer bodies.
Man is urged to be less tyrannical and cruel. Men want to command, not to lead, but to direct. The aim for power is good, but it must be for leading, and not to force obedience or submission. Many occultists do not realise their enthusiasm renders them tyrannical, and subconsciously, therefore, they place a pressure in the neighbourhood of this Chakra.
It is popularly supposed that a fit of emotional display affects the liver, so probably this Chakra has an intimate connection with the lower emotions, and therein lies the key to the elimination of such diseases.
Backache, Neuritis, Nervous, Disorder, and Insanity - The third Chakra in the head is intimately connected with the cerebro- spinal system of the body, and hence with the spinal nerves. Often its position is given as in the spinal nerves, but it may be that there is only an intimate connection, which thereby affects the body at that point, and through the whole nervous system.
This Chakra is one of those connected with the higher aspects of life, so it is in that direction that a solution must be found for the disorders mentioned above. The nerves a battery. Each neuron is connected to other neuron by a system of nerve fibre, which looks like reddish- brown cotton strands. This frequently breaks and grows again, and along this fibre the electric current goes from nerve cell to nerve cell all over the body. Each neuron, or nerve cell, is like a transformer, and the chief battery is situated at the base of the spine, from which the two main wires, of nerve fibre, run through the spine to the base of the skull, whence they are re- distributed through the body.
Through this system the fohatic energy of the cosmos passes through in its densest form, the etheric. This fohatic, or pranic, energy is in continuous motion through everything, passing through our bodies from one side to the other in every direction, and then on through other bodies and objects, carrying along the influences with which it is charged. As man has the most highly organised nervous system, the pranic energy pouring through other things. The maze it has to go through is most intricate, and the blocks are many, causing a pressure that disturbs the whole nervous system.
To overcome this blocking of the nervous system, and to let the pranic energy go through, the aspirant must live in co- operation with the true laws of the cosmos, basing his life on the truth that all life is one. Many an aspirant believes this, and will openly acknowledge it, write about it, and teach it, but he will not live it.
He condemns certain things as being wrong, and goes to a great deal of effort to avoid coming too near such things, or the people that do such things. That is no better than being one of those people too narrow- minded to go into a theatre, or place of amusement, because they believe the devil rules this world, and God is not here, but somewhere else.
Many an aspirant, too, avoids people who will not entertain his way of thought, and will not mix with them on their level. He is out to make converts, and if people are not promising material for conversion, he makes no attempt to be a friend. He narrows himself into his own world, and his own line of thought, and therefore does not live the truth that all life is one.
It is so easy to understand a truth, and so much more difficult to live and act on that truth, yet that is undoubtedly the cause of so much of the nerve troubles occultists have. Many say that the cause is that meditation makes them so sensitive, and they cannot stand it, but the truth is that unconsciously they have shut themselves away from the common herd of men, and they are paying for it.
Alice Warren Hamaker