A Friend of Old Time and of the Future
Yours Till Death and After, H.P.B.”
Advantages and Disadvantages in Life
Friends or Enemies in the Future
Iconoclasm Towards Illusions
Hypocrisy or Ignorance
Of Occult Powers and Their Acquirement
Spiritual Gifts and Their Attainment
Through the Gates of Gold
The Gates of Gold”
Hit the Mark
Methods of Theosophical Work
What We Need Most : Theosophical Education
Simplification of Teachings
Of Studying Theosophy
Cautions in Paragraphs
What Should Theosophists Read?
Conversations in Occultism:
1. The Kali Yuga—The Present Age
2. Elementals and Elementaries
4. Elementals and Treasure: Dangers of Occult Knowledge
7. Studying the Elementals
8. Occult Vibrations—A Fragment of Conversation with H.P.B in 1888
9. Devachan, Precipitations, Adepts, Elementals
10. The Two Aspects of Occultism
11. Clairvoyance, Intuition, Adepts
12. Phantasy; Memory and Mind; The Sun; Altruism
13. Rules for Higher Conduct
14. The Destruction of Evil
The Dweller of the Threshold
Give Us One Fact
Which is Vague, Theosophy or Science?
Wrong Popular Notions
Our Sun and the True Sun
The Allegorical Umbrella
Two Lost Keys: The Bhagavad-Gita—The Zodiac
Theosophy and Capital Punishment
Jacob Boehme and the Secret Doctrine
Are the “Arabian Nights” All Fiction?
H.P.B—A Lion-Hearted Colleague Passes
The Theosophical Society
The Future of the Theosophical Society
An Epoch-Making Letter
Fifty years ago, on the Day of the Spring Equinox, William Quan Judge laid aside his body of only forty-four years, after accomplishing a mighty task. Students of Theosophical history know how substantially he contributed to the building of the organism through which was radiated the Divine Wisdom. Intuitive aspirants to soul-knowledge are conscious that his writings are profound; and deep is the impress that these make upon their minds and hearts.
In this volume we have brought together but a few culled flowers, fragrant of sympathy and understanding, colourful in knowledge. That knowledge not only appeals to the head but also fecundates the heart with real compassion and awakens both to sacrificial service of mankind. Untiring was Mr. Judge’s patience and gentleness with his pupils, with his co-workers, and with all the men and women he contacted. The attentive reader of this volume will learn much but the ardent one will gain, by invisible osmosis and assimilation, these outstanding qualities of his. Such a devoted reader will find in the book not only usable knowledge but also exercises for the control of the mind and the awakening of the heart, exercises to be daily done.
The book contains articles which deal with principles and practices of the higher morality founded upon the metaphysics of Theosophy; next, articles which indicate to the promulgator the methods of service; then, expositions on psychic powers and phenomena and on spiritual ones pertaining to Divine Occultism. The last five articles are of historical interest but have a distinct message for the present-day workers who are building the future.
Mr. Robert Crosbie made the utmost use of the writings of W.Q. Judge and as a devoted chela he pointed to their value. He wrote:-
Frequent reading of articles by W.Q.J. develops the tendency to present the right ideas in the simplest form, and these ideas become a mental storehouse which can be drawn upon at will. It is not so necessary that we understand the deeply metaphysical concepts of Theosophy, as it is to comprehend the fundamentals and be able to make an application of them to every problem of life. W.Q.J’s articles will be found to contain “alphabet, grammar and composition,” or, in other words, a basis for right ideas, right thinking and right application. A daily reading from his writings is advisable. One who does this cannot help but imbibe—the spirit of them, and become an exponent who is at once deep, simple and convincing.
This is a memorial volume in the sense that it gives a few devotees of William Quan Judge an opportunity to offer a token of gratitude at the feet of the great Soul whose one aim was to elevate the minds of his fellowmen . For thousands of mystically inclined readers and aspirants, all over the world, William Quan Judge has become or will become the Link which makes and keeps intact their relation to the World of Elder Brothers. He makes clear, as no one else has done, the purpose of the Mission of his senior—H.P. BLAVATSKY. In her last hour she called upon her pupils to “keep the Link unbroken.” Mr. Judge’s last message was: “There should be calmness. Hold fast. Go slow.” In themselves these two messages provide a key to the comprehension of critical stages in the Theosophical Movement of the nineteenth-twentieth century.
In preparing this volume we have enjoyed and have benefited from the sweetness and the strength of its contents. May these Vernal Blooms prove veritable puja flowers for many, many Pilgrim-Souls bound for the Temple of Divine Wisdom.
Bombay, 21st March 1946
As such does William Quan. Judge appear to me, as doubtless he does to many others in this and other lands.
The first Theosophical treatise I read was his Epitome of Theosophy; my first meeting with him changed the whole current of my life. I trusted him then , as I trust him now and all those whom he trusted; to me it seems that “trust” is the bond that binds, that makes the strength of the Movement, for it is of the heart. And this trust he called forth was not allowed to remain a blind trust, for as time went on, as the energy, steadfastness and devotion of the student became more marked, the “real W.Q.J.” was more and more revealed, until the power that radiated through him became in each as ever present help in the work. As such it remains today, a living centre in each heart that trusted him, a focus for the Rays of the coming “great messenger.”
Having been engaged in active T.S. work in Boston for over seven years, it has been my Karma to be brought in touch with him under many different circumstances, the various crises, local and general, through which the Society has safely passed. In all these, his was the voice that encouraged or admonished, his the hand that guided matters to a harmonious issue. Of his extraordinary power of organization, his marvellous insight into the character and capacity of individuals, his ability of turning seeming evils into powers for good, I have had many proofs.
That he was a “great occultist” many know by individual experience, but none have fathomed the depths of his power and knowledge. The future will reveal much in regard to him that is now hidden, will show the real scope of his lifework. We know that to us that lifework has been an inestimable boon, and that through us it must be bestowed on others. The lines have been laid down for us by H.P.B, W.Q.J., and Masters, and we can take again as our watchword, that which he gave us at the passing of H.P.B, “Work, watch and wait.” We will not have long to wait.
Such has been the manner in which our beloved teacher and friend always concluded her letters to me. And now, though we are all of us committing to paper some account of that departed friend and teacher, I feel ever near and ever potent the magic of that resistless power, as of a mighty rushing river, which those who wholly trusted her always came to understand. Fortunate indeed is that Karma which, for all the years since I first met her, in 1875, has kept me faithful to the friend who, masquerading under the outer mortal garment known as H.P. BLAVATSKY, was ever faithful to me, ever kind, ever the teacher and the guide.
In 1874, in the City of New York, I first met H.P.B in this life. By her request, sent through Colonel H.S. Olcott, the call was made in her rooms in Irving Place, when then , as afterwards, through the remainder of her stormy career, she was surrounded by the anxious, the intellectual, the bohemian, the rich and the poor. It was her eye that attracted me, the eye of one whom I must have known in lives long passed away. She looked at me in recognition at that first hour, and never since has that look changed. Not as a questioner of philosophies did I come before her, not as one groping in the dark for lights that schools and fanciful theories had obscured, but as one who, wandering many periods through the corridors of life, was seeking the friends who could show where the designs for the work had been hidden. And true to the call she responded, revealing the plans once again, and speaking no words to explain, simply pointing them out and went on with the task. It was as if but the evening before we had parted, leaving yet to be done some detail of a task taken up with one common end; it was teacher and pupil, elder brother and younger, both bent on the one single end, but she with the power and the knowledge that belong to lions and sages. So, friends from the first, I felt safe. Others I k now have looked with suspicion on an appearance they could not fathom, and though it is true they adduce many proofs which, hugged to the breast, would damn sages and gods, yet it is only through blindness they failed to see the lion’s glance, the diamond heart of H.P.B
The entire space of this whole magazine would not suffice to enable me to record the phenomena she performed for me through all these years, nor would I wish to put them down. As she often said, they prove nothing but only lead some souls to doubt and others to despair. And again, I do not think they were done just for me, but only that in those early days she was laying down the lines of force all over the land and I, so fortunate, was at the centre of the energy and saw the play of forces in visible phenomena. The explanation has been offered by some too anxious friends that the earlier phenomena were mistakes in judgement, attempted to be rectified in later years by confining their area and limiting their number, but until some one shall produce in the writing of H.P.B her concurrence with that view, I shall hold to her own explanation made in advance and never changed. That I have given above. For many it is easier to take refuge behind a charge of bad judgement than to understand the strange and powerful laws which control in matters such as these.
Amid the turmoil of her life, above the din produced by those who charged her with deceit and fraud and others who defended, while month after month, year after year, witnessed men and women entering the theosophical movement only to leave it soon with malignant phrases for H.P. B., there stands a fact we might all imitate—devotion absolute to her Master. “It was He,” she writes, “who told me to devote myself to this, and I will never disobey and never turn back.”
In 1888 she wrote to me privately:-
“Well, my only friend, you ought to know better. Look into my life and try to realize it—in its outer course at least, as the rest is hidden. I am under the curse of ever writing, as the wandering Jew was under that of being ever on the move, never stopping one moment to rest. I have to do. I live an artificial life; I am an automaton running full steam until the power of generating steam stops, and then—good bye! *** Night before last I was shown a bird’s eye view of the Theosophical Societies. I saw a few earnest reliable Theosophists in a death struggle with the world in general, with other—nominal but ambitious—Theosophists. The former are greater in numbers than you may think, and they prevailed as you in America will prevail, if you only remain staunch to the Master’s programme and true to yourselves. And last night I saw *** and now I feel strong—such as I am in my body—and ready to fight for Theosophy and a few true ones to my last breath. The defending forces have to be judiciously—so scanty they are—distributed over the globe, wherever Theosophy is struggling against the powers of darkness.”
Such she ever was; devoted to Theosophy and the Society organized to carry out a programme embracing the world in its scope. Willing in the service of the cause to offer up hope, money, reputation, life itself, provided the Society might be saved from every hurt, whether small or great. And thus bound body, heart and soul to this entity called the Theosophical Society, bound to protect it at all hazards, in face of every loss, she often incurred the resentment of many who became her friends but would not always care for the infant organization as she had sworn to do. And when they acted as if opposed to the Society, her instant opposition seemed to them to nullify professions of friendship. Thus she had but few friends, for it required a keen insight, untinged with personal feeling, to see even a small part of the real H.P. BLAVATSKY.
But was her object merely to form a Society whose strength should lie in numbers? Not so, She worked under directors who, operating behind the scene, knew that the Theosophical Society was, and was to be, the nucleus from which help might spread to all the people of the day, without thanks and without acknowledgement. Once, in London, I asked her what was the chance of drawing people into the Society in view of the enormous disproportion between the number of members and the millions in Europe and America who neither knew of nor cared for it. Leaning back in her chair, in which she was sitting before her writing desk, she said:-
“When you consider and remember those days in 1875 and after, in which you could not find any people interested in your thoughts, and now look at the wide-spreading influence of theosophical ideas—however labelled—it is not so bad. We are not working merely that people may call themselves Theosophists, but that the doctrines we cherish may affect and leaven the whole mind of this century. This alone can be accomplished by a small earnest band of workers, who work for no human reward, no earthly recognition, but who, supported and sustained by a belief in that Universal Brotherhood of which our Masters are a part, work steadily, faithfully, in understanding and putting forth for consideration the doctrines of life and duty that have come down to us from immemorial time. Falter not, so long as a few devoted ones will work to keep the nucleus existing. You were not directed to found and realise a Universal Brotherhood, but to form the nucleus for one; for it is only when the nucleus is formed that the accumulations can begin that will end in future years, however far, in the formation of that body which we have in view.”
H.P.B had a lion heart, and on the work traced out for her she had the lion’s grasp; let us, her friends, companions and disciples, sustain ourselves in carrying out the designs laid down on the trestle-board, by the memory of her devotion and the consciousness that behind her task there stood, and still remain, those Elder Brothers who, above the clatter and the din of our battle, ever see the end and direct the forces distributed in array for the salvation of “that great orphan—Humanity.”
That view of one’s Karma which leads to a bewailing of the unkind fate which has kept advantages in life away from us, is a mistaken estimate of what is good and what is not good for the soul. It is quite true that we may often find persons surrounded with great advantages but who make no corresponding use of them or pay but little regard to them. But this very fact in itself goes to show that the so-called advantageous position in life is really not good nor fortunate in the true and inner meaning of those words. The fortunate one has money and teachers, ability, and means to travel and fill the surroundings with works of art, with music and with ease. But these are like the tropical airs that enervate the body; these enervate the character instead of building it up. They do not in themselves tend to the acquirement of any virtue whatever but rather to the opposite by reason of the constant steeping of the senses in the subtle essences of the sensuous world. They are like sweet things which, being swallowed in quantities, turn to acids in the inside of the body. Thus they can be seen to be the opposite of good Karma.
What then is good Karma and what bad? The all embracing and sufficient answer is this:
Good Karma is that kind which the Ego desires and requires; bad, that which the Ego neither desires nor requires.
And in this the Ego, being guided and controlled by law, by justice, by the necessities of upward evolution, and not by fancy or selfishness or revenge or ambition, is sure to choose the earthly habitation that is most likely, out of all possible of selection, to give a Karma for the real advantage in the end. In this light then, even the lazy, indifferent life of one born rich as well as that of one born low and wicked is right.
When we, from this plane, inquire into the matter, we see that the “advantages” which one would seek were he looking for the strengthening of character, the unloosing of soul force and energy, would be called by the selfish and personal world “disadvantages.” Struggle is needed for the gaining of strength; buffeting adverse eras is for the gaining of depth; meagre opportunities may be used for acquiring fortitude; poverty should breed generosity.
The middle ground in all this, and not the extreme, is what we speak of. To be born with the disadvantage of drunken, diseased parents, in the criminal portion of the community is a punishment which constitutes a wait on the road of evolution. It is a necessity generally because the Ego has drawn about itself in a former life some tendencies which cannot be eliminated in any other way. But we should not forget that sometimes, often in the grand total, a pure, powerful Ego incarnates in just such awful surroundings, remaining good and pure all the time, and staying there for the purpose of uplifting and helping others.
But to be born in extreme poverty is not a disadvantage. Jesus said well when, repeating what many a sage had said before, he described the difficulty experienced by the rich man in entering heaven. If we look at life from the narrow point of view of those who say there is but one earth and after it either eternal heaven or hell, then poverty will be regarded as a great disadvantage and something to be avoided. But seeing that we have many lives to live, and that they will give us all needed opportunity for building up character, we must admit that poverty is not, in itself, necessarily bad Karma. Poverty has no natural tendency to engender selfishness, but wealth requires it.
A sojourn for everyone in a body born to all the pains, deprivations and miseries of modern poverty, is good and just. Inasmuch as the present state of civilization with all its horrors of poverty, of crime, of disease, of wrong relations almost everywhere, has grown out of the past, in which we were workers, it is just that we should experience it all at some point in our career. If some person who now pays no heed to the misery of men and women should next life be plunged into one of the slums of our cities for rebirth, it would imprint on the soul the misery of such a situation. This would lead later on to compassion and care for others. For, unless we experience the effects of a state of life we cannot understand or appreciate it from a mere description. The personal part involved in this may not like it as a future prospect, but if the Ego decides that the next personality shall be there then all will be an advantage and not a disadvantage.
If we look at the field of operation in us of the so-called advantages of opportunity, money, travel and teachers we see at once that it all has to do with the brain and nothing else. Languages, archaeology, music, satiating sight with beauty, eating the finest food, wearing the best clothes, travelling to many places and thus infinitely varying impressions on ear and eye; all these begin and end in the brain and not in the soul or character. As the brain is a portion of the unstable, fleeting body the whole phantasmagoria disappears from view and use when the note of death sends its awful vibration through the physical form and drives out the inhabitant. The wonderful central master-ganglion disintegrates, and nothing at all is left but some faint aromas here and there depending on the actual love within for any one pursuit or image or sensation. Nothing left of it all but a few tendencies—Skandhas, not of the very best. The advantages then turn out in the end to be disadvantages altogether. But imagine the same brain and body not in places of ease, struggling for a good part of life, doing their duty and not in a position to please the senses: this experience will burn in, stamp upon, carve into the character, more energy, more power and more fortitude. It is thus through the ages that great characters are made. The other mode is the mode of the humdrum average which is nothing after all, as yet, but an animal
The fundamental doctrines of Theosophy are of no value unless they are applied to daily life. To the extent to which this application goes they become living truths, quite different from intellectual expressions of doctrine. The mere intellectual grasp may result in spiritual pride, while the living doctrines becomes an entity through the mystic power of the human soul. Many great minds have dwelt on this. Saint Paul wrote:-
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
The Voice of the Silence, expressing the views of the highest schools of occultism, asks us to step out of the sunlight into the shade so as to make room for others, and declares that those whom we help in this life will help us in our next one.
Buttresses to these are the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation. The first shows that we must reap what we sow, and the second that we come back in the company of those with whom we lived and acted in other lives. St. Paul was in complete accord with all other occultists, and his expressions above given must be viewed in the light Theosophy throws on all similar writings. Contrasted with charity, which is love of our fellows, are all the possible virtues and acquirements. These are all nothing if charity be absent. Why? Because they die with the death of the uncharitable person; their value is naught, and that being is reborn without friend and without capacity.
This is of the highest importance to the earnest Theosophist who may be making the mistake of obtaining intellectual benefits but remains uncharitable. The fact that we are now working in the Theosophical movement means that we did so in other lives, must do so again, and still more important, that those who are now with us will be reincarnated in our company on our next rebirth.
Shall those whom we now know or whom we are destined to know before this life ends be our friends or enemies, our aiders or obstructors in that coming life? And what will make them hostile or friendly to us then? Not what we shall say or do and for them in the future life. For no man becomes your friend in a present life by reason of present acts alone. He was your friend, or you his, before in a previous life. Your present acts but revive the old friendship, renew the ancient obligation.
Was he your enemy before, he will be now even though you do him service now, for these tendencies last always more than three lives. They will be more and still more our aids if we increase the bond of friendship of today by charity. Their tendency to enmity will be one-third lessened in every life if we persist in kindness, in love, in charity now. And that charity is not a gift of money, but charitable thought for every weakness, to every failure.
Our future friends or enemies, then, are those who are with us and to be with us in the present. If they are those who now seem inimical, we make a grave mistake and only put off the day of reconciliation three more lives if we allow ourselves today to be deficient in charity for them. We are annoyed and hindered by those who actively oppose as well as others whose mere looks, temperament, and unconscious action fret and disturb us. Our code of justice to ourselves, often but petty personality, incites us to rebuke them, to criticise, to attack. It is a mistake for us to so act. Could we but glance ahead to next life, we would see these for whom we now have but scant charity crossing the plain of that life with ourselves and ever in our way, always hiding the light from us. But change our present attitude, and that new life to come would show these bores and partial enemies and obstructors helping us, aiding our every effort. For Karma may give them then greater opportunities than ourselves and better capacity.
Is any Theosophist who reflects on this so foolish as to continue now, if he has the power to alter himself, a course that will breed a crop of thorns for his next life’s reaping? We should continue our charity and kindnesses to our friends whom it is easy to wish to help, but for those whom we naturally dislike, who are our bores now, we ought to take especial pains to aid and carefully toward them cultivate a feeling of love and charity. This adds interest to our Karmic investment. The opposite course, as surely as sun rises and water runs down hill, strikes interest from the account and enters a heavy item on the wrong side of life’s ledger.
And especially should the whole Theosophical organization act on the lines laid down by St. Paul and The Voice of the Silence. For Karmic tendency is an unswerving law. It compels us to go on in this movement of thought and doctrine, it will bring back to reincarnation all in it now. Sentiment cannot move the law one inch; and though that emotion might seek to rid us of the presence of these men and women we presently do not fancy or approve—and there are many such in our ranks for every one—the law will place us again in company with friendly tendency increased or hostile feeling diminished, just as we now create the one or prevent the other. It was the aim of the founders of the Society to arouse tendency to future friendship; it ought to be the object of all our members.
What will you have? In the future life, enemies or friends?
When I am annoyed by an ungovernable animal, I am reminded that the brutes would not oppose man if man understood and entered into his true relations with all things. The brutes are unconsciously aware of the general human opposition, which they see focalized in each human being. When I am in harmony with all things, men cannot and brutes will not oppose me. In undeviating instinct, the brute is more true than is the man, to the unwritten Law.
The “idle word” condemned by Jesus is inactivity of Being. It is the cessation of the homogeneous resonance, the Logos or Word. The Word in its highest activity is pure spirit; in stagnation it is hell. To each man it is given in trust for all men; if he misinterprets it he is tortured. Of he sequestrates it, he is condemned to eternal death that it may be free; for it is eternally free. Through misuse, he may learn its use. If he denies it, he is lost; for by it alone he lives.
It is better for a man to sin deliberately against the Law than to chafe under the mandates of conscience. The first is a renegade who chooses another King; the second is a coward and slave who rebels but dares not disobey. The energy of direct sin may, by reaction, compel return, but the lethargy of fear bears no fruit.
If you wish to receive, give. If you wish to ascend, descend. If you wish to live, die. If you wish to understand these words, read them by the lamp of the spirit, and reject that of the understanding.
Apparent evil is a necessary result of manifestation or duality. The good alone is in Time inactive. Evil is the balance of good: the Equilibrating power reigns above and is alone eternal.
When the silent Eternal gives birth to the activity of Spirit in Space the worlds are evolved, and, seeking equilibrium, return again to the eternal silence. So with the soul of man.
More saving grace may be found in the society of thieves than in that of fine persons who never reverberate to a true thought. In the first there is rebound; the latter is the negation of life.
Expiation is the kernel of sin. “Evil” containing its own punishment continually defeats itself, and sows the seed of “good” in its own regeneration.
He who would see Perfection must become It. How? By beginning the attempt. Its first step is the full realization of imperfection in himself.
A disposition not to interfere in any way with beliefs which are illusions prevails with many who dislike the pain caused by such tearing away of the veil. And the argument that illusionary beliefs, creeds, and dogmas should not be done away with so long as the believer is happy or good has been used by the Christian Church—and more especially by the Roman Catholic branch of it—as a potent means of keeping the mind of man in an iron chain. They are accustomed to add that unless such creeds and beliefs shall stand, morality will die out altogether. But experience does not prove the position to be correct.
For numerous examples exist in the dissenting or Protestant form of Christianity showing that the important doctrines of the Church are not necessary for the prevailing of good morals; and, on the other hand, immortality, vice, and crime in places high and low coexist with a formal declaration of belief in the church dogmas. In many parts of Italy the grossest superstition and murderous vengefulness and crooked hearts are found side by side with an outwardly pious compliance with the ordinances of the Church and a superstitious belief in its dogmas. The whole Christian assembly of nations officially violates the commands of Jesus every day and hour.
Shall it be worse or better, or kind or harsh, to tear away the veil as quickly as possible? And if the inconoclastic attack should be made, for what reason ought one to hesitate because the operation and the attack may result in mental pain?
The only reason for hesitation lies in this fear to give pain; there can be nothing but good results from the change from an untrue and illogical, and therefore debasing, creed, if a system that is complete and reasonable be furnished in its place.
Were we dealing with children or with a race mind which though dwelling in an adult body is but that of a child, then, indeed, it would be right to lead them on by what may be entirely an illusion. But the day of man’s childhood as an immortal being has passed away. He is now grown up, his mind has arrived at the point where it must know, and when, if knowledge be refused, this violation of our being will result in the grossest and vilest superstition of the most appalling materialism. No child is born without the accompanying pains, and now the soul-mind of man is struggling for birth. Shall we aid in preventing it merely for the avoidance of preliminary pain? Shall we help a vast brood of priests to refasten the clamps of steel which for so many centuries they have held tightly on the race-mind? Never, if we see the great truth that we are preparing for a cycle when reason is to take her place beside the soul and guide the pilgrim to the tree of life eternal.
Be not beguiled by the argument that ‘'tis unwise to tell the truth. It is but the song of the siren, intended to lure the traveller to his doom.
Tell the truth, but do not force it. If even a pious soul should lose the historical Jesus Christ and see instead the glorious image of the Self in every man, that were a gain worth all the pain the first rude shock might give. The danger of lifting the veil of Isis lies not in the doctrines of Unity, Reincarnation, and Karma, but in untaught mysteries which no Theosophist is able to reveal. The change from dogma or creed to a belief in law and justice impartial will bring perhaps some tears to the soul, but the end thereof is peace and freedom.
That “great orphan Humanity,” now grown up, no longer needs the toys of a thousand years ago, but requires, and with a voice like the rush of mighty waters demands, that every veil should be lifted, every lie unveiled, and every light be lighted that can shed a ray upon the remainder of its toilsome road.
There are some members of the Theosophical Society who expose themselves to the charge of indulging in hypocrisy or being ignorant about their own failings and shortcomings. They are those who, having studied the literature of the movement and accepted most of its doctrines, then talk either to fellow-members or to outsiders as if the goal of renunciation and universal knowledge had been reached in their case, when a very slight observation reveals them as quite ordinary human beings.
If one accepts the doctrine of Universal Brotherhood, which is based on the essential unity of all human beings, there is a long distance yet intervening between that acceptation and its realization, in those who have adopted the doctrine. It is just the difference between intellectual assent to a moral, philosophical, or occult law, and its perfect development in one’s being so that it has become an actual part of ourselves. So when we hear a theosophist say that he could see his children, wife, or parents die and not feel anything whatever, we must infer that there is a hypocritical pretension or very great ignorance. There is one other conclusion left, which is that we have before us a monster who is incapable of any feeling whatever, selfishness being over-dominant.
The doctrines of Theosophy do not ask for nor lead to the cutting out of the human heart of every human feeling. Indeed, that is an impossibility, one would think, seeing that the feelings are an integral part of the constitution of man, for in the principle called Kâma—the desires and feelings—we have the basis of all our emotions, and if it is prematurely cut out of any being death or worse must result. It is very true that theosophy as well as all ethical systems demands that the being who has conscience and will, such as are found in man, shall control this principle of Kâma and not be carried away by it nor be under its sway. This is self-control, mastery of the human body, steadiness in the face of affliction, but it is not extirpation of the feelings which one has to control. If any theosophical book deals with this subject it is the Bhagavad Gita, and in that Krishna is constantly engaged in enforcing the doctrine that all the emotions are to be controlled, that one is not to grieve over the inevitable—such as death, nor to be unduly elated at success, nor to be cast down by failure, but to maintain an equal mind in every event, whatever it may be, satisfied and assured that the qualities move in the body in their own sphere. In no place does he say that we are to attempt the impossible task of cutting out of the inner man an integral part of himself.
But, unlike most other systems of ethics, theosophy is scientific as well, and this science is not attained just when one approaching it for the first time in this incarnation hears of and intellectually agrees to these high doctrines. For one cannot pretend to have reached the perfection and detachment from human affairs involved in the pretentious statement referred to, when even as the words are uttered the hearer perceives remaining in the speaker all the peculiarities of family, not to speak of those pertaining to nation, including education, and to the race in which he was born. And this scientific part of theosophy, beginning and ending with universal brotherhood, insists upon such an intense and ever-present thought upon the subject, coupled with a constant watch over all faults of mind and speech, that in time an actual change is produced in the material person, as well as in the immaterial one within who is the mediator or way between the purely corporal lower man and his Higher divine self. This change, it is very obvious, cannot come about at once nor in the course of years of effort.
The charge of pretension and ignorance is more grave still in the case of those theosophists guilty of the fault, who happen to believe—as so many do–-that even in those disciples whose duties in the world are nil from the very beginning, and who have devoted themselves to self-renunciation and self-study so long that they are immeasurably beyond the members of our Society, the defects due to family, tribal, and national inheritance are now and then observable.
It seems to be time, then, that no theosophist shall ever be guilty of making pretension to any one that he or she has attained to the high place which now and then some assume to have reached. Much better is it to be conscious of our defects and weaknesses, always ready to acknowledge the truth that, being human, we are not able to always or quickly reach the goal of effort.
There are thousands of people in the United States, as well in the ranks of the Society as outside, who believe that there are certain extraordinary occult powers to be encompassed by man. Such powers as thought reading, seeing events yet to come, unveiling the motives of others, apportation of objects, and the like, are those most sought after, and nearly all desired with a selfish end in view. The future is inquired into so as to enable one to speculate in stocks and another to circumvent competitors. Those longings are pandered to here and there by men and societies who hold out delusive hopes to their dupes that, by the payment of money, the powers of nature may be invoked.
Even some of our own members have not been guiltless of seeking after such wonderful fruit of knowledge with those who would barter the Almighty, if they could, for gold.
Another class of earnest theosophists, however, have taken a different ground. They have thought that certain Adepts who really possess power over nature, who can see and hear through all space, who can transport solid objects through space and cause written messages to appear at a distance with beautiful sounds of astral bells , ought to intervene, and by the exercise of the same power make these earnest disciples hear sounds ordinarily called occult, and thus easily transmit information and help without the aid of telegraph or mailboat. But that these Beings will not do this has been stated over and over again; for the kingdom of heaven is not given away, it must be “taken by violence.” It lies there before us to be entered upon and occupied, but that can be only after a battle which, when won, entitles the victor to remain in undisturbed possession.
As many have seemed to forget these rules, I thought it well to offer them the following words from one of those very Adepts they seek to meet:
“The educing of the faculty of hearing occult sounds would be not at all the easy matter you imagine. It was never done to any of us, for the iron rule is that what powers one gets he must himself acquire, and when acquired and ready for use, the powers lie dumb and dormant in their potentiality like the wheels in a music box, and only then it is easy to wind the key and start them. *** Yet every earnestly-disposed man may acquire such powers practically; that is the finality of it. There are no more distinctions of persons in this than there are as to whom the sun shall shine upon or the air give vitality to. There are the powers of all nature before you; take what you can.”
This is perfectly clear and strictly according to the Secret Canon. “When the materials are all prepared and ready, the architect shall appear”; and when we have acquired the powers we seek, by educing them ourselves from our inner being, the Master will then be ready and able to start into exercise that which we have obtained.
But—even here is an important point. This. If the Master can, so to say, wind the key and thus start the machinery, He can also refuse to give the necessary impulse. For reasons that have to do with the motives and life of students, it may be advisable for a while not to permit the exercise of these powers which “lie dumb and dormant in their potentiality.” To sanction their use might in one lead to the ruin of other lives, or in another to personal disaster and retardation of true progress.
Therefore the Master says that quite often he may not only refuse to give the start, but yet further may prevent the wheels from turning.
THERE ARE THE POWERS OF ALL NATURE BEFORE YOU; TAKE WHAT YOU CAN.
One of the questions which a Theosophist is apt to ask, and to ask with some earnestness and intensity, is, How can I make progress in the higher life? How can I attain spiritual gifts? For the phrase “spiritual gifts,” which is a rather loose-jointed expression, we are indebted to Paul, the Apostle and Adept, who thus wrote to the Corinthian Church: “Concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” Among the “gifts” which he goes on to enumerate are these,—wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, the speaking of divers tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. And while the Apostle urges the Corinthians to “covet earnestly the best gifts,” he yet proceeds to show them a more excellent way, namely, the supreme law of love. “Now abideth,” he says, “faith, hope, charity (or love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Spiritual gifts, then, however desirable their possession may be, are plainly not, in the opinion of this good Adept, on the highest plane, not the supreme object of human attainment, or the most excellent way of reaching human perfection. They may doubtless properly be regarded as evidences of advancement on the higher planes of thought and spiritual life, and may be coveted and used for the benefit of others; but they are not in themselves the chief object of human desire. For man’s supreme aim should be to become God, and “God is love.”
But let us look at the matter a little more closely. In the first place, what is a “gift”? What is the common acceptation of the word? Clearly something given to or bestowed upon a recipient, not something which a man already possesses, or which he may obtain by a process of growth or development. The latter, strictly speaking, would a “fruit,” not a gift. A tree which has been producing nothing but leaves and branches for many years finally breaks out into blossom and fruit. No new “gift” has been conferred upon it; it has simply reached a stage of development in its natural growth where certain powers, inherent in the tree from the beginning, have an opportunity to assert themselves. In the same way the transcendental powers possessed by the Adepts are not gifts; but the natural result of growth in certain directions, and the necessary efforescence, so to speak, of the profound development in their cases of those spiritual potentialities which are the birthright of all men.
Taking this view of the meaning of the word, I think most Theosophists will be ready to admit that the phrase “spiritual gifts” is a misnomer. There are and can be no gifts for man to receive. Whatever the student of the higher life is, he is as the result of his past labours. Whatever he may become in the future will be due to his own efforts. He may develop his latent faculties and in time become an Adept, or he may drift along the currents of life without aim or effort, till he finally sinks into oblivion. His destiny is in his own hands, and is in no way dependent upon “gifts.”
Bearing in mind, however, the manifold nature of man, the subject may be looked at from another point of view. For all practical purposes man may be said to consist of body, soul, and spirit, the soul being the true ego, and the spirit one with the Supreme. And regarding these for the time as separate entities, it is perfectly true, as James, another apostle, puts it, that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” Every aspiration of the soul for spiritual things, every resolve of the man to lead a purer life, every helping outstretched hand to a weaker brother, every desire for the truth, all hungering and thirsting after righteousness:—these and like yearnings and strivings of the soul have first of all come from above, from the Divine within. In this sense they may be called “gifts,”—gifts from the higher nature to the lower, from the spiritual to the human. And this action of the above upon the below is seen in those humane attributes, or qualities, or virtues—whatever one may be pleased to call them—which Paul in another place enumerates as the “fruits of the spirit,—love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”
Looked at from either of these points of view, how can we attain spiritual gifts? The answer would seem to depend upon what we are really striving for. If the extraordinary powers of the Adepts have captivated our fancy and fired our ambition, then we must possess our souls in patience. Few, if any, of us are at all fitted for a “forcing” process. We must be content to wait and work; to grow and develop; line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, till, ages hence perhaps, we come to the full stature of the perfect man. If however, wisely recognizing our limitations, we strive instead after what may be termed the ordinary manifestations of the spirit, two obvious lines of conduct suggest themselves.
Every impulse from above, every prompting of the Divine within, should meet at once with a hearty welcome and response. If you feel as if something urged you to visit some sick or afflicted neighbour or friend, obey the suggestion without delay. If the wish to turn over a new leaf comes into the lower consciousness, don’t wait till next New Year’s before actually turning it over; turn it now. If some pathetic story of suffering has moved you, act on the emotion while your cheeks are still wet with tears. In short, put yourself at once in line with the Divine ways, in harmony with the Divine laws. More light, more wisdom, more spirituality must necessarily come to one thus prepared, thus expectant. How can a bar of iron be permeated with the earth’s magnetism if it is placed across instead of in line with the magnetic meridian? How can a man expect spiritual gifts or powers if he persists in ignoring spiritual conditions, in violating spiritual laws? To obtain the good, we must think good thoughts; we must be filled with good desires; in short we must be good.
And this practical suggestion is to fulfil faithfully and conscientiously every known duty. It is in and through the incidents of daily life, in work well done, in duties thoroughly performed, that we today can most readily make progress in the higher life,—slow progress, it may be, but at any rate sure. These are stepping stones to better things. We advance most rapidly when we stop to help other wayfarers. We receive most when we sacrifice most. We attain to the largest measure of Divine love when we most unselfishly love the brethren. We become one with the Supreme most surely when we lost ourselves in work for Humanity.
The EARNEST, devoted student can hardly believe that there exist any theosophists sincerely holding a belief in theosophical doctrines but who are, at the same time, found to have such a mechanical conception of them as permits one to retain undisturbed many old dogmas which are diametrically opposed to Theosophy. Yet we have such among us.
It comes about in this manner. First, Theosophy and its doctrines are well received because affording an explanation of the sorrows of life and a partial answer to the query, “Why is there anything?” Then a deeper examination and larger comprehension of the wide-embracing doctrines of Unity, Reincarnation, Karma, the Sevenfold Classification, cause the person to perceive that either a means of reconciling certain old time dogmas and ideas with Theosophy must be found, or the disaster of giving the old ones up must fall on him.
Contemplating the criminal class and laws thereon the mechanical theosophist sees that perhaps the retaliatory law of Moses must be abandoned if the modus vivendi is not found. Ah! Of course, are not men agents for Karma? Hence the criminal who has murdered may be executed, may be violently thrust out of life, because that is his karma. Besides, Society must be protected. You cite the bearing on this of the subtle inner, living nature of man. The mechanical theosophist necessarily must shut his eyes to something, so he replies that all of that has no bearing, the criminal did murder and must be murdered; it was his own fault. So at one sweep away goes compassion, and, as well, any scientific view of criminals and sudden death, in order that there may be a retaliatory Mosaic principle which is really bound up in our personal selfish nature.
Our naturalistic mechanic in the philosophy of life then finds quite a satisfaction. Why, of course, being in his own opinion a karmic agent he has the right to decide when he shall act as such. He will be a conscious agent. And so he executes karma upon his fellows according to his own desires and opinions; but he will not give to the beggar because that has been shown to encourage mendicity, nor would he rescue the drunken woman from the gutter because that is her fault and karma to be there. He assumes certainly to act justly, and perhaps in his narrowness of mind he thinks he is doing so, but real justice is not followed because it is unknown to him, being bound up in the long, invisible karmic streams of himself and his victim. However, he has saved his old theories and yet calls himself a theosophist.
Then again the mechanical view, being narrow and of necessity held by those who have no native knowledge of the occult, sees but the mechanical, outer operations of karma. Hence the subtle relation of parent and child, not only on this plane but on all the hidden planes of nature, is ignored. Instead of seeing that the child is of that parent just because of karma and for definite purposes; and that parentage is not merely for bringing an ego into this life but for wider and greater reasons, the mechanical and naturalistic theosophist is delighted to find that his Theosophy allows one to ignore the relation, and even to curse a parent, because parentage is held to be merely a door into life and nothing more.
Mechanical Theosophy is just as bad as that form of Christianity which permits a man to call his religion the religion of love, while he at the same time may grasp, retaliate, be selfish, and sanction his government’s construction of death-dealing appliances and going to war, although Jesus was opposed to both. Mechanical Theosophy would not condemn—as Christianity does not—those missionaries of Jesus who, finding themselves in danger of death in a land where the people do not want them, appeal to their government for warships, for soldiers, guns and forcible protection in a territory they do not own. It was the mechanical view of Christianity that created an Inquisition. This sort of religion has driven out the true religion of Jesus, and the mechanical view of our doctrines will, if persisted in, do the same for Theosophy.
Our philosophy of life is one grand whole, every part necessary and fitting into every other part. Every one of its doctrines can and must be carried to its ultimate conclusion. Its ethical application must proceed similarly. If it conflicts with old opinions those must be cast off. It can never conflict with true morality. But it will with many views touching our dealings with one another. The spirit of Theosophy must be sought for; a sincere application of its principles of life and act should be made. Thus mechanical Theosophy, which inevitably leads—as in many cases it already has—to a negation of brotherhood, will be impossible, and instead there will be a living, actual Theosophy. This will then raise in our hearts the hope that at least a small nucleus of Universal Brotherhood may be formed before we of this generation are all dead.
The most notable book for guidance in Mysticism which has appeared since Light on the Path was written has just been published under the significant title of “Through the Gates of Gold.” [Through the Gates of Gold; a Fragment of Thought. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1887. Price 50 cents.] Though the author’s name is withheld, the occult student will quickly discern that it must proceed from a very high source. In certain respects the book may be regarded as a commentary on Light on the Path. The reader would do well to bear this in mind. Many things in that book will be made clear by the reading of this one, and one will be constantly reminded of that work, which has already become a classic in our literature. Through the Gates of Gold is a work to be kept constantly at hand for reference and study. It will surely take rank as one of the standard books of Theosophy.
The “Gates of Gold” represent the entrance to that realm of the soul unknowable through the physical perceptions, and the purpose of this work is to indicate some of the steps necessary to reach their threshold. Through its extraordinary beauty of style and the clearness of its statement it will appeal to a wider portion of the public than most works of a Theosophical character. It speaks to the Western World in its own language, and in this fact lies much of its value.
Those of us who have been longing for something “practical” will find it here, while it will probably come into the hands of thousands who know little or nothing of Theosophy, and thus meet wants deeply felt though unexpressed. There are also doubtless many, we fancy, who will be carried far along in its pages by its resistless logic until they encounter something which will give a rude shock to some of their old conceptions, which they have imagined as firmly based as upon a rock—a shock which may cause them to draw back in alarm, but from which they will not find it so easy to recover, and which will be likely to set them thinking seriously.
The titles of the five chapters of the book are, respectively, “The Search for Pleasure,” “The Mystery of the Threshold,” “The Initial Effort,” “The Meaning of Pain,” and “The Secret of Strength.” Instead of speculating upon mysteries that lie at the very end of man ‘s destiny, and which cannot be approached by any manner of conjecture, the work very sensibly takes up that which lies next at hand, that which constitutes the first step to be taken if we are ever to take a second one, and teaches us its significance. At the outset we must cope with sensation and learn its nature and meaning. An important teaching of Light on the Path has been misread by many. We are not enjoined to kill out sensation, but to “kill out desire for sensation,”` which is something quite different. “Sensation, as we obtain it through the physical body, affords us all that induces us to live in that shape,” says this work. The problem is, to extract the meaning which it holds for us. That is what existence is for. “If men will but pause and consider what lessons they have learned from pleasure and pain, much might be guessed of that strange thing which causes these effects.”
“The question concerning results seemingly unknowable, that concerning the life beyond the Gates,” is presented as one that has been asked throughout the ages, coming at the hour “when the flower of civilization had blown to its full, and when its petals are but slackly held together,” the period when man reaches the greatest physical development of his cycle. It is then that in the distance a great glittering is seen, before which many drop their eyes bewildered and dazzled, though now and then one is found brave enough to gaze fixedly on this glittering, and to decipher something of the shape within it. “Poets and philosophers, thinking and teachers, all those who are the ‘elder brothers of the race’—have beheld this sight from time to time, and some among them have recognized in the bewildering glitter the outlines of the Gates of Gold.”
Those Gates admit us to the sanctuary of man’s own nature, to the place whence his life-power comes, and where he is priest of the shrine of life. It needs but a strong hand to push them open, we are told. “The courage to enter them is the courage to search the recesses of one’s nature without fear and without shame. In the first part, the essence, the flavour of the man, is found the key which unlocks those great Gates.”
The necessity of killing out the sense of separateness is profoundly emphasized as one of the most important factors in this process. We must divest ourselves of the illusions of the material life. “When we desire to speak with those who have tried the Golden Gates and pushed them open, then it is very necessary—in fact it is essential—to discriminate, and not bring into our life the confusions of our sleep. If we do, we are reckoned as madmen, and fall back into the darkness where there is no friend but chaos. This chaos has followed every effort of man that is written in history; after civilization has flowered, the flower falls and dies, and winter and darkness destroy it.” In this last sentence is indicated the purpose of civilization. It is the blossoming of a race, with the purpose of producing a certain spiritual fruit; this fruit having ripened, then the degeneration of the great residuum begins, to be worked over and over again in the grand fermenting processes of reincarnation. Our great civilization is now flowering and in this fact we may read the reason for the extraordinary efforts to sow the seed of the Mystic Teachings wherever the mind of man may be ready to receive it.
In the “Mystery of Threshold,” we are told that “only a man who has the potentialities in him both of the voluptuary and the stoic has any chance of entering the Golden Gates. He must be capable of testing and valuing to its most delicate fraction every joy existence has to give; and he must be capable of denying himself all pleasure, and that without suffering from the denial.”
The fact that the way is different for each individual is finely set forth in “The Initial Effort,” In the words that man “may burst the shell that holds him in darkness, tear the veil that hides him from the eternal, at any moment where it is easiest for him to do so; and most often this point will be where he least expects to find it.” By this we may see the uselessness of laying down arbitrary laws in the matter.
The meaning of those important words, “All steps are necessary to make up the ladder,” finds a wealth of illustration here. These sentences are particularly pregnant: “Spirit is not a gas created by matter, and we cannot create our future by forcibly using one material agent leaving out the rest. Spirit is the great life on which matter rests, as does the rocky world on the free and fluid ether; whenever we can break our limitations we find ourselves on that marvellous shore where Wordsworth once saw the gleam of the gold.” Virtue, being of the material life, man has not the power to carry it with him, “yet the aroma of his good deeds is a far sweeter sacrifice than the odour of crime and cruelty.
“To the one who has lifted the golden latch the spring of sweet waters, the fountain itself whence all softness arises, is opened and becomes part of his heritage. But before this can be reached a heavy weight has to be lifted from the heart, an iron bar which holds it down and prevents it arising in its strength.
The author here wishes to show that there is sweetness and light in occultism, and not merely a wide dry level of dreadful Karma, such as some Theosophists are prone to dwell on. And this sweetness and light may be reached when we discover the iron bar and raising it shall permit the heart to be free. This iron bar is what the Hindus call “the knot of the heart!” In their scriptures they talk of unloosing the knot, and say that when that is accomplished freedom is near. But what is the iron bar and the knot? is the question we must answer. It is the astringent power of self—of egotism—of the idea of separateness. This idea has many strongholds. It holds its most secret court and deepest counsels near the far removed depths and centre of the heart. But it manifests itself first, in that place which is nearest to our ignorant perceptions, where we see it first after beginning the search. When we assault and conquer it there it disappears. It has only retreated to the next row of outworks where for a time it appears not to our sight, and we imagine it killed, while it is laughing at our imaginary conquests and security. Soon again we find it and conquer again, only to have it again retreat. So we must follow it up if we wish to grasp it at least to its final stand just near the “kernel of the heart.” There it has become “an iron bar that holds down the heart,” and there only can the fight be really won. That disciple is fortunate who is able to sink past all the pretended outer citadels and seize at once this personal devil who holds the bar of iron, and there wage the battle. If won there, it is easy to return to the outermost places and take them by capitulation. This is very difficult, for many reasons. It is not a mere juggle of words to speak of this trial. It is a living tangible thing that can be met by any real student. The great difficulty of rushing at once to the centre lies in the unimaginable terrors which assault the soul on its short journey there. This being so it is better to begin the battle on the outside in just the way pointed out in this book and Light on the Path, by testing experience and learning from it.
In the lines quoted the author attempts to direct the eyes of a very materialistic age to the fact which is an accepted one by all true students of occultism, that the true heart of a man—which is visibly represented by the muscular heart—is the focus point for spirit, for knowledge, for power; and that from that point the converged rays begin to spread out fan-like, until they embrace the Universe. So it is the Gate. And it is just at that neutral spot of concentration that the pillars and the doors are fixed. It is beyond it that the glorious golden light burns, and throws up a “burnished glow.” We find in this the same teachings as in the Upanishads. The latter speaks of “the ether which is within the heart,” and also says that we must pass across that ether.
“The Meaning of Pain” is considered in a way which throws a great light on the existence of that which for ages has puzzled many learned men. “Pain arouses, softens, breaks and destroys. Regarded from a sufficiently removed standpoint, it appears as a medicine, as a knife, as a weapon, as a poison, in turn. It is an implement, a thing which is used, evidently. What we desire to discover is, who is the user; what part of ourselves is it that demands the presence of this thing so hateful to the rest?”
The task is, to rise above both pain and pleasure and unite them to our service. “Pain and pleasure stand apart and separate, as do the two sexes; and it is in the merging, the making the two into one, that joy and deep sensation and profound peace are obtained. Where there is neither male nor female, neither pain nor pleasure, there is the god in man dominant, and then is life real.”
The following passage can hardly fail to startle many good people; “Destiny, the inevitable, does indeed exist for the race and for the individual; but who can ordain this save the man himself? There is no clew in heaven or earth to the existence of any ordainer other than the man who suffers or enjoys that which is ordained.” But can any earnest student of Theosophy deny, or object to this? Is it not a pure statement of the law of Karma? Does it not agree perfectly with the teaching of the Bhagavat-Gîtâ? There is surely no power which sits apart like a judge in court, and fines us or rewards us for this misstep or that merit; it is we who shape, or ordain, our own future.
God is not denied. The seeming paradox that a God exists within each man is made clear when we perceive that separate existence is an illusion; the physical, which makes us separate individuals, must eventually fall away, leaving each man one with all men, and with God, who is the Infinite.
And the passage which will surely be widely misunderstood is that in “The Secret of Strength.” “Religion holds a man back from the path, prevents his stepping forward, for various very plain reasons. First, it makes the vital mistake of distinguishing between good and evil. Nature knows no such distinctions.” Religion is always man -made. It cannot therefore be the whole truth. It is a good thing for the ordinary and outside man, but surely it will never bring him to the Gates of Gold. If religion be of God how is it that we find that same God in his own works and acts violating the precepts of religion? He kills each man once in life; every day the fierce elements and strange circumstances which he is said to be the author of, bring on famine, cold and innumerable untimely deaths; where then, in The True, can there be any room for such distinctions as right and wrong? The disciple must, as he walks on the path, abide by law and order, but if he pins his faith on any religion whatever he will stop at once, and it makes no matter whether he sets up Mahatmas, Gods, Krishna, Vedas or mysterious acts of grace, each of these will stop him and throw him into a rut from which even heavenly death will not release him. Religion can only teach morals and ethics. It cannot answer the question “what am I?” The Buddhist ascetic holds a fan before his eyes to keep away the sight of objects condemned by his religion. But he thereby gains no knowledge, for that part of him which is affected by the improper sights has to be known by the man himself, and it is by experience alone that the knowledge can be possessed and assimilated.
The book closes gloriously, with some hints that have been much needed. Too many, even of the sincerest students of occultism, have sought to ignore that one-half of their nature, which is here taught to be necessary. Instead of crushing out the animal nature, we have here the high and wise teaching that we must learn to fully understand the animal and subordinate it to the spiritual. “The god in man, degraded, is a thing unspeakable in its infamous power of production. The animal in man, elevated, is a thing unimaginable in its great powers of service and of strength.” and we are told that our animal self is a great force, the secret of the old-world magicians, and of the coming race which Lord Lytton foreshadowed. “But this power can only be attained by giving the god the sovereignty. Make your animal ruler over yourself, and he will never rule others.”
This teaching will be seen to be identical with that of the closing words of “The Idyll of the White Lotus” : “He will learn how to expound spiritual truths, and to enter into the life of his highest self, and he can learn also to hold within him the glory of that higher self, and yet to retain life upon this planet so long as it shall last, if need be; to retain life in the vigour of manhood, till his entire work is completed, and he has taught the three truths to all who look for light.”
There are three sentences in the book which ought to be imprinted in the reader’s mind, and we present them inversely:
“Secreted and hidden in the heart of the world and the heart of man is the light which can illumine all life, the future and the past.”
“On the mental steps of a million men Buddha passed through the Gates of Gold; and because a great crowd pressed about the threshold he was able to leave behind him words which prove that those gates will open.”
“This is one of the most important factors in the development of man, the recognition—profound and complete recognition—of the law of universal unity and coherence.”
“When the strong man has crossed the threshold he speaks no more to those on the other (this) side. And even the words he utters when he is outside are so full of mystery, so veiled and profound, that only those who follow in his steps can see the light within them.”—Through the Gates of Gold, p.19.
He fails to speak when he has crossed, if he did, they would neither hear nor understand him . All the language he can use when on this side is language. All the language he can use when on this side is language based upon experience gained outside the Gates, and when he uses that language, it calls up in the minds of his hearers only the ideas corresponding to the plane they are on and experience they have undergone; for if he speaks of that kind of idea and experience which he has found on the other side, his hearers do not know what is beneath his words, and therefore his utterances seem profound. They are not veiled and profound because he wishes to be a mystic whose words no one can expound, but solely because of the necessities of the case. He is willing and anxious to tell all who wish to know, but cannot convey what he desires, and he is sometimes accused of being unnecessarily vague and misleading.
But there are some who pretend to have passed through these Gates and who utter mere nothings, mere juggles of words that cannot be understood because there is nothing behind them rooted in experience. Then the question arises, “How are we to distinguish between these two?
There are two ways.
1. By having an immense erudition, a profound knowledge of the various and numberless utterances of those known Masters throughout the ages whose words are full of power. But this is obviously an immense and difficult task, one which involves years devoted to reading and rarely-found retentiveness of memory. So it cannot be the one most useful to us. It is the path of mere book-knowledge.
2. The other mode is by testing those utterances by our intuition. There is scarcely any one who has not got an internal voice—a silent monitor—who, so to say, strikes within us the bell that corresponds to truth, just as a piano’s wires each reports the vibrations peculiar to it, but not due to striking the wire itself. It is just as if we had within us a series of wires whose vibrations are all true, but which will not be vibrated except by those words and propositions which are in themselves true. So that false and pretending individual who speaks in veiled language only mere nothingness will never vibrate within us those wires which correspond to truth. But when one who has been to and through those Gates speaks ordinary words really veiling grand ideas, then all the invisible wires within immediately vibrate in unison. The inner monitor has struck them, and we feel that he has said what is true, and whether we understand him or not we feel the power of the vibration and the value of the words we have heard.
Many persons are inclined to doubt the existence in themselves of this intuition, who in fact possess it. It is a common heritage of man, and only needs unselfish effort to develop it. Many selfish men have it in their selfish lives; many a great financier and manager has it and exercises it. This is merely its lowest use and expression.
By constantly referring mentally all propositions to it and thus giving it an opportunity for growth, it will grow and speak soon with no uncertain tones. This is what is meant in old Hindu books by the expression, “a knowledge of the real meaning of sacred books.” It ought to be cultivated because it is one of the first steps in knowing ourselves and understanding others.
In this civilization especially we are inclined to look outside instead of inside ourselves. Nearly all our progress is material and thus superficial. Spirit is neglected or forgotten, while that which is not spirit is enshrined as such. The intuitions of the little child are stifled until at last they are almost lost, leaving the many at the mercy of judgements based upon exterior reason. How, then, can one who has been near the Golden Gates—much more he who passed through them—be other than silent in surroundings where the golden refulgence is unknown or denied. Obliged to use the words of his fellow travellers, he gives them a meaning unknown to them, or detaches them from their accustomed relation. Hence he is sometimes vague, often misleading, seldom properly understood. But not lost are any of these words, for they sound through the ages, and in future eras they will turn themselves into sentences of gold in the hearts of disciples yet to come.
“Having taken the bow, the great weapon,let him place on it the arrow, sharpened by devotion.
Then, having drawn it with a thought directed to that which is, hit the mark, O friend,—the Indestructible.
OM is the bow, the Self is the arrow, Brahman is called its aim.
It is to be hit by a man who is not thoughtless; and then as the arrow becomes one with the target,
he will become one with Brahman. Know him alone as the Self, and leave off other words.
He is the bridge of the Immortal. Meditate on the self as OM.
Hail to you that you may cross beyond the sea of darkness.”
Archery has always been in vogue, whether in nations civilized or among people of barbarous manners. We find Arjuna, prince of India, the possessor of a wonderful bow called Gandiva, the gift of the gods. None but its owner could string it, and in war it spread terror in the ranks of the enemy. Arjuna was a wonderful archer too. He could use Gandiva as well with his right as with his left hand, and so was once addressed by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gîtâ dialogue as “thou both-handed.” The bow figures in the lives of the Greek heroes, and just now the novelist Louis Stevenson is publishing a book in which he sings the praises of a bow, the bow of war possessed by Ulysses; when war was at hand it sang its own peculiar, shrill, clear song, and the arrows shot from it hit the mark.
Archery is a practice that symbolizes concentration. There is the archer, the arrow, the bow, and the target to be hit. To reach the mark it is necessary to concentrate the mind, the eye, and the body upon many points at once, while at the same time the string must be let go without disturbing the aim. The draw of the string with the arrow must be even and steady on the line of sight, and when grasp, draw, aim, and line are perfected, the arrow must be loosed smoothly at the moment of full draw, so that by the bow’s recoil it may be carried straight to the mark. So those who truly seek wisdom are archers trying to hit the mark. This is spiritual archery, and it is to this sort that the verse from the Mundaka Upanishad refers.
In archery among men a firm position must be assumed, and in the pursuit of truth this firm position must be taken up and not relaxed, if the object in view is to be ever attained. The eye must not wander from the target, for, if it does, the arrow will fly wide or fall short of its goal. So if we start out to reach the goal of wisdom, the mind and heart must not be permitted to wander, for the path is narrow and the wanderings of a day may cause us years of effort to find the road again.
The quality of the bow makes a great difference in the results attained by the archer. If it is not a good bow of strong texture and with a good spring to it, the missiles will not fly straight or with sufficient force to do the work required; and so with the man himself who is his own bow, if he has not the sort of nature that enables him to meet all the requirements, his work as a spiritual archer will fall that much short. But even as the bow made of wood or steel is subject to alterations of state, so we are encouraged by the thought that the laws of karma and reincarnation show us that in other lives and new bodies we may do better work. The archer says too that the bow often seems to alter with the weather or other earthly changes, and will on some days do much better work than on others. The same thing is found by the observing theosophist, who comes to know that he too is subject from time to time to changes in his nature which enables him to accomplish more and to be nearer the spiritual condition. But the string of the bow must always be strung tight; and this, in spiritual archery, is the fixed determination to always strive for the goal.
When the arrow is aimed and loosed it must be slightly raised to allow for the trajectory, for if not it will fall short. This corresponds on its plane with one of the necessities of our human constitution, in that we must have a high mental and spiritual aim if we are to hit high. We cannot go quite as high as the aim, but have to thus allow for the trajectory that comes about from the limitations of our nature; the trajectory of the arrow is due to the force of gravity acting on it, and our aspirations have the same curve in consequence of the calls of the senses, hereditary defects, and wrong habits that never permit us to do as much as we would wish to do.
Let us hit the mark, O friend! and that mark is the indestructible, the highest spiritual life we are at any time capable of.
In my experience with the Theosophical Society I have noticed a disposition on the part of some members to often object to the methods of others or to their plans on the ground that they are unwise, or not suitable, or what not. These objections are not put in a spirit of discord, but more often arise merely from a want of knowledge of the working of the laws which govern our efforts.
H.P.B always said—following the rules laid down by high teachers—that no proposal for theosophical work should be rejected or opposed provided the proposer has the sincere motive of doing good to the movement and to his fellows. Of course that does not mean that distinctly bad or pernicious purposes are to be forwarded. Seldom, however, does a sincere theosophist propose bad acts. But they often desire to begin some small work for the Society, and are frequently opposed by those who think the juncture unfavourable or the thing itself unwise. These objections always have at bottom the assumption that there is only one certain method to be followed. One man objects to the fact that a Branch holds open public meetings, another that it does not. Others think the Branch should be distinctly metaphysical, still more that it should be entirely ethical. Sometimes when a member who has not much capacity proposes an insignificant work in his own way, his fellows think it ought not to be done. But the true way is to bid good-speed to every sincere attempt to spread theosophy, even if you cannot agree with the method. As it is not your proposal, you are not concerned at all in the matter. You praise the desire to benefit; nature takes care of results.
A few examples may illustrate. Once in New York a most unique newspaper article about theosophy appeared. It was a lying interview. All that it had in it true was the address of an official of the T.S. It was sent by an enemy of the Society to a gentleman who had long desired to find us. He read it, took down the address, and became one of our most valued members. In England a lady of influence had desired to find out the Society’s place but could not. By accident a placard that some members thought unwise fell into her hands noticing an address on theosophy in an obscure place. She attended, and there met those who directed her to the Society. In the same town a member who is not in the upper classes throws cards about at meetings directing those who want to know theosophical doctrines where to go. In several cases these chance cards, undignifiedly scattered, have brought into the ranks excellent members who had no other means of finding out about the Society. Certainly the most of us would think that scattering cards in this manner is too undignified to our work.
But no one method is to be insisted on. Each man is a potency in himself, and only by working on the lines which suggest themselves to him can he bring to bear the forces that are his. We should deny no man and interfere with none; for our duty is to discover what we ourselves can do without criticizing the actions of another. The laws of karmic action have much to do with this. We interfere for a time with good results to come when we attempt to judge according to our own standards the methods of work which a fellow member proposes for himself. Ramifying in every direction are the levers—absolutely necessary for the greatest of results—being very small and obscure. They are all of them human beings, and hence we must carefully watch that by no word of ours the levers are obstructed. If we attend strictly to our own duty all will act in harmony, for the duty of another is dangerous for us. Therefore if any member proposes to spread the doctrines of theosophy in a way that seems wise to him, wish him success even if his method be one that would not commend itself to you for your own guidance.
The first object of our Society is the formation of a nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood. This is a practical object and at the same time a fact in nature. It has been long regarded by the greater number of men as an Utopian ideal, one that might be held up, talked about, desired, but impossible of attainment. And it was no wonder that people so regarded it, because the ordinary religious view of God, nature, and man placed everything on a selfish basis, offered personal distinction in heaven to the saints who might die in the odour of sanctity, and thus made impossible the realization of this beautiful dream. But when the Theosophical philosophy shows that there is a unity among beings not only in their better natures but also on the physical plane, our first object becomes most practical. For if all men are brothers in fact, that is, joined one to another by a tie which no one can break, then the formation of the nucleus for the future brotherhood is something that has to do with all the affairs of man, affects civilizations, and leads to the physical as well as moral betterment of each member of the great family.
This first object means philanthropy. Each Theosophist should therefore not only continue his private of public acts of charity, but also strive to so understand Theosophical philosophy as to be able to expound it in a practical and easily understood manner, so that he may be a wider philanthropist by ministering to the needs of the inner man. This inner man is a thinking being who feeds upon a right or wrong philosophy. If he is given that one which is wrong, then, becoming warped and diseased, he leads his instrument, the outer man, into bewilderment and sorrow.
Now as Theosophical theories were and are still quite strange, fascinating, and peculiar when contrasted with the usual doctrines of men and things, very many members have occupied themselves with much metaphysical speculation or with diving into the occult and the wonderful, forgetting that the higher philanthropy calls for a spreading among men of a right basis for ethics, for thought, for action. So we often find Theosophists among themselves debating complicated doctrines that have no present application to practical life, and at the same time other members and some inquirers breathing a sigh of relief when anyone directs the inquiries into such a channel as shall cause all the doctrines to be extended to daily life and there applied.
What we most need is such a Theosophical education as will give us the ability to expound Theosophy in a way to be understood by the ordinary person. This practical, clear exposition is entirely possible. That it is of the highest importance there can be no doubt whatever. It relates to and affects ethics, everyday life, every thought, and consequently every act . The most learned, astute, and successful church, the Roman Catholic, proceeds on this basis. Should we refrain from a good practice because a bigot takes the same method? The priests of Rome do not explain, nor attempt to explain or expound, the highly metaphysical and obscure, though important, basis of their various doctrines. They touch the people in their daily life, a knowledge of their own system in all its details enabling them to put deep doctrine into every man’s language, although the learning of the preacher may be temporarily concealed. With them the appeal is to fear; with us it is to reason and experience. So we have a natural advantage which ought not to be overlooked.
High scholarship and a knowledge of metaphysics are good things to have, but the mass of the people are neither scholars nor metaphysicians. If our doctrines are of any such use as to command the efforts of sages in helping on to their promulgation , then it must be that those sages—our Masters—desire the doctrines to be placed before as many of the mass as we can reach. This our Theosophical scholars and metaphysicians can do by a little effort. It is indeed a little difficult, because slightly disagreeable, for a member who is naturally metaphysical to come down to the ordinary level of human minds in general, but it can be done. And when one does do this, the reward is great from the evident relief and satisfaction of the inquirer.
It is pre-eminently our duty to be thus practical in exposition as often as possible. Intellectual study only of our Theosophy will not speedily better the world. It must, of course, have effect through immortal ideas once more set in motion, but while we are waiting for those ideas to bear fruit among men a revolution may break out and sweep us away. We should do as Buddha taught his disciples, preach, practise, promulgate, and illustrate our doctrines. He spoke to the meanest of men with effect, although having a deeper doctrine for greater and more learned minds. Let us, then, acquire the art of practical exposition of ethics based on our theories and enforced by the fact of Universal Brotherhood.
At the present time one of the most urgent needs is for a simplification of Theosophical teachings. Theosophy is simple enough; it is the fault of its exponents if it is made complicated, abstruse or vague. Yet enquiring people are always complaining that it is too difficult a subject for them, and that their education has not been deep enough to enable them to understand it. This is greatly the fault of the members who have put it in such a manner that the people sadly turn away. At public meetings or when trying to interest an enquirer it is absolutely useless to use Sanskrit, Greek or other foreign words. Nine times out of ten the habit of doing so is due to laziness or conceit. Sometimes it is due to having merely learned certain terms without knowing and assimilating the ideas underneath. The ideas of Theosophy should be mastered, and once that is done it will be easy to express those in the simplest possible terms. And discussions about the Absolute, the Hierarchies, and so forth, are worse than useless. Such ideas as Karma, Reincarnation, the Perfectibility of Man, the Dual Nature, are the subjects to put forward. These can be expounded—if you have grasped the ideas and made them part of your thought—from a thousand different points of view. At all meetings the strongest effort should be made to simplify by using the words of our own language in expressing that which we believe
It is often asked: How should I or my friend study theosophy?
In the beginning this study a series of “don’t’s” should first engage the student’s attention. Don’t imagine that you know everything, or that any man in scientific circles has uttered the last word on any subject; don’t suppose that the present day is the best, or that the ancients were superstitious, with no knowledge of natural laws. Don’t forget that arts, sciences, and metaphysics did not have their rise with European civilization; and don’t forget that the influence of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle of ancient Greece is still imposed upon the modern mind. Don’t think that our astronomers would have made anything but a mess of the zodiac if the old Chaldeans had not left us the one we use. Don’t forget that it is easy to prove that civilization of the highest order has periodically rolled around this globe and left traces great and small behind. Don’t confine Buddhism with Brahmanism, or imagine that the Hindus are Buddhists; and don’t take the word of English or German Sanscrit scholars in explanation of the writings and scriptures of eastern nations whose thoughts are as foreign in their form to ours as our countries are. One should first be prepared to examine with a clear and unbiased mind.
But suppose the inquirer is disposed at the outset to take the word of theosophical writers, then caution is just as necessary, for theosophical literature does not bear the stamp of authority. We should all be able to give a reason for the hope that is within us, and we cannot do that if we have swallowed without study the words of others.
But what is study? It is not the mere reading of books, but rather long, earnest, careful thought upon that which we have taken up. If a student accepts reincarnation and karma as true doctrines, the work is but begun. Many theosophists accept doctrines of that name, but are not able to say what it is they have accepted. They do not pause to find out what reincarnates, or how, when, or why karma has its effects, and often do not know what the word means. Some at first think that when they die they will reincarnate, without reflecting that it is the lower personal I they mean, which cannot be born again in a body. Others think that karma is—well, karma, with no clear idea of classes of karma, or whether or not it is punishment or reward or both. Hence a careful learning from one or two books of the statement of the doctrines, and then a more careful study of them, are absolutely necessary.
There is too little of such right study among theosophists, and too much reading of new books. No student can tell whether Mr. Sinnett in Esoteric Buddhism writes reasonably unless his book is learned and not merely skimmed. Although his style is clear, the matter treated is difficult, needing firm lodgement in the mind, followed by careful thought. A proper use of his book, The Secret Doctrine, The Key to Theosophy, and all other matter written upon the constitution of man, leads to an acquaintance with the doctrines as to the being most concerned, and only when that acquaintance is obtained is one fitted to understand the rest. * [This article appeared in The Path for January 1890. Mr. Judge himself wrote The Ocean of Theosophy in 1893. It is a most able presentation of the Esoteric Philosophy and an excellent epitome of H.P. BLAVATSKY’s Secret Doctrine. There is no equal to The Ocean of Theosophy as a textbook for study classes and to the individual reader it offers an accurate exposition of Theosophy.—Eds.]
Another branch of study is that pursued by natural devotees, those who desire to enter into the work itself for the good of humanity. Those should study all branches of theosophical literature all the harder, in order to be able to clearly explain it to others, for a weak reasoner or an apparently credulous believer has not much weight with others.
Western theosophists need patience, determination, discrimination, and memory, if they ever intend to seize and hold the attention of the world for the doctrines they disseminate.
Do not make statements that tend to mix up the Theosophical Society with any religious belief, political theory, or social observance or non-observance.
Beware of the propositions that the rich or those in social life needing theosophy as much as the humbler ranks should therefore have special efforts made for them while they fail or refuse to openly help the Society with their countenance and effort.
Do not be misled by the fancy that special effort to “convert” a scientific celebrity will lead to any great benefit to the theosophical movement, or sufficiently offset the time thereby lost from the general work among those who are ready to listen.
Never cry down the efforts of a sincere member to disseminate theosophy merely because it does not meet your standards of method or propriety.
Always discountenance any proposal to establish a censorship of either literature or effort in theosophical ranks, for such a censorship is against the broad and free platform on which the Society rests.
Suffer not yourself to be annoyed because scientific men claim as their new and original discoveries that which theosophical literature has always claimed; remember we are not in this movement for glory, but that men shall know the truth regardless of where the credit for discovery is given.
Never forget that a theosophical Branch is for the study of theosophy, and not for discussion upon outside topics.
Let not sentimentality make you fear to bring forward what you believe to be theosophy, even though some persons threaten to leave the ranks because their own fad seems endangered by the strength of your theory; but beware you do not mistake self-assertion in yourself for the strength of your theories
Be not deluded by the idea that you can do great good by entering a church society in which you do not believe. Theosophy is not benefited by being thrown among those who declare they do not want it.
Beware of the person who offers to sell spiritual science in so many lessons for a sum of money. Expositions by lectures in public of general theosophical principles for an admission fee are proper, but courses of lessons on magic arts, spiritual science, secret of nature, and the like are eternally improper, emanate from cupidity or undisciplined intellect, and lead to nothing.
Be charitable enough to remember that the theosophist is human, and perhaps has to struggle all the harder with our common failings just because he has entered on the battle with the lower nature.
Do not fancy that because ours is called a brotherhood any exclusion of woman is inferred. English is not the only language on earth, and in many others the same term describes both feminine and masculine, Theosophy does not concern sex distinctions and talks more of souls, which are sexless, than it does of the bodies they inhabit.
Carefully avoid confounding Brahmânism with Buddhism, and the religions flourishing outside of India with those of that country. Buddhism not being the religion of India, confusion of uttered sounds and knowledge results from calling Hindus Buddhists.
Very carefully refrain from confusing Christianity with the religion of Jesus. The latter is not the former, inasmuch as Christianity is split up into over three hundred different sects, whereas Jesus had but one doctrine.
Pay the highest respects to the sermons of Jesus, from the remembrance of the fact that in his discourses he but gave forth once again the old doctrine taught to him by the ancient theosophists of whom he was a disciple.
Do not make the blunder of mistaking the glitter of our civilization for true progress. Weigh fine houses, good clothes, mechanical devices, and universal male suffrage against the poverty, misery, vice, crime, and ignorance which go with the former, before you conclude what is the best civilization.
There are several hindrances to the doing of good work by individuals, with resulting loss to the movement. These are all surmountable, for hindrances that are insurmountable are nature’s own limitations that can be used as means instead of being left as barriers. One of these surmountable and unnecessary hindrances is the prevalent habit of reading trashy and sensational literature, both in newspaper and other form. This stupefies and degrades the mind, wasted time and energy, and makes the brain a storehouse of mere brute force rather than what it should be—a generator of cosmic power. Many people seem to “read from the pricking of some cerebral itch,” with a motive similar to that which ends in the ruin of a dipsomaniac: a desire to deaden the personal consciousness. Sensation temporarily succeeds in drowning the voice of conscience and the pressure that comes from the soul that so many men and women unintelligently feel. So they seek acute sensation in a thousand different ways, while others strive to attain the same end by killing both sensation and consciousness with the help of drugs or alcohol. Reading of a certain sort is simply the alcohol habit removed to another plane, and just as some unfortunates live to drink instead of drinking that they may live, so other unfortunates live to read instead of reading that they may learn how to live. Gautama Buddha went so far as to forbid his disciples to read novels—or what stood for novels in those days—holding that to do so was most injurious. People are responsible for the use they make of their brains, for the brain can be used for the noblest purposes and can evolve the most refined quality of energy, and to occupy it continually with matters not only trivial but often antagonistic to Theosophical principles is to be untrue to a grave trust. This does not mean that the news of the day should be ignored, for those who live in the world should keep themselves acquainted with the world’s doings: but a fair test is that nothing not worth remembering is worth reading. To read for the sake of reading, and so filling the sphere of the mind with a mass of half-dead images, is a hindrance to service and a barrier to individual development.
The wise man sagely said that of making books there is no end. If true in his day, it is the same now. Among members of the Theosophical Society the defects are widespread, of reading too many of the ever coming books and too little thought upon the matter read. Anyone who is in a position to see the letters of inquiry received by those in the Society who are prominent, knows that the greater number of the questions asked are due to want of thought, to the failure on the part of the questioners to lay down a sure foundation of general principles.
It is so easy for some to sit down and write a book containing nothing new save its difference of style from others, that the pilgrim theosophist may be quickly bewildered if he pays any attention. This bewilderment is chiefly due to the fact that no writer can express his thoughts in a way that will be exactly and wholly comprehended by every reader, and authors in theosophic literature are only, in fact, trying to present their own particular understanding of old doctrines which the reader would do much better with if they devoted more time to thinking them out for themselves.
In the field of everyday books there is so much light reading that the superficial habit of skimming is plainly everywhere apparent, and it threatens to show itself in theosophical ranks.
So well am I convinced there are too many superfluous books in our particular field, that, if I had a youth to train in that department, I should confine him to the Bhagavid Gîtâ, the Upanishads, and the Secret Doctrine for a very long time, until he was able to make books for himself out of those, and to apply the principles found in them to every circumstance and to his own life and thought.
Those theosophists who only wish to indulge in a constant variety of new theosophical dishes will go on reading all that appears, but the others who are in earnest, who know that we are here to learn and not solely for our pleasure, are beginning to see that a few books well read, well analysed, and thoroughly digested are better than many books read over once. They have learned how all that part of a book which they clearly understand at first is already their own, and that the rest, which is not so clear or quite obscure, is the portion they are to study, so that it also, if found true, may become an integral part of their constant thought.
When two or three or more Theosophists meet together socially, what should they talk about in the absence of uninterested strangers? It may be said that they should talk like any other people, but this ought not to be the case. The usual worldly custom is to bring up for conversation unimportant matters, often in regard to persons, not infrequently to their detriment, or in regard to transient events, and to discuss these without relating them to permanent and basic principles. Many people talk for the sake of talking, as others read for the sake of reading, regardless of results. But those who know that a “single word may ruin a whole city or put the spirit of a lion into a dead fox” will be more careful of their words. Apart from that aspect of the question, it should be evident that for people who profess to be interested in Theosophy to meet together without discussing it is to fritter away their time and opportunity. To babble out words does not help on the evolution of humanity or inspire any other idea but the natural one that such conversation borders on the idiotic. Nor is there any reason why conversation should not be at once interesting and instructive. It can easily be led into such channels by anyone present. No one has a right to excuse himself on the ground that “the others” would talk gossip, or about clothes or games or similar things; for a few words and, more important still, a proper attitude of mind will at once lead the conversation into the proper channel. And here again any extreme should be avoided. There is a right time and a wrong time for the discussion of games, clothes, food, and so forth, and there is a decided limit to the usefulness of such discussion. Other topics should be dealt with when fellow students are so fortunate as to meet together. They at least should never part without conversing on some ennobling and uplifting subject that will help them in their work and study. To make that a rule would not only insure much positive good; it would insure against much positive harm.
There is such a thing as being intoxicated in the course of an unwise pursuit of what we erroneously imagine is spirituality. In the Christian Bible it is very wisely directed to “prove all” and to hold only to that which is good; this advice is just as important to the student of occultism who thinks that he has separated himself from those “inferior” people engaged either in following a dogma or in tipping tables for messages from deceased relatives—or enemies—as it is to spiritists who believe in the “Summerland” and “returning spirits.”
The placid surface of the sea of spirit is the only mirror in which can be caught undisturbed the reflections of spiritual things. When a student starts upon the path and begins to see spots of light flash out now and then, or balls of golden fire roll past him, it does not mean that he is beginning to see the real Self—pure spirit. A moment of deepest peace or wonderful revealings given to the student, is not the awful moment when one is about to see his spiritual guide, much less his own soul. Nor are psychical splashes of blue flame, nor visions of things that afterwards come to pass, nor sights of small sections of the astral light with its wonderful photographs of past or future, nor the sudden ringing of distant fairy-like bells, any proof that you are cultivating spirituality. These things, and still more curious things, will occur when you have passed a little distance on the way, but they are only the mere outposts of a new land which is itself wholly material, and only one remove from the plane of gross physical consciousness.
The liability to be carried off and intoxicated by these phenomena is to be guarded against. We should watch, note and discriminate in all these cases, place them down for future reference, to be related to some law, or for comparison with other circumstances of a like sort. The power that Nature has of deluding us is endless, and if we stop at these matters she will let us no further. It is not that any person or power in nature has declared that if we do so and so we must stop, but when one is carried off by what Boehme calls “God’s wonders,” the result is an intoxication that produces confusion of the intellect. Were one, for instance, to regard every picture seen in the astral light as a spiritual experience, he might truly after a while brook no contradiction upon the subject, but that would be merely because he was drunk with this kind of wine. While he provided with his indulgence and neglected his true progress, which is always dependent upon his purity of motive and conquest of his known or ascertainable defects, nature went on accumulating the store of illusory appearances with which he satiated himself.
It is certain that any student who devotes himself to these astral happenings will see them increase. But were our whole life devoted to and rewarded by an enormous succession of phenomena, it is also equally certain that the casting off the body would be the end of all that sort of experience, without our having added really anything to our stock of true knowledge.
The astral plane, which is the same as that of our psychic senses, is as full of strange sights and sounds as an untrodden South American forest, and has to be well understood before the student can stay there long without danger. While we can overcome the dangers of a forest by the use of human inventions, whose entire object is the physical destruction of the noxious things encountered there, we have no such aids when treading the astral labyrinth. We may be physically brave and say that no fear can enter into us, but no untrained or merely curious seeker is able to say just what effect will result to his outer senses from the attack or influence encountered by the psychical senses.
And the person who revolves selfishly around himself as a centre is in greater danger of delusion than any one else, for he has not the assistance that comes from being united in thought with all other sincere seekers. One may stand in a dark house where none of the objects can be distinguished and quite plainly see all that is illuminated outside; in the same way we can see from out of the blackness of our own house—our hearts—the objects now and then illuminated outside by the astral light; but we gain nothing. We must first dispel the inner darkness before trying to see into the darkness without; we must know ourselves before knowing things extraneous to ourselves.
This is not the road that seems easiest to students. Most of them find it far pleasanter and as they think faster, work, to look on all these outside allurements, and to cultivate all psychic senses, to the exclusion of real spiritual work.
The true road is plain and easy to find, it is so easy that very many would-be students miss it because they cannot believe it to be so simple.
“The way lies through the heart”;
Ask there and wander not;
Knock loud, nor hesitate
Because at first the sounds
Reverberating, seem to mock thee.
Nor, when the door swings wide,
Revealing shadows black as night,
Must thou recoil,
Within, the Master’s messengers
Have waited patiently;
That Master is Thyself!
In one of the letters written by the Master K.H. and printed by Mr. Sinnett it is said the world (including doubtless East and West) is still superstitious. That this is true can hardly be denied, and in America the appearance of many who claim to be Jesus and who thus gain followers, shows how foolish and superstitious people yet are.
A man named Teed appeared in New York and is now in some western city, who said he was Jesus. He had a theory of our living inside a hollow globe. He induced a wealthy woman to give much money, and still has followers in his present place.
In Cincinnati a Mrs. Martin declared herself to be the Christ, and immortal. She gathered believers. But unfortunately in the summer of this year she died. Her coterie refused to believe in her demise and kept her body until mortification compelled a burial.
Out in New Mexico, in 1895, a German named Schlatter rises on the scene and at last says he is the Christ. He is one who takes no money, eats but little, and it is said he cures many of their diseases. At any rate great excitement arose about him and hundreds came to be cured. He then went to Denver, a larger city, and is still there posing as Jesus and claiming that his cures constitute the proof. And there are others scattered about; those cited are merely examples.
The posing of these claimants is due to partial insanity and to vanity. They do not like to pretend to be anything less than God. But their having followers shows how far superstitious and gullible other people are. Theosophists will doubtless laugh at both. But are we so free from the same defect? Has that folly exhibited itself or not among us, though perhaps under a different name? What of that “superstition” which sees in every dark-skinned Hindu either an Adept or a teacher, or at least a high disciple of some Yogi through whom occult favours may be had? Why it is known that this nonsense went so far in one case that the adorer devoted large sums of money to the crafty young fellow who posed as “just a little less than a Mahatma.” We are not quite clear of the beam we have seen in the eyes of others.
A safe rule will be that those who say they are Jesus or the equivalent of Christ, are not so, and instead of either following them or looking about for wonderful beings we will follow the ancient saying: “Man, know thyself.”
The word “glamour” was long ago defined in old dictionaries as “witchery or a charm on the yes, making them see things differently from what they really are.” This is still the meaning of the word. Not long ago, before the strange things possible in hypnotic experiments became known to the Western world, it seemed as if everything would be reduced to mere matter and motion by the fiat of science. Witchery was to fade away, be forgotten, be laughed out of sight, and what could not be ascribed to defective training of the senses was to have its explanation in the state of the liver, a most prosaic organ. But before science with its speculation and ever-altering canons could enlighten the unlearned multitude, hypnotism crept slowly and surely forward and at last began to buttress the positions of theosophy. Glamour stands once more a fair chance for recognition. Indeed, H.P.B uttered prophetic words when she said that in America more than anywhere else this art would be practised by selfish men for selfish purposes, for money-getting and gratification of desire.
Hurriedly glancing over some fields of folklore, see what a mess of tales bearing on glamour produced by men, gods, or elementals. In India the gods every now and then, often the sages, appear before certain persons in various guises by means of a glamour which causes the eye to see what is not really there. In Ireland volumes of tales in which the person sees houses, men, and animals where they are not; he is suddenly given the power to see under the skin of natural things, and then perceives the field or the marketplace full of fairies, men, and women gliding in and out among the people. Anon a man or woman is changed into the appearance of animal or bird, and only regains the old semblance when touched with the magic rod. This change of appearance is not a change in fact, but always a glamour affecting the eyes of the other person. Such a mass of similar stories found during all time and among every people cannot be due to folly nor be without a basis. The basis is a fact and a law in man’s nature. It is glamour, the reason for glamour, and the power to bring it about. Just because there have always been those who, either by natural ability or training, had the power to bring on a “witchery over the eyes,” these stories have arisen.
A writer well known in England and America once thought he had found a mare’s nest when he reported that Mme. Blavatsky had confessed to him that certain phenomena he enquired of had been caused by glamour.
“Ah, glamour!” he said; “thus falls this theosophic house of cards”; and he went away satisfied, for in truth he had been himself thoroughly glamoured. But theosophists should not stumble and fall violently as this gentleman did over a word which, when enquired into, carries with it a good deal of science relating to an important branch of occultism. When I read in an issue of the Arena all about this confession on glamour, I was quite ready to believe that H.P.B did say to the learned enquirer what he reported, but at the same time, of course, knew that she never intended to apply her enchantment explanation to every phenomenon. She only intended to include certain classes,—although in every occult phenomenon there is some glamour upon some of the observers according to their individual physical idiosyncrasies.
The classes of phenomena covered by this word are referred to in part by Patanjali in his Yoga Aphorisms, where he says that if the luminousness natural to object and eye is interfered with the object will disappear, whether it be man or thing and whether it be day or night. This little aphorism covers a good deal of ground, and confutes, if accepted, some theories of the day. It declares, in fact, that not only is it necessary for rays of light to proceed from the object to the eye, but also light must proceed from the eye towards the object. Cut off the latter and the object disappears; alter the character of the luminousness coming from the eye, and the object is altered in shape or colour for the perceiver.
Carrying this on further and connecting it with the well-known fact that we see no objects whatever, but only their ideal form as presented to the mind, and we arrive at an explanation in part of how glamour may be possible. For if in any way you can interfere with the vibrations proceeding to the eye on the way to affect the brain and then the percipient within, then you have the possibility of sensibly altering the ideal form which the mind is to cognize within before it declares the object to be without which produced the vibration.
Take up now imagination in its aspects of a power to make a clear and definite image. This is done in hypnotism and in spiritualism. If the image be definite enough and the perceiver or subject sensitive enough, a glamour will be produced. The person will see that which is not the normal shape or form or corporature of the other. But this new shape is as real as the normal, for the normal form is but that which is to last during a certain stage of human evolution and will certainly alter as new senses and organs develop in us.
Thus far having gone, it is not easy to see that if a person can make the definite and vivid mind-pictures spoken of, and if the minor organs can affect and be affected, it is quite probable and possible that trained persons may have glamoured they eyes of others so as to make them see an elephant, snake, man, tree, pot, or any other object where only is empty space, or as an alternation of a thing or person actually there? This is exactly what is done in experiments by the hypnotists with this difference, that they have to put the subject into an abnormal state, while the other operators need no such adventitious aids. Glamour, then, has a very important place in magic. That it was frequently used by H.P.B there is not the smallest doubt, just as there is no doubt that the yogi in India puts the same power in operation.
In many cases she could have used it by making the persons present think they saw her when she had gone into the next room, or that another person was also present who was not in fact. The same power of glamour would permit her to hide from sight any object in the room or in her hands. This is one of the difficult feats of magic, and not in the slightest degree dependent on legerdemain. Persons sometimes say this is folly even if true, but looked at in another light it is not folly, nor are the cases those in which anyone was entitled to know all that was going on. She exhibited these feats—seldom as it was—for the purpose of showing those who were learning from her that the human subject is a complicated and powerful being, not to be classed, as science so loves to do, with mere matter and motion. All these phenomena accomplished two objects. First, to help those who learned from her, and second, to spread abroad again in the West the belief in man’s real power and nature. The last was a most necessary thing to do because in the West materialism was beginning to have too much sway and threatened to destroy spirituality. And it was done also in pursuance of the plans of the Great Lodge for the human race. As one of her Masters said, her phenomena puzzled sceptics for many years. Even now we see effects, for when such men as Stead, the Editor of the Review of Reviews, and Du Prel, Schiaparelli, and others take up the facts of Spiritualism scientifically, one can perceive that another day for psychology is dawning.
This power of glamour is used more often than people think, and not excluding members of the T.S., by the Adepts. They are often among us from day to day appearing in a guise we do not recognize, and are dropping ideas into men’s minds about the spiritual world and the true life of soul, as well as also inciting men and women to good acts. By this means they pass unrecognized and are able to accomplish more in this doubting and transition age than they could in any other way. Sometimes as they pass they are recognized by those who have the right faculty, but a subtle and powerful bond and agreement prevents their secret from being divulged. This is something for members of the Society to think of, for they may be entertaining now and then angels unawares. They may now and then be tried by their leaders when they least expect it, and the verdict is not given out but has its effect all the same.
But glamour covers only a small part of the field of occultism. The use of the astral body enters into nearly all of the phenomena, and in other directions the subject of occult chemistry, absolutely unknown to the man of the day, is of the utmost importance; if it is ever given out it will be a surprise to science, but certainly that divulgation will not soon be to such a selfish age.
The word “precipitation” means to throw upon or within. This term is used in chemistry to describe the fact of a substance, held or suspended in fluid, being made to disengage itself from the intimate union with the fluid and to fall upon the bottom of the receptacle in which it is held; in the use of applied electricity it may be used to describe the throwing upon a metal or other plate, of particles of another metal held in suspension in the fluid of the electric bath. These two things are done every day in nearly all the cities of the world, and are so common as to be ordinary. In photography the same effect is described by the word “develop,” which is the appearing on the surface of the sensitized gelatine plate of the image caught by the camera. In chemical precipitation the atoms fall together and become visible as a separate substance in the fluid; in photography the image made by an alternation of the atoms composing the whole surface appears in the mass of the sensitized plate.
In both cases we have the coming forth into visibility of that which before was invisible. In the case of precipitation of a substance in the form of a powder at the bottom of the receptacle containing the fluid, there is distinctly, (a) before the operation an invisibility of a mass of powder, (b) upon applying the simple means for precipitation the sudden coming into sight of that which was before unseen.
And precisely as the powder may be precipitated in the fluid, so also from the air there can be drawn and precipitated the various metals and substances suspended therein. This has been so often done by chemists and others that no proofs are needed.
The ancients and all the occultists of past and present have always asserted that all metals, substances, pigments, and materials exist in the air held in suspension, and this has been admitted by modern science. Gold, silver, iron and other metals may be volatilized by heat so as to float unseen in the air, and this is also brought about every day in various mines and factories of the world. It may therefore be regarded as established beyond controversy that as a physical fact precipitation of substances, whether as merely carbon or metal, is possible and is done every day. We can then take another step with the subject.
It is possible to precipitate by will power and use of occult laws upon a surface of wood, paper, metal, stone, or glass a mass of substance in lines or letters or other combinations so as to produce an intelligible picture or a legible message? For modern science this is not possible yet; for the Adept it is possible, has been done, and will be still performed. It has also been done unintelligently and as mere passive agents or channels, among mediums in the ranks of European and American spiritualists. But in this latter case it has the value, and no more than that, of the operations of nature upon and with natural objects, to be imitated by conscious and intelligently-acting man when he has learned how, by what means, and when. The medium is only a passive controlled agent or channel who is ignorant of the laws and forces employed, as well as not knowing what is the intelligence at work, nor whether that intelligence is outside or a part of the medium.
The Adept, on the other hand, knows how such a precipitation can be done, what materials may be used, where those materials are obtainable, how they can be drawn out of the air, and what general and special laws must be taken into account. That this operation can be performed I know of my knowledge; I have seen it done, watching the process as it proceeded, and have seen the effect produced without a failure. One of these instances I will give you later on.
Precipitation of words or messages from Adepts has been much spoken of in the Theosophical Society’s work, and the generality of persons have come to some wrong conclusions as to what they must be like, as well as how they are done and what materials may be and are used. Most suppose as follows:
1. That the precipitated messages are on rice paper;
2. That they are invariably in one or two colours of some sort of chalk or carbon.
3. That in every case they are incorporated into the fibre of the paper so as to be ineradicable;
4. That in each case when finished they came from Tibet or some other distant place invisibly through the air;
5. That all of them are done by the hand of the Adept and are in his handwriting as commonly used by him or them.
While it is true in fact that each of the above particulars may have been present in some of the cases and that every one of the above is possible, it is not correct that the above are right as settled facts and conclusions. For the way, means, methods, conditions, and results of precipitation are as varied and numerous as any other operation of nature. The following is laid down by some of the masters of this art as proper to be kept in mind.
(a) A precipitated picture or message may be on any sort of paper.
(b) It may be in black or any other pigment.
(c) It may be in carbon, chalk, ink, paint, or other fluid or substance.
(d) It may be on any sort of surface or any kind of material.
(e) It may be incorporated in the fibre of the paper and be thus ineffaceable, or lie upon the surface and be easily eradicated.
(f) It may come through the air as a finished message on paper or otherwise, or it may be precipitated at once at the place of reception on any kind of substance and in any sort of place.
(g) It is not necessarily in the handwriting of the Adept, and may be in the hand comprehended by the recipient and a language foreign to the Adept, or it may be in the actual hand of the Adept, or lastly in a cipher known to a few and not decipherable by any one without its key.
(h) As a matter of fact the majority of the messages precipitated or sent by the Adepts in the history of the Theosophical Society have been in certain forms of English writing not the usual writing of those Adepts, but adopted for use in the Theosophical movement because of a foreknowledge that the principal language of that movement would for some time be the English.
Some messages have been written and precipitated in Hindi or Urdu, some in Hindustani, and some in cipher perfectly unintelligible to all but a few persons. These assertions I make upon personal knowledge founded on observation, on confirmation through an inspection of messages, and on logical deduction made from facts and philosophical propositions. In the first place, the Adepts referred to—and not including silent ones of European birth—are Asiatics whose languages are two different Indian ones: hence their usual handwriting is not English and not Roman in the letters. Secondly, it is a fact long suspected and to many well known both in and out of the Theosophical Society that the Fraternity of Adepts has a cipher which they employ for many of their communications: that, being universal, is not their handwriting. Thirdly, in order to send any one a precipitated message in English it is not necessary for the Adepts to know that language; if you know it, that is enough; for putting the thought in your brain, he sees it there as your language in your brain, and using that model causes the message to appear. But if he is acquainted with the language you use, it is all the easier for the Adept to give you the message exactly as he forms it in his brain at first. The same law applies to all cases of precipitation by an alleged spirit through a medium who does not know at all how it is done; in such a case it is all done by natural and chiefly irresponsible agents who can only imitate what is in the brains concerned in the matter.
These points being considered, the questions remain, How is it all done, what is the process, what are the standards of judgment, of criticism, and of proof to the outer sense, is imposition possible, and, if so, how may it be prevented.
As to the last, the element of faith or confidence can never be omitted until one has gotten to a stage where within oneself the true standard and power of judging are developed. Just as forgery may be done on this physical plane, so also may it be done on the other and unseen planes and its results shown on this. Ill-disposed souls may work spiritual wickedness, and ignorant living persons may furnish idle, insincere, and lying models for not only ill-disposed souls that are out of the body, but also for mere spirits that are forces in nature of considerable power but devoid of conscience and mind. Mind is not needed in them, for they use the mind of man, and merely with this aid work the hidden laws of matter. But this furnishes some protection illustrated in the history of spiritualism, where so many messages are received that on their face are nonsense and evidently but the work of elementals who simply copy what the medium or the sitter is vainly holding in mind. In those cases some good things have come, but they are never beyond the best thought of the persons who, living, thus attempt to speak with the dead.
Any form of writing once written on earth is imprinted in the astral light and remains there as model. And if it has been used much, it is all the more deeply imprinted. Hence the fact that H.P. Blavatsky, who once was the means for messages coming from the living Adepts, is dead and gone is not a reason why the same writing should not be used again. It was used so much in letters to Mr. Sinnett from which Esoteric Buddhism was written and in many other letters from the same source that its model or matrix is deeply cut in the astral light. For it would be folly and waste of time for the Adepts to make new models every time any one died. They would naturally use the old model. There is no special sanctity in the particular model used by them, and any good clairvoyant can find that matrix in the astral light. Hence from this, if true, two things follow: (a) that new communications need not be in a new style of writing, and (b) there is a danger that persons who seek either clairvoyants or mesmerized lucides may be imposed on and made to think they have messages from the Adepts, when in fact they have only imitations. The safeguard therein is that, if these new messages are not in concordance with old ones known to be from their first appointed channel, they are not genuine in their source, however phenomenally made. Of course for the person who has the power inside to see for himself, the safeguard is different and more certain. This position accords with occult philosophy, it has been stated by the Adepts themselves, it is supported by the facts of psychic investigation inside the ranks of Spiritualism, of Theosophy, of human life.
It is well known that mediums have precipitated messages on slates, on paper, and on even the human skin, which in form and manner exactly copied the hand of one dead and gone, and also of the living. The model for the writing was in the aura of the enquirer, as most mediums are not trained enough to be able independently to seek out and copy astral models not connected with some one present. I exclude all cases where the physical or astral hand of the medium wrote the message, for the first is fraud and the second a psychological trick. In the last case, the medium gazing into the astral light sees the copy or model there and merely makes a facsimile of what is thus seen, but which is invisible to the sitter. There is no exemption from law in favour of the Adepts, and the images they make or cause to be made in astral ether remain as the property of the race; indeed in their case, as they have a sharp and vivid power of engraving, so to say, in the astral light, all the images made there by them are deeper and more lasting than those cut by the ordinary and weak thoughts and acts of our undeveloped humanity.
The best rule for those who happen to think they are in communication with Adepts through written messages is to avoid those that contradict what the Adepts have said before; that give the lie to their system of philosophy; that, as has happened, pretend that H.P.B was mistaken in her life for what she said and is now sorry. All such, whether done with intention or without it, are merely bombinans in vacuo, sound that has no significance, a confusion between words and knowledge delusive and vain altogether. And as we know that the Adepts have written that they have no concern with the progress of selfish science, it must be true that messages which go on merely to the end of establishing some scientific propositions or that are not for the furtherance especially of Brotherhood cannot be from them, but are the product of other minds, a mere extension through occult natural law of theories of weak men. This leads to the proposition that: Precipitation of a message is not per se evidence that it is from one of our White Adepts of the Great Lodge.
The outer senses cannot give a safe final judgment upon a precipitated message, they can only settle such physical questions as how it came, through whom, the credibility of the person, and whether any deception on the objective plane has been practised. The inner senses, including the great combining faculty or power of intuition, are the final judges. The outer have to do solely with the phenomenal part, the inner deal with the causes and the real actors and powers
As precipitations have been phenomenally made through “controlled” mediums who are themselves ignorant of the laws and forces at work, these are but strange phenomena proving the existence of a power in Nature either related to human mind or wholly unrelated to it. These are not the exercise of Occult Arts, but simply the operation of natural law, however recondite and obscure. They are like the burning of a flame, the falling of water, or the rush of the lightning, whereas when the Adept causes a flame to appear where there is no wick, or a sound to come where there is no vibrating visible surface, occult art is using the same laws and forces which with the medium are automatically and unconsciously operated by subtle parts of the medium’s nature and “nature spirits,” as well as what we know as kâma-lokic human entities, in combination. And here the outer senses deal solely with the outer phenomena, being unable to touch in the least on the unseen workings behind. So they can only decide whether a physical fraud has been practised; they can note the day, the hours, the surrounding circumstances, but no more.
But if one hitherto supposed to be in communication with the White Adepts comes to us and says “Here is a message from one of Those,” then if we have not independent power in ourselves of deciding the question on inner knowledge, the next step is either to believe the report or disbelieve it. In the case of H.P.B, in whose presence and through whom messages were said to come from the White Adepts, it was all the time, at the final analysis, a matter of faith in those who confessedly had an have no independent personal power to know by the use of their own inner senses. But there intuition, one of the inner powers, decided for the genuineness of the report and the authentication of the messages. She herself put it tersely this way: “If you think no Mâhatma wrote the theories I have given of man and nature and if you do not believe my report, then you have to conclude that I did it all.” The latter conclusion would lead to the position that her acts, phenomena, and writings put her in the position usually accorded by us to a Mâhatma. As to the letters or messages of a personal nature, each one had and has to decide for himself whether or not to follow the advice given.
Another class of cases is where a message is found in a closed letter, on the margin or elsewhere on the sheet. The outer senses decide whether the writer of the letter inserted the supposed message or had some one else to do it, and that must be decided on what is known of the character of the person. If you decide that the correspondent did not write it nor have anyone else do so, but that it was injected phenomenally, then the inner senses must be used. If they are untrained, certainly the matter becomes one of faith entirely, unless intuition is strong enough to decide correctly that a wise as well as powerful person caused the writing to appear there. Many such messages have been received in the history of the T.S. Some came in one way, some in another; one might be in a letter from a member of the Society, another in a letter from an outsider wholly ignorant of these matters. In every case, unless the recipient had independent powers developed within, no judgement on mere outer phenomena would be safe.
It is very difficult to find cases such as the above, because first, they are extremely rare, and second, the persons involved do not wish to relate them, since the matter transmitted had a purely personal bearing. A fancy may exist that in America or England or London such messages, generally considered bogus by enemies and outsiders, are being constantly sent and received, and that persons in various quarters are influenced to this or that course of action by them, but this is pure fancy without basis in fact so far as the knowledge and experience of the writer extend. While precipitations phenomenally by the use of occult power and in a way unknown to science are possible and have occurred, that is not the means employed by the White Adepts in communicating with those thus favoured. They have disciples with whom communication is already established and carried on most generally through the inner ear and eye,, but sometimes through the prosaic mail. In these cases no one else is involved and no one else has the right to put questions. The disciple reserves his communications for the guidance of his own action, unless he or she is directed to tell another. To spread broadcast a mass of written communications among those who are willing to accept them without knowing how to judge would be the sheerest folly, only productive of superstition and blind credulity. This is not the aim of the Adepts nor the method they pursue. And this digression will be excused, it being necessary because the subject of precipitation as a fact has been brought up very prominently. I may further digress to say that no amount of precipitations, however clear of doubt and fraud as to time, place, and outward method, would have the slightest effect on my mind or action unless my own intuition and inner senses confirmed them and showed them to be from a source which should call for my attention and concurrence.
How, then, is this precipitation done, and what is the process? This question brings up the whole of the philosophy offered in the Secret Doctrine. For if the postulate of the metaphysical character of the Cosmos is denied, if the supreme power of the disciplined mind is not admitted, if the actual existence of an inner and real world is negatived, if the necessity and power of the image-making faculty are disallowed, then such precipitation is an impossibility, always was, and always will be. Power over mind, matter, space, and time depends on several things and positions. Needed for this are: Imagination raised to its highest limit, desire combined with will that wavers not, and a knowledge of the occult chemistry of Nature. All must be present or there will be no result.
Imagination is the power to make in the ether an image. This faculty is limited by any want of the training of mind and increased by good mental development. In ordinary persons imagination is only a vain and fleeting fancy which makes but a small impression comparatively in the ether. This power, when well-trained, makes a matrix in ether wherein each line, word, letter, sentence, colour, or other mark is firmly and definitely made. Will, well-trained, must then be used to draw from the ether the matter to be deposited, and then, according to the laws of such an operation, the depositing matter collects in masses within the limits of the matrix and becomes from its accumulation visible on the surface selected. The will, still at work, has then to cut off the mass of matter from its operation, and who then is the wiser? Those learned in the schools laugh, and well they may, for there is not in science anything to correspond, and many of the positions laid down are contrary to several received opinions. But in Nature there are vast numbers of natural effects produced by ways wholly unknown to science, and Nature does not mind the laughter, nor should any disciple.
But how is it possible to inject such a precipitation into a closed letter? The ether is all-pervading, and the envelope or any other material bar is no bar to it. In it is carried the matter to be deposited, and as the whole operation is done on the other side of visible nature up to the actual appearance of the deposit, physical obstructions do not make the slightest difference.
It is necessary to return for a moment to the case of precipitations through mediums. Here the matrix needs no trained imagination to make it nor trained will to hold it. In the astral light the impressions are cut and remain immovable; these are used by the elementals and other forces at work, and no disturbing will of sitter being able to interfere—simply from blind ignorance—there is no disturbance of the automatic unconscious work. In the sitter’s aura are thousands of impressions which remain unmoved because all attention has been long ago withdrawn. And the older or simpler they are the more firmly do they exist. These constitute also a matrix through which the nature spirits work.
I can properly finish this with the incident mentioned at the beginning. It was with H.P.B I was sitting in her room beside her, the distance between us being some four feet. In my hand I held a book she never had had in her possession and that I had just taken from the mail. It was clear of all marks, its title page was fresh and clean, no one had touched it since it left the bookseller. I examined its pages and began to read. In about five minutes a very powerful current of what felt like electricity ran up and down my side on the skin, and I looked up at her. She was looking at me and said “What do you read?” I had forgotten the title, as it was one I had never seen before, and so I turned back to the title page. There at the top on the margin where it had not been before was a sentence of two lines in ink, and the ink was wet, and the writing was that of H.P.B who sat before me. She had not touched the book, but by her knowledge of occult law, occult chemistry, and occult will, she had projected out of the ink-bottle before her the ink to make the sentence, and of course it was in her own handwriting, as that was the easiest way to do it. Hence my own physical system was used to do the work, and the instant of its doing was when I felt the shock on the skin. This is to be explained in the way I have outlined, or it is to be all brushed aside as a lie or as a delusion of mine. But those last I cannot accept, for I know to the contrary, and further I know that the advice, for such it was, in that sentence was good. I followed it, and the result was good. Several other times also have I seen her precipitate on different surfaces, and she always said it was no proof of anything whatever save the power to do the thing, admitting that black and white magicians could do the same thing, and saying that the only safety for any one in the range of such forces was to be pure in motive, in thought, and in act.
Just as we have seen that precipitation is known to material science in electroplating and other arts, so also it is true that in most departments of applied science disintegration is understood, and that here and there reintegration of such substances as diamonds has been successfully accomplished. But these are all by mechanical or chemical processes. The question here is, whether—as in respect to precipitation—the occult powers of man and nature can bring about the results. Has any one ever reduced a solid object to impalpable powder and then at a distant place restored the object to its former state? And, if so, how is it done? As to the first, I can only say that I have seen this done, and that many testimonies have been offered by others at various times for the same thing. In the records of Spiritualism there are a great many witnesses to this effect, and accepting all cases in that field which are free from fraud the same remarks as were made about precipitation apply. With mediums it is unconsciously done; the laws governing the entire thing are unexplained by the medium or the alleged spirits; the whole matter is involved in obscurity so far as that cult is concerned, and certainly the returning spooks will give no answer until they find it in the brain of some living person. But the fact remains that among powerful physical mediums the operation has been performed by some unknown force acting under hidden guidance, itself as obscure.
This fact is not the same as apportation, the carrying or projecting of an object through space, whether it be a human form or any other thing. Buddhist and Hindu stories alike teem with such apportation; it is alleged of Apollonius the Greek, of Tyana; Christian saints are said to have been levitated and carried. In the Buddhist stories many of the immediate disciples of Buddha, both during his life and after his death, are said to have flown through the air from place to place; and in the history of Rama, some ascetics and Hanuman the monkey god are credited with having so levitated themselves.
So many metals and minerals may be volatilized that we may take it as a general rule that all—until an exception is met with—are volatile under the proper conditions. Gold is slow in this respect, some observers having kept it heated for two months with no loss of weight, and others found a small loss after exposing it to violent heat; a charge of electricity will dissipate it. Silver volatilizes at red heat, and iron can also be similarly affected. But when we come to wood or softer vegetable matter, the separation of its atoms from each other is more easily accomplished. The process of disintegrating by the use of occult forces and powers is akin to what we can do on the material plane. The result is the same, however the means employed may vary; that is, the molecules are pressed apart from each other and kept so. If by mechanical, chemical, and electrical processes man can bring about this result, there is no reason, save in an assorted unproved denial, why it may not be done by the use of the mind and will. Rarity or unusualness proves nothing; when the telegraph was new its rarity proved nothing against its actuality; and it is every day becoming more the fashion to admit than it is to deny the possibility of anything in the realm opened by our knowledge of electricity, while the probability is left merely to suspended judgement.
Passing from material science to the medical researches into hypnotism, we find there the steppingstone between the purely mechanical physical processes and the higher subtler realm of the mind, the will, and the imagination. Here we see that the powerful forces wielded by the mind are able to bring about effects on bone, flesh, blood, and skin equal in measure to many processes of disintegration or volatilization. But in everyday life we have similar suggestive facts. In the blush and the cold chill which come instantaneously over the whole frame, spreading in a second from the mental source, are effects upon matter made directly from mind. Even a recollection of an event can easily bring on this physical effect. In hypnotic experiments the skin, blood, and serum may be altered so as to bring out all the marks and changes of a burn or abrasion. In these cases the mind influenced by another mind makes an image through which the forces act to cause the changes. It is possible because, as so often asserted by the ancient sages, the Universe is really Will and Idea, or, as is so well put in a letter from one of the Adepts, “the machinery of the cosmos is not only occult, it is ideal: and the higher metaphysics must be understood if one is to escape from the illusions under which men labour and which will continually lead them into the adoption of false systems respecting life and nature in consequence of the great “collective hallucination” in which modern scientific persons glory so much, but which they do not call by that name.” * [From an unpublished letter.]
So much then being briefly premised, it is said by the schools of occultism, known not only since the rise of the Theosophical movement but followed for ages in the East and continued down to the present day in India—that the trained man by the use of his will, mind, and imagination can disintegrate an object, send it along currents definitely existing in space, transport the mass of atoms to a distant place, passing them through certain objects, and reintegrate the object at the given distant spot exactly with the same visibility, limits, and appearance as it had when first taken up for transport. But this has its limitations. It cannot ordinarily be done with a human living body. That would require such an expenditure of force and so interfere with the rights of life that it may be excluded altogether. Size and resistance of obstacle have also to do with success or failure. Omnipotence of a sort that may transcend law is not admitted in Occultism; that the Adepts pointed out when they wrote that if they could at one stroke turn the world into an arcadia for lofty souls they would do so, but the world can only be conquered step by step and under the rule of law. It is the same in all operations that copy nature either chemically or mechanically. Hence it is said in these schools that “there are failures in occult art as well as among men.” Such failures come from an inability to cope with limiting conditions.
We can analyse the phenomenon of disintegration and transport of mass of matter and reintegration in this way: There is the operator who must know how to use his will, mind, and imagination. Next is the object to be dealt with. Then there is the resisting obstacle through which it may have to pass; and the air, ether, and astral light through which it travels. Lastly is the question whether or not there is the force called cohesion, by means of which masses of matter are held together within limits of form.
If it be said that the force known as gravity holds masses of matter together, we are reduced to accepting a more mysterious explanation for a common thing than the three persons in one God. But cohesion without any other postulate amounts merely to saying that masses of matter cohere because they cohere. Occultism, in common with the Vedântic philosophy, says that there is a force of cohesion which has its roots and power in the spirit and in the ideal form; and attraction and repulsion operate from the same base also. Further, that school holds gravitation to be but an exhibition of the action of these two—attraction and repulsion. Living masses such as vegetables, animals, and men deal with matter in another state from that which is in minerals, and exhibit the quicker action of disintegrating forces; while minerals go to pieces very slowly. Both kinds are compelled in time to fall apart as masses in consequence of the action of evolutionary law when they are left altogether to themselves; that is, the whole quantity of matter of and belonging to the globe is continually subject to the hidden forces which are moulding it for higher uses and turning it, however slowly, into a higher class of matter. The normal rate is what we see, but this normal rate may be altered, and that it can be altered by intelligent mind and will is the fact. This alternation of rate is seen in the forcing processes used for plants by which they are made to grow much faster than is usual under common conditions. In the same way in masses of matter which will surely go to pieces in the course of time, long or short, the molecules may be pushed apart before their time and held so by the trained will. That is, the force of repulsion can be opposed to natural attraction so as to drive the molecules apart and hold them thus away from each other. When the repulsion is slackened, the molecules rush together again to assume their former appearance. In this case the shape is not altered, but the largely diffused body of molecules retains its shape though invisible to the eye, and upon appearing to sight again it simply condenses itself into the smaller original limits, thus becoming dense enough to be once more seen and touched.
When a small object is thus disintegrated by occult means it can be passed through other objects. Or if it is to be transported without disintegration, then any dense intervening obstacle is disintegrated for a sufficient space to allow it to pass. That the latter is one of the feats of the fakirs, yogis, and certain mediums can be hardly a matter of doubt except for those who deny the occult character of the cosmos. Alleged spirits in respect to this have said, “We make the intervening obstacle fluid or diffused, or do the same thing for the object transported,” and for once they seem to be right. A gentleman of high character and ability in the Northwest told me that one day a man unknown in his village came to the door, and exhibiting some rings of metal made one pass through the other, one of the rings seeming to melt away at the point of contact. H.P. Blavatsky has narrated to me many such cases, and I have seen her do the same thing. As, for instance she has taken in my sight a small object such as a ring, and laying it on the table caused it to appear without her touching it inside of a closed drawer near by. Now in that instance either she disintegrated it and caused it to pass into the drawer, or disintegrated the drawer for a sufficient space, or she hypnotized me with all my senses on the alert, putting the object into the drawer while I was asleep and without my perceiving any sort of change whatever in my consciousness. The latter I cannot accept, but if it be held as true, then it was more wonderful than the other feat. The circumstances and motive were such as to exclude the hypnotizing theory; it was done to show me that such a phenomenon was possible and to give me a clue to the operation, and also to explain to me how the strange things of spiritualism might be done and, indeed, must be done under the laws of man’s mind and nature.
Next we have the intelligent part of the matter to look at. Here the inner senses have to act under the guidance of a mind free from the illusions of matter, able to see into the occult cosmos behind the veil of objectivity. The will acts with immense force, exerting the powers both of attraction and repulsion as desired; knowledge of occult chemistry comes into use; the currents in the astral light or ether have to be known, as also how to make new currents. Those who have seen the astral light and looked at the currents moving to and fro will understand this, others will either doubt, deny, or suspend judgment. The imagination as in the case of precipitation, is of prime importance; for in these things imagination is the sight and the hand of the mind and the will, without which the latter can accomplish nothing; just as the will and brain of a man whose arms are cut off can do nothing unless others aid him. But mind, will, and imagination do not reconstruct the disintegrated object, for as soon as the dispersing force is slackened from its hold on the mass of molecules, the imagination having held the image of the object, the same obediently and automatically rearrange themselves as before.
All this may seem fanciful, but there are those who know of their own knowledge that it is all according to fact. And it is doubtless true that in no long time modern science will begin, as it is even now slowly starting, to admit all these things by admitting in full the ideal nature of the cosmos, thus removing at once the materialistic notions of man and nature which mostly prevail at the present day.
[Isis Unveiled, Vol.II, page 587, et seq.] The following is extracted from H.P.B’s first book, and is printed in this series with the belief that it will be useful as well as interesting. She gives some fundamental oriental propositions relating to occult arts, thus:
1. There is no miracle. Everything that happens is the result of law—eternal, immutable, ever-active. Apparent miracle is but the operation of forces antagonistic to what Dr. W.B. Carpenter, F.R.S.—a man of great learning but little knowledge—calls “the well ascertained laws of nature.” Like many of his class, Dr. Carpenter ignores the fact that there may be laws once “known,” now unknown, to science.
2. Nature is triune: there is a visible objective nature; an invisible, indwelling, energizing nature, the exact model of the other, and its vital principle; and above these two is spirit, the source of all forces, alone eternal and indestructible. The lower two constantly change; the higher third does not.
3. Man is also triune; he has his objective physical body; his vitalizing astral body (or soul), the real man; and these two are brooded over and illuminated by the third—the sovereign, the immortal spirit. When the real man succeeds in merging himself with the latter, he becomes an immortal entity.
4. Magic, as a science, is the knowledge of these principles, and the way by which the omniscience and omnipotence of the spirit and its control over nature’s forces may be acquired by the individual while still in the body. Magic, as an art, is the application of this knowledge in practice.
5. Arcane knowledge misapplied is sorcery; beneficently used, true magic or wisdom.
6. Mediumship is the opposite of Adeptship; the medium is the passive instrument of foreign influences, the Adept actively controls himself and all inferior potencies.
7. All things that ever were, that are, or that will be, having their record upon the astral light, or tablet of the unseen universe, the initiated Adept, by using the vision of his own spirit, can know all that has been known or can be known.
8. Races of men differ in spiritual gifts as in colour, stature, or any other external quality; among some people seership naturally prevails, among others mediumship. Some are addicted to sorcery, and transmit its secret rules of practice from generation to generation, with a range of psychical phenomena, more or less wide as the result.
9. One phase of magical skill is the voluntary and conscious withdrawal of the inner man (astral form) from the outer man (physical body). In the cases of some mediums withdrawal occurs, but it is unconscious and involuntary. With the latter the body is more or less cataleptic at such times; but with the Adept the absence of the astral form would not be noticed, for the physical senses are alert and the individual appears only as though in a fit of abstraction—“a brown study,” as some call it. To the movements of the wandering astral form neither time nor space offers any obstacle. The thaumaturgist thoroughly skilled in occult science can cause himself (that is, his physical body) to seem to disappear or to apparently take on any shape that he may choose. He may make his astral form visible, or he may give it protean appearances. In both cases these results will be achieved by a mesmeric hallucination simultaneously brought on. This hallucination is so perfect that the subject of it would stake his life that he saw a reality, when it is but a picture in his own mind impressed upon his consciousness by the irresistible will of the mesmeriser.
But while the astral form can go anywhere, penetrate any obstacle, and be seen at any distance from the physical body, the latter is dependent upon ordinary methods of transportation. It may be levitated under prescribed magnetic conditions, but not pass from one locality to another except in the usual way. Inert matter may be in certain cases and under certain conditions disintegrated, passed through walls and recombined, but living animal organisms cannot.
Arcane science teaches that the abandonment of the living body by the soul frequently occurs, and that we encounter every day in every condition of life such living corpses. Various causes, among them overpowering fright, grief, despair, a violent attack of sickness, or excessive sensuality, may bring this about. The vacant carcass may be entered and inhabited by the astral form of an adept sorcerer, or an elementary (an earthbound disembodies human soul), or, very rarely, an elemental. Of course an Adept of white magic has the same power, but unless some very exceptional and great object is to be accomplished he will never consent to pollute himself by occupying the body of an impure person. In insanity the patient’s astral being is either semi-paralysed, bewildered, and subject to the influence of every passing spirit of any sort, or it has departed forever and the body is taken possession of by some vampirish entity near its own disintegration and clinging desperately to earth whose sensual pleasures it may enjoy for a brief season longer by this expedient.
10. The cornerstone of magic is an intimate practical knowledge of magnetism and electricity, their qualities, correlations, and potencies. Especially necessary is a familiarity with their effects within and upon the animal kingdom and man. There are occult properties in many other minerals equally strange with that in the lodestone, which all practitioners of magic must know and of which so-called exact science is wholly ignorant. Plants also have like mystical properties in a most wonderful degree, and the secrets of the herbs of dreams and enchantments are only lost to European science, and, needless to say, too, are unknown to it, except in a few marked instances such as opium and hashish. Yet the psychical effects of even these few upon the human system are regarded as evidences of a temporary mental disorder.
To sum up all in a few words; magic is spiritual wisdom; nature the material ally, pupil, and servant of the magicians. One common vital principle pervades all things, and this is controllable by the perfected human will. The Adept can stimulate the movements of the natural forces in plants and animals in a preternatural degree. Such experiments are not obstructions of nature but quickenings; the conditions of intenser vital action are given.
The Adept can control the sensations and alter the conditions of the physical and astral bodies of other persons not Adepts; he can also govern and employ as he chooses the spirits of the elements. He cannot control the immortal spirit of any human being living or dead, for all such spirits are alike sparks of the Divine Essence and not subject to any foreign domination.
Propositions 2 and 3 contain and include the sevenfold classification. In 1877 H.P.B was writing for those who had known but the threefold scheme. In Number two the vital principle (prana or Jîva)is given; the body with vitality makes two; the real man inside called the soul, being composed of astral body, desires, and mind, makes five; the spirit, including the connecting link of Buddhi, completes the seven. The will is one of the forces directly from spirit, and is guided, with ordinary men, by desire; in the Adepts’ case the will is guided by Buddhi, Manas, and Atma, including in its operation the force of a pure spiritual desire acting solely under law and duty.
The dream state is common to all people. Some persons say they never dream, but upon examination it will be found they have had one or two dreams and that they meant only to say their dreams were few. It is doubtful whether the person exists who never has had a dream. But it is said that dreams are not of importance; that they are due to blood pressure, or to indigestion, or to disease, or to various causes. They are supposed to be unimportant because, looking at them from the utilitarian viewpoint, no great use is seen to follow. Yet there are many who always make use of their dreams, and history, both secular and religious, is not without records of benefit, of warning, of instruction from the dream. The well-known case of Pharaoh’s dream of lean and fat kine which enabled Joseph as interpreter to foresee and provide against a famine represents a class of dream not at all uncommon. But the utilitarian view is only one of many.
Dreams show conclusively that although the body and brain are asleep—for sleep begins primarily in the brain and is governed by it—there is still active a recollector and perceiver who watches the introspective experience of dreaming. Sorrow, joy, fear, anger, ambition, love, hate, and all possible emotions are felt and perceived in dreams. The utility of this on the waking plane has nothing to do with the fact of perception. Time all is measured therein, not according to solar division but in respect to the effect produced upon the dreamer. And as the counting of this time is done at a vastly quicker rate than is possible for the brain, it follows that some person is counting. In all these dreams there is a recollection of the events perceived, and the memory of it is carried into the waking state. Reason and all the powers of intelligent waking man are used in dreams; and as emotion, reasoning, perception, and memory are all found to be even more active in dreams than in waking life, it must follow that the Hidden Self is the one who has and does all this.
The fanciful portion of dreams does not invalidate the position. Fancy is not peculiar to dreaming; it is also present in waking consciousness. In many people fancy is quite as usual and vivid as with any dreamer. And we know that children have a strong development of fancy. Its presence in dream simply means that the thinker, being liberated temporarily from the body and the set forms or grooves of the brain, expands that ordinary faculty. But passing beyond fancy we have the fact that dreams have prophecy of events not yet come. This could not be unless there exists the inner Hidden Self who sees plainly the future and the past in an ever present.
Waking clairvoyance cannot now be denied. Students of Theosophy know it to be a faculty of man, and in America its prevalence is such as to call for no great proof. There is the clairvoyance of events past, of those to come, and of those taking place.
To perceive events that have taken place in which the clairvoyant had no part nor was informed about, means that some other instrument than the brain is used. This must be the Hidden Self. Seeing and reporting events that subsequently transpire gives the same conclusion. If the brain is the mind, it must have had a part in a vast event which it now reports, either as actor or as hearer from another who was present, but as in the cases cited it had no such connection as actor, then it follows that it has received the report from some other perceiver. This other one is the Hidden Self, because the true clairvoyant case excludes any report by an eyewitness.
Then again, when the clairvoyant is dealing with an event presently proceeding at a distance, it is necessary that a perceiver who recollects must be present in order to make report. For the brain and its organs of sight and hearing are too far off. But as the clairvoyant does report correctly what is going on it is the other Hidden Self who sees the event, bridges the gap between it and the brain, and impresses the picture upon the bodily organs.
The Feeling of Identity
If recollection is the basis for the feeling of identity continuous throughout life, and if brain is the only instrument for perception, then there is an inexplicable series of gaps to be accounted for or bridged over, but admitting the Hidden Self no gaps exist.
We are born feeling that we are ourself, without a name, but using a name for convenience later on. We reply to challenge by saying “It is I”—the name following only for convenience to the other person. This personal identity remains although we fall asleep each night and thus far become unconscious. And we know that even when a long period is blotted out of memory by fall, blow, or other accidental injury, the same feeling of identity crosses the gap and continues the same identical “I” to where memory again acts. And although years of life with all their multiplicity of events and experience have passed, leaving but a small amount of recollection, we yet know ourselves as that unnamed person who came to life so many years before. We do not remember our birth nor our naming, and if we are but a bundle of material experience, a mere product of brain and recollection, then we should have no identity but constant confusion. The contrary being the case, and continuous personal identity being felt and perceived, the inevitable conclusion is that we are the Hidden Self and that Self is above and beyond both body and brain.
The faculty of imagination has been reduced to a very low level by modern western theorisers upon mental philosophy. It is “only the making of pictures, daydreaming, fancy, and the like”: thus they have said about one of the noblest faculties in man. In Occultism it is well known to be of the highest importance that one should have the imagination under such control as to be able to make a picture of anything at any time, and if this power has not been so trained the possession of other sorts of knowledge will not enable one to perform certain classes of occult phenomena.
Those who have read Mr. Sinnett’s Occult World will have noticed two or three classes of phenomena performed by H.P. BLAVATSKY and her unseen friends, and those who have investigated spiritualism will know that in the latter have been many cases of similar phenomena done by so-called “controls.” Others who made no such investigations have, however, on their own account seen many things done by forces not mechanical but of a nature which must be called occult or psychical. In spiritualism, and by the Adepts like H.P. BLAVATSKY and others, one thing has excited great interest, that is the precipitating on to paper or other substances of messages out of the air, as it were, and without any visible contact between the sender of the message and the precipitated letters themselves. This has often occurred in séances with certain good mediums, and the late Stainton Moses wrote in a letter which I saw many years ago that there had come under his hand certain messages precipitated out of the air. But in these cases the medium never knows what is to be precipitated, cannot control it at will, is in fact wholly ignorant of the whole matter and the forces operating and how they operate. The elemental forces make the pictures through which the messages are precipitated, and as the inner nature of the medium is abnormally developed, acting subconsciously to the outer man, the whole process is involved in darkness so far as spiritualism is concerned. But not so with trained minds or wills such as possessed by Madame Blavatsky and all like her in the history of the past, including the still living Adepts.
The Adepts who consciously send messages from a distance or who impress thoughts or sentences on the mind of another at a distance are able to do so because their imagination has been fully trained.
The wonder-worker of the East who makes you see a snake where there is none, or who causes you to see a number of things done in your presence which were not done in fact, is able to do so to impress you with his trained imagination, which, indeed, is also often in his case an inheritance, and when inherited it is all the stronger when trained and the easier to put into training. In the same way but to a much smaller degree the modern western hypnotizer influences his subject by the picture he makes with his imagination in those cases where he causes the patient to see or not to see at will, and if that power were stronger in the West than it is, the experiments of the hypnotizing schools would be more wonderful than they are.
Take the case of precipitation. In the first place, all the minerals, metals, and coloured substances any one could wish for use are in the air about us held in suspension. This has long been proved so as to need no argument now. If there be any chemical process known that will act on these substances, they can be taken from the air and thrown down before us into visibility. This visibility only results from the closer packing together of the atoms of matter composing the mass. Modern science has only a few processes for thus precipitating, but while they do not go to the length of precipitating in letters or figures they do show that such precipitation is possible. Occultism has a knowledge of the secret chemistry of nature whereby those carbons and other substances in the air may be drawn out at will either separately or mixed. The next step is to find for these substances so to be packed together a mould or matrix through which they may be poured, as it were, and, being thus closely packed, become visible. Is there such a mould or matrix?
The matrix is made by means of the trained imaginations. It must have been trained either now or in some other life before this, or no picture can be precipitated nor message impressed on the brain to which it is directed. The imagination makes a picture of each word of each letter of every line and part of line in every letter and word, and having made that picture it is held there by the will and the imagination acting together for such a length of time as is needed to permit the carbons or other substances to be strained down through this matrix and appear upon paper. This is exactly the way in which the Masters of H.P.B sent those messages which they did not write with their hands, for while they precipitated some they wrote some others and sent them by way of the ordinary mail.
The explanation is the same for the sending of a message by words which the receiver is to hear. The image of the person who is to be the recipient has to be made and held in place; that is, in each of these cases you have to become as it were a magic lantern or a camera obscura, and if the image of the letters or of the image of the person be let go or blurred, all the other forces will shoot wide of the mark and naught be accomplished. If a picture were made of the ineffectual thoughts of the generality of people, it would show little lines of force flying out from their brains and instead of reaching their destination falling to the earth just a few feet away from the person who is thus throwing them out.
But, of course, in the case of sending and precipitating on to paper a message from a distance, a good many other matters have to be well known to the operator. For instance, the inner as well as the outer resistance of all substances have to be known, for if not calculated they will throw the aim out, just as the billiard ball may be deflected if the resistance of the cushion is variable and not known to be so by the player. And again, if a living human being has to be used as the other battery at this end of the line, all the resistances and also all the play of that person’s thought have to be known or a complete failure may result. This will show those who inquire about phenomena, or who at a jump wish to be adepts or to do as the adepts can do, what a task it is they would undertake. But there is still another consideration, and that is that inasmuch as all these phenomena have to do with the very subtle and powerful planes of matter it must follow that each time a phenomenon is done the forces of those planes are roused to action, and reaction will be equal to action in these things just as on the ordinary plane.
An illustration will go to make clear what has been said of the imagination. One day H.P. BLAVATSKY said she would show me precipitation in the very act. She looked fixedly at a certain smooth piece of wood and slowly on it came out letters which at last made a long sentence. It formed before my eyes and I could see the matter condense and pack itself on the surface. All the letters were like such as she would make with her hand, just because she was making the image in her brain and of course followed her own peculiarities. But in the middle, one of the letters was blurred and, as it were, all split into a mass of mere colour as to part of the letter.
“Now here,” she said, “I purposely wandered in the image, so that you could see the effect. As I let my attention go, the falling substance had no matrix and naturally fell on the wood any way without shape.”
A friend on whom I could rely told me that he once asked a wonder-worker in the East what he did when he made a snake come and go before the audience, and he replied that he had been taught from very early youth to see a snake before him and that it was so strong an image everyone there had to see it.
“But,” said my friend, “how do you tell it from a real snake?” The man replied that he was able to see through it, so that for him it looked like the shadow of a snake, but that if he had not done it so often he might be frightened by it himself. The process he would not give, as he claimed it was a secret in his family. But anyone who has made the trial knows that it is possible to train the imagination so as to at will bring up before the mind the outlines of any object whatsoever, and that after a time the mind seems to construct the image as if it ware a tangible thing.
But there is a wide difference between this and the kind of imagination which is solely connected with some desire or fancy. In the latter case the desire and the image and the mind with all its powers are mixed together, and the result, instead of being a training of the image-making power, is to bring on a decay of that power and only a continual flying to the image of the thing desired. This is the sort of use of the power of the imagination which has lowered it in the eyes of the modern scholar, but even that result would not have come about if the scholars had a knowledge of the real inner nature of man.
Conversations on Occultism
Student—I am very much puzzled about the present age. Some theosophists seem to abhor it as if wishing to be taken away from it altogether, inveighing against modern inventions such as the telegraph, railways, machinery, and the like, and bewailing the disappearance of former civilizations. Others take a different view, insisting that this is a better time than any other, and hailing modern methods as the best. Tell me, please, which of these is right, or, if both are wrong, what ought we to know about the age we live in.
Sage—The teachers of Truth know all about this age. But they do not mistake the present century for the whole cycle. The older times of European history, for example, when might was right and when darkness prevailed over Western nations, was as much a part of this age, from the standpoint of the Masters, as in the present hour, for the Yuga—to use a Sanskrit word—in which we are now had begun many thousands of years before. And during that period of European darkness, although this Yuga had already begun, there was much light, learning, and civilization in India and China. The meaning of the words “present age” must therefore be extended over a far greater period than is at present assigned. In fact, modern science has reached no definite conclusion yet as to what should properly be called “an age,” and the truth of the Eastern doctrine is denied. Hence we find writers speaking of the “Golden Age,” the “Iron Age,” and so on, whereas they are only parts of the real age that began so far back that modern archaeologists deny it altogether.
Student—What is the Sanskrit name for this age, and what is its meaning?
Sage—The Sanskrit is “Kali,” which added to Yuga gives us “Kali-Yuga.” The meaning of it is “Dark Age.” Its approach was known to the ancients, its characteristics are described in the Indian poem “The Mahâbhârata.” As I said that it takes in an immense period of the glorious part of Indian history, there is no chance for anyone to be jealous and to say that we are comparing the present hour with that wonderful division of Indian development
Student—What are the characteristics to which you refer, by which Kali-Yuga may be known?
Sage—As its name implies, darkness is the chief. This of course is not deducible by comparing today with 800 A.D., for this would be no comparison at all. The present century is certainly ahead of the middle ages, but as compared with the preceding Yuga it is dark. To the Occultist, material advancement is not of the quality of light, and he finds no progress in merely mechanical contrivances that give comfort to a few of the human family while the many are in misery. For the darkness he would have to point but to one nation, even the great American Republic. Here he sees a mere extension of the habits and life of the Europe from which it sprang; here a great experiment with entirely new conditions and material was tried; here for many years very little poverty was known; but here today there is as much grinding poverty as anywhere, and as large a criminal class with corresponding prisons as in Europe, and more than in India. Again, the great thirst for riches and material betterment, while spiritual life is to a great extent ignored, is regarded by us as darkness. The great conflict already begun between the wealthy classes and the poorer is a sign of darkness. Were spiritual light prevalent, the rich and the poor would still be with us, for Karma cannot be blotted out, but the poor would know how to accept their lot and the rich how to improve the poor; now, on the contrary, the rich wonder why the poor do not go to the poorhouse, meanwhile seeking in the laws for cures for strikes and socialism, and the poor continually growl at fate and their supposed oppressors. All this is of the quality of spiritual darkness.
Student—Is it wise to inquire as to the periods when the cycle changes, and to speculate on the great astronomical or other changes that herald a turn?
Sage—It is not. There is an old saying that the gods are jealous about these things, not wishing mortals to know them. We may analyse the age, but it is better not to attempt to fix the hour of a change of cycle. Besides that, you will be unable to settle it, because a cycle does not begin on a day or year clear of any other cycle; they interblend, so that, although the wheel of one period is still turning, the initial point of another has already arrived.
Student—Are these some of the reasons why Mr. Sinnett was not given certain definite periods of years about which he asked?
Student—Has the age in which one lives any effect on the student; and what is it?
Sage—It has an effect on every one, but the student after passing along in his development feels the effect more than the ordinary man. Were it otherwise, the sincere and aspiring students all over the world would advance at once to those heights towards which they strive. It takes a very strong soul to hold back the age’s heavy hand, and it is all the more difficult because that influence, being a part of the student’s larger life, is not so well understood by him. It operated in the same way as a structural defect in a vessel. All the inner as well as the outer fibre of the man is the result of the long centuries of earthly lives lived here by his ancestors. These sow seeds of thought and physical tendencies in a way that you cannot comprehend. All those tendencies affect him. Many powers once possessed are hidden so deep as to be unseen, and he struggles against obstacles constructed ages ago. Further yet are the peculiar alterations brought about in the astral world. It, being at once a photographic plate, so to say and also a reflector, has become the keeper of the mistakes of ages past which it continually reflects upon us from a plane to which most of us are strangers. In that sense therefore, free as we suppose ourselves, we are walking blindly under the suggestions thus cast upon us.
Student—Was that why Jesus said,” Was that why Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”?
Sage—That was one meaning. In one aspect they acted blindly, impelled by the age, thinking they were right.
Regarding these astral alternations, you will remember how in the time of Julian the seers reported that they could see the gods, but they were decaying, some headless, others flaccid, others minus limbs, and all appearing weak. The reverence for these ideals was departing, and their astral pictures had already begun to fade.
Student—What mitigation is there about this age? Is there nothing at all to relieve the picture?
Sage—There is one thing peculiar to the present Kali-Yuga that may be used by the Student. All causes now bring about their effects much more rapidly than in any other or better age. A sincere lover of the race can accomplish more in three incarnations under Kali Yuga’s reign than he could in a much greater number in any other age. Thus by bearing all the manifold troubles of this Age and steadily triumphing, the object of his efforts will be more quickly realized, for, while the obstacles seem great, the powers to be invoked can be reached more quickly.
Student—Even if this is, spiritually considered, a Dark Age, is it not in part redeemed by the increasing triumphs of mind over matter, and by the effects of science in mitigating human ills, such as the causes of disease, disease itself, cruelty, intolerance, bad laws, etc.?
Sage—Yes, these are mitigations of the darkness in just the same way that a lamp gives some light at night but does not restore daylight. In this age there are great triumphs of science but they are nearly all directed to effects and do not take away the causes of the evils. Great strides have been made in the arts and in cure of diseases, but in the future, as the flower of our civilization unfolds, new diseases will arise and more strange disorders will be known, springing from causes that lie deep in the minds of men and which can only be eradicated by spiritual living.
Student—Admitting all you say, are not we, as Theosophists, to welcome every discovery of truth in any field, especially such truth as lessens suffering or enlarges the moral sense?
Sage—That is our duty. All truths discovered must be parts of the one Absolute Truth, and so much added to the sum of our outer knowledge. There will always be a large number of men who seek for these parts of truth, and others who try to alleviate present human misery. They each do a great and appointed work that no true Theosophist should ignore. And it is also the duty of the latter to make similar efforts when possible, for Theosophy is a dead thing if it is not turned into the life. At the same time, no one of us may be the judge of just how much or how little our brother is doing in that direction. If he does all that he can and knows how to do, he does his whole present duty.
Student—I fear that a hostile attitude by Occult teachers towards the learning and philanthropy of the time may arouse prejudice against Theosophy and Occultism, and needlessly impede the spread of Truth. May it not be so?
Sage—The real Occult Teachers have no hostile attitude towards these things. If some persons, who like Theosophy and try to spread it, take such a position, they do not thereby alter the one assumed by the real Teachers who work with all classes of men and use every possible instrument for good. But at the same time we have found that an excess of the technical and special knowledge of the day very often acts to prevent men from apprehending the truth.
Student—Are there any causes, other than the spread of Theosophy, which may operate to reverse the present drift towards materialism?
Sage—The spread of the knowledge of the laws of Karma and Reincarnation and of a belief in the absolute spiritual unity of all beings will alone prevent this drift. The cycle must, however, run its course, and until that is ended all beneficial causes will of necessity act slowly and not to the extent they would in a brighter age. As each student lives a better life and by his example imprints upon the astral light the picture of a higher aspiration acted in the world, he thus aids souls of advanced development to descend from other spheres where the cycles are so dark that they can no longer stay there.
Student—Accept my thanks for your instruction.
Sage—May you reach the terrace of enlightenment.
Student—If I understand you, an elemental is a centre of force, without intelligence, without moral character or tendencies, but capable of being directed in its movements by human thoughts, which may, consciously or not, give it any form, and to a certain extent intelligence; in its simplest form it is visible as a disturbance in a transparent medium, such as would be produced by “a glass fish, so transparent as to be invisible, swimming through the air of the room,” and leaving behind him a shimmer, such as hot air makes when rising from a stove. Also, elementals, attracted and vitalized by certain thoughts, may effect a lodgement in the human system (of which they then share the government with the ego) and are very hard to get out.
Sage—Correct, in general, except as to their “effecting a lodgement.” Some classes of elementals, however, have an intelligence of their own and a character, but they are far beyond our comprehension and ought perhaps to have some other name.
That class which has most to do with us answers the above description. They are centres of force or energy which are acted on by us while thinking and in other bodily motions. We also act on them and give them form by a species of thought which we have no register of. As, one person might shape an elemental so as to seem like an insect, and not be able to tell whether he had thought of such a thing or not. For there is a vast unknown country in each human being which he does not himself understand until he has tried, and then only after many initiations.
That “elementals* * * may effect a lodgement in the human system, of which they then share the government, and are very hard to get out” is, as a whole, incorrect. It is only in certain cases that any one or more elementals are attracted to and “find lodgement in the human system.” In such cases special rules apply. We are not considering such cases. The elemental world interpenetrates this, and is therefore eternally present in the human system.
As it (the elemental world) is automatic and like a photographic plate, all atoms continually arriving at and departing from the “human system” are constantly assuming the impression conveyed by the acts and thoughts of that person, and therefore, if he sets up a strong current of thought, he attracts elementals in greater numbers, and they all take on one prevailing tendency or colour, so that all new arrivals find a homogeneous colour or image which they instantly assume. On the other hand, a man who has many diversities of thought and meditation is not homogeneous, but, so to say, parti-coloured, and so the elementals may lodge in that part which is different from the rest and go away in like condition. In the first cast it is one mass of elementals similarly vibrating or electrified and coloured, and in that sense may be called one elemental, in just the same way that we know one man as Jones, although for years he has been giving off and taking on new atoms of gross matter.
Student—If they are attracted and repelled by thoughts, do they move with the velocity of thought, say from here to the planet Neptune?
Sage—They move with the velocity of thought. In their world there is no space or time as we understand those terms. If Neptune be within the astral sphere of this world, then they go there with that velocity, otherwise not; but that “if” need not be solved now.
Student—What determines their movements besides thought,—e.g., when they are floating about the room?
Sage—Those other classes of thoughts above referred to; certain exhalations of beings; different rates and ratios of vibrations among beings; different changes of magnetism caused by present causes or by the moon and the year; different polarities; changes of sound; changes of influences from other minds at a distance.
Student—When so floating, can they be seen by any one, or only by those persons who are clairvoyant?
Sage—Clairvoyance is a poor world. They can be seen by partly clairvoyant people. By all those who can see thus; by more people, perhaps, than are aware of the fact.
Student—Can they be photographed, as the rising air from the hot stove can?
Sage—Not to my knowledge yet. It is not impossible, however.
Student—Are they the lights, seen floating about a dark seance room by clairvoyant people?
Sage—In the majority of cases those lights are produced by them.
Student—Exactly what is their relation to light, that makes it necessary to hold seances in the dark?
Sage—It is not their relation to light that makes darkness necessary, but the fact that light causes constant agitation and alternation in the magnetism of the room. All these things can be done just as well in the light of day.
If I should be able to make clear to you “exactly what is their relation to light,” then you would know what has long been kept secret, the key to the elemental world. This is kept guarded because it is a dangerous secret. No matter how virtuous you are, you could not—once you know the secret—prevent the knowledge getting out into the minds of others who would not hesitate to use it for bad purposes.
Student—I have noticed that attention often interferes with certain phenomena; thus a pencil will not write when watched, but writes at once when covered; or a mental question cannot be answered till the mind has left it and gone to something else. Why is this?
Sage—This kind of attention creates confusion. In these things we use desire, will, and knowledge. The desire is present, but knowledge is absent. When the desire is well formed and attention withdrawn, the thing is often done; but when our attention is continued we only interrupt, because we possess only half attention. In order to use attention, it must be of that sort which can hold itself to the point of a needle for an indefinite period of time.
Student—I have been told that but few people can go to a seance without danger to themselves, either of some spiritual or astral contamination, or of having their vitality depleted for the benefit of the spooks, who suck the vital force out of the circle through the medium, as if the former were a glass of lemonade and the latter a straw. How is this?
Sage—Quite generally this happens. It is called Bhut worship by the Hindus.
Student—Why are visitors at a seance often extremely and unaccountably tired next day?
Sage—Among other reasons, because mediums absorb the vitality for the use of the “spooks,” and often vile vampire elementaries are present.
Student—What are some of the dangers at seances?
Sage—The scenes visible—in the Astral—at seances are horrible, inasmuch as these “spirits”—bhuts—precipitate themselves upon the sitters and mediums alike; and as there is no seance without having present some or many bad elementaries—half dead human beings,—there is much vampirising going on. These things fall upon the people like a cloud or a big octopus, and disappear within them as if sucked in by a sponge. That is one reason why it is not well to attend them in general.
Elementaries are not all bad, but, in a general sense, they are not good. They are shells, no doubt of that. Well, they have much automatic and seemingly intelligent action left if they are those of strongly material people who died attached to things of life. If of people of an opposite character, they are not so strong. Then there is a class which are really not dead, such as suicides, and sudden deaths, and highly wicked people. They are powerful. Elementals enter into all of them, and thus get a fictitious personality and intelligence wholly the property of the shell. They galvanize the shell into action, and by its means can see and hear as if beings themselves, like us. The shells are, in this case, just like a sleepwalking human body. They will through habit exhibit the advancement they got while in the flesh. Some people, you know, do not impart to their bodily molecules the habit of their minds to as great extent as others. We thus see why the utterances of these so-called “spirits” are never ahead of the highest point of progress attained by living human beings, and why they take up the ideas elaborated day-by-day by their votaries. This seance is what was called in Old India the worship of the Pretas and Bhuts and Pisachas and Gandharvas.
I do not think any elementary capable of motive had ever any other than a bad one; the rest are nothing, they have no motive and are only the shades refused passage by Charon.
Student—What is the relation between sexual force and phenomena?
Sage—It is at the bottom. This force is vital, creative, and a sort of reservoir. It may be lost by mental action as well as by physical. In fact its finer part is dissipated by mental imaginings, while physical acts only draw off the gross part, that which is the “carrier” (upâdhi) for the finer.
Student—Why do so many mediums cheat, even when they can produce real phenomena?
Sage—It is the effect of the use of that which in itself is sublimated cheating, which, acting on an irresponsible mind, causes the lower form of cheat of which the higher is any illusionary form whatever. Besides, a medium is of necessity unbalanced somewhere.
They deal with these forces for pay, and that is enough to call to them all the wickedness of time. They use the really gross sorts of matter, which causes inflammation in corresponding portions of the moral character, and hence divagations from the path of honesty. It is a great temptation. You do not know, either, what fierceness there is in those who “have paid” for a sitting and wish “for the worth of their money.”
Student—When a clairvoyant, as a man did here a year ago, tells me that ‘he sees a strong band of spirits about me,’ and among them an old man who says he is a certain eminent character, what does he really see? Empty and senseless shells? If so, what brought them there? Or elementals which have got their form from my mind or his?
Sage—Shells, I think, and thoughts, and old astral pictures. If, for instance, you once saw that eminent person and conceived great respect or fear for him, so that his image was graven in your astral sphere in deeper lines than other images, it would be seen for your whole life by seers, who, if untrained,—as they all are here,—could not tell whether it was an image or reality; and then each sight of it is a revivification of the image.
Besides, not all would see the same thing. Fall down, for instance, and hurt your body, and that will bring up all similar events and old forgotten things before any seer’s eye.
The whole astral world is a mass of illusion; people see into it, and then, through the novelty of the thing and the exclusiveness of the power, they are bewildered into thinking they actually see true things, whereas they have only removed one thin crust of dirt.
Student—Accept my thanks for your instruction.
Sage—May you reach the terrace of enlightenment.
Student—Permit me to ask you again, are elementals beings?
Sage—It is not easy to convey to you an idea of the constitution of elementals; strictly speaking, they are not, because the word elementals has been used in reference to a class of them that have no being such as mortals have. It would be better to adopt the terms used in Indian books, such as Gandharvas, Bhuts, Pisachas, Devas, and so on. Many things well known about them cannot be put into ordinary language.
Student—Do you refer to their being able to act in the fourth dimension of space?
Sage—Yes, in a measure. Take the tying in an endless cord of many knots—a thing often done at spiritist seances. That is possible to him who knows more dimensions of space than three. No three-dimensional being can do this; and as you understand “matter,” it is impossible for you to conceive how such a knot can be tied or how a solid ring can be passed through the matter of another solid one. These things can be done by elementals.
Student—Are they not all of one class?
Sage—No. There are different classes for each plane, and division of plane, of nature. Many can never be recognized by men. And those pertaining to one plane do not act in another. You must remember, too, that these “planes” of which we are speaking interpenetrate each other.
Student—Am I to understand that a clairvoyant or clairaudient has to do with or is affected by a certain special class or classes of elementals?
Sage—Yes. A clairvoyant can only see the sights properly belonging to the planes his development reaches to or has opened. And the elementals in those planes show to the clairvoyant only such pictures as belong to their plane. Other parts of the idea or thing pictures may be retained in planes not yet open to the seer. For this reason few clairvoyants know the whole truth.
Student—Is there not some connection between the Karma of man and elementals?
Sage—A very important one. The elemental world has become a strong factor in the Karma of the human race. Being unconscious, automatic , and photographic, it assumes the complexion of the human family itself. In the earlier ages, when we may postulate that man had not yet begun to make bad Karma, the elemental world was more friendly to man because it had not received unfriendly impressions. But so soon as man began to become ignorant, unfriendly to himself and the rest of creation, the elemental world began to take on exactly the same complexion and return to humanity the exact pay, so to speak, due for the actions of humanity. Or, like a donkey, which, when he is pushed against, will push against you. Or, as a human being when anger or insult is offered, feels inclined to return the same. So the elemental world, being unconscious force, returns or reacts upon humanity exactly as humanity acted towards it, whether the actions of men were done with the knowledge of these laws or not. So in these times it has come to be that the elemental world has the complexion and action which is the exact result of all the actions and thoughts and desires of men from the earliest times. And, being unconscious and only acting according to the natural laws of its being, the elemental world is a powerful factor in the workings of Karma. And so long as mankind does not cultivate brotherly feeling and charity towards the whole of creation, just so long will the elementals be without the impulse to act for our benefit. But so soon and wherever man or men begin to cultivate brotherly feeling and love for the whole of creation, there and then the elementals begin to take on the new condition.
Student—How then about the doing of phenomena by adepts?
Sage—The production of phenomena is not possible without either the aid or disturbance of elementals. Each phenomenon entails the expenditure of great force, and also brings on a correspondingly great disturbance in the elemental world, which disturbance is beyond the limit natural to ordinary human life. It then follows that, as soon as the phenomenon is completed, the disturbance occasioned begins to be compensated for. The elementals are in greatly exited motion, and precipitate themselves in various directions. They are not able to affect those who are protected. But they are able, or rather it is possible for them, to enter into the sphere of unprotected persons, and especially those persons who are engaged in the study of occultism. And then they become agents in concentrating the karma of those persons, producing troubles and disasters often, or other difficulties which otherwise might have been so spread over a period of time as to be not counted more than the ordinary vicissitudes of life. This will go to explain the meaning of the statement that an Adept will not do a phenomenon unless he sees the desire in the mind of another lower or higher Adept or student; for then there is a sympathetic relation established, and also a tacit acceptance of the consequences which may ensue. It will also help to understand the peculiar reluctance often of some persons, who can perform phenomena, to produce them in cases where we may think their production would be beneficial; and also why they are never done in order to compass worldly ends, as is natural for worldly people to suppose might be done—such as procuring money, transferring objects, influencing minds, and so on.
Student—Accept my thanks for your instruction.
Sage—May you reach the terrace of enlightenment.
Student—Is there any reason why you do not give me a more detailed explanation of the constitution of elementals and modes by which they work?
Sage—Yes. There are many reasons. Among others is your inability, shared by most of the people of the present day, to comprehend a description of things that pertain to a world with which you are not familiar and for which you do not yet possess terms of expression. Were I to put forth these descriptions, the greater part would seem vague and incomprehensible on one hand, while on the other many of them would mislead you because of the interpretation put on them by yourself. Another reason is that, if the constitution, field of action, and method of action of elementals were given out, there are some minds of a very inquiring and peculiar bent who soon could find out how to come into communication with these extraordinary beings, with results disadvantageous to the community as well as the individuals.
Student—Why so? Is it not well to increase the sum of human knowledge, even respecting most recondite parts of nature; or can it be that the elementals are bad?
Sage—It is wise to increase the knowledge of nature’s laws, but always with proper limitations. All things will become known some day. Nothing can be kept back when men have reached the point where they can understand. But at this time it would not be wise to give them, for the asking, certain knowledge that would not be good for them. That knowledge relates to elementals, and it can for the present be kept back from the scientists of today. So long as it can be retained from them, it will be, until they and their followers are of a different stamp.
As to the moral character of elementals, they have none: they are colourless in themselves—except some classes—and merely assume the tint, so to speak, of the person using them.
Student—Will our scientific men one day, then, be able to use these beings, and, if so, what will be the manner of it? Will their use be confined to only the good men of the earth?
Sage—The hour is approaching when all this will be done. But the scientists of today are not the men to get this knowledge. They are only pigmy forerunners who sow seed and delve blindly in no thoroughfares. They are too small to be able to grasp these mighty powers, but they are not wise enough to see that their methods will eventually lead to Black Magic in centuries to come when they shall be forgotten.
When elemental forces are used similarly as we now see electricity and other natural energies adapted to various purposes, there will be “war in heaven.” Good men will not alone possess the ability to use them. Indeed, the sort of man you now call “good” will not be the most able. The wicked will, however, pay liberally for the power of those who can wield such forces, and at last the Supreme Masters, who now guard this knowledge from children, will have to come forth. Then will ensue a dreadful war, in which, as has ever happened, the Masters will succeed and the evil doers be destroyed by the very engines, principalities, and powers prostituted to their own purposes during years of intense selfish living. But why dilate on this; in these days it is only a prophecy.
Student—Could you give me some hints as to how the secrets of the elemental plane are preserved and prevented from being known? Do these guardians of whom you speak occupy themselves in checking elementals, or how? Do they see much danger in divulgement likely in those instances where elemental action is patent to the observer?
Sage—As to whether they check elementals or not need not be enquired into, because, while that may be probable, it does not appear very necessary where men are unsuspicious of the agency causing the phenomena. It is much easier to throw a cloud over the investigator’s mind and lead him off to other results of often material advantage to himself and men, while at the same time acting as a complete preventative or switch which turns his energies and application into different departments.
It might be illustrated thus: Suppose that a number of trained occultists are set apart to watch the various sections of the world where the mental energies are in fervid operation. It is quite easy for them to see in a moment any mind that is about reaching a clue into the elemental world; and besides, imagine that trained elementals themselves constantly carry information of such events. Then, by superior knowledge and command over this peculiar world, influences presenting various pictures are sent out to that enquiring mind. In one case it may be a new moral reform, in another a great invention is revealed, and such is the effect that the man’s whole time and mind are taken up by this new thing which he fondly imagines is his own. Or, again, it would be easy to turn his thoughts into a certain rut leading far from the dangerous clue. In fact, the methods are endless.
Student—Would it be wise to put into the hands of truly good, conscientious men who now use aright what gifts they have, knowledge of and control over elementals, to be used on the side of right?
Sage—The Masters are the judges of what good men are to have this power and control. You must not forget that you cannot be sure of the character at bottom of those whom you call “truly good and conscientious men,” Place them in the fire of the tremendous temptation which such power and control would furnish, and most of them would fall. But the Masters already know the characters of all who in any way approach to a knowledge of these forces, and They always judge whether such a man is to be aided or prevented. They are not working to make these laws and forces known, but to establish right doctrine, speech and action, so that the characters and motives of men shall undergo such radical changes as to fit them for wielding power in the elemental world. And that power is not now lying idle, as you infer, but is being always used by those who will never fail to rightly use it.
Student—Is there any illustration at hand showing what the people of the present day would do with these extraordinary energies?
Sage—A cursory glance at men in these western worlds engaged in the mad rush after money, many of them willing to do anything to get it, and at the strain, almost to warfare, existing between labourers and users of labour, must show you that, were either class in possession of power over the elemental world, they would direct it to the furtherance of the aims now before them. Then look at Spiritualism. It is recorded in the Lodge—photographed, you may say, by the doers of the acts themselves—that an enormous number of persons daily seek the aid of mediums and their “spooks” merely on questions of business. Whether to buy stocks, or engage in mining for gold and silver, to deal in lotteries, or to make new mercantile contracts. Here on one side is a picture of a coterie of men who obtained at a low figure some mining property on the advice of elemental spirits with fictitious names masquerading behind mediums; these mines were then to be put upon the public at a high profit, inasmuch as the “spirits” promised metal. Unhappily for the investors, it failed. But such a record is repeated in many cases.
Then here is another where in a great American city—the Karma being favourable—a certain man speculated in stocks upon similar advice, succeeded, and, after giving the medium liberal pay, retired to what is called the enjoyment of life. Neither party devoted either himself or the money to the benefiting of humanity.
There is no question of honour involved, nor any as to whether money ought or ought not to be made. It is solely one as to the propriety, expediency and results of giving suddenly into the hands of a community unprepared and without an altruistic aim, such abnormal power. Take hidden treasure, for instance. There is much of it in hidden places, and many men wish to get it. For what purpose? For the sake of ministering to their luxurious wants and leaving it to their equally unworthy descendants. Could they know the mantram controlling the elementals that guard such treasure, they would use it at once, motive or no motive, the sole object being the money in the case.
Student—Do some sorts of elementals have guard over hidden treasure?
Sage—Yes, in every instance, whether never found or soon discovered. The causes for the hiding and the thoughts of the hider or loser have much to do with the permanent concealment or subsequent finding.
Student—What happens when a large sum of money, say, such as Captain Kidd’s mythical treasure, is concealed, or when a quantity of coin is lost?
Sage—Elementals gather about it. They have many and curious modes of causing further concealment. They even influence animals to that end. This class of elementals seldom, if ever, report at your spiritualistic seances. As time goes on the forces of air and water still further aid them, and sometimes they are able even to prevent the hider from recovering it. Thus in course of years, even when they may have altogether lost their hold on it, the whole thing becomes shrouded in mist, and it is impossible to find anything.
Student—This in part explains why so many failures are recorded in the search for hidden treasure. But how about the Masters; are they prevented thus by these weird guardians?
Sage—They are not. The vast quantities of gold hidden in the earth and under the sea are at their disposal always. They can, when necessary for their purposes, obtain such sums of money on whom no living being or descendants of any have the slightest claim, as would appal the senses of your greatest money getter. They have but to command the very elementals controlling it, and They have it. This is the basis for the story of Aladdin’s wonderful lamp, more true than you believe.
Student—Of what use then is it to try, like the alchemists, to make gold? With the immense amount of buried treasure thus easily found when you control its guardian, it would seem a waste of time and money to learn transmutation of metals.
Sage—The transmutation spoken of by the real alchemists was the alteration of the base alloy in man’s nature. At the same time, actual transmutation of lead into gold is possible. And many followers of the alchemists, as well as of the pure-souled Jacob Boehme, eagerly sought to accomplish the material transmuting, being led away by the glitter of wealth. But an Adept has no need for transmutation, as I have shown you. The stories told of various men who are said to have produced gold from base metal for different kings in Europe are wrong explanations. Here and there Adepts have appeared, assuming different names, and in certain emergencies they supplied or used large sums of money. But instead of its being the product of alchemical art, it was simply ancient treasure brought to them by elementals in their service and that of the Lodge. Raymond Lully or Robert Fludd might have been of that sort, but I forbear to say, since I cannot claim acquaintance with those men.
Student—I thank you for your instruction.
Sage— May you reach the terrace of enlightenment!
Student—You spoke of mantrams by which we could control elementals on guard over hidden treasure. What is a mantram?
Sage—A mantram is a collection of words which, when sounded in speech, induce certain vibrations not only in the air, but also in the finer ether, thereby producing certain effects.
Student—Are the words taken at haphazard?
Sage—Only by those who, knowing nothing of mantrams, yet use them.
Student—May they, then, be used according to rule and also irregularity? Can it be possible that people who know absolutely nothing of their existence or field of operations should at the same time make use of them? Or is it something like digestion, of which so many people know nothing whatever, while they in fact are dependent upon its proper use for their existence? I crave your indulgence because I know nothing of the subject.
Sage—The “common people” in almost every country make use of them continually, but even in that case the principle at the bottom is the same as in the other. In a new country where folklore has not yet had time to spring up, the people do not have as many as in such a land as India or in long settled parts of Europe. The aborigines, however, in any country will be possessed of them.
Student—You do not now infer that they are used by Europeans for the controlling of elementals?
Sage—No. I refer to their effect in ordinary intercourse between human beings. And yet there are many men in Europe, as well as in Asia, who can thus control animals, but those are nearly always special cases. There are men in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Ireland who can bring about extraordinary effects on horses, cattle, and the like, by peculiar sounds uttered in a certain way. In those instances the sound used is a mantram of only one member, and will act only on the particular animal that the user knows it can rule.
Student—Do these men know the rules governing the matter? Are they able to convey it to another?
Sage—Generally not. It is a gift self-found or inherited, and they know only that it can be done by them, just as a mesmeriser knows he can do a certain thing with a wave of his hand, but is totally ignorant of the principle. They are as ignorant of the base of this strange effect as your modern physiologists are of the function and cause of such a common thing as yawning.
Student—Under what head should we put this unconscious exercise of power?
Sage—Under the head of natural magic, that materialistic science can never crush out. It is a touch with nature and her laws always preserved by the masses, who, while they form the majority of the population, are yet ignored by the “cultured classes.” And so it will be discovered by you that it is not in London or Paris or New York drawing-rooms that you will find mantrams, whether regular or irregular, used by the people. “Society,” too cultured to be natural, has adopted methods of speech intended to conceal and to deceive, so that natural mantrams cannot be studied within its borders.
Single, natural mantrams are such words as “wife.” When it is spoken it brings up in the mind all that is implied by the word. And if in another language, the word would be that corresponding to the same basic idea. And so with expressions of greater length, such as many slang sentences; thus, “I want to see the colour of his money.” There are also sentences applicable to certain individuals, the use of which involves a knowledge of the character of those to whom we speak. When these are used, a peculiar and lasting vibration is set up in the mind of the person affected, leading to a realization in action of the idea involved, or to a total change of life due to the appositeness of the subjects brought up and to the peculiar mental antithesis induced in the hearer. As soon as the effect begins to appear the mantram may be forgotten, since the law of habit then has sway in the brain.
Again, bodies of men are acted on by expressions having the mantramic quality; this is observed in great social or other disturbances. The reason is the same as before. A dominant idea is aroused that touches upon a want of the people or on an abuse which oppresses them, and the change and interchange in their brains between the idea and the form of words go on until the result is accomplished. To the occultism of powerful sight this is seen to be a “ringing” of the words coupled with the whole chain of feelings, interests, aspirations, and so forth, that grows faster and deeper as the time for the relief or change draws near. And the greater number of persons affected by the idea involved, the larger, deeper, and wider the result. A mild illustration may be found in Lord Beaconsfield of England. He knew about mantrams and continually invented phrases of that quality. “Peace with honour” was one; “a scientific frontier,” was another; and his last, intended to have a wider reach, but which death prevented his supplementing, was “Empress of India.” King Henry of England also tried it without himself knowing why, when he added to his titles, “Defender of the Faith.” With these hints numerous illustrations will occur to you.
Student—These mantrams have only to do with human beings as between each other. They do not affect elementals, as I judge from what you say. And they are not dependent upon the sound so much as upon words bringing up ideas. Am I right in this; and is it the case that there is a field in which certain vocalizations produce effects in the acacia by means of which men, animals, and elementals alike can be influences, without regard to their knowledge of any known language?
Sage—You are right. We have spoken of natural, unconsciously-used mantrams. The scientific mantrams belong to the class you last referred to. It is to be doubted whether they can be found in modern Western languages—especially among English-speaking people who are continually changing and adding to their spoken words to such an extent that the English of today could hardly be understood by Chaucer’s predecessors. It is in the ancient Sanskrit and the language which preceded it that mantrams are hidden. The laws governing their use are also to be found in those languages, and not in any modern philological store.
Student—Suppose, though, that one acquires a knowledge of ancient and correct mantrams, could he affect a person speaking English, and by the use of English words?
Sage—He could; and all adepts have the power to translate a strictly regular mantram into any form of language, so that a single sentence thus uttered by them will have an immense effect on the person addressed, whether it be by letter or word of mouth.
Student—Is there no way in which we might, as it were, imitate those adepts in this?
Sage—Yes, you should study simple forms of mantramic quality for the purpose of thus reaching the hidden mind of all the people who need spiritual help. You will find now and then some expression that has resounded in the brain, at last producing such a result that he who heard it turns his mind to spiritual things.
Student—I thank you for your instruction.
Sage—May the Brahmâmantram guide you to the everlasting truth—OM.
Student—A materialist stated to me as his opinion that all that is said about mantrams is mere sentimental theorizing, and while it may be true that certain words affect people, the sole reason is that they embody ideas distasteful or pleasant to the hearers, but that the mere sounds, as such, have no effect whatever, and as to either words or sounds affecting animals he denied it altogether. Of course he would not take elementals into account at all, as their existence is impossible for him.
Sage—This position is quite natural in these days. There has been so much materialization of thought, and the real scientific attitude of leading minds in different branches of investigation has been so greatly misunderstood by those who think they follow the example of the scientific men, that most people in the West are afraid to admit anything beyond what may be apprehended by the five senses. The man you speak of is one of that always numerous class who adopt as fixed and unalterable general laws laid down from time to time by well known savants, forgetting that the latter constantly change and advance from point to point.
Student—Do you think, then, that the scientific world will one day admit much that is known to Occultism?
Sage—Yes, it will. The genuine Scientist is always in that attitude which permits him to admit things proven. He may seem to you often to be obstinate and blind, but in fact he is proceeding slowly to the truth,—too slowly, perhaps, for you, yet not in the position of knowing all. It is the veneered scientist who swears by the published results of the work of leading men as being the last word, while, at the very moment he is doing so, his authority may have made notes or prepared new theories tending to greatly broaden and advance the last utterance. It is only when the dogmatism of a priest backed up by law declares that a discovery is opposed to the revealed word of his god, that we may fear. That day is gone for a long time to come, and we need expect no more scenes like that in which Galileo took part. But among the materialistic minds to whom you referred, there is a good deal of that old spirit left, only that the “revealed word of God” has become the utterances of our scientific leaders.
Student—I have observed that within even the last quarter of a century. About ten years ago many well-known men laughed to scorn any one who admitted the facts within the experience of every mesmeriser, while now, under the term “hypnotism,” they are nearly all admitted. And when these lights of our time were denying it all, the French doctors were collating the results of a long series of experiments. It seems as if the invention of a new term for an old and much abused one furnished an excuse for granting all that had been previously denied. But have you anything to say about those materialistic investigators? Are they not governed by some powerful, though unperceived, law?
Sage—They are. They are in the forefront of the mental, but not of the spiritual, progress of the time, and are driven forward by forces they know nothing of. Help is often given to them by the Masters, who, neglecting nothing, constantly see to it that these men make progress upon the fittest lines for them, just as you are assisted not only in your spiritual life but in your mental also. These men, therefore, will go on admitting facts and finding new laws or new names for old laws, to explain them. They cannot help it.
Student—What should be our duty, then, as students of the truth? Should we go out as reformers of science, or what?
Sage—You ought not to take up the role of reformers of the school and their masters, because success would not attend the effort. Science is competent to take care of itself, and you would only be throwing pearls before them to be trampled under foot. Rest content that all within their comprehension will be discovered and admitted from time to time. The endeavour to force them into admitting what you believe to be so plain would be due almost solely to your vanity and love of praise. It is not possible to force them, any more than it is for me to force you, to admit certain incomprehensible laws, and you would not think me wise or fair to have open before you think, to understand which you have not the necessary development, and then to force you into admitting their truth. Or if, out of reverence, you should say “These things are true,” while you comprehended nothing and were not progressing, you would have bowed to superior force.
Student—But you do not mean that we should remain ignorant of science and devote ourselves only to ethics?
Sage—Not at all. Know all that you can. Become conversant with and sift all that the schools have declared, and as much more on your own account as is possible, but at the same time teach, preach, and practise a life based on a true understanding of brotherhood. This is the true way. The common people, those who know no science, are the greatest number. They must be so taught that the discoveries of science which are unillumined by spirit may not be turned into Black Magic.
Student—In our last conversation you touched upon the guarding of buried treasure by elementals. I should like very much to hear a little more about that. Not about how to control them or to procure the treasure, but upon the subject generally.
Sage—The laws governing the hiding of buried treasure are the same as those that relate to lost objects. Every person has about him a fluid, or plane, or sphere, or energy, whichever you please to call it, in which are constantly found elementals that partake of his nature. That is, they are tinted with his colour and impressed by his character. There are numerous classes of these. Some men have many of one class or of all, or many of some and few of others. And anything worn upon your person is connected with your elementals. For instance, you wear cloth made of wool or linen, and little objects made of wood, bone, brass, gold, silver, and other substances. Each one of these has certain magnetic relations peculiar to itself, and all of them are soaked, to a greater or less extent, with your magnetism as well as nervous fluid. Some of them, because of their substance, do not long retain this fluid, while others do. The elementals are connected, each class according to its substance, with those objects by means of the magnetic fluid. And they are acted upon by the mind and desires to a greater extent than you know, and in a way that cannot be formulated in English. Your desires have a powerful grasp, so to say, upon certain things, and upon others a weaker hold. When one of these objects is suddenly dropped, it is invariably followed by elementals. They are drawn after it, and may be said to go with the object by attraction rather than by sight. In many cases they completely envelop the thing, so that, although it is near at hand, it cannot be seen by the eye. But after a while the magnetism wears off and their power to envelop the article weakens, whereupon it appears in sight. This does not happen in every case. But it is a daily occurrence, and is sufficiently obvious to many persons to be quite removed from the realm of fable. I think, indeed, that one of your literary persons has written an essay upon this very experience, in which, although treated in a cosmic vein, many truths are unconsciously told; the title of this was, if I mistake not, “Upon the Innate Perversity of Inanimate Objects.” There is such a nice balancing of forces in these cases that you must be careful in your generalizations. You must ask, for instance, Why, when a coat is dropped, it seldom disappears from sight? Well, there are cases in which even such a large object is hidden, but they are not very common. The coat is full of your magnetism, and the elementals may feel in it just as much of you as when it is on your back. There may be, for them, no disturbance of the relations, magnetic and otherwise. And often in the case of a small object not invisible, the balancing of forces, due to many causes that have to do with your condition at the time, prevents the hiding. To decide in any particular case, one would have to see into the realm where the operation of these laws is hidden, and calculate all the forces so as to say why it happened in one way and not in another.
Student—But take the case of a man who, being in possession of treasure, hides it in the earth and goes away and dies, and it is not found. In that instance the elementals did not hide it. Or when a miser buries his gold or jewels. How about those?
Sage—In all cases where a man buries gold, or jewels, or money, or precious things, his desires are fastened to that which he hides. Many of his elementals attach themselves to it, and other classes of them also, who had nothing to do with him, gather round and keep it hidden. In the case of the captain of a ship containing treasure the influences are very powerful, because there the elementals are gathered from all the persons connected with the treasure, and the officer himself is full of solicitude for what is committed to his charge. You should also remember that gold and silver—or metals—have relations with elementals that are of a strong and peculiar character. They do not work for human law, and natural law does not assign any property in metals to man, nor recognize in him any peculiar and transcendent right to retain what he has dug from the earth or acquired to himself. Hence we do not find the elementals anxious to restore to him the gold or silver which he has lost. If we were to assume that they occupied themselves in catering to the desires of men or in establishing what we call our rights over property, we might as well at once grant the existence of a capricious and irresponsible Providence. They proceed solely according to the law of their being, and, as they are without the power of making a judgment, they commit no blunders and are not to be moved by considerations based upon our vested rights or our unsatisfied wishes. Therefore, the spirits that appertain to metals invariably act as the laws of their nature prescribe, and one way of doing so is to obscure the metals from our sight.
Student—Can you make any application of all this in the realm of ethics?
Sage—There is a very important thing you should not overlook. Every time you harshly and unmercifully criticise the faults of another, you produce an attraction to yourself of certain quantities of elementals from that person. They fasten themselves upon you and endeavour to find in you a similar state or spot or fault that they have left in the other person. It is as if they left him to serve you at higher wages, so to say.
Then there is that which I referred to in a preceding conversation, about the effect of our acts and thoughts upon, not only the portion of the astral light belonging to each of us with its elementals, but upon the whole astral world. If men saw the dreadful pictures imprinted there and constantly throwing down upon us their suggestions to repeat the same acts or thoughts, a millennium might soon draw near. The astral light is, in this sense, the same as a photographer’s negative plate, and we are the sensitive paper underneath, on which is being printed the picture. We can see two sorts of pictures for each act. One is the act itself, and the other is the picture of the thoughts and feelings animating those engaged in it. You can therefore see that you may be responsible for many more dreadful pictures than you had supposed. For actions of a simple outward appearance have behind them, very often, the worst of thoughts or desires.
Student—Have these pictures in the astral light anything to do with us upon being reincarnated in subsequent earth-lives?
Sage—They have very much indeed. We are influenced by them for vast periods of time, and in this you can perhaps find clues to many operations of active Karmic law for which you seek.
Student—Is there not also some effect upon animals, and through them upon us, and vice versa?
Sage—Yes, the animal kingdom is affected by us through the astral light. We have impressed the latter with pictures of cruelty, oppression, dominion, and slaughter. The whole Christian world admits that man can indiscriminately slaughter animals, upon the theory, elaborately set forth by priests in early times, that animals have no souls. Even little children learn this, and very early begin to kill insects, birds, and animals, not for protection, but from wantonness. As they grow up the habit is continued, and in England we see that shooting large numbers of birds beyond the wants of the table, is a national peculiarity, or, as I should say, a vice. This may be called a mild illustration. If these people could catch elementals as easily as they can animals, they would kill them for amusement when they did not want them for use; and, if the elementals refused to obey, then their death would follow as a punishment. All this is perceived by the elemental world, without conscience of course; but, under the laws of action and reaction, we receive back from it exactly that which we give.
Student—Before we leave the subject I should like to refer again to the question of metals and the relation of man to the elementals connected with the mineral world. We see some persons who seem always to be able to find metals with ease—or, as they say, who are lucky in that direction. How am I to reconcile this with the natural tendency of elementals to hide? Is it because there is a war or discord, as it were, between different classes belonging to any one person?
Sage—That is a part of the explanation. Some persons, as I said, have more of one class attached to them than another. A person fortunate with metals, say of gold and silver, has about him more of the elementals connected with or belonging to the kingdoms of those metals than other people, and thus there is less strife between the elementals. The preponderance of the metal-spirits make the person more homogeneous with their kingdoms, and a natural attraction exists between the gold or silver lost or buried and that person, more than in the case of other people.
Student—What determines this? Is it due to a desiring of gold and silver, or is it congenital?
Sage—It is innate. The combinations in any one individual are so intricate and due to so many causes that you could not calculate them. They run back many generations, and depend upon peculiarities of soil, climate, nation, family and race. These are, as you can see, enormously varied, and, with the materials at your command now, quite beyond your reach. Merely wishing for gold and silver will not do it.
Student—I judge also that attempting to get at those elementals by thinking strongly will not accomplish that result either.
Sage—No, it will not, because your thoughts do not reach them. They do not hear or see you, and, as it is only by accidental concentration of forces that unlearned people influence them, these accidents are only possible to the extent that you possess the natural leaning to the particular kingdom whose elementals you have influenced.
Student—I thank you for your instruction.
Sage—May you be guided to the path which leads to light!
Student—What principal idea would it be well for me to dwell upon in my studies on the subject of elementals?
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 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 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 never had such a picture before them?
Sage—These pictures are found in the aura of the person, and are due to prenatal 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. * [See Isis Unveiled in the Chapter on Teratologyl. (ED.—PATH)]
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 centres 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 lighted? 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 lightening 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.
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 enlightenment!
A Fragment of Conversation with H.P.B in 1888
[The following was written by me at the dictation of H.P.B in 1888 with the purpose of printing it at that time. But it was not used then, and as I brought it home with me it is now of interest.—W.Q.J.]
Question—It has struck me while thinking over the difference between ordinary people and an adept or even a partly developed student, that the rate of vibration of the brain molecules, as well as the coördination of those with the vibrations of the higher brain, may lie at the bottom of the difference and also might explain may other problems.
H.P.B—So they do. They make differences and also cause many curious phenomena; and the differences among all persons are greatly due to vibrations of all kinds.
Q—In reading the article in the Path of April, 1886, this idea was again suggested. I open at p. 6, Vol. I. “The Divine Resonance spoken of above is not the Divine Light itself. The Resonance is only the outbreathing of the first sound of the entire Aum.... It manifests itself not only as the power which stirs up and animates the particles of the universe, but also in the evolution and dissolution of man, of the animal and mineral kingdoms, and the Solar system. Among the Aryans it was represented by the planet Mercury, who has always been said to govern the intellectual faculties and to be the universal stimulator.” What of this?
H.P.B—Mercury was always known as the god of secret wisdom. He is Hermes; as well ad Budha the son of Soma. Speaking of matters on the lower plane, I would call the “Divine Resonance” you read of in the Path “vibrations” and the originator, or that which gives the impulse to every kind of phenomena in the astral plane.
Q—The differences found in human brains and natures must, then, have their root in differences of vibration?
H.P.B—Most assuredly so.
Q—Speaking of mankind as a whole, it is true that all have one key or rate of vibration to which they respond?
H.P.B—Human beings in general are like so many keys on the piano, each having its own sound, and the combination of which produces other sounds in endless variety. Like inanimate nature they have a keynote from which all the varieties of character and constitution proceed by endless changes. Remember what was said in Isis Unveiled at p.16, Vol. I, “The Universe is the combination of a thousand elements, and yet the expression of a single spirit,—a chaos to the sense (physical), a cosmos to the reason” (manas).
Q—So far this applies generally to nature. Does it explain the differences between the adept and ordinary people?
H.P.B—Yes. This difference is that an adept may be compared to that one key which contains all the keys in the great harmony of nature. He has the synthesis of all keys in this thoughts, whereas ordinary man has the same key as a basis, but only acts and thinks on one or a few changes of this great key, producing with his brain only a few chords out of the whole great possible harmony.
Q—Has this something to do with the fact that a disciple may hear the voice of his master through the astral spaces, while another man cannot hear or communicate with the adepts?
H.P.B—This is because the brain of a chela is attuned by training to the brain of the Master. His vibrations synchronize with those of the Adept, and the untrained brain is not so attuned. So the chela’s brain is abnormal, looking at it from the standpoint of ordinary life, while that of the ordinary man is normal for worldly purposes. The latter person may be compared to those who are colour-blind.
Q—How am I to understand this?
H.P.B—What is considered normal from the view of the physician is considered abnormal from the view of occultism, and vice versa. The difference between a colour-blind signal man who mistakes the lamps and the adept who sees is that the one takes one colour for another, while the adept sees all the colours in every colour and yet does not confuse them together.
Q—Has the adept, then, raised his vibrations so as to have them the same as those of nature as a whole?
H.P.B—Yes; the higher adepts. But there are other adepts who, while vastly in advance of all men, are still unable to vibrate to such a degree.
Q—Can the adept produce at his will a vibration which will change one colour to another?
H.P.B—He can produce a sound which will alter colour. It is the sound which produces the colour, and not the other or opposite. By correlating the vibrations of a sound in the proper way a new colour is made.
Q—Is it true that on the astral plane every sound always produces a colour?
H.P.B—Yes; but these are invisible because not yet correlated by the human brain so as to become visible on the earth plane. Read Galton, who gives experiments with colours and sounds as seen by psychics and sensitives, showing that many sensitive people always see a colour for every sound. The colour-blind man has coming to him the same vibration as will show red, but not being able to sense these he alters the amount, so to say, and then sees a colour corresponding to the vibrations he can perceive out of the whole quantity. His astral senses may see the true colour, but the physical eye has its own vibrations, and these, being on the outer plane, overcome the others for the time, and the astral man is compelled to report to the brain that it saw correctly. For in each case the outer stimulus is sent to the inner man, who then is forced, as it were, to accept the message and to confirm it for the time so far as it goes. But there are cases where the inner man is able to even then overcome the outer defect and to make the brain see the difference. In many cases of lunacy the confusion among the vibrations of all kinds is so enormous that there is no correlation between the inner and the outer man, and we have then a case of aberration. But even in some of these unfortunate cases the person inside is all the time aware that he is not insane but cannot make himself be understood. Thus often persons are driven really insane by wrong treatment.
Q—By what manner of vibrations do the elementals make colours and lights of variety?
H.P.B—That is a question I cannot reply to though it is well known to me. Did I not tell you that secrets might be revealed too soon?
In 1875, ‘76, ‘77 and ‘78 my intimacy with H.P.B gave me many opportunities for conversing with her on what we then called “Magic.” These useful, and for me very wonderful, occasions came about late at night, and sometimes during the day. I was then in the habit of calling on her in the daytime whenever I could get away from my office. Many times I stayed in her flat for the purpose of hearing as much and seeing as much as I could. Later on, in 1884, I spent many weeks with her in the Rue Notre Dame des Champs in Paris, sitting beside her day after day and evening after evening; later still, in 1888, being with her in London, at Holland Park, I had a few more opportunities. Some of what she said I publish here for the good of those who can benefit by her words. Certainly no greater practical occultist is known to this century: from that point of view what she said will have a certain useful weight with some.
This term was not in use at this time. The conversation was about steps on the Path and returning here again. In answer to a question:
“Yes, you have been here and at this before. You were born with this tendency, and in other lives have met these persons (supposed Adept influences), and they are here to see you for that reason.”
Later, when definite terms had come into use, the question raised was whether or not all stayed 1500 years in Devachan.
“Well, Judge, you must know well that under the philosophy we don’t all stay there so long. It varies with the character of each. A thoroughly material thinker will emerge sooner than one who is a spiritual philosopher and good. Besides, recollect that all workers for the Lodge, no matter of what degree, are helped out of Devachan if they themselves permit it. Your own idea which you have stated, that 1500 years had not elapsed since you went into Devachan, is correct, and that I tell is what Master himself tells me. So there you are.”
Precipitations by Masters
In reply to a question on this she said:
“If you think Master is going to be always precipitating things, you mistake. Yes, He can do it. But most of the precipitations are by chelas who would seem to you Masters. I see His orders, and the thoughts and words He wishes used, and I precipitate them in that form; so does * * * and one or two more.”
“Well, what of Their handwritings?”
“Anything you write is your handwriting, but it is not in your personal handwriting, generally used and first learned if you assume or adopt some form. Now you know that Masters’ handwritings, peculiar and personal to Themselves, are foreign both as to sound and form—Indian sorts, in fact. So They adopted a form in English, and in that form I precipitate Their messages at Their direction. Why B— almost caught me one day and nearly made a mess of it by shocking me. The message has to be seen in the astral light in facsimile, and through that astral matrix I precipitate the whole of it. It’s different, though, if Master sends me the paper and the message already done. That’s why I call these things ‘psychological tricks.’ The sign of an objective wonder seemed to be required, although a moment’s thought will show it is not proof of anything but occult ability. Many a medium has had precipitations before my miserable self was heard of. But blessed is the one who wants no sign. You have seen plenty of these things. Why do you want to ask me? Can’t you use your brain and intuition? I've sampled almost the whole possible range of wonders for you. Let them use their brains and intuition with the known facts and the theories given.”
If White Magicians Act, What Then?
“Look here; here’s a man who wants to know why the Masters don’t interpose at once and save his business. They don’t interpose at once and save his business. They don’t seem to remember what it means for a Master to use occult force. If you explode gunpowder to split a rock you may knock down a house. There is a law that if a White Magician uses his occult power an equal amount of power may be used by the Black one. Chemists invent powders for explosives and wicked men may use them. You force yourself into Master’s presence and you take the consequences of the immense forces around him playing on yourself. If you are weak in character anywhere, the Black ones will use the disturbance by directing the forces engendered to the spot and may compass your ruin. It is so always. Pass the boundary that hedges in the occult realm, and quick forces, new ones, dreadful ones, must be met. Then if you are not strong you may become a wreck for that life. This is the danger. This is one reason why Masters do not appear and do not act directly very often, but nearly always by intermediate degrees. What do you say,—‘the dual forces in nature’? Precisely, that’s just it; and Theosophists should remember it.”
Do Masters Punish?
“Now I’m not going to tell you all about this. They are just; They embody the Law of Compassion. Do not for an instant imagine the Masters are going to come down on you for your failures and wrongs, if any. Karma looks out for this. Masters’ ethics are the highest. From the standpoint of your question They do not punish. Have I not told you that, much as detractors have cast mud at Them, never will the Masters impose punishment. I cannot see why such a question comes up. Karma will do all the punishing that is necessary.”
“It’s a long time ago now that I told you this part would not be explained. But I can tell you some things. This one that you and Olcott used to call * * * can’t see you unless I let him. Now I will impress you upon it or him so that like a photograph he will remember so far. But you can’t make it obey you until you know how to get the force directed. I’ll send him to you and let him make a bell.”
[In a few days after this the proposed sign was given at a distance from her, and a little bell was sounded in the air when I was talking with a person not interested in Theosophy, and when I was three miles away from H.P.B On next seeing her she asked if * * * has been over and sounded the bell, mentioning the exact day and time.]
“This one has no form in particular, but is more like a revolving mass of air. But it is, all the same, quite definite, as you know from what he has done. There are some classes with forms of their own. The general division into fiery, airy, earthy, and watery is pretty correct, but it will not cover all the classes. There is not a single thing going on about us, no matter what, that elementals are not concerned in, because they constitute a necessary part of nature, just as important as the nerve currents in your body. Why in storms you should see them how they move about. Don’t you remember what you told me about that lady * * * who saw them change and move about at that opera? It was due to her tendencies and the general idea underlying the opera.” [It was the opera of Tristan and Isolde, by Wagner—J.] “In that case, as Isolde is Irish, the whole idea under it aroused a class of elementals peculiar to that island and its traditions. That’s a queer place, Judge, that Ireland. It is packed full of a singular class of elementals; and by Jove! I see they have even emigrated in quite large numbers. Sometimes one quite by accident rouses up some ancient custom, say from Egypt; that is the explanation of that singular astral nose which you said reminded you of a sistrum being shaken; it was really objective. But, my dear fellow, do you think I will give you a patent elemental extractor?—not yet. Bulwer Lytton wrote very wisely, for him, on the subject.”
[Riding over in Central Park, New York] “It is very interesting here. I see a number of Indians, and also their elementals, just as real as you seem to be. They do not see us; they are all spooks. But look here, Judge, don’t confound the magnetism escaping through your skin with the gentle taps of supposed elementals who want a cigarette.”
[In W. 34th Street, New York. The first time she spoke to me of elementals particularly, I having asked her about Spiritualism—J]
“It is nearly all done by elementals. Now I can make them tap anywhere you like in this room. Select any place you wish.” [I pointed to a hard plaster wall-space free from objects.] “Now ask what you like that can be answered by taps.”
Q—What is my age? Taps: the correct number.
Q—How many in my house? Taps: right.
Q—How many months have I been in the city? Taps: correct.
Q—What number of minutes past the hour by my watch? Taps: right.
Q—How many keys on my ring? Taps: correct.
H.P.B—“Oh bosh! Let it stop. You won’t get any more, for I have cut it off. Try your best. They have no sense; they got it all out of your own head, even the keys, for you know inside how many keys are on the ring, though you don’t remember; but anyhow I could see into your pocket and count the number and then that tapper would give the right reply. There’s something better than all that magic nonsense.”
She Precipitates in London
In 1888 I was in London and wanted a paper, with about four sentences written on it in purple ink, which I had left in America. I came down to her room where B. Keightley was, and, not saying anything, sat down opposite H.P.B I thought: “If only she would get me back someway a copy of that paper.” She smiled at me, rose, went into her room, came out at once, and in a moment handed me a piece of paper, passing it right in front of Keightley. To my amazement it was the duplicate of my paper, a facsimile, I then asked her how she got it, and she replied: “I saw it in your head and the rest was easy. You thought it very clearly. You know it can be done; and it was needed.” This was all done in about the time it takes to read these descriptive sentences.
William Q. Judge
Student—What is Occultism?
Sage—It is that 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 for 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 the 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 beasts, however, there is 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 procuring gratification merely, nor for waste in any department.
Student—Is Occultism of truth or of falsehood; is it selfish or unselfish; or is it part one and part the other?
Sage—Occultism is colourless, 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 judgement: “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 anytime. 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 yourself is the light that lighteth every man who cometh here. The light of the Higher Self and of the Mahatma are not different from each other. Unless you find your Self how can you understand Nature?
Student—What is the effect of trying to develop the power of seeing in the astral light before a person is initiated?
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 for ever. 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 brain-mind. 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 this 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. 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 of 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 damaged by a sword than by a club or a stone. But all of 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 used 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.
Student—Is there not some attitude of mind which one should in truth assume in order to understand the occult in nature?
Sage—Such attitude of mind must be attained as will enable one to look into the realities of things. The mind must escape from the mere formalities and conventions of life, even though outwardly one seems to obey all of them, and should be firmly established on the truth that Man is a copy of the Universe and has in himself a portion of the Supreme Being. To the extent this is realized will be the clearness of perception or truth. A realization of this leads inevitably to the conclusion that all other men and beings are united with us, and this removes the egotism which is the result of the notion of separateness. When the truth of Unity is understood, then distinctions due to comparisons made like the Pharisee’s that one is better than his neighbour, disappear from the mind, leaving it more pure and free to act.
Student—What would you point out as a principal foe to the mind’s grasping of truth?
Sage—The principal foe of a secondary nature is what was once called phantasy; that is, the reappearance of thoughts and images due to recollection or memory. Memory is an important power, but mind in itself is not memory. Mind is restless and wandering in its nature, and must be controlled. Its wandering disposition is necessary or stagnation would result. But it can be controlled and fixed upon an object or idea. Now as we are constantly looking at and hearing of new things, the natural restlessness of the mind becomes prominent when we set about pinning it down. Then memory of many objects, things, subjects, duties, persons, circumstances, and affairs bring up before it the various pictures and thoughts belonging to them. After these the mind at once tries to go, and we find ourselves wandering from the point. It must hence follow that the storing of a multiplicity of useless and surely-recurring thoughts is an obstacle to the acquirement of truth. And this obstacle is the very one peculiar to our present style of life.
Student—Can you mention some of the relations in which the sun stands to us and nature in respect to Occultism?
Sage—It has many such, and all important. But I would draw your attention first to the greater and more comprehensive. The sun is the centre of our solar system. The life-energies of that system come to it through the sun, which is a focus or reflector for the spot in space where the real centre is. And not only comes mere life through that focus, but also much more that is spiritual in its essence. The sun should therefore not only be looked at with the eye but thought of by the mind. It represents to the world what the Higher Self is to the man. It is the Soul-centre of the world with its six companions, as the Higher Self is the centre for the six principles of man. So it supplies to those six principles of the man many spiritual essences and powers. He should for that reason think of it and not confine himself to gazing at it. So far as it acts materially in light, heat, and gravity, it will go on of itself, but man as a free agent must think upon it in order to gain what benefit can come only from his voluntary action in thought.
Student—Will you refer to some minor one?
Sage—Well, we sit in the sun for heat and possible chemical effects. But if at the same time that we do this we also think on it as the sun in the sky and of its possible essential nature, we thereby draw from it some of its energy not otherwise touched. This can also be done on a dark day when clouds obscure the sky, and some of the benefit thus be obtained. Natural mystics, learned and ignorant, have discovered this for themselves here and there, and have often adopted the practice. But it depends, as you see, upon the mind.
Student—Does the mind actually do anything when it takes up a thought and seek for more light?
Sage—It actually does. A thread, or a finer, or a long darting current flies out from the brain to seek for knowledge. It goes in all directions and touches all other minds it can reach so as to receive the information if possible. This is telepathically, so to say, accomplished. There are no patents on true knowledge of philosophy nor copyrights in that realm. Personal rights of personal life are fully respected, save by potential black magicians who would take any one’s property. But general truth belongs to all, and when the unseen messenger from one mind arrives and touched the real mind of another, that other gives up to it what it may have of truth about general subjects. So the mind’s finger or wire flies until it gets the thought or seed-thought from the other and makes it its own. But our modern competitive system and selfish desire for gain and fame is constantly building a wall around people’s minds to everyone’s detriment.
Student—Do you mean that the action you describe is natural, usual, and universal, or only done by those who know how and are conscious of it?
Sage—It is universal and whether the person is aware or not of what is going on. Very few are able to perceive it in themselves, but that makes no difference. It is down always. When you sit down to earnestly think on a philosophical or ethical matter, for instance, your minds flies off, touching other minds, and from them you get varieties of thought. If you are no well-balanced and physically purified, you will often get thoughts that are not correct. Such is your Karma and the Karma of the race. But if you are sincere and try to base yourself on right philosophy, your mind will naturally reject wrong notions. You can see in this how it is that systems of thought are made and kept going, even though foolish, incorrect, or pernicious.
Student—What mental attitude and aspiration are the best safeguards in this, as likely to aid the mind in these searches to reject error and not let it fly into the brain?
Sage—Unselfishness, Altruism in theory and practice, desire to do the will of the Higher Self which is the “Father in Heaven,” devotion to the human race. Subsidiary to these discipline, correct thinking, and good education.
Student—Is the uneducated man, then, in a worse condition?
Sage—Not necessarily so. The very learned are so immersed in one system that they reject nearly all thoughts not in accord with preconceived notions. The sincere ignorant one is often able to get the truth but not able to express it. The ignorant masses generally hold in their minds the general truths of Nature, but are limited as to expression. And most of the best discoveries of scientific men have been obtained in this subconscious telepathic mode. Indeed, they often arrive in the learned brain from some obscure and so-called ignorant person, and then the scientific discoverer makes himself famous because of his power of expression and means for giving it out.
Student—Does this bear at all upon the work of the Adepts of all good Lodges?
Sage—It does. They have all the truths that could be desired, but at the same time are able to guard them from the seeking minds of those who are not yet ready to use them properly. But they often find the hour ripe and a scientific man ready, and then touch his cogitating mind with a picture of what he seeks. He then has a “flash” of thought in the line of his deliberations, as many of them have admitted. He gives it out to the world, becomes famous, and the world wiser. This is constantly done by the Adepts, but now and then they give out larger expositions of Nature’s truths, as in the case of H.P.B This is not at first generally accepted, as personal gain and fame are not advanced by any admission of benefit from the writings of another, but as it is done with a purpose, for the use of a succeeding century, it will do its work at the proper time.
Student—How about the Adepts knowing what is going on in the world of thought, in the West, for instance?
Sage—They have only to voluntarily and consciously connect their minds with those of the dominant thinkers of the day, to at once discover what has been or is being worked out in thought and to review it all. This they constantly do, and as constantly incite to further elaboration or changes by throwing out the suggestion in the mental plane so that seeking and receptive minds may use it.
Student—Are there any rules, binding on all, in white magic or good occultism? I mean rules similar to the ten commandments of the Christians, or the rules for the protection of life, liberty, and property recognized by human law.
Sage—There are such rules of the most stringent character, the breaking of which is never wiped out save by expiation. Those rules are not made up by some brain or mind, but flow from the laws of nature, of mind, and of soul. Hence they are impossible of nullification. One may break them and seem to escape for a whole life or far more than a life; but the very breaking of them sets in motion at once other causes which begin to make effects, and most unerringly those effects at last react on the violator. Karma here acts as it does elsewhere, and becomes a Nemesis who, though sometimes slow, is fate itself in its certainty.
Student—It is not, then, the case that when an occultist violates a rule some other adept or agent starts out like a detective or policeman and brings the culprit to justice at a bar or tribunal such as we sometimes read of in the imaginative works of mystical writers or novelists?
Sage—No, there is no such pursuit. On the contrary, all the fellow-adepts or students are but too willing to aid the offender, not in escaping punishment, but in sincerely trying to set counteracting causes in motion for the good of all. For the sin of one reacts on the whole human family. If, however, the culprit does not wish to do the amount of counteracting good, he is merely left alone to the law of nature, which is in fact that of his own inner life from which there can be no escape. In Lytton’s novel, Zanoni, you will notice the grave Master, Mejnour, trying to aid Zanoni, even at the time when the latter was falling slowly but surely into the meshes twisted by himself that ended in his destruction. Mejnour knew the law and so did Zanoni. The latter was suffering from some former error which he had to work out; the former, if himself too stern and unkind, would later on come to the appropriate grief for such a mistake. But meanwhile he was bound to help his friend, as are all those who really believe in brotherhood.
Student—What one of those rules in any way corresponds to “Thou shalt not steal”?
Sage—That one which was long ago expressed by the ancient sage in the words, “Do no covet the wealth of any creature.” This is better than “Thou shalt not steal,” for you cannot steal unless you covet. If you steal for hunger you may be forgiven, but you coveted the food for a purpose, just as another covets merely for the sake of possession. The wealth of others includes all their possessions, and does not mean mere money alone. Their ideas, their private thoughts, their mental forces, powers, and faculties, their psychic powers—all, indeed, on all planes that they own or have. While they in that realm are willing to give it all away, it must not be coveted by another.
You have no right, therefore, to enter into the mind of another who has not given the permission and take from him what is not yours. You become a burglar on the mental and psychic plane when you break this rule. You are forbidden taking anything for personal gain, profit, advantage, or use. But you may take what is for general good, if you are far enough advanced and good enough to be able to extricate the personal element from it. This rule would, you can see, cut off all those who are well known to every observer, who want psychic powers for themselves and their own uses. If such persons had those powers of inner sight and hearing that they so much want, no power could prevent them from committing theft on the unseen planes wherever they met a nature that was not protected. And as most of us are very far from perfect, so far, indeed, that we must work for many lives yet, the Masters of Wisdom do not aid our defective natures in the getting of weapons that would cut our own hands. For the law acts implacably, and the breaches made would find their end and result in long after years. The Black Lodge, however, is very willing to let any poor, weak, or sinful mortal get such power, because that would swell the number of victims they so much require.
Student—Is there any rule corresponding to “Thou shalt not bear false witness”?
Sage—Yes; the one which requires you never to inject into the brain of another a false or untrue thought. As we can project our thoughts to another’s mind, we must not throw untrue ones to another. It comes before him, and he overcome by its strength perhaps, finds it echoing in him, and it is a false witness speaking falsely within, confusing and confounding the inner spectator who lives on thought.
Student—How can one prevent the natural action of the mind when pictures of the private lives of others rise before one?
Sage—That is difficult for the run of men. Hence the mass have not the power in general; it is kept back as much as possible. But when the trained soul looks about in the realm of soul it is also able to direct its sight, and when it finds rising up a picture of what it should not voluntarily take, it turns its face away. A warning comes with all such pictures which must be obeyed. This is not a rare rule or piece of information, for there are, many natural clairvoyants who know it very well, though many of them do not think that others have the same knowledge.
Student—What do you mean by a warning coming with the picture?
Sage—In this realm the slightest thought becomes a voice or a picture. All thoughts make pictures. Every person has his private thoughts and desires. Around these he makes also a picture of his wish for privacy, and that to the clairvoyant becomes a voice or picture of warning which seems to say it must be let alone. With some it may assume the form of a person who says not to approach, with others it will be a voice, with still others a simple but certain knowledge that the matter is sacred. All these varieties depend on the psychological idiosyncrasies of the seer.
Student—What kind of thought or knowledge is excepted from these rules?
Sage—General, and philosophical, religious, and moral. That is to say, there is no law of copyright or patent which is purely human in invention and belongs to the competitive system. When a man thinks out truly a philosophical problem it is not his under the laws of nature; it belongs to all; he is not in this realm entitled to any glory, to any profit, to any private use in it. Hence the seer may take as much of it as he pleases, but must on his part not claim it or use it for himself. Similarly with other generally beneficial matters. They are for all. If a Spencer thinks out a long series of wise things good for all men, the seer can take them all. Indeed, but few thinkers do any original thinking. They pride themselves on doing so, but in fact their seeking minds go out all over the world of mind and take from those of slower movement what is good and true, and then make them their own, sometimes gaining glory, sometimes money, and in this age claiming all as theirs and profiting by it.
Student—At a former time you spoke of entities that crowd the spaces about us. Are these all unconscious or otherwise?
Sage—They are not all unconscious. First, there are the humdrum masses of elementals that move like nerve-currents with every motion of man, beast, or natural elements. Next are classes of those which have a peculiar power and consciousness of their own and not easily reached by any man. Then come the shades of the dead, whether mere floating shells, or animated elementals, or infused with galvanic and extraordinary action by the Brothers of the Shadow. Last, the Brothers of the Shadow, devoid of physical bodies save in rare cases, bad souls living long in that realm and working according to their nature for no other end than evil until they are finally annihilated—they are the lost souls of Kama Loka as distinguished from the “animated corpses” devoid of souls which live and move among men. These Black entities are the Dugpas, the Black Magicians.
Student—Have they anything to do with the shocks, knocks, bad influences, disintegration of soft material accompanied by noises more or less distinct?
Sage—Yes, they have. Not always, of course. But where they are actually seen at the time preceding such occurrence, they are the agents.
Student—Then I am to suppose that if such takes place with me I am the attracting person, the unfortunate channel through which they have come?
Sage—No, you are thoroughly in error there. You are not such a channel in that case. You are in fact the opposite, and the very cause for the temporary defeat of that dark entity. You have mistaken the appearance, the outer manipulation of forces, for the thing itself. If you were their channel, their agent, the cause for their coming and thus making their presence possible, there would be no noise and no explosion. They would then act in and through you for the hurt of others, silently and insidiously. They approach your sphere and attempt to make an entry. The strength of your character, of your aspiration, of your life, throws them off, and they are obliged, like rain-clouds, to discharge themselves. The more strong they are, the louder will be their retreating manifestation. For the time they are temporarily destroyed or, rather, put outside the combat, and like a war vessel, have to retire for repairs. In their case this consists in accumulating force for a new attack, there or elsewhere.
Student—If, then, such loud explosions, with pulverization of wall-plaster and the like, take place, and such an evil entity is seen astrally, it follows that the person near whom it all occurred—if identification due to solitude is possible—was in fact the person who, by reason of inner power and opposition to the evil entity, became the cause for its bursting or temporary defeat?
Sage—Yes, that is correct. The person is not the cause for the entity’s approach, nor its friend, but is the safeguard in fact for those who otherwise would be insidiously affected. Uninformed students are likely to argue the other way, but that will be due to want of correct knowledge. I will describe to you condensedly an actual case. Sitting at rest on a seat, eyes closed, I saw approach one of those evil entities along the astral currents, and looking as a man. His hands like claws reached out to affect me; on his face was a devilish expression. Full of force he moved quickly up. But as I looked at him the confidence I felt and the protection about me acted as an intense shock to him, and he appeared to burst from within, to stagger, fall to pieces, and then disappeared. Just as the disintegration began, a loud noise was caused by the sudden discharge of astral electricity, causing reactions that immediately transmitted themselves into the objects in the room, until, reaching the limit of tension, they created a noise. This is just the phenomenon of thunder, which accompanies discharges in the clouds and is followed by equilibrium.
Student—Can I carry this explanation into every objective phenomenon, say, then, of spiritualistic rappings?
Sage—No, not to every case. It holds with many, but specially relates to the conscious entities I was speaking of. Very often the small taps and raps one hears are produced under the law referred to, but without the presence of such an entity. These are the final dissipations of collected energy. That does not always argue a present extraneous and conscious entity. But in so far as these taps are the conclusion of an operation, that is, the thunder from one astral cloud to another, they are dissipations of accumulated force. With this distinction in mind you should not be confused.
Student—Have not colours a good deal to do with this matter?
Sage—Yes; but just now we will not go into the question of colour except to say that the evil entities referred to often assume a garb of good colour, but are not able to hide the darkness that belongs to their nature.
Has such a being any existence? Has any one ever seen it? Are there many or several, and has it any sex?
Such are the questions asked by nearly all students who read theosophical books. Some of those who all their life believed in fairies in secret and in the old tales of giants, have proceeded to test the question by calling upon the horrid shade to appear and freeze their blood with the awful eyes that Bulwer Lytton has made so famous in his “Zanoni.” But the Dweller is not to be wooed in such a way, and has not appeared at all, but by absolute silence leads the invoker to at last scout the idea altogether.
But this same enquirer then studies theosophical books with diligence, and enters after a time on the attempt to find out his own inner nature. All this while the Dweller has waited, and, indeed, we may say, in complete ignorance as yet of the neophyte’s existence. When the study has proceeded far enough to wake up long dormant senses and tendencies, the Dweller begins to feel that such a person as this student is at work. Certain influences are then felt, but not always with clearness, and at first never ascribed to the agency of what had long ago been relegated to the lumber-room of exploded superstitions. The study goes still farther and yet farther, until the awful Thing has revealed itself; and when that happens, it is not a superstition nor is it disbelieved. It can then never be got rid of, but will stay as a constant menace until it is triumphed over and left behind.
When Glyndon was left by Mejnour in the old castle in Italy, he found two vases which he had received directions not to open. But disobeying these he took out the stoppers, and at once the room was filled with intoxication, and soon the awful, loathsome creature appeared whose blazing eyes shone with malignant glare and penetrated to Glyndon’s soul with a rush of horror such as he had never known.
In this story Lytton desired to show that the opening of the vases is like the approach of an inquirer to the secret recesses of his own nature. He opens the receptacles, and at first is full of joy and a sort of intoxication due to the new solutions offered for every problem in life and to the dimly seen vistas of power and advancement that open before him. If the vases are kept open long enough, the Dweller of the Threshold surely appears, and no man is exempt from the sight. Goodness is not sufficient to prevent its appearance, because even the good man who finds a muddy place in the way to his destination must of necessity pass through it to reach the end.
We must ask next, WHAT is the Dweller? It is the combined evil influence that is the result of the wicked thoughts and acts of the age in which any one may live, and it assumes to each student a definite shape at each appearance, being always either of one sort or changing each time. So that with one it may be as Bulwer Lytton pictured it, or with another only a dread horror, or even of any other sort of shape. It is specialized for each student and given its form by the tendencies and natural physical and psychical combinations that belong to his family and nation.
Where, then, does it dwell? is the very natural inquiry which will follow. It dwells in its own plane, and that may be understood in this manner.
Around each person are planes or zones, beginning with spirit and running down to gross matter. These zones extend, within their lateral boundaries, all around the being. That is to say, if we figure ourselves as being in the centre of a sphere, we will find that there is no way of escaping or skipping any one zone, because it extends in every direction until we pass its lateral boundary.
When the student has at last gotten hold of a real aspiration and some glimmer of the blazing goal of truth where Masters stand, and has also aroused the determination to know and to be, the whole bent of his nature, day and night, is to reach out beyond the limitations that hitherto had fettered his soul. No sooner does he begin thus to step a little forward, that he reaches the zone just beyond mere bodily and mental sensations. At first the minor dwellers of the threshold are aroused, and they in temptation, in bewilderment, in doubt or confusion, assail him. He only feels the effect, for they do not reveal themselves as shapes. But persistence in the work takes the inner man farther along, and with that progress comes a realization to the outer mind of the experiences met, until at last he has waked up the whole force of the evil power that naturally is arrayed against the good end he has set before him. Then the Dweller takes what form it may. That it does take some definite shape or impress itself with palpable horror is a fact testified to by many students.
One of those related to me that he saw it as an enormous slug with evil eyes whose malignancy could not be described. As he retreated—that is, grew fearful—, it seemed joyful and portentous, and when retreat was complete it was not. Then he fell further back in thought and action, having occasionally moments of determination to retrieve his lost ground. Whenever these came to him, the dreadful slug appeared, only to leave him when he had given up again his aspirations. And he knew that he was only making the fight, if ever he should take it up again, all the harder.
Another says that he has seen the Dweller concentrated in the apparent form of a dark and sinister-looking man, whose slightest motions, whose merest glance, expressed the intention and ability to destroy the student’s reason, and only the strongest effort of will and faith could dispel the evil influence. And the same student at other times has felt it as a vague, yet terrible, horror that seemed to enwrap him in its folds. Before this he has retreated for the time to prepare himself by strong self-study to be pure and brave for the next attack.
These things are not the same as the temptations of Saint Anthony. In his case he seems to have induced an hysterical erotic condition, in which the unvanquished secret thoughts of his own heart found visible appearance.
The Dweller of the Threshold is not the product of the brain, but is an influence found in a plane that is extraneous to the student, but in which his success or failure will be due to his own purity. It is not a thing to be dreaded by mere dilettanti theosophists; and no earnest one who feels himself absolutely called to work persistently to the highest planes of development for the good of humanity, and not for his own, need fear aught that heaven or hell holds.
Since last I wrote for The Path, the most distinct call I have heard from many students in the West is found in the cry: “Give us one Fact!”
They have acquired the desire to know the truth, but have lingered still around the market places of earth and the halls of those scientific leaders of the blind who are the prophets of materialism. They say that some “scientific” men, while talking of Theosophy, have asked why the Masters have not “given us one fact on which we may begin and from which a conclusion might be reached”; and they—these students—most earnestly ask for that fact for themselves, even though they shall conceal it from the very men who have formulated the question.
Poor children. What are the facts ye desire? Is it some astounding thaumaturgical exhibitions that shall leave no room for doubt? If so, please say whether the feat is to be performed in the sight of thousands, or only in the presence of one postulant and his select circle? If the last, then ye are self-convicted of a desire to retain unto yourselves what belongeth to many. Or perhaps ye wish a statement of fact. But that would of course have to be supported by authority, and we, poor wanderers, have no force of authority in science or art; statements of facts coming from us would therefore be useless to you.
And I must tell you in confidence, as the messengers have before this been directed to do and have not failed therein, that an exhibition of thaumaturgical skill in the presence of a multitude would subvert the very ends the perfected men have in view. Suppose that some of those who know were now to appear in the busy hum of American life, where the total sum of objects appears, at this distance, to be the gain of wealth, and like the two young princes of Buddha’s time were to rise in the air unaided and there emit sheets of fire alternately from their heads and feet, or were to rise again and float off to a distance in plain sight of all; would that fact demonstrate anything to you? Perhaps in the breasts of some aspiring students might spring up the desire to acquire the power to do likewise. But pause and tell me what would the many do to whom such things are myths? I will tell you. Some would admit the possibility of a genuine phenomenon, seeking ways and means to do it too, so that they might exhibit it for an admission price. Others, and including your scientific fact-seekers, would begin by denying its truth, by ascribing it to delusion, and by charging those who did it, no matter how really spiritual those were, with deliberate fraud and imposture, while a certain section would deny the very happening of the matter and falsify the eye-knowledge of hundreds. * [We can agree with the writer, as we have seen just as wonderful things done by H.P.Blavatsky and next day heard accusations of fraud against her and charges of credulity against those who had seen. (Ed—PATH)] Still others would say “It is a God!” or—“It is a devil,” with consequence to correspond. No, friends, the true teachers do not begin by laying the foundations for greater error and more fast-bound superstition than those we are trying to destroy.
Then I must tell you in all seriousness and truth that statements of the facts you really wish have been over and over again made in many places, books and times. Not alone are they to be found in your new theosophical literature, but in that of older times. In every year for centuries past these facts have been given out,—even in English. They were told in the days of the German and English Alchemists, and by the Cabalists. But greed and wrong motive have ever formed the self-constructed barriers and obscurers.
The Alchemists of the pure school spoke of the gold they could make by means of their powders, and the salt, together with their mercury; and the Cabalists said that by pronouncing Jehovah’s name not only was the gold formed, but power obtained in all worlds. Very true these statements. Are they not statements of fact? Did they satisfy the mass of seekers? So far from that, the result was to lead them into error. Many patiently sought for the powder and the proper combination of the salt or sulphur and mercury, so that they might make worthless gold metal, which today is exchangeable and tomorrow is useless, and which never could give peace of mind or open the door of the future. Then others went by themselves and tried various modulations of sound in pronouncing the supposed name of their Mighty God, until they today have some two-score sorts. What purblind ignorance this, for God is God and has not changed with the rise and fall of empires or the disappearance of languages; his name was once a different sound in ancient Egypt or India, in Lemuria, Atlantis or Copan. Where, then, are those many sounds of His Holy Name, or has that been altered?
“But where,” ye say, “is the fact in the pronunciation of the name of God?” The answer is by asking “What and who is God?” He is the All; the earth, the sky, the stars in it; the heart of man; the elemental and organic world; the kingdoms of the universe; the realm of sound and the formless void. Is not the pronunciation of that Name to consist therefore in Becoming all those kingdoms, realms and power, focussing in yourself the entire essence of them, each and all at once? Is this to be done by breathing forth “Jehovah” in one or many forms? You easily see it is not. And your minds will carry you on the next step to admit that before you can do this you must have passed through every one of those kingdoms, retaining perfect knowledge and memory of each, commander of each, before you can attempt the pronunciation of the whole. Is this a small task? Is it not the task Karma has set before you, compelling you like children to repeat parts of the word in the varied experiences of repeated lives spent on earth, bringing you back to the lesson until it is well learned?
And so we are brought to ourselves. Our Aryan ancestors have made the declaration, repeated by thousands since, that each man is himself a little universe. Through him pass all the threads of energy that ramify to all the worlds, and where any one of those lines crosses him is the door to the kingdom to which that thread belongs. Listen to the Chandogya Upânishad: “There is this city of Brahman—the body—and in it the palace, the small lotus of the heart, and in it that small ether. Both heaven and earth are contained within it, both fire and air, both sun and moon, both lightning and stars; and whatever there is of the Self here in the world, and whatever has been or will be, all that is contained within it.”
Vain it is to make search without. No knowledge will reach you from anywhere but this small lotus of the heart. Just now ye are binding it so that it cannot burst open. It is with the delusions of the mind ye bind it in a knot. That knot ye must break. Break loose from scholastic error, make of your minds a still and placid surface on which the Lord of the palace in the heart can reflect pictures of Truth, become as little children who are not hindered by preconceptions, and ye will have knowledge.
The only fact I have to offer you is—YOURSELVES.
It is commonly charged against the exponents of Theosophy that they deal in vague generalities only. A lecture is given or paper read by a Theosophist, and the profane hearer laughs, saying, “All this is metaphysical absurdity; these are mere abstractions; let us have something like that which science gives us, something we can grasp.”
A great many persons imagine, knowing but little in reality about science, that it is sure, certain, and fixed in the vital premises which underlie the practical outcome seen in many branches of life’s activity. Why is this so? An inquiry into the question discloses the fact that some, if not all, the basic postulates of science are the purest abstractions, and that many statements from which deductions of fact are drawn are themselves the merest hypotheses. We will also find that the commonest of people unconsciously use in every workaday act the most abstract and indefinite premises without which they could do but little.
Take navigation of the ocean, by which we are able to send the largest ships carrying the richest of cargoes from shore to shore of any sea. These are guided in their course by men who know little or nothing of Theosophy and who would laugh at metaphysics. But in order to safely carry the ship from departure to destination, they have to use the lines of longitude and latitude, which, while seeming very real to them, have no existence whatever, except in theory. These lines must be used, and, if not, the ship will strike a rock or run upon the shore. Where are the parallels of longitude and latitude? They are imagined to be on the earth, but their only visible existence is upon the chart made by man, and their real existence is in the mind of the astronomer and those who understand the science of navigation. The sea captain may think they are on the chart, or he may not think of it at all. Where do they stop? Nowhere; they are said to extend indefinitely into space; yet these abstractions are used for present human commercial needs. Is this any less vague than Theosophy?
In the latter we have to guide the great human ship from shore to shore, and in that immense journey are obliged to refer to abstractions from which to start. Our spiritual parallels of latitude and longitude are abstractions, indeed, but no more so than those laid down upon the seaman’s chart. The scientific materialist says: “What nonsense to speak of coming out of the Absolute!” We may reply, “What nonsense for the mariner to attempt to guide his ship by that which has no existence whatever, except in fancy; by that which is a pure abstraction!” Again he laughs at us for assuming that there is such a thing as the soul, “for,” he says, “no man has ever seen it, and none ever can; it cannot be demonstrated.” With perfect truth we can reply: “Where is the atom of science; who has ever seen it; where and when has its existence been demonstrated?’ The “atom” of science is today as great a mystery as the “soul” of Theosophy. It is a pure hypothesis, undemonstrated and undemonstrable. It can neither be weighed, nor measured, nor found with a microscope; indeed, in the opinion of many Theosophists it is a far greater mystery than the soul, because some say they have seen that which may be soul; which looks like it; and no man has been, at any time, so fortunate or unfortunate as to have seen an atom.
Further, the scientific materialist says, “What do you know about the powers of the soul, which you say is the central sun of the human system?” And we answer that “it is not more indefinite for us than the sun is for the astronomers who attempt to measure its heat and estimate its distance. As to the heat of the sun, not all are agreed that it has any heat whatsoever, for some learned men think that it is a source of an energy which creates heat when it reaches the earth’s atmosphere only. Others, celebrated in the records of science, such as Newton, Fizeau, and many other well-known astronomers, disagree as to the quantity of heat thrown out by the sun, on the hypothesis that it has any heat, and that difference is so great as to reach 8,998,600 degrees. Thus as to the central sun of this system, there is the greatest vagueness in science and no agreement as to what may be the truth in this important matter. In Theosophy, however, on the other hand, although there is some vagueness with mere students as to the exact quantity of heat or light thrown out by the soul, those who have devoted more time to its study are able to give closer estimates than any which have been given by scientific men in respect to the sun of the solar system. Yet all these generalities of science are the very things that have led to the present wonderful material development of the nineteenth century.
But let us glance for a moment at the subject of evolution, which engages the thought of materialist and theosophist alike; let us see if theosophy is more vague than its opponents, or more insane, we might say, in ability to lay wild theories before intelligent men. The well-known Haeckel in his Pedigree of Man, says, in speaking of Darwin’s teachings and lauding them: “Darwin puts in the place of a conscious creative force, building and arranging the organic bodies of animals and plants on a designed plan, a series of natural forces working blindly, or we say, without aim, without design. In place of an arbitrary act we have a necessary law of evolution, * * * A mechanical origin of the earliest living form was held as the necessary sequence of Darwin’s teaching.” Here we have blind, undesigning forces, beginning work without design, haphazard, all being jumbled together, but finally working out into a beautiful design visible in the smallest form we can see. There is not a single proof in present life whether mineral, vegetable, or animal, that such a result from such a beginning could by any possibility eventuate. But these scientific men in those matters are safe in making hypotheses, because the time is far in the dark of history when these blind, undesigning acts were begun. Yet they ought to show some present instances of similar blindness producing harmonious designs. Now is this not a wild, fanciful, and almost insane statement of Haeckel’s? Is it not ten times more absurd than theosophical teachings? We begin truly with Parabrahmam and Műlaprakriti and Hosts of Dhyân Chohans, but we allege design in everything, and our Parabrahmam is no more vague than motion or force, pets of science.
So I have found that a slight examination of this question reveals science as more vague than Theosophy is in anything. But some may say results are not indefinite. The same is said by us, the results to be reached by following the doctrines of theosophy, relating, as they do, to our real life, will be as definite, as visible, as important as any that science can point to.
“What are your proofs?” is often asked of the Theosophical student who believes in reincarnation and Karma, who holds to the existence of the astral body, and who thinks that evolution demands a place in the cosmos for Mâhatmâs (or great souls) as facts and ideals. “If you cannot prove reincarnation just as you would a fact in a court of law, I will not believe,” says one, while another says, “Make such objective demonstrations as science does, and then you may expect me to agree with you.” But in truth all these objectors accept as proven in the way they demand for Theosophy many things which on a slight examination are seen to rest as much on theory and metaphysical argument as do any of the doctrines found in Theosophical Literature. The axioms of mathematics are unprovable; the very word assumes that they have to be accepted. Being accepted, we go forward and on the basis of their unproved truth demonstrate other and succedent matters. The theories of modern astronomy are taken as true because by their means eclipses are foretold and other great achievements of that science made possible. But many centuries ago quite different theories of the relations and motions and structure of the heavens allowed the old astronomers to make the same deductions. Let us examine a few words and things.
The atom and the molecule are very influential words. They are constantly used by people claiming to follow science, but who indulge in criticisms on the uncertainties of Theosophical speculation. Yet no one ever saw an atom or a molecule. They are accepted as facts by science—just as the spiritually-inclined accept the existence of the invisible soul—yet it is impossible to objectively prove either the one or the other. They are deemed to be proven because they are necessary. But let a Theosophist say that the astral body exists, and Mâhatmâs also, because both are necessary in evolution, and at once a demand arises for “demonstration” by objective proofs.
The sun is the apparent source of energy, and is confidently supposed by many to be a mass of burning material. No one, however, knows this to be so. No one was ever there, and the whole set of theories regarding the luminary rests on assumptions. Many natural facts are against some of the theories. The great fact that the higher the mountain the more cold it is on top would be one, not wholly accounted for by theories as to radiation. And when we remember the great, the immense, difference between the various scientific estimates of the sun’s heat, doubt increases. Seeing that electricity is now so much better known, and that it is apparently all-pervading, the ancient idea that the sun is a centre of electrical or magnetic energy which turns into heat as well as other things on reaching here, becomes plausible and throws some spice of illusion into the doctrine that our sun is a mass of burning matter.
Again the sun is seen as if over the horizon in full view every clear evening, when in fact he has been some minutes down below the line of sight. Refraction partly accounts for this, but none the less is his apparent visibility or position above the horizon an illusion.
Many of those that are known as fixed stars are immeasurably far away. Sirius is at an immense distance, and has been receding always many thousands of miles each minute. Others are so far off that it takes one hundred thousand years for their light to reach here.
Yet since records began they have all remained apparently in one place and in the same relation to each other. They constitute a vast illusion. They are moving and yet they remain still. We point the telescope at one of our sister planets, and knowing that its light takes fifteen minutes or more to get to us, we must be continually directing the glass to a point in space where the planet is not, and by no possibility can we point to where it actually is. Still for all this uncertainty, many complicated and definite calculations are based on these observations of mere illusions.
Latitude and Longitude
These are practically used every hour of the day for the safeguarding of human life and property. But they exist only in the brains of men, for they are not in the sky or on land. They are theoretical divisions made by man, and they are possible only because the sole reality in nature is that which is jeered at by many as the ideal. But if the ancients are said to be the constructors of a great human chart in the Zodiac, the divisions of which have a bearing on the navigation of the great ocean of human evolution, the proud practical man says that you have but shown the ancients to be fanciful, superstitious, grotesque. But they were not so. Doubtless the saying recorded of Jesus about the time when we should see “the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens” will not so far from now be found to have a practical meaning in human life.
The ancient sage was like the modern captain. The captain takes an observation of the illusionary stars and the blazing sun, thus discovering whether his ship is near or far from land. The Sage observed the Zodiac, and from the manner it and its boats were related to each other he was able to calculate whether the human freight in the boat of human evolution was near a rock or on the free, open sea in its eternal and momentous journey.
Sensation of Touch
Every one is accustomed to say that he has touched this or that object on which his fingers may be rested. But this is not so. We do not touch anything; we only perceive and report a sensation which we call touch. If that sensation is due to actual contact between the skin and the object, then the harder we are pressed, and thus the nearer we came to the object’s surface, the more accurate should be the sensation. In fact, however, if we press hard we dull the sensation and turn it into one of pain for the skin. There is always a space between the skin and the surface dealt with, just as there is always a space between the molecules of each mass. If two smooth planes be pushed on to each other they will adhere, and the smoother they are the more difficult it will be to get them apart. If we could actually touch the hand to any surface so as to cover all of it with a touching surface, we could not withdraw the hand at all. All that we get then, by what we call touch is the idea produced by the vibration and by that much of contact as is possible in the case.
Quite Theosophical is the scientist when he says that “we cannot know anything of the actual nature of matter in itself, but can only know the sensation or the phenomena.” The mineral or metal called even the hardest is not solid or continuous in itself. This is now admitted by all scientific men. Even the diamond, “hardest of all,” is a mass of moving molecules made up of like moving atoms. Its hardness is only relative. It is simply harder than glass because its atoms are moving at a more rapid rate. In a recent lecture in London Mr. Bell, a scientific light, told how the edge or point of the diamond cuts the glass because the molecules in the diamond move rapidly and get in between the slower ones of the glass and thus cut it. And so it is with all other masses of matter. They are only masses of molecules in different rates of vibration; none of them solid or hard save in a relative sense. It is not true, then, as so often held by philosophers and so insisted on by those Adepts who gave us information through H.P. BLAVATSKY that the world we are in is to be properly considered in a metaphysical sense and not as a mere mechanism that can be explained on mechanical principles? And in the face of all illusions and all the speculations of life and science, why should the Theosophist be asked to make or give any different sort of proofs than those availed of by science in all its investigations? There is no reason.
Considering how little is known of the sun of this system, it is not to be wondered at that still more is this the case respecting the true sun. Science laughs, of course, at the mystic’s “true sun,” for it sees none other than the one shining in the heavens. This at least they pretend to know, for it rises and sets each day and can be to some extent observed during eclipses or when spots appear on it, and with their usual audacity the 19th century astronomers learnedly declare all that they do not know about the mighty orb, relegating the ancient ideas on the subject to the limbo of superstitious nonsense. It is not to the modern schools that I would go for information on this subject, because in my opinion, however presumptuous it may seem, they really know but little about either Moon or Sun.
A dispute is still going on as to whether the sun throws out heat. * [Among great scientists such as Newton, Seechi, Pouillet, Spaeren, Rosetti, and others, there is a difference as to estimated heat of the sun shown by their figures, for Pouillet says 1,461̊ and Waterston 9,000,000̊ or a variation of 8,998,600̊!]. On one hand it is asserted that he does; on the other, that the heat is produced by the combination of the forces from the sun with the elements on and around this earth. The latter would seem to the mystic to be true. Another difference of opinion exists among modern astronomers as to the distance of the sun from us, leaving the poor mystic to figure it out as he may. Even on the subject of spots on our great luminary, everything nowadays is mere conjecture. It is accepted hypothetically—and no more—that there may be a connection between those spots and electrical disturbances here. Some years ago Nasmyth discovered * [See Source of Heat in the Sun, R. Hunt, FRS. (Pop. Sc. Rev. Vol.,IV, p.148)] objects (or changes) on the photosphere consisting of what he called “willow leaves,” 1000 miles long and 300 miles broad, that constantly moved and appeared to be in shoals. But what are these? No one knows. Science can do no more about informing us than any keen sighted ordinary mortal using a fine telescope. And as to whether these “willow leaves” have any connection with the spots or themselves have relation to earthly disturbances, there is equal silence. To sum it up, then, our scientific men know but little about the visible sun. A few things they must some day find out, such as other effects from sun spots than mere electrical disturbances; the real meaning of sun spots; the meaning of the peculiar colour of the sun sometimes observed—such as that a few years ago attributed to “cosmic dust,” for the want of a better explanation to veil ignorance; and a few other matters of interest.
But we say that this sun they have been examining is not the real one, nor any sun at all, but is only an appearance, a mere reflection to us of part of the true sun. And, indeed, we have some support even from modern astronomers, for they have begun to admit that our entire solar system is in motion around some far off undetermined centre which is so powerful that it attracts our solar orb and thus draws his entire system with him. But they know not if this unknown centre be a sun. They conjecture that it is, but will only assert that it is a centre of attraction for us. Now it may be simply a larger body, or a stronger centre of energy, than the sun, and in turn quite possibly it may be itself revolving about a still more distant and more powerful centre. In this matter the modern telescope and power of calculation are quickly baffled, because they very soon arrive at a limit in the starry field where, all being apparently stationary because of immense distances, there are no means of arriving at a conclusion. All these distant orbs may be in motion, and therefore it cannot be said where the true centre is. Your astronomer will admit that even the constellations in the Zodiac, immovable during ages past, may in truth be moving, but at such enormous and awful distances that for us they appear not to move.
My object, however, is to draw your attention to the doctrine that there is a true sun of which the visible one is a reflection, and that in this true one there is spiritual energy and help, just as our own beloved luminary contains the spring of our physical life and motion. It is useless now to speculate on which of the many stars in the heavens may be the real sun, for I opine it is none of them, since, as I said before, a physical centre of attraction for this system may only be a grade higher than ours, and the servant of a centre still farther removed. We must work in our several degrees, and it is not in our power to overleap one step in the chain that leads to the highest. Our own sun is, then, for us the symbol of the true one he reflects, and by meditating on “the most excellent light of the true sun” we can gain help in our struggle to assist humanity. Our physical sun is for physics, not metaphysics, while that true one shines down within us. The orb of day guards and sustains the animal economy; the true sun shines into us through its medium within our nature. We should then direct our thought to that true sun and prepare the ground within for its influence, just as we do the ground without for the vivifying rays of the King of Day.
In the Buddhist stories are numerous references to umbrellas. When Buddha is said to have granted to his disciples the power of seeing what they called “Buddha Fields,” they saw myriads of Buddhas sitting under trees and jewelled umbrellas. There are not wanting in the Hindu books and monuments references to and representations of umbrellas being held over personages. In a very curious and extremely old stone relievo at the Seven Pagodas in India, showing the conflict between Durga and the demons, the umbrella is figured over the heads of the Chiefs. It is not our intention to exalt this common and useful article to a high place in occultism, but we wish to present an idea in connection with it that has some value for the true student.
In the Upanishads we read the invocation: “Reveal, O Pushan, that face of the true sun which is now hidden by a golden lid.” This has reference to the belief of all genuine occultists, from the earliest times to the present day, that there is a “true sun,” and that the sun we see is a secondary one; or, to put it in plainer language, that there is an influence or power in the sun which may be used if obtained by the mystic, for beneficent purposes, and which, if not guarded, hidden, or obscured by a cover, would work destruction to those who might succeed in drawing it out. This was well known in ancient Chaldea, and also to the old Chinese astronomers: the latter had certain instruments which they used for the purpose of concentrating particular rays of sunlight as yet unknown to modern science and now forgotten by the flowery land philosophers. So much for that sun we see, whose probable death is calculated by some aspiring scientists who deal in absurdities.
But there is the true centre of which the sun in heaven is a symbol and partial reflection. This centre let us place for the time with the Dhyân Chohans or planetary spirits. It is all knowing, and so intensely powerful that, were a struggling disciple to be suddenly introduced to its presence unprepared, he would be consumed both body and soul. And this is the goal we are all striving after, and many of us asking to see even at the opening of the race. But for our protection a cover, or umbrella, has been placed beneath IT. The ribs are the Rishees, or Adepts, or Mâhatmâs; the Elder Brothers of the race. The handle is in every man’s hand. And although each man is, or is to be, connected with some particular one of those Adepts, he can also receive the influence from the true centre coming down through the handle.
The light, life, knowledge, and power falling upon this cover permeate in innumerable streams the whole mass of men beneath, whether they be students or not. As the disciple strives upward, he begins to separate himself from the great mass of human beings, and becomes in a more or less definite manner connected with the ribs. Just as the streams of water flow down from the points of the ribs of our umbrellas, so the spiritual influences pour out from the adepts who form the frame of the protecting cover, without which poor humanity would be destroyed by the blaze from the spiritual world.
It has never been admitted by Orientalists that there existed a key to the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, other than a knowledge of the Sanskrit language in which it is written. Hence our European translators of the poem have given but its philosophical aspect.
But it is believed by many students of theosophy—among them such an authority as H.P. Blavatsky—that there are several keys to the noble poem, and that they have been for the time lost to the world. There has been no less of them in the absolute sense, since they are preserved intact in many rolls and books made of polished stones hidden and guarded in certain underground temples in the East, the location of which would not be divulged by those who know. No search has been made by the profane for these wonderful books, because there is no belief in their existence; and for the sincere student who can project his mental sight in the right direction, there is no need for such discovery of the mere outward form in which those keys are kept.
There is also a key for the Zodiac. The modern astrologers and astronomers have lifted up their puny voices to declare regarding the probable origin of the Zodiac, giving a very commonplace explanation, and some going so far as to speak of the supposed author of it, not that they have named him or given him a distinct place in history, but only referred to the unknown individual. It is very much to be doubted if these modern stargazers would have been able to construct anything whatever in the way of a Zodiac, had they not had this immemorial arrangement of signs ready to hand.
The Bhagavad-Gîtâ and the Zodiac while differing so much from each other in that the one is a book and the other the sun’s path in the heavens are two great storehouses of knowledge which may be construed after the same method. It is very true that the former is now in book shape, but that is only because the necessities of study under conditions which have prevailed for some thousands of years require it, but it exists in the ideal world imbedded in the evolutionary history of the human race. Were all copies of it destroyed tomorrow, the materials for their reconstruction are near at hand and could be re-gathered by those sages who know the realities underlying all appearances. And in the same way the Zodiac could be made over again by the same sages—not, however, by our modern astronomers. The latter no doubt would be able to construct a path of the sun with certain classifications of stars thereon, but it would not be the Zodiac; it would bear but little relation to the great cosmic and microcosmic periods and events which that path really has. They would not apply it as it is found used in old and new almanacs to the individual human being, for they do not know that it can in any way be so connected, since their system hardly admits any actual sympathy between man and the Zodiac, not yet having come to know that man is himself a zodiacal highway through which his own particular sun makes a circuit.
Considering how laughable in the eyes of the highly-educated scientific person of today the singular figures and arrangement of the Zodiac are, it is strange that they have not long ago abolished it all. But they seem unable to do so. For some mysterious reason the almanacs still contain the old signs, and the moon’s periods continue to be referred to these ancient figures. Indeed, modern astronomers still use the old symbology, and give to each new asteroid a symbol precisely in line with the ancient zodiacal marks so familiar to us. They could not abolish them, were the effort to be made.
The student of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ soon begins to feel that there is somewhere a key to the poem, something that will open up clearly the vague thoughts of greater meanings which constantly rise in his mind. After a while he is able to see that in a philosophical and devotional sense the verses are full of meaning, but under it all there runs a deep suggestiveness of some other and grander sweep for its words. This is what the lost key will reveal.
But who has that key or where it is hidden is not yet revealed, for it is said by those who know the Brotherhood that man is not yet in the mass ready for the full explanation to be put into his hands. For the present it is enough for the student to study the path to devotion, which, when found, will lead to that belonging to knowledge.
And so of the Zodiac. As our acquaintance, through devotion and endeavour, with the journey of our own sun through our own human zodiac grows better, we will learn the meaning of the great pilgrimage of the earthly luminary. For it is impossible in this study to learn a little of ourselves without knowing more of the great system of which we are a copy.
For Âtman is the sun,
The Moon also it is;
And the whole collection of stars
Is contained within it.
From ignorance of the truth about man’s real nature and faculties and their action and condition after bodily death, a number of evils flow. The effect of such want of knowledge is much wider than the concerns of one or several persons. Government and the administration of human justice under man-made laws will improve in proportion as there exist a greater amount of information on this all-important subject. When a wide and deep knowledge and belief in respect to the occult side of nature and of man shall have become the property of the people then may we expect a great change in the matter of capital punishment.
The killing of a human being by the authority of the state is morally wrong and also an injury to all the people; no criminal should be executed no matter what the offence. If the administration of the law is so faulty as to permit the release of the hardened criminal before the term of his sentence has expired, that has nothing to do with the question of killing him.
Under Christianity this killing is contrary to the law supposed to have emanated from the Supreme Lawgiver. The commandment is: “Thou shalt not kill!” No exception is made for states or governments; it does not even except the animal kingdom. Under this law therefore it is not right to kill a dog, to say nothing of human beings. But the commandment has always been and still is ignored. The Theology of man is always able to argue away any regulation whatever; and the Christian nations once rioted in executions. At one time stealing a loaf of bread or a few nails a man might be hanged. This, however, has been so altered that death at the hands of the law is imposed for murder only—omitting some unimportant exceptions.
We can safely divide the criminals who have been or will be killed under our laws into two classes: i.e., those persons who are hardened, vicious, murderous in nature; and those who are not so, but who, in a moment of passion, fear, or anger, have slain another. The last may be again divided into those who are sorry for what they did, and those who are not. But even though those of the second class are not by intention enemies of Society, as are the others, they too before their execution may have their anger, resentment, desire for revenge and other feelings besides remorse, all aroused against Society which persecutes them and against those who directly take part in their trial and execution. The nature, passions, state of mind and bitterness of the criminal have, hence, to be taken into account in considering the question. For the condition which he is in when cut off from mundane life has much to do with the whole subject.
All the modes of execution are violent, whether by the knife, the sword, the bullet, by poison, rope, or electricity. And for the Theosophist the term violent as applied to death must mean more than it does to those who do not hold theosophical views. For the latter, a violent death is distinguished from an easy natural one solely by the violence used against the victim. But for us such a death is the violent separation of the man from his body, and is a serious matter, of interest to the whole state. It creates in fact a paradox, for such persons are not dead; they remain with us as unseen criminals, able to do harm to the living and to cause damage to the whole society.
What happens? All the onlooker sees is that the sudden cutting off is accomplished; but what of the reality? A natural death is like the falling of a leaf near the winter time. The time is fully ripe, all the powers of the leaf having separated; those acting no longer, its stem has but a slight hold on the branch and the slightest wind takes it away. So with us; we begin to separate our different inner powers and parts one from the other because their full term has ended, and when the final tremor comes the various inner component parts of the man fall away from each other and let the soul go free. But the poor criminal has not come to the natural end of his life. His astral body is not ready to separate from his physical body, nor is the vital, nervous energy ready to leave. The entire inner man is closely knit together, and he is the reality. I have said these parts are not ready to separate—they are in fact not able to separate because they are bound together by law and a force over which only great Nature has control.
When then the mere physical body is so treated that a sudden, premature separation from the real man is effected, he is merely dazed for a time, after which he wakes up in the atmosphere of the earth, fully a sentient living being save for the body. He sees the people, he sees and feels again the pursuit of him by the law. His passions are alive. He has become a raging fire, a mass of hate; the victim of his fellows and of his own crime. Few of us are able, even under favourable circumstances, to admit ourselves as wholly wrong and to say that punishment inflicted on us by man is right and just, and the criminal has only hate and desire for revenge.
If now we remember that his state of mind was made worse by his trial and execution, we can see that he has become a menace to the living. Even if he be not so bad and full of revenge as said, he is himself the repository of his own deeds; he carries with him into the astral realm surrounding us the pictures of his crimes, and these are ever living creatures, as it were. In any case he is dangerous. Floating as he does in the very realm in which our mind and senses operate, he is for ever coming in contact with the mind and senses of the living. More people than we suspect are nervous and sensitive. If these sensitives are touched by this invisible criminal they have injected into them at once the pictures of his crime and punishment, the vibrations from his hate, malice and revenge. Like creates like, and thus these vibrations create their like. Many a person has been impelled by some unknown force to commit crime; and that force came from such an inhabitant of our sphere.
And even with those not called “sensitive” these floating criminals have an effect, arousing evil thoughts where any basis for such exist in those individuals. We cannot argue away the immense force of hate, revenge, fear, vanity, all combined. Take the case of Guiteau, who shot President Garfield. He went through many days of trial. His hate, anger and vanity were aroused to the highest pitch every day and until the last, and he died full of curses for every one who had anything to do with his troubles. Can we be so foolish as to say that all the force he thus generated was at once dissipated? Of course it was not. In time it will be transformed into other forces, but during the long time before that takes place the living Guiteau will float through our mind and senses carrying with him and dragging over us the awful pictures drawn and frightened passions engendered.
The Theosophist who believes in the multiple nature of man and in the complexity of his inner nature, and knows that that is governed by law and not by mere chance or by the fancy of those who prate of the need for protecting society when they do not know the right way to do it, relying only on the punitive and retaliatory Mosaic law—will oppose capital punishment. He sees it as unjust to the living, a danger to the state, and that it allows no chance whatever for any reformation of the criminal.
Jacob Boehme (or as some say Behmen) was a German mystic and spiritualist who began to write in the 17th century. In his work he inserted a picture of an angel blowing a trumpet, from which issued these words: “To all Christians, Jews, Turks and Heathens, to all nations of the earth this Trumpet sounds for the last time.” In truth it was a curious emblem, but he, the author, was a mystic, and as all experience shows, the path of the mystic is a strange one. It is, as Job says, a path which the “vulture knoweth not.” Even as a bird cleaves the eternal ether, so the mystic advances on a path not ordinary manifest, a way which must be followed with care, because like the Great Light, which flashes forth and leaves only traces when it returns again to its centre, only indications are left for those who come after seeking the same spiritual wisdom. Yet by these “traces,” for such they are called in the Kabbala, the way can be discerned, and the truth discovered.
Boehme was poor, of common birth, and totally devoid of ordinary education. He was only a shoemaker. Yet from the mind and out of the mouth of this unlettered man came mighty truths.
It would be idle to enquire into the complications of Karma which condemned him to such a life as his appeared to be. It must have been extremely curious, because though he had grasped the truth and was able to appreciate it, yet at the same time he could not give it out in its perfect form. But he performed his work, and there can be no manner of doubt about his succeeding incarnation. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, he has been already or will shortly be “born into a family of wise devotees”; and thence “he will attain the highest walk.”
His life and writings furnish another proof that the great wisdom-religion—the Secret Doctrine—has never been left without a witness. Born a Christian, he nevertheless saw the esoteric truth lying under the moss and crust of centuries, and from the Christian Bible extracted for his purblind fellows those pearls which they refused to accept. But he did not get his knowledge from the Christian Scriptures only. Before his internal eye the panorama of real knowledge passed. His interior vision being open he could see the things he had learned in a former life, and at first not knowing what they were was stimulated by them to construe his only spiritual books in the esoteric fashion. His brain took cognizance of the Book before him, but his spirit aided by his past, and perchance by the living guardians of the shining lamp of truth, could not but read them aright.
His work was called “The Dawning of the Eternal Day.” In this he endeavours to outline the great philosophy. He narrates the circumstances and reasons for the angelic creation, the fall of its chief three hierarchies, and the awful effects which thereupon fell upon Eternal Nature. Mark this, not upon man —for he was not yet—but upon the eternal Nature, that is BRAHM. Then he says that these effects came about by reason of the unbalancing of the seven equipoised powers or forces of the Eternal Nature or Brahm. That is to say, that so long as the seven principles of Brahm were in perfect poise, there was no corporeal or manifested universe. So in the Bhagavad-Gîtâ we find that Krishna tells Arjuna that “after the lapse of a thousand ages (or Night of Brahm) all objects of developed matter come forth from the non-developed principle. At the approach of that day they emanate spontaneously.” (Bhagavad-Gîtâ, Chap. 8) Such is the teaching of the Secret Doctrine.
And again Boehme shows the duality of the Supreme Soul. For he says in his work “Psychologia Vera cum Supplemento” that these two eternal principles of positive and negative, the yea and the nay of the outspeaking Supreme One, together constitute eternal nature—not the dark world alone, which is termed the “root of nature”—the two being as it were combined in perfect indissoluble union.
This is nothing else but Purush and Prakriti, or taken together, what is referred to in the Bhagavid-Gîtâ where it is said: “But there is another invisible, eternal existence, superior to this visible one, which does not perish when all things perish. It is called invisible and indivisible. This is my Supreme Abode.”
Clearly the Supreme Abode could never be in Purush alone, nor in Prakriti alone, but in both when indissolubly united.
This scheme is adhered to all through this great philosopher’s works, no matter whether he is speaking of the great Universe or macrocosm, or of its antitype in man or microcosm. In “De Tribus Princiis” he treats of the three principles or worlds of Nature, describing its eternal birth, its seven properties, and the two co-eternal principles; and furthermore in “De Triplici Vitâ Hominis” he gives the threefold life of man from which the seven is again deduced.
In “De Electione Gratiâ” he goes into a subject that often proves a stumbling block to many, and that is the inevitableness of evil as well as of good. From this it is easy to pass to a contemplation of one of the difficult points in occultism as shown in the Secret Doctrine, that nothing is evil, and that even if we admit evil or wickedness in man, it is of the nature of the quality or guna, which in the Bhagavad-Gîtâ is denominated ............. or raja—foulness or bad action. Even this is better than the indifferent action that only leads to death. Even from wickedness may and does come forth spiritual life, but from indifferent action comes only darkness, and finally death.
Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gîtâ, Chap. IV: “There are three kinds of action; first that which is of the nature of Satyam, or true action; second, that which is of the nature of Tamas, or indifferent action.” He then says: “Although thou were the greatest of all offenders, thou shalt be able to cross the gulf of sin in the bark of spiritual wisdom”; and a little farther on “The ignorant and the man without faith, whose spirit is full of doubt, is lost and cannot enjoy either world.” And in another chapter in describing Himself, he says that he is not only the Buddha, but also is the most evil of mankind or the Asura.
This is one of the most mystical parts of the whole secret doctrine. While Boehme has touched on it sufficiently to show that he had a memory of it, he did not go into the most occult details. It has to be remembered that the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, and many other books treating on the Secret Doctrine, must be regarded from seven points of view: and that imperfect man is not able to look at it from the centre, which would give the whole seven points at once.
Boehme wrote about thirty different treatises, all of them devoted to great subjects, portions of the Secret Doctrine.
Curiously enough the first treated of the “Dawn of the Eternal Day,” and the second was devoted to an elucidation of the “The Three Principles of Man.” In the latter is really to be found a sevenfold classification similar to that which Mr. Sinnett propounded in “Esoteric Buddhism.”
He held that the greatest obstacle in the path of man is the astral or elementary power, which engenders and sustains this world.
Then he talks of “tinctures,” which we may call principles. According to him there are two principal ones, the watery, and the igneous. These ought to be united in Man; and they ardently seek each other continually, in order to be identified with Sophia or Divine Wisdom. Many Theosophists will see in this a clue not only to the two principles—or tinctures—which ought to be united in man, but also to a law which obtains in many of the phenomena of magic. But even if I were able, I should not speak on this more clearly.
For many inquirers the greatest interest in these works will be found in his hypothesis as to the birth of the material Universe. On the evolution of man from spirit into matter he has much more than I could hope to glance at. In nearly all of it he was outlining and illustrating the Secret Doctrine. The books indicated are well worthy of study not only by Western but also by Eastern metaphysicians. Let us add a few sentences to support this hypothesis from Count Saint Martin, who was a devoted student of these works.
“Jacob Boehme took for granted the existence of an Universal Principle; he was persuaded that everything is connected in the immense chain of truths, and that the Eternal Nature reposed on seven principles or bases, which he sometime calls powers, forms, spiritual wheels, sources, and fountains, and that those seven bases exist also in this disordered material nature, under constraint. His nomenclature, adopted for these fundamental relations, ran thus: The first astringency, the second gall or bitterness, the third anguish, the fourth fire, the fifth light, the sixth sound, and the seventh he called BEING or the thing itself.”
The reader may have begun to think the author did not rightly comprehend the first six but his definition of the seventh shows he was right throughout, and we may conclude the real meanings are concealed under these names.
“The third principle, anguish, attenuates the astringent one, turns it into water, and allows a passage to fire, which was shut up in the astringent principle.” There are in this many suggestions and a pursuit of them will repay the student.
“Now the Divine Sophia caused a new order to take birth in the centre of our system, and there burned our sun; from that do come forth all kinds of qualities, forms and powers. This centre is the separator.” It is well known that from the sun was taken by the ancients all kinds of power; and if we mistake not, the Hindus claim that when the Fathers enter into Para-Nirvâna, their accumulated goodness pours itself out on the world through the “Door of the Sun.”
The Bhagavad-Gîtâ says, that the Lord of all dwells in the region of the heart, and again that this Lord is also the Sun of the world.
“The earth is a condensation of the seven primordial principles, and by the withdrawal of eternal light this became a dark valley.” It is taught in the East, that this world is a valley and that we are in it, our bodies reaching to the moon, being condensed to hardness at the point where we are on the earth, thus becoming visible to the eye of man. There is a mystery in this statement, but not such an one as cannot be unravelled.
Boehme proceeds: “When the light mastered the fire at the place of the sun, the terrible shock of the battle engendered an igneous eruption by which there shot forth from the sun a stormy and frightful flash of fire—Mars. Taken captive by light it assumed a place, and there it struggles furiously, a pricking goad, whose office is to agitate all nature, producing reaction. It is the gall of nature. The gracious, amiable Light, having enchained unerupted Mars, proceeded by its own power to the bottom or end of the rigidity of Nature, whence unable to proceed further it stopped, and became corporeal; remaining there it warms that place, and although a valet in nature, it is the source of sweetness and the moderator of Mars.
“Saturn does not originate from the sun, but was produced from the severe astringent anguish of the whole body of this Universe. Above Jupiter the sun could not mitigate the horror, and out of that arose Saturn, who is the opposite of meekness, and who produces whatever of rigidity there is in the creatures, including bones, and what in normal nature corresponds thereto.” (This is all the highest astrology, from one who had no knowledge of it). “As in the Sun is the heart of life, so by Saturn commenceth all corporeal nature. Thus in these two resides the power of the whole universal body, and without their power there could be no creation nor any corporification.
“Venus originates in effuvia from the Sun. She lights the unctuosity of the water of the Universe, penetrates hardness, and enkindles love.
“Mercury is the chief worker in the planetary wheel; he is sound, and wakes up the germs in everything. His origin, the triumph of Light over Astringency (in which sound was shut up silent), set free the sound by the attenuation of the astringent power.”
It is certain that if this peculiar statement regarding Mercury is understood, the student will have gained a high point of knowledge. A seductive bait is here held out to those striving disciples who so earnestly desire to hold converse with the elemental world. But there is no danger, for all the avenues are very secret and only the pure can prevail in the preliminary steps.
Boehme says again: “The Mercury is impregnated and fed continually by the solar substance; that in it is found the knowledge of what was in the order above, before Light had penetrated to the solar centre.”
As to the Moon, it is curious to note that he says, “she was produced from the sun itself, at the time of his becoming material, and that the moon is his spouse.” Students of the story of Adam being made to sleep after his creation and before coats of skin were given when Eve was produced from his side, will find in this a strong hint.
The above is not by any means a complete statement of Boehme’s system. In order to do justice to it, a full analysis of all his works should be undertaken. However, it is sufficient if thoughtful minds who have not read Boehme, shall turn to him after reading this, or if but one earnest reader of his works, or seeker after wisdom, shall receive even a hint that may lead to a clearing up of doubts, or to the acquisition of one new idea. Count Saint Martin continually read him ; and the merest glance at the “Theosophic Correspondence” or, “Man—His Nature, &c.,” of Saint Martin, will show that from that study he learned much. How much more then will the Western mind be aided by the light shed on both by the lamp of Theosophical teachings.
“Let the desire of the pious be fulfilled.”
For many years it has been customary to regard that collection of interesting stories called “The Arabian Nights,” as pure fiction arising out of Oriental brains at a time when every ruler had his storyteller to amuse him or to put him to sleep. But many a man who has down in his heart believed in the stories he heard in his youth about fairies and ghosts, but felt a revival of his young fancies upon perusing these tales of prodigies and magic. Others, however, have laughed at them as pure fables, and the entire scientific world does nothing but preserve contemptuous silence.
The question here to be answered by men of science is how did such ideas arise? Taking them on their own ground, one must believe that with so much smoke there must at one time have been some fire. Just as the prevalence of a myth—such as the Devil or Serpent myth—over large numbers of people or vast periods of time points to the fact that there must have been something, whatever it was, that gave rise to the idea.
In this enquiry our minds range over that portion of the world which is near the Red Sea, Arabia and Persia, and we are brought very close to places, now covered with water, that once formed part of ancient Lemuria. The name Red Sea may have arisen from the fact that it was believed really to cover hell: and its lower entrance at the island of Perim is called “Babel Mandeb,” or “the Gate of Hell.” This Red Sea plays a prominent part in the Arabian Nights tales and has some significance. We should also recollect that Arabia once had her men of science, the mark of whose minds has not yet been effaced from our own age. These men were many of them magicians, and they learned their lore either from the Lemurian Adepts, or from the Black Magicians of the other famous land of Atlantis.
We may safely conclude that the Arabian Nights stories are not all pure fiction, but are the faint reverberations of a louder echo which reached their authors from the times of Lemuria and Atlantis.
Solomon is now and then mentioned in them, and Solomon, wherever he was, has always been reckoned as a great adept. The Jewish Cabala and Talmud speak of Solomon with great reverence. His power and the power of the seal—the interlaced triangles—constantly crop up among the other magical processes adverted to in these tales. And in nearly all cases where he is represented as dealing with wicked genii, he buried them in the Red Sea. Now if Solomon is a Jewish King far away in Palestine, how did he get down to the Red Sea, and where is there any mention made of his travelling at all? These genii were elemental spirits, and Solomon is merely a name standing for the vast knowledge of magic arts possessed by adepts at a time buried in the darkness of the past. In one tale, a fisherman hauls up a heavy load, which turns out to be a large iron pot, with a metal cover, on which was engraved Solomon’s Seal. The unlucky man opened the pot, when at once a vapour rose out of it that spread itself over the whole heavens at first, and then condensed again into a monstrous form who addressed the fisher saying, that ages before he had been confined there by Solomon; that after two hundred years he swore he would make rich the man lucky enough to let him out; after five hundred years that he would reward his liberator with power; but after one thousand years of captivity he would kill the one who should free him. Then he ordered the man to prepare for death. The fisherman, however, said he doubted that the genii had really been in the pot as he was too large. To prove that he had been, the spirit immediately assumed the vaporous condition and slowly with spiral motion sank into the iron pot again, when at once the fisherman clapped on the cover and was about to cast him back into the sea. The djin then begged for mercy and agreed to serve the man and not to kill him, whereupon he was released.
Many persons will laugh at this story. But no one who has seen the wonders of spiritualism, or who knows that at this day there are many persons in India, as well as elsewhere who have dealings with elemental spirits that bring them objects instantaneously, &c., will laugh before reflecting on the circumstances.
Observe that the pot in which he was confined was made of metal, and that the talismanic seal was on the cover. The metal prevented him from making magnetic connection for the purpose of escaping, and the seal on the cover barred that way. There were no marks on the sides of the pot. His spreading himself into a vast vapour shows that he was one of the elementals of the airy kingdom—the most beautiful and malignant; and his malignancy is shown in the mean, ungrateful oath he took to destroy whomsoever should be his liberator. His spreading into vapour, instead of at once springing out of the pot, refers to his invisibility, for we see that in order to enter it he was compelled to assume his vaporous state, in which he again put himself into the pot.
In another story we see a young man visiting an elemental of the nature of a Succubus, who permits him now and then to go out and perform wonders. But the entrance of her retreat is unseen and kept invisible to others. In India there are those who are foolish enough to make magnetic connection with elementals of this class, by means of processes which we will not detail here. The elemental will then at your wish instantaneously produce any article which the operator may have touched, no matter how far away it may be or how tightly locked up. The consequences of this uncanny partnership are very injurious to the human partner. The records of spiritualism in America will give other cases of almost like character, sufficient to show that a compact can be entered into between a human being and an intelligence or force outside of our sensuous perceptions.
In other stories various people have power over men and animals, and the forces of nature. They change men into animals and do other wonders. When they wish to cause the metamorphosis, they dash a handful of water into the unfortunate’s face crying: “Quit that form of man and assume the form of a dog.” The terrible Maugraby is a Black Magician, such as can now be found in Bhootan, who had changed many persons, and the story of his destruction shows that his life and power as well as his death lay in the nasty practices of Black Magic. When the figure and the talisman were destroyed he was also. The white magician has no talisman but his Ătman, and as that cannot be destroyed, he is beyond all fear.
But this paper is already too long. We are not forcing a conclusion when we say that these admirable and amusing tales are not all fiction. There is much nonsense in them, but they have come to us from the very land—now bleak and desolate—where at one time the fourth race men held sway and dabbled in both White and Black Magic.
“On the shore stood Hiawatha,
Turned and waved his hand at parting;
On the clear and luminous water
Launched his birch canoe for sailing,
From the pebbles of the margin
Shoved it forth into the water;
Whispered to it, ‘Westward! Westward!’
And with speed it darted forward.
And the evening sun descending
Set the clouds on fire with redness,
Burned the broad sky, like a prairie,
Left upon the level water
One long track and trail of splendour,
Down whose stream, as down a river,
Westward, Westward Hiawatha
Sailed into the fiery sunset,
Sailed into the purple vapours,
Sailed into the dusk of evening.
Thus departed Hiawatha,
Hiawatha the beloved, * *
To the Islands of the Blessed.”
That which men call death is but a change of location for the Ego, a mere transformation, a forsaking for a time of the moral frame, a short period of rest before one reassumes another human frame in the world of mortals. The Lord of this body is nameless; dwelling in numerous tenements of clay, it appears to come and go; but neither death nor time can claim it, for it is deathless, unchangeable and pure, beyond Time itself, and not to be measured. So our old friend and fellow-worker has merely passed for a short time out of sight, but has not given up the work begun so many ages ago—the uplifting of humanity, the destruction of the shackles that enslave the human mind.
I met H.P.B in 1875 in the city of New York where she was living in Irving Place. There she suggested the formation of the Theosophical Society, lending to its beginning the power of her individuality and giving to its President and those who have stood by it ever since the knowledge of the existence of the Blessed Masters. In 1877 she wrote Isis Unveiled in my presence, and helped in the proof reading by the President of the Society. This book she declared to me then was intended to aid the cause for the advancement of which the Theosophical Society was founded. Of this I speak with knowledge, for I was present and at her request drew up the contract for its publication between her and her New York publisher. When that document was signed she said to me in the street, “Now I must go to India.”
In November, 1878, she went to India and continued the work of helping her colleagues to spread the Society’s influence there, working in that mysterious land until she returned to London in 1887. There was then in London but one Branch of the Society—the London Lodge—the leaders of which thought it should work only with the upper and cultured classes. The effect of H.P.B’s coming there was that Branches began to spring up, so that now they are in many English towns, in Scotland, and in Ireland. There she founded her magazine Lucifer, there worked night and day for the Society loved by the core of her heart, there wrote the Secret Doctrine, the Key to Theosophy, and the Voice of the Silence, and there passed away from a body that had been worn out by unselfish work for the good of the few of our century but of the many in the centuries to come.
It has been said by detractors that she went to India because she merely left a barren field here, by sudden impulse and without a purpose. But the contrary is the fact. In the very beginning of the Society I drew up with my own hand at her request the diplomas of some members here and there in India who were in correspondence and were of different faiths. Some of them were Parsees. She always said she would have to go to India as soon as the Society was under way here and Isis should be finished. And when she had been in India some time, her many letters to me expressed her intention to return to England so as to open the movement actively and outwardly there in order that the three great points on the World’s surface—India, England and America— should have active centres of Theosophical work. This determination was expressed to me before the attempt made by the Psychical Research Society on her reputation—of which also I know a good deal to be used at a future time, as I was present in India before and after the alleged exposé—and she returned to England to carry out her purpose even in the face of charges that she could not stay in India. But to disprove these she went back to Madras, and then again rejourneyed to London.
That she always knew what would be done by the world in the way of slander and abuse I also know, for in 1875 she told me that she was then embarking on a work that would draw upon her unmerited slander, implacable malice, uninterrupted misunderstanding, constant work, and no worldly reward. Yet in the face of this her lion heart carried her on. Nor was she unaware of the future of the Society. In 1876 she told me in detail the course of the Society’s growth for future years, of its infancy, of its struggles, of its rise into the “luminous zone” of the public mind; and these prophecies are being all fulfilled.
Much has been said about her “phenomena,” some denying them, others alleging trick and device. Knowing her for so many years so well, and having seen at her hands in private the production of more and more varied phenomena than it has been the good fortune of all others of her friends put together to see, I know for myself that she had control of hidden powerful laws of nature not known to our science, and I also know that she never boasted of her powers, never advertised their possession, never publicly advised anyone to attempt their acquirement, but always turned the eyes of those who could understand her to a life of altruism based on a knowledge of true philosophy. If the world thinks that her days were spent in deluding her followers by pretended phenomena, it is solely because her injudicious friends, against her expressed wish, gave out wonderful stories of “miracles” which cannot be proved to a sceptical public and which are not the aim of the Society nor were ever more than mere incidents in the life of H.P. BLAVATSKY.
Her aim was to elevate the race. Her method was to deal with the mind of the century as she found it, by trying to lead it on step by step; to seek out and educate a few who, appreciating the majesty of the Secret Doctrine and devoted to “the great orphan Humanity,” could carry on her work with zeal and wisdom; to found a Society whose efforts—however small itself might be—would inject into the thought of the day the ideas, the doctrines, the nomenclature of the Wisdom Religion, so that when the next century shall have seen its 75th year the new messenger coming again into the world would find the Society still at work, the ideas sown broadcast, the nomenclature ready to give expression and body to the immutable truth, and thus to make easy the task which for her since 1875 was so difficult and so encompassed with obstacles in the very paucity of the language—obstacles harder than all else to work against.
The Convention Speeches of London, 1892
I will now very earnestly and respectfully ask you to give your attention to myself. As chairman of this meeting, as chairman of the Convention which has just closed, as the General Secretary of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, and as one of those who, with Colonel Olcott, and Madame Blavatsky, founded the Theosophical Society seventeen years ago, I have been asked to speak to you a little about the Theosophical Society. Last year Colonel Olcott himself, as the President-Founder of the Society, addressed a similar meeting, but of course I will not say what he said, nor shall I go over the same ground.
Now the Theosophical Society was, as I said founded seventeen years ago, in the city of New York, in America. When it was started, a stream of jokes in the newspapers, laughter, ridicule of every kind, greeted it and people thought, “This new thing, this new fad, in our faddy country, will soon expire.” But you see that although many of those who joined us from the spiritualist body have disappeared from our ranks, we have still a few delegates to present to you tonight as representing the Society. It is a Society which now extends all over the civilised world, and into many parts of what you are pleased to call the uncivilized world.
This Theosophical Society was started by Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott, as I said; and she and he worked together in it with some of us unflinchingly, she as much as he. Her life on this earth has been ended. But Colonel Olcott is still living, and working for the Society in India. To him we must give the greatest credit, for he has worked against all sorts of opposition, both within and without the Society; and without him as a bold and fearless pioneer we should not have reached the influence which we have now attained. So we have all been giving him credit today, and we wish you to remember him. Whether you belong to our society or not, or whether you believe as we do or not, all present must approve a fearless man. (Cheers).
The Theosophical Society has three objects. Those objects are: first, to found the nucleus of a universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, class, sex, colour, or previous condition. This is our first and our most important object; this is our only creed. It admits belief in any particular creed. It does not say you must give up this, that, or the other—except what is bad and immoral. It asks you only to accept the idea that universal brotherhood is a thing we should strive for. And, in order to give support to that hitherto Utopian idea, it has two other objects; one of which is to study, investigate, look into, the philosophies and religions of the past, for that includes the present, because our philosophy and our religion have grown out of the past, it is but a counterfeit presentment of which the ancients knew and taught, and you have nothing of your own that is particularly new. Today, as of old, in the time of Solomon, it is true that there is nothing new in this world under the sun. We thought that the second object was important, because, while we are looking into the religions and philosophies of the past and present we shall perhaps discover the one truth which must underlie all systems of religion and philosophy. We have come to believe that all systems of religion, Buddhism, Brahmanism, Confucianism, what you call Christianity, all rest on one basis, all flow from one old school. And if we can cut away the husks, the crusts, about this central truth, we shall at last have arrived at the truth about it. The only revelation which is possible is the revelation which comes to man by his own experience, by his own effort, by his own suffering. He learns in no other way, and all the revealed books of the past are revelations from the human heart and soul to itself.
Our third object, to support these other two, because we are living in the world surrounded by phenomena, is to investigate the psychical laws that govern man and nature. With these three objects we have covered the whole field. By the first we embrace progress in social life. If it were attained and made real it would cure all the evils that legislation vainly attempts to cope with, and which legislation hitherto has failed in any way to cure. The last one, the investigation of psychical laws of man and nature, you may say has not been pursued by us. But we think it has been pursued by us in the proper way. We have in London and in America what people call the Psychical Research Society, which engages itself with what it grandly calls investigation into psychical phenomena, consisting, as far as my experience goes, in recording a number of dreams, visions, apparitions and thoughts, in the mass not so large as we have had before; but they give no explanation. We have discovered in the investigation of the ancient philosophies that they have thought out all the psychological laws of nature, and have given a system of philosophy which is scientific and explains them all. Some have been investigating this system of philosophy, so that when we come to look at the things about us we may be able to explain them without going to the trouble of making a lot of books recording these things without any explanation. We are, therefore, pursuing the last object in the proper way. Then we are prepared to show that we have discovered in this and other countries that certain faculties are coming out which are of a dangerous character. Psychical characteristics are showing themselves more than ever before. In my country I know (I have had it brought to my attention in print as well as by words) that men and women are striving to exercise the powers which are indicated by what you call telepathy and hypnotism, for selfish purposes and for nothing else. Theosophy teaches us that it is a dangerous thing to go into phenomena of this character unless you have first prepared the ground by showing men why they should be moral, why they should not practise these things for selfish purposes. For we consider that those who practise telepathy, hypnotism, and the like, for their own selfish ends, are just as immoral as the dynamiter or the burglar. We think you have no right to burglarize the mind of another; and we know many men and women in this city and in other cities who would break open the minds of their fellows to discover secrets for their own profit.
The Theosophical Society has been investigating these three objects in a philosophical and scientific manner, and all we ask of any one who wishes to join us is that he should believe in and attempt to practise “Universal Brotherhood,” so that we may begin to form the nucleus around which the real brotherhood may at last accumulate itself.
I have said that the Theosophical Society extends all over the world. I have seen it in India, America, and this country. It is in Africa, it is in New Zealand, it is in the Isles of Europe about the various seas. It is all over India, and is connected there not only with bodies which are visible, but with bodies of men who keep themselves unknown. It is connected there with societies counting thousands upon thousands of men in their ranks, and they are all devoted to high purposes. They are not the heathen you think they are, but worshippers of a single God or spirit, and, as St. Paul has said to you, “an unknown God.” That is the Christian God, for the Christian Bible says you cannot discover or find out God. If you cannot discover or find Him out you cannot describe Him, or give Him attributes. And the poor heathen says, “We cannot discover Him, or find Him, but we attempt to follow a high ideal”; and they are not the miserable heathen you think them.
This Society then embraces Europe, Asia, Africa, and America—and this has been done in seventeen years. Do you consider that we have been snuffed out or that we have failed? I think not. We have succeeded against opposition such as no Society in this country has succeeded against. The press and the pulpit have attacked us without reason, have libelled us, and told lies about us. But we forgive them because we are weak human beings as they are, and we know the right will prevail; that is, justice will prevail; and we have enormous confidence that this Theosophical Movement will be the greater movement of this or any other century, small as it seems today and weak as we appear to you to be. (Cheers)
The Theosophical Society is without a creed, but any society devoting itself to a definite object must at last accumulate within its ranks a number of members who all think more or less alike; and that is just what has happened in the Theosophical Society. A great many of us, the majority I will frankly say, think about alike, but not because we have forced belief into each other. We have come together and said to each other, “Here are these ideas,” and it has resulted in the majority having come to one conclusion. But the Society is always free and open. It has no dogmas. The doctrines we have put principally forward among a great many others for investigation cover everything; we are so presumptuous as to say that Theosophy is large enough to cover all Science and all Religion, to make indeed Science religious, and Religion scientific (cheers)—but among all these doctrines we think there is a truth of the highest importance to humanity, because sorrow prevails everywhere, and we are attempting by our Society’s work to find a cure for sorrow. We think that evils will never be cured by legislation. You have been legislating all these long years and have not succeeded. We have still our strikes, our sorrows, our poverty. We began without anything against us in America, and today there is the same thing there as here. As one of our great investigators of criminal records says, crime in America is worse than in England in proportion. With all your legislation, here is the same evil, and so we bring principally forward three doctrines which we think of the highest importance.
The first is Justice; we call it Karma; you can call it Justice, but the old Sanskrit word is Karma. It is that you will reap the result of what you do. If you do good you will get good; if you do evil you will get evil. But it is said that man does not get his deserts in many cases. That is true under the old theory. But the next step is that we bring forward out of Christianity, Buddhism, Brahmanism, that doctrine under which it becomes true, and that is Reincarnation. This means we are all spiritually immortal beings, and in order to receive our deserts we must all come to the place where we have done the good or the evil, so that today you have come to this life from some other life. If you have been good you are happy, if you have been evil you are unhappy, just because you lived in a corresponding way in that life. And if you are not caught up within this life you will be caught up within the next one which is coming. For after you die you have a slight period of rest, and then return to this civilisation which you have made, and for which you are responsible, and for which you will suffer if its evils are not eliminated.
And the next doctrine is that all these spiritual beings in these bodies are united together in fact, not in theory; that you are all made of one substance; that our souls vibrate together, feel for each other, suffer for each other, and enjoy for each other; so that in far China people are suffering for the evils of people in London, and people in London are suffering for the evils of people in China, and in New York the same. We are all bound together with a bond we cannot break, and that is the essential unity of the human family; it is the basis of the universal brotherhood.
We bring these three doctrines prominently forward because ethics must have a basis not in fear, not in command, not in statute law, but in the man himself. And when he knows that he is united with everyone else, and is responsible for the progress of his brother, he will then come to act according to right ethics. And until he so believes he will not, and our sorrows will increase and revolutions will come on, blood will be shed, and you will only rise then out of the ruins of that civilization which you hoped to make the grandest that the world has ever seen.
We hope that the day will soon come when these doctrines will be believed and practised, which this movement, called the Theosophical movement, has thus brought prominently forward. (Cheers)
The death of H.P. BLAVATSKY should have the effect on the Society of making the work go on with increased vigour free from all personalities. The movement was not started for the glory of any person, but for the elevation of Mankind. The organisation is not affected as such by her death for her official position were those of Corresponding Secretary and President of the European Section. The Constitution has long provided that after her death the office of Corresponding Secretary should not be filled. The vacancy in the European Section will be filled by election in that Section, as that is matter with which only the European Branches have to deal. She held no position in the exoteric American Section, and had no jurisdiction over it in any way. Hence there is no vacancy to fill and no disturbance to be felt in the purely corporate part of the American work. The work here is going on as it always has done, under the efforts of its members who now will draw their inspiration from the books and works of H.P.B and from the purity of their own motive.
All that the Society needs now to make it the great power it was intended to be is first, solidarity, and second, Theosophical education. These are wholly in the hands of its members. The first gives that resistless strength which is found only in Union, the second gives that judgement and wisdom needed to properly direct energy and zeal.
Read these words from H.P Blavatsky’s Key to Theosophy:
“If the present attempt in the form of our Society succeeds better than its predecessors have done, then it will be in existence as an organized, living, and healthy body when the time comes for the effort of the XXth century. The general condition of men’s minds and hearts will have been improved and purified by the spread of its teachings, and, as I have said, their prejudices and dogmatic illusions will have been, to some extent, at least, removed. Not only so, but besides a large and accessible literature ready to men’s hands, the next impulse will find a numerous and united body of people ready to welcome the new torchbearer of Truth. He will find the minds of men prepared for his message, a language ready for him in which to clothe the new truths he brings, an organisation awaiting his arrival which will remove the merely mechanical material obstacles and difficulties from his path. Think how much one to whom such an opportunity is given could approach. Measure it by comparison with what the Theosophical Society actually has achieved in the last fourteen years without any of these advantages and surrounded by hosts of hindrances which would not hamper the new leader. Consider all this and then tell me whether I am too sanguine when I say that, if the Theosophical Society survives and lives true to its mission, to its original impulse, through the next hundred years—tell me, I say, if I go too far in asserting that this earth will be a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it is now!”
“Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.”
In 1888 H. P. Blavatsky wrote: [See Lucifer for June 1891, p.291.] “Night before last I was shown a bird’s eye view of the Theosophical Societies. I saw a few earnest reliable theosophists in a death struggle with the world in general and with other—nominal and ambitious—theosophists. The former are greater in number than you may think, and they prevailed—as you in America will prevail, if you only remain staunch to the Master’s programme and true to yourselves. And last night I saw .... The defending forces have to be judiciously—so scanty are they—distributed over the globe wherever theosophy is struggling with the powers of darkness.”
And in the Key to Theosophy:
“If the present attempt in the form of our Society succeeds better than its predecessors have done, then it will be in existence as an organised living and healthy body when the time comes for the effort of the twentieth century. Not only so, but besides a large and accessible literature ready to men’s hands, the next impulse will find a numerous and united body of people ready to welcome the new torchbearer of truth. He will find the minds of men prepared for his message, a language ready for him in which to clothe the new truth he brings, an organization awaiting his arrival which will remove the merely mechanical material obstacles and difficulties from his path. Think how much one to whom such an opportunity is given could accomplish. Measure it by comparison with what the Theosophical Society actually has achieved in the last fourteen years without any of these advantages and surrounded by hosts of hindrances which would not hamper the new leader.”
Every member of the Society should be, and many are, deeply interested in the above words. The outlook, the difficulties, the dangers, the necessities are the same now as then, and as they were in the beginning of this attempt in 1875. For, as she has often said, this is not the first nor will it be the last effort to spread the truths and to undertake the same mission as that taken up by Ammonius Saccas some centuries ago—to lead men to look for the one truth that underlies all religions and which alone can guide science in the direction of ideal progress. In every century such attempts are made, and many of them have been actually named “theosophical.” Each time they have to be adapted to the era in which they appear. And this is the era—marked by the appearance and the success of the great American republic—of freedom for thought and for investigation.
In the first quotation there is a prophecy that those few reliable theosophists who are engaged in a struggle with the opposition of the world and that coming from weak or ambitious members will prevail, but it has annexed to it a condition that is of importance. There must be an adherence to the programme of the Masters. That can only be ascertained by consulting her and the letters given out by her as from those to whom she refers. There is not much doubt about that programme. It excludes the idea that the Society was founded or intended as “a School for Occultism,” for that has been said in so many words long ago in some letters published by Mr. Sinnett and in those not published.
Referring to a letter received (1884) from the same source we find: “Let the Society flourish on its moral worth, and not by phenomena made so often degrading.” The need of the west for such doctrines as Karma and Reincarnation and the actual Unity of the whole family is dwelt upon at length in another. And referring to some of the effects of certain phenomena, it is said * [Occult World, p.101] “They have to prove ..... constructive of new institutions of a genuine practical brotherhood of Humanity, where all will become co-workers with Nature.” Speaking of present materialistic tendencies, the same authority says:
“Exact experimental science has nothing to do with morality, virtue, philanthropy—therefore can make no claim upon our help until it blends itself with metaphysics.... The same causes that are materializing the Hindu mind are equally affecting all western thought. Education enthrones scepticism but imprisons spirituality. You can do immense good by helping to give the western nations a secure basis on which to reconstruct their crumbling faith. And what they need is the evidence that Asiatic psychology alone supplies. Give this and you will confer happiness of mind on thousands. This is the moment to guide the recurrent impulse which must soon come and which will push the age towards extreme atheism or drag it back to extreme sacerdotalism, if it is not led to the primitive soul-satisfying philosophy of the Aryans.”
This is the great tone running through all the words from these sources. It is a call to work for the race and not for self, a request to bring to the west and the east the doctrines that have most effect on human conduct, on the relations of man to man, and hence the greatest possibility of forming at last a true universal brotherhood. We must follow this programme and supply the world with a system of philosophy which gives a sure and logical basis for ethics, and that can only be gotten from those to which I have adverted; there is no basis for morals in phenomena, because a man might learn to do the most wonderful things by the aid of occult forces and yet at the same time be the very worst of men.
A subsidiary condition, but quite as important as the other, is laid down by H.P.B in her words that we must “remain true to ourselves.” This means true to our better selves and the dictates of conscience. We cannot promulgate the doctrines and the rules of life found in theosophy and at the same time ourselves not live up to them as far as possible. We must practise what we preach, and make as far as we can a small brotherhood within the Theosophical Society. Not only should we do this because the world is looking on, but also from a knowledge of the fact that by our unity the smallest effort made by us will have tenfold the power of any obstacle before us or any opposition offered by the world.
The history of our sixteen years of life shows that our efforts put forth in every quarter of the globe have modified the thought of the day, and that once more the word “Theosophy,” and many of the old ideas that science and agnosticism supposed were buried forever under the great wide collar of present civilization, have come again to the front. We do not claim to be the sole force that began the uprooting of dogmatism and priestcraft, but only that we have supplied a link, given words, stirred up thoughts of the very highest importance just at a time when the age was swinging back to anything but what the reformers had fought for. The old faiths were crumbling, and no one stood ready to supply that which by joining religion and science together would make the one scientific and the other religious. We have done exactly what the letter quoted asked for, led the times a step “to the primitive soul-satisfying philosophy of the Aryans.”
But we can never hope to see the churches and the ministers coming over in a body to our ranks. It would be asking too much of human nature. Churches are so much property that has to be preserved, and ministers are so many men who get salaries they have to earn, with families to support and reputations to sustain. Many “houses of worship” are intimately connected with the material progress of the town, and the personal element would prevent their sinking the old and glorious identity in an organisation like to ours. Congregations hire their priests at so much a year to give out a definite sort of theology, and do not like to be told the truth about themselves nor to have too high a standard of altruism held up to them in a way from which, under the theosophical doctrines, there would be no escape. They may all gradually change, heresy trials will continue and heretical ministers be acquitted, but the old buildings will remain and the speakers go on in new grooves to make other reputations, but we may not hope to see any universal rush to join us.
Our destiny is to continue the wide work of the past in affecting literature and thought throughout the world, while our ranks see many changing quantities but always holding those who remain true to the programme and refuse to become dogmatic or to give up common-sense in theosophy. Thus will we wait for the new messenger, striving to keep the organisation alive that he may use it and have the great opportunity H.P.B outlines when she says “Think how much one, to whom such an opportunity is given, could accomplish.”An Epoch-Making Letter
From the Theosophical Society in America to the European Theosophists, in Convention Assembled as “The European Section of the Theosophical Society.”
BROTHERS AND SISTERS:—We send you our fraternal greeting, and fullest sympathy in all works sincerely sought to be performed for the good of Humanity. Separated though we are from you by very great distance we are none the less certain that you and we, as well as all other congregations of people who love Brotherhood, are parts of that great whole denominated The Theosophical Movement, which began far back in the night of Time and has since been moving through many and various peoples, places and environments. That grand work does not depend upon forms, ceremonies, particular persons or set organizations—“Its unity throughout the world does not consist in the existence and action of any single organization, but depends upon the similarity of work and aspiration of those in the world who are working for it.” Hence organizations of theosophists must vary and change in accordance with place, time, exigency and people. To hold that in and by a sole organization for the whole world is the only way to work would be boyish in conception and not in accord with experience or nature’s laws.
Recognizing the foregoing, we, who were once the body called The American Section of the T.S., resolved to make our organization, or merely outer form for government and administration, entirely free and independent of all others; but retained our theosophical ideas, aspirations, aims and objects, continuing to be a part of the theosophical movement. This change was an inevitable one, and perhaps will ere long be made also by you as well as by others. It has been and will be forced, as it were, by nature itself under the sway of the irresistible law of human development and progress.
But while the change would have been made before many years by us as an inevitable and logical development, we have to admit that it was hastened by reason of what we considered to be strife, bitterness and anger existing in other Sections of the theosophical world which were preventing us from doing our best work in the field assigned to us by Karma. In order to more quickly free ourselves from these obstructions we made the change in this, instead of in some later, year. It is, then, a mere matter of government and has nothing to do with theosophical propaganda or ethics, except that it will enable us to do more and better work.
Therefore we come to you as fellow-students and workers in the field of theosophical effort, and holding out the hand of fellowship we again declare the complete unity of all theosophical workers in every part of the world. This you surely cannot and will not reject from heated, rashly-conceived counsels, or from personalities indulged in by anyone, or from any cause whatever. To reject the proffer would mean that you reject and nullify the principle of Universal Brotherhood upon which alone all true theosophical work is based. And we could not indulge in those reflections nor put forward that reason but for the knowledge that certain persons of weight and prominence in your ranks have given utterance hastily to expressions of pleasure that our change of government above referred to has freed them from nearly every one of the thousands of earnest, studious and enthusiastic workers in our American group of Theosophical Societies. This injudicious and untheosophical attitude we cannot attribute to the whole or to any majority of your workers.
Let us then press forward together in the great work of the real Theosophical Movement which is aided by working organizations, but is above them all. Together we can devise more and better ways for spreading the light of truth through all the earth. Mutually assisting and encouraging one another we may learn how to put Theosophy into practice so as to be able to teach and enforce it by example before others. We will then each and all be members of that Universal Lodge of Free and Independent Theosophists which embraces every friend of the human race. And to all this we beg your corporate official answer for our more definite and certain information, and to the end that this and your favourable reply may remain as evidence and monuments between us.
(Signed) William Q. Judge,
(Signed) Elliot B. Page, A P. Buchman
C A. Griscom, Jr., H T. Patterson
Jerome A. Anderson, Frank I. Blodgett,
Members of the Executive Committee.