The Way of the Disciple, Clara Codd, p. 20-26

Chapter II - His Inner Knowledge and Powers

It is in the inner, subtler worlds that the Master is the Adept. These worlds are all open to him, and their subtler forces are at his command. He has accomplised that which is described in The Voice of the Silence: "Help nature and work on with her; and nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance. And she will open wide before thee the portals of her secret chambers ... Unsullied by the hand of matter, she shows her treasures only to the eye for which there is no veil in all her kingdoms." The Master K.H. (Koot Hoomi) writes: "We but follow and servily copy nature in her works." (M.L. 22 - Mahatma Letters 22)

Yet there is nothing supernatural about it. All the Adept's knowledge and powers are perfectly natural and the seed of them is inherent and latent in all men. "We work by natural and not supernatural means and laws." (M.L. 1) And these means are the "deific powers in man and the possibilities contained in nature." (M.L. 2)

We have really come up against the subject of occultism and what it really is. It is not what H.P.B. (H.P. Blavatsky) calls the "occult arts", such as astrology, numerology, palmistry, etc. or even untrained clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc.. such as is increasingly common today, and always has been among primitive races and simple peasantry, shared even by animals. The difference is well described in The Voice of the Silence: "These instructions are for those ignorant of the dangers of the lower Iddhis." H.P.B. then comments: "The Pali word Iddhi is the equivalent of the Sanskrit Siddhis, or psychic faculties, the abnormal powers in man. There are two kinds of Siddhis - one group embraces the lower, coarse, psychic, and mental energies, while the other exacts the highest training of spiritual powers." (The Voice of the Silence) These spiritual powers are listed and described in the third volume of the sage Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms, (1) and the study of them will explain many seeming miraculous happenings in the early days of the Theosophical Society. The lower psychism is sporadic, uncertain, and not under the control of the intelligence and will. The increasing growth and development of the mental nature generally shuts it out. The Atlanteans were psychic in this early fashion. The Aryan race, developing primarily the mentality, has largely lost this primitive psychic sensibility.(2) The higher psychic powers are far more reliable and under control because they are illuminated by the divine, impersonal self. The visions of the lower psychism are so often twisted and distorted by the personal bias and idiosyncrasies of the seer, as well as by the thoughts of others around him.

I remember C.W.L. (C.W. Leadbeater) describing to me once how the Master trained his clairvoyance. The Master gave him a special meditation which rapidly opened up his nascent psychic sensitivity. When I asked him why he did not teach this to his special pupils, he replied: "Because I promised the Master that I never would." Sometimes the Master K.H. came and sometimes the Master D.K. (Dwal Kuhl) They would ask him to describe what he saw. "Oh! no," the Master would say, "Look deeper, discountenance the personal factor." For the slightest prejudice or bias on the part of the seer, even when unconscious to himself, will distort and deflect what he sees. Hence true vision is only possible to those who have awakened, and become one with the divine principle within themselves.

The Master writes to Mr. Sinnett: "You will be right in referring to the 'Real Knowledge' and 'True Cause' of the verse quoted to the highest plane of spiritual enlightenment; the 'greater darkness' into which the perfected 'Siddha' is finally merged thereby, is that Absolute Darknes, which is Absolute Light. The Real Knowledge here spoken of is not a mental but a spiritual state, implying full union between the Knower and the Known." (M.L. 373) Human knowledge is about and about; true knowledge is by direct and full union of the knower and the known, hence by full inner contact and response. The Master again writes:  "The recognition of the higher phases of man's being on this planet is not to be attained by mere acquirement of knowledge. Volumes of the most perfectly constructed information cannot reveal to man life in the higher regions. One has to get a knowledge of spiritual facts by personal experience and from actual observation ... " (M.L. 64)

And the powers must be acquired by personal development and transcension. They cannot be "given" to anyone. "The iron rule is that what powers one gets he must himself acquire." (M.L. 65) And they can only be acquired by the purified, developed, wholly controlled mind and heart. "It is upon the serene and placid surface of the unruffled mind that the visions gathered from the invisible find a representation in the visible world ... those flashes of sudden light which have already helped to solve so many of the minor problems and which alone can bring the truth before the eyes of the soul." (M.L. 64)

Occultism is called in the mystic East the gupta vidya, the Secret Knowledge. It is not secret in the sense of being wilfully withheld, but by virtue of the same conditions in which differential calculus is occult or hidden to one who is just learning the multiplication table. It is not a body of knowledge that can ever be communicated by word of mouth or the written word. It is born in a man in proportion to his growth and power of fine response to all life. For it is the science of life, not only the science of life's material embodiments, and becomes teh possession of the seer as his own being can grasp and respond to ever subtler and finer levels of being. H.P.B. has well defined it in an old issue of the magazine "Lucifer": "Occultism is not magic, though magic is one of its tools. Occultism is not the acquirement of powers, whether psychic or intellectual, though both are its servants. Neither is occultism the pursuit of happiness as man understands the word; for the first step is sacrifice, the second renunciation." Then she tells us what it really is:  "Occultism is the science of life, the art of living."

It is indeed the truth about the nature, constitution, and laws of development of every living thing in our solar system and beyond. It truly shows what we are, why we are here, where we are going, and consequently what we should do; hence not only their spiritual importance but also their practical value to all men. Writes the Master K.H.: "The truths and mysteries of occultism constitute, indeed, a body of the highest spiritual importance, at once profound and practical for the world at large ... for these ideas touch upon the most momentous subjects. It is not physical phenomena but these universal ideas that we study, as to comprehend the former, we have to first understand the latter. They touch [upon] man's true position in the universe, in relation to his previous and future births; his origin and ultimate destiny; the relation of the mortal to the immortal; of the temporary to the eternal; of the finite to the infinite; ideas larger, grander, more comprehensive, recognizing the universal reign of Immutable Law, unchanging and unchangeable in regard to which there is only an ETERNAL NOW, while to uniniated mortals time is past or future as related to their finite existence on this material speck of dirt. This is what we study and what many have solved." (M.L. 23-4) And this faculty of knowing, the Master says "To some little extent ... can be acquired by the Europeans through study and meditation ... " (M.L. 29)

It cannot be too often emphasized that occult knowledge is never communicated by the written or the spoken word, or by a series of lessons. Valuable and inspiring teaching and counsel can be given that way, but not the true gupta vidya. This is given to the soul when away from the body at night, or via the antahkarana, the link, once it is formed, between the soul and its diviner counterpart. There is a certain part of the psychic plane where some such teaching is more easily communicated to the soul temporarily free of the body, named in Light on the Path the "Hall of Learning".

Footnotes

(1) These are also well known as the Yoga Sutras. Many translations by theosophists and non-theosophists are available. (Katinka Hesselink)

(2) The Aryan race is the present race. Depending on ones interpretation of Blavatsky it is all people in "the west", or all people who have access to present day technology and education, or all people who mostly develop their mind, over other aspects of their system. (Katinka Hesselink)