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EXPLORING THE GREAT BEYOND -
In this chapter we shall deal with a whole miscellany of phenomena, psychic rather than spiritualistic, and hard to reduce to any order. We have attempted to group them under six heads as follows:
There is considerable literature on out-of-body experiences, with many kinds of instances. Here we note two; the ordinary seeing of one's body lying on a bed or couch while we seem to be free of it but quite aware of where we are and of people and objects in our vicinity. The second kind is astral travel where we see remote places.
The first of these categories is of the kind, for example, when under an anaesthetic, perhaps before or after an operation, the patient finds himself seemingly conscious, looking down on his prostrate body. He can afterwards describe the room and its contents in detail. It is this last factor which is of particular interest because
sometimes the description of the room or some particular thing in it can be different from what it actually was during the time the person was apparently unconscious. There is a story for instance, of a patient in a hospital who described his room as it appeared to him when he was, as he thought, out of his body. He said that there was a basket of soiled linen in a particular place in the room. There had previously been such a basket there, but it was not there at the time he was supposed to have been out of his body. It would seem that the patient was seeing either some projected memory image or that he was psychically seeing the room in the Astral Light as it had been at some time, or even as it was going to be.
If one can operate in consciousness out of his body in the way described, there are three possible explanations.
One is that he was in a Mayavi-rupa. In this case there is no limit to the distance one can go out of the body, which is left in a trance. One is in one's mind-body and free of the restriction imposed by the "silver cord" between the physical body and its astral double. In this kind of travel both are left behind. As we have seen, consciousness can be transferred to the Mayavi-rupa and a memory of what is seen and done in it can be brought into ordinary waking consciousness. Very often, however, the Mayavi-rupa is completely unconscious, or no memory of its activity is brought through on waking, even if it is carrying out a predetermined mission. In this connection, there is an interesting story about Col. Olcott. He decided on going to bed, to complete in his Mayavi-rupa some writing he had left unfinished. To get to his desk he had to pass near Mme. Blavatsky's room. In the morning she asked him what he had been doing in the night. The question mystified him until she told him she had seen his double pass her room, go to the writing desk, take up a pen and write. Soon the writing tailed off to a scrawl then stopped, as if the effort had been too much. Olcott remembered his resolve and went to see what he had done. Sure enough, there was what he had newly written, complete with the concluding scrawl.
Then there was the case of the Shaman with his talking stone who not only went some thousands of miles to see what H.P.B.'s old lady friend was doing and conveyed to H.P.B. the contents of the letter she was reading, but was able to bring the old lady's Mayavi-rupa to the yourta. Consciousness, however, had not been transferred to it. The "shade" was unable to speak to Mme. Blavatsky. The lady herself lost consciousness but said she had had a dream of
the tent. We are not told whether the Shaman had any knowledge of what he had done when he returned to his physical body.
Another example of this kind of experience is when one is in the same state as one who has died suddenly and prematurely. In this case because the person's vehicles are all intact and operating, except for the physical body, consciousness is retained. A similar condition could occur under an anaesthetic if the inner vehicles had not been rendered inoperative, but traveling out of the body may not take place. The author has experienced something of this condition when having a broken arm set under anaesthetic. He could not see what was going on but heard what passed between the doctor and the nurse who were doing the job. They did not believe that this could be so until he was able to recount to them what they had been saying.
We have discussed previously the question of traveling in the so-called astral body in the astral plane. There are many stories of this where the scenes are not of this world. Similarly it is claimed that, at such times, other people in their astral bodies, either asleep or dead, are contacted and helped. In the light of our classification of the principles of man and his doubles, it is difficult to see what "body" is contacted. More often than not the people so contacted know nothing about it either at the time, if sleeping, or afterwards when they awake. It seems that many traveling experiences of this kind must be wholly subjective and cannot be classed as genuine out-of-the-body experiences. In a few cases, however, there is genuine 'astral' travel in the Linga Sarira (astral body). Here is what HPB says:
We can now notice the question of visions - visions of deific beings, teachers, and so on. It is acknowledged that adepts can affect the consciousness of others and induce mayas and visions. Some such visions may be of the adept himself but again they may not be. In the case of most ordinary people, the high probability is that they are not enjoying a real vision. What they are seeing is self created. Here, of course, we must allow that the Ego itself could induce visions. This is described by Mme. Blavatsky. The visions are seen as the person begins to awake. The memory elements of the otherwise dormant brain are impressed with the vision while the person sleeps and as consciousness begins to return, the vision is seen as a dream. This incidentally is the explanation of the normal process of much ordinary dreaming where the dream is not occasioned by the automatic residual functioning of the resting brain, stimulated by, for example, the previous day's events, indigestion, physical discomfort, etc. There may of course be other more psychologically significant dreams but these are rare.
The next group of phenomena is headed Elementals and Elementaries. We have discussed their nature and have given examples of the kind of phenomena of which they are the essential factors but we should look at a few more.
Poltergeists have all the characteristics of elementals. They are irresponsible and destructive. They seem to have a spite against the world. In this they may be reflecting something in the people whom they plague. As is commonly known, they often manifest in a household where there is a young person, generally a girl, around the age of puberty. It seems that young people are very sensitive at this time and have a tendency to be mediumistic. This tendency often disappears after a year or so. The children are usually quite unaware that they are concerned in the phenomena. For example, the writer has seen, just after it happened, the front wheel of a girl's bicycle twisted almost into a knot. She had left it leaning against the front wall of her home when she came from school to have her lunch. Neither she nor her family knew anything about the damage until she left for school again. Because of the isolation of the house it would have been very unlikely that any person could have done the damage, and certainly not without being seen or heard. Her father said there had been a number of such occurrences in and about the place.
The question that is often asked is how can these apparitions, ghosts, etc., be exorcised? The trouble is that most of us are not
clairvoyant or clairaudient so that we do not know the nature of such visitors, and cannot communicate with them. The Christian church ritual with bell, book and candle is sometimes effective. It does seem, however, to depend on the "will" of the operator; somehow or other a strong intention seems to get through. The actual ceremonial may simply be to bolster the confidence of the operator, and this is everything. In ceremonial magic, the temple circle to be used for the occasion is clearly demarked and is cleansed and protected by officiates with sword, holy water, or fire, or both. It Is said that some kinds of ghosts do not like cold steel or acrid smoke. Here is an interesting passage:
In mediaeval times the psychic vampire, the elementary closely attached to its erstwhile physical body, was detached from it by driving a stake through the heart of the corpse. It seemed to work.
It is said, however, to be possible, especially in the case of more ordinary hauntings, to get a practicing clairvoyant medium, to see what is doing the haunting; and often, seemingly when they know they are being seen, the ghosts will communicate intelligibly with the medium and tell him or her why they are still hanging about. They often appear to be in distress of some kind and do not want to be nuisances. Sometimes talking or persuasion will relieve them and they can let go, depart, and permit the normal after-death processes to run their course. The ghost may desire some service, perhaps some small thing but important to him, which, when accomplished, lets him die in peace. Some will just go away on being ordered firmly or merely asked to do so.
It seems that the best protection is a clear conscience and clean, healthy, positive living, physically and psychically. Except for the vicious elementary, (and these are not common), there is nothing particularly evil about apparitions and ghosts; most of them are
un-conscious, and those with an appearance of consciousness and reason are generally at best elemental-enlivened astral images, not worthy of respect by anyone.
Somewhat similar to the haunting of places is the obsession of people. As we have seen the obsessor will be an elementary, gaining access to or possession of his victim at the Kama-manasic level, and perhaps at the same time vampirizing his Prana (third principle} i.e., his life force. Asked how one so obsessed could be helped H.P.B. wrote:
This may be a counsel of perfection but we can learn much from it. It would apply to all kinds of obsession such as tobacco, drink, and drugs.
We mentioned churchyard ghosts and said they were caused by the still persisting Linga-Sarira of the defunct. Such ghosts become visible occasionally to people with only ordinary physical sight under suitable atmospheric conditions, for example, in mist when the "etheric" forces can affect and coalesce the water particles into the phantom likeness of the dead person. This parallels the production of fern-like patterns in ice on window panes in frosty weather. The patterns are in the astral force field and correspond, for example, to the invisible lines of force around a magnet. If, however, paper is placed over a magnet and iron filings sprinkled on to the paper, these lines show up clearly.
The elementals are responsible for endowing all humanity's thought and feelings with life, so that there is a living psychic atmosphere surrounding the planet. This atmosphere is more or less localized in quality, and reacts on living human beings and subtly affects them. It conditions their thinking and feeling, their psychic tendencies. It accounts to some extent for national character and periodical emotional, sometimes hysterical epidemics, short or prolonged, which human groups occasionally manifest. Even a sports team can be influenced by the psychic atmosphere with which it surrounds itself.
This elemental influence, as we have seen, can be the basis of what we call luck. A person with a strong "element" such as earth, in his nature - and this would be seen in natal horoscope chart would have an affinity with that type of elemental. If he also set up some kind of relationship with them, he might for example, have "green fingers" or be lucky in finding things.
This brings in the relationship of elementals to the plant kingdom. There is no life activity without them. In the total view, everything is an expression of universal life, so that behind all manifestation there is elemental life and elementals in some degree of development.
It is being discovered that plants seem to evince some "knowledge" of happenings exterior to themselves. They seem to
know when other plants are hurt; they also seem to be able to read thoughts and become aware of the nature of our intentions towards them. (See reports of the work of Backster and others.) All this is easily explained in terms of elementals. We have seen that they can read thoughts and answer unspoken questions. No doubt the elementals associated with plants are of a lowly type but they have their links with the kamic and manasic worlds through the corresponding subplanes of the astral (ethereal) plane.
We have seen that the elementals are in fact the proximate cause of all phenomena, but this is somewhat unspecific and in some cases it is hard to realize how it can be. Perhaps we can understand it in the light of plant responses. Another series of phenomena fairly easily explicable by the presence and capability of elementals is that performed by Uri Geller, as well as the things that happen in his vicinity. We are familiar with his key or spoon bending and can easily see that this is elementally performed with Uri acting as the medium. He, of course, has other capacities, such as his mind reading, but these are of a different order. We discussed telepathy elsewhere. Dr. Puharich, who wrote a book about Uri Geller, tells of many happenings with tapes, tape recorders, filing cabinets, and so on. All these were well within the powers of elementals. So too were the recorded voices of the seemingly extraterrestrial beings. Nothing there exceeded the Eddy phenomena. What might be considered to do so however is the apparitional flying saucer with which Uri and Dr. Puharich had an assignation. It is significant that only they, and not the soldiers escorting them to the meeting, saw the saucer. Does not this argue that both Uri and the Dr. Puharich are psychic, and again that the saucer was in fact a phenomenon produced by elementals? How many UFO sightings may be of this nature? This is not to say that there may not be genuine ones, but these are outside the scope of this book.
Again, with the Uri Geller metal-bending phenomena, could not the children who see this done and know they too can do it also be mediumistic and have an affinity with the right kind of elemental?
Any explanations of the 'great beyond' should contain something about the "little people" of the world. By little people is meant the elves, pixies, leprechauns, fairies, gnomes, sylphs, and so on of universal folk-lore. What are they? It is clear in the light of ancient wisdom that whatever life they have of their own is elemental life. In shape, size, and colour, and in their characteristic traits of behaviour, they are expressing thought forms. The thought forms
are often traditional and local and exist in the folk mind. We have, as an example, the elementals of Ireland mentioned by Mme. Blavatsky in her letter to William Q. Judge.
How do these little people become manifest? As with the manifestations, physical or psychical, of any psychic phenomena there must be present, the Esoteric science teaches, a mediumistic person or persons from whose astral body substances, astral and sometimes physical, can be supplied. As in the case of poltergeist manifestations, the little people appear, if at all, most often to children and when (but not exclusively so) children and young people are around. They have been known to materialize densely enough to be photographed.
The fact that the little people are seldom seen nowadays is because they are not believed in as generally. They are no longer so strongly in the common mind, having been virtually eliminated there from - as superstition - in our enlightened times.
On a gruesome theme we have the deliberate ceremonial evocation of deific or devilish forms. The astral effluvia from corpses, particularly from newly spilt blood, was used in primitive and degenerate ceremonial to make a god, a local deity, manifest. The process is one whereby a thought-form image of the god has been instilled into the minds of the priesthood and devotees. This becomes ensouled by an elemental which is invested by the worshippers with power and its particular characteristics. The astral emanations from the sacrificial corpse provide the ectoplasmic means for visible manifestation. As we saw in Chapter 3, such "spirits" can speak. The thought currents of the priests or congregation would supply the material for a "message" and the voice would assume the appropriate quality. Both the clergy and laity would be suitably impressed.
There are even tales of statuettes becoming alive through being ensouled by elementals. Sometimes these talk. Such talking images are known as teraphim. Sometimes such statues as in the legend of Pygmalion, come to life and move.
Psychic phenomena can be classified under two headings, those of a subjective and those of an objective nature. The subjective ones include, for example, visions of an Egoic origin or changes in consciousness induced by an operator such as a mesmerizer or hypnotist able to affect such changes in consciousness in another. This is the technique used by a "magician" who can make people see what he wants them to see. We give a good example of this later, in
the story of an artist who was made to see a nonexistent landscape and painted it. The other kind, the objective, is instanced in the churchyard ghost, in the mayavic apparition to relatives of the recently dead, and in the various kinds of visitants at séances. These last include the psychically as well as the physically objective ones seen by the clairvoyants.
The production of phenomena of all kinds, consciously and at the will of the operator, is in the realm of the magician. This is a different kind of magic from that of the ceremonialist or the conjuror. Ceremonial magic does induce changes of consciousness and there may be phenomenal happenings, but the ceremonies are formal occasions in a temple with vestments and paraphernalia. Similarly the conjurer who merely deceives his audience needs his prepared "props." A real magician of the type we are trying to describe needs none of these things. His only necessary equipment is himself, his knowledge and his powers.
The kinds of magical performances wherein the will of the magician is the effective cause are legion.
We have seen that however we regard them, elementals are the proximate cause of most "magic." The magician must be able to summon and control them. This means the development of a faculty so far dormant in most of us.
Some phenomena do not appear to involve elementals. There is a description of an incident in which W. Q. Judge watched H. P . Blavatsky, as he said, collect astral force or energy and, by sheer concentration and will, bring it to a focus and use it to burn a name letter by letter, into a piece of wood. She purposely let her concentration lapse during the making of one letter and it was malformed.
Master Initiates are said to set up an astral current when they want to communicate with a chela or transmit anything by dematerialization and re-materialization. When this current is set up, an ordinary non-psychic observer can hear clicks or a hiss of energy at the receiving end. A receiving point, in the form of a person who must be powerfully magnetic, is necessary. Such persons are rare in any age in any country or society, let alone in the modern Western world. It was her ability to act as such a terminal that made H. P . Blavatsky virtually unique. Because of the rarity of persons with her occult qualifications, many doubt whether any such exist or that H.P.B. was in fact such a one. This leads to further doubt about the whole field of consciously produced phenomena either at a distance or near at hand.
Mesmerism and hypnosis are techniques of "magic" to produce illusions (mayas) on the one hand and to subject other people to one's will on the other. Mesmerism is a process of suggestion whereby the "patient's" mind is conditioned to accept something, believe himself well, etc., by insistent repetition. Healing mesmerists use a psychic fluid which they can project from their hands to bring life and health back to affected parts. This fluid is Prana, the vital fluid, life energy itself.
In hypnotism this fluid is ejected powerfully from the hypnotist at his "victim," and this knocks out or renders inactive the personal manasic control mechanism. The man's vehicles become subject to the "will" of the hypnotist. When the personal mind is thus affected it becomes dormant; the victim feels sleepy and becomes unconscious to himself, but his body remains active and its inner motor mechanisms and nerves stay operative so that it does what the hypnotist wills it to do. A hypnotized man can, and does, do the most extraordinary things. He can become immune to pain, vary his heartbeat rate, be unable to move, bear immense weights, and so on.
In other forms of hypnotism people, singly and in groups, can be made to see things that are not there, or not see things that are there. They can be made susceptible to political or religious doctrines, and so on.
We are told that many magicians create their illusions this way. People "see' what they are made to see, not what really takes place; such is the case with the famous Indian rope trick where a boy is seen to climb up a rope thrown into the air where it remains vertical but is not attached to anything at its top end. A boy climbs up it and disappears at the top. There are many variations on this theme.
The production of mayas or illusions would involve the same techniques as those for inducing visions in others. There are numerous and remarkable instances of this in tales of the East. One such case mentioned earlier happened to an artist member of Madame Blavatsky's party during one of her travels. They camped in a place which the artist felt was particularly beautiful. He set up his easel and started to paint. Before he had quite finished his picture, the party decided to move off. He asked them to wait until he had finished. They did wait and one of the party went over to see what the painter was doing. He was painting a beautiful lake scene over which he was going into raptures. The viewer assumed that he was painting from imagination, since there was, in fact, no lake.
But the artist indicated that he was, as he thought, painting a scene that he was actually seeing. The artist, who had been very skeptical of the reported magical powers of the leader of their party, had been under a maya for hours. He could not believe that his lake scene did not really exist until the maya was lifted and he saw the countryside as it was, without a lake.
This is an illustration of a variety of hypnotism. But it is actually a considerable feat. First, whatever the hypnotiser is doing has to be maintained for a long time. Second, the vision with all its absolutely realistic detail has to be created and locked into the viewer's mind.
Examples of the direct application of the control of elementals, and of their help to man when he is attuned to them or is master of them, have already been given in Chapter 4. Such stories are legion. The technique or requirement for the subjecting of elementals to our will is not stated specifically in the literature, but we are given some hints. One is that our will has to be abnormally developed. The other is that some psychic faculty must be developed so that we can at least sense if not see, the presence of elementals and their nature. This would mean the development of something of a rapport with them through the corresponding qualities of our own natures. For example, we would expect a person with strong fire aspects in his astrological natal chart to have a marked sympathy with the fire elementals, one with marked water aspects with the water elementals, and so on.
Some explanation of the technique of thought transference was given in Chapter 4, particularly in connection with the psychic transmission of letters. Intense, unwavering concentration is required on the part of the sender and an undisturbed passivity on the part of the receiver. In the case of telepathy, as has been said, it is difficult to insure both conditions. Again as we have seen, however, there is a way of transmitting messages by psychic means over a psychic current. The sender can call up the receiver as in a telephone system and transmit direct images. This was the case when H.P.B. received much of the reference material for Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine. She saw the passages she quoted in the Astral Light.
Again we are not given specific instructions on how to develop either our telepathic or our vision faculties. This is intentional, as we are repeatedly told that these powers will unfold of themselves
when we are morally qualified and have grown to the stage where our whole desire and will is to serve our fellows.
Another aspect of our overall study, and one of topical interest today, is not only the research going on into our subjective experiences, notably by biofeedback techniques, to some extent by drugs and by various kinds of meditation, but also in the results of clinical experience obtained by psychologists. As far as our subject is concerned Carl Jung is the most notable with his discovery of the "collective unconscious." In examining the subjective experiences of hundreds of cases he became aware of a world of symbology existing at a deeper level than the conscious mind. In this world there figured not only common religious symbols such as the circle, the cross, the swastika, and so on, but also immensely complicated forms in various mandalas. These were sometimes simple variations on a circle or square theme but often they were extremely complex and even beautiful. Then in analysis situations a range of symbols based on the old gods of the ancient world somehow kept welling up into the consciousness of people whose psychic life was, to use the phrase, somewhat unusual. What is surprising is not so much that these symbols arise but that they are shared among so many people, some of whom have not otherwise known of their existence.
Where do the symbols come from? How do they arise spontaneously in consciousness? We can now answer these questions. The symbols are in the Astral Light, but how did they get there? In brief, they are thought forms, mostly of religious origin, built by generations of priests and worshippers and imbued with elemental life. This life is more than just enough to ensure the persistence of the images. The Astral Light preserves them anyway. What the elemental life does is to endow them with a characteristic life quality, each of its own. All the gods had their personalities as, for example, all present-day Christian Saints have their personalities. In addition to whatever qualities the saint had during his lifetime he now has those which his devotees have invested him with. Thought and feeling directed at the symbol by thousands of people over perhaps hundreds of years creates a powerful astral entity.
To return to the collective unconscious, this results from such a conditioned psychic atmosphere as described above. The question that now arises is why do some people become conscious of one set of symbols, while others see a different set? Again, we have an
answer. By way of skandhas, the cumulative balance of experience gained over many lives, each person has both a psychic characteristic peculiar to him alone and an association brought through from the past with a particular set or sets of symbols which gives him an affinity for, and a certain sensitivity to them. He may never react consciously to them but he will be unconsciously affected, as an animal is by instinct. This may in some ways affect his typical behaviour but it will also condition his visions which may arise when the monitory control of ordinary consciousness is decreased or absent, as in unusual psychic cases.
No examination of our theme would be complete without mention of some of the classical systems of investigation into, and teaching of, the nature of the "hinterland" of our existence and the forces in it. Apart from the parent stem of Occultism which we have been using as a basis for our exploration of the subject, there have been many variants - notably religious systems with an esoteric inner core, mystery schools, brotherhoods, and so on. All these have their particular nomenclature, presentation, and instruction systems. To cite a few, there are the Sufis, the Rosicrucian’s (still secret, not the commercialised schools), the Platonists, the Hermeticists, the Freemasons (in a few Lodges), various schools in India, the Kabalists and so on. The Kabala is a system of esotericism, with its roots originally in the East, adopted later by the Hebrews and later still Christianised. Coupled with this is a marvelous system of divination, the Tarot. A modern and debased form of this high art is fortune-telling by means of the Tarot cards. The point of mentioning these systems is that all had their symbolism.
Generations of neophytes, initiates, and adepts of various degrees of power, have used and, in their turn, charged the symbols with their characteristics and power. Their systems of training include the learning of the symbols by ordinary intellectual means, becoming familiar with association chains and correspondences, then relating them to the qualities, powers, and energies found in themselves and in the various departments of Nature. When a degree of such knowledge has been acquired, meditation on the symbols is practiced. A rapport with the living entity represented by the symbol is then slowly established, culminating in a modification of the consciousness of the mediator corresponding to the qualities so symbolized and in his achieving possession of the powers associated with them. This means he has made a contact with the elementals
of that department of Nature, and possibly with their ruler. The ruler, in this case, would be an exalted entity of a creative hierarchy, further up the ladder of being than a human being. The term "archangel" could be applied to such a one. Above such beings are the aspects of manifest Deity itself. The aspirant slowly moves up the ladder of consciousness and power until he reaches these realms, and then finally, to crown his efforts, he can pass into the unlimited region of Light Itself - the acme of perfection in all Nature.
With the technical data we now have on the constitution of man, the powers of mind, the nature of the Astral Light and spiritual planes and elementals, together with the specimen explanations given with some of the examples of various kinds of phenomena, we now have sufficient information to enable us to explain most other phenomena we are likely to encounter. We must be careful however, not to assume that we know what is behind specific cases, for example, such as the case of Rosemary Brown and her music. She is obviously mediumistically contacting the astral image, endowed with elemental life, of the master musicians whose style she can so competently reproduce. We do not know, and cannot know unless we are seers with Egoic vision - not just psychic clairvoyants - whether she is being influenced by an elementary or an elemental. What we do know is that, whereas she is contacting something of the ex-personality of the genius, she is not contacting the reincarnating spiritual entity, the Ego itself. If this were possible the great ages of painters, writers, musicians, mathematicians, thinkers and so on, would always be with us. Creativity of that order would flow continuously; but it does not.
In Psychic Discoveries Behind The Iron Curtain. a technique is described for instilling something of the genius quality of the great dead into a subject. The subject is put into deep trance, then exposed to strong suggestion that he is the genius whose abilities he wants to bring through. He will, of course, have been previously mentally conditioned in the likeness and character of the genius who then becomes his deep meditation symbol with its original in the historic personage. Links will then be set up with the reliquiae in the Astral Light. Modifications of the mental body of the subject can then occur and something of the skills of the great man will manifest again at second-hand, so to speak.
Most of the phenomena in that book can now be adequately explained: psychokinesis; prevention against being seen or producing
the illusion of a false identity; hypnotizing people at a distance; affecting living creatures, animals, or plants by hurt or death at a distance; telepathy and all its forms; dowsing; fortune-telling, etc., etc.
We could remind ourselves that time and space as we know them do not exist at the mental levels. It is clear that some operators discussed in the book were able to reach these levels, at any rate partially, at times. In such instances telepathy and hypnotism at a distance become easily explicable. Earlier we mentioned fortune telling as an ability to look into the Astral Light. Psychokinesis must obviously be effected by elementals which are, as we have seen, subject to the human will under certain circumstances.
An incident to be described later concerns the finding of the corpse of a drowned man by means of casting his coat upon the surface of the water; this incident contains elements which help to describe a whole range of kindred phenomena. For example, the instant reactions of a mother rabbit at the precise times her young were killed, one at a time, remote from her so that she could not see or hear anything of the actual killing. It has been shown that plants similarly react. If a plant in a row is damaged or uprooted, the others in the row react, measurably, at the precise time. This does not mean to say that animals or plants feel consciously, emotionally, as we do. A mother whose absent child has been hurt or killed will inevitably react similarly but she may not do so consciously. She might, however, "sense" the disaster, have a premonition. (See The Secret Life of Plants by Tompkins and Bird)
All these occurrences indicate the presence all around us and around the earth of invisible currents in invisible fields in which are subtle psychic links. These fields are in the second, fourth, and lower fifth Principles of the planet, corresponding to the Linga Sarira, Kama, and Manas principles in man. They all comprise the Astral Light at its various levels. The nature and extent of reaction to them by living things depends upon the inherent quality of the subjects affected. Elemental admixture in their natures may well be at the root of this. For example, Fire does not mix with Water but has some affinity with Air. If we knew more about these things our whole attitude toward the healing arts could change. We could know, for instance, why a particular medicine in most cases will be wholly beneficial but in others will have disastrous side effects.
We have mentioned astrology. Lest this whole book be discredited because of that single reference, in view of the scientific
view of the art as pure superstition based on mediaeval ignorance, we must explain. We are seeing that everything, creature or man, in Cosmos, has its peculiar qualities and characteristics, physically, psychically, and mentally. These reflect similar attributes as general powers or qualities in Cosmos. In ancient lore, the main physical representatives of such powers, like the prime colours in the spectrum, are the planets, each invested with its own distinct characteristics and "powers." This is far too large a subject to go into in this book. However, each of us has in his nature, dormant or active, some of these characteristics and powers. In some mysterious way a map of the heavens, with the planets in their particular places at the precise moment of the birth of a person, does indicate with some precision what his overall nature will be, as tendencies, all his life. This is too well-established in too many cases to be gainsaid. What brings astrology into disrepute is the attempt to use it for fortune telling and prediction. The number and variety of the variables are far too great for even the most sophisticated computer to give anything like reliable forecasts in this field. But a man with some knowledge of and sympathy for astrology, and some psychic vision, using a horoscope chart as his "crystal ball" in which to focus his attention, may very well see marvelously what will become of a person, or what will happen locally or globally. Such individuals are rare and the best would certainly not ply their art for money. The oath of Hippocrates, taken by doctors, has a second part which directs them to study and take into account the astrological nature of their patients.
We could have mentioned the Alchemists among the institutions wherein the Ancient Wisdom was secretly studied. They flourished at a time when the "soul-saving" but body-destroying of heretics by the Roman Church was at its cruellest heights. The elixir of life and the transmutation of base metal into gold, the declared aims of the Alchemists with their queer chemistry, were their front to the world. They too were occultists. The "transmutation" was the purification and the regeneration of the lower man to become a fit partner for the higher one, the Ego in our parlance, the pure gold of the individual. His elixir of life was Spirit itself; his chemicals typified the qualities and powers of nature. The correspondences were not merely arbitrary .
Fortune-telling has traditionally been the role of the psychic. Many different methods are used, but where these are not purely mechanical with interpretations taken straight from a book or
learned by rote, it does seem that some clairvoyant faculty is brought into play. It is said that in a crystal ball or a bowl the Astral Light can, so to speak, be collected and focused, and a psychic operator can then see the images formed there. It is strange that the pictures are so often related to the seeker of information They are not just any pictures in the Astral Light. This seems to be a function of the peculiar magnetism of the seeker. Something about him attracts the relevant content of the Astral Light. Apart from this, however (and this is quite wonderful in itself), there is the matter of the pictures which relate to the future, to things that have not yet happened. This is a not uncommon phenomenon There are two levels of explanation.
We have seen that the Astral Light contains images of what will be, in terms of events seen as effects of causes already started. A psychic person can see these; they will usually be particular to a person (or group) who has, so to speak, conditioned an area of the Astral Light. Other prognostications and prophecies are those emanating from Egoic levels. We have already mentioned Ego inspired dreams with a prophetic content, but there are long-term prophecies of a much more general, less personal, nature, often in guarded and obscure language, which seem to be borne out in time. Nostradamus, for example, was one such prophet. Some of the oracles of the ancient world perhaps also come into this category. The fate of nations is sometimes foretold. It would seem that such knowledge of the future comes from an ability to perceive the contents of the Akasic records, not only as they relate to things past but also to things to come. This is high level awareness beyond the reach of the psychic.
When we can understand something of the occult view of space we may have a base for further explanations. Space proper, according to this view, has to do with our subjective nature and it functions; and in a sense it is where our thoughts are. They occupy "mental" space. This space itself is of the inner realms of being and, as we have seen, it is dimensionless in any sense that we can conceive of. There is no far and near in it. By these tokens similarly, with time there is no now and then. Perhaps we have digressed here but now we may be able to accept, however tentatively, the possibility of the future being here and now, at any rate at some level of being, in another dimension of subjective space This would be consonant with what we said earlier about duration and potentiality.
The process associated with death, mostly the separation of the Kama-rupa and the assimilation of the spiritual experience there from, culminating in the release of the Ego, and its slow return to consciousness, have been fairly fully dealt with. We should note here, however, that, in this state, that of which the Ego is conscious is a mental creation, entirely private to that entity and not observable, objectively, by another, except perhaps by one who could share that Ego's consciousness. We should note also that the consciousness of the Ego while in this state is of an entirely different order from what it is when the Ego is operating freely on its own plane of being, untrammelled by any personal conditioning, even of the most spiritual, which limits it during its Devachanic stay. This limitation is in the manasic element of the Egoic trinity, concerned with the last personal life.
There are some interesting descriptions in the literature of the finding of lost or stolen property. In one case a man with clairvoyant powers was consulted to see if he could discover the whereabouts of a saddle and other items stolen from a camp. The seer showed the man whose property had been stolen an astral picture not only of a recognizable place in the desert where the saddle was to be found, but also its condition and what had happened to the thieves. The saddle was seen to be bloodstained. It was recovered, with other items, from the place identified by the seer; and it was discovered that the thieves had been murdered at the spot, the saddle becoming stained with their blood. In this case the magician was able not only to use psychic sight into the Astral Light but he enabled another, not usually psychic, to see what he saw. It would seem that magicians are able to induce astral sight in others so that they can "see", in much the same way that fire walkers are able to take others through the fire without their being burned.
Other phenomena are based on the fact that we all create some kind of psychic link with the things we wear, and that there is such a link between us and parts such as hair severed from our bodies. Some valuable trinkets were once stolen from a room. The thief could not be traced until a "magician" was consulted. Given something belonging to the person who had lost the articles, he "magnetised" a stick. A passer-by was asked if he would help find the goods. He agreed and was given the stick. He said he felt as if it were pulling him along until he was stopped at a water tank. The stick, seemingly of its own accord, raised the man's hand so that it
could point to a spot in the tank. No articles were visible immediately but when the mud in the bottom of the tank was disturbed, there were the stolen articles.
On another occasion there was the finding of the body of a man who had drowned. His coat was thrown upon the surface of the river where the body was supposed to be. The coat seemed to cast around at random for some time. Then it went directly in a straight line to a spot and sank. The spot was noted and there under the surface was the man's body.
In these two cases it is interesting to speculate on what enabled the stick to lead the man to the tank and the coat to find its former wearer. In the first case the necessary force would seem to have come from the man carrying the stick, in the same way as it must come from the dowser who holds the divining rod. There could be no "power" in the stick or the rod. In each case the man's psychic faculties were brought into use and the stick was merely used as an instrument.
In the case of the drowned man's coat, it would seem that some elemental force was used by the magician, who was probably mediumistic or could otherwise endow the elemental with the necessary power to move the coat about on the water. This would be akin to the moving of a glass or a pointer on a ouija board.
We hope we have said enough in these two chapters to show that in modern Occultism we have a theory to account for the whole range of phenomena encountered both in true literature and in life, a theory second to none in its all-encompassing breadth and depth. It violates no known scientific truths and accords with experience. This should render it worthy of more attention and a closer investigation than it has hitherto received. It is a subject of enormous scope and of a profundity both to challenge the keenest intellect and to test the liveliest intuition.
At times the student, desiring not only knowledge but also significant attainment of faculty may feel daunted and become discouraged. Our greatest encouragement, however, is that the road of discovery has previously been trodden successfully and we have not been left without help. Throughout the ages the advice given to the aspirant after wisdom has been, "Man, know thyself." As we progress, the great beyond of psychism, and of all the wonders we have so far enumerated, become quite eclipsed by the great beyond of Spirit and the wonders of consciousness in its transcendent realms.
The achievement of this higher consciousness is the work of unfolding the divine powers latent in us all - our spiritual regeneration. This is the legitimate area of man's deliberate and conscious attempts at self-development, not the attainment of psychic powers for themselves. They come of their own accord when we are ready. In this great work of self-redemption the attempt is made to reconcile all the elements of our being so that they form a harmonious whole. During the process they become so purified as to be able to act as a channel for the highest spiritual impulses emanating from our divine Selves. This work must be started and performed by the personal self during earth life. Karma will see that every effort, as cause, will have its effect. Most of us have a long, long road to travel and, as yet, very weak and limited personal faculties for such a great endeavour. We can have every confidence, however, in the long term result. Overshadowing each of us is the Self, far greater than each struggling, unredeemed personal man. We say some more about this in Chapter 17.
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