[Page 3] INASMUCH as the Esoteric Philosophy stands rooted in Occultism, in the hidden aspects of man and nature, some study of those hidden aspects is necessary for any comprehension of that philosophy that aims at getting below its surface. Moreover, modern scientific and lay-scientific research is almost continually occupied with the problems of lesser Occultism. In the following paper I shall take up a series of points without too much regard to their sequential connection, under the headings of Hypnotism, Thought - Transference, and Mediumship.
A writer in Mr. Stead's paper, Borderland, over the pseudonym " X," explains to her readers that "we" (the nineteenth century omniscient scientist) have given up believing in the transference of an aura, odic light, or whatever one chooses to call it, from an operator in hypnotism to the patient, that we no longer regard it as true that anything is conveyed, and she remarks:—
"The old books contain pictures showing streams of light issuing from the person of the operator and directed towards the person of the sufferer. Now the operator has lost his importance; he send out no streams and has no special gifts; he is little more than a machine, and indeed machines have been invented which in many cases do his work perfectly well."
Some of this is mistaken. There is a communication of an auric influence, light, or fluid from operator to subject, and even from subject to operator. Men are contagious centres from the lowest of their planes to the highest.
On the physical plane the majority of diseases are contagious. On the next plane vitality is contagious, and the "superstition" that the very young and healthy should not sleep with the very aged and infirm is founded on a fact in Occultism. Further up, passions are communicable; hate, e.g., breeds hate, and love, love. Higher still thoughts are infectious, and yet higher, spiritual stimuli to good. The "magnetism" of Gladstones and Disraelis is to some a visible fact. The pictures of emanating auras to which Miss " X " refers are quite in accord with what may be seen by good clairvoyants. Inasmuch as when hypnotised the subject becomes passive, all those emanating influences from other men, which in the normal state we all receive, become in that state much more potent in moulding him. We have therefore to inquire (1) What is the state of a hypnotised man ? (2) How does the hypnotic state differ when produced respectively by a human operator and a crystal or revolving mirror ? (3) What is [Page 4] self-hypnotism ? (4) What are the communications from operator to subject ?
What, then, is the state of a hypnotised man ? What is the state of an anaesthetised man ? In the anaesthetised man, the body of sensation, the astral body, is expelled from the physical body, which in itself has not sensation. The astral body of sensation, no longer en rapport with the physical body, and therefore no longer receptive of physical sensation, and containing the personal consciousness, is thus permitted to place itself once more into vibratory unison with the lower astral planes, whereon are various pictures, and wherein are various forms of life; that is, it begins in common parlance to dream vividly. Returning to the body, it does not retain as a rule the memory of such astral junketings, for it cannot bring them into any sort of relationship with the ordinary physical sensation-consciousness of daily life. Now the difficulty in the study of hypnotism is that so many states are included under one word. Thus one form of hypnotism does not differ from ordinary anaesthesia. The astral body, the medium between the personal consciousness and the body, the receiver and transmitter of ordinary sensation, is as in anaesthesia expelled, and the aforesaid astral junketings go on merrily. But in a somewhat different phase of it, the whole of the manifold astral body is not expelled. The higher layers of it, as it were, are expelled, those in more immediate relation with the personal consciousness; whilst those lower layers that are the immediate bearers of sensation, and that surround the nerve tubes as an aura, the nerve-aura, remain. These sometimes remain in anaesthesia, and for this reason the returning personal self reads in them some record of what has been done, and gets, as it were, the pain after it has occurred. But in yet another state of hypnotism a little more yet, as it were, of the astral garments of the Ego may be left behind in the body, those layers that are accustomed to receive the first impress of the will, say to move the leg, and which then have the duty of transmitting this to the next layer, the nerve-aura, and through these the nerves are reached. If then, in a given case of hypnotism, the Ego is driven off, leaving this layer behind, he has assuredly left behind him a false friend. For this layer will as soon take orders from anybody else as from the man to whom it properly belongs. Now suppose that in this particular hypnotic state, while the Ego is absent, a suggestion is made that the subject shall stand on his head. The transmitting layers have received their order, they have no judgment, no self-consciousness, and of course they do it. Or suppose that the suggestion is that four hours after waking the subject shall stand on his head. It is registered on the tablets of these layers in the same way as we ourselves register on our own tablets a determination to wake at seven tomorrow morning. The Ego returns, and does [Page 5] not observe, as it were, that his house is occupied by a thief. Four hours pass, and the sheaths begin to make preparations like an alarm clock to go off at the hour for which they were set. In this the Ego takes part. We are not accustomed to find our bodies doing elaborate things for which we are not responsible; and so the Ego in our supposed case assumes necessarily responsibility for what his body is about to do, and half unconsciously invents for his own use a reason for that forthcoming action, and which, associating himself, as we all do, with his body, he feels the impulse to do. So he stands on his head, thinking it his own determination. Various morals lie hidden here.
We know that under ordinary circumstances we quite identify ourselves with our bodies, or rather with the consciousness and impulses of our bodies. We think that it is we ourselves who are hungry or tired, or aching; while this is the case we cannot rule that body or those desires, for we think that it is we ourselves who have them, and so we respect them too much to dominate them or outrage them by denying them gratification. We cannot rule our own very selves; the ruler cannot be identical with the ruled: so we cannot rule our bodies and our desires till we recognise that they are not ourselves. We saw that in some forms of hypnotism the ruler departs from the ruled; the Ego leaves the body, the home of the desires of the flesh and the personal self. Let us bear this in mind, and ask ourselves what else is Yoga, what else is meditation but this very leaving of the body. It may not be that the Ego betakes himself to another place in space, but his consciousness rises to an intensity and a purity that is quite out of relationship with the low, partly animal, and always unconcentrated consciousness of our ordinary embodied life. Suppose then that we wish to cure ourselves of a bad habit, we can make use of hypnotism, and while hypnotised get a suggestion to drop it, and then it will be gone. But it is unworthy, as a rule, of a student of Occultism, and detrimental to his progress, to get someone else to hypnotise him; he must be self-hypnotised. This cannot be done at once. We cannot all at once, without practice, learn to detach ourselves from the bodily consciousness. We must practise some form of what is technically called meditation, and learn during that half-hour to live only on the planes of the Self, off those of the body. Suppose that having in a degree learned to effect this detachment, we want to cure some bad habit, with this fixed thought we enter upon meditation, and having reached the point where we can quite clearly conceive that we are not the body, we turn back, as it were, and will for minutes upon that body that it shall no longer have those particular desires. If this be done every day for a few days it will become really difficult to commit that particular failing. For just as in the hypnotic state the lower principles are negative to the operator, so in the meditation state [Page 6] the lower principles, nerve-auras, etc., can be made negative to the Ego, since he does not now identify himself with them, nor respect them so much. In a simpler way this can be done by anyone who will spend the last half-hour of each day in reviewing his acts and thoughts of that day, and willing that in future he will not again commit those faults. In a still less degree, any act of willing, even if only for an instant, not to do a particular thing or to do it is this very self-hypnotism, which is Yoga. Hypnotism is of course of great value where the patient has not so much power as this practice requires, where he would not be made to believe in his own power, and with negative, undeveloped, and will-less people generally. The objections are obvious, but in the hands of conscientious operators who would absolutely refuse to try any kind of experiment, who think only of the good of the patient, who are morally and physically clean men, it is certainly a practice of great value to humanity. Some of its supporters, however, constitute in the magnitude of their foolishness, almost a sufficient reason for its total abolition. A physician, e.g., recently suggests that all persons shall be hypnotised in childhood, and the suggestion then made to them that they shall never feel pain. Suppose this practicable, it implies that pain is wholly an evil, whereas it is the chief teaching weapon in the hand of Karma.
Now there is a still further degree of hypnotism of which hitherto we have made no mention, though it is in line with the former ones. It occurs only when there is a powerful operator, distinctly evil in tendency, and of some progress, although in evil, along spiritual lines. In this case the Ego itself may be obliterated, not, of course, in essence, but so far as his total mentality is concerned; and for that time he is practically not existent, for there remain none of the threads that link him to any of the organs of mentality that rule the senses and collect therefrom their data for intellection and generalisation.
Now we can see something of the reply to two of our questions. We see in a measure what hypnotism is, and what are its degrees. And we see what self-hypnotism is. Its degrees are manifestly, roughly, three in number. There is that withdrawal from the body of all the principles down to and including the astral, and in doing this we shall not raise, or better, or alter our state of consciousness. There is the withdrawal from the body of the upper four principles, clothed in that form known as the thought-body or Mayavi-Rupa, and this, though it is usually attended by an elevation of consciousness, is not necessarily so. Lastly, there is the entirely spiritual meditation, in which we merge our thinking selves in the Higher Manas, a process wholly good and elevating. What is communicated from operator to patient ? Many things, and it is the denial, of these things that will ultimately land science and its votaries in the most helpless teaching and [Page 7] practice of Black Magic. On all planes there is a communication, as real as the communication of small-pox by the breath on the lowest and physical plane. There is a communication, or an absorption, of astro - physiological vitality, of that pranic light that flashes and throbs perpetually throughout the aura of all of us. We shall call this the contagion of the auric light, an emanation that, passing across from the healthy operator, swathes in its folds the auric sheaths of the nerves of the weakly patient. There is the communication of any state of feeling, from the red Kamic up to the highest spiritual Buddhic. There is the communication of the auric fluid, the fluid of thought, from the fourth (Lower Manasic) plane, or if the operator be an Occultist from the fifth (Higher Manasic) plane of thought. These thought-emanations pass across in suggestion.
I have referred once or twice to clairvoyants, and the evidence accessible to those who are not pledged students of Occultism is largely founded on the concurrent testimony of clairvoyants. It is useless to speak to those who reject the fact of clairvoyance, for these are either ignorant of or inaccessible to evidence, and both become crimes the moment the sceptic open his mouth. It is a fact, that thought is communicable, especially pictured thought; that this is the more perfect the more negative the receiver makes his mind; that in the hypnotic state the receiving mind is at its maximum of blankness; it is therefore true that in the hypnotic state the thoughts of bystanders and of the operator tend very markedly to dominate the subject, and this, apart from the spoken word. This brings us to the last point, viz., what is the difference in the hypnotic state produced by a man and by a crystal. The crystal in this case is the operator, and its aura tends to replace the nerve-auras of the subject; but its action seems in the case of the ordinary man to be of the lowest kind. That is, it is incapable of affecting the spheres of thought-aura, or mental aura, about the Ego, and consequently suggestions are not available to disturb the essential subjectivity of the subject. Different crystals and metals act in somewhat different ways.
Our next point is really that of the actual objectivity of astral pictures.
We sit quiet and there floats across our mind the picture of a room we have never seen, or across our memory the picture of a room we are familiar with. Is this an objective actuality on the astral plane of matter, as much as this room is an actuality on the physical plane of matter ? Is it true that it is a purely subjective hallucination, or is it real enough, and enough outside ourselves, to be magnified or turned upside down ? Is there any meaning to the scientific phrase "pure hallucination ?" We will take up these questions then: (1) What is the memory of scenes and persons and events; what is memory in general ? (2) What are mental pictures, and [Page 8] what is imagination. (3) What are the potencies of mind as a creator and fashioner ? On the highest and most real planes of the Universe there is no distinction between subject and object, between seer and seen; all is one being. This, as a state of supra-consciousness not conceivable to us, we are justified in speaking of as the Unconscious. Lower down come in the intermediary creative gods, and these, reflecting on their one aspect the planes of non-differentiation of spirit and matter, of consciousness and substance, and feeling the flow through them of this One Life, Ideation-Substance, on their other aspect translate the Unit-Duad into the Ideation on the side of consciousness, and its clothing or matter on the side of substance. Then, descending the planes of being, they lose hold of the primordial ideation, and drowning themselves in the sea of substance, they become the earlier monads in evolution. These at last become men, and begin again to recover that power of creative Ideation which is now our birthright. In strictness, of course, the word creation is wrong, for all preexists in the highest synthetic One. Now memory is this creation; it is the taking-in of experience throughout life, and the placing it as a long gallery of pictures that each of us creates and owns in the astral light. The brain-cells are keys that open to us this or that chamber in our individual galleries. Some of these chambers are locked, for the brain-keys have rusted, till the hand of death unlocks all the chambers for us, full of old and long-forgotten deeds and events, hopes and fears. We must not materialise too much even the astral light, for it is of many grades, and not merely a pool of photographs. It registers not only pictures of this life, but the more tenuous pictures of times far back; it is the home of countless kinds of lives and of the evil reliquae of men. It registers our subtlest intellections and prompts us to emotions good and bad. It pictures all the below, and from above it catches the fore-plan of the far-future from the Universal Consciousness, and from its tablets clairvoyants can thus catch glimpses of past and future. Substance is conscious on all its planes, and though that consciousness is very bald in physical matter, in astral matter it is brighter and more mobile, and on the planes of substance that are concerned with mentality and spirituality the consciousness of nature appeals to the Yogi as an all-present essence of thought.
If then two men sit, one passive and receptive to the thoughts of the other, who is active, and if thoughts, passing across from the latter, are felt and read by the former, we must ask, What is that influence which, radiating from one as a picture or feeling, finds a home in the mental sphere of the other ? It is an actual objective thing; it is created or fashioned by will, and it is sent in a definite manner to a definite place. And there is evidence that to the trained student it is possible to place such a picture on paper without any other apparatus than the same effort [Page 9] of will, forming there a fairly permanent impress. And this, done in that way physically, is done astrally by all of us every minute of our lives. Everything we do or think of, or that enters consciousness in any way, is at once by our (at present automatically acting) wills written into, pictured upon, the astral tablets of the earth. This is the unconscious memorising of them, and the power of conscious memory is the power to recall some of these and look at them again. So to that extent we are all clairvoyants. And the art of recalling our past lives is the art of recalling and re-looking at the pictures that we created about us in those lives, and left, when we died, locked in secure and difficultly accessible places in the astral light. Imagination is the same thing as memory almost; it is the grouping together in new combinations the old bits of memories, for we cannot imagine anything which in the raw material of its components has not happened to us. It is of use to some of us to recall past lives and relive some of their experiences, for we have not got out of them all that we might. There is no patent process, however, for doing it; it cannot be done in any useful fashion by mere casual impressions and bits of old astral pictures that may or may not belong to us. We must first cultivate the memory of this life. Every evening we must recall all the events and even the thoughts of the preceding day; and we must devote also some time to going back through the years, and noting all the events and deeds that have made us what we are. It is no waste of time, for as we re-drink the cup of the past we can note where we failed, where we sinned, where we gave way, and can take lessons for the future.
It is a living truth that no progress in Occultism is possible without the daily habit of doing this. Without it we can learn astral tricks, bits of parlour Occultism, but we do not enter upon that solemn reform and elevation of life that leads at last to a real life, with and in the spirit of the world. We can recall and kill the evil elementals that we threw out in passion, and thus undo some of the evil that we have contributed to the world's aura; we can gain thus strength to meet the old temptations that must ever come up again and again till they have been met and conquered, for Nature lets us off nothing, forgives nothing, fortunately for us. If, then, astral pictures or memory pictures are really outside ourselves and have a real existence, they ought to be affected by lenses, reflectors true and false, etc., etc., in the same way that ordinary scenery is, and this is the fact. A set of experiments in this direction are reported in Borderland. The clairvoyant who there reports gives the following facts as to her visions, and they demonstrate the fact as far as she is concerned.
1. Her astral visions when seen in a spoon are distorted as the reflection
of one's face is distorted in a spoon; that is, pulled out sideways when the spoon is horizontal; lengthened
when the spoon is held upright. [Page
2. When the crystal in which the visions are seen is reflected in a mirror, the vision is reversed like ordinary reflections.
3. In a doubly refracting flake of Iceland spar, the picture was duplicated.
4. Magnifying glasses magnify the picture.
5. The pictures fatigue the retina and give rise to complementary colours in the same way that ordinary coloured pictures do. If you look at red and turn your eyes to white, you will see green, the complementary of red. So, in the experiment, an astral picture of a red colour produced an after image of green.
So these astral pictures answer to the ordinary tests of objective reality. If it be replied that they were probably due to the expectation of the experiments, then the reply is the sixth set of experiments. The experimenter went to Mr. Dixey, the optician, who allowed her to look at her visions through a number of lenses all producing different effects, she being ignorant of the nature of the lens in hand. She created astral visions by an effort of imagination and looked at them through the lenses. Five out of eight trials with different lenses gave the same results that would have occurred in the case of ordinary pictures, and three gave results not reconcilable with any theory. Moreover, the experiments demonstrated that after awhile the left eye became tired, and the pictures were only seen with the right. Those experiments of course make the phrase "subjective hallucination" entirely meaningless, and show that both memory and imagination are the creation of real ethereally substantive photographs, communicable, as other experiments show, from one to another.
Now perhaps it is a little clearer what the astral body is; for so far as its appearance goes, it is just a continuously existing photograph of the body. But it differs from a photograph in that it exists before the body is born, though modified by it after. The astral is formed before the physical and is the model upon which the physical is built. Its form is partly due to the requirements of the coming Ego that will inhabit it, partly to the moulding imagination of the parents, and partly to the hereditary impress of the astro-physical germ that starts its evolution into activity. This last factor is the only one recognised by science. The astral body is not ordinarily recognised by the physical sight, which is attuned in nearly all of us to physical things only. It is not very easy to say how astral visions are seen. Call up the picture of a room at a distance. The mental place in which you see in imagination that room is the place in which astral visions are seen. I think it is true that astral things and physical things are never seen by the eye at once. An adjustment is wanted. When an astral picture or form, say a ghost, is seen as equally and simultaneously objective with the furniture of the room, it is because that ghost for some [Page 11] accidental reason has had enough physical particles temporarily built into his structure as to entitle him to take rank with the furniture. If you have a thickish section of tissue under the microscope you cannot with one adjustment of the lens see the surface cells and the deep ones; you have to alter it. And so you must alter your focus as it were from the physical adjustment to the astral, if you would be clairvoyant. Ghosts ordinarily do not hide the furniture. And now as a last point, let us make it clear to ourselves that the study of ghosts is not Occultism, not Magic, not even Psychical Research. Occultism in its highest sense does not deal with anything that is objective. It deals with the states of feeling in the Universe. It is an approach to, and a final union with the Universal Mind. And by Universal Mind I mean Universal Will, Impulse and Desire. Upon these things if we would be wise we have to trust the dicta of the Masters of Yoga, and from them we learn that there is throughout Nature, in all life, a desire or a will or an aspiration to be, to become, coupled with or anteceded by a clear knowledge of what it wills to be or to become. And we, when we aspire, share that divine desire; when not, then we shut ourselves off from it. So Occultism is that junction with the Universal that is aspiration for good, and in time it leads up to that place on which is written the forepicture of what will be, and that is Universal Wisdom, for there is nothing else to know. Such is Samadhi. But the lower nature clings heavily about us, and we are impatient. We still want this lower life and cannot aspire for long. Who then is the Occultist, and how shall we know him ? In the beginning he vows to himself that there shall be no more meannesses and weaknesses in his nature, and that there shall be always in his aims the welfare of all other creatures. So he is kind, and neither by speech nor act wounds anyone. So he gives; of his money where that will do good; of his counsel, of his knowledge, where that will help, and where knowledge is longed for; of his peace, his comfort, and his wisdom, when he meets those who are sore with the wounds of fortune, of fate, and of the world; to these he tells of the truths of immortality, the way to win it, and of the sweet and mighty purpose of Nature for man, though her hand be iron-gloved. He is strong and unmoved in his utter peace and kindly radiation upon all; in him there is no change of mood, no irritability from hour to hour and from day to day. To be with him strengthens and calms, and encourages. Every moment is an aspiration with him; behind the strong current of his thoughts and deeds is a steadfast still sound, coming from his heart, a sound that is his will, his conscience, his hope, his peace, his unfailing guide, and though his thoughts come and go, the sound is always. He is self-controlled, cares little for possessions and nothing for the comfort of his body, and his carelessness for possessions and comforts saves him from anxiety and disappointment. [Page 12]
In his mind is always his ideal of what he would become, and every instant he adjusts himself to that. He keeps his consciousness always at its clearest and highest point. His thoughts are universal, of the welfare of men, of the evolving and completing purpose of Nature. Daily he meditates, and then withdrawing all attention from external things he seeks union with the soul of Nature, yearning greatly for it, thinking of himself as spread in space, as present in all men and animals and things, as embodied and non-embodied love and charity, as one with the Higher Man whose voice he constantly feels in his heart, as the Universal Divinity. Nightly he reviews the day and marks where he failed to realise his ideal, where trifling thoughts and hindering thoughts and wishes wasted the precious time of life. In his study he examines man and Nature and their relations plane for plane, so that his spiritual advance may be hand in hand with the growth of his intellect, and that he may be every way rounded and perfect. Along all these lines he works, and then his powers begin to expand. He begins to touch the thoughts of men and feel what has not reached their lips, feel the coming and contents of letters they are writing him, the feelings they have for him, and the evil and good in their natures. He gets prognostications of coming events, shaping thereby the lines of his work, and that voice in the heart which to us is only conscience, becomes for him intuition and an intelligible teacher of the secrets of past and future. As his sympathy for men widens he reads more and more plainly their characters, and that occasional intuition of their thoughts and feelings which we all have, did we but study and recognise it, becomes for him a growing light into the inner selves of others whereby he learns the wisdom of humanity for himself, and for them the power of saying to them and doing for them that which shall most aid their growth, as he moves amongst them like a benediction. He sees the psychic colour of his age and country and city; the slowly gathering astral storms that come down to us at last as wars, murder-epidemics, and disasters to life on land and sea. He learns to stand alone, thinking his own thoughts, disentangling from his mind those other countless thoughts and feelings that are not his own, coming upon him as upon all of us from the waves of other men, dead and living; waves which we in our ignorance take as our own. He studies the lives that have other home than land and sea, lives that after countless years will live as men, and that even now take colour, evil and good, from thought of man. So he lives on, wearing down many bodies, his mind standing on ever higher and higher places of thought, having its continuance above the gulfs (for other men) of birth and death, gulfs which for him are now bridged by the unbroken thread of memory and foreview. For he stands in the wings of the stage and watches unmoved in his thought the changing scenes of life, the uplifting and downletting of the [Page 13] curtain. Lastly the Lodge of Masters and Teachers of all times and peoples open for him its mighty doors; he reaches the place and companionship of all the great ones who have gone before and now stand watching and helping with strong hands the woes and struggles of our poor humanity.
By such a career, none of us need be appalled; none need stand back saying, "This is not for me", "This is too great a Path". Nothing but has its beginning, and that beginning is when any of us suppress an angry word, or root out a sensual habit, or nourish one growing aspiration for the light. Let none of us have too much humility. The goal may be far off, but to him who fights even a little, the uttermost victory is certain. Life gives place to life, and the hardly established habit of today is the innate instinct of tomorrow. Much, very much, of our future depends on what we do now. It is a cyclic turning-point in human history, the latter end of this nineteenth century, a meeting-place of diverse Karmic forces. If we lend our aid now to Nature, struggling between spirituality and materiality, at the bottom of her arc, we shall reap good fruit, the good fruit of birth, when again the fires of Occultism are burning brightly, when once again humanity has moved into an auspicious cycle, having earned Nature's gratitude. If not, if we stand back, if we let those in the front of the fight stand alone against the spirits of matter, many births may chance to go by before we happen again upon a cycle where the beginnings of real growth are to be made as now they can be. To begin work now is to make our personal cycle of future births attuned to the spiritual cycle in nature; ignorance is no crime, but to fail now, knowing the right, is no light thing; it sows a seed pregnant with future evil; it is to miss the protection of the wings of auspicious time, to face the perilous chances for the growth of evil in us of a long chain of casual births throughout the centuries, births wherein growth and progress if they come at all, do so against far greater odds than now. Some among Theosophists say where is work to do. Work comes to the man who can do it, and they who truly have no work are fit for none. They must do a work upon themselves before Karma entrusts them with some for others. To study, to think, to destroy the personal evils of uncharity, luxurious tendency, idleness, to aspire always for more of the waves of spiritual impulse that come sometimes like a warm-scented wind upon us all, these all can do in making ready to be to others the teachers of whatever good is in us. Then we shall find our work at hand. And if no pupil comes, still we have worked with Nature. We have slain some evil, done something to fill the waves of thought about our heads with good. We need not wait to be taught anything. We can spurn utterly the false humility that would have us to be grovelling worms, for they who became Christ and Plato and [Page 14] Buddha were once as we. The problems that we have to solve in life are the same for no two, each has his path, his fate, his difficulties, but all the paths converge, and the diversely perfected souls of the far future will form each one facet of the cosmic jewel. In the, light of our ideals, in the light of our several pictures of that golden future, we can all move hopefully and confidently through the Karmic tasks of daily life.
In using the term medium it is easy enough to see that we are using a word which has many meanings, for there must be as many kinds of mediums as there are kinds of influences to be conveyed. In the narrow terminology of Occultism a medium is a human organisation through which the forces on the unmanifested side of Nature becomes obvious on the manifested side. We go to a spiritualistic séance and we see the lightly touched or untouched table move; we hear noises, see lights, smell perfumes, hear bangs, musical notes, whole melodies, voices; we see the furniture move, small nicknacks about the room arrange themselves into shapes, circles, crosses, etc.; pencils write on slates, writing appears on paper without visible agency, the piano is played, the medium is lifted off his chair, all kinds of things are brought from different places or precipitated out of the astral light; forms appear, the forms of those dead and not dead, bits of forms, hands and heads, and of these forms some speak in the accents that belonged to them when living. For all or any of these things to occur, there must be present a human organisation called a medium; the manifestations of all kinds do not depend on his will, but he must be present. They are weak if he is conscious, strong if he is unconscious; in proportion as they are strong is he afterwards exhausted, and some of them ruin his health. We have therefore to ascertain (1) what is the organisation necessary to constitute a man a medium; (2) what are the forces that act through him. It is manifest that his consciousness changes. He may be conscious wholly on this plane in the ordinary way. He may be half conscious on this plane, and half on another, the astral plane, seeing a few things there with some effort. He may be wholly unconscious on this plane, and wholly conscious on the lower astrals. In that case he will remember nothing on waking, and while asleep may either speak or not. If forms are appearing and physical manifestations are going on, he will not speak. If he speaks it may either be in his own manner or a totally different one. He may speak platitudes, which is the most usual case; he may say things that will be known to someone present; he may read pictures from the mind of anyone present, moving someone to tears by telling them that he sees the spirit-forms of their dead relatives, "hovering o'er them". He may see denizens of the astral world, the little lives who live in [Page 15] its blue waves, and describe them in the language of nursery biology, or he may dignify them as spirits from the eternal worlds. He may see and describe things going on at any distance in space, may read closed books and letters and comport himself in similar interesting ways, all the time speaking in his own voice and manner or quite otherwise. And if otherwise he may have the voice and manner belonging to some marked personality who may be or have been a real personality or not. On higher astral planes he may hear music of great splendour, see noble pictures and describe them, meet still higher astral denizens, read the mental thoughts as well as see pictures in the minds of those present, thoughts buried and forgotten, or present and recent, known to their possessors and unknown and getting into high astro-mental currents he may make orations of no mean kind, purporting to come from any dead personality of any mental rank. He may say things that are true of history or of personalities and events known to no one present, and he may predict the future. None of any of these things are done by his own volition and none are remembered afterwards. In that he differs from the genius, and from the student of Occultism, who in the former case voluntarily places himself on high astral planes where are the music and scenery and poetic feeling he wants and who, remembering, expresses them in noble harmonies, pictures and poems to the benefit of humanity; and, in the latter case, intentionally reads the past and future for his own instruction. Or, far more rarely, he may rise to the actual plane whereon are resting the Egos of the dead, the glorified Devachanees, and though he cannot break into the sacred peace of their consciousness, he may catch their colour and the aura of their thought, bringing to those to whom he speaks what seem actual messages. If yet higher, if of abnormal purity and speaking amongst an abnormally high-souled circle, he may be used by a real Master as a vehicle of communication, just as on the lowest plane he may be used by a spook; by a decaying Kamic Rupa of some dead Ego planes above, in Devachan; by a fully alive and conscious suicide or victim of sudden death by accident or judicial murder; by any Ego recently dead who has some reason for wanting to communicate something; or by some being on the evil side of Nature. The keynotes then of a medium are passivity and abeyance of will, and the forgetfulness of what he has done while entranced, after waking.
The voluminous literatures of spiritualism afford evidence in any quantity of the foregoing phenomena, and "spirit-orations" resembling tea in last night's teapot. We want to study more the medium himself than what he says, more the "intelligences" acting through him than what they say and do. The medium then is essentially passive; he has foregone his human self-conscious volition; his state is the antithesis of meditation, the antithesis of the mighty strain wherewith a genius or a [Page 16] Yogi tear their way to the upper planes of being and consciousness, returning thence with full memory and power of expression. The genius and the Yogi differ in that the latter, the Yogi, has a chart of the way; the genius aims blindly, and though he uses every effort to ascend, he does not know the exact path nor its steps, he cannot transcend a certain point, he, in the main, limits his spiritual acquisitions to what he can express, and he does not, like the Yogi, conform the whole of his life to this one thing. Though the genius and the Yogi are the same thing, the difference is very great. Let us try and imagine this path of ascending states of consciousness. We look at the room, perhaps feel hungry, and we think of these things in our ordinary casual way. Let us call that the physical consciousness. Now close your eyes, and call up any chance pictures that your imagination suggests to you, say, a forest with its trees, a little lake, the singing of birds, the dew of evening, the lap of the waters upon the shore, the breeze gently stirring the trees, the scents of early buds. Concentrate on this so intently as to forget all else, and at last actually think yourself in that forest, meet people in it and have adventures with them, talk with them, quarrel with them, fall in love with them. When this has become perfectly real to you, your physical consciousness will vanish; you will be asleep or in a trance.
What is now your consciousness ? It is astral; this is the second plane of consciousness, the astral plane. Now pass beyond all these planes where there are pictures to be seen. Listen to a piece of the highest music, and listen with such concentration that there is nothing else but that in your consciousness; no pictures, no thoughts, nothing but the state of high and splendid consciousness that the music arouses. There is no way to describe this, it has no relation to words or to people or to anything. It is absolute spirituality, and we will call it the spiritual state. If you have done this in perfection, you have got to a state in which there is no-subject or object, no matter and no Ego, for in the throb of that supreme consciousness you have just that and have forgotten that you are a self. It is the place in the Universe in which matter and self have not yet separated. I am of course supposing that it is a state induced perfectly, as only a Yogi of many lives of training could do. He has dissolved in that state the world and men and himself. The Yogi does not reach this state by listening to music, but by a prolonged effort of will to get up higher; and if he did, he would soon reach the state in which the actual music was forgotten, its sequences and cadences, and nothing but the spirit of it remained, the yet higher glory of the consciousness. See what state he is in. He is neither this nor that man, he has lost his limits; there is neither space nor time, but a state — not a state of a man, for wherever the body may be lying the man has dissolved himself; there is no here or there, no this [Page 17] moment and that; he has reached the plane of the universal timeless and spaceless Spirit, changeless, that which is and has been and will be, the universal comforter for which saints and mystics of every age have sighed. If you object and say that it is God they have sighed for, I reply that what they really want and get is the state of consciousness that the thought of the glory of God tends to produce. You can ultimately reach this state by any road that raises consciousness, but in the end all roads converge and lead to this sacred place or state. It is Nirvana. The trained swimmer can cast away his belt and supports, and the trained Yogi needs at last no conceptions to help him up, only the will to get up. It is useless to multiply words about this; taken from below, it is the state where man loses himself in Absolute Spirit; taken from above, it is the state where Spirit has not yet become man and matter. At the beginning of the way up you are a man looking at matter and the world; then you become a man looking at nothing, but feeling; then you become the feeling only, having dissolved yourself out into the Eternal Spirit. Taking it from above downward, the Eternal Spirit becomes beings who feel only, who neither think nor know, and these we call elementals of various grades; finally they begin to feel on lower and lower planes, and to see, know, and think, and then they are men. On its other aspect the Eternal Spirit becomes matter, the thing seen, known, and thought about by men. Or, to trace matter downward, we get first the spirit of music, then music, melody and harmony, then astral form, and finally matter. We now see why music is one of the best paths upward, why the Hindoos said that sound was the Spirit itself, and how sound lies behind form and matter. The sound-pictures of sand on drum-heads are a cosmic fact. That which appeals to our consciousness as sound and music is the very force in Nature which fashions all forms, arranges all matter, astral and physical, and out of it comes human consciousness, just as in meditation human consciousness returns to it. I am forced to pass quickly through a very difficult subject, but it was necessary as a preliminary to explain some of the many difficulties in mediumship, for in human consciousness, in those parts of it not yet recognized, not made self-conscious, and in the inner sheaths in which that unknown consciousness is located, lie folded up the phenomenal powers over matter used by the Yogi and the medium. To take it another way. Take a knife and gash the skin. It gapes widely, for the cells of the skin on either side the cut pull the sides apart. Now, observe a cut in a man who has died of accident; that is driven out of the body, astral and all. You will find after a little while that your gash does not gape so much, and ultimately not at all. With the departure of the astral body, the enormous force of cohesion of the cells does not exist; and it is enormous, almost immeasurable if you recollect that there are millions of cells. Again, administer [Page 18] an anaesthetic; the upper layers of the astral body are driven out with the Ego, but the physical layers of it remain. These hold the force necessary to keep the heart going; an enormous store of force this also, and to maintain the cohesion of the cells. Give more of the anaesthetic, drive out most of the physical remains of the astral body, and you drive out therewith that part of the astral organisation which holds the force that keeps the heart going, and the man dies, or you can drive out part, and simply lower the heart. Where is it gone ? There are areas of force in us that we have not yet learned to use; we cannot control our hearts, nor the elasticity of our cells. In other words, there is a huge mass of force stored in the astral bodies which we cannot yet use. We can only understand and use a little of it, enough to move the limbs, much the least part of it. After death, when the astral body floats about at its own sweet or not sweet will, it discharges itself slowly, like a charged electric conductor, and is harmless; or it discharges itself quickly, and makes bangs and unpleasant noises, as spooks do sometimes at séances where they are wanted to, and elsewhere where they are not wanted to, as you may remember from D'Assier's Study of Phantoms, and ghost stories in general. But in records of séances, you will read of feats that the strength of a man is inadequate to effect.
So far as I understand the matter, the astral body is like the physical body, a non-uniform thing. The latter is composed of those little parts that we call cells, each a distinct life. The former, the astral body, is composed of similar little astral lives, called physical elementals. They are not conscious as we reckon consciousness; that is, though they have a bald sort of consciousness like a plant, a sensation-consciousness of a crude kind, they have no Ego or mind, and are therefore not self-conscious. They are force carriers. I believe that an electric current consists of a stream of these; that a charged electric conductor is a metal whose aura is charged intensely with enormous numbers of them; that a magnet is also a metal having an aura arranged in oval lines, along which they circulate continuously in arcs; that that are many groups of them with many sub-groups, the lowest corresponding with and having its home in the auras of minerals, the next in that of plants, and that all in a modified form comprise the astral or vital body of man; that is, that modified by the aura of man they cohere as round and in a magnet, and constitute by that modified motion his vitality and physical force; that they are liberated in small numbers by every act of will; that in the physical phenomena of mediumship they are liberated irregularly in largish quantities to a distance from the body, and cause the irregular phenomena; and that after death, the principle of cohesion having departed, they dissipate as the astral spook, either slowly and normally, or quickly as at séances, and reinforce [Page 19] in that way the phenomena due to the medium. Other physical phenomena are due to the putting forth by the medium of an astral limb, coherent and composed of these lives. Save in the case of an Occultist they are not much under the control of the will. Why they are under, apparently, the control of a medium who has less will than the normal man who cannot control them is our next point. But bear in mind that the medium is exhausted in proportion to the success of the phenomena. We know that at death when the real man is departing from the body the brain is stimulated by what one may call, in electrical parlance, the breaking current of death, and every cell, roused into an abnormal activity, wakes up the astral pictures connected with it, and every fact, deed, and memory of his life stands in that solemn moment before the mental eye of the departing self. Something like this occurs in the trance of mediumship, which differs only in degree from death itself. It differs in that the Ego's consciousness is very dim and uncertain, and, as it were, separated from its memories, which are to some degree objective to him. The process is a wholly abnormal one, and the astral vitality differs in condition from that which obtains at death. That of it which should be engaged in maintaining in activity the physical basis of consciousness is set free, and produces physical phenomena of various magnitudes. Such physical phenomena are not controlled by the will of the Ego, who is, in his entranced condition, paying no attention to them. They may be reinforced by the additional presence of casual spooks. When they give evidence of intelligence there may be a multitude of causes for that, which we shall attempt to examine. But the significant factor is a large amount of force, residing in an astral body, and now liberated from the control of an Ego, prepared to manifest itself. That astral body, though, in consequence of the trance of the Ego, it may be regarded as an untenanted house, is yet a furnished house. It is charged with the whole life-history of the late Ego, it is in relation with his aura. Note, therefore, that when it gives up its force, it may give it up in producing phenomena, such as raps, that may express some of the facts which as potential memories lie in that astral body, memories of the Ego's doings and happenings at any distance of time back in his life. They are not memories, for they are not illuminated by the otherwise occupied consciousness of the Ego, they are not intelligent, but they are the astral basis of intelligence, of memory; and the emanating force is, so to speak, emanated after a pattern, out of a mould, and it may therefore, apparently intelligently, really automatically, rap out scraps of thought, tag-ends of memories, all in fair sequence, that come from the hidden furniture, perhaps long disused, in the house of the Ego. Similarly, an emanation may be contributed by any of the circle who may thus disgorge their dead memories; and lastly, the said emanations [Page 20] may be guided to their utterance by the consciously or unconsciously acting wills of any members of the circle. In thought-reading experiments it often happens that the thought read is not that now consciously present to the operator, but one which he has totally or partially forgotten. We have next to consider the fact that some of these latent memories in the minds or rather astral records of the circle may be more or less vivid pictures of their own dead relatives, of their tricks and favourite phrases. These, when automatically repeated by the active astral forces, may produce an almost overpowering impression of the actual presence of such dead relative. In the same way, a vivid picture, say of Shakespeare, formed in youth in the medium's mind, coupled with an acquaintance with his writings, may produce an equal impression of the presence of Shakespeare, who may explain that he is happy in heaven if the medium is a Christian. Further, if the astral of the medium comes out of him wholly, as it sometimes does, and gets enough matter into itself from the auras of the circle to become visible, it may take actual mould into the form of the dead relative or of Shakespeare, seeming to the excited and hypnotised circle sometimes to speak, thus making the illusion quite perfect.
Now above the astral body comes the Kamic body, and this in an account of mediumship has next to be dealt with. The Ego who enters the state called Devachan has for that time of Devachanic stay no desire of physical sensation. But during life he had many such desires, and the astral atoms which had taken from him the colour of such desires cohere after his death into an astral form, not the astral with which we have hitherto dealt; the Kama Rupa. After a time they disintegrate and go their strange ways in Nature, but till they do so they frequent many séances. And they are more dangerous than the class we have just dealt with. They are invisible to the ordinary clairvoyant. They do not, as the others do, suggest mental pictures, but they arouse in those who contact them, evil desires. They resemble in their effect the association with decidedly depraved persons. Every astral atom in association during life with us has a little gleam of consciousness. They are our children and will take what education we give them. We can colour that consciousness how we like. Act badly, that is feel and think badly, and they learn to try and repeat that feeling, as monkeys imitate. That is the formation of habit, for what we train these little beings to do they go on doing. We can put what we like into them; their little consciousnesses are in immediate relationship with our lord-consciousness, our minds. They learn readily, and go on repeating whatever we teach them. They become our evil Karma and destiny and urge us to our doom. And they return in future lives. We cannot purify ourselves thoroughly till we have wiped their faces, for we have made them dirty. You cannot at once use a herring-barrel, [Page 21] as H.P.B. said, to keep attar of roses in. There is nothing much in a paper on mediumship then to say of these following relics that we kick temporarily off from ourselves when we betake ourselves to Devachan, except that unless the medium and circle are of exceptional purity, they will have their worse desires intensified by the necessary presence of the larvae, succubi, and incubi now known as the Kama Rupas.
Leaving these we will pass to the highest of the astral bodies, to that very sublimated sheath of astral substance that is in immediate relationship to the mind, the Lower Manas. It is no more uniform than are the physical, the astral proper, or the Kamic bodies, but is composed like these others of lives or elementals. They are on the plane of our thoughts; are, as it were, each the body and outward form of a thought, are set in motion by every movement of our minds, and may take lodge with others who feel and see our thoughts. Apart from this, it is capable of becoming the vehicle for the whole body of our consciousness. It is this which appears sometimes at the death of a man, announcing that death to a friend, and waking up in him the full picture of the scenic accessories of the death. It is the body of the consciousness of the Yogi, who therein, and not properly in his physical body, can transcend the common planes of consciousness. Our mere thought of another place will sometimes send enough of it thither to make it appear to beholders as a phantom of ourselves. Now inasmuch as it is the body of meditation for the Yogi, it is the body of trance of the medium sometimes; and a medium is a pale travesty of a Yogi. A Yogi moves upward in regular gradation from plane to plane of consciousness, keeping always fixedly in his self-consciousness; he does not move from anywhere till he has made a landmark there for his self-consciousness. Imagine a savage in a crowded street, dropped there suddenly; he would, as we say, lose his head, lose his cool reason, lose his clear grip of the situation with himself therein. Let that stand for a picture of a medium who has drifted suddenly from the physical on to another plane of consciousness. Now imagine our savage trained slowly to bear the street, trained in villages, in towns, lastly in respectable suburbs first on Sunday during church-time and then on Saturday. In that way he would be able to stand the street, however crowded. In the first state he would remember nothing of it save a hideous din. In the second he would quietly observe and remember it all. Let that last be the picture of the Yogi. For the new planes of consciousness one may reach in meditation are as confusing as the crowded street. So the Yogi trains himself by regular degrees, trains his observation, trains his faculties and memory for every plane, and is confused nowhere. So however high he gets he remembers it all at last on coming to the common ground again. At last he learns even in sleep to preserve an unbroken consciousness throughout [Page 22] the night. Let us call the planes of consciousness four in number: the ordinary physical, the astral, the Devachanic, the purely spiritual. Each are of many grades. From the ordinary physical state of consciousness, the medium is apt to drift to the astral. The words of the book he is reading get blurred, his eyes lose their near accommodation, he falls out of consciousness of the room he is in, into a brown study. Faces present themselves to him; he seems to himself to be seeing and talking with nonexistent people; to be engaged in other doings; he is half-dreaming, building castles in the air, drifting from one topic and one set of memories and events to another. He is half on an astral plane. Then he comes suddenly to himself with a start, " Where am I ? oh, here ! " That is an elementary excursion on to the astral, and during that time the various physical phenomena we spoke of before may happen. And as he wakes, the memory of what he has just been seeing slips from him like a dream, and nothing but a few blurred impressions remain. But if as a Yogi he had accustomed himself all day long to register on his brain every chance astral picture that floated along, if, sitting in meditation, he had sternly trained himself to suppress sight and thought of the room he was in, to catch in full self-consciousness the astral visions, holding them with an unshakable will till he noted whether or not they were worth anything, retaining or dismissing them at will, and calling up only when he willed at last; then the case is very different, a full memory would be obtained. And he carries the same process up on to the upper planes.
The next state of consciousness we examine is the Devachanic. Devachan is the home of the dead, a semi-divine rest in the bosom of mother-nature. It is beyond the ordinary astral planes. As the medium, and he must be a pure one to get here, drifts up on to this, the astral visions cease to be chance ones, they cease to be meaningless, cease to be disturbing, cease to be irrelevant. Devachanic visions rest on that which is pure in consciousness; they are the events of the past life without the pain and evil. All that is best in the mind, all that is pure, all that is elevated, all that has to do with the love of family, of nation, of mankind, all that has to do with philosophy, with insight into the principles of Nature, with art and with music, all these alone are in the mind, and the body and its passions are left far below. So the imagination, thus pure and thus elevated, creates its world from the materials of the memory of the past life, and in the glorified life now lived there is no pain, no baseness, no blurred outlines. That is Devachan, and in it the self of the man has what it will. If its life was disturbed and unhappy and unloved, now it has that peace, that bliss, and that love which on earth were vainly longed for; for now the longing suffices to create them. If in life that self had longed for the treasures happinesses of music and art which poverty [Page 23] denied, now again the longing creates them. If the self yearned in life for time to think out the secrets of the Universe, and time was denied, now time is propitious, and according to the capacity of the thinker the truth is revealed to his unclouded vision, truth not wholly forgotten or easily recovered when birth comes again. Such is Devachan, and to this we have supposed our medium to ascend. But if the astral visions are forgotten, how much more these ? And again the Yogi, reaching this plane by no easily gliding trance, but by stern effort at self-control, and registering every inch of the way, forgets nothing, but for his own development and of his own will, seeks Devachan as a stage in his growth, a temporary foothold in his meditation.
Now, lastly, the spiritual planes, culminating in Nirvana. The illusions of Devachan have faded out, but the light of consciousness burns with unceasing intensity. Whatever consciousness is created in us by the noblest expressions of music, whatever consciousness is developed in the saint in the supreme ecstasy of his contemplation, whatever idea we can form of the consciousness of a Buddha lost in his love and pity for mankind, these consciousnesses, carried to so far a point that selfhood is lost in their intensity, dissolved into the sense of universal presence in space and time, and in all lives, and of unity with the aspiration and purpose of Nature, these constitute the spiritual consciousness.
Take once more the three planets, astral, Devachanic, and spiritual. All of us have our current in space. The unevolved elemental life of Nature enters into us on all the planes, and imprinted with our seal and superscription passes out again into astral nature. We receive the raw metal of life, and send it forth stamped and coined from the mint of our minds. Astral space is peopled with our emanations, our thoughts high and low, our desires good and bad, with every breath we drink the thoughts, ideations, and desires of others. Then, concentrating on some receptive organism, they find outlet in act, if with us they have not got so far, and the Whitechapel murderers often but do the murdering for the community, having by the evil of their own nature, and by their negativity, made themselves the meeting-place of all the evil currents of that community. What wonder then that the medium, throwing his mental receiving apparatus to float passively upon the whirlpool and also cesspool of the astral light, becomes the vehicle and mouthpiece of any current to which his mental condition and habits relate him. So in his trance he may speak of scenes now going on almost anywhere in the world, with and without relevancy to the circle; he may come en rapport with the astral reliquae of the dead, near and far, speaking things that pertain to the past; he may enter the currents of any of the circle and speak their inner secrets and forgotten past; speaking also all [Page 24] these things more or less coloured with his own personality and bias, just as Swedenborg fitted his visions into Christian verbiage and formulas; whilst on a lower plane the physical phenomena, lights, sounds, and movements of the séance room may be transacting themselves; whilst indeed his automatic physical hand, guided by his and other astrals, may be writing and drawing similar matters and pictures; or the physical hand being still, the astral hand may be doing the same things. Mounting yet higher through the astral levels he may discern yet higher things; hear music, read the long past and foreread the future, coming into touch with those subjective forces that are yet moulding the future, as one predicts that in an hour the clock-hand will be an inch further on the dial. Even when his consciousness is on its normal physical level and occupied with its surroundings, his hand, guided by the astral automaton, passively receptive, within him, may write that of which he knows nothing. Ascending yet higher, he may place himself in direct touch with the Egos in their Devachanic rest, and make himself a medium between them and their survivors on earth, translating into astral messages the currents of love that continue for those they loved on earth. For Devachan is real enough, and those therein, though they are mercifully excluded from real knowledge of the present condition of those on earth, yet do actually help them and communicate with them on the planes of feeling, just as on earth a man communicates to a friend of whom he is thinking affectionately the help and warmth and feeling of his love, though neither know of the other's whereabouts, doings, or thoughts. For feeling, emotion, love, hate, carry further and more easily than thought, and to these neither death nor space are any bar. And love, too, carries further than hate, for it is the recognition of the fact of unity, and hate is insistence upon the illusion of separateness, Lastly, our medium, if of very great purity, may perhaps reach the planes of Spirit, touch the border of the consciousness of a Master, and in some rare instances they seem to have delivered such high influence as that. But all these latter degrees of mediumship are very rare, and the ordinary records of trance orations are great cataracts of unvarnished platitude.
So we come to the end of our study of mediumship, and, facing the medium, ask him what good he is to mankind. The indictment is that he cultivates passivity as a virtue, whereas Nature enjoins activity. Neither his moral character nor his will grow by his doings. He is a psychic and spiritual opium-eater at best, and at worst he is a cesspool of spooks. As a rule he is rotten with vanity, and disdains the hard study of Occultism and the strenuous practice of meditation that sterner students undertake. In strict truth he is unpicking every stitch of work that Nature has done upon him. He is not a genius, not a Yogi, not an Occultist, but the [Page 25] opposite of all of these. And if the medium cannot benefit mankind, what shall we maintain of the Occultist ? The Eternal Spirit of the Universe is in all of us knowing itself not; the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not; it descends out of its unity upon the first step of the seven rungs of the ladder of being; it breaks into lives, Gods of creation, and across the eyes of each of these is drawn a veil, the veil of a garment consubstantial with its plane, letting through only the light of that plane, a living register of its life and experience thereon. And in a while, each of these steps down upon the level below, and gathers about himself, though he knows himself not, another garment, another register of other experience, another vehicle of creative action. And though each on this downward path knows not himself, and wrapped in his thickening veils knows not the glory of the light and life that is in and out of him, that is his very Self, yet in his works he does unknowingly the formations and creations that are demanded of him by the inner light, whose law he feels and yet does unknowingly. And then other steps and other veils, and at last at the seventh he is buried in the still life of inanimate nature, having unknowingly weaved about him the latent knowledge and possibilities of all those descending levels. Now through eons of further and now expanding life in herb and brute he has reached humanity, and in him is now dawning the knowledge of self, self-consciousness, that " I " which in its fullness is the Supreme Life. About each of us are yet those seven veils, dark, unfolded, unused, veils that can be and will be wings, keys to unlock each a portal of Nature. We let them lie, perhaps, like the wings of a chrysalis, wings that when opened, shaken free in the sunlight, will carry us plane beyond plane again to the highest. And in that flight upward we illumine the fields of being with our self-consciousness. Descending we knew not ourselves; the waves of the One Life, which is also Law, flowed through and through us, yet it became not wisdom nor knowledge, for wisdom is the beholding of Life and Law with the eye of Self, and Self we then knew not. Now, going up, we can begin to say, I know, and therefore I remember, for those garments, bodies, corresponding, each with its plane, register all the possibilities and manners of life, each of its plane. So to lose hold of our self-hood is to drift back again behind the stone-life to that other, which though higher, is not yet self-life. And this is the sin of the medium. Foregoing self, which is not foregoing selfishness, he lets slip his grasp upon the rudder of his consciousness and glides aimlessly upon the open sea, becoming once more as one of the early down-coming beings in evolution. How then to avoid mediumship ? First make an end once for all of all those moments in which we sit thinking of nothing in particular. For it is not we ourselves, properly speaking, who think those scattered thoughts that come drifting in idle moments [Page 26] through the chambers of the mind. How seldom do we say, " I will think of that till I have solved it". An idea drops into our minds and we act upon it, and that we call decision. This is the age of mediums, of mediums full-blown, and of mediums developing. We must put a strain upon ourselves; we must learn to reach the end of each day with the knowledge that from moment to moment we hunted from our minds every thought that was not of our own choosing, that did not bear upon our growth and upon our work. There is (it is said) a certain Master in Occultism who sets to his pupils one chief task: to begin in the evening with the last thought, to proceed back from that to the thought that led to it, and from that to the next link in the chain, and so through all that weary chain, uncoiling all the line of thought. They mark as they pass from point to point every thought that was irrelevant, that drifted in upon them and was accorded a home. The man of this age drifts ; he can spend an hour in a train and not think one single thought that was of any moment or worth to any mortal, and of which the majority were distinctly retrograde. All this we have to alter; let us live more really, more strongly. That hour in the train was wasted, died in its birth, stolen from ourselves and from others. What is the length of life ? Is it number of days, number of years, or is it the content and value of the days and years ? An hour in the train ! why there are whole lives wasted, emptied rotten into time's dustbin, no single thought, no single aspiration to stay their rottenness, to be a moment's food for the disembodied self where he looks back throughout its length of life. So John Smith is again John Smith, again and again, for his life has sowed no seeds that can sprout in the fields of eternal thought. We are all preparing mediumship for some future life, if we do not grasp ourselves with more strength, and think, fight with the drifting crowd of thoughts from others, and cease to pass the false coinage of the nineteenth century. As with all other things, the remedy is effort. Imagine the thought of that last hour of life, the first of death, when, doing under the stern tutelage of Nature what we neglected in the years of life, we go solemnly and accusingly back through those years, back, back, and never an aspiration to comfort our despair, never one hour of high thinking, never one heart-pang for the pain of others. In that time we are not as now, drifting about amidst the things about us; closeted with ourselves alone, there is nothing to narcotise the conscience, nothing to hide the accusing finger of the self of Nature. No words are needed here to accentuate the lesson; there can be none of us who have never suddenly wondered of what count we are in Nature, how worse would be mankind if we had never lived. Let us take share in the agonies of Nature's advance, do something, think something from hour [Page 27] to hour that shall help her and transform us from her creatures to her helpers.
We talk much of the rush and competition of life. There need be no rush in us, we need not reflect the flicker of the red fire of cities. We can have an unmoving faith that good descends upon the world at last, and that the last acts of the drama of humanity will breathe the air of a vast peace and brotherhood. Knowing that, where is our unrest; knowing that, how great is the opportunity for him who already knows the end. For the very thought of that sweet end, itself a prelude to still grander beginnings, will give us already foretaste of its golden calm, and moving in that ideal vision we can spread something of its tints among men. Let us think then; let us review ourselves from hour to hour, noting for our warning and for our future care, the thoughts that drifted and went no-whither, the petty irritabilities, the wounds we dealt out thoughtlessly as we passed along, the selfish grip we laid upon the common things of life, things that in the gift would have advantaged somewhat perhaps the course of some other life, and that anyhow in the gift would have wakened in one other and ourselves the waning spirit of brotherhood. We have talked of states and planes of consciousness ! let us note them and place highest beyond all reckoning the state that follows upon acts done in the spirit of brotherhood, and that state when we noted it, we can make the common one of our lives, even when there are no acts to be done. Here is our great feat of occultism; here is the culmination of the planes of meditation, the fruit eaten by the Masters. It is within the power of every mortal. Create by some kindly act between yourself and one other that indescribable consciousness that is not self-applaudation. Manifesting at first as self-approval, it becomes a glow at the heart, a friendliness, a kindliness, which beginning for one, ends for all, a benediction from the conscience, a momentary loss of the feeling of smallness, of meanness, an inner fearlessness, a feeling of having acted under the approving eye of Nature, a fellow-feeling with life and lives one and all. It is all these. And now you have got it, study it, learn how to produce it even when alone in your room, at every hour. Note at night where in the day you failed to have it, and next day fail less. Meditate a few minutes daily on it, even an hour, and excluding every thought and every idea, remain in that strong feeling. Go out, as Buddha said, in imagination, to the four quarters of the earth with it, and go upon all planes of life with it, from man to the very stones. Think nothing, only feel this. Then in that practice, in that noble humanity, in that high consciousness that fades not from moment to moment, we become batteries charged with the intensity of charity and brotherhood, and whoso will can draw from us a deed and a thought that will help him and make softer the hard face of Nature. And in that meditation, the [Page 28] sacredest and the highest upon which mortal man can enter, we take surely and slowly a birth into new life that cannot be jarred by the body's death, life lit by a sun that hath no setting, holy and strong and vast as Nature. For Nature is holy; throughout all her space is the breath of one conscious life, and they who would know it, and feel the inspiration of its touch, must take this royal path. Far up upon its heights, but not too far to help, stand they who from age to age have been and are yet the teachers of humanity. Take whom we will of these, so that we fashion in our minds some living image and in our hearts some imperishable faith; that faith stands upon a living fact. This century is losing its ideals, and if we would save the age, we must make them live again. In and with ourselves is the first work, to learn to know. If we would have their companionship, feel within their strength, hear within their voice, we must become in spirit like them, work as they worked on earth, open in deed, in thought and in meditation that conscious communication. Let us exclude the lurking doubt of the lower self, blinded in matter, and try this supreme life, for it will not at last fail us.
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