THE MYSTERIES TODAY
The Theosophical Publishing House Ltd, London. England,
Part 2 of 2 - Click here for Part 1
|The Mysteries Today||
|The Need for Scepticism||
|The Perils of Spiritual Aspiration||
|Meditation in a Vacuum||
|Some Thoughts about the Masters||
|Yoga through Maya||
|Those 'Dark Forces'||
|The Spirit in Health and Disease||
|'Memento Mori': An approach to Physical Death||
|The Incarnation of the Angels||
|More about the Angels||
|The Handing on of Power||
|Fifth Race, Sixth Race||
|A Madness that will pass||
|Love, Sex, Marriage||
|'I Myself' — Some reflections||
|'. . . And the powers latent in Man'||
76] Death of the body is inevitable. What we call
life, physical life, that is, has been described as a condition
in which the result is always fatal. That is the one ineluctable
certainty. But it can be approached in
many ways. The simple animal, unencumbered by a human mind and
a sense of individuality, instinctively tries to avoid it by flight,
fight or by immobility
mimicking death. But when his time comes, through age, he tends
to retire into a quiet place and dies ‘willingly’ and
without fuss. The human being, not a simple person, only too often
approaches the inevitable with fear, or desire - both equally binding
- and distress. He may have an intellectual idea about the after-life;
indeed, in theosophical circles as well as others, he is told -
at second-hand, by people who have not themselves, in this life,
been through the gate - precisely what will happen to him ‘on
the other side’. But when it comes to a direct confrontation
with the situation, one only too often finds that even people one
would expect to
know better, have only fair-weather faith and are just as much
afraid as the average mortal.
First we should try and distinguish various factors involved around physical death. One is how one comes to that point: either quickly, yet naturally; violently, as in accident; or by a more or less prolonged and painful state of disease. One may well be afraid of the latter. But death itself, so far as the body is concerned, is something other than the way one dies. The two should not be confused. Then there is the question of what happens when the body dies: does one live on, in some other form? Or is one extinguished like the flame of a candle, one’s only real immortality being in the diffusion of one’s acts and words into the mass consciousness of mankind? And if not, what then? This last is the theme of this study. For we have, besides our intuition, traditional lore, embodied in the perennial philosophy of man which is the true Theosophy, a number of ideas which are worth pursuing.
Let us suppose that the ideal way to leave one’s body is in [Page 77] quiet self-recollection and in full consciousness of what is taking place. It must be something like going to sleep or taking an anaesthetic. People are often surprised when one suggests this to them, and that therefore there is no need to expect a shock when it happens.
If this is so, and oneself as an individual mind continues at least for a time after leaving the body, much as it was, one can foresee two immediate troubles. One is that one will no longer be able to affect directly the course of physical events. One’s unfinished business will remain unfinished, a matter which may worry those who have not taken the precaution of setting up a will, of keeping their affairs up to date from day to day, with reasonable care. The other bother may be a certain disorientation, for a time, due to the absence of the controlling inertia given by the physical body. This, we may feel, served to slow our mental acts, giving us time to think while events took place. Now we may be bewildered by the rapidity with which our thoughts act: no sooner do we think of doing a thing or going somewhere than it is done. We may need to get used to this state, though previous thought and training in self-awareness, seeing our minds at work, in daily life, and still more so in sleep and imagination, may give us a basis for finding out mental balance again and regaining control. (This is, of course, a hypothetical suggestion, though a few of the more sensible writings supposed to have been dictated by the ‘dead’ support it).
More far-reaching are a number of other consideration, perhaps best outlined in the Tibetan scripture, the Bardo Thödol, to the translation of which is given the name The Tibetan Book of the Dead. This book bears a marked resemblance to the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, suggesting a common background, though the images in each are somewhat different. There is, moreover, one other difference: the Egyptian book is, nowadays, not used as a manual of instruction for the ‘departed’, while the Tibetan one is live and in constant use. In both books various stages are outlined telling what is supposed to take place when the individual is set free from the particular robe of flesh he has been inhabiting. In Tibet these stages are called the Bardos, of which there are three in the period between lives - for reincarnation is taken for granted for the ‘unliberated’, [Page 78] average man. It is interesting to realize how much there is in common between the Egyptian, the Tibetan and a number of books written during the period between the Dark Ages and the start of the materialistic revolution, in the language of Christianity. And, one might add, these books tune in not only with our own intuitions but with the thinking of the deeper depth psychologists of today.
Thus we have a background of ideas which are not only useful as speculations, but also as a guide to practical preparation for the inevitable event of physical death; and, for the intelligent person, for much more than this: for the 'death' or extinction of the illusory self which is the focus of our everyday thought and feeling.
I do not propose any attempt at detailed study of these teachings. The student can read them for himself. The American paperback edition of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, with commentaries by Jung, Lama Anagarika Govinda, as well as by the actual translator and the editor (the book is listed under G. Y. Evans-Wentz as author or editor) will fill in a great deal. But in sum, they show us what the student of depth psychology will be able to confirm for himself. Moreover, though put in a rather over-simplified way, it fits in with the ideas of life after death of such people as C. W. Leadbeater — who was not a psychologist.
Briefly, it seems, as we die we fill out the retrospect of our individual past, not only of necessity of the immediate past life, but of our whole past as individualized minds. But, in addition, we are offered a vision of our future, our dharma or teleology. At this moment, we can also see 'The Clear Light', God, by whatever name we conceive of the truly transcendental Essence which is our true Self. Most people, however, miss that moment and so the wheel of rebirth carries them on through time. Then comes something which seems obvious: that our minds, full of ideas, feelings and so on, are opened up to us, but now, without the merciful screen of that part of the etheric which both divides and links our inner consciousness — that part we call 'the unconscious' — with the tiny realm we call 'the conscious', i.e., brain consciousness in waking life. We have to face ourselves in all our sordidness as well as in the happier and pleasanter parts of ourselves. There can be no lies [Page 79] or evasions at this stage, and we see images, the Tibetans hold, of both the good and the fear-producing 'deities'. They, as they tell us, are the products of our own minds, enjoining us neither to desire nor to fear them, but to keep a corner of ourselves ever focused in the Buddha, or the Clear Light or whatever, which is Real.
This admonition that we are facing only thought-forms and not actual, self-generated and self-existent 'elementals' or demons, is paramount. The exact nature and order of these visions, must, clearly be individual. The general principles, as always, apply in their particular way to each one of us, in accord with what we are as differentiated individual minds.
can assume that the task of facing ourselves is at least in some ways a
gruesome one. But, just as the happy parts are valid, and rightly to be accepted,
so are these painful ones. That is the only way to pass through the purgatory
the Tibetans call the Chönyid, or second, Bardo before
we enter the third, if we have not by then become so much aware that
we can pass on into Nirvana,
The third Bardo, called Siddpa tells of the stages leading
to rebirth — most
usually into another physical body, for another incarnation, but not
of absolute necessity: there are, it seems, other, less easily understood,
In other words, the climacteric of physical release goes hand in hand with the possibility of a genuine, spiritual rebirth. Other climacterics, between the Bardos offer us other, if less intensely felt, opportunities. But for most of us the rebirth is a repeat of what has happened many times before, into a baby body, with all its tribulations before it.
The general idea is in no way contradicted by what depth psychology has discovered. Indeed, Jung suggests that what Freud discovered of the 'birth trauma', and the Oedipus complex, etc., is in reality a working backward into the Siddpa Bardo, concerned not only with physical conception and birth, but with something much deeper and more fundamental. Be this as it may, it is an interesting thought.
From the viewpoint of the theosophical student, there is more to be said. For, though the book tells of observances directed at helping the 'dead' person to find his orientation in the other phase of his existential life, the Tibetans also tell us that it is a book which the 'living' can and, if he is wise, does [Page 80] make use of in healthy preparation for the critical moment we call death. It invites people to prepare for death in advance, by making themselves aware of the psychological and spiritual aspects of what is to happen to them later. It suggests that these very things can be worked out now, while still in incarnation, if one undertakes the necessary yogic disciplines. This too is not a purely Tibetan idea. It is to be found in other terms everywhere where esotericism of the right sort is taught. Even in Christendom, and despite the outlawing of Gnosticism, this teaching has persisted, perhaps in secret bodies unknown to the public, but even in exoteric societies, of which Masonry is the best known.
These rituals aim at setting the individual who goes through them on the path, bringing him face to face with the pattern which includes birth, life and death, and in particular with the one most people try and avoid thinking about, which is physical death. If this were understood and practiced the end of an incarnation would be much easier for many people. There is nothing unhealthy or morbid in thinking of what is to come: unless we introduce morbidity by being overmuch concerned with the matter. But then exaggeration in any direction is morbid, including the concern so many people have over food and health, or over what they believe to be spirituality and purity.
At this stage we need to consider the principle of Karma, the working-out of past causes impinging on the present and so causing effects. Looked upon as complicated book-keeping, it would seem that debit is set against credit so that an eventual balance is reached. This, however, is a static conception. Karma needs to be envisaged as a dynamic situation, in which our every moment plays a part. It has been suggested, in modern terminology, that our Karma at every existential moment, is constantly modified by ‘feedback’. That is, that external forces set in action in the immediate moment by our minds (i.e. from inside ourselves) constantly modify the immediate resultant. In other words, if we merely say of a situation, ‘It’s my Karma’ and leave it to work itself out, it will drag on until exhausted. But if we realize that through our minds we can alter matters at will (the use of the word ‘will’ means Will working through Mind), this gives us a grip on [Page 81] Karma we would not otherwise have. This is what the teachings we have outlined tell us, in their own language.
Operating now has the effect of changing what will happen then, in the future. (It may, but this is a matter too complicated to go into, also alter what has happened in the past; but we will not go into that here.) Operating now means that we have to be aware of that now, bringing the full force of our awareness to bear on the instant present. And as we do this, we make out future just as our past has made us what we are at the moment. As we learn our lesson, what we are at the moment is changed; and as this change takes place in positive manner, so do problems whose solution seems to lie in the coming time become resolved as it were in advance. If so, when we leave our outworn bodies, we shall arrive in the other world with a minimum - ideally, with no - karmic burden to be worked out.
is one additional idea which, one feels without being certain, makes
sense. That is that Karma, being the fruit of action, and the physical world
being the world of action, through the body and its interplay with other
entities at that level, no fresh Karma is generated while one is out of the
body. One is merely concerned with what one brings with one into the Bardos.
This merciful dispensation, if it is true, may apply only to the unawakened man, not yet alive enough mentally to be active in the psychic worlds by any direct volition of his own. If so, things may be different for him, being under his control in so far as he is awake to the difference between his individual psychic field and the world in which he now dwells. But for the most part, still, the field of operation in the Bardo is the subjective one of our own inner minds. It is to such people that the ancient teachings would apply in their more literal and exoteric sense. If the mind can awake sufficiently at any time during the period between lives, it is said that the individual can, just as he can in physical life, find his freedom. If he does not, the weight of unresolved material is that which carries him ‘down’ again into a body, where he will have both the same hopes and the same obscurations as before, depending on what he has learned during the previous turn of the wheel.
Why not, then, get to work at once, even if one is physically young, and prepare for death in the sense of trying to learn to [Page 82] liberate oneself from the things that bind? There are too many people, even intelligent ones, who automatically retreat from what frightens them, what they are ashamed of, what they do not care to look at. It is a policy which merely prolongs the time of being fettered to the cycles of life, through death and rebirth. In every instance one should try to become aware where resistance to something crops up in the mind, hardening it up, where one finds oneself trying to cling to a situation or a person or an experience; or for that matter, rejecting it. Then, having seen what one is doing, the wise man tried to understand what makes him do this. He does not, however, need to try and change his feeling: if he really understands, it will change on its own accord, the change perhaps not being its quality but its value and importance to the individual. It will tend to become superficial and remote, and then, perhaps, drop away altogether. Meanwhile, one can enjoy the desire, avoid the thing one dislikes; but one does this consciously and in full awareness. A sense of humor is an essential need, the ability to laugh at oneself without feeling bitter about one’s idiotic behavior!
What it amounts to is that, in preparing for death, one learns what ties one down to personal life. One loosens one’s moorings and sits lightly in one’s body, ready for the moment when the inner Self, the God behind the scenes, lifts one out of it.
I feel that, if we wish, we can die graciously and sweetly even if our body is sick, in pain, and perhaps unpleasant owing to illness. There is a Latin tag, ‘Memento Mori: Remember that you must die’. There is also another, which we can, adapting it, speak cheerfully, and say, ‘Morituri, te salutamus’: ‘We who are about to die salute thee’ – gladly.[Page 83]
The word ‘science’ means ‘knowledge’. Hence, anything which adds knowledge to our minds is, literally and exactly, ‘scientific’, ‘knowledge-making’. It is only by degradation that the word science has come to be applied only to certain methods of learning. In much the same way, we see ‘catholicism’ or ‘universality’, used only in the restricted sense of the encircling and limited theology emanating from the Vatican, or ‘Theosophy’ for the system of ideas set out by H P Blavatsky in her own idiom.
With the new, emerging mentality, it seems reasonable to propose that the field of science be enlarged so that it will include much which is nowadays considered as ‘unscientific’ because it does not fall within a framework dictated by the intellect and excluding the parallel function, feeling. Feeling, at a certain level, is the opposite of intellect in that while the latter separates the knower from what he wants to know, emotion (ex, ‘out’ and moved ‘I move’ means a reaching out from oneself towards the object. So, while intellect ‘objectivizes’ (ob, ‘away’ or ‘ apart’ and jaceo, ‘I throw’, the result of emotion is to ‘con-fuse’ – to melt together’. Hence, emotion and science as at present understood are incompatible, and, so far, the upstart, modern science has strenuously pursued objectivity and tried – with limited success – to avoid the confusion which feeling brings.
We are, however, moving into a new mental age and if we are really concerned with science in the larger sense, we must gradually find that we cannot ignore the feeling aspect of our minds in order to concentrate only on the aspect which thinks, is logical, and has all the virtues which the emotional person lacks. In Vedantic philosophy Vairagya or emotional objectivity is the first quality of the would-be yogi, and leads on to discriminative understanding or Viveka. Scientists, or those who have the scientific attitude without necessarily being trained in any particular branch of technical science, should by now have [Page 84] developed this power of mental objectivity sufficiently to be able to carry it with them out of the womb of intellect into the wider field which includes feeling. The feeling needs to be similar to that we have as emotion, but without the 'movement-out' of emotion which identifies us with the object to which our feelings are directed.
This higher octave of feeling is doubtless that sometimes known as Buddhi. But Buddhi can also be seen in another aspect where it is the climax of the thinking function when it reaches beyond logical, step-by-step building. It then becomes what L. L. Whyte has termed 'pattern-thinking' as distinct from 'atom-thinking', Teilhard de Chardin the quality of the 'noosphere', the psychologist 'intuition', and others 'true perceptivity' as distinct from ordinary perception. It is also the difference between intelligence and mere intellect.
If this contention, that we are now in need of a widening of the idea of science is correct, who should be more apt to work in it than the student of Theosophy ? His qualifications are not of necessity a high I.Q though he should be able to think clearly; but he should also be able to feel deeply yet unemotionally. For only so does true intuitive perception and evaluation of the world in which he lives develop, and give him understanding and that inner experience which makes of him a Theosophist in the true sense.
This introduction was written with a particular subject in mind which cannot fall directly into study from the viewpoint of intellect-science. For the latter requires to be able to measure, weigh and in other ways to compare object with object, effect with effect and so on. And this subject of study cannot be fitted into this framework. I refer to the whole question of what in India is called the kingdom of the devas, in the west, of the angels. I will even suggest that, just as we study animals under the heading of zoology, the physical earth as geology, we should now use the term angelology. And since we are dealing with entities which (so it seems at first) are non-physical and hence non-mensurable, it becomes futile to try and discuss — as it is said was once done — how many angels could sit in comfort on the point of a (physical) needle: there is no [Page 85] connection between such a physical object as a needle and the angel who has no physical organism to sit with. On the other hand, as I shall try and explain, feeling-science could have much to say about this kingdom, both in the positive sense of trying to understand it and in the negative of 'debunking' the often sickening sentimentality, as well as the anthropomorphism of what is said about them.
First, however, we must try to find some premises from which to begin our study. Of prime importance is whether angels or devas actually exist. And here we find a diversity of views. Intellect-scientists of the old school would categorically say that they do not. More modern ones, less dogmatic, might be a little more open; though the tendency is today to think in more general and impersonal terms, of a 'life-stream' behind biological forms rather than of intelligent and more personalized entities.
Depth psychology offers us a viewpoint which in some ways is two-edged. For the analyst of the non-materialistic schools knows that, at a certain point in individual self-discovery, he will dream and see visions of angelic and other mythological figures which are of great importance to him. They convey 'messages' from somewhere beyond his ordinary personal mind. They tell him about himself and the state he is in, and in that sense they are 'divine messengers'. But it is usually assumed that these images are created by the mind of the dreamer, emanate from within himself, not that they represent self-existent entities of any kind. But the more intelligent psychologist allows for the point of view of the clairvoyant who tells us of angels or devas in terms of independent beings which they see or which, sometimes, seem to 'visit' them and teach them. Indeed, I myself once asked Professor Jung the question whether he thought that mankind would have the use of images of angels, 'elementals', centaurs, unicorns and the like if they did not, somewhere, somehow, exist in the universe in their own right. I may, of course, have misunderstood him, but the impression he left in my mind is that he replied that if they did not so exist we should not have model images to use for our own purposes: we should not be able to use them as symbols, characters in the drama created by our minds to teach us about ourselves and our spiritual needs. [Page 86]
The ‘opposite number’ to the psychologist is the clairvoyant, often deplorably ignorant of the powers of dramatization of the mind, and more concerned with his attempts to observe the psychic world outside himself than with what his own mind is doing. He often professes to despise psychology, believing that his visions give him a position superior to the mere mortal who has not got his psychic powers of direct observation, however flawed these may actually be. Books appear, supposedly relating teachings given to such a chosen individual by an angel – though whether the latter is supposed to speak English or to use words is usually not made clear. Occasionally these ‘teachings’ have the quality of true inspiration, repeating the profound truths of the Perennial Philosophy, though sometimes they degenerate into pure fantasy.
Both the psychologist who insists on pure subjectivism where angels are concerned, and the clairvoyant who takes the opposite view, miss half the theoretical possibilities: the first is not accepting at least the idea of the actual existence of angels, the latter in repudiating the creative and inventive powers of his own internal mind. So both may be wrong, while both may be half right: which leaves us with the question of how to make use of any dream or vision we may have of a denizen of the angelic kingdom.
This question is of considerable importance to the true student and can be resolved only in a pragmatic manner. For whether or not we see an angel objectively or ‘invent’ it with our mind is, for this angle, unimportant except in theory. What matters is that, at this moment of time we have seen something with the value of myth. Myth has been said by Dr Besant, as well as by depth psychologists, to be in effect truer than so-called fact: i.e., fact at the physical level. For it goes deeper and has more true meaning to the individual who experiences it. So the student needs to consider what his vision means to him, in terms of his state of mind when it occurred. That is, what ‘message’ it brings to him from the spiritual or divine Self within.
This, of course, applies principally to the kind of angelic visitation which makes serious impact on the individual. But it also applies to all other kinds of observations, at all levels, physical, psychic or psycho-spiritual. For, if there is any validity in clairvoyant reports, there is a population of entities [Page 87] in the psychic worlds which are not particularly exalted, however large they seem to be in terms of physical space, however fascinatingly beautiful - or ugly - however interesting. Their impact is comparable to that of watching bird or plant or animal life in the physical realm, and the effect they have on us depends on what they show us or make us feel: the level of our being on which they impinge; a matter to which we shall return a little later.
We have not yet answered the question we started with, as to the actual and real existence of the angelic kingdom. What seems like a digression, above, was, however, a necessary first step: to observe, one has to determine the viewpoint from which one is observing, as well as the mechanism for doing so – i.e., on minds and how we use them. Now, we come to two important points with regard to evidence in favor of angelic reality. One is that mankind in every part of the globe and at all times in history – save perhaps for a small minority of modern, skeptical sophisticates in the so-called civilized world – has believed and still believes in angels, devas, fairies, gnomes, leprechauns, sylphs, centaurs, fauns, satyrs, local gods of trees and rocks and streams. Intellect-science tends to denounce such ideas as superstition and then, perhaps later – as in the case of E.S.P – it may discover that when the superstition is discarded there remains a solid basis of reality at the core of a popular belief.
Then we have the evidence – which can only really be assessed in terms of feeling: ‘Does it ring true?’ – of endless people, both educated and illiterate, who claim to have seen and experienced for themselves the reality of ‘the little people’ or of greater and more important beings such as we call angels. Some of these observers, of course, are hysterics, unbalanced people; others, may be glamoured by moonlight in woods and on hills, perhaps assisted by having taken alcohol or other drugs which loosen the solidity of brain-consciousness. But some are sober, perceptive individuals who are not likely to be merely self-deceived.
we take the latter into account, we find a certain consistency in what
they have to tell us; from which we can go further in trying to understand
what it is all about. [Page
Let us assume, at least for the present, that there actually exists a kingdom of nature which is that of the angels or devas. They are not incarnate as humans and animals are incarnate and, for the most part, are invisible to the eye, inaudible to the ears — existing outside the range of our senses. It is not difficult to make this assumption if we can rid ourselves of the idea that life and consciousness can only function through bodies like our own, largely made up of molecules of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen; and also of the idea that Mind can only operate in the same terms as our ordinary, workaday mentalities. God, the Creator, is surely not limited to such a pattern, and must be capable of other kinds of organic structures. He may be able too to originate minds in which the world-picture (the maya by which we live and learn and evolve) would be quite other than our own. I have elsewhere suggested that if our perception of space-time were different, so that time was the element fixed, as to us space is fixed, and space flowed through time, we should be so different from what we are that two humanities might meet and mingle without either being aware of the very existence of the other — except when consciousness rose to the level where space and time as we know them ceased to exist. (I shall come back to this detailed point: it is significant.)
On this basis it is reasonable to postulate that the devic kingdom, which is said to live on earth alongside of man, really exists, not so much parallel with him in having a similar mind and consciousness, but, as it were, at right-angles to him. The devic mentality would 'cross' the mental track of the human being, each one working in its own particular direction as ships on different courses cross one another's wakes.
This alone would account for angel and man remaining unaware of one another as we are today. But there seems to be a further side of the matter: that the devic realm covers a wide range between the highest and most transcendental and the densest and most material aspects of what we call Nature. It runs from Super-nature which we scarcely know, through Nature as we know it, into Subnature which, again, we do not know, and is concerned with everything which is manifest in the whole universe. Its function is to build — and destroy — everything which is formed or formulated, at every level from the [Page 89] highest spiritual down or out to the most material. And it does this because it exists as a hierarchy in which different grades or steps may be indicated. Yet it needs to be seen as a whole. In much the same way, the advanced intellect-scientist of today views things less as separate packages of life than as an integral process running, to use Teilhard's phrase, 'from Alpha to Omega', with the whole alphabet between: a single vast evolutionary process which needs to be understood as a mathematician understands an integral equation which includes an infinite number of differentials.
So we can speak in one breath of archangels, angels and the whole traditional nine orders of the angelic hosts (of which the Christian Churches speak but about which they have no knowledge or eschatology) down to the tiny, evanescent creatures among the flowers and plants in our garden; and doubtless further, into the level of atoms and subatomic particles; and perhaps beyond into realms of which we human beings have no cognizance whatever, if for no better reason that they lie outside the range of ourselves as earth-mankind.
In common parlance the word 'angel' has come to mean not merely a messenger but a messenger from God. This specialization in the sense of the word is not without significance. We may take it to point to the 'crossing point' of the human with the angelic kingdoms at a level beyond that of the personal mind, in the realm of Being as against that of workaday existence. In other words, when one of us perceives an angel, he does so at the level of the peak experience, hence the vision brings with it something of a numinous quality, a sense of the divine presence. But if both tradition and what clairvoyants tell us is correct, the angelic kingdom extends well 'below' that of the divine or numinous; and here the Vedantic division of the multiple worlds into rupa and arupa levels is of great help. 'Rupa' means 'form', 'Arupa' means 'formless': or, extended in space-time versus unextended. This division corresponds in our own world-image and our image of ourselves, respectively to the spiritual and the psycho-physical levels. In the same way we may think of rupa devas and of arupa devas — the word deva being of course, Sanskrit for our Greek-based word 'angel'.
The 'divine messenger' perceived at peak moments seems [Page 90] to be an image projected from the arupa, spiritual, or un-extended levels, and stands for the 'higher' ranks of the whole devic kingdom, as man stands for the higher rank in the biological. From this we can postulate that this kingdom devolves into the rupa or form worlds, first as the devas clairvoyants and other sensitives know about as covering a valley or a range of mountains, to more localized foci of natural energy such as give rise to the idea of local gods; and then on into the still less developed forms of the various traditional kinds of 'fairy' life, naiads, kelpies, undines, sylphs, gnomes, leprechauns and even smaller creatures. Maybe some day these may be classified into species and varieties and so on, much as we classify animals and plants today: but that would require a perceptivity far beyond that of almost any human being as yet in existence. And even then problems might arise because, if what some sensitives tell us is true, one would have to account for the disappearance of the 'fairy' life which appears when snow falls and try and determine what happens to it when the snow melts. (A hypothesis on this matter may be that in reality many of these lowest denizens of the great kingdom of invisible nature which includes great angels as well as tiny 'fairies' do not have permanent form at all, but, at all levels represent vortices of energy, not in any human form; and that the shape in which we human beings see them are projected by our mind, clothing these vortices in forms with which we are familiar. So, when these vortices take on a particular character as in snow, ice, water, fire, air, when the physical state which they represent changes, they fade back into the pool of more or less un-differentiated energies which lie behind all natural phenomena. When circumstances allow, this sea of energy becomes active in the manner appropriate to these circumstances; whirlpools, as it were, become manifest, and we have a show of a particular order of 'nature spirits' which lasts as long as they are needed. It is we, or at any rate, those with less differentiated vision, and with preformed pictures, in our minds, who then dress these vortices up, give them more or less man-like bodies, faces and clothes. The human shape is not intrinsic to the devas although, it seems, certain levels of kingdom have the power of mimicry of the things they perceive, and so produce strange figures in imitation of actual people or things. All this, of course, is quite [Page 91] unscientific, even from the angle of feeling-science: but it makes interesting speculative material none the less.
Two matters arise out of this discussion: first, what is the role of the devic kingdom, on this planet at least? And how can we human beings come closer to them in consciousness ?
These two questions seem to be interrelated. For the angelologist even at this beginning stage suggests that the role of the devic kingdom comprises the carrying into effect of natural law — a term which some prefer, with justification, to that of 'the will of God'. Their minds are such that they are simply agents of those laws, just as man's mind is such that his function is less simply to carry out the laws than to develop variations in what automatic Nature would do. In this sense the devas can be considered as representing, incarnating, Nature and its laws at all levels, physical and mental, perhaps spiritual too. Continuing this line of thought, it would then appear that the rupa level of the devic kingdom is as I have said represented in everything having form, or every idea or feeling formulated, within our scope — and perhaps beyond it. In other words, every physical object, every feeling, every idea or 'thought-form' is the incarnation of the devic life at some level of its hierarchy.
The human being hammering a piece of iron, digging in the ground or writing a poem is, whether he has any sense of it or not, acting or reacting in conjunction with the angelic kingdom. He may try to 'conquer' Nature, opposing what the angels are trying to do; he may co-operate with them; he may misuse them; but in all cases he is in contact with the angels! In the same way the scientist weighing and measuring some physical object is weighing and measuring a devic 'body' but he does not realize it in those terms. And when we non-scientists look at the world around us even in the most casual manner, we are in the presence of the devic kingdom itself, embodied in the things we see. When we think, the form taken by our thoughts, the form of feelings we have, are equally devic 'bodies'. So that we need not be clairvoyant or have any other kind of developed E.S.P. to make contact with the angelic kingdom. On the other hand, to appreciate its nature we need to have something else, something of the quality of the real [Page 92] artist. This is the higher octave of feeling which is not in any way emotional, let alone sentimental. It is difficult to define this quality save that it goes with the sense of mystery, of wonder which leads on to that of the livingness of all things. Even 'dead' bodies are alive, for by that we merely mean that a lower form of devic life has taken over an organism in order to dissolve that body. Truly perceptive people are aware of the living quality of a common pebble, a piece of metal and what have you, let alone of growing things like plants, animals and human beings. The sky, a rainbow, a shower of rain shows them life just as much as does a man, though in a different form. This is why 'peak experience' can occur at any time and in any place when the busy-ness of the mind is stilled for an instant and the individual perceives, in quietness and silence.
Is this difficult? Yes, because it is too simple, and our lives are usually lived in action and complexity. What we need is not to do but to stop doing, and find the wonders of the quiet mind. Then, as H. P. Blavatsky tells us, we shall hear the 'Voice of the Silence', which is that of the gods or angels among whom we dwell. Maybe this essay merely reflects the fantasy in my own mind: but I suggest that the basic idea is one worth pondering on in quietness. It may bring much richness to our lives. [Page 93]
wrote Francis Thompson about the devic kingdom and our blindness to
it despite — as
I suggested earlier — the fact that we live in and by and through
it in its manifest form in both the physical and psychic worlds.
The poet goes on to tell
us that if our eyes were opened, there
the vision of angels into London's crowded city. It
is a good question and if the earlier article suggests not a fantasy
but a certain truth about the world we live in, it can be answered by inquiring
why we human beings want to inquire into anything except the most utilitarian
problems. The fact remains that man is inquisitive, that what he discovers
through his inquisitiveness not only enlarges his mind, but can also
perhaps reflect into the utilitarian sphere itself. This
applies particularly to the sense of the livingness of things; which is another
way of saying, to the sense of the devic life behind all phenomena, at whatever
level. To seek to become aware of this is not to seek for sensation and excitement,
but to try to reach into the nature, the quiddity of things, to see what
is, with an added order of perceptivity which has nothing [Page
94] to do with clairvoyance or other forms of mere E.S.P. A
new field of exploration opens up to us to which there is no bound, provided
we do not fall into the trap of trying to enclose this field within the framework
of space-time and anthropomorphism in which our minds ordinarily work. If
we circumvent this snare, we shall find our consciousness moving out from
the realm of phenomena into that of the Numinous — the Arupa, to use
that word again — from
the realm of images to that of Archetypes and, to quote a rather misleading
phrase, 'from the unreal to the Real'. The words are misleading not in their
basic idea, but in that the 'unreal' is in fact the relatively Real,
and so is comprised within the Real Itself. If,
on the other hand, we fall into the error of trying to reduce the boundless
into the limited, which happens basically through a lack of self-knowledge,
hence through the bias of our minds, we then tend to try and reduce the
more-than-personal to the level of human personalities. And in this way
we may come to believe that a human-like angel has chosen us as a recipient
for teaching which, in effect, derives from within our own selves and may
be merely repetition of things already said, or may be of no real value
whatever. And yet, we have to begin at the beginning in such a study, and
so, to start with the commonplace things around us or in our own minds if
we want to go beyond them. There
is a reason for starting this article with a poet's words. For the real artist — not
the one who dares to call himself one and who probably is not — is
invariably in touch with the deeper levels of life. If he is not, he is no
artist. But, in addition to this, he must also be in close touch with Nature,
as, if he is not, he has nothing to express the Numinous with. This fact
may not be so obvious in some forms of art as in others. Yet poet, painter,
musician, all have to use natural forms, sounds, colors, shapes, textures
and the rest, as the vehicle for their work: otherwise it remains unexpressed,
unobjectivised. I have capitalized the word 'Nature' — that which is natus,
or born — because it
is the Numen in manifestation, the expression of God's Law and will; and
if my thesis is correct, this means that it is the field of the devic or
angelic life. Hence, the artist may be said to have, if only unconsciously,
entered the field of awareness of this kingdom. His art, moreover, consists
in using [Page
95] Nature — the devas — to embody his vision of
the Numinous in a new and 'non-natural' way: he brings the human mind to
work on Nature and moulds it to his purpose; yet he does so, so that the
vision is implied, contained within the form, and so becomes an indirect
expression of the deeper vision itself. What Edward Arlington Robinson says
about poetry applies to all art forms. He says that poetry 'is a language
that tells us something which cannot be said'. And Joyce Beavis, in a lecture,
put it that poetry is the ability 'to say something by saying something else'.
It is the 'something else', which 'cannot be said' which makes the work of
art, and which makes, for instance, a painting one, whether it be 'primitive',
representational, impressionistic or abstract: it conveys the sense of the
divine, the Numinous, the arupa or spiritual behind whatever
subject is depicted, be it 'beautiful' or not. Provided therefore that the
artist has inner vision; which, in turn, means certain personal qualities,
which may be active in him, whatever else he lacks This
may seem to have taken us a long way away from the angelic kingdom.
Yet it has direct reference to some of the qualifications needed if we
want to study it directly
as such: to become in our own way and degree angelologists. For,
as I have suggested, the angelic life is to be seen everywhere and at every
level of manifestation. It exists in the process of death and decay
as well as in that of construction and creation. It is in our thoughts,
our feelings. And it goes beyond what we
know as the realm of existential forms into that of Essential formlessness,
far beyond what we as human beings can reach. The artist is the most
of one who senses the gamut — or at least the first octave — of
the span of devic life. But it is perhaps only if he becomes, not
only a person of deep
feeling, but also a feeling-scientist, that he may find
himself able to see something of the mechanics of the co-operation
of the human mind with the devic. To
be such a scientist, certain qualities of feeling must be his, notably that
of awe and wonder whereby the observer feels himself, as it were, apart from
the thing he is observing; but he needs also the quality of love, the Martha
to the Mary of wonder, which reaches out and touches the object observed.
Many people have this, but if we are to act as scientists in this field — as
in any other — there
has to be also a great deal of [Page
96] mental objectivity such as can only be acquired through
deep self-knowledge. This is all the more important because it is so easy
in dealing with the non-physical to deceive oneself and to confuse the subjective
contents of one's mind with objective material or with objective, self-existent
entities. I refer once again to the powers of dramatization which the mind
possesses, its ability to project from itself 'thought-forms' which take
on the character of independent beings. If the would-be observer does not
understand this power, he will give shapes to things which do not really
exist in those shapes, even if they do exist in their own right and not by
virtue of being projected from the observer's mind. (To give human form and
especially faces to devas is one example: the more intelligent observers
describe them as more in the nature of patterns of energy, beautiful and
fascinating, but certainly not human; whereas 'fairies' take on the form
in which the mind is apt to think of them. The reader should refer to the
second edition of E. L. Gardner's book of fairy photographs, where Phoebe
Bendit wrote, at the request of the author, an introduction which he entirely
approved, on the probable true nature of the highly conventional photographs
illustrating the text.) It is important also to become sufficiently self-aware
to realize how much more dramatic it is to believe oneself to be the pupil
of a deva than to acknowledge even to oneself that this 'deva' is in reality
oneself, if it be a deeper level of oneself, and that one is not in reality
singled out as a, special channel for whatever information is received. At
the same time, one has to see that it is in no way necessary to be
'psychic' in the ordinary sense of that word to be able to understand at
least something of this angelic world. One can be highly perceptive and positively
sensitive without being in any way clairvoyant; and indeed, for most
of us it is better so, since perceptivity and self-knowledge go hand in hand
in correcting the distortions which the personal mind introduces into clairvoyance
of the usual kind. Let
us now consider as far as we can the communication which can be established
apart from the arts between the devic and human kingdoms. Perhaps the most
obvious example is that of the gardener with 'green fingers'. To be so endowed
does not require great technical skill, however useful this may be. It is
something which belongs to the plant-lover, not to the [Page
97] commercial exploiter who uses the vegetable kingdom for
simply utilitarian purposes. The power of the mind in agriculture is not
merely a matter of belief. Indeed, it was realized in the laboratories of
the late George de la Warr near Oxford, when he found that mental attention
to a row of wheat seeds brought about a much better growth than in a row
not specially 'treated'. When similar prepared soil and grains were put in
the hands of a gardener uninterested in any special ideas, both rows grew
equally. Other experiments were performed with similar results, thereby confirming
that a special attitude of mind affected the growth of plants. True,
in this case, the mental aspect lay probably less directly in the
direction of wonder-love for the plants than in the scientific interest
in a field which came
to include them — one might perhaps suggest that there was
'wonder-love' for the whole subject of so-called radionics, etc.
But the results were there to see. We
know also of the 'genius with machines': not only can he see what is
wrong with one and repair it, often more through 'hunch' than an intellectual
analysis of its symptoms. Moreover, there are some people for whom the
man-made assembly of pieces of metal seems to function better and more smoothly
than for the one who considers it merely as a soul-less object. The successful
engineer has a kind of sympathy for his engine which, in the common phrase,
'pays off', though not necessarily in cash. This
leads us to the ability to postulate various aspects of man-deva co-operation
or contact. 1.
A human being may simply observe: look at a view, a tree, an animal,
without attempting to affect it. If he 'feels' it, penetrates behind
the phenomenal aspects, he may come to realize the quality of life — devic — behind
what he observes. 2.
He may learn to work with this life, improving plant species, cultivating
the ground and the plants and animals on it. If he is nothing more
than a materialistic exploiter, he is likely to destroy at least as much
as he is creating — as
is happening today. (The destruction itself can be an aspect of
devic life acting in a negative manner as far as humanity is concerned.) 3.
He can take the manifestations of this life in, for instance, [Page
98] metallic ores, bring another aspect of the same life — fire
or electricity — to bear on it, and so produce things which it is reasonably
safe to say the devas — Nature — alone would never produce. It
is clear how far we are from intellect-science in all this, and how easily
it can become a kind of primitive animism: but animism need not be primitive
if it is an intelligent appreciation of the 'spiritual' or 'soul' principle
in every created object. For animism is primitive if it does not reach
up beyond the rupa and
personal levels into that of the arupa or formless which we
call those of spirit. Evidently,
in speaking of the life-background of objects we have so far concerned
ourselves only with the 'lower' ranks of the devic hierarchy. It is only
when writing of the artists' inspiration that we have touched on the
source from which these lower, executive, ranks derive. Now,
however, we need to consider the 'higher' or formless devas which exist
beyond the personal, existential level in that of Being or Essence: of
the Numinous. As human beings, we only reach these levels directly in moments
when we cease from being 'estranged'. These moments of peak experience
bring us into direct contact with the crossing point where, I have suggested,
the devic and the human minds meet; though 'meet' is perhaps too weak a word.
Rather should we say, merge and become identical: man is at this level
deva, deva is man. Intuitively,
we have long felt this. In every religion there is the principle of the guardian
angel, the daimon, and so on, the idea that somewhere in the depths of our
beings there is this direct and individual touch with the angel which is
also ourselves, and which we can call upon in various ways, not only to guard
us against danger. Those with more extended feeling-knowledge know that such
a call does not go unheeded, that, in a certain sense, the guardian angel
is only too anxious to respond and to help. It may be that we want assistance
in dealing with somebody in distress, or sick; and if we think in terms of
invoking angelic help, it will be there almost before we have invoked it.
There is an influx of power which is not that of our own little personalities.
We may or we may not be aware of what is happening. And if we are trying
to help somebody [Page
99] in distress, it is wise to ask for that help, not in terms
of what we think is needed, but to hold the thought of what is in reality
best for the person we are working for: in other words, as it were to leave
it to the higher powers to do what is proper. It may be, for instance, that
the truest form of healing for a particular individual is not to be restored
to physical vigor but to die: the truest 'making whole' or 'holy' of that
person at that moment of time. In
other words, we should offer ourselves as channels between our higher
or inner selves and the individual we are coping with, get our little personal
egos out of the way as much as we are able: which brings us back again
to the need for emotional detachment, which can only be reached through self-knowledge. We
thus can discover two main divisions in the study of the devic life.
Just as we can distinguish between ourselves as personalities and ourselves
as inner, spiritual beings, so can we see the angelic hierarchy in terms
or formed beings, however evanescent these forms may be especially at
the lowest levels, and arupa or space-time-less Beings, apparently
of the same nature as our own Essential Selves.
angels keep their ancient places;
Turn but a stone and start a wing.
'Tis ye, 'tis your estranged faces
That miss the many-splendoured thing.
shine the traffic of Jacob's ladder
Pitched between heaven and Charing Cross'
These lines support my thesis that, if we learn to see in the right way we shall realize the universal presence of the order of life we call angelic or devic. But this raises the question, 'Why bother? Of what use is it if we do realize it? And you, the writer, tell us that all manifestation, hence all that we perceive physically or psychically is, whether we know it or not, perception of the angelic work. Why go further?'
So wrote Francis Thompson about the devic kingdom and our blindness to it despite — as I suggested earlier — the fact that we live in and by and through it in its manifest form in both the physical and psychic worlds. The poet goes on to tell us that if our eyes were opened, there
the vision of angels into London's crowded city.
It is a good question and if the earlier article suggests not a fantasy but a certain truth about the world we live in, it can be answered by inquiring why we human beings want to inquire into anything except the most utilitarian problems. The fact remains that man is inquisitive, that what he discovers through his inquisitiveness not only enlarges his mind, but can also perhaps reflect into the utilitarian sphere itself.
This applies particularly to the sense of the livingness of things; which is another way of saying, to the sense of the devic life behind all phenomena, at whatever level. To seek to become aware of this is not to seek for sensation and excitement, but to try to reach into the nature, the quiddity of things, to see what is, with an added order of perceptivity which has nothing [Page 94] to do with clairvoyance or other forms of mere E.S.P. A new field of exploration opens up to us to which there is no bound, provided we do not fall into the trap of trying to enclose this field within the framework of space-time and anthropomorphism in which our minds ordinarily work. If we circumvent this snare, we shall find our consciousness moving out from the realm of phenomena into that of the Numinous — the Arupa, to use that word again — from the realm of images to that of Archetypes and, to quote a rather misleading phrase, 'from the unreal to the Real'. The words are misleading not in their basic idea, but in that the 'unreal' is in fact the relatively Real, and so is comprised within the Real Itself.
If, on the other hand, we fall into the error of trying to reduce the boundless into the limited, which happens basically through a lack of self-knowledge, hence through the bias of our minds, we then tend to try and reduce the more-than-personal to the level of human personalities. And in this way we may come to believe that a human-like angel has chosen us as a recipient for teaching which, in effect, derives from within our own selves and may be merely repetition of things already said, or may be of no real value whatever. And yet, we have to begin at the beginning in such a study, and so, to start with the commonplace things around us or in our own minds if we want to go beyond them.
There is a reason for starting this article with a poet's words. For the real artist — not the one who dares to call himself one and who probably is not — is invariably in touch with the deeper levels of life. If he is not, he is no artist. But, in addition to this, he must also be in close touch with Nature, as, if he is not, he has nothing to express the Numinous with. This fact may not be so obvious in some forms of art as in others. Yet poet, painter, musician, all have to use natural forms, sounds, colors, shapes, textures and the rest, as the vehicle for their work: otherwise it remains unexpressed, unobjectivised. I have capitalized the word 'Nature' — that which is natus, or born — because it is the Numen in manifestation, the expression of God's Law and will; and if my thesis is correct, this means that it is the field of the devic or angelic life. Hence, the artist may be said to have, if only unconsciously, entered the field of awareness of this kingdom. His art, moreover, consists in using [Page 95] Nature — the devas — to embody his vision of the Numinous in a new and 'non-natural' way: he brings the human mind to work on Nature and moulds it to his purpose; yet he does so, so that the vision is implied, contained within the form, and so becomes an indirect expression of the deeper vision itself. What Edward Arlington Robinson says about poetry applies to all art forms. He says that poetry 'is a language that tells us something which cannot be said'. And Joyce Beavis, in a lecture, put it that poetry is the ability 'to say something by saying something else'. It is the 'something else', which 'cannot be said' which makes the work of art, and which makes, for instance, a painting one, whether it be 'primitive', representational, impressionistic or abstract: it conveys the sense of the divine, the Numinous, the arupa or spiritual behind whatever subject is depicted, be it 'beautiful' or not. Provided therefore that the artist has inner vision; which, in turn, means certain personal qualities, which may be active in him, whatever else he lacks
This may seem to have taken us a long way away from the angelic kingdom. Yet it has direct reference to some of the qualifications needed if we want to study it directly as such: to become in our own way and degree angelologists. For, as I have suggested, the angelic life is to be seen everywhere and at every level of manifestation. It exists in the process of death and decay as well as in that of construction and creation. It is in our thoughts, our feelings. And it goes beyond what we know as the realm of existential forms into that of Essential formlessness, far beyond what we as human beings can reach. The artist is the most obvious example of one who senses the gamut — or at least the first octave — of the span of devic life. But it is perhaps only if he becomes, not only a person of deep feeling, but also a feeling-scientist, that he may find himself able to see something of the mechanics of the co-operation of the human mind with the devic.
To be such a scientist, certain qualities of feeling must be his, notably that of awe and wonder whereby the observer feels himself, as it were, apart from the thing he is observing; but he needs also the quality of love, the Martha to the Mary of wonder, which reaches out and touches the object observed. Many people have this, but if we are to act as scientists in this field — as in any other — there has to be also a great deal of [Page 96] mental objectivity such as can only be acquired through deep self-knowledge. This is all the more important because it is so easy in dealing with the non-physical to deceive oneself and to confuse the subjective contents of one's mind with objective material or with objective, self-existent entities. I refer once again to the powers of dramatization which the mind possesses, its ability to project from itself 'thought-forms' which take on the character of independent beings. If the would-be observer does not understand this power, he will give shapes to things which do not really exist in those shapes, even if they do exist in their own right and not by virtue of being projected from the observer's mind. (To give human form and especially faces to devas is one example: the more intelligent observers describe them as more in the nature of patterns of energy, beautiful and fascinating, but certainly not human; whereas 'fairies' take on the form in which the mind is apt to think of them. The reader should refer to the second edition of E. L. Gardner's book of fairy photographs, where Phoebe Bendit wrote, at the request of the author, an introduction which he entirely approved, on the probable true nature of the highly conventional photographs illustrating the text.) It is important also to become sufficiently self-aware to realize how much more dramatic it is to believe oneself to be the pupil of a deva than to acknowledge even to oneself that this 'deva' is in reality oneself, if it be a deeper level of oneself, and that one is not in reality singled out as a, special channel for whatever information is received.
At the same time, one has to see that it is in no way necessary to be 'psychic' in the ordinary sense of that word to be able to understand at least something of this angelic world. One can be highly perceptive and positively sensitive without being in any way clairvoyant; and indeed, for most of us it is better so, since perceptivity and self-knowledge go hand in hand in correcting the distortions which the personal mind introduces into clairvoyance of the usual kind.
Let us now consider as far as we can the communication which can be established apart from the arts between the devic and human kingdoms. Perhaps the most obvious example is that of the gardener with 'green fingers'. To be so endowed does not require great technical skill, however useful this may be. It is something which belongs to the plant-lover, not to the [Page 97] commercial exploiter who uses the vegetable kingdom for simply utilitarian purposes. The power of the mind in agriculture is not merely a matter of belief. Indeed, it was realized in the laboratories of the late George de la Warr near Oxford, when he found that mental attention to a row of wheat seeds brought about a much better growth than in a row not specially 'treated'. When similar prepared soil and grains were put in the hands of a gardener uninterested in any special ideas, both rows grew equally. Other experiments were performed with similar results, thereby confirming that a special attitude of mind affected the growth of plants.
True, in this case, the mental aspect lay probably less directly in the direction of wonder-love for the plants than in the scientific interest in a field which came to include them — one might perhaps suggest that there was 'wonder-love' for the whole subject of so-called radionics, etc. But the results were there to see.
We know also of the 'genius with machines': not only can he see what is wrong with one and repair it, often more through 'hunch' than an intellectual analysis of its symptoms. Moreover, there are some people for whom the man-made assembly of pieces of metal seems to function better and more smoothly than for the one who considers it merely as a soul-less object. The successful engineer has a kind of sympathy for his engine which, in the common phrase, 'pays off', though not necessarily in cash.
This leads us to the ability to postulate various aspects of man-deva co-operation or contact.
1. A human being may simply observe: look at a view, a tree, an animal, without attempting to affect it. If he 'feels' it, penetrates behind the phenomenal aspects, he may come to realize the quality of life — devic — behind what he observes.
2. He may learn to work with this life, improving plant species, cultivating the ground and the plants and animals on it. If he is nothing more than a materialistic exploiter, he is likely to destroy at least as much as he is creating — as is happening today. (The destruction itself can be an aspect of devic life acting in a negative manner as far as humanity is concerned.)
3. He can take the manifestations of this life in, for instance, [Page 98] metallic ores, bring another aspect of the same life — fire or electricity — to bear on it, and so produce things which it is reasonably safe to say the devas — Nature — alone would never produce.
It is clear how far we are from intellect-science in all this, and how easily it can become a kind of primitive animism: but animism need not be primitive if it is an intelligent appreciation of the 'spiritual' or 'soul' principle in every created object. For animism is primitive if it does not reach up beyond the rupa and personal levels into that of the arupa or formless which we call those of spirit.
Evidently, in speaking of the life-background of objects we have so far concerned ourselves only with the 'lower' ranks of the devic hierarchy. It is only when writing of the artists' inspiration that we have touched on the source from which these lower, executive, ranks derive.
Now, however, we need to consider the 'higher' or formless devas which exist beyond the personal, existential level in that of Being or Essence: of the Numinous. As human beings, we only reach these levels directly in moments when we cease from being 'estranged'. These moments of peak experience bring us into direct contact with the crossing point where, I have suggested, the devic and the human minds meet; though 'meet' is perhaps too weak a word. Rather should we say, merge and become identical: man is at this level deva, deva is man.
Intuitively, we have long felt this. In every religion there is the principle of the guardian angel, the daimon, and so on, the idea that somewhere in the depths of our beings there is this direct and individual touch with the angel which is also ourselves, and which we can call upon in various ways, not only to guard us against danger. Those with more extended feeling-knowledge know that such a call does not go unheeded, that, in a certain sense, the guardian angel is only too anxious to respond and to help. It may be that we want assistance in dealing with somebody in distress, or sick; and if we think in terms of invoking angelic help, it will be there almost before we have invoked it. There is an influx of power which is not that of our own little personalities. We may or we may not be aware of what is happening. And if we are trying to help somebody [Page 99] in distress, it is wise to ask for that help, not in terms of what we think is needed, but to hold the thought of what is in reality best for the person we are working for: in other words, as it were to leave it to the higher powers to do what is proper. It may be, for instance, that the truest form of healing for a particular individual is not to be restored to physical vigor but to die: the truest 'making whole' or 'holy' of that person at that moment of time.
In other words, we should offer ourselves as channels between our higher or inner selves and the individual we are coping with, get our little personal egos out of the way as much as we are able: which brings us back again to the need for emotional detachment, which can only be reached through self-knowledge.
We thus can discover two main divisions in the study of the devic life. Just as we can distinguish between ourselves as personalities and ourselves as inner, spiritual beings, so can we see the angelic hierarchy in terms of rupa, or formed beings, however evanescent these forms may be especially at the lowest levels, and arupa or space-time-less Beings, apparently of the same nature as our own Essential Selves.
When we think of the latter, arupa devas, it may seem a contradiction to take into account the tradition which speaks, in Judeo-Christian-Moslem language of nine orders of angels, or gives the head of these orders names such as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, etc., each order representing such a function as that of protection, of healing, of being a bearer of messages' (Gabriel brought Mary the message of the Annunciation) Raphael as the healer, while Azrael brings about the transition from physical incarnation into 'death'. It is not clear, however, whether the orders are one above the other, up to the Absolute peak of the hierarchy we call God, or whether they stand rather for parallel lines, in accordance with the tradition of the seven Rays which are said to run 'perpendicularly' from the highest to the lowest levels of the manifested universe. I incline to the latter view; though, at the arupa levels, logically as well, probably, as in fact, there are not seven distinct types but a synthesis in one transcendental Whole. It is only as this Whole reflects itself into the form worlds, the existential levels, that the 'rays' break up, as a beam of white light passed [Page 100] through a prism breaks up into separate colors. This matter is not important in practice, except that it does away with the idea that if we want to help a sick person we need to call upon the Raphael hierarchy, if we want to do something else, we need to name another. It is probably sufficient to send out the call for the specialized force for a rupa deva to be brought into play as a reflection of the archetypal and unitary arupa levels of its own hierarchy.
This is not to say that there are not, in latency, as it were, different kinds of arupa devas in the spiritual world: tradition has it otherwise, it seems. But for our human practical purposes, it is as yet scarcely relevant to attempt to discover diversity in realms which to us are the negation of diversity and the assertion of unity. Better, on the contrary, is it to try and sense where the devic life is particularly focused. For there seem to be places — some churches and temples, and sometimes, rather surprisingly, some institutions or colleges — where the quality of the devic life is particularly strong and of a 'high' order. This will depend on the type of thought and feeling for which that place stands. If it is a place of true devotion — not only of superstition — or of genuinely idealistic and altruistic thought, the quality of the devic life there will be of the kind we may call spiritual. In other places, it may be there also but its quality will be more that of the materialistic thought and emotion: more 'rupa' in quality. One can only study these matters by one's feeling sensitivity, which gives direct experience and may therefore cut directly across the professions of faith or dubious idealism which are linked with place or person or talismanic object.
have touched only on the fringes of this subject. It may be that what this
article says may appeal to certain people and help give shape to their unformulated
and hence rather confusing experience. I am far from suggesting that what
I have called angelology should be taken up by all: there are, as the Hindus
say, 'as many ways to God — i.e., understanding — as
there are individual men'. But, especially for those with the feeling-artistic
temperament, it may be of use if one thinks in terms of the existence of
this kingdom of intelligent beings we call devas or angels, linking our own
intelligence with theirs, learning to work with them — i.e. with,
not against Nature — and
avoiding sentimentality and emotionalism, let alone any [Page
101] sense of self-importance. If we do this, we shall surely
find that life, even in its most commonplace forms, acquires a new dimension
of richness and interest from which we, as human beings, are 'increased',
as was the poetess, by the most simple events.[Page
THIS essay is not primarily about Christianity, but about a principle embodied in the Catholic and Orthodox (Eastern) doctrine, and repudiated by the Protestant denominations. It is known as that of the Apostolic Succession, I have chosen it as the most explicit example of an idea which is to be found both in other religions were priests, lamas, monks, are 'ordained' and in such more or less esoteric bodies as Freemasonry, as well, perhaps, as in orders working in genuine secrecy. Some of the latter, despite the very dubious character of many, probably have their own 'apostolic succession' traceable back into the mists of time. Most have not.
In the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the teaching is that, at least from the time of the historical (as against the mythological) Jesus, there exists an unbroken line whereby one bishop (the first supposed to have been Saint Peter) consecrated other bishops from generation to generation up to the present day. The bishop alone has the power to consecrate other bishops, to ordain his subordinates, priests and deacons, as well as to perform the equivalent of the initiatory rite at adolescence, which is Confirmation. These two Sacraments are part of a system of seven, of which the other five are Baptism, Holy Matrimony, Absolution, Holy Unction and, of course, central to the whole, the Eucharist. It is claimed that the whole system depends on the unbroken succession along the episcopal line; and this continuity is fairly well established over the last eighteen or nineteen centuries. It depends on the performance of certain rites of consecration and, it is claimed, the line passes on very largely independently of the personality of the individual consecrated. It gives him what may be called 'para-personal' powers, in that they belong not to the personal character but to the archetypal office to which the person is elevated. Thus we bypass the wickedness of so many prelates during the Dark and Middle Ages, and perhaps even today.
There is, however, one safeguard in the matter which is that, [Page 103] whatever sacrament is concerned, the officiant must have the right intention if it is to be effective. Thus, in theory at least, if the officiant in, let us say, the consecration of a bishop, the ordination of a priest or the celebration of the Mass, has not at least some degree of intention, nothing happens and the sacrament is not valid. This, incidentally, is a useful doctrine where bishops and priests are created outside the Roman Church. The Romans can argue that the correct intention was not there, which is to work within the framework and under the authority of Rome: hence an Anglican or Liberal Catholic Bishop can be and has been argued not to be what he claims to be. Still less is a Methodist 'bishop' one in the proper sense of the word.
In Freemasonry, which is today almost exoteric and public, the line of descent is less easy to trace. For during the Dark Ages, when the Church had cast out the Mystery Tradition of the Gnostics — much to the loss of the former — this tradition had to go underground: only that which suited the Church was allowed. And it is known that the builders of the great cathedrals and abbeys of the West, working as guilds of stonemasons and sculptors, as well as engineers and architects, contained groups of 'Speculative' or 'Philosophical' Masons, working in secret, and using builders' terms as symbols, much as did the alchemists of old. Studies of the Mysteries of life at a deeper level than that of the orthodox Church, concerned as it so largely was with material riches and political and moral power, was driven underground. The idea of the Apostolic Succession, supporting the claims of the Church to spiritual authority, was the only aspect of the older and more general tradition to be allowed a hearing. So what is today known as Freemasonry was slow to emerge from obscurity and to bring once again a thread of the ancient Mysteries into public view.
It is not my purpose to argue the pros and cons of the doctrine in theological terms. There are many who think it ridiculous. But there are others, usually somewhat psychically sensitive people, who are very much aware of a certain difference in the atmosphere of a church of the Catholic kind — including the Anglican or Episcopalian — where the bread consecrated at the Eucharist is 'reserved', whether on the high altar or in a side [Page 104] chapel. They feel it serves as a focus for the atmosphere of the place, a thing lacking in a Protestant building, however beautiful and excellent in quality. This direct — and admittedly subjective — experience suggests that the Eucharist, performed by an ordained priest, and hence within the framework deriving from the Apostolic Succession, is somehow different from the same rite performed by a minister, however truly religious his spirit and intention.
So before deriding the matter, it may be well to see what there may really be in the whole principle of the handing on of power from one hierophant — Christian, Masonic or in any other religious body — to another. And it is here that we come to dangerous ground, and find ourselves only able to speculate as to what may be true.
Our argument will depend on two aspects of knowledge. One is modern depth psychology, the other — still more elusive — is occultism. Yet by bringing these two together a modus operandi of the system can be suggested; and this, further, tends to support and explain what are claimed to be the experiences of trained and developed 'psychics'. In this latter class we can name, for instance, C. W. Leadbeater, who states that he unexpectedly became aware of a wave of 'influence' which took place every morning at the same time when he was staying outside an Italian village. He traced it to the local church, and found that it occurred around the time the priest (probably a scarcely educated man, but an ordained priest) said his daily Mass. This proved a new field of research for one who, originally an Anglican curate, had eventually become a Buddhist but who, as a result of his experience, returned to his original faith and became one of the founders of the Liberal Catholic Church. He also extended his clairvoyant researches and eventually produced a book, The Science of the Sacraments, giving his ideas of how ordination, etc., opens channels in the psychic organism of the bishop or priest. These enable certain spiritual and psychic energies to flow through this organism and so bring about results when the sacraments are administered.
I do not wish to discuss this book or its findings apart from saying that, so far as one with no more extra-sensory perception than the average human being can see, there is no reason why all that is said may not be true. Clairvoyant or other 'psychic' [Page 105] research is a very tricky business, the personality of the 'psychic’ often entering very much into the picture; while, if we go beyond the sense of the power flowing through the ceremonial acts of the sacramental system, the appreciation that 'something happens', few if any are competent to judge.
There is, however, an aspect of the whole matter which is suggested by occultism, and that is the role of the devic or angelic kingdom. This kingdom, much spoken of in the churches everywhere, is very little if at all understood. Indeed, very few even among those who have made some study of occultism have any sense of what it means. But if we realize that this kingdom of natural and self-existent beings is a hierarchy running from the very highest and most spiritual level down to the tiny nature creatures known as fairies; and that, whether we know it or not, they live alongside (or more accurately, perhaps, 'across') every act of our lives, it is less difficult to see what happens when a bishop is consecrated or a priest ordained. (For further ideas about the angelic kingdom please refer to The Sacred Flame, by Phoebe D. Bendit, a reprint of the Blavatsky Lecture given in England in 1954, and other studies.) For it would seem that the ordained priest is, in effect, linked with certain aspects of the devic kingdom which then becomes the agent or the channel which comes into activity when invoked by a sacramental act: the 'Angel of the Presence' which is felt to be manifest at the time of the Eucharist is, actually, a deva or angel of a very high order, while other orders of the same hierarchy are invoked, let us say in healing rites, when they are called generically 'Raphael', or in exorcism and purification as 'Michael'.
It does not follow that only an ordained priest can invoke these beings, but the one who is so ordained can do so regardless of his own knowledge or personal traits, whereas another might need to be personally developed to a considerably higher degree than the priest or bishop in his merely human capacity.
It is a very difficult matter to try to explain this in a form which will make sense to the ordinary mind. But when we come to the psychological angle we are on firmer ground when we think of what has been discovered about the value and meaning of myth. For myth conveys in dramatic form truths about our inner being as Men, and ritual, when valid, is an externalizing [Page 106] of myth, and depends for its validity on its numinous, transcendental roots, as well as its outer expression. Thus a true ritual links the innermost with the outer personal world, and brings to bear on the latter (through the action of the devic kingdom) forces emanating from the realm of Being or Spirit. This probably applies to any rite or ceremonial act performed with intention and in good faith. But the sacramental system appears to make the matter easier and more effective, allowing a new layer of meaning and power to the act itself.
Before passing on to the last point concerning this doctrine, it will be well to mention the possible use of such a system as the sacramental for evil purposes: to curse instead of to bless, to destroy rather than build, to harm rather than to benefit, and it has to be acknowledged that this is sometimes done. One hears of families who have been given Church lands at the time of the Reformation, for instance, and which were solemnly and ritually cursed by the dispossessed clerics. At least for some centuries after, they were dogged with ill luck — as, for instance, where the castle built over the old abbey was doomed to be burned down time after time, while the unfortunate owner was drowned, until in time there was no heir to that family and the land passed on to another clan. After that the curse seemed to be broken. Such stories are often not very well established, but there are many of them: enough to give some measure of credibility to the general principle. (It may be asked therefore how 'good' devas could make such evil intentions effective. But it has to be remembered that the devic kingdom's function is to carry out the Law. And, if directed to do so by the human mind, it is bound to do what it has to. In a human sense, the angels have no morals: their only morality is to work within their own framework, regardless of what amounts to pure human ideas of good or ill.)
The final point about this whole matter is to realize that where such things as 'Apostolic Successions' are concerned, they are very ancient. One can follow them so far back in time, then they get lost in the mists of prehistory, where myth as psycho-spiritual fact gets confused with history as the record of physical events. In Christianity the only account of the Sacraments even [Page 107] supposedly historical is that of the Last Supper: but it is well known today that bread and wine were used for ritual purposes long before the supposed time of Jesus. So were oil (unction) and water (baptism) of which there is no supposed historical account, any more than of the other sacraments. In the same way, Masons speak of King Solomon, presumably a historical character as well as the focus of much legend and myth. But Masons recognize that something much akin to Masonry, using the same symbols, is to be found in very ancient Egypt. So where did the system start ? Jesus may have given an added significance to the bread-and-wine rite, but he was certainly not the originator of their ritual use. In the background there is mention of the 'Order of Melchisedek', Melchisedek being a legendary High Priest.
One can only suggest that in the beginning of any such tradition as the Apostolic Succession or any other similar line, there must have been some Sage whose consciousness straddled the spiritual and the more personal and material worlds. He would be in a certain sense the incarnation of an archetype, of a principle in the world of the spirit, yet still in touch with the world of men such as ourselves. Jesus, Gautama Buddha, Sri Krishna and others might stand as examples; and it is interesting to note how much they have become the focus of myth apart from any history about them. In some ways we can compare them with some of the heroic figures of the Greeks, many of whom are said to be the children of a god and of a human being, so that they belong both to the world of myth and to that of men and have semi-divine powers as a result of their mixed ancestry.
any case, such personages might well be in history the originators
of the line of succession, because of their elevated consciousness. They
would have the ability to call in the forces of the devic or angelic kingdom
and to link them with the psyches of more humble human beings in such a
way that they would be able to pass on the link to others in the way the
theory of the Apostolic Succession suggests.[Page
EVER since mankind became articulate it has believed in supernatural powers, in 'psychism', in witches, warlocks, in magic, white, grey and black. Sybils and oracles, prophets and wizards existed and indeed still exist in all communities, including the fringes of our own, Western, largely materialistic civilization — such as it is. One does not need to go more than fifty miles from one of our great cities, to where simple countrymen live to find superstition, perhaps even strange practices arising straight out of paganism. And if we know where to look even within the canyons of streets in our towns we could find similar things happening.
These are as old as man, but in the last century there arose what was then called the Age of Reason, the term first used by the French Revolutionaries for what they proposed to do; and within the Age of Reason came both materialism and science, a critical attitude which set out to dethrone many of our old and often unfounded beliefs in the 'supernatural'.
So there was a period when no intelligent person could let himself believe in the old traditions: people who claimed to have 'the sight', as the Irish called and still call it, must be frauds, the practitioners of magic, giving blessings or curses, healing or throwing diseases, likewise.
Then the wheel turned, the cycle reversed itself, and we come to the present day when, once again, belief in many of the outlawed things is returning to the fold of acceptable belief. It is interesting to see the process by which this took place.
First we must understand that belief in 'Supernature' — another form of Nature — is innate in the human being. It is as deep as the religious impulse with which it is, in some ways, allied. No amount of dialectic materialism, of communism, of science, will ever succeed in making man into the mechanical dummy some people would like him to be. He will always [Page 109] manage somehow to escape from the stereotype set up for him.
It is axiomatic that such a deep feeling will try and find an outlet, and this happened. In the later half of last century, when everything seemed to be orienting itself to rationality of the materialistic kind, there was a great outburst of what has since become spiritualism. Mediums, genuine or fraudulent, sprang up like mushrooms, sensational reports of unaccountable events were rife — and, indeed, it was at a center where some of them took place that the meeting of H. P. Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott occurred, and out of this the Theosophical Movement grew.
We need not concern ourselves here with this. The history of both the Theosophical Society and of Theosophy itself is well enough known and has been written about in a number of books. There was, however, another offshoot from the same impulse as brought people to spiritualism; it derived from the development of the scientific attitude which was becoming so important in the mental climate of the time, and has been ever since. This was first psychical research, and then parapsychology. The dividing line between spiritualism, psychical research and parapsychology is hard to find, the one fading into the other; yet they represent different approaches to the whole matter of the phenomena with which they all three deal, that is, the realm of the occult, the magical, already mentioned.
When the Society for Psychical Research was founded, to be followed later by the American Society for the same purpose, it represented the first serious interest in these recondite matters. Most scientists of the day dismissed them as superstition, glibly denying any validity in the old beliefs. But some serious thinkers felt otherwise, and through the years many distinguished people joined the Society or else worked independently in research. It is worth picking some few names at random, such as that of Sir Oliver Lodge, a famous physicist, the Abbé Flammarion in France, Sir William Crookes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Professors C . G. Jung of Zürich, H. H. Price of Oxford, G. D. Broad of Cambridge, Dr. Gardner Murphy of the Menninger Foundation; and there were some whose fame seems to rest more especially in the particular field of psychical research: W. T. Stead, a journalist who was [Page 110] drowned in the Titanic disaster, F. W. Myers, Gurney, Podmore, Henry Sidgwick and his sister, G. N. M. Tyrrell. These come readily to mind and there are many other. They all approached the subject almost in a legalistic manner to begin with. They received reports, sifted them, obtained what evidence they could to confirm them, and gradually classified them. They tested mediums such as D. D. Home, Rudi Schneider, Mrs. Osborn Leonard and many others, including Mrs. Eileen Garrett, still active in the field. Some of their reports were objective and sound, others were — like the Hodgson Report on H. P. Blavatsky — more biased: a fact sometime later admitted more or less openly by members of the Society itself.
If one asks what use all this was, the answer is that it at once 'debunked' many claims and confirmed the truth of others. It is worth noting that though the Society made a generous offer to mediums prepared to produce physical phenomena such as materializations and apports of objects, the challenge was never taken up, or at least, had not been until lately: I have not the latest information.
So ghosts, poltergeists and phenomena like telepathy and clairvoyance came to be accepted as facts, virtually undeniable in view of the mass of evidence and reports of experiments accumulated over several decades.
Materialistic science rescued our cherished beliefs and set the seal of objectivity on many of them, while, at the same time, it sifted out much that was unsound and based on false beliefs and superstition.
Parapsychology, as it came to be called, made a different approach, but one equally scientific. It grew out of ordinary psychology in about the 1920's. Here the name of J. B. Rhine, of Duke University, stands out as the pioneer. He set to work coldly with experiments in 'guessing' what figures were printed on a set of cards to which the name of Zener was applied, from the originator of the designs. There were five cards having simple, clear figures on them. The subject of the experiment worked in various ways, the simplest being for him to write a list on a piece of paper of the order of these figures in a pack of cards lying face downward in front of him. This was varied by having an operator in one room trying to project the image of a card he was looking at to the percipient some distance away or [Page 111] in another room or even building. Gradually many things were tried, including the effect of fatigue, drugs, emotional rapport between the operators (such as an engaged couple) and great geographical distances, such as between Europe and America.
The work itself seems incredibly tedious and the results such as can only be assessed statistically, using the theory of probability. Indeed, at first there was some criticism as to the mathematics used, and so, as to whether the results obtained showed anything more than chance. Dr. Soal, an English mathematician was, at first, scathing about Rhine's results, but eventually he became a prime experimenter in the field.
Some strange things were discovered, such as the fact that it seemed sometimes as if the mind of the subject of an experiment went on strike, and yielded results less than pure chance would give. At other times, there was 'displacement', a subject giving results not of the experiment in train but perhaps of the one he was going to do next but with which he was not then outlined. Details of many of these strange things can be found in the vast amount of literature now available from the Societies for Psychical Research, from the Parapsychology Foundation in New York, from many other sources where serious work is constantly being done. Suffice it for our purposes that we realize what curious insights even this dullest of work offers into the perceptive side of man.
I must mention also another aspect of things, where the mind is used as an active agent in trying to affect physical objects. The results here are still much less conclusive than are those about perception. But it is fairly well established now that if dice are allowed to drop out of a machine where the hand of the operator cannot possibly influence them, the mind can so affect their fall that there are more sixes, or ones, or combinations of ones and sixes, for instance, than chance would allow.
Out of all this a certain terminology has arisen. When I myself first heard of Rhine's work, Professor William McDougal, famous in psychology, said that he thought — though 'he did not believe anything absolutely' — that Rhine had proved what was then called paranormal cognition 'beyond reasonable doubt'. The term extra-sensory perception, E.S.P. for short, had not yet replaced this older one. Then the active power of the mind was called psycho-kinesis, or P.K. Both aspects were [Page 112] then spoken of as representing a mental function to which the word 'Psi' was applied; and some workers, to mention only Thouless of Cambridge, and Wiesener, felt, in common with others, that there must be behind the psyche — the mind — itself a further factor which they labeled 'Shin', after a letter in the Hebrew alphabet and which, in so far as one can equate one thing with another, might equally be called spirit as distinct from psyche or soul. Out of the work a philosophy has grown, as represented by the writings of people like Price, Broad, Eileen Garrett, Ira Progoff and others.
It is not going too far to assert that materialistic, rationalistic science has effectively destroyed the purely materialistic framework of its own philosophy, by using its own methods.
The foregoing is in some ways now ancient history. As early as 1943 I myself was able to write a thesis for the M.D. degree of Cambridge University — this being not a qualifying but a 'higher' degree — on the basis that the existence of paranormal cognition was proved, and that I proposed to consider its place in psychotherapeutic work with patients. The thesis was accepted and I got my degree — to my own surprise, as this was probably the first time such an outlandish subject had been received as a piece of serious research, and especially by such a reputable University. This shows the change of attitude towards the whole subject of what might be called the 'occult'. Moreover, there is a subtle difference between the word 'paranormal' — i.e., abnormal, or 'alongside-normal' — cognition and the present term E.S.P., which seems to allow 'psychism' to come within the fold of normality and acceptability.
The change showed as long as twenty-five years ago at least. But things have moved a long way since then. The much, and largely unjustifiably, derided psychology of Freud has been transcended, not only by neo-Freudians. Jungian and neo-Jungian ideas have nowadays, and however much modernized, become part of the armament of every competent psychiatrist — and of others less competent.
Meanwhile, however, spiritualism as a flourishing cult for the uncritical and credulous, while it sometimes calls itself 'parapsychology' has, at its lowest points, sunk into a morass of shoddy sentimentality. And even orthodox parapsychology nowadays seems to have lost its vitality. It continues on a scale [Page 113] which is still growing, but those workers who tie themselves too rigidly to scientific methodology and especially to statistics seem to be going round in circles. It was interesting once to listen to a distinguished pioneer in the field arguing that what we call clairvoyance might in effect be precognition, and this in turn might be some form of telepathy, which, itself, might really be clairvoyance in disguise. He ran full circle and left simply the one fact, that E.S.P. existed, but that we did not know just how it worked. At a later date he wrote about the failure of his attempts to prove survival of physical death; and when I wrote suggesting that he would find the difficulties insurmountable until he revised his philosophical background so as to include spirit as distinct from soul, he replied that one could not bring spirit into a scientific discussion. Like some other scientists, he put blinkers on himself, then complained that he could not see, but said it would be unscientific to take the blinkers off.
In the meantime, the field of depth psychology has gone on a long way, taking parapsychology in its stride. The latest movement within the movement, as shown in the new Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, is concerned with the mystical, the 'peak' experience, with, in short, the aspect of man which lies beyond the personal (psychological) mind. It has entered the field of Religion, something bigger and deeper than the religious, besides being more individual.
Thus we can see a convergence between the two main branches of study of the superphysical, psychical research-parapsychology on the one hand, depth psychology on the other, so that one now supplements the other. Indeed, were it not for its convenience, the term 'parapsychology' might well have followed that of paranormal cognition: it is no longer 'alongside-psychology' but an aspect of the field of psychology itself, of the normal, not of the abnormal and unusual. And both together grow increasingly towards the realm of the religious: which is as it should be.
Spiritualism, though in one sense it has been the mother of the movements to study psychical phenomena, has itself changed only slightly in the past century. Yet its more intelligent branches have had to take into account the scientific investigation of claims which satisfy the less critical and the more [Page 114] credulous. It need not be counted among the scientific aspects of the whole movement. Yet this is not to deny its value. For a surprising number of people who later become serious students it serves as a first step, an introduction to the less obvious and more mysterious aspects of life. It also supplies first aid to people shocked by what they feel to be the loss of a loved person — but it is only first aid.
What then of the other branch which seemed to grow from the same root, the Theosophical Movement? This took a special turn in which, at first, revelation seems to have predominated. H. P. Blavatsky's copious writings, though interlarded with largely obsolete polemic material, tell us something of the ancient and true doctrines behind many natural phenomena. The books are strangely inchoate, and can be best understood by letting them as it were sink into the mind without being intellectually analyzed — when many flaws appear — and letting their ferment work there. (We should always remind ourselves that H.P.B. herself not only disclaimed infallibility, she even stated positively that there were many errors in her works.) Then came the exegesis coupled with direct research, of what I like to call the 'Meso-Theosophical period', in which not only were some of the doctrines simplified, but oversimplified and sometimes distorted: again, the exegesists state categorically that they did not claim omniscience or infallibility, though many refuse to face this statement. Some have even attempted to formulate a theosophical creed and catechism. The real Theosophist, however, does not believe or disbelieve? he listens, accepts or rejects, tries to find the truth behind ideas and formulae. He has an attitude of seeking and trying to gain experience, not beliefs. Moreover, he keeps abreast of the times and their mental climate, so he takes into account what he can glean from parapsychology and psychology itself.
This raises the question of what these other disciplines have for us as students of Theosophy, and it is very considerable. Not only have they confirmed much that was hitherto dependent on the 'revelatory' material and on the reports of others; it has tended to take us back, in some ways, to the 'Paleotheosophy' of H. P. Blavatsky, as well as forward into the modern or 'Neo'-Theosophy which is needed today. It tends [Page 115] more and more to show the validity of religious experience and belief, it also corrects some errors such as the notion (not to be found in the Blavatskian scheme) that we have two psychic 'bodies', one 'astral' or emotional, one 'mental' or intellectual. We know that, to use an analogy I have often used, feeling (emotion) and thought are as inseparable as color and form in a picture, though one may predominate. It is well known that psychiatrists treat the mind in the same terms as it was defined by Blavatsky, as a single thinking-feeling-perceiving-intuiting-acting entity: parapsychology shows us the same.
Scientific disciplines serve the student of the occult as a corrective, taking nothing away but making much clearer than it was before.
Further, and this is important to the theosophical student, depth psychology shows us a practical method of self-discovery, hence of how to find our own experience around the teachings of such things as psychic planes and bodies; which are now found, however much they may have become distorted, to have reasonable and factual roots.
In other words, the tendency today, whether we call it theosophical, or psychological, or parapsychological, is towards a convergence of the various threads and the weaving of them into a strong cord in which the principal strand is that of Religion in its deepest sense.
Further, the present tendency is to support the idea that there are things more important than trying to develop E.S.P. It is often difficult to persuade people that to try and see visions, to have psychic experiences, may be exciting, but that it leads nowhere. Indeed, people with half-baked psychic perception tend to become more than ever confused as well, probably, as preening themselves and increasing their egoism. What does matter is the deepening of self-knowledge and self-awareness, as through this both real understanding and the right kind of humility develop; and alongside of this, a non-dogmatic and satisfying sense of certainty.
To be clairvoyant is not a mark of spirituality. E.S.P. has nothing to offer in the quest for Truth except perhaps in the same way as a telescope or a microscope may extend our vision of a thing without giving us any understanding of that thing: and it is understanding which we should seek and not merely [Page 116] the excitement of playing with a toy, however useful it might be.
is the lesson we can learn from our present blending of these various
streams of research and discovery: which discovery seems to lie ever
before us without end in sight, and so gives us the real savor of life. [Page
IN what follows I shall say several times, 'We are told'. This does not imply of necessity that the tellers are trying to impose dogmas on us, asserting that they are correct, or in any other way exerting authority. Indeed, in all cases they specifically disclaim authority, admit the possibility of error, of personal bias or any other thing which may distort the truth of what they attempt to share with us of their own knowledge. They do ask of us, as serious students, to think for ourselves and, if our own experience differs from theirs, to modify their material in accordance with our own views. In particular they assert the fallibility of revelation or the results of clairvoyant research, into which the personal element obviously enters very easily.
Further, we need to understand that the authors of many of the older books, from those of H. P. Blavatsky on, were written in a particular mental climate, and had to use what was known at the time for their deductions. It was the best they could do; and the fact that human thought, and science in particular, has made giant strides in the last decades often changes the emphasis of certain aspects of their philosophies. Yet, in a joyful number of cases, it shows how what they said rested on a firm foundation of principle, even when the manifestations of those principles need to be revised in the light of modern knowledge.
In this essay I want to concentrate on the old idea of the sevenfold system of globes, rounds, chains and in particular of races and root-races. I do not propose to expound this in any detail. This has been already admirably done in several books and perhaps less systematically in The Secret Doctrine and other Blavatskian writings.
I am doing this because, where the races and sub-races of this our earth are concerned, certain points of high relevance and of practical value seem to emerge. This is especially so [Page 118] when we link modern knowledge about man with the original basic plan set out in earlier writings.
We are told in this plan that we stand today a little beyond the middle of the fourth (or middle) round of the occupation of the seven globes of the chain to which earth belongs: earth itself being the fourth or middle globe of the septenary system. We need not worry ourselves about this, but it has to be mentioned. What concerns us, however, is that if the system is true, we are today a little beyond the middle point of the fifth sub-race of the fifth root-race of the seven sub- and root-races of earth man.
These last figures are important because if we divide seven into thirds, the first third gives us 2⅓ — a little less than 2½; while the second third takes us to 4⅔ — a little way beyond 4½. If, then, we consider the ranges, without allowing for the overlap between them, of each race, the arithmetical portion of each will be one seventh of the whole. Thus the first race will predominate during the first seventh, the second during the second, the third will cover the third. But 3/7 is more than ⅓ of 7, 5/7 is more than ⅔ of 7. We appear now to be ⅔ of the way through the seven races of earth humanity. If the 'Fall' occurred as is suggested at the end of the first third of the seven, we may well look to the present as an equally critical moment in evolutionary history.
This admittedly tiresome play with figures leads up to something telling. For we are told that Man became properly Man during the course of the Third Root-Race, i.e., in the third seventh of the total seven divisions. It was then that 'the Fall" of the Genesis myth took place; or, in terms of Blavatskian Theosophy, when leaders came from the more evolved planet Venus and kindled in Man the central principle from which, in the Germanic group of languages, he derives his name, Manas, or Mind. With this came both incarnation in 'coats of skin' or bodies 'borrowed' from the animal kingdom, dense, physical bodies; and the vital spark of self-consciousness with all the vast potential which self-hood gives. Man became truly Man at this point.
I am tempted to speculate what might have happened had the mythological Eve remained under the divine 'Super-ego', to use the Freudian term for morality derived from outside [Page 119] oneself — in this case from God in the Garden — and refused to listen to the Serpent — symbol of the Wisdom of the Venusian 'Lords of the Flame'. The reply to this question would probably be, 'Nothing'. Earth would have had no humanity, Nature would have plodded slowly on, undisturbed by its turbulent child. Then, maybe, when the batteries of sub-mental energies ran down, there would be an end to biological evolution with no significant progress to speak of: Nature would have run her course and no development of new aspects of life would have been made because of the absence of disobedient, 'sinful' man: for man is the only creature who is capable of the great achievement of being able to 'sin'. The result: a cosmic failure. But because Eve's intuition drove her to disobey the mandate of Nature, things on earth moved on — up to the present.
So, if the presentation of principles is correct, we come to the highly critical phase at the end of the first third of the total 'world occupation'. But we are now, in similar terms, at the beginning of the third and last 'third' of seven; and, if only through theory, we would be wise to expect another climacteric moment for mankind. To think this is so would be in tune with what we see around us already today, which is widely thought of as the end of an old culture and the potential dawn of a new one, under whatever name we give it. Some talk of the Aquarian Age succeeding the Piscean. Others see it as the beginning of both the sixth sub-race and root-race of earth Man. The name does not matter. What does matter is that we consider the signs and portents already in sight.
Here I must refer again to the older presentation, this time made by Annie Besant, of the emergence of the new type, in physical terms. She once spoke (maybe as early as 1910), of an anthropologist never since then prominent who, by the usual method of measurements, primarily of the proportions of the skull, forecast the coming of American Man' as a new physical type differing from the Caucasian (then called Aryan) as much as the latter does from the Mongolians.
This highly dubious notion does not seem to have gained acceptance: and how could it, if we think of the enormous influx into the North and South American continents of people of all kinds from both Europe and Asia? It would seem that in this older presentation the mistake was made of linking ‘race [Page 120] type' with physical features, and exaggerating their importance. I say 'exaggerating' because, clearly, the conditions which have given some people dark, highly pigmented skins, coincide with other factors which have developed as the culture of large geographical regions such as Africa, India or China; and this culture, mental as it is, is linked with the locality and hence with the hot sun or cold climates where groups of humanity have evolved.
But if we pin our analysis of race and sub-race type to the physical features of the inhabitants of certain places, we shall find ourselves in endless difficulties, at any rate as regards the later races. As an example, it is said that the Latins or the British represent a particular sub-race of the Fifth-Root Race; the inhabitants of India belong to the Fifth Root-Race, the Mongolians to the Fourth. But in Britain there is a vast admixture of Celts, Romans, many Anglo-Saxons (Germans), Norse, Norman French, Modern French, and, especially of late decades, of endless Central Europeans and Semitic Jews, not to mention Indians and Negroes still to some extent un-assimilated. These constitute the British 'sub-race'. But what have they in common today? Certainly not heredity at the physical level. What they do share is a psychological or mental heredity: a cultural background, itself an aggregate of many other cultures, yet having its own distinctively British flavor. If we consider America, the same mixture of 'blood' — i.e., genetic material — appears on an even greater scale. 'Fifth Race' India has a heavy Dravidian ingredient in the south, whereas in the north and in outlying parts there are people of decidedly Mongolian origin, all of whom make up 'India'.
The reason for what seems a distortion of a valid principle, that of race and sub-race lies in a fact which has only lately become widely accepted in science, which is that for millions of years the body of man has not substantially changed. No new organs or bodily functions have been created. The only noticeable physical change in an overall picture of Man has been in the growth of the brain tissue; and this is not very marked. What has changed enormously, especially of late, is the mind which functions at the physical level through that brain. The mental evolution seems able to use almost the same amount of nerve cells whether an individual be a most primitive [Page 121] aboriginal or a leader in intellectual spheres in a sophisticated community.
There is another interesting fact which came to light some years ago. Statistics — i.e., generalizations with many individual exceptions — have shown that kraal-dwelling, tribal Africans, if they suffer from mental illness, get a predominance of certain syndromes (collectivized symptoms). But the same Africans brought up, in America or the Caribbean, in a Western cultural background, tend — again statistically — to develop the same pattern of symptoms as the Europeans in whose culture they live. Physical race hence, seems to matter much less than the mental atmosphere.
This means that to say that X belongs to a certain race — and sub-race — is a false way to make the assessment. Only study of the mental attributes of X can tell us much, even if his outer behavior follows a certain local pattern. I mean by this, that 'Latins' generally show their emotions more freely than 'Anglo-Saxons', probably, if one studies long-standing expatriates, because of the customs of those among whom they have lived for any length of time. The expatriate, and more so his children, becomes assimilated to the ambient culture of the place he lives in.
Thus it may be that a black-skinned, flat-nosed, kinky-haired Negro may be — and sometimes shows himself to be — of a higher race-type than a blue-blooded, thoroughbred American 'WASP' (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant) or the member of an ancient aristocratic titled family.
What this means, in short, is that the personality of each individual is a conglomerate of physical heredity, cultural 'heredity' and the indwelling, reincarnating Self. Maybe the order in which I have written these down is the reverse of their importance, Self manifesting through the 'skandhas' which it carries through from life to life, as the major influence.
At this point let us take a look at the present day and note the enormous changes which have taken place already, and are still developing in many spheres of life.
Science which at one time tended to be dogmatic, certain, to draw sharp lines between itself and the non-scientific domain, is today no longer certain. Words like 'probability', 'indeterminacy', 'randomness', 'relativity' are in frequent use. Moreover,[Page 122] something is often worked out as a postulate — relativity was one of these — only to be proved or confirmed after the postulate was formulated. Often, moreover, something thought of or, more accurately, intuited by the mind, was then found to be true by experiment. This is the reverse of the brick-by-brick building up of a mass of facts before any deduction was made from these facts. L. L. Whyte has written various essays on this theme which are worth reading, from the scientists' point of view.
Psychology has moved a very long way from Freud and, while a growing number of people see Jung as the main bridge-builder between the old and the new, a new 'force' is said to be emerging, to which the name 'transpersonal psychology' is applied. Names like Maslow, Buhler, Assagioli, Frankl, Koestler, Progoff and Watts are among those associated with this movement. Anybody up-to-date with current literature will know how wide a field they cover; and these are only a few.
Religion. Taking only Christianity, we think of Tillich, Robinson, Wren-Lewis as challenging the old order of Church-Christianity and seeking for a new set of values and attitudes towards 'Ultimates'. In a wider context we have the interest in Zen, Taoism, Yoga (mainly, however, its lowest levels, known as 'hatha'). It is interesting to note that two Roman Catholic priests, Teilhard de Chardin, who remained obedient to the authority of his disciplines, and Fr. Thomas Merton, stand out among the progressives. Merton in particular seems to have a most profound grasp of Taoism which he seems to be able to accept in toto despite being still in the orthodox Church of Rome.
Sociology. Enormous change is felt in this sphere. And, moreover, it often sees the disorderly movement among the young and, however mistakenly they are seeking, as a search for a new order to replace the old. (It should, of course, be allowed to grow out of the Establishment in the manner expressed in the cliché', 'Evolution, not revolution' — and if it needs revolution to bring it out, it will be the fault of the conservative element with its desire to keep things as they are.)
One could find many other headings, including Art of all kinds, to illustrate what is happening. The point is, however, that whether we like it or not, consciousness is changing among [Page 123] what Maslow piquantly calls the 'growing tip' of mankind. By that he means those most excellent in all or any sphere, intellectual, athletic, commercial and the rest, which he takes as foreshadowing human potential in the immediate future. It makes a fascinating study once one has got the basic idea, to watch and observe these changes; and we who 'happen' to be incarnate today have the joyous opportunity of seeing the beginning of new-race consciousness. (I am not distinguishing between root-race and sub-race, because the latter in effect is a prototype of the former, a less developed model of what is to come.) To separate out manifestations of Fifth-race and of Sixth-race activity is, however, not so easy. It is, as yet, so much a matter of nuances, of subtleties of approach to a question that it is something which can be more felt than measured with the intellect. Moreover, it is doubtful whether, unless one has some sense of the new development, it can be intelligently appreciated. Many years ago I once described a certain book, very good of its kind, to Professor Marcault, as 'Very Fifth-race'. He understood what I was fumbling to say. It seems an adequate concept that much excellent material is expressed in 'Fifth-race' form, while others say what they have to say with another key signature which one tentatively labels 'Sixth-race'. It should be added that the best of the Fifth-race material is often far superior to some of the 'Sixth-race' expressions. The first mentioned culture is now at its zenith, adult, confident; the second is still largely in the nursery. And, moreover, what one might be tempted to call 'Sixth-race' may in many cases, especially in the arts and humanities, belong in reality to a decadent and inferior aspect of the day's finest culture. To watch and assess, endeavoring to make a true valuation can become something of an interesting game with oneself, in which on one side stands the convention in which we have all today been brought up and on the other the aspect of our minds which is — if we are Theosophists in more than name — trying to penetrate deeper than worldly valuation of life.
This game can be roughly to try and see on which side of an imaginary line anything lies: and — lightly, without feeling dogmatic (a Fifth-race trait) to class people's minds and the products of those minds as belonging to the past or to the future cultures. [Page 124] I started this essay with picking up some ideas put out in the older days of the Theosophical Movement. I pointed out how what seem to be sound principles might need to be reassessed in the light of today's knowledge. I shall make bold to say that the older material, with perhaps the exception of the writings of H. P. Blavatsky, which are so individual in their presentation as to defy classification, is presented in a Fifth-race idiom. It was subject to the Fifth-race pressures of the day, and so tended to become stereotyped, crystallized into a form which seemed to tell the truth in final form. Fact was fact and could never be changed. The result, useful at the time, nearly a century ago, was that many were attracted by what was said because of its challenge to so many accepted ideas. But the clarity of the system propounded, and today popularly misnamed 'Theosophy', despite the wider meaning of that word as used by the Neo-Platonists, and others after them, brought with it a serious danger. We find this expressed in a document received by Dr. Besant as early in the history of the Movement as 1900. We are told that it came from a Master known as K.H.': and so direct, terse and commonsensical is it that, without being dogmatic about it, it seems to carry authority such as might come from one of the sages among men. I shall quote parts relevant to my argument.
The letter begins as follows: 'The T. S. and its members are slowly manufacturing a creed.' It goes on, a little later, to say, 'The T. S. must safely be ushered into the new century ... no one has a right to claim authority over a pupil or his conscience. Ask him not what he believes. . . . The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into Spirituality. It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional worship. The essence of the higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must guide all action in the T. S. . . . We show no favors. .. . The cant about "Masters" must be silently but firmly put down . . . the continual reference, to ourselves and the repetition of our names raises up a confused aura that hinders our work. . . . The T. S. was meant to be the corner stone of the future religions of humanity. . . .'
I have taken only extracts from what is said in the whole letter, but in such a way that its tenor and purpose are not distorted. The whole of it, as transcribed by C. Jinarajadasa is [Page 125] to be found in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, 1870-1900, First Series, as No. 46. It is interesting to note how the compiler himself ignored the very first sentence, and issued a book wherein certain doctrines are set out with map-like clarity as a statement of what he calls Theosophy, as if true Theosophy were indeed a creed with articles of faith. And, as to 'cant about Masters', there are circles where this has become the common fare.
What does this imply? That, even three-quarters of a century ago, the very movement which should have kept abreast of the times and even been ahead of them in ushering in the new form of consciousness and mentality, that which in this article I have called 'Sixth-race', was already falling behind. It tended to remain at the point where the Movement began, instead of moving forward in its interpretation of the valuable material with which it was supplied in such abundance.
In other words, we can, again, rather arbitrarily, and for purposes of clarity, divide those who label themselves Theosophists into the Fifth-race type and the Sixth-race type. The former are the ones who accept 'teachings' as if they were factual rather than suggestions to be worked on and continually reassessed and re-examined. They seek a comfortable creed and are content neither to scrutinize it, nor even more important, themselves. They are those who rush endlessly from meeting to meeting and are only quiet when they are asleep or physically dead. There are devotees seeking preferment from a Master, possibly from pure devotion, often with a more or less marked degree of desire for self-aggrandizement. They have evolved a theosophical cult, and called it occultism, not realizing that dynamic Theosophy can never become a cult. The two words 'cult' and 'occult' sound alike, but they have no common derivation. A 'cult' is a set of observances or beliefs; 'occultism' in the real sense means constant delving into the hidden or unknown: the two are incompatible. Theosophy is true occultism, the theosophical cult is not.
What then is 'Sixth-race' Theosophy? It is difficult to define, save that on one side it means being in touch with the world, and knowing what the 'growing tip' of mankind, in Maslow's terminology, is doing and thinking, and combining this on the inner side with a live mentality which is not caught [Page 126] up in fixed patterns, any more than the modern real scientist, humanist or artist is today. On the other hand, it does not mean repudiation of the older teachings. It means this positive process of applying the mind to them and so bringing about the kind of catalysis which is brought about in the physical body by enzymes so that material which might become dead acquires a new form of life derived from the old. It creates the new out of the old, and is not merely content with erudite commentary on the old, adding nothing new or original to it. For one can be what is known as a 'good student' yet fail to add the desired quality which goes with the kind of mind which mankind is, whether we like it or not, developing today: that which, in the words of the letter, needs to be taken hold of and 'guided into Spirituality'.
may be because the Movement called Theosophical has so far not
used the opportunity nor realized sufficiently the purpose of its foundation
that to be called 'a Theosophist' is in the eyes of so many to be associated
with either a set of queer beliefs, with crankiness or the ridiculous
practices of some of its less balanced members. Can that image be redeemed?
If so, it requires that we should, all of us, intellectuals as well as
non-intellectuals, learn how to move our own selves and our own minds forward
in tune with the times before us. I believe we still have both the capacity
and the time to do so; but only if we take seriously the implications in
the letter I have quoted above. It will be a great help if we hold clearly
in our thoughts:(a)
that we are at a time of major transition for humanity (b)
the need to observe the direction of that transition and (c)
that real theosophical insight can help us to build the bridge between the
old and the new era for our race. [Page
earn the right to be called a Theosophist it is essential to try always
to understand the meaning of everything about us. It may be difficult
enough to endeavor to grasp the theoretical scheme of the worlds,
the rounds, chains, planes and what not — intellectual
matters. But when our emotions are touched, the matter
becomes much more arduous and demands of us a depth of
vision and understanding which will help us to overcome
our prejudices, habits of mind, our 'conditioning'.
While, as we look about us, we shall always find much of beauty in our surroundings, we must also admit that there is much, especially today, which we see as ugly, evil, apparently opposed to all that we think we stand for in terms of human evolution. Yet if we are able to delve sufficiently deep beneath the surface appearance of these things, we may learn to see them as necessary aspects of the stage in which we, as human beings, stand collectively today: phases of the larger evolution of humanity. For the ugliness in the world is not produced by the subhuman kingdoms, especially that of the one immediately preceding our own, that of the animals. It is man who spoils natural beauty, distorts what in the animal is natural, instinctive and makes it hideous.
Especially does this seem so today. Not only do we despoil the earth, upset the ecological balance of nature, but we find violence and cruelty and hatred spread over many areas, or breaking out where civilization has put a veneer over primitive savage behavior; where all reticence over intimate matters such as sex is being eroded in a manner which suggests the defiant daringness of a child cocking a snook at his elders, the 'Establishment' — thereby often spoiling the art of a writer, a painter, a dramatist, by dragging in matters where aesthetic necessity does not require them. And we have the matter of escape through drugs or false forms of quasi-yoga — though here, we must add, the negative desire to escape from unbearable realities is also sometimes coupled with the positive [Page 128] desire to discover more than one can usually see about the deeper aspects of self and the universe: sometimes with excellent, if indirect results on the individual.
But why today ? And how does this concern us ? For concern us it does: we are part of the contemporary scene. If we were not, we should not be in incarnation now. But what can we do about it? No campaign or demonstration will stop these things: cruelty to man and beast, lasciviousness, pacifism (especially the aggressive pacifism so obvious among so-called 'peace crusaders'). On the other hand, if we can learn to see the meaning of the things we tend to hate, we are making a positive contribution, in depth, to bringing the race to which we belong towards a new phase of existence and future evolution.
But we need to understand before, even in thought, we can act. We say, to use a current phrase, that this is a mad world. And so it is. But, to use other cliché", we have to see that there is method behind the madness and, conversely, that madness is essential for the success of the method.
This seemingly odd statement is, however, in line with modern advanced psychiatric philosophy. For, while it has been felt by a number of doctors that physical illness was at least at times a crisis in the bodily health of an individual, a state of elimination of certain toxic conditions, it is only relatively lately that such people as R. D. Laing have seen that the same may apply to mental states: that a toxic period of severe insanity may be in reality a crisis of a therapeutic nature in the spiritual life of an individual. Just as one who recovers from a physical disease, perhaps the stronger and the more healthy for what he has undergone, so may the temporary madman emerge from his ordeal a better and more integrated person, though one may have to look upon him from the wider point of view which may have to include more than one incarnation. (True, people die of physical illness, while many a lunatic tends to deteriorate and go to pieces as a personality. But, especially under modern and sympathetic, or rather, 'empathetic' treatment, more and more tend to recover and become more 'whole'.)
What we are inclined to forget is that man is a complex being, with not only a complex body inherited from or, if we accept the 'Secret Doctrine' philosophy, borrowed from the [Page 129] animal kingdom; that his mind overlaps with the field of the animal, instinctive, mind; and that only a minute fraction of what that mind contains is at any moment apparent in what we call waking or physical consciousness. Behind consciousness there is not only a personal unconscious mind, but behind this, the vast ocean of what Jung call the collective unconscious, first of the human species, but, beyond that, of still older mass mind, recording the experiences of all the evolutionary levels which lead up to Man.
In the collective mind sweep enormous currents of psychic energy, which carry the individual with them and directly influence the tiny personal unconscious mind, and, less directly, the still smaller field of conscious physical life. We are now face to face with the effect of a particularly powerful and all-embracing tide in this inner realm, where, it appears, the force of a minor cycle of ebb and flow coincides with one of the major, more universal tides. Hence, the more or less normal tendencies of evolution become exaggerated beyond reasonable proportions. What is happening today is nothing new: it is merely on a larger scale. And physicians and psychiatrists will tell us that both physical and mental illness are no more than exaggerated normal reactions, not entirely new arrivals on the scene.
The next question is, 'Why now?' Which brings us down to the time level, within which we, our particular humanity, work and live in terms of sequential history and evolution. (Other humanities may have quite a different picture of the world: but it does not concern us if this is so.)
In these terms, world madness represents a critical moment in our time-history. It is due to, or at least coincides with, one of the major climacterics of human evolution. I have already argued, elsewhere, that this age is comparable with that when, if the age-old tradition is correct, man became man: a self, with a mind capable of far more than any animal mind can accomplish. But, as always, there is resistance to new birth, and the greater the resistance, the greater the conflict. So great, indeed, that it can become explosive in its violence. This seems to be the case at this moment in our history as a race.
If, however, we consider what are perhaps the three main headings under which the 'madness' is manifest today, we shall [Page 130] see that they can be called violence, sex, and escape through drugs and false 'yogic' practices.
Violence is found both between members of any social group, and also between groups and nations. Its causes have been the subject of endless discussion, but it is probably true to say that it is the end result of personal or collective insecurity. Where there are ample amenities, food, space — i.e. the kind of world envisaged by all supposedly idealistic ideologies — violence fades out. It is quite clear that the animal is not violent except where his survival is concerned. No beast kills except for food or self-defense, save for one or two, usually decadent canines: the dingo of Australia, or a domestic dog spoiled by his domestication running wild among sheep. It is man who is aggressive against others, and this aggressiveness rises from feeling threatened in body or in mind: the immediate cause of such fear, in an animal, vanishes at the same time as the killing impulse, but man's mind prolongs this fear at the mental if not the physical level, and goes on hating and being aggressive even when there is no immediate reason for reacting in this way. I recommend Konrad Lorenz's book on the subject.
At the same time, we may well ask ourselves whether violence is actually greater now than it has always been now that the world is being drawn into a smaller compass — perhaps 'squeezed' would be a better word — by rapid communications. Maybe we are simply more aware of it in a short time or even while it is taking place. In olden days, the sack of Rome, if it became known in the next country, probably had already become back history, while people did not know about Genghis Khan's Mongol hordes, or of the Vandals and Huns unless they happened to be in their path. Murder was commonplace a few centuries ago even in the most civilized cities; there were gangs and mobs, Montagues and Capulets, Guelphs and Ghibellines, where today we have had Hells' Angels and Mods and Rockers. In the same way, the modern torturer, much spoken of, simply follows the customs of Torquemada and the Inquisition, and of feudal barons.
In the matter of sex and nakedness: here there is little new. Without sex there would be no humanity incarnate. And can one seriously believe that exposure of the body is indecent? The word 'decent' derives from a Latin meaning 'suitability'. Is it [Page 131] 'unsuitable' to bathe naked in the sea? Or is it simply a matter of custom arising from complex guilt-cum-desire-to-attract, and the sex relation ?
And when it comes to drugs and more or less hypnotic practices, we see there what may be, even in one individual, a dual urge. The negative one is to escape from the harshness of physical life: man has used alcohol almost universally from time immemorial, while hashish and opium were also much in vogue. The positive aspect, however, and one much to be found among the more thoughtful drug users today is the realization that new states of consciousness are experienced under drugs; and so the misguided feel that this is a way of discovery of self and of the deeper meaning of the universe. That these experiences are usually meretricious and misleading, and the method dangerous, is no denial of the aim; and, further, it has to be admitted that in some cases, the view obtained under drug has stimulated them to endeavor to find the real thing, and brought about a 'conversion' in their lives.
If we look at things in this way, we shall see that the 'method in the madness' is the purpose of evolution, of moving into a new and more realistic, freer discipline of life. It is present in what looks like chaos. Conversely, we can realize that the 'madness in the method' is needed in order to break free. True, there is the kind of exaggeration which is the same as the exaggeration of normal behavior in the lunatic, but this exaggeration in itself represents an actual need of the evolutionary process which can be compared with the stress and strain involved in the birth of a child. It then becomes clear that we, partakers in the contemporary scene, rather than withdraw in horror and condemnation of things we dislike (with reason) can, if only by our understanding of them, be active, if only by our mental attitude, in bringing sanity back to our species: the species of which we ourselves are elements.
What is happening in the world today is a necessity, not an accident. It is for us to understand that necessity and to discover our role in carrying through to success what it implies in the long term of human evolution and perfectibility.[Page 132]
title consists of three words, each denoting something different, each interlinked
with one another in our minds. Because of this interlinking, and because
they are not properly understood, they cause confusion there,
so that it is difficult to create a proper picture of one
of the most vital and pervasive aspects of human life.
It is virtually a cliché" to talk about this confusion, of how old values have become obsolete, yet have not been replaced by new ones except a trite demand for freedom from the trammels of the past, of the rules set by an Establishment of which, if we are young — in mind if not in body — we do not feel ourselves to be a part. Yet a cliché is an expression of a truth, and only becomes a cliché through being repeated over and over again. What we require is an answer to the problem it states, based on the grass-roots rather than on what is taken for granted by the unthinking mass of society. It will be well, therefore, if we take each of the three words separately and examine them in turn before we try and make a synthesis between them.
I. MARRIAGE. Let us take this first: it is the least important of the three when we consider the individual human being. Shocking as it may seem to say this, we have to remember that what we call marriage is, in effect, the last link in a chain, the superficial declaration made before the community of a wish or an intention already shaped between those concerned. It is true that there are so called marriages which are pure business contracts based on material considerations; while others — and in the past those of royalty — rested on considerations of caste which are today virtually obsolete. But most marriages imply a sexual factor, by which the community is kept replenished, whether or not the third element, love, comes into the picture or not.
Marriage, in different parts of the world, differs in many outer ways: sometimes it is, as it increasingly tends to be in the West, a contract between two individuals alone. In other [Page 133] countries the bride or the groom becomes absorbed into the family, clan or tribe, the individual relationship being subordinate to that with the group. But in any case, it remains, in its aim, the way in which, through sex, mankind perpetuates itself.
2. SEX. As we know very well, this, one of the forms of the basic instincts of natural beings, does not of necessity operate only within the social pattern of marriage. Its importance in Man (I shall use the capital all through this essay to denote man-and-woman, an abbreviation for 'mankind') is very great and, as it is the cause of much mental conflict in the awakened individual, it will be well if we start by looking at it in its widest context.
This context is no less than the total universe, the Creation itself. For in the myths which express this supreme Act a point emerges which is most clearly expressed in the Taoist, Chinese, idea that the Supreme Tao, the Absolute God, the Noumenon Itself, Brahman of the Hindus, created the manifested worlds by polarization, by separation into 'the pairs of opposites'. These, in Taoism are called yang and yin, which, by rough translation can be named positive and negative or masculine and feminine. It follows from this that the objects created come into existence through the attraction between these two poles, which either merge to produce something new — as in the case of chemical ions which, drawn together by their opposite charges of electricity, produce a molecule; sodium plus chlorine result in common salt — or else, because of the field of force between them, they create something in that field.
We may thus think of the very roots of sex as being away down in the mechanical levels where positive and negative draw together, or to try to; and even in the gravitational attraction of one body to another in physical space.
In the sphere of 'inanimate' matter, the result is also 'inanimate'. But when we come to higher, biological levels, the thing produced is at once similar to the parents and also capable of reproducing itself and so of perpetuating a dynamic process in nature: this is sex.
It is true that the most primitive plant or animal forms are sexless. But the tendency of science nowadays is to look for the fertile polarization within the cell itself, in terms of nucleic [Page 134] acids and the like, while in more advanced creatures the simple cells involved become built into more complex organisms having increasingly definite sexual characteristics.
It follows that the polar attraction of a male to a female body is itself universal and mechanical. The basic requirement is that one should evoke what might be called a resonance in the other, i.e. that when we come to the level of complex genetic factors, the 'chord' of the genetic material should complement its opposite pole. Thus a species is defined as where in a group of animals sexual reproduction can take place. But where there is not a common genetic 'chord' it does not: which is why, for instance, a cat and a dog cannot mate.
Mankind, whatever the color of its skin, its social group or level, is a single species; a Caucasian, a Negro, an Australian Bushman, a Mongolian, are all capable of mating and producing a child. Man's body is no different from that of other animals, male attracts female regardless of anything but the basic polarity. But Man is not merely body. In common with the higher animals at least he has a mind which serves his instinctive needs and desires as does the animal mind. More than this, the human mind contains within it a seed out of which, as he evolves, there develops that which makes him different from other animals. This is individuality, 'I-ness'. Typified in the Book of Genesis by the awakening brought about by intuitive Eve in her own polar complement, Adam, it is at this point that problems begin for Man. His 'I-ness' divides the natural world into two parts, one of which he learns to think of as spiritual or divine, the other as animal, perhaps bestial, even as evil.
In the matter of sex, he now finds himself in a double dilemma: one is that of the mechanical attraction of his animal body and its instincts towards any individual of the other sex with whom he has anything in common; and the other, as it were at right angles to the first polar pull, lies between his 'higher', so-called aspirations and his natural animal desires.
This conflict, self-generated because of Man's individuality, has been fostered, especially by the Christian churches, until it has become the major problem of Western man today. It can be said to be based on the desire arising from instinct on the one hand, and the urge to seek for union with the Source of Man's [Page 135] being, God, at the opposite 'end' of his humanity. Caught in this conflict, many people, especially today, find that their individuality, this precious thing we call 'I', becomes confused as to what is really right in the sense of real and not of popular and imposed morality. Some deprecate sex, or would try and eliminate it except from certain conditions acceptable to the mass, that is, to the framework of marriage as described in our first section. Others, with stronger sense of the independence of judgement which being 'I' brings with it, say, on the contrary, that they must be as free in their sexual life as any animal in a state of nature. Both are wrong because they argue from one pole or another of the situation, and fail to see it against the spiritual background or 'Tao' which is its origin and root.
Sexual promiscuity is not freedom: it is enslavement by the desire aspect of the individual. It is, moreover, confusing to the one who indulges, not only because deep down in himself he has an intuition that the situation is unbalanced within him, but also because, though this is not a scientifically proved matter, sex acts do not finish when they are consummated and the partners separate. Something is left behind, of a subtle, psychological or psychic nature, when two people have been as intimate as the sex act demands. This is all the more the case when a child results, acting as a focus in which the germ plasm of both partners has merged to create its body. This is why no married couple, separated perhaps for years, no parent, no child or close blood relation can ever become entirely objective towards those whose germ plasms he shares. Objectivity can be reached up to a point only, but never entirely, so long as the other body exists.
The opposite extreme, however, strict celibacy and self-mortification may also be a sign of unbalance, the individual, under whatever guise, attempting to cut himself off from his animal aspects. It is as if, in order to attain sanctity, somebody refused to give his body food on the grounds that animals eat. A sane outlook on such a matter is to restrain excessive greed but to supply the body with what it genuinely needs to function adequately.
This may seem to echo what many 'phony' spiritual teachers say, that every human being must have a sex life. This is not so, and the analogy with food is misleading in that in principle a [Page 136] man can live without sex but dies if starved. It is, however, true that for most people marriage — not merely sex — is of immense benefit, while there are certain circumstances when a person is undergoing particular training when celibacy may be not only desirable but clearly indicated. These cases are rare and individual, however, and, if they are not to lead to serious trouble, they must be based on real self-understanding, finding the means to change the course of the psychic energies which normally become sex and to use them otherwise, but on no account simply to suppress them. In practical terms, celibacy must be felt intuitively to be the thing for the time being at least, in which case it will not conflict with the desire aspect of the individual.
In most cases, however, it is well to realize how man deals with the primitive, animal, instinctive levels of his total existent being. There is a general principle behind this, which is that evolution rarely, if ever, discards anything it has brought into manifestation. What it does is, as one stage moves on to another, to incorporate the earlier ones into a new and greater whole: the holistic principle propounded by Field-Marshal Smuts applies here. Thus chemical atoms aggregate into molecules, molecules into cells, cells into organs and elaborate bodies. Nothing is lost as it becomes welded into the higher form. It is the same with instinct, the root of the animal mind, where the more intellectual aspects of this mind serve to determine behavior in such a way that the desire becomes satisfied. The human mind, as we have said, is a development beyond that of the animal, having individuality at its core.
Without considering other aspects of the process, we can now see how Man operates with the basic instinctive urges. Part of them he leaves behind, so to speak, at their own level, to serve physical requirements. But he also carries them up into the sphere where he, as an individual, is evolving: into his mind. Here they become changed and their value to him as an individual is different from those of his body alone.
Sex, clearly, must operate in Man if he is to survive as an incarnate entity. No sex, no children. No children, no mankind. Hence, another abortive species incapable of further evolution. This is so obvious that it need not be labored, and it refers only to the physical world. But human evolution is [Page 137] seen today to be no longer at this physical level. It is in the realm of the mind, that is, in terms of consciousness. It seems as if Man's destiny is for his consciousness, his awareness of the universe in which he lives, to expand until it embraces the whole of Creation, becomes equal with that of the Universal Mind or Tao we call God.
One of the assets which he has derived from his earlier, pre-human evolution is the sexual urge, to join with others carrying a polarity opposite to his or her own. This urge, powerful indeed, operates in his mind as well as in his body. No civilized, awakened Man will be satisfied with a marriage which does not add a great deal of a human order to the animal mating of bodies; he wants also a union of mind (including in this term the feeling aspect of himself).
This raises an interesting question: do animals touch anything comparable to human love, except perhaps at its simplest and most primitive level ? This question is best left unanswered, but it should be remembered how much we humans tend to color animal behavior with our own feelings, to compare with what we would feel in certain circumstances with the behavior of the sub-human animal instead of seeing it for what it is, beautiful and touching as it can sometimes be. Certainly, however, what we call love is required for a true and fruitful union between a man and a woman. Otherwise, this union may produce children's bodies, but need not create anything of a subtler and higher order.
3. LOVE. This is perhaps the most difficult of the three terms of our title, if only because the words has been so much misused. We can say, however, that at one end of a whole range of meaning of the word, it is used for simple, primitive sexual passion, while at the other it becomes the purest and more-than-personal thing we sometimes call divine love.
We human beings, as Alexander Pope states so clearly in his Essay on Man, argues, as did Nietzsche at a later date, that Man is 'placed on this isthmus of a middle state' where he is utterly confused as to whether he is 'God or Beast'. In fact, he is at once neither and both. In other words, our present state is somewhere between the extremes, our love combining, in many instances, of which marriage is one, something of the quality of passion and also something of that of love of the divine.[Page 138]
But what then is love, at the grass roots ? It needs to be seen as a form of energy or force pervading the universe as we know nowadays that energy pervades the whole of the material worlds. It operates at every level, differing in quality and its manifested forms, yet basically the same. We can look on it as the great force which both created the universe and which holds it together. It matters little whether we think of this universe as being drawn together by attraction between its component parts, or squeezed together by something which pushes these component parts together. Perhaps the second is the more useful idea, as it suggests the picture of ourselves, in this universe, having less to do in attracting things or people to us than in allowing them to come near us by the action of universal love. In this sense, to love is permissive, not active, a state of non-doing rather than of reaching positively out towards our surroundings.
In religious writings one is apt to find a great deal of talk about love, how the Love of God is the cause of creation, how he loves mankind and so on. But there is a tendency to differentiate between human love and God's love and between what the human being should feel towards God and towards his fellow men. Is there in reality any justification for this ? Would it not be sounder, and more practical to see love as this one universal force acting in different ways, yet always basically the same ? (We do not talk of electricity in terms of it being something different when it manifests in lightning or in electric cables, - producing light or heat, bringing about chemical changes in a solution, yet its action is different under different conditions.)
Where love is concerned, it is the same: it is the one force which makes for coherence, union, in every sphere, in every part of the cosmos.
We could discuss this theme at length, but we are here concerned with the special case where it enters the realm of the human being and shows itself as that which brings him into ever closer unity with the world he lives in. We can put it that it is through love that he becomes aware, through love that his mind becomes so changed that he realizes increasingly the fundamental unity of himself with what he has usually thought of as the not-self, the objective world which is outside his own ego-field.[Page 139]
This, in general terms. Narrowing our study still further, we can understand how love can work at all levels where creatures, human or sub-human, become united: at the most material level, through bodily sex, and, moving up from there into subtler fields, through fusion with another person or persons at the level of feeling; and, particularizing still further, in the union which is embodied in our deeper concept of the meaning of marriage between a man and a woman.
Physical sex thus can be made to serve as a basis for something much deeper and further reaching than its legitimate basis of producing bodies. If the participants in the sex act are at the stage of conscious development indicated by their being in the 'middle state' somewhere between being animals and gods, the 'love' which is physical sex can and should be suffused with other forms of the love-force which make the union deeper and richer for both parties.
In other words, the sex life in a marriage between partners who are beginning to be awake to themselves, becomes far more than merely the physical act. Sex serves to unchain a process which by promoting greater and greater understanding between two human beings, helps the growth of their awareness, first of themselves and then, by a kind of radiation outward from themselves, of others, in an ever-expanding sphere. In fact, it can manifest itself eventually, to borrow the Anglican definition of a Sacrament, as 'the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace'. To put it provocatively, the sexual act between awakened people is in principle capable of being an act of true worship, through the other partner, of God himself.
It is worth putting it thus because of the vast difficulties which occur in families where the parents are idealists. It is unfortunate that, in the Christian churches, various exponents, including the deservedly respected Saint Paul, have all shown their human weaknesses in spreading a sense of pollution around the question of sex even when consecrated by marriage. The result is that many well-meaning individuals believe that abstinence is much the same as 'purity': a fact which anybody (besides Freudian psychologists) who has any insight into human nature knows is not the case. The abstinent person can be mentally a distorted individual who sees 'impurity' where it does not exist except in his own mind.[Page 140]
To redress the balance we do not have to go so far as the attitude of the libertine ('Libertine', one who is free or seeks freedom: is he free ? Or merely enslaved in a negative way ?) ; but nor can we set standards which can be applied to any married pair save in the most general terms.
First, we have to rid ourselves of any idea that sex in itself is in any reprehensible way 'impure'. It is a perfectly natural, healthy function for any of the denizens of the animal kingdom, including the human being.
Second, we need to remind ourselves that man is, as we have said, more than a simple animal, and that his individuality is the distinguishing mark between the two.
Third, that the goal of this individuality is to move from its instinctive soil towards the greater field of Being we call spiritual or divine, in which 'I-ness' become merged with 'we-ness' — conscious awareness of the basic unity of all things.
Fourth, we must realize ourselves as half-way between the two goals, that we are still human, with human needs and desires. Our aim should be so to harmonize the two sides of our nature that we are in tune with the stage in which from an individual evolutionary angle we are at each moment of time: that is today, not in some future — or past — time. We should not try to become gods before our time is ripe; to do so courts at least stress and neurosis at worst, disaster.
Fifth, we should try and make use of our natural heritage, that which is derived from our animal origins, in a human way corresponding to our spiritual age. This applies to all aspects of our primitive nature, but, in the framework of this paper, to the sexual, desires and life especially. If we do this we shall find that what, to the unintegrated idealist, seems a detriment is in fact capable of being used as an asset in increasing our spiritual perceptions.
If we use these principles as a guide to our daily lives, we can then discover for ourselves just what is right and what is not, in any particular marriage. The important key is self-awareness, knowing the points of stress in our minds, removal of the conditioning and attitudes which we have derived from others, and replacing these by a code which is genuinely our own, and applicable to the particular couple concerned. Above all, we should not feel guilty because of the completely healthy [Page 141] and natural desire of our bodies. Sex, apart from producing children's bodies, can and does enhance love and so has its place in marriage: a fact not understood by a celibate priesthood. It is a help in finding our own spiritual essence.
In conclusion let it be understood that this essay makes no attempt to deal with the immense complexities of the mind of each of us, with the subjective factors known as the anima of the man, the animus of the woman and so on. Each one of us is unique, each one has his or her own individual needs which are right spiritually for him or herself. In a marriage, especially, but also in every relationship, nothing which is harmful to the other can be truly ethical or right.
At the same time, to repudiate or distort what God or the Creator has given us is, however subtly, a form of blasphemy and repudiation of the Source of our Being: of God.[Page 142]
the most constantly used noun or pronoun (this single letter can be used
as either) is 'I', meaning 'myself. Our lives are governed by what ‘I’ want,
do not want, like, dislike, think, feel, know and
so on. But rarely do we, even if we are introspective,
pause to think what this 'I-ness', this identity signifies: ‘id-ens’ 'being
the same', or perhaps, 'remaining the same', a permanence,
something which endures. But does the ‘I’ remain
the same? Some schools, such as that of Gurdjieff, suggest
that it does not, that in man are many ‘I’s’,
such as that which thinks, that which feels, that
which seeks gratification, etc. To the psychologist,
on the other hand, the 'ego', to use his term, is
a central part of the personality, though in disease
it can become split or fragmented. In occultism we
are often told about a higher and a lower self, with
But if we study both modern Blavatskian Theosophy and the older theosophies, particularly of the East, we can obtain a view of selfhood which is different from that of the West. For Western knowledge about the ego derives largely from subjective experience, while in the Eastern esoteric doctrines we are. told of the mechanics by which what we call 'I' comes into manifestation.
In this last sentence I have deliberately chosen my words: 'comes into manifestation'; not 'is created'. This is because, it seems, Selfhood (and here I use a capital) belongs to the realm of the transcendental and the timeless; it is intrinsic to man's inner Being, and when it becomes manifest, it does so as the outward expression of what has always been there and, in a certain sense, will always be there.
Putting it more simply, and in terms of modern theosophical literature, we have the idea that the line of demarcation is when an animal reaches a certain stage of evolution, has developed a mind and the ability to think up to a certain point, and becomes 'individualized'. He enters the human kingdom. This doctrine seems acceptable, but only if we take it that at [Page 143] this critical moment something happens which foreshadows a future as yet not by a long way fulfilled. The fertilization of an egg is not the emergence of a fully formed chick, yet that fertilization tells us that, if the conditions are right, an embryo will be formed and eventually a young bird will be born. So it seems that we must look upon the Gestalt which has been called individualization as a new potential, and not yet an achievement.
Yet something has happened, without which nothing further can take place. But to understand this we need to go further into the principles perhaps most clearly stated in Vedantic philosophy. Here we are told that an 'inner instrument' — antahkarana — in the depths of man comes into play. This 'instrument' has four parts: the thinking mind (manas); the evaluating mind (buddhi), which might be called true intuition; chitta, the mind concerned with outer objects, or kama-manas, desire-mind, the organ of consciousness; and ahamkara, or the ego-maker (not, however, the Self-maker), 'ego' in this case being used in much the same sense as it is in psychology.
In this essay it is this last which concerns us most, though it is clear that the other three are also involved in the total process by which self-identity develops.
Taking this thought farther, it is evident that antahkarana, in whatever form we may envisage it, as a thread equivalent to the sutratma, a channel, etc., is the link between the deeper man — call this Spirit, Essence, the Causal Body, the Augoeides, etc. — and the personal man. The first two 'parts' or functions, Buddhi and Manas (i.e., pure Mind) lie as it were 'above' the personal, while the ego-making aspect, that aspect of mind which is involved with outer objects and with desire, belongs to the personality, and hence overlaps very largely the realm of the animal kingdom, with its own form of mentality.
We can thus conceive of the moment of 'individualization' as one where a seed is planted in the more material, 'denser' or 'lower' worlds, very much as a seed is placed in the ground in order that it may grow. Its first job is to push roots downward into the soil; its second, and later function, is to grow up into the air and sunlight. But it can only do this successfully when its roots are strong and well nourished. Hence, on the 'path of outgoing', the first stage of selfhood demands that a man should [Page 144] become materially successful, well established, strong, individual. This is perhaps why in primitive communities (and much of the primitive still persists even in so-called civilized society), the rich, the powerful, the self-assertive person becomes the ruler, the king, the more-or-less-robber nobleman: in short, the hero of his community. His personal ego, extended to cover his family, his clan, his nation, his race, is at the center of his life.
This seems a highly 'unspiritual' picture of human selfhood. Yet at a certain stage, it represents the increasing expression of man's higher Self, of which more in a moment. It is right for child-man — as for man-child when young — to be assertive, selfish and all the things we hope will be transcended as experience grows. It is only later that, gradually, man begins to listen to the still small voice of his deeper being and, however blindly, he fumbles to try and discover a different set of values. These are the ones which the wise of all ages have held before us and which, to use an omnibus term, we call Religion, out of which, in more or less debased forms, the religions arise. In terms of what we have said, antahkarana begins to function increasingly from 'above' 'down', from the spiritual towards the material.
It is now that talk about a 'Higher Self attracts us. It is a phrase to which I, as a psychiatrist, object because it suggests and emphasizes a basic pattern which, where mankind stands today, is already much in evidence: that is, it brings out the duality of mind which is basic to man at this intermediate stage of our race. Instinctive urges derived from our animal ancestry pull in one direction, and spiritual or teleological forces pull in the opposite one. In other words, it emphasizes what in exaggerated form becomes straight schizophrenia, split-mindedness. (Indeed, we may say that the blue-print of man-in-evolution is schizoid.) This conflict should not be added to and, indeed, the soundest depth psychologists, as well as the ancient sages, each in their own way decry anything which does so.
For we need to see Self as one. We have no higher and lower selves, we have only selfhood, self-identity. But this selfhood needs also to be seen as operating at many levels, running from the deepest, passional physical desires up to levels which, normally, we rarely experience as imperfect human beings.[Page 145]
For imperfect we are. This is very obvious to the discriminating student, however optimistic he may be, especially about himself; and, moreover, the tenets of occultism point out to us in various terms the fact that, as a human race collectively, we are only a little way beyond the half-way stage between animal and god — to be more exact, we seem to be about two thirds of the way between the beginning of the First Race and the end of the Seventh.
This means in practice that our self-identity, what we call 'I, myself is also in a half-way state between its original implantation in the animal mind and the end state of anything we can know as 'Selfhood'. But, having developed a form, however limited, of detachment and freedom from the patterns of animal instinctive behavior, we can learn to look at ourselves as selves in a manner which is of great practical value and use both in daily life and in our more abstract inner studies.
The first thing which becomes apparent is how, at different times, 'I' am concerned with physical matters, with my body. Then 'I' becomes concerned with desire and passion. 'I' also sets to and thinks about abstract matters not immediately related to instinctive or practical affairs. And sometimes we experience what seems like a total change in our sense of ourselves as separate, discrete beings, and find ourselves in a state where we are still ourselves, but where, in a paradoxical sense, the sphere which encloses separate selfhood has been removed. Only a center remains, which is no longer only individual to ourselves as personalities, but also belongs to every other individual, man or particle in the whole universe as far as we can reach. So different is this experience from the daily one, that we may feel justified in thinking that this new Self is a 'higher' one from the ‘I’ we use every day. So we 'invoke our Higher Self to 'drive away all evil from our hearts'; a very much mistaken practice. For 'evil' driven away from ourselves is set loose in the world and not in any way resolved.
If, on the other hand, we listen to the deeper and, to my mind, truer esoteric and psychological teachings, we shall see that, as human beings, we cannot and must not try to cut ourselves off from our earthy roots, and from the instinctive, passional nature which has been the early nutriment of what we have now become. We need, however, to learn to integrate [Page 146] the material derived from these levels into a greater wholeness, which will include the whole of ourselves: the whole of the Monad which is 'I myself, and which, while its nucleus is in the realm of Being and transcendence, includes also the daily mind — kama-manas — and the physical body, or at least its counterpart in the realm of energy — what we call the 'etheric' or the 'astral' (H.P.B.) or the linga-sarira of the Vedantist.
The basis of all methods of achieving this unity lies in self-awareness: the goal of all true yoga. For through self-knowledge and self-awareness not only do we get to know ourselves, but we automatically become aware of the world or worlds in which we live.
For long we have been afraid of the effects of turning in on ourselves, fearing that this might lead to self-centeredness; but as we travel, we come to see that we are already deeply self-centered, without knowing it. Our lives and actions rest upon what 'I' want, at all levels of our personalities, whether physical or psychic. To see this, however, changes matters: the little, selfish ego, becomes demoted by the forces which flow through consciousness, but which do not flow through unconsciousness. Conscious awareness is the crucible in which alchemical change takes place, so that, by knowing myself I change myself and refine my personality.
No doubt practices, meditations and observances may help to accelerate the process. But only too often they stand in its way, become drugs and habits, fixed patterns of thought and feelings. That is why, whether in Delphi, in Tantric Buddhism, in Raja-Yoga, and in every valid school of thought, emphasis is placed on the ancient and universal maxim, 'Know thyself; for, eventually, we shall find that what begins as a little, automatic, limited sense of 'me' becomes that which includes the whole vast cosmos of what we call God, the Supreme ‘I’ of our universe.[Page 147]
last few words of the stated objects of the Theosophical Society are of great
importance if taken in conjunction with what many feel to be the
most important task of this Society which is, as its
first object declares, to bring into actuality the
innate brotherhood of mankind. For unless one understands
oneself and others in depth, there can be no hope of
true unity and harmony. At best only a superficial
peace can be obtained.
In spite of this — which seems obvious enough when one thinks of it — this second clause of the third object of the Society has been more neglected than any other. True, we are told things about the powers of kundalini, prana, the so-called subtle bodies and so on. But it has been left almost entirely to the psychologist and the psychiatrist to learn about the inwardness of man and of the 'latent powers' which represent his potentialities along the next steps of the evolutionary ladder. It is these workers who have more to offer than theoretical ideas representing a dissection and exposition of the anatomy of what must of necessity be a 'dead' specimen of the human race. The psychologist and the psychiatrist show us the active, 'physiological' processes of the life forces in the human being, physical and psychic and, now, the spiritual also. We are shown man alive at all levels, and since we belong to the species, we are shown ourselves as individual entities within that species, as well as being taught how to begin to examine and know ourselves in a practical and useful way.
This is not to suggest that even the most modern psychology has reached the point where it can replace the old psychological schools, particularly of Tantric and Taoist 'Raja' Yoga. But it has come to the place where the two approaches, the Oriental and the Occidental flow into one another, to the benefit of both. Of late, especially, Western psychology has taken great forward strides of a kind which it is worth our while to examine, if we want to widen our theosophical studies in a promising direction. [Page 148]
Reviewing what are spoken of as the first two 'forces' or stages of thought in psychology, such people as the late Abraham Maslow tell us that these first two phases were respectively the ones of Behaviorism and of Freudianism. The first, with which the name of Watson is principally associated, rests on purely objective study of behavior: it refuses to take into account the subjective experience of the human being, his sense of values, etc., and considers man as merely another kind of animal, and his behavior as an extension of that of the animals. Freudianism, on the other hand, considers the conscious and unconscious subjectivity of man — that which, in fact, differentiates him from the other animals — but rests its views and theories on the animality of man in terms of passion and instinct. But it sees in man a conflict between the desire for pleasure and the free expression of instinct, and especially of the sexual aspect of this, in conflict with another level of the same animal instinctive drive towards being a member of the herd — the body social. Caught between these man develops his sense of identity, his personal ego; and, in the Freudian view mental health is found when a person manages to reach an acceptable compromise between the two.
Further, Freud, concerned as he is with subjective values and symbols, saw these only as referring to the physical organism. A church steeple or an obelisk was a phallic symbol; a hollow cup, a cave, a grave represented the womb. He tried vainly to explain away religious ideas about God as symbolizing the attitude of each one of us to the physical father, or to shakti, feminine divinity, as referring to the mother who bore us. And up to a point, and in some cases, this is true. But he failed to appreciate the fact that yin and yang, masculine and feminine, etc., are principles of which the sexual polarity is only a special case within the wider conception of universal polarity wherever one looks in the manifested universe.
In any case, Freud gradually came to overshadow the behaviourists in serious psychological thought; and he in turn was found wanting because he left out so much which was obviously important in trying to understand humanity. So, more recently a 'Third Force' in psychology emerged and is now rapidly growing in influence. The strange thing about this is that its proponents jumped from Freud into the new stream [Page 149] of thought, ignoring the bridge built between themselves and the Freudians by one of the greatest of psychologist-philosophers, Jung, who himself if only by implication, suggested most of what 'Third-Force' psychologists are saying today. For Jung realized the importance of teleology — i.e., latent potential — in man, the need to consider religious, spiritual and other values. This lack will undoubtedly have to be made good, but for the moment it may be that the reaction against the lucubrations of Freud has swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction for Jung to come into his own.
Despite this criticism of the 'third force' there are some interesting and valuable things in it, which presage good for the future not only of psychiatry, but of social and other psychology as well. The name of Maslow is prominent among the new workers, but there are many others who are also in the movement. The number of them is still growing.
Perhaps the principal sign of the change is that, as Maslow puts it, we should think of man not in terms of the average person, i.e. of a mediocre being somewhere between the best and the worst of the community. On the contrary, we should think of the very best of ourselves in any field, be it athletics, money-making, power politics, philosophy, science or religious thought. For the top people in any field show us in anticipation at least what man is capable of becoming — whether as an agent of good or of evil, of true value to his fellows, or as an example of useless achievement. He calls this small slice of mankind 'the growing tip' of our species, and to him these people are those we should take as our point of reference when we consider mental health and disease either for the individual or the collective community. The older psychiatric schools come in for the deserved criticism that they took as their standard the sick mind as being below the average or norm, the mediocre middle-of-the-road, socially adjusted person as being healthy. No, says Maslow: we should try and see that mental sickness occurs when an individual is not living up to his innate capacities, and in psychiatric work we should try and help the individual to discover what his capacities are, and then to actualize them in his life. Jung said the same when he spoke of all disease, whether within the individual or between himself and society, or in the body corporate of the community itself, [Page 150] as being due to deviation from the true path, or, as the Vedantist would say, the dharma of that person or group.
In other words, Western psychology is becoming more and more a school of Yoga. For Yoga and all true religious practice aims at just the same purpose as 'Third Force' psychology. It has special kinship with such schools as Aurobindo's 'Integral Yoga' which sees the need to include the whole of man, including his passions and instincts, in the transformation process which Maslow calls 'self-actualization', Jung 'individuation', Krishnamurti 'liberation', the Christian 'salvation' and so on: terms to which such names as Moksha, Nirvana, and many others can be added. It offers a practical method especially for the Western mind, for whom the Eastern methods may not be particularly suitable, or for the occultists to whom impersonal theories lack the vital and personal impact necessary to learn to know things for oneself, by knowing both oneself and what we think of as the not-selves around us.
There is another interesting matter, which is Maslow's idea of what is a 'self-actualizing' person. We may add in passing that his term seems to be equivalent to the one used by William James at the turn of the century, 'twice-born' — though 'twice-conceived', with birth to follow might, as I have said elsewhere, be more appropriate — the individuating and self-realizing, self-aware person of Jung.
Here one can only build up a composite picture, suggesting what the self-actualizer is aiming at in general terms, something which, if he is genuine in his attempt, he will realize as being a condition which he hopes to achieve though he has not yet done so. For the ability to be objective and to see himself is the prime step: which means that he seeks after the detachment and objectivity about his personality which is implied in the Sanskrit terms vairagya and viveka. If he cannot reach some degree of this, and, moreover, realizes that he has not reached the point where he can really see himself in all his aspects, the worst as well as the best, he has not even begun to tread what amounts to the Path of Return, or Nivritti Marga. Together with this is a sense of self-responsibility: he is the author of his existence, he is the one who can change himself. Nobody else can do this for him, however much he may learn from another. Ideally, he is willing to learn, using discrimination as he does so. This [Page 151] means that he does not commit himself by identifying himself with a school, guru or organization. He may be a member of societies, but he does not entirely belong to them in that something of him remains always objective and detached. This leaves him, at least in mind, always fluid and able to move on. There is a good example of this in Hermann Hesse's story, Siddartha, where the young aspirant named in the title goes through a life experience, including meeting Gautama Buddha, acknowledging his greatness and, with Gautama's approval, passing on and following his own individual destiny.
The moving-on is not, however, drifting without orientation. The real self-actualizer has his inner point of reference, his pole star, call it what we will; his Master, his real guru within himself. (Clearly, at this point I am not echoing Maslow's words about the type, but using my own form of expression about it as I see it, which basically is much the same as his own.) One thing Maslow insists on is that such a person needs a sense of humor, and the ability to play as well as to be serious. He needs, as Krishnamurti once put it, 'to be a god and laugh at himself'. For only as he is able to see his own ridiculous ways — without, however, hating himself for being ridiculous — is he able to laugh with rather than at others. For if one laughs at people one wounds them and probably sets them back, while if one laughs with them they learn to look at themselves, not to take themselves too seriously and may begin not to 'strive so busily to be so very good'. In this way they become freer human beings.
Further aspects of self-actualizing show that the individual is not a 'joiner' of groups and movements, still less a fanatic and a crank, a food and health faddist. Nor will he be orthodox and live in a strait-jacket of convention. Convention he will use as a convenience unless some matter of principle is involved, when he will act according to his own sense of what is really right and wrong rather than according to herd-made rules. He will be friendly and open to all, but will realize also that he should not let himself be trodden on: that he has rights as well as duties. He will not be ambitious, yet if he undertakes a task he will try and perform well in it. Office, prestige, luxury, popularity he will not seek, though he is likely to feel that he is entitled to reasonable amenity in physical life, that if he has [Page 152] anything to offer in a group or society, it is his duty to offer it. He will not be conceited and show off, yet he will not be morbidly humble and self-effacing. He will probably feel no need for organized religion or for rites and ceremonies, yet he will use them if they suit some purpose and seem likely to bring about a certain result. He will also become increasingly aware of the 'phony' or meretricious as against the real, and will detect the speaker or teacher who is only repeating what he has read and has no experience of his own. He will be honest and business-like, but will try and keep out of the rat-race of modern commercialism.
With all of this, he will accept the fact that he is a very human, hence imperfect being. That he does enjoy being appreciated, dislikes being thought of as an outsider — which, however, he must be if he is outside the sphere of conventional talk and superficial interests; but he will also see that if he reacts for or against a situation, it is the personal and not the essential Self which does so. In other words, and colloquially, he will learn step by step not to 'kid himself that he is better than he is.
he will know the value of doubt, the legitimacy of asking
questions about everything, and of ruthlessly rejecting
what he feels to be the dross accumulated around
a principle which he feels — or
rather, undogmatically, knows — to
be true. (Jung, asked whether he believed in God said,
quietly, 'I do not believe, I know'.)
Coming back now to the third object of the Theosophical Society, it may be useful to point out that man's greatest power is to become what he is.
This strange statement is, when considered from the angle of spiritual lore, not so strange as it seems. I once said to a young man, a student of these matters, 'How are you ?' 'I'm perfect", he replied. 'The only difficulty is in making this perfection manifest.' It was the right answer to my casual question; for, basically, we are perfect in our deepest Being, but this perfection needs to be expanded from the world of Essence into that of material and manifest existence: that is, to be 'actualized' through the personality, right into the physical body. The oak within the traditional acorn is perfect: but it needs to germinate and grow.[Page 153]
This way of seeing ourselves is much more useful than to think of 'the powers latent in man' in terms of clairvoyance, magical ability, even healing power or the setting loose of kundalini. These are incidental, siddhis, side-issues compared with the fact that man is the only, or at least the first creature on our own evolutionary ladder (there are doubtless other ladders with which we are not concerned) to be capable of self-transformation. He has to develop him-Self out of the seed of individuality planted in the animal soul, and to do this by using the latency of that very Self to bring him-Self to fruition. As he becomes aware, then self-aware (which includes as a corollary, aware also of others) the basic individuality expands until it eventually embraces the whole universe and he 'knows the Self as One'; when separate self-hood is seen as only a pragmatically useful illusion, and disappears into nirvana.
The modern psychologist may not go so far, but as he looks to the future of man he is on the way to it. 'Self-actualization' or 'individuation' is the process of becoming what one already is, and knowing that one is doing so. The methods or techniques, whether one calls them those of Yoga or of depth psychology, are comparatively irrelevant, as are the words and jargon used. For what matters is the success of the process. And, as Lao Tze says, if a person is determined to find Truth he will do so even if he starts by using the wrong method; but a person who is not in the right frame of mind to undertake the Quest may use entirely right methods and get nowhere: it all depends on himself and his deep sincerity, not on what he professes to be his goal.
This picture — admittedly biased by my own ideas — could be endlessly expanded. But my purpose has been not only to give some account of the progress of modern thought of man about man, but also to try to suggest what the man of the coming age is likely to develop into, and to move through into a still further stage in the more or less distant future. Many people reach a state of what we feel to be health. But the progressive 'self-actualizer' today is not content with this, he is seeking what for the mass of mankind is super-health. The Third Force in psychology is working towards bringing this new society into actual existence in every sphere, from the most material to the most highly spiritual. [Page 154]
In short, what it means is that psychology today is coming to recognize that there are a number of individuals who have already touched the new level of consciousness — Teilhard's 'noosphere' — and that many more are more or less blindly trying to do so. We can equate the 'self-actualizer' if we wish with the new race type spoken of in some theosophical books, with this difference, that these people will not be bound by doctrines and creeds. They want to know for themselves, and, in seeking to do so, they give a sense of freedom and of life which is often lacking in the 'orthodox' idealist.
In conclusion, I append a free translation of a 'philosophical sonnet' attributed to the Sage known as the Comte de Saint-Germain, and which is to be found in Cooper Oakley's book on him. It seems to illustrate the point about the value of open doubt and scepticism which is that of the seeker of which we have been speaking.
In my constant exploring of Nature's deep secrets
I have seen of the All both beginning and end.
I have known gold in travail in the deep of the mind,
And been seized of its substance and learned of its life.
I can tell by what arts in the womb of the mother
The soul builds its house, thrusts it forth; how a seed
Placed next to a wheat-corn in the tomb of the soil
The one herb, the one vine, bring forth rich bread and Wine.
Nothing was. God willed. Nothing something became.
Unbelieving I questioned on what the world rests:
There was nothing to balance and hold it in poise.
Then, risking all, whether high praise or blame,
I challenged the Eternal. He called me by name.
I worshiped, I died, I was lost in his Flame.
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