The Nature of the Occult  ΔΔ


by


Hugh Shearman


There are aspects of life which we call occult or hidden, or we call them esoteric or inner. Many definitions and explanations have been offered to make clear what is meant by the occult. But the occult does not need to be explained as if it was something that we had never encountered and were still seeking; for we have all had the experience of discovering the occult in the simple process of growing up from childhood to adulthood.


The occult is something that is hidden from us, not by some unkind person who will not reveal it to us, but by our own lack of growth and inability to comprehend. The occult is not hidden from us even by the fact that we do not possess various kinds of psychic capacity, such as clairvoyance, and the power to see entities not in physical manifestation, or the non-physical results of thoughts and feelings. Occult vision does not necessarily see more, but it sees differently and more comprehensively.


Grown-up life is occult to us when we are children. By no stretch of our childish imaginations can we come to understand the world of sympathies and functions and relationships which constitute grown-up life. Nor can anybody convey to us a real understanding of them by giving us teachings and explanations about them. The activities of grown-up life are occult and incommunicable to us because we have not yet achieved the growth which would enable us to comprehend them.


As children, we see most of what goes on in the grown-up world; and yet we cannot understand it and interpret it for ourselves in a way that will enable us to appreciate its full grown-up meaning. Even the possession of some form of clairvoyance or psychic capacity would not help us much towards a real understanding of the grown-up point of view.


And when we are children we sometimes think of ourselves as grown-ups in the becoming, and we set goals or ideals for ourselves, to represent what we want to become when we are grown up. In many cases these ideals, our determination to be engine-driven and the like, are never realized, because, when we actually enter the occult world of adulthood by our growth, we realize that those ideals were built upon a wholly inadequate understanding of that world. Even if our childish ideal does not prove to be in some way a reflection of our adult future, the adult realization of the ideal is utterly different from what, as children, we had expected; and the value of the ideal has been in the extent to which it has given us a sense of direction and not in the fact of its giving us any detailed image of what our grown-up life was going to be like.


Goals and ideals have always that limitation. If they are ideals of our future greater completeness, we necessarily create them in the light of our present incompleteness; and when we grow into greater completeness, it will be quite different from our earlier conception of it.


Besides, we shall grow up in any case, whether we desire to emulate the engine-driver or not. There is always those who stand ahead of us in the occult world of our future growth, and we shall one day be like them and stand where they now stand; but we cannot do this by imposing upon ourselves now a detailed external pattern of behaviours based on our idea of how they live and think and feel. We cannot grow by jumping to the end of the path of experience of some somebody else. We have to give our attention to our own next step. And from that other more grown-up person we can gain, not so much a detailed concrete patter of behaviour, as a general sense of direction. We grow by understanding and completing our own present.


As educationalists are beginning to realize, childhood is not to be thought of merely as a preparation for grown-up life. It is a time of life in its own right and ought to be lived fully and happily as such. If we do not live childhood fully, we are later troubled by “fixations” and have to go back and pick up the dropped stitches of uncompleted emotions, acts and relationships.


It is the same for every stage of growth in relation to the one which is to come after it. We do not need to strain forward anxiously to abort the future. If we complete the present, the future, of itself, is healthily born.


That is why the path into the occult lies always at our feet here and now.

 


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