THE OCCULT LIFE
as published in "The Occult Review" of August 1923
THERE are, I am told, many weaker souls, who face with dismay the reality and responsibility of individuality. Yet they may take heart. They have reached their present position safely and have the future in their own hands. The desire to comprehend something of the machinery of Nature betokens a personality withdrawn from excessive introspection, and so from the precipice. Self is the abyss. The attitude of too many is to live in the present and let a problematical future take care of itself. It is not unreasonable, but is what one may term the long, long trail of spiritual inertia. Such people should consider the theosophical simile of the “Flowers of the Tree”!
It is not given to all to be able to take the short cut to Occult Wisdom at once. Only a small proportion of the world's population hears of it; relatively few accept the idea with any seriousness. For as a whole we are still at an irresponsible stage, and may do a great deal with comparative impunity.
Fear is the impassable barrier which in all manner of insidious guises has excluded humanity from the Garden of Eden. It is the poison which wrecks individual lives and all human institutions. It is the motive power of all evil.
There are two paths by which to reach the Light more rapidly than by the long, long trail. One is by way of the Great White Brotherhoods, a perfect unselfishness; the other is by the difficult path of the perfect selfishness of the dark side, with ten thousand times more risk of disaster by the way. Sooner or later everyone of us will have to take one or other of these paths, if we wish to be one of the “Flowers of the Tree”. That is why it is desirable to understand the meaning and purpose of life.
At the worst Nature is not brutal or revengeful in her sentences. The most abject member of human society in this age of iron tolerates and even clings to his misery; the incurable sufferer finds resignation. There is no ground for supposing that the denizens of the lower astral world or even of the “cosmic sink” do not adjust themselves to their lot. Remorse fades out at a certain stage of degeneracy, and it is at least doubtful if any memory of lost potentialities persists between one class of experience and another. Those of us who do not suffer immoderately from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune pity the victims of its excesses; but even the submerged of society have their aristocrats of poverty, crime and disease. The members of the Great White Fraternities pity us. They are the Masters of Compassion.
Fear is without exception the most difficult of all human failings, being deeply rooted in the germ plasm as the instinct of self-preservation an the very essence of self. It is intimately connected with emotion, which in itself is illogical. For emotion is the outward and visible expression of an imperfectly evolved monad. The Masters have wholly conquered it. It exhausts energy for one thing, and energy is not lightly wasted by those who understand its secrets. Monads young in the evolutionary sense are prone to excessive emotional display. In all civilizations at their prime to control of emotion distinguishes the superior element of the people; during decline, when the superior element is being rapidly replaced by the inferior, emotionalism prevails in all sections of society. For periods of racial decline are the great cyclic opportunities for the training and experience of the evolutionarily young in preponderating numbers. When civilizations are in process of construction monads of more experience are needed. Education, be it observed, has nothing to do with the quality of intelligence or superiority of the monad.
Weakness can only be banished by
personal effort. Every characteristic which makes up the Individual is the
result of habit fostered perhaps through many lives. Habit is the result
of action under the impulse of free will. Once executed an action tends to
repeat itself; repeated it becomes habit; habit is intensified by practice,
to reach its utmost development perhaps incarnations ahead. The weakest are
capable of this original action. No one can afford to drift through life
without the effort. The medicine must be taken sooner or later if we wish
to get well. Why not lift the cup and have done with it? It was no idle
saying of the Great Essene: “Except ye be born again....”
It is impossible to provide the proof for occult teaching which is demanded by the sceptical. The products of the factory are before our eyes, but it needs a pass to view the machinery. Yet surely the discoveries of modern science are encouraging to students!
Modern biology teaches us that the union of the male sperm cell and female egg cell is the first expression of life — the germ plasm. It is not readily susceptible to change, although varying between individual and individual. It is the seat of heredity, behind which lurks, as Eastern Doctrine tells us, the selective action of the Skandhas, which are the qualities of one incarnation carried over into the next. The germ plasm of animals is less sensitive than ours; they vary little within their species. The vegetable germ plasm is less sensitive still. The Human Being of superior intelligence is more receptive to outside influences and adaptable to them than the man of low intelligence. So far so good! “ ..... and the Spirit of God brooded over the face of the waters......” . We know that in a state of extreme cold the world's atmosphere would be condensed into a body of water overlying the earth's surface. As the sun's energy, expressed through an electronic bombardment, possibly ebbing and flowing under obscure circumstance, raised the surface temperature, atmosphere appeared. Mineral life is the product of electrical action, all physical matter being basically electric. Atoms vary electronically, cohere into molecules and later into form. Mineral life produced marine plant life, plant life organic life, fish life winged life. As dry land appeared marine plant life adapted itself, animal life evolved, and finally man! Temperature and atmospheric pressure varied and reacted upon form. Changes still proceed. The evolution of the individual life cell at its highest point has achieved specialized groupings combined into the Human Organism. Each cell is an expression of individual life; each specialized grouping such as the organs has its group intelligence; the whole is directed by the “Oversoul”, the I am I, evolved as an astral consciousness under other conditions. The specialized cell groupings are not yet perfect. They are dependent in some measure upon the wayward rule of an imperfect “Oversoul”, suffer from weak or rebellious cells, and so carry within themselves the seeds of dissolution and an insecurity for our control. The superior “Oversoul” must understand his subjects and keep imperfections in check if a healthy tenement is to preserved.
All these “Oversoul's” were not incarnated into the evolved cell groupings at the same moment. Some are very recent appointments; others are very old and wise in accumulated experience. Experience must be differentiated from genius, which is the result of application to the development of some special habit through successive rebirths.
The whole visible universe is electricity in a variable state of extreme agitation, intelligible, within narrow limits only, through the five recognized sense termini. We know the constitution of the atom. When matter passes beyond the dissecting point of the atom and reaches to the “nature” of electricity, it is on the borderland of the astral world. Atoms form and break down; they transfer electrons form one to another and give us the elements of the material world. But the energy behind this is an enigma. Behind the electron moving at incredible speed, what is the force? We send messages along our nervous systems as a telegraphist does along his wires; but what is the force behind the process? Inexpressively it is “will”, a force almost inert in the mineral, dull in the plant, active in the animal, intensive in man, and the servant of the superman. It is a force belonging to the astral world, one of the forces of which the uninitiated know nothing, and the full secret of which is as yet only obtainable through the channel of occult training. Such forces exist appropriately in all the more subtle states of matter, and form the untapped reservoir which may direct man to the Throne of the Gods.
The vital energy available for reckless expenditure in this life is limited. We do not control its production, but waste it grievously. As soon as our productive machinery is habitually subjected to demands to which it is unequal, the astral vehicle suffers, transfers its prejudices to the physical body, and old age and decay supervene. The vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms disclose this energy as vitality. Its radiations are visible in the human aura, and its creations in the phenomena of thought. We waste it every moment of an unguarded waking day in emotional disturbance and unnecessary physical movement, to say nothing of protective measures against antipathetic influences unavoidable in large populations.
The animal kingdom is less diffusive of its vitality than man. Yet contact permits the coarser quality of its vital energy to be absorbed beneficially by us. Poor health may gain much from domestic pets; abundant health may lose something. In the vegetable kingdom this conservatism of the animal is more pronounced; for the vitality of plants is difficult to extract. In the mineral kingdom this is enormously intensified. We learn from the Brotherhoods that prehistoric races in an advanced state of civilization not only employed electricity but were adepts in the art of extracting the vitality from plants and seeds.
There are ways by which the vitality of an animal may be filched. One and perhaps the most crude is to transplant a secreting gland of the more actively vigorous ape into the over-indulged body of a middle-aged man. For the vitality of animals if coarser than our own is also considerably stronger. I have seen in my younger and less enlightened days a deer run nearly a quarter of a mile with its skull and brain a mere pulp from the effect of an explosive bullet. Injuries which would prostrate a man are born unflinchingly by an animal. A squashed insect long shows sings of life. The vegetable world is even more tenacious of its vitality. It may be uprooted, divided and subjected to all manner of ruthless treatment, and dies with great deliberation. Seeds preserve their latent powers of germination for very long periods.
Human life may be sustained upon the vitality of the vegetable world without any internal chemical processes. As an experiment it would only be successful probably with a few, partly because not many would know what they were doing, and partly because most of us have habituated ourselves to an excessive diet for which the system would at first be insistent. The following simple test may however produce a recognizable effect. Stand with your back against a tree of vigorous growth, the head and palms of the hands close to the trunk, particularly the finger tips; breathe deeply and slowly, exercising the “will” to extract the vitality of the tree with each indrawn breath. The energy required for the functions of the human body is obtainable from other sources than plant or animal life, upon which we are present dependent. There is a reservoir which may be tapped. It is thus that the Masters of Wisdom sustain their pure and untroubled lives, with no interference with any evolved matter.
Neither infectious nor contagious disease affects a vitally strong person. It is not simply a matter of phagocytes. It is even possible to take and be unaffected by the most violent poison — with knowledge. I know men who passed half a century int he most pestilential corners of the tropics and not only preserved their youth but, following the rules of healthy living, have never been ill. Why is that psychic treatment is frequently successful? What is the peculiarity of the Grotto of Lourdes and scores of other places in the world that they should be prolific of extraordinary recoveries? Why is it that Christian Science and kindred cults can claim justifiably to have benefited the sick? Why is spiritual intercession as practised by the Spiritualists often effective? Why is that so many inexplicable cases occur in ordinary medical experience? There are more reasons than one of course, but that one is the action of vital force brought into play unintelligently by the united desire of a group of individuals or by a single individual. In cases it may be supplied through the agency of Unseen Helpers. The latter operate like our own restorative organism during the trance called sleep, when waste of vitality in other ways is a minimum. Psychic, Spiritualistic, Christian Science, and Faith cures are, we know, often ineffective. Methods are at fault, not the principle. We are all working more or less in the dark. There are cases where the powers of a psychic healer are simply amazing, but is a temporary and not a permanent gift, whose explanation is obscure. We should always bear in mind that where any association between the Two Worlds is desired, be it for medical or another purpose, complete absence of emotional disturbance is essential. Mental excitement closes the door.
Such things as I have written here and elsewhere will not appeal to all. To some many statements must appear incredible; to others the whole conception of an Occult Word seems to be eloquent of a bewildered fancy. For evolutionary young monads physical surroundings must yet awhile appear the only realities.
When we have finished with the physical body the experience of those of us who are not some way on The Path will not be strikingly different from that to which we are accustomed here. We are already familiar with it during sleep. For those who have risen superior to the sordid aspects of life, such as greed, cruelty, hatred, malice, and so forth, such things will not longer persist. There is little doubt that an inexpressible agony attends the passage of those who foster the lower passions and attach undue importance to possessions. For although the astral and physical worlds are States apart, normally unconscious of the existence of one another, there is a transition period on the Borderland, when the physical world is still clearly perceived and the astral world is unsensed.
The Great White Brotherhoods have an actual existence as described in the article on the Planetary Control. They are not the ultimate arbiters of human destinies, but are the Servants and Agents of God, the physical link in the chain which unites this world and its organizations through all the Higher World States with the Origin of All. Alone of humanity the Masters have discovered the elusive secret of happiness. For all that is beautiful and desirable is to be found on the Occult Path; and beauty appeals arrestingly to all finer natures. To the neophyte ugliness soon becomes an unrecognizable quality. Lust, hate, greed, criticism, ostentation, vulgarity, selfishness, and indulgence of innumerable kinds, which built up the misery of existence and destroy the harmony of the physical cell groupings, become human weaknesses provocative only of pity; and pity is love. Were we given a cup of the most delicious nectar knowing that if we were to take it we should be ill for the rest of our lives, we should not drink it. Yet with this physical life absolutely in our hands, whatever our habits may be, we face an eternity which depends wholly upon what use we make of it!
The inestimable benefits of following the Path are realized at an early stage. Worries vanish; access of health is astonishing. Proof of the existence of The Brotherhoods may not come for a very long time; early steps on the Path may be very trying; there will be stumbles; and unfortunately there are failures; but the end is certain if the rules are followed.
I say again: Eradicate FEAR and endeavour to live un-selfishly. You may be tried by poverty or by wealth, by fame or by discredit, by confidence or by doubt, by harmony of life or domestic discord. But so soon as you plant the first foot on the Path, your action is known to those who can and will help you if only you can pass successfully the preliminary but all important tests, which may be so much a part of ordinary life as to appear unassociated with any occult purpose. It will not be long before you will realize that to hate your enemy is a fooling thing, and that when the Great Teacher advised us to do good unto them that despitefully use us He was speaking words of the deepest wisdom.
Personal effort is essential. The doors of opportunity invariably open for the knocking. Nature after all only craves our co-operation in bringing the product of the ages to perfection. She will not scrap her work without good and sufficient cause.
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