by T.T.C.

(Reprinted from "The Theosophist" of May 1892

and reproduced from “Theosophical Siftings” Volume 6 of 1893-1894

[Page 17] THE following lines are addressed to all those who desire to follow the Path of Practical Occultism, especially to such as imagine that by paying an Entrance Fee and joining the Theosophical Society they acquire a right, or a claim, to instruction in practical methods of psychic or spiritual development.

What follows has no reference to the Eastern School of Theosophy, or "Esoteric Section", as it was formerly called, so far as the conditions of membership in that school are concerned. For, the special aim and purpose of that school is to facilitate the acquirement of the qualifications set forth below, to impart, in its lower degrees, the necessary theoretical training and to afford opportunity, encouragement, guidance and assistance to the aspirant in the all-important, but most arduous task of making himself ready and fit for actual practical training. For this reason the conditions of membership in the Eastern School are limited to the simplest and least arduous demands such as any one, whatever his previous life has been, whatever his present conditions of life may be, whatever profession he may follow, whether he is married or single, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, can comply with — if only he be sincere and in earnest.

Thus the qualifications about to be mentioned are demanded only of such as seek actual practical training and demand to be taught those real methods, by the assiduous use of which the higher nature and powers of man may be developed with comparative rapidity in the properly qualified student.

But the very fact that these methods bring about the rapid development and speedy unfoldment of such mighty powers, implies that the possession of the qualifications demanded will be most rigorously exacted. Were they not, the powers which naturally accompany advancing spiritual development, would inevitably be used for selfish and evil purposes, with the result of bringing the most tremendous catastrophies upon Humanity.

All Hindu Shastras with one voice, all the mystical works of other nations and religions, unanimously lay down the following five qualifications as the indispensable requisites which must be possessed by the aspirant before he can receive his first initiation into the real methods of practical Occultism. [Page 18]

The aspirant must: —
1. Love truth and be ever ready to sacrifice himself in order to uphold it.
2. Preserve purity of mind, speech and body.
3. Be ever active and industrious in helping others.
4. Sacrifice himself constantly and unhesitatingly for the good of others.
5. Strictly follow and practice justice.

As this statement of the qualifications is very abstract and general, there follows an elaboration of them in detail, setting forth not the full and perfect ideal of their attainment, but the lowest stage of their acquirement without which it is useless to demand even the first and simplest practical lesson in real Yoga, or "Practical Occultism".


1) — Ethical qualifications.

(a) The aspirant must always cherish noble desires and be free from vanity. He must be ready and willing to learn from all, regarding all his fellow men as teachers.

(b) He must above all, be honest with himself, and try to see his nature, his virtues and his defects, as they really are.

(c) He must possess patience and perseverance, and prove these qualities by actual conduct and life.

(d) He must strive to lead a pure life sexually, and must have succeeded to some extent at least, before he can take the first step in practice.

2) — Karmic qualifications.

(a) The aspirant must prove by his actions in ordinary life that he is animated by a sincere, earnest and devoted desire to benefit Humanity.

This must be shown and proved, not by words, but by actual self-denial and self-sacrifice for the purpose of helping others. But it is no real self-denial to give, for instance, money whose want one does not feel: real self-denial in money-giving means that one shall give so much money in proportion to his income that he will have to go without things he wishes for, or pleasures he desires. Real self-sacrifice means the doing of things one dislikes, the giving up of what one likes, in order thereby directly to help or benefit others. [Page 19]

(b) No arbitrary asceticism, performed for one's own self-advancement, and not for the good of others, is of any real use on the Path of true spiritual development.

(c) The aspirant must, therefore, live a life of active work and exertion in helping others, spiritually, intellectually, morally, and physically by all the means in his power.

(d) The aspirant must be, at least to some extent, master of himself. That is he must be able to control at least his bodily actions, e.g. outbursts of anger, and so on.

(e) The aspirant must have proved his possession of these qualifications by his actual conduct before he has any right to expect practical instruction; for these ethical qualifications are the most important of all.

3) — Intellectual qualifications.

(a) The aspirant must have formed clear general ideas through intellectual study as to (a) the goal he aims to reach; (b) the means by which he is to progress; and (c) the facts in nature upon which these two rest: i.e., the nature of man; the nature of the universe; and the relation between man and the universe.

(b) He must therefore have studied well during his period of probation, and have thought over and assimilated his studies, before he is ready for practice.

(c) He must — intellectually at least — recognise no difference between "self" and "others."

(d) He must be free from intellectual dogmatism and the sectarian spirit.

(e) He must have trained his mind by constant practice to occupy itself exclusively with one thing at a time. That is, he must ceaselessly endeavour, from the time he rises in the morning till he falls asleep at night, to keep his attention steadily fixed upon whatever he is occupied with, and to constantly recall his attention to the subject in hand whenever it wanders. This he must do constantly, at every moment, however trivial or unimportant the matter may be which he is doing. Also he should never allow his mind to wander vaguely here and there, but always keep his attention steadily fixed upon some one subject or other.

Note. —This he must also continue to do, even more assiduously, after he has commenced actual practice.

4) — Physical qualifications

(a) The aspirant must abstain entirely from all intoxicating liquors and drugs, such as alcohol in all its forms, opium, bhang, ganja, etc.. [Page 20]

(b) He must abstain entirely from meat, and if possible, from fish, [The reason for this is that animals and fish possess mind, so that in eating their flesh one assimilates their “mind” also, and the first step towards occultism is to free the mind from animal tendencies. Eggs, however, are permitted, as in them “mind” is only present in germ. In the order of the hindrance they cause to progress, meat is most injurious, then fish, while eggs are only slightly so. But the proper died is the least important of all the steps towards the acquirement of the five qualifications]

(c) He must eat for the sustenance of his body, and not to gratify his palate.

These are the "preliminary steps" which must be taken; but it is NOT AT ALL either necessary or advisable that one should leave family, or active life in the world, either in order to accomplish them or when he has accomplished them. In fact, they must be accomplished in the world, for there only is it possible to acquire the qualifications demanded for the higher life.

In order that one may judge his own qualifications and see how far he is fit and ready to take the first step on the road of practice, the following signs are the best indications.

The aspirant is ready when: —

1. He feels as his own the miseries of others, about which he was formerly careless; and is indifferent to his own sufferings, considering them in the same way he formerly regarded the sufferings of others.

When reached, this will show itself in the face and appearance of the aspirant.

2. He does everything concerning his outer life merely as a duty or for others, not from any desire of his own; just as he formerly did certain things with complete indifference merely as duties or to give pleasure to others.

3. He has learnt to forget his own virtues and to magnify his own faults.

Finally, it must never be forgotten that all these qualifications, even the first five, express only the conditions requisite for actual entry on the path of practical training, and by no means cover all that the aspirant has to accomplish before he can graduate in Occult Science.

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