[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]
An able physician has issued a timely warning against what he calls "fooling with the gear" of the physical body. He puts the idea into current phrases of our mechanistic era, now that Every-man-and-his-Wife is driving a car, or flying, or doing something with machinery. He hopes that by talking a common language, perhaps he can make it understood what he is driving at. His warning is disinterested enough, since this tampering with the human mechanism is bringing to his office a number of new models of cases, so to say — patients who come to him for repairs which will put them again into good running order. In spite of his best skill in the line of human service, however, he finds that in these cases there is one or another of the various "parts" of the organism which cannot be made to work as well as it did before; that is, before the owner had put it more or less out of alignment with the whole organism which, by the way, was assembled originally by expert Mother Nature herself.
In short, even with the amazing equipment of the up-to-date doctor's office — it has its gadgets galore like every other place — somehow the chemical and mechanical resources cannot cope with certain vague disturbances between the inner man and his body. These maladjustments appear to be beyond the known laws of physics, and to consider them in terms of metaphysics is regarded as so unscientific that — well, it just isn't done. However, the Ancients who began with universals and worked down to particular cases, considered the man and his body. They called man the microcosm of the macrocosm, studied him as a natural part of the whole, and diagnosed him accordingly. They knew the inside history of mankind's Rounds and Races on our home-planet. Hence they realized that Nature, from the beginning of her aeons of experience, always adopted the best way of doing things that were to be done, which is the natural way. At first, she imbodied infant humanity in forms and in materials which were in keeping with the substance and the conditions of the young earth — just as today we provide for, and handle our babies as babies and not as seasoned adults.
Now Nature has made countless changes in the body, both of man and of the earth; but she has never changed her primeval policy of doing the most suitable thing for the time, the place, the creatures, and the conditions concerned. At present, she builds for human bodies marvelous vehicles or instruments for us to live in and use during a lifetime of evolutionary experience and growth. By comparison, the best automobiles with their intricate combinations and interactions of wood, metal, oil, gas, water, spark, etc., are nothing beside the complex adjustment of the primeval elements of fire, air, water, earth, and psycho-magnetic and spiritual currents of the organism in and through which the Real Self operates constantly, awake and asleep. The crowning marvel of it all is the balance of co-ordinated interaction of all the parts and functions and dynamic forces which are naturally keyed to health.
Every organ and tissue has its own vibratory rate which is mathematically adjusted to play in rhythmic time and in tune with the natural purpose of the whole. Nature carries on all the physiological operations through the Sympathetic Nervous System, and leaves the self-conscious man with his free will, to voluntarily act well or ill through his Cerebro-Spinal Nervous System. She knows more than he does about his wonderful body, and she does her part to keep it going naturally in spite of his careless abuse or thoughtless neglect of it. She lets him hurt himself, life after life, sometimes mortally, until he grows consciously wise enough through experience and suffering to realize that Mother Nature "knows best." At long last, he works with her and obeys the natural law. Meantime, we are what we are!
The heart is a living motor that, with tiny rests between beats, is guaranteed to keep going for a lifetime. Its strokes are adjusted to the varying rates of the incoming and outgoing air in the lungs; and both heart and lungs act and react with the functional chemistry, the emotional and muscular activity, and the quantity and quality of the nourishing intake and the outgoing waste of the whole organism. Moreover, the body is unique as a mechanism provided with a brain for the operation of the thinking Self. The circulating currents of air, of blood, of lymph, of nervous ether, which, together, play their parts, are symbolic of more rapid, powerful, and subtil currents of thought, feeling, emotion, and will which put every organ and every cell into the circuit of psycho-magnetic vital forces. Here is where ethics appear in the original scheme of things — not as a matter of mere belief, but as a balance-wheel in the natural blueprint of a Universe of law and order. That is to say, when the body, mind, and desires are working together with unselfish motives, the net result is marked progress along the lines of health, intelligence, balanced efficiency, and inner peace.
On the other hand — for we are dual creatures — when the mind and the selfish motives of personal desires are driving the brain and the whole human mechanism, we try to run regardless of the natural law of health and wholeness. We trade on Mother Nature's longtime patience in ever trying to keep us on the right road; and we imagine, because we fool ourselves and each other so often, that we can outwit her and "get by." In fact, the average man and woman will treat the body with a lawless disregard of the reciprocal action of its many elements whose combination is calculated to make us human masterpieces of "scientific efficiency." No one thinks of treating an automobile or other machine as heedlessly as we often treat our body and expect it to give good service. When we begin to break the law of balanced action, at first it is not so noticeable. But presently, as we drive along, day after day, breaking the physiological law and incurring disability or disaster, Nature appears in the picture as a sort of cosmic traffic-officer, and gives us a ticket to report to the doctor. Or, at the worst, she stops our driving for this life-term, and our abused human machine is sent to the crematorium — with flowers.
At present, Science is working to liberate and harness the almost limitless forces locked up in the invisible atom. The failure, so far, to release more potent forces for use generally, while the nations are so war-minded, is our good fortune. In speaking of the scientific research in the atomic world, Dr. de Purucker, in The Esoteric Tradition, I, 464, adds:
few indeed realize, that the atoms of even our physical frames imbody and therefore enclose truly terrific forces, which, because they are so amazingly balanced in more or less stable equilibrium, hold these bodies of ours in coherent and enduring form and shape. . . . reflect over the incomprehensibly stupendous play of forces, and balancing of them, that occurs at every instant and all the time, incessantly . . . under the gripping and infallibly directing control of the inner and invisible monadic entity, as we call our spiritual Self. What a wonder it all is! It is this amazingly powerful inner and invisible monadic being, controlling these immense forces of the etheric realms of Nature, which molds us both astrally and physically — to say nothing for the moment of the still more subtil forces working in the psychologic and spiritual fields of our being — and which thus make us what we are physically. . . .
The above words are rich in meaning, for they hold logical reasons for the physical, mental, and moral injuries that follow from tampering with the wondrous balance of the cosmic and terrestrial forces which are naturally and safely adjusted for reciprocal work in the body. Every man is an integral part, a living atom, in a vast organism of the Home Universe in which he lives, and moves, and has his being. Each human creature is potentially a god and a demon, with power of choice to grow more united to his Spiritual Self, or, to become self-consciously allied with his animal nature. Note, that it is man's own higher nature, his Spiritual Self within, which is ever working silently and safely with the natural laws prevailing everywhere for the universal good. His puny brain-mind and selfish desires and personal will cannot prevail against the onward course of cosmic currents. These laws, or, more accurately, these "habits of Nature," in balancing the dual forces of attraction and repulsion, keep the poised planets steadily moving on schedule time in their orbits. Moreover, the celestial beings who rule the planets — themselves having evolved through the human stage in past aeons — also live and work in harmony with the habits of Nature.
The warning against "fooling with the gear" applies especially to an increasing number of rash Occidentals who have been led to practise certain postures, exercises, etc., under one or another pseudo-Occult "teacher," or self-styled "master," or cult practitioner. Various alluring advertisements of "Yoga training in acquiring psychic powers," in "how to get out in the astral body," and other appeals to the selfish personality, are taken at their face value by many of the unwary. Too often, the tuition-fees are the least of the bitter price that is paid for taking the training.
The novice begins his practice of "control of the breath," and concentrates upon certain physiological nerve centers, in order to liberate forces which, normally, are adjusted to healthful outgo in functional use, or are conserved as resources of endurance. The effect of these methods of "sitting for Yoga" is a psycho-physiological disconnexion and a short-circuiting of vital forces which, if the practice continues, get beyond control and run riot through the man's being. The end-results of thus tampering with high-power forces through the lower plexuses, too often appear in some organic disease, mental disorder, moral perversion, or even in death — sometimes by suicide. These very real dangers are pointed out in all genuine Occult teachings; but they are not referred to in the published promises to teach whoever applies for lessons, the secret of "control over others," "how to achieve worldly success," etc., etc.
Yoga, which literally means "union" or "conjunction," is used in its dual aspect, as it is interpreted esoterically in the Raja-yoga, and exoterically in the Hatha-yoga systems of practice. Raja-yoga, meaning royal or kingly union, implies strict spiritual and intellectual discipline, combined with a love for all beings, as a means by which a chela or unselfish student may become aware of, and finally united with, his own spiritually divine Self. A real Teacher, who has been thus trained, can teach his students how to subordinate the physical senses and lower mind and desires to the control of the awakening higher mind and spiritual faculties and powers. This spiritual discipline and training is in contrast with the Hatha-yoga system, which ignores the higher nature and selfishly seeks to gain "powers" by meddling with the currents of Prana (the "breath of life') at the physical pole of man's being. The Secret Doctrine, in discussing Pranayama, or regulation of the breath in Yoga practices, says:
This mode, however, without the previous acquisition of, or at least full understanding of the two higher senses, of which there are seven, as will be shown, pertains rather to the lower Yoga. The Hatha so called was and still is discountenanced by the Arhats. It is injurious to the health and alone can never develop into Raja Yoga. — I, 95
Thus the veiled teachings which are spread abroad, being without the key, are interpreted literally in physiological terms by the Hatha Yogis both in the Orient and in the Occident. The materialized counterfeit of spiritual truth is also used by the Tantrikas who, in some of their cults, have degenerated into degraded forms of Black Magic.
It cannot be stated too emphatically that no secret teachings of Occult truths entirely unveiled are ever given out publicly, in print or otherwise. Moreover, the sacred knowledge, to be gained by spiritual discipline and training, is held in trust by genuine Teachers and Masters, and only those who prove worthy to receive the teachings are given the key to them.