Intrinsically, there is nothing wrong with metaphysics or mysticism in most of its phases. The trouble lies with the student of "other world" philosophies. Sometimes it seems that "victim" is a better word.
The following comments are not going to deal with the obvious dangers of the seance or warn against dabbling in black magic, but are for those of us who think: "I know better than that. It will take a mighty smart dugpa to fool me. I am a real student of true occultism." Yes? Well, there are degrees in everything and hierarchies in every place. There are smart devils for smart people. Everything is nicely graded in this thoroughly organized universe of which we mystics are so sure we are a part. And right here is the crux of the matter. If we become so convinced that we and the Universe are one, it is only a question of time in the cyclic development of the Western mystic, at least, before we are the Universe and our present incarnations are but paltry mud spots on the whole garment of Truth. We don't live here any more. We are heading straight for Nirvana on a private train labeled "Personal Salvation" for the Western mystic, and "Freedom from the Wheel of Life" for the Eastern philosopher.
In the T'ang Dynasty the Chinese poet Liu Chang-Ch'ing wrote the following:
"Walking along a little path,
I find a footprint on the moss,
A white cloud low on the quiet lake,
Grasses that sweeten an idle door,
A pine grown greener with the rain,
A brook that comes from a mountain source . . .
And, mingling with Truth among the flowers,
I have forgotten what to say."
This Taoist poem contains a key to mysticism. Inarticulateness is a mark of the true mystic, and throughout all literature his message lies in what he has sense enough not to say. Mystics and true Occultists have a language of the heart. In the silence they converse one with another, and without words they enter together into the bliss of "at-one-ness" which is their goal.
Now it would appear from this that mystics and students of metaphysics would be the most unselfish of people. Indeed they would have a feeling for brotherhood which would make them knowers of sorrow and sharers of joy. As a matter of fact, you would suppose that a true Occultist would be tops as a psychologist just because he not only knows people but in a certain sense is "people." But it doesn't often happen that way because, first and foremost, mystics and occultists are people too and not perfect in their chosen path, however altruistic that path may be. Our problem, therefore, is with the sincere student on the path of wisdom or metaphysics who, by his very sincerity and earnestness, is most likely to miss the forest for the trees. He concentrates so hard on casting a mote out of his own eyes that sometimes he forgets that there are other people with eyes and motes of their own — and sorrows too.
So, a warning to ourselves: remember the whole. We have a body as well as a spirit and soul. Theosophy declares that the whole constitution of man is dependent upon its basic vehicle for expression and the chance to progress. Then why the haste to impede ourselves? Here is our opportunity as evolving entities to learn certain lessons, impossible to experience if we were not here on earth, with earth bodies and the necessary equipment for reacting to physical, mental, moral, and spiritual stimuli which can operate only on the Earth. The Earth is an entity too. We are not just our physical bodies, and the Earth is not just a bunch of oceans and land masses either. So it is quite possible that we have reached a stage in our evolution where fundamentally we are supposed, for our souls" good, to learn something about Globe D, the Earth chain. Otherwise, why are we here with all our fine equipment for learning?
What is really wrong with metaphysics? Intrinsically, nothing at all. But a subtle trap is set for the student who allows metaphysics to lead him — very quietly, almost imperceptibly — to a form of selfishness that outranks all the petty grabbing and pushing and "Me first-ness" of the world. Spiritual selfishness. But, alas, it is so often beautifully disguised as a love of mankind and an apparently altruistic search for truth.
It has been said countless times, but is worth repeating, that love and loyalty in our immediate personal contacts and fidelity to our present duties and tasks will change a theoretic acceptance of Universal Brotherhood into actual practice. In this wise, we will find ourselves firmly anchored to the path of aspiring Godhood, while to our hearts belong the stars.