The Path – April 1891


(Continued from March No.)

Students are often puzzled and greatly exercised over the question as to how occult power comes with a knowledge of the laws of occultism. Theoretical knowledge of spiritual things, no matter how correctly and completely given out, is altogether barren in most minds, for the reason that they see no connection between the spiritual truth and its practical application and effect on the physical plane. Many have formally accepted the doctrine of Universal Brotherhood, but how that principle can really work toward the unfolding of their own higher principles and powers, except as this unfolding is a direct reward conveyed to them by the interposition of a Mahatma, they seldom see. Most persons can see in the spirit of altruism a sufficient basis of ethics, and yet fail to see in this same altruistic spirit the occult law that leads to very high powers when honestly held and intelligently apprehended. Many members of the T. S. seem to think that they are held to the practice of altruism, while advancement in occult knowledge is indefinitely, if not unnecessarily, postponed. Expectancy thus leads often to disappointment, and finally to apostacy — not to the Society, or to its Great Teacher, but to their own Higher Self. Volumes have been written just at this point, aiming to show that if the motive be sincere and unselfish, and if all ulterior aims are lost sight of, the reward comes with the motive. The Bhagavad-Gita makes this very clear in what it says regarding devotion to the supreme spirit, and the relinquishing of the reward of action; and this as the final destruction of Karma.

This same principle is involved in the problem now under discussion. Just as the mystical Aum is the potential epitome of all forces and activities in man — the rhythm and the melody, the singer and the song — even so with this divine spirit of altruism; it is potential on all planes, and by no means confined to the ethical. It involves power no less than conduct: wisdom no less than beneficence.

Let us look upon man as an expanded germ, the "dark nucleoli" being still, as in the original germ, the evolving and involving center (laya-center). Let us also make thinkable, if not tangible, man's sphere of influence, the "atmosphere" he carries with him, that magnetic sphere that all feel who touch it and are consciously attracted or repelled. Dr. Sibley summarizes this and gives a beautiful illustration in his Occult Sciences as the "invisible perspiration", that vapory and invisible emanation containing in solution or suspension all essences or potencies of the man. This emanation, then, is definite in power, in density, in form, and in extent. Let us call it man's personal atmosphere. The physical body of man, then, is suspended between this laya-center within and the "personal atmosphere" without; and here are the play and inter-play of forces, the evolution or out-flow of forces from center to environment, the involution from the universal fountain to the laya-center. At any moment of his life man is a focalized adjustment, a suspended life, between these inner forces and outer conditions. The laya-center is the seat of self-consciousness in man; the motor, the generator, the focalizer of his conscious life. The "personal atmosphere" is the field of differentiation, and it penetrates to the laya-center as the very warp of life, in which man weaves the pattern of his aims and ideals. These ideals are either personal or universal. The predominating currents are either concentric, drawing all things to itself (contractile), or they are excentric, emanations toward the universal (expansive). If the life currents expand, the field of consciousness grows, and the stream from the One Life expands and increases also. The laya-center becomes more and more a channel of the Infinite life, and the "personal atmosphere" expands and becomes more pure and more powerful. The individual approaches the universal; the finite pushes toward the infinite; the limitations of the personal expand toward the impersonal; the temporal approaches the eternal. But suppose the predominating currents are concentric, and, as Bohme calls them, "astringent and bitter", the personal atmosphere becomes more and more dense, like a stagnant pool, or, rather, malarious like a foul morass. Man thus contracts the laya center, shuts up the windows of his soul, and differentiates downward, becoming more and more driven toward and anchored upon the animal plane. He lives in his senses and appetites till they become cloyed and turn to bitterness and pain. The laya center becomes atrophied because it has failed to expand by use, failed to draw from the fountain and to pass on that healing stream. He has, thus burned out the oil in his lamp of life, and contracted the holy vessel, the divine Upadhi, till it no longer "reflects the light of the Logos." He has, in short, alienated his Higher Self, and at last cut the golden thread that united his self-consciousness with the Divine Mahat. The light of the Logos still shines on as before, but he has defaced the mirror that reflected it down into the planes and principles of his complex being. He has sought to stem the evolutionary wave, that all-compelling breath of Brahm; and seeking the line of greatest resistance, pitting his puny personality against the Universal, he is wrecked on the sea of time and quenches his light in darkness.

That which renders man's journey through matter, sense, and time so long and so painful is his vacillation, his indecision. His wavering will is that "Satan" that "goes to and fro". Seeking continually all for self, and yet unable to silence the divine "voice" that dwells within his laya-center, he continually "sins" against this "Holy Ghost", and as continually "repents". Incarnation after incarnation he feeds on the dead-sea apples that turn at last to dust and ashes in his grasp. He tries every avenue of escape, knock at every door of the senses, seeking happiness that way.. Unwilling to relax his hold, and trying to drag through the Golden Gates of eternal life the dead carcass of his desires, he at last either despairs or determines; and his final determination sets his life-currents squarely toward the eternal sea of life or toward the Stygean pool. He at last comes consciously to "the place where two ways meet", and signs the compact with his soul. It is either altruism or egotism; all for humanity, or all for self. If he inflicts pain without compunction, seeks his own desires at whatever cost to others, and thus stifles the cry of humanity, his brother's blood is upon his hands, and the love of evil for its own evil sake marks the last station at which he alienated his divinity and sacrificed his humanity. People have been lulled to sleep over the very fumes of this Stygean pool, by the theological juggling of vicarious atonement and the special favor or anger of a Jewish tribal deity that was made to depend, not on character, not on the altruism of Jesus, but on the orthodoxy of the Church, the judgments of men regarding intellectual belief. These intellectual and theological jugglers have oft inflicted torture without compunction, and sought power and aggrandizement at whatever cost to humanity; and they have thus glorified the apotheosis of selfishness. If one wishes to find the sum of all villainies, let him read the anathemas of the Pope promulgated against the Masons or the Spiritualists; and yet these ravings of diabolism are published in secular journals with only mild reproof! The orthodoxy of Protestantism has been no better than a timid duplicate of popery, till the masses repudiated the whole brood, only to deify selfishness in their own way and follow their several roads to destruction. Can any thing be further from the Sermon on the Mount and the altruism of Jesus? Religions thus degenerated become, not savers of souls, but as mill-stones around the necks of all humanity to drag them to destruction. And yet even some members of the T. S. are disposed to criticize that Brotherhood that have kept for ages the Secret Doctrine from such horrible degeneracy; criticized and condemned them because they do not follow the very lead of Constantine and the "Holy See". Had this Wisdom Religion once been lost and its last custodian departed, what power in the three worlds could have helped humanity? Century after century it is filtered into corrupted religions and intuitive souls from its unseen source, where, pure as the snows of the Himalayas, it dwells from age to age. It is voiced by every one who in sincerity and in truth preaches and practices Universal Brotherhood, for in that one principle is embodied all the "law and the prophets", the Keys of Knowledge, and the sign of power. Without this, there will never be within the T. S. a "school of magic or a hall of occultism", over which a Master will preside. With it, honestly held and intelligently applied, all wisdom, truth, and power will follow. If we see one given over to cruelty, regardless of the rights of others, hypnotizing another soul into imbecility and nonentity for fame or gain to self, we may justly conclude that he is nearing the gates of destruction, and when he delights in torture, knows no mercy, and loves evil for its own sake, he has alienated the divinity which could strive no longer within the temple altogether defiled. Vivisection and hypnotism are the newest and surest roads to this horrible consummation, for their inspiring motive is the demon of CRUELTY.

The Path