Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered February 8, 1931)
CONTENTS: Dual aspect of nature. — Wholesome teachings of the true theosophist. — Genuine occultists of the ages. — Occultism defined; its counterfeits pointed out. — Theosophical Movements throughout the ages. — Imaginary occultists. — Modern science and occultism. — On making claims. — Persecution of envoys from the Masters of Wisdom. — H. P. Blavatsky and her message. — The Tibetan term, hpho-wa. — Wisdom not picked from trees. — What is meant by occult powers? — Relation between psychic and occult powers. — Which first: the spiritual or the psychic? — Self-consciously at home in the universe.
A genuine Theosophical lecturer, Friends, is not a crank; and if he be a true theosophical lecturer he will not talk to you about things which are weird, uncanny, strange — which give you the creeps; for why should any real understander and therefore expositor of nature's great and wondrous mysteries, in however small a degree, have to rely upon the so-called weird and uncanny in order to produce a sense among you that back of what he says he is in communication with planes of being beyond the ordinary ken? Such efforts are of course purely artificial and proclaim an attempt to arouse a belief in what are probably merely fictitious powers in the speaker.
A theosophical lecturer, if he be truly such, will tell you of the wonders of the universe: what is hid therein, how the universe is builded, what its structure is, what man is and what relation he has with the boundless All — that universe — of which he is an inseparable part. A theosophical teacher will tell you of man's origin, of the present character and nature of man's being, and of human destiny. In other words, his talks — his studies together with his audiences — will be descriptive: expository only in the sense of giving forth what he himself has learned.
I ask you to believe me when I tell you in all sincerity that the genuine theosophical teacher will lead you into realms which are not only very beautiful but will give to you teachings that are essentially wholesome, clean, and sane. This does not mean that such a lecturer, if he be indeed a genuine theosophical teacher, is ignorant of what may be called the dark side or night side of nature; but it does mean that he realizes that a study of nature's shadowy veils or shadowy side is one that should be deferred until a later date in the student's life, when the proper foundations, spiritual, intellectual, and ethical, shall have been strongly laid.
It is quite true that there is a side of nature which to us human beings seems horrible, just as there is a side to nature which is inexpressibly beautiful, lovely and sublime. Is it not thus also in ordinary human affairs? We see the dual nature manifesting even in man himself: we see in one man the hero, self-sacrificing, self-forgetful, strong, clean, and in every way grand; and in another man we may see the opposites of all these fine qualities, such as meanness, hatred, evildoing, and all the horrors that break forth when the lower nature of man is unleashed. So is it likewise in the Great Mother, nature herself: there is what we may for brevity call the light side, the spiritual or heavenly part of the universe, the causal roots of all that is lovely and harmonious and inspiring in our studies of nature. But we are likewise cognizant of the other side of natural being.
I tell you truly that the genuine occultist — a term which I will describe and clearly define in a moment or two — is a most wholesome being to know, for he is more or less filled with the inner spiritual light, the light of the god within him. If he is a genuine theosophical occultist, not only can he communicate this light to others and arouse in them the same fire that burns in his own breast, and thus give to his fellows peace and joy, and arouse in them the sleeping sense of beauty, and above everything else that strange, wondrous, intimate feeling of man's essential unity with the universe, of his essential oneness with the All, but he is in duty bound to do this.
The position of theosophical teacher carries with it great and heavy responsibilities, and these he can never at any time ignore or pass by, nor would he indeed ever desire to do so, for his greatest joy is in helping others, is in giving the same light to others that he himself has received and in passing on that light as he himself has obtained it.
Show me one of the great sages and seers of the ages whose teachings have ever been uncanny, or have aroused hatred, or a moral rebellion of spiritual instincts in any human breast: you cannot point to one; and all the great sages and seers of the ages have been genuine occultists, genuine theosophical teachers of high degree, real thinkers — knowers indeed; because they have gone behind the veils of the outward seeming, each one with his own percipient individual consciousness, and thus themselves seen at first hand — seen nature's inmost structure, operations, laws, and all the wondrous inner beauty of things of which the inspired poets of the ages have sung. These great sages and seers have brought it all back with them on their return from this noblest of adventures, and have formulated their knowledge in human language and have taught it to their fellow men. Thus indeed have the great religions and philosophies and philosophical sciences of all past ages originally been delivered unto men. For the founder or originator of every one of these great ancient systems of thought was a genuine sage and seer — called a sage because he knew, and called a seer because he could see.
Occultism is a much misunderstood and much abused term. If you look the word up in the dictionaries, you will almost certainly not get the proper definition of it as occultists themselves understand it, for the simple reason that lexicographers themselves are almost certainly not Occultists; mayhap you may find something about it in the encyclopedias, if they are generous enough to include this hitherto tabooed subject of thought in their pages; but it is extremely probable that you will find the same total misunderstanding of the real meaning of occultism in the encyclopedias that you will meet with in the dictionaries.
What then is occultism? occultism, I say, is the study of the things which are occult, hid — realities in other words: not imaginary things. If we accept this definition of the word — and I assure you that it is the right and proper definition that occultists themselves employ — it becomes immediately obvious that occultism must be the most serious and important branch of human knowledge; and as genuine occultists always say that occultism is founded on nature herself, it therefore must be the very cream of natural philosophy — using the words natural philosophy in the sense of including all realms and spheres of the universe and particularly those of the inner, invisible, and causal realms.
Occultism is the descriptive science of the things that are causal, and therefore of the things which are in most instances invisible — nature's fundamental structure, operations, and laws; and anyone who studies these realities and who has reached some understanding of them from individual experience and insight and who delivers what he knows to his fellow men, is a true and genuine occultist. But do not confuse this wide range of experience possible to human beings with merely one or two or three more or less disputed psychic faculties such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought-transference, etc. Do I believe in clairvoyance, for instance? Bless your dear souls, of course I do — but in genuine clairvoyance, using the word in the largest sense as meaning clear-seeing, insight behind the veils, inner visioning.
Every true coin, it is said, is or can be counterfeited; and if a thing were not true, in other words had no value, were not genuine and real, there would be no possibility of its being counterfeited, because no one would have a use for it. Therefore, wherever you see a counterfeit it is paradoxically enough a testimony to actual values existing somewhere which are the realities; hence, wherever you see spurious coin you may be assured that a hunting for the pure gold will not be unrewarded.
Occultism is the science of the things which are invisible. This grand science actually exists. It is an operative science but also a descriptive one. There is a way of going behind the veils of nature; there is a secret, a sacred, science, and this science is occultism. Occultism bears the same relation to theosophy that wisdom bears to its works among men. Occultism is that part of theosophy which pertains to the secret and sacred science; and theosophy is that part of occultism which pertains to the operations and descriptive work of the secret and sacred science among men. When parts of this secret and sacred science are delivered to men in formulated fashion, more or less openly and clearly so that any who are worthy may receive and understand, that is theosophy — the wisdom of the gods, as given to mankind.
All through the ages there have been searchers and seekers after this secret wisdom. The instinct of the human heart has told all thinking and intuitive men in all ages that there is an explanation of the riddles of life, and that this explanation can be had, that it may be found. Always the problem has been the How, the Where. Blind sons of men, the great sages and seers have always told you the how and the where! Every one of them has given to you the hint, has shown to you the beginning of the path. Their message has always been, although variously voiced and differently phrased: "Come unto me, all ye that are weary with the world and heavy-laden with its sorrow, and I will give you wisdom, which is also peace. Look within, O son of man, for there begins the mystic pathway of Wisdom for each one of you, a pathway which leads to the heart of the universe, for each one of you in his inmost, in the core of the core of his being, is a divinity, a deathless god; and the very heart of the heart of the heart of the core of the core of every living entity is a spark of the eternal central fire; so that if you become at one with this spark, you are at one with the central fire, its fountainhead; and then all wisdom is yours, and all knowledge is yours, and all love is yours, and all power is yours."
This is so simple that a child may understand the rule; and every theosophical movement in every age has been founded with the main intent of bringing to men the realization of the truths of life — of the nature, structure, and operations of the universe of which all men are inseparable, individual parts. Every theosophical movement throughout the ages has been founded in order to bring back to man the realization of that which is essentially man's, to awaken in his heart his spiritual instincts, to light the divine fire anew in his soul, so that, inflamed with its glory, he may press onwards, find this pathway, and in following it to its end — which is indeed no end, for it is endless — he may reach the realization by individual experience of his complete oneness with the universe of which he is a child. That universe is you; every part of it is yours; it is your eternal home and your everlasting dwelling place. There you are native; and not only are you, each one of you, the heart of the universe in the manner that I have just set forth when speaking of the inner god, but that universe itself verily is you yourself in your inmost.
Do you get this wondrous thought so filled with inspiration and hope? There, then, is the pathway. Beginning to tread it, you begin the study of genuine occultism; and it is dependent upon your own selves, your own souls, individually speaking, how far you advance along this pathway, which "begins" in you and which reaches forever and forever and forever in constantly enlarging reaches throughout the beginningless and endless spaces of Space. "Man, know thyself!"
Do you now begin to see the idea? Thy self, thy spiritual self, is the universe itself. The heart of being is your heart of being. You are in the universe, you live in the universe, always will you be in it, you cannot ever leave it, you have never been out of it, because you are its child, and here now you are. Is not this thought a very simple and easily understood conception? Do you not begin to catch a glimpse of the glory that lies back of it, and of the inspiration to a nobler and a grander life that it contains?
Any man who pursues this study — in other words, any man who follows this pathway — is an occultist, a genuine occultist; and precisely in accordance with the advance that he has made along this inner, wondrous Path of mystery and peace and wisdom and beauty, is his inner spiritual standing — whether he be a mere beginner on the path or a master of life.
This inner god within each one of you the mystical modern Christians call the immanent Christos; and the Buddhists call it the inner Buddha; and the Brahmanists call it the Brahma within — all different words for the same thing; and the European mystics always have spoken of it as the inner light.
Now anyone, however much his mind and heart may feel inclined to the study of things which are hid, who does not follow this spiritual pathway is not a genuine occultist. He studies a pseudo-occultism, indeed, in the sense of studying mysterious and weird things, but his occultism is imaginary; he is studying more particularly the curiously complex and perplexing psychological operations of his own mind. I do not deny and in fact I affirm that even this pseudo-occultism is a particular, albeit unimportant, branch of the genuine occultism, because the student in occultism must first of all study himself; but unless he has the larger teachings and is under the instruction of a genuine progressed occultist he is following a dangerous because misleading pathway. He is attempting to run before he can crawl.
Such men as these are pseudo-occultists, imaginary occultists. Some of them are sincere even if ignorant; but some of them also are frauds, conscious or unconscious — frauds, because claiming pretensions to a wisdom which they possess not. Are there not conscious and even unconscious frauds in other walks of life also? But because there are frauds shall we turn from the realities? Because there are bad men shall we eschew the company of the good? Shall we avoid the companionship of men whose hearts are noble, whose instincts are lofty, and whose word is truth itself, because we happen to know that there are men in the world whose hearts are ignoble, whose instincts are base, and whose claims are mere pretensions? Of course not! Even these unfortunate ministers of deception are unconscious and perhaps unwilling witnesses of the existence of the pure gold of the genuine occultism to which, despite themselves, they are drawn and which they attempt to copy.
Occultism, therefore, is the science of the things which are invisible; and this means, as I have already said, the coordinated science of the structure, operations, and so-called laws, of universal being.
Do you realize that our modern Occidental science is becoming occultist? Do you realize that some of our greatest scientific researchers are distinctly and properly to be called occultists? They most certainly have a right to the name. They are penetrating behind the outermost veil of the outward seeming, and moving forwards towards another invisible veil which is behind the veil of the outward seeming. They have as yet advanced but a short way, it is true, and they really don't know whither they are going; nevertheless, they are students of the things which are invisible in nature's structure and in her operations and energies and laws; and by the definition that I have already laid down they are entitled to be called genuine — but unconscious — occultists. Theosophists don't call them by that name because we prefer to restrict this term to men who have been trained by genuine occult teachers who have been taught how to unlock the inner percipient self, so that it may, if one like, leave the body and enter into the very womb of natural being. This indeed can be done; it is in fact done every day; and those men who can do this are the genuine occultists, those who have the best and largest right to this noble title. Our modern scientists, wonderfully as they are working, are nevertheless unconscious occultists.
All the great seers and sages of whom I have already spoken, and their pupils who have been taught by them to do what I have told you — to unlock the inner self and to send it out into nature's heart — they indeed are the genuine occultists; and they never talk in public about it; they don't advertise themselves even. But there are rare exceptions to this rule. There are occasions, indeed, when the association of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace sends out one or more of their pupils with instructions to proclaim the glad tidings of spiritual truth once more to the hearts and minds of men, and to do so with the voice of authority, as Jesus did, as the Buddha did, as Pythagoras did, as Empedocles did, as Lao-tse did, as Krishna did, as Apollonius of Tyana did, and as did many others; and as I have often before told you, their teaching has always been fundamentally one teaching, however that teaching may have varied in form because given in different ages to different races of men; it has always been fundamentally the same. It matters not at all in what language they spoke, nor in what age and under what conditions and in what circumstances they delivered what they had to say: the essentials were always the same — the same identic formulation of natural facts, and the same identic system of natural verities.
There are false or rather imaginary occultists in the world today, and in recent times they are growing to be a small host. They advertise themselves more or less openly. Can you blame the theosophists for often feeling suspicious, for doubting, when they hear these claims? I cannot blame them.
People say that I make claims. I have never made claims. They don't understand. I have never made a claim in this respect in all my life, nor could I be guilty of so gross a violation of the fundamental law of the occult training. I have, however, made certain statements which are true; I have made them because I was told to make them; but I didn't make them in order to be accepted as an occultist nor as a theosophical teacher, but in making them I realized that there was a profound purpose in my so speaking or writing, and that what I said I laid before the conscience of my hearers, which conscience would dictate the acceptance or the rejection of the statements made by me. I have asked no man or woman ever to believe a word that I say merely because I say it; I have said just the contrary and have said it very vigorously. What I may say at any time, I call upon you to examine for yourselves, to search it, to analyze it; and if you find that it is good and true, then I ask you to hold to it with all your strength. Be honest; and if you find that what I say to you is wrong and false, then reject it, abhor it. It is the only honest thing for you to do. I have spoken of this on many other occasions, and what I have on these other occasions said I now refer you to if you are interested.
When H. P. Blavatsky, the envoy of the Masters of Compassion and Wisdom and Peace in our age, came to the Occidental world, did she come as one who had no authority? Did she write books and send them forth to be accepted or rejected, as merely interesting or curious specimens of mystical theorizing and without any reference to a greater authority by far than her own? Like all envoys from the Great Lodge of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion she laid her literary works on the altar of truth and left it to the conscience of her readers and to their intuitions to judge of it. But running all through her teachings was the declaration in substance as follows: "There is an association of great seers and sages now living on the earth. This association or brotherhood has lived throughout all the ages of past time. It will live on into the future. They are the guardians of the mystical wisdom of mankind, the wisdom and knowledge of the initiation chambers. I have come as their envoy. I have been sent to do a certain work in the world, a work embodying a sublime purpose. I have something of great value to give to you. I can show to you the pathway to wisdom and peace and love. Examine what I bring, and if it appeal to your heart and to your mind, then come — come to me. I stand ready to give to you what I myself have received; but only as I have received it may I in turn pass it on to others."
She was exceedingly chary of proclaiming anything that might have caused her to be thought of as a false or imaginary occultist. Her whole instinct of decency and her character as shaped by her esoteric training revolted against such action, just as the instinct of every honest and decent person would so revolt.
Let me ask you, my Brothers, and in asking this I ask you to examine your own hearts before you answer: If you have something wondrously beautiful and grand that is for all the world and that is the common spiritual and intellectual heritage of mankind, are you going to be afraid of what people will say about you because you try to give this ineffable treasure to others? Are you going to hesitate and pause and turn from your task and refuse to give what you were told to give, merely because people will say of you: "Ha! ha! He makes claims. The world is sick at heart with false claims. That is just what ails the Theosophical Movement today — an abundance and a superabundance of mere claims and pretentious asseverations of possessing a mystical knowledge which others have not." No! You will give what you have to give to all who are willing to receive it in the proper spirit and you will give it honestly and courageously, and you will not turn from the task before you because you may fear unpleasant consequences to your own personal self.
Every new bringer of truth has been persecuted — every one has been especially persecuted (strange and melancholy paradox!) by those who were nearest to him, nearest in belief to his teachings. This also is a paradox full of pathos, that men from a sense of caution and prudence — noble virtues in themselves — and from a love of holy truth itself, hesitate, draw back, are suspicious, when they hear a thing which seems to them new, albeit beautiful and full of spiritual inspiration. Isn't it pathetic? Then comes Time, the great solver of all problems, the healer of all wounds, and pours his soothing balm over men's hearts and minds, clears away the mists, and finally brings understanding; and after the death of the envoy, mayhap, they say: "Verily, verily, a son of the sun has come to us and we recognized him not." But even though such be the fate of most of the envoys of the great ones, in the end it matters not at all. The envoys come, knowing what they will meet with; but they come to give, and to give up their life if need be, to give of themselves, all that they have and all that they are, in the giving; for they come not for self but for others.
Yes, as you must now see, there are genuine occultists and those whom we may perhaps call imaginary occultists. Let us be charitable in our judgment regarding these latter. Some of these imaginary occultists are not at all bad men. Some of the teachings that they give are good. But whence take they them? Where do they find them, when they give them out? They have found them here, in the theosophical philosophy! That is the fountainhead whence they draw all the good that they gave: they find it all in the genuine teachings of theosophy as brought to the Western world by the envoy of the great teachers, H. P. Blavatsky — her whom I so love and revere for her life of martyrdom. She was a genuine occultist indeed. She was the envoy of the great ones, as others have been before her. She brought the teachings of the age-old wisdom-religion anew to mankind; and it is from this fountain of wisdom that men of later date have drawn for their own purposes.
If now they had given out these teachings and had said: "These truths have I drawn from H. P. Blavatsky; to her is due the credit, and also to them — the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace — who sent her forth," then I would not utter a word of blame. Indeed, I should even applaud. But when I find people taking credit unto themselves, and not giving credit where credit is rightly due, then I call such action a spiritual theft, and such people I qualify as imaginary occultists. The woods are full of them today. Our cities today contain a small army of them, and our newspapers contain column after column of their advertisements. I have not the slightest desire to throw mud at anyone nor to utter a word of unmerited reproof. But my instinct of justice and my sense of right revolts sometimes when I ponder over these matters, and I feel that it is my duty to tell you the truth.
"Come unto me," said the Syrian initiate-teacher, "Come unto me, and I will show you the pathway to wisdom, to peace, to love, and to power." Such was also the declaration of the Oracle of the Delphic Apollo, who, in other words, said: "Man, know thyself: this is the pathway to wisdom, to peace, to love, to power."
And H. P. Blavatsky said, in language which no thoughtful mind could misinterpret: "Come unto me, my Brothers. I have been taught. Only as I have been taught am I authorized to give; but what I have been taught I can give, and it is my duty to give it."
She gave, and gave lavishly. What she gave was not her own; it is not mine own; it is not your own; because it is ours and belongs to all of us. It is the common spiritual and intellectual heritage of mankind; it belongs to you as human beings, to every son of man; and anyone who studies this common heritage of mankind and who follows the pathway that it opens, is a genuine occultist; and if he follow this pathway leading him to a greater chamber of wisdom and then later still to chambers more lovely by far, he is a greater occultist. The pathway, remember, is endless, for it leads over and through the spacious fields of the spaces of invisible space.
I have a number of questions before me this afternoon that at different times have been sent to me for answer, and as they all bear on the topic of our study I will now take them up seriatim.
Just what do you theosophists mean by occultism? Many people use this word, but there seems to be little agreement among those who use it.
I have told you its meaning: occultism is the study of the things which are invisible, secret, sacred — the study of the inner structure, operations, powers, and so-called laws, of the universe. This is a definition which is exact and which is therefore true; and, of course, since man is an inseparable part of the universe, therefore the secret powers, energies, and operations of the inner and invisible human being form a part of the study of the genuine Occultist also.
For instance, there is a strange and mysterious energy in man, which few men consciously know anything about, and in connection with this there is a secret and wonderful key which enables him to unloose, to unlock so to say, the chains which bind him into the gross psycho-astral-physical encasement. There is this key by which to unlock the lock which locks this inner man in; and when the inner man is thus loosed or unlocked, he can go forth into the inner realms of being, into the secret and invisible places of space. In Tibet this power, this key power, is called the hpho-wa; it is called by other names in other places.
All races of people have known of this wondrous fact; they have thought much about it; they have wondered greatly about it. Their instinct has told them that it is a fact. When this inner man is thus unloosed, he can send himself or project himself or, if you like the phrasing better, he himself can go whither he will, not only anywhere on the surface of the earth or to the center of the earth or to the higher regions of our atmosphere, but also to the moon, to the planets, to the sun. It depends upon what part of the inner constitution of himself he unlocks. The spiritual part is at home in the solar spaces. Thither at will it goes like a flash of thought. The more material part of the constitution of man is earthly and clings to the earth, but nevertheless is more ethereal than is the physical body; and he can send this more ethereal but yet material part of his being to any portion of our own rocky sphere that he may please to dispatch it to; and there he can function in all his powers and faculties self-consciously and with full volition and do what he pleases. His ability in each case depends solely upon his grade of advancing in the sacred science, which also means living the life.
Would you like to test this yourself? Would you like to do this yourself? Would you like to know by personal experience of these things? You can, if you will obey the law and follow the rules. Ah, yes, the same old stumbling blocks — laws and rules! But such is nature's way. There's the rub, my Brothers: obeying rules and following studies. And yet is it not everywhere the same in life? You can't even run an automobile without learning how to do it. How can you work a problem without learning the rules for its solution? How can you practice chemistry without having studied the science?
Here then is the secret: you must give yourself, if you desire to find yourself. Do you see the point? "Give up thy life if thou wouldst live." Do you grasp the idea? Give up the small life, the petty life, the mean life, the restricted life, the little personal life which shuts you in, which binds you close — give it up and follow the light of the star within you. Expand from personality into impersonality and take your place as a master of life! "The kingdom of wisdom must be taken by strength" — violence is the usual English translation. It must be taken by strong will. Wisdom cannot be picked from trees. It must be won by self-effort. Oh! the blessed thought that it is to be won, that it can be had, that there is in man this wondrous faculty of learning and of knowing, of being able to do all that is lofty and sublime! This thought itself, what an encouragement it is, and how strongly does it work upon man to live a nobler and better life!
If people developed their occult powers would it not be a good thing for themselves and for mankind in general?
What do you mean by occult powers? If you mean what I have already told you, then I enter a caveat: it depends. There are powers within the human being at the present time which are invisible and which are evil. They are occult powers, just as there are also other powers within him which are lofty in spirituality, which are divine. Shall we talk about cultivating occult powers before we define what we mean by the term? No.
Cultivate the powers which give you freedom, which release you from the shackles and chains of the lower selfhood. Be free spiritually, and intellectually free; then you can be trusted with all the occult powers within you and within the universe surrounding you, of which you are a child, because then you will be a Master of Life, and all the powers that then you will have you will wield only for great and noble and unselfish and impersonal purposes.
But were I to say that everybody should cultivate occult powers merely because they are occult, I should be failing grossly in my duty. Therefore I say, No. You should cultivate your spiritual powers, yes; your intellectual powers, yes; your intellectual faculties, yes; but when it comes to cultivating the astral and psychic powers, then I say, No. The average man is totally unfit to have complete command of other powers than those which he already has; and as a matter of fact, those which he already has he cannot even control. Is this not true? Indeed, the average man cannot even control himself, the ordinary psycho-astral-physical powers that he commonly uses today; and then, forsooth, to have people talk about cultivating occult powers, simply shows that they don't know what they refer to. Their minds are clouded as regards the facts. Look at the average man: I repeat that he cannot even control his own feeble little appetites.
Think the matter over; and you will agree with me that people who talk so glibly of cultivating occult powers are the people who are hardly to be trusted as guides, for before they can crawl themselves they seem to desire to teach other people how to run. And, mark you, my Brothers, what most people really mean when they speak of "cultivating my occult powers" is "I want to get power over other people." I tell you that such people are totally unfit to wield occult powers of any kind, for the motive is in most cases selfish, and their minds are beclouded with ignorance.
It is one of our theosophical duties to show men the way to wisdom, to peace, to happiness, to strength, and to spiritual power — the real powers, the powers which are safe and clean and sweet, which make a man lovable, which make him compassionate, which guarantee that power put into his hands will be wielded never for self but always in order to benefit others. Do you see what I mean? Before occult powers of any kind are cultivated, man must learn the first lesson of the mystic knowledge, which is to control himself; and all powers that later he gains must be laid on the altar of impersonal service — on the altar of service to mankind.
There are great men, noble-minded men, men who can be trusted; and they are entitled to have powers, and they have them. They are chelas, as we theosophists say; it may be unknown to themselves sometimes in the beginning, but nevertheless they are pupils, disciples, of the great teachers — of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace.
O my Brothers, unlock the divine in your own being! It is very easy to begin this effort. Aspire, forgive, love impersonally, control yourself, exercise your spiritual faculties, cultivate your intellectual powers, do good to others; but always learn to love, to love more, to love still more greatly, to love more grandly still, and let your compassion reach even to the stars in thought and in feeling. Then you are indeed on the pathway to the gods. You are becoming a genuine Occultist, and some day great powers will be yours and the vision sublime — that vision which will enable you even while yet in the physical body to look within and beyond and to see truth face to face. Distance then will matter not, for you will be seeing with the spiritual eye.
What relation have the so-called psychic powers to what you theosophists call occult powers?
They have the same relation that baby talk has to the discourse of a wise philosopher. The psychic powers are the lowest powers of the intermediate nature in the human being, and we are exercising and using them even now — yes, now, and we cannot even control them. Men's thoughts are vagrant, wandering, uncertain, lacking precision, without positive direction, and feeble. The average man cannot even keep his thoughts in the grip of his self-conscious will. His weakest passions lead him astray. Such as these are psychic powers. It is man's work to transmute them and to turn them to uses which are good and useful and holy.
But there is one thing that he can do even now, and it is a grand thing: he can cultivate his spiritual and intellectual faculties and powers. Why waste time on these lower things which are so restricted and weak? "Expand!" is our theosophical teaching; and in this connection always remember: your spiritual being is coextensive with the universe. There is where you should live in thought. There is where you should dwell, and there is where you do dwell every time when you do a heroic act, every time when your thought and feeling rise out of the sphere of the restricted and narrowed person: then you live in your spiritual being; and mark you the wisdom that comes with it, note the peace that you obtain: that strange and wondrous atmosphere which seems to surround all your inner being and which gives you such high self-confidence, such lofty self-trust in the best sense of the word. This is not vanity, this is not conceit, but it is a sense of your spiritual value as a man. In so striving in thought and will you gain other things too, but these I dare not speak of in public. But nevertheless these words point to the pathway.
You seem to discourage the development of occult powers. Why should we not develop them when the more power we have, the more we can do for humanity?
I have already told you my answer to this. It would be fine indeed if every man could infallibly control himself and in all circumstances. Then nature's own barriers would be let down, and the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace themselves would come before the public and teach — teach men how to unlock the mysterious treasury of the spiritual selfhood which all human beings have within them including powers of many and various kinds. Men cannot trust each other today, simply because a man does not trust even himself. Is not that fact true? What a pathos there is in it all! It is indeed pathetic.
Nevertheless human beings are growing; they are advancing; they are learning ever more and more; and in future ages, as I have so often told you from this platform, men will walk the earth like gods, and act like gods, because they will think and feel like gods. This will be because the god within will then be manifesting itself, just as even now it does in small degree when a man's heart is filled with pity for others, when he rushes to help, to aid those who call for aid, when compassion and love and understanding fill the heart full.
No, I do not discourage the development of occult powers, but I do discourage the development of powers which man as yet is totally unfit to control because he cannot even control himself. The occult powers are not at all wrong in themselves.
Ah me! What a restricted life most men lead! They don't know what they have within them; they have never looked within themselves; they have never felt themselves really living; they have never really lived; they don't know what they have locked up within them: a god! a divine spark of eternity!
Consequently the only way in which I can answer this question, is as it was answered before: We don't discourage the development of occult powers, but we say that the only occult powers that it is safe to develop at the present time and the only ones which will bring adequate rewards to men in their present evolutionary stage are the spiritual and intellectual powers; therefore that the rewards of cultivating these are enormous: increased intellect, increased understanding, increased intuition, increased power to love — which means to enter into sympathetic vibration with surrounding nature. Do you grasp what that means? Warnings of danger, sense of coming help, sympathetic vibrations! Grasp the thought! "It pays!" — a commercial phrase to a commercial age!
Recently in the Middle-West I heard a lecture on psychic phenomena by a noted speaker who does not call himself a theosophist, although he lectures on similar subjects. There were perhaps two thousand people present. His lecture was much more interesting than ordinary theosophical addresses, and that is why he had such a great crowd.
That's pretty good, I think!
There are many deep students who are intensely interested in the mysteries of nature, but the theosophists seem to be more concerned with subjects like the divinity of man than practical occultism.
Isn't this an extraordinary inversion of facts! What can be more practically occult than the realization in human life of man's essential divinity?
You say we should seek the inner god. Can the god be reached in one bound? Don't we have to pass through the astral and all other intervening planes before we can mount so high? I am not opposed to your noble sentiments, but do you not begin at the wrong end?
No, my Brother, we do not "begin at the wrong end." We begin at the right end, we assuredly do. We begin at the end where all the great sages and seers of past ages have begun — at the beginning. You don't have to "pass through the astral and all the intermediate" stages. That idea is childish. Why, men and women of earth, don't you realize that every one of you is a composite entity: that there is a divine part of you, a spiritual part of you, an intellectual part of you, a psychic part of you, an astral part of you, and last your physical body? You are living now in your physical body, and your emotions and common thoughts are in the psychic or astral parts, and you cannot control either.
Now, our theosophical call to you is to live in the higher part of your being, which is there, which is waiting to help you, where all real energy lives and where titan forces reside: to live where life has its fountain, to live where intellect, intuition, the spirit, live.
I tell you that the powers that the man who lives in that part of his being wields and can wield at will are incomparably stronger, mightier in every sense of the word, than are the feeble little powers that man wields today because he lives only in the lower parts of his constitution. These mightier powers are the powers of the spiritual nature. For instance, I know of one power which, if it were translated into physical action, could rend a rock by an effort of the human will, and in as brief a time as a snap of the fingers could pass all its atoms into the etheric blue. It is the spiritual powers which are the ones terrific in strength and energy, because they are the causal powers. Try to understand that thought.
Yes, seek the inner god, the divinity at your heart of hearts. This is the logical beginning of all occult and esoteric training, because it is the efficient way to do things. It is the path of least resistance; and when you have awakened the inner god then everything else is added unto you automatically. You have then become at one with the divinity outside of you. You are then self-consciously at home in the universe. All powers of wisdom and love are then yours.
I want to know if anything could be a greater and more practical occultism than teaching a man to become at one with the god within him — the source of all he is, the source of all his energies, of all his powers, of all his faculties, and the entity which ages of evolution will bring forth into visible manifestation as his future self. I ask you this question plainly. Gaining this, it will never fail you. It will be with you always. Even such a small thing as death then will have no terrors for you. You will then have become wholly at one with the universe.
Vol 2, No 30