(Lecture delivered August 10, 1930)
CONTENTS: Truth not exterior to yourself. — The brain but a mass of physical atoms. — The builder is the inner fire, identic with the universe. — The great men of science are becoming occultists. The mystic keys not yet in their possession. — Science rediscovering old things. — What is occultism? — What is psychology? As taught in the West merely physiological psychology. Modern psychology looks to effects not causes. — True psychology defined. — The three main divisions of man's nature. — The nous and psyche of Platonic philosophy. — The inner eye. What is it? — What is a hunch? — The only safe development of the psychical faculties. — Purveyors of so-called psychical faculties. — H. P. Blavatsky's words on psychism. — Spiritual teachings are never sold. They are man's heritage. — How much can the photographic plate record? — A rational explanation of fairies. — A promise of the way to light and truth.
Truth, my brothers, is something which is not radically exterior to you. You cannot know anything of that which is exterior to you in its principles unless, and because of the fact that, ye yourselves have truth within. It is the percipient mind and the comprehensive understanding which are in you — not which give to you, but which are in you — communicating to you the ability to know; and all that you can know is that which is within the compass of the reaches of your own understanding. Do you get the idea?
How then is it that when the human mind reaches out, for instance into the deep abysses of stellar space — into those realms of cosmic existence which on the face of it, according to the appearance of things, are outside of you — that there is understanding, that there is appreciation, of law and order and system and harmony and beauty, and that the comprehension of it all draws the understanding portion of you on into still deeper reaches? Because it is within you! You cannot understand something which is without the bounds of your understanding; and, radically, naught in the universe is impossible for you to understand. Each one of you is an incarnate divinity, clothed with enshrouding and encrippling veils, vehicles, bodies, ethereal bodies — call them what you like — through which the divine fire, the divine flame, of intelligence must penetrate before its brilliance can reach the human mind, enlighten the physical brain, and to these communicate the understanding of the spiritual man.
Your brain is but a mass of physical atoms. It is something builded up for a purpose, precisely after the same way in which an automobile is builded by man's inventive genius for a purpose, or as is a steamplow so builded, or any other thing. The builder is the inner fire, the inner life, which builds its own vehicle; for your very brain substance is a deposit from the more etheric part of you. It is the lees, the dregs, the deposit, of the inner ethereal man, itself the vehicle of the spiritual man, because each one of you in the inmost of his inmost is a spiritual-divine being.
This is the reason that man's consciousness is at home in the divine spaces; this is the reason that he has this understanding within him, this divine faculty, so that he can reach out indefinitely, not only into the stellar spaces, but — listen, brothers — far more marvelous, into those inner spaces of consciousness, which the ancient Hindus called the pathway of the self, which self in its essence is a divine thing, in its essence is a spark of the cosmic fire; and therefore is identic with the universe: so to speak blood of its blood, life of its life, bone of its bone, flesh of its flesh. Hence the universe, both visible and invisible, is your home; therefore ye are children of the universe, and there are no frontiers that can be set to your advancing and evolving understanding and growing intelligence.
What a sublime picture! This is the message of all the great seers and sages of all the ages. Do you know that the greatest minds in scientific research today are beginning to understand this fact, so ancient, so familiar to the human heart, taught by every great world religion, voiced in every great world philosophy? Our modern scientists are beginning to understand it, I say, and in beginning to understand it are beginning to teach it. Men like Professor Eddington, the great English scientific thinker, talk about mind-stuff as being the fundamental of the universe.
But none of them, none of them, I say, understand the divine mystery fully. Why? They are pursuing a divine profession, led on by the divine hunger for greater truths; their minds are expanding and opening, receiving the illuminating rays from the cosmic life and from the divine flame of the cosmic intelligence; but they have not yet seized the mystic keys; and yet those keys can be had. Do you know that every such ultramodern scientific researcher is becoming a mystic, and that in becoming a mystic he has set his feet on the pathway of occultism?
Do you know what occultism is? It is the science of the things which are hid, whether entities or things or so-called laws matters not at all; yet whatever is hid but which can be discovered and found out, and the science which shows you how to do this, these two combined are occultism. It is an ancient science; it is not new; it is as old as thinking man. You aggressive Occidentals are not the first who have ever thought, who have ever tried to penetrate behind the veils of the outward seeming into the inward life. You think you are, but you are not; and the more the great philosophies and religions of the far Orient are examined and studied and investigated, people of the West come to realize that there are in these ancient literatures things very familiar to the human spirit, and that the subjects of thought that modern researchers in science and philosophy and religion are now beginning to find out and think about are as old as the enduring hills. This science of exploration into the things which are hid, not immediately observable, is occultism, the secret science, explaining the mysteries of the universe, which means explaining the mysteries of human consciousness also.
Are you in the universe? Yes. You are not outside of it. Being in it, you are parts of it. Do you get that idea? You can never leave the universe; for in the sense in which I at present employ the word that universe is boundless infinitude. All the universes, not one universe merely, but all the universes scattered like cosmic seeds throughout frontierless space, are simply innumerable. Nevertheless you, in the inmost of the inmost of you, are inseparable portions of it all. Everything that is in boundless infinitude: every energy, every power, every faculty, everything: is therefore in you, because you are, each one of you, an inseparable part of the cosmic whole.
Do you see what this means? It means that you have within you, if you can find it out, a doorway opening into infinity; which means, to change the figure of speech a bit, that each one of you is a pathway leading into infinite fields, both visible and invisible, inner and outer, which fields are collectively your own self, your higher self, your spiritual essence, for this your spiritual essence is the same as the spiritual essence of the cosmos.
Do you get an adumbration at least of the idea thus placed before you? What a dignity does it confer upon you as men!
Now, what is psychology? Can any one of you tell me what psychology is? It is a new study in the West, yet it is as old as the enduring hills, and we should know this if we could trace its history back through past ages. In itself it is nothing new. But in the Occident, due to the lack of the esoteric keys given by the great sages and seers of mankind in past ages, men in the West, instead of having at their command as an instrument of thought a true and genuine psychology — the science of the human being considered in his emotional and intellectual parts — has only, due to the painful work of a few scattered researchers, a quasi-science which is properly called physiological psychology.
To speak more accurately, this is not psychology at all. You might perhaps call it psychological physiology, and thus you will see easily that it is a very different thing from true psychology. The results and effects on the human mind, and therefore on human conduct, of certain misunderstood and in certain cases unknown mental and emotional energies and forces in the human being, which express themselves in thoughts and acts, are the bases for this modern psychological physiology. It is only a quasi-science, and it does not carry one far.
I would not spend, I would not waste, one half hour of my precious time in studying the mere record of the experimental researches of these otherwise devoted and self-denying researchers into the human constitution who are trying to know something of the inner constitution of man by studying its effects as they manifest themselves in man's physical cadaver. I want truth. I can get truth by going within, by studying myself, and I can do this for the reasons that I have set forth before. I can do this because I am essentially a god, a divine being, feebly manifesting its transcendent powers through the crippling and enshrouding veils of the person — through the mind, through the emotions, through the appetites, through the mere brain. Can I understand the god within by studying the psycho-physiological reactions to thought of the human body?
Do I want to study the sun? Shall I study merely its reflection in a pool of water? That reflection will help in giving me some ideas; it will indeed give some vague idea of the surface of the sun; but if I want to know something of the sun per se, something of the solar heart, I raise my eyes to our day-star itself, and then I try to look within myself, for within me lie the explanations, and therefore lies the understanding, lies the consciousness, which interpret what I see. In doing this I have every chance to see aright.
Let me now tell you what true psychology is. True psychology is a study of the structure, functions, and operations of the intermediate part of man's inner and invisible constitution. There are three parts to man's constitution — there are more parts, indeed, but there are three main parts — the spiritual, the intermediate or psychical, and the astral-physical. Those are the three main bases of man considered as a septenary entity. The spiritual part we may call the pneumatic part, from the Greek word pneuma, the spirit. The study of the intermediate part of man's constitution we call psychism or psychology, because either name is perfectly good. When we study the structure and operations of the physical cadaver, we properly call it physiology.
Our modern psycho-physiological researchers are studying the body, and the reactions of the mind and emotions upon that body, and vice versa. They do not know what this intermediate part of man's constitution is. Every man of course knows that he thinks and feels. But psychologists do not study as much as they ought to these thinkings and feelings. They are much more inclined to study the effects on the body of thoughts and feelings, or rather the reactions of the brain and nervous system to thoughts and feelings. For instance, how does a man react to certain tests?
There is a faculty within you which, if cultivated under training, will lead you to understand all that is in you, will lead you along the path of the most wonderful adventure that it is possible for a human being to undertake — the path of exploration of consciousness. Do you follow me? This is the path which teaches you to find your self, to know its powers, to comprehend its faculties, to direct its energies rightfully. This is the true science of psychology as studied by the ancients, and the record, at least in part, of this ancient study still remains in the archaic literatures.
In our days in the Occident, men and women are fascinated by what they call the psychical powers and faculties. They do not really know what these are. There is absolutely no reliable public information about these things, for you will never get such reliable information in public print nor in public lectures. You will get only more or less vague ideas and statements at the very best in public writing or speeches. Nevertheless, accurate, profound, and indeed perfect knowledge of these psychical powers and faculties can be had. Anyone who wants the truth and wants it for spiritual and intellectual progress can get such information. As I have told you again and again: Come to the door and knock, and if you knock with a pure heart, driven by the divine hunger to get wisdom and impersonal knowledge, these will be given to you. Ask, said in substance Jesus the Syrian sage, and if ye ask aright, ye shall receive.
There is in very truth an explanation full, complete, all-comprising, of the riddle of the universe. This complete explanation can be had. This explanation is held in the guardianship of the most evolved human beings of our planet, whom theosophists call the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace. These great seers and sages live today as a brotherhood pursuing their sublime work in the quiet, undisturbed, and they live wholly to benefit their fellow men.
You cannot have happiness if the frontiers of your consciousness are no wider than your own merely personal sphere. You cannot thus reach beyond your personal limitations into the grand spaces; you must become impersonal, cosmic in other words, if you wish to understand cosmic truths. You must leave the restricted person, the small powers, the limited faculties, of the ordinary man, and reach out with your greater inner faculties with your spiritual powers which are cosmic in their scope, and these spiritual powers are really you, for they remain with you when you cast the body aside; and all your merely personal gains inner and outer are then left behind and profit you not at all.
You see here the meaning of the words of Jesus the Syrian sage which I repeat in substance: Lay up for yourselves treasures in the realms of the spirit where thieves do not break through and steal from you what you have laid up, and where rust doth not eat away what you have stored aside. The meaning is: cultivate the spiritual powers and faculties within you; become selfless, become self-forgetful; learn to forgive; exercise your intellectual and moral powers; learn to love. These are spiritual qualities and powers, therefore cosmic. They are eternal; they spring from the fountainhead of the ever-enduring part of you. I tell you these things as often as I can, because they are the very foundation of the truth that human beings can understand and therefore should follow. I cannot drive them home too often into your minds. They are the foundation for the receiving of a greater truth than that which now you know.
The ancient Platonists called the spiritual-intellectual part of man the nous, and said that man attains freedom in the spirit, cosmic freedom of consciousness, when his inner constitution becomes noetic, which is the adjective from nous, the higher consciousness. These ancient Platonists said, likewise, that man has a lower faculty or power or field of consciousness within him, which they called the psyche, and which James of the Christians spoke of rather discourteously, I think, as earthly, devilish, and impure. I would not use such words. You see, I am not a Christian!
Therefore, the psychical part of you is not high, because it is the field of your ordinary mind, of your ordinary emotions, of your ordinary likes and dislikes. It is the field of action of all the energies and forces within you that can act on such coarse stuff as the physical body is made of. I want you to get this idea clearly.
On the other hand, you have spiritual willpower; there is a god within each one of you, your own higher self — not God in the ordinary Occidental sense, but a god, a divine being, the very core of you. Why not link yourself with that inner divinity?
Some of you who are of a philosophic bent of mind may question me, and say: "Well, are you teaching a kind of fatalism? We are just ordinary human beings, and if this god is within us, are not we humans mere slaves, psychical machines, under the control of its transcendent powers?"
My answer is No, for this god is your self, your divine self, that part of you which links you into the very structure of the universe in its highest aspect — if there be indeed a highest aspect, for the universe is infinite. We do most emphatically teach the existence in man of a free will streaming forth from this god within, enabling man therefore to choose his own path of thought and feeling and action.
Or do you like the idea of the young person spoken of in a few verses that were sent in to me the other day, suggesting that men are only slaves, fatally driven beings, mere automatic creatures of some superpower? I don't know where these lines came from, but will read them to you:
There was a young man who said, "Damn,
I suddenly see that I am
A creature who moves
In predestinate grooves,
In fact, not a 'bus, but a tram!"
As you know, a tram is an English name for a streetcar running along tracks already laid. As a matter of fact you are not trams. You are more like buses. You can go wherever you like, think what you like, exercise your inner faculties and powers as you will; and why, in the name of holy truth, do ye not do it! Ye are free, my brothers. There is naught that hinders you on your path except your own faults and imperfections of willpower and judgment. Do you get the idea that I am trying to convey to you? Do you not immediately see the scientific basis for ethics that is involved in this conception? Morals are not merely man-made conventions: they are based on the very structural harmony of the universe. When a man acts harmoniously, he acts in accordance with the universal scheme and law; and harmony in consciousness and thought and therefore in action is what men understand by the term ethics.
Just think how grand a man seems to us when we see him choose his pathway in life with a will, acting with a will, like a man, realizing that other men have rights also, and that he, with his will, will not infringe those rights! That picture is a grand one. It is the very essence of all religious thought.
This instinct of ethics springs out from within your inner constitution. It comes forth from your spiritual being recognizing harmony, order, the stateliness and majesty of beauty — beauty in thought, beauty in aspiration and feeling, beauty in action. Do you think that it is a weakling who can follow this sublime pathway in life? Then try it yourself! When you go out of our temple door this afternoon, at the first opportunity that comes try to act like a true man, self-forgetful, kindly, brotherly. And if you succeed, you will feel your shoulders rise with the expansion of thought within you; there will be happiness in your heart; you will feel a sudden expansion of your consciousness; you will feel that you have begun to act manly, because you have become self-forgetful.
That is good psychology. That is most excellent occultism; and every man who so acts is an embryo-occultist, beginning to explore the mysteries of his own consciousness and finding it unspeakably fascinating, entering into the secrets, into the hid things, of his being, and thus developing himself, expanding, growing.
No true occultist ever does a wrong to a fellow or indeed to anything else. You cannot be an occultist unless you forget yourself. Further, you cannot be an occultist unless in addition to forgetting yourself, you try to help your fellows. This is a fine spiritual exercise. Try it! You will gain an experience such as you have never had before. You will gain something that you will never, never lose, for you will have thus builded into the fabric of your character both strength and vision. The god within you will have begun to enclose you with its divine radiance. Love will be yours, because if you follow this pathway you will become lovely. Love will be yours also because, in following this pathway, you will evoke love from others' hearts. A greater understanding will be yours, because you will have given your understanding exercise, brought out its latent power, because, merely in order to see these things, therefore to do them, you must use will and your understanding.
Clairvoyance will be yours, spiritual clairvoyance — not the psychical reflection thereof which is so dangerous, but true spiritual clairvoyance — enabling you, as I told you on last Sunday from this platform, to see with the inner eye what passes at any distance from you, at whatever distance in space or on earth, for there is this faculty within you and you can develop it. It is the inner eye. Don't you believe it? Then examine merely the ordinary records of literature and ponder over what you will find in those records. Spiritual clairaudience will be yours: the power to hear with the inner ear, not with the physical organ so deceptive because so imperfect, but the power to hear anything you will at whatever distance, whether on Mars or on the sun or on the moon, or on Jupiter or on some distant star, or anywhere on earth. Men exercise these faculties even today, and do not know it; but when it happens, then they say: Oh, I had a strange hunch, I had an unusual feeling! And I followed that feeling and everything came out right. I am referring of course, my brothers, to those cases which are real hunches, not merely to imaginary hunches which also occur frequently.
Cultivate the powers and faculties of the spirit. For instance, having this clairaudience, you can hear the grass grow, and that hearing will be to you like a symphonic musical poem. You can hear the celestial orbs singing their songs as they advance along their orbits through space; and do you know why? Because everything that is, is in movement, producing sound, simple or composite as the case may be; so that in very truth every tiny atom sings its own note, its own musical note, and every composite entity, therefore, is an imbodied musical poem, a musical symphony.
Your bodies are, each one of them, singing its own composite song. When a flower unfolds its petals, there is motion, therefore it is musical, and if you have the spiritual clairaudience you can hear it. I mean every word of this literally; and spiritual clairvoyance and spiritual clairaudience are but two of the powers of the spirit. There are many others.
Psychism is a word to conjure with today in the Occident. What our bigwigs of the various European and American universities call psychology, the man in the street — who understands very little about the Greco-Latin names and the abstruse phrases and whatnot, and who knows that there are powers latent within him and in his fellows, and who wants to know something understandable about these hid faculties and powers, — calls psychical powers, psychical faculties; and in so-called psychical circles he hears a great deal about 'clairvoyance,' and clairaudience, and thought-transference, etc., etc. But he receives no accurate or reliable information about any of these, because such reliable information being too dangerous to give out publicly, the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace do what they can to prevent such public communication. These so-called psychical faculties and powers are very dangerous indeed unless developed under a wise spiritual teacher who knows what he is about, and furthermore under the severest kind of restrictions and conditions.
How many unfortunate men have lost much money, for instance, by following the advice of those who had no spiritual right and who lacked the proper training to give such advice. Of course I don't want to be unkind, you understand. I detest throwing mud, but it is my duty to warn. Therefore I say to you: Be careful! How many hearts have been broken — and this is a much more serious thing — of men and women in trouble seeking help and going to what they call — well, to the purveyors of so-called psychical teachings. Broken homes, orphaned children, divorces, and almost endless misery of both heart and mind have resulted from such unwise action. Do you wonder that theosophists, who know the existence of these dangerous powers and faculties in man which the ordinary man calls the psychical, do you wonder why we feel it our duty to call the dangers especially to your attention? We do not do so unkindly.
Many of these so-called psychics are honest people. In some cases they mean well. But they are not illuminated. They have not been trained by real occult teachers, and consequently are themselves also wanderers in the illusory shadows of the astral world. The spiritual part of them, the spiritual part of their constitution, which is the divine sun within them, the inner star, the source of all the great spiritual faculties and powers within, is not deluging the hearts and minds of these psychics with the brilliance of its rays; and consequently even with the best of intentions they have neither the esoteric right to teach nor the vision to know what to say and what not to say.
Let me read to you in this connection what the founder of The Theosophical Society in modern times, H. P. Blavatsky, wrote — one of her last messages to her students. She sent it to the American Convention of Theosophists which took place in l891. She wrote as follows:
Your position as forerunners of the sixth sub-race of the fifth root-race has its own special perils as well as its special advantages. Psychism, with all its allurements and all its dangers, is necessarily developing among you, and you must beware lest the psychic outruns the Manasic and Spiritual development.
Psychic capacities held perfectly under control, checked and directed by the Manasic principle, are valuable aids in development. But these capacities, running riot, controlling instead of controlled, using instead of being used, lead the Student into the most dangerous delusions and the certainty of moral destruction. Watch carefully, therefore, this development, inevitable in your race and evolution-period, so that it may finally work for good and not for evil; and receive, in advance, the sincere and potent blessings of Those whose good-will will never fail you, if you do not fail yourselves. . . . Theosophy first, and Theosophy last; for its practical realization alone can save the Western world from that selfish and unbrotherly feeling that now divides race from race, one nation from another, and from that hatred of class and social considerations that are the curse and disgrace of so-called Christian peoples. . . . In your hands, brothers, is placed the welfare of the coming century, and great as is the trust, so great also is the responsibility.
These are truths magnificently set forth in words! It is precisely because theosophists have been taught to know the existence of these dangerous powers and faculties in man, the so-called psychic powers, that we call your attention to them and beg of you, as you love your own beloved friends and the peace and tranquillity of your own consciousness, to turn to the spiritual light, to the source of all wisdom and knowledge, which is the divine sun, within you — the source of all the things which make life great and high and noble. Equally important is it for you to beware of the deceptive moonlight of the psychical part of man's constitution.
I tell you again that there is no reliable public information about these psychical faculties and powers existent in the West today. There are many lecturers going about the country talking much about these things; but I tell you one most important fact in this connection: that the Masters of Wisdom, who are the titanic spiritual and intellectual flowers of the human race, the fine flowers of mankind, never teach dangerous truths to untrained minds.
Would a mother's loving heart put dynamite into the hands of her little child? Dynamite exists, of course. Would she hand her little boy or her little girl a flask of violent poison, merely with the idea that everybody should have everything indiscriminately without training and without warning? Even your public schools of all grades know better than to act in this way. Many things are not taught in public; and I can tell you why: because the teachers know that it is not safe to do so.
It is a thousand times more dangerous to teach things such as these psychical subjects to men and women who don't know what these psychical powers really are and who are absolutely unprotected by any adequate spiritual and intellectual training or development. It is easy to teach about these psychical powers — very easy indeed. You don't have to be spiritually and intellectually great to understand them. And here lies the temptation that men have in this connection: it seems to them to be a quick and easy way to get some power over their fellows. But you will never be able to use a spiritual power to the detriment and hurt of your brother. Do you here see the enormous difference between spiritual and intellectual training, on the one hand, and the very uncertain and illusory and unreliable teachings about the psychical powers and faculties that can be picked up only for a price? You pay; and you receive nothing that is of any worth at all.
The spiritual powers and faculties which form the higher part of your own constitution will evolve forth within you only when you become impersonal, when you live to benefit mankind, when your heart is so stirred that no longer can you live for yourself but must live to help others. Such a life is sublime. That is what the seers and sages of the ages have done in the past; that is what Jesus, that is what the great Gautama the Buddha, did, that is what all the great ones of the past have done; and the world even today reveres their names, reveres their lives; whereas the murderers, whether of names or of bodies or of human souls, have been forgotten.
O my brothers, the pathway to divinity is within you; that pathway to divinity arises not outside of you. It does not lead to an outside, to an extracosmic deity, for there is no outside of the universe. The path to divinity is within you and begins within you. It takes its beginning, for each one of you, in heart and mind conjoined in your consciousness. It leads ever more and more within, so that as you follow it, you grow in power and faculty of understanding, and you become more and more what you innately are. You bring out more and more into manifestation what you have of glory and grandeur and strength within you. And where does this pathway leading to divinity end? There is no ending of it. It never had a beginning for it was always you and it never will have an ending because it will always be you — your spiritual essence in each case. It leads onwards and onwards and onwards forever. Sons of the sun you are, and one of these days you shall evolve spiritually and intellectually to the point where you shall pass through the portals of the spiritual sun, merely to pass onwards and still farther onwards towards that ever receding goal.
Brothers, I bring to you light. My duty is to try to bring to you help, to give myself to you. I have been approached, since I succeeded our great-hearted Katherine Tingley as Leader of The Theosophical Society, to give private spiritual teachings for a price; and my answer has invariably been: the day when any theosophical teacher accepts one penny for teaching the ancient wisdom-religion or the esoteric secrets of man and of the universe, on that day the Theosophical Movement will die. No spiritual teachings are ever given for a price. They are yours by right, your heritage, your own. I have no right to hide them from you, but I am not going to give them to anyone until I know that the receivers are capable of receiving and of guarding them sacredly. Do you think that I would give to any man on earth the key to open a power within himself which he would use to the hurt and injury of his brothers? Never!
But come, come with open heart, with eager intellect, with at least the beginning of an unveiled spiritual vision, even if that beginning be small. Knock at the door of my heart; ask, and ye shall receive. It is my duty to give all that I have, but only when I know that those to whom I give can be trusted absolutely.
There are curious ideas abroad in the world today about some of these things. Some people believe in sprites and fairies, goblins and gnomes, angels and — the other kind of angels; and all this simply shows how hungry men and women are to have something in the nature of immaterial and spiritual truths given to them. These truths verily exist and can be given, but only under due guarantees of secrecy and silence. They are never in any circumstances or under any conditions given out publicly either by lecture or by print.
But men today are ignorant of these things and, because they do not know the laws of the universe, desire to become spiritually rich quickly. They desire to get everything all at once; and men don't grow in that way. It is against nature's law of evolution and slow but sure development and growth. Isn't it obvious that it would be utterly impossible for me to communicate powers to you unless you had grown or evolved to the point where you could receive them and understand them and thus properly use them? How can a little child of six or seven years carry the burden that his stalwart father carries? There is the idea. How can a child of seven or eight years solve a recondite problem in Euclid, for instance, that to his father may be a simple problem? It is all a matter of inner spiritual and intellectual growth.
And so, when I hear some of these itinerant lecturers going over the country and talking about fairies, and saying: "Here is an interesting thing: here is a photograph that I took of a band of fairies, or of gnomes," what can I say that is at once truthful and yet brotherly and not unkind? Can you photograph electricity? Can you photograph energy? Can you photograph force? Can you photograph the astral? You cannot. All that the photographic plate, that the camera, will record is the traces of energy and passing fluidic substances left on our physical sphere and in our physical sphere by forces or energies working in the invisible realms; and such things as these traces are the commonest experiences of life. The lightning's flash, the falling rain, the opening flower, the growing tree, a walking man, a running automobile, the stars in their orbits, the brilliant luminosity of the nebulae in the midnight sky, the flash of the electric spark in the laboratory, the tiny sand-pillar whirled by the winds of the desert, the oncoming cyclone — all these things, in fact everything that is visible, can be photographed because these are all traces of the hid powers working behind the veil, but these powers themselves in their essence cannot be photographed because they do not belong to the physical sphere, and it is only things of the physical sphere that the photographic plate of the camera can catch and record.
Here is a question that was sent in to me for answer today:
I am interested in fairies and nature spirits. [So am I!] I always did love nature [so do I], and nothing pleases me better than to wander in the woods and enjoy the delightful feel of things. But how much better it would be if I could learn how to see the beautiful sprites and things which must live there.
I am thinking of joining your organization so as to study the occult side of things. What would it cost for lessons, or have you got books about it? I understand that it is only necessary to subscribe to the principle of universal brotherhood in order to join. Well, that would be easy, because I never was one to quarrel with others.
My wife says she thinks I've got my ideas tangled up about these things, but she can't tell me how. What do you think about it?
Now isn't that an interesting question! Well, I am going to astonish you perhaps in what I shall say. I also believe in fairies. I also believe in sprites. I also believe in gnomes. I also believe in cosmic spirits. I believe that the universe is filled full with gods, with semi-divine beings, and with beings of much lower grade in nature's innumerable hierarchies. And I know all these invisible entities exist in all-various kinds and at all-various stages of growth, of evolution, high, intermediate, and low. But do I believe in fairies and sprites with little green caps and little green jackets and long shoes with pointed toes sticking out, as mere copies of the clothing of the inhabitants of Europe of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries? No. Why should I? Why should these supposititious fairies and gnomes be clad according to the clothing of Europeans of medieval times? Why should these fairies be shaped like men, only very small? The whole suggestion is unnatural and therefore untrue. There are planets in our solar system which have inhabitants, just as the earth has. And yet their inhabitants are as different in form from us as it is possible to imagine different forms to be.
Why, then, must we say that because we have a human form, every other entity in the universe or on earth must have human forms also, perhaps a little taller or a little smaller than we are? I don't believe in that kind of fairies. When I say that I believe in sprites and gnomes and goblins and kobolds and elves and what not, I believe what the theosophy of the ages has taught the existence of: in other words, I believe in conscious entities living in the invisible worlds.
What this kind questioner refers to in his question are what theosophists call elementals, elementals existing in many stages of evolution and possessing many kinds of forms, some a little like the human and most of them very unlike the human form. Elementals are growing, learning entities; they are entities beginning their growth towards becoming human. They are very young in evolution and are not yet far evolved along the pathway of growth; but they will be men in some far, far distant time of the future when evolution shall have worked its magic upon them.
Why are we human beings here? We are self-conscious, and we have hearts; we feel, we understand, we have wonderful faculties locked up within us. What does it all come from? Did it just happen so? Do you really believe that anything just happens so? Now, I do not so believe. I simply do not understand what this phrase means, "just happened so." We humans are here because of preceding causes stretching backwards illimitably; and we human beings are the present effects of those preceding causes; and we ourselves are at present causes expressing the intelligence and feeling and understanding of the powers locked up within us and which will make us very different in faculties and powers and shape in future ages. In just the same way there are hosts of entities far below us humans. We are not the only self-conscious beings in boundless infinitude.
Of course I believe in these growing entities, in these evolving entities all growing progressively greater just as men are. You can call these inferior entities fairies if you like, or sprites, gnomes, kobolds, elves, because the name does not matter much. But I certainly would like to see anyone capable of photographing them. When I see that, then I will believe that you can photograph energy, as energy. You cannot do it. All you can do is to photograph the traces of its action left behind in this physical universe, because you photograph by light, which is a physical thing, a substance-energy, and the material photographic plate can receive and record only material impressions.
I think that this kind questioner has his ideas badly tangled. I think that his wife was right!
No spiritual truth is ever sold. We have our theosophical books in which as much as it is safe to print publicly is given out, and that which you will find in our books is really wonderful. It will be a revaluation to those who have not studied theosophy; and the price that we charge for our books is simply to cover the cost of printing and publication and mailing. But do you think that any price on earth could buy me? My heavens! I would not be worthy of looking an honest man in the face if I could be bought. You try it, and see. I mean it too! But nevertheless you can have the holy truth. Come to me, any one of you who chooses may come to me with an earnest heart, willing absolutely to accept the conditions of learning, the conditions which are not mine but those which I am obliged to lay before you, and if your heart is honest and your will is strong, and I find that I can trust you, then I will give you as much truth as I can. This is a promise.
Every theosophical teacher says the same; and furthermore, my brothers, I can show you how to put your feet on the pathway of light which will lead you to personal acquaintance with the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, if you follow that pathway unfailingly to the end. Cultivate the divine within you. Try to be at one with your inner god.
You, my brothers, I am speaking to as an audience of gods, as divine beings, as cosmic spirits, which you truly are in your higher parts. You have totally unknown faculties and powers within you. You have not touched the fringe of acquaintanceship with what you have within you. Sons of the sun ye are. Sons of the spiritual sun which is the heart of the bright luminary our day-star. A god is the core of the core of the heart of the heart of each one of you. Divinity irradiates your consciousness. Oh, why not become your divine self, and then take the kingdom of the spiritual realms by strong will and intense purpose. Ye are gods, my brothers, in your inmost!