Theosophy – August 1897


The subject of Thought Transference as considered from the point of view of Professor Crookes, was set forth in the last number of THEOSOPHY; whose readers are likely to concur in the belief that the development of latent mental and psychic forces in the higher realms of nature, will ultimately and perhaps with the rapid progress being made in these directions, at no excessively distant date, result in the practical exercise by those whose faculties and training qualify them for the task, of the more occult powers involved. Already has it by mechanical means been made possible to communicate freely and inaudibly through space, — in other words, to telegraph to isolated points, for example, an island or light house, without the aid of wire connections, and even to swiftly moving points, such as a railway train under way; furthermore, photographs, impressed upon the sensitive plate by the power of thought alone, with recognizable images of the thought objects, have been produced and their authenticity verified.

These marvels may be referred to more fully later, but before leaving the specific subject of Thought-Transference, that is, the transmission of mental concepts, directly from mind to mind, by the aid of will power, our readers will be interested in the following extract from that weird narrative, "Etidorhpa," — a recent product of mystic science, purporting to be a recital of actual experiences. A highly developed and peculiarly constructed inhabitant of the inner world is instructing a mortal of the ordinary type whose mind and passing phases of thought, his guide and counselor has no difficulty in reading as from an open book.

"Have you not sometimes felt that in yourself there may exist undeveloped senses that await an awakening touch to open to you a new world? This unconscious perception of other planes, a beyond or betwixt that is neither mental nor material, belongs to humanity in general, and is made evident from the insatiable desire of men to pry into phenomena, latent or recondite, that offer no apparent return to humanity. This desire has given men the knowledge they now possess of the sciences: — sciences yet in their infancy. Study in this direction is at present altogether of the material plane; but in time to come men will gain control of outlying senses which will enable them to step from the seen into the consideration of matter or force that is now subtle and evasive, and this must be accomplished by means of the latent faculties that I have indicated. There will be an unconscious development of new mind-forces in the student of nature as the rudiments of these so-called sciences are elaborated.

Step by step, as the ages pass, the faculties of men under progressive series of evolutions will imperceptibly pass into higher phases, until that which is even now possible with some individuals of the purified esoteric school, but which would seem miraculous if practised openly at this day, will prove feasible to humanity generally and be found in exact accord with natural laws. The conversational method of men whereby communion between human beings is carried on by disturbing the air by means of vocal organs so as to produce mechanical pulsations of that medium, is crude in the extreme. Mind craves to meet mind, but cannot yet thrust matter aside, and in order to communicate one with another, the impression one mind wishes to convey must be first made on the brain matter that accompanies it, which in turn influences the organs of speech, inducing a disturbance of the air by the motions of the vocal organs, which by undulations that reach to another being, act on his ear, and secondarily on the earthly matter of his brain; and, finally, by this roundabout course, impress the second being's mind. In this transmission of motions there is great waste of energy and loss of time, but such methods are a necessity of the present slow, much obstructed method of communication. There is in cultivated man an innate craving for something more facile, and often a partly-developed conception, spectral and vague, appears, and the being feels that there may be for mortals a richer, brighter life, a higher earthly existence that science does not now indicate. Such intimation of a deeper play of faculties is now most vivid with men during the loss of conscious mental self as experienced in dreams, which as yet man cannot grasp, and which fade as he awakens. As mental sciences are developed, investigators will find that the medium known as air is unnecessary as a means of conveying mind concepts from one person to another; that material sounds and word pulsations are cumbersome; that thought force may be used to accomplish more than speech can do, and that physical exertions, as exemplified in motion of matter such as I have described, will be unnecessary for mental communication. As door after door in these directions shall open before men, mystery after mystery will be disclosed, and vanish as mysteries to stand forth as simple facts. Phenomena that are impossible and unrevealed to the scientist of today will be familiar to the coming multitude, and at last, as by degrees clearer knowledge is evolved, the vocal language of men will disappear, and humanity, regardless of nationality, will in silence converse eloquently in mind language. That which is now esoteric will become exoteric.

"Then mind will meet mind, as my mind now impinges on your own, and in reply to your unuttered question regarding my apparently unaccountable powers of perception, I say they are perfectly natural; but while I can read your thoughts I must use my voice to impress your mind, because you cannot reciprocate. You will know more of this, however, at a future day. At present you are interested mainly in the affairs of life as you know them, and cannot enter into these higher spheres."

This semi-mystical communication presents a remarkable concurrence with the purely scientific speculations by Professor Crookes, who must have credit, as having indicated with comparative distinctness those regions of the higher natural for us — and the ratio of vibrations peculiar thereto, — within which the phenomena of thought-transference may be investigated, where their practical development may in time be effected.

It is to be noted, however, that we are already making use, unconsciously in general, of occult forces of this degree; and that the use of mechanical means is in no wise necessarily incident thereto.


The so-called "Spirit" photographs, which showed in the background of the sitter other faces more or less distinct, some of them apparently recognizable, were long a puzzle and a derision; the former to those who had satisfied themselves that the pictures were genuine and not artificially produced, but who could make no guess as to the cause of their appearance — the latter to those who, unable to explain them, refused credence and asserted their fraudulent origin, this view being seemingly the more plausible, as it was possible to produce somewhat similar effects by the aid of mechanical artifice. So long as the view was advanced that the strange faces were those of "Spirits" enabled to appear through the intervention of a "medium" present at the sitting — the photographs would naturally be classed with other "spiritualistic" phenomena, and be likewise subject to acceptance or incredulity — according to the mental attitude of the individual whose judgment was appealed to.

It is at once the strength and weakness of science — that it refuses credence or even investigation — otherwise than through instrumentalities of its own devising and subject to tests and conditions which it arbitrarily and often ignorantly imposes. And thereby in fact sometimes defeats its own purpose — since the more obscure causes of phenomena are destroyed or impaired by the very method employed to investigate them. But occasionally a devotee of science, bolder than others, or perhaps impatient of his self-imposed limitations, branches out into wider fields and has the courage to announce his results.

This has recently been done by Dr. Baraduc, resident in Paris, who has found means to produce visible results on sensitive plates by the use of mental forces, and has submitted the photographs to the Paris Societe de Medecine. In his own case he fixed his mind intently upon a child in whom he was interested, endeavoring to visualize the face with the utmost possible distinctness. The result was the vague but unmistakable picture of an infant's face. He also took a photograph of the mind of a "medium," and the plate showed the portrait of a dark faced man with heavy black beard and sombre eyes, and the head shrouded with a turban. The medium declared the picture that of his "guide," and it was evident that a vivid personation was present in the aura of the medium.

In a still more remarkable experiment, two friends who had likewise been investigating the fascinating subject, went to bed a hundred miles apart, one having a fresh sensitive plate under his pillow, while the other lay awake and willed as persistently and strenuously as possible, that his photograph should appear on the plate over which his friend was sleeping. The statement is made that the experiment was quite successful. Still more obscure results were sought, viz., the photographing of an abstract thought or concept unaided by the visualization of a face. The difficulty in such a case is manifestly that of concentrating and focussing the thought, since time is needed to effect the chemical changes involved, and any wandering or loss of distinctness in the mental operation confuses the record. Nevertheless the experiments were multiplied until it became evident that the mental force was capable of affecting the plate sensibly and with a measure of characterization that it was believed in the end would render the images susceptible of recognition and interpretation.