Lesson-1: Constitution and Seven Principles of Man
IT is with no ordinary feelings that we address ourselves to our students of the Yogi class . We see, as they perhaps do not, that to many of them this series of lessons will be as seed planted in fertile soil, which will in due time put forth sprouts which will force their way gradually into the sun-light of consciousness, where they will put forth leaves, blossom, and fruit. Many of the fragments of truth which will be presented to you will not be recognized by you at this time, but in years to cone you will recognize the verity of the impressions which will be conveyed to you in these lessons, and then, and then only, will you make these truths your own.
We intend to speak to you just as if you were gathered before us in person, and as if we were standing before you in the flesh. We feel sure that the bond of sympathy between us will soon grow so strong and real that as you read our words you will feel our presence almost as strongly as if we were with you in person. We will be with you in spirit, and, according to our philosophy, the student who is in harmonious sympathy with his teachers really establishes a psychic connection with them, and is in consequence enabled to grasp the "spirit" of the teaching and to receive the benefit of the teachers' thought in a degree impossible to one who merely reads the words in cold print.
We are sure that the members of the class will get into harmony with each other, and with us, from the very start, and that we will obtain results that will surprise even ourselves, and that the term of the class will mark a wonderful spiritual growth and unfoldment for many of the class. This result would be impossible were the class composed of the general public, in which the adverse thought vibrations of many would counteract, or at least retard, the impelling force generated in the minds of those who are in sympathy with the work. But we will not have this obstacle to overcome, as the class has been recruited only from that class of students who are interested in the occult. The announcements sent out by us have been worded in such a way as to attract the attention only of those for whom they were intended. The mere sensation-hunters and the "faddists " have not been attracted by our call, while those for whom the call was intended have heard and have hastened to communicate with us. As the poet has sung : " Where I pass, all my children know me." The members of the class having been attracted to us, and we to them, will form a harmonious body working with us to the common end of self-improvement, growth, development, and unfoldment. The spirit of harmony and unity of purpose will do much for us, and the united thought of the class, coupled with our own, will be a tower of strength, and each student will receive the benefit of it, and will be strengthened and sustained thereby.
We will follow the system of instruction of the East, rather than that of the Western world. In the East, the teacher does not stop to "prove" each statement or theory as he makes or advances it; nor does he make a blackboard demonstration of spiritual truths; nor does he argue with his class or invite discussion. On the contrary, his teaching is authoritative, and he proceeds to deliver his message to his students as it was delivered to him, without stopping to see whether they all agree with him. He does not care whether his statements are accepted as truth by all, for he feels sure that those who are ready for the truth which he teaches will intuitively recognize it, and as for the others, if they are not prepared to receive the truth, no amount of argument will help matters. When a soul is ready for a spiritual truth, and that truth, or a part of it, is uttered in its presence or presented to its attention by means of writings, it will intuitively recognize and appropriate it. The Eastern teacher knows that much of his teaching is but the planting of seed, and that for every idea which the student grasps at first there will be a hundred which will come into the field of conscious recognition only after the lapse of time.
We do not mean that the Eastern teachers insist upon the student blindly accepting every truth that is presented to him. On the contrary, they instruct the pupil to accept as truth only that which he can prove for himself, as no truth is truth to one until he can prove it by his own experiments. But the student is taught that before many truths may be so proven he must develop and unfold. The teacher asks only that the student have confidence in him as a pointer-out of the way, and he says, in effect, to the student: "This is the way; enter upon it, and on the path you will find the things of which I have taught you; handle them, weigh them, measure them, taste them, and know for yourself. When you reach any point of the path you will know as much of it as did I or any other soul at that particular stage of the journey; but until you reach a particular point, you must either accept the statements of those who have gone before or reject the whole subject of that particular point. Accept nothing as final until you have proven it; but, if you are wise, you will profit by the advice and experience of those who have gone before. Every man must learn by experience, but men may serve others as pointers of the way. At each stage of the journey it will be found that those who have progressed a little further on the way have left signs and marks and guide-posts for those who follow. The wise man will take advantage of these signs. I do not ask for blind faith, but only for confidence until you are able to demonstrate for yourselves the truths I am passing on to you, as they were passed on to me, by those who went before."
We ask the student to have patience. Many things which will appear dark to him at first will be made clear as we progress.
THE CONSTITUTION OF MAN
Man is a far more complex being than is generally imagined. He has not only a body and a soul, but he is a spirit possessing a soul, which soul has several vehicles for expression, these several vehicles being of different degrees of density, the body being the lowest form of expression. These different vehicles manifest upon different " planes," such as the "physical plane," the "astral plane," etc., all of which will be explained as we proceed.
The real self is pure spirit—a spark of the divine fire. This spirit is encased within numerous sheaths, which prevent its full expression. As man advances in development, his consciousness passes from the lower planes to the higher, and he becomes more and more aware of his higher nature.
The spirit contains within it all potentialities, and as man progresses he unfolds new powers, new qualities, into the light.
The Yogi philosophy teaches that man is composed of seven principles—is a sevenfold creature. The best way to think of man is to realize that the spirit is the real self, and that the lower principles are but confining sheaths. Man may manifest upon seven planes, that is, the highly developed man, as the majority of men of this age can manifest only upon the lower planes, the higher planes not having as yet been reached by them, although every man, no matter how undeveloped, possesses the seven principles potentially. The first five planes have been attained by many, the sixth by a few, the seventh by practically none of this race at this time.
THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF MAN
The seven principles of man, as known to the Yogi philosophy, are herewith stated, English terms being substituted for Sanscrit words, so far as may be:
3. Prana, or Vital Force.
2. Astral Body.
1. Physical Body.
We will briefly run over the general nature of each of these seven principles, that the student may understand future references to them; but we will defer our detailed treatment of the subject until later on in the lessons.
1. The Physical Body.
Of all the seven principles of man, the physical body is of course the most apparent. It is the lowest in the scale, and is the crudest manifestation of the man. But this does not mean that the physical should be despised or neglected. ' On the contrary, it is a most necessary principle for the growth of man in his present stage of development—the temple of the living Spirit—and it should be carefully tended and cared for in order to render it a more perfect instrument. We have but to look around us and see how the physical bodies of different men show the different degrees of development under mental control. It is a duty of each developed man to train his body to the highest degree of perfection in order that it may be used to advantage. The body should be kept in good health and condition and trained' to obey the orders of the mind, rather than to rule the mind, as is so often the case. The care of the body, under the intelligent control of the mind, is an important branch of Yogi philosophy, and is known as " Hatha Yoga." We are preparing a little text-book upon " Hatha Yoga," which will soon be ready for the press, that will give the Yogi teachings upon this most important branch of self-development. The Yogi philosophy teaches that the physical body is built up of cells, each cell containing within it a miniature " life," which controls its action. These " lives " are really bits of intelligent mind of a certain degree of growth, which enable the cells to perform their work properly. These bits of intelligence are, of course, subordinate to the control of the central mind of the man, and will readily obey orders from headquarters, given either sub-consciously or consciously. These cell intelligences manifest a perfect adaptation for their particular work. The selective action of the cells, extracting from the blood the nourishment needed and rejecting that which is not required, is an instance of this intelligence. The process of digestion, assimilation, etc., shows the intelligence of the cells, either separately or collectively, in groups. The healing of wounds, the rush of the cells to the points where they are most needed, and hundreds of other examples known to the student of physiology, all mean to the Yogi student examples of the "life " within each atom. Each atom is to the Yogi a living thing, leading its own independent life. These atoms combine into groups for some end, and the group manifests a group-intelligence, as long as it remains a group; these groups again combining in turn, and forming bodies of a more complex nature, which serve as vehicles for higher forms of consciousness.
When death comes to the physical body the cells separate and scatter, and that which we call decay sets in. The force which has held the cells together is withdrawn, and it becomes free to go its own way and form new combinations. Some go into the body of the plants in the vicinity, and eventually find themselves again in the body of an animal; others remain in the organism of the plant; others remain in the ground for a time, but the life of the atom means incessant and constant change. As a leading writer has said : " Death is but an aspect of life, and the destruction of one material form is but a prelude to the building up of another. "
We will not devote further space to the consideration of the physical, as that is a subject by itself, and, then, our students are no doubt anxious to be led into subjects with which they are not quite so familiar. So we will leave this first principle and pass on to the second, wishing, however, again to remind the student that the first step in Yogi development consists of the mastery of the physical body and its care and attention. We will have more to say of this subject before we are through with this course.
2. The Astral Body
This second principle of man is not nearly so well known as its physical brother, although it is closely connected with the latter and is its exact counterpart in appearance. The astral body has been known to people in all ages, and has given rise to many superstitions and mysteries, owing to a lack of knowledge of its nature. It has been called the " ethereal body " ; the "fluidic body " ; the " double"; the "wraith"; the "Doppelganger," etc. It is composed of matter of a finer quality than that composing our physical bodies, but matter none the less. In order to give you a clearer idea of what we mean, we will call your attention to water, which manifests in several well-known forms. Water at a certain temperature is known as ice, a hard, solid substance; at a little higher temperature it assumes its best-known form, which we call "water"; at a still higher temperature it escapes in the form of a vapor which we call " steam," although the real steam is invisible to the human eye, and becomes apparent only when it mixes with the air and has its temperature lowered a little, when it becomes vapor visible to the eye, and which vapor we call " steam."
The astral body is the exact counterpart of the physical body and may be separated from it under certain circumstances. Ordinarily, conscious separation is a matter of considerable difficulty, but in persons of a certain degree of psychical development the astral body may be detached and often goes on long journeys. To the clairvoyant vision the astral body is seen looking exactly like its counterpart, the physical body, and united to it by a slender silken cord.
The astral body exists some time after the death of the person to whom it belongs, and under certain circumstances it is visible to living persons, and is called a " ghost." There are other means whereby the spirits of those who have passed on may become manifest, and the astral shell which is sometimes seen after it has been sloughed off by the soul which has passed on is in such cases nothing more than a corpse of finer matter than its physical counterpart. In such cases it is possessed of no life or intelligence, and is nothing more than a cloud seen in the sky bearing a resemblance to a human form. It is a shell, nothing more. The astral body of a dying person is sometimes projected by an earnest desire, and is at such times seen by friends and relatives with whom he is in sympathy. There are many cases of this kind on record, and the student probably is aware of occurrences of this kind. We will have more to say about the astral body and astral shells in other lessons in this course. We will have occasion to go into further detail when we reach the subject of the astral plane, and, in fact, the astral body will form a part of several lessons.
The astral body is invisible to the ordinary eye, but is readily perceived by those having clairvoyant power of a certain degree. Under certain circumstances the astral body of a living person may be seen by friends and others, the mental condition of the persons and the observer having much to do with the matter. Of course, the trained and developed occultist is able to project his astral body consciously, and may make it appear at will; but such powers are rare and are acquired only after a certain stage of development is reached.
The adept sees the astral body rising from the physical body as the hour of death approaches. It is seen hovering over the physical body, to which it is bound by a slender thread. When the thread snaps the person is dead, and the soul passes on carrying with it the astral body, which in turn is discarded as the physical body has been before. It must be remembered that the astral body is merely a finer grade of matter, and that it is merely a vehicle for the soul, just as is the physical, and that both are discarded at the proper time. The astral body, like the physical, disintegrates after the death of the per-son, and persons of a psychic nature sometimes see the dissolving fragments around cemeteries, in the shape of violet light.
We are merely calling attention to the different vehicles of the soul of man, his seven principles, and we must hasten on to the next principle. We would like to speak to you of the interesting phenomenon of the ego leaving the physical body in the astral body while one is asleep." We would like to tell you just what occurs during sleep, and how one may give orders to his astral self to gain certain information or to work out certain problems while he is wrapped in sleep, but that belongs to another phase of our subject, and we must pass on after merely whetting your appetite. We wish you to get these seven principles well fixed in your mind, so that you may be able to understand the terms when we use them later on.
3. Prana, or Vital Force.
We have said something of Prana in our little book, " The Science of Breath," which many of you have read. As we said in that book, Prana is universal energy, but in our consideration of it we will confine ourselves to that manifestation of Prana which we call vital force. This vital force is found in all forms of life—from the amoeba to man -from the most elementary form of plant life to the highest form of animal life. Prana is all-pervading. It is found in all things having life, and as the occult philosophy teaches that life is in all things—in every atom—the apparent lifelessness of some 'things being only a lesser degree of manifestation, we may understand that Prana is everywhere, in ev erything. Prana is not the Ego, but is merely a form of energy used by the Ego in its material manifestation. When the Ego departs from the physical body, in what we all " death," the Prana, being no longer under the control of the Ego, responds only to the orders of the individual atoms or their groups, which have formed the physical body, and as the physical body disintegrates and is resolved back to its original elements, each atom takes with it sufficient Prana to enable it to form new combinations, the unused Prana returning to the great universal storehouse from whence it came. Prana is in all forms of matter, and yet it is not matter—it is the energy or force which animates matter. We have gone into the matter of Prana in our little book previously referred to, and we do not wish to take up the students' time in repeating what we said there.
But before taking up the next principle, we wish to direct the student's attention to the fact that Prana is the force underlying magnetic healing, much of mental healing, absent treatment, etc. That which has been spoken of by many as human magnetism is really Prana.
In " Science of Breath," we have given you directions for increasing the Prana in your system; distributing it over the body, strengthening each part and organ and stimulating every cell. It may be directed toward relieving pain in one's self and others by sending to the affected part a supply of Prana extracted from the air. It may be projected to a dis-tance so as to affect other persons. The thought of the projector sends forth and colors the Prana gathered for that purpose, and finds lodgment in the psychic organism of the patient. Like the Marconi waves it is invisible to the eye of man (with the exception of certain persons who have attained a high degree of clairvoyant power) ; it passes through intervening obstacles and seeks the person attuned to receive it.
This transferring of Prana under the direction of the will is the underlying principle of thought transference, telepathy, etc. One may surround himself with an aura of Prana, colored with strong positive thought, which will enable him to resist the adverse thought waves of others, and which will en-able him to live serene in an atmosphere of antagonistic and inharmonious thought,
We advise students to re-read that portion of " Science of Breath " which deals with the use of Prana. We purpose going into greater detail regarding this phase of the subject, during the course of these lessons, but " Science of Breath " gives a good fundamental idea of the nature of Prana and the methods of its use, and students will do well to refresh their minds on this subject.
We do not wish to weary you by this description of each of the seven principles, and we are aware that you are impatient to enter into the more interesting phases of the subject. But it is absolutely necessary that you obtain a clear idea of these seven principles, in order that you may understand that which follows, and to obviate the necessity of your being " sent back to relearn the lesson which you have " skipped." We had this idea in mind when we started this class in November, 1903, instead of waiting until January, 1904, and we give you the November and December lessons as "good measure," so as to be able to reach the more interesting part of the subject by the January lesson.
We will leave the subject of Prana and will pass on to the next principle; but we trust that you will not leave this part of the lesson until you have acquired a clear idea of Prana and its qualities and uses. Study your "Science of Breath" until you understand something of Prana.
THE MENTAL PRINCIPLES
The Western reader who has studied the writings-of some of the recent Western psychologists will recognize in the Instinctive Mind certain attributes of the so-called "subjective " or " subconscious " minds spoken of so frequently by the said writers. These writers discovered in man these characteristics, as well as certain higher phases of the mind (coming from the Spiritual Mind), and without stopping to investigate further, they advanced a " new " theory that man is possessed of two minds, i.e., the "objective" and "subjective," or as some have termed them, the " conscious " and " subconscious." This was all very well so far as it went, but these investigators set the " conscious " mind aside and bundled all the rest into their " subconscious " or "subjective" mind, ignoring the fact that they were mixing the highest and lowest qualities of mind and putting them in the same class, and leaving the middle quality by itself. The " subjective mind " and the " sub-conscious " theories are very confusing, as the student finds grouped together the most sublime flashes of genius and the silliest nothings of the man of low development, the mind of the latter being almost altogether "subjective."
To those who have read up on these theories, we would say that such reading will materially help them to understand the three mental principles of man, if they will remember that the "conscious" or "objective" mind corresponds very nearly with the "Intellect" principle in the Yogi philosophy; and that the lowest portions of the " subjective " or " sub-conscious " mind are what the Yogis term the " Instinctive Mind " principle; while the higher and sublime qualities which the Western writers have noticed and have grouped with the lower qualities in forming their subjective mind" and "subconscious mind" theories, is the " Spiritual Mind principle of the Yogis, with the difference that the " Spiritual Mind " has additional properties and qualities of which these Western theorists have never dreamed. As we touch upon each of these three mental principles, you will see the points of resemblance and the points of difference between the Yogi teachings and the Western theories.
We wish it distinctly understood, however, that we do not desire to detract from the praise justly earned by these Western investigators ; in fact, the Yogis owe them a debt of gratitude for preparing the Western mind for the fuller teachings. The student who has read the works of the writers referred to will find it very much easier to grasp the idea of the three mental principles in man than if he had never heard of any division in the functioning of the mind of man. Our principal reason for calling attention to the mistake of the Western dual-mind theories was that to the mind of the Yogi it is painful to see that which he knows to be the highest manifestation of mind, that which is the seat of inspiration and flashes of genius, that which touches the pure Spirit (the Spiritual Mind), which is just beginning to awaken in men of development and growth—confused and confounded with and placed in the same class with the lowest mental principle (the Instinctive Mind) which, while most necessary and useful to man, under the direction of his higher principle, is still something which is common to the most undeveloped man, even to the lower form of the animal kingdom—yea, even to the plant life. We trust that-the student will free his mind of preconceived ideas on this important subject, and will listen to what we say before forming his final opinion. In our next lesson, we will go into detail regarding each of the three Mental Principles.
Above we called your attention briefly to the three lower principles of man—i.e., (I) the physical body; (2) the astral body; (3) Prana, or vital force. We also led up to the subject of the mental principles, which form the fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, of the seven principles of man.
For convenience sake, we will again enumerate the four higher principles :
(6) Spiritual mind.
(4) Instinctive mind.
This terminology is more or less unsatisfactory, but we adopt it in preference to the Sanscrit terms which prove so puzzling and elusive to the average Western student.
The three lower principles are the most material, and the atoms of which they are composed are, of course, indestructible, and go on forever in countless forms and aspects ; but these principles, so far as the ego is concerned, are things merely to be used in connection with a particular earth-life, just as man uses clothing, heat, electricity, etc., and they form no part of his higher nature.
The four higher principles, on the contrary, go to make up the thinking part of man—the intelligent part, so to speak. Even the lowest of the four—the instinctive mind, goes to form the higher part of the man.
Those who have not considered the subject at all are apt to regard as absurd the suggestion that the mind of man functions on more than one plane. Students of psychology, however, have long recognized the varying phases of mentation, and many theories have been advanced to account for the same. Such students will find that the Yogi philosophy alone gives the key to the mystery. Those who have studied the dual-mind theories of certain Western writers will also find it easier to conceive of more than one plane of mentality.
At first sight it would seem that the conscious, reasoning part of man's mind did the most work—if, indeed, not all of it. But a little reflection will show us that the conscious, reasoning work of the mind is but a small fraction of its task. Man's mind functions on three planes of effort, each plane shading imperceptibly into the planes on either side of it—the one next higher or the one next lower. The student may think of the matter either as one mind functioning along three lines, or as three minds shading into each other; both views have more or less of the truth in them; the real truth is too complex to be considered in detail in an elementary lesson. The principal thing is to get the idea fixed in the mind—to form mental pegs upon which to hang future in-formation. We. will touch briefly upon the several "minds," or planes of mental effort, beginning with the lowest, the instinctive mind.
(4) The Instinctive Mind
This plane of mentation we share in connection with the lower animals, in, at least, its lower forms. It is the first plane of mentation reached in the scale of evolution. Its lowest phases are along lines in which consciousness is scarcely evident, and it extends from this lowly place in the scale until it manifests a very high degree of consciousness in comparison with its lowest phases in fact, when it begins to shade into the fifth principle, it is difficult to distinguish it from the lowest forms of the latter.
The first dawn of the instinctive mind may be seen even in the mineral kingdom, more particularly in crystals, etc. Then in the plant kingdom it grows more distinct and higher in the scale, some of the higher families of plants showing even a rudimentary form of consciousness. Then in the world of the lower animals are seen increasing manifestations of the instinctive mind, from the almost plant-like intelligence of the lower forms until we reach a degree almost equal to that of the lowest form of human life. Then, among men, we see it shading gradually into the fifth principle, the intellect, until in the highest form of man to-day we see the fifth principle, intellect, in control to a certain extent, and subordinating the fourth principle to it, either wisely or unwisely. But, remember this, that even the highest form of man carries about with him the fourth principle, the instinctive mind, and in varying degrees uses it, or is used by it. The instinctive mind is most useful to man in this stage of his development—he could not exist as a physical being without it, in fact—and he may make a most valuable servant of it if he understands it; but woe to him if he allows it to remain in control or to usurp prerogatives belonging to its higher brother. Now, right here we must call your attention to the fact that man is still a growing creature—he is not a finished product by any means. He has reached his present stage of growth after a toilsome journey; but it is merely sunrise yet, and the full day is afar off. The fifth principle, the intellect, has unfolded to a certain degree, particularly in the more advanced men of to-day, but the unfoldment is merely beginning with many. Many men are but little more than animals, and their minds function almost entirely upon the instinctive plane. And all men of to-day, with the exceptions of a few very highly developed individuals, have need to be on guard lest the instinctive mind does not occasionally unduly assert its power over them, when they are off their guard.
The lowest phase of the work of the instinctive mind is akin to the same work manifesting in the plant kingdom. The work of our bodies is performed by this part of the mind. The constant work of repair, replacement, change, digestion, assimilation, elimination, etc., is being performed by this part of the mind, all below the plane of consciousness. The wondrous work of the body, in health and sickness, is faithfully carried on by this part of our minds, all without our conscious knowledge. The intelligent work of every organ, part, and cell of the body is under the superintendence of this part of the mind. Read in " Science of Breath" of the marvelous process of the circulation of the blood, its purification, etc., and realize, faintly, what a wonderful work is even this lowest phase of the instinctive mind. We will show more of its workings in our forthcoming work " Hatha Yoga," but any school physiology will give you a clear idea of what it does, although its writer does not tell the cause behind it. This part of the work of the instinctive mind is well performed in the lower animals, plants, and in man, until the latter begins to unfold a little intellect, when he often begins to meddle with the work properly belonging to this plane of the mind, and sends to it adverse suggestions, fear thoughts, etc. However, this trouble is but temporary, as, when the intellect unfolds a little farther, it sees the error into which it has fallen and proceeds to rectify the trouble and to prevent its recurrence.
But this is only a part of the province of the instinctive mind. As the animal progressed along the scale of evolution, certain things became necessary for its protection and well-being. It could not reason on these things, so that wonderful intelligence dwelling, subconsciously, in the instinctive mind unfolded until it was able to grasp the situation and meet it. It aroused the " fighting instinct" in the brute for its preservation, and this action of the instinctive mind, very good for its purpose and essential to the preservation of the life of the animal, is still with us and occasionally-projects itself into our mentality with a surprising degree of strength. There is a great deal of the old animal fighting spirit in us yet, although we have managed to control it and to hold it in restraint, thanks to the light obtained from our unfolding higher faculties. The instinctive mind also taught the animal how to build its nests, how to migrate before approaching winter, how to hibernate, and thousands of other things well known to students of natural history. And it teaches us how to do the many things which we perform instinctively, as it also assumes tasks which we learn how to perform, by means of our intellect, and which we pass on to the instinctive mind, which afterward performs them automatically or nearly so. It is astonishing how many of our daily tasks are performed under the direction of our instinctive mind, subject merely to a casual supervision of the Intellect. When we learn to do things "by heart," we have really mastered them on the intellectual plane, and then passed them on to the instinctive plane of mentation. The woman with her sewing-machine, the man who runs his engine, the painter with his brush, all find the instinctive mind a good friend, in fact the intellect would soon tire if it had these every-day tasks to perform. Note the difference between learning to do a thing, and then doing it after it has been learned. These manifestations of the instinctive mind are of course among its higher phases, and are due largely to its contact with and blending with the unfolding intellect.
The instinctive mind is also the "habit" mind. The intellect (either that of the owner of the instinctive mind, or of some other man) passes on ideas to it, which it afterward faithfully carries out to the letter, unless corrected or given better instructions, or worse ones, by the intellect of some one.
The instinctive mind is a queer storehouse. It is full of things received from a variety of sources. It contains many things which it has received through heredity ; other things which have unfolded within it, the seeds of which were sown at the time of the primal impulse which started life along the path; other things which it has received from the intellect, including suggestions from others, as well as thought-waves sent out from the minds of others, which have taken lodgment within its corridors. All sorts of foolishness as well as wisdom is there. We will deal with this phase of the subject in future lessons, under the head of Suggestion and Auto-Suggestion, Thought Power, etc.
Instinctive mind manifests varying degrees of consciousness, varying from almost absolute subconsciousness to the simple consciousness of the highest of the lower animals and the lower forms of man. Self-consciousness comes to man with the unfoldment of the intellect, and will be spoken of in its proper place. Cosmic or universal consciousness comes with the unfoldment of the spiritual mind and will be touched upon later on. This gradual growth of consciousness is a most interesting and important branch of the subject before us, and will be referred to, and spoken of, at different points in this course.
Before we pass on to the next principle, we must call your attention to the fact that the instinctive mind is the seat of the appetites, passions, desires, instincts, sensations, feelings, and emotions of the lower order, manifested in man as well as in the lower animals. There are of course higher ideas, emotions, aspirations, and desires, reaching the advanced man from the unfolding spiritual mind, but the animal desires, and the ordinary feelings, emotions, etc., be-long to the instinctive mind. All the "feelings" belonging to our passional and emotional nature be-long to this plane. All animal desires, such as hunger and thirst, sexual desires (on the physical plane) ; all passions, such as physical love, hatred, envy, malice, jealousy, revenge, are a part of it. The desire for the physical (unless as a means of reaching higher things), the longing for the material, all belong to this plane. The " lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life," are on this plane. This principle is the most material of the three mental principles, and is the one which is apt to bind us the closest to the earth and earthly things. Remember, that we are not condemning material or " earthly " things —they are all right in their place; but man in his unfoldment grows to see these things as only a means to an end—only a step in the spiritual evolution. And with clearer vision he ceases to be bound too tightly to the material side of life, and, instead of regarding it as the end and aim of all things, sees that it is, at the best, only a means to a higher end.
Many of the " brute " instincts are still with us, and are much in evidence in undeveloped people. Occultists learn to curb and control these lower instincts, and to subordinate them to the higher mental ideals which open up to them. Be not discouraged, ,dear student, if you find much of the animal still within you. It is no sign of " badness," or evil; it fact the recognition of it by one is a sign that his unfoldment has begun, for, before, the same thing was there and not recognized for what it is, whereas now it is both seen and recognized. Knowledge is power : learn to know the remnants of the brute nature within you and become a tamer of wild beasts. The higher principles will always obtain the mastery, but patience, perseverance, and faith are required for the task. These "brute " things were all right in their time—the animal had need of them—they were "good" for the purpose intended, but now that man is reaching higher points on the path, he sees clearer and learns to subordinate the lower parts of himself to the higher. The lower instincts were not implanted in your nature by " the devil " ; you came by them honestly. They came in the process of evolution as a proper and right thing, but have been largely outgrown and can now be left behind. So do not fear these inheritances from the past ; you can put them aside or subordinate them to higher things as you journey along the path. Do not despise them, though you tread them under foot—they are the steps upon which you have reached your present high estate, and upon which you will attain still greater heights.
(5) The Intellect.
We now reach the mental principle which distinguishes man from the brute. The first four principles man shares in common with the lower forms of life, but when the fifth principle begins to unfold he has reached an important stage of the journey along the path of attainment. He feels his manhood manifesting within him.
Now, remember, that there is no violent change or marked transition from the consciousness of the fourth principle into that of the fifth. As we have before explained, these principles shade into each other, and blend as do the colors of the spectrum. As intellect unfolds, it illuminates faintly the fourth principle, and endows instinctive life with reason. Simple consciousness shades into self-consciousness. Before the fifth principle dawns fairly, the creature having the four principles well developed has passions but no reason; emotions but no intellect; de-sires but no rationalized will. It is the subject awaiting the monarch, the sleeper awaiting the magic touch of the one who has been sent to awaken him from the enchanter's deep sleep. It is the brute awaiting the coming of that which will transform it into a man.
In some of the lower animals, the fourth principle has attracted to itself the lowest shading of the fifth principle, and the animal manifests signs of a faint reasoning. On the other hand, in some of the lower forms of man—the Bushman, for example—the fourth principle has scarcely been perceptibly colored by the incoming fifth principle, and the "man " is scarcely more than a brute, in fact is more of a brute, mentally, than some of the higher domesticated animals, who, having been for many generations in close companionship with man, have been colored by his mental emanations.
The first sign of the real unfoldment of the fifth principle, intellect, is the dawning of self-consciousness. In order more fully to understand this, let us consider what consciousness really is.
Among the lower animals there is very little of that which we call consciousness. The consciousness of the lower animal forms is but little more than mere sensation. Life in the early stages is almost automatic. The mentation is almost entirely along subconscious lines, and the mentation itself is only that which is concerned with the physical life of the animal—the satisfaction of its primitive wants. After a bit, this primitive consciousness developed into what psychologists term simple consciousness. Simple consciousness is an "awareness " of outside things—a perception and recognition of things other than the inner self. The conscious attention is turned outward. The animal, or low order of man, cannot think of his hopes and fears, his aspirations, his plans, his thoughts, and then compare them with the like thoughts of others of his kind. He cannot turn his gaze inward and speculate upon abstract things. He simply takes things for granted and asks no questions. He does not attempt to find solutions for questions within himself, for he is not aware that such questions exist.
With the advent of self-consciousness man begins to form a conception of the " I." He begins to compare himself with others and to reason about it. He takes mental stock, and draws conclusions from what he finds in his mind. He begins to think for him-self, to analyze, classify, separate, deduce, etc. As he progresses he begins to think out things for him-self, and passes along new and fresh suggestions to his instinctive mind. He begins to rely upon his own mind, rather than blindly accepting that which emanates from the mind of others. He begins to create for himself, and is no longer a mere mental automaton.
And from a mere glimmering of conscious intelligence, there has grown the highest intelligence of to-day. A modern writer forcibly expresses the growth in the following words : "For some hundreds of years, upon the general plane of self-consciousness, an ascent, to the human eye gradually, but from the point of view of cosmic evolution rapid, has been made. In a race, large-brained, walking erect, gregarious, brutal, but king of all other brutes, man in appearance but not in fact, was from the highest simple-consciousness born the basic human faculty self-consciousness, and its twin language. From these and what went with these, through suffer-tag, toil, and war; through bestiality, savagery, barbarism; through slavery, greed, effort; through con-quests infinite, through defeats overwhelming, through struggle unending; through ages of aimless semi-brutal existence; through subsistence on berries and roots; through the use of the casually found stone or stick; through life in deep forests, with nuts and seeds, and on the shores of waters with mollusks, crustaceans, and fish for food; through that greatest, perhaps, of human victories, the domestication and subjugation of fire; through the invention and art of bow and arrow; through the taming of animals and the breaking of them to labor; through the long learning which led to the cultivation of the soil; through the adobe brick and the building of houses therefrom; through the smelting of metals and the slow birth of the arts which rest upon these; through the slow making of alphabets and the evolution of the written word ; in short, through thousands of centuries of human life, of human aspiration, of human growth, sprang the world of men and women as it stands before us and within us to-day with all its achievements and possessions."
Self-consciousness is a thing easy to comprehend, but difficult to define. One writer has expressed it well when he says that without self-consciousness a creature may know; but only by the aid of self-consciousness is it possible for him to know that he knows.
And with this unfoldment of the intellect came the beginnings of all the wonderful* achievements of the human mind of to-day. But great Is are these achievements, these are as nothing to what is yet be-fore the race. From history on to victory will the intellect progress. In its unfoldment, as it begins to receive more and more light from the next highest principle, the spiritual mind, it will achieve things as yet undreamed of. And yet, poor mortal, remember, intellect is third from the highest in the scale on the principles of man. There are two principles as much higher than intellect, as intellect is higher than the principle below—instinctive mind. Do not make a God of intellect ; do not allow the pride of intellect to blind you.
The importance of the awakening of self-consciousness may be more clearly recognized when we tell you that the occult doctrine is that once the self-consciousness is awakened into being, once the " I " has been felt and recognized, the real awakened life of the soul begins. We do not refer to the life that comes after the spiritual awakening—that is a still higher stage—but to the mental awakening of the soul to the " I " consciousness. This is the stage where the baby ego first begins its waking existence. Previous to that time it has slumbered on, alive but not conscious of itself, and now the time of labor. pains and birth is at hand. The soul has to meet new conditions, and has many an obstacle to overcome before it reaches spiritual manhood. Many experiences will it undergo, many trials will it be forced to meet; but still the progress is, on and on and on.
At times there may be setbacks, and it may even seem to retrograde, but such obstacles are soon surmounted and the soul takes up its journey again. There is no real going backward on the path, and slow as the progress may seem, each of us is moving steadily forward.
We had hoped to be able to reach the subject of the sixth principle, spiritual mind, in this lesson, but we see that we have not sufficient space at our disposal, so we must defer that most interesting subject, as well as that of the seventh principle, spirit, until the next lesson. We are aware that our students are eager to press forward, and we are wasting as little time as possible on the way; but there are certain fundamental truths which must be clearly understood before we dare take another step.
There are a number of lessons to be drawn from the subjects of the instinctive mind and the intellect, and this is as good a place as any in which to consider them.
One of these lessons is that the awakening of intellect does not necessarily make the creature a better being, in the sense of being "good." While it is true that an unfolding principle or faculty will give an upward tendency to man, it is equally true that some men are so closely wrapped in the folds of the animal sheath—so steeped in the material side of things—that the awakened intellect only tends to give them increased powers to gratify their low desires and inclinations. Man, if he chooses, may excel the beasts in bestiality—he may descend to depths of which the beast would never have thought. The beast is governed solely by instinct, and his actions, so prompted, are perfectly natural and proper, and the animal is not blamed for following the impulses of its nature. But man, in whom intellect has unfolded, knows that it is contrary to his highest nature to descend to the level of the beasts—yea, lower by far. He adds to the brute desires the cunning and intelligence which have come to him, and deliberately prostitutes his higher principle to the task of carrying out the magnified animal propensities. Very few animals abuse their desires—it is left for some men to do so. The higher the degree of intellect unfolded in a man, the greater the depths of low passions, appetites, and desires possible to him. He actually creates new brute desires, or rather, builds edifices of his own upon the brute foundations. It is unnecessary for us to state that all occultists know that such a course will bring certain con-sequences in its train, which will result in the soul having to spend many weary years in retracing its steps over the backward road it has trodden. Its progress has been retarded, and it will be compelled to retravel the road to freedom, in common with the beast-like natures of undeveloped creatures whose proper state of the journey it is, having an additional burden in the shape of the horror of consciousness of its surroundings, whereas its companions have no such consciousness and consequently suffer not. If you can imagine a civilized, refined man having to live among Australian Bushmen for many years, with a full recollection of what he has lost, you may form a faint idea of the fate in store for one who deliberately sinks his high powers to the accomplishment of low ends and desires. But even for such a soul there is escape—in time.
Let your higher nature be on guard and refuse to be drawn back into the brute life which has been passed through. Keep your gaze upward, and let your motto be " Forward." The brute nature may exert a pull downward, but the spiritual mind will give you a helping hand, and will sustain you if you but trust to it. The intellect is between the two, and may be influenced by either or both. Take your choice, oh, struggling soul. Your help is with-in you.; look to it, and refuse to be dragged back into the mire of the animal mind. Manifest the " I " within you and be strong. You are an immortal soul, and are moving on and on and on to still greater things. Peace be yours.
Above we gave you a brief outline of the Fourth and Fifth Principles of Man, i.e., (4) Instinctive Mind, and (5) Intellect. As we have told you before, man has passed through the Fourth Principle stage to its extreme, and has now passed on to a consciousness of the Fifth Principle, Intellect. Some of us have developed the Intellectual stage to a considerable extent (although we have practically conquered but a few square miles of the new territory of the mind, and there is still a great task before us), while other men seem to have a consciousness almost altogether within the borders of the Instinctive Mind, and have only a glimmering of Intellect. Not only is this true of the savage races, but many, very many of so-called "civilized " people have not learned to do their own thinking, and seem willing to allow others to do their thinking for them, they following certain leaders with the stupid habit of the sheep. But still the race is progressing, slowly but surely, and many are thinking now who never thought before—a greater number are refusing to take their thinking second-hand, and are insisting upon knowing for themselves.
When we consider that there are many men in whom the Fifth Principle, the Intellect, has scarcely unfolded, and that the race in general has taken but a few steps into the land of the Intellect, we begin to realize how difficult it is for any of us except the man or woman of exceptional spiritual unfoldment to comprehend even faintly the still higher Principles. It is something like a man born blind trying to comprehend light; or one born deaf endeavoring to form a mental concept of sound. One can only form an idea of something akin to his experiences. A man who has never tasted anything sweet cannot form an idea of sugar. Without experience or consciousness of a thing, our minds are unable to form a concept.
But nearly all of us who have been attracted to these lessons or who have attracted these lessons to us, have had experiences which will enable us to comprehend something of the Sixth Principle—have had glimmerings of consciousness which help us to under-stand something of the Spiritual Mind. A tendency toward the occult—the hunger of the soul for more light—are indications that the Sixth Principle, Spiritual Mind, is beginning to shade into our consciousness, and, although it may be ages before we awaken into full Spiritual Consciousness, we are still being influenced and helped by it. This spiritual unrest often causes us great discomfort, until we find ourselves on the right road to knowledge, and even thereafter we feel more or less unsatisfied by the few crumbs that drop to us from the table of Knowledge. But despair not, seekers after the Truth; these pains are but the travail of spiritual birth—great things are before you—take courage and fear not.
Toward the end of this lesson we will speak of the process of "Illumination" or Spiritual Consciousness, which has come, or is coming, to many of us, and what we have to say may throw light upon many experiences which have come to you, and for which you have heretofore had no explanation.
We will now take up the subject of the Sixth Principle, Spiritual Mind, which will be more or less plain to those who have had glimmerings of consciousness from this plane of the soul, but which will be full of "hard sayings" and "dark corners" to those who have not as yet reached this stage of unfoldment. The Seventh Principle, The Spirit, how-ever, is beyond the comprehension of any except the few enlightened and highly developed souls, in and out of the body, who are as far above the ordinary man as the average enlightened man is above the Bushman. We can but pass on to you enough to give you a general intellectual idea of what is meant by " Spirit "—the consciousness of it is still far beyond the race in its present stage. It is well, however, to know of the existence of Spirit, as it helps us to understand something of the Spiritual Mind, which is Spirit's means of communication with the Intellectual consciousness. The comprehension of Spiritual Mind, however, opens up such a wonderful world of thought that we are satisfied to leave the understanding of Spirit until such time as we will grow into a consciousness of it.
(6) The Spiritual Mind
The Sixth Principle, Spiritual Mind, has been styled by some writers "The Superconscious Mind," which term is a fairly good one, as it distinguishes between the lower Subconscious Mind or Instinctive Mind, the Conscious Mind or Intellect, and itself, which latter, while outside of the realm of ordinary human consciousness, is still a very different thing from the lower or Instinctive Mind.
While the actual existence of the Spiritual Mind has been made manifest to but a limited number of the human race, there are many who are becoming conscious of a higher " Something Within," which leads them up to higher and nobler thoughts, desires, aspirations, and deeds. And there is a still greater number who receive a faint glimmering of the light of the Spirit, and, though they know it not, are more or less influenced by it. In fact, the entire race receives some of its beneficent rays, although in some cases the light is so bedimmed by the dense material obstacles surrounding the man that his spiritual twilight is almost akin to the blackness of night. But man is ever unfolding, discarding sheath after sheath, and is slowly coming home. The light will eventually shine full upon all.
All that we consider good, noble, and great in the human mind emanates from the Spiritual Mind and is gradually unfolded into the ordinary consciousness. Some Eastern writers prefer the term "projected " as more correctly indicating the process whereby the ray of light is sent into the conscious. ness of the man who has not yet reached the super human stage of full Spiritual Consciousness. All that has come to man, in his ,evolution, which tends toward nobility, true religious feeling, kindness, humanity, justice, unselfish love, mercy, sympathy, etc., has come to him through his slowly unfolding Spiritual Mind. His love of God and his love of Man has come to him in this way. As the unfoldment goes on, his idea of Justice enlarges ; he has more Compassion ; his feeling of Human Brotherhood increases; his idea of Love grows; and he increases in all the qualities which men of all creeds pronounce " good," and which may all be summed up as the practical attempt to live out the teachings of that great spiritual Master, when He enunciated that great truth (well understood by the occultists of all creeds, but so little understood by many who claim to be followers of Him), saying, " And thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength," and " Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
As man's Spiritual Consciousness begins to unfold, he begins to have an abiding sense of the reality of the existence of the Supreme Power, and, growing along with it, he finds the sense of Human Brotherhood—of human relationship—gradually coming into consciousness. He does not get these things from his Instinctive Mind, nor does his Intellect make him feel them. Spiritual Mind does not run contrary to Intellect—it simply goes beyond Intellect. It passes down to the Intellect certain truths which it finds in its own regions of the mind, and Intellect reasons about them. But they do not originate with Intellect. Intellect Is cold—Spiritual Consciousness is warm and alive with high feeling.
Man's growth toward a better and fuller idea of the Divine Power does not come from Intellect, although the latter reasons upon the impressions received and tries to form them into systems, creeds, cults, etc. Nor does the Intellect give us our growing sense of the relationship between man and man—the Brotherhood of Man. Let us tell you why man is kinder to his kind and to forms of life below him than ever before. It is not alone because the Intellect teaches him the value of kindness and love, for man does not become kind or loving by cold reason mg. On the contrary, he becomes kind and loving because there arise within him certain impulses and desires coming from some unknown place, which render it impossible for him to be otherwise without suffering discomfort and pain. These impulses are as real as other desires and impulses, and as man develops these impulses become more numerous and much stronger. Look at the world of a few hundred years ago, and look at it to-day, and see how much kinder and more loving we are than in those days. But do not boast of it, for we will seem as mere savages to those who follow us and who will wonder at our inhumanity to our brother-man from their point of view.
As man unfolds spiritually he feels his relation-ship to all mankind, and he begins to love his fellow-man more and more. It hurts him to see others suffering, and when it hurts him enough he tries to do something to remedy it. As time goes on and man develops, the terrible suffering which many human beings undergo to-day will be impossible, for the reason that the unfolding Spiritual Consciousness of the race will make the pain felt so severely by all that the race will not be able to stand it, and they will insist upon matters being remedied. From the inner recesses of the soul comes a protest against the following of the lower animal nature, and, although we may put it aside for a time, it will become more and more persistent, until we are forced to heed it. The old story of each person having two advisors, one at each ear, one whispering to him to follow the higher teachings and the other tempting him to pursue the lower path, is shown to be practically true by the occult teaching regarding the three mental principles. The Intellect represents the " I " consciousness of the average person. This " I " has on one side the Instinctive Mind sending him the old desires of the former self—the impulses of the less developed life of the animal or lower man, which desires were all very well in lower stages of develop-ment, but which are unworthy of the growing man. On the other side is the Spiritual Mind, sending its unfolding impulses into the Intellect, and endeavoring to draw the consciousness up to itself—to aid in the man's unfoldment and development, and to cause him to master and control his lower nature.
The struggle between the higher and lower natures has been noticed by all careful observers of the human mind and character, and many have been the theories advanced to account for it. In former times it was taught that man was being tempted by the devil on the one hand, and helped by a guardian angel on the other. But the truth is known to all occultists that the struggle is between the two elements of man's nature, not exactly warring, but each following its own line of effort, and the " I " being torn and bruised in its efforts to adjust itself. The Ego is in a transition wage of consciousness, and the struggle is quite painful at times, but the growing man in time rises above the attraction of the lower nature, and dawning Spiritual Consciousness enables him to understand the true state of affairs, and aids him in asserting his mastery over the lower self and in assuming a positive attitude toward it, while at the same time he opens himself up to the light from the Spiritual Mind and holds himself in a negative attitude toward it, resisting not its power.
The Spiritual Mind is also the source of the "inspiration " which certain poets, painters, sculptors, writers, preachers, orators, and others have received in all times and which they receive today. This is the source from which the seer obtains his vision—the prophet his foresight. Many have concentrated themselves upon high ideals in their work, and have received rare knowledge from this source, and have attributed it to beings of another world—from angels, spirits, from God Himself; but all came from within —it was the voice of their Higher Self speaking to them. We do not mean to say that no communications come to man from other intelligences—far from this, we know that higher intelligences do often communicate with man through the channel of his Spiritual Mind—but much that man has attributed to outside intelligences has really come from himself. And man, by the development of his Spiritual Consciousness, may bring himself into a high relationship and contact with this higher part of his nature, and may thus become possessed of a knowledge of which the Intellect has not dared dream.
Certain high psychic powers are also open to man in this way, but such powers are rarely obtained by one until he has risen above the attractions of the lower part of his nature, for unless this were so man might use these high gifts for base purposes. It is only when man ceases to care for power for his personal use that power comes. Such is the Law.
When man learns of the existence of his Spiritual mind and begins to recognize its promptings and leadings, he strengthens his bond of communication with it, and consequently receives light of a greater brilliancy. When we learn to trust the Spirit, it responds by sending us more frequent flashes of illumination and enlightenment. As one unfolds in Spiritual Consciousness he relies more upon this Inner Voice, and is able more readily to distinguish it from impulses from the lower planes of the mind. He learns to follow Spirit's leadings and to allow it to lend him a guiding hand. Many of us have learned to know the reality of being " led by the Spirit." To those who have experienced this leading we need not say more, for they will recognize just what we mean. Those who have not as yet experienced it must wait until the time comes for them, for we cannot de-scribe it, as there are no words to speak of these things which are beyond words.
Toward the close of this lesson we will give a brief outline of some of the phases of " Illumination " or awakening of Spiritual Consciousness, which has come to some of us and will come to all in this or future phases of their unfoldment. We must hasten on to a brief consideration of that which can only be faintly understood by any of us—the Seventh Principle—Spirit.
How shall we approach this subject, which even the most advanced minds in the flesh to-day can but faintly comprehend? How can the finite express or comprehend the infinite? Spirit, man's Seventh Principle, is the Divine Spark—our most precious inheritance from the Divine Power—a ray from the Central Sun—the Real Self. Words cannot express it. Our minds fail to grasp it. It is the soul of the Soul. To understand it we must understand God, for Spirit is a drop from the Spirit Ocean—a grain of sand from the shores of the Infinite—a particle of the Sacred Flame. It is that something within us which is the cause of our evolution through all the weary ages. It was the first to be, and yet it will be the last to appear in full consciousness. When man arrives at a full consciousness of Spirit, he will be so much higher than man that such a being is at present inconceivable to the Intellect. Confined in many sheaths of matter, it has waited through the long and weary ages for even a faint recognition, and is content to wait for ages more until it is fully brought into consciousness. Man will ascend many steps of development—from man to archangel—before Spirit will fully claim its own. The Spirit is that within man which closest approaches the Center—is nearest to God. It is only in an occasional precious moment that we are aware of the existence of Spirit within us, and in such moments we are conscious of coming into the awful presence of the Unknown. These moments may come when one is en-gaged in deep religious thought—while reading a poem bearing a precious message from soul to soul —in some hour of affliction when all human aid has failed us and when human words seem but mockery —in a moment when all seems lost and we feel the necessity of a direct word from a being higher than ourselves. When these moments come they leave with us a peace which never afterward entirely es-capes us, and we are ever after changed beings. In the moment of Illumination or the dawn of Spiritual Consciousness we also feel the real presence of the Spirit. In these moments we become conscious of our relationship with and connection with the Center of Life. Through the medium of the Spirit God reveals Himself to Man.
We cannot dwell longer on this subject—it over-powers one, and mere words seem too weak for use in connection with it. Those who have felt the impulses of the Spiritual Mind have been made faintly
conscious of the abiding sense of the Spirit, although they cannot grasp its full significance. And those who have not experienced these things would not understand us if we wrote volumes of our imperfect and undeveloped conceptions of the subject. So we will pass on, trusting that we have awakened in your minds at least a faint desire to be brought into a closer communion and contact with this, the highest part of Self—Self itself. The Peace of the Spirit abide with you.
Illumination or Spiritual Consciousness
With many, Spiritual Mind unfolds gradually and slowly, and, while one may feel a steady increase of spiritual knowledge and consciousness, he may not have experienced any marked and startling change, Others have had moments of what is known as " Illumination," when they seemed lifted almost out of their normal state, and where they seemed to pass into a higher plane of consciousness or being, which left them more advanced than ever before, although they could not carry back into consciousness a clear recollection of what they had experienced while in the exalted state of mind. These experiences have come to many persons, in different forms and degrees, of all forms of religious beliefs, and have been generally associated with some feature of the particular religious belief entertained by the person experiencing the illumination. But advanced occultists recognize all of these experiences as differing forms of one and the same thing—the dawning of the Spiritual Consciousness—the unfoldment of the Spiritual Mind. Some writers have styled this experience " Cosmic Consciousness," which is a very appropriate name, as the illumination, at least in its higher forms, brings one in touch with the whole of Life, making him feel a sense of kinship with all Life, high or low, great or small, " good " or " bad."
These experiences, of course, vary materially according to the degree of unfoldment of the individual, his previous training, his temperament, etc., but certain characteristics are common to all. The most common feeling is that of possessing almost complete knowledge of all things—almost Omniscience. This feeling exists only for a moment, and leaves one at first in an agony of regret over what he has seen and lost. Another feeling commonly experienced is that of a certainty of immortality—a sense of actual being, and the certainty of having always been, and of being destined to always be. Another feeling is the total slipping away of all fear and the acquirement of a feeling of certainty, trust, and confidence, which is beyond the comprehension of those who have never experienced it. Then a feeling of love sweeps over one—a love which takes in all Life, from those near to one in the flesh to those at the farthest parts of the universe—from those whom we hold as pure and holy to those whom the world regards as vile, wicked, and utterly unworthy. All feelings of self-righteousness and condemnation seem to slip away, and one's love, like the light of the sun, falls upon all alike, irrespective of their degree of development or " goodness."
To some these experiences have come as a deep, reverent mood or feeling, which took complete possession of them for a few moments or longer, while others have seemed in a dream and have become conscious of a spiritual uplifting accompanied with a sensation of being surrounded by a brilliant and all-pervading light or glow. To some certain truths have become manifest in the shape of symbols, the true meaning of which did not become apparent perhaps long afterward.
These experiences, when they have come to one, have left him in a new state of mind, and he has never been the same man afterward. Although the keenness of the recollection has worn off, there re-mains a certain memory which long afterward proves a source of comfort and strength to him, especially when he feels faint of faith and is shaken like a reed by the winds of conflicting opinions and speculations of the Intellect. The memory of such an experience is a source of renewed strength—a haven of refuge to which the weary soul flies for shelter from the out-side world, which understands it not.
These experiences are usually also accompanied with a sense of intense joy; in fact, the word and thought " Joy " seems to be uppermost in the mind at the time. But it is a joy not of ordinary experience—it is something which cannot be dreamed of until after one has experienced it—it is a joy the recollection of which will cause the blood to tingle and the heart to throb whenever the mind reverts to the experience. As we have already said, there also comes a sense of a "knowing" of all things—an intellectual illumination impossible to describe.
From the writings of the ancient philosophers of all races, from the songs of the great poets of all peoples, from the preachings of the prophets of all religions and times we can gather traces of this illumination which has come to them—this unfold-ment of the Spiritual Consciousness. We have not the space to enumerate these numerous instances. One has told of it in one way, the other in another; but all tell practically the same story. All who have experienced this illumination, even in a faint degree, recognize the like experience in the tale, song, or preaching of another, though centuries may roll between them. It is the song of the Soul, which when once heard is never forgotten. Though it be sounded by the crude instrument of the semibarbarous races or the finished instrument of the talented musician of to-day, its strains are plainly recognized. From Old Egypt comes the song—from India in all ages —from Ancient Greece and Rome—from the early Christian saint—from the Quaker Friend—from the Catholic monasteries—from the Mohammedan mosque —from the Chinese philosopher—from the legends of the American Indian hero-prophet—it is always the same strain, and it is swelling louder and louder, as many more are taking it up and adding their voices or the sounds of their instruments to the grand chorus.
That much-misunderstood Western poet, Walt Whitman, knew what he meant (and so do we) when he blurted out in uncouth verse his strange experiences. Read what he says—has it ever been better expressed ?
As in a swoon, one instant, Another sun, ineffable, full dazzles me, And all the orbs I knew, and brighter, unknown orbs, One instant of the future land, Heaven's land."
And when he rouses himself from his ecstasy, he cries :
" I cannot be awake, for nothing looks to me as it did before, Or else I am awake for the first time, and all before has been a mean sleep."
And we must join with him when he expresses man's inability to describe intelligently this thing in these words :
"When I try to tell the best I find, I cannot; My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots, My breath will not be obedient to its organs, I become a dumb man."
May this great Joy of Illumination be yours, dear students. And it will be yours when the proper time comes. When it comes do not be dismayed, and when it leaves you do not mourn its loss—it will come again. Live on, reaching ever upward toward your Real Self and opening up yourself to its influence. Be always willing to listen to the Voice of The Silence—willing always to respond to the touch of The Unseen Hand. In the little manual, " Light on the Path," you will find many things which will now perhaps seem plainer to you.
Do not fear again for you have with you always the Real Self, which is a spark from the Divine Flame, and which will be as a lamp to your feet to show you the way.
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