Questions Answered About Yoga Vidya
Theosophist, February, 1881
A HINDU gentleman of the Madras Presidency propounds a number of questions about Occult Science which we answer in these columns, as the information is often demanded of us and we can reach all at once in this way.
Q.—Do you or Colonel Olcott undertake to teach this wonderful Vidyâ to anyone who may be anxious to learn it?
A.—No; the correspondent is referred to our January number for remarks upon this point.
Q.—Would you like to give proofs of the existence of occult powers in man to anyone who may be sceptically inclined, or who may desire to have his faith strengthened, as you have given to Mr. and Mrs. —— and the editor of The Amrita Bazar Patrika?
A.—We would “like” that everyone should have such proofs who needs them, but, as the world is rather full of people—some twenty-four crores being in India alone—the thing is impracticable. Still such proofs have always been found by those who sought them in earnest, from the beginning of time until now. We found them—in India. But then we spared neither time nor trouble in journeying round the world.
Q.—Can you give such proofs to one like myself, who is at a great distance; or must I come to Bombay?
A.—Answered above. We would not undertake to do this thing, even if we could, for we would be run down with thousands of curiosity-seekers, and our life become a burden.
Q.—Can a married man acquire the Vidyâ?
A.—No, not while a Grihasta. You know the invariable rule was that a boy was placed at a tender age under his Guru for this training;
he stopped with him until he was twenty-five to thirty; then lived as a married man fifteen to twenty years; finally retired to the forest to resume his spiritual studies. The use of liquors, of beef, and certain other meats and certain vegetables, and the relations of marriage, prevent spiritual development.
Q.—Does God reveal himself by inspiration to a Yogî?
A.—Every man has his own ideas about “God.” So far as we have learned, the Yogî discovers his God in his inner self, his Âtmâ. When he reaches that point he is inspired—by the union of himself with the Universal, Divine Principle—Parabrahman. With a personal God—a God who thinks, plots, rewards, punishes and repents—we are not acquainted. Nor do we think any Yogî ever saw such a one—unless it be true, as a missionary affirmed the other day, at the close of Colonel Olcott’s lecture at Lahore, that Moses, who had murdered a man in Egypt, and the adulterous murderer (David), were Yogîs!
Q.—If any Adept has power to do anything he likes, as Colonel Olcott said in his lecture at Simla, 1 can he make me, who am hungering and thirsting after the Vidyâ, a thorough Adept like himself ?
A.—Colonel Olcott is no Adept and never boasted of being one. Does our friend suppose any Adept ever became such without making himself one, without breaking through every impediment through sheer force of will and soul-power? Such adeptship would be a mere farce. “An Adept becomes, he is not made,” was the motto of the ancient Rosicrucians.
Q.—How is it that in the presence of such clear proof the most civilized nations still continue to be sceptical?
A.—The peoples referred to are Christian, and although Jesus declared that all who believed in him should have the power to do all manner of wonders (see Mark, xxvi. 17, 18), like a Hindu Yogî’s, Christendom has been waiting in vain some eighteen centuries to see them. And now, having become total disbelievers in the possibility of such Siddhis, they must come to India to get their proofs, if they care for them at all.
Q.—Why does Colonel Olcott fix the year 1848 as the time from which occult phenomena have occurred?
A.—Our friend should read more carefully, and not put us to the trouble to answer questions that are quite useless. What Colonel Olcott did say was that modem Spiritualism dates from 1848.
Q.—Are there any such mediums in India as William Eddy, in whose presence materialized forms can be seen?
A.—We do not know, but suspect there are. We heard of a case at Calcutta where a dead girl revisited her parents’ house in broad daylight, and sat and conversed with her mother on various occasions. Mediumship can be easily developed anywhere, but we think it a dangerous thing and decline to give instructions for its development. Those who think otherwise can find what they want in any current number of the London Spiritualist, The Medium and Daybreak, the Melbourne Harbinger of Light, the American Banner of Light, or any other respectable Spiritualistic organ.
Q.—How do these mediums get their powers; by a course of training, or as the result of an accident of their constitution?
A.—Mediums are mainly so from birth; theirs is a peculiar psychophysiological constitution. But some of the most noted mediums of our times have been made so by sitting in circles. There is in many persons a latent mediumistic faculty, which can be developed by effort and the right conditions. The same remark applies to adeptship. We all have the latent germs of adeptship in us, but in the case of some individuals it is infinitely easier to bring them into activity than in others.
Q.—Colonel Olcott repudiates the idea of spirit agency as necessary to account for the production of phenomena, yet I have read that a certain scientist sent spirits to visit the planets and report what they saw there.
A.—Perhaps reference is made to Professor William Denton, the American geologist, author of that interesting work, The Soul of Things. His explorations were made through psychometry, his wife—a very intellectual lady though a great sceptic as to spirits—being the psychometer. Our correspondent should read the book.
Q.—What becomes of the spirits of the departed?
A.—There is but one “Spirit”—Parabrahman, or by whatever other name one chooses to call the Eternal Principle. The “souls” of the departed pass through many other stages of existence after leaving this earth-body, just as they were in many others anterior to their birth as men and women here. The exact truth about this mystery is known only to the highest Adepts; but it may be said even by the lowest of the neophytes that each of us controls his future rebirths, making each next succeeding one better or worse according to his present efforts and deserts.
Q.—Is asceticism necessary for Yoga?
A.—Yoga exacts certain conditions which will be found described at p. 47 of our December number. One of these conditions is seclusion in a place where the Yogî is free from all impurities—whether physical or moral. In short, he must get away from the immoral atmosphere of the world. If anyone has by such study gained powers, he cannot remain long in the world without losing the greater part of his powers—and that the higher and nobler part. So that, if any such person is seen for many consecutive years labouring in public, and neither for money nor fame, it should be known that he is sacrificing himself for the good of his fellow-men. Some day such men seem to suddenly die, and their supposed remains are disposed of; but yet they may not be dead. “Appearances are deceitful,” the proverb says.
1. Colonel Olcott said nothing of the kind.