A German Mystic’s Teachings
The Path, October, 1888
In the last three numbers of the PATH we have given a story by the German Mystic Kernning of the experiences of a sensitive. The story is called advisedly “From Sensitive to Initiate.” We did not think that it was intended to show what the final initiation is, but only one of the many initiations we have to undergo in our passage through matter. The trials of Caroline illustrate those we all have, whether we know them as such or not. She had a presence to annoy her; we, although not sensitive as she was, have within us influences and potential presences that affect us just as much; they cause us to have bias this way or that, to be at times clouded in our estimate of what is the true course or the true view to take, and, like her, so long as we do not recognise the cause of the clouds, we will be unable to dissipate them. But Kernning was a theosophist, and one of those men who knew the truth in theory and at the same time were able to make a practical application of what they knew. There are many cases today in which sensitive people do just what Caroline did and have “presences” to annoy them; but how many of our theosophists or spiritualists would be able to cast the supposed obsesser out, as Mohrland did in the story? They can be counted on one hand. The simplicity with which Kernning wrote should not blind us to the value of his work. In the preceding articles by him which we have from time to time given, there is much to be learned by those who look below the surface. We therefore add the following as a note to the last story in order to try to show its theosophic meaning.
The conversation about “Mantrams” between the Sage and the Student in the PATH for August involves an occult truth so important that it is worth while to recall that the power of mantrams is recognized by the school of German occultists represented by Kernning. Readers of the PATH who have attentively read “Some Teachings of a German Mystic” have observed that in nearly all instances the pupils achieve’ an awakening of their inner self, or the “spiritual rebirth,” by means of a particular word, a sentence, or perhaps even a letter of the alphabet, and that, in cases where persons are involuntarily awakened, it is by continued thinking upon some object or person, as in the case of the young sailor whose mind was continually dwelling on his absent sweetheart and was thereby released from the limitations of his own personality. Caroline Ruppert was aroused by a morbid dwelling on her disappointment in love and by remorse for her conduct towards her invalid mother, until these thoughts gained a mantric power over her, and it required intelligent exercise with other mantrams, given her by the Adept Mohrland, to restore her self-control and give her a symmetrical development. Out of a medium, or mere sensitive, she thus became an initiate, able to control the psychic forces by her own will. Every hapless “medium” who is obsessed by elementals and elementaries that make life a torment and who is compelled to do the bidding of these forces generated by personal vitality, and whose conflict obscures the true self-like a spring whose waters, finding no adequate channel, rise to the level of their source and thus drown it—has it in his or her power, by intelligent exercise of the will, to obtain command over what they are now obliged to obey. But, in doing this, “right motive” must be kept constantly in view; care must be exercised to keep absolutely free from all mercenary or other selfish considerations, else one will become a black magician. The condition known as “mediumship” has been the subject of too much indiscriminate condemnation; it can be made a blessing as well as a curse, and the aim should be, not to suppress it, but to develop it in the right direction. The psychic powers, like all other natural forces, can be made either a good servant or a terrible master, and, in proportion to their subtlety as compared with other forces, so much greater is their power for good or for evil.
In psychic work the power of united endeavor has often been emphasized, and it is easy to see that the power is developed whether consciously or unconsciously exercised. Thus, with thousands thinking unitedly in one direction, as in the present Theosophical awakening, they all help each other, lending strength to each other’s will, whether they are aware of it or not. According to this principle it would seem that a word used commonly for mantric purposes has a greater potency over the forces of the spirit, owing to the impression it has made upon the akasa, than a word not commonly used, for in the case of the former the user has the aid of the wills of all others who have used it.
In one of his works, “The Freemason,” Kernning gives a good explanation of the power of mantrams, in replying to the strictures of a rationalistic critic, who says that such a use of words is made by the bonzes (yogis) of India, and therefore must be wholly nonsensical! Says Kernning:
Whoever has a great love for an art or science not only finds delight in the results, but their very names have a sort of magic power with him. Whoever feels a love for another person is moved whenever he thinks of that person or repeats the name of that person. The gambler, in spite of all the arguments against his infatuation made by others, and often, indeed, by himself, always beholds dice and cards before his eyes. The drunkard only needs, in order to be made thirsty, to hear the name of wine. The miser lives in the vision of his ducats and dollars, the ambitious man upon the insignia of fame and the plaudits of the multitude, the courtier upon his orders and titles, and in all these cases, not only are the things themselves concerned, but the names have become idolized. Now suppose that one should, instead of swimming in the depths, fill spirit and soul with exalted and divine ideas and names, can other than most beneficent results follow? Indeed, could a person be a genuine Christian without the life of Christ, and even his name, becoming animate in spirit and soul? Therefore there is no nonsensical or unreasonable practice in this; on the contrary, every one should be made aware of this simple method, which is founded upon human nature and is confirmed by experience, that he may attain the means of ennobling his nature, of directing his energies towards the highest end of his life, and reaching this end with certainty.