Mesmerism and the Higher Self
The Path, May, 1892
Recently a book on the subject of the “Rationale of Mesmerism” having been published in London, written by Mr. A. P. Sinnett, I read in it some astounding statements about the relation of the higher self to Mesmerism. He says that it is the higher self that acts in the case of those mesmerized subjects who show clairvoyance, clairaudience, and the like, of a high order. That is to say, the views expressed amount to the doctrine that pure spirit, which the Higher Self is, can be acted on and affected by the gross physical power of mesmerism. This idea seems to be quite contrary to all that we have read in Theosophical literature on the philosophy of man and his complex nature. For if there is anything clearly stated in that, it is that the higher self cannot be affected in this manner. IT is a part of the supreme spirit, and as such cannot be made to go and come at the beck of a mesmerizer.
It is a well known fact that the more gross and physical the operator, the stronger is his influence, and the easier he finds it to plunge his subject into the trance state. Seldom do we find the very delicate, the nervous, or the highly spiritualized able to overcome the senses of another by these means. For when we have thus spiritualized our bodies, the means by which we can affect others and make them do what we wish are such as pertain to a finer plane of matter than the one with which mesmerism deals, and the particular instruments used are of an order that must not be described in these pages, since they are secret in their nature and must not be given out too soon. They can be discovered by those who look the proper way, and have been given out by way of hint many a time in the past decade, but discretion is to be observed. And even these means, fine and subtle as they are, do not act on the higher self, but upon exactly the same parts of our inner nature as those reached by ordinary mesmerism. Not only does the whole of our philosophy sustain the contention that the higher self is not acted on, but we have also the eminent writer H. P. Blavatsky saying that the human spirit—and that is the higher self—cannot be influenced by any man.
Mesmeric force is purely material, although of a finer sort of materiality than gas. It is secreted by the physical body in conjunction with the astral man within, and has not a particle of spirituality about it further than that spirit is immanent in the whole universe. And when it is brought to bear on the willing or unwilling subject, the portion of the nature of the latter which is waked up, or rather separated from the rest, is the astral man.
Probably the reason why Mr. Sinnett and others make the mistake of confounding this with the higher self is that the utterances of the one entranced seem so far to transcend the limits of ordinary waking consciousness. But this only makes the possible horizon of consciousness wider; it does not prove we are hearing direct from the spirit. The vast powers of memory are well known, and when we add to the worldly estimate of its powers the knowledge of the ancient esoteric schools, we can see that the uncovering of the subconscious memories will give us much that a spiritualist might attribute to a denizen of the summerland. Thus in the famous case of the ignorant servant of the pastor who was in the habit of walking up and down in her hearing and repeating aloud verses from the Latin and the Greek, we know that when she fell sick with fever her constant repetition of those Latin and Greek verses was an act of the under memory which had caught and retained all, though she was, in her usual health, too ignorant to say one word in either of those languages. These illustrations can be multiplied a thousand fold from the records of clairvoyants of all sorts and conditions. When the barrier to the action of the subconscious memory is removed, whether by sickness, by training, by processes, or by natural change of the body, all the theretofore unperceived impressions come to the surface.
Clairvoyance and similar phenomena are explicable by the knowledge of the inner man, and, that being so, it is straining a point and degrading a great idea to say the higher self is involved. For the inner astral man has the real organs which partially function through the one we know. The real eye and ear are there. So what happens in mesmeric trance is that the outer eye and ear are paralyzed for the time, and the brain is made to report what is seen and heard by the inner senses.
These, it is well known, are not limited by time or space, and so give to the operator very wonderful things when viewed from the ordinary level of observation.
And at the same time it is well known to those who have experimented strictly on the lines laid down by the masters of occultism that the sight and hearing and ideation of the mesmerized subject are all deflected and altered by the opinions and thoughts of the operator. And this is especially the case with very sensitive subjects who have gone into the so called lucid state. They are in a realm of which they know but little, and will give back to him who has put them into that state answers on such subjects as the inner constitution of man and nature which will be enlarged copies of what the operator himself has been thinking on the same subject, if he has thought definitely on them. From the tenor of parts of the book I mentioned, it seems clear that the ideas as to the higher self there expressed emanated from sensitives who have in fact merely enlarged and confirmed the views expressed by the author of that work some years ago in “Transactions of the London Lodge” on the subject of the higher self, as may be seen from reading the latter. A simple subject of the mesmeric influence, no matter how far in advance of other sensitives, is not by any means a trained seer, but in the opinion of the esoteric schools is untrained, for training in this means a complete knowledge on the part of the seer of all the forces at work and of all the planes to which his or her consciousness gains entry. Hence one who merely goes into that condition by the force of the mesmeric fluid is a wanderer wholy unfit to guide any one. It is different in the case of the previously trained seer who uses the mesmeric fluid of another simply as an aid toward passing into that state. And the assertion can be made with confidence that there are no seers so trained in the western world yet. Hence no operator can have the advantage of the services of such, but all investigators are compelled to trust to the reports from the state of trance made by men or women—chiefly women—who never went through the long preliminary training and discipline, not only physically but also mentally, that are absolute prerequisites to seeing correctly with the inner eyes. Of course I except from this the power to see facts and things that take place near and far. But that is only the use of inner sight and hearing; it is not the use of the inner understanding. But on this subject I should like to say a little more at some future time.