Letters That Have Helped Me
It is a relief to turn from these eternal legal quibbles (of my business) to say a word or two on eternal matters.
Now and then there are underlined sentences occurring in The Path. These ought to be studied. One about one yogee not doing anything not seen in another yogee’s mind will open up a subject. Reticence does not always mean ignorance: if we dig out the knowledge we drag down at the same time rocks and debris of other sorts, whereas, if a miner hands us the nugget, that is all we get at the time. So a slight reticence often results in our going at the digging ourselves.
In September Path is another. Getting back the memory of other lives is really the whole of the process, and if some people don’t understand certain things it is either because they have not got to that point in their other lives or because no glimmer of memory has yet come.
The communion of saints is a reality, and it often happens that those brought up in the same school speak the same language. While not being one, such are very like co-scholars no matter when or where. Furthermore, there are some peculiar natures in this world who, while they are like mirrors or sponges that reflect and absorb from others certain information, still retain a very strong individuality of their own. So it is with this gentleman whose letter you enclose. There is scarcely any doubt that he, if he tells true tales, sees in the astral light. The description of things “moving about like fishes in the sea” is a real description of one of the manners in which many of these elemental forms are seen. So it may, as premised above, be settled that he sees in the astral light.
He should know that that astral light exists in all places and interpenetrates everything, and is not simply in the free air alone. Further should he know that to be able to see as he sees in the light is not all of the seeing thus. That is, there are many sorts of such sight, e.g., he may see now certain airy shapes and yet not see many others which at the same time are as really present there as those he now sees. So it would seem that there are “layers” or differences of states in the astral light. Another way to state it is that elementals are constantly moving in the astral light — that is, everywhere. They, so to say, show pictures to him who looks, and the pictures they show will depend in great part upon the seer’s thoughts, motives and development. These differences are very numerous. It therefore follows that in this study pride must be eliminated. That pride has disappeared from ordinary life does not prove that it has done any more than retreat a little further within. So one must be careful of becoming even inwardly vain of being able to see any such things; for if that happens it will follow that the one limited plane in which one may be a seer will be accepted as the whole. That, then, will be falsity. But if recognised as delusive because partial, then it remains true — so far as it goes. All true things must be total, and all totalities exist at once, each in all, while these partial forms exist partially in those that are total. So it follows that only those that are total reveal entire truth, and those that partake of lower nature — or are partial — receive but a limited view of truth. The elementals are partial forms, while the man’s individual soul is total, and according to the power and purity of that form which it inhabits “waits upon the Gods.”
Now our bodies, and all “false I” powers up to the individual soul, are “partial forms” in common with the energic centres in astral light. So that it must follow that no matter how much we and they participate in each other the resulting view of the one Truth is partial in its nature because the two partial forms mingling together do not produce totality. But it intoxicates. And herein lies the danger of the teaching of such men as P. B. Randolph, who advocates participation with these partial beings by means of sensual excesses glorified with a name and gilded with the pretence of a high purpose — viz., knowledge: KNOWLEDGE MUST BE CAREFULLY OBTAINED WITH A PURE MOTIVE.
This motive is the point for this gentleman to study. He says that he “will know,” and that he “desires to escape from present limitations of this personality, which is all loneliness.”
As he did go forward on the path of knowledge, he would find that this imaginary loneliness of which he speaks is by comparison with the utter loneliness of that path, a howling mob, a tramping regiment.
As he is fighting alone his own fight let him carefully note his motive in seeking to know more, and in seeking to escape from his present “loneliness.” Must it not be true that loneliness cannot be escaped from by abhorrence of it or even by its acceptance, but by its recognition? What next? Well, this; and perhaps it is too simple. He ought to assure himself that his motive in knowing and being is that he may help all creatures. I do not say that this is not now his motive, but for fear it should not be I refer to it. For as he appears to be on the borderland of fearful sights and sounds he ought to know the magic amulet which alone can protect him while he is ignorant. It is that boundless charity of love which led Buddha to say: “Let the sins of this dark age fall on me that the world may be saved,” and not a desire for escape or for knowledge. It is expressed in the words: “THE FIRST STEP IN TRUE MAGIC IS DEVOTION TO THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS.” It was expressed by Krishna when he said: “Near to Renunciation is salvation” (or the state of a Jivanmukta).
But he naturally will ask if he should cultivate his powers. Well, of course he should at some time or other; but he ought to begin at motive and purification of thought. He may, if he chooses, abandon the ideas of this large-hearted charity and yet make great progress in “powers,” but surely then death and ashes will be the result. That does not concern me.
Why did he have a “horror” when he merely succeeded in going away from his body; in being for a moment free? That is an important question. Its solution may be found in many ways. I will mention one. If the place, or person he wished to go to was one to which he then ought not to have gone — or if his motive in desiring to go there was not pure — then a horror might result that drove him back. But if even with a bad motive he had attempted to go to a place where a similar motive existed, then no horror would have come. If he will tell himself, or me, just where he was wanting to go, I may say why he had a horror. But I do not want to know.
For it is not necessarily a horror-producing thing to leave the body. Only lately I know of a friend of mine who went out of his body a distance of 10,000 miles and had no horror. In that case he desired to see a friend on a common purpose which had in view the amelioration of this dark age; and again, who left his body in the country and saw the surrounding sweeps of wood and vale and had no horror whatever in either case.
If one is sure of motive, and that is pure, then going out of the body is not detrimental.
An illustration will show the dangers. Take the case of one who is able to leave the body and who determines to go to one who is sympathetic. The second one, however, is protected by high motive and great purity: the first is mixed in motive in waking life, which, as soon as the other disengaged state comes on, changes into a mere curiosity to see the second, and perhaps with more or less sensuality,e.g., a desire to see a woman much admired and to pour into her unwilling ear pretended or real human love. The elementals (and so on) of the second protect that soul and hurl vague horrors at the first who, if he is not a skilled black magician is:
1. Either merely pushed back into the body; or
2. Is assailed with fears that prevent him finding his body,
and that may be occupied by an elementary, good, bad, or indifferent — and his friends may say that he waked up insane!