THEOSOPHY, Vol. 49, No. 12, October, 1961
(Pages 561-566; Size: 16K)
FRAGMENTS OF OCCULT DEFINITION(1)
[Part 1 of 2]
IT is said that Occult Science -- also called Hermetic and Esoteric -- is the science of the secrets of nature, physical and psychic, mental and spiritual. Where, in what places, are these secrets kept hidden? And why?
In the West, the Kabala may be named. In the East, in mysticism, magic, and Yoga philosophy. These sciences are, and have been for ages, hidden from the vulgar for the very good reason that they would never be appreciated by the self-educated classes, nor understood by the uneducated; whilst the former might misuse them for their own profit, and thus turn the divine science into black magic.
Has this fact to do with the kind of language always used to embody such ideas?
The facts of Occult Science are of so abstruse a nature that in most cases no words exist in European languages to express them. In addition to this, our "jargon" is a double necessity -- (a) for the purpose of describing clearly these "facts" to him who is versed in the occult terminology, and (b) to conceal them from the profane.
It is often brought forward as an accusation against the Esoteric philosophy and the Kabala, that their literature is full of "a barbarous and meaningless jargon" unintelligible to the ordinary mind. But do not "exact sciences" -- medicine, physiology, chemistry and the rest -- do the same? Do not official scientists equally veil their facts and discoveries with a newly coined and most barbarous Graeco-Latin terminology?
Then the study of Occult Science is veritably one of parts?
Occultism applies to the study of the Kabala, astrology, alchemy, and embraces the whole range of psychological, physiological, cosmical, physical, and spiritual phenomena.
Can it be learned if there exists today in the West any such functioning school of Occultists?
Probably not more than one man in a million of European blood is fitted -- either physically, morally, or psychologically -- to become a practical magician, and not one in ten million would be found endowed with all the qualifications required for the work. Civilized nations lack the phenomenal powers of endurance, both mental and physical, of the Easterns; the favoring temperamental idiosyncrasies of the Orientalists are utterly wanting in them.
Due, perhaps, to "undeveloped or unfavorable environmental conditions" in the Occident?
In the Hindu, the Arabian, the Thibetan, an intuitive perception of the possibilities of occult natural forces in subjection to human will comes by inheritance; and in them, the physical senses as well as the spiritual are far more finely developed than in the Western races.
Yet there are heroic Western figures all down the past centuries, who assuredly are nothing else but "white magicians." The Alchemists of the middle ages -- Robert Fludd, Paracelsus, Thomas Vaughn, Van Helmont, and others -- were Rosicrucians who sought for the hidden spirit in every inorganic matter. Some people -- nay, the great majority, have accused alchemists of charlatanry and false pretending. Such men surely as Roger Bacon, Agrippa, Henry Kunrath, and the Arabian Geber (the first to introduce into Europe some of the secrets of chemistry), can hardly be treated as impostors -- least of all as fools.
Speaking of Alchemy, may we be favored with some explanation of just what it is?
Alchemy deals with the finer forces of nature and the various conditions in which they are found to operate. Seeking under the veil of language, more or less artificial, to convey to the uninitiated so much of the mysterium magnum as is safe in the hands of a selfish world, the alchemist postulates as his first principle the existence of a certain Universal Solvent by which all composite bodies are resolved into the homogeneous substance from which they are evolved, which substance he calls pure gold, or summa materia.
And this majestic "solvent" about which so much has been written, and so little is known?
The Arabian word for it is Alkahest. Called also the menstruum universale, it possesses the power of removing all the seeds of disease from the human body, of renewing youth and prolonging life. Such is the lapis philosophorum, the Philosopher's Stone. But in mysticism, it is the Higher Self of each man, the union with which makes of matter (lead) gold, and restores all compound things such as the human body and its attributes to their primeval essence.
In your opinion, is the West destined yet to learn from the erstwhile despised Alchemists?
Modern chemistry owes its best fundamental discoveries to alchemy, but regardless of the undeniable truism of the latter that there is but one element in the universe, chemistry has placed metals in the class of elements and is only now beginning to find out its gross mistake.
The spiritual, mental, psychic, and physical planes of human existence are in alchemy compared to the four elements, fire, air, water and earth, and are each capable of a threefold constitution, i.e., fixed, mutable, and volatile. Little or nothing is known by the world concerning the origin of this archaic branch of philosophy; but it is certain that it antedates the construction of any known Zodiac, and, as dealing with the personified forces of nature, probably also any of the mythologies of the world. Nor is there any doubt that the true secret of transmutation (on the physical plane) was known in days of old, and lost before the dawn of the so-called historical period.
Before proceeding further, can the bare root-principle of Occult Science be stated in modern English?
Yes. It is that one common vital principle pervades all things, and this is controllable by the perfected human will. It may be stated that the corner-stone of Magic, which is Occult Science, is an intimate practical knowledge of magnetism and electricity, their qualities, correlations, and potencies. Magic is spiritual wisdom; nature, the material ally, pupil, and servant of the magician.
And those, the Agrippas and Van Helmonts who of themselves did lay the cornerstone -- what of them?
To become a neophyte, one must be ready to devote himself heart and soul to the study of mystic sciences. Magic -- most imperative of mistresses -- brooks no rival. Unlike other sciences, a theoretical knowledge of formulae without mental capacities or soul powers, is utterly useless in magic. The spirit must hold in complete subjection the combativeness of what is loosely termed educated reason, until facts have vanquished cold human sophistry.
Then, in truth, little practical success from students of today's modern sciences, is to be hoped for in that direction?
Materialism and the men of modern science will never understand the true doctrine of the Rosicrucians, or that of the Occultists, since, in order to obtain clear perception of it three things are necessary. First, to admit the postulate of a universally diffused, omnipresent, eternal Deity in Nature. Secondly, to have fathomed the mystery of electricity in its true essence. Thirdly, to credit man with being the septenary symbol, on the terrestrial plane, of the One Great UNIT (the Logos), which is Itself the seven-vowelled sign, the Breath crystallized into the WORD.
He who believes in all this, has also to believe in the multiple combination of the seven planets of Occultism and the Kabala, with the twelve Zodiacal signs; to attribute, as the Occultists do, to each planet and to each constellation an influence which, in the words of Ely Star (a French Occultist), "is proper to it, beneficent or maleficent, and this, after the planetary Spirit which rules it, who, in his turn, is capable of influencing men and things which are found in harmony with him, and with which he has any affinity."
I note that H. P. Blavatsky's writings tend enormously toward Occultism. Is this significant?
That should present no puzzle. Does she not say that her "Secret Doctrine was written for the instruction of students of Occultism ... and not for the benefit of philologists"?
But now, what of Occultism? There appear to be two kinds. Can it be good and bad, part one and part the other?
Occultism is colorless. Only when used by man for the one side or the other is it good or bad. Bad Occultism, that which is used for selfish ends, is not false, for it is the same as that which is used for good ends. Nature is two-sided, negative and positive, good and bad, light and dark, hot and cold, spirit and matter. The Black magician is as powerful in the matter of phenomena as the White, but in the end all the trend of Nature will go to destroy the Black and save the White. It should be understood that the false man and the true can both be Occultists.
I have heard that first steps in this mysterious Science are all-important. Is this true?
Too many, even of the sincerest students of Occultism, have sought to ignore the one-half of their nature, the lower. Instead of crushing out the animal nature, we have the high and wise teaching that we must learn to fully understand the animal and subordinate it to the spiritual. "The god in man, degraded, is a thing unspeakable in its infamous power of production. The animal in man, elevated, is a thing unimaginable in its great powers of service and of strength." And we are told that our animal self is a great force, the secret of the old-world magicians, and of the coming race which Lord Lytton foreshadowed.
While on the subject, how is it to be understood that a necessity in the cultivation of extraordinary occult powers, is an acquaintance with electricity? And do you not agree that modern atomic physics has, in this regard, bridged a gap of centuries?
We must answer that electricity is a most powerful force not fully known to modern science, yet used very much. It is a fact that the nervous, physical, and mental systems of man acting together are able to produce the same force exactly, and in a finer as well as subtler way, and to as great a degree as the most powerful dynamo, so that the force might be used to kill, to alter, to move, or otherwise change any object or condition. This the Occultist knows: it is the "vril" described by Lytton in his Coming Race.
We read that rules of great import govern men in their exercise of occult powers. Is this a fact?
There are such rules. They are of the most stringent character, the breaking of which is never wiped out save by expiation.
What are they? Are there simpler rules which can be understood?
Quite. For example, one rule is that you are forbidden to take anything for personal gain, profit, advantage, or use. Another is that you have no right to enter into the mind of another who has not given the permission and take from him what is not yours. But you may take what is for general good, if you are far enough advanced and good enough to be able to extricate the personal element from it. These rules would, you can see, cut off all those who are well known to every observer, who want psychic powers for themselves and their own uses.
If such persons had those powers of inner sight and hearing that they so much want, no power could prevent them from committing theft on the unseen planes wherever they met a nature that was not protected. As most of us are very far from perfect -- so far, indeed, that we must work for many lives yet -- the Masters of Wisdom do not aid our defective natures in the getting of weapons that would cut our own hands. For the law acts implacably, and the breaches made would find their end and result in long after years.
Then such rules are sometimes broken?
One may break them, yes, and seem to escape for a whole life or more than a life! But the very breaking of them sets in motion at once other causes which begin to make effects; and most unerringly those effects at last react on the violator. Karma here acts as it does elsewhere, and becomes a Nemesis who, though sometimes slow, is fate itself in its certainty.
Is any action taken in such instances by the Order to which the offender may belong?
All the fellow-adepts or students are but too willing to aid the offender, not in escaping punishment, but in sincerely trying to set counteracting causes in motion for the good of all. If the culprit does not wish to do the amount of counteracting good, he is merely left alone to the law of Nature, which is in fact that of his own inner life from which there can be no escape.
One can't discuss these subjects without the thought of "initiations" entering the picture. How does all this start?
It is taught that "each man who determines in himself that he will enter the Path, has a Guru." The enquirer should learn also a certain profound truth in Nature: "A Guru is a sacred being, who becomes for the time the spiritual Father of the chela -- that one who is destined to bring him into real life or to pass him on to Him who will do so." Such are not matters of public discussion, conceivably, having to do with inner relationships.
But how would this relation exhibit itself in a practical way?
It may be added that the Guru is the guide or readjuster, and may not always combine the function of teacher with it.
In this respect, the Occultist follows the ethnological affinities and their divergencies in the various nationalities, races and sub-races ... as surely as the student who examines a geographical map. This in anticipation of your question, a natural one, of how the "selection" of chelas is made by such and such "Guru." Thus, the student can easily trace the boundaries of the many countries and their possessions, and other characteristics, by the differently colored outlines of the map. It is said that "chelas" are selected in accordance with certain mutual affinities.
(To Be Continued)
FRAGMENTS OF OCCULT DEFINITION
[Part 2 of 2]
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(1) NOTE.--Collated from standard Theosophical writings.
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