by Annie Besant (Published in 1918)
THOSE of you who have kept at all abreast of the advances of modern Science can hardly have avoided being struck by the very great change that has come over the attitude of Science during the last twenty years. In the days when many of you, and I, were young, Science was dealing with matter, with forms, with all these outer phenomena of nature that can be seen, can be heard, can be touched; and out of the study of these phenomena Science was led to believe in the existence of certain things that could not be seen, nor heard, nor touched.. To all these invisible, inaudible, intangible things which caused movements in matter that were not otherwise intelligible, the name of force was given. Matter, it was said, was inert, could not move itself, could not stop itself if set going by something from outside. And it was pointed out in dealing with this inertia of matter that when it was made to move by what was called a force — and force was defined as that which causes movement in matter — it never stopped moving of its own accord, but only by something else that interfered, such as friction. As you know, in ordinary machinery, in the very common instance of the bicycle wheel, you judge, the worth of the bearings of that bicycle wheel by the time that it will go on turning after a certain force has set it going. If it stops quickly you say the bearings are not good, too [Page 2] much friction ; so thoroughly is it recognised that matter does not stop moving of itself, but is made to stop by something else, whether it be friction or any other cause. Out of this idea of the inertia of matter necessarily grows the correlative idea of force, as that which causes motion or checks motion, and so Science built up a universe of the two, force and matter. These, of course, were abstractions taken in the singular, and we then have to deal with forces in the plural, the various kinds of things that cause motion in matter. There was, theoretically, one force which might take many shapes, as there was one matter which could assume many forms, and those are two of the fundamental conceptions of modern Science.
In the days of which I speak, twenty, thirty years ago, nothing else was thought by many scientific men to be necessary in order to explain the happenings, the phenomena, of the universe. Matter and force, it was said, were enough for everything. The elder of you will remember the famous book, sometimes call the Bible of Materialism, by the great German Scientist, Büchner. In that book, under the title of Force and Matter the writer dealt with the various phenomena of the world, how the changes took place, and how these, too, were to be considered. I need not remind you, save just in passing, of the definition that was then common for an atom. It was a particle of matter, and according to the author I have just mentioned and his view, which would have been endorsed by other scientists of his own time, the atom was infrangible. When you got down to the atom, you would come to the ultimate, to that which "cannot be cut". That was the notion that Science had at that time, the same idea that had been held for thousands of years, from the times of the great [Page 3] Greek scientists, and long before that. But in addition to that, it was laid down that this particle of matter which could not be further divided was also unchangeable in its properties. I remember well — for I translated Büchner's book into English — his positive statement that an atom of carbon to all eternity is an atom of carbon, that it has never been anything else, and so on — one phrase after another — showing you how deeply rooted in the minds of the scientists of that time was the conception of an unchangeable atom, which possessed definite attributes, uncreated, indestructible, and that these atoms, with the correlative force which gives motion, were the two things out of which the universe was built up.
Science does not now take that position. One of our leading scientists, Sir Oliver Lodge, wrote a very admirable book, well worthy of study, in which he says there is another factor in the universe — life; that you cannot identify life with force, as many of the older scientists did, regarding life as only the outcome of a particular arrangement of matter, and inseparable from it, disappearing with a change in the arrangement, appearing with an arrangement capable of showing out that force. It would be worth while for the more thoughtful thinkers among you to read his argument, for it is admirably put, He shows in that book that while matter and force make up the universe exterior to consciousness, you cannot regard consciousness as a kind of force, you cannot make life identical with a certain kind of force. Without going into all his arguments, I may put to you the one great fact generally, that force has no direction which is not imposed upon it — bursts out in all directions. It is only when mind comes in and makes a certain apparatus or mechanism that the force is directed in a particular [Page 4] way, as in a pistol or gun your gunpowder explodes, but in order that it may do so effectively, mind has had to contrive the tube of the pistol or the grooving of the gun. In this way force is utilised as well as matter by the over-ruling power of consciousness, of mind, and by very many arguments he buttresses up this statement — a fundamental statement — the one which sees nature not as a duality of force and matter, but as a trinity of matter, force, and mind. It is well to realise that very much of what I have to say to you has a bearing on this view.
But let me remind you, before I take that up, of another change that has come over Science; it used to argue for the existence of force, though invisible, because matter cannot move without it. It is now arguing for the existence of matter as a medium for force. That is, the whole thing is turned upside down. Instead of arguing that there must be an invisible, indestructible force, because matter moves, which otherwise would be moveless, Science now is arguing that we must have matter, for we know of forces and they are moving in something. So that you now deduce matter from force instead of force from matter — a very remarkable change, showing you the line upon which Science is travelling,
How has that change come about? Because Science has been advancing, step by step, from the coarse to the subtle, from the gross to the fine. First, examination was through the avenues of the senses — the eye, the ear, the tactile power. But in their investigations scientists found out that many things were existing which these senses were unable to cognise — things too small for the eye to see, things too far away for the eye to examine — and as they studied more and more closely they found that the human senses are things very limited in range, and that there are a vast [Page 5] number of vibrations that do not affect our senses at all, that to us had not existed because we are unable to answer them. Consequently, to try to improve the eye and make it more effective than otherwise it would be, to make the eye see what by itself it could not see, they invented the microscope, and raised it to power after power, until the very, very minute becomes visible by the process of continually magnifying it, and thus raising it to a size which the human eye is able to perceive, So with regard to the infinitely great, as it is often called, the mighty Universe around us ; as the eye could not see far enough, they made the telescope to assist it in plunging into the depths of space. The inventions of the microscope and the telescope are but an illustration of the method of science, climbing up step by step from the coarse to the fine. They made balances so delicate that an infinitesimal fraction of a grain would make a scale depressed, so delicate that they could measure weight to an almost inconceivable minuteness. As Science went on conquering the worlds of nature, the worlds of matter and of force, it was by her apparatus that she made her conquests, and the invention of scientists was taxed to the utmost to make a better apparatus, a more delicate piece of mechanism, some way of putting matter together in order that the mysteries of matter might be further investigated by man.
But now she is coming to a very difficult place. She has gone beyond the region for her finest instruments. Her most exquisite apparatus no longer helps her in the realms into which she is penetrating. She wants to understand ether, and ether is imponderable by the finest of her balances. She has passed into a realm where the intangible, the invisible the inaudible, are crowding [Page 6] around her on every side, and she dimly senses their presence, but is unable to perceive. What is she to do? Problem after problem remains unanswered because the means of investigation are no longer ready to her hand. She knows that there are things outside her ken. She has found it to be so, even by making improvements in her machinery, and at last, almost in despair, she has had to turn to the one deductive science, mathematics, and she prays the mathematician to discover for her what the senses, however aided, are not able to observe. It is remarkable that mathematics is the one science in the modern world that works from generals to particulars by deduction, and is the only one which is absolutely sure. All others work by what is called induction, from particulars to generals. Induction is very sure if you have got hold of all the particulars, but the weakness of that method is that if you fail to observe any one particular, and leave it out, the whole of your investigation fails. That has been happening over and over again lately with modern Science. She has been discovering that in her inductions she has left things out which she had not observed, and has thus vitiated her conclusions. The conclusions have failed. Arguments which seemed unanswerable, conclusions that seemed irrevocable, have been knocked into pieces by discovering that something was left out, so that the induction failed, and Science is face to face now with all the difficulties she thought she had answered.
You know that there are many people who have a greater extent of sense perception as regards the ear, the eye, the sense of touch, than others. Some people can see more than others with regard to delicate shades of colour. If I took you over to Persia or to Kashmir, I could bring before you carpet [Page 7] makers who would see a dozen shades of colour where you and I see only one. Their eyes have been trained to see delicate shades which the ordinary eye looks at unperceiving, and the extraordinary richness of the Persian carpet, the one in which one shade melts into another, the delicacy of the Kashmir weaving, turn on this extraordinary delicacy of the Persian and Kashmirian eye. They see where we are blind, they see variety of colours where we see uniformity.
It is the same with the ear. Of Oriental music most Europeans say it is flat, but what is called flatness by the Western ear is due to gradations of sounds too fine for the ordinary Western ear to hear, and yields tones which are most exquisite to the trained sense. The Indian can discover delicate gradations of sounds produced by his instruments that are not perceptible to the ordinary European ear, trained to a different scale and to different kinds of sounds. But that is not the only thing that shows us that our powers as regards the senses differ very much one from the other. Any few of you, picked out at random, can hear notes of music, sounded out to you from what is called the siren, an apparatus which yields notes higher and higher, by vibrations of air, shorter and more rapid as it turns. At a certain point most would say that there was silence. You see the instrument whirling round, and say : "It is moving still, but there is no sound". There is really a higher sound, and one man perhaps will say: "I still hear it; it is very shrill". It gives a still higher note, and that man becomes deaf to the sound, and will only see the movement. Another, perhaps, will say: "I can still hear it". There is a very fine sound, until at last the notes grow so fine that no ordinary human [Page 8] ear can hear them at all; yet they are shrilling through the atmosphere; the vibrations are dashing up against your ear. You have reached the limit of your power of hearing.
It is the same with colour. You can see only the seven colours of the spectrum, and all the varieties of colour coming between the violet and the red. But there are vibrations below the red. Science has found them out, and by changing their rate of vibration has brought them within the limit of radiance. There are vibrations beyond the violet. Photographs are chiefly made by what are called the actinic rays, which no human eyes can perceive unaided, but there are certain chemicals which can be put on a sheet so that, beyond the violet or purple, you can see the faint purplish hue which tells you of vibrations too delicate for your eye to catch unaided. All these things go to show that you are in a universe of endless possibilities, and you can only know that to which you are able to answer. You know in the Universe of matter that which you can reproduce, and nothing more. All around you finer and more subtle vibrations are playing upon you. You are absolutely insensitive to them. You have developed no organ which is able to answer them, and hence for you they do not exist. These vibrations have colour beyond the spectrum scale of colour. They are there, but you cannot see them. The vibrations of sound are beyond the octaves of sound. They are there, but you cannot hear them. And so Huxley said truly that if our ears were finer we could hear the sap moving in the trees, and the growing of the grass by the side of the road. There are sounds everywhere, inaudible; sights everywhere, invisible; vibrations everywhere, intangible; and a marvellous universe, which would become more marvellous if only our [Page 9] senses were finer to answer to it, if only we could develop powers that as yet humanity has not normally evolved.
Sir William Crookes has helped us here, and has pointed out, making a table of vibrations, all the vibrations that he regards as present in the Universe of matter; in that table he has marked out what we know of the groups of vibrations : that there are electrical vibrations, sound vibrations, a gap, vibrations of light, another gap, and so on, showing how much we know not, how little comparatively we know. Then he went on to say (and we must remember that Crookes is a Theosophist, who studies from the standpoint of the finer Universe) that possibly these finest vibrations in the ether might be the vibrations by which thought is transferred from brain to brain without the medium of coarser matter, beyond the ordinary methods of communication, and he suggested whether it is not possible that some organ will evolve — rudimentary at present in most, but comparatively active in some — whereby the subtle vibrations of ether-transmitted thought may pass from one to another without the grosser matter. Elsewhere he pictured the universe as it would be if your eyes and mine answered to electrical waves instead of to waves of light. Everything would change. Standing here, if my eyes answered to electricity instead of to light, I could not see you, but when I looked through the wall I should be able to see right into the street; for the electrical currents could pass through the walls, and if my eyes answered to them the wall would be to me transparent as glass, but dry air is a non-conductor of electricity, and if the air between you and me is dry enough, we should be invisible to each other if we saw by electrical [Page 10] waves instead of by light waves, He pointed out that if we looked along a silver wire in dry air, we should see a tunnel through the darkness, the air opaque, the wire transparent. He told us a number of other things of that sort, which would make the world quite different from the present.
It is at the point of the discovery of those finer worlds that Eastern Science, older by thousands of years than her Western sister, can give suggestions which perhaps the Westerner may not be too proud presently to utilise, for the Eastern scientist has gone on quite different lines. What is his view of man? — for it all turns upon that. He regards man as a spiritual intelligence, and he regards matter and force as of one nature, into which that spiritual intelligence comes, in order to study and know it. He does not confuse matter and spirit. Man is the living spirit, and his three great attributes are will, activity, and the power to know. And these three attributes of the spiritual intelligence are used in relation to matter and force, which are essentially one. Then our Eastern scientist says that this spiritual intelligence takes on matter, and makes out of it what we call bodies, in order that he may come into touch with the various worlds of the material Universe. As he puts on a certain kind of matter, he can learn about and investigate all things which are made up out of that kind of matter. It is the same idea, if you notice, that Science has : that you can only know a thing when you can answer it in yourself. But the Eastern thinker says that you have appropriated the matter, and have built it into suitable forms. The ordinary scientist will acknowledge that of the physical body, putting it in a different way. But the Eastern sage goes much further. He says : "You have appropriated every kind of matter in the universe, [Page 11] not only that of the physical universe around you ; and as you have a physical body by which you can know a physical universe, so you have bodies of finer matter by which you may know finer worlds; you are normally in touch with three different worlds, the matter of your physical body brings you into touch with the physical world; and the matter of what we call the astral body, or part of the subtler body, brings you into touch with the desire world ; and still finer matter, mental matter, brings you into touch with the world of mind.
And then he goes a step further. He says that as you have evolved your physical body, and by that evolved body contact the physical world, so you are evolving further finer bodies, and as you evolve them, you will contact the finer worlds; as you evolve them you will answer to the finer forces, and slowly and gradually you will, in process of evolution, be able to know worlds of finer matter and finer forces, in exactly the same way that you now know the world of gross matter and gross forces, that you call the physical Universe. That is his view of bodies and worlds. With that theory, what would naturally be his practice? Where the Western scientist has made apparatus outside him, the Eastern scientist constructs apparatus inside him. That is the difference. Instead of making microscope and telescope and balances, he works to develop finer bodies, and so obtains a means of contact with the finer worlds. He declares that this is possible, and he tells you how to do it, and he bids you make your own experiments and try it for yourself. He points out to you, as I shall be pointing out to you when I deal with that question, that thought has created the physical organs in which it works, and that similarly it can create finer organs for finer purposes, subtler [Page 12] instruments for the measuring of subtler forces. Now I do not ask you to accept that as true, for the moment, but I do ask you, is it so irrational, or is it not in consonance with what you already know of nature and of evolution?
Your physical eye has grown up to be what it is by a long process of evolution, going on for thousands, millions, of years. Your eye began in a little tiny speck of colour in the body of a jellyfish, which only knew a little change of light and darkness, distinguished dimly between the light and the dark. Imagine the feelings of other jellyfish, if they were able to reason as you can reason, if some adventurous jellyfish had pushed on the development of that little speck, and came back presently to his fellow jellyfish, and said: "It is quite possible to see a great many things that you can't see. I can see all sorts of things running about. I can see all sorts of creatures running around us, and can run away if they want to eat me". They would all say: "What nonsense this audacious jellyfish is talking. How can he see when we can't see? How can he know when we, the wise and orthodox jellyfish, know nothing? What is all this nonsense he is talking about forms and things of this sort? How can we possibly escape when the moment comes for us to die? How can we see when anything is coming, and run away? If he is not a lunatic, he is a fraud, and is trying to get the better of us", and so on. These obstinate jellyfish go on in their own way until nature forces them to evolve.
It is very much the same with all of you with your present powers. You can go on if you like, and slowly, slowly, nature will carry you onwards, until your psychical body has organs as your psychical body has organs, and reveals to you a [Page 13] new world of wonderful phenomena that you can study as you study the phenomena of the physical world. But suppose you say : "I will learn by the experience of the past. I see that all these senses have been gradually evolved. I see that the eye has grown through all these stages in an immense evolution. I also notice that as we understand the laws of nature, and begin to work with them, they are our helpers. By them we can evolve very much more quickly. We are not at the head of evolution. Humanity has not yet reached perfection. Why should not I try to evolve a little more quickly by utilising the laws of nature that I know, and thereby increase the speed of evolution for myself and for my fellow men? " That is what is being done all round us with regard to the breeding of animals. How is it that a scientific breeder can, in the course of a few generations, develop in his stock certain characteristics? Because he knows the laws of nature and utilises those that suit him, and neutralises those that don't suit him. In that way he brings about what he desires very much more rapidly. By making intelligence a factor, you can do the same with your mind. The laws of psychology are fairly well known ; the way in which the mind develops is fairly well understood. If you deliberately apply psychological laws to your own mind, intelligently, rationally, and persistently, you can evolve it at a pace which leaves behind ordinary evolution. Now mind is the power that shapes matter. You shape your physical body from the subtler world which interpenetrates the physical. Yon can shape your subtle body and give it the organs whereby it shall contact the subtle worlds.
Meditation is the great way of doing this, and it is by meditation that the Eastern psychologist has [Page 14] developed senses which are able to answer to finer vibrations, which are able to contact things invisible to the physical eye. It is on these invisible things, of course, that all religions are really based, only that they have lost the methods of proving them, of demonstrating them to a sceptical world. The result has been that while those great truths — survival after death, communication with the other worlds, living the heavenly life while still in the physical body — are taught by religions, the method of proving them has been lost. Therefore, when Science challenges them with its experiments, they are obliged to say: "We can't demonstrate our truths to you in a similar way". They feel that they are right; a subtle instinct makes them cling to those ideas, despite all the arguments of Science, but they cannot prove them.
Now, it is just here that Theosophy comes in, bringing some of the old Eastern knowledge within the power of study of the Western peoples, advising them to take up some of its methods if they would know the reality of the things in which they have been instructed, and so be able to face a sceptical world, and prove them by first-hand experiment, and not as simply stated on authority.
Let us see whether we cannot make out a good case for the belief in the finer sight, the finer hearing, the finer forces. Men like Frederick Myers came definitely to the conclusion that we are in touch with more worlds than one. You may remember that in Human Personality, a most valuable book to read, he drew a distinction between what he called planetary consciousness, that which we are using every day, and cosmic consciousness, which touches the realities on which religions are based. Western Science is being forced into this position now. It cannot escape it. It has found by its own experiments that there are [Page 15] forces subtler than those it is dealing with in the laboratory, forces that it cannot deal with by its apparatus. Psychologists cannot escape from contacting these things through human brains and human intelligences a little out of the normal. Some abnormal human brains have shown a greater capacity than normal brains to respond to finer vibrations. I will ask you for a moment to attend to that, for it is a point of enormous importance. When you deal with consciousness, you may deal with normal consciousness as you see it all round you, the consciousness of the market place and of the professional man, that by which you and I and all the folk around us communicate with each other. There is no doubt about that primary fact. We all know it. But you have not understood human consciousness, if you deal only with the consciousness that shows through the waking brain of ordinary people. The worlds of sleep and dreams were the next that Science tried to examine. First by trying to work upon the dream state by outside contact. You can read a good deal about that in Du Prel's Philosophy of Mysticism, You can experiment, if you like, for yourselves, if you will take the trouble and have the patience. It has been shown that by touching the body in various ways you can produce dreams. One famous experiment which was made in France was touching the back of the neck of the sleeper, and wakening the sleeper by the touch. Between the time of the touch and the wakening — a fraction of a second — the man had dreamt a long story of how he had committed a murder, how he had been tried for the crime, heard the charge of the judge to the jury, been condemned to death for the murder, carried to the condemned cell, kept there till the day of the execution, brought out to the execution, and guillotined. As the knife [Page 16] touched his neck — the touch which started the dream — he woke.
Now that is one of many cases showing that the dream consciousness works much more rapidly than the waking consciousness, and therefore works in finer matter than the waking-consciousness. The rate of vibration in nervous matter we know, the nervous vibrations in the brain that correspond with waking thoughts. It has been measured; but if you can crowd the events of a week, of a month, of a year, into one part of a second of mortal time, it means that the vibrations corresponding with them are very much quicker, and would have to be measured by an entirely different law of space and time. That showed the scientific men that there was matter finer than that which they knew, and forces subtler than the forces they had studied. Soon they were not content with working under the old methods; they tried to catch and question the dreamer while he was still dreaming, and threw him into a trance that they might do so. So they used the finer forces of nature without understanding them; for when this eye is so closed in the hypnotic trance that it is incapable of receiving an impression, when, if you throw an electric light into it, there is no movement to close the pupil, then, though the eye is thus absolutely insensitive to light, the man can see much further than he can see through his physical eye. He can see hundreds of miles, can tell you what is happening far away; can see through a closed door, and describe what is taking place on the other side of it. People sometimes say this is mental telepathy. Let me give you an instance and see whether telepathy will explain this far sight, which can be used at a distance of hundreds of miles.[Page 17] You have all heard of my friend, the late Charles Bradlaugh. He was a materialist, and did not believe in these subtler things at all, but he was a man of extraordinary magnetic power and made a number of experiments in mesmerism. He gave it up because it seemed to have no natural explanation, and he had not the time to make sufficient investigations. One experiment he had made baffled him to the end. He used to experiment by mesmerising his wife. He told me the story himself. One day, in Leeds, I think, he mesmerised her, and said: "Go to the London office of the National Reformer, and tell me what article they are setting up". In a moment she said: "I am there. Mrs-.----- is setting up type". " All right", said he, "look at her, and see and read what she is setting up” His wife began to read the sentence that was being set up by the printer at the moment. She said: "The stupid woman ! She has put a letter in upside down". Next morning the proof was delivered to him in Leeds, and he found the sentence his wife had read the day before, with the reversed letter that she had seen put in upside down in the setting of the type. There was certainly no telepathy there; it is not a case you can explain by telepathy, for he did not know it, she did not know it. They were not in touch with the people who were setting up the type.
This case is valuable, inasmuch as it showed the accuracy of that far seeing, and was in itself so trivial. And you can take hundreds of cases of that sort, or experiment yourself if you want to find out about it. Such sight is a simple seeing in finer matter; nothing more, nothing miraculous, nothing superhuman, only a finer organ of vision utilised by the same perceptive power that you use with the coarser organ of vision that you call your physical [Page 18] eye. We call it the astral eye. We call it astral sight. All men will have it after a time. In the long course of evolution, everyone will develop that keener power, and it is very interesting to notice that numbers of people are developing it now, and especially under certain conditions. We find more children born every year with that faculty. In the Western States of America, such as California or Kansas, large numbers of people are somewhat clairvoyant. What is the explanation of people being born with that keener, subtler, vision? One explanation of why so many are being born there with the finer vision is largely climatic. The climate is very different from the climate in Europe, and, I understand, from the climate here. The electric tension is very much higher; the air is filled with electricity to an enormous extent. It is so charged with electricity that if in the winter, when it is cold, you rub your feet on the carpet you can then put out your finger and light the gas. You often see that done as an experiment when, in a lecture on electricity, a person is put on an insulated seat and then is charged with electricity. But in these States no insulation is necessary, and it is a favourite game with little children, rubbing their feet on the carpet as they run, and then making sparks. I have seen it done over there, and have done it myself. You may Say: "Why should that make a person clairvoyant?" The electrical condition puts the nerves into a state of higher tension, and they vibrate at a quicker rate. It is quite simple. That is not the only reason, There are other reasons, a number of other things that contribute. But there is one experiment any one of you might make, which will show you how very little is the difference between the ordinary sight and the lower types of the keener sight. I have known people who, when they are ill, become [Page 19] clairvoyant. The answer is that their nerves are out of order, and at a greater tension than it is healthy for the nerves to be. You may say: "Well, then, it is largely the result of disease at present". There comes in the point of the abnormal. As I have said before, that which is abnormal to-day is not necessarily diseased. It may be a case of advancing evolution.
There are two forms of nervous instability. One is the instability of degeneration, on the line of disease; the other is the instability of the growth of a higher sensitiveness, which means advance in evolution. You know how Lombroso and others of his school declared that all cases of genius were cases of degeneration, how they said that genius and lunacy were so closely allied that genius was a disease. Now, if it were true, in a way it would not matter, because everybody would rather have that disease than be without it. One's great longing would be to become diseased, if genius could only be had along that line, for after all one genius is worth a thousand ordinary people to the world. When Lombroso went on to say that all religions, all art, all prophecy, and so on, were all the results of diseased nerves, one felt inclined to go down on one's knees to pray that that disease might spread, for these are the things that make the world worth living in. Now what is the real explanation of this? It is true that these things are abnormal at present. I think we may put it in this way : in both cases the matter of the brain is in a state of what is called unstable equilibrium, and therefore easily thrown off its balance.
As just said, there are two sorts of this instability : one of the instability which goes on into disease and madness, the other of the instability [Page 20] which evolves upwards to a higher stage of human evolution. One goes down into sub-consciousness; the other climbs up into super-consciousness. The man of genius shows you what the human race shall be. He is the prophecy of the future. He is not the product of degeneracy. He shows as what all men shall become at a stage of higher evolution. He is the high-water mark of human progress, and not the sign of a descent. There is, however, much to justify what Lombroso said. It is only fair to admit that at the present time the genius, the artist of the highest kind, the great religious leader, the seer, the prophet, the revealer, has often a brain too delicate to bear the rough vibrations of the outer world as it is constituted to-day. His brain is finer, but is often thrown out of tune, and the result is that side by side with the higher results of consciousness — the answering to the finer forces of the invisible world — you get what is called hysteria, the result of the overstrained condition of the nerves. There is no use in denying the facts. Can they be avoided? Yes. That is the answer of the Eastern scientist. He will say, as Lombroso says, that if you go with an unprepared body to receive these finer forces, they will jangle your nerves out of tune, they will trouble your brain and shatter your nervous system. But, there is no reason why you should do it with an unprepared brain or body. Train your brain by strenuous thinking, by devotion to great ideals. Make your brain sensitive to the higher vibrations. But do it gradually. Go step by step. Evolve it slowly and constantly, and then you will be able to receive the finer forces without shattering the instrument whereby they become manifest to your intelligence. Along that line evolution will come. You can train yourself to receive the finer forces, and yet keep the body healthy. [Page 21] You must refine the body, train it to a finer sensitiveness, at the same time that you preserve perfect health. That is the training by which the finer forces will become your servants, while at the same time they shall not be allowed to disorganise the nervous system, now suited only for the lower forces and coarser types of matter.
Along that line, then, human evolution will go, and you may gradually and slowly build up bodies, developing your astral organs and interlinking them with the physical, so that you may consciously live in more worlds than one, so that you may know that death is nothing except the passing through a doorway from one room to another. For as these senses develop, you will find that the people you call dead are not dead at all. They are more alive than they ever were, living in bodies of finer matter, learning to utilise finer forces. I do not mean that you should reach them by bringing them down here by materialisation, and cross-examining them. I mean that you should reach them by refining yourself, so that you can use the finer body that they wear, and mingle with them in the body that is yours as much as theirs, for you also have astral bodies. You are using them all the time. The only thing you have to do is to assist their evolution, to organise them, to shape the various organs which then will answer to the vibrations outside of finer worlds.
Your friends who have passed through death are only living in the intermediate world first, and then in the heavenly. They are about you, and it is only a question of how much you can communicate with them by means of the finer matter which is part of you now, only you have not learnt to use it. As I said, all men will grow to it in time. It is yours, if you will, to [Page 22] grow to it more quickly. As you evolve by definite gradations, you become more and more sensitive to the finer forces of the subtler world. If this be true — and many of us have proved it to be true by our own experience — Science may begin to utilise these things.
Why do I say "may begin"? Science is beginning already to utilise them, for doctors of the Continent of Europe, especially in Paris, are utilising what we call etheric sight in order to diagnose obscure diseases. They mesmerise the person, and get that person to use the finer sight — for you have all got it — to diagnose the disease, which the physical eye cannot see through the muscle and bones of the physical body; they utilise the X-rays, without the danger of the ordinary use of X-rays. They do not call it clairvoyance. That would not consort with the dignity of the medical profession. They call it internal autoscopy. It does not matter what you call it, only "clairvoyance" is easier to say. They are beginning to use the finer forces. More and more these forces will be utilised. Why should not the chemist use the finer forces to investigate, when his microscope and balance fail? Some of you know that a very large number of important investigations have been made during the last summer. Nearly sixty chemical elements, have been examined by clairvoyance, their forms have been pictured, and diagrams have been made, showing the relation of one part to the other. Chemists are interested in what has been done, and at the present time some are studying these things, in order to see how far chemistry can utilise these investigations, carried much further than chemists have been able to carry their researches hitherto. I am not asking that these observations of ours should be taken as facts, only as reasonable hypotheses ; that chemists, when they find a mass of information such as [Page 23] Mr. Leadbeater and myself have been giving them during these late months, entirely made up of clairvoyant observations, should, if they appear to them to be reasonable, use them by experimenting on them. If they can succeed by making discoveries through experiments on these theories, then it will be a fair argument for clairvoyance for us to say: "These things were studied in 1907 by Theosophical clairvoyants, and now Science is proving them". These are possibilities of helpfulness to orthodox scientists.
So with electrical researches. Quite lately I have received — since I have arrived in Australia — a request from one of your own electricians to look clairvoyantly at the X-rays and other rays. Scientific men are beginning to wake up to the possibility of things which a few years ago they denied, and it is the duty of those members of the Society who have developed, to some extent at least, these finer organs, to put them at the service of scientific men, to observe accurately and record exactly what they see. Although I have studied chemistry, I do not pretend to be a great chemist. I realise that what is valuable in these investigations is not the theories which I might make, but the particular facts which I am able to observe. I leave scientists to make the theories, because they know so much more than I know. These are merely actual observations of, to us, visible things. If chemists find they can be utilised to carry chemical science further than it has been carried yet, so much the better. It will introduce them to the higher possibilities of evolution, and make them less sceptical as to the present evolution of man.
You may say to me, and I shall answer straightforwardly: "Is it true that every one has these [Page 24] powers?” Yes. The proof of it is this: There are a few people you find with these powers when wide awake, but you find, if you mesmerise a person, that almost every person can be made clairvoyant. When you stop the coarser vibrations, the finer are able to assert themselves. That is an absolute fact. But just as you would not hear the delicate notes of a violin in the crash of a motor omnibus, so you cannot hear or feel the finer vibrations of matter when the coarser ones are about you, and you are answering to them. The dulling of the coarser parts of the brain enables the finer parts of the brain to be utilised by yourself, the perceiver. If you find that almost everyone mesmerised is able to see, is it not a fair presumption that that is a common power developing in evolution at the present time? Some people have developed it a little bit ahead of others, but all of us will develop it in time, It is only a question of effort applied along a particular line. People, while practically developing it now, require for high success a certain capacity to begin with, just as you cannot make a senior wrangler out of a boy who cannot understand the simple elements of mathematics. And so with any one of you; unless the mental organs are in a state of high development, you must give the senses time to evolve. Though you may not be able to attain it at once, what I want to leave with you is the idea that it is a natural thing. Presently everybody will have it. Whether any one of you can develop it or not depends on your having a little capacity, on having time and patience, by which you will evolve it more rapidly than nature will do it for you. If you will look at things, in that way, that you have not reached the highest point of human evolution, that you have to go higher and higher up this mighty ladder, that you have grown out of the mud far below, that you will [Page 25] climb up to the highest point of the Divine Mountain in the days to come, then it will not seem strange that in the past there have been men above their fellows who have spoken of the realities of the other worlds. Then you will realise the possibility of the prophet and the sage. The more highly these powers are developed in you, the more you will grow up to a higher sense of the dignity of human nature; your future destiny will become more real, your inner powers will become to you more possible of realisation; and so the laws of scientific thought, along which I have been trying to lead you, will bring you into regions of beauty, of grandeur, of splendour, that at the present time you can scarcely dream of, and you will know the mighty possibilities which lie in the nature of man, a citizen of heaven, although living for a time on earth.
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