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Cycles of Psychism

By The Theosophy Company

Hypnotism And Yoga

The real character of hypnotism and hypnotic phenomena is I difficult for the average man to recognize, not only because of the admitted ignorance of scientific investigators in this field, but also, because of the unknown areas of human nature which are involved. All present practice of hypnotism traces directly or indi rectly to Anton Mesmer, the great healer and occultist of the eigh teenth century. Unfortunately for modern medicine, however, Mes mer’s doctrines were not accepted in professional circles, and the development of hypnotism fell into the charge of men who were either ignorant of occult law, or irresponsible in the use of the mes meric force. Today the medical historians of hypnotism rejoice that hypnotism has been divorced from Mesmer’s theories, as though the separation were a great step of progress, little realizing that Mesmer had knowledge of the psychological constitution of man that enabled him to use his power in a way not open to ordinary men. 

Recent years have witnessed a rapid increase in the practice of hypnotism. In the name of “science,” students in scores of colleges anhd uniyersities are being used as subjects in hypnotic w elalcperirpents, ile p ysicians are more and more turning to this met od o con trolling the minds of their patients. Amateurs, often lacking the skill of more experienced practitioners, are introducing hypnotism as parlor entertainment. Meanwhile, “experts” are claiming that hypnotism is “harmless” for normal persons. One such writer, Dr. Paul Campbell Young, had the temerity to maintain, in the Psycho logical Bulletin for September, 1926, that “books that point out the dangers of hypnotism are far more dangerous than hypnotism itself.” Echoing such allegedly “scientific” pronouncements, popular writers for the mass magazines are carrying to the uninformed and defence less public the news that hypnotism is capable of miraculous “cures” inmany cases of mental and physical ills. In the Reader's Digest for October, 1943, an article named “Hypnotism Comes of Age” makes the unqualified statement: “You will sufler no harmful mental or physical after-eflects. It’s quite possible that hypnosis will fail to produce the desired results in your case, but you’ll be no worse off for the trial.” The pernicious falsity of this statement would be diffi cult to equal. It suppresses facts that are well known and ismerely propaganda for hypnotism.

The dangers of hypnotism were better understood fifty years ago than they are today. Jean Marie Charcot, the famous French in vestigator of hypnotic states, wrote in the Forum for April, 1890: For several years the principal towns of Europe have been over run by persons . . . bearing high-sounding titles, who invite the people to hypnotizing performances given in the local theatres. . . . We can track a showman magnetizer of this sort by his victims everywhere. When he has gone, it is noticed that subjects . . . with whom he succeeded best become nervous and irritable. Some of them fall of their own accord into a deep sleep, out of which it is not easy to awaken them; thereafter they are unfitted for the per formance of the duties of every-day life. Others, and they the majority, are seized with convulsions resembling the crises of con firmed hysteria. 

Charcot maintained that the practice of hypnotism should be limited to trained physicians. William Q. Judge, co-founder, with Madame Blavatsky, of the Theosophical Movement, in commenting on Charcot’s view, added his own opinion that hypnotism should be prohibited by law. “No one,” he urged, “but some few high-minded and learned physicians should be allowed to practice it. I would as quickly prohibit the general mass of physicians from using it as the general mass of the public, for I regard it as a dangerous and injurious power. In the present age I would vote for its total seclu sion from use for the present.” 

The following analysis of hypnotism, taken from Mr. Judge's writings, gives the Theosophical reasons for condemning the practice. 

ll 1! Ill One theory for use inexplaining and prosecuting hypnotic research is about as follows. Man is a soul who lives on thoughts and per ceives only thoughts. Every object or subject comes to him as a thought, no matter what the channel or instrument, whether organ of sense or mental center, by which it comes before him. These thoughts may be words, ideas, or pictures. The soul-man has to have an intermediary or connecting link with Nature through and by which he may cognize and experience. This link is an ethereal double or counterpart of his physical body, dwelling in the latter; and the physical body isNature so far as the soul-man is concerned. In this ethereal double (called astral body) are the sense-organs and cen ters of perception, the physical outer organs being only the external channels or means for concentrating the physical vibrations so as to transmit them to the astral organs and centers where the soul per ceives them as ideas or thoughts. This inner ethereal man is made of the ether which science is now admitting as a necessary part of Nature, but while it is etheric it is none the less substantial. 

Speaking physically, all outer stimulus from nature is sent from without to within. But in the same way stimuli may be sent from the within to the without, and in the latter mode is it that our thoughts and desires propel us to act. Stimuli are sent from the astral man within to the periphery, the physical body, and may dominate the body so as to alter it or bring on a lesion partial or total. Cases of the hair turning grey in a night are thus possible. And in this way a suggestion of a blister may make a physical swelling, secretion, inflammation, and sore on a subject who has submitted himself to the influence of the hypnotizer. The picture or idea of a blister is impressed on the astral body, and that controls all the physical nerves, sensations, currents, and secretions. It is done through the sympathetic nervous plexus and ganglia. It was thus that ecstatic fanatical women and men by brooding on the pictured idea of the wounds of Jesus produced on their own bodies, by internal impres sion and stimulus projected to the surface, all of the marks of crown of thorns and wounded side. It was self-hypnotization, possible only in fanatical hysterical ecstacy. The constant brooding imprinted the picture deeply on the astral body; then the physical molecules, ever changing, became impressed from within and the stigmata were the result. In hypnotizing done by another the only difference is one of time, as in the latter instances the operator has simply to make the image and impress it on the subject after the hypnotic process has been submitted to, whereas in self-hypnotization a long-continued ecstasy is necessary to make the impression complete. 

When the hypnotic process—or subjugation, as I call it—is sub mitted to, a disjunction is made between the soul-man and the astral body, which then is for the time deprived of will, and is the sport of any suggestion coming in unopposed, and those may and do some times arise outside of the mind and intention of the operator. From this arises the sensitiveness to suggestion. The idea, or thought, or picture of an act is impressed by suggesting it on the astral body, and then the patient is waked. At the appointed time given by the suggestor a secondary sleep or hypnotic state arises automatically, and then, the disjunction between soul and astral body coming about of itself, the suggested act is performed unless—as happens rarely -—the soul-man resists sufficiently to prevent it. Hence we point to an element of danger in the fact that at the suggested moment the hypnotic state comes on secondarily by association. I do not know that hypnotizers have perceived this. It indicates that although the subject be dehypnotized, the influence of the operator, once thrown on the subject, will remain until the day of the operator's death. 

But how is it that the subject can see on a blank card the pic ture of a object which you have merely willed to be on it? This is because every thought of any one makes a picture; and a thought of a definite image makes a definite form in the astral light in which the astral body exists and functions, interpenetrating also every part of the physical body. Having thus imaged the picture on the card, it remains in the astral light or sphere surrounding the card, and is there objective to the astral sense of the hypnotized subject. 

The great question mooted is whether there is or is not any actual fluid thrown off by the mesmerizer. Many deny it, and nearly all hypnotizers refuse to admit it. H. P. Blavatsky declares there is such a fluid, and those who can see into the plane towhich itbelongs assert its existence as a subtle form of matter. This is not at all in consistent with the experiments inhypnotism, for the fluid can have itsown existence at the same time that people may beself-hypnotized bymerely inverting their eyes while looking at some bright object. This fluid is composed inpart of the astral substance around every one, and inpart of the physical atoms in a finely divided state. By some, this astral substance is called the aura. But that word is in definite, as there are many sorts of aura and many degrees of its expression. These will not be known, even to Theosophists of the most willing mind, until the race as awhole has developed up tothat point. So the word will remain in use for the present. 

This aura, then, is thrown off by the mesmerizer upon his subject, and is received by the latter in a department of his inner constitu tion, never described by any Western experimenters, because they know nothing of it. It wakes up certain inner and non-physical divisions of the person operated on, causing a change of relation between the various and numerous sheaths surrounding the inner man, and making possible different degrees of intelligence and of clairvoyance and the like. It has no influence whatsoever on the Higher Self, which it is impossible to reach by such means. Many persons are deluded into supposing that the Higher Self is the re sponder, or that some spirit or what not ispresent, but it is only one of the many inner persons, so tosay, who istalking or rather causing the organs of speech to do their office. And it is just here that the Theosophist and the non-Theosophist are at fault, since the words spoken are sometimes far above the ordinary intelligence or power of the subject in waking state. I therefore propose to give in the rough the theory of what actually does take place, as has been known for ages to those who see with the inner eye, and as will one day be discovered and admitted by science. 

When the hypnotic or mesmerized state is complete--and often when it is partial—there is an immediate paralyzing of the power of the body to throw its impressions, and thus modify the concep tions of the inner being. In ordinary waking life everyone, without being able to disentangle himself, is subject to the impressions from the whole organism; that is to say, every cell in the body, to the most minute, has its own series of impressions and recollections, all of which continue to impinge on the great register, the brain, until the impression remaining in the cell is fully exhausted. And that exhaustion takes a long time. Further, as we are adding continually to them, the period of disappearance of impression is indefinitely postponed. Thus the inner person is not able to make itself felt. But, in the right subject, those bodily impressions are by mesmerism neutralized for the time, and at once another effect follows, which is equivalent to cutting the general off from his army and com pelling him to seek other means of expression. 

The brain—in cases where the subject talks—-is left free suf ficiently to permit it to obey the commands of the mesmerizer and compel the organs of speech to respond. So much in general. 

We have now come to another part of the nature of man which is a land unknown to the Western world and its scientists. By mes merism other organs are set to work disconnected from the body, but which in normal state function with and through the latter. These are not admitted by the world, but they exist, and are as real as the body is—in fact some who know say they are more real and less subject to decay, for they remain almost unchanged from birth to death. These organs have their own currents, circulation if you will, and methods of receiving and storing impressions. They not only keep them but very often give them out, and when the person is mesmerized their exit is untrammelled by the body. 

They are divided into many classes and grades, and each one of them has a whole series of ideas and facts peculiar to itself, as well as centres in the ethereal body to which they relate. Instead now of the brain’s dealing with the sensations of the body, it deals with something quite different, and reports what these inner organs see in any part of space to which they are directed. And in place of your having waked up the Higher Self, you have merely uncovered one of the many sets of impressions and experiences of which the inner man is composed, and who is himself a long distance from the Higher Self. These varied pictures, thus seized from every quarter, are normally overborne by the great roar of the physical life, which-is the sum total of possible expression of a normal being on the physical plane whereon we move. They show themselves usually only by glimpses when we have sudden ideas or recollections, or in dreams when our sleeping may be crowded with fancies for which we cannot find a basis in daily life. Yet the basis exists, and is always some one or other of the million small impressions of the day, passed un noticed by the physical brain, but caught unerringly by means of other sensoriums belonging to our astral double. For this astral body, or double, permeates the physical one as colour does the bowl of water. And although to the materialistic conceptions of the pres ent day such a misty shadow is not admitted to have parts, powers, and organs, it nevertheless has all of these with surprising power and grasp. Although perhaps a mist, it can exert under proper conditions a force equal to the viewless wind when it levels to earth the proud constructions of puny man. 

In the astral body, then, is the place to look for the explanation of mesmerism and hypnotism. The Higher Self will explain the flights we seldom make into the realm of spirit, and is the God-— the Father—within who guides His children up the long steep road to perfection. Let not the idea of it be degraded by chaining it to the low floor of mesmeric phenomena, which any healthy man or woman can bring about if they will only try. The grosser the oper ator the better, for thus there is more of the mesmeric force, and if it be the Higher Self that is affected, then the meaning of it would be that gross matter can with ease affect and deflect the high spirit— and this is against the testimony of the ages. 

The mesmeric fluid brings the paralysis about by flowing from the operator and creeping steadily over the whole body of the subject, changing the polarity of the cells in every part and thus disconnect ing the outer from the inner man. As the whole system of physical nerves is sympathetic in all its ramifications, when major sets of nerves are affected others by sympathy follow into the same condi tion. So it often happens with mesmerized subjects that the arms or legs are suddenly paralyzed without being directly operated on, or, as frequently, the sensation due to the fluid is felt first in the fore arm, although the head was the only place touched.

There are many secrets about this part of the process, but they will not be given out, as it is easy enough for all proper purposes to mesmerize a subject by following what is already publicly known. By means of certain nerve points located near the skin the whole system of nerves may be altered in an instant, even by a slight breath from the mouth at a distance of eight feet from the subject. But modern books do not point this out. 

When the paralyzing and change of polarity of the cells are complete the astral man is almost disconnected from the body. Has he any structure? What mesmerizer knows? How many probably will deny that he has any structure at all? Is he only a mist, an idea? And yet, again, how many subjects are trained so as to be able to analyze their own astral anatomy? 

Disjoin this being from the outer body with which he is linked, and the divorce deprives him of freedom temporarily, making him the slave of the operator. But mesmerizers know very well that the subject can and does often escape from control, puzzling them often, and often giving them fright. This is testified to by all the best writers in the Western schools. 

Now the inner man is not by any means omniscient. He has an understanding that is limited by his own experience, as said before. Therefore, error creeps in if we rely on what he says in the mesmeric trance as to anything that requires philosophical knowledge, except with rare cases that are so infrequent as not to need consideration now. For neither the limit of the subject’s power to know, nor the effect of the operator on the inner sensoriums described above, is known to operators in general, and especially not by those who do not accept the ancient division of the inner nature of man. The effect of the operator is almost always to colour the reports made by the subject. 

Body, soul, and astral man properly in relation give us a sane man; hypnotized, the relation is broken and we have a person who is not for the time wholly sane. Acute maniacs are those in whom the disjunction between astral man and soul is complete. VVhere the hypnotized one remains for months in that state, the astral man has become the slave of the body and its recollections, but as the soul is not concerned no real memory is present and no recollection of the period is retained. 

The varied personalities assumed by some subjects brings up the doctrine of a former life on earth for all men. The division between soul and astral man releases the latter from some of the limitations of brain memory so that the inner memory may act, and we then have a case of a person reénacting some part of his former life or lives. But a second possibility also exists,—that by this process another and different entity may enter the body and brain and mas querade as the real person. Such entities do exist and are the astral shells of men and women out of the body. If they enter, the person becomes insane; and many a maniac is simply a body inhabited by an entity that does not belong to it. 

The process of hypnotizing is as yet unknown in respect to what does happen to the molecules. We claim that those molecules are pressed from periphery to center instead of being expanded from the inside to the surface. This contraction is one of the symptoms of death, and therefore hypnotizing is a long step toward physical and moral death. The view expressed by Dr. Charcot that a subject is liable to fall under the influence at the hands of anyone should be admitted, as also that in the wake of the hypnotizer will be found a host of hysteriacs, and that it all should be regulated by law is un questionable. I go still further and say that many persons are already in a half-hypnotized state, easily influenced by the unprincipled or the immoral; that the power to hypnotize and to be sensitive to it are both progressive states of our racial evolution; that it can and will be used for selfish, wicked, and degrading purposes unless the race, and especially the occidental portion of it, understands and practises true ethics based on the brotherhood of man. Ethics of the purest are found in the words of Jesus, but are universally negatived by Church, State, and individual. The Theosophical doctrines of man and nature give a true and necessary basis and enforcement to ethics, devoid of favoritism or illogical schemes of eternal damna tion. And only through those doctrines can the dangers of hyp notism be averted, since legislation, while affixing penalties, will not alter or curtail private acts of selfishness and greed. $#III 

There isno question but that hypnotism brings “results” of a sort, but so will partial knowledge of any of the laws of nature. Asavage may be taught to set off a charge of explosive that ismiles away. He will hear the report and conclude by highly scientific reasoning from cause to effect that he knows what happens when he presses the plunger. But not until he is led to the place of the explosion does he discover that the charge has torn away the side of a hill, or reduced ahuman habitation to ruins. Modern scientific ignorance of the psychological constitution of man completes the analogy, for the effect of hypnotism may be just as catastrophic as the more vio lent eflect of an explosion. One is external and physical, the other in ternal and psychic, attacking the inner organism of man with a subtle disintegration that remains unperceived until its ravages are far ad vanced. It is not contended that hypnotism invariably produces this result, but that, in view of the nature of the process, such is the com mon effect. Many factors, among them the motives of both prac titioner and subject, enter in. The real causes of disaster are the non-moral approach to man’s subtle psychological nature, and the blinding ignorance of the semi-occult character of the forces that are invoked. ' 

Dangers similar to those involved in hypnotism confront those who indulge in the Eastern psychological practices that have re cently become popular in the West. Many people begin “breathing exercises” and postural disciplines under the delusion that they are “spiritual.” Suffice it to point out that the Oriental teachers dispose of this idea by calling all such practices Hatha Yoga, which means, simply, physical discipline. There is nothing spiritual about it. 

The hazards of Hatha Yoga are undreamed of by the average westerner. A few years ago, an English writer, Gerald Heard, spoke of breathing exercises as “the most instant and powerful of all the physical methods of affecting, altering and enlarging consciousness.” While tempering this judgment with some warnings against the consequences of this physical kind of “yoga,” he adds that “it is a risk we have no choice except to take.” 

For those who are attracted to taking this “risk,” the following experiment, conducted by Wm. Q. Judge, is described. Mr. Judge wrote: 

The persons present were myself, a well-known physician whose name I can give, and the practitioner. The physician first took the person’s pulse for three minutes and found it to be running at ninety six beats per minute; and then the experiment began with the prac tice with the following result: 
First minute. Pulse fell to 91 beats. 
Second minute. Pulse fell to 81 beats. 
Third minute. Pulse remained at 81 beats. 

A delay of five minutes then occurred, when the practice was begun again for six minutes, with the following result: First minute. Pulse running at 91 beats a minute. Second minute. Pulse fell to 86 beats. Third minute. Pulse remained at 86. Fourth minute. Pulse fell to 76. Fifth minute. Remained at 76. Sixth minute. Remained at 76. This shows a reduction in the pulse action of twenty beats in fourteen minutes. It also shows that after the first three minutes the intermission of five minutes was not enough to enable the pulse to go back to ninety-six beats, at which it started. The first three minutes showed a fall of five beats in the first minute and ten in the next minute, making fifteen beats reduction for the three minutes. 

It therefore appears that one of the accompaniments of this prac tice is a distinct effect upon the action of the heart, and as all the Hindu books invariably state that great caution should be used and that there are dangers, we can see here a very great danger found in an effect upon the heart’s action, resulting in a reduction of pulse beats of twenty beats in fourteen minutes. The Hindu books to which I have referred, and which are the only works through which inquirers have heard about these practices, also say that a guide who is fully acquainted with the subject is necessary for each student, and that every one of these practices requires an antidote for its effects through other regulations tending to neutralize the bad physical effects. Students have been too anxious to try these experiments without paying any attention to the cautions given out, and I know of some cases in which, while well remembering that the cautions had been uttered, persons have pursued these practices by themselves without assistance. 

* * * * * Discussing so-called “practical yoga” in another place, Mr. Judge called attention to the fact that the directions found in the Upanishads, with regard to breathing and postural exercises, should never be practiced except under the following conditions: (a) a complete knowledge of all the consequences, with a knowledge of correctives to be applied when changes take place; and (b) the pos session of a thoroughly competent guide to point out errors, to restrain endeavour and to indicate danger, as well as to cure troubles that ensue. 

Yet in the face of all this, and of re-peated warnings, there are those who will foolhardily begin the practices in complete ignorance. They do not even pursue the ethical regulations that accompany all the others, such as the doing away with all vices, bad habits, unchar itable thoughts and so on; but go in for the practices, merely in the hope of procuring psychic powers. It is time it were stopped, and time that those who give out this literature looked into what they give out to a grasping and stiff-necked generation. That damage has been wrought cannot be contested, in face of actual experience. It is well known that these postures, even when ignorantly used, bring on physiological changes in the body, with great nervous de rangements. 

The need of the West is not for Hatha Yoga, but of that other and higher discipline, known in the Orient as Raja Yoga. Hatha Yoga is a practical mortification of the body, by means of which certain powers are developed. Raja Yoga, on the other hand, dis cards those physical motions, postures and recipes relating solely to the present personality, and directs the student to virtue and altru ism as the bases from which to start. Besides the higher objective presented by Raja Yoga, there is the enormous danger which the western student exposes himself to by attempting Hatha yogic development. Even though he may follow rules given by a teacher more or less informed, he will inevitably arouse about him influences that do him harm, and he also carries his natural functions to cer tain states now and then when he ought to stop for a while, but, having no knowledge of the matter, may go on beyond and produce injurious effects. The greatest objection to it, however, is that it pertains to the material and semi-material man,—roughly, to the body, and what is gained through it is lost at death.




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