Varieties Of Psychism

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Varieties Of Psychism


The Value of Psychism

It is scarcely within the scope of this book to enter upon any defence of psychism in relation to occult and spiritual progress, but a few general observations upon the subject may form a fitting conclusion to our present study.

This problem has often come up for discussion among Theosophists, and has been very ably treated by Mrs. Besant in her ‘London Lectures of 1907’ [Lecture on "Psychism and Spirituality"] and elsewhere. It is well known that in certain Hindu and Buddhist scriptures psychism appears to be discouraged. The attitude of Buddhism was well put by [Page 100] Bhikkhu Ananda Metteya in a conversation with the present writer, who had questioned him on the point. The objection was not that there was anything essentially wrong in the cultivation of psychism, but that all such experiences were regarded as so many "sideshows" which delayed one by the roadside and diverted attention from the real goal. But then the real exponents of this view are logical and consistent; music and art and all phenomenal manifestations will be grouped under the same heading, and to single out the Siddhis for condemnation and remain silent about the others is characteristic only of amateur metaphysicians who like to make their metaphysics a cloak for their personal prejudices. The question is also discussed in Mrs. Besant’s ‘An Introduction to Yoga’; [pages 71-78] [Page101] she there treats of the Occult and Mystic Paths to Union with God, showing that in the one case progress is made by the careful study of the phenomena of the various planes, by the mastery of which powers are unfolded, whereas in the other an external phenomena are to be disregarded in the inward-turned aspiration towards the One.

Further, it is well to remember that injunctions given in one age, when certain conditions are widely prevalent, may not be applicable to another age, when quite other conditions obtain; the warning in the said scriptures may quite well refer to the lower psychism induced by hatha yoga practices, common at the time of their writing. Says ‘The Voice of the Silence’: "These [Page 102] instructions are for those ignorant of the dangers of the lower Iddhi." [Page 13, 5th edition] Note the phrase "lower Iddhi," and further that there is no condemnation here of the Iddhis (Siddhis) or occult powers themselves, but merely a warning given against the insidious dangers of their lower phases of working. In fact, what the student is obviously warned against is the ordinary lower clairvoyance, etc., naturally much more prevalent in that age than in the present; and the whole confusion is cleared up if we recognise that what we have in this essay called psychic sensitiveness is really an activity in the psychic nature due to the direct working of the Spirit, and is therefore primarily a spiritual, not a psychic, power. It is, [Page 103] after all, a great deal better in these matters to use one's common sense and not to quote scriptures without pausing to weigh carefully their real bearing. Psychism misapplied is a hindrance to spiritual progress; if rightly used it is of enormous assistance to humanity and therefore conducive to the progress of him who rightly uses it. It is true that it is liable to abuse and becomes then a dangerous possession, but we do not shun electricity because it is dangerous if wrongly handled. It is a great principle in Nature that those forces which are most potent for good, are also the most potent for evil if abused. Demon est Deus inversus. Nature is no respecter of persons, and the world is not a Sunday school wherein all evil is carefully hidden away from the babes and sucklings. [Page 104]

Those who descant against psychism apparently forget that we are indebted to it for nearly the whole of our Theosophical literature with all the illumination it sheds upon life, as well as for the greater part of whatever touch there has been with the Occult Hierarchy. It is evident, therefore, that our attitude towards psychism should be one of very careful discrimination.

In regard to the many people whose psychism is quite untrained and of the lower order, our attitude should be one of sympathy, but every effort should be made to lead such people to divest their experiences of the infallible element and to examine them in the clear light of the intelligence. They should be given to understand the place of the different varieties of psychism in evolution, and the too common [Page 105] tendency to rank their own communications from super-physical "guides" on a level with the teaching given out by the accredited disciples of the Masters should be firmly discountenanced. From time to time mediums and psychics are encountered whose inspiration comes from beings versed in Hermetic or alchemical lore; such people speak of their "Master," and because of the superiority of these teachings to the average Spiritualistic communications students are apt to be misled. It may quite well be that such Teachers are pupils of the Masters, even occasionally Masters Themselves; on the other hand it may not be so. The student can only exercise his discrimination and be cautious, and he may do well to remember that because some application of symbolism or some [Page 106] Biblical interpretation is ingenious and clever, that does not prove that its author is even an Initiate. In mediaeval and later times there were probably hundreds of monks who occupied their time in tracing types and antitypes and correspondences between the Old and New Testaments, and with other schemes of occult and generally Christian philosophy; and it is only natural that some of these should either return to birth and continue their speculations, or impress their teachings from the other side.

On the other hand, if a psychic show that his work is governed by intelligence and that he is loyally striving to make himself a channel for the Masters, he is surely deserving of encouragement, rather than the criticism and jealousy which are too often his lot. For every [Page 107] channel of communication between the Masters and the world is a source of blessing and help to hundreds and even thousands.

Psychic observation is no substitute for spiritual experience, for that which gives conviction is the testimony of the Eternal Spirit which is man: yet the senses are our avenue to the Spirit, and a more extended power of sense perception constitutes a wider, not a narrower, channel for spiritual apprehension.

Psychic faculty bestows upon its possessor a greater power of usefulness to mankind, dealing, as it does, with the ills of humanity from a standpoint rather nearer to the realm of causes. It gives first-hand knowledge of the principles underlying human evolution, and creates therefore the man of [Page 108] knowledge whose outlook on life is full of purpose. It reveals, for instance, the nature of life after death, and substitutes the possibility of direct observation for speculation in the realm of philosophy and religion. It unlocks the door to a more extensive control over the forces of Nature, which may be used for the helping of man; and medicine and surgery, for example, would be revolutionised by its aid. And, above all, it leads us to a better understanding of one another, breaking down the barriers of our limitations, and so bringing us to realise the Unity of all Life.

To be a Master of Life perfect knowledge and perfect understanding are necessary. The path which gives ascent to the mountain of Truth lies ever open for our treading. The [Page 109] mastery of himself and of all Nature by the Immortal Spirit is part of man's great homeward journey, and the higher we ascend on that path the more magnificent and far-reaching becomes our outlook on the panorama of life.[Page 110]

Humanity is the higher sense of our planet, the nerve that binds this planet to the upper world, the eye that it raises to Heaven. - NOVALIS.

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