The time has now come for pointing out the way by which each individual may investigate for himself all the facts with which we have dealt thus far in our study. As stated in the beginning, there are no special "gifts" bestowed upon any. All may know for themselves the truth concerning the pilgrimage of the soul, the past evolution and future destiny of the world, without being compelled to depend upon the veracity of another. There is a method whereby this valuable faculty may be acquired, and the earnest student quality himself to investigate those superphysical realms; a method by which, if persistently followed, the powers of a God may be developed.
A simple illustration may indicate the first steps. The very best mechanic is well-nigh helpless without the tools of his craft. Indeed it is the hallmark of a good artisan that he is very fastidious as to the quality and condition of the tools he uses, because he knows that the work depends as much upon their excellence as upon his skill.
The Ego has several instruments — a dense body, a vital body, a desire body, and a mind. These are its tools and upon their quality and condition depends how much or how little it can accomplish in its work of gathering experience in each life. If the instruments are poor and dull there will be but little spiritual growth and the life will be a barren one, so far as the spirit is concerned.
We generally estimate a "successful" life by the bank account, the social position attained, or the happiness resulting from a carefree existence and a sheltered environment.
When life is regarded is that way all the principal things that make for permanency are forgotten; the individual is blinded by the evanescent and illusionary. A bank account seems such a very real success, the fact is forgotten that from the moment the Ego leaves the body, it has no equity in gold nor any other earthly treasure. It may even have to answer for the methods employed in amassing that hoard and suffer great pain in seeing others spend it. It is forgotten that the important social position also disappears when the silver cord is loosed. Those who once fawned may then sneer, and even those who were faithful in life might shudder at the thought of an hour spent with no company but that of the dead. All that is of this life alone is vanity. Only that is of true value which can be taken with us across the threshold as the treasure of the spirit.
The hot-house plant may look very beautiful as it blooms in its sheltered glass house, but should the furnace fire go out, it would wither and die, while the plant that has grown in rain and sunshine, through storm and calm, will survive the winter and bloom afresh each year. From the viewpoint of the soul, happiness and a sheltered environment are generally unfortunate circumstances. The petted and fondled lap dog is subject to diseases of which the homeless cur, which has to fight for a scrap from a garbage can, knows nothing. The cur's life is hard, but it gets experience that makes it alert, alive and resourceful. Its life is rich in events, and it reaps a harvest of experience, while the pampered lap dog drones its time away in fearful monotony.
The case of a human being is somewhat similar. It may be hard to fight poverty and hunger, but from the standpoint of the soul it is infinitely preferable to a life of idle luxury. Where wealth is nothing more than a handmaid of well thought out philanthropy, which helps man in such a way as to really uplift him, it may be a very great blessing and a means of growth for its possessor, but when used for selfish purposes and oppression, it cannot be regarded as other than an unmitigated curse.
The soul is here to acquire experience through its instruments. These are the tools furnished to each at birth, and they are good, bad or indifferent according to what we have learned through past experience in the building of them. Such as they are we must work with them, if at all.
If we have become aroused from the usual lethargy and are anxious to progress, the question naturally arises, What must I do?
Without well-kept tools the mechanic can do no effective work; similarly, the instruments of the Ego must be cleansed and sharpened; then we may commence work to some purpose. As one works with those wonderful tools they themselves improve with proper use and become more and more efficient to aid in the work. The object of this work is Union with the Higher Self.
There are three steps by which this work conquers the lower nature, but they are not completely taken one after the other. In a certain sense they go together, so that at the present stage the first receives the most attention, the second less, and the third least of all. In time, when the first step has been wholly taken, naturally more attention can be paid to the other two.
There are three helps given in attaining these three stages. They can be seen in the outside world, where the great Leaders of humanity have placed them.
The first help is Race religions, which by aiding humanity to overcome the desire body, prepare it for union with the Holy Spirit.
The full operation of this help was seen on the Day of Pentecost. As the Holy Spirit is the Race God, all languages are expressions of it. That is why the apostles, when fully united and filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke with different tongues and were able to convince their hearers. Their desire bodies had been sufficiently purified to bring about the wished-for union and this is an earnest of what the disciple will one day attain to—the power to speak all tongues. It may also be cited as a modern, historical example, that the Comte de St. Germain (who was one of the later incarnations of Christian Rosenkreuz the founder of our sacred Order), spoke all languages, so that all to whom he spoke thought he belonged to the same nation as they. He also had achieved union with the Holy Spirit.
In the Hyperborean Epoch, before man possessed a desire body, there was but one universal mode of communication and when the desire body has become sufficiently purified, all men will again be able to understand one another, for then the separative Race differentiation will have passed away.
The second help which humanity now has is the Religion of the Son — the Christian religion, the object of which is union with Christ by purification and control of the vital body.
Paul refers to this future state when he says: "Until Christ be formed in you," and exhorts his followers, as men who are running a race, to rid themselves of every weight.
The fundamental principle in building the vital body is repetition. Repeated experiences work on it to create memory. The Leaders of humanity, who desired to give us unconscious help by certain exercises, instituted prayer as a means of bringing pure and lofty thought to work on the vital body, and enjoined us to "pray without ceasing." Scoffers have often asked sneeringly why it should be thought necessary to always pray, because if God is omniscient He knows our needs and if He is not, our prayers will probably never reach Him; and if not omniscient, He cannot be omnipotent, and therefore could not answer prayer in any case. Many an earnest Christian may also have thought it wrong to be continually importuning the Throne of Grace.
Such ideas are founded upon a misunderstanding of facts. Truly God is omniscient and requires no reminder of our needs, but if we pray aright, we lift ourselves up to Him, thus working upon and purifying our vital bodies. If we pray aright — but that is the great trouble. We are generally much more concerned about temporal things than we are about spiritual upliftment. Churches will hold special meetings to pray for rain! and the chaplains of opposing armies or navies will even pray before a battle that success may follow their arms!
That is prayer to the Race God, Who fights the battles of His people, gives them increase of flocks and herds, fills their granaries and caters to the material wants. Such prayers are not even purifying. They are from the desire body, which sums up the situation thus: Now Lord, I am keeping your commandments to the best of my ability and I want You to do Your part in return.
Christ gave to humanity a prayer that is, like himself, unique and all-embracing. In it there are seven distinct and separate prayers; one for each of the seven principles of man — the threefold body, the threefold spirit and the link of mind. Each prayer is peculiarly adapted to promote the progression of that part of composite man to which it refers.
The purpose of the prayer relating to the threefold body is the spiritualization of those vehicles and the extraction therefrom of the threefold soul.
The prayers relating to the threefold spirit prepare it to receive the extracted essence, the threefold soul.
The prayer for the link of mind is to keep it in its proper relation as a tie between the higher and the lower nature.
The third help to be given to humanity will be the Religion of the Father. We can have very little conception of what that will be, save that the ideal will be even higher than Brotherhood and that by it the dense body will be spiritualized.
The Religions of the Holy Spirit, the Race religions, were for the uplifting of the human race through a feeling of kinship limited to a group — family, tribe or nation.
The purpose of the Religion of The Son, Christ, is to further uplift mankind by forming it into a Universal Brotherhood of separate individuals.
The ideal of the Religion of The Father will be the elimination of all separateness, merging all into One, so that there will be no "I" nor "Thou," but all will be One in reality. This will not come to pass while we are still inhabitants of the physical Earth, but in a future state where we shall realize our unity with all, each having access to all the knowledge garnered by each separate individual. Just as the single facet of a diamond has access to all the light that comes through each of the other facets, is one with them, yet bounded by lines which give it a certain individuality without separateness, so will the individual spirit retain the memory of its particular experiences, while giving to all others the fruits of its individual existence.
These are the steps and stages through which humanity is unconsciously being led.
In past ages the Race spirit reigned alone. Man was content with a patriarchal and paternal government in which he had no part. Now all over the world we see signs of the breaking down of the old system. The caste system, which was the stronghold of England in India, is crumbling. Instead of being separated into small groups, the people are uniting in the demand that the oppressor shall depart and leave them to live in freedom under a government of, by and for the people. Russia is torn by strife for freedom from a dictatorial, autocratic government. Turkey has awakened and taken a long stride toward liberty. Here in our own land, where we are supposed to be in the actual enjoyment of such liberty as others are, as yet, only able to covet or fight for, we are not yet satisfied. We are learning that there are other oppressions than those of an autocratic monarchy. We see that we have still industrial freedom to gain. We are chafing under the yoke of the trusts and an insane system of competition. We are trending toward cooperation, which is now practiced by the trusts within their own confines for private profit. We are desirous of a state of society where "they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid."
Thus, all over the world, the old systems of paternal government are changing. Nations, as such, have had their day and are unwittingly working toward Universal Brotherhood in accordance with the design of our invisible Leaders, who are none the less potent in shaping events because they are not officially seated in the councils of nations.
These are the slow means by which the different bodies of humanity at large are being purified, but the aspirant to the higher knowledge works consciously to attain to these ends, by well-defined methods, according to his constitution.
In India, certain methods under different systems of Yoga, are used. Yoga means Union and, as in the West, the object of the aspirant is union with the Higher Self; but to be efficacious, the methods of seeking that union must differ. The vehicles of a Hindu are very differently constituted from those of a Caucasian. The Hindus have lived for many, many thousands of years in an environment and climate totally different from ours. They have pursued a different method of thought and their civilization, though of a very high order, is different from ours in its effects. Therefore it would be useless for us to adopt their methods, which are the outcome of the highest occult knowledge and perfectly suited to them, but as unsuitable for the people of the West as a diet of oats would be for a lion.
For instance, in some systems it is required that the yogi shall sit in certain positions, that particular cosmic currents may flow through his body in a certain way to produce certain definite results. That instruction would be altogether useless for a Caucasian, as he is absolutely impervious to those currents, because of his way of living. If he is to attain results at all, he must work in harmony with the constitution of his vehicles. That is why the "Mysteries" were established in different parts of Europe during the Middle Ages. The Alchemists were deep students of the higher occult science. The popular belief that the object of their study and experimenting was the transmutation of baser metals into gold, was because they chose that symbolic way of describing their true work, which was the transmutation of the lower nature into spirit. It was thus described to lull the suspicions of the priests, without stating a falsehood. The statement that the Rosicrucians were a society devoted to the discovery and use of the formula for the making of the "Philosopher's Stone" was and is true. It is also true that most people have handled and do often handle this wondrous stone. It is common, but of no avail to an but the individual who makes it for himself. The formula is given in the esoteric training and a Rosicrucian is no different in that respect from the occultist of any other school. All are engaged in the making of this coveted stone, each, however, using his own methods, as there are no two individuals alike and consequently really effective work is always individual in its scope.
All occult schools are divisible into seven, as are the "Rays" of Life, the Virgin Spirits. Each School or Order belongs to one of these seven Rays, as does each unit of our humanity. Therefore any individual seeking to unite with one of these occult groups, the "Brothers" in which do not belong to his Ray, cannot do so with benefit to himself. The members of these groups are brothers in a more intimate sense than are the rest of humanity.
Perhaps if these seven Rays are compared to the seven colors of the spectrum, their relation to one another can be better understood. For instance, if a red ray were to ally itself with a green ray, inharmony would result. The same principle applies to spirits. Each must proceed with the group to which it belongs during manifestation, yet they are all one. As all the colors are contained in the white light, but the refractive quality of our atmosphere seems to divide it into seven colors, so the illusory conditions of concrete existence cause the Virgin Spirits to seem grouped and this apparent grouping will abide while we are in this state.
The Rosicrucian Order was started particularly for those whose high degree of intellectual development caused them to repudiate the heart. Intellect imperiously demands a logical explanation of everything—the world mystery, the questions of life and death. The reasons for and the modus operandi of existence were not explained by the priestly injunction "not to seek to know the mysteries of God."
To any man or woman who is blest, or otherwise, with such an inquiring mind it is of paramount importance that they shall receive all the information they crave, so that when the head is stilled, the heart may speak. Intellectual knowledge is but a means to an end, not the end itself. Therefore, the Rosicrucian purposes first of all to satisfy the aspirant for knowledge that everything in the universe is reasonable, thus winning over the rebellious intellect. When it has ceased to criticize and is ready to accept provisionally, as probably true, statements which cannot be immediately verified, then, and not until then, will esoteric training be effective in developing the higher faculties whereby man passes from faith to firsthand knowledge. Yet, even then it will be found that, as the pupil progresses in firsthand knowledge and becomes able to investigate for himself, there are always truths ahead of him that he knows to be truths, but which he is not yet advanced sufficiently to investigate.
The pupil will do well to remember that nothing that is not logical can exist in the universe and that logic is the surest guide in all the Worlds, but he must not forget that his faculties are limited and that more than his own powers of logical reasoning may be needed to solve a given problem, although it may, nevertheless, be susceptible of full explanation, but by lines of reasoning which are beyond the capacity of the pupil at that stage of his development. Another point that must be borne in mind is that unwavering confidence in the teacher is absolutely necessary.
The foregoing is recommended to the particular consideration of all who intend taking the first steps toward the higher knowledge. If the directions given are followed at all, they must be given full credence as an efficacious means to accomplish their purpose. To follow them in a half-hearted manner would be of no avail whatever. Unbelief will kill the fairest flower ever produced by the spirit.
Work on the different bodies of man is carried on synchronously. One body cannot be influenced without affecting the others, but the principal work may be done on any one of them.
If strict attention is paid to hygiene and diet, the dense body is the one principally affected, but at the same time there is also an effect on the vital body and the desire body for, as purer and better materials are built into the dense body, the particles are enveloped in purer planetary ether and desire-stuff also, therefore the planetary parts of the vital and desire bodies become purer. If attention is paid to food and hygiene only, the personal vital and desire bodies may remain almost as impure as before, but it has become just a little easier to get into touch with the good than if gross food were used.
On the other hand if, despite annoyances, an equable temper is cultivated, also literary and artistic tastes, the vital body will produce an effect of daintiness and fastidiousness in physical matters and will also engender ennobling feelings and emotions in the desire body.
Seeking to cultivate the emotions also reacts upon the other vehicles and helps to improve them.
If we begin with the dense vehicle and consider the physical means available to improve it and make it the best possible instrument for the spirit and afterward consider the spiritual means to the same end, we shall be including all the other vehicles as well; therefore we shall follow that method.
The first visible state of a human embryo is a small, globulous, pulpy or jelly-like substance, similar to albumen, or the white of an egg. In this pulpy globule various particles of more solid matter appear. These gradually increase in bulk and density until they come in contact with one another. The different points of contact are slowly modified into joints or hinges and thus a distinct framework of solid matter, a skeleton, is gradually formed.
During the formation of this framework the surrounding pulpy matter accumulates and changes in form until at length that degree of organization develops which is known as a fetus. This becomes larger, firmer, and more fully organized up to the time of birth, when the state of infancy begins.
The same process of consolidation which commenced with the first visible stage of existence, still continues. The being passes through the different stages of infancy, childhood, youth, manhood or womanhood, old age, and at last comes to the change that is called death.
Each of these stages is characterized by an increasing degree of hardness and solidity.
There is a gradual increase in density and firmness of the bones, tendons, cartilages, ligaments, tissues, membranes, the coverings and even the very substance of the stomach, liver, lungs, and other organs. The joints become rigid and dry. They begin to crack and grate when they are moved, because the synovial fluid, which oils and softens them, is diminished in quantity and rendered too thick and glutinous to serve that purpose.
The heart, the brain, and the entire muscular system, spinal cord, nerves, eyes, etc., partake of the same consolidating process, growing more and more rigid. Millions upon millions of the minute capillary vessels which ramify and spread like the branches of a tree throughout the entire body, gradually choke up and change into solid fiber, no longer pervious to the blood.
The larger blood vessels, both arteries and veins, indurate, lose their elasticity, grow smaller, and become incapable of carrying the required amount of blood. The fluids of the body thicken and become putrid, loaded with earthy matter. The skin withers and grows wrinkled and dry. The hair falls off for lack of oil. The teeth decay and drop out for lack of gelatin. The motor nerves begin to dry up and the movements of the body become awkward and slow. The senses fail; the circulation of the blood is retarded; it stagnates and congeals in the vessels. More and more the body loses its former powers. Once elastic, healthy, alert, pliable, active and sensitive, it becomes rigid, slow, and insensible. Finally, it dies of old age.
The question now arises, What is the cause of this gradual ossification of the body, bringing rigidity, decrepitude, and death?
From the purely physical standpoint, chemists seem to be unanimous in the opinion that it is principally an increase of phosphate of lime (bone matter), carbonate of lime (common chalk), and sulfate of lime (plaster of Paris), with occasionally a little magnesia and an insignificant amount of other earthy matters.
The only difference between the body of old age and that of childhood is the greater density, toughness and rigidity, caused by the greater proportion of calcareous, earthy matter entering into the composition of the former. The bones of a child are composed of three parts of gelatin to one part of earthy matter. In old age this proportion is reversed. What is the source of this death-dealing accumulation of solid matter?
It seems to be axiomatic that the entire body is nourished by the blood and that everything contained in the body, of whatever nature, has first been in the blood. Analysis shows that the blood holds earthy substances of the same kind as the solidifying agents — and mark! — the arterial blood contains more earthy matter than the venous blood.
This is highly important. It shows that in every cycle the blood deposits earthy substances. It is therefore the common carrier that chokes up the system. But its supply of earthy matter must be replenished, otherwise it could not continue to do this. Where does it renew its deadly load? There can be but one answer to that question — from the food and drink; there is absolutely no other source.
The food and drink which nourish the body must be, at the same time, the primary source of the calcareous, earthy matter which is deposited by the blood all over the system, causing decrepitude and finally death. To sustain physical life it is necessary that we eat and drink but as there are many kinds of food and drink, it behooves us, in the light of the above facts, to ascertain, if possible, what kinds contain the smallest proportion of destructive matter. If we can find such food we can lengthen our lives and, from an occult standpoint, it is desirable to live as long as possible in each dense body, particularly after a start has been made toward the path. So many years are required to educate, through childhood and hot youth, each body inhabited, until the spirit can at last obtain some control over it, that the longer we can retain a body that has become amenable to the spirit's promptings, the better. Therefore it is highly important that the pupil partake of such food and drink only as will deposit the least amount of hardening matter and at the same time keep the excretory organs active.
The skin and the urinary system are the saviors of man from an early grave. Were it not that by their means, most of the earthy matter taken with our food is eliminated, no one would live ten years.
It has been estimated that ordinary, undistilled spring water contains carbonate and other compounds of lime to such an extent that the average quantity used each day by one person in the form of tea, coffee, soup, etc., would in forty years be sufficient to form a block of solid chalk or marble the size of a large man. It is also a significant fact that although phosphate of lime is always found in the urine of adults, it is not found in the urine of children, because in them the rapid formation of bone requires that this salt be retained. During the period of gestation there is very little earthy matter in the urine of the mother, as it is used in the building of the fetus. In ordinary circumstances, however, earthy matter is very much in evidence in the urine of adults and to this we owe the fact that physical life reaches even its present length.
Undistilled water, when taken internally, is man's worst enemy, but used externally, it becomes his best friend. It keeps the pores of the skin open, induces circulation of the blood and prevents the stagnation which affords the best opportunity for the depositing of the earthy, death-dealing phosphate of lime.
Harvey, who discovered the circulation of the blood, said that health denotes a free circulation and disease is the result of an obstructed circulation of the blood.
The bathtub is a great aid in keeping up the health of the body and should be freely used by the aspirant to the higher life. Perspiration, sensible and insensible, carries more earthy matter out of the body than any other agency. As long as fuel is supplied and the fire kept free from ashes, it will burn. The kidneys are important in carrying away the ashes from the body, but despite the great amount of earthy matter carried away by the urine, enough remains in many cases to form gravel and stone in the bladder, causing untold agony and often death.
Let no one be deceived into thinking that water contains less stone because it has been boiled. The stone that forms on the bottom of the tea kettle has been left there by the evaporated water which escaped from the kettle as steam. If the steam were condensed, we should have distilled water, which is an important adjunct in keeping the body young.
There is absolutely no earthy matter in distilled water, nor in rain water, snow nor hail (except what may be gathered by contact with house-tops, etc.), but coffee, tea, or soup made with ordinary water, no matter how long boiled, is not purified of the earthy particles; on the contrary, the longer they are boiled, the more heavily charged with ash they become. Those suffering from urinary diseases should never drink any but distilled water.
It may be said generally of the solid foods we take into our system, that fresh vegetables and ripe fruits contain the greatest proportion of nutritious matter and the least of earthy substances.
As we are writing for the aspirant to the higher life and not for the general public, it may also be said that animal food should be entirely avoided, if possible. No one who kills can go very far along the path of holiness. We do even worse than if we actually killed, for in order to shield ourselves from the personal commission of the act of killing, and still reap its results, we force a fellow being, through economic necessity, to devote his entire time to murder, thereby brutalizing him to such an extent that the law will not allow him to act as a juror in cases of capital crime, because his business has so familiarized him with the taking of life.
The enlightened know the animals to be their younger brothers and that they will be human in the Jupiter Period. We shall then help them as the Angels, who were human in the Moon Period, are now helping us, and for an aspirant to high ideals to kill — either in person or by proxy — is out of the question.
Several very important food products from animals, such as milk, cheese and butter, may be used. These are the results of the processes of life and require no tragedies to convert them into food. Milk, which is an important food for the occult student, contains no earthy matter of any consequence and has an influence upon the body possessed by no other food. During the Moon Period man was fed upon the milk of Nature. Universal food was absorbed by him and the use of milk has a tendency to put him in touch with the Cosmic forces and enable him to heal others.
It is popularly supposed that sugar or any saccharine substance is injurious to the general health, and particularly to the teeth, causing their decay and the resulting toothache. Only under certain circumstances is this true. It is harmful in certain diseases, such as biliousness and dyspepsia, or if held long in the mouth as candy, but if sparingly used during good health and the amount gradually increased as the stomach becomes accustomed to its use, it will be found very nourishing. The health of Negroes becomes greatly improved during the sugar-cane harvest time, notwithstanding their increased labor. This is attributed solely to their fondness for the sweet cane-juice. The same may be said of horses, cows, and other animals in those localities, which are all fond of the refuse syrup fed to them. They grow fat in harvest time, their coats becoming sleek and shining. Horses fed on boiled carrots for a few weeks will get a coat like silk, owing to the saccharine juices of that vegetable. Sugar is a nutritious and beneficial article of diet and contains no ash whatever.
Fruits are an ideal diet. They are in fact evolved by the trees to induce animal and man to eat them, so that the seed may be disseminated, as flowers entice bees for a similar purpose.
Fresh fruit contains water of the purest and best kind, capable of permeating the system in a marvelous manner. Grape juice is a particularly wonderful solvent. It thins and stimulates the blood, opening the way into capillaries already dried and choked up — if the process has not gone too far. By a course of unfermented grape-juice treatment, people with sunken eyes, wrinkled skins and poor complexions become plump, ruddy and lively. The increased permeability enables the spirit to manifest more freely and with renewed energy. The following table, which with the exception of the last column, is taken from the publications of the United States Department of Agriculture, will give the aspirant some idea of the amount it is necessary to eat for different degrees of activity, also the constituents of the various foods named.
Considering the body from a purely physical standpoint, it is what we might call a chemical furnace, the food being the fuel. The more the body is exercised, the more fuel it requires. It would be foolish for a man to change an ordinary diet which for years had adequately nourished him, and take up a new method without due thought as to which would be the best for serving his purpose. To simply eliminate meats from the ordinary diet of meat-eaters would unquestionably undermine the health of most persons. The only safe way is to experiment and study the matter out first, using due discrimination. No fixed rules can be given, the matter of diet being as individual as any other characteristic. All that can be done is to give the table of food values and describe the general influence of each chemical element, allowing the aspirant to work out his own method.
Neither must we allow the appearance of a person to influence our judgment as to the condition of his health. Certain general ideas of how a healthy person should look are commonly accepted, but there is no valid reason for so judging. Ruddy cheeks might be an indication of health in one individual and of disease in another. There is no particular rule by which good health can be known except the feeling of comfort and well-being which is enjoyed by the individual himself, irrespective of appearances.
The table of foods here given deals with five chemical compounds.
Water is the great solvent.
Nitrogen or protein is the essential builder of flesh, but contains some earthy matter.
Carbohydrates or sugars are the principal power-producers.
Fats are the producers of heat and the storers of reserve force.
Ash is mineral, earthy, and chokes the system. We need have no fear of not obtaining it in sufficient quantities to build the bones; on the contrary, we cannot be too careful to get as little as possible.
The calorie is the simple unit of heat, and the table shows the number contained in each article of food when bought at the market. In a pound of Brazil nuts, for instance, 49.6% of the whole is waste (shells), but the remaining 50.4% contains 1485 calories. That means that about one-half of what is bought is waste, but the remainder contains the number of calories named. That we may get the greatest amount of strength from our food we must pay attention to the number of calories it contains, for from them we obtain the energy required to perform our daily work. The number of calories necessary to sustain the body under varying conditions is shown in the following table (per day):
Man at very hard muscular work: 5500 Calories
Man at moderately hard muscular work: 4150 Calories
Man at moderately active muscular work: 3400 Calories
Man at moderately light work: 3050 Calories
Man at sedentary work: 2700 Calories
Man without muscular exercise: 2450 Calories
Woman at light to moderate manual work: 2450 Calories
According to this table, it is evident that chocolate is the most nutritious food we have; also that cocoa, in its powdered state, is the most dangerous of all foods, containing three times as much ash as most of the others, and ten times as much as many. It is a powerful food and also a powerful poison, for it chokes the system more quickly than any other substance.
Of course, it will require some study at first to secure the best nourishment, but it pays in health and longevity and secures the free use of the body, making study and application to higher things possible. After a while the aspirant will become so familiar with the subject that he will need to give it no particular attention.
While the foregoing table shows the proportion of chemical substances contained in each article of food named, it must be remembered that not all of this is available for use in the system, because there are certain portions which the body refuses to assimilate.
Of vegetables, we digest only about 83% of the proteins, 90% of the fat, and 95% of the carbohydrates.
Of fruits, we assimilate about 85% of the proteins, 90% of the fat, and 90% of the carbohydrates.
The brain is the coordinating mechanism whereby the movements of the body are controlled and our ideas are expressed. It is built of the same substances as are all other parts of the body, with the addition of phosphorus, which is peculiar to the brain alone. (As to proportion. — Ed.)
The logical conclusion is that phosphorus is the particular element by means of which the Ego is able to express thought and influence the dense physical body. It is also a fact that the proportion and variation of this substance is found to correspond to the state and stage of intelligence of the individual. Idiots have very little phosphorus; shrewd thinkers have much; and in the animal world, the degree of consciousness and intelligence is in proportion to the amount of phosphorus contained in the brain.
It is therefore of great importance that the aspirant who is to use his body for mental and spiritual work, should supply his brain with the substance necessary for that purpose. Most vegetables and fruits contain a certain amount of phosphorus, but it is a peculiar fact that the greater proportion is contained in the leaves, which are usually thrown away. It is found in considerable quantities in grapes, onions, sage, beans, cloves, pineapples, in the leaves and stalks of many vegetables, and also in sugar-cane juice, but not in refined sugar.
The following table shows the proportions of phosphoric acid in a few articles:
100,000 Parts of:
Barley, dry, contain, of phosphoric acid: 210 parts
Beans: 292 parts
Beets: 167 parts
Beets, Leaves of: 690 parts
Buckwheat: 170 parts
Carrots, dry: 395 parts
Carrots, Leaves of: 963 parts
Linseed: 880 parts
Linseed, Stalks of: 118 parts
Parsnips: 111 parts
Parsnips, Leaves of: 1784 parts
Peas: 190 parts
The gist of the preceding argument may be thus succinctly stated:
(1) The body, throughout the entire period of life, is subject to a process of consolidation.
(2) This process consists of the depositing by the blood of earthy substances, principally phosphate and carbonate of lime, by which the various parts become ossified, converted into bone, or kindred matter.
(3) This conversion into bone destroys the flexibility of the vessels, muscles and other parts of the body subject to motion. It thickens the blood and entirely chokes up the minute capillaries, so that the circulation of the fluids and the action of the system generally diminishes, the termination of this process being death.
(4) This process of consolidation may be retarded and life prolonged by carefully avoiding the foods that contain much ash; by using distilled water for internal purposes; and by promotion excretion through the skin by means of frequent baths.
The foregoing explains why some religions prescribe frequent ablutions as a religious exercise, because they promote the health and purify the dense body. Fastings were also prescribed for the same purpose. They give the stomach a much needed rest, allow the body to eliminate the effete matter, and thus, if not too frequent or too prolonged, promote the health, but usually as much and more can be accomplished by giving the body proper foods which are the best medicines.
Always the first care of the physician is to ascertain if there is proper excretion, that being Nature's chief means for ridding the body of the poisons contained in all foods.
In conclusion, let the aspirant choose such food as is most easily digested, for the more easily the energy in food is extracted, the longer time will the system have for recuperation before it becomes necessary to replenish the supply. Milk should never be drunk as one may drink a glass of water. Taken in that way, it forms in the stomach a large cheese ball, quite impervious to the action of the gastric juices. It should be sipped, as we sip tea or coffee. It will then form many small globules in the stomach, which are easily assimilated. Properly used, it is one of the best possible articles of diet. Citrus fruits are powerful antiseptics, and cereals, particularly rice, are antitoxins of great efficiency.
Having now explained, from the purely material point of view, what is necessary for the dense body, we will consider the subject from the occult side, taking into consideration the effect on the two invisible bodies which interpenetrate the dense body.
The particular stronghold of the desire body is in the muscles and the cerebro-spinal nervous system, as already shown. The energy displayed by a person when laboring under great excitement or anger is an example of this. At such times the whole muscular system is tense and no hard labor is so exhausting as a "fit of temper." It sometimes leaves the body prostrated for weeks. There can be seen the necessity for improving the desire body by controlling the temper, thus sparing the dense body the suffering resulting from the ungoverned action of the desire body.
Looking at the matter from an occult standpoint, all consciousness in the Physical World is the result of the constant war between the desire and the vital bodies.
The tendency of the vital body is to soften and build. Its chief expression is the blood and the glands, also the sympathetic nervous system, having obtained ingress into the stronghold of the desire body (the muscular and the voluntary nervous systems) when it began to develop the heart into a voluntary muscle.
The tendency of the desire body is to harden, and it in turn has invaded the realm of the vital body, gaining possession of the spleen and making the white blood corpuscles, which are not "the policemen of the system" as science now thinks, but destroyers. It uses the blood to carry these tiny destroyers all over the body. They pass through the walls of arteries and veins whenever annoyance is felt, and especially in times of great anger. Then the rush of forces in the desire body makes the arteries and veins swell and opens the way for the passage of the white corpuscles into the tissues of the body, where they form bases for the earthy matter which kills the body.
Given the same amount and kind of food, the person of serene and jovial disposition will live longer, enjoy better health, and be more active than the person who worries, or loses his temper. The latter will make and distribute through his body more destructive white corpuscles than the former. Were a scientist to analyze the bodies of these two men, he would find that there was considerably less earthy matter in the body of the kindly disposed man than in that of the scold.
This destruction is constantly going on and it is not possible to keep all the destroyers out, nor is such the intention. If the vital body had uninterrupted sway, it would build and build, using all the energy for that purpose. There would be no consciousness and thought. It is because the desire body checks and hardens the inner parts that consciousness develops.
There was a time in the far, far past when we set out the concretions, as do the mollusks, leaving the body soft, flexible and boneless, but at that time we had only the dull, glimmering consciousness the mollusks now have. Before we could advance, it became necessary to retain the concretions and it will be found that the stage of consciousness of any species is in proportion to the development of the bony framework within. The Ego must have the solid bones with the semi-fluid red marrow, in order to be able to build the red blood corpuscles for its expression.
That is the highest development of the dense body. It signifies nothing in this connection that the highest class of animals have an internal bone formation similar to man's, but still have no indwelling spirit. They belong to a different stream of evolution.
The law of assimilation allows no particle to be built into our bodies that we, as spirits, have not overcome and made subject to ourselves. The forces active along these lines are, as we remember, principally our "dead," who have entered "heaven" and are learning there to build bodies to use here, but they work according to certain laws that they cannot circumvent. There is life in every particle of food that we take into our bodies, and before we can build that life into our bodies by the process of assimilation, we must overcome and make it subject to ourselves. Otherwise there could be no harmony in the body. All parts would act independently, as they do when the coordinating life has been withdrawn. That would be what we call decay, the process of disintegration, which is the direct opposite of assimilation. The more individualized is the particle to be assimilated, the more energy will it require to digest it and the shorter time will it remain before seeking to reassert itself.
Human beings are not organized in such a manner that they can live upon solid minerals. When a purely mineral substance, such as salt, is eaten, it passes through the body leaving behind it but very little waste. What is does leave, however, is of a very injurious character. If it were possible for man to use minerals as food, they would be ideal for that purpose because of their stability and the little energy required to overcome and subject them to the life of the body. We should be compelled to eat very much less in quantity and also less often than we now do. Our laboratories will some time supply us with chemical food of a quality far surpassing anything that we now have, which shall be always fresh. Food obtained from the higher plants and still more from the yet higher animal kingdom, is positively nauseating because of the rapidity of decay. This process is caused by the efforts made by the individual particles to escape from the composite whole.
The plant kingdom is next above the mineral. It has an organization capable of assimilating the mineral compounds of the Earth. Man and animal can assimilate the plants and thus obtain the chemical compounds necessary to sustain their bodies and as the consciousness of the plant kingdom is that of dreamless sleep, it offers no resistance. It requires but little energy to assimilate the particles thus derived and having small individuality of their own, the life ensouling the particles does not seek to escape from our body as soon as food derived from more highly developed forms, therefore the strength derived from a diet of fruit and vegetables is more enduring than that derived from a meat diet, and the food supply does not require as frequent replenishing, besides giving more strength in proportion, because less energy is required for assimilation.
Food composed of the bodies of animals consists of particles which have been worked upon and interpenetrated by an individual desire body, and have thus been individualized to a much greater extent than the plant particles. There is an individual cell soul, which is permeated by the passions and desires of the animal. It requires considerable energy to overcome it in the first place, so that it may be assimilated, yet it never becomes so fully incorporated into the polity of the body as do the plant constituents, which have no such strong individual tendencies. The result is that it is necessary for the flesh-eater to consume a greater weight of food than is required by the fruitarian; also he must eat oftener. Moreover, this inward strife of the particles of flesh causes greater wear and tear of the body in general, rendering the meat-eater less active and capable of endurance than the vegetarian, as all contests between advocates of the two methods have demonstrated.
Therefore, when flesh food derived from the herbivore is such an unstable diet, it is evident that if we should try to use the flesh of carnivorous animals, in which the cells are still further individualized, we would be forced to consume enormous quantities of food. Eating would occupy the greater part of our time, but notwithstanding that fact, we would always be lean and hungry. That such is its effect, can be seen in the wolf and the vulture; their leanness and hunger are proverbial. Cannibals eat human flesh, but only at long intervals and as a luxury. As man does not confine himself exclusively to a meat diet, his flesh is not that of an entirely carnivorous beast, nevertheless the hunger of the cannibal has also become the burden of a proverb.
If the flesh of the herbivore were the essence of what is good in plants, then, logically, the flesh of the carnivore should be the quintessence. The meat of wolves and vultures would thus be the creme de la creme, and much to be desired. This we know is not the case, but quite the reverse. The nearer we get to the plant kingdom, the more strength we derive from our food. If the reverse were the case, the flesh of carnivorous animals would be sought by other beasts of prey, but examples of "dog eat dog" are very few throughout nature.
The first law of occult science is "Thou shalt not kill," and that should have the greatest weight with the aspirant to the higher life. We cannot create so much as one particle of dust, therefore what right have we to destroy the very least form? All Form is an expression of the One Life—the Life of God. We have no right to destroy the Form through which the Life is seeking experience, and force it to build a new vehicle.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, with the true compassion of all far advanced souls, champions this occult maxim, in the following beautiful words:
I am the voice of the voiceless;
Through me the dumb shall speak
Till a deaf world's ear
Shall be made to hear
The wrongs of the wordless weak.
The same force formed the sparrow
That fashioned man, the king.
The God of the whole
Gave a spark of soul
To furred and feathered thing.
And I am my brother's keeper;
And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word
For beast and bird
Till the world shall set things right.
Sometimes the objection is made that life is also taken when vegetables and fruits are eaten, but that statement is based upon a complete misunderstanding of the facts. When the fruit is ripe, it has accomplished its purpose, which is to act as a womb for the ripening of the seed. If not eaten, it decays and goes to waste. Moreover, it is designed to serve as food for the animal and human kingdoms, thus affording the seed opportunities for growth by scattering it in fertile soil. Besides, just as the ovum and the semen of human beings are ineffectual without the seed-atom of the reincarnating Ego and the matrix of its vital body, so any egg or seed, of itself, is devoid of life. If it is given the proper conditions of incubator or soil, the life of the group-spirit is then poured into it, thus grasping the opportunity so afforded of producing a dense body. If the egg or seed is cooked, crushed, or not given the conditions necessary for the life, the opportunity is lost, but that is all.
At the present stage of the evolutionary journey, everyone knows inherently that it is wrong to kill and man will love and protect the animals in all cases where his greed and selfish interest does not blind him to their rights. The law protects even a cat or a dog against wanton cruelty. Except in "sport," that most wanton of all our cruelties against the animal creation, it is always for the sake of money that animals are murdered and bred to be murdered. By the devotees of "sport" the helpless creatures are shot down to no purpose save to bolster up a false idea of prowess upon the part of the huntsman. It is hard to understand how people who appear otherwise sane and kindly can, for the time, trample upon all their gentler instincts and revert to bloodthirsty savagery, killing for the sheer lust of blood and joy in destruction. It is certainly a reversion to the lowest savage animal instincts, and can never be dignified into the remotest semblance of anything "manly", even though practiced and defended by the otherwise humane and worthy temporary head of a mighty nation.
How much more beautiful it would be for man to play the role of friend and protector of the weak. Who does not love to visit Central Park in New York City and pet, stroke and feed the hundreds of squirrels which are running about secure in the knowledge that they will not be molested? And who is not glad, for the sake of the squirrels, to see the sign, "Dogs found chasing the squirrels will be shot." This is hard on the dogs, but it is to be commended as an evidence of the growth of the sentiment favoring the protection of the weak against the unreasoning or merciless strong. Nothing is said on the sign about the squirrels being injured by men, because that would be unthinkable. So strong is the influence of the trust the little animals repose in the kindness of man, that no one would violate it.
Returning to our consideration of the spiritual aids to human progress, the Lord's Prayer, which may be considered as an abstract, algebraical formula for the upliftment and purification of all the vehicles of man, the idea of taking proper care of the dense body is expressed in the words: "Give us this day our daily bread."
The prayer dealing with the needs of the vital body is, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."
The vital body is the seat of memory. In it are stored the subconscious records of all the past events of our life, good or ill, including all injuries inflicted or sustained and benefits received, or bestowed. We remember that the record of the life is taken from those pictures immediately after leaving the dense body at death, and that all the sufferings of postmortem existence are the results of the events these pictures portray.
If, by continual prayer, we obtain forgiveness for the injuries we have inflicted upon others and if we make all the restitution possible, purify our vital bodies by forgiving those who have wronged us, and eliminate all ill feeling, we save ourselves much postmortem misery, besides preparing the way for Universal Brotherhood, which is particularly dependent upon the victory of the vital body over the desire body. In the form of memory, the desire body impresses upon the vital body the idea of revenge. An even temper amid the various annoyances of daily life indicates such a victory, therefore the aspirant should cultivate control of the temper, as it includes work on both bodies. The Lord's Prayer includes this also, for when we see that we are injuring others, we look about and try to find the cause. Loss of temper is one of the causes and it originates in the desire body.
Most people leave physical life with the same temperament they bring into it, but the aspirant must systematically conquer all attempts of the desire body to assume mastery. That can be done by concentration upon high ideals, which strengthens the vital body and is much more efficacious than the common prayers of the Church. The occult scientist uses concentration in preference to prayer, because the former is accomplished by the aid of the mind, which is cold and unfeeling, whereas prayer is usually dictated by emotion. Where it is dictated by a pure unselfish devotion to high ideals prayer is much higher than cold concentration. It can never be cold, but bears upon the pinions of Love the outpourings of the mystic to the Deity.
The prayer for the desire body is, "Lead us not into temptation." Desire is the great tempter of mankind. It is the great incentive to all action, and in so far as the actions subserve the purposes of the spirit, it is good; but where the desire is for something degrading, something that debases the nature, it is indeed meet that we pray not to be led into temptation.
Love, Wealth, Power, and Fame! — These are the four great motives of human action. Desire for one or more of these is the motive for all that man does or leaves undone. The great Leaders of humanity have wisely given them as incentives to action, that man may gain experience and learn thereby. They are necessary, and the aspirant may safely continue to use them as motives for action, but he must transmute them into something higher. He must overcome with nobler aspirations the selfish love which seeks the ownership of another body, and all desires for wealth, power and fame for narrow and personal reasons.
The Love for which he must long is that only which is of the soul and embraces all beings, high and low, increasing in proportion to the needs of the recipient;
The Wealth, that which consists solely of abundance of opportunities to serve his fellow men;
The Power, that alone which makes for the upliftment of humanity;
The Fame, none save that which increases his ability to spread the good news, that all who suffer may thus quickly find solace for the heart's grief.
The prayer for the mind is "Deliver us from evil." We have seen that mind is the link between the higher and the lower natures. Animals are permitted to follow desire without any restriction whatever. In their case, there is neither good nor evil, because they lack mind, the faculty of discrimination. The method of self-protection which we pursue in regard to animals which kill and steal is different from that which we use in relation to human beings who do the same things. Even a human being who is bereft of mind is not held accountable. The fact is recognized that he does not know he is doing wrong, therefore he is simply restrained.
It was only when his mental eyes were opened that man came to know good and evil. When the link of mind becomes allied to the Higher Self and does its bidding, we have the high-minded person. On the contrary, the coalition of the mind with the lower desire nature produces the low-minded person; therefore the meaning of this prayer is that we may be delivered from the experience resulting from the alliance of the mind with the desire body, with all thereby implied.
The aspirant to the higher life accomplishes the union of the higher and the lower natures by means of Meditation on lofty subjects. This union is further cemented by Contemplation, and both these states are transcended by Adoration, which lifts the spirit to the very Throne.
The Lord's Prayer, given for the general use of the Church, gives Adoration first place, in order to reach the spiritual exaltation necessary to proffer a petition representing the needs of the lower vehicles. Each aspect of the threefold spirit, commencing with the lowest, raises itself in adoration to its corresponding aspect of Deity. When the three aspects of the spirit are all arrayed before the Throne of Grace, each utters the prayer appropriate to the needs of its material counterpart, all three joining in the closing prayer for the mind.
The Human Spirit soars to its counterpart, the Holy Spirit (Jehovah), saying "Hallowed be Thy Name."
The Life Spirit bows before its counterpart, The Son (Christ), saying "Thy Kingdom Come."
The Divine Spirit kneels before its counterpart, The Father, with the prayer, "Thy Will be done."
Then the highest, the Divine Spirit, petitions the highest aspect of the Deity, the Father, for its counterpart, the dense body: "Give us this day our daily bread."
The next highest, the Life Spirit, prays to its counterpart, the Son, for its counterpart in the lower nature, the vital body: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
The lowest aspect of the spirit, the Human Spirit, next offers its petition to the lowest aspect of Deity for the highest of the threefold bodies, the desire body: "Lead us not into temptation."
Lastly, in unison, all three aspects of the threefold spirit in man join in the most important of the prayers, the petition for the mind, in the words: "Deliver us from evil."
The introduction, "Our Father Who art in Heaven," is merely as the address on an envelope. The addition, "For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever. Amen," was not given by Christ, but is very appropriate as the parting adoration of the threefold spirit as it closes its direct address to the Deity.
Diagram 16 illustrates the foregoing explanation in a simple and easily remembered manner, showing the connection between the different prayers and the corresponding vehicles, which are similarly colored. This diagram is inserted opposite page 464.
The sex-pervert, or sex-maniac, is a proof of the correctness of the contention of occultists that one part of the sex-force builds the brain. He becomes an idiot, unable to think because of drawing and sending out, not only the negative or positive part of the sex force (according to whether male or female) which is normally to be used through the sex-organ for propagation, but in addition to that, some of the force which should build up the brain, enabling it to produce thought — hence the mental deficiency.
On the other hand, if the person is given to spiritual thought, the tendency to use the sex force for propagation is slight, and whatever part of it is not used in that way may be transmuted into spiritual force.
That is why the initiate, at a certain stage of development, takes the vow of celibacy. It is not an easy vow, nor one to be lightly taken by one desirous of spiritual advancement. Many people who are not yet ripe for the higher life have ignorantly bound themselves to a life of asceticism. They are as dangerous to the community and to themselves on the one hand as is the imbecile sex-maniac on the other.
At the present stage of human evolution the sex function is the means whereby bodies are provided, through which the spirit can gain experience. The people who are most prolific and follow the creative impulse unreservedly are the lowest classes; thus it is difficult for incoming entities to find good vehicles amid environments enabling them to unfold their faculties in such a manner as to permanently benefit themselves and the rest of humanity, for among the wealthier classes who could furnish more favorable conditions many have few or no children. It is not because they live abstemious sex-lives, but for the entirely selfish reasons that they may have more ease and leisure and indulge in unlimited sex-gratification without the burden of a family. Among the less wealthy middle class, families are also restricted, but in their case partially for economic reasons, that they may give one or two children educational and other advantages that their means would not permit them to give to four or five.
Thus man exercises his divine prerogative of bringing disorder into nature. Incoming Egos must take the opportunities offered them sometimes under unfavorable circumstances. Other Egos who cannot do that, must wait till favorable environment offers. Thus do we affect one another by our actions and thus are the sins of the fathers visited upon the children, for as the Holy Spirit is the creative energy in nature, the sex energy is its reflection in man, and misuse or abuse of that power is the sin that is not forgiven, but must be expiated in impaired efficiency of the vehicles, in order to thoroughly teach us the sanctity of the creative force.
Aspirants to the higher life, filled with an earnest desire to live a noble spiritual life, often regard the sex-function with horror, because of the harvest of misery which humanity has reaped as a result of its abuse. They are apt to turn in disgust from what they regard as impurity, overlooking the fact that it is precisely such people as they who (having brought their vehicles into good condition by means of proper sanitary food, high and lofty thought, and pure and spiritual lives) are best fitted to generate the dense bodies essential to the development of entities seeking incarnation. It is common knowledge among occult scientists that, to the detriment of the race, many high class Egos are kept out of incarnation at the present time solely because parents cannot be found who are pure enough to provide them with the necessary physical vehicles.
Persons who, for the reason above mentioned, refrain from doing their duty to humanity, are magnifying the sun spots to such an extent that they forget to see the Sun itself! The sex function has its great place in the economy of the world. When properly used, there is no greater boon to the Ego, for it then provides pure and healthful bodies such as man needs for his development; conversely, when abused, there is no greater curse, for it is then the source of the worst ills to which flesh is heir.
It is a truism that "no man liveth unto himself." By our words and acts we are constantly affecting others. By the proper performance, or the neglect of our duty, we make or mar the lives, first, of those in our immediate environment, but ultimately of all the inhabitants of the Earth, and more. No one has a right to seek the higher life without having performed his duty to his family, his country, and the human race. To selfishly set aside everything else and live solely for one's own spiritual advancement, is as reprehensible as not to care for the spiritual life at all. Nay, it is worse; for those who do their duty in the ordinary life to the best of their ability, devoting themselves to the welfare of those dependent upon them, are cultivating the essential quality of faithfulness. They will certainly advance in due time to a point where they will become awake to spiritual necessities, and will carry to that work the faithfulness developed elsewhere. The man who deliberately turns his back upon his present duties to take up the spiritual life will surely be forced back into the path of duty from which he has mistakenly diverged, with no possible means of escape until the lesson has been learned.
Certain tribes of India make the following excellent division of life. The first twenty years are spent in obtaining an education; the years from 20 to 40 are devoted to the duty of raising a family; and the remaining time is devoted to spiritual development, without any physical cares to harass or distract the mind.
During the first period the child is supported by its parents; during the second period the man, in addition to supporting his own family, cares for his parents while they are giving their attention to higher things; and during the balance of his life, he is in turn supported by his children.
This seems a very sensible method, and is quite satisfactory in a country where all, from the cradle to the grave, feel the spiritual need, to such degree that they mistakenly neglect material development except as impelled by the lash of direst need, and where the children cheerfully support their parents, secure in the knowledge that they will be supported in turn and thus be enabled to devote themselves entirely to the higher life after having performed their duty to their country and to humanity. In the Western World, however, where no spiritual need is at present felt by the average man because he is properly following material lines of development, such a mode of life would be impossible of realization.
Spiritual desire never comes until the time is ripe, and always when the particular conditions obtain under which we must seek its gratification, if at all. Whatever duties exist which are apparent restrictions must be borne. If the care of a family prevents the complete consecration desired, the aspirant would certainly not be justified in neglecting duty and devoting the entire time and energy to spiritual purposes. An effort must be made to gratify such aspirations without interfering with duty to family.
If the desire to live a celibate life comes to a person who holds marriage relations with another, the obligations of such relations are not to be forgotten. It would be very wrong, by practicing celibacy under such circumstances, to endeavor to escape from the proper performance of duty. As to what constitutes duty in regard to coition, however, there is a standard for aspirants to the higher life different from that of the ordinary man or woman.
Most people regard marriage as sanctioning unlimited license for the gratification of sexual desire. In the eyes of statute law, perhaps it does so, but no man-made law nor custom has any right to govern this matter. Occult science teaches that the sex-function should never be used for sense-gratification, but for propagation only. Therefore an aspirant to the higher life would be justified in refusing coition with the marriage partner unless the object were the begetting of a child, and then only if both parties were in perfect health — physically, morally and mentally — as otherwise the union would be likely to result in the generation of a feeble or degenerate body.
Each person owns his or her body, and is responsible to the law of Consequence for any misuse resulting from the weak willed abandonment of that body to another.
In the light of the foregoing, and looking at the matter from the viewpoint of occult science, it is both a duty and a privilege (to be exercised with thanks for the opportunity) for all persons who are healthy and of sound mind to provide vehicles for as many entities as is consistent with their health and ability to care for the same. And, as previously stated, most particularly are aspirants to the higher life under obligation in this respect, on account of the purification which their purer lives have wrought in their bodies, because of which they are better qualified than ordinary humanity to generate pure vehicles. Thus they enable high-class entities to find suitable vehicles and help humanity to advance by affording these waiting Egos opportunities to incarnate and exercise their influence at an earlier period than would otherwise be possible.
If the sex force is used in the way indicated, coition will take place but few times in a life, and practically the entire sex force may be used for spiritual purposes. It is not the use, but the abuse that causes all the trouble and interferes with the spiritual life, so there is no need for anyone to abandon the higher life because he or she cannot be celibate. It is not necessary to be strictly celibate while going through the lesser Initiations. The vow of absolute celibacy applies to the greater Initiations only, and even then a single act of fecundation may sometimes be necessary as an act of sacrifice, as was the case in providing a body for Christ.
It may also be said that it is worse to suffer from a burning desire, to be constantly thinking vividly of the gratification of sense, than to live the married life in moderation. Christ taught that unchaste thoughts are as bad as, and even worse than unchaste acts, because thoughts may be repeated indefinitely, whereas there is at least some limit to acts.
The aspirant to the higher life can be successful only in proportion to the extent of the subjugation of the lower nature, but should beware of the other extreme.
In the brain, and in approximately the positions shown in diagram 17, are two small organs called the pituitary body and the pineal gland. Medical science knows but little about these, or the other ductless glands of the body. It calls the pineal gland "the atrophied third eye," yet neither it nor the pituitary body are atrophying. This is very perplexing to scientists, for nature retains nothing useless. All over the body we find organs which are either atrophying or developing, the former being milestones, as it were, along the path which man has traveled to reach his present stage of development, the latter pointing out the lines for future improvement and development. For instance, the muscles which animals use to move the ears are present in man also, but as they are atrophying, few people can use them. The heart belongs to the class indicating future development; as already shown, it is becoming a voluntary muscle.
The pituitary body and the pineal gland belong to still another class of organs, which at the present time are neither evolving nor degenerating, but are dormant. In the far past, when man was in touch with the "inner" Worlds, these organs were his means of ingress thereto, and they will again serve that purpose at a later stage. They were connected with the involuntary or sympathetic nervous system. Man then saw the inner Worlds, as in the Moon Period and the latter part of the Lemurian and early Atlantean Epochs. Pictures presented themselves quite independent of his will. The sense centers of his desire body were spinning around counter-clockwise (following negatively the motion of the Earth, which revolves on its axis in that direction) as the sense centers of "mediums" do to this day. In most people these sense-centers are inactive, but true development will set them spinning clockwise, as explained elsewhere. That is the difficult feature in the development of positive clairvoyance.
The development of mediumship is much easier, because it is merely a revival of the mirror-like function possessed by man in the far past, by which the outside world was involuntarily reflected in him, and which function was afterward retained by inbreeding. With present day mediums this power is intermittent, which explains why they can sometimes "see" and at other times, for no apparent reason, fail utterly. Occasionally, the strong desire of the client enables them to get into touch with the information he is seeking, on which occasions they see correctly, but they are not always honest. Office rent and other expenses must be paid, so when the power (over which they have no conscious control) fails them, some resort to fraud and utter any absurdity that occurs to their minds, in order to satisfy their client and get his money, thus casting discredit upon what they really do see at other times.
The aspirant to true spiritual sight and insight must first of all give proof of unselfishness, because the trained clairvoyant has no "off days." He is not in the least mirror-like, dependent upon the reflections which may happen to come his way. He is able to reach out at any time and in any direction, and read the thoughts and plans of others, provided he particularly turns his attention that way—not otherwise.
The great danger to society which would result from the indiscriminate use of this power if possessed by an unworthy individual, can be easily understood. He would be able to read the most secret thought. Therefore the initiate is bound by the most solemn vows never to use this power to serve his individual interest in the slightest degree, nor to save himself a pang. He may feed five thousand others if he will, but he must not turn a stone into bread to appease his own hunger. He may heal others of palsy and leprosy, but by the Law of the Universe, he is forbidden to stanch his own mortal wounds. Because he is bound by his vow of absolute unselfishness, it is ever true of the Initiate that although he saves others, himself he cannot save.
So the trained clairvoyant who really has something to give will never hang out a sign offering to exercise his gifts for a fee, but will give and give freely where he considers it consistent with the ripe destiny generated under the law of consequence by the person to be helped.
Trained clairvoyance is the kind used for investigating occult facts, and it is the only kind that is of any use for that purpose. Therefore the aspirant must feel, not a wish to gratify an idle curiosity, but a holy and unselfish desire to help humanity. Until such a desire exists, no progress can be made in the attainment of positive clairvoyance.
In the ages that have passed since the Lemurian Epoch humanity has been gradually building the cerebro-spinal nervous system, which is under the control of the will. In the latter part of the Atlantean Epoch, this was so far evolved that it became possible for the Ego to take full possession of the dense body. That was the time (previously described) when the point in the vital body came into correspondence with the point at the root of the nose in the dense body and the indwelling spirit became awake in the Physical World but, so far as the greater part of humanity was concerned, lost consciousness of the inner Worlds.
Since then, the connection of the pineal gland and the pituitary body with the cerebro-spinal nervous system has been slowly building, and is now all but complete.
To regain contact with the inner Worlds, all that remains to be done is the re-awakening of the pituitary body and the pineal gland. When that is accomplished, man will again possess the faculty of perception in the higher worlds, but on a grander scale than formerly, because it will be in connection with the voluntary nervous system and therefore under the control of his Will. Through this inner perceptive facility all avenues of knowledge will be opened to him and he will have at his service a means of acquiring information compared with which all other methods of investigation are but child's play.
The awakening of these organs is accomplished by Esoteric Training, which we will now describe, as far as may be done in public.
In the majority of people, the greater part of the sex force which may legitimately be used through the creative organs is expended for sense-gratification; therefore in such people there is very little of the ascending current shown in diagram 17. »
When the aspirant to the higher life begins to curb these excesses more and more, and to devote his attention to spiritual thoughts and efforts, the trained clairvoyant can perceive the unused sex force commencing to ascend. It surges upward in stronger and stronger volume, along the path indicated by the arrows in diagram 17, » traversing the heart and the larynx or the spinal cord and the larynx or both, and then passing directly between the Pituitary Body and the Pineal Gland toward the dark point at the root of the nose where "The Silent Watcher," the highest spirit, has its seat.
These currents do not usually take one of the two paths indicated in diagram 17 » to the entire exclusion of the other, but generally one path is traveled by the greater volume of the sex-currents, according to the temperament of the aspirant. In one who is seeking enlightenment along purely intellectual lines the current travels particularly over the spinal cord and only a small part goes over the path through the heart. In the mystic who feels rather than knows, the currents find their way upwards through the heart.
Both are developing abnormally, and each must sometime take up the development he has neglected, so as to become fully rounded. Therefore the Rosicrucians aim to give a teaching that will satisfy both classes, although their main efforts are expended in reaching the intellectually minded, for their need is the greater.
This current of itself, however, even though it assumes the proportions of a Niagara and flows until the crack of doom, will be useless. But still, as it is not only a necessary accompaniment, but a prerequisite to self-conscious work in the inner World, it must be cultivated to some extend before the real esoteric training can begin. It will thus be seen that a moral life devoted to spiritual thought must be lived by the aspirant for a certain length of time before it is possible to commence the work that will give his firsthand knowledge of the superphysical realms and enable him to become, in the truest sense, a helper of humanity.
When the candidate has lived such a life for a time sufficient to establish the current of spiritual force, and is found worthy and qualified to receive esoteric instruction, he is taught certain exercises, to set the pituitary body in vibration. This vibration causes the pituitary body to impinge upon and slightly deflect the nearest line of force (See diagram 17 »). This, in turn, impinges upon the line next to it, and so the process continues until the force of the vibration has been spent. It is similar to the way in which the striking of one note on a piano will produce a number of overtones, by setting up a vibration in the other strings which are at proper intervals of pitch.
When by the increased vibration of the pituitary body, the lines of force have been deflected sufficiently to reach the pineal gland, the object has been accomplished, the gap between these two organs has been bridged. This is the bridge between the World of Sense and the World of Desire. From the time it is built, man becomes clairvoyant and able to direct his gaze where he will. Solid objects are seen both inside and out. To him space and solidity, as hindrances to observation, have ceased to exist.
He is not yet a trained clairvoyant, but he is a clairvoyant at will, a voluntary clairvoyant. His is a very different faculty from that possessed by the medium, who is usually an involuntary clairvoyant and can see only what comes; or who has, at best, very little more than the purely negative faculty. But the person in whom this bridge is once built is always in sure touch with the inner Worlds, the connection being made and broken at his will. By degrees, the observer learns to control the vibration of the pituitary body in a manner enabling him to get in touch with any of the regions of the inner Worlds which he desires to visit. The faculty is completely under the control of his will. It is not necessary for him to go into a trance or do anything abnormal, to raise his consciousness to the Desire World. He simply wills to see, and sees.
As we explained in the earlier part of this work, the neophyte must learn to see in the Desire World, or rather, he must learn how to understand what he sees there. In the Physical World objects are dense, solid, and do not change in the twinkling of an eye. In the Desire World they change in the most erratic manner. This is a source of endless confusion to the negative involuntary clairvoyant, and even to the neophyte who enters under the guidance of a teacher, but the teaching soon brings the pupil to a point where the Form may change as often as it will; he can perceive the Life that causes the change, and knows it for what it is, despite all possible and puzzling changes.
There is also another and most important distinction to be made. The power which enables one to perceive the objects in a world is not identical with the power of entering that world and functioning there. The voluntary clairvoyant, though he may have received some training, and is able to distinguish from true from the false in the Desire World, is in practically the same relation to it as a prisoner behind a barred window is to the outside world — he can see it, but cannot function therein. Therefore esoteric training not only opens up the inner vision of the aspirant, but at the proper time further exercises are given to furnish him with a vehicle in which he can function in the inner Worlds in a perfectly self-conscious manner.
In ordinary life most people live to eat, they drink, gratify the sex-passion in an unrestrained manner, and lose their tempers on the slightest provocation. Though outwardly these people may be very "respectable," they are, nearly every day of their lives, causing almost utter confusion in their organization. The entire period of sleep is spent by the desire and the vital bodies in repairing the damage done in the day time, leaving no time for outside work of any kind. But as the individual begins to feel the needs of the higher life, control sex force, and temper, and cultivate a serene disposition, there is less disturbance caused in the vehicles during waking hours; consequently less time is required to repair the damage during sleep. Thus it becomes possible to leave the dense body for long periods during sleeping hours, and function in the inner Worlds in the higher vehicles. As the desire body and the mind are not yet organized, they are of no use as separate vehicles of consciousness. Neither can the vital body leave the dense body, as that would cause death, so it is evident that measures must be taken to provide an organized vehicle which is fluidic and so constructed that it will meet the needs of the Ego in the inner Worlds as does the dense body in the Physical World.
The vital body is such an organized vehicle, and if some means could be found to loosen it from the dense body without causing death, the problem would be solved. Besides, the vital body is the seat of memory, without which it would be impossible to bring back into our physical consciousness the remembrance of superphysical experiences and thus obtain the full benefit of them.
We remember that the Hierophants of the old Mystery Temples segregated some of the people into castes and tribes such as the Brahmins and the Levites, for the purpose of providing bodies for use of such Egos as were advanced enough to be ready for Initiation. This was done in such a manner that the vital body became separable into two parts, as were the desire bodies of all humanity at the beginning of the Earth Period. When the Hierophant took the pupils out of their bodies he left one part of the vital body, comprising the first and second ethers, to perform the purely animal functions (they are the only ones active during sleep), the pupil taking with him a vehicle capable of perception, because of its connection with the sense-centers of the dense body; and also capable of memory. It possessed these capabilities because it was composed of the third and fourth ethers, which are the mediums of sense-perception and memory.
This is, in fact, that part of the vital body which the aspirant retains from life to life, and immortalizes as the Intellectual Soul.
Since Christ came and "took away the sin of the world," (not of the individual) purifying the desire body of our planet, the connection between all human dense and vital bodies has been loosened to such an extent that, by training, they are capable of separation as above described. Therefore Initiation is open to all.
The finer part of the desire body, which constitutes the Emotional Soul, is capable of separation in most people (in fact, it possessed that capability even before Christ came) and thus when, by concentration and the use of the proper formula, the finer parts of the vehicles have been segregated for use during sleep, or at any other time, the lower parts of the desire and vital bodies are still left to carry on the processes of restoration in the dense vehicle, the mere animal part.
That part of the vital body which goes out is highly organized, as we have seen. It is an exact counterpart of the dense body. The desire body and the mind, not being organized, are of use only because they are connected with the highly organized dense body. When separated from it they are but poor instruments, therefore before man can withdraw from the dense body, the sense-centers of the desire body must be awakened.
In ordinary life the Ego is inside its bodies and its force is directed outward. All man's will and energy are bent upon the task of subduing the outside world. At no time is he able to get away from the impressions of his outside environment and thus be free to work on himself in his waking hours. During sleep, when such an opportunity is afforded, because of the dense body having lost consciousness of the world, the Ego is outside his bodies. If man is to work on his vehicle at all, it must be when the outside world is shut out as in sleep, but yet the spirit still remains within and in full control of the faculties, as it is in the waking state. Not until such a state can be attained will it be possible for the spirit to work inwardly and properly sensitize its vehicles.
Concentration is such a state. When in it, the senses are stilled and a person is outwardly in the same condition as in the deepest sleep, yet the spirit remains within and fully conscious. Most people have experienced this state, at least in some degree, when they have become interested in absorption in a book. At such times they live in the scenes depicted by the author and are lost to their environment. When spoken to, they are oblivious to the sound, so to all else transpiring around them, yet they are fully awake to all they are reading, to the invisible world created by the author, living there and feeling the heart-beats of all the different characters in the story. They are not independent, but are bound in the life which someone has created for them in the book.
The aspirant to the higher life cultivates the faculty of becoming absorbed at will in any subject he chooses, or rather not a subject usually, but a very simple object, which he imagines. Thus when the proper condition or point of absorption has been reached where his senses are absolutely still, he concentrates his thought upon the different sense centers of the desire body and they start to revolve.
At first their motion is slow and hard to bring about, but by degrees the sense centers of the desire body will make places for themselves within the dense and vital bodies, which learn to accommodate themselves to this new activity. Then some day, when the proper life has developed the requisite cleavage between the higher and lower parts of the vital body, there is a supreme effort of the will; a spiral motion in many directions takes place, and the aspirant stands outside his dense body. He looks at it as at another person. The door of this prison house has been opened. He is free to come and go, as much at liberty in the inner worlds as in the Physical World, functioning at will, in the inner or outer World, a helper of all desiring his services in any of them.
Before the aspirant learns to voluntarily leave the body, he may have worked in the desire body during sleep, for in some people the desire body becomes organized before the separation can be brought about in the vital body. Under those conditions it is impossible to bring back these subjective experiences to waking consciousness, but generally in such cases it will be noticed, as the first sign of development, that all confused dreams will cease. Then, after while, the dreams will become more vivid and perfectly logical. The aspirant will dream of being in places and with people (whether known to him in waking hours or not matters little), conducting himself in as reasonable a way as if he were in the waking state. If the place of which he dreams is accessible to him in waking hours, he may sometimes get proof of the reality of his dream if he will note some physical detail of the scene and verify his nocturnal impression next day.
He will next find that he can, during sleeping hours, visit any place he desires upon the face of the Earth and investigate it a great deal more thoroughly than if he had gone there in the dense body, because in his desire body he has access to all places, regardless of locks and bars. If he persists, there will at last come a day when he need not wait for sleep to dissolve the connection between his vehicles, but can consciously set himself free.
Specific directions for freeing the higher vehicles cannot be given indiscriminately. The separation is brought about, not by a set formula of words, but rather by an act of will, yet the manner in which the will is directed is individual, and can therefore be given only by a competent teacher. Like all other real esoteric information, it is never sold, but comes only as a result of the pupil qualifying himself to receive it. All that can be done here is to give an indication of the first steps which lead up to the acquirement of the faculty of voluntary clairvoyance.
The most favorable time to exercise is on first awakening in the morning, before any of the worries and cares of daily life have entered the mind. At that time one is fresh from the inner Worlds and therefore more easily brought back into touch with them than at any other time of the day. Do not wait to dress, or sit up in bed, but relax the body perfectly and let the exercises be the first waking thought. Relaxation does not mean simply a comfortable position; it is possible to have every muscle tense with expectation and that of itself frustrates the object, for in that condition the desire body is gripping the muscles. It cannot do otherwise till we calm the mind.
The first thing to practice is fixing one's thoughts upon some ideal and holding them there without letting them swerve. It is an exceedingly hard task, but, to some extend at least, it must be accomplished before it is possible to make any further progress. Thought is the power we use in making images, pictures, thought forms, according to ideas from within. It is our principal power, and we must learn to have absolute control of it, so that what we produce is not wild illusion induced by outside conditions, but true imagination generated by the spirit from within (see diagram 1 »).
Skeptics say that it is all imagination but, as said before, if the inventor had not been able to imagine the telephone, etc., we would not today possess those things. His imaginings were not generally correct or true at first, otherwise the inventions would have worked successfully from the beginning, without the many failures and apparently useless experiments that have nearly always preceded the production of the practical and serviceable instrument or machine. Neither is the imagination of the budding occult scientist correct at first. The only way to make it true is by uninterrupted practice, day after day, exercising the will to keep the thought focussed upon one subject, object, or idea, exclusive all else. Thought is a great power which we have been accustomed to waste. It has been allowed to flow on aimlessly, as water flows over a precipice before it is made to turn the wheel.
The rays of the Sun, diffused over the entire surface of the Earth, produce only a moderate warmth, but if even a few of them are concentrated by means of a glass, they are capable of producing fire at the focusing point.
Thought-force is the most powerful means of obtaining knowledge. If it is concentrated upon a subject, it will burn its way through any obstacle and solve the problem. If the requisite amount of thought-force is brought to bear, there is nothing that is beyond the power of human comprehension. So long as we scatter it, thought-force is of little use to us, but as soon as we are prepared to take the trouble necessary to harness it, all knowledge is ours.
We often hear people exclaim petulantly, "Oh, I cannot think of a hundred things at once!" when really that is exactly what they have been doing, and what has caused the very trouble of which they complain. People are constantly thinking of a hundred things other than the one they have in hand. Every success has been accomplished by persistent concentration upon the desired end.
This is something the aspirant to the higher life must positively learn to do. There is no other way. At first he will find himself thinking of everything under the sun instead of the ideal upon which he has decided to concentrate, but he must not let that discourage him. In time he will find it easier to still his senses and hold his thoughts steady. Persistence, persistence, and always persistence will win at last. Without that, however, no results can be expected. It is of no use to perform the exercises for two or three mornings or weeks and then neglect them for as long. To be effective they must be done faithfully every morning without fail.
Any subject may be selected, according to the temperament and mental persuasion of the aspirant, so long as it is pure and mentally uplifting in its tendency. Christ will do for some; others, who love flowers particularly, are most easily helped by taking one as the subject of concentration. The object matters little, but whatever it is we must imagine it true to life in all details. If it is Christ, we must imagine a real Christ, with mobile features, life in His eyes, and an expression that is not stony and dead. We must build a living ideal, not a statue. If it is a flower, we must, in imagination, take the seed and having buried it in the ground, fix our mind upon it steadily. Presently we shall see it burst, shooting forth its roots, which penetrate the Earth in a spiral manner. From the main branches of the roots we watch the myriads of minute rootlets, as they branch out and ramify in all directions. Then the stem begins to shoot upward, bursting through the surface of the earth and coming forth as a tiny green stalk. It grows, presently there is an offset; a tiny twig shoots out from the main stem. It grows; another offset and a branch appears; from the branches, little stalks with buds at the end shoot out; presently there are a number of leaves. Then comes a bud at the top; it grow larger until it begins to burst and the red leaves of the rose show beneath the green. It unfolds in the air, emitting an exquisite perfume, which we sense perfectly as it is wafted to us on the balmy summer breeze which gently sways the beautiful creation before the mind's eye.
Only when we "imagine" in such clear and complete outlines as these, do we enter into the spirit of concentration. There must be no shadowy, faint resemblance.
Those who have traveled in India have told of fakirs showing them a seed, which was planted and grew before the eyes of the astonished witness, bearing fruit which the traveler tasted. That was done by concentration so intense that the picture was visible, not only to the fakir himself, but also the spectators. A case is recorded where the members of a committee of scientist all saw the wonderful things done before their eyes, under conditions where sleight-of-hand was impossible, yet the photographs which they obtained while the experiment was in progress, came to naught. There was no impression on the sensitive plates, because there had been no material, concrete objects.
At first the pictures which the aspirant builds will be but shadowy and poor likenesses, but in the end he can, by concentration, conjure up an image more real and alive than things in the Physical World.
When the aspirant has become able to form such pictures and has succeeded in holding his mind upon the picture thus created, he may try to drop the picture suddenly and, holding his mind steady without any thought, wait to see what comes into the vacuum.
For a long time nothing may appear and the aspirant must carefully guard against making visions for himself, but if he keeps on faithfully and patiently every morning, there will come a time when, the moment he has let the imaged picture drop, in a flash the surrounding Desire World will open up to his inner eye. At first it may be but a mere glimpse, but it is an earnest of what will later come at will.
When the aspirant has practiced concentration for some time, focusing the mind upon some simple object, building a living thought form by means of the imaginative faculty, he will, by means of Meditation, learn all about the object thus created.
Supposing that the aspirant has, by concentration, called up the image of the Christ. It is very easy to meditatively recall the incidents of His life, suffering and resurrection, but much beyond that can be learned by meditation. Knowledge never before dreamed of will flood the soul with a glorious light. Yet something that is uninteresting and does not of itself suggest anything marvelous, is better for practice. Try to find out all about — say, a match, or a common table.
When the image of the table has been clearly formed in the mind, think what kind of wood it is and whence it came. Go back to the time when, as a tiny seed, the tree from which the wood was cut first fell into the forest soil. Watch it grow from year to year, covered by the snows of winter and warmed by the summer Sun, steadily growing upward — its roots meanwhile constantly spreading under the ground. First it is a tender sapling, swaying in the breeze; then, as a young tree, it gradually stretches higher and higher toward the air and the sunshine. As the years pass, its girth becomes greater and greater, until at last one day the logger comes, with his axe and saw gleaming as they reflect the rays of the winter Sun. Our tree is felled and shorn of its branches, leaving but the trunk; that is cut into logs, which are hauled over the frozen roads to the river bank, there to await the springtime when the melting snow swells the streams. A great raft of the logs is made, the pieces of our tree being among them. We know every little peculiarity about them and would recognize them instantly among thousand, so clearly have we marked them in our mind. We follow the raft down the stream, noting the passing landscape and become familiar with the men who have the care of the raft and who sleep upon little huts built upon their floating charge. At last we see it arrive at a sawmill and disbanded. One by one the logs are grasped by prongs on an endless chain and hauled out of the water. Here comes one of our logs, the widest part of which will be made into the top of our table. It is hauled out of the water to the log deck and rolled about by men with peavies. We hear the hungry whine of the great circular saws as they revolve so fast that they appear as mere blurs before our eyes. Our log is placed upon a carriage which is propelled toward one of them, and in a moment those teeth of steel are tearing their way through its body and dividing it into boards and planks. Some of the wood is selected to form part of a building, but the best of it is taken to a furniture factory and put into a kiln, where it is dried by steam so that it will not shrink after it has been made into furniture. Then it is taken out and put through a great planing machine with many sharp knives, which makes it smooth. Next it is sawn off into different lengths and glued together to form table-tops. The legs are turned from thicker pieces and set into the frame which supports the top; then the whole article is smoothed again with sandpaper, varnished and polished, thus completing the table in every respect. It is next sent out, with other furniture, to the store where we bought it, and we follow it as it is carted from that place to our home and left in our dining room.
Thus, by meditation, we have become conversant with the various branches of industry necessary to convert a forest tree into a piece of furniture. We have seen all the machines and the men, and noted the peculiarities of the various places. We have even followed the life process whereby that tree has grown from a tiny seed, and have learned that back of seemingly very commonplace things there is a great and absorbingly interesting history. A pin; the match with which we light the gas; the gas itself; and the room in which that gas is burned — all have interesting histories, well worth learning.
One of the most important aids to the aspirant in its efforts is observation. Most people go through life blind-folded. Of them it is literally true that they "have eyes, and see not; . . . have ears, and hear not." Upon the part of the majority of humanity there is a deplorable lack of observation.
Most people are, to some extent, excusable for this, because their sight is not normal. Urban life has caused untold damage to the eyes. In the country the child learns to use the muscles of the eye to the full extent, relaxing or contracting them as required to see objects at considerable distances in the open, or close at hand in and about the house. But the city-bred child sees practically everything close at hand and the muscles of its eyes are seldom used to observe objects at any great distance, therefore that faculty is to a great extent lost, resulting in a prevalence of near-sightedness and other eye troubles.
It is very important to one aspiring to the higher life that he be able to see all things about him in clear, definite outlines, and in full detail. To one suffering from defective sight, the use of glasses is like opening up a new world. Instead of the former mistiness, everything is seen clearly and definitely. If the condition of the sight requires the use of two foci, one should not be content with having two pairs of glasses, one for near and one for far seeing, thus necessitating frequent changes. Not only are the changes wearisome, but one is very apt to forget one pair when leaving home. The two foci can be had in one pair of bifocal glasses, and such should be worn, to facilitate observation of the minutest details.
When the aspirant has attended to his eyesight, he should systematically observe everything and everybody, drawing conclusions from actions, to cultivate the faculty of logical reasoning. Logic is the best teacher in the Physical World, as well as the safest and surest guide in any world.
While practicing this method of observation, it should always be kept in mind that it must be used only to gather facts and not for purposes of criticism, at least not wanton criticism. Constructive criticism, which points out defects and the means of remedying them, is the basis of progress; but destructive criticism, which vandalistically demolishes good and bad alike without aiming at any higher attainment, is an ulcer on the character and must be eradicated. Gossip and idle tale-bearing are clogs and hindrances. While it is not required that we shall say that black is white and overlook manifestly wrong conduct, criticism should be made for the purpose of helping, not to wantonly besmirch the character of a fellow-being because we have found a little stain. Remembering the parable of the mote and the beam, we should turn our most unsparing criticism toward ourselves. None is so perfect that there is no room for improvement. The more blameless the man, the less prone he is to find fault and cast the first stone at another. If we point out faults and suggests ways for improvement, it must be done without personal feeling. We must always seek the good which is hidden in everything. The cultivation of this attitude of discrimination is particularly important.
When the aspirant to firsthand knowledge has practiced concentration and meditation exercises for some time, and has become fairly proficient in them, there is a still higher step to be taken.
We have seen that concentration is focusing thought upon a single object. It is the means whereby we build a clear, objective, and living image of the form about which we wish to acquire knowledge.
Meditation is the exercise whereby the history of the object of our investigation is traced and, so to say, entered into, to pick out of it every shred of evidence as to its relation to the world in general.
These two mental exercises deal, in the deepest and most thorough manner, imaginable, with things. They lead up to a higher, deeper and more subtle stage of mental development, which deals with the very soul of things.
The name of that stage is Contemplation.
In contemplation there is no reaching out in thought or imagination for the sake of getting information, as was the case in Meditation. It is simply the holding of the object before our mental vision and letting the soul of it speak to us. We repose quietly and relaxed upon a couch or bed — not negatively, but thoroughly on the alert — watching for the information that will surely come if we have reached the proper development. Then the Form of the object seems to vanish and we see only the Life at work. Contemplation will teach us about the Life side, as Meditation taught us about the Form side.
When we reach this stage and have before us, say, a tree in the forest, we lost sight of the Form entirely, and see only the Life, which in this case is a group-spirit. We shall find, to our astonishment, that the group spirit of the tree includes the various insects which feed upon it; that the parasite and its host are emanations from one and the same group-spirit, for the higher we ascend in the invisible realms, the fewer the separate and distinct forms, and the more completely the One Life predominates, impressing upon the investigator the supreme fact that there is but the One Life — the Universal Life of God, in Whom it is an actual fact that "we live, and move, and have our being." Mineral, plant, animal, and man — all, without exception — are manifestations of God, and this fact furnishes the true basis of brotherhood — a brotherhood which includes everything from the atom to the Sun, because all are emanations from God. Conceptions of brotherhood based upon any other foundation, such as class distinctions, Race affinity, similarity of occupation, etc., fall far short of this true basis, as the occult scientist clearly realizes when he sees the Universal Life flowing in all that exists.
When this height has been reached by Contemplation, and the aspirant has realized that he is in truth beholding God in the Life that permeates all things, there remains still to be taken the highest step, Adoration, whereby he unites himself with the Source of all things, reaching by that act the highest goal possible of attainment by man until the time when the permanent union takes place at the end of the great Day of Manifestation.
It is the writer's opinion that neither the heights of Contemplation, nor the final step of Adoration can be attained without the aid of a teacher. The aspirant need never fear, however, that for want of a teacher he will be delayed in taking these steps; nor need he be concerned about looking for a teacher. All that is necessary for him to do is start to improve himself, and to earnestly and persistently continue therein. In that way he will purify his vehicles. They will commence to shine in the inner Worlds, and cannot fail to attract the attention of the teachers, who are always watching for just such cases and are more than eager and glad to help those who, because of their earnest efforts to purify themselves, have won the right to receive help. Humanity is sorely in need of helpers who are able to work from the inner Worlds, therefore "seek and ye shall find," but let us not imagine that by going about from one professed teacher to another, we are seeking. "Seeking," in that sense of the word, will avail nothing in this dark world. We ourselves must kindle the light — the light which invariably radiates from the vehicles of the earnest aspirant. That is the star which will lead us to the teacher, or rather the teacher to us.
The time required to bring results from the performance of the exercises varies with each individual and is dependent upon his application, his stage in evolution and his record in the book of destiny; therefore no general time can be set. Some, who are almost ready, obtain results in a few days or weeks; others have to work months, years, and even their whole life without visible results, yet the results will be there, and the aspirant who faithfully persists will some day, in this or a future life, behold his patience and faithfulness rewarded and the inner Worlds open to his gaze, finding himself a citizen of realms where the opportunities are immeasurably greater than in the Physical World only.
From that time — awake or asleep, through what men call life, and through what men call death — his consciousness will be unbroken. He will lead a consciously continuous existence, having the benefit of all the conditions which make for more rapid advancement to every higher positions of trust, to be used in the uplifting of the race.
The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception,
Chapter 17, by Max Heindel