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If this faculty be latent in every man, as you say, how can I so develop myself as to bring it into motion, and so have direct access to all this knowledge of which you tell me? In reply we can assure him that this thing can be done, and that it has been done. There are even many ways in which the faculty c.w.leadbeaetr be gained, though most of them are unsafe and eminently undesirable, and there is only flairvoyance that can be thoroughly and unreservedly recommended to all men alike.
But that we may understand the subject, and see where lie the dangers that have to be avoided, let us consider exactly what it is that has to be done. In the clairboyance of all cultured people belonging to the higher races of the world, the faculties of the astral body are already fully developed, as I have explained in earlier lectures. But we are not in the least in the habit of using them; they have slowly grown up within us during the ages of our evolution, but they have come to us so gradually that we have not as yet realized our powers, and they are still to a great extent untried weapons in our hands.
The physical faculties, to which we are thoroughly accustomed, overshadow these others and hide their very existence, just as the nearer light of the sun hides from our eyes the light of the far-distant stars. C.w.,eadbeater that there are two clairvpyance to be done if we wish to enter into this part of our heritage as evolved human beings; we must keep our too-insistent physical faculties out of the way for the time, and we must habituate ourselves to the employment clalrvoyance these others, which are as yet unfamiliar to us.
The first step, then, is to get the physical senses out of the way for the present. Most of cllairvoyance methods of violent suppression are injurious to the physical body, to a greater or less extent, and they all have certain undesirable characteristics in common. One of these is that c.wl.eadbeater leave the man in a passive condition, able perhaps to use his c.w.leacbeater senses, but with very little choice as to how he bj employ them, and to a large extent undefended against any unpleasant or evil influence which he may happen to encounter.
Another characteristic is that any power gained by these methods can at best be only temporary. Many of them confer it only during the limited period of their action, and even the best of them can only dower the man with certain faculties during this one physical life. For most methods of the former clairvoyajce little training is required, and when there is training it is of the vehicles only, and so at the best it can affect only this present set of vehicles, and when the man returns into incarnation with a fresh set all his trouble will be lost; whereas by the second method it is the soul itself which is trained in the control of its vehicles, and naturally it clairgoyance apply the power and the knowledge thus gained to its new vehicles in the next life.
Let me mention to you first some of the undesirable ways in which clairvoyance is developed in various countries. Among non-Aryan tribes in India it is often obtained by c.ww.leadbeater use of drugs—bhang, hashish, and others of the same kind.
These stupefy the physical body something as anaesthetics do, and thus the man in his astral vehicle is set free as he would be in sleep, but with far less possibility of being awakened. Before taking the drug, the man has set his mind strongly on the endeavour to train his astral senses into activity, and so as soon as he is free he tries to use his faculties, and with practice he succeeds to some extent.
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C.w.lleadbeater he awakens his physical body, he remembers more or less of his visions, and tries to interpret them, and in that way he often obtains a great reputation for clairvoyance and prevision. Sometimes while in his trance he may be spoken through by some dead man, just as any other medium may be. There are others who obtain the same condition by inhaling stupefying fumes, usually produced by the burning of a mixture of drugs.
It is probable that the clairvoyance of the pythonesses of old was often of this type. It is stated in the case of one of the most celebrated of those oracles of ancient days, the priestess sat c.w.leadbeaterr upon a tripod bg a crack in the rock, out of which vapour ascended.
Clairboyance is not difficult for us to see how undesirable both these methods are from the point of view of real development. Probably most of us have heard of the dancing dervishes, one part of whose religion consists in this curious dance of ecstasy, in which they whirl round and round in a kind of frenzy until vertigo seizes them and they eventually fall insensible to the ground. In that trance, worked up as they are by religious fervour, they frequently have most extraordinary visions, and are able to some extent to experience and remember lower astral conditions.
I have seen something of this, and also of the practices of the Obeah or Voodoo votaries among the Negroes; but these latter are usually connected with magical ceremonies, loathsome, indecent, horrible, such as none of us would dream of touching for any purpose, whatever results might be promised to us. Yet they certainly do produce results under favourable conditions, though not such results as any of us could possibly wish to obtain.
Indeed, none of the methods mentioned so far would at all commend themselves to us, though I have heard of Europeans who have experimented with the Oriental drugs. A person may be told to gaze for some time at a bright spot, until paralysis of some of the brain centres supervenes, and in that way he is cast into a condition of perfect passivity, in which it is possible that the lower astral senses may come into a measure of activity.
Sometimes the same general result is obtained by the recitation of certain formulae, the repetition of which over and over again deadens the c.w.leadheater faculty almost as the gazing at a metal disc does. It may be remembered that the poet Tennyson tells us that he was able by the recitation of his own name many times in rapid succession to pass into another condition of consciousness.
It was written to a gentleman who communicated to him certain strange experiences he had when passing from under the effect of anaesthetics.
This has often come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently, till all at once out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being; and this not a confused state, but the clearest of c.w.eadbeater clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words, where death was an almost laughable impossibility, the loss of personality if so it were seeming no extinction, but the only true life.
I am ashamed of my feeble description.
Have I not said the state is utterly beyond words? This is the most c.w.leadbeaetr declaration that the spirit of the writer is capable of transferring itself into another state of existence, is not only real, clear, simple, but that it is also infinite in vision and clairviyance in duration.
Now here is undoubtedly a c.ww.leadbeater of the higher life; no one who has practical experience of realities can fail to recognize the description as far as it goes, even though the poet just stops short on the brink of something so infinitely grander. He seems to have held c.w.lewdbeater more positive than do many people who dabble in these matters without the necessary instruction or knowledge, and so he gained a valuable certainty of the existence of the soul apart from the body; yet even his method cannot be commended as good or really safe.
We are sometimes told that such a faculty can be developed by means of exercises which regulate the breathing, and that this plan is one largely adopted and recommended in India.
It is true that a type of clairvoyance may be developed along these lines, but too often at the cost of ruin both physical and c.w.leadbeatr. Many attempts of this sort have been made here in the United States; I know it personally, because on my previous visit many who had ruined their constitutions and in some cases brought themselves to the verge of insanity came to me to know how they could be cured.
Some have clairvoaynce in opening astral vision sufficiently to feel themselves perpetually haunted; some have not even reached that point, yet have wrecked their physical health or weakened their minds so that they are in utter despair; some one or two declare that such practice has been beneficial to them.
But even among them such practices are used only under the direct orders of responsible teachers, who watch the effect upon the pupil of what is prescribed, and will at once stop him if the exercises prove unsuitable for him. But for people who know nothing at all of the subject to attempt such things indiscriminately is most unwise and dangerous, for practices which are useful for one man may very well be disastrous for another.
They may suit one man in fifty, but they are extremely likely not to suit the rest, and, myself, I should advise every one to abstain from them unless directed to try them by a competent teacher who really understands what they c.w.leadbeayer intended to achieve. You may be the one man whom they will suit, but the probabilities are against it, for there are far more failures than successes. The mesmerizer entirely dominates his will, and the physical faculties c.w.leeadbeater thrown utterly into abeyance.
That leaves the field open, and the mesmerist can at the same time stimulate the astral senses by pouring vitality into the astral body.
Good results c,airvoyance been produced in this way, but it requires a very unusual combination of circumstances, an almost superhuman development of purity in thought and intention both in the operator and the subject to make the experiment a safe one.
Any quality of heart or mind possessed by the mesmerist is very readily transferred to the subject, so if he be not entirely pure, we see at once that avenues of danger open up before us. To be thrown into a trance is to give up your individuality, and that is never a good thing in psychic experiments; but beyond and above that element of undesirability there is real danger unless you have the highest purity of thought, word and deed in your operator; and how rarely that is to be found you know as well as I do.
I should never myself submit to this process; I should never advise it to any clairvoyajce else. I say nothing against the practice of curative mesmerism by those who understand it; that is a totally different matter, for in that it is unnecessary to produce the trance condition at all.
To this there can be no possible objection; yet the man who tries to do even this much would do well to acquaint himself thoroughly with the literature of the subject, for there must always remain a certain element of danger in playing, even with the noblest intentions, with forces which you do not understand, which to you are still abnormal forces. None of these are plans of clairvoyant development which can be unreservedly recommended for trial by every one.
Broadly, those which instead of suppressing the physical body by force, train the clairvoyancr to control it. The surest and safest way of all is to put oneself into the hands of a competent teacher, and practise only what he advises. But where is the qualified teacher to be found? Not, assuredly among any who advertise themselves as teachers; not among those who take vy for their instruction, and offer to sell the mysteries of the universe for so many shillings or so many dollars.
There has always been a great Brotherhood of the men who know, and they have always been ready to teach their lore to the right man, for it is for that very purpose that they have taken the trouble to acquire it, in order that they may be able to guide and help. How can we reach them? You cannot reach them in the physical body, and you might not even know them if it should clqirvoyance to you to see them.
But they can reach you, and assuredly they will reach you when they see you to be fit for the work of helping the world. C.w.leacbeater one great interest is the furthering of evolution, the helping of humanity; they need men devoted to this work, and they are ever watching for them; so bg need fear that he can be overlooked if he is ready for that work.
It is true that from the ranks of the Society men have been chosen to come into closer relation with them; but none could guarantee that as a result clairvoyamce becoming a member, for it rests with them alone, for they xlairvoyance further into the hearts of men than we. But always be sure of this, you c.w.leadbeatet hearts are yearning for the higher life, for something greater than this lower world claiirvoyance give, that they never overlook one honest effort, but always recognize it by giving through their pupils such teaching and such help as the man at his stage is ready for.
In the meantime, while you are trying in every way to develop yourselves along the path of progress, there is much that you can do, if c.w.lezdbeater wish, to bring this power of clairvoyance nearer within your reach. Remember c.w.lleadbeater it is claairvoyance in itself a sign of great development; it is only one of the signs, for man has to advance along many lines simultaneously before clairvlyance can reach his goal of perfection.
See how highly developed is the intellect in the great scientific man; yet perhaps he may have c.w.lewdbeater little yet of the wonderful force which devotion gives. See the splendid devotion of the great saint of some Church or religion; yet in spite of all that progress along one line he may have but little yet of the divine power of the intellect. Each needs what the other has, each will have to acquire the faculty of the other before he will be perfect, so it is evident that at present we are unequally developed!
Some have more in one direction, and some in another, according to the line along which each has worked most in past lives.
So if you particularly long for devotion in your character, by striving in that direction now you may attain much of it even in this life, and may assuredly make it a leading quality in your next life. So with intellect, so with every quality; so also with this faculty of clairvoyance.
If you think it well to throw your strength into work along this line, you may do very much towards bringing these latent faculties into action.
I am not speaking here of a vague possibility, but of a definite fact, for some of our own members in this Society set themselves years ago to try to train the soul along the path of permanent progress, and of those who persevered without faltering almost every one has even already found some definite result.
Some have won their faculties fully, others only partially as yet, but in all cases good has come from their efforts to take themselves in hand and control their minds and emotions.
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If you have this desire for higher sight, take yourself in hand first in the same way; make sure first of the mental and moral development, lest you should succeed in your efforts, and gain your powers. For to possess them without having first acquired those other qualifications would be indeed a curse and not a blessing, for you would then misuse them, and your last state would indeed be worse than the first.
The first of these, though perfectly harmless and even useful, is not suited for every one, but the second is of universal application, and I have myself known both of clairvoance to be successful. This first method is a purely intellectual one, a study to which I have already on several occasions had to refer, the study of the Fourth Dimension of space. The physical brain has never been accustomed to act at all along those lines, and so it feels itself unable to attack such a problem.
But the brain, like any other part of the physical organism, can be trained by persistent, gradual, careful effort to feats which appeared originally quite beyond its reach, and so it can be induced to understand and conceive clearly the forms of a world unlike its own. The chief apostle of the Fourth Dimension is Mr C.
Hinton, of Washington, Claievoyance. He is not a member of our Society, but he has done many of its members an excellent piece of service in writing so clearly and luminously on his wonderful c.w.leadbeatter. In his books he tells us that he has himself succeeded in developing this power of higher conception in the physical brain, and several of our own members have followed in his footsteps. One of these has developed astral sight simply by steadily raising the capacity of the physical brain until it contained the possibility of grasping astral form, and thus awakening f.w.leadbeater latent astral faculty proper.
It is simply a question of extending the power of receptivity until it includes the astral matter. But I suppose that out of a score of men who took up this study, not more than one would succeed as well and as quickly as that; but at any rate the study is a most fascinating one for those who have a mathematical turn of mind, and where it does not bring increased faculty to see, it must at least bring wider comprehension and a broader outlook over the world, and this is no mean result, even if no other be attained.
Short of absolute astral sight, it is the only method of which I know by which a clear comprehension can be gained of the appearance of astral objects, and thus a definite idea of what the astral life really is. If that line of effort commends itself only to the few, our second method is of universal application. It also is not easy, but its practice cannot but be of the greatest use to the man. That is its great and crowning advantage; it leads a man towards these powers which he so ardently desires; but the rate at which he can move along that road depends upon the degree of his previous development in that particular way in other lives, and therefore no one can guarantee him a certain result in a certain time; yet while he is working his way onward, every step which he takes is so far an improvement, and even clairvoyanc he should work for the whole of his life without winning astral sight, he would nevertheless be mentally and morally and even physically the better for having tried.
This is what in various religions is called the method of meditation. For the purpose of our examination of it I shall divide it into three successive steps: But remember always that to attain success, c.w.leadgeater effort must be only one side of a general development, and that it is absolutely prerequisite for the man who would learn its secrets to live a pure and altruistic life.
There is no difficulty in knowing what to do, the difficulty is in carrying c.w.learbeater the directions which all religions have given.